Engaging Small-business Customers with Facebook Contests

Social media rules in terms of marketing options. And Facebook is the king of social media.

Okay, those are bold statements and many would disagree. Yet the numbers are continuing to show that these statements, if not true today, can well be expected to be the case within one or two years.

So how does a small-business owner take advantage of this trend?

While there are lots of options, GROW Nebraska connected with Connie Hancock and Jenny Nixon, UNL Extension educators, to provide this session on how doing Facebook contests can attract and engage customers.

In the webinar, you will learn about the basics of branding and establishing your online image. You are then walked through some of the key elements for having a successful contests as well as some of the things not to do.

Examples of contests are used throughout the presentation. The idea of messages and what makes a good message is discussed.

If you are thinking of Facebook contests as an opportunity, or want to expand your expertise in running such events, then pull up a chair.

Marketing is changing. Social media is growing. And there is a good chance, Facebook should be part of your mix.

What Happens to Social Media Upon Death?

Online Marketing

Online Marketing Options

The issue of one’s digital legacy currently does not receive a great deal of attention. That fact lies in the relatively newness of social media.

Preparation for one’s death is not a new topic with estate plans, wills, trusts, and other legal documents. And some of one’s digital assets such as pictures, video and text are covered in these.

Yet the online social media platforms bring a new set of challenges.

Lara Bowman, Mississippi State University Extension Service, has put together a fact sheet outlining the options available on various platforms. You can find the material at: http://msucares.com/pubs/infosheets/is2011.pdf

This fact sheet is a great place to start if you need to handle the social media accounts for a relative or friend, either business or personal.  You may also want to check to see if your state has any laws regarding such digital legacies.

This material should help you get started. You can also check with your local Extension agent to see if there is anything state-specific.


Dr. James Barnes Talks Facebook and Facebook Ads

In our December Friday 15, Dr. James Barnes, Mississippi State University Extension, discussed Facebook and Facebook Ads for your business.

In her introduction of James and the topic, Jenny Nixon, moderator and Extension Educator with University of Nebraska, mentioned that 50% of people online have a Facebook account. This means potentially great opportunities by having your business on this social media platform.

In his chat, James mentioned the need to have your Facebook page up and running well before you started using any ads. Some of the components necessary include fresh and engaging content, good images, and changing, diversified content. He said that a 30-day calendar, at a minimum, of planned content was important.

Once a business owner gets ready to run ads, he or she need to know their budget, should start small, set goals and monitor the metrics, especially impressions, reach, and frequency. Also, there needs to be a consistent core message

Finally, Dr. Barnes mentioned that a business Facebook page cannot just be sell, sell, sell. There needs to be a flow of information, tips, contests, and other items that will keep people engaged.

You can find more resources about the Mississippi “Bricks to Clicks” effort including a variety of publications at: http://www.msbrickstoclicks.com/pubilcations.html . One specific publication looks at the economic benefits of Facebook marketing.

Dr. Barnes mentioned that the rules and opportunities for Facebook, and other social media platforms, are always changing. For example, Facebook has just recently added the opportunity to add a shopping cart on your Facebook page.

Facebook and Facebook ads can be a great marketing tool for your business. But like any other tool, it must be done right and an integrated part of the overall marketing plan.


Social Media: An Effective Tool for Rural Businesses

This week’s blog information comes from work done by Dr. James Barnes and Dr. Katlyn Coatney, both of Mississippi State University. They are working to look at how online marketing tools can be effectively used by rural, small agribusinesses. Part of the work of Dr. Barnes includes examining how Facebook ads can be included in the marketing mix.  All of this work is part of  the Mississippi Bricks to  Clicks program

social media channels

Photo (CC) by mkhmarketing, on Flickr

It’s no longer should  you use online marketing, it is how soon can you start.

The idea of online marketing is not new to any business owner.  If the owner isn’t already doing it, they have probably been approached by someone encouraging them to start.  Just in their daily lives, business owners see the idea in action as they go online themselves or even pick up a newspaper or magazine and see advertisements directing them to an online site.

