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By Tammy Miller Design

You've decided to get serious about social media. But creating a smart social media marketing program that reaches customers—your customers—is more challenging than simply collecting followers. You need to set internal expectations, put policies into place, inspire people to take action, and measure your program for success. In short, you need a plan. 

That's why we work with MarketingProfs who have created SmartTools: Social Media Marketing. We've pulled together the critical steps to planning, executing, measuring, and optimizing social media programs that meet your business objectives. 


Through eight simple to follow, well-defined steps, we will help you connect with your customers, build relationships, and compel them to take action—action that you can measure. With this online service you'll ...

  1. Understand what's involved, secure internal buy-in, and forecast required resources and costs.
  2. Analyze the market to locate your customers and your competitors, and find out what's being said about you now.
  3. Devise a strategy, determine how you will measure success, and select the media that fit your business best.
  4. Prepare your team and mitigate risk with a corporate policy, best practices, and staff training.
  5. Prepare to launch with an engaging presence that inspires your target audience to connect.
  6. Activate your audience by boosting fan advocacy and making peer sharing easy.
  7. Evaluate results and optimize your efforts to assure continued success over time.
  8. Plan for possibilities by preparing for potential problems—and success.

Not a linear thinker? Waiting for decisions to complete an earlier step, but don't want to wait to tackle another? With our Web service, jump between planning phases within your project with ease; save your work before moving on and come back to complete it later. And, if you need to create distinct plans for a few different projects, we've got you covered: simply start and save as many new tools as you need to cover them all. 

By Tammy Miller Design

I lived in the dormitories for the first two years I was in college. Life on campus tended to be a bit boring, though. But there was one building down the hill that was known for providing entertainment. The inhabitants tended to throw parties for pretty much any reason—not just end-of-finals parties, but the-power's-gone-out parties, and even the-cafeteria-served-something-gross parties. Any excuse was enough of an excuse to party.

Redesigning your business brand is a big to-do. You have to do a lot of soul-searching, answering hard questions, to figure out the story that your brand needs to tell your target audience.

Then, there's the design process itself—working with a designer, looking at rounds and rounds of sketches to finalize the logo, and deciding on a Visual Vocabulary with the spark and subtlety to communicate your story.

Finally, you need to design all the supporting materials you market your business with. That means designing and printing stationery, creating a website, updating your HTML newsletter template, changing your brochures... The list goes on and on.

And, after it's all over, your new brand gets launched in "stealth mode."

Once the redesign is done, many small businesses launch it silently. They change their logos, business cards, and websites one day—sometimes without so much as an announcement or a "By the way... " to their customers. Not only are they potentially confusing and alienating them, but they're also missing out on a great excuse to party!

Do you mean to literally throw a party?

If you like to host parties, then sure, go ahead! You can throw an in-person party at your offices or at another location like a restaurant or bar if you work out of your home or if your offices are too small. You can also throw a party in an "open house" format, which can take some of the pressure off you and your space. Or, if your clients are located far from your offices, you can throw a virtual networking party on a teleconference.

If throwing an actual party isn't your speed, there are still plenty of things you can do to celebrate your new brand and to make sure you're not launching in stealth mode.

  • Make an announcement on your website about the new brand. Consider posting your old brand for reference and to reassure customers that they're in the right spot.
  • Write a press release—and send it to your trade journals and local newspapers. Your small business may not get rebranding coverage in the Wall Street Journal, but your local newspaper will be likely to run at least a blurb about the change. You may even catch a journalist's eye and get a longer write-up.
  • Send a letter to your past clients about the new brand. This will ensure that they feel included, and it will also give you a chance to connect with people you may not have spoken to in a while. If you offer a free check-up or consultation with the letter, you may even rekindle some old relationships.
  • Feature some of the story of your new brand in your newsletter. Tell your customers and prospects what it took to get there.
  • Put your brand story on your website. Not only will this give you a way to celebrate your new brand, but it will also give you an opportunity to explain your company's personality right there in the "About" section.
  • Tell your employees about the details of the change. This is another great excuse for a party—even a simple cake-and-ice cream affair can go a long way towards generating employee goodwill. And it will give you an opportunity to tell them about the new brand and its meaning and get them involved in the change.
  • Send a present to your customers and contacts. Print—and give out—new promotional items, such as pens, flashlights, or blinky toys. This can give them something to get excited about. And giving them something with the new logo on it can help them remember your business more quickly, which is essential to any brand.
  • Run a special promotion, offer or giveaway in conjunction with the new brand announcement. If you really want people to notice your new brand, giving something away might be just the ticket.

