Marketing to Millennials : Understanding the Changing Rules

Marketing to Millennials : Understanding the Changing Rules

As the buying power of millennials grows, marketers have worked diligently to capture the attention of these consumers. The habits of these buyers differ to the patterns once observed in the generations before them, however, making it vitally important for small businesses to experiment with innovative advertising and marketing techniques. In the United States alone, millennials account for some 76.6 million individuals, making it imperative to focus on courting their pocketbooks.

The Power of Choice

Before the advent of the Internet, buyers were extremely limited in their options. Millennials have grown up surrounded by choices, however, with myriad brands and businesses competing for their attention. In the average millennial buyer, this has created an expectation of multiple price points and variations of the same products or services. Shifting social pressures and unstable economic environments have further altered the traditional marketing model, as millennials pursue different paths in adulthood. Whereas baby boomers were marrying and having children in their early twenties, many millennials take things more slowly. Some of these buyers still live at home with their parents, while others are singletons pursuing high-level careers without the added responsibilities of domestic life. Catering to the various segments within the millennial population is a challenging equation.

Examining Wants & Desires

Marketers have always worked to address the wants and desires of buyers, often creating a perceived need even when one does not exist. In a report compiled by global insight firm CEB, businesses were found to be more successful with millennials when they embraced three key marketing strategies: understanding the audience’s values, realistically assessing the buyer’s spending power and lifestyle, and “involving” these consumers, as opposed to simply selling a product. Real-world applications of these strategies are particularly evident in the hospitality industry, with restaurants working to cater to the millennial crowd. Millennials are more apt to spend time eating out with friends, as they’re not limited by spouses and young children. Furthermore, these buyers are on the hunt for a multitude of choices, as evidenced by the popularity of services like Yelp, which highlight a number of businesses operating in any given area. To answer this need, many chefs work on creating new menus at varying price points, which can help keep young buyers engaged with the brand. Life will be changing rapidly for millennials in the years to come, as many of these young adults begin to settle down and establish families of their own. Marketing trends experts still believe millennials will be driven by a desire for plenty of options, however, and the core values of these buyers will likely remain constant. Because the nature of the millennial marketing game is evolving, it’s important for small businesses to carefully monitor the situation and not feel hesitant about trying various techniques to see what works best.

Social Strategy: Exploring the Top Social Media Sites You Need to Manage

Social Strategy: Exploring the Top Social Media Sites You Need to Manage

With over half of the adult population now connected to a social media network, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of the social web for digital marketing purposes. Many entrepreneurs and small business owners struggle to juggle the responsibilities on their plate, however, and social marketing often falls to the very bottom of a long to-do list. If you can’t commit to spending endless hours working on your social marketing campaign, don’t despair. Instead, learn to maximize your efforts by identifying the networks that will best serve your business.

Tackling the Large Networks: Facebook and Twitter

Much of the attention surrounding social media focuses on Facebook and Twitter, and with good reason. According to the Pew Research Center, 71% of all online adults have an active Facebook profile. Twitter has a smaller user base, but its attracts a more diverse crowd of social influencers. Both platforms can generate real results for a grassroots marketing campaign, and with so many users already connected to these networks, it makes logical sense to join the crowd. As the old adage goes, meet your customers where they’re at—in the digital age, they’re on Twitter and Facebook!

Joining Niche Social Networks: Demographics are Key

Defining your target audience falls under the auspices of Marketing 101, but many business owners forget to consider the demographics of social media users. For example, 90% of Instagram’s 150 million users are under the age of 35. Technology groups, apparel designers, and entertainment brands achieve great results on this network, but you’ll have lackluster results if trying to connect with a middle-aged consumer.

The demographics of the average social user can reveal a great deal about a particular platform’s potential for your marketing strategy. Spend some time getting familiar with networks like Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube before you commit to maintaining a new profile. If your target audience isn’t already using these platforms, it doesn’t make sense to expend your energy here.

Identifying Important Industry Leaders

Social proof can make or break your business, which is why it’s essential to develop a proactive strategy for dealing with online customer feedback. 85% of consumers report using online reviews for local businesses to make purchasing decisions. The power of Yelp, Travelocity, and other sites that feature user-generated reviews is undeniable, particularly for businesses in the service industry. An active presence on these networks simply isn’t negotiable. Don’t just join these networks, but respond to feedback publicly. This approach helps build your credibility and increase your brand’s clout.

Once you have established where to direct your energy, develop a consistent management strategy to reap the rewards of your social media marketing efforts. Continually updating your profiles, sharing valuable content, and engaging your followers in meaningful conversations all help propel your business forward. Choose to make contributions to social media a regular part of your day-to-day business operations, and you’re bound to see impressive results.

