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Inbound Marketing

How to use Hashtags to Promote Your Local Business and Events

Social Media Management | Prairie Giraffe | Gillette Wyoming

What is a Hashtag?

You may have seen and heard the term hashtag. But, what is it? Why does it matter?

A hashtag is simply a keyword phrase, spelled out without spaces, with a pound sign (#) in front of it. For example, #InboundHour and #ChocolateLovers are both hashtags.

-Hubspot

So you see it’s simple, a Hashtag is a word, phrase, or set of characters behind a ‘#’ with no spaces. ie. #SmallBusinessSaturday, #ShopLocal, or #Caturday2018.

Hashtags were originally used to categorize and make searchable tweets and posts around a topic.

By using a hashtag you are telling the social channel you are posting on to categorize this post into a certain topic.

 

Why would I use a Hashtag?

Hashtags are a great way to drive organic traffic to your social media pages and then hopefully to your website as well.

By using a hashtag associated with your business or the customers of businesses like yours you are making it easier for people to discover you and your business. This can be particularly good for local businesses.

Prairie Giraffe is located in Gillette Wyoming. If I want to do business with other companies in Gillette Wyoming all I need to do is search the official Gillette Wyoming hashtag, #GilletteWy, and just for good measure, I’ll throw in a #ShopLocal.

Now I can see all the businesses who are promoting themselves and their posts as local to the Gillette community and are trying to encourage others to shop locally with them.

Shop Local | Prairie Giraffe | Gillette Wyoming

So you can see hashtags allow you to join in on the conversation and engage with a community of people and businesses you wouldn’t otherwise be connected to.

Unlike other groups and forums, the conversation doesn’t require management. There are positives and negatives to the lack of control. For one, anyone can use your hashtag. An example is #quotes, you will find millions of posts and there will be a lot of “noise”.

However, with a tag like #quotes, there will be tons of people who see that content. If you sell signs with inspirational quotes on them to hang in your home, you should use #quotes, but then also use something a little more targeted to your customers like #DreamLivingRoom, #HandPainted, and #ShopLocal.

The upside is anyone can use and see your hashtag. By using a hashtag in your posts you are joining a larger stream. You are opening up your content to a larger audience. People looking for your content.

Suppose you are wanting to get the word out to attendees of an event your business will be presenting at. You should start dropping in the events official Hashtag and those who are attending the event or otherwise searching that tag will see your posts in the stream of other posts with that same tag.

Use hashtags whenever you are wanting to get the word out to a larger community and engage with new people on social media.

We need to stop and just mention the use of Hashtags is only for social media. If you are using email to reach your customers then hashtags should not be used.

 

Using Hashtags to Promote Your Business

Hashtags are a great way to promote your business. As we mentioned before using hashtags allows you to enter the larger stream of posts and get seen by more people. Tags like #ShopLocal, #SmallBiz, #SmallBusinessSaturday are all good general tags for small businesses.

Other great small business tags are location specific. Like we mentioned before, the Gillette Wyoming Tag is #GilletteWy. By using this tag I am letting everyone who wants to shop in Gillette or is just searching for information about Gillette that we are a part of the community.

Hashtags such as #ShopLocal, #SmallBiz, #SmallBusinessSaturday are general hashtags. The more generic a tag and the more often it is used the bigger the cloud of posts that use it. Then there are hashtags that are more industry specific. We recommend using a mixture of both. You never know which tags are going to help you the most so use both.

General Tags

General tags like #quotes, #rainyday, #ShopLocal, #beautiful, #instagood, are super popular and reach a large audience. Your posts can be washed away in the noise, but also have the best chance of being seen by someone.

Industry Specific or Niche Tags

These are more specific and while they may never see the light of day, they stand the best chance of being gold. Someone searching a Niche tag are probably more passionate about what they are searching for and have a better chance of being fiercely loyal. Which is great for your brand!

#FeedFeed, #CoffeeShots, #OutdoorLife, #ApartmentTherapy, #vitamix are examples of niche tags.

These tags will have a much smaller audience than most of the general tags, but they have an audience that are more likely to engage with your brand and are much more likely to follow you.

