According to Constant Contact, LinkedIn is getting more graphic. This is a good deal for LinkedIn users, and if you’ve stayed away from LinkedIn because it was boring and didn’t seem to offer the same bells and whistles that other social media sites were offering, now you can jump on the LinkedIn bandwagon.
What makes this exciting is you’ll be able to upload videos, images, photos, and other graphics to each section of your LinkedIn profile. That will make your profile a graphic depiction of your resume and life right off the bat.
Savvy Internet marketing experts know that visuals keep people returning to your website and are more likely to convert once they are there. It’s been that way for years. So this new development at LinkedIn plays right into the knowledge and information that professional online marketers have been operating on for a decade, at least.
LinkedIn has been used primarily as an online resume service. Now, your resume just got a lot more graphic. But I also think the added visuals will turn LinkedIn into more than just a place to post your resume.
What do you think? Is this good for LinkedIn? Is it good for LinkedIn users?
For most of Internet marketing history, search engines were the place people found information online. Content was king, and by “content” it was meant text. Then came along social media. There was Friendster and MySpace. Then, YouTube and Facebook took over. Flickr allowed people to store and share photos – and still does. Then something else happened.
Mobile phones became popular. Then smartphones. People were taking photos with their phones. And sharing them online. Pinterest hit the scene followed by other image-rich social media platforms. Now, it seems, images are taking over.
A recent article at Wired highlights the move toward image-based marketing. And the truth is, this trend is growing.
It makes sense. People want to see items before they purchase them. That was the premise behind the old Sears and J.C. Penney catalogs. If you’re old enough to remember those, then you know what I’m talking about. Modern websites like Pinterest are the catalogs of our day. They allow people to see a product before they buy it.
That doesn’t mean that search engines will go away. Actually, it’s probable that search engines will find a way to adapt to this new trend and create new algorithms to help people find the images that lead to greater online commerce. Such a move would only benefit them while also benefiting searchers. One thing remains sure, however. Images are becoming a lot more important for online marketing. No one can ignore that.
Is your content shareable? How do you know?
Creating content that is shareable is no easy task. There’s no magic trick either. It’s a strategy more than anything. You should consider how your content can best be shared before you create it. Don’t create it then wonder how you will share it.
The most important consideration in any piece of content is this: Does it make an emotional connection?
You have to connect with your intended readership. Pull on their heart strings. That doesn’t mean you should resort to sentimentality. What it does mean is you should let them know you are human, and don’t be afraid to address your topic from a real human need.
This can best be done if you put yourself in your audience’s shoes. What do they want? Answer that question and half the battle is won.
One effective way to appeal to emotions is to use humor. Keep it clean, but don’t be afraid to make your audience laugh. Laughter is great medicine. It also has a strong emotional appeal. People will remember you and they’ll want to spend more time on your website.
Nostalgia is another way to appeal to emotions. “Remember when …” posts are powerful because it puts people in a time and place that they remember fondly. If you can do that, then you can make a connection.
Remember, people make buying decisions emotionally. They also make sharing decisions emotionally. If you appeal to their sense of humanity, then you can get your content spread more widely.
There is a new art form, and a new marketing strategy, that involves using a variety of media to tell separate stories of the same characters or worlds. It’s called transmedia storytelling.
Transmedia storytelling is different than cross-media storytelling. With cross-media, you are telling the same story. With transmedia storytelling, you are telling separate stories of the same characters that run parallel. Many new entertainment brands are using transmedia storytelling by incorporating the following media to present worlds in different ways:
- Social media
- Mobile apps
- And more
The big question is how can businesses take the principles of transmedia storytelling and apply them to marketing and branding?
Like a lot of things, there’s not just one way to do it. But it takes some creativity and thinking outside of the box to pull it off.
For instance, why not create a character or mascot that represents your business? Then you can give that character a voice by choosing someone to play that character in a series of entertainment videos where your brand, product, market niche, or customer need is the central message.
Next, set up a Twitter account where you tweet in the voice of the character.
Make your mascot the central character in an e-book.
Blog in that character’s voice daily.
When you go about these ordinary marketing activities, be sure that you are adding value to your audience’s lives. Entertain them while you inform them. Make it fun.
I’m going to assume for the purpose of this blog post that you already have a website, you’ve done the right keyword research for your online marketing plan, and you have already established a marketing plan and budget. You are ready to begin the implementation phase. How should you start your blog?
I’d recommend with starting an editorial calendar. Begin your calendar with the first day of next month. You want to give yourself a little lead time.
