Great American Media Services Offering Online Social Media Training

Great American Media Services is pleased to announce it now is offering online social media training for businesses of all sizes.

Drawing on personal experience managing social media accounts for a variety of clients, members of the social media team at Great American Media Services will work directly with you to create a completely customized online learning seminar for your staff — based directly on their needs and current level of experience. Sessions can include:

  • Basic to advanced social media training on the major social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Google+)
  • Social media marketing planning (including monthly or yearly marketing calendars)

Kimberly Baker, director of media services, has spoken at numerous conferences, including the International Fruit Tree Association Conference; Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO; Party Club of America; and International Gift Exposition in the Smokies, among others.

“Kim is always knowledgable; she knows what she is doing,” said an attendee to Kimberly’s recent session at the Great Lakes EXPO.

Members of the Great American Media Services social media team have attended numerous training courses on social media and are up to date on the latest trends and research regarding how businesses can make the most out of social media marketing.

If you’re interested in learning more about online social media training for your team, please contact Kimberly at 616-887-9008, ext. 110, or email her.

2014 Media Kits Available

Great American Media Services is pleased to announce the availability of our 2014 media kits. Whether you’re looking for print or digital marketing solutions, GAMS has something to fit your market and your budget. Click the links below to access the 2014 media kits for our wide array of specialty publications, websites and events.

Agriculture

Retail

Sports

Nine Rules for Social Media Success

There are a lot of social media do’s and don’ts out there from various sources. But, to boil them all down, here are my top eight rules for social media success for your business:
  1. Don’t post just to post. Make sure what you’re sharing has some value to your fans. And, yes, it’s OK to ask them what they want to see from you on social media.
  2. Invite them, speak to them rather than sell to them. Marketing through social media is more about engagement and conversation than it is about a hard sell.
  3. Use your analytics. Facebook offers built-in analytics that allows you to see who your fans are and, more importantly, who your active fans are. There are a number of tools available to track your analytics across social media sites.
  4. Post often enough to intrigue and engage your customers — but not annoy them. Be respectful of their time and energy. Remember, yours isn’t the only business they’re following on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t clog up their dashboards and feeds with too much information with little value.
  5. Interact with your fans. Just putting information out isn’t enough. You have to be part of the conversation to be successful with social media.
  6. Don’t be afraid to experiment a little. Try different types of posts, different times of days, different days of the week. Posts photos, videos, surveys — the sky’s the limit!
  7. Be human. Show your customers that you’re a person and not just another store wanting their business. Remember: Social media is about being a little more personal than traditional marketing avenues. And it’s OK to be conversational.
  8. Keep it short and sweet. Use conversational language and say it simply in all social media conversations. Fans, followers and friends aren’t looking for 500-word essays from you. They’re looking for easy-to-use and access information.
  9. Have fun. Social media is a fun, interactive tool to have in your belt. It allows you to step outside of the standard marketing box and engage your customers in ways businesses haven’t been able to in the past. Customers — and potential customers — get to see the person behind the store. And it can certainly pay off.

A Look at How to Approach Social Media

Great American Media Services’ new marketing services division recently was featured by The Association of Business Media & Information Companies (ABM). According to its website, ABM’s goal is “to enhance the knowledge and best practices of leading media companies that provide quality information for business and professional markets worldwide. American Business Media is committed to growing its members’ businesses.”

In the article, Kimberly Baker, director of media services, shares that a lot of companies are interested in pursuing social media marketing opportunities, but they’re unsure where to start and how to incorporate it with their existing marketing programs.

“The key steps are knowing who you are talking to, what those people want to know from you and how they like to consume that information,” she said. “You also want to know their [audience’s] experience and comfort level with social media because there might be audiences who do not look to social media to find out information; they might be looking to more traditional areas, more traditional routes.”

Read what else Baker had to say about social media and the services offered by Great American Media Services.

Print Still Relevant for Farmers, Agri-Marketers

As agriculture becomes more high-tech — think GPS, solar power and remote weather-monitoring devices — so, too, does the art of communication. Farmers have more information resources than ever before. From traditional print publications to weekly email news and online portals to in-field apps delivered via smartphone, there is no shortage of access to information.

And while they literally have news at their fingertips 24 hours a day, seven days a week, farmers continue to look to print publications — in addition to their digital counterparts — when they need to know something.

