Three quick Instagram tips for business

1. If you're a brick-and-mortar business, make sure your address is in your bio. If you need people to walk in the door, it has to be easy for them to find you. 

2. If you're using your account for business, do not set it to private, especially if it has your company name on it, or is linked to your work email. Instagram now makes it really easy to toggle among different accounts, so you no longer need to log in and out every time you want to switch. You can have private account linked to your personal email address, and a separate public one for work.  

3. Watch the hashtags. Never use more than three, and it's even better to use only one. 

Advertising on Social Media
for Non Profits

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Facebook Advertising for Nonprofit Organizations

For nonprofits, social marketing can be difficult to break into, especially when it comes to dealing with Facebook advertising. Some numbers can tell us a lot about how nonprofits perform and what they pay for Facebook advertising.

Nonprofits by the numbers

According to the Salesforce Marketing Cloud report, in 2013, the average figures for non profits were:

  • CTR (click-through rate): 0.205% (vs. 0.171% US avg.)
  • CPC (cost-per-click): $0.19 (vs. $0.24 US avg.)
  • CPM (cost-per-thousand-impressions): $0.52 (vs. $0.67 US avg.)

*Percentiles as compared to other industries

According to the same report in Q1 of 2015, they looked more like this:

  • CTR: 3.72% (vs. 0.84% US avg.)
  • CPC: $0.18 (vs. $0.39 US avg.)
  • CPM: $6.63 (vs. $3.30 US avg.)

But what does all this mean for your organization? Effective Facebook advertising for nonprofits basically boils down to four main areas: your advertising objectives, choosing the right bid type for your message, targeting your constituent audience effectively, and driving conversions with your ads.

Choosing the right objective

Facebook advertising offers several objectives to ads that you will be creating. They essentially allow you to narrow down the result of your ad, whether you want people to visit your page, go to your events, or click through to your website. Your objective can affect how much your ad impressions or clicks will cost you as well.

According to the Salesforce report, the Page Post Engagement objective, advertisers using the CPM bid type will see “relatively inexpensive impressions ($1.36) to an audience with a lower propensity to click on the ads, resulting in a higher CPC. With CPC bids, the cost per click is the lowest at $0.18, but the users are just clicking on the ad, not engaging with it in other ways.”

The M&R Social Media Benchmarks Report for 2015 shows a good breakdown of where companies are spending their money, which can give you a good picture of what to focus on for your advertising objectives. On average, companies spend their advertising budgets on:

  • Lead Generation Advertising: 38%
  • New Donor Acquisition: 31%
  • Paid Search Advertising: 23%
  • Existing Supporter Conversion: 4%
  • Branding: 4%

When creating a campaign, keep these objectives in mind.

Choosing the right bid type

Your bid type is linked to both your objective and your budget. Deciding how much to spend on advertising can be difficult, and a vast array of numbers and suggestions float freely in the blogosphere when searching for guidance on this issue. But let’s focus on the data. M&R found that “overall, nonprofits invested $0.04 in digital advertising for every dollar raised online.” Though the number can vary between $0.01 and $0.14 on the dollar depending on the industry, the study found that their top performing groups spent an average of $0.12 digital advertising for every dollar raised online in 2015.

With average non-profit figures of $0.18 CPC and $6.63 CPM, your budget can seriously limit your reach online. But choosing the correct bid type, in conjunction with an efficient objective, can drop your costs and increase your ads performance in a big way.

If you’re interested in an overall boost of your Facebook presence, bidding by CPM (cost-per-thousand-impressions) would be the logical option. If your organization is more focused on driving traffic to your website, a CPC (cost-per-click) bid would be optimal. If you want ad recipients to buy or sign up for something on your website (usually called a conversion), bidding by CPA (cost-per-action) might make the most sense for you.

Facebook gives you a wide range of pricing options. You can choose to set a budget for a specific goal or a period of time, you can pay for clicks, presence or actual, measurable actions. Some suggest starting with a lower figure and adding more money to your budget as you measure the effectiveness of your ads. The general consensus, though, seems to be testing is key. Set a budget you’re comfortable with, find your audience, and test, test, test! The more specific and efficient you are with your ad reach, the less your campaigns will cost you.

