Archive for Blog

Using your Footer

If you are working on the SEO for your website, look at your footer. Is it the best it can
be? Does it have your address and phone number if you want to be found for
local search? Does it tell people what your company does in a few short words?
Since your footer is on every page it can help your site with the relevance
factor for search. Don’t do keyword stuffing or anything that is designed just
for engines, but do look at it from the visitor point of view. Does it give
enough information? Can it be better? If it is good for people it will be good
for engines.

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Keep This Handy: The Ultimate Facebook Page Dimensions Cheat Sheet [INFOGRAPHIC]

Keeping up with all of the recent changes to Facebook’s business pages could make a person’s head spin! Good thing we came across this handy infographic from DreamGlow that keeps all of the important info in once place.

Whether you are creating a Facebook ad, profile picture, thumbnail, cover photo, writing copy or uploading a video- this time saving guide tells you everything you need to know. So Bookmark it, Pin it, Tweet it, post it to your profile….do whatever you need to do to keep this handy. Trust me, you will use it.

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New Look for Facebook Pages

We have been helping our clients prepare for March 30th, when Facebook automatically switches the look of Facebook pages to the new TimeLine layout.

Thanks to Mashable.com for this comprehensive description of changes.

Updated Look and Feel

The format of Timeline for brands is quite similar to Timeline for personal profiles. It employs a cover photo at the top of the Page, and the Page is separated into two main columns by a dividing line, which represents the passage of time. This format provides brands with new options for self-expression: They can outline their corporate history with milestones (such as product launches, store openings, etc.) to construct a narrative for their audience.
Reduced Tab Visibility

The new Timeline format does not have the left-side panel of links, which could include hundreds of different tabs. While applications still exist, they’ll display differently, in rectangular panels underneath the cover photo. The width of the Timeline and the space allocated for native apps like Photos means that only three tab panels are viewable at any given time. To see more, users must expand the tab panel by clicking a drop-down box.
No Default Landing Page

With the new Timeline Page format, you will no longer be able to set a default landing Page, a favored feature for many savvy brands. The option was one of the primary ways to control the first (branded) impression a user encountered. Since there are no more tab Pages, there is no way to set one as a default. This will drastically change user impressions when they first visit a brand’s Timeline Page.
Recommendation:You will need to apply new and careful attention to all the top messages in the Timeline, as they will be the first objects seen by visiting users. Likewise, Facebook ads for brands will become ever important, as ads will be one of the major ways brands on Facebook can control a user’s experience. Setting up an advertising campaign for a Facebook promotion or new application will be the only way to guide new and clicking users directly to that application (as landing on this Page cannot be achieved by default).

New Way to Feature Content

One major new feature that marketers will love is the ability to “pin” certain posts to the top of the Timeline. Similar to marking a blog post “sticky,” so that it remains at the top of a blog for a specified period of time, pinning a post to the top of Timeline allows it to precede any other content. A pinned post is distinguished by a small, orange flag. Brands can pin only one item at a time, and the pinned item then exists in two locations — as the top item on the Timeline itself, as well as within its chronological place. Once unpinned (which happens automatically when a new item gets pinned, or the item has been pinned for more than seven days), the post remains in the chronology of Timeline posts, but there is no visual history that it was pinned in the past.

Current Tab Content and Applications Become Outdated

The new Timeline layout displaces Facebook’s existing Page tab configuration (including a tab’s 520-pixel width), and replaces it with a new 810-pixel layout. As a result, existing Page tab content will look centered in the middle of the 810-pixel layout without any adjustments. All applications that remain on a brand’s Page will need new application icons (the new dimensions are 111×74).

Private Messages Between Brands and Users

Finally, brands will be able to send and receive private messages with users. This allows for much deeper consumer interaction, and will also enable Page managers to take extended customer inquiries off the Timeline and into a private message.

 

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SEO Tips for You Tube Video Content

You Tube has firmly established itself as a search engine as well as a major entertainment portal. How can you leverage the power of You Tube for your business website?
Just as with search, there are ways to use your video content to deliver traffic and qualified leads to your site. If you have original content,   set up a You Tube Channel through your Google account, and start creating your video library.

Here are some tips for video SEO. Well optimized videos will gain better search placement and views in both You Tube and Google search

  • Use Keywords- Video SEO needs optimization with target relevant keywords. Similar to the content SEO, you have to find keywords, and then use them accordingly. You must use keywords in file name too.
  •  Title- Search Engines look at the titles first. Use relevant keywords and also come up with an attention grabbing title-keeping with the theme of your site/brand
  • Tags- Make sure that you use keywords and phrases to tag your videos. Your purpose is to optimize the video for search queries that the users may type.
  • Video Files Metadata Optimization- Like you do in text SEO, here too, you can optimize your video by using relevant keywords in the metadata. Your meta descriptions must have keywords in it. Make sure to encode the keywords into your video’s meta data. Tag videos with specific keywords, you can also go by tagging each scene.
  • Use the word- video- as a keyword- People often add the word “video” in their search queries. Like people may search for- “Prince William wedding Video” or maybe “How to style your hair video” that is why, you must use ‘video’ as a keyword.
  • Get Links as well as backlinks to the video-Use the relevant keywords and phrases as the anchor text for these links. You can indulge in cross-linking to other videos from relevant web pages.
  • Create Video sitemaps / MRSS / RSS- make it easy for the search bots to find your videos and index them.
  • Create A One Video Directory- Move all of your videos into one folder and make sure to upload all your future videos to this same folder. This will allow easy access to all your videos to both bots and the visitors.
  • Avoid Flash Video Players- Search engines have difficulty in crawling flash players, so they are best avoided.
  • Optimize your URLs- Optimize your URLs so that they to contain information about the video. Also, make sure you only have one video per URL.
  • Branding – The first and the last frames are perfect for branding. You may start your video by something like- “Nature Fresh Spa presents- Make your own home spa.”
  • Go Social With Your Videos- Encourage viewers to share your videos-put it on social networking sites. Make it easy for users to share your video on You Tube, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. Spend time in Tweeting the video and linking to videos from social media pages.
  • Embed videos in blog posts- You may link your videos in blog posts- this will not only improve your readability, but also generate huge interest among readers, as visual media is always more appealing.Additionally, when you place a video on your site, all the above applies, plus:
    Create HTML content for the video- the video must be surrounded by HTML content. So that the search engines can get additional information from the surrounding page. You can also add a text transcript or external captions as text that you publish on the page with the video- to help the engines get more information about the video.

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Social Interaction Analytics: Measuring the Impact of Social Media

     Recently Google rolled out a cool new feature of Analytics called Social Interaction Analytics. Basically what it does is tracks the actions of social plugins like the +1 button, the Facebook Like button, the Tweet This button, and other social media buttons that exist on your site, and records these actions in your Analytics account, allowing you to track and compare this activity in conjunction with other measurable actions like e-commerce revenue, clicks, and page views within the comprehensive platform of Google Analytics.

