The tools, platforms and methods you use to grow your business are constantly changing. So you need to keep up with all the latest updates and trends. Members of the online small business community have some great insights about these changing tools and trends, ranging from social media algorithms to augmented reality. Read on for some helpful tips.

Don’t Let Social Media Algorithms Hurt Your Digital Marketing

Social media is an easy and free way to promote your business. But algorithms on certain sites can make it more difficult for your content to reach relevant audiences. To combat that, check out the insights and tips included in this Social Media HQ blog post by Chris Zilles.

Adapt Your Advertising Strategy to Apple’s Digital Cookie Blocking

Apple recently made some changes involving digital cookies in its new operating system. And this could impact the effectiveness of your online ads. Learn more about the changes and how you can adapt your advertising strategy in this Envision Creative blog post by Michael Cabriel.

Learn How Augmented Reality Could Change the Online Retail Industry

Augmented reality is a relatively new technology that could help retail businesses offer unique experiences for online shoppers. In this Noobpreneur post, Ivan Widjaya details how augmented reality could have a major impact on the online retail industry.

Make a Tweetstorm for the First Time

Twitter can be a great marketing tool. But sometimes the 140-character limit can make sharing certain sentiments difficult. That’s where Tweetstorms come in. Lisa Sicard of Inspire to Thrive shares more about Tweetstorms in this post. And the BizSugar community comments on the post too.

Use Facebook Audience Optimization for Better Organic Exposure

If you use Facebook to market your business, you can use the Audience Optimization feature to ensure that your posts reach the right people, even if you don’t want to spend big on advertising. This Social Media Examiner post by Anja Skrba includes more information about the feature and how you can use it to help your business.

Take Advantage of These Facebook Live Tools

Additionally, Facebook Live can prove to be a valuable marketing tool for businesses. And there are some specific features that you can use to really take advantage of the platform. Learn more about these essential tools in this Prepare 1 post by Blair Evan Ball.

Engage the Perpetually Connected Consumer

With all of the new tech tools and platforms consumers have access to today, marketing to them can get complicated. For more on how you can actually engage those perpetually connected consumers, check out this blog post by Susan Solovic.

Learn About Changes to Square and Other FinTech Startups

Square and other financial technology companies are changing the way small businesses manage their finances. And some recent changes might also interest you as a small business owner. Jonathan Dyer of DyerNews elaborates here. And BizSugar members also share thoughts on the post.

Reach Local Customers with Google Posts

Google Posts is a free tool that small businesses can use to create online content that is easy for customers to find through searches. And it can be a great way for businesses to reach local consumers, as Bill Nagel explains in this Smallbiztechnology.com blog post.

Understand the Psychology Behind Facebook Likes

When it comes to connecting with customers on Facebook, new features and marketing methods can be helpful. But you can also consider consumer behavior and psychology to guide your decisions. Learn more about the psychology behind Facebook likes in this post by Neil Patel.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: [email protected]

Social Media photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Learn About Social Media Algorithms, Augmented Reality and More Changing Business Trends" was first published on Small Business Trends

10 Facebook PPC Tips to Make Your Life Easier

Facebook PPC has become one of the most effective advertising strategies in the history of advertising. With over two billion users, virtually any type of business can make an extraordinary use of utilizing Facebook for advertising. Throw in Facebook’s incredibly robust and easy to use ad Power Editor and supplementary tools, and you’ve got one of the most powerful marketing combinations.

Facebook PPC Tips

When it comes to PPC, it’s incredibly important to always keep an eye on how much money you are spending and what you are receiving in return. Keep in mind that there are several ways to measure your return; for example, you could choose to use revenue or customer retention as a metric. This guide is very ROI (Return On Investment) focused, and it is designed to help you fine-tune your Facebook PPC campaigns.

1. Set Up Your Facebook Pixel

If you take anything away from this guide, let it be this tip. Setting up a Facebook Pixel is one of the most important things you can do for your marketing campaigns. A pixel will help you build better campaigns in the future, while also helping you get more value out of your current marketing efforts.

