Social Media Strategy for 2016

Social Media StrategyHow to Develop a Kick-butt Digital Marketing Plan to Take Your Business to the Next Level

The start of a new year naturally fosters a view toward analyzing the past and planning the future. Like a reset button, transitions from one year to the next call for a fresh look at our process, habits, actions, and goals. We take a look at what we have been doing to see what works, what needs adjustment, and what needs to go. Are you looking at your business to improve your digital marketing in 2016? If so, here are some ideas to set the foundation for a great plan.

Analysis – Look at your business objectively: are you satisfied with your online presence, how you are using social media and other digital platforms to present, connect, and market your business? Are you putting the right resources to this effort? Do you know if what you are doing is producing positive results? Do you know what to do differently to achieve better results? Answering these questions will give you a better baseline from which to grow.

Goals – In the above analysis, you were asked if your efforts were producing positive results. If the answer to that question is either “I don’t know” or some version of “no”, the next step is to be clear about the results you want. Most of us want more clients = revenue, however, setting up a goal that broad may be too abstract and lead to scattered actions. Next week’s blog will focus on establishing specific goals that are realistic and measurable. For now, think about your purpose for engaging in digital marketing and what you need it to deliver in order to justify the expense of time, money, and attention.

Expand Your Audience –  Who cares about your business, products, services, or industry? If you are only concerned with consumers, you may be missing segments that could be a help to your business. Identifying the connections that bring value to your offering,  either by bringing you more customers or through supporting your business process, may be just as successful as going after direct consumers. Make a list of every person, business, organization, or association that is or could be impacted by what you offer. This becomes your expanded target audience and helps define your message.

Your Message –  Many entrepreneurs struggle with defining their clear message. Some are concerned that blogging or writing social media posts would be difficult because they don’t believe they have much to say. However, once they get into talking about their industry and experience, their knowledge flows out as valuable content they could be delivering to their expanded market. Don’t minimize the value or withhold your expertise, this is how you can shine online and set yourself distinct from others in your industry.

Where are the Eyeballs? – Some research is involved to find out where people and businesses you most want to connect with are engaged online. You may discover different platforms for different segments. For example, your target customers may be looking on Angie’s List, but your referral partners are active on Facebook. Having a sense of this will help you determine what kinds of posts go where. In this example, your emphasis on Angie’s List is to encourage happy customers to post positive reviews and respond consistently to those. On Facebook your message will be centered on an expanded view to interest and engage people who are not in your industry, but connected to it in some way. I suggest doing internet searches and talking to people in person and in forums, blogs, and Facebook groups to get this information.

Pull it Together – Once you are clear with these elements, put it together in a plan. Answer these questions:

Who – who is doing the interacting online and who are they connecting with?

What – what platforms are you using, what resources of time and money will you dedicate, what is message, special, enticement?

When – when will you do your online interactions, follow-ups, requests to connect on and off line?

How – how many posts, blogs, emails, per week? How will you stay on top of it? How will you know if you are getting anywhere?

This is the skeleton of your digital marketing strategy; using this to support details, specific campaigns and brilliant ideas. Please let me know if you have any questions, I’m always happy to help. Watch for next week’s blog on drilling down to establish more specific goals.

Identifying Your Target Audience

TargetReaching the People Who Want What You Offer

The general idea with any form of marketing and advertising is to get your message to those who are most likely to become customers. There also may be the added benefit of attracting business partners, referral sources, and vendors to support your business. If we are not entirely clear about who our audience is, where they put their attention, and how to get in front of them, we might be wasting a lot of time and money on people who will never add anything to our business.

One of my blog followers commented on my last article, “This is great information, but how do I know who my audience is and where to find them”. It dawned on me that we spend a lot of time focussed on the how, what, when, where, and why of digital marketing, but critical details like being clear about your audience are assumed. Do you really know the profile of your ideal prospect? Getting clear on this answer will help you craft your marketing messages and be of significant value when you do Facebook advertising. Because social media levels the playing field for access to people’s attention, niche targeting is critical now more than ever.

