Your Facebook profile….Five minutes…more prospects

facebook logoSo, does social marketing really work? Give yourself 5 minutes with your Facebook profile, and find out how your own marketing can grow visitors to your business. Everyone in your office has their own personal Facebook page. Why not take advantage of the time they spend on it during working hours?

Of course, you may be a little more protective of your brand, so if you want to try this out yourself first, then you can decide whether or not to extend this facility to the rest of the office.

OK, here we go: Open up your Facebook page, and go to home. There is a small menu underneath that button on the right hand side of the page including the ubiquitous ‘More’ command. Choose this, and then select ‘Create A Page’. All of the instructions given there show you how to set up an entirely new business page for your business. You get to add the correct script, add the pictures you want, and start your own business profile.  What’s more, you can connect your personal profile to that business one, and your entire circle of ‘friends’ can now access your business for its daily or weekly updates.

When people want to learn more about you, chances are they end up on your “personal” profile rather than your “business page.” This is because you are using Facebook as Your Personal Profile, however, when you change this setting, you get more people directed to your Business Page with one simple click.

What better way to promote your brand (especially as a small business) as the person that runs the business – a real, live person. Prospects enjoy this. We have all shared the frustration of being shepherded through an automated system, when all you want is an answer. Here is a perfect moment to say: “This is us, and we are here to help.”, and to do so in a social setting, rather than ‘your own turf.’ A contact page on a company website still means that the prospect has to cope to you, whereas the social profile you publish allows you to go to the prospect in their ‘living room’, to be less intimidating and more approachable.

To grow your businesses’ marketing, have your entire office ‘like’ your business. When they do – and if you trust them – you can make them Administrators of your business site. This means that whenever anyone in the office has a business post to make: “Hey, looks like Mr. and Mrs. Jones are going to move to the Highlands area, after all”, it can be posted on their personal and your company’s page. Image five people each having twenty friends. Now, over 100 people can see your businesses’ update, and that could spread ever wider, faster, and in a friendlier fashion than you could ever hope for. All with Facebook!

Fresh ways to look at Successful Social Marketing

social mediaWhen do you count your Social Media marketing as ‘paying off’, or ‘successful’? Is there such a point? Is there a future when you imagine that it just ‘runs on remote control’, and becomes its own person, when prospects engage as if by magic, and then turn into customers at an ever-increasing rate? It sounds wonderful, but did you really think that your marketing would become this? If so, then you haven’t yet figured out how it all works. There will never be a threshold point when it takes off on its own, and you don’t have to do anything but monitor it. There won’t be a point when your Marketing efforts have become automatic, and successful. So, why do people think of it as ever complete? As if the number of followers you have, or shares, likes and re-tweets you gave received have reached some point of critical mass that will magically turn into more profit for the company?

Instead of looking for benchmarks, check out what you are doing on an ongoing basis. Here are a few points that will guide you to look at Social Marketing in a different light. Not as individual rain drops that can be measured, but rather as an ongoing rain deluge that you need to see through. By approaching your daily marketing efforts this way, you will be able to be more successful on an ongoing basis.

Don’t rush your efforts: there isn’t a time limit in place for you to achieve something with your marketing. It is an ongoing daily process that requires creativity, energy and time. When you are contributing to a community, it has to be valuable, and place you as an expert on the subject. If it doesn’t, then why are you posting at all? Be productive when posting overall, because if you are just ‘spinning your wheels’, it will be noticed by everyone. Be a real person, care about who you are connected to, don’t waste their time, and post quality, rather than being a daily poster of background noise. Always give your readers a chance to talk back to you, to share, to post, to comment. If you are untouchable, no-one will follow you. Take your time to get to know someone, and invite, then respond to, their conversations. Here are some more points to ensure you are using your time to its fullest.

Be adaptable. What is hot today, isn’t tomorrow, so ensure you are always educating yourself about new trends. Most people don’t, so it’s the Number One way of becoming an expert. If you engage someone, both of you should get something from that relationship. If you don’t, or if your engagements don’t lead to anything, then you are doing something wrong, and you should change it as soon as you can. Always use Graphics, pictures and video if you can. Some old sayings have value, and: “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.”, is a famous paradigm for a reason. Finally, be patient. You can’t achieve everything in one day, but you can add to your efforts, making every day another brick in the wall.

