Did you know that of the 7.2 billion people on earth, 3 billion have Internet access; 2.1 billion are active on social media; and 1.7 billion use social networks from a mobile device? In today’s digital savvy world, social is no longer a nice to have, it’s a must have—for both you and your clients!

Song and Nathan will provide you with tips and tricks on when, what and how to post on social. With over half a million businesses on our platform, we can help you make data driven decision that boost your bottom line.

Song: Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining us today on our weekly webinar series. Our topic today is gonna be creating effective social strategies for your clients and advertisers. Alongside me is Nathan Rhodes, one of our most senior product strategists, and he will discuss some of the key findings with customers using our solutions for social marketing.

Nathan: Hello, everyone.

Song: So Nathan’s been a big part of the VendAsta product team for a number of years. His responsibilities have been integral in the improvements you've come to expect from our local marketing solutions. Nathan has experienced not only on the development of our solutions, but at one time, he was also a big part of our sales team. So he's had a chance to work with many of our largest partners. He's gone through what you've all gone through when selling and supporting those local businesses and agencies using our solutions and software.

Song: I'm Song Rattanavong, director of sales here at VendAsta. I've had the pleasure to work with many of our partners helping them sell to some of the largest brands globally. Please connect with me on LinkedIn if you haven't yet. I always love to see what you're posting and so I can stay up on that industry knowledge. This segues nicely into our topic today on how to be effective and make money through social marketing and advertising.

So when it comes to VendAsta, there's three ingredients to our secret sauce and it all revolves around our relationships. And our relationships with our partners and our clients that rely on us to provide world-class marketing software solutions, their sales teams that go on promoted to local businesses and lastly the businesses and advertisers that use our solutions.

Recently here at VendAsta, we broke out our solutions into two areas. Our platform helps partners prospect and sell to current or potential customers. While our products are used by businesses to manage and build their online reputation. We also refer to this as a business' virtual doorway. That being said any of our partners can utilize our digital agency, no matter how they use or integrate our products or our platform.

If you want to keep up-to-date on all of our upcoming features and new products don't forget to sign up for the VendAsta product insider. I find it most helpful as I'm not always aware of everything that's being developed here, we do it so rapidly and so quickly. We made some major changes with the listing score as some of you may know. We moved away from percentage to allow us to add more sites without affecting the score and hurting the work that you've done already for your partners or customers.

The benefits to you of course are the additional sites that we're adding. It won't adversely affect the listing score. It's going to show proof of performance with solutions such as listing distribution and listing sink as well, we're going to put more onus on popular sites such as Google and Bing. So you'll find links to register on the side panel of all of our support articles or talk to your success manager and they can sign you up.

We also recently added a new webinar series, this will focus solely on product updates. So if you want to stay informed please sign up for those.

So let's get this party started. Social media engagement has exploded throughout the years with the rise of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Their popularity is undeniable. Consumers are spending hours a day looking through updates from friends, family, celebrities and strangers. They want to keep in touch, find ideas for their next project or purchase. So today we're going to discuss some of the best practice, social marketing practices and provide some key insights from how our partners are helping local businesses expand their reach and attract customers to engagement on these popular social networks. Joining me today is one of our senior product strategists, Mr. Nathan Rhodes. He's going to share some of the findings we're seeing across many users. If you have any questions during our presentation go ahead and send them to us and we'll be happy to review them at the end. So without any further ado, Nathan, I'm going to pass it along to you.

Nathan: Song, thank you very much. Appreciate being here looking forward to sharing some interesting information with you guys. So first thing I want to show you here is on the right side you see a breakdown of all the largest social media networks, at least in North America and this is their breakdown of users, total users on their system. And it's interesting because you can see that Facebook up there at the top at 1.59 billion users is three times larger than the next smaller network down from them. So it's really interesting to show that Facebook really does capture a large portion of social media usage and traffic all over the world.

Song: Crazy thing, too, they own Instagram as well, don't they Nathan?

Nathan: They do, they own Instagram. And so they capture a huge portion of that. And it's interesting that even if you start looking at daily active users because daily active is very important for our on social media as you know. You're always coming on and off Facebook, checking for updates from your friends and from businesses. And daily active users on Facebook is over a billion, and none of the other social networks are near that. But it's interesting though that there are things out there other than Facebook and so you got to keep that in mind when you think about who you're trying to target.

