In the current social media dominant world, starting a business conventional way seems a little absurd. People connect and communicate with each other online and through social media.

Setting up business on social media with proper planning and strategy is important since billions of people are present on different channels. The recent statistics show that more than 1.6 billion people use Facebook in their free time to gather information and connect with friends. Twitter has an average of 300 million users, out of whom 80% are active and tweeting on weekly if not daily basis.

LinkedIn has 347 million users, most of which are professionals and experts while Pinterest user base consists of more than 70 million users. Based on these statistics, anyone can figure out that these platforms are most effective and fastest way to reach people.

Before starting anything, do a thorough market research to get an idea about the needs and wants of people. If you create a product without finding out its market demand, you are wasting your time and money. Start working on the product after you are sure it will sell once introduced in market. The same tip goes for starting a business or service.

For a startup, it might be difficult to gain exposure in initial phases of launch, but then again success does not happen overnight. You need to be patient and consistent in following your business strategy to garner expected objectives and projected results.

Lack of finances, resources, work force and connections prove to be the biggest hurdles in setting up any type of business. Bigger companies and multinationals do not have to face same problems while expanding their businesses on social media.

To help startups with the problem, we have compiled a list of tactics and strategies that can prove extremely useful in setting up business on social media. Follow these tips and you will be off to a right start.

1.  Devise social media strategy: Make a list of your business goals and aims you hope to accomplish using social media. Figure out how social media will help you achieve that. Having an outstanding strategy can help guide your social media promotions to the maximum height likely to happen. Also, research about of your target audience, their demographics, interests, behaviors and psychographics. You would also want to figure out the kind of company you want to be on social media.

Startups need to keep a close look out on their competitors and industry you are operating in. Companies take-off one day but end up becoming a failure the very next day, so it is important to read the news related to startups (Successful and unsuccessful, both) and tech advancements.

Your brand or business is unique from others so come up with unique objectives that shed light on you and help you stand out from the crowd. Instead of imitating your competitor’s strategy, curate your own that ensures success.

You also need to know the kind of company you aspire to be. Are you going to adapt classic approach, being direct and to the point or do you plan to take the easy going approach with no strict rules and laws. The preferred approach should be incorporated in social media strategy and then you need to stick with it. Audience and consumers like you better when you are consistent and have everything figured out with a clear understanding of what you want to do.

2.  Prepare content: Defining your content strategy is the second most important step in setting up a business. Your content need to be useful and able to drive traffic and profits. Lay out a plan for the type of content (audio, video, pictures, visuals, infographics, slides, GIFs, notes etc) you want to deliver.

Your target audience plays a huge role in deciding your content strategy. Their personas, wants and needs drive your strategy behind the creation of content. Whatever content they prefer will then allow you o choose the preferred medium for your campaign.

3.  Choose the preferred medium: Once you have the social media strategy all planned out, and you know what type of content you would like to post to grow your business, it is time to choose that one primary channel that will make magic happen for you.

As I explained in the introduction, millions and billions of people use social media across the world to connect and interact. Based on your content and audience predispositions towards a certain medium, you can post your content on that medium, keeping it a primary channel of communication.

There are top five social media channels that are used by professionals and brands to grow their businesses.

Facebook: It is the largest social media platform on the face of digital world and claims more than 700  million  active monthly users. It works best when you are trying to reach a wider and mass audience across  the country  or world. Being one of the most credible platforms, every business has a Facebook profile and  page that is open  to public. You must do the same, as it is also the biggest platform to bring potential  customers and increase  connections.

Twitter: Research shows people make most of their buying decisions when they are using social media and  see recommendations from their personal contacts. Out of these, 68 percent of twitter users are prone to  purchase a product from the business they follow.

Twitter works best when you want to have a more personal connection with your followers. You can thank  and appreciate them via direct messages or mentioning their user names in tweets. The one-on-one customer engagement is also high on Twitter; hence, it is absolutely necessary to keep it as a key part of your social media strategy.

 

 LinkedIn: When you want to connect with professionals and clients, LinkedIn is the place to go. It is easy  to find business partners on LinkedIn since the profiles have all the information about a person’s academic  background, work experience and interest / passions.

LinkedIn is more of professional network rather than social media but it is still a great way to facilitate  global and regional networking.

 

 

 YouTube: To build brand awareness via interactive stories, YouTube serves as your best friend. You can  engage people through comments section and distribute videos easily. People can either subscribe your  channel or find you when they enter keywords used in your title post.

Make sure that your videos are high definition and are able to load easily. Slow loading content usually gets  overlooked since people become impatient. Cross-market your business effectively by distributing content on other platforms and social media channels.

 

 

Instagram: If you are a business that focuses on image marketing, you need to sign up on Instagram right away. Share your story through pictures and infographics. To ensure the reach of Instagram posts, use hashtags that are specifically related to your product as well as the general ones. This helps you get found in multiple search results increasing engagements on your posts.

4.  Use personal connections to grow: In the start, your business can only grow if you share it with your personal connections and ask them to share it further. Word travels fast through word of mouth marketing. In social media scenario, people are likely to consider a source credible if it is recommended by their friends or a person they trust.

For this reason, you can also use employee advocacy and leverage their social media accounts to promote the business as well. Ask your client and business partners to do the same since it is everybody’s interest and credible way to fast start your business compared to Facebook advertising.

5.  Pay attention to customer demands: People can be smarter than you think they are. Sometimes their ideas are creative and might help you improve your business strategy. Therefore, never miss out on any suggestions they make in comment sections.

The customers are the one consuming your product or services so they understand it better and can give you insightful ideas on how to modify or improve your brand’s spirit.

6.  Social media customer service: With everything happening on internet and specifically social media, traditional ways are dying. People no longer need to call customer help services and wait for hours to get their complaints through.

Social media customer service allows you to listen to people in real time and solve their problem immediately. This is not only feasible for customers but also for the businesses, since they do not need to invest separately in traditional help lines that cost way more than a customer service page set up on a social media platform that is free of cost.

7.  Monitor and evaluate: Having a successful social media strategy does not mean your work is finished. You need to constantly keep track of your social media profiles, comments and feedback from audience, interactions and overall performance.

