Adapt Your Business for the New Facebook Algorithm

Algorithm

Today has never been a more important time to solidify your business’ online presence, especially with the progression of Facebook algorithms constantly changing. Social media plays an ever-growing role in not only engaging in customer interaction, but also in building your overall online reputation.

Business owners are having a harder time these days adapting to Facebook’s newest algorithms, stating in their announcements that if companies want reach, they should pay for it. And while many companies are starting to utilize Facebook ads more, there are still numerous methods to gain user visibility that are either completely free or very-low cost. Here are some ways which you can use Facebook to gain more social proof and essentially grow your company: [Read more...]

Build Your Pinterest Page with These 2014 Trends in Mind

Boards

Pinterest is a social online pinboard known for its eye-catching images, but over the past year, it’s become a search engine of sorts as well. After it received two sizable investments in 2013, the site rolled out a variety of features that have made it even more user-friendly. It’s no longer just a site to save images for travel and home decor inspiration or to create wishlists.

[Read more...]

Should I have One Blog or Multiple?

Multiple Blogs

When I first started in digital marketing back in 2006, I had a dream of helping people take over the internet realm for their particular niche. At the time, I had 4 automotive clients and with the thought that content and links were so powerful for SEO while social media was the future, I pictured a product where my clients were blogging several times a week and posting them on several different blogs that fit in with particular topics.

[Read more...]

The One-Two Punch: Print and Social Media Marketing

One-Two Punch

In today’s world, there is a huge focus on social media and Internet marketing.  While the Internet has definitely made it possible for businesses to connect in new ways with clients and customers worldwide, the Internet has not totally replaced traditional print marketing, nor should it.

Social media marketing should not be a stand-alone tool, but instead you should have multiple different marketing channels that are available to you and that you work to seamlessly integrate.  Print marketing and social media marketing, for example, can go hand-in-hand in order to reach the most customers and potential customers.

 

How Print Marketing and Social Media Marketing Can Complement Each Other

Print marketing and social media marketing can integrate in many important ways as long as you have a clear marketing approach that you take across all of your different marketing channels.

Some of the different ways that print marketing can complement your social media marketing include the following:

  • Allow participation in contests in social media that can result in real-world prizes that someone can enjoy. For example, you could run a contest so that everyone who follows you on Twitter or who re-tweets something you post is entered to win a great promotional item from your company.  Promotional products are great advertising because when people use a product with your brand on it, this spreads the word about your brand and company to others. A social media contest to win a promotional product gives you lots of bang for your marketing buck because you generate buzz when people enter (and talk about entering) the contest AND you get the benefit of giving someone a promotional product that can be used. You can purchase such prizes from a company like Quality logo Products out of Aurora.
  • Include hashtags and an easy newsletter signup on all print media that you distribute.  Whenever you send out a direct mail marketing piece, provide a print brochure or otherwise give someone print materials about your company, you should be sure to include hashtags that can invite people to visit your social media channels and talk about the product. You can also include all of your information on websites as well as social media channels and user names (like your Twitter handle) so that people who see your print material can quickly and easily find you online.  Those who receive your print material can then visit you on social media as well.  Be sure to make your social media names representative of your company and simple and easy to remember in order to encourage more people to visit your sites.
  • Build a database of potential customers through both print and social media. When someone obtains print material from you, ask for that person’s email address to be added to your online mailing list using a service like Mail Chimp.  When you get someone’s email address, you can then contact them over the Internet and invite them to follow you on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites.  Likewise, if you are running a contest for those who follow you on social media, consider asking for a physical address (to be kept private, of course, not publicly shared on Facebook or otherwise on social media).  When you get the physical address of a customer or potential customer, this makes it possible for you to send print material.
  • QR CodesUse QR Codes.  QR codes can integrate online and local ads by making it easy for people to access your digital information. A QR code included on print material can allow people to connect with you digitally in a very simple and easy way. For more information on generating and using QR codes, click here.
  • Include social media mentions on print material. If you send out marketing material or newsletters in print, you can include things that people have said on social media about your company. These statements act as a reference, and those receiving the print material may become curious and sign onto social media to learn more about what people are saying about your company.

These are just a few of the key ways that you can integrate print marketing and social media marketing. There are many different approaches to take and the right choice is going to depend upon your specific business model. However, you should not assume that since social media marketing seems to be the wave of the future that it is the only kind of marketing you should do.

