SelfInformed

Your monthly source for the latest news for your micro-business. From operations and marketing to legislative updates from Capitol Hill, SelfInformed has it all!

SelfInformed - April 2016

Last year the NASE awarded 12 Grants and 4 scholarships totaling $60,000. We were able to highlight most of last year’s recipients in our December 2015 issue; however, due to timing we were not able to recognize all winners. We wanted to ensure all winners were recognized, below are the Growth Grant Recipients who each received $4,000 at the end of last year to grow and expand their business.

Facebook Marketing

For Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses


Overview:
There are so many social media channels out there these days, it’s hard to determine which ones are more effective and worth your time to market your business. I will focus on Facebook marketing, as I find it the most effective and affordable for small business owners to get their message and brand noticed. Facebook marketing is an excellent way to grow your business, and you can have fun while doing it.

Facebook is the big one for small business marketing; it has been around a long time and is focusing on companies marketing their products through the Facebook platform. The platform offers great tools like boosted posts, paid targeting ads, and a relatively new Facebook pixel so you can track exactly what consumers do once on your website. The added bonus is Facebook provides analytics on your campaigns, so you can adjust your creative, messaging, audience, etc. to optimize engagement and results.

An Infosys Study Found:
Consumers interact with retailers’ Facebook pages (38 percent) more than the brands’ own websites (36 percent); a difference that is significantly more pronounced for younger consumers
89 percent of those who interact with a retailer online through any social media outlet say that the interaction has an impact on their purchase

The second finding really stands out and is extremely important to small business owners. It means you can utilize your Facebook page to fully engage your audience and have an important and impactful influence on their buying decisions. That’s incredible!

And if you need even more convincing, take a look at the reach and demographics of the Facebook audience:

Facebook Demographics
Among internet users, the % who use Facebook

Internet users

Total

72%

Men

66

Women

77

White, Non-Hispanic

70

Black, Non-Hispanic (n=85)

67

Hispanic

75

18-29

82

30-49

79

50-64

64

65+

48

High school grad or less

71

Some college

72

College+

72

Less than $30,000/yr

73

$30,000-$49,999

72

$50,000-$74,999

66

$75,000

78

Urban

74

Suburban

72

Rural

67

Source: Pew Research Center, March 17-April 12, 2015
Pew Research Center


You can see that Facebook has a gigantic presence in people’s lives when 72% of all Internet users are on Facebook. And Facebook is now a place for all ages and demographics, and an ideal platform to market your business, regardless what your targeted audience may be. Another demographic of note is the data on income. When you see 78% of those with incomes of $75K+ are on Facebook, you know there is money to be made and sales to grow your business. Next I will list tips for optimizing your business presence on Facebook and connecting with your potential customers and clients.

Top Tips for Optimizing Facebook Marketing

Tip 1 – Original Content
Be sure to write engaging and useful content for your audience. You can easily import your blog (if you have one) into your Facebook page, but also make sure to write original posts for your Facebook audience. (You can schedule multiple posts to save time via scheduled posts.) There is no set rule for how many posts you should put out in a day. I’d say one is the minimum but only if you have quality content to share. Never post a weak post just to have something to put out there. This type of posting leads to people un-liking your page, which is the opposite of what were shooting for. A helpful tool is the build out your content calendar to manage your content delivery schedule.

Tip 2 – Engagement
Once you’re delivering compelling content to your audience, you are sure to have interactions with your fans. It’s very important to respond to your audience quickly and personably. Your direct correspondence with your audience becomes your business personality, your brand ambassador. This is a great way to nurture leads, grow sales, and develop brand loyalty. I want to reiterate, reply to your audience promptly. Many users are under the impression (no matter how unreasonable it may be) that you have a team ready and waiting to reply immediately when they make a comment or ask a question. If you don’t respond quickly, the audience may think you’re ignoring them and get turned off. I know it’s a bit unreasonable, but in this modern fast paced age, people want immediate results, so small businesses must accommodate the best they can.

Tip 3 – Know Your Audience
Use Facebook’s Insights to really learn your audience. You can get your basic demographic profile (age, gender, etc.) and also track which posts are engaging your audience and which are not. This information allows you to customize your content to the preferences of your audience. You can also feel out how many posts per day your particular audience is interested in seeing by tracking post engagement in the Insights. The Insights tool can be used for myriad purposes and can determine if you’re missing your target audience. If you are, there are numerous ways to reach them and I will talk about that next.

