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The Surprising Social Networks that Generate the most Engaged Referrals

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

When you use social media marketing to drive traffic to your website and get referrals, you want to spend your time and resources on the sites that bring the best results. Shareaholic published a report called “Social Referrals That Matter” and the findings might surprise you.

The report analysed data from more than 200,000 sites and 250 million unique monthly visitors. Shareaholic found that YouTube, Google Plus and LinkedIn generate the most engaged referrals. These three sites beat out Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit and StumbleUpon.

To determine which sites brought the most engaged traffic, Shareaholic looked at how long referred visitors spent on the site, how many pages they visited and bounce rates across eight social media networks.

There are some other interesting findings from the report:

  • YouTube creates the most engaged referrals, referrals with the lowest bounce rate, the most pages per visit and has the longest visit duration.
  • Google Plus and LinkedIn bring the fewest referrals, but these people are more engaged than those that come from other sites.
  • Twitter and Facebook referrals have similar pages per visit, time spent on site and bounce rates.
  • Pinterest referrals have similar bounce rates as those from Facebook and Twitter, but they look at fewer pages and spend less time on the site than referrals from most other networks.
  • Reddit referrals have a high bounce rate and its users are very selective.
  • StumbleUpon brings the least engaged referrals, but if your content really hits home to a user, she will be very engaged.

All of these statistics are valuable when it comes to Internet and social media marketing.

Using this Information

The number-one takeaway from this report is that YouTube, Google Plus and LinkedIn have the potential to bring the most engaged, active visitors to your site. Of course, you should also take things like your market, goals, business and products into consideration as you choose which networks to use. However, it is worth finding out if these three networks align with your strategy.

As always, it’s important to create and share content that will resonate with your market. Even if you use the most engaged networks and the sites that your audience uses, you won’t find success until you share content your market deems valuable.

It’s also important that your site is designed to encourage engagement. Once people have clicked on a link from social media, the content should be useful and your site should be easy to navigate. Highlight resources and consider adding links to related content below your blog posts.

Calls to action should be front and centre and easy to respond to. Using buttons and tabs that allow people to buy your products, contact you or find more information will lead to lower bounce rates, increased time spent on your site and more engaged visitors.

If you are using YouTube, Google Plus and LinkedIn, spend some time finding out if you are using them to their fullest potential by taking advantage of all their features and building an active audience on them. Then, make sure the content you share through social media will spark engagement.

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How to get People to Share Your Social Media Posts

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014
Image courtesy of Pixomar/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of Pixomar/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

If you use social media marketing, chances are that one of your goals is to get people to share your posts so you can reach a much wider audience. Friends are very influential to consumers, so a person becomes much more likely to become a customer if his friends recommend and promote a brand or product.

But, sometimes getting your audience to share your posts is easier said than done. You’ve seen big brands with very engaged social media audiences and followers that loyally share their posts. How do they do it?

Post Shareable Content

This may seem like an obvious piece of advice, but posting shareable content will go a long way in getting it in front of a wider audience. People only share content they really like or they feel will benefit their friends, so create that kind of content. Things that are interesting, entertaining, informative, helpful and valuable will be more likely to get shared on social media.

Resonate with Your Audience

When you share content that touches your audience and that people can identify with, they will be more likely to share it. People like to share things they agree with or that moves them, so when you can accomplish that your content will be more shareable.

Spark Conversation

Content that inspires people to think and talk about a subject is more likely to be shared. Posts that include awe-inspiring content, are controversial or talk about in-depth topics make people want to share their opinion and share it with others to get their friends’ opinions too.

Let People Share Your Cause

According to a study by The New York Times, 84 percent of people share content that allows them to be supportive of a cause. Telling your brand’s story and producing content that demonstrates your cause will encourage people to share it on social media.

Ask for a Share

It’s okay to ask your audience to share your content once in a while. When you post something that you want to send to a bigger audience, tell your followers how exciting it is and ask them to share it with their friends. To make this work, you still need to create interesting content people will want to share.

Give an Incentive

You can also incentivise your audience to share your content. Doing a giveaway that requires entrants to share a social media post is a common way to do this. Other options include offering discounts and holding contests that require people to share a social media post.

If you want your social media audience to share your content, it needs to be interesting and valuable. Then, you can use other strategies to encourage people to take that step to share it with their friends on social media.

As more people begin to share your posts and content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other sites, you will be able to reach a wider audience and make more people aware of your business so you can be more successful.

