Monthly Archives: November 2016

Why Facebook Isn’t Always Right for Your Company

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happy businessman jumping into social media for companyWhen business owners see—or start to hear about—the benefits of social media for business, their first inclination is to jump on board.  It makes sense, especially with all the goals that can be achieved with a solid social media presence.

There is one down side to just jumping in to social media: the step of choosing what social media site is right for the business is completely overlooked.  Instead, most people tend to sign up for the biggest site so they can cast a big net, or the social media site they have a personal profile on.

That’s when you need to just slow down.

Don’t get us wrong: we’re not saying that Facebook is the wrong site for every business (we’re not!).  We’ve achieved great things for many businesses on Facebook.  What we are saying is that when you’re considering signing your business up for social media, your first step should be deciding what site or sites is right for you—and how many sites you can manage well.

Choosing the right social media site(s)

social media sites behind smart phoneMatching your business to the right social media site (or sites) is a match made in heaven, because it allows you to reach the people who like—and want to buy—your products.  They’re your target audience—and should be your social media focus.

That’s the problem with jumping on the biggest site, or the site you have a personal profile on.  If your target audience isn’t on that social media site (more info on social media sites and key demographics in this infographic), you’re not going to engage with the people you want—and want you.

Are you a hair salon or bridal shop? Consider Pinterest, where images and a mostly-female demographic fit with your product. Sports team? Consider Twitter where fans are waiting for your 140-character updates.

Worse for your business is when you jump on that site, or all the major social media sites, and then discover you don’t have time.  An abandoned Facebook page, Twitter profile, or any other business page isn’t going to get you results—and it looks bad to anyone who happens upon your abandoned site.

What makes a solid social media presence

Plan

A good social media plan for your business revolves around two key factors: target audience and business calendar. Knowing your target audience facilitates 1) choosing social media sites; 2) selecting the right tone for your audience; 3) determining what content you create and post to social media that fits your audience.

A good social media marketing plan follows the 80/20 or 70/30 rule. Twenty percent of your posts should be promotional and 80% entertaining (if appropriate), relevant and valuable to your audience.

Scheduling tool

To execute a stellar and efficient social media plan, sign up for a good scheduling tool, such as Hootsuite or Buffer. Don’t schedule your social media posts too far in advance so you can stay on top of trending topics.  When necessary, be flexible when needed.

Hash tags

On certain social media sites, such as Twitter and Instagram, hash tags are not optional —at least not for anyone (or business) who wants to gain traction on social media. Posts with relevant hash tags can expose your post to potential followers interested in your industry or topic. Hash tags are also invaluable when starting a conversation, running a photo contest, promoting an event, or executing a coordinated social media campaign. Create original hash tags without any “online baggage” (i.e. used before with negative connotations, taken from a competitor) and promote them through an integrated marketing campaign that includes online and offline marketing efforts.

Quality images

Social media posts with images have been proven time and again to receive significantly more engagement than posts without. Use this social media image cheat sheet to create images optimal for your social media network, and be very selective about the images you create or choose. Don’t just pull random images off the internet; this can lead to serious legal repercussions (more about image copyright info by Hootsuite here).

If you decide Pinterest or Instagram is right for your business, don’t just worry about size; worry about the quality of your images. These social media networks are visual networks, and you won’t get results unless you have high-quality images and attention-grabbing text.

Regular posts/Time

Your social media plan isn’t going to gain momentum if you’re present for a period and gone for awhile.  Inconsistent social media posts are going to get you nowhere if you take the feast and famine approach.  Put simply, great social media execution requires regular time—and not just when you have the time.

The definition of “regular” depends on the social media site you are on. Whatever site—and the frequency of your posts—you find works for your company, choose quality posts over quantity. Twenty ‘junk’ tweets or posts won’t get you results (except for bogus followers) if your tweets aren’t valuable and relevant. If you don’t have time to produce and find quality posts, outsource your efforts for optimal social media results on the right site for your business.

5 Things You Should Look for in a Content Marketing Firm

business interviewing potential content marketing firmEver since the benefits of content marketing became clear (i.e. increased web traffic, value for your customers, etc.), the internet is crawling with content marketing firms full of promises.  “Choose us!  We get you results!” One of the scariest promises we saw recently was “Fully automated blog gets you to the top!”

While all those promises sound wonderful and we know it can be hard to sift through the smoothest sales talks, there are a five clear signs that can help you weed out the disreputable and find the best content marketing firms (for your business and your budget) that have these commonalities.

