The Most Effective Social Media Marketing Strategy For Your Business

If you have a business, a website or a blog, knowing social media marketing tricks and techniques is a must if you want to grow and establish a name for yourself and your brand. In this guest post, Steph explains the steps to create the perfect social media marketing plan for your business to stand out from your competition.

It’s no secret that one of the most effective ways to grow your business or blog is through social media. I have no doubt about that.

Social media is one of the best forms of online marketing. But what makes an effective strategy? And how can you use it to grow your business or blog?

When Ray approached me to write a guest post about social media marketing, I jumped on it! A) Cuz I like ya Ray, and B) Because guest posting is a great addition to my social media marketing plan!

In this guest post, I’ll help you come up with an effective social media marketing plan.

We will discuss the most important aspects of a successful social media marketing strategy, so you can grow your business or blog!

I can provide you with all of the tools and information I have learned studying Social Media Marketing, but it’s up to you to put it in to action.

Let’s get started!


Jump to:


Preparation

There are several steps to creating an effective social media marketing plan that works for every business or blog! Let’s break it down:

1. What Is Your Product?

This is the most important step in creating any social media marketing plan. You need to know your product inside and out.

Your product could be a physical item, or it could be your website or blog. Having a clear understanding of your product will help you streamline your marketing campaign and make it much more effective.

2. Who Is Your Target Audience?

Who is your product for? When you created your blog, who did you envision reading or using it?

You simply can’t market something to someone if you don’t know who it is for. It won’t work effectively. Google analytics can give some insight into who is already visiting your site.

Pay special attention to your returning visitors, as they are particularly interested in what you have to offer. Keep them in mind when brainstorming future blog post ideas!

Ask yourself what topics would they be searching for, what writing style would resonate well with them, and what type of graphics would attract your ideal reader?

3. Who Are Your Competitors?

Knowing who you’re up against can help you serve your ideal audience better. A little friendly is good!

So, take a look at what some of your competitors are doing across social media and identify what seems to be working and what doesn’t.

You’ll likely find some gaps you can fill here too. And, this can help you further idenify who your target audience is.

Planning

Now that you (hopefully) know a little more about your product and your audience, you can start planning!

Every plan should start with a clear and attainable goal. What are you hoping to achieve?

If it’s more e-book sales, create an effective landing page with a clear call to action. Then, once you have the product in place, you need to get people to find it!

You can use social media sites such as Pinterest and Facebook to get people over to your page.

But this doesn’t always work.. Why? Find out! 

How To Create A Social Media Marketing Strategy That Works For You

Try two different plans, with separate landing pages and social media graphics, and then split test the results to see what works and what doesn’t. You can do this by analyzing your data in Google analytics.

You’ll notice a huge improvement and be able to cut through the learning curve much faster this way. You can also use this to see which Pin graphics or Instagram posts get more traction.

Social media works, if done right! If you’re not getting much traffic from social media or you simply want more, you need to re-evaluate your strategy.

And, if you don’t have any more time to allocate to your strategy, then this is exactly the plan for you! By testing your process, you can use your time more effectively.

How To Successfully Execute Your Social Media Marketing Plan

1. Add Value

Give your readers something of value! Valuable information is the best way to gain credibility!

Think, what can I do to add more substance to my site?

Come from a place of honesty and service and show credible ways to solve your audiences problems and you should be able to see an increase in loyal followers!

2. Get Noticed!

Create a cohesive branding strategy based on the results from your above A/B tests.

Use the styles that work best for your audience and create social media posts that get noticed.

There are tons of online stock image resources as well as simple graphic design tools such as Canva that make this step easy.

3. Be Persistent

There are millions of blogs out there and many are competing for your audience’s attention. I like a little competition, because as I mentioned it can help you identify your audience and it can help you fill voids they may have missed.

Branding can help people distinguish your blog from the others. You will not notice immediate results, because effective branding takes time, longevity and consistency. 

One of the most common things I’ve seen among my ‘competitors’ is they give up too soon. Nothing beats persistence.

Learn in a few easy steps how to build your own brand

4. Find Inspiration

Check out some inspiring stories of leaders within your niche or industry.