You should use a mixture of niche hashtags and general/popular tags. You want your content and posts to be getting out to the most people as possible and at the same time attracting those looking for your products and services.

A picture of this in action would be as Prairie Giraffe we make the following post.

Social Media | Prairie Giraffe | Gillette Wyoming

 

You can see we used very generic tags like #seo and used some very niche tags like #OutsourcedCMO, which is limited to our industry. We want to be discovered by people looking for SEO advice and ultimately SEO services and we want to show up for someone looking for an Outsourced CMO service.

 

Using Hashtags to promote your events.

We’ve touched on it before, but events are great places for Hashtags. It doesn’t make sense for every business at the event to make a page or group about the event.

However, most events have official Hashtags. This allows all the news, conversation, announcements, and anything else surrounding the event to be gathered into one easily searchable place that doesn’t have to be managed.

Imagine you’re holding an event for wedding vendors. You create official Facebook and Instagram pages and you make a few announcements on that page. That’s great. But, by having an official Hashtag for the event, you allow people to join in on the conversation about your event. They can make announcements, tell their customers that they will be there, show off the products they are going to bring and more. Without having to be an admin of your page.

So if you are going to an event, it’s in your best interest to find out what the official Hashtag will be and start using it in your posts that pertain to the event. Are you announcing a product, are you bringing something special, do you just want everyone to know you’ll be there?

There is no downside to using the events official tag. You will be helping make the event a richer experience for everyone and if your competitors refuse to use the tag, you are going to stand out from them.

Another example – let’s suppose you are holding your own event. Nothing too big, just a special sale with some new products and a short class related to your industry. You need an official hashtag. What fun is a party if no one shows up? Imagine though if one of your excited attendees shares your hashtag.

Other people see your fan’s post and click the tag (since tags act as links). They now get to see what’s going on and that they would like to attend as well. You know people tend not to do things unless they are incentivized so you make a deal with your followers that if they like your page and share your hashtag in a post they will be entered into a drawing for a free product, which you hold after the class.

Now you are getting more shares than before and since the prize requires them to attend, even more, people are coming.

This is just an example of the power of Hashtags when used with your Social Media. We will go over more amazing things Hashtags can do in the future.

So get out there and #StartToday, #DontWait, #GrowthHacking, #SavvyBusiness.

 

How to Use Social Media at Trade Shows and Events

social media management | Prairie Giraffe | Wyoming

You’ve paid your fee’s, rented your tables, you’re purchasing your SWAG, and all your marketing signage is being cranked out by the local print shop. You might think you have all your bases covered, but what is going to drive people to your booth? Is this an “if you build it, they will come” situation?

While you will get a lot of people walking by wouldn’t it be better to get people to stop by and actually look for you because of what they have seen online?

Your social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) are places for you to let people know what’s going on with you and where you’re going to be. It’s a place for you to connect with your customers and attract new customers. Your channels are a community, not just a series of impersonal ads. Social media is about connection and engagement, not just “impressions”.

With that said you can use social media to reach those who are interested in your business or services or have done business with you in the past. A trade show or event is a perfect opportunity for you to connect with your customers and leads. So follow these tips to drive foot traffic to your booth and create a buzz around your product or services.

 

Before the Event

  1. Find out if the event has a specific hashtag for the event and use it on your Social Channels (ie. #NEWCAHomeShow). A few weeks and up to a month before the show start dropping in the official hashtag for the event into your announcements and posts. Hashtags are a great way to get your posts into a larger community (others using the same hashtag) and get noticed by people who have not liked or interacted with your page.
  2. Like and follow the pages and or social channels for the Event Sponsors, the Event Page (if there is one) and the Location. Such as the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce, NEWCA Home Show, and the Camplex. This is a great way to support the event sponsors and get updates about the event.
  3. Share the event on your business page. Let everyone know your booth number and what you will be selling. Linking to the events page or website is also a good idea and with help get the word out to others who may not have known about the event.
  4. Share pictures or videos of what your customers might look forward to seeing from your company at the show (This is a good time to launch a new product or service – start getting people excited).
  5. Take this pre-event time to invite people directly that you would like to see at the show. Visit your email list and send out an invite to past customers and leads, inviting them to come see your booth and let them know what they will be seeing from you there. Also, consider an incentive for these special invites (i.e for those who show the invite at the show, they get a coupon for 10% off, or even something as simple some of your higher end SWAG?)
  6. If you are a B2B business check out your LinkedIn Connections and send an invite to them as well. This can be a great way to get some face time with a decision maker who may have been too busy to come see you otherwise.

