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.

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7 Tips For Integrating Social Media With Your Email Marketing

Email

When considering social strategies people often think about integration with websites and other media, but integration with email is just as important.

Here’s 7 tips to help you integrate social media with your email marketing:

  1. Send a dedicated social email to existing customers – Many brands already have minor visibility for social channels in emails, perhaps some share buttons under email content or all of their social logos at the top or bottom of an email. To really focus your customers response on social, try sending out an email that just directs people to a single social presence. To target further, make sure you send people to the social presence that’s most relevant to them. Send business customers to your LinkedIn page and your younger customers to Facebook or Instagram, that way you’ll continue to communicate with them on the most relevant platform.
  2. Email capture on social – You’ll often find that your customer database and your followers on social sites have significant overlap, but there will always be people who follow you on social sites that you don’t have in your database, especially valuable prospects who may not yet be customers. Engage them on social media in a way that encourages them to provide you with their email address. Competitions, surveys, free ebooks or other types of free content often work well. Using these tactics to acquire a following can lead to an unengaged and unresponsive following that’s not brand loyal, however these people are already following your brand on social and you’re simply adding another communication channel for them.
  3. Use the data – Now that you’ve got an email database and email addresses for those who follow you on social media you can start to look at the data. How many people overlap? How many are customers? How often do social followers buy our products compared to those who have signed up to our email database?  What percentage of Facebook fans are customers compared to Twitter followers? Asking these questions and finding the answers in the data will help you better understand your customers and prospects and inform future marketing campaigns.
  4. Make it easy for people to share – The fewer barriers for sharing content that customers have to overcome, the more they’ll share. Make sure that social icons are clearly visable around content that you want them to share. Don’t overwhelm people with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Bebo, Myspace and every other social site under the sun – focus on what’s best for your customers and serve that dynamically in emails if you have the option.
  5. Use social to access networks – One of your most powerful customer acquisition tools is your current customers. People who already buy and love your brand would be happy to share it with their closest 400 friends and family on Facebook, if only you made it easy for them. Pick a segment of your customers who are really engaged with a certain product and incentivise them to share it on social media. People who buy your products are highly likely to know similar people who are right in your target market. Utilise their network.
  6. Don’t duplicate content – You should be using your social presence and email databases for different types of communications. Email can be very specific and targeted, and almost a one-to-one conversation. Social should be used for broader engagement of your demographic on that site.
  7. Repurpose content – While it’s not okay to simply duplicate, it is a good idea to take great, inspiring content from social media and give it exposure in an email, especially customer generated content which people will trust much more than content that comes from your brand.

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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!

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Facebook Ads

Are You Using Facebook Ads to Generate New Sales Leads for Your Business?

Facebook Ads

You should be. It’s easy.

This article will discuss optimizing your Facebook Ads for capturing leads. I’ll give you ten best practices on optimizing your ads for engagement, and then focus on lead capturing strategies – and why Facebook Ads’ targeting tools are changing the way we’re generating leads online.

Let’s get started.

 

Optimizing your Facebook Ad for Engagement

Let’s get this over with so we can get to the good stuff. If you’re not already implementing these ten strategies below, do it now, and watch your Facebook Ad click-through-rates increase.

Image best practices:

  • Pictures of people (specifically a smiling, wholesome woman) generate more engagement than anything else
  • Pictures of animals and babies take 2nd and 3rd
  • Odd-looking or humorous images cause Facebook users to do a double-take, increasing their chance of reading your headline or body copy text
  • Avoid complex images. Keep it simple and devoid of text

Headline Best Practice:

  • The word ‘free’ and dollar values work to grab the eye of Facebook users
  • Focus on attracting the eye, let your body copy convince the user to click

Color and Detail Best Practice:

  • Avoid blues and whites as they’ll cause your ad to blend into the existing Facebook color scheme
  • Use red, green and orange: bright colors that attract the eye. Red encourages click-through as it makes the heart beat faster (giving the illusion that time is passing faster than it is). This encourages people to act impulsively
  • Don’t be afraid of borders. If your ad’s landing page image is blue, keep the same image, but throw a colorful border around it
  • Details, like borders, shadows (even increasing the green and yellow gamma on your image) have proven to increase click-through-rates. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.

 

Lead Capture with a Contest or Landing Page

Okay, on to the fun stuff.