What will move your business branding in 2016?

Crystal BallIt is the time of year, when everyone appears to run their ‘best of’ or highlights of the year just gone. Of course, this allows you to see how things changed over the last 12 months, but how about using the movements we have seen in a particular area (Social Media branding in this case.), and use them to predict what will probably happen in the upcoming 12 months?

Of course, we leave ourselves open to ridicule a year from now when these things don’t appear, but we are sure that, based on recent movements in the small business branding area, you will see at least some of the following changes online. You can do no harm by preparing yourself for what may happen – if you are wrong, you will only overshoot what is happening. In each case, it means a ‘win, win’ situation for your small business.

Content Marketing grows in importance. Salaries, expenses, and profit continue to be aimed at – and derived from – quality, original content to ensure that businesses are heard above the ‘cybernoise’ of the internet. Ensure that your content continues to show you in the best light.

Parsing Data. The more marketing there is online, the more data Search Engines can collect and show you about exactly what kind of engagements your business is getting. Data levels of engagement can be further mined to show exactly what prospects are finding interesting about you, and driving down the cost of customer acquisition. Pay what you need to get hold of more and more data.

More of the same? The amount of low quality, low interest, cookie-cutter information will continue to grow, and the Search Engines will continue to grow their filtering algorithms to ensure that only the best-of-the-best get higher rankings. Stay on that High Road, and create content, don’t be lazy.

Guest posting drops. As soon as Google stated that Guest Blogging is a great way to get links, the market exploded. The obvious reaction to this is the number of sites that will no longer accept them. Wean yourself from Guest posting.

More High-end Videos. Video exploded a couple of years ago. The amount of upgrades now being adopted by marketers to their video presentations, such as graphics, High Definition, animation, etc. mean that the more creative marketers will do whatever they can to imaginatively use video: Be one of these, and graphically show hoe you can help your clientele.

An Acquisition market. Over the last few years, start-ups in the online world have not only continued to be bought by big players, the rate of acquisition continues to grow. Nowadays, it is the way that the marketplace is diversifying. We believe that more acquisitions will take place in 2015, and so if you see a start up with a clever marketing idea, add it to your branding avenues. The chance that it will be swallowed by a big name is very high and, as an early adopter, your rep. will grow after acquisition.

There may be more headlines to share as we move further into the New Year, but we think that these are the base line in continuing internet branding. Be on the front line of marketing, and ensure that you are compliant with these predictions. It will lead to a happy and profitable New Year.

What Time of Day do you Engage?

social-media-networking-time

Of course, everyone involved in online marketing now know that any successful ongoing campaign includes a heavy Social engagement quotient. However, content isn’t the only consideration to keep in mind. Timing is almost equally as important. In cementing your existing circle of friends and ensuring the largest amount of prospects possible also get your message, knowing when to post can be as important as your message.

Imagine leaving the office block where you may work, looking to stand on the street directly outside your front door, and giving away flyers. Not so long ago, this was the major avenue to get new interest in your special offers. Nowadays, we don’t see it too often, because Social media has transplanted the ‘face-to-face’ direct marketing that a flyer giveaway (for instance) achieved.

If you decided to offer a flyer giveaway, when would you do it? At 8.30 a.m. during the rush? How about 4.30 p.m.? No – while there are definitely people around and a busy time of day, no-one would be interested in grabbing a flyer from you when they are thinking of other things: Either the day’s work to come, or what needs to be dine at home that evening. You would choose lunchtime. It’s a very busy time, and people would be more interested in getting new information. The same is true with your online marketing. When is the busiest time of day, and when will people be more open to hearing your offers?

Thanks t the amount of data available, now, from online social sites, you can find these times. They differ from each other, but – when put together – they are a fascinating look at people’s habits, and when you can get to the majority of them.

Facebook

This platform enjoys the most traffic for shares, when the workday requires a break. For clicks and shares locally 1.00 p.m., and 3.00 p.m. Engagement rates are also almost 20 percent higher on Thursdays and Fridays, so afternoons toward th end of the work week will get you the most possible engagement.

