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A Checklist for every new Social Media Account you Open

Friday, August 15th, 2014
Image courtesy of Courtney Dirks/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Courtney Dirks/Flickr.

New social media sites are always popping up and the sites that are popular this year may not be as popular next year. But, before you open an account on any new social media site, whether it’s new or not, use this checklist to make sure you are setting yourself up for success.

Decide if the Network Matches your Market and Goals

Not every social media site is right for your business. Do your homework to find out if the people you are targeting use the site. You can do some quick research by looking into the site’s user demographics or go a little further by conducting some surveys.

Also consider whether the site and its features can help you meet your goals. For example, Instagram is a great choice for a business that wants to visually promote products while LinkedIn is a good choice for a business that wants to use long form content.

Set up your Bio, Description, Links and other Settings

Set up your account and make sure things like your bio, description, links and other settings are all complete. Take advantage of things like profile pictures, backgrounds and other features to brand your page so it looks like it belongs to your business.

Explore the Features

Take some time to explore all the features on the site. Look for things like posting options, notifications and extra features for businesses you can use to get even more out of the site. You may also consider looking into advertising options you can use later if the site is successful in helping you reach your market.

Start Posting Quality Content

Once your account is set up and your page looks branded, it’s tempting to start promoting it and building a following. But, before you do that start posting updates and sharing content so your account looks active and valuable before you actively promote it.

This simple step can help you gain more followers and avoid turning off users who take one look at your empty page and decide not to connect with you.

Interact with Others

As you start posting content, interact with other users on the site. Leave comments, join conversations and start connecting with others. This will help you start to build the foundation of your account so you will have some activity and a good start before you officially launch it.

Of course, as you start to interact with others you will probably begin to attract followers. This is great and a good way to begin building your audience.

Promote your Account

Once your account is completely set up and you have shared a few weeks’ worth of content or posts, you can start promoting your account and actively generating a following. By now, your account will look active and users will recognise the value it brings.

Add a “follow me” button to your website and promote your new account through your blog, other social media accounts and any other marketing channels you can.

Whenever you start using a new social media platform you need to do so strategically. Start by making sure the site is a good match for your market, business and goals and then lay a foundation with a complete profile and some quality posts before you start promoting it.

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7 tips to take your Facebook Advertising from Good to Great

Thursday, August 14th, 2014
Image courtesy of Master OSM 2011/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Master OSM 2011/Flickr.

Facebook advertising can be a valuable part of your social media marketing strategy if you use it right. All of your ads need to be strategically planned so they will resonate with your market and encourage people to click on them.

But, there are some extra tips you can use to make sure your ads are more than good; to make sure they are great and bring the best results possible.

Test Different Ad Types

There are four main types of Facebook ads: sidebar ads, mobile app ads, sponsored stories and video ads. Not only can each of these styles help you frame your message and calls to action in a different way, but they could also each help you reach a different segment of your market. Test different types to find out which ones work best for your business.

Explore Facebook’s Options

Facebook offers advertisers a lot of options when it comes to designing and targeting ads. Explore those options and experiment with different settings to make sure your ads are successful and to find new ways to reach your market.

Use Text on your Images

Enhance the images you use on your ads by overlaying text. This is a great way to make an announcement, spread your message and increase brand awareness. Facebook requires that any text used on images takes up 20 percent or less of the total image space.

Use Action Words

All of your ads should include a call to action and the best way to make sure it is clear and strong is to include action words. Ads with words like “subscribe,” “buy,” “sample,” “download,” and “sign up” are more likely to lead to responses than ads without action words.

Keep Design and Text Simple

Don’t try to cram too much into your ads. Instead, stick with simple images and clean designs that attract attention and convey your message simply and quickly. Ads that are too busy can be overwhelming and users might actually ignore them.

Rotate Ads

Don’t just stick with the same ads, rotate the styles, messages and links you use for better results. Of course, you can always do this manually, but you can also use Facebook’s settings for automatic rotation.

Highlight Benefits

Don’t just tell your market what you are selling; tell people what benefits you can provide. Talking about how your product can help people or how your service can do something your market doesn’t want to miss out on will capture attention. This technique can also help you increase your click-through rate as people will want to find out how they can get all the great benefits you are offering.

To get the most out of Facebook advertising, you need to start with targeted and well-designed ads. Then, experiment with different designs, Facebook’s settings and different types of ads to find what works best for your market. Keep these tips in mind as you enhance your campaigns and start new ones.

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Simple ways to make your Posts stand out on Social Media

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014
Image courtesy of Flazingo Photos/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Flazingo Photos/Flickr.