 

At the Event

It’s the big day! Don’t lose the momentum you’ve been working hard to create. Keep people interested with the following:

  1. Post a picture of your booth. Make sure to let people know where at the show to find you. Circle your space on the event map and post it with the picture. Make finding you as easy as possible.
  2. Go LIVE! Show your customers what they are missing and what you have to offer. Use Facebook live or Instagram Stories to show people where you are, what you are doing, and talk a little bit about your products and services. This would be a great time to talk about the value your product brings. What makes you different. Chances are some of your competitors are going to be at the show and this is a great way to stand out.
  3. Encourage customers to take pictures of your booth and post it on your page! Offering a small incentive (discount on products or services if they do) or a chance at a prize!
  4. This is a great time to collect “Likes” – a Like can be used as an entry for any raffles you are doing (you could also collect emails as well).
  5. You are going to get busy at the event. Keep the buzz going by scheduling posts, tweets, or updates before the show to post during the show.

 

After the Event

  1. Announce the winners of any drawings in a live video at your location so people know where you are located.
  2. Follow up on emails or leads you collected. Don’t let those leads grow cold. Follow-up with anyone you collected contact information from. This is really an opportunity to impress. Even if someone didn’t have a question, but just gave you their email in exchange for a free gift, send them a thank you for stopping by your booth. This is a great way to remind them of you without being too “salesy” right out of the gate.
  3. And most importantly keep the momentum going – If you generated a lot of new likes don’t lose their interest! Take advantage of all your new followers and keep them engaged with interesting and exciting information about your products or services!

 

These are just a few ideas to help you get the most out of your next Trade Show or Event. Check back for more tips, advice, and strategies and be sure to follow the NEWCA Home Show page on Facebook! Of course, if all of this sounds Greek (or geek) to you, we would love to discuss the ways we can help. 

 

 

4 Reasons Your Business Should Be Using Facebook Ads

facebook ads, Prairie Giraffe, Gillette, Wyoming

How do you follow your favorite stores online? You go to Facebook and Like their page. You love the videos they share of their latest products or creating a something amazing or delicious. You feel closer to those businesses, develop a relationship, and engage with them more than other businesses who don’t make the effort to share their activities and day to day with you.

Who stays top of mind with you? A local company who exclusively advertises on Google or a business who has an active Facebook page and uses ads to target those who have interest in what they sell? The answer, of course, is the latter.

Customers are going to use Google to find solutions to an immediate need. However, Facebook is a great place to develop the long-term relationships that will pay off with return business and connections to the larger community in your industry. Facebook is the people ask their friends who they recommend. You want to be on there and ready to be recommended by those you have done a good job for in the past.

We have gone down this rabbit trail enough. This is not a post about why you should be using Facebook. This is a post about why you should be putting ads on Facebook. Here are just a few of the reasons you should be advertising on Facebook.

 

1. Your customers are on Facebook

Facebook is where people are at. Facebook boasts over one billion active users. If you’re trying to reach a particular group of people they are most likely on Facebook.

 

2. Target people in your area or who are interested in your products

Facebook ads can target people who are interested in your products and services. While these are not warm leads they are not cold either. This is far better than cold calling and other methods which are intrusive and can leave a bad taste in peoples mouths.

For a local company being able to target customers Geographically is huge. Being able to target an area within a certain distance of your shop and combine that with interest or affinity targeting will really help bring in the leads.

 

3. Charts and graphs

Facebook ad results are tracked. Using insights on your page and Facebook Ads Manager you can see exactly how your ads are doing. Who’s looking at them? Clicks, likes, reach, cost per engagement. All these metrics let you make decisions moving forward and let you see if your ads are working.