Twitter

Obviously, the engagement on this platform is much shorter than others. The time it takes to read, share, reply, or tweet takes a lot less time than other online social activities. With Twitter, think about what you are posting, and if it be accessed and understood quickly. However, weekends are still busier by over 30 percent than weekdays and Mondays to Fridays see more lunchtime traffic (Local times for each time zone, obviously.) than others. The best possible online visibility times here can be almost 20 minutes, so imagine how many people you can reach with the right information.

Google+

Strangely, this platform is busiest on weekday mornings than at any other time. Does your business offer anything to people that engage with others during these hours? In fact, midweek mornings are busier than any other times, so 9.00 a.m. Wednesday is the best time to be on here.

LinkedIn

This Business to Business platform shows a different demographic: Just before and after the regular working day are the best times to unveil new content. Perhaps business owners and marketers are checking for the new trends and offers just before and after the working day? Aim for 7.00 a.m.  and 5.00pm to 6.00pm are the best times to connect, however, make sure your content matches what people are looking for.

Of course, in all cases, you have to give your different audiences what they want. With the same message being delivered with different marketing ideas, you need to be fast, creative, and aware of the time of day that your audience is waiting for you. Perhaps it is time to investigate the value of an online posting and scheduling service – especially if you are aiming at a particular geographic area remote form yours – such as a franchising service looking to open new markets.

Of course, you also need to know if there are better times suited for your specific audience. When do they reply to you, share, and retweet? Your own analytics matter just as much as the general timelines for these social platforms and others. This is meant as a guideline only, but should give you the opportunity to correctly plan your marketing and branding efforts.

10 SEO techniques for Local Businesses – Part 1

SEO logoEven if you are a small business, trying to connect to a smaller, local community, SEO not only still matters, it is imperative that you maximize the way that your site is seen by prospects. In larger arena’s, industry leaders pay a lot for full time marketing departments and outside agencies to ensure that their message is heard above the clutter, and rank as best as possible. Is this required in a smaller, more local marketplace? Yes – in fact it’s even more important.

Start-ups and those companies that don’t either have a handle on web marketing, or don’t have the funds to do so, are more likely to let these things slip, and find they have a harder job catching up to the rest of the marketplace later on. Other local businesses are part of multi-national concerns that rely on centralised web marketing launching their sites to huge visitorship figures, leveraging all stores in the chain’s visits to larger figures for all.

If you are looking at a website for your small, local company, or trying to find out how to make your site more successful, use the Search Engine Optimisation ideas that not only the larger companies do, but are easy to do for more local communities:

1. Get yourself on Local Business Listings

One of the most basic steps toward effective SEO is creating accurate business pages on major search engines. From Google to Yahoo, each platform should list correct contact information, pictures, maps, and a Call To Action to grab people’s attentions. There are also many directories based around your city, area, State or Province that you can find with searches. If they are free, get on them.

2. Keep your Content Fresh

To ‘engage’ prospects and customers is part of the entire SEO story: Attach a blog page for your site, and connect the site to all Social Media. This is an integral part of their strategy for gaining better ratings, and increases visibility on search engines. Make sure your content is always updated, and be a friend – not sale-oriented – on social media. You are here to be you, not your business.

3. Look after your Links

You must link your site to others, but not all links are equal. Focusing on quality, make your website easily accessible from outside sources, and share links through social media and in all company email to build out your networks.

4. Remain Active with Your Audience

Post, link, like, follow,  snap, share and do anything you can to link yourself to local experts, heroes, and other businesses. Make it a daily job to check in on your networks, and grow your audience out with out of area specialists that can lead you to more and more links. If they are trustworthy, and have something in common with your business, these are great links to get and share with others.

5. Details, Details, Details: Web Pages

Be clear in your web page layout. What is each page about? Describe it, show it, and add collateral such as pictures and graphics to illustrate your point. Don’t confuse visitors. Can you give more details? Do so: Company history, your history, opening hours, all of your contact details. Ensure they are correct, readable, and in the right place. Categorize your details on the pages where they need to be.