Accurately targeting your audience

The next key to efficient and effective advertising is your audience. According to M&R, “digital advertising budgets are largely devoted to identifying, acquiring, and converting new donors, with lead generation and new donor acquisition together accounting for 69% of total investments.”

If you’re a nonprofit, you’ve got an advantage! Most nonprofits have existing email lists, and you can use this to target your audience and deliver your ads to people who will actually care about them, which is the best and easiest way to make your dollars count. M&R found in the same report that for every 1,000 email subscribers, the average organization has 355 Facebook fans, 132 Twitter followers, and 19 Instagram followers. Nonprofits with larger email lists spend about 13x more on digital advertising than those with smaller lists, but this cost lies in reaching far more people.

Regardless of its size, matching your email lists and donor files to Facebook profiles has several advantages. You can reach an audience of people that you already have a pre-existing relationship with, helping your organization with donor retention and reactivation. This in turn can have a big effect on cutting costs in advertising, as a refined and specific audience usually leads to more efficient ad spending.

Adding your lists will also give you more accurate access to your fans’ Facebook friends, giving you a very specific and low-cost audience to source new engagements and likes from. As one article puts it, “friends of friends are frequently the most cost effective likes to add on Facebook.”

Driving conversions with your ads

If you’re more focused on driving traffic to your website for the purpose of signing up for your newsletter, registering to volunteer, signing a petition or donating to your organization, your campaign objectives and ad set bid types should reflect it. But ad campaign set up doesn’t get you all the way to cost effective, efficient, high-conversion ads. Luckily, there are several things your organization can do to boost your ads’ effectiveness and conversion rates.

First, let’s lay out the stats. A “good conversion rate” is an elusive figure. The figure varies wildly by industry, and the median percentage is not necessarily a measure of what you should be aiming for. A WordStream study shows us that the bottom 25% of accounts on Facebook have a less than 1% conversion rate, which by all accounts is pretty grim.

The report also shows, however, that the overall average is 2.35%, the top 25% reached an average of 5.31%, and the top 10% an average of 11.45%. According to Formstack, nonprofits have one of the highest form conversion rates at 15% (4% higher than the overall average). Boiled down, this means that while a 5% conversion rate puts you in the 75th percentile of Facebook accounts, a rate of 10%-20% is perfectly attainable and although rare, not entirely unrealistic. That being said, if your organization is just starting out, try shooting for an average conversion rate of 10%.

So what affects your conversion rate? Some factors are similar to those for other ads. M&R found, unsurprisingly,that “higher spending on paid advertising was correlated with higher growth in the number of website visitors per month. Groups that spent more on advertising [have] more aggressive donor conversion strategies overall.”

Besides the factors that affect the ad effectiveness as a whole, conversions depend a lot on how appealing your ad is. Is your newsletter actually worth signing up for? Should people really donate to your cause? And, most importantly, does your ad attract and hold the attention of those it may appeal to? The 2015 Salesforce report showed that advertisers from nonprofits and other organizations had the most interesting and attractive creative for their ads, averaging the highest click-through rates for Q1 of 2015. So as a rule, try to turn your ad into a story worth following. The value of a well crafted narrative and a relatable image can’t be overstated. Make an effort to make your audience care! Another ethos-based strategy is to use your own pre-existing audience to your advantage. Facebook users’ preferences and actions online are susceptible to those of their friends and others in their social network. Simply seeing a friend’s name in an ad can lead to a higher conversion rate. Don’t miss an opportunity to work your target audience for new leads and higher conversions.

More technical factors apply as well. Formstack found that when looking for form conversions, “the type of form you use can make a difference. Contact forms, for example, only have a 3% conversion rate… [whereas] contests and surveys…convert at 28% and 21%, respectively. Event registrations convert at 11%, and participants are likely to be qualified leads.” Native links and videos (links to outside websites that you post inside the Facebook status window) will also receive preference over other ad types, part of Facebook’s complex system of visibility and ad efficiency.