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Social Media Rules you Should Adopt at Your Business

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
Image courtesy of Sharilyn Neidhardt/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Sharilyn Neidhardt/Flickr.

In order to use social media marketing successfully at your business, you need to use a very focused strategy. This strategy defines how you will use your accounts to reach your markets and achieve your marketing and business goals. But, you also need to adopt some rules, in addition to this strategy, so that your social media use will be effective.

The details of your strategy and rules will depend on your business and goals, but here are some general guidelines to adopt.

Rule #1: Actively Find and Share Content from Others

You already know that you shouldn’t overly self promote on social media, but that doesn’t mean you should remain silent. Actively look for content and posts from others that are relevant to your market and share them.

This serves a few purposes. It allows you to provide more value to your market, make valuable connections with others and establish your brand as one that is part of a larger community.

Rule #2: Have a Purpose Behind Every Post

You need to have a purpose behind every social media post you make. This purpose could be as broad as adding value to a conversation or entertaining your audience. However, some posts should have more specific goals, like driving traffic, sparking conversation or promoting a particular product.

Rule #3: Remember Engagement Starts with You

We often expect engagement, conversations and interaction on social media, but fail to take actions that will make that happen. To get comments, “likes” and shares, you need to reach out and converse with others. This could mean commenting on others’ posts, asking your followers questions and responding to them or thanking people for mentioning your business.

Sometimes, engagement will need to start with you, so find creative and effective ways to spur activity on your page. To do this, you’ll need to track your efforts and results so you can find the best ways to get people talking and interacting.

Rule #4: Respond to User Requests

Make it a rule that you attempt to respond to user requests. Depending on the size of your business, it may not be possible to respond to every single comment, but make a clear attempt to be responsive.

It is up to you to decide how you want to do this. You may decide to respond to people who reach out as you are able to, or make it your policy to respond to feedback from people who need customer support assistance.

When you respond to your followers, you are proving that you are listening to your market and building a reputation as a business that puts its customers first. As your market sees that you are listening, people will be more likely to interact with you, whether they need customer support or not.

These rules will help you get more out of your social media accounts. However, to see the best results, you should combine these guidelines with your own, unique social media strategy that is designed to help you reach your goals.

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A Daily Checklist for Social Media Marketing

Friday, March 7th, 2014
Image courtesy of Maru Philippe/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Maru Philippe/Flickr.

If you use social media marketing at your business, you are completely aware of how much time it can take. While you can’t get away with spending no time at all on social media, you can do some things to streamline the process and be more productive.

This checklist will help you get things done and advance your Internet marketing tactics without getting sucked into the social media time warp we’re all too familiar with.

1 – Check for Messages from Others

The first thing you should do every day is check for messages from others. If people are contacting you through social media with questions about your business or products or just to provide feedback, you need to respond in a timely manner.

If you aren’t able to help a person through social media, refer him to your customer support line or provide a customer support email address he can use to contact you. The idea is to make sure your market knows you are listening and responding.

2 – See What is Being Said about Your Business and Respond

One of the most valuable things you can use social media for is listening to what your market is saying about your business and industry. You can follow influential people, participate in pages, groups and communities and search for your business on social media sites to find out what people are saying.

Understand what is being said and use the information to make your business better and enhance your Internet marketing plans. When it’s necessary, you can respond to these posts by providing information or thanking someone for mentioning you.

3 – Share Your Own Content

On a daily basis, you should be sharing links to your own content. Posting links to your blog, website, product pages and other online content will help you promote your business, drive traffic to your website and encourage people to respond to your calls to action.

Your content can help you increase sales, build your email marketing list and accomplish so many other things, and sharing it on social media is the first step to using it to reach these goals.

4 – Interact with Others

But, you shouldn’t overly self promote on social media. Interact with others by commenting on their posts and even sharing their content. This is a great way to build relationships and show your market that you are interested in providing helpful information, even if it comes from other businesses at times.

Interacting with others is also a good way to spark some engagement, since when you converse with others, they will be more likely to reach out to you and interact with your posts.

5 – Schedule Posts as Needed

Social media scheduling tools can be used effectively as long as you don’t rely on them. You shouldn’t use them to schedule posts and then never log in to your accounts. Your social media marketing success relies on human interaction. But, you can use these tools to schedule posts for times when you will be out of the office, over weekends or after office hours.

Social media marketing does take time if you want to do it successfully, but this checklist can help you use it productively and effectively.