While it may sound a bit complicated, a Facebook Pixel is simply a small string of code you place in the HTML of your website. By placing and triggering non-intrusive cookies, the pixel tracks users as they engage with your site and ads.

This small string of code helps you do everything from track conversions from your Facebook ads to remarket to qualified leads. The list of benefits of utilizing a Facebook pixel is pretty extensive:

a. Track conversions: This gives you an intimate understanding of how customers interact with your site after they see your Facebook ad. It also allows you to track visitors across several different devices. This valuable data can be used to optimize your campaigns for a certain device. For example, if you find that people are finding your ads on mobile but switch to desktops to make a purchase, you can streamline your campaigns to reduce as much friction as possible in the transition.

b. Remarket: The tracking data allows you to create targeted ads to people that have already qualified themselves by taking a certain action on your site. For example, you could show users who abandoned their carts specific ads containing a product they had in their cart.

c. Creation of Lookalike Audiences: Facebook Pixels allow you to magnify your reach for future campaigns by creating lookalike audiences of people who have similar interests, likes, and demographics to people who have already been interacting with your site.

2. Understand Facebook’s Ad Guidelines

Having an in-depth understanding of what Facebook does and doesn’t allow is going to make your ad creation strategy. The key to efficient Facebook PPC is to eliminate any potential surprises and obstacles, and there are few things as annoying as finalizing an ad’s content only to realize Facebook won’t allow your ad to be seen due to an ad guideline violation.

It’s important to stay up to date on Facebook’s Ad Guidelines. Facebook is constantly working to improve the user experience, and ads that worked a year ago might not fly today. For example, Facebook has been progressively moving to minimize “click-bait” content, and ads that could trigger Facebook’s ad approval algorithm won’t be shown. A few Facebook Ad guidelines that often surprise merchants include:

a. Text in images: “Our policies previously prohibited ads with text that covered more than 20 percent of an ad’s image. We’ve recently implemented a new solution that allows ads with greater than 20% text to run, but with less or no delivery.”

b. Limited references to Facebook brands: “Ads linking to Facebook or Instagram branded content (including Pages, Groups, Events, or sites that use Facebook Login) may make limited reference to “Facebook” or “Instagram” in ad text for the purpose of clarifying the destination of the ad.”

c. Grammar and Profanity: “Ads must not contain profanity or bad grammar and punctuation. Symbols, numbers, and letters must be used properly.”

d. Prohibited Content: Facebook’s list of prohibited content is fairly extensive. Ads cannot advertise tobacco, drugs and drug paraphernalia, adult products, unsafe supplements, or adult products.

Facebook makes it very clear that advertisers have the responsibility for understanding and complying with Facebook’s Ad Guidelines and all other applicable regulations and laws. Businesses that fail to comply could end up getting their ads canceled, and even have their accounts terminated.

Keep yourself in the green by reviewing Facebook’s Ad guidelines and keeping up with any updates.

3. Remarket Like a Professional

Remarketing can be a phenomenal strategy to push second and third chance conversions, but only if used correctly.

A major cause of pain and confusion for merchants is the creation of an effective Facebook Audience for remarketing purposes. The key is to build these Facebook audiences manually, as opposed to simply just relying on your tools to do the job for you.

Utilizing a Facebook Pixel is a great first step for remarketing, but it is just a first step.