Steps to Crafting Your Target Market:

Differentiate Business from Individual –  Most businesses know if they are B to B (business that sell to other businesses) or B to C (business that sells to consumers), but they are not always clear on just how different the strategy is between these two groups. If you get a recommendation to implement a plan that is designed to reach the wrong group, you will be way off in your results.

General to Specific – When I ask small business owners about their target audience, I usually hear things like, “anyone who needs my services” or “homeowners”. These fields are too general. Consider obvious demographics like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Location
  • Education level
  • Income
  • Relationship status
  • Ethnic background

Also consider Psychographics (personal characteristics) including:

  • Attitudes
  • Political persuasion
  • Behavior
  • Personality
  • Values
  • Interests/hobbies
  • Lifestyles

Determine how what you offer fits with these factors not just for the end use of your product/service, but to help define the marketing strategy. Where are these people putting their attention, how can you reach them? Getting specific is important, but there is a line. Don’t go so far that you’ve cut out whole sections that could be available to you.

Solving Problems or Fulfilling Desires – The two primary reasons people will be interested is that your service either solves a problem of relative significance to them, or it offers something compelling enough to make them want. Think “automating software” or “new Mercedes”. It is critical to understand how your product or service fits in with these motivators. 

Analyze Current Customers – Who is your audience now and how did they come to you? What were the contributing factors that converted them from prospects into customers? Are there common characteristics among these people? Who are most profitable? Who may not be a client but has brought you business? Answering these questions will help you create a clear audience profile.

Analyze your Product/Service – Create a list of features and benefits to what you offer. Once you have listed your benefits, make a list of people who have a need that your benefit fulfills.

Evaluate your Audience – Marketing is a somewhat fluid process. You may not have captured your audience correctly or may have missed critical elements. Always be willing to shift and adjust as new information comes to light. When assessing the accuracy of your audience profile, consider these questions:

  • Are there enough people that fit my criteria?
  • Have I accurately identified what drives my target to make decisions?
  • Does my target really benefit from my product/service? Do they see a need for it?
  • Can they afford my product/service?
  • Where am I reaching them, where am I not reaching them?

If you are feeling overwhelmed with this process, try researching what others have done to reach your market. Read articles and blogs on your market to better understand what captures their interests. You may find resources where your audience is engaging in conversation about your field. This will give you great insight into their motivators. You may want to do a survey of your own customers to get their feedback.

Defining your target market is the hard part. Once you know who you are targeting, it is much easier to figure out which media you can use to reach them and what marketing messages will resonate with them. Instead of creating a Facebook ad that just targets your ZIP code, identify your audience by the above demographics. You will save money and get a better return on investment.

Targeting a specific market does not mean that you exclude those who do not fit your profile. Instead, target marketing allows you to focus your marketing dollars and brand message on those most likely to buy from you rather than your competitors. This is a much more affordable, efficient, and effective way to reach potential clients and generate business. I suggest going through the process of defining your target audience as a formal exercise. Take some time and write out your answers to the above questions.

Let me know if you have any questions or could use any help with this process. It may seem cumbersome, but it is worth it in the end to know who you want to reach and how you meet their needs.

Going Beyond Content

Engaging on Digital Platforms

There still exists a lot of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge from business owners about using social media for their business.  One of the biggest mistakes small businesses make with their social media is only posting their own content – their specials, their services, their glowing reviews. Where it is great to promote the positive attributes of a company, and social media is perfect for that, it is actually a missed opportunity.

In every business, there are natural networks of customers, clients, prospects, vendors, business partners, and referral sources. All of these connections have networks of their own. Social media is designed to leverage those networks to strengthen connections, increase visibility, and share valuable content.

Social media works this way because people are interactive by nature, some more than others, but essentially we like to connect with and be curious about each other. Most people appreciate it when someone likes our page, or leaves a positive comment, likes or shares our content. Not only does the business we interact with on these platforms value the attention, but that interaction is visible to that page’s audience, which opens up greater opportunity and expands digital presence.

