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...]

6 Offline Tactics to Get More Twitter Followers

Twitter Pillows

By now, you probably already realize the vast marketing potential that exists within the Twitter landscape. With 231.7 million active users and 100 million people logging in every single day, there’s a huge attentive audience on Twitter that’s ripe for the marketing picking. And with a new report showing that promoted Tweets boost offline sales by 29 percent, it’s clear that if you take the right approach with your Twitter marketing, you can get some seriously impressive results.

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Of course, the first step to getting your Twitter marketing campaign off the ground is to build an audience of targeted followers. The internet is flooded with articles that will tell you how to do increase your Twitter following, but you’ll notice that almost all of these articles focus on online tactics, such as using a Twitter management tool such as Hootsuite, promoting your Twitter profile in your email signature, getting followers from your blog, and so on. But what many people overlook is that you can go offline to build your Twitter following too.

Here are some of the most effective offline tactics you can use to get more Twitter followers.

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  1. Add your Twitter info to your business card—You still have business cards, right? Despite everything going digital, business cards are still an important marketing tool, and you need to have professionally designed business cards that make a good first impression for your business. However, in this new age, it’s not enough to have the typical old business card with your name, job title and phone number. Your print business cards need to reflect the times we live in, and that means promoting your online social media presence on them. Put your Twitter info on your business card with a call to action to follow your profile.
  2. Put your Twitter link on all your print marketing materials—Your Twitter information should be on all of your marketing materials. That means it needs to be in your brochures, advertisements, flyers…everything. You can either put the entire Twitter url on there (e.g. www.Twitter.com/yourusername) or just your username (@yourusername).
  3. Give in store customers a special offer for following and interacting with you—One of the most often overlooked ways to promote your social media presence offline is in your storefront. Your customers should see information about your Twitter presence throughout your store. For instance, you could have a sign at your checkout stand encouraging customers to follow your brand on Twitter and offering them a special offer for doing so, like 10 percent off their purchase. Or if you run a restaurant or café, you could have little signs at each table promoting your Twitter page.
  4. Integrate Twitter into your direct-mail marketing—Think direct-mail marketing is dead? You’re wrong. When done properly, direct-mail marketing can generate a return on investment that exceeds nearly every other type of marketing. Now, integrating direct-mail marketing with your social media marketing can help increase your results. When sending out any direct mail, make sure to include your Twitter info and push any current social media promotions you might be running. With effective cross-promotion across channels, you can get better outcomes and a better return on your investment.
  5. Use QR Codes to direct people to your Twitter profile—QR Code marketing has become very popular over the past couple of years. Typically, companies use QR Codes to drive their audience to their website or a specific landing page with an offer, but you can also use QR Codes to promote your social media profiles. For example, you could have a marketing piece with a QR Code that says something like “Scan this QR Code to Follow Us on Twitter!”
  6. Promote your profile at networking events—If you attend networking events to build your business, these provide you with a great avenue for building your Twitter following. People go to networking events to connect with others, so meeting people and exchanging Twitter information is a natural fit. Ask for follows at the end of your conversations. This lets you keep the relationship going more easily.

With these six tactics, you’ll be building your Twitter following even when you’re not online. The key, of course, is consistency. It takes time to build a quality Twitter following. And remember, it’s not all about numbers. It’s about quality. Make sure you’re focusing your efforts on attracting targeted followers who will actually be interested in building a relationship with your company.

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!

Facebook & 3 Concerns With Video Ads

Facebook Video Advertisements

As it seems, Facebook is climbing onboard the video ad boat and it is a move that is actually very fitting. With such a large audience to consider with this particular website, it was only a matter of time until videos would start to constantly appear on the newsfeeds of users. This is a great financial move on the part of Facebook but I have to wonder how much this move will impact the user base at large. While these concerns have been confirmed, they are concerns with the upcoming change nonetheless.