If you look at the data, more and more businesses have begun to include use of online marketing in their overall marketing strategy. Somewhat research finds that businesses in rural places and agribusinesses have been somewhat slower in instituting such practices. To encourage business owners, Drs. Barnes and Coatney have authored a case study, The Economic Value of Social Media Advertising on Mississippi Agribusiness: The Case of MG Farms, Inc. 

Through their work with MG Farms, it was possible to show the economic benefit of using Facebook and Facebook advertising as a marketing tool. Focusing on an upcoming sale, MG Farms made an effort to increase the number of people who liked their Facebook page and who became engaged users during a three-month period.

Such likes and engagement forms a valuable intangible asset for a business.  In the case of MG Farms, that value was worth around $122,000.

Yet Facebook and Facebook ads also had tangible benefits to the business. When the sale was held, attendance increased by 20 percent and gross revenues increased by 33 percent, both based on 2015 as compared to 2014. The social media effort was the only thing MG Farms changed during the year.

The cost for MG Farms for the advertisements was only $735 thus making for a strong return on investment.

The report from Drs. Barnes and Coatney provides a research on the effectiveness of social media marketing for rural businesses. If done with guidance on its effective use, it has the potential for substantially growing your bottom line. 


Throw a Twitter Party, Have Fun and Grow Your Business!

Yes, it is possible to grow your business while having fun.  One way to do it? Throw a Twitter Party!

A Twitter Party creates an experience to engage your clients and prospective customers. Twitter Parties can build your online presence, market your enterprise and expand your brand.

Use Twitter Parties to connect with your audience, discuss timely topics and present information about your products and services

Join Alyssa Dye, Nebraska Extension Intern and entrepreneur, as she discusses setting up a Twitter Party while providing strategies designed to make your Twitter Party a success!

To learn more about Alyssa, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pW9bxBUnQpE

Register for the Twitter Party event at: http://go.unl.edu/friday15registration

Missed previous events?
Check out the Power of Business YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/PowerofBusiness
or the “Friday 15 tab at Power of Business. http://powerofbusiness.net/

While you are on the site, sign up to receive reminders for monthly chats and a newsletter designed to grow your business!

“See you” on later today at 11:15 AM CT!


Creating an Online Community

Article written by Jerry Buchko, MA, AFC, a Counselor, Coach, & Tutor of Personal Finance who is building a private practice serving clients using online social networking and real-time voice & video collaboration spaces. Prior to entering private practice, he worked for almost 14 years in the employee assistance field, providing financial counseling over the phone to clients from a diverse range of life circumstances and experiences.

Social network As I mentioned during our Friday 15 session, many of the ways in which we might develop relationships and community with others offline are essentially the same ways we can develop them online. Sure, there’s an aspect of learning how to use these social tools and spaces that’s involved. But at a more essential level, it also takes a willingness to get in there, and to learn and engage with other people.

You have talked about networking. We are all familiar with that term but how are you doing it online? And how do you maintain your connections?

Well I suppose it would be important to say that I don’t think of networking in the same way that people seem to commonly think of networking events, or at least in the way networking events are commonly portrayed, i.e. as experiences that seem to mainly involve making introductions, shaking hands, exchanging two minute elevator speeches and trading business cards.

I network online in many of the same ways that I might do offline. Through getting to know people over a period of time, for example, I’ve come to be an active member and collaborator within several professional communities of practice, all of which are related in one way or another to my interests and the work I’m doing as a private practitioner.

I have ongoing conversations and interactions with the people I’ve come to know in these communities. And these conversations and interactions can happen in a variety of ways, for example, discussions in social media and social networking spaces, like Twitter and Google+, as face-to-face conversations over real-time voice & video, exchanges over the telephone and email, and even opportunities to share discussions and “talk shop” while spending some leisure time together. Circumstances can also allow us to meet in-person in the more traditional way from time-to-time, like at conferences and project meetings we might attend together.

So these online spaces offer new ways to meet and connect, and I maintain my connections with these folks I’ve come to know online in essentially the same ways that I do with the people I’ve come to know offline, which is by being an active community member, relating and interacting with the other folks that participate in these communities we share together.

How do you build rapport online to get people to open up?