Our network or our platform supports the top five here with the exception of posting to Instagram. Instagram has a different kind of approach when it comes to working with third parties and allowing them to post on behalf of their users. They actually don't even provide an API to allow posting to Instagram and so we're just working through that approach and how we want to build that into our system before we do.

So I actually want to get in here and share a little bit of information about what our system has been doing up till this point to really kind of give you some context that what we're going to share with you and what song is going to share with you even further on in this presentation is really coming from some real analysis and some real usage in our system. So it's interesting that we just pulled this data actually halfway through July and we have about 30,000 authenticated social profiles in our system. And the vast majority of them, all of them basically, are small and medium-sized businesses with the exception of about a certain percentage of them are multi-location businesses.

But what I want to reinforce here is that the data that we're going to show you here is coming from a specific segment of social data and that segment is business-focused, because one of the things that you always have to keep in mind when you see stats coming out of Facebook and out of any kind of news radiators, is a lot of times that stats is specific to users and personal users on these social networks. And less often on how businesses are using it.

So this is the breakdown of those off social profiles in our system. You'll see that Facebook has the largest proportion but what was interesting to us when we crunch this data is we thought the proportion of Facebook would actually be a lot larger, especially when it comes to that previous page where you saw that three times more users are on Facebook. So it's interesting to see that the proportion of authd business profile, social profiles in our system is pretty consistent between Facebook, Twitter and Google+. That other section in there that you can barely see because it was statistically proportionally too small to really show in the pie chart that's actually LinkedIn.

Song: Why do you think LinkedIn is such a small proportion of those posts?

Nathan: Well I think part of it is that LinkedIn is kind of a different beast when it comes to the type of users that are on LinkedIn. And I think you're going to talk about that a little bit more. But you have business professionals there who are really going on there to connect with other professionals and post and share things and like things that their network is sharing. But really the main priority is connecting with other professionals. Combined with that actually that LinkedIn doesn't play as well as Facebook, Twitter and Google with third parties as well. It's harder for us to get things working through their external APIs so that we can use things through our system. And VendAsta by the way is not the only one who has that problem.

So looking back at last year, total posts from our system sent out to social networks was around 390,000 and it's growing. Within the first six months of 2016, we have already surpassed half a million posts, and these are mainly business-oriented posts coming out of our system. So that's really exciting for us. In fact, in June, and we haven't grabbed the numbers for July yet, but in June, we just almost passed that 100,000 per month mark of total posts being sent by our system. So we're really excited about that, and we're actually on track to surpass 1,000,000 posts being sent from our system. So this is really exciting, and it's really interesting, because it gives us a good data set to really analyze and pull some interesting information out of there.

So this is the breakdown of those social posts all the way from the beginning of 2015 up until the end of June, so a year and a half. The breakdown of social networks, and so you'll see that the trend line over there on the Facebook, the Facebook chart on the left there, is growing quite significantly, and the trend line is a higher trend line than Google+ and Twitter, and especially LinkedIn. But it's interesting to see that all three of these networks are continuing to rise. This is the breakdown of social posting per network per year. The thing to note here is that over here in 2016, the first half of 2016, Google+ has actually surpassed Twitter as the second most posted to network from our system. So that's a little bit of some interesting takeaways there.

So I just want to touch quickly here on multi-location posting. We have a product in our system that allows a business who has multiple locations, like a multi-location brand, to post to all of their locations, social networks from one place. And then we call that multi-location posting. And it's interesting to note that about 20% of all posts since we released that multi-location product, 20% of all social posts have come from this multi-location posting.

Song: That's substantial.

Nathan: It is quite a lot, and actually 37% of all Facebook posts are being made through this multi-location customers and Google+ posts even higher, 41%.

Song: Google+?

Nathan: Yeah. It's interesting and we still kind of want to dig into that and understand a little bit more about that data from a data analysis perspective. But my supposition, if I could give it, is that how a business and a multi-location business looks in Google search results is really important and posting and how you manage your Google+ pages factors into that. And so that's why they know what's important to maintain constant posting and new information and post to their Google+.

Song: So do you think things have changed now that they've split out Google+ with Google Maps and Google My Business' integration or changes?