Plan to post two days a week the first month. Pick the days and put them on your calendar. For each blog post on the calendar, pick a keyword from your list and write a blog post for that day. Write the entire first month’s blog posts and then schedule them to post on the appropriate days. WordPress makes this easy.
During that first month, you want to monitor your analytics. How much traffic are you getting, where is it coming from, and how long are people staying on your site?
Also, each time one of your blog posts goes live, share it to social media.
During that first publishing month you’ll want to plan the next month’s posts. It’s a good idea to have your publishing schedule completed before the 15th of the previous month. This time, plan to post three days a week. Write your posts and pre-schedule them. Monitor analytics.
Before the halfway mark of the second publishing month, have your posts for the third month planned. This time, plan to post five days a week. If you are a service business open Monday through Friday, post on those days. If you are open on weekends, post on your five busiest days, or the days that make the most sense for your business.
This is your first three months of posting. Continue sharing your blog posts on social media and monitor your analytics.
It seems the whole world is going ga-ga over social media. It’s practically all you hear about nowadays. People are flocking to the social media sites to establish a presence and build their brands. Often, when they get there they realize it is more work than they thought it was going to be. Then they get the “what next?” glaze in their eyes.
Social media is important. But far more important than social media is the voice behind it. In a word, it’s authority.
Think about the sources where you receive your daily news. Why do you like them? Are you more interested in CNN or Fox News? Why? Chances are, you get your news from the sources you select because you like their reputation as news sources. You consider them authorities.
Readers in every niche look at online content the same way. They want to get their information from a credible authority.
But how do you build authority? How do you establish yourself as a voice of authority in your niche? The surest way to become a respected and recognized authority on any topic is to produce regular material on your subject that is respected. You can get your content recognized by a large number of people interested in the topic, by a few respected leaders in your niche, or a combination of the two.
How you build authority is up to you. The fact that you need to become an authority is getting more and more evident every day. When it happens, social media will be there to help reap the rewards.
According to Constant Contact, 74% of all social media users are using #hashtags. That’s interesting because at last count, Facebook hadn’t incorporated hashtags – yet.
They’re working on it, though.
So, what is a hashtag and how can you use it for business?
Simply put, a hashtag is a word or phrase accompanied by a preceding # symbol that is often used to track a conversation. For instance, if you want to know what people are saying about hashtags on social media, you can go to Twitter or Google+ and search for #hashtags. You can even subscribe to the threads to follow the conversation more easily.
As a business, you can enter conversations where hashtags already exist or create your own hashtags. For instance, the popular micro-job site Fiverr has the hashtag #Fiverr on Twitter.
This is another way to optimize your social media posts. By creating hashtags around popular topics related to your niche you can pull in people who may not already be following you on the social media sites where you have a presence. Be sure, however, that you use the hashtags appropriately. Don’t use them to spam people with related topics. That’s a sure way to tick people off and get a bad reputation.
Hashtags are powerful social media tools if you use them correctly. They’re easy to implement and could lead to some big boosts in your business.
Today is Twitter’s seventh birthday. ABC News thinks you should celebrate.
In fact, the news website lists seven ways you can celebrate Twitter’s birthday today. I’m guessing they picked seven ways out of a hat to parallel the fact that it’s Twitter’s seventh birthday. As a summary, here are the ways they suggest you should celebrate:
- Relive your best and worst tweets
- Make sure your Twitter account looks good
- Clean up your follow list
- Play around with some fun Twitter sites
- Add a video with your tweet with Vine
- Teach someone how to use Twitter
- Tweet the article
Don’t you love that last one? A little self-congratulatory, aren’t we, ABC News? Maybe a little bit narcissistic?
To honor Twitter’s seventh birthday, I decided to come up with my own list of seven ways you can celebrate Twitter’s birthday today. Are you ready?
Here’s the Reciprocal Consulting list of seven ways to celebrate Twitter’s birthday:
- Create a video for your tweet with Vine (hey, a good idea is a good idea)
- Follow seven new people
- Find seven things to retweet
- Create seven new links to tweet related to your business niche (but make sure they are not self-promotional)
- Link to your own website once during the day
- Tweet your location from your smartphone
- Wish Twitter a happy birthday in a tweet
Twitter can either be fun or a total drag. Make it fun. And use it effectively for your business.
When it comes to social media, everyone has their ideas on how to do it properly. Most social media experts I know agree on a few things, but on the nitty-gritty details of running a social media campaign there is a lot of variation. Here’s one of the things that I see often suggested and just as often ignored.
So many small business owners take to Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn and jump in with a shout. They start promoting this and that about their business without really checking to see who is listening. A better way to get some mileage out of your social media marketing is to listen first, shout later.