Enough numbers! What’s all this mean?

As long as this report is, it distills down to a simple message; as a nonprofit, you’re not exempt from having a social media presence or the advertising budget and efforts that must accompany it if you want to achieve a reasonable degree of success and visibility. That being said, you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to do well on social media, and you don’t have to have an enormous endowment to make a killing with your social media advertisements!

If numbers and measures aren’t your thing, the key to cheap, efficient and effective advertising is the following threefold approach.

Be specific.

Find your target audience and pinpoint them to what might seem like an absurd degree. Set your objectives and your budgets for specific goals, and test them against one another. Your ad is a dart, not an atom bomb. Go for the soft spot!

Be creative.

You’re not trying to sell people cars. You’re not a cell carrier or a furniture warehouse, and your ads should reflect that. You have a mission statement and a cause, and if your ads are going to be successful, you need to find people who care and make them care even more. Craft a story. Weave a tale. Hook your audience and reel them in.

Be thorough.

We can’t say this enough. TEST! Test, test, test. Make an ad, then make another with a slight change. Make an ad and send it to a few different audiences. Try running your ads at different times of day, with different frequency, at different bid rates and types. Then test them against one another. The more you experiment, track, and measure, the cheaper and more efficient your ads will be.

For more articles & advice, check out our website at alexandrago.com

Why your business needs a social media policy

By Alexandra Golaszewska

Example 1: A service provider has a thousand independent salespeople all over the United States. Some of them use social media, but the company hasn't provided any guidelines on how to do it. There are Facebook pages and Twitter feeds under the corporate name and variations of it, using wildly varying graphics featuring the logo. There's no consistency, it's totally confusing for customers, and no one has any idea what will happen to these accounts when a person operating one of them leaves to work for a competitor.

Example 2: A retail store's employees are very active on Twitter. They post photos from work, talk up the products and retweet things from the company's account, which is great. But they also complain on Twitter when they're unhappy about something, which isn't so great.

Example 3: A bar/restaurant has been doing a pretty good job with their social accounts, which are being handled by a waitress who just finished college and knows what she's doing on social media. She posts about happy hour deals and live music, and while the following isn't huge, it consists of people who are within a close radius and are in their target market. Things are good until a local food blogger with a sizable following has a bad experience and starts tweeting about it. The waitress isn't authorized to offer anything to the disgruntled customer, and the restaurant manager thinks this isn't a big deal and tells her to ignore it.

 

#Facebook #hashtags: What you need to know

By Alexandra Golaszewska

You may have heard that Facebook is rolling out hashtags. If you're only on Facebook and not on Twitter or Instagram, you might not be too familiar with them. Hashtags — words or strings of words preceded by a # — are a quick way to find social media posts by topic. Spaces and punctuation don't work, so if you're talking about New York City you'd use #newyork, not #new york. Click on a hashtag, and you'll see posts from other users who have also used it, presumably about the same topic. If you want to see how powerful this can be, head over to Twitter right now and search for, say, #Brazil.

What you need to know: Facebook wants to encourage more public sharing of content. If you're trying to get a message out about an event or a brand, this is great for you, but you might not want your personal account to be so open.

What you need to do: If you post on Facebook with hashtags, look for the little toggle near the post to check its visibility. Options will include Public, Friends, etc. (There's lots you can do with your privacy settings, and that's a longer topic for another post.) Hashtags will also become active on older posts that were made when they didn't do anything, so if you've been using them for a while you might want to review those too. And keep in mind that they showed up on Facebook if you were cross-posting with them from Twitter or Instagram.

Laser consulting sessions and social media audits are going away next month. Last call! If you're interested in one of these, book it ASAP.

Have a question for the next one? Email me at Alexandra@AlexandraGo.com.