It takes more time to engage this way, but if we want our business presence to expand online, we have to work it effectively. Here are some common mistakes we see businesses doing on social media and some suggestions to improving your business presence online:

Top 5 Mistakes:

Mistake #1 – Posting only content about the business, no sharing other material or content their audience would find valuable.

Mistake #2 – No response when someone likes, shares, comments, or requests a connection

Mistake #3 – Inconsistent and/or infrequent posting/interacting

Mistake #4 – No follow up to connect on social media with a live contact

Mistake #5 – Poor content – boring, irrelevant, overly industry-focused, text-based, wrong target audience, etc.

Here are some ideas to improve your business social media:

5 Remedies:

Remedy #1 – Share, like, and comment on content from your connections. Don’t worry too much if it is not related to your industry. If you introduce the post from the perspective of being supportive of other quality businesses, your post will make sense and be appreciated.

Remedy #2 – Always, without fail, respond when anyone engages on your social media platforms. Say thank you, like the comment, or comment on their comment. If the comment was negative (uncommon) respond to that too. Demonstrate publicly your fantastic customer service.

Remedy #3 – If you use scheduling software, like Hootsuite,, make sure you still go on your platforms frequently to work your connections. Remember, automated posting only handles the outflow of your page, and not the community building.

Remedy #4 – When you meet someone at a networking event or business function, find them online and reinforce the connection on those platforms. This is especially important on Linkedin where business to business relationships are key. If you make a valuable connection online, follow up to request a meeting in person if you have something of value to offer them in exchange for taking the time to meet with you.

Remedy #5 – Define your audience and craft your message for them. Generally social media should not be used for an internal audience, so avoid the mistake of treating your Facebook page like a company bulletin board.  Consider what people who are interested in your company or industry care about and deliver content of interest and value to them.

Interacting on social media is one of the best ways to create and reinforce community around your company. Some industries have an easier time doing this than others, but there is an audience for every business. To do it right requires dedication and a paradigm shift away from traditional marketing. Please Contact us if you have questions or would like any help with social media for your business.

Landing Pages and Facebook Ads

Landing PagesAnswering Your Questions About This Lesser Known Resource

A landing page is a good way to direct your audience to the specific offer or service you want them to see. This idea has been around for a long time, but a lot of small business owners do not understand what they are, how to create one, and how to use it to drive traffic to their offer. Though this has been a popular marketing strategy for some time, now that Facebook has significantly improved the reach through advertising, landing pages are even more powerful than before. I’ve received a lot of questions recently about landing pages and how to use them with Facebook advertising, so I’ve repurposed a previous blog to answer these questions.

What is a Landing Page?

Simply put – a landing page is a single page URL. Your website has multiple pages with a lot of information and content. This is very helpful for people who are checking out your business, trying to contact you, or researching your services. Sometimes you want to promote a single special, or get people to sign up for an event. When you have a specific offer, you can send your audience directly to a landing page where they can sign up for your offer, without having to sift through pages and content on your website.

Landing pages are a great way to develop or enhance lead generation.

How to use Landing Pages with Facebook:

1. Because a landing page is a URL, it can be copied and pasted on your Facebook business page as a regular post. Depending on how you create your page, this may or may not populate well on Facebook but there are some work-arounds.

2. If your landing page doesn’t look great when you post it on Facebook, you can take the main image you used on your page, upload it through the camera icon on the Facebook post, then put the URL in and an introduction to your offer. This is not ideal, but it is better to have a link over a great image than a crummy looking  post.

3, Facebook and landing page services are always upgrading, so this interface will hopefully improve soon.

4. Once your landing page is posted and it looks great, boos the post using the Facebook advertising suggestions from previous blogs. These suggestions are critical because Facebook will deny your ad if it violates their guidelines, which frankly can be highly interpretive.

