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How can startups save time and resources?

What can startups expect when using social media?

Startups may not be able to expect quick growth without a lot of effort. Before we get to gaining followers, let’s not forget fundamentals and how social media can help. The main priorities should be your proof of concept and conversion paths.There are 3 must-dos that all startups should prioritize before gaining a large social media following.

#1: Test your concept.

Become familiar with your minimum viable product. Begin with a lean startup before crossing the chasm. To do this on a budget, use social media tactics such as Facebook ads and landing pages. Before you build out infrastructure, take the most honest test by going on Shark Tank.

#2 Prove your concept.

This step is crucial towards ensuring that your great idea is viable. Ideas are cheap and you are NOT your target audience. As your business grows and you learn more you become more detached from your target audiences, which we will jump into in more detail later.

#3 Set up your conversion paths

Make your Landing page /  website clear: what should the visitor do? Guide them! Before hiring developers, user-experience and user-interface experts, save your lean startup and your sanity with a straightforward landing page. Cloud services like UnBounce and LeadPages are far more affordable.

If you’re attracting attention on social media, you need to have a pipeline setup. You want to gain email addresses — dirty little secret of social media — email still converts better.

Why?

There are two very important reasons.  The user opts-in to seeing your message and it’s a comfortable medium. The user will almost positively see it, whereas on Twitter or Facebook you are battling a complex algorithm in order to get your message seen.

Then what? Well, what do you have to offer? What’s your bait? An eBook? Beta-testing for early adopters?

Before you aim to gain a large social media following — and this is true for SEO, too, align your conversion path to capture email addresses. Just following you on Facebook or Twitter is typically not enough. There’s a lot of noise out there. What’s your bait? Something truly meaningful to your target audience.

Number three  isn’t strictly social but is not to-be-ignored. Before you aim to gain a large social media following, prioritize SEO, search engine optimization, search marketing — basically getting found on Google. These days, as another expert in the networking group I founded likes to say, “Google is your first customer.”

We’ll dive into SEO deeper but I thought it important to mention this NOW, before you invest in a site that doesn’t convert. A multimillion dollar firm we didn’t work with spent $100,000 on a website and asked me why it wasn’t converting.

Let’s say you’re attracting all kinds of great traffic to your site with that heartwarming, amazing kitten video you posted. If your kitten video doesn’t deliver as promised when folks click through to your site, visitors will “bounce.” One and done and get the heck off your site. Or they will try to hunt around your site, aka “pogo sticking.” Google thinks: wow, these guys are not delivering the goods and we don’t care if the traffic is from social channels, these guys are up to no good. And woosh, rankings down the drain.

Recapping priority #3 before you aim to gain a large social media following: be sure your site guides users into a clear conversion. Typically for early startups this is capturing  an email address. This is also key for SEO.

Bonus tip: think of how you’ll scale. When meeting with your website team, ask what tools you can use so these great leads don’t get lost or forgotten. Think Social CRM (with much more on social CRM to come).

Which social media & online channels should a startup tackle first?

It all depends on who your customer is. Do you know? How can you be sure? Let’s see how social media and online marketing can help.

A worthy read, although it’s nearly 4 decades old, is “Positioning” by Al Ries and Jack Trout. Back in the day, launching a product cost millions (in 1980’s dollars). Travel back in the way-way-back-machine, enjoy a cup of Sanka coffee and consider you’d advertise in magazines, on billboards, and pay whatever the yellow pages wanted to charge.

But today, thankfully, we don’t have to guess! Today, we can be much more scientific. This is what I have my students do: develop a hypothesis about their customers. In the case of a nonprofit we’re working with, we needed to have a solid understanding of who we wanted to engage via email newsletters, blog posts, and specific social media channels. Chances are, startups and nonprofits are not wielding a Sanka coffee marketing budget, so we have to be strategic.

The other great asset of marketing today? We can test our hypothesis.

So let’s do it. You make an assumption about who your target audience is. In the case of nonprofits I’ve worked with, one target audience is people who shop at farmers markets.

How can we engage with them? We need to know what they care about. How can we find out?