Someone who clicks on your website is a slightly warmer lead than someone who doesn’t, but just because they ended up on your website doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready to buy. This is why it’s imperative you build custom audiences with intent. These audiences can be built from a variety of different angles. A few of the most effective include:
a. Email database: Utilizing the “Customer File” Facebook Power Editor option, users can input an email database of emails they have already collected. This is an awesome option if you already have an email list because these leads are already warmed up to your products and services. If you don’t have an email list, consider running some campaigns with the goal of building an email list, and then utilize that email list to remarket at a later point.

b. Website traffic: The rate of standard website conversion is around 1.5%, which isn’t exactly a huge remarketing opportunity. Running remarketing ads to get these people back on your site might force some new conversions from people who forgot to check out, but you’re going to end up spending a huge majority of your remarketing budget showing ads to people that simply aren’t ready to buy. This is where Facebook’s Power Editor comes into play. By segmenting your remarketing list with URL and duration combinations, you can further qualify your site traffic. This is a great way to filter out people who have no purchasing intent and focus on people who do.

c. Engagement on Facebook: This is a great way to build extremely targeted and engaged audiences. The “Custom Audiences” panel allows you to retarget people who have interacted with your content or viewed your videos to a certain length. Since these audiences are more likely to convert due to their interest in your content, they are very cheap to target.

4. Ready to Scale a Good Campaign? Build Lookalike Audiences

Finding an audience that converts at a high rate isn’t an easy task. It often involves iteration upon iteration of ad targeting and, once you boil down your audience to one that drives conversions, it’s usually very small and becomes quickly over-targeted.

This is where Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences come in. All you have to do is simply give Facebook your audience’s information, and it pulls together people with similar demographics, interests, and likes and builds an audience for you.

Facebook has an incomprehensible amount of data, and Lookalike Audience is a gift to PPC campaigns everywhere. While this strategy does require some audience development on the front-end, it makes scaling and scaling automation a much easier process.

5. Use High-Quality Engaging Images

Visually appealing content does a wonderful job at attracting eyeballs. Your ad likely has one opportunity to elicit a pause in a visitor’s daily newsfeed scrolling session, which is why it’s so important to make sure it’s worth the attention.

Your images should be unique to your brand and do a good job at eliciting a positive psychological association with your products, services, or promotion. Finding the perfect images often takes a couple of tries, which is why it’s important to monitor your ad performance with each change.

Many savvy merchants go as far as hiring a professional photographer to showcase their products in the best possible way to ensure that the people who do respond to their ads are likely doing so because the product itself captured some sort of interest.

6. Set a Reasonable Budget

There is a lot of patience associated with PPC, particularly in analyzing a certain ad campaign’s ROI. While Facebook does allow you to gauge ad performance slightly faster than Google, it still takes some time to understand how users are interacting with your ads.

A common urban slang adage that often applies to PPC is “scared money don’t make no money.” If you set a daily budget of $10 a day, your ad will be shown a negligible amount and spaced throughout the day—essentially robbing you of a high quantity of clicks to analyze whether the ad would have been successful or not. If you’re pulling your campaigns prematurely, you could be missing out on a ton of value and letting your current ad spend go to waste.

Be patient. It’s recommended that you give advertisements at least 50 to 100 clicks before assessing their performance. This way, you have a nice data pool to assess whether you should put more money into your ad, iterate, or launch an entirely new ad campaign.

7. A/B Test for Optimization

Savvy PPC Ad managers know the importance of testing multiple variations of their ads early on to find which ones perform the best. While there are several ad qualities that are universal determinants of a campaign’s performance, there are still others that depend on your targeted audience:

  • Which ad image performs better: the one with the palm trees or the one with the seagulls?
  • What’s a more effective word combination: powerful and lightweight shoes, or flashy fast shoes?
  • What’s a better demographic to target: females age 16 to 20, or females age 21-24?

Many of the above questions are very niche and might not apply to your PPC campaigns, but you get the point. You’re inevitably going to question nearly every component of your ads, so why not invite data analysis into the conversation? Make use of Facebook’s compilation of the data from billions of users and understand which ads perform the best for your specific audience.

When A/B testing, make sure you are keeping all variables the same except for the one you are testing. For example, if you tested the three above questions at once, your results would be so confusing you wouldn’t know what influences a change in performance.

8. Utilize Facebook Audience Insights for Validation

Facebook Audience Insights is a phenomenal tool that will help you understand a specific audience you aren’t as familiar with.