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Google Plus Features you Should be Using

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Google Plus is an up-and-coming social media network that can help you reach your market and even achieve higher search rankings. But, to get these benefits you have to take advantage of some of the site’s features.

Once your profile is complete and as you start to share content and build a following, use these features to make sure you are fully leveraging your account.

Circles

One of the biggest things that sets Google Plus apart from many other social networks is how easy it makes it to share content with select groups of people. On Google Plus, you can organise the people you connect with into different circles and then share your content publicly, with all of your followers or just with select circles.

This feature makes it very easy to target your content to the right people. You can easily share different kinds of content with different groups of people to see better social media marketing results.

Hashtags

googlehashtags

Like Twitter, Google Plus uses hashtags, which make it easier for your posts to be found. When you use relevant hashtags, people searching for information or browsing through posts with that hashtag will find your posts more easily.

Google Plus takes this concept a step further by automatically adding related hashtags to your posts. These are added to the top of a post and are blue. Those that you add manually are grey. You can easily delete related hashtags by hovering over them and clicking the “X.” When a user hovers over one hashtag, the others from a post will appear below it.

Communities

As a Google Plus user, you can create and join public and private communities so you can contribute to group discussions and connect with people with common interests. You can post status updates, images and links to these communities and invite others to join.

This is another way you can target specific groups of people. For example, if you run an electronics store, you might join communities about smartphones, laptops or technology and business where you can connect with potential customers.

When you create your own community, you can create an online hub where your customers or fans can connect with each other and your business to discuss specific topics and share relevant content. This is a great way to spark some engagement and interaction between your customers and your business.

Real Time Events Photos

Google Plus events are a little different than events features on other social networks. The feature has basic elements, like the ability to set a date, time and place for an event and invite people to it, but it offers much more than that.

When you create an event, people will be able to upload photos to the event page, even in real time, so that everyone can see them. This is a great way for attendees to participate and engage during and even after an event, and makes it much easier to share images. Instead of having to track down all the pictures by talking to attendees or going to several different websites, all the photos will be right there on your event page.

Take full advantage of your Google Plus page by sharing relevant content, building a following and taking advantage of these, and the other great features, on the site.

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What Your Followers Expect from Your Social Media Accounts

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

When you use social media accounts, your market follows you with certain expectations. People follow you and connect with you because they are looking for specific information, benefits or perks, and when you can deliver those, your accounts will be much more successful.

Social media marketing can be a powerful part of any Internet marketing plan, and when you use it to convey strategic messaging and meet your market’s needs, you can see big results.

Timely Updates

One of the biggest reasons people follow your business on social media is to get timely updates. They want to know about new products, events, promotions and what is going on at your business. Be sure to keep your market updated by posting company news and information that appeals to your followers.

Special Perks

Another thing social media followers are looking for is special perks. By following your business, they want to be in on “inside information” and qualify for things like discounts, freebies and giveaways. Find ways you can include these kinds of perks in your Internet marketing plans to promote your business, make sales and drive traffic to your website, so both your followers and your business benefit.

A Line of Communication

Your followers expect your social media pages to be a line of communication with your business. They expect to be able to contact your business through your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other pages. At the very least, they expect to be able to find contact information for your business on your social media pages.

Meet this need by monitoring your accounts and by making it easy for people to find your phone number, address and an email address.

To be Heard

Along with a line of communication, your followers expect your social media accounts to be a place where they can be heard by your business. They want to be able to voice concerns, give feedback, ask questions and even get some form of customer support.

The level to which you fulfil this is up to you. You may not be able to provide complete customer support through social media, but maybe your social media manager can ask customers who reach out to call your customer support number. Or, you may be able to answer some general questions through social media, depending on your business and what you offer your customers.

Engagement with other Followers

Some social media followers are looking for an online community where they can talk about your business or industry with others who are also interested. They want to connect with other customers, finding common ground, talking about your business and discussing your products.

Foster this kind of community by providing interesting content and even reaching out to users to start conversations. Ask questions and encourage discussion to create an online community that helps you build your business.

When you set up and maintain social media accounts, your followers have expectations. If you are able to meet those expectations and leverage the power of social media, your business will grow and benefit in so many ways.

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Make Your Market Fall in Love with Your Social Media Accounts

Friday, February 14th, 2014
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

When your market falls in love with your social media accounts, people will be attracted to your pages, post comments and engage with you. Your accounts will become a more powerful Internet marketing tool, your site will get more traffic and you’ll make more sales. This sounds like every business’ dream, but how do you make it a reality?