One of the easy way to monitor social media profiles is by buying monitoring tools that give you complete analytics about your brand mentions, people who are talking about it and trending topics relevant to your business.

With these handy softwares, you can also schedule posts throughout the day to keep your online brand presence integral.

With the advancement in technology and social media, businesses are also changing the way they interact with their customer. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to be smart enough to know what do people want and how to fulfill those needs.

Marketing your business and promoting your products needs a strategy and extensive planning. You need to think about your public relations (PR), marketing leads, tactics to increase your sales and connect better with your customers by posting interactive content.

Content marketing is the most reliable and effective way to get people listen to you. If your content is worthy, people will interact with you and take better interest in your product. The original content also gets people talking about it and share it with their friends, leading to increased traffic on your blog or website.

If you want your content marketing to succeed, your first step is set up a blog, be it on social media or a web hosting service. Social media blogs do not offer much because of limited customization options but if you really want your brand to grow, invest some money and get your own domain name and blog hosting so you are able to start a professional well-maintained WordPress blog.

Always remember that the content marketing strategy once planned is not the final one. You will need to make changes and modify it according to the trends and your product. Finding a way to accommodate your business goals with current trends is the best way to ensure your outreach and impact on the customers.

With 2016 here, we are going to look at some of the trends that were hot and 2015 and have a high probability to stay in the news through 2016 as well. Here are some.

1.  Quality over quantity:

Google has changed their search algorithm and the way content used to appear in top search results. Before the updated algorithm, it was all about quantity of the content and making unlimited posts was a way for you to make in the top search results, but now quantity and number of posts on one topic do not matter anymore.

What matters is your understanding of keywords and using them repetitively in the content. Writing quality content that is also SEO worthy is the new trend and you need to follow that if you want to improve your outreach.

Various plugins and tools that allow the In ad blocking are making it difficult for marketers to put the content in audience’s line of sight. But with high quality and engaging content, you can overcome that problem easily.

2.  Social media focused content:

Content marketing is much more than posting on website and blogs or building a strong copy for your advertisements. It is any content that you post on social media even as a part of casual conversation without the hopes of targeting customers to buy your product.

Any update you post on social media is closely scrutinized by your audience and competitors. For that reason, you need to make your standing in the crowd without imitating someone or their content.

Genuine and real content on social media keeps the users interested and makes you look authentic. Give due consideration and diligent thinking when you are creating posts for social media. Social media posts are one of the biggest key factor in driving traffic to your website so make use of excessive back linking in every post.

3.  Customers’ involvement in content curation:

People love when they are appreciated and their work gets noticed. This gives you a chance to involve them in the process of marketing and advertising by asking their suggestions.

You can call out skilled professionals who use Photoshop, illustrator or Corel draw to create graphics and images that can be used in advertising strategy. Put up rewards for the winner to ensure increased participation. Rewards serve as a motivation and a chance for people who are highly talented but are unable to break through the clutter of professionals present on social media.

Apart from competitions, recognize people who are loyal to your brand and stick with you through thick and thin. Give them a shout out on Twitter and Facebook by mentioning their user names, so they are certain that you are specifically talking about them.

Public appreciation is one of the best ways to interact and build a long-term relationship with your clients / customers.

4.  Fast loading content:

People do not have time in this fast-paced world to wait even for a minute to view your content. They want to see it immediately the page opens. If your content is augmented in terms of bytes and loads slowly, your customer moves on without waiting for it to load. This presents the problem of producing high resolution content that is not only not bad in quality but also takes no time in loading, even with the slower internet connections.

The world has become fast moving and internet presents itself as an opportunity anyone an avail at any time. You can find information on a one topic from multiple organizations, just one click away. You need to make sure that click comes your way by avoiding the use of images or data that takes million years to load. People expect to find information as soon as they open the page, and if it is not there, it is highly unlikely that they will come back.

5.  Video and audiovisual domination:

Visual content is paving its way in to our live fast. People like to see content that is real and has appeal. Not only that, but as I mentioned in previous point, social media users are becoming impatient so they want the content the go. Instead of reading about a thing in a boring paragraph, preference is being given to audiovisual and live stream videos.

Videos are more interactive than text posts and are a fast way to access content in real time. Wireless connections and Internet speeds continue to increase, which gives people high capacity to access images and videos even while they are busy sorting through information. The written content is becoming highly saturated, leaving users with a higher demand for more visual forms of content

Users expect instant form of information so it is safe to say that the end result is a much higher demand for videos and other visual forms of content in 2016.

6.  Tailored content:

If you want your business to succeed, you need to start doing your own market research no matter how much time or resources it takes. It might not be ideal or financially feasible at start, but you will start getting projected results as soon as you build the content accordingly by using the data right.

Your audience expects so much more from you and it is no wonder that by this year, they are accustomed to viewing customized content in their timelines. Turn these expectations into reality by filtering out any unwanted content and just promoting the content that is actually useful and interactive.

7.  Mobile friendly content:

More than half of our day passes by while we are using our smartphones, be it for personal or business reasons. People use internet and social media in that time too, which means accessing information from relevant blogs and companies.

If your website or blog does not have a mobile friendly interface, you will stay hidden from the face of smart phone communication world. One bad experience and it is quite possible that the user never visits you again, even on the laptop and computer.

For this reason, focus especially on mobile interface for your website and blog and make it user friendly.

8.  Relationship marketing via interactive content:

You cannot make people listen to you or read whatever you post, unless it does not spark interest and thoughtful ideas. Create content that will be able to make a place for itself in market by attracting community response.

Tell an amazing story for your brand and urge people to do the same. This method of content creation and distribution creates a chain of responses from people who are ready to share their ideas and stories with world on right platform.

Humanizing your brand is an important way to build clientele, loyal customers and influencers present in market. Use personal tone if you want to have a relationship with the customers and influencers. They also serve as great asset to advocate you brand / product in market, whenever you need them.

To keep track of your performance on social media and blogs, install Google analytics so you can get the idea of how far you have come or how long till you achieve your defined objectives. Stats are easy and simple way to keep up with the trends and your audience’s wants.

