Online Marketing Solutions
If you’re a business owner, and you haven’t spent some time exploring Pinterest’s boards (and benefits), you should -- it just might help to boost your bottom line! Below are some Pinterest best practices we suggest you peruse before you dive in.
Boasting an average of 1,090 visitors per minute and a database increase of over 145% in just one year, Pinterest is more than just a new kid on the block (shop.org). Generating over four times as much revenue-per-click as Twitter, and 27% more revenue-per-click than Facebook, Pinterest has attracted a valuable (and oft-difficult to snag) business and retail audience (venturebeat.com). For a relatively new network on the social media scene, these numbers are both staggering and convincing.
As with all social networks, the age-old strategy of “build it and they will come” is extinct. Marketing through social media requires engagement, integration and consistency, and Pinterest is no exception. To build and execute a successful presence on this network requires five key practices that should be included on every social media manager’s sticky notes.
Plan. Create a content strategy that is customized toward the lifestyle of your target audience. “Pin” products and information that engage with your demographic and always think of your consumers first.
Engage. A natural social community, Pinterest requires engagement. Repin, Like or Comment on both your own pins/boards and the boards of others. Be sure to participate.
Integrate. Do not silo your social media efforts. Promote your boards on your pre-existing accounts (Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, for example). Incorporate the “Pin It” button onto your social sharing lineup.
Evaluate. Be sure to measure your social media marketing success. What boards are seeing the most “likes”? What pins are seeing the most “repins”? Is Pinterest driving traffic to your website? As you’re following your plan and engaging with your audience, keep track of your KPIs (key performance indicators) and continue to evaluate and re-evaluate.
Enjoy. Have fun with this network! As a visual medium, encourage others to enjoy your content and engage with your copy. Have fun.
In a recent study led by ComScore, it was revealed that 21% of people with Pinterest accounts have purchased an item after seeing it on the social network (comscore.com). For small, independent businesses, this statistic should leave you salivating. Requiring a minimal budget, Pinterest enables small businesses to display their product lines in a unique and visually compelling fashion – something that a business of gifts, home décor, housewares and jewelry will excel within. Likewise, travel and tourism industry marketers would do well to get online, post pictures of their destinations and encourage visitors and guests to do the same!
Registering on Pinterest is easy. Visiting www.pinterest.com will take you through a “Login” or “Join” process right on the homepage. Simply click “Join” and register with your Facebook, Twitter or email address. Upload a photo, supply Pinterest with brief details and your business is set.
What are you waiting for? If you need advice, or want to pursue Pinterest as part of a larger social media marketing campaign, Stir can help. Give us a call today!
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In Part I of this post (Does Social Media Marketing really help to boost a business's bottom line? Yes!), we talked about the importance of a social media campaign to your company's success. In this post, we'll look at some of the great social media campaigns of late. Our hope is that in them you'll find inspiration, motivation, and proof that a social media campaign done well can mean real wins!
Stir is always watching for social media success stories like the ones below. It’s a great way to learn what works. You could (and should!) do the same. Combining the inspiration they offer with the tips above will enable you to create a social media marketing campaign that will build your brand, boost buzz online, and improve your company’s bottom line.
BC Guest Ranchers Association -- from www.stirsolutions.com
“The BC Guest Ranchers’ Association (BCGRA) wanted to run a social media (Facebook) contest to promote its member ranches across North America, and needed an agency to help imagine, plan, create, and carry out all aspects of the campaign. So Stir combined strategic planning, graphic design, content creation, email marketing, and Twitter engagement with a world-class Facebook contest to great effect. By the close of the campaign, Facebook "likes" had grown by over 1200%. And eight custom contest update newsletters were sent to thousands of targeted and qualified recipients, resulting in a contact list the BCGRA could continue to use for future marketing.”
Huggies -- from www.dmnews.com
Kimberly-Clark recently released results on a Huggies promotion it ran in spring that made novel use of social media. The brand promoted offers via email and on its Facebook page and website for $1.50 off any package of diapers. Interested parties could print out the coupon and go, or they could click a button, share the offer with three friends and instead receive a $3 coupon for their trouble. More than 600,000 people took Huggies up on the offer, and two thirds of all visitors to the offer page printed a coupon. According to Kimberly-Clark, the open rate and the click-through rate on email referrals was 56%, and the company estimated that it reached 3.5 million new consumers through the campaign.
More interesting to direct marketers, perhaps, is the fact that Kimberly-Clark was able to track all the offer-takers. “As soon as the consumer presses the ‘share' button and gets to the landing page, they're given several ways to share it. They can post it, tweet it, email it--all with a branded message,” says Vijay Sundaram, head of marketing and sales for Social Twist, the company that deployed the promotion for Huggies. “No matter what route they use to get to the microsite, we know who they are, who referred them, and whom they referred, so we can identify the biggest influencers. We can apply conventional marketing metrics to this.”
“The Huggies promotion had some consumers who had five generations of referrals. That's high, so the brand can say, ‘These people got 15 other people to engage in the brand and these people got six' and they can segment them into groups of influence,” Sundaram says. “Social media gives brands a way to reach out to and hear from consumers, but brands don't own the channel, so they don't know who the consumers are. This is a way to find out who your most influential consumers are.”