Ad’s without analytics are not nearly as effective. Stabbing in the dark is not a good use of your money. Not satisfied with the results tracking from Facebook? Connect your Facebook ads to Google Analytics and see even more details. Here’s an article from Social Media Examiner on how to do it.

 

4. Keep customers coming back

Facebook is a great way to keep your customers informed on what you are doing and why they should come back. Ads can target those who have already shown interest in your Facebook page and visited your website.

Using Facebook’s Custom Audiences feature, you’ll install a snippet of code on your website that will place a cookie on the computers of those who visit your site. With this installed on your site, the code will send information back to Facebook about which pages were viewed on your site by a specific visitor.

-acquisio.com

Building custom audiences helps move people through your funnel and closer to a decision to buy.

Facebook ads should be part of your inbound marketing strategy and are one of the most affordable options for online advertising. Contact us if you need help getting started or just don’t have time to create ads but know you need to. We’d love to help.

 

 

 

Creating Buyer Personas for Inbound Marketing

inbound marketing, Prairie Giraffe, Gillette, Wyoming

Imagine sitting down at your computer and writing. You write an amazing how to blog post. It’s just the right length, you address a problem with directional drilling, you identify the underlying cause of this particular issue with directional drilling, and you provide a solution to solve this problem.

The solution sells for $150,000, which is 10% less than your nearest competitor, and our solution can be implemented in half the time.

It’s a guaranteed win. You are a content marketing superstar and will go down in history as an energy industry genius/tycoon.

You then click publish and go live with this amazing piece of content on americangirlblog.com. A blog for young girls and collectors of the American Girl Doll.

 

Know Your Audience

 

This sounds ridiculous. But, how many of us are doing this same thing by not knowing who our customer really is? As foolish as it is to sell expensive high-end drilling equipment to 11-year-old girls, it is also foolish to try to solve problems your customers don’t have or sell products your customers don’t want.

We need to know who our customer is and how to reach them. How old are they? Where do they spend their free time? Where do they look for the solutions to their problems?

Knowing the answers to these questions allows you to be where they are looking, grab their attention, and solve their problem.

 

No… You Really Need To Know Your Customer

 

Many business owners have a problem with either not knowing who their customer is or assuming their customer is just like them. Yes, many businesses are started by scratching your own itch. However, times change and sometimes we don’t remember what it’s like to not have the answer.

Luckily this is a day in age where we can learn what our customers are looking for. What are their problems? What do they search when they are trying to solve those issues.

 

Creating Buyer Personas for Inbound Marketing

 

The solution is creating Buyer Personas. A Buyer Persona is a profile for a fictional customer that is based on fact.

Create your Buyer Persona by looking at your customers or potential customers and answering the following questions:

Who exactly are your customers and what specific problem are you solving for them?

What are they trying to achieve:
Name:
Age:
Gender:
Address:
Occupation:
Married (Y/N):
Children (Y/N):
The specific problem you can help with:

5 Places they spend their time online/offline to resolve this problem:

 

You may be tempted to try to solve more than one specific problem, but let’s just stick to one for now.

Go ahead and copy the questions into a Google Doc. Then start answering. Answer the questions as completely as possible. Some of these questions may not seem important. “Why do I need to know that my customer is married?” Well, there are a few reasons.

For one, do you need to target your customer or your customer’s spouse?

 

Digging Deeper, Getting Creative, Overcoming Obstacles.

 

What if you don’t know some of these answers? What if you haven’t sold anything yet?

Then I would start in places people ask questions. Some good places to start are Quora.com or Facebook.

Start with Quora and type your service or product.

marketing prairie giraffe

 

In this example, you are a house painter. Here you can see what potential customers are asking, where they are and what they are looking for. Looks like they are asking where they can find you and how much you charge. This is good to know because you can come right out of the gate answering these questions on your website.

Facebook is another great source. Typing in your product or services will reveal some of your competitors and who follows them, groups you can join full of information that pertains to your business, and public posts from people talking about your industry. From there you can see profiles, which go along way to helping you accurately and factually answer the questions on your Buyer Persona.