Analyze the situation and adapt to new technology and trends no matter how hard it is. No one likes change, but in the digital age, change is what keeps us working towards better situations wanting more.

Gaining social media power to drive your business falls under the top goals brands have in today’s world. It has become inevitable to have social media presence no matter how small or big your business is. Perseverance and planning are the baby steps to build your profile and influence the sea of people present on social media. Studies prove that people mostly commonly use Facebook and other social media platforms for three most common reasons

Staying informed and updated applies to businesses and brands as well that are trying to build a network by connection with potential customers, influencers and clients. Hence, it is important to see what the customers’ inclinations are, what they want from you and how you can come up with a strategy that tackles all the needs of your buyers.

While building a business the first step is to outline the product and document your objectives. Convert the brand image and its ideology into its competitive advantage. Without having a unique selling proposition (USP), you cannot build an effective business on social media.

Involving your clients, potential customers, target audience and other stakeholders is very important for this step. If you are unable to understand their needs and wants and cater them, you are already failing at your business.

Learn about the demands of people and then compare it to what you are offering. Are they in line? Do they complement each other? Are you able to satisfy your customers and reach the set goal, side by side? If not, you need to go back and look at your vison. Review your business plan and find the loopholes and gaps between your initial outlined strategy, and your delivered performance.

You need to put extra time, effort and your proficient creative thinking in developing your business on social media. If this is not done right, it does not matter how much effort you put in for the rest of strategy, because having a clear understanding of what you are making, why you are doing it and how do you plan to deliver it is the backbone in building a business.

To accomplish your goals, you need to sit down and brainstorm in order to create an exceptional social media strategy that will not only build your brand but will also bring you more business, resulting in increased engagements from users, higher leads, sales and better revenues. Some of the power techniques that your business needs to get started and excel are listed below,

1.  Choose the primary social media platform: knowing your audience and their favored social media platform for interaction and communication helps, you decide your primary marketing channel for social media.

Facebook, Twitter, Google plus, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube are among the top used social media platforms among clients, target audience and brands themselves.

Your product and customer research will help you decide which one of these you want to treat as primary marketing tools while keeping some of the others as secondary. Facebook even after more than a decade of its launch remains the most used social media website because of its interactive features, clear navigation and diverse user base. Companies prefer to build a following on Facebook pages and then try to mobilize that following across other platforms by linking the profiles.

Twitter is a fun way to interact on a more personal level or to give out free tips and one-liner suggestions throughout the day. LinkedIn works best when you are trying to build a professional network while Google-plus allows you to find people who might be interested in your business by joining the appropriate communities. Instagram works best for the brand s and products that focus on pictures and photo blogging, just like YouTube that allows video bloggers to publish content.

 

2.   Post quality content: Posting an update with the mere purpose of being present and active is a mistake most businesses make while using social media. What happens when you tell people to do the obvious or unimportant thing in your status? They see it, ignore it and move on. Is that how you want your business to be? Irrelevant and average? Of course the answer is no… so what can you do that will make people stop, appreciate and further spread your content. You focus on the quality.

It is not important that you are uploading only five or eight times a day, but posting valuable and share worthy content is. The content that is creative and original will make people read and share it further. Every post you make should be a representative of your brand image.

You can always be funny and humorous. One of the trends that attracted huge media attention was creating to deliver your message in a creative witty way, whenever you find appropriate.

Use visual content and infographics like tables, charts and illustrations; because graphics bring more views and people remember them easily. Look for the posts that performed good in the past and try to use that posting technique more.

 

3.   Schedule your posts- if you are afraid that due to overload of work or other responsibilities, you might forget to post the content at right time, you can always buy automation softwares. Automations tools work best with social media websites and are highly customizable so you can work around them and convert them to meet your ideal situation.

Scheduling content keeps the audience engaged and interested, while you appear to be consistent. Scheduled tweets are usually made for after office hours or in the morning when people get up. Other times of the day when people are likely to check their social media accounts are lunch and dinnertime.

4.   Use your employees to advocate for the brand: Your employees are your greatest asset to build your business on social media. Ask them to post the content on your behalf from their own personal profiles. They can recommend the products to their friends, which increases the credibility and influence.

People trust their peers and weigh their opinions, so they are more likely to visit your website or share your content when asked by a personal connection compared to when asked from advertising.

5.   Connect with influencers and leverage their personal accounts to promote your business: Just like employees, influencers can turn your brand in to a success by just being affiliated to it. Find and build a connection with media personalities that can be linked to your brand and have a large number of following.

Instead of spending time to build a relationship with customers directly, you can use influencers to do it for you. Gaining a following and then keeping them takes time, but influencer marketing saves that trouble. This strategy not only saves time but also gets you increased attention and viewership from a diverse audience. The important thing is to influence the influencers and have a direct, personal and healthy relationship with them.

6.   Follow your competitors and their customers: You are trying to build your business on social media by getting followers and increasing engagements. What if you are unable to tackle that situation because your competitor has better brand presence and authority over its costumers on social media compared to you. To understand your own lacking and ways to improve it, you need to look at your competitor’s social media strategy. Keep your focus on points like

Apart from following your competitors and monitoring their performance, one of the most direct way to get your audience’s attention is by making them feel important. Retweet or quote them whenever they post about you. If the review is bad, do not be afraid to hide but use it to appear strong and ask for their opinions and how they would like to do it. Find people who are mentioning you on their social media profiles by customization search and follow or like their posts.

 

7.   Email marketing: One of the oldest tricks in promotion and advertising industry is email marketing. Companies and organizations use it to get subscribers and build a connection on more personal level compared to mass media marketing on social media platforms.

It has come a long way and still stands as an extremely useful technique to grow your community. With the help of analytics and automation tools, you can easily segment the people and their preferences, building email lists that are not only particular but tap directly into your niche audience’s interests.

Smarter emails lead to high return on investment and better traffic for your websites.