Tool tip #1 for testing your target audience/customer hypothesis: Survey Monkey.

Your best bet is to have a list of emails already. A helpful read on how to go about learning more about your target audiences — “Ask” by Ryan Levesque. Ryan recommends asking via survey: what is your biggest challenge?

From those long-form answers, you now have: voila!

#1 What the target audience cares about, what keeps them up at night, and what they may be willing to spend hard-earned money on.

#2 Keywords. I keep coming back to SEO / search engine optimization / search marketing because it’s today’s equivalent to a phone-book listing. How else will people find you, especially new people? You want to be sure you are using the vocabulary of your target audience/ customer. Google relies on artificial intelligence and you want to make it as easy as possible for the machines to match you up correctly. That’s the underlying truth about SEO. There’s a lot more to it, of course but starting there will get you far.

Don’t forget to tie it altogether in your communications: write about what people care about.

But back to social media and how it can help. Let’s say you have many different target audiences and hypotheses.

Tool Tip: Use Facebook ads to see how big and lucrative your target audiences may be.

Another tool tip: use Google keyword tools to see how competitive the keywords are and where there may be gaps.

So now you can use those keywords and understanding to really target and hone in your hypothesis.

Two great books to help guide your process are, “Made to Stick” by Chip & Dan Heath, who suggest that you ask ‘why’ three times, and, “Contagious” by Jonah Berger who advises “write for 1 unique person.”

And if you find targeting that audience doesn’t convert (you’re not getting email addresses when you direct folks to your landing page, even though you have a great offer for bait), rinse, recycle, repeat. Test different headlines and values value propositions each time around.

While all this is not easy, it’s considerably easier and cheaper than wasting a year of your life to discover not enough people think your idea is very good.

So which social media channels should you tackle first? Pinterest, Slideshare, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter?

When you know your target audiences you’ll know.
For more insights on all these topics as well as lasting tips and tools, check out my other videos and thanks for connecting with us here at Business Town.

Unlocking the Power of LinkedIn: Innovative Ways to Enhance Your Job Search or Business

Angles & Insights CEO Suzanne McDonald spoke to undergraduate students at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island to explain the best practices for using LinkedIn.

Topics include tips to optimize your LinkedIn profile, how to search users, how to apply for jobs, and more tips and tricks. 

Here are the top takeaways from the presentation, a short list of the best practices for building a well-optimized LinkedIn profile:

  • Complete your LinkedIn profile as much as possible. What is your current position? What awards and recognitions have you earned? Where did you attend undergraduate university? Graduate programs? It’s essential to fill out this information so LinkedIn can pull the keywords you select to match you with potential connections and job positions.
  • Identify the skills and expertise you want to be known for. What do Note—LinkedIn is not a formal CV, so insert your personal brand and describe your experiences in a human way.
  • Be an active user. Actively engage with your LinkedIn network by participating in discussions, joining groups, asking questions, or even publishing articles. The more you engage with your network, the more likely you will appear in the LinkedIn newsfeed d
  • Use the Jobs function to benchmark. Searching for employment opportunities under Jobs on LinkedIn is the primary purpose, but it can be a clever way to measure your expertise against the current market demand. What types of skills are currently sought after in your industry? How can you build your expertise to take your career to the next level? Searching job position descriptions can be helpful research.

[View the full Slideshare presentation]


About Suzanne McDonald 

Former Boston Globe journalist and CEO of Angles & Insights marketing consultancy, Suzanne is an omnivore of all things new media & client success. She’s pioneered award-winning courses at area universities and digital marketing campaigns, including “Best Viral Video Award” for #Ticknado and “Internet / New Media Company of the Year” at the International Business Awards. 

Suzanne also founded and curates Newport Interactive Marketers networking-learning community, providing marketing insights to SEOs, social, PR & content pros and to brands and nonprofits big and small. 

Suzanne holds a master’s in Mass Communications and Journalism from University of South Carolina and engineered a BA into a journalism program at Framingham State University, magna cum laude. 