A little inspiration can bring out new ideas. You can also find new mentors this way and other leaders in your field!

5. Wait For It

Perhaps the hardest step, waiting… It won’t happen overnight.

What Are The Best Social Media Websites To Market Your Business?

Here’s a list of my favorite social media networking sites to get you started:

1. Twitter

Twitter is a great platform to post links to your blog or business website, and connect with like-minded individuals through hashtags.

2. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is known as a social network for professionals. This is a great place to establish your business or blog. You can join company pages and groups- they even have blogger groups. It’s like Facebook in a business suit.

3. Tumblr

Tumblr is the site that lets you share anything- text, photos, quotes, links, music, images, videos, you name it. And it’s free! There are tons of bloggers on here to connect with, in every niche.

5. Flipboard

I love this one! Flipboard is a social network and news aggregator that allows you to follow topics and other users. Create ‘Magazines’ and add content from blogs and other websites as well as flip stories from other users into your magazines.

6. Snapchat

On Snapchat you can share photos, videos, text, and drawings quickly and easily with anyone around the world. Upload ‘stories’ to share, and create snapchat geofilters to promote a business, wedding, or party! It’s a fun way to stay social online.

7. Reddit

Reddit is known for news, social networking, content rating, and discussion. And it is super popular today! With over 300 million monthly active users, your blog posts could be seen by a whole new audience.

8. Pinterest

Pinterest is a social site that focuses mainly on images and not on status updates. It’s an excellent way to share your blog posts and website links. The pin feature allows users to share and save other people’s work.

10. Medium

Medium is an online publishing platform that brings together writers, thinkers, poets, storytellers, and bloggers alike! You also get paid for your writing through their partner program.

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I hope you’ll put this information to good use because if done right, it works!

I couldn’t reveal ALL of my social media marketing secrets just yet. There is so much more to share than I could cover in one post!

I’m set to graduate from the digital marketing program at George Brown College this fall, and have spent thousands of dollars and several years studying the ins and outs of social media.

As a former jouranlist, I have an edge on my competition because I come from a lenghthy background in editing, publishing, and graphic design.

I’m currently working on an interactive course featuring tips I’ll only share with the bloggers who are ready to take their marketing to the next level.

So, if that’s you head over to Stephsocial.com and stay tuned!

Steph is a former journalist, writing for newspapers and magazines for nearly 10 years before taking a few off to study social media marketing. 
Find her on Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Flipboard, Pinterest, and Medium.

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Email Marketing: The 6 Most Important Tips For A Powerful Email List

If you’re trying to grow your email list or if you want to build one and don’t know where to start, these 6 tips should help you.

As a blogger or a writer or anyone whose work depends on reaching an audience, having an email list is an essential part of the job.

Not only is it important for sharing your work and driving traffic to your website or for making sales, if you offer products, but it also helps create a relationship and a connection between you and your audience.

People who subscribe to your list are most likely the hardcore fans, ones who are genuinely interested in what you have to say, and they voluntarily signed up to receive more of what you have to offer.

To make it worth their while, there are a few things you should pay attention to in order to ensure quality of your emails and more interaction from your subscribers.


6 tips for a powerful email list:

  1. Choose an efficient email marketing service
  2. Make it easy for visitors to subscribe to your list
  3. Add value to your emails
  4. Send out emails consistently
  5. Do not spam your subscribers
  6. Write an attention-grabbing subject line

1. Choose an efficient email marketing service

Having a decent service will make your life easier in reaching your audience, sending them appealing and organized looking emails, having access to stats to be able to target the right people and provide them with the material that they are actually interested in.

There are plenty of services available for you to choose from. Some of the popular examples out there are: Mailchimp, ConvertKit, Constant Contact, Mad Mimi, GetResponse, and AWeber.

Mailchimp is one of the best and most reliable FREE services out there, and it is also compatible with WordPress with a built-in widget (it is the one I’m using, too!)

Mailchimp has a user-friendly interface and it provides you with in-depth stats and analytics to know your subscribers better and offers you ways to learn what you can do to enhance their experience.