Social media is a platform to connect with people and stay informed. These are also the basic two requirements for a business so when developing a social media strategy, keep it creative and interesting. Pay attention to people and connecting with them. Initiate two-way interactive campaigns that keep the audience talking, and constantly update them with content and useful information related t your business.

The journey since the arrival of social media to up until this point has been incredible. Since its emergence, there has been hardly a day when social media did not surprise us or brought us something new. For businesses, it is even extra special exciting since the minds behind these websites have been working tirelessly to develop features that help business grow and excel on social media.

The arrival of new features and softwares means that you have to stay updated and ready for whenever your social media marketing strategy needs to be modified or changed completely. Your target audience and customers expect you be current, impulsive and impulsive with your advertising and content sharing. If you do not give due attention to customers’ expectations and stick to your own design of marketing, there is a high risk that your clients and consumers lose interest in you.

Listening to your audience and following market trends can lead you to creating exceptional business revenues and sales. To help you with that we did a lot of research and gathered some points that will prove extremely helpful in designing your social media marketing strategy for 2016.

1   Focus on building mobile friendly apps and websites- As the mobile phones are getting highly advanced and cheap with accessibility to anywhere in the world, people prefer to do business through them. This not only saves their time but the issue of carrying around a big laptop or tablet is not involved as well, since mobile phones are handy and flexible to use in small spaces. This gives the businesses an opportunity to focus primarily on websites designs that work fast and better when accesses via mobile phone.

Most of the social media apps are now merely available for mobile phones and cannot be accessed through computers and laptops. One such example is Snapchat, which was introduced in 2011, and has since grew a large number of audience. It not only attracted the attention of small business but the multinational companies and businesses like General Electric, Taco Bell and McDonalds use it as well.

2.  Facebook is still the hottest and primary medium to build your business on- It has been more than 11 years since Facebook launched and approximately nine years since it became accessible to public. Even after such long time it is still the top used social media website among individual users and businesses. Although the risk of standing out from such a big crowd is greater and you need to put extra effort in, you should not ignore the wonders it can do. New apps like periscope, blab and Snapchat are making their way into the audience’s heart fast, but considering Facebook as orthodox and yesterday’s news will be a mistake that will become disaster for your business.

Facebook has never let itself become boring or there had not been a point where it appeared to be in a rut. The “buy” feature it recently introduced has made it even more worthy for advertisers and marketing.

3.  Live video streaming and audiovisuals- As I mentioned in the last point that Facebook has kept its users interested over the period, without becoming irrelevant or dull. Along with the “buy” button, it also introduced live video streams, where users can upload short videos of current happening, from around the world in real time.

Videos give the content an authenticity and people generally prefer them more compared to reading text. Snapchat attracted major attention because of its unusual features like geo-filters that allow people to show their current location in stories. This is a fun way to let people know and market your product by arranging a meet-up when you are in certain vicinity or on a business tour.

Periscope, which was introduced last year under the umbrella of Twitter Inc., is also a live stream video app. It is most common among celebrities and TV show hosts for behind the scenes shots. Blab lets anyone become a talk show host as soon as one signs up. You can talk about your favorite topics, publish podcasts and invite other people from the platform who share same interests as you, to chat in the talk show.

4.  Influencer marketing- A huge population of internet world is connected to each other, interacts via number of tools and platforms, and is able to influence someone. People with large followings are able to influence better and have the advantage of delivering their message to huge audience.

Companies and businesses need to capitalize on the followings of these influencers and hire them to become the mouthpiece for their business. People are more persuaded when a product or brand is advertised unconventionally and the words are coming out of the mouth of their favorite personality.

Influencer marketing has the biggest advantage that it builds a trust between consumer and business. Since social media influencer focus on delivering quality content that is thoroughly researched and has a solid place in market, people listen to what they are saying. Developing long-term relationship with influencers can prove extremely helpful for your business.

Another method to practice influencer marketing is by using personal social media profiles of your employees. Research proves that more than 70 percent of buying decisions are made while people are using social media. The rationale behind that? When someone in users’ friend list buys a product and recommends it, the user is more likely to buy in comparison to traditional marketing and advertising.

5.  Use of instant articles to launch content- Facebook launched instant article feature in May of last year. The idea was to allow the editors to publish content on Facebook like it is done on the website. An instant article saves your time by avoiding the loading interval a link takes while you are being redirected to the website to read it. It is faster and efficient way of sharing content with people. People prefer the content that is small in size and loads within seconds.

Another interactive feature of instant articles is that while reading, users can individually tap on the lines they like out of the whole content. It not only provides monetization opportunities but publishers have full control over the stories. The analytics tools also helps businesses to keep track of their performance so they can work on providing their users with enhanced experience.

The feature will definitely attract attention from advertisers and publishers in this year and grow more audience. It launched with initial nine partners, which are, The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, NBC, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel and Bild. These high profile partners show that the feature is definitely worth trying and will catch fire once people get a hold of it.

6.  Focus on quality instead of quantity- In the traditional days of advertising, producing a lot of content was the key to success. Due to the limited available channels, advertisers and businesses produced tons of content and slapped it across all accessible mediums in the hope of producing content that will resonate with customers.

Since the availability of channels is no longer a problem for advertisers, the focus has also shifted to quality from quantity. More channels and more competitors mean clients and potential consumers no longer have time to read everything they come across on social media. Users prefer to read only the content that is relevant and worthy of their time.

To produce such content researching the need of audience is most important. Finding out and delivering the content that has demand in market is the new technique to seduce your audience. For this reason do not worry if you are not writing content on daily basis. Keep your head at bringing together high quality content for your customers… something that keeps them interested.

7.  Advertise less while trying to build a connection with your customers more- Users on social media ignore the posts that across as advertisements or promotion materials. The strategy is to post your copy in a way that tracts customers to engage with it. Do not tell them to buy your product because it is amazing and they need it. Ask them what they need and whether your product is the one to fulfill that… this type of advertising promotes a healthier connection between you and the customers. They become interested to interact more with you.

Providing a back link to your website while posting interactive content on social media is a crucial media marketing strategy. The advertising and the copy should be so good that when you post a part of it on social media, it leaves viewers wanting more. This helps in bringing traffic to your website, which in turn helps in generating leads and profits.