5. Once your ad is approved, check the insights through the Ad Manager (found on the drop down of the “Promote Page” link on the upper right. This will tell you how your ad is performing, how many impressions (number of newsfeeds to get your ad) and clicks on your offer. If you ad isn’t getting the response you had hoped for, check your audience, change your image, title, or description, or add more funds

Here are some suggestions for creating a landing page for your offer:

1. Make a page within your website dedicated exclusively for presenting the offer and collecting prospect email addresses. You will likely need some extra plugins to make this work properly

2. Hire a web developer to create a landing page for you

3. Use one of the existing landing page platforms. Some options are WishpondLeadpages, and Unbounce. They aren’t free, but the quality of the pages and resources to help you through the process are worth the expense (entry level is $35/$45 per month).

I have been using landing pages with my clients to help them promote events and offers on Facebook. This combination can be the most effective way to get your message to a new and larger audience. The important thing to remember is to set everything up correctly and plan to invest some money in Facebook ads. See previous blogs for information about Facebook advertising. This is a complex, but not difficult process, once you get the hang of it. Let me know if I can help in any way.

Giving Thanks on Social Media

How to Incorporate the Attitude of Gratitude into your Digital Marketing

The holidays are the perfect time to express gratitude to your connections for their support, on digital platforms. As the end of the year draws near, people turn their attention to things that matter most. We think about our family and friends, possibly what to give as gifts, maybe we are planning a party or festive get-togethers, and there is a heightened sense of energy and activity. This is true for businesses and professionals too. Next years budget is being prepared, often including referral partner and client gift giving funds. We may be reflecting our professional relationships and how significant they are to our business growth.

Now is the perfect time to acknowledge the people who have helped our business in various ways – clients and customers who have contributed revenue, service providers contributing to business function, referral sources keeping business flowing, and friends to have been supportive in a variety of ways.

Feelings of, and expression of appreciation have a multiplying effect. It is natural human to experience positive feelings toward someone who shows us genuine appreciation. This initiates a positive cycle encouraging us to do/give more, which engenders more gratitude, and it continues.

Benefits of Expressing Gratitude in Business:

  1. Creates a positive exchange of mutual appreciation when our clients know we appreciate their business and do not take it for granted

2.  Reminds our clients of the value our work has brought them

3. Creates good will with our contacts

4. Encourages our focus on gratitude, which encourages a multiplying effect

5. Demonstrate a culture of appreciation to our existing contacts and larger audience

Using social media as a platform to communicate gratitude is not only appropriate, it is received well by others

Consider the following suggestions:

* Post Happy Holiday messages on your social media platforms with an appealing image and warm sentiment

* Thank people who like or comment on posts. There are few greater social media errors than failing to acknowledge those who show their support on our pages

* “Like” holiday and appreciation messages that others post

* Post comments on contact’s social media sites, thanking them for their contribution

* Go through your business connections and post positive review on Facebook (business pages must have an address listed in order to get reviews) or Yelp. This can be the greatest gift

* Communicate authentic gratitude. Insincerity can backfire

I am fortunate to be surrounded by so many wonderful professionals who have helped me and my business grow immeasurably over the years. I am truly grateful to everyone I know for the role you play in the health and well-being of Social Media Maxima, Inc.

Now I’m going to go post positive reviews and recommendations. Let me know if you would like some help managing all of this. I wish you all a very joyful, fulfilling, and exuberant holiday season!

Facebook Ads…More Than Post Boosts

Facebook ads5 Elements to Facebook Ads

Advertising on Facebook can seem like a daunting task. It is not difficult to do once you understand the mechanics, but the greater value of it lies in how the ads are set up. You can waste a lot of money boosting posts targeted to the wrong audience. As the next in our Facebook ad series, I’m going to share with you more details about proper campaign set-up.

A Facebook advertisement should look just like a regular post. For best results and price, set it to go on the newsfeed of your audience, not as an ad on the side. People are so sales resistant that if your ad looks too much like a sales pitch, much of your audience will simply ignore it.