Some of the stats you get to learn are things like the type of interaction you get on your emails, subscriber locations and how often they open your emails, helps you create different categories/groups of subscribers and target them with different campaigns, and to top it all off, it offers you a free plan up until 2000 subscribers.

The only downside I found with Mailchimp is that there is no customer service available for the free plan. So, if you need help with something you will need to search through their knowledge base.

And if you’re on WordPress, their customer care have actually been helpful when I had questions about the service at first.

You can read more about some of the other email marketing services in this article and learn more details about their different features and the plans they offer.

2. Make it easy for visitors to subscribe to your list

In order to have a powerful list, you need to have subscribers on that list first. So how do you build this list?

You should use every opportunity you get to make people subscribe to your list. People shouldn’t spend too much time looking for a way to subscribe.

In fact, no one will try to search for a way to subscribe, if it is not right there, front and center, asking them to do it, 99% of the time, they won’t even bother.

So make sure you have the following on your website:

  • Set up a dedicated page on your website where people can go to sign up.
  • Create a pop-up form asking your visitors to sign up when they are about to close the page or when they have spent a certain amount of time on your website.
  • Ask them to subscribe at the end of every blog post you publish by adding a small subscription box or by adding a link to your subscription form.

Make subscribing to your list an easy, simple, and quick task, and make sure you tell people why they should subscribe to encourage them to do it.

Learn how to get more people to subscribe to your list.

3. Add value to your emails

The reason people bother to subscribe to your email list is because they want to receive more. So if all you send out in your emails is a link to redirect them to your new blog post, then how is subscribing to your list any different from simply following your blog?

People on your email list should have access to something different: more information, more tips, better discounts, first access to a product, free products, etc..

Whatever it is that you offer through your website, your email list subscribers should have more. So make sure to look at every email you send out and think, “how does this add more value for my subscribers than my non-subscribers?”

4. Send out emails consistently

If you promise weekly emails, then make sure you send out weekly emails. And I will have to admit that I have personally fallen short to keep that promise the past two weeks due to some technical problems (such as my laptop crashing for a week) and other life-just-got-in-the-way kind of reasons.

However, apart from this recent hiccup, I always make sure to have an email sent out every week. Your subscribers need to know that you will deliver what you promise them.

One more reason to send emails consistently is that you don’t want your subscribers to forget about you.

If you send emails and then stop for a month or so and then start sending emails inconsistently, you will lose that connection which you have built with your subscribers and they could lose interest in your emails all-together because they will have forgotten about you.

Real life example:

I remember I once signed up to a financial advisor’s email list that promised a 7-day free course on a certain topic. I was interested in this topic and I signed up expecting I will be receiving an email every day for 7 days that will cover the subject.

But what happened was that I received the first email and then received the second one about 3-weeks later and then the 3rd one a week after that, it was so weird and got me puzzled. Of course by the time I received the second email, I had completely forgot about this course and already lost interest.

I eventually unsubscribed from their list because I was no longer interested in the subject; they failed to provide what I needed at the time they were supposed to provide it.

5. Do not spam your subscribers

There is the sending-consistently-to-not-be-forgotten-about, and then there is the sending-too-many-emails they will want to forget about you.

While your email list subscribers are mostly your loyal audience, they still have the option to unsubscribe from your list at any given moment.

And the reason most people would go through this step is if they feel like they are receiving too many emails from you. I know this is the number one reason why I would unsubscribe from a list.

If you promise your subscribers a 7-day email course, then sending an email every day that is part of this course they subscribed to get is okay and acceptable.

But if you send out an email every day, unannounced and unasked for, to ask people to check your new blog post, buy your new product, enroll in your course, or send emails with affiliate links and ask them to go buy this or that, this is called spamming.

And most people will feel that you are distracting them from probably more important and more useful emails that they have in their inbox. And so they will end up unsubscribing from your list.

If you want to have people buy your product or visit your website, flooding them with emails will not make that happen.

Instead, if you want them to buy a product, you can send out one email to announce that a product is in the works, another when it is available for purchase, and maybe one more as a reminder email that this product is now available.

Make sure that there is a space of a few days between one email and the other, and within this email make sure you explain why this is a good product and how it will benefit them.