     While not an exact science (all analytics measurements have a margin of error), it is a nice attempt by Google to help you determine ROI of social media within this somewhat scaled down context. Keep in mind that this is not an all inclusive measurement of your Facebook activity. Google cannot track activity within the walls of Facebook, so the number of fans, contests, and activity you have on your actual Facebook page will still have to be measured separately. However, if you are interested in what people are sharing directly from your site or blog pages and to which social media platform and would like to track this activity within Analytics, you can now do so.

     First you have to determine if you are using the “new” tracking code for analytics. This means the “asynchronous” tracking code that was rolled out a couple years back. Before now, there were a few minor reasons for adopting the code, which we will attempt to explain below without getting too geeky (mostly because we are simply not cool enough to be that geeky), but it was not a required change so many site owners did not bother to migrate their web pages to the new code. The original explanation for the asynchronous code was to assist analytics in tracking activity on your site by running a script element that allows the browser to load the analytics tracking code simultaneously with the other scripts on the page, which in turn improves page load times and allows you site to load quicker. In Google’s words :

“·  Faster tracking code load times for your web pages due to improved browser execution

·  Enhanced data collection & accuracy

·  Elimination of tracking errors from dependencies when the JavaScript hasn’t fully loaded.”

      The asynchronous tracking code looks like something like this:

                                Asynchronous Tracking Snippet Example

                               _gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-XXXXX-X’]);

                                _gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’]);

    Basically, it was a way for Google to load the pages that its tracking faster and more accurately for Analytics purposes. However, since most sites didn’t really care about or understand the benefits, or never heard about it in the first place, many sites are still using the “Traditional” tracking snippet in their Google Analytics pages. The traditional code looks something like this:

                              Traditional Tracking Snippet Example

                             var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(‘UA-XXXXX-X’);

                             pageTracker._trackPageview();

     But now there is a great reason to use the “new” code: Google +1 tracking and Social Interaction Analytics and Event Tracking. If you have the asynchronous code installed, it will automatically track +1 interactions on your site or in search results, and send them to your analytics. Since many businesses who already use social media are no doubt curious about the benefits of Google’s +1 button, and the soon to arrive company profile pages of Google +, this is  a great way to not only “test the waters” of Google’s new social features, but be ready to hit the ground running when Google expands its offering on Google +. In addition, by incorporating some additional customized code via the “_trackSocial” command, you can define what other types of social actions the tracking code should be picking up and have them pushed to your analytics account as well.

You can easily check to see which snippet you are using by simply viewing the page source of one of the pages that you are tracking with analytics.

If you see that you are using the traditional snippet and you would like to migrate over to the asynchronous snippet, the easiest way is to talk to your web host or whoever has access to your page source code. The new code is applied the same way the original analytics code was applied and there are debugging tools available to help you check your work. Adding the additional customized social tracking codes requires a little more work since you have to make sure you are tracking the correct type of button (one “like” button does not fit all, unfortunately).

This is a simple overview and we hope to provide additional specific information, including troubleshooting tips and any compatibility issues as we execute this new feature, using our own site and the guinea pig. In the meantime, feel free to post any comments or questions about this blog and we will do our best to answer them.

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Video on Google Analytics

As our clients know we are big Google Analytics fans. Like everything online, it is growing and adapting to how users need it to work. But there are some basic questions we get asked over and over. Questions like “what is an average bounce rate”? And “how many pages per visit is a good number”? This video addresses some of those issues and is a good starting point for people who have not spent much time on Analytics.

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5 Steps to Getting What You Want from AdWords

Being successful in AdWords means having the conviction to clearly identify your goals and strategies along with the flexibility and willingness to change your approach to meet the needs of your customers. The following 5 steps reflect the necessity of a detailed, yet flexible approach to your advertising strategy.

Step 1: Set Your Goals

The first step in any advertising campaign is determining what your goals are. In AdWords, not only is it important to define your goals and budget for your account, but to refine your goals at every step from campaign down to keywords. Failing to clarify each step in the process can lead to poorly performing ads, and worst of all, a waste of your hard-earned cash. The best questions to ask yourself when determining goals in AdWords is “What is my potential customer looking for?”, “At what stage in the buying cycle do I want to reach my customers?”, and “What kind of response am I seeking?” Answering these questions will not only help to clarify what kind of campaign you want to run, they will also help you determine your budget allocation, which measurements are important, and what types of ads to run.

Step 2: Determine Your Strategy

There are two main online advertising strategies when it comes to AdWords – building brand awareness and selling your product. These are not mutually exclusive goals when it comes to advertising a business, but they should be separate campaigns within your AdWords account. Many AdWords campaigns focus exclusively on building brand awareness. Advertisers that are focusing on improving the visibility of their brands can structure their campaigns to ensure they are reaching the highest volume of traffic for their keywords.

For example, a branding campaign for a site selling DJ equipment may be set up like this: the seller wants to reach as broad a scope as possible to get his name recognized across music sites, so he chooses generic keywords like “music”, “musical instruments”, and “audio equipment.” Further, since he is trying to get as much response as possible to his site, he will choose a CPM campaign so he can pay per thousand impressions; this way, he can track interest by seeing how many clicks he gets without having to pay for each one. He will then measure success by tracking these clicks on his click-through rate (CTR) measurements, as well as which sites he linked to most, which will enable him to track the amount of exposure he is getting and where the interest is coming from.

Step 3: Experiment

Even though he is focused on his branding campaign, he is getting great CTR results and decides to set up a cost per click to “test the waters” of sales and conversions. This is a great idea, mostly because he is not trying to double his branding campaign as a conversion campaign. This should be its own campaign, focusing on specific keywords targeted at relevant sites in the search and display networks which allows our dj to drive for sales with every click.

Step 4: Be Flexible!

The vast array of reports, tools, and options available on AdWords can be somewhat daunting, but don’t be afraid to act on what the numbers are telling you. Our dj selling equipment might think he is just getting his name out there, but the numbers are now telling a different story. His CPC has reached budget 14 out of the last 15 days, and his conversions are creeping up on several keywords. Meanwhile, his CPM branding campaign is getting a high number of clicks, and is now taking up much of his daily budget. The seller adjusts his bidding strategy to reflect these results, reallocating ad spend from the branding campaign into the more profitable CPC campaigns. He may still utilize his branding campaign to maintain a certain level of exposure, but he has shifted the majority of his daily budget away from it.