She has 15 years’ experience at daily newspapers, 6 at The Boston Globe, until she took a voluntary buyout to launch Designated Editor in 2008. In 2015, Suzanne launched Angles & Insights to better reflect her expanded abilities to meet clients’ needs beyond SEO, social & content.

Social Media in the Workplace

Social Media in the Workplace: How to Effectively Balance Personal & Professional Accounts

CEO of Angles and Insights Suzanne McDonald spoke to undergraduate students at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island about best practices for social media use in the workplace.

Topics discussed include brand awareness, leveraging professional and personal accounts, legal considerations, and networking. 

Social Media in the Workplace

Here’s a list of top takeaways about what you need to know about balancing your social media in and out of the office:

  • Understand the legal consequences of using social media in both professional and personal accounts. There are some common legalities to consider, but also be aware of any stipulations your company may have against personal social media use.
  • Examine the social media networks you use. Understand the objective of each social media platform, then identify the objective you want to accomplish, respectively.
  • Be thoughtful about what you post on your personal accounts—you never know who is paying attention.
  • Think visually. How do you want to portray your professional brand? Your personal brand? Use a combination of clear, engaging visuals (photos, videos, infographics, etc.) that best fit your objectives and the corresponding social media platform
  • Use your time wisely by using a social media scheduler! Apps like Hootsuite, Tweepi, TailWind and Google Trends can help you plan your content.
  • Networking on social media is an amazing opportunity—and it’s not only reserved for LinkedIn. Expand your network by joining groups, engaging with businesses and influencers by sharing content and tagging, reconnecting with former co-workers and friends
  • Continue learning and growing! The digital landscape changes all of the time, so it’s important to stay in-the-know about the upcoming trends. 

[View the full Slideshare presentation]


About Suzanne McDonald 

Former Boston Globe journalist and CEO of Angles & Insights marketing consultancy, Suzanne is an omnivore of all things new media & client success. She’s pioneered award-winning courses at area universities and digital marketing campaigns, including “Best Viral Video Award” for #Ticknado and “Internet / New Media Company of the Year” at the International Business Awards. 

Suzanne also founded and curates Newport Interactive Marketers networking-learning community, providing marketing insights to SEO, social, PR & content pros and to brands and nonprofits big and small. 

Suzanne holds a master’s in Mass Communications and Journalism from University of South Carolina and engineered a BA into a journalism program at Framingham State University, magna cum laude. 

She has 15 years’ experience at daily newspapers, 6 at The Boston Globe, until she took a voluntary buyout to launch Designated Editor in 2008. In 2015, Suzanne launched Angles & Insights to better reflect her expanded abilities to meet clients’ needs beyond SEO, social & content.

Senior Matters with 1540 AM WADK

Opportunities for Seniors to Use Technology with 1540 AM WADK and Blenheim-Newport

Angles & Insights founder Suzanne McDonald gives tips on how seniors can use social media to stay connected with their family in the digital world

McDonald spoke on 1540 AM WADK radio with Blenheim-Newport, a senior living community in Newport, Rhode Island about how senior citizens can easily stay in touch with their family members and leave an educational legacy for future generations.

Below is a transcript of the radio show discussion:

Senior Matters with 1540 AM WADK

Before I started my own business as a digital media strategist, I used to be a journalist at The Boston Globe.

My passion for understanding people’s stories has evolved into helping businesses engage with everyday people. I love making business owners’ lives easier with technology, tools, and processes that make them more efficient and effective.

I founded a local network called Newport Interactive Marketers, which is entering its eighth year. NIM is for business owners, solopreneurs, big companies and nonprofits who want to better understand how marketing works today and the best way they can connect with their customers & audiences.

NIM hosts monthly events that focus on networking, followed by a presentation given by an expert who works in a digital marketing or tech-related field. Past presentations have focused on topics such as social media trends, measuring Google and other web analytics, and explaining what a valuable website should really cost.

There’s an important focus on education at NIM, whether you’re doing the work yourself and have questions or making sure the people you’ve hired are doing the best job they can.