Dunkin’ Donuts: Keep It Coolatta -- from www.acquisitionengine.com
“Dunkin’ Donuts came up with an awesome campaign to promote the launch of their Coolatta beverages – a sweepstakes where Dunkin’ Donuts Facebook fans could upload a photo of themselves with a Coolatta beverage to Facebook and automatically be entered into a daily giveaway. The relatively low cost campaign built up their social network following, increased brand & product recognition with the mass of Coolatta-related images flying around the web, and obviously encouraged people to buy their iced-coffee drink too.”
Dove: Dove Evolution -- from www.acquisitionengine.com
“Dove’s viral video ‘Dove Evolution’ was part of its ‘Campaign For Real Beauty’ launched in 2006, and was the first purpose-built viral video to make a real impact on a marketing campaign for the company. The video features model Stephanie Betts being given a makeover then later being photoshopped, and is supposed to highlight how our perception of beauty is distorted. The video managed to acquire over 11,400,000 views on YouTube, and it has been estimated that it brought in a massive $150,000,000 worth of exposure for the company. Not bad.”
Obama: Election Campaign -- from www.acquisitionengine.com
“It’s been well documented that Social Media was a huge part of Obama’s election campaign, and that can be backed up by some fascinating statistics regarding what the campaign achieved: 5 million ‘friends’ on more than 15 social networking sites; 13 million email subscribers; 8.5 million monthly visitors to MyBarackObama.com (at its peak), [and] 3 million online donors.”
Nike at the Olympics -- from econsultancy.com
Nike is known for using guerrilla marketing tactics to try and steal the limelight from its competitors, and during the London Olympics it managed to outshine official sponsor Adidas with a massive billboard and social campaign around the capital. Nike eschewed the usual celebrity endorsements in a campaign that celebrated everyday athletes. It bought up hundreds of billboards around the city featuring the hashtag ‘#findgreatness’. Adidas, which spent tens of millions of pounds to be an official sponsor, ran a campaign featuring Team GB athletes and the hashtag ‘#takethestage’.
Heinz -- from econsultancy.com
Heinz is another FMCG brand that frequently uses social to build excitement around its product launches. As part of the marketing activities around a new Five Beanz variety, Heinz created a Facebook quiz app that told people what kind of bean they had grown up to become in response to a series of questions about their personality traits. To encourage people to take part and share the app, five winners were picked every hour and sent a personalised bean and every user that invited 10 people to take the quiz was given a goodie bag. Heinz also offered Facebook fans a coupon so they could try the product. The campaign ran for two weeks and achieved impressive results: 22,143 took the quiz to apply for a personalised bean; More than 10,000 users shared the app; The campaign reached 10.8m people on Facebook; It reached 3m people reached outside of Facebook through Twitter, blogs and news sites, [and] The Heinz Facebook community grew by 30,000 extra fans
FanFeedr -- from socialfresh.com
“For some background, FanFeedr is a sports news aggregation site that collects and classifies over 10,000 quality sports related sources, photos, scores, and tweets into team specific pages. Content is published on team specific Facebook and Twitter accounts, in addition to the FanFeedr website. We have engaged in trials using Facebook ads for several of our pages with the goal in mind is to increase the following: Awareness of FanFeedr and its many team pages; Our overall Facebook presence growth, [and] Referral traffic back to our site, FanFeedr.com.”
Fanfeedr employed “precise interest targeting” and achieved some pretty “surprising CTR results”! “For each page, we ran multiple ads and A/B tested everything from advertising copy, the photo in the ad, location, precise interest targeting, and demographics such as age, and gender. The factor that consistently saw the largest increases in CTR (click through rate) and largest decreases in CPC (cost per click) was precise interest targeting. At times, we included over 60 precise interests and this resulted in significantly better results than targeting a larger and more broad audience.
“In fact, our Yankees page, which was one of our best performing pages, saw a peak CTR of 0.45%, which is 997% higher than the reported average...We think the reason for our success is simple: people would rather see an advertisement for a page or product they’re interested in (in our case, their favorite team), as opposed to something that may be completely irrelevant to them and that they most likely will never click on.”
Still not sure where to begin? Call Stir today. We’ll be happy to do an analysis of your online presence and the efficacy of your social media marketing efforts so far, and then make recommendations about where you might spend some of your marketing resources for the best result. We look forward to working with you!
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Social Media Marketing
A Social Media Marketing effort can be as simple as having a blog attached to your website or asking your customers/clients to “like” or to “follow” you on Facebook and Twitter. Or it can be as comprehensive as a full Social Media Marketing campaign that incorporates a variety of applications, sites, and buzz building components like social contests, e-Newsletters, polls, videos, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), paid search, and media buys.
Some of Stir’s clients, for example, manage their social media campaigns in-house and call on our experts for targeted strategic planning and analysis to complement what they're already doing. Other clients have us manage all aspects of their social media marketing.
However you choose to approach social media marketing for your business, one thing is certain: You’ve got to do it in order to compete!
North American companies spend billions of dollars trying to capture consumer attention online -- and it works: The Hubspot.com blog reports that “the number of businesses that say Facebook is critical or important to their business has increased by 75% from 2009”.
Why all the effort by businesses to make names for themselves on social networks? Check out these stats from Simplyzesty.com:
- One out of every seven minutes spent online is spent on Facebook” (ZDNet)
- Two new members sign up to Instagram every second” (Business Insider)
- Twitter has over 500 million users signed up to the site” (TechCrunch)
- Over 800 million unique users visit YouTube every month” (YouTube)
- Since 2012, 1.2 billion minutes have been spent using Pinterest on the Web” (Nielsen)
Note: It’s not what you spend, it’s what you have to say and how you choose to say it, so don’t fret if your business is new and your online marketing budget is small. In fact, the arena of social media represents a bit of a coup for small businesses. In the old days, only the big companies with the big budgets could carry out the big promotional campaigns -- “budgets dictated success”. Today, thanks to social media, everyone can play (and win!).
