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Posted on: October 31, 2013 by in Business Building
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With more than a billion users on Facebook, you would have to be nuts to not want to find ways to market to an audience of that size and scope. Luckily for us, there a variety of ways to do this, and opportunity for success on Facebook has never been greater. Case in point is the way that Facebook investor and client Roger McNamee used the platform to promote his band, Moonalice.

Tips for Facebook promotion we can all use!

McNamee didn’t use anything that hasn’t been done before. He simply made sure that he went big and followed through. Here is a handful of what worked for him, and what can work for your small business also.

  • Post often - While McNamee posts more than 20 times a day, there is method to this madness. On a busy page, posts get constantly pushed down the feed, and the odds of people seeing more than a few of your posts are slim. This isn’t a license to post spammy material though, as that will backfire faster than you can say Viagra.
  • Utilize Facebook Ads - Facebook Ads are perhaps the best way to build a highly targeted audience fast, and inexpensively at that. Running a campaign for likes and fans can be done for pennies a click, if you know what you’re doing. Furthermore, this may be a constant list building and base building strategy for your business.
  • Be real with people - Making sure to interact with people on Facebook should go without saying. This is, theoretically, why you’re there to begin with. Give people a sense of who you are, and be authentic in your responses. This will translate into a far wider reach than you might think!
  • Be edgy - Don’t hesitate to push the envelope a bit. Being a tad controversial or expressing an opinion has a way of increasing and opening up the discussion. It’s all about engagement.

Facebook has paid off for McNamee and Moonalice, which now boasts over 252,000 Likes. It could work like that for your small business too!

Posted on: October 29, 2013 by in Business Building
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If you’ve had to weather an online PR crisis with no plan in place to deal with it, then you already know how important it is to have one. Nowadays when bad news travels so quickly, you really don’t have the luxury of “getting to it later”. Your brand may already be sinking before you even begin bailing! Dealing with a public relations crisis online takes agility, clear thinking and above all, a plan. Let’s look at some of what needs to be in that plan!

How your business can survive an online PR disaster

Here are a few items to integrate into a plan to get you through the inevitable errant post, tweet or video.

  • Have clear posting guidelines - If employees are left to their own devices, often they can offend without intending. Having clearly established posting guidelines for social media and especially YouTube is a wise way to ensure that everyone is working off the same page. Of particular importance is what needs to happen in the event of a problem, and what to do when this occurs.
  • Don’t try to hide - Trying to act is if nothing has happened is a strategy all right, but for disaster! Be sure to remove the offending content as rapidly as you can, and make sure to not only be all over it, but to answer intelligently and proactively to the problem. This is the best way to limit harm to your brand.
  • PR disaster code of conduct - Not only should you not hide from said disaster, but you must be the very definition of sincerity, and professionalism. Don’t seek to deflect blame, or fire back at the offended party. Be sure and take ownership of the situation, and respond with civility even though every fiber of your being really wants to sling mud! Also, make sure to not use canned messages in response to this type of problem: All this says is you’re either not prepared to deal with it or you simply can’t be bothered!

There are several more examples of what we’re talking about here. Making a plan to deal with a PR crisis shouldn’t be something you’ll “get to later”. Do it now, so you’ll have it in place when the need arises!

Posted on: October 26, 2013 by in Business Building
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Marketing your small business requires a firm grasp to stay within your budget. While that’s easy to say, it’s a challenge to do when you’re presented with an barrage of new and at least presumably exciting new marketing channels to consider. This occurs practically daily. There is always some new software, program, product or social media channel that is begging for your attention and money. It’s your job to learn how to stand firm, and resist the “Bright Shiny Object” syndrome to the best of your ability, or it will be your business that suffers in a number of ways, from time lost, productivity, and not least of all, cash. Learning how to say “No” is a skill you need to nurture. Before committing to any new venture, ask yourself these questions to see if it’s a good fit for your situation!