2016 is going to be the year of surprises. More technology will emerge giving way to new softwares, tools and interactive features. Your business needs to be on the lookout for what is happening out in the social media world to stay relevant. For that, you will need to come up with social media marketing strategies accordingly.

Worst Marketing Fails of 2015:

2015 was the year when marketing industry not only boomed but also took a dark turn at the same time. We saw some troublesome advertisements and scandals spread all over the internet and every single social media. The thing about digital media is that it is scrutinizing your every move every second, and when someone messes up, it never forgets.

Let’s take a look back at the most cringe worthy advertisements and marketing failures of 2015 and learn from them by avoiding them in 2016.

1. Krispy Kreme:

One of the most famous brand in America outdid itself when they came up with a fun       and harmless activity for children. The idea was to promote events throughout the  week   in a certain location of United Kingdom, during the weeklong school break.

 Unfortunate for Krispy Kreme, Wednesday’s event was called Krispy  Kreme Klub (KKK) that created an uproar in the media, people started making memes and photo shopped image of Klu Klux Klan members on the ad. The media office for Krispy Kreme later issued an apology but the whole thing was a nightmare for the brand.

2. Target:

When Target introduced the shipment of new sweaters for Christmas, they had something unusual about them. Instead of normal Christmas themed sweater, Target decided to go a different way and printed “Obsessive Christmas Disorder (OCD)” on the sweater. Although it was meant in good humor and to lift people’s spirit for Christmas, public was not amused. People immediately responded and called Target insensitive of the people who are serious victims of the disease.

Target was also accused of trivializing a serious psychological disorder just to soar its sales. Even with all the backlash, the brand stood strong and kept selling the sweaters. However, the spokesperson for Target, Josh Thomas did say that the company “apologizes for any discomfort.”

3. Airbnb:

 When Airbnb wanted to improve their image after vote, on whether Airbnb should  regulate the rentals more strictly or not, it did not turn out so well. The company put up  a couple of passive aggressive messages in the form of billboard and bus stop  advertisements.

 The ads came across as suggesting the people of San Francisco to do their civic duty.  People did not take that well. It is fairly normal for giant brands to pay giant taxes, so  when $12 Million amount of tax money was highlighted; it attracted a lot of attention. The company soon realized its mistake and apologized by saying the messages gave out the “wrong tone.”

4. Bloomingdale’s:

Bloomingdale’s is one of the top names in fashion and departmental store industry in America. People on social media were pretty upset when an ad from the company was published with tagline saying, “spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” A male and female model are featured in the ad, with the female model looking away while the male model is looking at her.

People protested that the date encouraged rape culture and suggested male population to make a move on the girls when they are not paying attention or noticing them. As the attention drew, Bloomingdale’s issues Twitter apology saying, “We heard your feedback about our catalog copy, which was inappropriate and in poor taste. Bloomingdale’s sincerely apologizes.”

5. Bud Light:

 Bud Light is America’s favorite beer and is a product of Anheuser-Busch brands. The  campaign “Up For Whatever” was intended to raise the carefree, easygoing feelings for  people who consume it. However, the campaign turned in to a marketing nightmare when  the bottles appeared with an added slogan saying “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from  your vocabulary for the night.”

People picked up on that and started complaining that this was yet another example of advertising promoting and encouraging rape culture. People responded immediately on social media and started the hashtag #UpForConsent, advocating the importance of consensual sex.

Apology was later issued by Alexander Lambrecht, Bud Light’s vice president saying, “It’s clear that this message missed the mark, and we regret it. We would never condone disrespectful or irresponsible behavior.” The statement was posted on the Anheuser-Busch website.

6. Heinz:

When Heinz introduced QR codes under their ketchup bottles, they had no idea, to where it will lead. One of the German customers scanned the code and ended up on a porn site, instead of Heinz run page, which supposedly had the information about the campaign being run.

Heinz accepted that the URL was previously used by company for a competition that ran between 2012 and 2014. After the competition ended, they gave up the URL, which was later acquired by adult entertainer in Germany. Apology was issued in a Facebook post that said that company “really regrets the incident”. Heinz also sent the customer a personalized Ketchup bottle as compensation.

7. Walmart:

 The giant retail company had a recent set back, when they baked a cake with the  dressing of Islamic State of Syria and Iraq’s (ISIS) flag. The story behind the cake is  that a person from Louisiana got frustrated when his request for a cake with the  confederate flag was denied. He later asked the company’s representative to bake a cake  with the terrorist organization’s flag and received the cake without any refute.

 Chuck Netzhammer, the person behind the request uploaded a video on YouTube  explaining the whole story. The video that received more than half a million views in three days was later removed from the website. He points out in the video holding up the cake, “That’s an ISIS battle flag cake that anybody can go buy at Walmart … but you can’t buy a Confederate flag toy, with, like, say, a Dukes of Hazzard car.

An apology published later from the retailer’s spokesperson, John Forrest Ales said, “Our talented bakery associates take pride in what they create for our customers. It’s unfortunate one customer thought to take advantage of an associate who did not know the flag and its meaning. This cake should not have been made, and we apologize for the mistake.”

8. Urban Outfitters:

 Urban Outfitters made the headlines when they introduced a shirt with white and grey  stripes in stores. The shirt reminded people of the holocaust and the way prisoners were  forced to wear the design. The shirt also had a pink triangle, which was just like the pink  badge to identify gay men.

 Anti-defamation League (ADL) called out the company with urge to stop selling the  shirts. The letter written by ADL to Urban Outfitters voiced the concerns over the  “insensitive design and the company’s periodic use of products within the realm of Holocaust imagery.” The product was later removed from the online stores and website.

9. IHOP:

The International Pancakes company had a bad day when they tried to be funny by comparing their product to women breasts. The picture was posted on Twitter with the caption, “flat but has a GREAT personality”. Public was offended and called the company sexist and misogynist.

Later that day, the apology was issued via Twitter that said, “Earlier today we tweeted something dumb and immature that does not reflect what IHOP stands for. We’re sorry.”