Step 5: Optimize

Now he is getting the biggest return on his advertising investment by targeting specific websites based on his incoming URLs, refining keyword lists based on their effectiveness (no more “music” in the keyword lists), and creating multiple, separate ad groups for each group of refined keywords. By utilizing a new CPC campaign for each popular keyword along with manual targeting of specific websites, his ads are being rewarded by Google; the are relevant to the sites they appear on, which in turn improves his overall Quality Score, which then drives down his overall ad costs.

Bottom Line: Set your campaigns according to the goals you have in mind for your advertising budget, but advertisers have to be willing to deviate from the original goals depending on the responses they get and what the data shows. There are so many different ways to measure success in AdWords, and you can’t be great at all of them at once. Each category reflects a strategy, and every advertiser should be aware of which is the most important outcome for them.

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Leverage Social Media Tools to Respond to Customer Feedback

Social media brings word of mouth marketing to a whole new level. Thanks to user generated content sites, consumers are more empowered than ever to voice their opinions and share their experiences with the rest of the world.

One of the biggest advantages for companies who utilize Social Media tools is the having the ability to respond to customer feedback: the good, the bad, and yes- the ugly.  Rather than fear negative feedback- turn it inside out and view this as an chance to respond to the feedback and build trust with your customers.  This as an opportunity to show the public that you listen.

Here is an example:  A few years ago found some negative comments about a restaurant managed by someone I knew in a popular dining blog. The comments were posted by an angry customer who had received terrible service while dining. I contacted her to see if she was aware of this. She was aware, but wanted to ignore them so she would not draw further attention to them. She felt that the incident the customer was referring to happened so long ago that it did not matter. However, it did matter- the damaging comments still came up when I did a search!!

She explained that the server who had given the poor service had been terminated, and the customer was given a generous gift card and an apology from the manager. However, this did not stop the customer from going to this site and writing a damaging statement in the comments section. You do not have to be a marketing genius to know how ONE bad review for a fine dining establishment can really hurt business.

I strongly advised her to get in touch with the writers of the blog and let them know some negative feedback has been published about her establishment and request an opportunity to make it right by inviting them to dinner. I also advised her to log into the review site, create her own account with her identity clearly visible and to directly respond to the accusations directly in a diplomatic and respectful manner. Perhaps she could say-

“Thank you for your honest feedback. Our customer satisfaction is very important and we regret that you had the experience described. We handled the situation by……..Please let us know how we could have handled it differently in order to serve you better. We hope to have the opportunity to make it right.”

If I were an outside reader and I came across a genuine, proactive response to poor feedback – I would be more inclined to give that establishment a second look.

Bottom line: Ignoring negative feedback is not going to make it go away. Address negative comments directly and with grace. This gives you an opportunity to learn and grow as an organization and communicate your key message to other customers. By doing this, you demonstrate that you are in tune with your customers.

If your business is not using social media to connect to customers, you are missing a big opportunity.  Here are some tips for businesses to utilize social media tools:

  • Create a Google Alert for your business.  Place the title of your business in quotes like “Out of the Box Marketing”.  You have the option to receive these alerts daily.
  • Conduct a regular audit for your business using Social Mention.  This will search online content and filter it all into a report for you to go through.
  • Regularly search consumer review sites for your brand (like travel sites, electronics sites, Google Reviews)
  • Create a Facebook page for your business (if you have not already done so) and invite feedback from your consumers!

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The Importance of Reviews to Local Search

Every day, the Internet becomes more and more tailored to suit you and your potential customer’s specific needs. It remembers what websites you have visited and “liked”, what your location is, and makes suggestions about the things you might be looking for. This focus on convenience means it is increasingly important for you to market your business in the most convenient place possible: locally.  Capturing local business online depends on your presence, and reviews on your site play a role in establishing this presence.

First, consider these statistics, courtesy of the freeseoguide:

90% of online commercial searches result in offline “in-store” purchases.
82% of local searchers follow up offline by a store visit or phone call.
80% of all budgets are spent within 50 miles of home.

At Out of the Box, we take great care in enhancing your website and place page so that they are optimized for organic search, building links to your site, and ensuring your business’ information is consistent across all directories so that you can be competitive in local searches. There are many factors that go into your site’s ranking in search results, and it is our job to address each of them. However, one of the most important things that you can do as a business owner that will enhance these results and make a big difference in your local search presence is getting lots and lots of reviews on your place page. There are a couple of great ways to approach this:
“Quantity over quality” – The placement of your place page in the local search listings is influenced by the number of reviews that your business receives. At this point Google search places slightly more importance on the number of reviews over the quality of the review. This will undoubtedly change over time to more accurately reflect customer “sentiment,” but we recommend that you offer every customer a chance to provide feedback to your business on your place page. If you have 5 or 6 great reviews, you are not relevant and will likely not be at the top of local searches, especially in competitive environments such as hospitality.

In the example below, we searched for “Portland restaurants.”  While there are a variety of factors involved in the search results, the relationship between rankings and review/citation count should be not be ignored:

Keyword: portland restaurant
Listing    Homepage                                   Position    Verified?    Review Count           Citations

Portland City Grill                                             1              Y                1902               190
Mothers                                                           2              Y                1699                192
Rock Bottom Brewery                                        3              Y                  998                104

” A bad review is a great opportunity” – Reviews not only help you solicit honest feedback about your customer’s experience, they give you the chance to make it up to them if something goes wrong. Responding to a negative review in a professional and friendly way on your website or place page demonstrates that you are willing to go above and beyond to make things right for your customers.

Out of the Box has a number of strategies and advice for how to increase your review count, and we will continue to work diligently to address the multitude of other factors that help to determine your search ranking. As always, we are here to help you be successful and build your business in a practical manner. Whether your online presence makes up a small part or a significant portion of your marketing campaign, we want to make sure you are getting the most out of it and providing as much synergy across all campaigns as possible!

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Earning a Ranking

Like all good marketing companies we read a lot of articles and blogs from people in our industry. The other day I read an article comparing black hat SEO and white hat. It was all the usual remarks about black hat techniques jeopardizing the client’s site and white hat SEO taking a long time. But then he said something that caught my attention. He said websites have to earn their placement in search engines. And I realized that is exactly where we are most helpful to clients; we help them grow their site in all the ways that help earn that ranking.

One day I am on the phone talking about the importance of reviews with a longstanding client and the next day I am discussing keyword research and adding titles and text links to a new client’s site.

There is no magic with search engine ranking nor are there any quick turnarounds. You can’t optimize a site and then walk away saying done. Even if it is done perfectly, you will always see something you can add or subtract. You can’t pay to have a zillion links to your site and check search engine marketing off your list. You can’t get a Facebook page and twitter account and start promoting your page and expect great placement, nor can you add 50 articles about your topic and call it a day. All of this things play a role in your placement in engines. And all of these things, and several hundred more are a part of earning your search engine ranking.