On sending your tweets to Facebook

By Alexandra Golaszewska

I am all for efficiency. 2 birds, 1 stone! But the fact that you can do 2 things at once doesn't mean it's the best way to do it. Case in point: posting your tweets to Facebook.

tweet

If you see this in your Twitter feed, you can click through to @johnpaul215's profile. But if I cross-post this to Facebook, the name is no longer a link, so it doesn't mean anything. The same thing goes for hashtags, which don't do anything on Facebook. If you're prolific on Twitter and cross-post everything, you're cluttering up the news feeds of your friends/followers with posts that don't really have context. If they find it annoying they'll hide you, and once they do that, it's very hard to get them back.

Have a question for the next one? Email me at Alexandra@AlexandraGo.com.

I bet you can't name a town in Pennsylvania that doesn't contain the letter E

By Alexandra Golaszewska

If you're using Facebook, you've probably seen a lot of posts like this lately:

I bet you can't name a fish that doesn't have the letter A in it. Can you name a band that has no letter T anywhere in their name? This is harder than you think! Post your answers below and share with friends!

If you've put any thought into these questions, you know that they aren't that difficult. So what's the point of them? To understand that, you need to know about Facebook's EdgeRank.

How Facebook decides what you see Just because you have liked a brand's Facebook page doesn't mean that you see all of their posts in your news feed, even if you're on every day. If you are an administrator of a page, you've definitely seen this from the other side. You might have 500 fans, but if you look at the post when you're on your business page, you'll see that it was only shown to 47 of them.

Besides fees for promotion (a whole 'nother topic that I'll discuss later), Facebook uses something called EdgeRank to determine whether you will see a post. They tweak the exact formula all the time, but factors include:

  • Whether you've interacted with the page before
  • Whether you've interacted with similar posts in the past
  • Whether a lot of other people have responded to the post (whether by liking, sharing or commenting on it)
  • Whether other users have flagged it as spam, or made other complaints

So when that radio station challenges you to name a breed of dog that doesn't include the letter B — I bet you can't do it! — it isn't really about that question; the point is to make their next posts about the upcoming music festival or the new morning show visible to a higher percentage of their fans.

Do you need to think about Foursquare?

If you're a service provider whose physical location isn't important (like me), you can stop reading now and go do something else.

If you're a...

  • brick-and-mortar retail business
  • you do retail sales or product sampling from a mobile physical location (like a food truck)
  • you run large in-person events

... you need to think about Foursquare.

What is it?

Foursquare is a location-based check-in service.

Users download the Foursquare app to their smartphones. They can search their contacts (address book, Facebook, Twitter) to see who else is on it, and they can send friend requests. Like on Facebook, a friend request must be accepted.

Is this like Facebook check-in?

Sort of, and users can set it up to sync with Facebook or Twitter to show Foursquare check-ins. But Foursquare users tend to be very active on social media, which means that many of them have a lot of Facebook friends and Twitter followers. They don't always want everyone knowing where they are. Foursquare can be a smaller, edited list.

So… what does it do?

The user experience goes something like this:

If I'm out for the evening and I check in on Foursquare, I can see where my friends are; maybe we'll meet up if we're all hopping from place to place. If I check in at a bar, I might get a notification of a special deal — something like a free appetizer when I order a drink on my first check-in. I might see notifications about specials elsewhere in the neighborhood, or suggestions from other users on things to try or other places to visit. If it's one of my regular haunts, I might become the Foursquare mayor and they might give me something for that.

(I'm sure you can see how this example might apply to a café, a clothing store, a live event, etc.)

If I'm in a place I don't know very well, I can tap the Explore button and learn about everything that's nearby.

What you need to do

First: get on Foursquare and claim your venue. (If you don't want to do it yourself, you can have me do it, or someone like me.) You might think that because you never signed up for it, your venue isn't on there, but you're probably wrong. Foursquare users can set up venues on their own, and they often do. You might have multiple entries that are spelled various ways, you might have inaccurate information out there. At the bare minimum, you need to get this sorted out, even if you never intend to use it for anything else.

