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What the heck is TikTok?

Just when you were getting the hang of Instagram stories, along comes your teenage kid talking about something called TikTok. So just what the heck is TikTok, anyway? And as a small business, should you be considering it as part of your digital marketing strategy? TikTok is like a combination of the two social media apps, Dubsmash and Vine. Originally called Musical.ly, Tiktok is an app where users can share videos of themselves dancing or lip-syncing to songs or audio clips. Unlike social media channels like Facebook or Instagram, TikTok has an unweighted algorithm that shares videos in chronological order based on when they were shared. It also offers the ability to add hashtags to a post without bans or slowing down the videos.  Currently, TikTok is available in 154 countries and has about 500 million active users. But how are brands using TikTok? According to Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner, “Most marketers haven’t moved to TikTok in massive packs yet so it’s still a little isolated and more like the Wild West.” Most brands weren’t on Facebook, Twitter…

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Trending Now: September

September is the official start of the fall season. The fall equinox is in late September, all schools are back in session, and football season is in full swing! Stores should be prepping for comfort foods and cold-weather dishes as the weather outside starts to get a little cooler. Perennial fall favorites include soups, casseroles, hearty dishes and slow cooker meals. Don’t forget about Instant Pot recipes that are perfect for easy meals on those busy school nights. Speaking of school, Sean mentioned in the August Trending Now post that back to school is a big focus this time of year. Parents might already be running out of healthy ideas for lunch and after school snacks, so help them stay on track by keeping healthy kid-friendly snacks and ingredients well stocked. Sean also mentioned that pumpkin spice is back as early as the end of August. A lot of brands are including pumpkin spice flavoring in their products but even if you don’t have the latest pumpkin product at your store, you can still help you customers satisfy that craving…

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Social Media Campaigns

If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you’ve probably noticed that I mention the term social media campaigns a lot. But what exactly does that mean? The word campaign might bring to mind images of Don Draper in “Mad Men” but you don’t need a New York ad agency to run a successful social media campaign. A campaign on social media can be as big or as small as you want it to be but it has the potential to make a big effect on your customers and your sales. An example of a small social media campaign is a recent meat sale campaign done by Murfin’s Market, an AWG member with four locations in southern Missouri. The store was having a one day meat sale at all four locations on the Friday before Father’s Day weekend. I helped them create a boosted post with a link to their ad on the website so customers could see all of the items available in the one day sale. Murfin’s spent $50 on that post and it ran the Thursday before and…

Targeted Marketing

Targeted Marketing with Clubs, Groups and Loyalty Programs

I recently told a few of my colleagues that our members can’t always create a digital marketing message that will be “everything to everyone.” It’s true that sometimes you will have general digital marketing content with the goal of reaching a large number of people. But you should also consider incorporating targeted marketing into your overall strategy. What is targeted marketing? Targeted marketing is a message or campaign that specifically appeals to individual demographics or preferences in an audience. The goal is to target a message to people who you have determined will be interested in that message and, ideally, will buy the product or service offered in it. Why should I use targeted marketing? You are more likely to see conversion rates increase when you use targeted marketing strategies. If you direct your messages about a specific product or service that appeals to a certain demographic and marketing it only to that audience, they are more likely to buy that product or service. This is as opposed to directing a general message to a general audience. You can still…


How to Add Additional Links to Your Instagram

Do you get frustrated having to change the link in your Instagram bio all the time? The current Instagram platform doesn’t allow hyperlinked URLs in posts or in stories. However, you have the option to add a link to a paid post/story. On the feed, it shows up as a bar at the bottom of your image or video with a call to action like “Learn More” or “Shop Now.” On the story, it shows up at the bottom of the screen with an arrow to swipe up and the call to action below the arrow. You can also add a free “swipe up” option to stories if you have more than 10,000 followers or a verified account. Since most small businesses aren’t likely to have either of these things, and you don’t want to spend money on every single post/story, how do you make this a little easier for yourself? There are several tools available to help with this issue. Tools like Linktree, Linkin.bio, Shorby, Lnk.Bio, and Link in Profile offer the option to put a link in your…