This great infographic from Mashable.com provides an interesting overview of business owner attitudes and marketers’ measures of success. This eMarketer article is another great resource. We recommend reading it as you’re planning your 2013 campaign.
In the meantime, here are some steps you can take to get started:
First, make sure your website (your central online hub and the place to where your social media marketing efforts will be driving traffic) is in tip-top shape. Then, do a thorough analysis of your target market. Who’s your target client/customer and where are they congregating online? That’s where you’ll want to start. A review of what your competitors are doing well (and doing poorly) can help to highlight areas where you can win.
Then review your budget, create a plan, stay true to your company’s mission/vision), and decide how you’ll support your social efforts (a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign? a Pay-Per-Click campaign? a media buy?) Then get started!
Remember that while your social efforts will help your search engine optimization efforts, and that - in many ways (ie: including keywords and keyphrases in your social posts) - you are trying to attract the attention of search engine robots, content is king:
Write for a human audience. Always provide your fans and followers with content that is interesting, relevant, and timely. Use perfect grammar -- while social media is a more casual platform by nature than, say, your website or brochure, it’s still your company’s calling card and should reflect the highest level of professionalism. And then, when that’s second nature, have a bit of fun!
Note: There can be a risk to assuming the free tools available on most social networking sites are enough -- they’re not. In fact, platforms like Facebook are making it harder to make and track connections (“Reach”) without a paid campaign. So learn all you can about the benefits of paid social advertising and, if possible, budget for a media buy.
Note: All the marketing in the world is a waste if you’re not also monitoring.
Social Media Monitoring
Through Social Media Monitoring you can a) hear what your customers (and your potential customers, as well as competitors and industry insiders) are saying about your brand, b) analyze trends in online feedback, and then c) respond to it in a way that will drive sales and grow your business -- perhaps by re-branding, changing service/product offerings, or refocusing targeted marketing campaigns.
Today there are a multitude of social media monitoring tools (of varying levels of quality) that will monitor the internet (social media sites), gather information, and produce reports for your analysis. (Most businesses will require the help of an online marketing agency to help analyze that data and recommend campaign changes to respond to any issues.
And while social marketing (SMM) return-on-investment (ROI) isn’t an exact science -- yet -- you can start by looking at the kind of ROI you’ve been getting for your SMM efforts so far:
Look at (and chart) the following...
- likes, fan, and followers
- retweets, reposts, shares, and comments
- online reviews
Do you see growth? Can you attribute growth at certain times to specific social activities? Is the growth meaningful? That is, are new fans and followers members of your target market, potential partners, and industry insiders? If yes, you’re doing something right.
Make use of easy-to-navigate reporting tools like Google Analytics or Raven Tools and measure the data they provide against annual sales volumes and new lead counts to show both campaign success and results.
Our friends at Hubspot interviewed several small business marketers and found 10 common traits among those enjoying success in social media. They...
1. Commit weekly resources to creating content and engaging in social media
2. Have some methods of understanding how social media activity [impacts] business results
3. Regularly generate content using blogs, Twitter, Facebook or other social platforms
4. Don’t use every platform...[focus]...resources on the...channels that drive the best results
5. Use social media to drive participation in offline events
6. Set clear expectations for customers regarding frequency and types of social media interactions
7. Leverage social media to position their company as a thought leader within their industry
8. Provide clear calls-to-action and opportunities to generate leads using social media
9. Use information and data from social media to drive business strategy
10. Balance paid and organic search engine traffic.
Read Part II of this blog post here for some examples (case studies) of winning social media campaigns. And - if you're ready to get started - call the Stir Team today. A customized strategic analysis will allow you to reflect on what what worked for your business in 2012, and where you might focus your social media resources in the new year to build brand recognition (buzz!) online.
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Improving the reach of your company’s Facebook page
Note: You can check your Page’s current reach versus your reach before this change last month: “Head over to “facebook.com/YOUR_PAGE/page_insights_reach” and export your “Post Level Data” for 9/13 until 9/27 into Excel” (socialfresh.com).
1. Use Facebook’s Sharing Tools
"As a Page admin, you can update the people who like your Page and their friends by using the sharing tool located on at the top of your Page's timeline. You can update your status, ask a question, post photos, share a link and record or upload a video. These posts appear on your Page's timeline as well as in the news feeds of people who've already liked your Page and their friends" (facebook.com).
2. Post Engaging Content
“Feed is optimized to show users the posts they are most likely to engage with, where engagement is defined as clicking, liking, commenting, or sharing the post – or in the case of offers, claiming the offer. Posts that are more likely to be engaging tend to appear higher in feed” (facebook.com).
Alternately, “avoid posting content that will receive negative feedback (when a user hides your post, hides your page, reports spam, or unlikes your page)” (socialfresh.com).
3. Consider Using Facebook’s Paid Media
"If a page has a piece of content that it feels will be very engaging e.g. A good offer, a great photo, an announcement, etc. then using paid media to “boost” that post to fans in newsfeed can be an effective tool to increase engagement with fans” (facebook.com).