Prior to launching a campaign, make sure your demographic, likes, and interests assumptions are in the right ballpark. Facebook Audience Insights reveals what a certain audience actually looks like. Additionally, Facebook Audience Insights can be used to dive into an audience at a granular level or find new potential audiences without having to spend a dime of your ad budget.

For example, we can discover more about a target audience of males living in the United States between the ages of 22 and 30 who like TechCrunch.

10 Facebook PPC Tips to Make Your Life Easier

In the demographics tab, we can see everything from the age and gender distribution to relationship status, education levels, and even their job title.

10 Facebook PPC Tips to Make Your Life Easier

In the page likes tab, we can see other pages and interests this specific audience has. This is golden, especially if we want to utilize these pages to further explore new audiences. For example, our next Facebook Audience Insights mission could be to check out what the audience that likes the page “Gary Vaynerchuk” consists of.

10 Facebook PPC Tips to Make Your Life Easier

In the Household tab, we can even see how much this audience brings home in annual income. This will help us to “qualify out” future ad targeting, and play around with the inputs to try to create an audience that perfectly matches our ideal user.

As you can see, Facebook Audience Insights is a spectacular tool to build audience personas and validate our current ad targeting efforts.

9. Master Your Funnel

In a perfect PPC world, every single click would turn into a new customer almost instantaneously. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In order even to make someone a legitimate lead, let alone a new customer, a business usually has to make a good impression at 5+ touch points.

Your sales funnel is, essentially, the series of touch points that take a site visitor and make them a well-informed and satisfied customer. While the steps of a funnel vary, it’s generally accepted that the four parts consist of awareness, interest, decision, and action.

Understanding your sales funnel will help you to craft targeted ads that are directed toward potential customers at every step of the sales funnel. This segmentation is incredibly important for conversions, as well as qualifying leads. It also makes your ad strategy much easier.

For example, you would want to send someone in the “decision” portion of the funnel ads that establish credibility for your company, among all other options, while you would want to send someone in the “awareness” portion ads that reveal a problem they may be having and how you can solve it.

10. Monitor and Act on Your Data

A huge mistake many PPC marketers make is only looking at their data at a surface level. Things such as the number of impressions and the click-through rate are good numbers to know and track, but there is so much more. Facebook is an extremely powerful platform for advertisers because it has access to an enormous amount of data and is able to present relevant information to advertisers in a robust, easy to use interface.

Diving a bit deeper, you will see what types of users are clicking your ads, who is looking at your ads, which of your ads are successful, etc. Take full advantage of Facebook’s FREE super detailed reporting to better understand your audience and your ads’ performance. Set up KPIs to monitor with every ad and understand how everything is linked.

Knowing your data, however, is only half the battle. You should be constantly testing your assumptions and tweaking your campaigns for the better. Advice on the internet will only take you so far; you need to apply your own unique results to, ultimately, get more out of your PPC efforts.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re just getting started or looking to take your campaigns to the next level, the above tips will help you streamline your journey. Social media advertising and Facebook PPC present a huge advantage to businesses of any size and shouldn’t be overlooked.

While this guide is meant to help you establish a foundational understanding of how to launch and monitor a successful PPC campaign, the responsibility of keeping your PPC knowledge up to date falls on you. By staying constantly informed of PPC changes and Facebook updates, you’ll be able to sit on the cusp of innovation and act on any new opportunities before the rest of your competition.

Facebook on Laptop Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "10 Facebook PPC Tips to Make Your Life Easier" was first published on Small Business Trends

A 10 Step Facebook Marketing Strategy

There are 2 billion people connecting  on Facebook every month. What’s more, 800 million people like something on the social media site monthly. Those are two good reasons to adopt this 10 step Facebook marketing strategy. Remember, your Facebook Ads will be the cornerstone of your small business campaign.