It’s hard to stand out on social media these days. With so many people using it and so many posts being shared, social media is full of content and some businesses find that their posts are being skimmed over or even ignored.

Social media can be a powerful marketing tool if you can stand out and capture your market’s attention. All good social media strategies start with quality content. From there, there are some simple things you can do to stand out on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Remember that Less can be More

Use short, to-the-point posts to get people to stop scrolling through their news feeds and read your posts. In some cases, less can be more. Instead of posting long, wordy status updates, stick to just a few sentences.

This is especially easy to do when you post a picture or a link to content. Use just enough text to lure people in and get them interested enough to click the link.

Use Bold and Interesting Images

Pictures can help you accomplish things and convey messages in ways words can’t. They can also help you get people’s attention and make them curious enough to read your post or the content you link to.

Use images that are bold, interesting, funny, entertaining or that give your audience a new look at your business or products. These kinds of pictures can help your content stand out among all the other social media posts.

Offer Quick, Valuable Posts

Offering value is a great way to get your market’s attention, but on social media you need to do it quickly. Creating posts that provide instant value will help you reach more people and could even help you gain more followers and get more social media shares.

Some simple ways to do this include offering a coupon, announcing sale dates, linking to a how-to video or otherwise providing value in just a few words or one sentence. This tip is similar to the idea that less is more, but takes things a little further by introducing real value to a short post.

Incorporate Two-Way Communication

Don’t just use social media to talk about yourself and at your market. Instead, talk about others and talk with your audience. Do this by commenting on posts, joining conversations and even mentioning and tagging others in your posts.

These kinds of social media posts are more dynamic and interesting because they aren’t fully self-promotional and they make it easy for others to get involved.

Don’t Over Post

Lots of businesses are tempted to post to social media accounts too often. Yes, you do need to post frequently and stay consistent, but don’t spam your followers. If you over post, you could lose followers and people may start to ignore your posts because they are so frequent.

On the other hand, when you post regularly but not too often, your posts will stand out on news feeds and people will be more likely to pause and read what you have to say.

Standing out on social media so your market will see and interact with your posts is important if you want to use your accounts to promote your business. These simple tips are things you can start implementing right away to see better results.

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Facebook puts an end to Like-Gating

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014
Image courtesy of Adam Fagen/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Adam Fagen/Flickr.

A few days ago, Facebook announced some platform policy changes and one of those could affect your social media marketing strategy. Businesses will no longer be able to use like-gating to incentivise people to “like” their Pages.

What is Like-Gating?

According to Facebook, like-gating is the practice of requiring a user to “like” a Page before he can see some content or view specific tabs or applications. In other words, it’s the tactic of forcing people to “like” a Page before they can see exclusive content.

Businesses used like-gating as a way to build their Facebook following and increase their reach so that when they post content more and more people would see it.

What’s so bad about Like-Gating?

Facebook has explained that it is banning the tactic because it leads to inflated numbers of “likes.” The company said: “To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives.”

In the end, this will be good for your business because it means that the people who “like” your Page are more likely to do so because they have a genuine interest in your business. These are the people you want to target because they probably fall into one of your target markets and it will be easier to convert them from Facebook fans to customers.

Can I still Incentivise People for “Likes?”

This new ban doesn’t exclude all incentives. Your business can still require people to “like” your Page before they enter a promotion, login to your app or checkin at a place. So, even with the ban, you can still encourage people to “like” your Page if you are offering them some value other than exclusive content.

What should my Business do?

Always follow the site’s rules and guidelines when you use social media. If you are currently using like-gating tactics to encourage people to “like” your Page before they can see exclusive content or access some tabs on your site, you will have to find other ways to build a following.

However, you can still ask people to “like” your Page before they enter a promotion, login to an app or checkin at a place on your Facebook Page.

In short, this policy change means businesses will have to start working harder and smarter to get more “likes” for their Pages. The best way to do this is to offer quality content and make your account one that people in your market will want to follow so they don’t miss out on the latest news, tips and information from your business.

As you do this, you will find that your Facebook audience will become more valuable. The people who will “like” your Page will be those who are genuinely interested in connecting with your business and who are more likely to be the people you are trying to reach with your Facebook marketing strategy.

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What the Most Retweetable Words tell Us

Thursday, August 7th, 2014
Image courtesy of Riku Lu/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Riku Lu/Flickr.

Lots of businesses are constantly trying to increase the number of retweets their account gets to get their content in front of more people, attract more followers and establish a voice on Twitter. Have you ever wondered what kinds of words are more likely to be retweeted?