Today on Senior Matters—and thanks to Blenheim for having me—I’d love to share how seniors can use technology. Stay with me because there are so many wonderful things you can do!

Like anything there are risks: you don’t drive a car without learning how to do it, for example. Same here and there are classes available if you’ve never even touched a computer before.

Benchmark offers classes & the senior centers on [Aquidneck] island do too.

I’m a big believer in aging brings wisdom, so I know there are folks out there, with the right support, who can benefit tremendously from some of the tools we’ll talk about today.

Did you know the fastest growing demo on Facebook is seniors? Why do you think that is?

Connecting with grandchildren, although many of them may be on other social media as well.

My mom just got a tablet last year for Christmas. She had not even touched a computer for decades and kept saying she didn’t want one—now she’s pinning chicken coops on Pinterest, sending emails, booking flights. It’s so funny to me because she didn’t have an email for so long, I’m always surprised when I get an email from her!

It’s so nice to be able to send her pictures of my daughter and know she can see them. And everyone in my family loves it. It’s especially important as her first grandchild just went off to college.

More specifically, I’d like to mention a few online tools that make everyone’s life easier, make those precious moments and capture them as they happen.

Here’s my recommendation—mention these tools to the tech support expert in your family. Think high school age or even college. Get them to research it and set it up.

Have you seen the Apple ad that ran last year that the kid always looked removed from all the activities going on when the family was together? And then he shows a video he made of the weekend? SUPER idea! My niece did one of the last time we were all together and had it done before the weekend was over. It’s touching and funny and completely captures the spirit of the weekend!

There’s a site called Doodle, Doodle.com that allows everyone to put in their schedule so you can see when everyone is available or NOT.

So for Thanksgiving, let’s say not everyone can be together. Wouldn’t it be fun to pick a time over the weekend when everyone can jump on a video call together? It’s not the same as in-person togetherness, but it’s important to do the best we can. Maybe teleporting will happen someday, but for now, we can connect so much better than 20 years ago.

We recently had a death in the family, and it’s always a reminder of how precious moments like those are.

So let’s say you have everyone lined up for a video call … what tool would be best?

Google Hangouts, now YouTube Live, might be a good option.

Another “mission” I have going on is to record moments from family history. Have you heard of StoryCorps on NPR? A family member records an oral history with an older person … or any person I believe. What a great idea!

In our case, we’ve sort of skipped a generation in that it’s worked out my daughter’s grandmother lived in London England through the Depression and World War II. She had some amazing stories about being an ambulance driver through the blacked-out streets of London during bombing raids. I think they called them beetle-bombs because of the noise they made.

Sadly, my mother-in-law passed before my daughter was born. But I did do some interviews and recordings with her siblings who are still in London. I’m really doing her history reports for her! We also have family in South Africa who are quite elderly and it’s fascinating to get that perspective of history – both good and bad.

And you could do the same thing. You don’t even need anyone to interview you. You could have help setting up a YouTube channel and sit in front of the computer, phone, or iPad and tell your story. Bring some props and talk about meaningful moments in your life. Give your grandchildren or your friends’ grandkids some perspective!

In some ways, I’d like to challenge our listeners to do so. Kids can’t even conceptualize what your life was like. Think about it … what was food prep like? The best idea I have is from Downton Abbey. If we don’t share what we’ve experienced, we can’t expect anyone to understand it and your descendants deeply want to know—but be lively & interesting! Pretend you’re on Fox News or Charlie Rose.

Big takeaways

  1. Don’t be afraid of technology – ask for help! A complaint is an “uncommunicated request.” There are classes and support. Learn the ropes!
  2. A big helper is someone in high school or college or even younger. Get that digital native to reverse mentor you! What a benefit to you and confidence boost to them!
  3. Don’t rely on them to do all the work. Give them ideas, spark the inspiration. Mention YouTube Live, mention Doodle. Suggest everyone get on a video call over Thanksgiving weekend and connect as many in your family as you can. It’s actually pretty easy. 1 tip: use Google Chrome!! Don’t worry, the kids will know what that is.
  4. Take the challenge: Share your wisdom and experiences with your family and friends.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!