By Kimberly Hundley
Abarrage of “do’s and don’ts” rain upon today’s entrepreneurs, with experts dispensing guidance on every front. The roadmap to best practices may seem black and white, but there are a thousand shades of gray dependent on an individual business’s needs. To add some perspective, Scottsdale Airpark News is asking local companies to honestly share their experience with various “rules of the road.” This month, we spoke with Renee Wittrock, co-founder of College Prep Mastery, to give us the unvarnished truth about how her company’s social media outreach on various platforms has benefitted the business. We also invited Eric Olsen of Fasturtle, a digital marketing company in the Airpark, to respond to Wittrock’s experience and answer some of her questions.
(Next month: So … how is that new website REALLY impacting your business?)
College Prep Mastery
4300 N. Northsight Blvd. Suite 119
Co-owners Chip and Renee Wittrock
College Prep Mastery, a 2013 Sterling Award Micro-business finalist, is a full-service college-planning package that saves families time a is a waste of time.
Is there a particular frustration you have regarding Facebook that you would like addressed?
I would like to figure out the best way to use it in about 15 minutes per day where it would be a resource that we could use to communicate with prospective students and parents.
Tell us about your use of video on your website and YouTube, and how it’s helped your business.
We have both professional and nonprofessional videos. We some get likes on YouTube. I do not think it has helped at all.
What kind of feedback are you getting on your videos and how many views?
We have one video that has over 15,000 views, and the rest have an average of 10. I don’t know how to see comments or feedback.
How is your website working, and do you have any plans to change it to further your goals?
Our website is an awesome resource for parents and students. However, we used so much video, I think people find it a bit confusing. I do.
What about LinkedIn?
I love LinkedIn. People are professional, and you have a great resource to reach out to other businesses. I do not use it for the advancement of my business. I use it to help others with theirs and to keep up with groups.
How do you use the e-book provided on your website?
We give our e-book as a free resource, and that is how we connect with new prospective students and parents. Our main online resource is InfusionSoft. We have a large opt-in database of families that we provide weekly tips and advice to via email. This is our primary communication tool, and it is awesome.
What would you like readers to know about College Prep Mastery?
When our college planning process is used, families eliminate the guesswork, find the major that is the best fit for their student, and get a chance to beat the odds by getting higher test scores, GPAs and ultimately getting into better schools—all for less money. Most people who meet us after putting their students through college say, “Where were you guys when I was struggling through this process?”
AN EXPERT’S INSIGHT
Eric Olsen of Fasturtle, an Airpark-based digital marketing company responds.
Renee, thank you for sharing your digital marketing experience. The professionals at Fasturtle and I want to help you and your fellow small-business owners better understand how to effectively manage engagement and set expectations for Facebook posts.
For example, prior to Oct. 13, 2014, your last post on Facebook was April 5, 2014. If social interaction is a goal for your company or any small business, it needs to have a goal, a plan to execute that goal and a way to measure success.
Facebook engagement rate is measured in interactions. On a Facebook page, that translates into likes, comments and shares of your posts.
The answer to the question about average-engagement rates on Facebook pages have usually been the following:
- Above 1% engagement rate is good
- 0.5%-0.99% is average
- Below 0.5% likely means that you need to realign your messages to meet audience expectations
Your Facebook engagement rate is likely to fluctuate a lot. So you should be monitoring your rate of engagement on a consistent basis as you keep your marketing objectives in mind.
A key to Facebook engagement is to be consistent in posting, whether it’s every day, every other day, once a week or every Thursday. Your community wants to be able to count on you and look forward to your messaging.
Engagement is not one-way communication. Ask questions. Start polls. Share photos and videos. People love to give their opinions, so let’s ask nd money. Planning time is typically cut by more than 70 percent, saving the average family more than $4,000 per year in college, which is a $14,000-plus return on investment.
Social media: Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn
Website features: Video, links to social media
Describe your start on Facebook with www.facebook.com/collegeprepmastery.
Initially, we had a firm work on our social media for us. We felt it lacked “our message,” so we hired someone in house for a year, and that was better but still lacked the message that we—the experts—wanted to send. So now when we post, we do it ourselves. We had no real goals except engaging with customers. We have been on for three years.
How did your Facebook activity evolve?
We have run contests and put up relevant information. We didn’t approach FB as a way to gain likes; we wanted to have real communication with our customers, and it did not work out that way. We have gone away from FB as a means of communication with our prospects and customers.
How many FB likes do you have now, and how many other businesses have liked your page?
We have 1,771 likes. I don’t know how to find out how many other businesses have liked our page.
Has the reality of Facebook met your business expectations?
It has not. For the return, I think itfor them. A good example of a Greater Airpark business that is successfully engaging followers on Facebook is BeStitched (near Shea and 88th Street). Check out their posts at www.facebook.com/BeStitchedNeedlepoint.
To effectively schedule, manage and measure your Facebook and other social media engagement, we recommend Hootsuite; https://hootsuite.com.
Every business is a little different online and how they interact with their clients needs to be unique to them. BtoB is different than BtoC, and how to inform and engage will be different as well. As long as you have a plan for your digital marketing, it’s easy to measure what is working and what is not.
The digital marketing plan should consist of your website, search engine, social media, email marketing and mobile goals and objectives.
Small businesses need to identify a complete approach: website, mobile, social media, search engine marketing, and online image.
Another thing to keep in mind is the percentage of mobile devices accessing the Internet. The number has doubled this year and is expected to double again next year, so it’s vital for websites to be compatible with smartphones. Do you have Adobe Flash on your website? If so, you are limiting the number of people that can access your website through an iPhone or iPad.
Remember to set a goal, plan for success, and measure, measure, measure. Best of luck with your digital marketing success!
Eric Olsen founded Fasturtle in 2000, providing business owners strategic digital marketing solutions. As a Constant Contact-endorsed presenter on search engine marketing, email marketing and website usability standards, Olsen specializes in empowering owners and their staff with the tools and techniques to expand their brand. More: 480-348-0467; fasturtle.com.