If what you want is just for them to visit your website to read your new posts, then an email once a week to send a recap of what has been published on your website is enough.

It is also a good idea if you mention clearly from the start, in the sign up form, how many emails you will send out or how often your subscribers will be hearing from you, be it daily, twice a week, weekly, or monthly, so they would have an idea and know what to expect before signing up.

6. Write an attention-grabbing subject

Before sending your email, you should put in mind this one final thought: Why would someone open this email?

Every website asks their visitors to subscribe to their mailing list and most people have their inboxes full of those mailing lists emails. You know this is true because you are probably also subscribed to a good number of other websites yourself.

So if you don’t know how to grab your subscribers attention to your email, it will get lost in the piles of other emails of product offers and newsletters in their inbox.

When writing the subject line of your email, make sure it is as descriptive and as short as possible. In 4 or 5 words you will have to attract this person’s attention.

The way to do this is if you know what your subscribers actually need or what they may be interested in learning or buying.

If it’s an offer make sure it says so, if there is a discount/sale mention it, if it is information that will help them achieve something or learn to do something then make sure they know what they will learn in the subject line.

As easy and effortless as it is to press on an email to read it, but even this task requires you to push people to do it, because when there are dozens of other emails that require the same simple task, it becomes competitive for you and daunting for the reader.

So they will only open the email they feel has a potential to benefit them and be worth the little time they probably dedicated to check their emails.

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Till next week, happy days!

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The Science Of Creativity And How To Fight A Creative Block

Can you become more creative? How does your brain create things? What is a creative block and how do you fight it? If you use creativity in any aspect of your life, then these are questions you might want to have the answer to.

Creativity is not only about art. We use creativity almost everyday in our life. And probably in every business out there, creativity is one of the main requirements. In order to be successful in any field you have got to be creative.

But what is creativity and how can you be creative?

Let’s find out.


Jump to:


What is creativity?

Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible or a physical object.

And in the words of a great creator:

Creativity is just connecting things.
When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.

Steve Jobs

What is the science behind creativity?

Did you ever wonder about what happens in your brain when you come up with an idea or manage to solve a problem? How does your brain create things?

It has been suggested in one study that creativity is a twofold process, in which an initial improvisatory phase, characterized by spontaneous generation of new material, is followed by a period of focused re-evaluation and revision.

And apparently, contrary to general belief that there is a specific part of your brain (the right side) that is responsible for creativity, creativity does not involve a single brain region or single side of the brain.

The creative process however involves both sides of the brain. This process is divided into four parts: Preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification.

Graham Wallis, a researcher, explained the four-stage process that goes through the person’s brain when they try to come up with a creative solution to a problem as follows:

1. In the preparation stage, we define the problem or desire, and gather any information the solution needs.

2. In the incubation stage, we step back from the problem and let our minds contemplate and work it through. Like preparation, incubation can last minutes, weeks, even years.

3. In the illumination stage, ideas arise from the mind to provide the basis of a creative response. These ideas can be the entire solution or just pieces. Unlike the other stages, illumination is often very brief, involving a tremendous rush of insights within a few minutes or hours.

4. In verification, the final stage, one carries out activities to demonstrate whether or not what emerged in illumination satisfies the need and the criteria defined in the preparation stage.

The first and last stages are left brain activities, while the second and third stages belong to the right brain.

How can one become creative?

I didn’t know that you can “become” creative. I thought creativity was mainly a gift. Some people are born creative and others are not, and that’s it.

But it turns out there is a lot more to creativity than that. While there is a genetics part to it, creativity is mostly developed through experience.

Creativity is a muscle you develop.

Mark Rober

It all depends on the experiences you have been through and how you train your brain to use the information it has.

Creativity is your ability to bring the most unrelated things and create a connection between them.

If you know hip hop music, then you probably know what freestyle is. Freestyle is a style of improvisation in which unrehearsed lyrics are recited with no particular subject or structure; where rappers use random words that has nothing to do with each other and create a rhyming lyrical content. This is one great example of how creativity works.

A study was made on a number of freestyle rappers in 2012. The scientists asked a number of rappers to freestyle lyrics and scanned their brains while they were rapping those random words, to find a way to figure how creativity works and what happens in the brain during the creative process. You can read more about this study here.