You have the option to boost any post on your page, but if you do not set your targets accurately, you could be wasting marketing dollars. Though you may get a nice reach for that post,  you may be marketing, at least in part, to your existing fan base rather than expanding into a new prospect base. You also do not have as many options for designing the ad, creating a call to action, or defining your audience when using the boost feature.

There are 5 elements to each Facebook ad:

1. Website/landing page URL – this tells Facebook where to send people when they click on your ad

2. Text – introduction to your offer, Ad headline, and Link description

3. A compelling image

4. Your website URL (this is not a clickable link but shows the audience where the ad is coming from

5. Call to Action button

If someone sees your ad multiple times without clicking, Facebook will not continue to show your ad on their timeline, even if they are your ideal client. This means your ad needs to be compelling to grab their attention and encourage them to click on the offer.

Ad copy should be:

  • Relevant
  • Present a clear action to take
  • Make it clear what’s in it for them
  • Addresses a pain, need, or desire
  • Tell people what to expect when they click
  • Include a sense of urgency – entice to act now.

All of these elements should be in the initial test description because that is where people’s eyes go after the image.  Facebook will review, and approve or reject your ad.  Spammy language, weight loss claims and financial claims may signal to Facebook that your ad does not meet their requirements.

The importance of the ad image cannot be overstated. People relate much more to pictures than words (a picture is worth a thousand words). Make sure your image is interesting and relates, even loosely to your business, offer, and audience. You can use a single large image or the relatively new carousel option of 5 smaller images, each with the option to link to a separate page on your website.

An image should have no more than 20% of the space taken up by text. If you aren’t sure if your image will pass Facebook’s image regulations, here is a tool to check. There are some psychological aspects of ad creation that you may want to consider. For example, people respond to emotion, motion, and colors. Consider how your image attracts your audience with those factors in mind.

There are two options for creating ads in Facebook:

  1. The ads manager – access this right from your business page. Click on the blue “Promote” button at the upper right. Click at the bottom of that box on “Ads Manager” and your advertising dashboard will appear. From there you can create new campaigns and see the status of existing or closed campaigns.
  2. The Power Editor  – separate dashboard with detailed options for those using Facebook frequently for advertising. Some of the advantages of using Power Editor are that new ad features for Facebook are launched on Power editor first before they roll out to ads manager. You also have a greater ability to organize and target your ad sets and campaigns so you can really see what is effective and what to change.  In Power Editor, you are not limited to the 90 characters in the ad introduction that you have in Ads Manager.  If you are going to be doing more than occasional advertising on Facebook, you should consider orienting yourself to this powerful tool.

There is a lot to cover in the topic of Facebook advertising. I have seen some incredible results from doing it right, and some mediocre results from just boosting posts. If you are going to spend marketing dollars on Facebook advertising, please set it up properly and get creative about defining your audience. You may not get as great a reach as you would with a blanket audience, but the people who do click are much closer to your ideal client and therefor more likely to work with you.

If you have any questions or if you would like some help getting your ads set up on Facebook, please let me know.

 

 

Facebook Advertising – A Beginner’s Primer

Facebook Ads

How to Make the Most of this Powerful Resource

Facebook Advertising has become a highly targeted and very effective marketing tool if done properly. Unlike other forms of advertising, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get bottom line results. Many small business owners do not understand the value and potential of this resource, and not understand how to set up and manage ads. Facebook has made tremendous advances in their algorithms designed to reach highly segmented audiences. The development of the “Ad Manager” feature and the advanced “Power Editor” have made it easy to get your message in front of very specialized audiences based on location, interests, basic demographics, similar email addresses, similar Facebook page likes, etc. With over 1.4 billion people using this space, there is no single platform with as great a reach to the people who are interested in your exact message.