Facebook Marketing Strategy

Decide on Your Goals

There are a lots of different tools to use when you’re setting up a Facebook marketing strategy.  You need to make sure you’ve got a good idea of what you want to accomplish. The SMART goal framework will give you an excellent framework to work from.

Find Your Target Market

The chances are as a small business you don’t want to reach out to billions of people.

Social media generally is a vast space to market in. Even more so with Facebook. There’s no shortage of metrics you can use to target the best prospects. Location and gender are just two of the ways you can narrow down your target market. Facebook also allows you to find the folks who didn’t like your page through Detailed Targeting. The choices are endless.

Pick a Budget and Schedule

You’ll need to decide how and when your Facebook ads run. Drop down menus make it easy to decide when they run and how much you’ll spend on each. Remember to leave enough time for your ads to be reviewed in advance. Keep in mind that while many small business owners use the boost post function, there are other methods that work well too.

Create Facebook Ads

Now that you’ve laid down  a foundation , it’s time to start building those Facebook Ads. Kane Jamison has some great tips on a blog he wrote on the subject. For example, it’s good to know that Facebook is very particular about how much text you can use.

Optimize Those Ads

Keeping mobile and desktop ads apart is a good way to optimize a small business campaign. Facebook supplies some great tools here to help you through this part of the process like Power Editor.  Taking advantage of these tools means getting the most for the smaller advertising dollar small businesses work with.

Don’t Forget a Call To Action

Facebook can help you build a great ad that gets your products noticed. Don’t forget to add some traditional marketing tools like a Call To Action. Using actionable language is important.

Use The Right Photos

There’s a few different lines of thought here. Some small business folks with limited budgets swear by free stock photo websites. However, if you’ve got a bigger budget, paying for those photos from places like Shutterstock will steer you clear of any copyright issues.

Another note on photos. It’s better if you can use the ones that show people using your product and not just it sitting by itself.

Use Video

Of course you cant ignore the power of video. One hundred million hours of video are watched everyday on Facebook. The in-feed video ads offered are a great way to grab people’s attention. If you’ve got a longer message, the carousel video ads all allow for up to 10 images or videos in one ad.

Test Your Ads Performance

Small business owners all love the fact their advertising dollars go a lot further online.  Still, you want to get the best ROI and that means testing your Facebook campaigns. Of course the best place to do that is with Facebook’s Ad manager. With real time reporting capabilities, you can see if your ads are working for you.

One of the other interesting things here is you have the ability to dice and slice the info into segments. That way you can see if your audience, budget or images need tweaking.

Always Be Thorough

Finally, always take the time to understand everything each step in a Facebook ad can do for you. If you don’t, you might miss something that can change your ROI.

For example, make sure you understand everything targeting by location can do. You might think typing Chicago into the corresponding box is good enough. If you look for the small drop down menu that says “everyone in this location,” you’ll see there are other options including people 100 miles away.

Facebook on Mobile Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "A 10 Step Facebook Marketing Strategy" was first published on Small Business Trends

New Survey: How Businesses Use Social Media for Marketing

The social media preference for business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) companies not surprisingly is different. While B2C companies like Facebook and YouTube, B2B organizations prefer LinkedIn and Twitter. Even though their preference differs, the new survey conducted by Clutch revealed social media has a positive influence for most companies.

New Survey: How Businesses Use Social Media for Marketing

For B2C companies, Facebook was chosen by 96 percent of the respondents, with YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram getting 82, 77, 74, and 74 percent respectively. As for B2B’s, LinkedIn came in first at 93 percent, followed by Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram at 83, 82, 81 and 40 percent respectively.

Clutch and Smart Insights, a publisher and learning platform that helps companies plan, came together to conduct this survey in order to determine the value of social media. They surveyed 344 social media marketers from around the world to find out the most engaging content to share, social media resources businesses invest in, and the challenges they will face. The report of the survey was written by Kristen Herhold, content writer and marketer at Clutch.

Impact of Social Media

The data in the survey reveals businesses of all sizes benefit from social media. Fifty two percent of social media marketers said social media has helped increase revenue and sales for their clients.