I think building rapport is fundamentally about nurturing and building familiar and trusting relationships, so on a very important level, I can’t “get” anyone to do anything. I think people naturally and reasonably have a difficult time opening up and trusting someone who isn’t willing to be open and trustworthy in return. Online or offline, I think it takes being willing to get to know people, and being willing to allow them to get to know you, so you can both decide whether working together would be a good thing.

How does this approach to building community work with your marketing efforts as a small business?

Actually, the marketing is an important challenge that I’m wrestling with right now. I’m trying to figure out a balanced approach to marketing and advertising my practice that’s both effective and properly reflects who I am as a professional, as well as the nature of the service and experience I’m offering clients.

On the one hand, I definitely don’t want to become “that guy” who seems like he’s always about marketing or pitching his service. And at the same time, I do need people, especially those who maybe don’t already know me well, to recognize that I’m working as a private practitioner for my livelihood, and that I welcome being approached by and engaging with prospective clients as well.

So I’ve taken some basic steps more recently towards “hanging out my shingle”. For example, I’ve rewritten the ‘Introduction’ to my Google+ social profile into something more approaching ad copy or content you might expect to see in a brochure (in contrast to something that’s either informally personal, or something that’s impersonally formal, like what you might expect in a resume). I’ve also added my business contact info to my banner image, along with a favorite quote that resonates with who I am personally and expresses something of the nature of my work with clients professionally as well.

Additional resources.

As I mentioned during the session, many of the people I’ve been fortunate to have gotten to know online have been educators interested in exploring and studying how this technology can be used for education and learning. These initial resources I’m sharing are put together and presented with educators in mind, but the information and tools can be readily adapted and applied to developing online community, as well as towards personal and professional learning, from the perspective of being a private practitioner or other small businessperson as well:

Edudemic – Why (And How) You Should Create A Personal Learning Network: http://www.edudemic.com/build-personal-learning-network/

TeachThought – 8 Ideas, 10 Guides, And 17 Tools For A Better Professional Learning Network: http://www.teachthought.com/social-media/8-ideas-10-guides-and-17-tools-for-a-better-professional-learning-network/

Here are a few resources that provide some perspective of the development of the World Wide Web and the online technological environment, including trends in social media, social networking, and in the use of video meeting and mobile technologies.

Pew Research Internet Project – World Wide Web Timeline (Mar. 2014): http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/03/11/world-wide-web-timeline/

Pew Research Internet Project – Social Networking Fact Sheet (Highlights of the Pew Internet Project’s research related to social networking.): http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/

Pew Research Internet Project – Social Media Update 2013: http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/12/30/social-media-update-2013/

Pew Research Internet Project – Video Calling and Video Chat (Oct. 2010): http://www.pewinternet.org/2010/10/13/video-calling-and-video-chat/

Pew Research Internet Project – Cell Phone Activities (Sept. 2013): http://www.pewinternet.org/data-trend/mobile/cell-phone-activities/

Here are a couple of resources on the topic of entrepreneurship that I’ve found offered some useful perspective as well:

Kauffman Foundation – Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity: http://www.kauffman.org/what-we-do/research/kauffman-index-of-entrepreneurial-activity

U.S. Small Business Administration – 6 Tips for Avoiding the Common Financial Pitfalls of Being a Young Entrepreneur: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/6-tips-avoiding-common-financial-pitfalls-being

(I think these are good tips for entrepreneurs to consider regardless of age.)

And finally, there was a question from one of our audience members, John Blue, that we promised to respond to in this blog post. John wanted to know what tool I was using for my lower third banner during the Friday 15 session.

Yes, the tool I was using was a Google+ Hangout app called Hangout Toolbox. I was using its Custom Overlay feature to display the custom lower third banner I’d created for the session.

And I created the custom banner using an image creation program called GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program). There are several useful guides out there about how to create a custom banner overlay, and I’ll share one that I personally found very helpful.

Hangout Toolbox: http://hangouttoolbox.com/

GIMP: http://www.gimp.org/

How to create custom overlays for Google Hangouts by Ayoub Habchi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5nHTxJ660k#t=16