Social Media: Don't be Sales-y. Be Show and Tells-y

Marketing success on social media comes down to being able to find your business’ story, and telling that story as non-sales-y as you can.

When social media first emerged in the marketing space, many marketers did not know

how to correctly leverage the platforms. For years, traditional sales tools and messaging had

been used on billboards, print ads, and tv commercials. Never had marketers had to think

about transparency, customer conversations, and the digital space.

So, they began to leverage social media platforms as a way to push their traditional sales

messaging. As the platforms grew, content about everything and anything began to be created,

and customers began to ignore sales messages in the social space, businesses had to take a

second look at how social media could help them.

How can you avoid sounding too sales-y on social media?

1. Focus on your customer, not your business. As business owners, it's hard not to get excited and brag about yourselves. Try to avoid talking about yourself too much and instead take whatever you're trying to say and relate it back to your customers.

Consider the two examples below:

Sales-y: "New snow tires are at the shop. Only $75 plus a service fee."

Not sales-y: "We've all tackled the Cleveland winter: ice, snow, and sleet can be rough on your

tires. Our new snow tires can get you safely down the Shoreway this winter. Do you have a tip

for driving down the snowy streets of Cleveland in the winter? Comment below. To learn more

about our snow tires, visit our site: (include link).

2. Don't try to sell to your customers. Try to build a relationship with them. Customers do not

want to be sold to in the social media space. In fact, if you're too sales-y, they will most likely

ignore your content and stop following you. Instead, build a relationship with them so they

engage, keep coming back, and want to be "friends" with your business. Give them a reason to

be your friend and keep coming back.

Again, below are a couple of examples of sales-y and not sales-y language:

Sales-y: "We are open every Sunday for brunch! Come get $5 Mimosas and all you can eat

eggs and bacon."

Not sales-y: "Are you a frequent bruncher at our restaurant? Snap a photo of your favorite

brunch meal, tag us, and be entered to win $10 towards your meal. We're looking for the best

photos from our customers!"

3. Ask for your customers' opinions and thoughts. Social media platforms were designed so

customers and brands could have two-way conversations. They have given power to the

customer's and brands who ignore cusomers' desire to ask questions and provide their opinion

lose trust with them. Bring your customers into your communication and use their reviews,

opinions, and comments to reach new customers. Customers trust other customers over a

brand.

4. Communicate like a human. When writing your posts and choosing photos, be authentic.

Write like a human and use photos that don't look photoshopped or are too professionally

staged. Customers view sales copy and staged photos as fake and old-fashioned. Write from a

person's point of view, not a business point of view. Relate to your customers on a human level.

5. Show beyond the product and service. Many times, it's tempting to post a photo of your

product and service and include informative, serious copy. It's important for your customers to

understand your product and services because at the end of the day that's what you hope they

buy from you. However, posting the end result isn't enough for a customer to buy in the social

space. Social media has allowed customers to see the entire process, whether it's understanding how your product is made, learning about ingredients and distribution, or meeting

the team behind your business.

Find your story

Here are some ideas to show the entire process: Go behind the scenes. Have one of your employees take over your account for a day. Talk about your ingredients and vendors.

So how do you go about finding all these stories to talk about in the social space? Glad you asked! Here are a few ways you can identify your stories:

1. Do a walk-through of your shop/business. Walk around your entire shop and write down all the things you could talk about. Then, go through your list and brainstorm how these stories

could be executed.

2. Bring in a stranger. Find someone who is unfamiliar with your business to walk through your shop and ask questions. What do they want to know about? Write down their questions and brainstorm how you could answer them in the social space.

3. Ask your social media audience. Ask your followers what they want to learn about. Take

their comments and brainstorm ideas to bring their requests to life.

It can be difficult to get past the sales message, but it's necessary when working in the social

media space. Remember: Don't sell. Show and tell. Be a human first and a business second.

Annie Pryatel is the owner of AMP Brand Studios. Learn more about how AMP is helping small businesses succeed by clicking here.
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  • Next up: Social Media Marketing: Why You Should Care

    Social Media Marketing: Why You Should Care

    So, I have this friend. To protect her identity, we’ll call her Lisa because her real name is Heather. Lisa’s probably a lot like you. She owns a small business and she spends most of her time focusing on growing this business; prospecting for clients; managing her employees; and doing all of the other grunt work involved in keeping a small business up and running. What Lisa doesn’t have a lot of time for is social media. She wouldn’t know a snap from a retweet—and to be perfectly blunt, I don’t think she really cares.