  1. The change will not bode well for the faltering teen demographic. As it’s been reported in the past, those within this group have utilized the site less and even Facebook itself confirmed the matter. While some of this could be considered a result of young men and women wanting to get away from the vigilant eyes of their Facebook-using parents, it can also be argued that they have started to see more in the way of advertising on a site that is meant for social engagement. If there’s one things teens enjoy, it isn’t a litany of advertisements, in video form or otherwise.
  2. These videos may not be too friendly to older computers. Your typical laptop is not going to sputter out of control and combust if only one website is open but think about the common Internet user. Is that individual going to have one tab alone open on their browser of choice? When that individual is moving from page to page, they expect a smooth experience. While videos can come together as arguably the greatest platform for marketing, it’s reasonable to worry about how much bandwidth it will consume.
  3. No one really asked for video ads on Facebook. Yes, it is true that the videos on a user’s newsfeed will play silently at the onset, which is a smart move that any Long Island advertising agency can support. That being said, Facebook stated that, “Compelling sight, sound and motion are often integral components of great marketing campaigns.” While this might be true, is there a chance that Facebook will implement a change where videos are no longer mute to begin with? The idea of this social media mogul forcing video advertising in the faces of its users will do more bad than good in the long run; this won’t apply to only teenagers, either.

When considering the idea that Facebook will sell these ads for $2 million a day, it’s clear that the company stands a great chance of coming into money. Companies have to understand that this site is where most individuals on the Internet frequent. The idea of utilizing video content for awareness is understandable. Hopefully I am wrong about the concerns listed above and that these ads can benefit everyone.

Twitter’s “Block” Might Not Work

Twitter Tweet

The idea of a “block” function is easy enough to understand and it is one that every Long Island social media agency can detail. Once you block someone – not only on social media but instant messaging, for example – that person can no longer get into contact with you. As a result, one would imagine that such a feature would be welcome on Twitter. However, judging by the details that were given, perhaps the many users on the site were right in speaking against it.

This past Thursday, Twitter seemingly had no choice but to do away with its “block” feature but what exactly did it entail beforehand? According to the details, even though a user might have been blocked on Twitter, the truth of the matter was that he or she could still see the tweet of the person who blocked them to begin with. However, it would be done without the victim being notified of such an action. To say that this drew a flood of criticisms from the Twitter masses would be nothing short of an understatement.

There were many messages that spoke against the change, one instance being user @edcasey who posted, “”New @twitter block policy is like a home security system that instead of keeping people out puts a blindfold on YOU when they come in.” When people sign up for a site that is designed for the purpose of communication, they want to feel safe. They want to know that, if anything were to happen that could endanger their safety on the Internet, they wouldn’t be short on options. The fact that an online petition went around in order to change this policy speaks volumes about its less-than-favorable stance.

Soon thereafter, Twitter made a change so that users would not only be able to do away with blocked users viewing or responding to their tweets but they will be notified once a user is blocked. Even though there was a vocal majority that spoke against the policy beforehand, it’s easy to assume that there was a minority that was for it. However, it should be understood that Twitter is, to put it simply, a business. Seeing as how Twitter has been viewed as being worth $10 billion, why would the company want to sacrifice this by not acquiescing to the gripes of the aforementioned majority?

Michael Sippey, the VP Product for Twitter, said, “Moving forward, we will continue to explore features designed to protect users from abuse and prevent retaliation.” One can only hope that this is the case without hindering the safety that Twitter users had beforehand. While it goes without saying that mistakes will happen in an industry, the most important endeavor is winning back the trust of its audience. Security can be brought to the forefront; it’s just a matter of recognizing the missteps from before.

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:

LinkedIn SEO: Increase the visibility of your business profile

LinkedIn

LinkedIn was created for business persons to communicate with each other. You can improve the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of your profile so that you are more likely to appear on the Google search engine results pages, as well as making your profile more prominent and easy to find on the LinkedIn website itself. LinkedIn is not as prominent on the Google search engine results pages because contacting people on there is not so easy sometimes, but the new Google Hummingbird update may soon change all of that, so it is wise to start optimizing your LinkedIn profile now.