Social media specialist Dan Zarrella has done the research and compiled two lists: one with the words that are most likely to be retweeted and one with the words that are least likely to be retweeted.

The Most Retweetable Words

To compile this list, Zarrella analysed 30 million retweets and more than two million random tweets. The results are interesting and can give us insight into how to create effective content and get more out of Twitter.

Words Most Likely to be Retweeted

  • You
  • Twitter
  • Please
  • Retweet
  • Post
  • Blog
  • Social
  • Free
  • Media
  • Help
  • Please Retweet
  • Great
  • Social Media
  • 10
  • Follow
  • How To
  • Top
  • Blog Post
  • Check Out
  • New Blog Post

Words like “bored,” “home,” “tomorrow,” “watching” and “work” made the list of words least likely to be retweeted. You can see the rest of the list on Zarrella’s blog.

What these Words have in Common

Did you notice these words have a few things in common? When you look behind the words themselves and think about why people might be retweeting them, you’ll find new ways to boost your content marketing and social media strategies.

Most of the words on this list fall into one of a few categories:

  • Words about Blogs
  • Words that Describe Content and Value
  • Words about Social Media
  • Words that ask for a Retweet

Words like “new blog post, “check out,” “blog” and “post” are commonly used in tweets that promote content. Words that describe the value of content are also popular. Things like “great,” “how to,” “top,” “10 (as in 10 tips)” and “free” all promise value and make people want to share the link.

Tweets that include words about social media are commonly retweeted among social media gurus and heavy social media users. This list also shows that tweets that ask people for a retweet actually do work.

How to use these Words

So, how do you use this list at your business? First, you can use it as a guide as you use social media. From this list, you can see that people are interested in sharing tweets that prove their value right away and that reference new blog posts. You can also occasionally ask your followers to retweet your posts.

These words also reveal what kind of content people are interested in. How-to guides, top 10 lists and freebies are popular and the research shows that they are also more likely to be shared on Twitter.

Whenever you create a social media plan or a content marketing strategy, you should keep your unique market and goals in mind. Unfortunately, there aren’t any magic words that will make your social media posts more popular or your content go viral.

However, research like this does give us some insight into trends and what social media users in general are more attracted to and can help you make your tactics more effective.

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Can You use LinkedIn’s New Sponsored Content Feature?

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014
Image courtesy of mars_discovery_district/Flickr.

Image courtesy of mars_discovery_district/Flickr.

Recently, LinkedIn made it possible for all users to publish content directly to the website. Now, it has announced a new feature called direct sponsored content that could help you reach more people and grow your audience.

The ability to publish content on LinkedIn and share it with your followers as a way to build your brand and showcase your expertise brings a lot of opportunity to your content marketing plan. But, this latest feature could do even more, making it easier for you to target your market.

Direct Sponsored Content

LinkedIn already offers sponsored posts that businesses can use to reach more people on the network. This new feature is very similar, but allows businesses to create sponsored content.

With the tool, your business can post content directly to LinkedIn’s feed, without posting it on our business page, and target it to a very specific group of people. Of course, the benefit of this is that you can make sure content with specific messages reaches the right people.

Your page’s administrator will have the ability to respond to comments on the sponsored content and can even track a few basic analytics like number of clicks, impressions, interactions and followers acquired for each piece of sponsored content.

To use the feature, you need to have a business page and use LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions. When you are logged in to your dashboard, you will see the new option to create sponsored content. You can see a video tutorial on how to start using sponsored content on LinkedIn’s content marketing page.

Should You use Sponsored Content?

If you already use sponsored posts or LinkedIn is already part of your social media marketing strategy, you should consider using sponsored content. This new feature can help you take your LinkedIn strategy to a new level and get more out of your account.

Even if your business isn’t using LinkedIn yet, now is a good time to consider adding it to your Internet and social media marketing plans. The site has grown and could potentially help you reach a large audience.

LinkedIn is a unique social media site because it attracts a different audience than many of the other social media sites. There are more than 300 million LinkedIn users with 15 million users in the UK alone. The site is also growing quickly, with more than two new users signing up every second. According to LinkedIn, there are 39 million students and recent graduates using the site, and this demographic is the site’s fastest growing group of users.

LinkedIn also says that its users did more than 5.7 billion searches on the site for professional-themed topics in 2012. These numbers tell us that LinkedIn is a major social network with users who search the site for content regularly.

If your business wants to target students, young professionals, industry experts and other businesses, LinkedIn is a great channel to use. To get the best results, use LinkedIn to reach this specific market, build a strong following, engage with other users and experiment with sponsored posts and content.