Actually, instead of shouting, just whisper.
Let me clarify.
When I say listen first, what I mean is sign up for the service and make a few friends. You can interact with them, but don’t start any special promotions. Just spend your first few weeks listening. What are people talking about? What’s the tone? How often, and in what ways, do people interact on that particular service? What makes the various social media platforms different? Take note of that.
As you are listening, engage with people on the services. Interact with them. That’s how you make friends and build relationships. But hold off on the self-promotion until you’ve made some solid connections.
When the time is right, slowly add a few self-promotional tweets or messages. Don’t overdo it. Spend more time sharing useful information with your audience. Only promote the really good stuff you have. Spend the rest of your time listening.
How often have you said to yourself, “I wish I could track how many people are pinning the images on my website and how many people are seeing those pins?”
If you’re like most business owners, you’ve wondered when Pinterest would allow you to track that information and use that data as actionable intelligence. Well, wonder no more. Pinterest has announced that it does indeed now have an analytics dashboard for businesses.
To take advantage of Pinterest Analytics, you have to do four things:
- Set up a business account at Pinterest. You don’t have access to Pinterest Analytics as a personal user. You have to use it as a business.
- Switch over to the new look.
- Verify your website.
- Start tracking.
The three actionable data sets that you’ll be able to track through Pinterest Analytics include the number of people pinning your website, how many people are seeing those pins, and how many visitors you get to your website from Pinterest.
That’s all great information, but it’s not perfect. I expect Pinterest Analytics to improve as more businesses begin to use it and Pinterest gets helpful feedback from those businesses. I’d like to see the ability to get this actionable information for more than one website.
So there you have it. Pinterest Analytics, and now your social media marketing is getting better.
The key to marketing, online or off line, is to pick a target market and go after it. Don’t try to be all things to all people. That’s the surest way to fail in any endeavor, but especially in marketing.
Online marketing isn’t so much a push transaction as it is a pull transaction. Now, what do I mean by that?
Instead of aiming your crossbow at a target and pulling the string, what you do online is draw your target to you by putting carrots out and watching the prospects follow the trail back to you. So, if you think about your social media profiles as outposts for your content messaging and your blog the sidewalk in front of your store, then you can imagine your website as the inner sanctum of your online presence. That’s where you build the deep relationships.
But you still have to get the prospect there. But how?
You have to push your content out to draw your prospect in. Put some nuggets out there in social media land. Watch and see who bites, and how they bite. What are they biting on? It’s kind of like fishing. You have to use the right bait and fish in the right spot to catch the type of fish you want to catch.
After you see what people are biting on, you can then put more of that out there. Draw people in. Pull them to your blog with a little more in-depth content, then pull them deeper into your web from there.
If you make your content enticing, you can get the business. It’s a pull endeavor, not a push.
If you want to succeed at social media and SEO at the same time, then you need to learn the 5 basics of social media SEO. Here they are in a nutshell:
- Optimize your social profiles – This is real simple. Write your social media profiles in such a way that you will be found for the search terms you wish to be found for.
- Optimize each social media post – When you post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., optimize your posts. You don’t have to overdo it. You can get by with a few here and there not optimized for your key search terms, but if you post a lot about things in your industry, then include your key terms in the posts.
- Include social sharing buttons on your website – Add the popular social share buttons to your website and blog. Encourage your visitors to share your content.
- Optimize your images – Social media now includes images. Include images with your content and optimize those images. When you share your content on social media, include the images.
- Sign up for Google+ – Seriously. Your Google SEO will go a long way if you have a Google+ account. Use it. Spend a little time each day on Google+ and share your best content.
In this decade, search and social media go hand in hand. Make sure you optimize your social media as an ongoing content marketing strategy.
Google+ is making it easier for you and your website visitors to share information. Now, you can install a Google+ sign-in app much like the one that Facebook has. So your site visitors and app users can sign in without signing up.
Welcome to the future of the Web.
I think this is the way the Web will work for the foreseeable future. If you use the Internet in any way, you’ll likely be signed in to your Google+ account, your Facebook account, or another social media account, or all of them. Then, when you visit another website that you like and respect, you can sign in to those sites using your Google+ or Facebook account.
When you first sign in to a third-party site using Google+, you’ll be asked what people in your circles you want that site to know you have a relationship with. You’ll also be asked who you want to share information with on that site. You can opt for all your circles, select circles only, or just yourself.
Social media marketing is changing. I’d say for the better. And the Google+ sign in is just another piece of evidence to prove it.