Innovative Marketing Campaigns of 2015:

10. Airbnb:

 The campaign “Wall and Chain” was launched at the 25th anniversary of the  fall of Berlin Wall. A short animated film was shot that brought the story of  belonging and global conservation to life. Airbnb highlighted how its customers were  helping the German economy by supporting local culture.

 Powerful content was uploaded on social media to bring awareness and drive  engagements on the film. Along with that, three other videos were shot to introduce “behind the scenes” of the real family.

The campaign was highly appreciated around the world because of powerful story telling technique and aim to build a world where people can “Belong Anywhere”.

11. Adobe:

 If we talk about real marketing campaigns, Adobe won this year on social media, when  people went fanatic over the infamous “Dress”. Everyone was determined to prove they  knew what the dress’s color (white and gold or black and blue) actually was.

 Every small and large brand found a way to promote themselves by using hashtag #TheDress, but Adobe won with one scientific tweet that put the controversial color to  rest by getting into the technical details and proving the actual color using “Adobe color.”

The tweet received 800 thousand engagements within a day.

12. Apple:

The global campaign “Shot with iPhone 6” was initially a contest on social media where participants were asked to take picture from their iPhone 6 camera and submit on the website. As it started getting the heat, Apple started using the billboards to further promote the campaign, by projecting breathtaking pictures on them.

The reason it got so much attention was due to the direct customer involvement to market one feature of the iPhone 6 i.e. its camera. It also received top honors at Cannes Festival.

13. Honda:

To introduce their new car “Civic Type R”, Honda launched “The Other Side” campaign, which used interactive parallel story technique. The video is about a person living a double life and features the Civic but switches to a parallel storyline featuring the Type R when you press and hold ‘R’ on the keyboard.

Honda was awarded Gold Lion at the Cannes Festival in the category of Interactive Video, and video earned global appreciation.

14. Barbie:

Barbie’s campaign “You can be anything” had the aim to teach little girls dream big and anything. The message behind the campaign was that women are independent and have choices. Barbie has usually connected with promoting unrealistic body images and idea of perfection for girls. This campaign asked the girls from around the world, what they wanted to be and then incorporated that in the campaign.

 

When it comes to marketing, companies need to consider the power of social media. Digital advertising has completely change the definition of best and worst. The creative people no longer decide what is best or out of the line. It is up to people and internet communities, whether they approve an ad or not. Therefore, the meaning of best and innovative means “popular among people” and “worst” means what people do not approve of.

Social media is prevailing as the biggest factor behind the individual and business’s success. When used with a defined strategy and understanding of the different platforms under its umbrella, social media gives way to the biggest stars and celebrities on internet in no time. People love to go on internet and connect with people who share same interests and passions as them. Sharing content and exchanging information is the easiest way to build a social media community of people sharing common aspirations.

The important thing to notice here is that you cannot just login on your profile on social media and expect people to read and share the content every time you post it. For that, you need an audience that trusts you and wants to listen to you, and you cannot have a following without recognition and s status among your community.

While building a profile on social media with an aim to be an influencer, you must have the motivation and ability to influence people, but apart from that, some very important steps need to be followed, if you genuinely want to make an impact.

  1. Find your mojo and start a blog- You will hardly find a fellow influencer on social media who likes to talk about anything or everything. The reason behind that is very simple… i.e. when you are willing to talk about varied and differentiated topics; you lose your credibility for being a specialist on one topic or field. This results in you losing your niche audience, because they are not getting the information they signed up for.

On social media, everyone starts from scratch. Gaining attention of audience and building your network does not happen in a day. You need to be patient and keep looking for the content in your specialty that will resonate. Start by setting up a blog on WordPress or Tumblr and share the content in form of text posts, audiovisuals and graphics. Tumblr is a great way to ensure your presence on social media since most of its users are also part of Twitter and Facebook family. Hence, it can also be used as a merge of blogging and social media presence, serving as an added bonus.

  1. Share content you are interested and specialize in- Focusing on your specialty area or something you are passionate about gives you confidence to appear as an expert. Always remember that on social media, where every second tons of content is uploaded, it becomes very likely to be buried in it. You cannot influence people unless you have authority and understanding of what you are doing. Once that authority is established, people will come to you and want to listen to you instead of the other way round.

Posting the content that only excesses in quantity is one of biggest mistakes new bloggers make on social media. Focus on quality of the content and the information that matters and then be consistent with it. Keep your blog around the relevant and linked topics so that it looks coherent. For example, if you are interested in social media marketing and feel that you have insights of the topic that you would like to share with your audience, write about topics that are relevant to social media marketing, like “How to devise social media strategy for marketing” or “Basics for starting business on social media”. This not only gives you a very specific and targeted audience but also keeps them interested and wanting more.

  1. Follow and subscribe to the relevant blogs- Following the blogs that write about the similar topics is a great way to understand the trends in market. It also provides you with advice without asking for it, not that it is wrong to ask. Commenting and sharing your own posts in the comment section of these blogs helps in increasing your online presence. Branding your personal profile properly will also provide you opportunities to connect with people who share the same interests as you. Ask questions from other fellow bloggers and influencers and follow the tips they share, but do not duplicate the content, since it takes away the authenticity of your brand.

Apart from subscribing to other blogs, make sure to share their content on your blog. Keeping tabs of other channels and bloggers helps you in navigating your own channel and plays part in business-to-business interaction. Keep track of case studies and new research published on the same topics that are reliable and worthy of knowledge.

 

  1. Link building and finding keywords for better SEO is crucial- Whatever the content you are writing, it should be direct and particular. Remove any extra content, which may give the impression of topic being dragged in a different direction, and add keywords that will help the blog being found easily by people looking for pertinent information. If you want to make an impression in google searches and boost your search rankings, write content that will make you appear in top search results by using search engine optimization (SEO)

A lot of people and businesses write exceptional content but have problem of getting views against them. The biggest reason behind that is making the mistake of writing content that is not search engine optimized. This keeps your blog buried deep down in the google searches, which in turn results in fewer or absolutely no views, and without viewership and readership of your blog, you really cannot become an influencer.