Rebranding your business may not be as obvious a reason to party as the end of college finals, but it's still a reason to celebrate. At the very least, you'll help to avoid alienating your customers. At the very best, you can get positive exposure for your business—and have a good time while doing it! 

By Tammy Miller Design

Social media is full of numbers, but most of the time we don't use them in any actionable way. The reason is simple: Social metrics are often too complicated to understand, and they provide few clues on how we can improve our success.

The reality is that the return on social media marketing can vary widely for each business. Some companies see quick and immediate returns, while others fail to see much of anything at all. What could the problem be? And, more important, how can we be sure that our business won't fail online?

This article looks to answer those questions by offering a few quick-and-dirty methods for gauging your online marketing strengths and weaknesses.

Through the use of these basic metrics (the data for which you are in all likelihood already gathering), you can gain insight about how you are actually performing and glean some good ideas on how you can improve performance.

We'll start by asking three key questions, and then we'll do some basic calculations to measure our success in each area:

  1. Are my efforts bringing traffic to my website?
  2. Is my social reach growing?
  3. Are people enjoying my content?

Remember, these are intended to be rough calculations that give us a general idea of success. They may not be perfect, but they will give you actionable insights you need to succeed online.

Question 1: Are my efforts bringing traffic to my website?

One of the primary reasons for any business to get involved in social media is to bring traffic to its website. Your social presence has intrinsic importance, but it means much more if it's serving that greater need. Without being obnoxious and sharing a link to your website every five minutes, you should make sure that a steady stream of traffic is flowing as a result of well-planned efforts on your social media properties.

The good news is that most of us are already tracking this information. Google Analytics is free and can be installed on your site easily. If your site is running on WordPress, then the Jetpack plug-in will provide you with a completely free stats package in a matter of minutes.

Once you have implemented an effective method for monitoring traffic, you need to check on two metrics: monthly referral traffic and month-over-month traffic growth.

Metric 1: Monthly Referral Traffic

You need to know where your traffic is coming from. For most websites, the top source of traffic will be Google. After that, though, you should be seeing the social networks that you participate on. A simple way to measure their share of traffic is to add up all of the visits from social networks in a month, and then divide that number by total traffic. That calculation will tell you what percentage of your traffic is generated from social media:

Metric 2: Month-Over-Month Traffic Growth

Most stats packages track two useful types of monthly traffic (among others): new visitors and total pageviews. Don't get hung up on either; for tracking purposes, just pick one. Take a single month's traffic and compare it to the traffic from the same month in the previous year. You will end up with something like this:

This is a helpful metric to track each month. I have a spreadsheet set up in Google Docs documenting our progress month over month for the last couple of years.

Question 2: Is my social reach growing?

Social reach is basically a reference to the size of your social media audience. It is true that every social network prominently displays your follower count on its site, but how much do these numbers really matter?

More and more, I am convinced that those are merely vanity metrics that deserve little attention. To calculate the true reach of our social media messages, you need to look beyond those vanity metrics with a couple of simple calculations.

Metric 1: Potential Audience Reach

Potential audience reach can be determined by measuring the number of people participating in sharing your posts and adding up the number of followers that they potentially serve.

For Twitter, that can be done manually. On Facebook, it is a bit more difficult, but it can be done via Facebook Insights.

Metric 2: Email List Conversion

Believe it or not, the growth of your email list provides a reasonable indicator of your social media success. As your social and blogging efforts bring new traffic, that traffic should result in new subscribers and followers. Tracking that growth is easy. This metric will tell you approximately how many conversions resulted from your social activity:

Question 3: Are people enjoying my content?

We know that great content matters most for social media success. Your followers want useful and helpful information. The great thing about social media is that consumers of your content have a variety of methods for "voting" on its quality.

Metric 1: Total Engagement Score

This simple metric will give you a glimpse of the big picture. By measuring a variety of metrics in one simple score, you can get a pretty good idea of how interesting and engaging our content really is. For each week, complete the following calculation:

Metric 2: User Feedback Wall

Frequently, commenters or email recipients will let you know what they think of your content. Usually, such comments are within a larger comment, but they are very important for you to notice. Start a Google Doc that will help you organize and track you feedback. You could break that feedback down into a few possible metrics, including this one:

Conclusion: Taking Action

Perhaps you have your own equations you use to track metrics. The key is to track them consistently and over a period of time to ensure you have stable numbers for measuring growth.

Tracking metrics this way can be a lot of work, but the reward is clear: You will be able to measure your success, and you'll have numbers to prove it to your team and to management.

The biggest benefit of these simple calculations is a good understanding of where you are succeeding and where you are falling short. They may be quick and dirty, but they can help you make changes that will improve your social media presence over the long term.

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