4. Target Your Fans’ Friends
“Brands can significantly increase their reach on Facebook by effectively targeting the friends of their fans, according to a European study from Comscore...Friends of Fans often have slightly different demographic profiles to the core Fan base of a brand. Understanding where the differences lie provides brands the ammunition to strategically target these demographics and drive them into physical or online stores. To harness the full extent of Facebook’s brand building potential, marketers have to invest time and energy in the dialogue with their fanbase, continuously posting relevant content.
"The money shot kicks in where fans ‘like’ posts, sharing the information within their network on their newsfeed. If this information strikes a chord with this extended network, who in turn ‘like’ the post, you can see a chain reaction, cascading ‘likes’ across Facebook, extending the reach of the initial communication exponential.”
Caution: “However, there are a number of difficulties to achieving such an explosion of ‘likes’, mainly time and frequency of content sharing. The tightrope dance between frequency that inspires engagement, and incessant posting that leads to overexposure, is one that must be performed with care” (marketingtechnews.net).
5. Understand EdgeRank
“EdgeRank is the algorithm used by Facebook to determine the most screen-worthy content. Three factors, multiplied together, determine your content’s value: affinity, weight and time. The affinity score is based on how often a fan has engaged with your brand content in the past, including page visits. Weight, or popularity, is determined by the type and quantity of engagement your post receives (e.g. Likes, comments). Lastly, time and the decay of your post matters; as your content ages and engagement wanes, it becomes less relevant and therefore less likely to appear in a user’s News Feed. Understanding the EdgeRank algorithm is the first step for brands to improve their content strategy” (mashable.com).
“If you're noticing a drop in traffic to and from your Facebook fan page you're not alone. Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm limits what your fans see in their news streams based on their level of engagement with your content. If you want more people to see your updates you can pay Facebook's promotional fee, but a better solution would be to learn how to work with EdgeRank” (examiner.com).
6. Increase Interaction
“Here’s the deal: The best way to increase your page’s visibility is to increase fan interaction. The more fans comment on, share and like your posts, the more affinity they will have with your page, and the more they’ll see your posts. Kind of a catch-22, isn’t it? To get more visibility, you have to be more visible” (novelpublicity.com). So consider posting a question, or provide a clear call-to-action (ie: “Share with your friends to...”). “Like to enter” (ie: fan-gated) contests work great too!
7. Use images
“Facebook users typically respond much better when an eye-catching graphic accompanies a post (think about it—what do you notice first: a pretty picture or a funny comment? The picture is much more visually attractive” (novelpublicity.com).
8. Be an Upstanding Citizen
“Befriending community organizations, media, and non-competing local businesses is one of the smartest moves you can make as a local business on Facebook...A few times a week, preferably each day, spend 5 minutes signed in as the Page scanning the newsfeed, Liking and Sharing (where appropriate) community events and non-advertising posts from other pages”.
Note: Do this cautiously. Don’t inundate your fans/followers with random shares. If you do it well, here are some of the benefits: “Others are more likely to Share your content; You become more than a marketing vessel, but a source of local information; The fans of the Page you interacted with see your name, know you’re there, and might just Like you, too” (searchenginewatch.com) and you’ll be providing a mix of original content (which is important) and shared content (which is faster, easier, and less expensive than creating original content every time).
9. Check Your Watch
“Know when your fans are online, post during these times so that your Post’s Lifetime overlaps the time they’re online” (socialfresh.com).
Help your Facebook Fans ensure they’re seeing your stories in their Newsfeeds -- send them this! “To make sure you're seeing all the fun stuff we share on Facebook, check your settings: Go to the our Facebook Page, hover your mouse over the “Liked” box (see below) and ensure that “Show in News Feed” is checked in the dropdown menu that appears.”
Some experts are also exploring the effects of Interest Lists on Edgerank (ie: improving a brand’s Facebook reach).
“Interest lists are an optional way to organize the content you're interested in on Facebook...[and can include subscriptions, likes, and friends]...You can create your own interest lists based on the things you care about, or subscribe to other people's lists.”
As per Social Fresh: “Brands have an exciting new opportunity to increase the exposure of their content. Brands that are added to to multiple Interests Lists now have the potential ability to extend their Reach well past their Fan base. Brands that are generating the most engaging content (and therefore the highest EdgeRank objects) can now be rewarded with many more additional people Reached” (socialfresh.com).
Whether or not actively pursuing Interest Lists as a way to improve your Facebook Reach (and, in turn, your social media marketing efforts as a whole) will be effective remains to be seen. The people at Hubspot think it’ll be worth the effort:
“'Interest Lists' are a feature that allows users to organize updates into separate topics from a collection of fan pages and/or public figures who have the subscribe button enabled on their profile. For example, a user could create a "Recipes" Interest List, adding to it fan pages like Betty Crocker and the Food Network, as well as the profiles of their favorite food bloggers to which they subscribe. Users can also subscribe to Interest Lists created by other people, as Facebook suggests popular lists and make it easy for users to discover lists created by their friends. Consider experimenting with Interest Lists by creating awesome lists in your industry; promoting the 'Add to Interest Lists' button on your Facebook page; creating content about industry news so your updates are the first to show up in any lists your business is apart of; and creating a must-subscribe, content-rich Facebook presence” (hubspot.com).