This is achieved using different types of content to engage with consumers, all of which are within  the reach of small businesses.

First it is important to have original content, and 80 percent of companies said they share mostly original content on social media. The three most engaging types of content are broken down into written articles (27 percent), videos (26 percent), and images (24 percent).

Once the content is posted, engagement (36 percent) and conversion rates (35 percent) are the most important metrics for tracking success. But such tracking is not always easy to implement without the right approach.

The Challenges of Social Media

According to the survey, not having enough human and financial resources (26 percent), lacking a formal strategy (24 percent), and building a community of followers and influencers (24 percent) were the top three challenges social media marketers face.

Achieving Success in Social Media

More than half of the marketers in the survey said they used outside resources. These include management software, digital marketing or social media marketing agencies, or freelancers and consultants by 44, 28, and 9 percent respectively.

Similar solutions can be used by small businesses to get their social media presence off the ground. And once it is up and running, it can be managed in house or with freelancers and consultants at affordable rates.

Mark Zuckerberg Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Facebook is the Most Popular Social Media Site for B2C Small Businesses, Survey Says" was first published on Small Business Trends

How Much Do Instagram Ads Cost?

There are now more than 700 million users on Instagram. And if you want the ads for your small business to reach them, you should know what it will cost you. Did you know that Sunday evenings are the most expensive time to buy ads on Instagram?

An infographic titled, “How Much Do Instagram Ads Cost in 2017” by AdEspresso, a company acquired earlier this year by Hootsuite, will let you know what goes into setting the price for ads on Instagram. 

Instagram for Your Small Business

More small businesses are using Instagram, and its evolution has been ongoing as more features have been added. Meanwhile, as the platform’s user base climbs to the same billion+ mark of Facebook’s other brands, it is proving to be better than Twitter, even though it was founded four years later.

While many industries use Instagram, businesses in entertainment, fashion, beauty, fitness, as well influencers in these segments, are capitalizing off it the most. In fact, the influencer market recently hit a milestone by becoming a billion dollar industry. 

How Much Do Instagram Ads Cost?

Ad spend on social media is part art and part science, and without the right mix it can be very challenging. AdEspresso is a company established to simplify Facebook advertising for small and medium-sized businesses. And with the data in the infographic, the company brings this knowledge to Instagram too.

Taking into account the user base, growth and the fact that users are more likely to engage with brands on the platform, how much are the ads on Instagram?

There are a multitude of factors which determine the cost, and each one is driven by the fact that, “Ads are in competition with any company that is trying to reach the targeted user, not just brands within their industry.” And this competition is further intensified with an auction system that lets you bid for each ad.

While it might seem daunting, for small businesses looking to reach their customers in their location, it is affordable.

Actual Cost

A report by Nanigans revealed the average CPC for Instagram advertisers is between $1 and $2. So if you set your budget for $500, you can get between 250 to 500 clicks. For a small business looking to increase its presence this can be an affordable way of doing it. The average CPM was $5.68.

Some Insights From the Infographic

You are going to pay for ads based on Cost per Click (CPC) or Cost-Per-Thousand Impressions (CPM), and depending when you place the ads it will be cheaper or much more expensive.

As mentioned earlier, Sunday is the most expensive day, but holidays are also costly. You can add Christmas, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Labor Day, and New Year’s Eve to that list.

Televised events, such as the NBA finals, cause spikes in certain Instagram demographics. You have to factor in these spikes for your CPC or CPM budget.

The most expensive CPC is for females between the ages of 18 and 34. Influencers are used by fashion and beauty brands to reach this audience. The least expensive demographic is males, especially those older than 65.

For more detailed information about buying ads on Instagram, check out the full infographic from AdEspresso below.

How Much Do Instagram Ads Cost?

Images: Ad Espresso

This article, "Master the Basics of Instagram Ads with This Simple Overview (Infographic)" was first published on Small Business Trends