Social Media Tips to Grow Your Online Presence – It’s all about Relationships [#askexperts]

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Being active and engaged on social networks can be a great way to connect with target audiences who may need or are looking for your services/expertise.

This week, we interview Robert Weller @toushenne, an expert in social media, content marketing and conversion rate optimization, about how we can best leverage social media, content marketing as well as visual elements to increase our social engagement and conversion rate.

Let’s see what Robert brings to the table by reading the following interview.

Social Media Tips to Grow Your Online Presence - It’s All about Relationships [#askexperts]

Could you introduce a bit about you and your company/services?

Sure, will do. In short I’m a blogger, book author, lecturer and social media manager based in Munich, Germany.

The latter in a full-service marketing agency serving national and international brands such as Deutsche Telekom, Siemens, Fujitsu or Bosch. I give regular lectures on inbound marketing (especially content and corporate blogging) and also discuss these topics in my own blog www.toushenne.de. In addition, I have been featured in some big brand magazines like such as HubSpot, Brandwatch or Salesforce.

Currently, and somehow I think that this is becoming my real passion, I am working on my second book, which will focus on the synergies of design and marketing (to be released in 2016).

What do you think are the best strategies to grow our online presence on social media networks?

If it were only that easy … What works for me is caring for my audience – students, readers, peers, followers and (potential) clients alike. We are talking about social networking after all, so it’s all about relationships. I may not have the largest total reach, but I must be doing something right since I am  already recognized as an influencer in my niche. 🙂

Just as in real life building honest relationships takes time, so my advice is to start early and concentrate on personal and authentic communication. Be sure you make an excellent first impression since you only have the one chance. Offer top-notch products and services, be sympathetic and look good (I don’t necessarily mean yourself but your online and social media presence including all the content you create and share).

You have a strong presence on Twitter, what actionable tips you can recommend to our readers about how to be more active and engaged on this channel?

I have an average engagement rate of round about 1.5 % which is amazing compared to big brands that only reach 0.07 % according to Social Bakers. But I am a personal brand, or in this instance just a person. Read my answer above again and you can guess my recommendation on how to improve your Twitter efforts:

  • Focus on building relationships instead of just growing the numbers.
  • Engage with your followers and endorse their feedback. I for example include tweets in some of my blog posts, but very rarely embed Facebook or Google+ posts. With time my readers realize that I make Twitter a priority and so they start reaching out to me there, too. Just make it worth their while to follow you (and that also includes sharing your best content)!
  • Oh and one more thing: Go easy on automation. Of course you can schedule posts with Buffer, promote new blog posts with Zapier/IFTTT but forget about the many growth tools“. Pick out the people you want to follow manually and say hello when you do so. That’s how to start a conversation …

How can we leverage this channel to develop/grow our business/services?

I already stated one of the opportunities: Collect direct feedback from your followers. Use it to improve your product and services, to optimize your website and the user’s experience or to generate new content ideas.

Furthermore Twitter can be a good source of traffic for your website, especially when other people share your content and multiply your potential reach. Pay close attention to new visitors you gain and track whether they bounce or convert. Again, traffic is not a matter of numbers but a matter of quality. You can learn a lot about your web design or content structure by looking at your Google Analytics data.

Last but not least I received quite a few business offers through Twitter just like this interview. I pick these opportunities wisely and try to make the best of them. 😉

What roles do you think visual elements play in our content marketing/social media strategy and how they can help bring more success to our content marketing/social media campaigns?

The fact that 90 % of the information transmitted to our brain is visual and we actually process visual information a whole lot faster than text (roughly 60,000 times faster) is enough to emphasize the importance of visuals to our content strategy. 90 % of the information transmitted to our brain is visual and we actually process visual information a whole lot faster than text (roughly 60,000 times faster) Click To Tweet It’s all about provoking action as quickly as possible. I guess you all know that most of our buying decisions are actually spontaneous regardless of the attempt to justify them by rational thinking … When it comes to spending money appearance is the most important selling point. It’s a general assumption that 9 out of 10 buying decisions are influenced by the design of a product. It’s a general assumption that 9 out of 10 buying decisions are influenced by the design of a product Click To Tweet Your website and social media presence are also part of your product, part of your brand.