These five tips will help you get your website in order, in public, and in view. We will address some other advanced, but easy ‘must do’s’ in a future post, to offer even more tips to add to these. Get into the habit of doing these tasks daily to get you started in local SEO.

What did you do this Summer, and can it help you now?

beach_in_summerSo, summer is over, and we are back to the busiest months of the business year. Do you feel rested? Are you ready to face the challenges to come? Here are five points that a lot of effective business leaders spend time doing during the warm, slower months to ensure they are ready to go. If you haven’t had the opportunity to perform these tasks, perhaps there is time for you to start them before things get really busy:

1) Inspire Yourself. Are you still following the same online experts? Reading the same blogs? Everyone has their favourites, or gurus, but change things up occasionally. Perform a couple of Google searches to see who else is out there that you aren’t following, or a different business subject, and see if these newer experts can inspire you.

2) Get ready for next year now: You are about to get busy, so being proactive about changes you want to see completed by 2016, had better be approached now. If you have projects to complete this year, make up an action plan, and see if they can be completed in 30 days. Three of these take you into Christmas (What?), so get started on these tasks to clear the decks.

3) Sort out your contacts: Who have you added to a contact list this year, and are you learning more about them? Sometimes we make so many contacts over the course of a year, we never get the opportunity to see where those relationships go if we deepen them. Cut the dead wood, meet some new people, and learn more about your contacts that ‘make the cut’.

4) Try something new: When you are busy with the day-to-day, and running your usual routines, you don’t have time to try something different. Have you read or heard about something you want to try? Make a brief steps list on how to implement these – and do it! No prevaricating. Your window to add different routines are closing.

5) Look after yourself: Most Summers you get out and do something different; walking, Yoga, less phone calls, gardening. How can you still give yourself these mini-breaks over the winter? The weather may be against you, but I know someone that takes a turn around a shopping mall, when the weather is too bad to walk around the park. Giving yourself the opportunity to blow some stress off will give you a much more relaxed busy season.

These are simple things to implement, but they become more successful if they are part of a plan in May or June. However, you can start them in September at least from a planning point of view. Enjoy your Winter, and inject into it some of what you did this Summer.

How to Successfully Publish Online

WritingAlthough we always tell you that ‘Content is King’, nothing trumps the story that you tell, the information that you share, and how you showcase your expert status, a recent ‘Linked In’ publishing survey shows some very interesting facts about what people like to read.

Think about how many blog posts and articles are published on Linked In, the business-based social media site. Of course, we are following a lot of writers here, as part of our online branding exercises, and the amount of published work is truly enormous: Think of how many people you are following, and groups you belong to, and how many articles are you notified of daily? Now multiply that by a factor of twenty for writers and publishers such as us – not including the articles we ourselves are adding to the number.

Any kind of survey based on the amount of written and published work that this site emanates is worth looking at, after all these are great business writers with a lot of fans, right? Well a recent survey on thirty thousand ‘liked’ articles on Linked In show some very interesting trends that you would be good to run your next article through. If they do well on such a widely read and respected community such as this, these points will obviously add to the impact of your posts on other sites, too – including your own.

Your title should contain 40 – 49 characters, and you should include 8 images. Those articles with this number of images in them are shared almost three times more than those with less. Don’t rely on video-pictures produce more shares, and the optimal amount of Headings you should use is five. Also, don’t rely on a question in your title – they perform worse than straight statement headings.

Your article length should be between 1900 and 2000 words, and you should remain neutral: Just report the facts, don’t come down on one side of an argument – let the reader read what they need to. These two points together guarantee you over 100% more views than any other article length, and by staying neutral you have almost a 75% chance of more shares.

Don’t get too technical, because the most shared articles are easily read: in fact you just need to be eleven years old to understand the best shared posts – and also, you need to be liked. Simply put, the more likes you have, the more your article will be shared by others. Finally, publish on a Thursday. More posts are read from Thursday through Sunday than any other combination of days of the week, and this is consistently proven.

Not only trying to match these facts and figures, but testing your favourite writers’ articles through these filters probably shows the same things: Successful posts ‘look’ and ‘feel’ a certain way to readers, before they even start reading them. It’s time to ensure that yours fall into this category, too – and these points prove what you need to do!

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