Nathan: I think it is and I think we'll see that separate even more going into the future, going into the second half of this year and we might see this data actually change.

So now getting into just a little bit of some analysis of what day of the week are our customers and the post being sent from our system being made. And so it's a little interesting, so this is Facebook, this is Twitter, this is Google+, fairly similar charts. So some takeaways we have here is that weekends are definitely lower volume of posts being sent from our system and that makes sense because users and engagement are usually on social networks during the week more.

What's a little bit interesting though, is that Wednesday, if you go and look at the analysis of what day of the week will bring you the most engagement, Wednesday is actually the highest engagement of every single day of the week. So it's a little interesting and a little bit of an anti-pattern to see that Wednesday is actually a lower volume posted day than other days of the week.

Song: That's fantastic, Nathan, thanks for sharing that valuable insight into our product usage. I didn't realize that so many people we're using our solutions for social marketing. Another thing I would like to mention is the great work our marketing team is doing for all of our partners through the VendAsta blog. It's a fantastic place to find valuable information on every aspect of marketing and one of the resources that I not only use today for our presentation but I frequent to keep up to date on our industry. So if you haven't had a chance to sign up please do. It's VendAsta.com/blog.

So, as Nathan had mentioned, timing is everything. There are best practices when it comes to getting the most out of your social marketing solutions that you provide to your customers. There is of course no boundaries to the internet. So ensuring that when you're working with the customers, when you're working with your customers you're targeting consumers in the optimal timezone, it's critical.

If you're promoting a lunch special, it should be around 11 and 12 in that business' timezone and not before or after. I know this is probably a given for most of you, but when you're scheduling posts it's always good to make sure that whatever system you're using, it's in the correct timezone for those local businesses.

Another key aspect to timely post is the social network that you're posting to. Studies have shown that you can increase your reach on Facebook if you schedule posts in the early afternoon, that's when people are taking a break from work and checking their Facebook feeds. We all do it but if you are anything like my wife, you can post to Facebook anytime, it seems that she's always checking it. She loves Facebook, she spends hours a day on it.

The same can be said for Twitter. I mean, most of the activity happens in the early afternoon as well and usually people that are on Facebook and Twitter, they're checking both social networks. Sites like Google, you're gonna see a higher usage in the morning. I didn't know that people still use Google+ but Nathan showed me stats otherwise. So it's great to see.

Posting on social networks like Instagram, however and Pinterest are best done in the evening, and that's going to get you the most engagement.

So again, you may have created the most clever and funny post for your customers or your clients, but if you're sharing that at the wrong time, you're going to hear the sounds of crickets. You're not going to get those likes and shares that you're hoping for. And then in the end though, our marketing goal should be to get the eyeballs and engagement for our customers and trying to achieve their goals by making their phones ring and their doors swing.

Of course it's not that simple, just like any form of advertising, when a business promote themselves on television or radio it doesn't automatically turn into dollars overnight. Any marketing strategy is going to take time and planning. It's not a sprint rather more like a marathon. It's going to require updating and persistence. So keep on top of those social marketing strategies that you're doing, working on with your customers.

Social advertising is just that. It's just another form of advertising to reach potential customers. However, unlike any other medium, you can target your ideal audience and even have a direct one-on-one relationship with a prospect or customer. You can have those instant messages. Traditional advertising was about getting as many eyeballs and ears from as many people as you could, whether or not it was appropriate, right? I can honestly say when I'm watching television, I've never had the urge to purchase lipstick or mascara from Maybelline or from CoverGirl, but I'm sure if you look at the demographics of the millions of followers they have on Facebook, each person is their exact target audience. This is what makes social marketing so powerful. It allows you to reach your ideal audience. As we all know, this now comes at a price, social networks will only promote posting out if you pay them. It's no longer a free-for-all. As they realized the value of their members or their users, they don't want to inundate them with commercials.

I think Nathan's got some interesting stats around that as well.

Nathan: Yeah. It's interesting, back in June socialmediatoday.com there are websites that just does and post amazing information about social media. They released an article that was talking about how they analyzed about 3,000 Facebook pages in the first half or so of 2016 and out of all the posts that were made from that social network or from all of those 3,000 profiles I mean, organic reach of those posts decreased 42%, that's an amazing decrease in organic reach in a short amount of time. And so again, it just tells you with data that that...