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Facebook Daily Users and Referrals are Both Up

Friday, July 25th, 2014
Image courtesy of Scott Beale/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Scott Beale/Flickr.

Two new numbers, from Facebook and Shareaholic, show that Facebook is gaining more value as a marketing tool for businesses. We already knew that Facebook is an invaluable part of Internet marketing, but these new studies show that despite some rumours, Facebook is still a great promotional tool.

More Daily Users

Facebook announced that it has had a 19 percent increase in daily users since last year. The site has 829 million users. This statistic shows that although some have speculated that Facebook has reached its peak and is declining in popularity, it has more daily users.

People are still using Facebook, and according to the study, they are logging in frequently. People still use it as a way to connect with friends, share content and socialise.

Your business would be missing out on a lot of social media marketing benefits if you decide to skimp on Facebook marketing. A strong social media strategy and Facebook ads can help you reach a large portion of your market, raise awareness and promote your products.

The Most Social Referrals

The Shareaholic Social Media Traffic Report found that the amount of Facebook referral traffic has also increased. Over the last few months, the traffic took a minor dip, but is now higher than it has been since March.

This month, Facebook was responsible for 23.39 percent of social media referral traffic. In March, it was responsible for 21.25 percent, and in both April and May, it accounted for about 18 percent of social media referrals.

These statistics tell us that while more people are using Facebook daily, more people are also clicking on the links being shared. When you promote your website and blog on Facebook, there’s a good chance that you’ll drive more traffic to your site.

But, that’s not the only thing this study found. According to the research, Facebook brings more social media referrals than Pinterest, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined!

Pinterest brings 5.72 percent of referrals while Twitter brings 1.03 percent. All the other sites mentioned above each brought less than 1 percent of the referrals.

Start Leveraging Facebook

Since Facebook’s daily users are increasing and it has the potential to refer a lot of traffic to your website, your business can’t risk not including Facebook as an integral part of your Internet marking and social media strategy.

So, how do you start harnessing the power of Facebook? There are so many features you can use to your advantage to make it a stronger part of your marketing plan.

Some places to start include:

  • Branding Your Page
  • Building an Active Following
  • Sharing Content Strategically
  • Using Well-Targeted Ads

Facebook remains an important part of the social media marketing world and when you use it to help you promote your business, you are getting your brand in front of more people and working to drive more traffic to your site. As you build this presence, you will benefit from increased brand awareness, more sales and customer loyalty.

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Go Beyond Simple Link Sharing for more Social Media Referrals

Thursday, July 24th, 2014
Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Most businesses use social media to promote their blog and website. Sharing content here will help you drive traffic to your site where you can convert visitors to customers and even increase your search rankings.

But, simply copying and pasting links from your website to social media can get stale. It’s okay to post links, which on some sites let you automatically show a preview of your content, but when this is the only way you share your content, you aren’t using social media to its fullest potential.

With some creativity and by using some different approaches, you can update your social media marketing strategy to get your market’s attention and see even more social media referrals.

Post a Teaser

One of the most basic ways to generate interest in a link is to post a teaser. Copy and paste a sentence or two from the post itself or write a short blurb that gets people interested enough to want to click through to the content.

An example of a good teaser for an article about how to choose the right laptop would be: “We compared the top five selling laptops to help you decide which is right for you!”

Promise a Benefit

With so much content out there and with so many things to look at and do on social media, people need a good reason to click on your link. If social media users don’t see value in what you are offering, they won’t visit your site.

A post that says something like, “Don’t waste your money on the wrong laptop! Our comparison chart will help you find the perfect fit for you,” tells people what benefit your content provides: advice on how to save money.

Ask a Question about the Content

People like to give their opinion, so ask for it! When you post a link to your content, ask people a question about it. This makes them curious about what is in your content while also encouraging engagement and comments.

When you post a link, ask a question like “Have you tried any of the laptops on our value comparison chart? What do you think? Did we get it right?” This does two things. First, it makes people want to look at your blog post and chart and also encourages them to leave a comment on your social media post or blog post.

Give a Hint

Giving a hint is similar to posting a teaser, but it provides less information and tempts people to click on your link to find out what it’s all about. For example, write a post that reads something like “You will never guess which laptop came out on top in our comparison of the most popular models!” This hints at what your content is all about but doesn’t give too much away so people will still want to visit your site.

Sharing content on social media is a great way to drive traffic to your site and interact with your market. When you use more creative ways to post and share, you will stand out on social media and see even better results.