Once you have your keywords laid out for the blog, incorporate them specifically in the headline of blog. Repeat them in the paragraphs but do not overwhelm your content with the key words only. That way, you will lose focus of all the information that needs to be in the blog.

 

  1. Setup Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram profiles specified for influencing purpose- Having a blog alone would not help you in becoming a social media influencer, unless you have social media accounts to share the blog on. Twitter LinkedIn and Facebook are the top three and widely used platforms among common individuals as well as influencers. These platforms are mainly favored because of their customization options along with the in app features they offer. You can easily connect them and share links or embed posts based on your own preference.

Instagram is an image and video focused platform only so you will need to convert your text posts in graphics form, or you can opt for audiovisual and videos. Once you start sharing your content across all these social media channels, you will need the analytics to monitor your progress. Analytics are now mostly provided by the platforms themselves, or you always have the option of buying the services of softwares that will do it for you. The analytics are a great way to understand the dispositions of your audience and finding out which media one is top used among them. This way, you can focus on that one platform and use it as your primary channel for influencing, while keeping other as secondary tools for influencing.

 

  1. Reply to the comments, follow back your followers- Do not just share the content and forget about it. Listening to people and reading their opinions keeps you updated about the current trends and help you decide the content you should write about in next blog post. Always stay active for an hour or two after you have uploaded the new post and reply immediately to any questions your followers post in comment and opinion section. Another way to keep your followers interested is to repost and retweet the additional relevant information they share. This methodology of interaction keeps them interested and encourages them to share and connect with you more, since you are valuing their opinion and inputs.

While answering the queries, make sure that you use the user name of the asker and tag them, so they receive a notification when you post it. It lets your audience know that you do not take them for granted and take their requests seriously.

  1. Pay attention to what people want- Going through the comment section of blogs and social media posts might be time consuming, but if you are committed to your cause and actually want to make in impact, ignoring comments sections can be one of the worst mistakes in building career as a social media influencer. Comments help you stay focused on the demands of audience so you can be efficient and informed about the wants of people. If you ignore what people want, while keep on posting your own favorite content, you are serving yourself instead of people. Now we know that an influencer’s job is to make people listen to him and persuade them with the information he is posting, but to reach that point, you first have to give priority to people and treat them as your primary driving force behind the content.
  2. Cash on email lists and use them for increasing your influence on a personal level- The best way to build personal connection and increase engagements on your blog and social media pages email marketing comes in handy. Create a pop for readers once they reach the end of article, so they can subscribe on email for further updates. Email lists provide the option to deliver content that is more targeted and needs to be delivered to selective audience.

 

Perseverance and strategy are the key to be a social media influencer, but without connections and content, planning does not work. Be well informed on the topic, which you plan to influence people on, and do not forget to check the analytics for your performance.

Social media has become such a huge part of our personal and professional lives that imagining a life without it is impossible now. Studies show that businesses rely heavily on social media marketing to grow their reach and increase customers. Taking a business to the online world might seem easy on paper but it needs time, strategy and a lot of thinking. It becomes difficult to be found and noticed without a sound social media strategy, but to have a social media strategy; you first need to be on social media. There are some steps to follow to start an online business, which are explained below:

1.  Research your market:

Starting on online business can be tricky and needs your full attention if you want to hit it off the very first time. One of the common mistakes that individuals or group of people make while launching a new business is that they focus too much on the product.

A product will not succeed unless your market has a demand for it. Coming up with a product first while researching your audience second is the first step for your business to turn into a disaster.

2.  Outline your product and the business plan:

Once you have your market research and devised need of target audience, you can start working on defining your product.

Answering these questions and developing a creative brief will help you understand clearly the use of your product for your customers. Creative brief is the crucial step to write a business plan. You need to come up with a unique selling proposition (USP), which will serve as a backbone in advertising your business. Write down you goals and objectives and develop a storyboard to introduce the life cycle of your product as well as how it benefits your customers.                                                                                                                       BusinessIntelligence-H-Slide

3.   Register your business:

“Doing Business as” is the name of process that gets your business registered; when you want it be something else than your personal name. Naming a business can be tacky. Finding the perfect name that will not only stick but also create a boom in the market needs brainstorming. You need to put extra effort into this because you cannot change it whenever you like. It should be brief and catchy so people can easily remember it and register the finalized name.

4.   Setup a website:

The next step after registering with authorities and setting up its legal status, you need to start working on your website. A web hosting service will let you do that, and you can use free services to get started, but it is better to look for paid services, so that you have full access to everything.

A funky website that is comprehensive and provides every detail about your brand but is also not over flowed with content is ideal. Plan a layout for the website and the sections you need to include in it. Decide the content accordingly.

Build-Logo-

5.  Build a logo, tagline and take pictures of the product:

Start working on your graphics and especially the logo that represents your business accurately. A skilled team of graphic designers is necessary for this step. You will needs brochures and pamphlets for online advertising. If the product is physical, you will need to take pictures while using it or whatever the way you deem is necessary. The product’s picture can also be incorporated in the logo and used in rest of the graphics like illustrations and manual.

Another crucial component in business is creating a tagline that explains the whole concept of your business in few words. It can be related to

Most of the times, the tagline and logo are used together so they must be coherent and should represent the same idea.

6.   Create content strategy and give due consideration to “About us” section for the website:

Along with the graphics, you will also need to plan your content and content strategy. It is important to remember while starting a business that content and content strategy are two completely different things. Considering them same or using as alternative for the other is a mistake many new comers in marketing business make, so you need to avoid that.

Your content strategy will be comprised of how you choose to deliver your content on your website. Use of keywords and SEO worthy content is important for the compact strategy. The first thing people look for when they visit your website is “About us” section. The copy for this section decides if they stay and explore further or decide to close the tab so be honest and do not promise or say something that you are unable to deliver later.

start-online-store

7.    Buy the e-commerce softwares to start online store:

Most of the businesses are selling something in digital world. This could be tangible products like makeup kits and jewelry or intangible like softwares and apps. People visit your website with the aim to buy the product you are offering. In order to allow them that, you will need softwares that will not only let customers make secure purchases but will also protect them from any privacy leaks. Buy the best quality e-commerce softwares available so you can have a trustworthy relationship with your clients and buyers.