Be What they are Looking For

You already know that if you want your business to succeed, you need to fill a need. The same holds true for social media. To attract followers and get the most out of your social media accounts, you need to provide what your market wants and needs. Through your posts, the content you share and even your photos, you need to be what your market is looking for.

If your market is looking for industry information, provide content about relevant topics. On the other hand, if your social media audience consists of current and potential customers who are looking for a good deal, maybe you can provide coupons and discounts through your accounts.

Provide a Constant Stream of Value

As you start to form an online community you need to provide a constant stream of content that provides value to your market. This will help you build your following and retain your current followers, as people begin to see your account as a valuable resource they don’t want to miss out on.

Start by considering what your market is looking for and then find ways you can create content that is relevant to your followers’ interests and needs. The value you provide will depend on your business and market.

Engage in Two-Way Conversations

Social media isn’t meant to be a platform where you do all the talking. Listen to what your market is saying, encourage interaction, respond to comments and reach out to your followers. People like to be heard and when you demonstrate that you are listening and interact with people, they will fall in love with your accounts.

There are so many ways to encourage interaction on social media, both formal and informal. You can host competitions, ask questions and do giveaways to get people interacting with your account. Or, you can take a more casual approach and simply be involved in conversations and respond to your market. In most cases, you’ll need to use a combination of formal and informal strategies to have two-way conversations on social media.

Show Some Personality

People don’t fall in love with accounts that seem stiff or robotic, they fall in love with social media accounts that show some personality. Let your brand show through when you post and interact on social media.

If your brand is more formal, consider being a little more informal on social media. You don’t need to abandon your brand, but in general, social media is a more casual platform. If your business is already casual, let that shine through when you use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and your other accounts.

When your market loves what you have to offer through your social media accounts, you’ll gain more followers and build a more involved community, which means your social media marketing will be more effective.

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How to Avoid Overwhelming Your Market with Content

Thursday, February 13th, 2014
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

With content marketing becoming more and more popular, some experts have started to wonder what happens when an audience gets overwhelmed with a brand’s content. When people are bombarded with blog posts, videos, podcasts and social media posts from your business, they could begin to see you as a spammer or start to feel like they can’t keep up, and ignore your content.

But, you can easily avoid this content fatigue by taking a few precautionary steps and using content marketing strategically.

Have a Plan

If you are constantly creating and publishing content without a strategic plan, you will wear your market out. While it’s good to create a lot of content, you need to think about how and when you will publish it.

For example, some of your content will likely be published on your blog, but other pieces could be posted elsewhere. Try to integrate your content marketing with your larger marketing plan, so they work together. For example, if you are having a spring sale on a particular line of products, create content about those products to keep your messaging clear and your market focused.

Don’t Release Content too Quickly

A common mistake businesses make is releasing content too quickly. When you do this, your market can’t keep up and could walk away from your website or blog altogether. Of course, you do need to provide a constant stream of relevant content, but make sure you don’t flood your audience.

Publishing a podcast once a week instead of once a day is a great way to keep your market interested and coming back for more without overwhelming people. Different pieces of content and different publishing platforms all have their own ideal frequencies. For example, daily blog posts work well to keep your audience engaged and to build traffic, while monthly panel discussions might be enough for your market.

Find a Balance with Social Media

Posting too often to social media can drive followers away, as they will begin to feel like you are spamming them and that you are taking over their news feeds. There isn’t a magic number that dictates how often you should post to social media accounts, so you’ll have to do some testing to find out what works for your market.

In general, you should post to sites like Facebook and LinkedIn a few times a day, but you can post to sites like Twitter and Instagram even more often than that. Try different approaches to find out how many posts you need to share to achieve a high level of engagement and make your social media accounts effective.

Listen to Your Market

As with many other Internet marketing strategies, the best way to learn how to provide the best content for your market is to listen to your audience. As you post content, see how people react. Are they engaged and interested? Or are you losing followers and site visitors? Asking yourself these kinds of questions can help you gauge whether or not you are overwhelming your market.

Another way to listen to your market is to conduct surveys or polls. With these tools you can ask people if they like your content, what they want to hear more about and other questions that can help you be more successful at content marketing.

When you are careful not to overwhelm your market, content marketing is an excellent way to get people engaged with your brand, drive more traffic to your website and promote your business.