Song: ...they're monetizing, they're monetizing their users. It's a pay-to-play platform now. Thanks, Nathan for that.

So making a budget. Like any purchase, the first thing you need to do is determine what you're willing to spend. A new customer sale is way more valuable to an auto dealer or jeweler than it would be to a restaurant. I've heard one of our marketing team members mention today, that there's a local car dealership here in Saskatchewan. They're spending close to $70,000 a month doing social and Google advertising. That's incredible because they know the lifetime value of their customer is substantial. So for dealers and jewelers they are going to spend more, to attract these customers.

Planning with your client what they're willing to spend on a month to month basis will allow you to allocate those funds to the appropriate social channels. This could be as little as a hundred bucks a month on Facebook, to thousands of dollars spread across many social networks. I see YouTube as a big one as well.

You want to also take into account the time it takes to create content, the ad copy that you need to produce, and setting up these campaigns by your staff. If you don't have the resources to do so, just contact your VendAsta account representative, they're gonna get you the help you need. They're gonna to get you introduced to our digital agencies social advertising services.

So one of my favorite catchphrases is "Follow the money," because I'm a sales guy. This can be used when targeting your ideal audience, as well on social networks, by utilizing the tools that we provide. You can promote your posts, create contests for consumers who are more likely to purchase those products and services that you’re marketing and create that engagement that your customer is looking for. The cool thing about these social networks is that these can be segmented, these can be targeted by the people that you're looking for, can be targeted by age, gender, geography, interests, gives you many tools to attract your ideal audience.

By using re-marketing tools, we're introducing a product called Simplify that does this. You'll not only be able to connect with them on social channels, you'll be able to target individual consumers across many sites. Now you probably already witnessed this. If you're like me, if you've visited Home Depot lately, and looked at different products and services, they're going to start showing up on your Facebook feed. It happens to me all the time, I'm sure it happens to you as well.

So measure and assigning goals. Just getting followers just doesn't cut it anymore, as anyone knows. You can go out and buy likes and followers now in different places. So you want to really understand what you want to try and achieve for your client and accomplish. And you want to set key metrics to measuring success.

Identifying the types of convergence the client's looking for will help you determine the best strategy to put in place. I mean this may be getting phone calls, this may be getting people to subscribe to a blog, newsletter, enter a contest, visit a website, you name it. Get likes, share interesting content, join a group or leave reviews. In the end it's about doing what's best for the customer within the budget that they can afford. It's going to take time, it's going to take patience and understanding of what some of those key metrics will be, these will be used to determine if the client is winning or losing.

So you want to also choose the right social platform. As Nathan had mentioned, Facebook has the lion's share. Facebook is likely where you want to get started when you're getting into social advertising as it has over a billion users and I think it does cross-functional advertising with Instagram as well. However, it's not always ideal if you're targeting a business audience. We have found here at VendAsta that LinkedIn is a much better resource for that.

So you want to prioritize the best social network where your fans are and this is going to yield you better results for your customer's fans. An easy way of doing this, you want to promote those social links on your client's website, on their newsletters. Help them get better understanding of which social channels their customers are using.

So testing is everything. You want to test multiple copies and images. This will help increase in your engagement. Being creative and funny of course will improve your chances of getting the results you're looking for. These social channels, they're getting extremely crowded with businesses. So standing out from the crowd is going to require some thought and maybe even a bit of luck. So do your research, do some research, emulate other successful brands and the tactics they are using to increase engagement.

You also want to repurpose some articles on tips and tricks and advice that pertain to that industry with great imagery. It's a strategy used by many companies and our own digital agency when looking to create engaging content to share. So you don't need to reinvent the wheel. Our social marketing software has the ability to pull in newsfeeds from all over the web. This will help you find that interesting content for your fans and followers.

As testing is important, so is spending money in the right places or the right spots. Managing your social ads, as with any advertising campaign, is not a "set it and forget it" process. It's going to require maintenance, some fine-tuning periodically. You want to ensure that optimal performance just like taking care of your car. Every now and then of course we want to make sure, we want to ensure that what we were doing is working, whether it's working or not, right? So you want to make those necessary changes. Once you have a good formula down, you rinse and repeat.