Integrate your Facebook Ad with a corresponding contest or landing page to generate qualified leads. Use the ad to get them interested (with an awesome value proposition, CTA, and image) and a solid landing page (with USP, image and list of benefits) focused on the email generating call-to-action.

Contests

Contests are a fantastic way to generate qualified, valuable leads, provided you optimize them intelligently and offer the right prize.

Choosing a prize is about finding the happy medium between putting your business out of… business, and offering something nobody wants.

I recommend gift cards. No, they’re not the sexiest thing ever, but they work. A gift card allows you to promote your business as a whole. Anyone interested in any of your products will engage – and only people interested in your products.

Yes you’ll get results with a cash prize or an iPad, but I strongly recommend not doing this. You will, of course, generate a bunch of leads, but how long do you think they’ll stay subscribed to your email list after the contest is over?

A gift card ensures the people who enter your contest are actually interested in what you’re selling. Ask yourself, do you want 1000 leads who have a 2% chance of converting, or 500 leads who have a 10% chance of converting? (For those who hate math, the answer is 500…)

Landing Pages

Traffic Facebook users to a landing page optimized for lead generation. This means offering a reward for the lead, like an ebook or a white paper.

Ebooks are a great way to generate leads. Your business is probably already generating content (you should be, if you’re not). Compile this content, whether it’s a blog article, case studies, or a how-to-guide on balancing your own checkbook, and email-gate it.

Email-gating is simply requiring a visitor to your landing page to provide an email address before getting access to your awesome content. Your landing page should be built around selling this content.

Remember, you’ll get better click-through if your unique selling proposition (USP), value proposition, and image are the same in your landing page as they are in your Facebook Ad.

A/B Test both Facebook Ad and landing page to see what strategies work best for your target audience.

 

Targeting an Audience of Awesome Leads

Facebook Ad targeting is what makes Facebook Ads worth doing – it’s what makes the ROI make sense for small businesses. Facebook Ads can be targeted with a previously-unheard-of specificity. I’m talking targeting an ad at Facebook users who have just sold a used truck. Or targeting not only people in a relationship, but people at different stages of their relationship, or who have just gotten engaged, or who are doing long distance.

Target your Facebook Ad intelligently and you could be seeing a CTR of .1% or higher. Don’t target it and don’t be surprised when you’re getting .02.

For lead generation, we don’t want to target Facebook users by their car-history. Instead…

Target by lookalike audience

  • Import a contact list of current customers, leads, or previous contest entries from your CRM or database
  • Create a lookalike audience, in which the characteristics of your original list are matched with Facebook users who have never met your business
  • Target your Facebook Ad at this audience of people similar to those you know are interested in your product, service, or offers

Targeting by lookalike audience not only increases Facebook Ad CTR (as its made up of people very much like your existing customers) it also gives you a valuable, qualified list of leads more likely to convert in the future.

 

Target by Precise and Broad Category Interest

If you’ve already gone the lookalike audience route, or are looking to change up the details of your business leads (going from small business to middle, or CEO to marketing manager, for instance), target by Precise or Broad Category Interest.

Let’s say you’re using an email-gated ebook (on A/B Testing) for lead generation.

 

Targeting Facebook users by Precise Interest could look like this:

Specific Interests

Provided you’re targeting all english-speaking countries, and your spend budget is set at a maximum of $20 dollars/day, you can expect around 50 qualified clicks. If your landing page is optimized (let’s say at a 20% conversion rate – which is reasonable if you A/B test well and put some time into it) you can expect at least 10 qualified leads each day.

Let’s say you’re using a contest (giving $250 in maternity and baby supplies to new mothers) to generate new leads.

 

Targeting Facebook users by Broad Category Interest could look like this:

Broad Interest

You could also target women with a 0-3 year old baby. This means your ad is only seen by your target audience. The leads you’ve generated (perhaps for an upcoming push into the maternity sector) are perfect for an email marketing and lead nurturing campaign in the coming months.

And once you’ve generated this list of leads, do a lookalike audience on it and start all over again.

 

Conclusion

Hopefully you have a better idea of how to use Facebook Ads to generate leads online. Targeting well ensures your leads are the kind you want. Compare the rate we worked out above with what a lot of lead generating companies charge, and see if this isn’t awesome.

Have you had success, or frustrations, with Facebook Ads? Start the conversation below.