Data

A reputable content marketing firm should be able to provide data to back their claims up, both in the benefits of content marketing and what they can do.  If your content marketing firm delivers only promises and not numbers, walk away.  Contact a reputable content marketing firm that can tell you what a content marketing plan can do for your business, and what they have done for other businesses in the past, with real, concrete data.

Experience

Not only can a good content marketing company back up their claims with data, they have the experience to know that it doesn’t happen in a box.  Look for a company that doesn’t just offer content marketing, because the best online marketing plan includes online and offline marketing services that coordinate together for a solid marketing strategy.  Content marketing pieces are no good unless you use have a strategy for promoting the content; a good content marketing firm knows that (or can give you recommendations on how to use your content).

Clients

With all the internet claims and content marketing firms online, testimonials or case studies from a firm’s clients with long-standing relationships can be your godsend—a clear sign your content marketing firm is more than just a robot somewhere pumping out keyword-stuffed text.

Questions

There are many content marketing firms that use a one-size-fits-all approach to content marketing.  They target businesses in the same industry, and produce a slew of articles that fit the industry.  While that sounds wonderful, those generic topics don’t address the specific services your business offers or give your business a face.  If your content marketing firm doesn’t ask you specific questions about your business, your clients, and target audience, it’s time to turn the tables and start asking them questions.

No shadiness

Just as copying off your classmate’s paper landed you in hot water back in school, internet plagiarism comes with some very stiff internet penalties.  If you even suspect a potential content marketing firm of any shady marketing practices, run far, far away—to a reputable content marketing firm that can deliver quality content that gets you results (that they can prove).

4 Shady (Bad) Marketing Tactics You Should Run From (FAST)

businessperson being scared by bad marketing tactics on paperWhen you’re a business owner, it can feel like you have a target on your back.  Everyone wants and knows how to grow your business, and they’re all offering to make it happen—for a cost.  While some of the marketing promises might sound, well, promising, a bit of caution is wise when sifting through the offers for a variety of reasons. Shady marketing firms can take your money and not deliver, or, worse, use shady marketing tactics that lead to penalties and a marketing mess that can take a LONG time to recover from.

Most of these firms aren’t walking around with signs that say, “I’m as shady as the day is long!” so it’s up to you look through the sales pitch and look for whiffs that they might not deliver.  Here are a few shady marketing practices that you should look for, and avoid (as the old adage goes) “like the plague.”

Buying email followers

This is one of those situations where if the promise sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Marketing firms promise to beef up your email list quickly because sending an email to more recipients would (in theory) increase your chance of sales conversions.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  After all, if you throw more darts at a dart board, inevitably several are going to hit the target.  While the claim seems to make sense, an email list that delivers long-term (note, not short-term) results is built over time via in-person contacts, social media, online offers, and advertising (a full list of ideas for building an email list here).  If you want to reap those long-term results, contact companies that give you advice on a comprehensive marketing plan that builds a legitimate email list to recipients who want to receive your emails.

Paid links

Backlinks are important to the SEO of your site, but paid links can do just the opposite.  Google has made it very clear that if they find paid links, they penalize the sites responsible.  If your marketing firm mentions buying backlinks (links back to your blog) or using any dishonest means to ‘get’ backlinks to your blog or website, walk away from their deal.

Instead, look for firms that can deliver the ‘real’ deal: marketing firms that can give you testimonials from clients who have gotten long-term SEO results (local results if you have a local clientele to reach).  They don’t have to deliver their trade secrets, but a good SEO firm should be able to give you information about their service so you know you’re not using black hat SEO that could get you penalized.

Buying social media followers

We are still shocked at the amount of money this multi-million dollar industry generates, and we can certainly understand why people buy into it.  The rationalization is simple: having thousands and thousands of followers gives you a lot of street credibility.  Plus, it’s sure to make other people follow you, and accomplish all those goals you set for social media marketing.

The truth is more disappointing: while buying social media followers may make you look good, it doesn’t give you any more than numbers.  Fake social media followers aren’t an engaged audience that connects with you and drives sales.  Remember, no matter what those Twitter account with the strange font tell you, purchasing followers is not going to get you long-term results.

Plagarism

Very few content marketing firms would walk up to you and blatantly say (and certainly not any reputable marketing firms), “we’re going to steal content from another site and paste it into your blog.”  But you should be concerned if your content creator doesn’t seem to want any input at all for content topics, now or in the future.  To be clear, not every content marketing company is full of plagiarists, and it’s normal to re-purpose old content into a new, in-depth piece.  However, you should be wary of automatic “content generators” that may be “reusing content” from other sites.  It won’t help the SEO of your website, and you’ll be responsible for stolen content.