Social Marketing: How to Create Shareable Content

Social Marketing: How to Create Shareable Content

With millions of connected users across the globe, it’s hard to overestimate the power of the social web. Traditional word-of-mouth marketing can’t hold a candle to a viral web story, which is why it’s important to focus on crafting content that captures the attention of the masses. If you’re eager to harness the power of the social web for your business, use the following five tips to gain more followers, create shareable content, expand your brand clout, and ultimately, drive your bottom line upwards.

1. Elicit an Emotional Response

If you’ve ever found yourself crying over a Hallmark commercial, you’ve experienced the power an emotional advertising campaign has on its audience. Research conducted at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that good news spreads faster over social media than negative information. Tell a story through your content and aim to tug on the heart strings of your followers to maximize your content’s leverage.

2. Focus on Aesthetic Appeal

Audience perception plays a vital role in the success of your content. Not only should you craft text, photos, and videos that demonstrate authority within your niche, but you also need to ensure visual appearances aren’t neglected. Invest in a quality responsive site theme, or partner with a freelance graphic artist to produce stunning visuals for your content marketing campaign. Content that looks appealing makes a bigger impact.

3. Respond Quickly to Current Events

As stories gain traction online, Facebook and Twitter will often recognize these as trending subjects. Savvy marketers can use these trending topics to catapult their content to new heights. As web users search for information on these events, related content is displayed.

While sharing content tied to current events can result in a dramatic uptick in the popularity of your materials, you should always exercise caution when taking this approach. Too many brands have tried to tie their content to extremely sensitive subjects, in turn incurring the wrath of the blogosphere. Keep your content relevant, appropriate, and respectful to avoid this pitfall.

4. Reshare Old Content

In the current marketing landscape, it isn’t uncommon for a new blog post, video, or ad to be quickly replaced by content from other sources. Don’t craft a long post, publicize it once, and call it a day. Instead, reshare old content frequently, ensuring new followers discover it and those who may have missed it have a chance to see it again. This approach helps conserve marketing dollars and boost the power each piece of content holds.

5. Make it Easy to Share

If you want your readers to share your content, don’t ask them to jump through a million hoops. Instead, provide sharing buttons on your website that make it easy to broadcast your content with the click of the mouse. Plenty of WordPress plugins provide this functionality, helping you ensure your content reaches the largest audience possible.

Food Styling: 5 Simple Tips to Make Your Photos Pop

Food Styling: 5 Simple Tips to Make Your Photos Pop

Conjuring up the right words to describe the delicious aroma of a decadent dessert or the stunning visual artistry of an entree often proves tricky. As the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words and modern consumers are eager to share their indulgences with the world via social media. Many social media users share these photos with the cheeky hashtag, #FoodPorn.

Whether you’re a restauranteur courting would-be diners or an entrepreneur blogger showcasing your latest creation, mastering the art of the simple food shot is vitally important. Use the following simple tools to take photos your followers will be thrilled to share with the world.


Find the Light

It doesn’t take an artistic genius to know bright fluorescent lighting rarely makes for a great photos. On the flip side, you’ll also want to avoid taking pictures of your food in a dimly-lit restaurant. Instead, try to flood your frame with natural light, which highlights the dish’s appearance without washing it out. If your photo looks washed out, try to adjust your white balance to correct the color.


Keep Distractions to a Minimum

Your food should be the star of the show, which is why it’s always preferable to eschew patterned dishware and busy backgrounds in your photos. Keep overall photo composition clearly in mind—remember, social media users will likely see a small thumbnail of your picture. If you crowd the shot with too many items, your picture will fall flat.


Bring Your Audience to the Kitchen

While it’s only natural to focus on your finished product, social media users love to take a trip behind the scenes from time to time. Why not amp up the value of your photos by including pictures of the actual cooking process? Bowls of batter, boiling vats of oil, and ingredients in their raw form can all look contribute to a great feature piece on a particular food item.


Play with Angles and Bites

Don’t position your camera directly over your dish, take a snap, and call it a day. Try some different angles to add interest to your photos and discover which perspective best highlights your dish. You might also want to interact with the food, using a fork to stab a bite or photographing a piece of cake in hand. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and try to transport them through the image itself.


Forget Hot Out of the Oven

Advertisers have long used visual tricks to make food photos more appealing. Mashed potatoes stand in perfectly for ice cream, and Elmer’s glue looks more appealing than mayonnaise. You might not want to dabble with non-edible ingredients, but at the very least, experiment with photographing your food at different temperatures and add various components at different stages of the photography process.