A good SEO campaign is really never ending. Each month we look at a client’s site from all angles. And we identify and build out those areas where we see the site is the weakest. One month we will look at it as a user. And ask how can we make it clearer how to navigate the site, or does this text really say enough about the product to make me want to buy it?
What is the bounce rate for that page? Another month we may be figuring out why the Google shopping feed is not getting as many sales as last year or how to grow their fans in Facebook. It is all part of Internet marketing and it is all part of SEO.

Our clients get harassed by online companies loudly offering one of these services as if it will solve their problem and they will suddenly have great placement and great sales. We just sigh and say no that will not happen, let’s get back to work. Because that is what it takes to make a site show up well in engines and stay there. Plain, simple, continuous work. As unglamorous as that sounds.

But if you come across an online offer to lose weight immediately with some new product I just have to buy, send it on to me, please. I just know there is an easy way out there I just haven’t found it yet.

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Facebook’s New Business Page Tip #1: How to Login as Your Business Page

There has been a great deal of chatter about the sweeping changes Facebook has made to Business Pages this month.  Our clients have so many questions about this that we are planning to devote a series of posts to answering them- one post at at time.

With some assistance and explanations from savvy bloggers like JohnHaydon.com, we have realized that in the case of Facebook’s New Business Page Layout- change is good!

Facebook’s New Business Page Layout Tip #1: How to Login and Interact as Your Page

Business Page admins now have the ability to shift/toggle from their personal Facebook Profile to “Page Mode” and interact with other Business Pages as their Business Page.  This is probably the most significant new feature of the new pages launched this month.  What does this mean for you?

  • You can now log in as your page and “Like” other pages and interact with them just as you would from your personal profile.
  • Note: Pages cannot interact with personal profiles unless the profile’s privacy settings are wide open.
  • FAQ: Can I use a separate email and password to use Facebook as the Page I admin? Not at this time. In order to use Facebook as your Page, you must first log in to your personal profile, and then select the option to use Facebook as your Page.

How to do it?  Watch the video below! Got  more questions about the new Facebook page layout? Post them and we find the answer!

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The Buzz……Facebook “Deals” Increases Engagement with Mobile App Users

Image Credit: Facebook.com

Businesses and consumers are benefiting again through Facebook.  It began with the Business Page; then Facebook Ads; then Facebook Places took interactions to a new level with mobile device users.  Now we have Facebook Deals open to some businesses who have claimed their page in Facebook places.

So here’s how it works: You create a “Deal” for your customers and it will appear on their mobile phones when they are near your location- they can take advantage of the deal when they check in on Facebook.  We love that it is currently free for businesses to use- and can be an excellent way to reward Facebook users and build great buzz for your business!  The more value you give your customers, the more buzz your deal will generate.

Depending on your marketing goals, there are four types of deals for you to consider:

Individual Deals

  • Simple, easy to follow
  • Great way to get people into your store or get rid of excess inventory
  • Perfect if you want to offer a one-time deal
  • Flexible – can be used on new and current customers.
  • Examples: Offer a 40% Discount, or a free gift with a purchase from your store, or complimentary appetizer at your restaurant with the purchase of a dinner, etc.

Loyalty Deals

  • Rewards your most loyal customers
  • This deal is claimed by customers after a certain number of check-ins (no fewer than two and no more
  • than 20 check-ins)

Friend Deals

  • Goal is to provide a deal to a group of people
  • Can offer discounts to groups of up to 8 people when they check in together.
  • Great viral exposure for your business because it requires customers need to share you deal with their friends and family

Charity Deals

  • Builds awareness
  • Builds appreciation with your customers- it shows you care about your community
  • You will make a donation in the amount of your choice to the charity of your choice each time someone claims your deal.
  • This is a great way for your business to give back

Here are Facebook’s recommendations when creating your Deals:

Offer your customers a lot of value
Example- offer a 10% – 50% discount or a gift with purchase that is of equal or greater value than the customer purchase amount.

Keep Your Copy Short, Simple and to the Point! The easier for your consumers to read and understand, the more successful your deal will be. Stay away from wordy titles and descriptions.

Avoid “deal fatigue” ! Running too many deals at the same time may be confusing for your employees and customers. Deals that run too long may become irrelevant and may be viewed as readily available discounts that
don’t drive people’s intent to purchase. In addition, pay attention to the number of deals that you run.
Running too many deals at the same time may be confusing for your employees and customers.

To create your deal: Make sure that you have claimed your business on Facebook Places. If you are eligible, you should see a “Create a Deal” button on the top right corner.   At this time, deals are only available to a limited set of businesses in the US. If you are part of the initial beta, you’ll notice a “Create Deal” button at the top right of your Place. If you are not- don’t worry!  Facebook is committed to bringing this opportunity to everyone and we will keep you posted!

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Social Media And Google Search

Search Engine Optimizers and Social Media Experts alike have been saying for some time now, that it appears that Social Media influences Google placement. Now we have confirmation of that from Matt Cutts the face of Google. And surprise, surprise it mimics their algorithium for Page Rank. Quantity is not enough you must look at quality, and you must be a trusted source. So building business followers in both Facebook and Twitter must make sense and be related to what you do. Using good common sense with Google has always been a rule of thumb for us and now that continues into social media.

Listen to the specifics in this video from Matt Cutts .

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Keyword Research is Crucial to Optimizing Your Blog Content

Do either of these scenarios sound familiar to you?

Scenario #1: You are a very busy business owner who barely has time to search for anything on the Internet- let alone sit down and write a blog post that will be seen on a wide scale.

Scenario #2: You have taken up valuable time to write what you consider to be a masterpiece in your industry- and nobody reads it.

For any business owner, having a company blog is becoming a standard in most Social Media Marketing plans. The benefits of smart business blogging include a better connection to your customers, stronger branding, and more consistent communications…which can result in increased traffic to your site which can mean: more business.

We are finding the “just put it out there and they will come” approach to Social Media is not the best strategy when it comes to getting the most out of your investment of time and money. One very important step to your campaign strategy is to optimize your blog. There are several ways to do this- and it really is not as complicated as you think.

I am launching a series of posts dedicated to helping you understand different tools and techniques that are used to make sure your blogging efforts do not go unseen.

Blog Optimizing Tip #1:  Keyword Research.

Your choice of words is critical- particularly in the title. When you sit down to write, ask yourself “What words would my customers use to search this topic”– and be realistic. For instance, if you own a bakery and you are doing a post on current wedding cake trends- a bad title would be “Some of my favorite styles” .  Perhaps a better,  (though less personal) title would be: “Best Wedding Cake Ideas” (or something similar to that).

You want to think about who your customers are and what they search for. I know this seems like common sense, but you would be surprised by how many bloggers miss an opportunity to be found online just because they did not think about the keywords in their title.