Tip 4 – Utilize Facebook Marketing Tools
Facebook has a number of tools you can use to capture a new audience and expand your current audience. They offer ads and boosted posts, which are both effective tools for your marketing purposes. These tools can be extremely effective if used properly, and they are affordable – you set your own budget with each campaign. With both ads and boosted posts you are able to target the audience you want to reach. You can target by location, sex, age, and preferences with boosted posts, and you have a bit more detailed targeting options with the ads. For example, if you are promoting children’s eBooks, you can target moms, grandmothers, father, homeschoolers, etc. The beauty of these ads and boosted posts is Facebook tracks all engagement, so you can determine if you’re hitting the mark with your promotion or not and adjust it accordingly. The ads and posts are also great way to reach your target if you haven’t already.

Tip 5 – Be Personal
This may be redundant, but I cannot express how important it is to understand that your Facebook page is your business personality. Be authentic, genuine, and true. Be yourself and get to know your audience and let them get to intimately know you. This communication creates incredible emotional connections with your brand and develops brand loyalty and increases sales. The more your brand’s personality is loved, the more your fans will share with their friends. It’s your chance to talk to your customers and make friends. It’s a really unique marketing tool and highly effective, so make sure to have fun with it!

Tip 6 – Join Facebook Groups
There are myriad Facebook groups out there: There’s pretty much a group for everything. You can go to the search bar up top and start putting in keywords that are relevant to your business. And don’t just join the groups, take some time to engage with the group to gain trust. When you’re promoting your business, you can maximize on these relationships to get traction with sales. Once you establish a relationship with the group, they won’t feel like you’re selling to them; you’re contributing to the group with information that is helpful.

What Does All This Mean?
It means it’s time to start utilizing Facebook as a marketing tool if you’re not already. With billions of users actively engaging on this platform, it’s essential to be a part of it to promote your small business. As I mentioned earlier, not only is Facebook marketing for small businesses affordable, it’s highly effective. Happy Facebooking!

 


Looking For Leads


...in all the wrong places?


If you’re humming a tune right now, you’re showing your age! 

And regardless of your age, or the age of your business, you need a Social Media strategy.  I’ve heard the argument, ‘but I’m selling feed to 78 year old farmers, they don’t even send text messages, much less use other social media’.

Keep in mind these 78 year old farmers have sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters that may take over the business, and they do use social media. You can’t ignore the ‘soon to be’ customer.

Social media allows you the opportunity to build trust, showcase expertise, and engage with potential customers.

Where to start
1) Start your Social Media Strategy by defining clear goals that are consistent with your core business strategy.  These goals will drive content development.

2) 
Further define goals based on traffic, leads, and sales. ‘SMART’ goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time based.

3) 
Determine which social media channels are most beneficial based on your product/service and target audience. (Invite customers to complete a short survey to understand their demographic, preferred content and social media channels.)

Word of mouth will always be one of the best ways to generate leads. Buyers trust peer referrals more than any other source of information and since social media allows people to share experiences, this can help increase trust in your company’s products and services.

Content creation is key
Position yourself as an expert in your industry. When you position yourself as an expert, the incentive for people to follow you and engage will increase.

Content development
Content development is the most important part of developing and managing your social media. If you don’t have the time or expertise to develop content, finding someone that can create on-going fresh content will be a worthwhile investment.

Mix it up and include links
Because a simple social media update usually isn’t enough to tell a story, you’ll want to include links that expand on key ideas. Increase your odds of being seen by more people by including links to case studies, photos  infographics, videos, podcasts and webinars.

Use keywords and strong calls-to-action
Make sure content contains keywords to attract prospects, and then draw them in by using a clear call-to-action such as contact forms, RFP forms or an email opt-in.

Modifying content for different channels
Think about what content you can share across various channels that will support your business objectives. Your content strategy will include creating specific posts based on the channel.

Use a program such as Hootsuite to pre-schedule posts to your various social channels.

Get personal
Social media marketing is about engagement and dialogue. Your content can be useful, inspiring, entertaining, provide personal insights, observations, advice or assistance.