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Google +Post Ads Take the Social Network Out Onto the Web

Google Plus Post Ads

The next age of advertising is right around the corner. With Google’s announcement of +Post ads, we now have a venue through which to advertise and garner true interaction from people as they surf the web. Think of it like Facebook advertising that reaches beyond Facebook – WAY beyond Facebook. With millions of websites out there that display Google ads, this expands the business footprint of Google’s social network in ways that Facebook will likely never be able to touch.

+Post ads take Google+ posts and display them on various websites. The example they use from their pilot programs is Toyota who used these ads to promote the launch of their Corolla earlier this year. They took Google+ posts and put them as ads on automotive sites like Autotrader as well as non-automotive sites that likely had a demographic or retargeted preference towards Toyota specifically or automotive in general.

Rather than just a plain banner that took people to the Toyota website or a landing page, the ads were interactive from the websites themselves on which they were found. If someone wanted to interact with the ad or Toyota in some way, they didn’t have to leave their website. They could comment on, +1, or share the post directly from the website without having to go to Google+.

This opens up doors for businesses to be able to truly interact with people much in the same way they’re doing on Facebook right now. The difference is, of course, that it’s not a walled garden. People will see the ads on many of the websites they visit and be able to engage with companies directly rather than having to click thru or visit the social network itself.

The possibilities are limitless. The potential is high. If Google stays true to this direction (and there’s no reason to believe that they’d make a fatal pivot) then this is going to be one of the most powerful forms of advertising that businesses can use. Small, localized businesses will gain the most benefit if they handle it properly, but big brands will be able to get traction with their own launches and offerings as well.

We will keep you updated. In the meantime, it’s time to get your Google+ pages in order, active, and worth your customers’ attention. Here’s the video describing Toyota’s trial:

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Inbound Links are the Food that Fuels Your Marketing Body

Eating

There was a cry that was heard amongst many in the search engine optimization world on April 24th, 2012, as if thousands of SEOs suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. It was the day that Google Penguin broke link-building…

…or at least that’s what many thought. Some of us, the ones who were focused on quality rather than quantity, the ones who would work a couple of hours to get one strong, contextual, organic link rather than building tens of thousands of bulk links in the same period of time – we came out better off than we were before the algorithm change.

Google reiterated the importance of inbound links at this year’s SXSW convention and those who survived the SEOpocalypse have found that the right types of links are more powerful than they ever were in the past. Link-building has, in many ways, been replaced by link-earning. You don’t generate links anymore. You generate and expose the content that is worthy of being linked to by other websites (not to mention being shared by individuals, but that’s an entirely other body part to discuss later).

If we’re going to treat search, social, and content marketing strategy as a living organism, then inbound links would be the food that fuels the body. From a purely SEO perspective, it’s what generates the authority that Google and Bing holds so high on their ranking algorithms. As long as it’s done organically and there are no nefarious tactics used in the process, there’s very little risk involved. The upside is huge.

From a social perspective, links can drive the traffic that is necessary to get people in front of your content. Assuming the content is good enough to get links, it’s probably deserving of social media shares as well. Those shares continue to help with search engine rankings but they also help with the purely social marketing area as well.

Last but not least, it does give your website credibility in the eyes of consumers. When your website is featured in a respected website, your potential customers who see the link will be impressed. It’s subtle, but it’s also very powerful.

In the near future, I’ll be going over each of the other parts of the marketing body. In the meantime, take a look at your content and inbound link “earning” strategy and ask yourself a question:

“If I were a website visitor and came across this content, is it valuable enough for me to want to link to it from my site?”

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5 Toolkits That Help Pump Up Your Content Marketing Efforts

Tool Kit

Content marketing is hard. It requires your business to take up the role of a publisher. Now, that’s not something businesses or brands are used to doing traditionally. Most of the marketing now focuses on the “inbound marketing” phenomenon and that requires patience, extreme focus on generosity, establishing trust, and providing value. It also calls for the need for thought leadership and an ever-demanding presence over the web (including blogs and social media).

All of that is hard work.

Is there a way this can be made easy for you as a business owner? They say technology is a savior, so do tools exist that help to pump up your content marketing efforts?

Here are some web-based tools you can use to accelerate, streamline, and organize your content marketing efforts:

 

Content Aggregator Tools

To develop content, you’ll need an influx of incoming content. You’d basically need to read a lot to write as much as you ought to. How do you practically crawl over the web to consume so much information that’s spewed out everyday? You get smart and use an aggregator tool!