Lindsey Harper Mac, on www.jeffbullas.com, shares the same insights, namely highlighting the importance for business owners of not trusting (blindly) the value of social media marketing, but rather knowing exactly what they’re getting for their efforts:
“People have been looking for the next big thing for decades, and many believe they’ve finally found it! “Social Media”... many of us mistake traffic on our blogs and Twitter streams for actual popularity and social interaction. And companies and businesses have discovered that social media networks can offer them an almost endless market for advertising. But the visit count on your blog, the number of Twitter followers or your Facebook fan “likes” doesn’t necessarily mean you have a captive and active audience. Various factors—most of them completely out of your control—can affect who sees your content, whether they follow you or not” (jeffbullas.com).
More: “While Facebook’s “Pages” allows individuals and businesses to amass a fan base, that doesn’t mean that people see it. A recent article on All Facebook explains how fan pages’ performances are exponentially less effective than their owners believe they are...What that means for small businesses and companies is that a platform they might use for the majority of their advertising is woefully underperforming” (jeffbullas.com).
So what can you do?
Harper Mac says: understand Edgerank and post engaging content (ie: ask questions and try polls), and includes Twitter in the discussion, which is interesting:
While Twitter doesn’t at present offer a reach calculator like Facebook does, make sure that if you’re tweeting on behalf of a business, your tweets are “RT worthy” -- encouraging the same engagement on Twitter that you do on Facebook to get the most bang for your buck.
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Does your business have a Facebook Page? If so, you need to read this article and take action right away (by March 30, 2012 at the very latest) to avoid disruptions to your current social media marketing efforts caused by Facebook’s site-wide switch to the new Timeline design.
Note: Don’t panic! Stir is here to help. We can update your current custom page to Timeline and provide social media marketing services and consulting to help your team navigate the transition.
What is Timeline?
"Your timeline is your collection of the photos, stories, and experiences that tell your story." In laymen’s terms, Timeline is the name for the new layout and design Facebook is making mandatory for all Facebook Page owners as of March 30, 2012.
Since its launch in 2011, Facebook’s "Timeline" was an optional feature for users -- a fancy alternative to a regular Facebook Profile. However, this month Timeline will become mandatory -- that is, all users' profile pages and business pages will be switched over and “old” profiles will become obsolete.
As per Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: “Millions of people [800 million, in fact!] curate stories of their lives on Facebook every day and have no way to share them once they fall off your profile page...[Timeline is a] completely new way to express yourself... [It] has three pieces: all your stories, your apps and a new way to express who you are.”
You can learn more about Facebook’s Timeline features by taking a quick video tour at facebook.com/about/timeline
Here, from Facebook, are a few of the things you can do with your new Timeline:
- Add a cover
- Edit your basic info
- Jump to the past
- View your activity log
- See highlights from each month
- Star stories you want to highlight
- Add life events
- Update your status
- View and add photos
- Share your app activity
So, while there has been some controversy over the fact that the switch to timeline is mandatory, and some worry over privacy issues caused by the switch, at the end of the day, Facebook has become a crucial part of any forward-thinking company’s online marketing efforts, and in terms of features and layout, Facebook is The Boss. We recommend getting prepared, being proactive, and making the most of the features on offer.
Why do you need to change your business’ Facebook Page?
Here’s the problem: If you simply wait until Facebook switches your business page to the new Timeline on the 30th, you may lose a lot of the work you’ve done up until now, including disruption to or corruption of your custom pages, custom apps, custom tabs, and graphics, etc.
Stir highly recommends exploring Timeline now and preparing for the switch. It would be such a shame to lose the hard work you’ve put into your Facebook identity, and to have your clients and customers visit (or stumble upon) a broken page.
1) Watch the video here: facebook.com/about/timeline
2) Consider how you’ll incorporate your current Facebook Page components into your new Timeline
3) Ensure those details/components are in-line with your business’ corporate image etc.
5) Contact Stir now to get help migrating your Facebook Page to the new Timeline design
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What is Social Media SEO?
In previous blog posts, we discussed Social Media Marketing (SMM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Next we’ll describe how you can use SEO to get the most out of your efforts in social media.
In the simplest terms, Social SEO is “using social media -- as part of an SEO campaign -- mindfully, that is: putting what you know about SEO to work in Social Media with an eye towards driving traffic/visitors to your website or other online content...”
Further, now that Google has launched “Search Plus Your World” -- a change to the way the search engine performs that promises to make internet search more personalized than ever, Social Media is now a crucial part of SEO:
“Google Search has always been about finding the best results for you. Sometimes that means results from the public web, but sometimes it means your personal content or things shared with you by people you care about. These wonderful people and this rich personal content is currently missing from your search experience.
Search is still limited to a universe of webpages created publicly, mostly by people you’ve never met. Today, we’re changing that by bringing your world, rich with people and information, into search” (Google Blog).
“Since Google is the most influential search engine and they are clearly integrating and favouring results coming from people’s Google+ circles, this becomes the most important social outlet to focus on from a SEO-Social perspective. No more ignoring it” (www.agent-seo.com).
There are a variety of ways to optimize Social Media as part of your company’s SEO campaign, including:
> Creating a custom Facebook Page your business, and posting there regularly
> Maintaining a Twitter Feed for your business, and tweeting to your followers
> Adding Social Sharing to your business’ online marketing material
A secondary sort of optimization includes making use of social media activities being carried out by others. That is, participating in online conversations related to your industry or involving your target market, like, for example: commenting on other blogs, joining discussion and forum groups, and “liking” or sharing social media content (posts, links, tweets, and videos).