The next step

Start running promotions and getting more traffic for your business.

Do you really need to be on Pinterest?

At least once a week, someone asks me whether Pinterest is really that important. Maybe, maybe not. Does your business rely on a lot of visuals?

Pinterest is an image-driven social network. Users create "boards" around specific topics, and "pin" images to them. They follow other users, some of whom they know in real life, some of whom they don't. (This makes it more like Twitter than Facebook or Foursquare.) The boards can be named anything, and can contain any type of image, but there are a few categories that are far more common than others.

When a user pins something from your site, Pinterest will show the image and will also include a link back to your original page. Women make up a large percentage of users, but men use it too, and their numbers have been growing.

You should definitely consider it if you're in any of the following categories:

  • Fashion
  • Travel
  • Home/office decor
  • Food (recipes)
  • Anything involving events, particularly weddings. Pinterest is an ideal way to gather images of items that will end up in one room in order to see how they all look together.
  • Life coaching. This one might not be as obvious. However, a lot of inspirational images are passed around on Pinterest.

You might want to give it a whirl if you're in:

  • Food (restaurant)
  • Real estate

You can use it if you really want to if you're in:

  • Finance. Not an obvious one, right? But depending on your target market, infographics and inspirational content could do well here.

Have a social media question you'd like me to answer in a future post? Email me at Alexandra@AlexandraGo.com.

Feeling stuck in Facebook?

Facebook is a great tool, but some of us who use it will have to quit. Maybe it's become a time-suck and you're neglecting other things, or maybe you've taken a job with a company that forbids you to use it (not common, but it does happen).But what about all of the school friends with whom you've reconnected — how will you stay in touch? What about the photos you posted from the old iPhone you never backed up?

Facebook has a not-obvious feature that allows you to download your data. Here's how you do it.

  • When you're logged in, click the pull-down arrow at the top right and go to Account Settings
  • You'll see a section in the middle labeled General Account Settings
  • Below that, you'll see a link: Download a copy of your Facebook data

The archive will include:

  • Photos and videos you've shared on Facebook
  • Your wall posts, messages & chat conversations
  • The names of your friends and some of their email addresses (email addresses are included if they've chosen to share that on Facebook)

Easy peasy.

How not to acquire Facebook fans

If you're using Facebook, you're almost certainly familiar with Pages.These are the Facebook pages on which you click Like, rather than sending a friend request. Typically they're used for businesses of all types. Public figures use them as well. A lot of people prioritize the number of fans over everything else. Two of the common ways to quickly build the number of fans are to buy them or to run a promotion.

I'd avoid the first one entirely. Tread lightly with the second one.

If you do an Internet search for "buy Facebook fans," you'll see a number of services out there that offer to build your fan numbers for a fee. They do what they say they will — if you sign up, you'll see a jump in the numbers very quickly. (This is different from a Facebook ad; ads target real people who are in your real target market, and that's a topic for another post.)

However... these numbers don't actually mean a lot to you, and they screw up your data. Facebook provides a tool called Insights, which shows you all sorts of information about your audience. But if a lot of these Likes are coming from purchased fans, the Insights page isn't telling you much anymore. You can post incredible content that's so beautifully written it makes you weep with joy, but it will look like it's getting a tepid response because the purchased fans are not people who look at your page.

Now, promotions. Contests, sweepstakes, giveaways, etc. If you're going to run one, the first thing you must do is check Facebook's rules on how to do them. Do it incorrectly, and they can take your page down, which is devastating for a small business that needs Facebook to survive. (Again, a topic for a whole post of its own.)

Once you're positive you're OK with the rules, make sure that the promotion you're running is what your people want, not just what boosts your numbers. The opportunity to win a trip to the Super Bowl is a great prize for the right audience. But if you're in the business of selling ukuleles, run a contest for that and you're going to end up with a lot of people on your page who don't play the ukulele and aren't interested in learning, and you're going to spend a lot of time cleaning up their comments.