I’ve read a number of articles and watched a few videos on this subject of being creative and one of those that stood out for me was a TEDx talk by Balder Onarheim.

He gave three ways you can practice creativity and I found them quite interesting.

  1. Think of 3 unrelated words while brushing your teeth
  2. Use your dreams to solve a problem
  3. Use Wikipedia’s “Random Article”

Tooth Brush

He asks you to challenge yourself while brushing your teeth, before you go to bed every night, to come up with three words that are completely unrelated to each other. And then try to create some form of connection. This is something similar to being able to freestyle.

This is a way for you to train your brain to find connections between things that wouldn’t normally have a connection, and that on the long run strengthens your creative abilities.

Dreams

First of all, there are four stages of sleep, the fourth and last one of them is the rapid eye movement (REM) stage which is when we are dreaming and this stage takes place every 90-110 minutes, this is how long it takes for a complete sleep cycle.

And if you wake up right after this stage, you will be able to remember clearly what your dream was about.

And, in the video, Onarheim suggests that before you go to sleep, think of all the information you have on a certain problem or block that is stopping you, but don’t try to solve it, only recite the details as if giving raw information to someone else.

Because in dreams there are no rules and no constraints on what can and can’t happen. There is no logic; your mind wanders freely, and so you would most likely be able to find a connection that you weren’t able to see or figure something that you weren’t able to think of while awake.

You may want to read this article about how to use your dreams to solve a problem as it also suggests some ways to help you remember your dreams better.

And here is a number of famous examples where people got their best and most famous ideas from their dreams.

Wikipedia

The third suggestion is if you are stuck right now and need to come up with a solution, you may use something like Wikipedia’s Random Article option and regardless of what this article is about, you must read and find some form of solution out of this article.

I tried this one myself when I was stuck and while it didn’t direct me to the exact idea I was looking for, it did help in the brainstorming process.

There are many more things you can do to work on your creativity, read those other 9 ways to become more creative.

9 ways to become more creative in the next 10 minutes. on pinterest.
image from mission.org Click to Pin It on Pinterest.

What is a creative block?

So when you have worked on your creativity and practiced all the ways, and you’ve successfully become a creative person now!

Then all of a sudden your mind surprises you with creative blocks. It is when your mind refuses to let loose and create more. It is the inability to access your internal creativity.

And it often seems to happen when you’re in a desperate need of being creative. Because that’s how life works apparently.

My experience with a creative block this week

This past week, among a few other things, a block was in the way of me writing something new and caused me to be late for the first time to publish my blog post.

I received a call from my father a few days ago and I told him I feel bad because it seems like I will miss this week’s post and when he asked me why, I didn’t know what to say, because when I tried to find a reason, I couldn’t come up with one. And I felt so stupid.

The initial thought I had of the reason I couldn’t create something was because I wasn’t feeling it. I simply thought I lacked the motivation to do it.

But when I put more thought into it, I realized it was because I felt too much pressure. I felt like I had to put something out there that was so well-thought-out, perfectly researched and executed.

I needed to put a perfect article, but I wasn’t in the state of mind to create something this good and I didn’t have enough time, which added even more pressure.

And even though, deep down, I know that done is always better than perfect, I couldn’t make myself publish something that I wasn’t 100% satisfied with.

I have spent four days in a row in a mental fight with myself. And it was something like this:

I need to create something, but I don’t have the energy because there is too much pressure and too little time, and it needs to be perfect, but I can’t create perfect. I suck.

When I finally missed the deadline and couldn’t manage to publish anything in time, feelings of pressure were replaced with feelings of guilt. I was still facing the mental block but I was no longer anxious, I was simply sad.

However, when I was no longer anxious, I was able to think more clearly. And what I learned through this process is to identify what the voices in my head are saying.

I simply lost the purpose of my blog and this is why I felt the pressure and felt that I had to have a perfect article published.

The purpose of this blog was for me to learn something new every week, it is a way for me to document what I learn, this is why I started it.

However, recently this perspective started to shift and I started to think of it as a way to teach people something new.

