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3 Reasons Why Your Competitors Are Killing It with Google My Business

Local Query Search Volume – USA – 2014 to 2019
statista.com

If your customers / clients tend to be “local”, then you NEED to be set up on Google My Business. The convenience of mobile search has Local Search skyrocketing. You can reach more of those eyeballs, provide those searchers with more information, and prompt or interact with them all via Google My Business (GMB).

Try This Experiment First

Local search often contains the phrase “near me” or place name like “mckinney tx”.  Try it with your business niche.  What do you see?  Something like the following?

82 percent of smartphone shoppers conduct ‘near me’ searches

On Desktop:

Accountant Near Me

Or, for something more “urgent”, on Mobile:

1. Google Changes the Search Results for Local

Notice one thing in common? All have what is called the Local 3-Pack on top of the search results – above the organic search results. Google My Business is an essential part of a well-thought-out local SEO strategy.

Which businesses show up in the 3-Pack is determined by:

  • Relevance – both your website and your GMB profile must match the searcher is looking for. In GMB, you have opportunity to add information that can help, such as category, practice / business description, name, address, phone number, and business hours.
  • Distance – Google will prefer businesses located closest to the location term used. “mckinney tx” will be centered on that city, whereas, “near me” will be closest to the searcher, based on what’s known of their location.
  • Prominence – This is a combination of SEO factors (e.g. links, search volume, search position), review ratings (e.g. GMB, Facebook, Yelp), citations, etc.

Infographic: Tips to Maximize Business Presence in Local Search – Click Here

But it is more than about Google Search Engine results, desktop:

Google Maps app on the mobile device, provides results very similar to mobile Google Search.

2. More Information Than Plain Search Results

Take a closer look at the listings.  Under each business name is additional information that may not show up under regular organic search results.  Their ratings, number of reviews, address (desktop) or description (mobile), and business hours.   In Mobile, photos feature more prominently.

There is also additional information that is available on your company.  With the right search, on desktop, the searcher will see your information box. It is also available when clicking through on your business listing.

The info in the box on the right has several additional groups of information that the searcher can drill down in. On mobile, the same search brings the searcher straight to a mobile version of this box.

Bottom line is that you have more search “real estate” to work with, and bring those searchers to you.

3. It’s Interactive

Google My Business has two additional features that both help your business rank and give you an opportunity to interact with your customer base.

  • Reviews – We’ve seen the star reviews in the examples above.  GMB has a built-in review tool and it is easily accessible to searchers via your information box.  This is excellent for listening to your audience, building a fan base, and, of course, responding to your critics (and, hopefully, win them over).  And it is free, unlike other services.
  • Posts – You can add your own posts.  The benefit, unlike Facebook, Twitter, or other Social Media, is that these can influence your rankings and are additional opportunities for keyword targeting for Google Search.  What’s more, you can add Call-To-Action buttons to prompt your searches to take the next step (e.g. Call Now, Make Reservation, Sign Up).  It is almost like free advertising.

Start Now!

In our experiment, you might have found some of your competitors are already established on Google My Business.  You now know some of the key benefits that they are enjoying.  If you haven’t yet, it is critical that you set up your business GMB profile too.  Get started today!

For a deep dive on Local SEO, read this series of eight articles by Yoast – Click Here

3 Benefits of Using Facebook Live in Business

Facebook is the most popular social media network even with all the bad press they’ve received. This platform can be invaluable for brands as there are so many ways to interact with current and future customers. Facebook can be used to share important company updates as well as share events and photos. Business accounts allow for access to robust advertising tools and analytics. These pages also allow you to highlight hours of operations, contact information, and so much more.

As the most popular social media platform in the world – with more than 2 billion users – Facebook provides a range of ways for brands to engage and interact with their audience. Facebook Live gives companies the capacity to showcase the ‘behind the scenes’ elements of their process, to portray the human element, which is important when looking to connect via social networks. 

In early 2016, Facebook launched their Facebook Live live-streaming option, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg making the announcement himself via the new feature.

Mark Zuckerberg Announces Facebook Live in 2016

Facebook Live is the most sociable and genuine way to communicate key messages to a following; it’s in the moment, as it’s happening, uncut and real. It’s real people conversing and engaging with other real people. Facebook Live works as a window into the inside life of a company, beyond polished exteriors and branding.