Here are a few tips and instructions about advertising on Facebook:

1. Be clear about the purpose of the ad before you get started. The 3 main options (there are more specific ones once you get going) are:

* Boost a post – choose this if you have a specific offer, event, or announcement

* Boost your page – choose this if you want to grow your audience on Facebook

* Boost your website – choose this if you want to drive more traffic to your website
2. Facebook has gone to a “pay to play” model. This means if you want to get  your message to more people than you do when you put up a post, you need to advertise. Facebook’s algorithms changed and the organic reach significantly decreased for all pages. With so much content piling onto the platform, they decided to decrease the number and type of posts people were seeing in their newsfeed.
3. Ads are typically integrated into the newsfeed of your target audience as if it were a post from one of their established connections. Facebook identifies audiences based on very complex factors beyond a user’s profile. The number and type of posts, likes, and shares signals to Facebook the individual’s interests, activities, lifestyle, location, etc.
4. When you create an ad, make sure you include a compelling image and text. An image can have no more than 20% of the space taken up by text.
5. Consider how wide you want to cast your net; refining the search categories decreases the reach of your ad, but also makes your audience more tailored to your business – in other words, quality vs. quantity.

6. You can boost a post for as little as $1/day for as short as 1 day. Your reach is based on the amount of money and number of days, in addition to the above audience selection elements. It is obvious that the more you put into a well design campaign, the better your results.
7. Check out Facebook’s business resource to get more information about advertising.
8. Play around with it; change the variable to test the response. Using the Ads Manager or Power Editor to keep your ads organized and to review their status.

Conducting a Facebook ad campaign is not difficult once you know what to do, but there is a bit of a learning curve, so be prepared for that. Of course, you could always get professional help  to make sure it is set up and managed correctly. Let me know if I can be of service. 

 

 

Create Landing Pages to Drive Website Traffic

Landing PageFacebook Ads and Collateral Aimed at Your Target Audience

Businesses generally have more than one specific target audience. You may want to reach local homeowners as one audience and other professionals as referral sources as a different audience. Your business may have designated services for different populations or special offers that are attractive to some groups and not others. This is where landing pages work to focus the attention of that unique audience on the information you want them to see. Digital marketing generally drives traffic to a website’s Home page. This is not bad, but if you want to reach a specific group with a targeted message, they should land on a page that has the information they care most about.

When you start engaging in targeted Facebook advertising, you don’t want to send everyone to your Home page and hope your partners and prospects find their way to becoming a client/customer. You want to make it very clear, concise, and easy for people to get the most relevant information possible to convert them into customers. Landing pages are a great way to do this.  This  blog identifies the steps taken to capture your audiences attention and encourage their continued engagement by signing up for your offer. This also adds them to your email list where you can continue to connect with them through blogs, tips, coupons, and other or refined offers (this is also know as “drip marketing”).

5 Critical Elements to a Landing Page:

1. A landing page is a web page that my sit on your own website or on another service. It should have your website URL with a / and the name of the page. For example, here is a landing page I created for companies in the home service industry:  www.socialmediamaxima.com/homeservices

2. Landing pages are very focused, unlike an entire website or home page where your audience will have to search for the content they care about.

3. Tracking – if you create your landing page right, you should be able to track results with analytics. This means you will know who is coming to your page and how they got there and how they are engaging with your page – clicks, sign-ups, etc.

4. Landing page URL’s can be put anywhere you can put a link or HTML code. This means you can promote your landing page to your audience through targeted sources like Facebook ads and people interested in your offer, when they click on the ad, will go directly to your landing page.

5. Every landing page should have: an introduction (what’s in it for your audience), a body to explain the offer/event/incentive, and a Call to Action, a thank you message with instructions on what will happen next – “someone will be in touch shortly” or “check your email for your coupon”, etc.

6. You may want to set up  an auto-responder, so when someone signs up for your offer/webinar/special, they get an email automatically with instructions on how to proceed. You should also receive an email notification for anyone who signs up, so you can follow up specifically.