Take a few moments to do keyword research before every post. I cannot tell you how much this quick and easy step will help you become a better blogger and see more satisfying results.

Google’s Keyword Tool is one of the best ways to conduct your keyword research (and it is free & easy to use).  Type in the topic you want to blog about in the “word or phrase”  field  (ex/”Wedding Cakes”) and it will pull up the most searched for terms relating to that topic.

Something to keep in mind: The higher searched terms are more competitive and the “big fish” out there may have a lock on those words (this means you won’t see as much traffic because your blog post could end up on page #256 of Google if you only focus on highly competitive keyword).   You might be better off using a slightly less competitive term- use your best judgement.  The more you practice this- the better judgement you will be able to use when choosing your keywords.  If you want to explore other options there are lots of great tools out there to explore.  Here are a few to get you started: Wordtracker; WordStream; Google Suggest; Thesaurus.com

Here is an excellent video tutorial that breaks down the ins and outs of using  Google’s Keyword Tool

 

I will be doing a series of posts dedicated to sharing the best ways to optimize your blog so you can enjoy increased (and more qualified) Web traffic to your site.  Check back for my next tip!

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Marketing Study Shows Social Media Marketing is Not Just a Trend- It is Becoming an Industry Standard

Because Social Media marketing is relatively new to most businesses, I find that lots of small-medium sized business owners are a bit timid about jumping into it.  Many are worried Social Media is a fad, and investing precious time and money is just not worth it.

I am always searching for articles that give good examples of Case Studies and other companies using Social Media – and found a great article in Inc. 500 about a recent study from the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and how mainstream Social Media marketing is really becoming.

To our clients who have already embraced Social Media as a way to build their brand online- congratulations for being a head of the game and I will work as hard as I can to keep you there!  To those who hesitate and need further proof that Social Media is becoming more standard in our industry, read this article:

Inc. 500 CEOs Use Social Media for Business

A new study shows that the use of social media is particularly prevalent among Inc. 500 companies and provides new insight on the role social media plays in running a business.
By Tamara Schweitzer | Nov 25, 2009

For the third consecutive year, the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, has conducted a study on social media usage among Inc. 500 companies. The 2009 results confirm the upward trend of social media adoption rates among some of the fastest growing private companies, and provide a useful comparison of social media trends from 2007 on.

This year’s study, which was conducted by researchers Nora Ganim Barnes and Eric Mattson, included 148 of the 2009 Inc. 500 companies. As with the past two years, respondents were asked about their usage and familiarity with six types of social media tools, including blogging, podcasting, online video, social networking, message boards, and wikis. In the past year, social media usage by the Inc. 500 has grown, with 91 percent of companies reporting that they use at least one social media tool, compared to 77 percent in the 2008 survey. And, of the six social media categories, the one that continues to be the most familiar to Inc. 500 companies is social networking, with 75 percent saying that they are “very familiar with it.”

To account for the rise in popularity of newer types of social media, this year’s study also asked respondents about their interaction with sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace. Not surprisingly, the study found that many of the companies have already embraced these sites for running their business, with Twitter being the most widely used of them at 52 percent of the total respondents. While Twitter and other social networking sites have seen significant growth in comparison to previous years, other social media tools such as message boards and podcasting declined in the level of usage. But despite lower usage of some tools in 2009, many companies that have not yet incorporated social media in their business operations say they intend to do so in the future. For example, 44 percent of companies without a company blog say they plan to start one, and 36 percent intend to use some form of online video.

Eric Mattson, CEO of research firm Financial Insite and one of the head researchers in the study, believes that the high reception to social media among Inc. 500 companies is significant for several reasons. “Inc. 500 companies are focused on doing anything they can to grow faster and social media is an innovative tool that may give them an edge over their competition,” say Mattson. Additionally, he says their status as private companies plays a role. “There is less implication for private companies using social media – they don’t have to worry about the stock market going up or down based on someone’s Tweet,” says Mattson. “And often in smaller organizations, there is more room for innovation because it requires less processes to adopt.”

In looking at the data from a longitudinal standpoint, it’s clear that it’s not just the level of social media usage that’s significant, but the way in which businesses are using it. As in years past, respondents were asked if they were monitoring their company name or brands in the social media space, and 68 percent said yes, compared to 50 percent just two years ago. Lastly, companies were asked for the first time if they are using social media to communicate with vendors and suppliers, and 34 percent reported using social networks as a way to communicate, while 26 percent cited Twitter as an important vehicle for communication. “From a big picture trend standpoint, these results show how prevalent and widespread social media is becoming in every aspect of business now,” says Mattson.

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Is Twitter Striking a Deal with Google & Microsoft?

All right all you Twitter Nay-Sayers.…pay attention- this is big.   Last week, the news broke that Twitter is in serious talks with Google and Microsoft about incorporating  their data, or “tweets”, into their Internet search results. The search toolbar added to Twitter earlier this year (allowing users to search for specific keywords used in Tweets in real time) has evolved into very popular method of conducting online searches.  As we have seen from recent major new stories (the Iranian Elections for example) Twitter users are finding key information on the latest news events and happenings in real time.

Why should business owners and marketers care about this developing relationship?  Because Twitter feeds could soon be integrated into the results of search engines- and if you are not using Twitter to connect to major players and influencers in your industry, you might be missing a big opportunity to position your brand to find more search engine traffic once this deal goes through.  I want to share some smart advice I found in What Twitter’s Deal with Google Might Mean for Marketers!

So, what should marketers do? Start connecting with influencers in your industry. Do keyword searches on http://twitter.grader.com/search  and find the influencers relevant to your business. Start sending them resources, responding to their tweets and doing whatever it takes to form relationships. You’ll need them to know about the content you’re creating, find it interesting and hopefully … retweet your stuff.

Great advice- this is a practice marketers ought to be doing any way. 

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Case Study: Dell Exemplifies How Social Media is a Critical Link to Your Customers

I was inspired to write today’s post because I wanted to share an article today from Richard Binhammer, a senior manager in corporate communications at Dell, posted on SmartBlog on Social Media.

Those who have worked with me know that I spend a great deal of time encouraging businesses to let go of their fears and embrace social media as a means for their message to travel efficiently and to build trust among their customers. What better way to do this than to encourage employees to share their valuable insight in social media communities?

In the article, How Dell took social media mainstream, Richard describes how communication tactics among businesses have changed since community driven social networks have taken such a prominent place in our society.

I think Dell is an excellent case study of a large business who has embraced this concept by encouraging their employees in marketing, sales, service and support, and product groups to engage with customers and each other via social media channels.