The usage of video is growing substantially, so you want to use video. Video can be much more than just an awareness driver. Research has shown that video can not only create brand awareness, but it helps that consumer, that customer through the path to purchase. I recently needed a part for my dishwasher, it was leaking. I did some Google searches, got to YouTube. This helped me decide which part I needed and how to replace it. It also helped me choose the vendor that I wanted to purchase from, so I did that last night. So it's extremely apropos for our presentation today. Video is extremely engaging, there's many benefits. One of the biggest benefits to it is SEO.

So I want to end the presentation today with some social hacks I've learned when running some of the social campaigns for local businesses. First thing is, like other people and fan pages as it is reciprocal. It will help you attract followers and possibly get them to share some of your posts so you'll have a larger reach. Two, joining groups because this will have the same effect, it will help attract other like-minded consumers. Three, create surveys and polls. This will drive engagement, it can help you provide and it'll help create some insight into those customers that you're dealing with. And then four, asking for reviews on social channels, this will help increase conversions, people will see those reviews on Facebook. They're going to be more likely to purchase your product or service because of it. Finally probably one of the most important things that businesses sometimes forget, they should ensure that they fill out the entire business profile. This could include your services, your hours of operation, your address, your phone number, your website, and also have an engaging cover photo for them. This is gonna increase engagement. This is gonna provide them the SEO value they're looking for on search engines.

Thanks again, everyone, for your time. We're gonna open up the floor now to any questions that you may have.

Nathan: Thanks, Song. I've actually just been kind of looking through it, and we do have a few questions here already coming in. So we have one here from Kara Taylor, who says, "I see the weekly posting trends. Are those based on what the posting platform schedules or stats based on how the audience is engaged on those days?"

So the stats that I shared in the presentation are purely based on when they were posted to the social network and not necessarily connected to when the audience was most engaged. So that is true. That is something to note. We're looking at actually uses versus when the best time is to post. So that's maybe something that we can actually look at doing some analysis of and sharing sometime in the future.

Carrie you also asked, "Will there ever be an optional time in the social marketing product where it automatically chooses the best time for each site? You know what, that's actually some very good feedback and a good feature that we could build into the system. Now that we actually have in our tracking engagement and reach per post in our system, we could be able to do something like that. So we're going to take that away and check that out.

John McLane here is asking, "You showed posts on a daily basis. What are the average number of posts per day per customer?" And that's actually a good question and not something that I covered really in my actual analysis. I don't know. Song, do you have any ideas of like what's the...

Song: What I've heard from digital agency, the average number of posts per day is about two. So any anymore then you start to lose engagement.

Nathan: And it also depends on the social network that you're posting to. Obviously Twitter, Twitter is very much more high velocity and so you'd probably want to be more engaged and posting more often there.

Glenn Wasserman [SP] here is asking, "Are these PowerPoints available to us? Where do we find them?" They definitely are and I think Song will be following up with you afterwards if you are...

Song: Yeah. Our marketing team will share it on a support network. I think they share all of our webinars as far as the presentations. Just contact me, I can give you a copy of it. Thanks, Glenn, for that. All right, I think that's all the questions we had today. Again thank you for joining Nathan and I this week and taking the time out of your busy schedules. It's always a pleasure connecting with our partners, and I hope you got some useful information from the webinar today. I'm Song Rattanavong, and he's Nathan Rhodes. We're signing off from sunny Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. All the best to everyone out there and keep on keeping on.

Song Rattanavong

Song Rattanavong

Director of Product Sales

Song Rattanavong has been selling B2B solutions since 2005 with a simple mantra: if you do what's best for your clients, increased sales will follow. Having worked with a number of A list brands such as MTV, Puma, and VISA, this Canadian with a Laos ancestry and a Thai name has acquired a sales approach that is just as multidimensional. When he is not on a sales call helping his clients make money — yep, we see the irony in that, but hey, that's how we roll — he can be found either on a golf course or a soccer pitch.

Nathan Rhodes

Nathan Rhodes

Director of Product

Nathan Rhodes is a Saskatchewan farmboy, a graduate of the Edwards School of Business, and a Certified International Trade Professional. He previously worked at Saskatchewan Trade & Export Partnership, where he helped local companies reach deals with buyers all over the world. With his experience as a business intelligence analyst, Nathan claims he can find out 'almost anything about anybody', a superpower which he chivalrously declines to use for blackmailing purposes.

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