Make sure you fill out every section on your profile

This is imperative, as they are there for a reason. It is not like Facebook where there are parts that you can and cannot fill in and it does not matter. The only time it does not matter on LinkedIn is if the thing it is questioning you about is literally nothing to do with you. For example, if it asked for your limited company ticker number and you where/are not a limited company, then you would leave it blank. Otherwise, fill in every bit of your LinkedIn bio and profile.

Filling out your profile is important

Think about how people are going to read your profile. Google are very eager to make everything all about the user. This means that they are phasing out things that apply directly to the search engines and are trying to make it all about the user in every way. So it is up to you to think about how your website is viewed by others.

Look at the profiles of other people

You can start by going to look at some other profiles to see how they have done it. Look for blank spots on their profiles and look at how glaring it is. Look at how they have filled out their profiles. Take notes on what are bad and what are good. Look at some of the factors they have included and think about how you could include them. For example, are you going to write BA or bachelor of the arts? How have other people written it, and how is it formatted? Look at what looks good to you, and steal the good ideas whilst avoiding their mistakes.

What did other people do to rank so highly?

All of this research is relevant because firstly the LinkedIn results you are seeing on Google are probably the ones that are the best optimized. Secondly, you can pull lots of ideas from their profiles in order to make your profile better, and thirdly you are going to see evidence of why their profiles are ranking so highly. It may be that they have a lot of contacts, but you will also notice that it is because they have been thorough when filling out their profiles, whilst still being concise.

Think about the questions that may lead people to you

This is an idea that Google are playing with a lot these days. They are more interested in questions and less interested in keywords. So, instead of strategically placing keywords on your profile, think about what questions people may ask before they drop on your profile.

Things related to your service are possible, so let’s say that you paint houses, then a suitable question may be “who can clean my house in Randy Town?” If you optimized your profile with a relative answer to this question, then you may do better when it comes to ranking up your profile. This is especially true when it comes to location based queries, as it removes a lot of your competition from other companies online.

Keep up to date with current SEO updates

There are often rule changes internally within social media networks and within the Google search engine. This means you need to keep up to date with the most recent ranking updates for LinkedIn, and for Google. The LinkedIn profiles do appear on the Google search engine results pages, but normally only if you type in a person’s name and it has already shown you the Facebook and Twitter answers for that name. However, the wind is changing, and the hummingbird update is having an effect.

This may mean that optimizing your LinkedIn profile for internal ranking is just as important as ranking for external ranking via something such as the Google search engine. It is also a good idea to update your LinkedIn profile from time to time to make it appear that you are conscientious about keeping your information on there accurate.

Six Ways You Can Use LinkedIn to Turbo-Charge Prospecting

SuperCharging

You already know that LinkedIn has become a solid, go-to resource for researching companies and getting good background information on business execs.

But it’s also a prospecting tool, and a more powerful one than you might think. Here are six ways you can use LinkedIn to gain a competitive edge and leverage the time you spend prospecting:

 

1. Dig for decision makers

At most companies, the admin staff is trained to keep pesky sales people at bay. You can use the advanced search function in LinkedIn to identify both the decision maker with the sign-off authority and the influencers – the lower-level directors or managers most likely to benefit from your solution. That will make it much easier when you’re “warm calling” later.

 

2. Surprise opportunities

Try searching for companies in the “people” field. This will yield a list of everyone who works there – or has worked there in the past. You can then narrow your search by location or job description.

A related idea: Look where people have worked before their current position. You will find companies you did not know existed, and they can turn into customers.

 

3. Watch competitors

It’s always good to know what the competition is up to. You can “follow” companies by name, to see who they are connecting with.

Another angle is to check out specific reps who are chasing accounts on your turf. Watching what they are saying online or posting can give you an edge.