7.  Present your offer clearly and without excessive detail, ”Get Your Free online quote”,  “Click Here for a Complementary Session”, “First Month Free”, etc.

 

There are a number of ways to create a landing page. I don’t write HTML code and I don’t want to spend a lot of time designing. Like many small business owners, I like solutions that are quick and easy. Here are some landing page development options:

1. Make a page within your website dedicated exclusively to presenting the offer and collecting prospect email addresses. Link the Call to Action to your Contact Us page where you should have a form for them to submit their name and email address. Follow up directly with anyone who fills out your form.

2. Hire a web developer to create a landing page for you to host on your site, a thank you message, a notification to you, and an auto-response in their email with the offer.

3. Use one of the existing landing page platforms. My 2 favorites are Wishpond and Leadpages. They aren’t free, but  if you are serious about developing this resource, the quality of the pages and support is worth the expense (entry level is $35/$45 per month). There is a bit of a learning curve, so calculate that into your plans.

I think of this process like a system. You need all of the moving parts to work or the system does not function and produce results. Give landing pages a try and let me know if you need any help.

To Blog or Not to Blog…

BlogThat is the Question

With time and attention being seriously limited for those of us entrepreneurs (not that other people have more time and attention, but perhaps more support in their allocation), we have to be strategic about resource management. Some of you may be wondering if blogging would be a good use of your time. Here are some of the benefits to creating your own content.

Let’s start with an understanding of this thing called “blog”. The word “blog” is a contraction of the two words “web” and “log”. Web logs started as online communities in the 1990’s with the emergence of internet platforms for the average person.  This technology leveled the playing field such that anyone can be an author and create  community around any topic imaginable. Most professional blogs are between 300-600 words and should include keywords naturally. WordPress, the most popular platform for websites currently, started as a blog site and has that integrated into every website. It is not advisable to create a blog off of your website, even if it links to your site. You want to keep all that good content and traffic directly on your website.

Google’s algorithms are set to look for website updates as a way to determine’s the site’s value. Simply having new content on your website can be good for your search results.  Because search ranking, or search engine optimization (SEO), has become an important way to drive traffic to sites, businesses are realizing that anything they do to help this process has a positive impact on their ability to be found online. Generating original content fulfills that objective. Be sure not to copy other website’s content onto your site, not only for the obvious concern of plagiarism. Google will punish (decrease rankings) sites that have too much content deriving from other sources.

Here are some benefits to investing in regular quality content creation:

1. Frequent Change – Every time a blog with appropriate keywords is posted on a website, it increases the potential for search engines to find the website.  Weekly blogs posted on the website create frequent updates which signals to the Google-bots that your site is relevantwhen someone searches using one of your keywords.

2. Something of Value – The more you create and share content that your target audience can benefit from, the more value you bring to your offering, and consequently to your client relationships.

3. Original Content for Social Media – Your blog can be posted on social media sites as original content directly from you. Though there is no shortage of quality, industry-specific content for sharing on social media sites, posting regular content of your own makes your sites totally unique and more interesting.

4. Industry Leader – When you write, or have someone else write on behalf of your company, it signals to others that you/your business is an industry expert and thought leader. This is very affirming when establishing and maintaining credibility with prospects and referral partners.

5. Content for your next Book – You never know when you may be compelled to share your knowledge and experience with others on a grander scale. Regular blogging organizes your material in a way that makes it easier to pull together when your ready.

Some people are concerned that they don’t have enough content to do a weekly blog. You may be surprised how much expertise you have to share once you start putting it out there.  If you need help with your blog, or if you would like to get started but don’t know how, please feel free to let me know.

 

Scary Social Media Stories

Digging a Ditch(Not actually scary…more like big business blunders you want to avoid when using social media for your business)

Halloween is just around the corner, so I thought it would be fun to dedicate this week’s blog to some examples of social media horror stories and how to avoid making these kinds of mistakes as small business owners.