This change of perspective, though might seem trivial, has hugely impacted my entire process. It was no longer about self-improvement, it has become an obligation towards others. It has become a pressure to put something that matches people’s expectations.

And that was what caused my creative block.

I just had to go back and think and realize why I got stuck in my head in the first place.

Once I realized this, and once I got this initial perspective back, I carried on with my process as usual. I realized that I don’t have to get it perfectly right every single time, not every week’s article needs to be “the best article I have ever written.”

It’s fine to put something that is not my absolute best, and work on enhancing later, or create something better the following week.

No one can get it right all the time. And no has to get it right all the time.

How do you fight a creative block?

I’m sure every creative person has to go through a creative block at one point throughout their creative process. It can cause loss of motivation and a lot of self doubt.

And it can be difficult to get past a creative block, but being aware of when and why a creative block develops can help in avoiding it.

I have read somewhere that in order to fight a creative block, you first need to identify your resistances.

A resistance is whatever it is that keeps you from creating. It is that internal voice in your head that tells you, “don’t create anything today.”

It could be fear. Fear of failure or rejection, fear of judgment, fear of facing an audience.

It could be a voice telling you no one cares about what you create.

It could be your mind telling you there is someone out there who is doing it better anyway.

It could be you comparing your work with someone else’s and feeling you will never match their talent and execution.

There are so many reasons as to why you will have this voice telling you not to create, and to be able to fight it, you will have to give yourself a moment to realize why it is telling you this.

Once you realize your resistances, you can then work on eliminating them.

Think of a creative block like having your brain in a cage, once you know what the cage is made of, you will be able to unlock it.

In my case, it was losing perspective of my process, losing the vision and also the need for perfection. When I identified those things, the resistances, I managed to get my perspective back and realize I was wrong, and that helped me get out of this block.

You may want to check this article that discusses a number of reasons as to why you may have a creative block and suggests some solutions for each one.

It is also worth mentioning that in some cases people can consider several types of therapy to help them with creative blocks.

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Suggestions from the Twitter-verse

I asked creative people on Twitter about what things they do that helps them get out of a creative bock and there were a lot of good suggestions, and some of them could be helpful to whoever reads it.

“I make a list of ideas I want to write about. Organization and accomplishment are big motivators for my writing. I also clean when I’m in a slump, b/c I’m more productive in a clean/organized environment.”
The Prepping Wife

“I just have to walk away and do something else. Inspiration usually strikes when I’m in the shower or about to fall asleep.”
Mom of the Moment

“I keep lots of different projects going at once. If i get burnt out on one, there’s usually another style, another topic, that i can write about.”
Kella Hanna-Wayne

“I usually turn on a documentary or series on PBS which slso tends to get my inspiration spinning. I also find cider helps too – a glass tends to help make me more confident and less doubtful.”
Peacoat Travels

“I also find that reading a book unrelated to anything I do helps. I’m a musician and have recently started writing for fun. Reading gets me out of my own head.”
My Unexpected Life

“Visiting a place I haven’t been to before or in a long time.”
Sean Flac 2.0

“I actually play video games haha. Or go for a walk if it’s nice out.”
In Asian Spaces

“A long run to clear my thoughts or a little girl time with friends usually inspires me — especially the topics that come up (some may not be appropriate for my blog, but they inspire none the less).”
LifeTravelStilettos

“I disconnect from technology, social media & the society. So as to reconnect with my soul and my creativity in nature and silence.”
Neha Gunnoo

“Depending on my creativity to keep a roof over my head means I don’t have the luxury of blocks. I dig in & do the work. When it gets tough, I’ll switch projects for awhile, or do something physical. Or shower. I work through tough plot points in the shower.”
Devon Ellington

“Sit down and write out a first draft with as many related words as possible. So if I’m interested in writing about fitness I would think about related keywords and jot them down, this gets the creative juices flowing…”
Underground Fitness

“Watch something on Netflix, read a small book, take a stroll, start writing in a little notebook, listen to some music. Those are all warmups to me.”
M. Lanen-de Vries

If you have other methods you use to fight creative block yourself, please share them in the comments below.

Till next week, happy days!

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