The question, now, for webmasters is, should you implement the Google+ button on your site? I don’t see how you can lose.
The one pet peeve every client and potential client have is not being able to find contact information when they need it. Whether you are sending out e-mail announcements, newsletters, or building a website, you should place your contact information in an easy-to-find location so that your clients and potential clients can see it.
Here are a few good places to put your contact information in each medium:
- About Page – If you have an About Us page, you can put your phone number, address, and e-mail address on your About page.
- Contact Us Page – Even if you have a contact form, you should include your contact information on the Contact page.
- Sidebar – Put your preferred contact media in the sidebar, either at the very top or the very bottom.
- Header – Headers are great places to put phone numbers, particularly for a service business.
- Footer - Put your address, phone number, e-mail address, and social media information in your footer.
In an electronic newsletter, you typically have a header, footer, and sometimes a sidebar. These are all great places for your contact information. Put your phone number and e-mail in the header. All information can go in the footer or the sidebar. You might even have a special section in the content part of your newsletter for your contact information.
Social Media Pages
Most of the social media sites have an About page or special place for your contact information. If anything, there is a description or Bio spot in your profile. Add your contact information.
Even videos can include contact information. If you have a call to action in your video, then you need to make sure your contact information is available. The best place is at the end of the video. You may include any contact information to help your prospects reach you, including your web address.
In videos today, you can include clickable links. That’s a great way to include your e-mail address.
A new study by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth shows that Inc 500 companies used LinkedIn and blogging tools more in 2012 and Facebook and YouTube less. The companies also turned to Foursquare and Pinterest more often.
This is an interesting trend because the year before the companies were excited about Facebook.
Keep in mind that LinkedIn has become the business networking tool. Facebook is a great place to go if you are a B2C company or local, but if you cater to B2B businesses, then LinkedIn will be better for you, and more effective.
Of course, Inc 500 companies are not small businesses. But I think small business owners can learn from the big guys what is effective in online marketing.
Let’s start with blogging.
For a while, businesses turned away from blogging. They didn’t see the value. At that time, interest in social media was beginning to grow, so there was a natural exuberance that resulted from this new phenomenon. I think businesses have learned that social media isn’t quite the magical panacea they thought it was. In truth, social media can be effective, but it’s best used in conjunction with a well-maintained corporate blog.
The Truth About Social Media
So is social media worth it? It depends on what social media you are pursuing. Our rule of thumb is to choose the social media that is going to put you closer and more in touch with your targeted audience.
For some companies, that might be YouTube. For others, it could be Pinterest and LinkedIn.
If you go where your audience is rather than where all the other businesses are, then you’ll be much more effective in your online marketing.
Whether you are engaged in e-mail marketing, social media marketing, search engine marketing, or any other type of marketing, you can test the elements of your marketing campaigns to see what is most effective. If you can measure the results, then you can increase your profits.
Here are 5 different elements you can test no matter what kind of marketing you are engaged in:
- Your headline – Your headline is the attention-getter. Whether we are talking about e-mail campaigns, social media, or something in between, the right headline will get your prospects to read. Do extensive testing and see what works.
- Call to action – Whether you are trying to close the sale on your landing page, get people to open your e-mail, or click through to your website, a good call to action is the money line.
- Visual effects – Images, graphics, and even typographical fonts can all be effective. Test to see what works. Throw out what doesn’t and keep improving.
- Language – Different audiences respond to different messages. It doesn’t really matter what you are selling, language matters. Tweak the way you word your content, from the first line to the last. See what works and perform continuous testing.
- Media – I’ve seen landing pages with nothing but a video. I’ve also seen long form text content. They’ve both worked and they’ve both failed. Test your media, see what works for your prospects and your message. Test, test, test; measure, measure, measure.
Marketing is not an exact science. That includes Internet marketing. It’s a constant process of testing and measuring. Test and measure your way to success.
Super Bowl XLVII was one of the most exciting Super Bowls in history. And like most Super Bowls in recent years, you can find the topic trending on all the major social media – Google+, Twitter, where else?
You’d naturally expect the Super Bowl to be a trending topic. But what about local content?
You can create local content that goes viral. You may not see it on the social media trending charts, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t trending locally. Of course, there’s no metric (that I’m aware of) that measures local trends. But your end goal isn’t to do better than everyone else in measuring trends. It’s to get your content out there far and wide – to go viral.
What tools are available to you to help your content go viral? Essentially, the same tools that are available to the Super Bowl marketers.
You have Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and more.