6 Incidents of Poor Judgement and Your Tip to Avoid:

  1. A famous actor was in a fatal Car crash and an reckless insurance company tweeted, including the Twitter handle of the victim, a snarky and self-serving “hope you had car insurance”.  The backlash was swift and powerful in outrage that someone’s tragedy would be used as an opportunity to self-promote. Tip:  Demonstrate positive ethics and good judgement. People generally don’t appreciate businesses who behave like this, even online.
  2. A Pizza company hijacked a trending hashtag (#whyIstayed) about why women stay in violent relationships, using that hashtag combined with “you had pizza”. Meaning all of the people in the conversation were talking about critical and deeply emotional issues and the obtuse pizza folks inserted pizza into the discussion as a reason people tolerate abuse. The company admitted after the colossal fallout, that the didn’t know what the hashtag was about before they jumped on the band wagon.  Tip:  Use hashtags freely, especially on Twitter. They are great for connecting with others around topics and drawing attention to your posts, but make sure you know the context of these conversations so you can use them appropriately.
  3. An athletic clothing company took advantage of an incident involving one World Cup player biting an opposing team member by showing a shirt on a male player and saying it looked so good it was hard not to take a bite. They might have been going for humor, but that is a tricky edge to balance. Tip: When in doubt, err on the side of caution. The thumbs up you get for being funny won’t be worth the judgement of using poor taste.
  4. The family of a girl who had visible facial injuries from a dog attack, were asked to leave a KFC because she was scaring the other customers. The story went viral with outrage over the shameful treatment.  KFC did the right thing and contributed a substantial check to the family for medical bills. Not only did it help that family, but the company’s response restored the brand’s reputation, maybe even elevated it. Tip:  If your company messes something up, don’t be surprised if it ends up on social media. Simply not being present online will not keep your business out of the buzz. People can, will, and do talk about companies that make mistakes, even if they aren’t there to respond.
  5. An employee had a problem with his boss and posted a nasty comment on Facebook about the working conditions and the company. His boss saw the post and promptly fired the disgruntled employee. You may be surprised to know that the tip here isn’t “be careful what you put on Facebook because you may get fired”. It is actually a heads up for the employer. Tip: Make sure you know the law before you take any action against someone for their social media content.  Check with the Fair Labor Standards Act to make sure you are on solid ground. Social media sites may be protected under the act as an employee’s right to organize. Precedence has been set in a number of similar cases where the employers lost in “Wrongful Termination” claims with the argument that employees are allowed to discuss work conditions on Facebook as a right. Here is the verbiage directly from the Act:

It is illegal for employers to fire, demote, or transfer you, or reduce your hours or change your shift, or otherwise take adverse action against you, or threaten to take any of these actions, because you join or support a union, or because you engage in concerted activity for mutual aid and protection, or because you choose not to engage in any such activity.

6. My favorite social media meltdown was the great Applebees Debacle.  A server at the restaurant posted on her personal Facebook page a picture of a check that a customer had written a snide comment on instead of leaving a tip. When the restaurant manager found out about the post, the employee was fired on the grounds of violating customers’ privacy. The story went wild with posts, shares, comments on Applebee’s Facebook page. When you’re in a hole, stop digging, but the restaurant’s PR department must have been absent the day they taught Public Relations. With each interaction, things got worse for Applebees. By responding to negative comments with arguments, defensiveness, denial, counter-attacks, and ultimately deleting threads that had already been made into screenshots, they fueled the attack all through the night. I’m sure when the executives heard about it in the morning, at least one head was rolling. Tip: Never respond to complaints by matching their emotion, even if the comment isn’t justified. I don’t know the recommended action for deflecting a angry mob in person – running the other way, climbing a tree, maybe playing dead. Where the internet is concerned, when faced with negative comments, take it like a human and respond thoughtfully, respectfully, and with the intention to resolve the problem. This will go a long way to mitigating the effects of bad press.

If you would like help avoiding an angry mob online, or just staying on top of your digital presence, give me  a holler and I’ll be happy to help.