 

4. Track ‘endorsements’

LinkedIn recently added an “endorsement” feature, where people connected to a prospect will endorse them for various capabilities, ranging from financial modeling to publishing.

The number and type of endorsements can reveal a lot about the prospect, of course. But the real payoff can come from connecting with the endorsers.

 

5. Follow both prospects and customers

It’s a good idea to follow prospects and customers and track their LinkedIn activity. One good reason: You can spot situations where customers are connecting with attorneys, consultants or vendors – a pretty good bet that something’s in the wind.

Move quickly on this intel and you can get in ahead of the competition. When you participate in the planning stages you become an asset, develop a deeper relationship and land more business.

 

6. Join industry groups

There are thousands of industry groups on LinkedIn, which can yield fertile ground when cultivated with care.

Joining groups that your target prospects belong to will automatically give you a large audience of searchable contacts, and potential new business to develop.

But be careful how you go about it.

When you participate in discussions, make sure what you say adds value. Blatant sales efforts can get you booted. And simply posting links to your own website will be seen as self-serving.

Good and Bad Examples of Social Media Image Marketing

Automotive Social Media Image Marketing

If you’re reading this, you’re probably failing at social media image marketing. That’s not me being cynical. By examining dozens of business social media presences every week, I get to see what so many are doing and the unfortunate fact is that 9 out of 10 are doing it wrong or not doing it at all. I’m being conservative with that estimate.

The “unfortunate” fact really isn’t that unfortunate, especially for those who are reading this. You see, you can actually do it right, which means that you’re going to have a leg-up on the competition. When things are too easy or too well known, they have a tendency to become universally good. When they’re universally good, that means that everyone is average.

Image marketing on social media is not about taking advertisements and posting them as images. It’s not about talking about your big sale next week in the form of a banner that you post to Twitter or Instagram (though there’s a way to do that which I’ll demonstrate below). It’s not even about taking pictures of happy customers in front of their latest purchase jumping in the air with the caption, “Oh what a feeling!”

Proper image marketing should accomplish some of the following goals listed in no particular order:

  1. Improve branding
  2. Promote an upcoming event
  3. Demonstrate a lifestyle advantage associated with your product
  4. Connect with the community
  5. Make a statement
  6. Drive traffic to a landing page

It doesn’t have to do all of these. It can do one of them really well, a couple of them very well, or knock out three or four of them with a single post. To highlight this, I’ll use examples that I found in my Twitter feed just in the last couple of hours. This does not only apply to Twitter; Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, and Facebook can all work nicely here.

It should be noted that size and aspect ratio are extremely important and arguably the biggest miss by most. Twitter has an aspect ratio of 2:1 while Instagram is 1:1. Small images don’t do as well. on any of the platforms. Pinterest is the only platform that does vertical images well. Appearance on mobile is more important than appearance on desktop. These and other technical aspects of image marketing will be covered in a future post. For now, let’s just look at the content…

 

Bad Examples of Social Media Image Marketing

These ones are bad. Don’t do these. I blocked out the business that posted one but I kept the one posted by Ram only because as a manufacturer, they should know better by now…

Bad Twitter Image Marketing

The image quality is poor. The car is cut off. There’s no visible branding for the dealership in the image. Overall, it’s extremely boring. This is not going to get anyone’s attention and nobody who sees it in their feed will care.

* * *

Bad Twitter Image Marketing 3

It’s a nice image of a mountain. Wait. Is that a truck at the bottom peeking up over the edge? It’s good that they are getting their fans involved, but the picture should have been edited to appear properly on Twitter before posting it. This is the lazy way out and accomplishes none of the goals.

 

Decent Examples of Social Media Image Marketing

These aren’t bad. They aren’t good, either. They’re good enough to get listed here just to show the differences between them and the ones further below so you’ll know what mistakes to avoid.

