Get Your Audience Involved With These Conversation Starters

June 30, 2020 / Roberta Hill  / 
You can’t read anything about marketing and content these days without reading about engaging your customers. But what does that really mean?

Engaging means capturing someone’s attention – connecting – and having a conversation. This is not easy to do on the internet, particularly when there are millions of other things clamouring for attention at the same time.

But, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It just means you need to try harder.

The thing is, your customers want to talk to you. If they didn't, they would unsubscribe. Remember, that is OK too. From your experience on Facebook, you would probably rather have a civilized conversation than ta debate or argument. 

Your readers want to know what you think, and most importantly, they want to believe that you care what they think.

It’s not as hard as you might think. Here are 7 simple conversation starters to get your audience talking to you.

#1: Express an Opinion about Industry News

You want to build authority within your industry or niche? One of the best ways to do that AND start a conversation with your followers is to express an opinion – particularly if it might be new or controversial. Of course, you should only do this if you can back up your opinion.

Despite what I wrote earlier, some bloggers do want to be controversial but then you need to be prepared for the ‘haters”.  It depends on your niche and what you are trying to achieve. If this is a business web site, I would tend to avoid the three taboos – sex, religion or politics.

A good way to get started with this tactic is to follow relevant publishers and influencers in your industry. When you see them post a piece of news that’s relevant to your followers, read the article (or watch the video) and figure out what you can add to the conversation. Then share it – and make sure to include a call to action that encourages your followers to chime in with their own opinions.

#2: Ask for Stories and Experiences

Everybody has a story to tell – and when you’re speaking to an audience who all have something in common with you, then it’s easy to think of a topic that may inspire people to share their stories.

The key here is to share your own story and then ask your followers to share their best stories with you. For example, say you own a travel agency. You might tell a story of a trip you booked for yourself before you were a travel agent and how it went wrong. Then, you could ask your followers for their travel horror stories.

The value of this type of sharing is that it provides you with an opportunity to respond, express sympathy or amazement, and build a bond with potential customers online.  Sometimes it can also be a source of great additional content.

#3: Get Recommendations

People might love to tell stories, but do you know what else they like? Giving advice and making recommendations! And asking them for recommendations is a great way to get them talking.

What kind of recommendations should you ask for? Ideally, they should be relevant to your product or service. For example, I’m a marketing guy. I might ask:

  • What are your favourite marketing podcasts?
  • What publications do you follow on Facebook and Twitter?
  • Which marketing technique is your favourite, and why?
  • What marketing apps would you recommend?

You get the idea. The key is not to stray too far from your brand and product. Instead, keep a tight focus and encourage your followers to share their experiences and recommendations with you and each other.

#4: Promote Your Events and Your Community

Are you appearing at a local street fair or charity event? Sharing your involvement is a great way to remind people that you stand for something other than making money – and to underscore your involvement in your community and industry.

Even if you’re not appearing at an event, there’s a benefit in letting your followers know what’s going on in your community. Giving a nod to other businesses or to local charities can help you build trust and earn the admiration of your followers. You can encourage conversation by asking questions like these:

  • Will you be attending the ****  celebration?
  • What was the last community event you attended?

Another option is to include an open call to action at the end, something like “We hope you’ll stop by and check out our booth! There’s a free gift in it for you!”

#5: Ask about Do-It-Yourself Projects

Whatever industry or niche you’re in, the chances are good that your followers have some  DIY experiences that are relevant. Asking about them is a great way to learn about potential customers and build a warm rapport with them by responding to what they share.

Ideally, a DIY project should be something that uses (or could use) your products. However, it doesn’t have to be. The key is to find a way to make what you post relevant to your brand – and then stand back and let your followers do the rest.

#6: Ask Open Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to get your followers talking. It’s especially helpful to you if you can get them talking in a way that helps you to learn more about them – because that’s information you can use to create future content.

For example, if you’re targeting small business owners, you could ask questions like:

  • What’s your biggest challenge as a business owner?
  • What problem do you wish someone would solve for you?
  • What product or service has helped you the most?

The answers to these questions can help you write blog posts, create a social media strategy, or even develop new products that are ideal for your target audience.

#7: Ask for Testimonials

You already know that reviews and testimonials are hugely important in the world of marketing. What better way to get some new testimonials to share on your site than to ask your customers to provide them on social media?

Not only will asking for opinions help you get some positive testimonials, this may also help you discover potential issues and nip them in the bud before they become big problems. You should be prepared for some surprises – but if you approach the request with the right mindset, this technique can help you learn a lot about your customers.