    So, I have this friend. To protect her identity, we’ll call her Lisa because her real name is Heather. Lisa’s probably a lot like you. She owns a small business and she spends most of her time focusing on growing this business; prospecting for clients; managing her employees; and doing all of the other grunt work involved in keeping a small business up and running. 

    What Lisa doesn’t have a lot of time for is social media. She wouldn’t know a snap from a retweet—and to be perfectly blunt, I don’t think she really cares.

    Does this sound like you? You have a vague awareness of social media but are just too ensconced in the daily grind to give it much thought. Well, you should. Consider the following social media stats, courtesy Hubspot

    Facebook

    • Nearly three out of four people (73%) use Facebook for professional reasons.
    • During the past two years, content consumption on Facebook has increased by 57%.
    • Another three-quarters of users (76%) say they use Facebook to try to find interesting content.

    Instagram

    • More than 95 million photos and videos are shared on Instagram every day.
    • Instagram has a half billion (with a B!) active monthly users, according to Statista.
    • The Pew Research Center has found that nearly three in 10 adult Internet users (28%) use Instagram.

    LinkedIn

    • Content consumption on LinkedIn has gone up by 21% during the past two years.
    • LinkedIn is the only social media platform where usage rates are higher among 30- to 49-years-olds than with those between the ages of 18 to 29, Pew Research has found.
    • A quarter of adult Internet users use LinkedIn, according to Pew Research.

    Snapchat

    • Every second, 8,796 photos are shared on Snapchat, according to CEWE Photoworld.
    • eMarketer has found that 30% of millennial Internet users use Snapchat regularly.
    • And going along with that, 52% of Snapchat users are younger than 25, according to Statista.

    Are you getting the point yet? There is a huge potential audience your business can reach by leveraging these social channels. And we want to help you reach it. On the first Friday of each month this year, we will post another article in our “Year of Social” series. These articles will focus specifically on one social platform and the best way you can utilize that platform to drive more business.

    Can’t wait to get started? Good! Check out COSE’s Social Hub, where you can begin learning how to monetize your social media efforts, use social media as a hiring tool, and more. 

    As I mentioned above, I know you’re probably a lot like Lisa in that your time is limited. Our goal with these articles is to be brief and get right to the takeaway for your business so you can begin to immediately build your social media strategy.

    Comments? Questions? You can reach us (of course) on our own social channels. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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  • Next up: Spend Less, Save More: A New SPC

    Spend Less, Save More: A New SPC

    With a new Office Depot Store Purchasing Card soon replacing the OfficeMax Retail Connect Card, we want to ensure that our members are not losing out on extreme discounts and savings.

    With a new Office Depot Store Purchasing Card soon replacing the OfficeMax Retail Connect Card, we want to ensure that our members are not losing out on extreme discounts and savings.

    Download your new Office Depot Store Purchasing Card here and even enjoy an exclusive bundle deal for COSE members on popular Office Depot products!

    Get your New Store Purchasing Card

    The OfficeMax Retail Connect Cards will soon be replaced by Office Depot Store Purchasing Cards.

    To ensure your continued savings through the COSE Office Depot Savings Program, please download your new Office Depot Store Purchasing Card.

    As a COSE member, you have access to extreme discounts on a “Core List” of over 700 most frequently purchased items coupled with attractive discounts on an additional 1,200 popular items. Beyond that, your membership guarantees you the lowest price available on any of the aforementioned items when shopping in your local OfficeMax or Office Depot stores. These exclusive discounts have been negotiated by COSE on behalf of its members, and are reflective of the best possible pricing model we could secure for our membership.  

     

    A number of stores will soon discontinue the OfficeMax Retail Connect Card and will solely take the Office Depot Store Purchasing Card. To avoid missing out on these attractive savings and discounts, please download your new Office Depot Store Purchasing Card by clicking the link provided above.