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Foursquare and LinkedIn go Even more Local

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014
Image courtesy of Michael Verhoef/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Michael Verhoef/Flickr.

Both Foursquare and LinkedIn have announced new features that take their networks to a whole new level. Local search engine optimisation has long been valued among businesses and Internet marketers, and now social networks are looking for ways to use local features to expand their services.

For example, Facebook recently added a feature called Nearby Friends that lets users see where their friends are so they can connect in real life and communicate about local areas, destinations and sites.

Foursquare Personalises Local Search

Foursquare has always been about location, but now it is taking that speciality to a whole new level with personalised local search. This feature changes the way search works for users and could highlight what social media users are looking for.

The mobile app will rely on a user’s check-in history and answers to a few questions about personal preferences to provide search results about local places designed specifically for that person. Foursquare says that no two local search results pages will be exactly the same.

Search results will also be served based on tips, check-ins and photos that other users have submitted since Foursquare began. In other words, the social network has made local search personalised by using its database of information, along with personal preferences, to provide results about places the user is most likely to be interested in.

Foursquare hasn’t specified when the feature will be available, but says it will be rolled out soon.

LinkedIn Offers new Connected App

LinkedIn is now offering a new app, called Connected, for iPhone users that makes it easier to strengthen relationships in person. While the new app doesn’t add any location-specific features, it does encourage people to use LinkedIn in a local way.

The app makes it easy to be prepared for meetings and working lunches so you can take online relationships offline and strengthen your professional network. Connected will also help you keep track of what your contacts are doing and helps you keep up with things like job changes, birthdays and other events.

In other words, Connected makes it easier to network in real life and to make relationships more than just an online connection. Right now, the app is only available to iPhone users and is already on the iTunes store.

Does Your Business Embrace Local?

Facebook’s, Foursquare’s and LinkedIn’s recent updates show a trend in social media. People are looking for ways to make in-person interaction easier and want to make social media more personal. They want personalised search results and social media features that help them foster real-life relationships.

What does this mean for you? It means that to keep up with trends and market desires, you need to find ways to meet those personalised, local needs. Whether you have a small local shop or a large brand, look for ways to provide personal experiences and don’t forgo real-life interaction and experiences for online engagement.

Social media and Internet marketing should be used to supplement the experience your customers have when they work with your employees or visit your location. These recent changes to social media networks show that more and more people are expecting this kind of service and when you provide it, you will attract more customers.

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Facebook Testing new “Buy” Feature

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Facebook has announced that it’s testing a new feature that will let users buy products from businesses directly through the site or mobile app. This addition has the potential to make increasing sales through Facebook easier for businesses and could increase conversion rates for ads and posts.

What we Know About the Feature

We don’t know very much about this new feature yet, except that it will add a “buy” button to some Facebook ads and posts. This way, people can buy products through Facebook without leaving the site or app.

Facebook explained that the payment will be secure and users will be able to store their credit card information on the site or check out without saving payment information. It also states that payment information used on Facebook won’t be shared with other advertisers.

According to the announcement, the feature is currently being tested with some small and medium-sized businesses in the United States. Facebook says it will be assessing feedback, so it may be safe to assume that if the feature works well it could be available to businesses everywhere.

You can find out more about the test on the news section of the Facebook for business website.

How Businesses will Benefit

While this new feature hasn’t been expanded for all businesses and Facebook advertisers, it is an interesting development that could benefit your business later. Facebook seems eager to stay relevant and to entice more businesses to use the service and buy ads. If the tests go well, and the new feature is unrolled for all businesses, you could use it as a major part of your social media marketing campaign.

The addition of the “buy” button would give you a way to include a very visual and clear call to action. When you advertise products or just post information about them to your page, you could make it much easier for people to make a purchase.

Conversion rates could increase because making purchases would be faster and easier and customers could buy things as they use Facebook. People may be more inclined to make spur-of-the-moment purchases, especially if they don’t have to stop what they are doing.

Currently, advertisers can include links to their website and product pages, which makes it easier to convert people into buyers, but does require some extra work. The ads need to be enticing enough to convince someone that they are worth clicking on and exploring further. With the new button, some of that inconvenience could disappear.

How to Make more Sales Now

In the meantime, you can make sure your ads and posts are as optimised as possible to increase sales. Start by using ads that are appealing to your target market and make the shopping experience better. Link directly to a page where users can make a purchase and make sure the checkout process is easy.

To enhance your page, work to build a following of people who are likely to become customers and then post strategically so people will be interested in visiting your website where you can convert them to customers.

We’ll keep an eye on this test and keep you posted as it develops and if it becomes more widely available to businesses.

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