The social media model being used at Dell exemplifies the true spirit of engaging and listening to your customers. All businesses should pay attention and learn from their experience. Dell has benefited from platforms such as Twitter and IdeaStorm to share their brand, build trust with their customers and have received valuable feedback to make them an even better company.

Richard sums up what I have been trying to say for some time much more eloquently that I can:

After three years of experimenting, listening and learning, ….we have concluded that social media is ultimately about connecting and communicating across all aspects of our business….. While social media started as a way for Dell to distribute news and special offers, it has evolved into a critical relationship builder, integrated into all business units.

Here are three tips for getting started on integrating social media into your business operations:

* Listen first. Learn from what your customers are saying to establish your baseline.

* Engage employees internally through social media. Use blogs, Yammer or company-specific social tools to get people used to and excited about the platforms.

* Encourage employees to set up social media accounts. As you know, social media is addictive! Once people try it, not only will they be itching for more, they’ll be coming up with ideas for how it can benefit their team.

Ahhhh…Poetry!   Music to my ears!

-Amy Dunn

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Tagging Friends & Businesses in Facebook Updates (And Why This is Great News)

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Tag your friends and favorite businesses in your Facebook updates!

Facebook has added a very nifty tagging feature this month so that it functions a little more like Twitter in certain capacities.  Facebook users now have the ability to communicate directly with another Facebook user or business by adding the @ symbol before their user name.

For instance…lets say I want to make the following update on my Facebook profile:

Amy is “Saying hello to everyone at Out of the Box Marketing “ or Amy is “Just read an interesting blog post from Schoodoodle” or Amy is “Meeting Becky Smith at the park”.

Wouldn’t this be so much more interesting and useful if there was a link to the Out of the Box Facebook page and the Schoodoodle Facebook page or to Becky’s profile?  To do this, simply type in the “@” symbol before the name of the business page or your friend’s profile and a drop down menu will appear for you to select the name. Upon name selection- the link to the business page or to your friend will appear live so it shows up like : Out of the Box and Schoodoodle

Those who use Twitter are already familiar with how this works- and understand why this is so exciting for businesses on Facebook. This feature allows:

  • More viral “buzz” to occur about business pages and groups in Facebook
  • More direct interaction between friends and businesses
  • The ability for businesses to have more direct and meaningful engagement with their fans. When you tag a fan of your business, they will receive notification and are likely to come back to your page and engage.

Here is the catch for Facebook admins (there seems to always be one!) that I learned after reading Jason Fall’s informative article Facebook Tagging for Business on Social Media Explorer today:

The catch is that you can only tag those who are your Facebook friends as well. If someone is a fan of your business, but not a friend of yours on the network, you won’t be able to tag them. As a result, you’ll have to think through having a professional account for yourself that you use to friend people who are fans of your brand. Some may not feel comfortable “friending” someone from the brand as well, but some probably will.

Confused? It’s ok. Just try it, go with it and see what happens. This does not over expose people because Facebook users still have to accept friend invitations in order to see their profile updates and information. In other words, the same privacy rules and settings will still in effect.

If I tag Becky Smith in my updates and someone in my Facebook network sees this update and clicks on Becky’s link- they will not be able to see her information if that person is not already friends with them. Becky also has the option of removing this tag.

This is a very exciting tool for social media marketers BUT I strongly encourage all admins of Facebook business pages to read Jason’s article and follow his 5 tips to best tagging for business practices:

Five Rules For Facebook Tagging For Business

1. Only tag people who will find the information you’re posting relevant. Throwing up a coupon and tagging all your friends is spammy. Use your update or email marketing features for that. Use tagging when you mention one of your Facebook friends showed up at your event and you were glad they came. It sends a personal “thank you” in a public way and allows them to see that you appreciate them.

2. Don’t tag the same people all the time. Just like blasting messages via email, when you get into copy and paste procedures, you become spam-like and annoying. Make sure you follow rule number one, but mix it up and tag different people in different messages, pictures or notes.

3. Set your notifications appropriately. The first thing most people noticed when the tagging feature was added is they started getting notifications of not just being tagged, but when anyone else responded to the item you were tagged in. Change those email notifications to get the exact information you want from Facebook and one that you don’t want or don’t need.

4. Be sensitive to your customer’s wishes. I would only recommend tagging people you have a great relationship with an know won’t mind you connecting them with your brand publicly. Your best friends … fans … advocates. Tagging a new person who has joined your Fan Page in a note or status update can seem a bit creepy if they haven’t had a chance to get to know you yet.

5. Encourage your employees, friends, followers and fans to tag your fan page when mentioning you on Facebook. It’s a simple act (just hit @ followed by your brand name or page name, then select) that places a link to your page or group in their updates. I would recommend, however, you ask in a way that is subtle and implies that you’d appreciate the gesture but it certainly isn’t required. Don’t worry. They’ll share the love if they really love you.

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New Marketing Clients

We are very excited about working with our five new clients
for everything from search engine optimization to social media plans.

  • D2000 Safety
    offers safety and rescue training.

  • Circle Foods
    is the manufacturers of La Terra Fina, Nuevo Grille, Tortillaland and Rotiland.

  • Acme Menu Covers
    offer menu covers to complement your restaurant’s atmosphere.

  • Take Wing Flying D
    offering pilot training, aircraft renting and testing.

  • Adopt International
    in San Francisco California arranges domestic and international adoptions

We hope we can achieve great results for them.

.

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What do you want from Social Media?

A recent white paper titled “Social Media: Embracing the Opportunities, Averting the Risks,” came out of a study conducted by Minneapolis-based Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law in July 2009. A total of 438 randomly selected management, marketing and human resources executives within companies across the United States completed the online survey, providing a statistical reliability of +/-4.8 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. The data showed:

• 81% believe social media can enhance relationships with customers/clients

• 81% agree it can build brand reputation

• 69% feel such networking can be valuable in recruitment

• 64% see it as a customer service tool

• 46% think it can be used to enhance employee moral

Which is important to you?  What are the best strategies for implementing social media? Defining and refining your goals is step one to crafting an effective Social Media plan.

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Local Listings – More Important Than You Think

Google is doing a very smart thing with their local listings. They are now showing up if you type in certain general keywords. Type accountant into Google and halfway down the page you will see local accountant listings. It makes perfect sense. These listings are free and come from the Google local listings. The good news is that you can alter the listing so that you stand a better chance of showing up for those terms. If you have not claimed your listing you need to do it. Find it in the listings and click on claim it or edit it. If you have claimed it already but only added one category you need to go back in and add up to 5 categories. While you are there, make sure your description contains your services and some of your keywords. Add your hours, specialties, images, anything you can think of that will educate the user and also Google in what you do. Think about offering a coupon. And get some reviews. Reviews can make a big difference on where you show up in local listings.