A comprehensive marketing plan should include social media marketing, email marketing, a great company website, and print materials. You will have multiple ways to connect to clients and customers, won’t have to worry as much about losing trust because of a change in email address or because of a move, and you can offer content and information that people appreciate in multiple formats. This just makes good business sense.

Defined by the Quest: The Three Types of Marketing in 2014

Quest Marketing

One of the most amazing parts of my job is spending time reading, watching, and testing the practices of others. It’s conceivable that the true secret to my success over the years has less to do with creativity and more to do with listening and deciphering. You have to listen to the channels like Google and Facebook. You have to listen to your customers. You have to listen to your customers’ customers (if you’re an agency like me).

The annoying part of my job is sifting through the recycled techniques and reinvented terminology that surrounds so many marketing practices. In most cases, it’s the same old things repackaged into a different form or applied from a different angle. Those are valuable, but not gamechanging. Still, it’s important to go through them all in order to find the hidden or not-so-hidden gems that arise. The best practices I’ve found over the years haven’t been on the pages of Mashable, Search Engine Watch, or Social Media Today. The real winners have come from some of the least likely sources.

With all of that out of the way, let’s get to the point. There are three types of marketing. Despite all of the various names – push and pull marketing, social media marketing, gravitational marketing, search marketing, influence marketing, content marketing – the easiest and arguably most pure way of looking at it is to tackle everything from a perspective of venue and intent. Where are the people going and what are they doing when they get there? It’s important for me as well as business owners to look at it from this perspective because the collision of the various marketing types is forcing a holistic marketing model to outperform niche marketing techniques or specialized strategies.

In other words, if you look at venue and intent, you can craft your overall marketing strategy much more easily. We look at it as following the quest – what are they doing, why are thy doing it, and how can we be there to help them choose our clients. When people buy your products, they are fulfilling a quest. No, they’re not slaying an actual dragon, but if they’re on a quest to buy a car, then your dealership selling them a car is the culmination of that particular quest.

Here are the three types of marketing for 2014 (well, early 2014 at least – it changes so quickly) that we like to tackle:

Fulfilling the Quest

This is the easiest to understand and often the hardest to achieve because of the simplicity of purpose. Everyone knows that if someone is interested in buying a car, they’re probably going to go to Google, Bing, or one of the various classified sites to start looking. They might go to review sites and OEM sites as well, but for the most part they’re ready to seek the fulfillment of their quest, they’re going to try to look for cars.

Search engine marketing of all types, whether it’s SEO or PPC, gives you the opportunity to drive them to your website so they may fulfill their quest. They aren’t searching for Honda dealers to have fun. They have a purpose. They’re in buying mode. This is where you have to be in order to help them fulfill their quest.

Renewing the Quest

More businesses are starting to do this. Many of them tried to do it in 2009-2012 and failed miserably. Part of it was because the venues such as Facebook, banner advertisements, retargeting, and other forms of “passive” marketing arenas weren’t developed to the point that they are today.

Now, the goals have come full-circle thanks to the overall availability of the internet. Mobile devices have made checking social media sites and reading websites the common activity when there are no activities to do. As people ride a bus, wait in line at the bank, or even perform other mundane activities like watching television, they are also surfing the internet. They aren’t going to Facebook to buy things, but they’re open to the concept. They’re open to having their quest renewed.

When they go to Fox News to see what’s going on and the retargeting ad pops up in front of them, they are reminded that they are still on a quest even if they aren’t actively on it at that point. When the business they visited last week pops up on their Facebook news feed, they get that reiteration that they still need to buy something. It might take a dozen instances of seeing a brand and its message before they actually click through, but the statistics are showing that it’s working. Not every sale is made through Google. In fact, some of the most important and actionable clicks come through other venues when they’re not in active buying mode.

Creating the Quest

Of the three, this is the one that’s ignored the most. It’s the hardest to do and the least rewarding when not done right. However, it can be the most rewarding when companies are able to make it sing. This is one that we focus on in particular because in our industry, nobody is doing it right.

In many ways it’s like good old fashioned advertising. No, it’s not like the commercials that we see on television today. Think along the lines of the early days of television when brands were built by establishing a problem that people will see in the normal course of their day and then having that problem solved either in the middle of the initial marketing effort or after further research.

The reason that it’s so hard today is because of attention span. We have seconds instead of minutes to get the message out through most advertising and marketing venues. There’s no longer time to tell a story…

…or is there?