Really, in a nutshell, both direct and secondary optimized social media activities have to do with taking advantage of the existing and powerful word-of-mouth marketing happening on the internet to build your brand, increase brand, product, and service knowledge, engage clients, employees, and media, improving customer relations (and, in turn, customer sentiment);
...it’s taking everything you’ve learned about SEO and Social Media and putting the two together for the best chance at gaining good momentum online.
So, what’s the first step?
Mashable says: “Making the most out of combining SEO insights with social media marketing tactics can be accomplished with a roadmap that identifies the audience you’re after, the goals you’re trying to reach (and can measure) as well as a strategy that sets the stage for the tactics you’ll use to execute your game plan” (mashable.com).
Stir, for example, works with new SEO and Social Media clients to create a Strategic Internet / Social Media Marketing Plan at the beginning of each project. This plan includes defining the audience, clarifying goals and objectives, outlining a plan (tactics), and measuring success and redefining goals.
More from Mashable: “From a marketing standpoint, you can look at the benefits of SEO and social media two different ways. First, implementing a social media marketing program without optimizing content is leaving money on the table. Useful social content (blog, video, images, audio) that cannot be discovered via search is a lost opportunity to reach an audience that is looking.
On the flip side, implementing SEO programs without leveraging the content distribution and linking benefits of social web participation makes link building for SEO an uphill battle. The nature of the social web encourages participation: sharing, voting, commenting and linking. Popular social content gets exposure, traffic and can result in a substantial number of relevant inbound links.
However you look at it, SEO and social media work well together as long as there is a framework for doing so. One way to build SEO and social media programs efficiently is to follow a social media roadmap:
By involving SEO insight in a social media marketing effort and vice versa, marketers, public relations professionals and advertisers can extend the value of their investment. Well optimized social media content marketing efforts can attract new network participants via search. News content that experiences distribution via social news and bookmarking channels can facilitate links to company website content directly and indirectly. Advertisers that fund social media campaigns can continue to realize the traffic benefit from keyword-optimized interactive content long after the campaign has ended” (Mashable.com).
Below are some tips and tricks to make the most of your Social Media SEO efforts:
> Start with a comprehensive Road Map (Strategic Internet / Social Media Marketing Plan)
> Consider audience, goals, tactics, analytics (how you’re going to measure success)
> Remember the rules for online content - post interesting, timely, relevant, and actionable content
> On your social networking sites, build, engage, and follow-up
> Encourage people to share your content
> Make sharing easy by providing clear calls-to-action
> Optimizing your sites for social media sharing (consider Sharebar)
> Continue traditional SEO tactics
> Support all efforts with Local SEO and Video SEO
Most business owners today lack the time, staff, and resources (budget) to carry out a thorough and successful Social Media and Search Engine Optimization campaign, so consider hiring a professional internet marketing agency, like Stir, to help. Contact us today.
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What is Video SEO?
At the same speed that internet technology is evolving, Search Engine Optimization Experts (SEOs) are learning new ways in which businesses like yours can achieve that much-coveted “top spot” in Google’s search results. Optimizing video is one of those ways.
Did you know?
→ “We watch more YouTube videos than we conduct Google searches!”
→ “Video SEO is 53 times more likely to produce a first-page search result than traditional techniques!”
Wrote Fliqz CEO Benjamin Wayne on techcrunch.com back in 2010: “...getting a first-page Google result is harder than ever. Not only do Google’s search and indexing algorithms continue to evolve in complexity, but Google has given over more and more of its search results real estate to “blended” search results, displaying videos and images towards the top of the first page, and pushing down—and sometimes off the page—traditional web results that would have otherwise competed for top rankings.
But where problems arise, so do opportunities. Although Google’s newfound enthusiasm for video has created more competition for fewer traditional search results, it has enabled sites with video assets—even sites that would otherwise score poorly in the Google index—to successfully achieve first-page rankings. In fact, Forrester Research found that videos were 53 times more likely than traditional web pages to receive an organic first-page ranking."
There are two ways to attempt to get your business’ videos into those top spots:
→ Upload your video to YouTube. YouTube is a Google product, so you can be sure that Google will find your video content online. (You’re not guaranteed that top spot, but it’s a good start.
→ Video SEO. As per Wayne, “Video SEO is a set of techniques designed to make sure that: a) Google finds your video content, b) Google successfully indexes your video content, and c) Google will display your video content when specific keywords are entered as search terms.
Once you’ve learned how to optimize web content, optimizing video content is fairly easy. Below are the steps you should take:
Create a video. Your video can be a number of different things, including actual video footage (a commercial or a recorded web cast) or something simpler -- a slideshow, stopmotion animation, a PowerPoint Presentation. Whatever your video is, make sure it gives viewers something of value and has a clear call to action. The better the video is and the more fun/valuable the content, the more likely people are to want to share it.
Put the video on your company’s website and upload a copy of it to YouTube. Note: Google and YouTube will find, accept, and play videos of a variety of file types.
Give your video a proper Title and Title Tags. Refer back to Stir’s “SEO 101: A beginners guide...” for information on titles, tags, and headings. SEO rules for your website and online content apply to Video SEO too. Make sure your video’s title includes your SEO keywords and is descriptive enough to tell people (and Google) what they’re going to see, what the video is about. Further, make the title of your video match the title of the webpage on which it appears.
Submit your video to Google using a video sitemap. Google’s set of Webmaster Tools provides good instructions on how to do this -- to “give Google information about video content on your site”. Submit both the page and the video itself.