Promote others
It’s good etiquette; helps engage the reader and will make your posts feel less like ‘advertising’.

Monitor Conversations
Social Media ‘listening tools’ such as Google Alerts and TweetDeck will help you keep a pulse on what’s being discussed. The more you know, the more responsive you can be.

Prepare a Posting Schedule
Here’s an example of a schedule

(Hubspot requires login. For a simpler template, email me at terrie@sunbelt-advertising.com with ‘Media Schedule’ in subject line.)

Measure! 
Every social channel has analytics to measure success. Measure, adjust and continue to work toward your Social Media goals.

Analytic examples:
Analytics.pinterest.com
Analytics.twitter.com
Facebook analytics visible to page owner on Facebook page
Help.LinkedIn.com (search analytics)
Iconosquare.com  (Instagram)


Granting Self-Employment



Last year the NASE awarded 12 Grants and 4 scholarships totaling $60,000.  We were able to highlight most of last year’s recipients in our
December 2015 issue; however, due to timing we were not able to recognize all winners.  We wanted to ensure all winners were recognized, below are the Growth Grant Recipients who each received $4,000 at the end of last year to grow and expand their business.

We award a Growth Grant each month to NASE members who are looking to expand their businesses.  Whether by purchasing new equipment, building a website, creating new marketing campaigns or many other creative applications, recipients improve their business and continue serving their communities.  If you are interested in applying, please visit our website.

Christie Core
October 2015
Nurturing Hearts Home Health Care Agency
Christie Core, an NASE Member from Mansfield, Ohio was awarded an NASE Growth Grant in October 2015.  Nurturing Hearts Home Health Care Agency provides quality healthcare to clients in their home and places their needs and comfort first.  Christi will be using this grant for training new staff and expanding care in the Mansfield area.

Wendy Miller
November 2015
Annapolis Senior Care Solutions
Wendy Miller, an NASE Member from Annapolis, Maryland was awarded an NASE Growth Grant in November 2015.  Annapolis Senior Care Solutions is a geriatric care management practice providing consultation services to seniors and their families to help seniors optimize their quality of life.  Wendy will be using this grant to upgrade her website and purchase marketing materials and equipment.

Christian Birky
December 2015
Lazlo
Christian Birky, an NASE Member from Detroit, Michigan was awarded an NASE Growth Grant in December 2015.  Lazlo designs, sources and crafts menswear focusing on core items in a man's wardrobe. Additionally, Lazlo looks to hire former inmates who have training in sewing; they get an experienced workforce, and a marginalized population becomes an asset. Christian will be using this grant to train employees and to upgrade equipment.


NASE Releases New Survey Data On Sharing Economy

The new survey finds that an overwhelming majority of those who responded – 69 percent – have not receive any tax guidance from the shared economy platform they are working with. In fact, the data underscores the importance of educating shared-economy entrepreneurs about the fact that they, too, are operating a self-employed, small business.

Those participating in the sharing economy are self-employed, small business owners and are operating a legitimate business because they are subject to a specific set of tax obligations, business regulations, reporting requirements while expressing behavioral traits of the self-employed, such as working when you want, for as long as you want, being your own boss and others. Despite engaging in the sharing economy for a fixed and/or limited amount of time to achieve a pre-determined goal (i.e, pay off debt, increase personal cash flow, secure income during full time unemployment), it is important they think of their activity as a business (a self-employed, small business, to be specific).

During March 2016, the survey was sent to over 40,000 small businesses garnering over 500 responses from small business owners, mainly the self-employed, about their participation in the sharing economy. Some of the key findings include:

  • A majority of those who responded – 69 percent – did not receive any tax guidance from the shared economy platform they worked with;
  • An overwhelming majority of over 90 percent indicated they used a professional tax preparer or software to prepare their taxes;
  • Of those who used a professional tax preparer or software, over 50 percent paid over $150;
  • The results were evenly split between those who set aside money to pay their 2015 tax bills and those who did not.


Bottom-line: those who participate in the sharing economy are small business owners part of the largest and growing small business demographic: the self-employed. This comes with a host of tax liability, obligations and responsibilities.

Katie Vlietstra is NASE’s Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs


Courtesy of NASE.org
https://www.nase.org/about-us/nase-publications/selfinformed/April-2016