This spring, American Business Media’s Agri Council released the findings of its 2012 Media Channel Study, which looks at the impact of the various types of media used by farmers. According to the study, 98 percent of farmers and ranchers of all ages still turn to agricultural magazines and newspapers when looking for information for their operations. What’s more, 88 percent of those surveyed see the importance of print publications to their businesses continuing into the future.

In fact, the ABM study revealed that those farmers believe they will continue to use ag-focused resources at least the same — if not more — in the next three to four years.

And it isn’t just the older farmers who turn to print when seeking information. Farmers of all ages stated they use agricultural magazines and newspapers for their operations at least weekly. The use of digital resources, as could be expected, was more common with younger farmers. And 83 percent of farmers under 45 said they use both digital and print, whereas 54 percent of farmers over 65 use both digital and print.

Another group more likely to use print magazines and newspapers are farmers at larger operations. The ABM study revealed that 86 percent of farmers in the $250,000 to $500,000 (annual gross receipts) range use magazines and newspapers at least weekly, whereas only 49 percent in the same group reported using ag-related digital information at least weekly. The numbers were slightly less for those above $500,000, at 84 percent and 64 percent, respectively; and for those in the less than $250,000 range, at 74 percent and 36 percent, respectively.

So, what does this mean for agri-marketers?

This study highlights the importance of maintaining an integrated marketing outlook to reach the agriculture segment. Yes, farmers are more tech-savvy than they’ve been in the past. And, yes, they read ag websites and blogs and news sources. In fact, more than half of them told ABM that they visit digital ag websites and e-newsletters every week. But, as that study shows, they aren’t giving up print.

It can be tempting to jump on an all-digital bandwagon. It’s trendy. It’s trackable. It’s immediate. But, it is only successful as one part of an integrated marketing campaign.

Marketers need to create campaigns that can be implemented both digitally and in print — because that’s where farmers of all ages are. They are looking for information across media platforms, and 66 percent of farmers in the ABM study use both digital and print ad-specific media to find information they can use on their farms.

Integrated media campaigns allow marketers to reach customers wherever they are, whenever they’re looking for the information. Consistency of messaging and designing campaigns based on the type of medium used are what set integrated marketing apart from the competition.

Messages can be crafted to create a highly impactful, four-color print ad in an agricultural magazine and then tweaked just enough to turn it into a custom email blast just waiting to be clicked. And just as knowing your audience is key, so it knowing your messaging. And messaging that works for print may not work for digital. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of the latest marketing and media trends.

2013 Media Kits Now Available for Specialty Agriculture, Specialty Retail

Great American Media Services is happy to announce the availability of its 2013 Media Kits. In these marketing guides, you’ll find a wide array of print and online advertising opportunities to engage your clients and tell your story.

With more than 50 years of experience in business-to-business communications and marketing, Great American Media Services provides a direct connection between marketers and buyers — in all segments of the specialty industries covered. Always on the leading edge of what the readers want and need, Great American Media Services’ staff of industry experts is dedicated to creating quality information that its readers eagerly look forward to with each new issue of the print magazines, e-newsletters and digital editions.

What’s more, Great American Media Services offers a number of other marketing solutions for its clients. From card packs and online e-catalogs to in-person events and educational opportunities, marketers are able to engage their customers on any platform they choose.

Top Tips for Social Media Engagement

As social media continues to become more mainstream, companies are able to interact with customers — and potential customers — on a more personal level. People continue to seek out companies on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and various blogs. They’re actively looking for information; they’re asking to be engaged.

So these days, simply having a social media page for your business may not be enough. Companies have to create a social experience that will encourage customers to come back and interact again and again. Looking to create an engagement experience with your customers? Check out our top tips for social media engagement:

  • Create a platform for conversation. Encourage your customers to participate in your social media efforts. Ask them questions — and answer theirs. Invite them to submit photos and stories. Show them that you care about their presence and participation on their page.
  • Make them part of your team. In order to give your market what it wants, you should be asking them, well, what they want. Bring them on board when you’re brainstorming a new product or service and ask for their advice. An example of this for a new restaurant might be a Tweet or a Facebook post that says: “Tomatoes are in season, and we’re featuring them Saturday! How would you like to see them on the menu?”
  • Reward them. Everyone loves a good giveaway. That same restaurant mentioned above could offer a $25 gift certificate for Saturday’s dinner to a random person chosen from those who submitted a recommendation to the request for ideas. Another good option is to offer a “fans of …” discount for anyone who mentions they saw your promotion on Facebook. The key is not to do it too much. You want to make sure people aren’t only on your page for the giveaways, but that they are visiting your page because they really are a “fan” of your company and want to know what you have to share.
  • Provide them information they need. A good social media plan will include informational posts as well as promotional posts. If you’re providing your customers with interesting information that relates to their everyday lives, they’ll continue to come back for more. But if every post is tooting your own horn, your fans are likely to lose interest. Give them something for their time. For example, a stationery store might provide a link and commentary on an article about the hottest wedding trends of the season. It gives couples information they’ll be needing while showing that your company is the expert when it comes to all things related to wedding stationery.
  • Encourage them to share. Give your fans quality, specific content on your website and social media pages worth telling their friends and colleagues about, and they’re going to want to share it. Make it easy for them to do so. And be sure you encourage sharing — the life of your content will be extended as more and more people share it, further telling the story of your brand.
  • Pay attention. Keep an eye on your various accounts and know what your customers are responding to. Track their interactions and responses. If an agribusiness company gets fantastic response to a question about how weather is affecting their crops, the company knows that that is an important issue to it customers — and something they should continue to discuss. This also is an opportunity to learn what kinds of products and services your customers are seeking, which will give you a chance to further promote your brand.

Social media is allowing companies more opportunities to get to know their customers and to let their customers get to know them. But, like a person-to-person relationship, if you don’t have anything interesting to offer, the conversation could fizzle. Keep that from happening by utilizing any — or all — of the tips offered above.

Now, to take my own advice, I’d love to know what kind of information you’d like to know about social media and marketing. Please leave a comment below or email me directly. I’d love to know your thoughts. And in the meantime, come find me on Twitter and Facebook for even more social media and marketing tips and tricks.

Networking in a ‘Fan,’ ‘Like,’ ‘Follow’ World

Any profitable businessperson will tell you that networking was integral in their success. Meeting and interacting with people in your industry provides you with connections you need to move your business forward. Good networking skills can even provide you with connections you didn’t think you would need — until you did.

Luckily, there’s an app for that.

Several, actually. Never have there been more opportunities to engage your clients, your colleagues, your consumers. Social media platforms, it seems, have overtaken the Internet. While some may bemoan their presence as taking away from that “personal” connection, social networking has created myriad opportunities for businesses and marketers to reach out to their consumers and engage with them on a whole new level.

According to Social Media Examiner, there are more than 800 million active Facebook users, and 53 percent of them follow at least one brand on Facebook. Mashable went on to reveal that when consumers like a brand on Facebook it’s because they are current customers (58 percent) or want to receive promotions (57 percent). What’s more, of those who do follow a brand, 56 percent of them are more likely to recommend that brand to a friend, according to Mashable.com.

So, what does this mean for you? It means that if you’re not at least present on social media sites, you’re missing a huge opportunity to interact with your customers at a time when they are seeking information and making decisions. Presence on social networking sites is no longer a second-thought for consumers. It is an expectation. Consumers expect to be able to visit sites such as Facebook and Twitter and find the companies and products they purchase on a regular basis — and to discover new ones.

And they expect to be able to interact with them on a more intimate level than simply visiting that company’s website. They expect a relationship. Unfortunately, All Twitter reports that 95 percent of consumers’ wall posts to companies go unanswered.

In this online, 24/7 world, your networking opportunities are so plentiful that it can be hard to keep up. From Facebook to Twitter and LinkedIn to industry-specific online communities, you could spend your whole day engaging your clients, your colleagues, your consumers.

Luckily, there’s an app for that, too.

Well, maybe not an app. But a company. Great American Media Services has launched a media services division. Our goal? To help you develop relationships with your customers. We want to help you manage your social media presence — and reputation — while actively engaging with your customers and giving them a deeper relationship with your brand.

If you’d like to hear more about this service, please send me an email or give me a call at 616-887-9008, ext. 110. I’d love to talk with you about the plethora of media services we offer.

Kimberly Warren, director of media services