Always keep in mind your message match. When you advertise a product or service and link to a website, people should see (!) the connection between the two otherwise they will get confused and leave. Use the same images from your banner ads or social media posts on your website (and vice versa) to increase conversion.

What do you think will be the trends for social media in 2016?

Honestly? I have no idea. The times of planning ahead are long since gone. We live in a world of reaction, adoption and bootstrapping (sorry for using this buzzword but I think it fits in pretty well here).

Our social communication is already developing towards a more personalized dialogue (via social networks, email and especially messaging). Talking about messaging, this might become a trend. After all, some brands, big and small, are already experimenting with this particular format.

When I look at the use of mobile apps for communication I definitely see video content on the rise. Whether it’s Periscope for streaming, Facebook for sharing or snapchat for sending video messages like we used to send texts. Again, remember what I said above about visual content …?

Conversion rate optimization is a popular phrase yet still many marketers don’t know how to get started with it especially when it comes to design elements, what tips/advice do you have to help them with this issue?

Okay I have three tips here:

First, read some books from experts like Tim Ash or Chris Goward (sorry, mine’s not ready yet and will be written in German ^_^). Head over to big blogs like Unbounce, ConversionXL or the like for further reading. Don’t just focus on “conversion” as such but dig deep into A/B testing, web design and website optimization. I’m not saying you should become an expert yourself, but you want to understand why conversion optimization is important and what a professional approach looks like.

Then, secondly, find an expert who will help you. If you find the right one he will ask for your marketing goals, characteristics of your target audience and access to your Google Analytics data. Give it to him. If you followed my first tip you will know what this guy is doing and you can control his actions. You’re there to make the decisions, let him do the spadework.

Thirdly, make sure your hypotheses are purposeful or else you will start testing and “optimizing” elements of your website that don’t actually have any impact on your revenue. That’s what everything comes down to in the end, so don’t just play around but focus on your business goals.

What are your recommended conversion optimization best practices for beginners?

Beginners should stick to some guides and pick out the easy parts first to get an idea of the craft. For example you could test the colour or wording of your CTA buttons. That’s a fairly simple test but you’ll be astonished at how big the impact can be! I’m constantly testing my own buttons in newsletter sign up forms or on my landing pages.

With time you will feel more and more confident and start experimenting for yourself. Looking at data can be confusing but if you interpret the right numbers correctly and find the means to change them through optimization you might end up doing nothing but and actually enjoying the work.

And that’s really the best part of it: conversion optimization is fun. You can “play around” (to a certain extent) and see the results directly after – although you do need a certain amount of website traffic to reach the required level of significance.

Do you have any case studies where businesses have successfully implement their conversion optimization through website/landing page design/re-design?

A pretty good example is the website of Germany’s leading social media academy (www.socialmediaakademie.de) which I redesigned back in 2013. We were able to increase the lead generation rate by 300 %. I used the AIDA principle for the landing page structure, placed the main CTA in two places (top and bottom of the page) and used two colours for the different CTAs. That worked out very well because visitors could see that there was a difference and make an easy decision. Leaving is not an option anymore: it’s just one or the other. 😉

Another example is my own website www.toushenne.de. By altering buttons, copy, positioning and forms I managed to increase my lead generation rate by 324 % and I see still more potential.

These are big increases for sure and not every change will make that big difference. Nevertheless adding up all the small things in important places will show revenue growth sooner rather than later.

You have just published a new book called “Blog Boosting, Content, Marketing, Design, SEO”. Could you please tell us a bit about it? What giveaways we can take from reading this book?

As you might guess from its title and subtitle, it’s all about blogging and blog marketing.

  • You’ll learn how to create content for your blog and promote it to grow your audience.
  • You’ll learn how to make money through blogging and, to be precise, through being a blogger. For example, how to become a consultant, speaker, author, influencer or even how to create and sell your own digital products or services.
  • You’ll learn how to design a blog so that it converts and adds to your goals. That includes the basic blog layout as well as the strategic use of landing pages and branding in general.
  • The bit about SEO is really just general knowledge on how to write blog articles and set up your blog technically.

Click here to find out more about this book on Amazon.

In some ways it’s my own success story. I started blogging back in the days when I worked as a designer.  As a direct result of my blog and the knowledge I had gained over the years I received a job offer from an international online retailer. Now I work for big brands in a marketing agency and am recognized as an influencer in my niche. What more could I ask for?

Thank you for having me here!

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