Social Strategy: Developing a Plan to Maximize Your Social Media Efforts

Many small businesses flock to social media in the hopes of supercharging their digital marketing efforts, but few companies manage to make a lasting impact online. Harnessing the potential of social platforms requires a carefully structured strategy, much like a traditional marketing plan. If you’re ready to boost your business’ prowess on the social web, use the following keys to begin building your social media strategy.

Defining Your Goals

Don’t simply create a social media profile and hope for the best. Instead, set specific goals you’d like to achieve, and then work out how you plan to reach those milestones. It’s better to set measurable goals and link them to a specific timeline, which will help you stay on the right track.

As with any marketing initiative, develop a clear target audience for your social accounts. If you know which audience you’re trying to reach, you’ll better direct your energy on the web. For example, Facebook may be the best platform for reaching a wide, general audience, but LinkedIn is better suited for B2B marketers. Use statistics and consumer research to determine which platforms you should explore. From Instagram to Pinterest, the options are nearly unlimited.

Creating Content for the Web

Once you’ve established where you’re headed, begin crafting content that will help you meet your goals. Brainstorm ideas for blog posts, videos, and images you can share to generate interest. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas and concepts—you never know what could turn viral.

Whether you want to post once a week or twice a month, consistency is important. Your followers will come to expect the same regular interactions, so don’t leave them in the dark while you go on vacation or get busy with other things. If you struggle with this idea, consider creating an editorial calendar to track your progress.

Building Your Presence

Don’t be that sad business with 15 followers and 6 lonely tweets. Once you commit to launching your social media efforts, attack in full force. Be proactive about responding to comments, actively seek out new followers, and monitor activity on a daily basis.

If you aren’t able to commit to updating your accounts on a regular basis, consider partnering with an agency that can manage your profiles for you. As your popularity online grows, your accounts may need several hours worth of your attention each week. If you don’t have the time to personally commit to growing your network, an agency can help you ensure your goals don’t fall to the wayside.

Regardless of which approach you take, don’t be tempted to forego social media altogether. According to statistics from the Social Media Examiner, 95% of businesses active on social platforms in 2014 saw increased exposure for their brand—the numbers don’t lie. Make your social accounts a priority and watch your brand build momentum that could last a lifetime

5 Steps for a More Effective Social Media Marketing Plan for 2017

Social media has radically redefined how modern brands think about marketing to consumers, but many small businesses struggle to hit the right note with their customers. Without the proper direction, your social media efforts will likely fall flat. If you’re tired of lackluster results from your social marketing endeavors, use these five simple steps to develop a more effective marketing plan for the new year.

1. Consistency: Sticking to Your Commitment

Many businesses join networks like Twitter and Facebook with the best of intentions, only to flake on their marketing efforts a few months later. Think of your social campaigns like a snowball rolling down the hill. The snowball starts small, but it can only grow if you keep pushing it. Use this simple guide to understand how frequently you need to post to maximize engagement.

You also need to ensure that your status updates feel cohesive. The Content Marketing Institute recommends considering the imagery, tone, and subject matter of your updates. Don’t confuse your followers with a disjointed message.

2. Engaging: Remember, Social Networking is a Conversation.

Plenty of small businesses treat their social networking efforts as little more than a promotional vehicle. Instead of stepping on your soapbox and yelling about your upcoming sale, use your social platforms to engage with your customers. Respond to their messages, and don’t be afraid to inject a bit of personality into your conversations. Effective social marketers foster better relationships through consistently interactions.

3. Relevance: Does Your Content Matter?

The world’s most successful social marketers understand the importance of sharing content that is relevant to a brand’s message. Unlike blog posts or newsletter copy, social shares are often brief and to the point. This doesn’t mean relevancy should fly out the window, however. Focus on crafting updates that make sense as part of the bigger picture. This will help you grow your following organically, while converting casual followers into fervent brand devotees.

4. Sharing: Forget the “One & Done” Approach

Most marketers use their social accounts as a way of sharing content from their website, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this technique. It’s important to remember, however, that only a small fraction of your followers see each individual update. Kissmetrics advises sharing your content multiple times, in order to connect with the largest audience possible.

5. Images: Boost the Impact of Your Updates

It’s always easiest to share a small written message with your followers, but images have consistently been proven to increase engagement on social networks. For example, including an image can increase your retweets on Twitter by 150%. If you’re feeling ambitious, you might also want to consider using video to further captivate your digital audience.

Much like any other marketing tool, social networking takes plenty of hard work. By building a thoughtful marketing strategy as you head into the new year, you’ll ensure your social efforts don’t go unnoticed. Make updating your accounts part of your daily routine, and with a bit of luck, you should see your engagement increasing as time moves forward.