5 Questions to ask about “the next big thing”

  1. Do we need it? - Consider if this is something you really need. Does it fit your core business mission, and will it boost our already existing business initiatives?
  2. How will this benefit us both short term and long term? - Will this benefit our business now, and will it still be viable down the road? Does that new social network really line up with your aims and goals?
  3. What is the opportunity cost? - What will we NOT be able to invest in for our business by taking this alternative? Will this stop us from investing in other, more immediate needs?
  4. Do we have the time and know-how to implement this? - Do we have staff available and trained to be able to take this on? Is there a long and large learning curve?
  5. Will this be around next year? – This particularly applies to social media channels, where a constant amount of attention is required. One example might be since we are active on Pinterest; will it benefit us to also be on Instagram? The answer will vary depending on your time, resources and the kind of business you have.

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a much better idea of whether or not to make the leap!

Posted on: October 25, 2013 by in Business Building
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One of Google’s latest creations is the introduction of Google Business Photos. This is the virtual presentation of your place of business in a panoramic 360 degree picture located in search, your Google+ page or in Maps. You also have the option of embedding it on your site or social media properties.

Why is Google Business Photos a good idea?

Implementing this can help you in a number of ways. First, it can help create more trust in searchers. They can see your business in all its glory, and get a feel for the type of place you have. It’s as if you’re welcoming them inside. Second, it really makes your listings stand apart from the crowd. You may have done well and gotten yourself on the first page of Google, but this listing, featuring a panoramic shot of your business, will be by far the most interesting item on that page. Third, you’ll gain from the authority Google will assign your business. You’re going to be seen as the primary site for your brand, which will help in several ways, not the least of which is reputation management.

How do you get started with Google Business Photos?

It’s tempting to run straight out and start snapping away with your camera, but you ought to know that Google requires these images to be made by a Google Business Photos Trusted Photographer. That’s mouthful to say that these professional photographers have been trained in how to create these for Google. You need to hire one on your own, but it’s worth it, as they will know how to present your business in a way that will work well on Google. You make the appointment, and plan on “staging” your shoot. It typically takes about an hour, and Google wants to see as few humans in them as is possible, we’re talking ambience and atmosphere, minus people here.

If you have a business that can benefit by enhancing your Google+ Local listing, then this product was developed with you in mind. Check it out today!

Posted on: October 17, 2013 by in Business Building
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While it’s true that using video marketing in your small business can be very beneficial, what lots of people who tout this neglect to mention is that there are several ways you can shoot yourself in the foot with video. We thought we would share our take on a piece on Sitepoint about some of the many mistakes you can commit with your video marketing campaigns. Here are a few of our favs!

5 Killer Ways to Kill Your Videos

  1. Overselling - Hitting your viewers with a hypey, persistent sales message is a sure-fire way to get them running for the exits. No one likes to be sold to, and the best way to convey your sales message is by showing them the benefits of this product or service to them, not all the spiffy features you’re so proud of!
  2. Underselling - On the other hand…if you are so bashful so as not to ask for the sale in anyway, you deserve what you get. Be sure you include multiple calls to action, and ask for the result you’re seeking, whether that is a click, purchase, opt-in or something else.
  3. Boring as the day is long - If your video is boring, there is very little chance they will even watch it all the way through. If it’s an instance of not knowing enough regarding the subject at hand, perhaps it might be wise to engage an expert, or find an angle that makes the subject more interesting that it appears on the surface.
  4. Not specific - Understanding your target audience and working to match message to market is the key here. The more on target you can be on a particular need or want of your audience, the more likely they will be to not only watch your video, but take action!
  5. Information overload - Closely related to the point above, attempting to cram too much information into one video leaves their heads spinning. Keep the message concise and direct, and avoid any confusion.
Posted on: October 15, 2013 by in Business Building
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Content marketing suffers from a lack of trust. According to ContentPlus, 70 percent of consumers prefer getting to know a company via the content on their site versus ads, but still companies spend a great deal more on advertising than on content creation. This is likely because content marketing results take longer to quantify, produce and bear fruit compared to many advertising models. Nevertheless, what is evident is that content marketing is without question the best way to establish authority and your brand.