If you already have an active business page on Facebook then head over to Insights and go to “People” on the left. There you can see valuable demographics on who has been visiting your page, how old they are, where they live, gender, and more.

 

inbound marketing prairie giraffe

 

Once you have your first Buyer Persona completed create another, and another, and another if necessary. You want to get a complete picture of who your customers are for each product or service you sell. Now that you have your Buyer Personas completed you can start targetting your website, content, marketing, videos, social media, and anything else to that buyer.

Tying back into your inbound marketing, this is a lot better than stabbing in the dark and hoping you get it right. Or having to go back to cold calling and hoping you resonate with the person on the other end. Who wants to do that.

Do you need to create Buyer Personas for your business but don’t have time? Contact us. We would love to sit down and create your Buyer Personas for you so you can start reaching the right people and moving some product.

 

 

 

What Is Inbound Marketing Lead Generation?

inbound marketing, Prairie Giraffe, Gillette, Wyoming

You’ve experienced this before. You sit down to watch a movie or any other night time relaxing activity, and the phone rings. Someone on the other end butchers your name and then starts to lay down the most robotic sales pitch ever to be uttered in the western world.

 

This is the worst. I don’t know who is buying their product, but we know no one is enjoying the experience. Not the telemarketer and certainly not the one being marketed to.

 

Is there a better option?

 

There has to be a way to attract people and more specifically, strangers, to come to your site, store, or wherever else you sell your products and services, without having to be obnoxious and intrusive.

 

Nobody likes their day interrupted by sales calls or bad marketing, but everyone enjoys finding the right product at the right time. Everyone like to solve their problem or have it solved in as simple a process as possible.

 

How do we get from obnoxious to valuable and timely? How do we make our customers seek us?

 

The answer is lead generation through inbound marketing

 

As mentioned before, you want your leads to be warm. You want people to be seeking information. You want to be the one to provide that provides that information and answers those questions. Even if the answer may end with them not needing you for this particular problem.

 

Who will they turn to next time? Will it be the telemarketer or the loud TV commercial interrupting their shows? It could be, the world is not a perfect place, but as the one who provided value and information, you are much more likely to get the sale and develop the relationship that keeps them coming back.

 

So what is lead generation?

According to Hubspot

Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into leads”

 

Well, what is a lead?

 

A lead is someone who has shown interest in your business. Somehow, whether they visited your site, asked you a question on social, or walked into your store and asked, “how much?” they are a lead. Someone who could potentially buy.

 

With inbound marketing, the goal is to get this type of lead. Not just a phone number to call or an email to drop a message to. You want someone who has at least heard your name in a positive light. And interact with your business in some way. It’s the interaction that acts as the invitation for a follow-up.

 

What does inbound lead generation look like?

 

Imaging you fill out a survey about Rug Care (because you really love rugs) and a little while later someone reaches out to you with an ebook on how to care for your rug (that you love enough to take a survey about) and this ebook solves some problem you had with your rug.

 

Now take it a step further. You need a professional service performed on that rug. Who do you call? I’ll bet it’s going to be the company who has provided you with information in the past and solved an issue.

 

How do we get started?

 

You get started by developing buyer personas, creating content using keywords and social media, converting those strangers into leads, and then closing the deal. After you make the sale, the goal should be to convert that customer into a promoter. Delight the customer to the point they want to come back and bring others into the fold.

inbound marketing

 

After all, why do all this work just to make a one time sale? That sounds almost as bad as interrupting someone’s dinner to tell them about how much money you could save them on their credit card payments.

 

There are some great articles on Hubspot as well as some great tools. Another resource is inbound.org. If you really want to dig in and learn all you can about inbound marketing these are two solid places to start.

 

Keep watching our blog for more information on the topics mentioned in this post. Buyer personas, content creation, where do you advertise and who do you target (because we want to avoid being spammy and intrusive), and more.

 

If you don’t have tons of time to learn all this but want to put inbound methodologies to work for your business, give us a call or send us a message. We’d love to help you get leads coming in so you need less cold calls going out.