Promote your video - on your social media channels, on your blog, through word of mouth, in a press release, using Google Adwords, through bookmarking and tagging sites, and through RSS feeds . Collecting “video views” is to YouTube what “number of likes” is to Facebook. Encourage people to watch it, rank it, and share it.
Some of the language used by SEOs when it comes to optimizing video content for the web can be confusing, and optimizing your first video might seem challenging, stick with it. Soon, it will be second nature, and your company will be able to make use of great creative ideas to improve your search engine ranking.
And remember: Stir is here to help! We’re Viral Video Marketing Experts, and have helped countless clients improve their search result positioning through creative techniques like this.
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Last month, Google changed the face of “internet search”, and made search engine optimization (SEO) just a bit more ponderous. How? They launched Search Plus your World, which makes searching the internet more personalized than ever: your personal Google+ platform will now be integrated with Google Search.
For SEOs, that means that while Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+) used to be complements to a good SEO campaign, they’re now essential components.
Google+, launched last year, is Google’s own social network, one that claims to “turn the whole search engine into one giant social network”, and makes connecting online more like connecting in the real world.
“At its core, Google+ is a social network” (B. Parr, 2011, Mashable.com), and its “stream” feature is a lot like Facebook’s News Feed feature: it allows users to share status updates, news and views, photos, videos, and links. But that’s where the similarities sort of stop and Google+ starts to look quite different from its counterparts.
Here’s what Google said: “Google+ makes connecting on the web more like connecting in the real world. Share your thoughts, links and photos with the right circles. Use easy, spontaneous video chat to strike up conversations with as many as nine people at once. Get everyone on the same page with fast, simple group chat. We’re very excited about the new approach to sharing we’ve created through Google+, but this is really just the beginning.”
Google+ is a “project” that will be rolled-out/revealed in stages, but here’s what we’ve been introduced to so far: Circles (which allow you to group your connections and communicate with them as specific targeted groups); Huddle (which is a group chat feature); Sparks (which allow for “accurate and personalized content discovery”), Hangouts, Games, Search, and more! If Google+’s goal was to “topple” Facebook, it might have a shot: “[Google} certainly has a lot to work with, including Picasa, Gmail and Google Maps and information and functions from all of these will be integrated into the Google+ experience” (B. Parr).
But only time will tell. In the meantime, as a business owner looking to leverage the power of social media to build brand awareness and brand loyalty, network, benefit from powerful word-of-mouth advertising, increase sales, and garner support, is Google+ something you should consider devoting time, staff, and resources to?
Should business owners join Google+?
Hot on the heels of the Google+ launch, Google announced the release of Google+ Pages (like Facebook’s Pages feature): “So far Google+ has focused on connecting people with other people. But we want to make sure you can build relationships with all the things you care about—from local businesses to global brands—so today we’re rolling out Google+ Pages worldwide” (Google Blog).
To get your feet wet (before creating your own business page), consider signing up for an individual/personal account and learn the ins-and-outs of what’s poised to become the next big thing in social networking.
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It matters a lot!
In today’s competitive business landscape, being “on top” when people search for businesses like yours using search engines like Google is critical. 86% of online searches in Canada are performed using Google, and research consistently proves that “the top listing gets the most attention” (capturecommerce.com).
In fact, one study showed that “the top spot drove 34.35% of all traffic in the sample, almost as much as the numbers 2 through 5 slots combined, and more than the numbers 5 through 20 (the end of page 2) put together...The biggest jump, percentage-wise, is from the top of page 2 to the bottom of page 1. Going from the 11th spot to 10th sees a 143% jump in traffic...As you go up the top page, the raw jumps get bigger and bigger, culminating in that desired top position” (insights.chitika.com).
Excerpt: “How much is the top spot on Google actually worth? According to data from the Chitika network, it’s worth a ton – double the traffic of the #2 spot, to be precise. In order to find out the [real]...we looked at a sample of traffic coming into our advertising network from Google and broke it down by Google results placement. The top spot drove 34.35% of all traffic in the sample, almost as much as the numbers 2 through 5 slots combined, and more than the numbers 5 through 20 (the end of page 2) put together...”
Fig. 1 “Percent of Traffic by Google Result”
Getting that top spot in search engine results pages involves Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of creating or modifying a website and its content for the purpose of improving its visibility to search engines (and therefore its ranking on search results pages). SEO includes a combination of internal and external (on-page and off-page (ie: behind-the-scenes)) strategies like:
URL structures; keyword/keyphrase research and implementation; site design; HTML; site navigation; link quality; menu items; title tags, metatags, and meta descriptions; navigation; directory and search engine submissions, and content writing. And, recently, social media marketing went from being an important aspect of SEO to a crucial one.
Achieving that “top spot status in Google requires working with the confines of Google’s algorithm. (Definition, Algorithm: “A step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or accomplishing some end especially by a computer” (www.merriam-webster.com). In the case of Google search results, it means “how Google uses the search criteria you enter to find the best, most appropriate results”.
In the early days of Google, understanding and working with algorithms was something only the most experienced web programmers and internet (SEO) experts could do. Today, Google’s algorithm is much more refined, and there are now some clear industry standards to help those of us who aren’t experienced programmers, SEOs, and Google engineers to compete.