Content marketing is key to the future success of your business!

We know that content marketing can be incredibly difficult and a big time drain, but if you hope to achieve any long-term success on the Web, you have to join this reality once and for all. Yet with the many thousands of new pages of content posting every day, how will you make yours different form all the rest?

5 Ways to make your content marketing rock!

  1. Write what your audience wants to read - Ask or otherwise obtain clues as to what your site visitors desire to read, and provide this. Taking a look at your Google Analytics for your best performing pages is a help in this.
  2. Write substance - Longer, more substantive content is what Google loves, and consequently this type of content is shared far more often.
  3. Answer questions - One of the best ways to endear yourself to readers, is to answer their questions and concerns. See how one pool company did it.
  4. Use Google authorship - Not only does this help in the search results, it can improve your authority in Google.
  5. Encourage and promote sharing - Sharing brings links and traffic. Have you already got enough off those? Not to mention that social signals surrounding your content are now part of Google’s search ranking algorithm.

Getting smart now about content marketing could lessen the need to have to buy that traffic later on. Something to think about!

Posted on: October 10, 2013 by in Business Building
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Many of us know that using Google Analytics to learn how our marketing efforts are doing can be a key to unleashing future success. Nonetheless many people are put off by the incredible immensity of the data facing them. You might want to start by answering the right questions: what are my goals, and what do I need to know to achieve them. Google Analytics can indeed be a perplexing mountain of data to decipher, and with no game plan you can get lost easily. Let’s take a look at some ways to learn which metrics to track, and ways to use Analytics for your best advantage.

Understanding which metrics you need

Each business has its own needs, or course, but there are a few common needs.

  • Total visitors - The number of both “unique” (first time) visitors, and total visits, which includes returning visitors.
  • Keyword phrases - Which keywords are people typing in to get to your pages? This is critical data, and will enable you to learn how to target your marketing.
  • Most popular pages - See which of your pages are getting the most visits.
  • Visitors country of origin - Where in the world are these folks coming from.
  • Referral pages - Seeing which pages are driving traffic to your website is very valuable information. This may be from affiliates, video, images, social media and many more sources.
  • Search engines - Which of the search engines are delivering the most traffic to your pages.

Use these advanced Google Analytics features to help sort the data

Three advanced features are incredibly useful with regards to deciphering and sorting the data.

Custom reports lets you craft a version of Analytics that suits your business specifically. You select the information that’s important to you, and organize it in whatever way you need to.

Advanced segmenting provides you with a chance to view various segments of your traffic, like mobile or tablet traffic.

Intelligence events, similar to Google Alerts, sends a notification your phone or email when anything significant occurs on your website, such as an up or down spike in traffic.

Don’t make the mistake of not using Google Analytics. Spend some time to make it work for you!

Posted on: October 8, 2013 by in Business Building
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The day has passed when it was appropriate to think that mobile marketing was simply the next big thing. It’s not just here; it’s growing daily. A survey by the group tells us that 69 percent of small business owners said that mobile marketing would be very important to their small business within the next five years; however, most of them had not even begun to start. Those same statistics reveal that 84 percent of those who had a mobile marketing solution reported an increase as a result. It’s clear that we’ve run out of excuses for not implementing mobile marketing in our small businesses.