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Powerful Video Demonstrates Why Social Media is Not a Fad- But A Revolution

For anyone who thinks that Social Media Marketing is a fad or a waste of time- watch this video one our friends from Earth Studio shared with us yesterday.  These are some pretty amazing stats that surprised even me!   A year ago- I was eager to learn as much as I could in this field- so I went to bookstores to try and find resources that would teach me skills like managing a campaign on Facebook and best practices on Twitter– and the employees could find nothing. A couple of them had never even heard of Twitter.  So I relied on blogs and hands on experience to learn.

Last night, I was shopping in a mega bookstore and came across an entire section devoted to Social Media. Not Marketing, not Business, not Computers, – but the name of the section is actually Social Media.

It is very exciting to be in this field right now.  I believe this is truly a revolution- and marketing professionals and business owners are going to have to accept the old rules of marketing and PR are losing ground.  Smart businesses understand what is happening, and they are learning to adapt to our new culture.  While there is still value in traditional marketing practices today- it is essential to invest time and energy into creating effective social media campaigns to sustain in the future.   Consider the statistics presented in this video and let me know if you agree:

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Social Bookmarking Explained

You have heard about Social Bookmarking sites such as Delicious, Digg, Stumble-Upon and more….but how and why should you use them?  Social Bookmarking is a great way to share your content and to bookmark articles/blog posts/and websites that are important to you.  What are some of the benefits?

  • You can efficiently organize your content and your bookmarked sites by labeling them according to key words- (known as as tagging).  When you “tag” your content and bookmark it into your profile- you make it very easy for the content to be found not only by you- but by others in your network.
  • Social Bookmarking communities are a great way to build authentic relationships by sharing comments, content and links with one another.
  • These communities are often used by bloggers and journalists for searches.
  • This is a great way to research trends and get an idea of what people are talking about within your field.
  • Adding content to social media communities often results in better search engine authority if you use your keywords when giving titles to your bookmarks.  I have found this to be especially true of Digg and Delicious.
  • Adding your content to these communities will give it a longer shelf life by allowing it to be seen by more eyes; hence deepening your footprint on the Web (a phrase we like to use around here!).

If you are still confused about How Social Bookmarking works and Why You ought to consider it- check out this helpful tutorial……

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Ideas to Generate Brilliant Blog Posts and Article Content

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I often come across a number of business owners who are true experts in their field. Their minds are filled with wonderful insight and ideas about their industry, but do not know how to translate their knowledge into brilliant blog posts and articles.  Social media expert Chris Brogan recently compiled a list of questions business owners can ask themselves to generate better content to support their inbound marketing efforts.  Here are some of the questions to think about when you feel “stuck”:

Blog and Article Topics to Get You Unstuck


  • What challenges are my potential customers facing? Do I have any advice for them?
  • What have I read lately? What points were interesting? Can I add more to it?
  • What bugs me? Can I write about another way to approach it?
  • Who do I admire? Can I write something about them that explains how to emulate those traits?
  • What has the potential of helping (hurting) me or my community in the coming months? Are there possible ways out of it?
  • What kinds of tools are missing from my environment that would help things along?
  • Which companies or parts of an industry might benefit from my ideas?
  • How do other industries compare to what my community is thinking about?
  • What kinds of thoughts will inspire my audience to contact me (or support a cause, or buy my product, or support my interests)?
  • What do I want to know that I can ask my community?

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Ice Cream and Social Media

I love ice cream year round- but there is nothing better than a perfect ice cream cone to cap off a lazy summer day. What does this have to do with social media and why and I blogging about this? I found this wonderful video that demonstrates the importance and value of social media in You Tube created by Common Craft. This group produces short explanatory videos that are focused on making complex ideas easy to understand (something we all need). This clever video used the analogy of ice cream flavors to demonstrate and remind us how social media marketing at it’s best can work:

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There is Value in Other Social Media Communites Too!

This weekend, I have been spending some time catching up on my reading- and came across this great piece published in the Hubspot Blog.  This blog is a wealth of information and I recommend adding them to your reading list if you are interested in learning best practices in Social Media Marketing.

The piece is called

Five Tips for Contributing to Online Communities Other Than Facebook and Twitter

I am sharing this post because I know that we place a lot of our attention in the big social networking communities.  But there are many other smaller niche online communities out there that are worth exploring besides Twitter and Facebook.  It depends on who you want to reach.   I am not saying the large communities do not have value- but I am encouring business owners to look beyond the big sites and find other communities to network in as well.

Let me know what you think!

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Managing Your Social Media Life

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It seems like every single day, someone emails me a link to site or an article about a new social media tool, trend or application that is supposed to make life easy and prevent SMO (Social Media Overload). As someone who practices and studies social media marketing all the time, even I find it difficult to stay on top of all of the available tools! I can only imagine how overwhelmed a business owner must feel!

If I had a magic wand to make social media marketing easy, perfect and predictable- I would probably use it often and become pretty wealthy. Until I find that magic potion or wand- here are just a few of the tools that I rely on to help me manage my social media life in some capacity.

HelloTxt:

HelloTxt is a wonderful tool to manage your social media life. I advise that you go to the site today and create an account. With HelloTxt, you can post updates to most of your social media accounts (like Linked In, My Space, Twitter, Facebook) in one spot. Why log into so many places when you just do this from one place? It is very easy to set up and most of the people who use it love it.

FriendFeed:

FriendFeed is a social media community where all of the feeds from your other social media communities and blogs can feed into one place. It is a good way to view all of the activity from yourself and friends in one location. In my opinion, the popularity and functionality of Friendfeed remains to be seen- but I certainly believe this kind of social media streamlining is going to become a more important feature in the future.

TweetDeck:

TweetDeck is an application designed to help you manage your Twitter and Facebook account and lives on your desktop. It would be a huge waste of time for anyone to sit and stare at Twitter all day and navigate from page to page to see if someone has attempted to engage in a conversation. Downloading is simple, simply go to http://www.tweetdeck.com.

Why I love it:

  • It consolidates everything into 4 simple columns so you can see everything at once. Column 1: The Tweets of everyone you are following, Column 2: All @Replies that mention you (@yourtwitter username), Column 3: All Direct messages sent to you, Column 4: Facebook Status
  • The fact you can easily manage your accounts from these 4 columns. You can reply, direct message, retweet incoming Tweets that pop up in the first column. If you choose, you can quickly unfollow or view the profile of the person who posted the Tweet.
  • It is relatively simple to use and you can post updates to your Twitter AND Facebook accounts, or just your Twitter account, or just your Facebook account.
  • TweetDeck also provides quick links to other wonderful tools to help you make the most of your the Twittering.

What I do not love about it is the fact someone really needs to be familiar with how Twitter and Facebook works to get good use out of it. If you have no idea how Twitter works, the application will probably not make a lot of sense to you.