- Give website visitors what they're looking for; provide interesting, valuable, timely, and accessible information on your site
- Make your site easy to navigate (including considering mobile users’ experience) with a logical link structure; include a sitemap
- Use proper headings (title tags, meta tags, and meta descriptions), and include images, tables, and lists
- Properly tag yours pages and online content Optimize your site’s text (keywords/keyphrases) and use good anchor text
- Make sure that other sites link to yours Support your website optimization efforts with Social Media Marketing and submit your site to Google
Remember, though, that at the end of the day, your website (or business’ online content) should serve human visitors before search engines. Again, make your site’s design and content interesting, valuable, timely, and accessible. Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings (Google is smart enough today to tell when you’re stuffing content with keywords willy-nilly or participating in link schemes designed to increase ranking.) And ask Stir for a free copy of our “SEO 101: A Beginner’s Guide...” to help you get started.
Additional online articles and resources:
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Do you participate in social media marketing as a way to grow your business and increase sales? If so, do you have a social media marketing strategy? Have you ever considered creating a social media marketing architecture? Do you know what “social media marketing architecture” means? If not, you’re not alone.
Many businesses (even big ones who are actively marketing themselves through social media marketing channels) don’t. Which is a problem: All the time, energy, and money in the world spent on social media marketing won’t produce valuable results if it’s done in the absence of a solid plan and clear strategy (architecture).
A good social media marketing strategy (architecture) involves first deciding what your business’ goal is -- drive traffic to your corporate site? increase sales? gather new leads? lead conversion? more or better press? The next step is to decide who your audience is (your ideal customers/clients) and to figure out where they are online (what channels) and how best to reach them.With those things in mind (what you want, who you want it from, how you’re going to reach them, and how you’re going to motivate them to do what you want), dedicate some resources (time, staff, and budget; determined as part of your strategy creation) to those channels.
As you move forward, ensure that you stick to your plan (strategy) and have monitoring tools in place to that you can measure the efficacy of each effort (on each channel) and make changes to your architecture as needed. There are countless channels online today. Deciding which ones you’re going to work in (access) can be overwhelming. And depending on how they're used, combined, and leveraged can be the difference between quick and measureable success or wasted time and money. But this needn't be daunting; you don't need to reinvent the wheel. In fact, you can (and should) start small and simple: Choose the channel where most of the population (and, as such, probably a big cross-section of your audience) is already active!
And whether or not you think Facebook is necessarily the right fit for your company or brand isn't really the point. If that's where your audience is, that's where you need to be -- interacting with them on their level and in the place most comfortable and convenient for them. (This can be a great testing ground too. From here, you can learn where else your audience is online.)
So, if you agree (you should) and decide that Facebook is one of the channels you'll explore, here are a few key things to consider:
Quality of conversations (and, ultimately, conversations) over content. That's not to say you don't have to post things that are relevant, timely, and of value to your audience, but getting them to interact with you in a meaningful way is definitely the most important factor.
Customer service is still paramount. You should treat your friends, fans, and followers as you would a real-live/real-time customer (in your store, for example). Customer service is as important here as anywhere else. In fact, perhaps it’s even more important, thanks to the speed at which news and views are shared online (read: like wildfire). Sentiment about your business can change in the blink of an eye. So following up with customers’ questions and concerns quickly is key.
Listen. Let friends, fan, and followers (your audience/customers) drive the conversation. Post/promote things you’re confident they’re interested in reading/receiving. Customers (like everyone) want to feel heard.
Keep your corporate/brand identity in mind. Remember that even if you don't advertise or optimize your Facebook page, it's searchable. People will find it. So while it's totally appropriate to have a far less formal presence on Facebook than on your corporate website, and real-time interactions/conversations can be a bit harder to manage, make sure that your Facebook activity is in line with your corporate image/mandate, and that if people find your Facebook page before they find your corporate website (in a search for information about your business or your industry), they won't be mislead, misinformed, or turned off.
Twitter and YouTube are some of the other most popular social networking sites today -- though not nearly as popular as Facebook (Some sites indicate that as many as 50% of Americans, for example, are on Facebook, while as few as 13% are on Twitter (and 1% are on location-based sites like Foursquare and Gowalla).) Most importantly, whatever channel (site) you choose to pursue (there are literally hundreds and hundreds to consider), choose carefully. Choose to be active on sites where you know your audience is, and on sites that will encourage interaction and, ultimately, drive them to your corporate website (or your store or your service as the case may be).
And make sure that you have the strategy/architecture/plan in place (the time, staff, and budget) to do it properly (read: frequently) -- to respond to activity (questions, concerns, and conversations) quickly, and that you have something meaningful to say and something valuable to impart. And remember: social networking through channels like these is about building your customer base (making friends, fans, and followers) and building brand loyalty (good-will). If you do it with the right attitude, the right plan, and the right goal, the result will be valuable word-of-mouth advertising that will increase sales, and customer loyalty that will keep sales growing.
Stir Solutions offers analysis and consultation services so that you can develop an effective social media marketing strategy. Click here to learn more, and book your confidential 30-minute consultation today.
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- Putting Pinterest to work for your business
- Inspiration and Motivation: Some of the most successful social media marketing campaigns
- Does Social Media Marketing really help to boost a business’s bottom line? Yes!
- Understanding “Facebook Reach” and how to use this information to increase the exposure (and value!) of your posts (Part I)
- Understanding “Facebook Reach” and how to use this information to increase the exposure (and value!) of your posts (Part II)
- Facebook Global Pages: Right for your business?
- Best Face Forward: Social Media Monitoring & Online Reputation Management
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- Twitter Marketing Campaign Apps
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