You can start with LinkedIn’s Pulse, move on to Flipboard for your mobile, TrapIt (claimed to be the world’s most advanced content curation app), set up good sources through Feedly (an alternative for Google’s now-dead RSS reader), and finally wade through Reddit manually.

By working with these tools, you make content available to you at all times. Read, repurpose, develop content on your own string of ideas, or gather information from other content on the web to make your own brand of valuable content. Curation is a pill for content creation and aggregator tools help you do just that.

 

Content Creation, Organization and Management

Organized efforts are a must for content marketing and there are plenty of tools starting from project management to content organization. Google Drive is ubiquitous and plugs well into the workflows that most small businesses have. You might also want to check out Trello, Asana and Basecamp for organizing projects, content, and teams. To actually create content, you could use tools such as one of the ubiquitous meme generators, Visual.ly, Issuu or UberFlip.

If you are a business owner, you can use Evernote in a million different ways. Note ideas as you get them or jot down facts you can later repurpose as full-blown resource pages or social media updates. You might also use the web-clipper for content curation.

If you work with a team of social media managers and content developers or freelancers, you could bring your team aboard using Evernote for business and collaborate on ideas, content planning, blog posts, and a host of other things.

 

Plugging into a Hot Spot

Most of the popular publications now have tons of content already as “pillar content” or “resource pages.” You could visit Social Media Today for syndicated posts and resources. HootSuite has a special section with tons of resources too.

In addition to that, many other websites provide on-site tools for helping you to create even more content.

Further, you could literally create an endless flow of content based on ideas from comments, reviews and user-generated posts on communities, forums or rating sites. If you have anything to do with food and restaurants, for instance, you could use reviews from Yelp for first-hand information and then turn it into list blog posts. For technical niches such as hosting solutions or servers, you could make use of information from comparison engines such as Who Is Hosting This and cite them as sources for your blog posts.

 

Content from Social Media

Social media is big and it’s a huge resource by itself. Using a tool like Storify, for instance, you can create stories using social media data. Use Swayy to get some of the best content to share with your audience based on their interests and engagement behavior. You might also want to consider a tool such as Curata that can help you find trustworthy content quickly and curate this content to fuel your content marketing efforts.

Even without any of these tools, you can still use the dripping content off social media updates and quickly whip up posts relevant to your business niche or industry. It’s quick, it can be credited, and it works for you in multiple ways. Don’t just create content for social media; make your content attract attention off social media too.

 

Tools for Other Types of Content

While writing posts and creating content based on text is easier, it’s not the end of the road. There are videos, slide decks, podcasts, magazines, and tons of other forms of content that you should create. There are tools for you to develop this kind of content too. Animoto or GoAnimator are ideal for creating short videos. Using Jing or Camtasia, you can create screen casts to show off your products or provide courses.

You can use Blip for video podcasting or launch audio tours with iAudioGuide. If you are into audio podcasts, you may consider tools such as BlogTalkRadio or Libsyn.

While it could be a daunting task to create so many forms of content and pump up your content marketing efforts, you also have a mind-boggling and never-ending list of tools to help you create content. Most of the tools are affordable and you can also pick the tools that fit your purpose or budget.

The question is: the tools exist and the list will continue to grow. How are you going to use them? If you are in business, which of these tools are you using currently? Which of these could turn you into a full-fledged business content publisher?

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How to Handle Complaints on Social Media

Social Media Complaints

There’s a rule when it comes to handling complaints and bad reviews on social media. The same rule applies for compliments and good reviews, but those are easy. Handling the complaints can be challenging and you may not want to do it, but as a rule you must reply to everyone who is talking to you publicly whether it’s good or bad.

This is an absolute rule. There are a couple of extreme situations when you don’t reply, but they are so rare that I hesitate to mention them for fear that it could downplay the message that you should reply to everyone.

There’s another rule that is unfortunately getting broken just about every day by many social media and reputation management companies. Canned responses should never be used. Every response should be personal, written by an actual human and not repeated. It’s better to make a short, sincere response than anything that came out of an automated system. People can tell. You will never appear more insincere as a company than when you reply to someone talking to you on social media with a form letter.