The art of creating the quest is about putting the right content on the right venues that will reach people and establish a need whether they’re in the market right now or not. With this particular article already breaking the 1,000-word mark, there’s not enough time to go into it in detail. We’ll do that next time. Instead, watch the following video that shows two commercials that worked well in their day. Today, having a minute-long television commercial isn’t practical for most businesses, but taking advantage of the various channels online to accomplish the same goal and better is something that we know will move the needle. It’s hard. That’s the point. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

More on that next time. For now, here’s the video:

The Social Media Resolution

Social Media Resolution

Let’s keep this one short and sweet. If you run a business, you fall into one of four categories:

  1. Those who are using social media and seeing mixed or minimal results
  2. Those who have used social media in the past and stopped because they saw mixed or minimal results
  3. Those who have never really bought into social media
  4. Those who are killing it on social media

It’s easy for me to say that the last option is the one that just about every business should be striving towards, but the reality is that if everyone was in category four, it would actually mean that everyone was in category one. Despite the vast nature of social media, there is still a finite amount of room on news feeds, Twitter streams, and other visible portions of social media for businesses. It’s for this reason that I am glad most fall into the first three categories – it makes my job for clients much easier.

With that said, there definitely needs to be more in the last category and the likely reason that there aren’t is because so many fall into the second category. Whether on your own or through a vendor/guru hack, you’ve lost faith in social media. That was actually okay in 2012. It became less okay in 2013. In 2014, successful businesses will make it into category four or they’ll find it harder to keep their status as a “successful business”. Everything is migrating to include social as a major component. If you rely on organic search to drive traffic to your site, for example, you may will soon find that your traffic is dropping if it isn’t already. Google and Bing are betting high on social and they’re leaning towards social signals and page/profile quality as major components of their algorithm.

Search is just the start. This is the part that amazes me the most. There are local businesses that are spending thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars on digital advertising every month but they can’t seem to justify a couple thousand dollars to dedicate to a killer social media presence and integrated search engine optimization components. It’s the most trackable, tangible form of digital advertising and marketing – the smoke and mirrors required to try to prove value are gone (at least for some vendors/gurus). Make it real or go home – that’s what we’re faced with today.

In 2014, make it a priority to re-evaluate your position. Take a pitch or two. Read some blog posts. This isn’t about buying into a trend, though that alone should be pretty obvious. It’s about reading the writing on the wall – I see so many individuals who are active on social media, yet are unable to see the value of social media for their business. It’s not your fault. You simply haven’t been shown the real deal.

Find the real deal about social media. Your business success may depend on it.

5 Facebook Contests That Increase Holiday Engagement

Opening Presents

There’s no better time than the holiday season to give back to your fans and add a theme to your Facebook content. Closing out 2013 by using Facebook to show off your brand’s personality, offer holiday discounts to fans, and spread holiday cheer is a great way to engage your fans and get momentum for 2014.

Recent data shows that holiday campaigns on social media are both effective and easy to set up:

  • 63% of Facebook users say they’re likely to share a link to a holiday contest or giveaway
  • Fill-in-the-blank status updates receive 182% more engagement than other kinds of status updates
  • It takes 30 seconds to set up a contest using a fill-in-the-blank status update
  • It takes 10-20 minutes to set up a photo contest on Facebook — and 20-40 minutes to set up a multi-day giveaway

~ Information courtesy of our friends at ShortStack

Here are a few ways you can get started today:

1. Fill-in-the-blank contest: You’ll want to use holiday themes here. But even with just holiday topics, there are countless fill-in-the-blanks you can use.  For example:

  • The first Christmas song that pops in my head is _________.
  • The first thing I do when I get up on Christmas morning is _________.
  • The one word the best describes my family during Christmas is _________.

Status updates reel in the comments — and there are no wrong answers. We recommend using a fill-in-the-blank question for daily giveaways whenever possible.

Pro Tip: Our Status Ideas Engine has seasonal suggestions (many of them being perfect holiday contest templates) and a whole category devoted to Timeline Contests.