Hootsuite:

Another Twitter Tool that I advise using is HootSuite– “the ultimate Twitter Tool Box”. This is another free application that will allow you to manage your multiple accounts AND schedule your Tweets to post during optimal dates and times.

For example, if you would like to share info about an event in with your community- but fear you may be too busy to post this Tweet during the right time, you can schedule your Tweet to post at the exact time you wish to share the information.

Posting a Tweet in Hootsuite is very simple, plus you can view any @replies to respond to or direct messages.  Hootsuite makes it very easy to reply and Retweet (a practice that is very valuable to building your network). What I love the most about Hootsuite is it makes very simple to shorten a url if you wish to share a link with their ow.ly url shortener. When you use this wonderful tool- it enables you to pull stats and see how many people clicked on the url (useful information indeed!).

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How to Build Fans of Your Facebook Business Page

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I must be honest, one of the biggest challenges that I am having as I assist clients with their social media marketing plan is building a strong following and fan base in Facebook.  Facebook is a gold mine of new leads and connections but it can be tough to build that bridge that allows them to easily find and connect with your business. Facebook Business Pages are a valuable method of engaging with fans on a regular basis and building buzz in Social Media Communities.

I recently had a conversation with a fellow marketer who manages a Facebook business page. I was impressed with the large following she has managed to build and asked her about her methods. How was she able to get so many people on Facebook to care enough to become fans? I will share these tips with you!

Step One: Develop a Strategy for your Page.

Build the page with the goal to become a valuable resource to your customers. Nobody joins social networking communities so that they can be advertised to. People do not always care about your product or service. They care about THEIR issues and finding solutions.

Give them a good reason to come to your page. You can use the page to post links to valuable articles, post helpful and interesting videos, photos and other fun updates.

You can also join other Facebook pages and groups similar to yours to see what they were doing. This is a great way to do research and get a feel for what works and what does not work. You will want to participate in these communities by contributing to discussions, answering questions, and share information.


Step Two: Organize the Masses.

After convincing the “powers that be” in your organization that having a Facebook page for your business can be a powerful tool; I recommend organizing the staff to officially launch the page. Explain to everyone that the goal is to become an industry resource for people in your field.

Have a meeting with the entire staff to explain what a Facebook page is and the purpose of it. Outline how you intend to use it and answer questions and address everyone’s concerns.

Encourage the staff to support the page. It is not uncommon to request employees of your company open a Facebook profile and become fans of the page. Perhaps they can help start the momentum by being fans and sending out invitations to their family and friends to be fans as well. You may find that friends and family are more than happy to support the efforts of a company where you are employed.

Step Three: Give reasons for people in Facebook to join and come back to the page.

Do a bit of research each week and post resources in your field. Post relevant links to articles and blog posts that offered helpful advice and tips. Remember- posting on your wall will cause an update to feed into your fans newsfeed on their home page.

I also recommend sending regular fan updates so the existing fans would have a reason to come back to the page. In doing this, you will began to attract more fans. However, do not use the fan updates to be overly promotional and salesy- this could be a turn off to your fans. See this as more of a conversational “hello” and express gratitude to your

Facebook fans for their support. Perhaps you can also gently request they invite people in their network to become a fan of your business page too.
Step Four: Seek any and every opportunity to promote your Facebook page.

Post a link to in the signature of your email (think about how many people you email every day). Request your staff (if possible) to post a link to your Facebook page as well! Post a link to your Facebook Page on your company site AND the blog.

Posting media such as photos and video and tagging them with relevant keywords has been proven to attracts new visitors.

Consider budgeting for a low cost ad campaign to promote your Facebook page through targeted advertising. Lots of businesses have seen positive results from doing this- and have built onto their fan base.

Most importanly, remember that there is no magic program or quick fix to launch a successful Facebook page for your business. While the service is currently free (take advantage while it still is!)- is does require planning and hard work to build your own online community. But the payoff is tremendous!

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Facebook Funny Video

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Facebook Profiles, Fan Pages, and Groups Explained

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Everyone knows and has heard of Facebook.  Everyone knows Facebook is the biggest and best thing since sliced bread. Yet there is confusion on why and how a business should use Facebook? I am writing this post because I cannot stress how valuable this social network can be to a business when utilized in a smart way.

First, I believe that business owners and managers really need to have a personal Facebook profile.  This can be used to network easily with their personal contacts AND for building business relationships.  It is true that Facebook is designed for people to connect on a personal level; however, countless business relationships have been made through this network.  How many times have we been able to land a big opportunity through friends of a person we know?  The purpose of Facebook is to connect you to everyone that you know whether it is someone you went to school with, former or current coworkers, groups, associations, or family members. By connecting to those you know, Facebook gives you the opportunity to safely connect to people that your friends know. Facebook networks tend to grow very quickly as the network is constantly offering suggestions of people that you may know.

Once someone has a Facebook Profile- the next step is to create and promote their business with a Facebook fan page and eventually form a Facebook group.  BOTH features are valuable and important because they are both methods to engage and interact with people interested in your business for free (that may not last forever).  Pages and groups have different features and should really compliment one another.  Group members can be invited to join the fan page and fans of the page can be invited and encouraged to join the group.

Here is what I know-

A Facebook Page

  • Functions like a personal Facebook profile- it has a wall to post on, photo albums, video, notes and is set up with tabs so it is easy to navigate
  • You can post updates on the wall (which should be fed into fan’s newsfeed)
  • Fans have the ability to also post on the wall and post photos
  • Admins can and should send frequent updates to Fans (that are fed into the “Updates” section of their Facebook Profile) to keep them coming back to the page
  • You can feed your blog into the notes of your Facebook page.
  • You can promote the page and reach a targeted audience for a very reasonable price

The more content you post in your Facebook fan page- the more fans you will attract.  The page should be viewed as a resource for your audience.  People do not join social networks because they want to hear about your product or service. They join because they want to connect with others and find solutions and ideas to inspire them.

The first step to building a Facebook page is to determine who your audience is and put out content that they would find appealing.  Posting links to relevant articles or blogs, video, photos, that address your audience would be a smart way to make your fan page a resource- and gives your fans reasons to come back.  In addition- you should also balance the information on your page with your news, updates, events, announcements and photos.

Facebook Groups-

  • Intended to be an online community (People who love Thai food, People who love Bob Dylan, etc)
  • Admins can send messages directly to group member’s inbox (REALLY valuable feature)
  • People can post and contribute to ongoing discussions, links, etc.

I like the Facebook pages because it allows us to provide more information and interaction with fans- but I like the Facebook groups because I like the concept of attracting an online community based on similar interests and the ability to communicate directly to their inboxes is very valuable.  It is a smart strategy to put effort into both so they compliment each other.

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