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4 Things You Should be Doing to Reach Your Mobile Market

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014
Image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

According to Deloitte, 72 percent of people in the UK have a smartphone, and what’s more, the Office for National Statistics reports that the number of people using a smartphone to access the Internet has doubled since 2010, from 24 percent to 53 percent.

You know your business needs to embrace mobile Internet use and that to be successful you need to reach your market through their smartphones and tablets. But, how do you do that? Businesses are regularly told to “go mobile,” and these four tactics can help you get started.

Create a Mobile-Friendly Website

A mobile-friendly website will make it much easier for your market to navigate your site, buy products, find information and respond to your calls to action from their mobile devices. Mobile sites are clean, organised and formatted to be viewed on a smaller screen.

We’ve all gone to a website from our smartphone and found it too hard to read or find the information we need. What do we do when this happens? We leave the site. Don’t drive your site visitors away with a site that is impossible to use on mobile devices.

Launch a Mobile Email Marketing Campaign

It’s also important that your email marketing campaigns are designed for a mobile market. More and more people are checking and responding to emails on their smartphones and if your email is easy to read on a small screen, it will be more effective.

Also keep in mind that people reading emails on their smartphones don’t always have time to read long emails, so keep your messages short and capture your market’s attention with your subject lines.

Write to a Mobile Social Media Audience

People use social media quite heavily on their mobile devices, so write for an audience that is on the go when you post to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and your other social media accounts.

Short posts, images and links to mobile-friendly sites are easy to read and respond to from a smartphone. You don’t need to use these guidelines for all of your posts, but using them for some of them will help you reach your mobile market.

Produce Your Own Mobile App

Producing your own mobile app is a great way to get your business and products in your market’s hands. If your business can offer some value through an app, seriously consider providing one. Apps that offer entertainment, information, discounts and other perks that your market considers valuable can help you connect with your current and potential customers.

Do some research to find out what kind of app your market would be interested in and then make sure you build one that is high quality and that works very well. An app that doesn’t work well or is too frustrating to use will reflect poorly on your business.

As you develop Internet marketing strategies and tactics, do so with your mobile market in mind. Make sure your website and emails are easy to navigate on small screens and find new ways to reach your mobile audience through social media and apps.

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New Research Shows Why People Interact with Brands on Social Media

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

A new study conducted by University of Massachusetts Dartmouth reveals why people, specifically millennials, interact with brands on social media. The study can help businesses understand how to leverage their social media accounts and use them more effectively.

The study looked into why millennials, people born between 1980 and 2000, connect with brands on social media. This group makes up an important market for many businesses, as it includes young professionals and teenagers.

This chart shows why people followed businesses on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

The reasons people connect with businesses on social media vary by website, but here are some of the most common reasons and what they mean for your business:

To Show Support

According to the research, 86 percent of respondents follow a business on Facebook to show support for the brand. On Twitter, that number is 87 percent and on Pinterest it is 78 percent.

This tells us that people, millennials in particular, view a “like” or follow as a way to support the brand and tell their friends that they like what the business does and stands for. We know that the persuasive power of friends is very important when it comes to getting more sales, so as people show support for your brand, their friends are likely to investigate your business. At the very least, these supportive interactions can help you raise brand awareness.

To Get Regular Updates

The researchers also found that people follow brands to get regular updates. The study found that 78 percent of responders connect with brands on Facebook and 81 percent connect with brands on Twitter to get regular updates from the business. These numbers are significant.

What does this mean for your business? That one of the main reasons people connect with you on Facebook and Twitter is to get updates from your brand, and by delivering that you can retain followers and get even more.

This also tells us that as you post these updates, you are sharing them with an audience who wants to hear from you and that is likely to include returning and potential customers.

To Get a Coupon or Discount

Another common reason people follow brands on social media is to get a coupon or discount. The study found that this is the reason that 64 percent of responders connect with brands on Facebook and that 66 percent follow brands on Twitter.

Knowing this, your business can offer coupons and discounts as an incentive to get more followers, strengthen your relationship with current followers and increase sales.

To Research Specific Products and Services

Respondents also follow brands on social media to do research on specific products and services. This highlights the importance of providing information about your products on your social media profiles.

You should avoid being too self promotional, but providing links, product reviews and information about what you provide for customers periodically can pay off, as people are looking for this kind of information. When they find it on your page, they may be more likely to become customers.

When you understand why millennials are motivated to follow your business on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, you can find ways to use these sites more effectively to benefit your business.

The complete study includes more statistics and data about this demographic’s social media use and how social media impacts sales. You can see more information about the study here.

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