2. Photo contests: Use an app like ShortStack to host a photo contest. You can have the winner decided by votes or just pick one randomly. It’s a great way to reward fans, and has the added benefit of providing you with tons of user-generated content for further promotions. Make sure to give the contest a theme:

  • Best awkward family holiday photo
  • Best Christmas decorations
  • Craziest holiday weather photos

3. Giveaway a day: The social media equivalent of Oprah’s famous “favorite things,” this type of contest takes place over multiple days. It requires a new prize each day, but you don’t have to be Ellen and offer Beats by Dre or luxury vacations to see the entries pour in. For example, Perfect Balance Therapies banded together with other businesses in their shopping center to give away a daily prize and every post received tons of comments, likes and shares.

4. Nominate a friend: Everyone has a special person in their life whom they’d love to spoil during the holidays. Help your fans do that by hosting a “nominate a friend” contest. Allow them to submit a short essay or photo of the person to enter. Then let people vote on the entries or just pick a random winner.

5. Unlock a coupon: This isn’t a direct contest so to speak, but using an app that allows fans to enter their emails to unlock a coupon code is still giving them a gift, and it could deliver you ROI. Of course, this only works for companies that sell products.

The deciding factor in many of these contests is how much time you have as a community manager. If there isn’t time for your brand to build an app for holiday contests, don’t worry! Keep it simple and just focus on a Timeline contest.  Your fans will thank you for it.

Are you running any holiday campaigns? Comment below with details!

Thankfully, My Powerpoint Broke in the Middle of My Social Media Presentation

JD Rucker Speaking

Do you see the darkness in the background? That’s a presentation being done without the accompanying Powerpoint. Sixteen minutes into an hour-long presentation, the power on my computer ran out.

I had forgotten my power source at home so an hour before my presentation, I was in Staples buying a new one. It was supposedly compatible and seemed to fit the computer, so I ran with it. We were in a rush and as I prepared to start I didn’t check to make sure it was charging.

It wasn’t.

It was the best thing that could have happened. The remainder of the presentation after the initial awkwardness of standing in front of an empty theater screen was better than it would have been had the presentation not failed. The reason is simple. I was forced to go back to what I knew without assistance of a visual – analyzing individual business situations. Rather than go through the tips and tricks that business owners could use for their social media, I interacted with the audience to find out their specific needs. The point, I believe, was made in a better way than had the presentation gone without a hitch.

Any business can use social media. Any.

Here’s the video. Be sure to give it a thumbs up, if only for the sheer fact that I had to go through 45 minutes without my presentation.

The Pinterest Plugin that You Need on Your Blog Right Now

Pinterest Plugin

I’m not a big fan of redundancy, especially on social media. Under normal circumstances, if you have good plugins and widgets properly placed on your blog, there’s no reason to have others. If you want to annoy me with a blog post, put an inline plugin, a floating plugin, and another one at the bottom. Oh, and throw in a “Share It” widget just in case three ways to share weren’t enough.

After years of fighting, I’m actually going to make an exception to the one-place-to-share-them-all rule. I have two Pinterest plugins on my blogs now and they’re both useful. I have, of course, the standard inline plugin. Some like the floating plugin and that makes sense, but it slows the page down a bit too much for my liking and it often isn’t visible on all devices even if your blog is responsive. I follow the unspoken rule of 5, 5, or 5 sharing options (no more, no less) and I prefer the big-5 for my particular blog (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn) but there are variations to this rule that replace LinkedIn with Tumblr if there’s no business-reason to share your site. Reddit is an obscure option of you have truly viral content of general interest or if you’re the mast of a popular niche.

I recently added the jQuery Pin It Button For Images. I have held off for a long time because I’m not crazy about it graying out the images upon hover and I don’t like that it’s an overlay, but I relented and haven’t looked back since. It works. People are pinning more. More importantly, they’re pinning the right link rather than pulling it from an archive or pinning the individual image itself. It’s light on the load and does have a nice little protection of not allowing your images to be right-clicked and saved.

One might ask why I wouldn’t eliminate Pinterest from the standard sharing section. The image button does not have a count and is only visible if people hover. Some people like doing all of their sharing from the same basic area, so they both stay up. Most importantly, it doesn’t work on all mobile devices.

The best part of the button on the image is that it acts as a good reminder to visitors. On a desktop, it whites out the image and displays the Pin It button when they hover over any image with their mouse. This is a prompt, a call to action, and it actually works very nicely.

Pinterest is quickly becoming one of the most important social networks when it comes to search. Some would say that the inclusion in Bing image results was the last surge of importance necessary to put it over Twitter on the effectiveness scale. Regardless of where you place it exactly on the social signal list, it’s definitely in the top 4. It helps with search engine optimization, period.