5 Tips on how to get mobile marketing active in your small business

  • Make certain your website and social media are mobile ready! - Take the time necessary to make sure that your site and major social media pages are mobile ready. There are some significant items that determine whether your pages render well on a mobile device, such as font size, spacing and images files. Have these looked at, so you don’t lose your mobile visitors!
  • Be sure to claim and optimize local listings - It’s not enough to only have a listing on entities like Google local, Yelp or other local directories, you need to make those listings work for you! Keep your info up to date, and change frequently with new promotions and news.
  • Have you optimized your email for mobile? - eConsultancy reports that 41 percent of email is now viewed on a smartphone or tablet, and of that number, a full 63 percent close or delete emails that aren’t mobile optimized. Make sure that you use an email optimized layout, preferably one-column, and a font size of no larger than a 14 for small-screen readers.
  • Employ analytics - How do you know if your mobile marketing is paying off? With the use of an analytics program, like for example Google Analytics. By using the segmenting and referral tracking within Analytics, where you can follow smartphone and tablet visitors and analyze their onsite behavior, you can determine how you’re campaigns are performing.
  • Offer great deals - All of us love a great deal, and there is no one who is more active in this arena than the mobile user. The great thing is that they are very frequently right down the street from you, and ready to buy. Delivering awesome offers and coupons might just cause them to pay a visit they otherwise wouldn’t have!
Posted on: October 3, 2013 by in Business Building
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While it’s always been shouted from the virtual rooftops that “Content is King”, many of us never actually took Google seriously. Until now that is. Ever since the recent search engine algorithm updates in the last couple of years including Panda (and its subsequent offspring) Penguin and others, it is increasingly clear that Google has finally reached the stage where it’s able to enforce what it said, and that is nowhere more apparent than in the most recent incarnation of the Google Webmaster Guidelines.

So exactly what does this mean for small business?

In its basic form, this means quality should win out over quantity, at least in the case of content and links. Google is aware that with many millions of web pages in existence, it’s too much to expect us not to promote our pages, but at the same time we have to be adding to the discussion with new and fresh content, not just a rehashing or exact reproduction of what’s already there. So, for the small businessperson attempting to make progress in the search rankings, this means we need to stop trying to game the search results, and instead embrace natural and meaningful link building and social interaction.

What to do and what to refrain from doing!

  • Strive for social sharing - Among the most important factors in the search algorithm now appears to be the presence of social sharing of your content. Ensure you not only have the facility to share it, but that people would want to!
  • Create epic content - Linked to the above, one sure way to get people to help distribute your content near and far is make sure it is the best you can put together.
  • Avoid content automation - Google is becoming very good at ferreting out automated content. Do yourself a favor and just refrain from this game altogether, as anyone with half a brain can identify spun and regurgitated text.
  • Employ link diversity - Be certain that you’re varying the text that is linked. Use a combination of your keywords, URLs, click here’s and other generic phrases.
  • Run from link schemes - Bid farewell to link farms and other ways of gaming the GoogleBot. Any gains you would have are temporary, and the resulting penalties much more lasting!
Posted on: October 1, 2013 by in Business Building
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You might have thought to have your website optimized for mobile devices, but how many of us have taken the steps needed to make sure our Facebook pages are also mobile ready? That’s what I thought! You’ll want to give this some thought, since huge numbers of people are interacting with Facebook daily, and over half of those are connecting with their mobile devices. Going further, it’s been shown that 79% of smartphone users use their phones to help with shopping, with 74% making a purchase as a result. While much of Facebook would appear to be mobile optimized out of the box, there are some aspects of this you’ll want to check.

First see how your Facebook Page shows up on a mobile device

Facebook creates a summarized version of your web page that is served to the public via their mobile devices. It’s essential that you take a minute and understand how this looks. The first component of your Facebook page that is rendered is your Timeline, though, and this is important: not all of it. That’s why you’ll need to make sure you have a “pinned” post, so it will be featured first and most prominently. Next is the Recommendations and Check-Ins section, and then photos, and finally, your most recent post.

A few tips to help optimize your Facebook Page

  • Remember you have less time and space on Mobile to seize someone’s attention, so make sure you use vivid pictures, (not very big, as Facebook will crop them!) and direct, concise text and calls to action.
  • Keep your Facebook page complete and up to date. Be sure and check it on “Facebook Nearby” to make sure your vital information is visible and accurate.
  • Be sure to encourage check-ins from your location as they make a big difference. This is the mobile equivalent of word of mouth advertising.
  • Be active and check in on your page frequently. You can also manage your Facebook from your own mobile device, which will help with customer engagement immensely!