Look who’s talking… 

The bottom line is that your audience wants to talk to you. They don’t read your blog or follow you on social media because they’re looking for a lecture. The key is to give them the encouragement they need to share their thoughts, experiences, and opinions with you – and then, to stand back and listen to what they say.

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3 Ways Social Proof Can Help Your Business

September 17, 2019 / Roberta Hill  / 

Many businesses have heard about social proof marketing, but aren’t really sure if it will help their business. In short, it will. Social proof marketing relies on one group, usually referred to as ‘the masses’, to influence the purchasing decisions of others.

If for example, all of your friends used a particular e-commerce site, you may also choose to use that one based on the positive experiences you’ve heard about. This is social proof and if you haven’t started using it yet in your business’ marketing efforts, there’s many reasons you should. The three biggest benefits it will bring to your business are listed below.

  • Build trust and credibility: People are naturally inclined to believe other consumers than they are marketers and business owners. When potential leads see that many people are using your business or product, it builds trust in your company and makes you seem much more credible than if you had told them yourself that you were the best in the industry.
  • Provides validation: People need a reason to buy something and that reason doesn’t always come to need or want. Sometimes, people make purchases simply to see what all the hype is about, or because someone else, such as a celebrity, purchased them. They want to achieve the same notoriety or are simply curious. Social proof provides this validation that others are using it, so they should, too.
  • Simplifies decision-making: Customers will take a lot of things into consideration when making purchasing decisions. Do they need it? Will they use it? How will they use it? These are just a few questions. Social proof eliminates these questions, making the purchasing decision easier. They only need to consider that many others are getting use out of it, so they will, too.

These are just a few of the main benefits social marketing brings. Once you start incorporating social proof into your marketing, you’ll soon find there are so many more.

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What Businesses Should Use Social Proof in Their Marketing Efforts?

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Why Every Small Business Owner Needs To Attend Local Networking Events

August 23, 2019 / Roberta Hill  / 

Joan is a virtual assistant who was trying to get her first few clients. She’d heard that networking events were a great way to boost her business growth, but she didn’t know if they could be helpful to her. So, she asked Elsie, her business coach about networking events and Elsie shared the major benefits of attending live networking events.

Meet Potential Clients

Elsie explained that local networking events are a wonderful place to meet new clients. “You never know who you might meet. When I attended a local networking event several years ago, a seasoned local business entrepreneur, whom I trusted, introduced me to a startup company that was looking for in-house leadership coaching. That introduction led to a five-figure contract.”

Not only can you meet potential clients, but you’re also at a wonderful place where others can refer you. A small business owner, at an event, may not need your content marketing services, but she may know someone else who does and can put you in contact with each other.

Stay on Top of Industry Trends

No matter what your industry, your business is constantly expanding and changing. Trying to identify all of the new trends happening by yourself can be a bit overwhelming. But by being around others in business, you’ll be exposed to new trends without even realizing it.

Understanding trends can be very valuable for your business. For example, you might learn about a new web design trend that affects how you offer branding packages to your clients.

Connect with Influencers

Influencers aren’t necessarily potential clients. But they’re typically enthusiastic cheerleaders who can get the word out about you and your brand. They’re always on the lookout for new products and trends they can share with their circles, which makes them ideal to chat up at events.

Of course, influencers don’t want you to engage with them in the hopes that they’ll promote you. Instead, you’ll need to focus on developing an authentic relationship with influencers based around a common interest or passion.

Learn New Things

There’s a saying that goes (citation unknown), “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”

What this means is simply that you should put yourself in situations where you can learn. If you’re already an advanced entrepreneur then hanging out with new entrepreneurs might be fun, but you’re not likely to learn very much. In fact, you may find yourself doing a good bit of teaching.

You don’t have to look for networking events that billionaire CEOs attend, but you do want to make sure there’s a good mix of experience levels at each event. This allows you to learn and absorb new things from entrepreneurs who are further along on their journey than you.
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Why a Mailing List is a Must for your Business

January 8, 2019 / Roberta Hill  / 

Why You Need a Mailing List for your Local Business

Do you have an email list for your local business? If you’re like a lot of business owners, the answer is no. You might think you don’t need one, or that you simply don’t have the time to make use of it.

The truth is that building an email list is easy and inexpensive, and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming if you have the right tools to manage it.

Benefits of Having an Email List

If you’re wondering why you need an email list, here are a few of the benefits of having one:

  1. It gives you a simple, inexpensive way to communicate with your customers.
  2. It makes it easy to segment your list and market to the people who are most likely to buy a particular product.
  3. It can help you learn more about your customers. If you send out emails about different products and one gets a lot more attention than the other, it can help you grow your business and give your customers what they want.
  4. It increases name recognition and keeps you at the forefront of your customers’ minds.
  5. It increases sales.