The traffic that can come from it can be pretty useless if you’re not selling items to a wide audience, but it’s still a good bulk play. Depending on the topic, it can be the second best traffic-driving social network showing up on analytics.

Nobody knows exactly where Pinterest will go and how long it will stay so important in the whole scheme of things for both search and social, but for now, you might as well take advantage of it while the ride is still hot. This plugin is an easy win.

Why Businesses Are Still Being Left Behind When it Comes to Social Networking

Left Behind

There can be no denying that social networking is something that is growing – more internet users than ever are now using social media on a daily basis. When you consider the size of social media you would assume that businesses are on the mark when it comes to social media campaigns and keeping in touch with their customers via social networking, but sadly for many their efforts still do not cut the mustard.

A Few Social Media Stats

  • When asked, over 60% of people said they would be more likely to buy from a brand they follow on a social networking website.
  • Facebook is the biggest social media website – if you added up all of its users and put them in a country to live together, it would be the third largest country in the world.
  • Within 80 days of it being released 50m people were the owner of an iPad – it took nearly 40 years for the same number of people to own a radio.
  • On YouTube the equivalent of 500 years of videos are watched every single day!

These stats show that social networking and the internet is growing – which is reason enough for companies to get on board and get involved. However, not only are more customers getting involved in social media but they’re getting more comfortable with it.

Gone are the days when a customer would write you a letter if they were unhappy with your service, now you’re likely to get an angry tweet or a long letter on Facebook. Their anger and unhappiness is the same as it always was, but now everyone else gets to hear about it too! We all know that word of mouth travels fast – so you want to be on the mark and dealing with customer complaints on social media because otherwise you could quickly find the situation growing to one that is much more serious.

Did you know that fashion brand ASOS have more followers than David Cameron?

ASOS are a brand that is renowned for their social media efforts. If you see their Twitter you’ll notice that they always reply to customers promptly – often with fun and witty replies, which help to keep customers interested! They have a specific twitter account which is designed to deal with customer issues and problems and they’re always quick and efficient when it comes to dealing with any tweets that customers send.

The fact that a fashion brand has more followers than the UK’s Prime Minister is a pretty big deal. It goes to show that they are on the money when it comes to dealing with social media & that their hard work has paid off. With so many followers on one account, their influence on Twitter is massive!

Companies are Still Being Left Behind

While companies like ASOS are coming on leaps and bounds with their social networking there are still companies that are being left behind. The problem with this is that we live in a social media generation – people are used to being able to get in touch with companies immediately and expect quick replies, companies not doing this are doing themselves an injustice and will get left behind if they’re not careful.

Making Use of Different Social Media Platforms

Generally the two main social media websites are Facebook and Twitter, but that doesn’t mean they are all you should use! Instagram is growing at a rate of knots and more Snapchat messages (350 million WOW!) are sent daily than anything else. There are different social networking websites out there to make use of – Pinterest is good if you have a crafting business and LinkedIn is great for interacting with other business owners and getting on board with local people.

The Mistake Many Businesses Make

The biggest mistake you can make is trying to have all of your eggs in one basket. If you’re going to be on a social networking website then you need to do it well. One of the worst things you can do is start up a social media profile on a website, do a couple of updates and then never coming back to it. Just because you have forgotten that you have an Instagram account (for example) that doesn’t mean that your customers will have. It is far better for them not to find you on Instagram than them finding a profile you have left behind – because this will give them the impression that you do not care.

So to Conclude

So, we now know how massive social media is. The influence that social media has over people is huge and as a business, if you are not tapping into this then you are missing out massively! Instead you need to make sure that you are doing what you can to be involved in it – and not leaving your customers wondering why you do not care.

Moving forward you need to make sure you have a clean-up of social media accounts that you already have. If you tried a social media website and didn’t like it – find it again and delete the account. It is far better for your customers not to be able to find you on a website rather than finding a social media profile that has been made redundant.

You then need to think about the type of social network you want to be on and how you can get involved. Whether this is setting up a page on Facebook or getting involved in tweeting on Twitter you’ll find loads of ways to get involved and hints and tips on how to make the website work for you and your needs.

Communicating with your customers is key – so make sure that once you are on social networking websites you use this to reply to your customers and interact with them when you can – you’ll notice it makes a massive difference!