In this infographic by Pardot, we have a chance to take a look at five of the most prominent “complainer types” on social media. If you can identify the category that a complainer falls into, you’ll have a better opportunity to handle it appropriated. One does not have to be a psychologist to understand personality types. You just have to open your eyes and ears before opening your mouth.

Social Media Complaints Infographic

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Dealer Authority: A New Venture in Automotive Internet Marketing

Dealer Authority

Change is good, sometimes. We all have those moments in our lives when we just want to branch out on our own. This is my moment.

I’ve been working for TK/KPA for the last seven years. I have absolutely nothing but positive to say about the company. They’ve treated me better than I probably deserved and I believe we’ve had a mutually beneficial relationship – both parties have grown as a result. I plan on referring KPA for many of the services that I do not offer because looking at it from the inside and seeing what else is out there, I know that they have what it takes to help their dealer clients find amazing success.

With that said, the company is still a growing corporation and I have wanted to operate in more of boutique situation for a little while. As a result, I am launching my own automotive internet marketing firm that will focus on premium social, search, and content marketing services. Dealer Authority is not for every dealership. The expectations are high and the costs will match. For the vast majority of dealers, the power I’ll be bringing to the table would be overkill. For truly aggressive dealers wanting to make a huge impact on their marketing efforts, I’m here to help.

Check out the website, get a feel for the direction that I’m heading, and make a choice: are you ready to get aggressive?

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5 Practical Social Media Tips You Can Use for Your Business

Silver Bullet

Now that we’ve inhabited the Web 2.0 world for a while, social media marketing has earned its rightful place in company marketing plans. Since the proliferation of social networking sites in the early 2000s, social media marketing has catapulted from a mere option to a key factor for businesses of all sizes.

Today, more and more small businesses and large brands are taking advantage of various platforms’ power and influence, with stats and case studies to justify their usage.

Here are five tips for business owners and entrepreneurs who are willing to tap into the marketing heft of social media marketing.

1. There’s no silver bullet

Just because the term “social media marketing” has huge buzz, doesn’t mean it’s a cure-all. As with other essential components of effective marketing plans, you need to invest time and energy not only from a strategic perspective, but also on a day-by-day tactical level.

It’s not enough to say you’ve hired someone to handle social media marketing. As a business owner, you need to equip that individual with the tools to do the job properly, and not become frustrated if you don’t see results overnight. The process is labor-intensive and requires motivation and guidance from the senior level of a company, on an ongoing basis.

2. Build your social network traffic

Businesses nearly double their online traffic after they pass 1,000 Facebook likes; and they generate more than 100 percent more web traffic if they have a minimum of 51 to 100 followers on Twitter versus those with 25 or fewer.

With regard to consumer purchases, most online users rely on social media to guide their buying decisions, or purchase a product or service on a recommendation. Most social media users are also more likely to buy a product or pay for a service with a firm that’s connected with all the major social networks.

In addition, LinkedIn business pages have the most number of generated customers, ahead of Twitter and Facebook.

3. Build trust via online reputation

Having a visible online reputation creates an instant transparency and credibility. In many instances, when a company pitches clients or another company to obtain their business, the latter will first check out that company’s and their executives’ profiles on social networks, including Klout (which ranks one’s social influence across all networks).

This due diligence supports a level of trust because they can review not only how active you are but also who has recommended and worked successfully with your firm in the past.

4. Engage with your followers

Because your followers voluntarily opt to receive your marketing messages on major social networks, don’t waste that opportunity: engage with them on a regular basis.

If you’re to be successful on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others, you must constantly engage with your followers through conversation, unique offers, and question-and-answer sessions.

Showing your followers you truly are interested in their feedback is using these user-generated platforms for the purpose they were intended.

5. Printing and social media

No longer purchasing from third-party print shops, companies have assumed much of the responsibility for printing their own content — in the form of brochures, flyers, and promos. Owners are much more in control of the content they present to the world.

Hard copies are being generated out of the feedback from the firm’s social network engagements. It’s a smart move to follow up on your social media marketing successes by referencing them in your print media as well.

Recommendations for in-house printing

For your company’s printing needs, a great resource for any small or large business is XPDrivers.com. Lexmark’s current printer drivers can resolve driver conflicts, improve a computer’s stability, and restore communication within your company’s network of printers.

Using this website’s service will save your company money and prove an effective use of your time, so you can refocus on the larger responsibilities of social media marketing.

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