     

    More than just Office Supplies

     

    As a one-stop-shop, Office Depot sells more than just office supplies. Whether in store or online, you may purchase a number of additional services and solutions:

     

    • Interiors & Furniture - in-stock, ready-to-ship furniture and full service space planning and design
    • Print & Documents - includes everything from color copies to promotional products branded with your organization's logo
    • Facility Resources - snacks and breakroom supplies, restroom and janitorial supplies, safety products, shipping and maintenance supplies
    • Technology - ranging from basic technology products, services and accessories to software licensing and assistance with security and compliance

      Start the Year with 20% off…

      Take advantage of this exclusive all-in-one bundle deal for COSE members on popular Office Depot products. This bundle includes everything from paper to coffee k-cups at discount rates of up to 20% off retail price! Simply visit your COSE Office Depot Portal and make your purchase.

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    • Next up: Startup Scaleup Recap: Thoughts from the Twitterverse

      Startup Scaleup Recap: Thoughts from the Twitterverse

      Here are the key takeaways attendees of Startup Scaleup 2017 walked away from this year’s event with.

      Startup Scaleup 2017 brought together hundreds of entrepreneurs and startup business owners hungry for tips and tricks to take their business to the next level. Miss out on this year’s event? Here’s a recap of the musings and informational nuggets attendees walked away with from the event that was held earlier this month.

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    • Next up: State Biennium Budget Bill Includes Tax Relief for Small Business Owners

      State Biennium Budget Bill Includes Tax Relief for Small Business Owners

      The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) commends Ohio Governor John Kasich, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, Senate President Keith Faber, and the General Assembly today for clearing a state biennium budget bill that includes tax relief for small business owners. The final version of the tax package grants a 75% tax deduction for the first $250,000 in small business income for 2015 and a 100% deduction beginning in 2016. The plan also calls for a flat 3% tax rate on business income above $250,000. 

      The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) commends Ohio Governor John Kasich, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, Senate President Keith Faber, and the General Assembly today for clearing a state biennium budget bill that includes tax relief for small business owners. The final version of the tax package grants a 75% tax deduction for the first $250,000 in small business income for 2015 and a 100% deduction beginning in 2016. The plan also calls for a flat 3% tax rate on business income above $250,000. 

      “We have heard from many small business owners about the value of the current 50% tax deduction as a resource,” said COSE President and Executive Director Steve Millard. “An increase to that tax deduction sends a strong signal that our elected officials view small business as a priority. These deductions can create an opportunity for additional business investment that can make a difference for a small business owner.” In addition, the state budget will: 

      • provide for a 6.3% across-the-board income tax cut beginning in 2015; 
      • lower the top rate to below 5% and potentially provide more than $1.2 billion in tax relief to Ohioans during the next two years; 
      • increase the state cigarette excise tax from $1.25 on a pack of cigarettes to $1.60 to help pay for tax relief; and 
      • the tax changes in the budget will be put in place without raising or expanding the sales tax base or increasing the sales tax or commercial activity tax (CAT) rate. 

      “The tax relief included in this budget is consistent with our views on providing predictable support for small business that encourages economic flexibility, stability, and growth,” added Millard. “COSE has and will continue to support sound tax policies that allow business owners to re-invest back into their companies, workforce, and communities.” 


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    • Next up: State Minimum Wage to Increase in 2018

      State Minimum Wage to Increase in 2018

      Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, Ohioans on minimum wage will see a small increase in their paychecks. The state wage will rise from $8.15 an hour to $8.30 an hour for non-tipped employees. Tipped employees will increase from $4.08 to $4.15.

      An amendment passed by Ohio voters a little over 10 years ago mandated Ohio’s minimum wage increase on Jan. 1 of each year based on the rate of inflation. The 2018 increase is the largest in Ohio since January 2015.

      The Ohio minimum wage will remain at $7.25 per hour at businesses with annual gross receipts of $305,000 or less, and for 14- and 15-year-olds.

      Click here for more information to prepare your business for the change in Ohio’s minimum wage rate.

      A separate, recent court ruling stated legislation that passed last year—outlawing unique local minimum wage rates outside of the state wage rate—could be invalid because the appeals court believed the bill violated a single-subject requirement. While GCP does not philosophically object to raising the minimum wage, our membership has articulated grave concerns with unique minimum wages imposed at the local level. The Greater Cleveland Partnership and its partners opposed a misguided local minimum wage and advocated for state intervention because it would place the City of Cleveland at a disadvantage, hinder job creation, business growth, and the overall momentum the city is now experiencing. Petitioners subsequently suspended ballot efforts to raise the minimum wage in Cleveland. 

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