On Facebook, if you look at your page metrics, you’ll see a Virality metric. That means Facebook measures the viral output of your brand page’s content. If you create great content and share it on your page to your followers, all it takes is a handful of your followers liking it or sharing it before it can go viral. Remember, it’s got to be great content.
One of the keys to developing local content that goes viral is to develop online relationships with local clientele. Get them to follow you. But you can also push your content out in other ways. Consider:
- Your blog
- Your e-mail newsletter
- Your print newsletter
- Local billboards
- Local TV and radio
- Local newspapers
- Bag stuffers and flyers
And don’t forget word of mouth. Let your customers know that you have a website and a blog. Let them know that you post to your blog often. And sign them up for your newsletter. Get the word out. Your content can go viral.
Rebranding is often more work than most people realize going in. Depending on how many assets your business owns, it can be a terrible headache. The more you own, the more difficult the process will be.
Let’s start with your website.
If your rebranding means a change of name for your business, then you’ll likely have to procure a new web domain and redirect your website to your new domain. You can expect a search engine fallout for your old website as you lose rankings, but if you do it right you can turn your new site into a quick-ranking powerhouse that makes up for it. Talk to your SEO before making the move.
Other things you should consider before you start your rebranding efforts online are:
- Twitter account migration. Will you need a new branded Twitter account?
- Facebook business page branding. In most cases, you can simply change the name of your Facebook business page, but it does require approval from Facebook.
- If you have a Google+ page, you’ll have to change the name of that as well. That’s a bit easier than on Facebook. You just go to your page and edit the page.
- LinkedIn changes might also be necessary.
- If you have YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, and other social media accounts, you’ll have to rebrand those as well. In some cases, it will mean starting over.
- Your newsletter will need to be rebranded. That will mean a redesign of the newsletter to match your new website design. Depending on which newsletter service you use, you might have to rebrand your account or start over. This will be painful if you have to start over because it will mean exporting your list and most newsletter services require that you send out a mass e-mail asking for opt-in permission. You’ll need to communicate with your list prior to the move.
- Blog rebranding.
There may be other things you’ll have to consider as well. In some cases, rebranding your online business might be unavoidable. For instance, if you are in a legal dispute and the court forces you to, then you have to comply with the law. At any rate, don’t make the decision hastily. Consider all your options first.
Social analytics is very important. Today I’m going to discuss a tool that you can use for a few good purposes. With this tool you can search for information about a certain topic within your niche to see how popular that topic is. It’s a good keyword research tool that you can use for your online content – that includes website content, articles, blog content, and social media content.
Another practical use for this tool is to see what your competition is up to. If your competition has been posting information on a particular topic, then Topsy will let you know. It’s good for competitive intelligence.
Finally, you can use Topsy for social analytics. If you click on the Social Analytics link at the top of the main page, then you can compare search data for up to three keyword phrases. Again, it’s a great keyword research tool.
The great thing about Topsy is you can measure the data you’re looking for in realtime. You can also measure it over time. Furthermore, you can search for content by type (i.e. tweets, links, photos, videos, experts, and trending).
After you search for information on a particular topic, you can narrow down the content search results by time. For instance, you can narrow your search to the last hour or broaden it to the past 7 days. You also have options in between. You can also search by network, but the only options available at this time are Google+ and Twitter.
Topsy looks like it will be a good social media tool. I hope it sticks around awhile.
What determines your reputation? There are a number of factors that contribute to your overall reputation. It’s not just one thing. I’ve compiled a list of 5 things that factor into how people see your company. These 5 factors are not the only factors that affect your reputation, but they are important factors, at least where online reputation is concerned.
- Customer Service – How you treat your customers is perhaps the most important reputation management factor. Is your service a positive or a negative?
- What You Say About Your Competition – Believe it or not, people pay attention to what you say about others, even your competition. Do you bad mouth them? It’s OK to point out the flaws in your competition’s product, or to point out how your products are different than theirs, but it’s another thing entirely to continue posting negative rants that are not related to the competitive nature of your business. Keep it professional.
- How You Conduct Yourself On Social Media – Social media has become a huge business factor. Even if you don’t talk bad about the competition, if you conduct yourself in an undesirable manner through social media, then it will reflect on your reputation.
- Search Engine Optimization – How do you look in the search engines? Can people find you? Admittedly, this isn’t as important as other factors on the list, but if you can’t be found in the search engines or what people do find is all negative, then that will affect your reputation online for sure.
- Your Website – If your website is unattractive or hard to navigate, that will hurt your reputation. Make sure your website is helpful and attractive.
How’s your reputation online? Take a look at each of these factors and see if you could use a little help managing your reputation.