Why I don't use Facebook Events for invitations

As great as Facebook is for a lot of things, I don't use it for event invitations.Of course there are exceptions to this, but in general, Facebook's capital-E Event feature doesn't get people out to your real-life event.

Here's why :

Facebook doesn't send reminders. Maybe they'll fix this, but right now it's easy to lose track of invitations unless you regularly check your event schedule.

It's sometimes used for events that don't require being there in person. You've probably gotten these. They're for things like "A moment of silence to commemorate _______ " or "Christmas, wherever you are," or "BOYCOTT _______." Which is fine, but those items make it less of a list of conferences and happy hours and things you attend in person, and more a list of things others want you to think about. It clutters up your "event" list with different types of infomation. 

Facebook users are unclear on privacy settings and expect a default towards making too much information public. Something I hear all the time is "I don't want everyone knowing my entire schedule."

Not everyone is on Facebook. For every event I organize, there are at least a few non-Facebook users I want to invite.

A couple of the alternatives that I like:

Evite.com is the original — I think I started using it in 1998. It used to be great, then it looked really dated for a while because they didn't update their template designs, but now it's much better. They have always allowed registered users to include multiple email addresses, with one set as the primary and notifications go to the primary address. This means that if you registered an address for a job you no longer have, you'll still receive invitations that are sent to that address as long as your primary one is still good.

You can allow guests to invite others, you can take polls (for example — have your friends vote on a restaurant for a group dinner) and you can allow them to choose items to bring (for, say, a potluck). 

Pingg.com has Evite-like features, some beautiful templates and also allows you to sell tickets for events (their fee is $1 per ticket plus Paypal transaction fees). 

Both allow you to show or hide the guest list. 

Maybe you still want a Facebook option, because you might not have an email address for everyone you'd like to invite. No problem — after you create and send your Evite or Pingg invitation, you can share it on Facebook. 

Why you need to be on LinkedIn.

I love LinkedIn. Sociologist Mark Granovetter wrote a paper called The Strength of Weak Ties; it's an idea that was later more widely read when Malcolm Gladwell discussed it in The Tipping Point. The brief summary is that weak ties allow you to reach a lot more people and give you a lot more opportunities than strong ties do. Think about when you've gotten a job or a new client and it's been through some kind of an existing relationship. Chances are that it was through a weak tie — not your best friend or your spouse, but maybe through your brother's client's wife or your spouse's tennis partner.

LinkedIn is all about the weak ties. You can use it to stay connected to — yes — your best friends, but also to your former coworkers, high school classmates and the people you met at a business seminar a few weeks ago. Whatever you do, there are people out there looking to do business with you. LinkedIn makes it super-easy for them to find you, and they'll see which contacts you have in common, which puts some social proof on your side.

An example: I recently got a message through LinkedIn from a woman I know socially. She needed some social media help, so she went on LinkedIn and did a search. I hadn't seen her in months and we had never talked about work. She had no idea what I did for a living, but she found my profile and ended up hiring me.

Here are a few quick tips for maximizing your LinkedIn profile. (Groups are a whole 'nother thing and will be the topic of a future post):

Keep your profile complete and up-to-date. You know the headache you get when it's time to update your resumé (and this isn't only an issue for employees; occasionally business owners are asked for them too). Keeping this updated regularly makes it easy, and in many cases you can just direct 'em to LinkedIn. Also great: when you add information (experience, a web site, a photo, etc.), everyone in your network will see it on the main page when they log in. If they don't log in, they'll see your update in the weekly email that LinkedIn send to users.

Include a photo.According to LinkedIn, profiles with photos are seven times more likely to be clicked on than profiles without. I'm of the opinion that you're better off having a not-ideal photo on here than none at all.

If you send a connection request to someone you don't know; please include a personal note. In my opinion, it's OK to send LinkedIn requests to strangers if you also introduce yourself. I've built great working relationships with some people I've met that way; they've written a note telling me why they got in touch, and I think that's totally OK. But it's spammy to send a connection request to a total stranger without even saying hi.