8.   Choose a primary social media platform to link with the website:

A website is not enough to make a business successful. You need to build social media profile and audiences to drive traffic to your website. Choose a primary social media channel and keep others as secondary. The top three options are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I will explain below how they are different and which will be better for your business.                                                                                                                                                                                         

social-media

9.  Keep the social media profile updated:

While you have your social media business profiles all set, you also need to be on constant lookout for them. Stay active and post content with strategic intervals. If you are worried about forgetting or missing posting important updates, you can always use inbuilt or outsourced automation tools that let you schedule your tweets and updates at whatever time you want. Add a link of your website at the end of the post by stating, “Visit our website www.example.com for more information”.

Try to stay active across all platforms and listen to what people demand. Answer their questions and respect their opinions not only in your head but also by letting them know. It is important to remind people that they are valuable and you want to know what they think about your brand. Ask for suggestions or ideas that can help your business perform better in the market. What would they do if they were in your place? Share all the valuable input with the rest of your follower base.

There is an extra advantage to building an online business i.e. less expenses and few human resources can make an online business successful. Like traditional methods, you do not need office space or specific timings to work on. A small group of people can handle everything by being jack of all departments, so the need to hire skilled professionals for long term is not required.

What you do need to focus on is carrying that business and expanding it, once it starts to catch attention and is able to stand straight on its own.

Social media has become one of the most important channel for communication. The word “social media” automatically directs our mind to Twitter, Instagram and most importantly Facebook. Facebook, being the most crucial and recognized medium was initially aimed for the Harvard students, when Mark Zuckerberg came up with the idea of interactive website. Later, the membership allowed the students of Stanford, Yale and Columbia (Ivy League Institutions) to use it, and in 2006, the platform opened to all.

The website immediately attracted the audience, especially college and university students. According to the data provided by Facebook, 890 million users had registered on Facebook by early 2015, while there are 1.44 billion active users who engage on the media.

With the increase in popularity of the medium, the users also became diverse. Businesses, corporations, brands and professionals from all lifestyles depend heavily on Facebook to interact and communicate with their consumers and target audience.

The role of inbound marketing is crucial in building a name for your brand or product, and social media lets you exactly do that. An asset like social media marketing is important to build businesses and engage with potential buyers; hence, brands should understand the difference between personal and business Facebook profiles to communicate professionally. For that, businesses create Facebook pages, which have options like Profile picture, Cover photo, Status, Picture and Video updates, Event Planning and other features like polling. The nature of business is represented by the inclination towards specific features and the way it prefers to interact with its target audience. This allows users to read, communicate and share the information in real time, which in turn lets businesses understand the fondness and leanings of their target audience.

All of this might sound easy and simple but it requires research and effort. Planning the whole process and executing it with accurate strategies takes time and skill. The clutter of brands and products on Facebook can take away the interest of your audience from your product, if it has not been exhibited and marketed efficiently.

Companies are coming up with ideas to tackle this problem by providing in-built Facebook apps and innovative softwares that are pre-designed and allow the businesses to insert just the information needed to deliver to the audience. Bleupage is the examples of one such software, which allows businesses to “Promote products and build marketing lists directly inside Facebook fans news feed.

Instead of posting on your page, and waiting for the users to visit the content you have shared, it lets you post directly inside the newsfeed hence attracting more users. The app then lets you collect the data and analyze the “best performing posts” in order to understand what content reached what type of audience. The in-built page creator tool lets the user to create a Facebook page without getting into the hassle of doing it on Facebook. The most note-worthy feature is email- marketing that allows user to view content once they insert their email addresses in the interface tab. The tool is an effective way to build mail lists for your audience and target customers who are interested in your content. The software allows to custom design the content you want to post like coupons, video content and so on. To make the post viral, users have to share it before they can view it for themselves that allows the flow of content in not only targeted audience but also diverse users.

Tabfu is another software that allows the creation of Facebook Tabs and motion posts, resulting in increased interaction between the product and user. It is specifically put together to increase the marketing and promotion of products and brands on Facebook. The “page templates” option allows you to choose the type the marketing you want for your business. It includes sales pages, launch pages, webinar pages and many more. Within the template, the businesses are allowed to edit the copy and put in the content they want to share. Color scheme can also be changed and can be matched to your brand outlook. It allows inserting pictures of your choice or choosing from the database within, as well as videos and slideshows. This not only saves time to create the content distinctly but the specialty of a graphic designer is not needed as well. The option to link other social media profiles like Twitter, Google plus, Instagram and LinkedIn with Facebook page make it easy for users to find and follow you on multiple platforms.

With all the cutting- edge technology and applications, it has not only become impossible to neglect the platform for business purposes, but the perception of social media itself has changed. What was considered a time-waster and irrelevant is now an understood and well-managed platform. According to research, approximately 94% of all businesses use social media like Facebook and Twitter for marketing purposes. There no longer remains a “need” for brands to build traditional websites and advertising on print and electronic media. A well-managed business Facebook page can help users stay updated and connected. Businesses report that their sales double when they use social media for marketing and promotion purposes.

When a user engages with the information posted on the page, it automatically appears in the timeline of his/her friends. Traditional marketing is considered unauthentic, but this feature attracts the attention of other users as this means that their personal contact is interested/ endorsing the information posted. The concept of brand ambassadors is in line with this feature, since a third party is recommending the brand to its friends and followers.

The research also indicates that 93 percent buying decisions are based on latest trends followed on Social media. The users show more interest in a product or brand if they are connected to it on social media and are constantly updated about it. This means that focusing on audience and making them feel connected is more important than just marketing your brand. Brand loyalty has become a key component in the success of businesses, which is possible by rewarding the most loyal and influential followers. Investing time in partners and audience increases the value of brand and increases its promotion, resulting in increased sales.

In the current scenario, consumers demand from businesses more than ever, so it is critical to stay updated on the needs of users. This facilitates the extensive economic activity of companies unlocking further opportunities and connecting manifold audience.