Not only is it a good idea to have an email list, it would be a mistake not to have one.

A recent study shows that customers who receive email newsletters spend 82% more when they buy from the company. (iContact) and 7 in 10 people say they made use of a coupon or discount from a marketing email in the last 7 days. (Blue Kangaroo)

How to Get People to Sign up for Your List

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Building Your Relationship Network That Supports Your End Goals

October 3, 2018 / Roberta Hill  / 

Networking is creating a foundation of connections that can boost your business, motivate and support you with all of your efforts. If you're an entrepreneur or business owner, you never want to operate alone.

Having people surround you who can motivate and inspire you, as well as share knowledge that can catapult you to the forefront of your niche – is always a good idea.

You don't want all of your networking efforts to be in just one area (such as list building) – because that can narrow the positive benefits for yourself and the people with whom your connecting.

You want to networking with people who excel in a myriad of ways, so that you can learn from all of them and bring your business to a higher level. How you connect to these people should also vary.

You can connect with face-to-face encounters in your personal and professional life. You can make connections on social media sites, through email contact or on forums.

You can connect with a network both far and near by text or by phone calls, too. The sea of networking is a vast, endless supply of connections just waiting to be tapped into by anyone willing to put in a little effort.

Why You Need to Network

While being a solo entrepreneur sounds wonderful, it can also put a lot of pressure on you because you don't have a support system or team of individuals to help you succeed. (more…)

Do you think women are disadvantaged on LinkedIn?

September 21, 2018 / Roberta Hill  / 

I recently did a video addressing some of the concerns that women have on LinkedIn for my 15 Day Challenge. Some women are reluctant to put their picture up because they're afraid of what kind of response it is going to get.

Or they refuse to put in their email and contact information with a call to action.

Or they'll adopt the strategy where only people they know  can find them.

Or they may put up other security restrictions on their profile that make it more difficult to identify who they really are. 

All of these things defeat the very purpose of LinkedIn! It's a professional business networking tool and yet I understand that women are afraid sometimes that they're going to be slightly harassed.


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What Are the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business?

September 5, 2018 / Roberta Hill  / 

It is hard to keep track of how the social media landscape seems to be changing constantly. New media sites don’t pop up every day, but our perception of them is always shifting. The same is true of the general public. You might feel like you need to maintain a presence on every social media site from Facebook to Instagram, but guess what?

You don’t. Not by a long shot.

In fact, it could be detrimental to your business to do that. Your target audience might be very active on Pinterest and Facebook and never give Twitter a second glance.

The trick is knowing which platforms are most likely to bear fruit – and which are better left alone. Here are some things that can help.

Understand the Key Attributes of Each Platform

Each social media platform has unique qualities. Sometimes the benefits of one platform overlap with another and sometimes, they don’t. Here’s a rundown of each platform’s marketing value as we see it.

Facebook

Facebook is still the biggest social media platform. That means that you’re likely to find a significant percentage of your target audience there. In most cases, choosing just one social media site for marketing probably means choosing Facebook.

Facebook is ideal for brand-building, establishing yourself as an authority in your industry or niche, and strengthening customer loyalty. It’s easy to share an array of content, including written, visual, and video content.

Of course, arguable Facebook’s biggest strength in terms of marketing is its advertising options. You can easily segment your target audience, run ads, view detailed analytics, and adjust as needed.

Twitter

Twitter is built for instant communications. It’s the perfect place to share updates with your followers, create an immediate give-and-take, and release company news without relying on the media.

Twitter’s use of hashtags also makes it easy to track your company’s mentions and trending topics. Many companies have integrated their customer service with their Twitter accounts to provide immediate support when it’s needed.

Pinterest

Pinterest focuses on visual content and is a great platform for driving users back to your blog or website. They also have an option that allows retailers to sell directly on Pinterest.

The ability to create micro-targeted boards and use hashtags can make it easy to ensure that people in your target audience see the content you create.


Instagram

Like Pinterest, Instagram is a visual platform where you can share photographs and videos of your products or services. It has a slightly more casual feel that the other sites we’ve mentioned so far and that can be useful for some brands because it can help them connect with customers.

Instagram is also a good place for user-generated content. For example. Starbucks uses Instagram every year for its White Cup Contest, where it asks users to decorate a plain white Starbucks cup with a unique design. The contest winner’s design is manufactured each year and available as a limited-run product in stores.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the best social media platform for B2B marketers. It’s where you can share relevant blog posts, connect with other leaders in your industry, and make the kinds of connections that can help your business grow.

You can target LinkedIn users by their industry and job title, as well as by using traditional keywords. Sharing information about your business is a good way to build credibility and trust.

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