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Trending Now: May

Food trends in May are all about Mother’s Day, warmer weather, cooler foods and drinks, campouts, and the unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day. Most people think of breakfast in bed or brunch when they think of Mother’s Day. But a lot of sweet treats popped up on the internet this month to help you show the moms in your life how much you care. Like these delicious Mother’s Day cakes or this beautiful edible bouquet. May isn’t just about moms. It’s also the time of year when everyone is preparing for summer. The temperatures get warmer and the food and drinks get colder. It’s the perfect time to start breaking out refreshing summer drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Expect lots of fun summer treats with boozy twists like these champagne popsicles. Or something fun for the kids like mermaid layered slushies. As the temperatures increase, more people are going outside to enjoy the sunshine. This means more cookouts and picnics. Flavorful fresh salads are a popular side dish at these outdoor events, along with other types of tasty sides…

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SMCKC May Lunch Recap: Making A Splash on Social During Large-Scale Events

Recently I attended a SMCKC lunch titled “Making a Splash on Social During Large-Scale Events.” It was a panel Q&A with Derek Byrne of Visit KC, Rachel Kephart of KC Film (a division of Visit KC), and John Kreicbergs of Propaganda3. While I work with retailers on digital promotions for their events, they aren’t the type of large-scale events that were discussed by the panel. But I found that a lot of what they advised to the audience can be applied to small-scale events and social strategy in general. For example, all three panelists discussed the importance of keeping attendees informed before, during, and after the event. Derek Byrne manages social media for all of the college basketball tournament games that take place in Kansas City in March. For these games, Visit KC is on social media all year long, announcing games when they are scheduled, helping people plan their trips, and giving them sightseeing ideas outside of the games if they’re coming out of town to visit. John Kreicbergs works on events like Boulevardia, a craft beer and music…

How to Tell Your Story with Facebook & Instagram Stories

In my last blog post I mentioned the growing popularity of Facebook and Instagram stories. If you aren’t familiar with how to create them, it might seem a little daunting. In this post I’m going to give you some step-by-step instructions on how to create everything from simple picture stories to more elaborate types of stories. How to Create a Story Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, the process of creating a story is similar across both platforms. Instagram has an option at the top left corner of the screen when you first open the app. It’s your profile picture with a plus sign on it. The text below it reads “Your Story.” Just click on the icon and it will take you to a camera setting where you can create your story. To create a Facebook story, the options will vary based on the app you are using. If you are using the regular Facebook app, go to your business page and scroll down until you see the “Your Story” heading. You will see your cover photo with a…

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Social Media Trends

I mentioned in a recent blog post that your social media plan “needs to adapt as the social landscape changes.” It’s helpful to know how changes and new trends might affect your strategy so you can determine if you need to course correct. Digital strategy shouldn’t be reviewed only once at your annual planning meeting. It should be an evergreen conversation to help you keep up-to-date on the tools and trends you can use to make your digital strategy as successful as possible. Here are some things I’ve noticed in the first few months of 2019: Using Stories to Tell Your Story Are you using Instagram and Facebook stories? The idea started with Snapchat, where you share an image or a short video that disappears after 24 hours. Both Instagram and Facebook have launched similar features on their platforms and they are steadily growing in popularity with users. Consider creating content that you can share across all areas of Facebook, including stories. Also consider using stories to help you create content that your customers will connect with more. Buffer suggests…


A Case Study for Customer Surveys

Have you ever considered conducting a customer survey for business? You might think it would be a waste of your time but consider this statistic from Zendesk: “96% of consumers don’t bother to complain, making consumer surveys an excellent way for organizations to better understand their customers’ problems.” Instead of making assumptions or viewing your business from the owner or management perspective, go directly to the people who affect your bottom line: your customers. I’ve worked with several stores on crafting and maintaining customers service surveys for both their overall customer service and specifically for their online shopping programs. I used my experience working with these stores to develop a case study of how and why to create a customer service survey. To read the full case study, click HERE. Here is a quick summary of what I cover in the case study: When to Use Customer Surveys Consider running an ongoing general customer service survey so your customers always have the option to provide feedback. I highly recommend running a separate customer service survey for your online shopping program,…