Decent Twitter Image Marketing

The attempt by Nissan is pretty strong. They’re trying to do well on Twitter and they’re doing an above-average job at it. This particular piece is missing something: impact. The message in the image means nothing other than stating a minor incentive. It gives no reason for people to actually click through to the landing page other than the boring message itself. With image marketing, you need to make a statement in order to get clicks. They should have put more creativity into the messaging rather than state the offer plainly.

More importantly, the offer itself is designed specifically for those who already plan on buying a Rogue, so the incentive is in the reservation itself. At first (and second, and third) glance, this appears to be another rebate offer because it looks like another rebate offer. There are brighter minds than mine that could have fashioned a better message, but it should have been less statement of the facts and a bit more mystery and uniqueness to draw people to click.

  • This Rogue wants to be reserved (and it will pay you to reserve it)
  • What do reservations and $250 have in common? The 2014 Nissan Rogue.
  • Early Bird gets the cash on their Rogue
  • No Reservations Necessary (unless you want an extra $250)

* * *

Decent Twitter Image Marketing 2

This isn’t bad because it does accomplish one goal – making a statement. The only thing keeping this at decent rather than good is that the message is a personal one and should have been delivered in a personal manner. While the picture is cool and the message in the text is strong, it would have been better to have a member or former member of the military (there’s probably some working at the dealership right now) by a car or the dealership’s sign with an American flag in hand. This is a bit generic but a good attempt – still better than 9 out of 10.

 

Good Examples of Social Media Image Marketing

Here are some good ones. These are nearly great but are missing a couple of minor components. If you did your marketing like this, you’d be ahead of 99/100 others.

Good Twitter Image Marketing

Great aspect ratio. Hot car. Good message and most importantly there’s a link to the inventory search for the vehicle itself!

* * *

Good Twitter Image Marketing 2

This one is much like the previous except a different variation for two reasons. First, it uses a stock image, which is only good if the image is as good as this one. The thing that brings it up from “decent” is that the link takes you to a vehicle specific landing page which is more appropriate on Twitter than a straight vehicle search. Remember, if they want to search, they will. Putting them on a page with information about the vehicle is better for higher-funnel customers that you’ll get through social media.

 

Great Examples of Social Media Image Marketing

These are the best that I’ve seen so far… after searching four hours back in my Twitter feed. There are better ones. There are plenty of worse ones. They aren’t perfect but they’re pretty darn close.

Great Twitter Image Marketing

This one hits goals 1, 5, and 6 nicely but it really nails home #3: Demonstrate a lifestyle advantage associated with your product. It doesn’t need to show the whole car. It doesn’t need a beautiful background. It has a simple, elegant four word message that can reach the target audience where it hurts.

* * *

Great Twitter Image Marketing 2

Remember, it doesn’t have to nail several goals to be effective. This time, it does a wonderful job of branding but keeps it touching the community with the localized weather factor. This is exceptional and if the following is engaged, it’ll resonate.

* * *

Great Twitter Image Marketing 3

Simple and powerful. This is what Nissan missed when they promoted their message. Well done, Mr Potratz and Mr Ziegler.

* * *

You don’t have to be a professional photographer or a creative genius to get it right with social media image marketing. You just need to have a good strategy, solid execution, and a willingness to know the “rules” well enough to break them ever so slightly.

Facebook Ads and the Internet Sales 20 Group

Facebook Addiction

Next week, I’ll be discussing Facebook advertising at the Internet Sales 20 Group in Los Angeles. Even before traveling to the event itself, I’ve already received a couple of questions about the topic itself. The most important one was, “What value can we get out of this if we don’t use Facebook advertising?”

My response was not what she expected:

“What value can you get out of Facebook without advertising?”

Of course, she shot back a handful of things that are important about Facebook that didn’t require advertising. My reply surprised her once again.

“Now take everything you just told me about the value in Facebook and multiply it by 100. That’s the difference between Facebook with and without advertising.”

It’s unfortunate but expected that Facebook has become a “pay to play” endeavor, but it’s the truth. I hate it, really, but that doesn’t change the facts. I’ll let you all know how it goes during the IS20Group.