Here are 5 benefits of using Facebook Live in business:

1. Connect with Your Audience Directly

Facebook Live allows businesses access to the world’s largest online audiences through a platform they already use every day. One of the best benefits to using Facebook Live for business is its personal approach to content. Many brands use Facebook Live just as a quick Q&A session without all the big production behind the content. Regardless of how a business chooses to use Facebook Live, it gives them a direct connection to their audience.

2. Cost-Effective Video Strategy

In such a busy world, where everyone is constantly surrounded by brands, marketing is a must. With billions of dollars being spent on marketing each year, Facebook Live is a refreshing and low-cost way of connecting with an audience.

It doesn’t matter who you are, brands are always looking for cost-effective strategies when it comes to social media marketing. And with the influx of video, it’s hard to stay on budget and provide beautiful, attention-grabbing content to your followers.

However, Facebook Live relieves a bit of that stress. Most users enjoy the live-action and unedited approach to live videos. This means you don’t need an expensive camera, set design or editing skills. Facebook Live is all about living in the moment.

3. Native Analytics

Facebook Live has unique features for audience engagement, such as real-time commenting and Live Reactions that allow hosts and viewers to interact. In addition to this real time engagement, Facebook Live has built-in analytics capabilities to track video performance. Businesses also have the ability to boost live videos as paid ads to reach even more viewers.

Facebook, as a comprehensive social platform, has well-developed in-stream analytics. In addition to the standard Facebook Insights video stats, Live analytics have been refined even further to offer information on peak live viewer figures, total reach, reactions, comments and shares.

Having access to the user-friendly analytics dashboard makes it simple for companies to see what content works and what doesn’t. Reviewing analytics is vital to the success of each business’ Facebook strategy; knowing what type of live content your audience responds well to allows you to create more of it.

Facebook Live is a huge resource for businesses looking for a cost-effective way to reach customers directly while using the intelligence of a robust analytics platform to determine audience in engagement. Every business should be using this marketing asset.

Good vs Bad Headlines.. Clickbait?

Is all clickbait bad clickbait?

We have all clicked on a link because we found the headline interesting. Did it necessarily fulfill our needs? Most likely not, but we still clicked. In this post, we will discuss why good headlines vs bad headlines might mean clickbait.

The Good

Clickbait headlines might not always get the best rap, but let’s face it. Clickbait = traffic! Clickbait means attention. If you want the public to notice what you are doing, it may mean using some clickbait headlines to your advantage. Neil Patel writes a great article here on why most clickbait headlines work. 

Not everything on the internet should be taken so seriously. Why not add some useful clickbait onto your headlines!

The Bad

Using clickbait is not always peaches and cream. A bad headline can often lead to bounce rates. Search engines such as Google take bounce rates into account when ranking your page. 

Meaning if you have a bad clickbait link and users bounce off your page, Google is likely to rank you lower than your competitors when it comes to SEO.

Think about past times you’ve clicked on a link because the headline was enticing but actually had nothing to do with what you were looking for. This is what we want to avoid at all costs.

To click or not to click?

Might as well use it to your advantage

Improve Communication at Your Church

A church’s target audience is, by design, age 0 to 100+ years old which makes the church a unique animal among nonprofits. Creating and delivering messages about shared events to this wide range of ages is challenging. However, leveraging natural patterns of social media usage could improve communication at your church. Continue reading

Connect, Engage and Grow

Digital communication is one of the primary ways that people connect.
Facebook and Instagram are the top two social media platforms in the world.  These platforms are fast, visually-driven and far reaching. Small businesses benefit through accessibility and direct conversation.

Person holding a mobile phone. Several social media icons are displayed on the screen, including Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.  Engagement for small business.

Facebook Engagement

Community is Facebook’s core. It provides one of the best opportunities to directly engage with target markets. Post with intent and, most importantly, join conversations.

  • Comment on posts from relevant groups and media outlets. This is an invitation for users to reply and interact. These interactions increase awareness.
  • Share relevant posts from followers and pages. These shares increase reach, visibility and relevancy by association.
  • Promote posts to increase reach and visibility. Reply to comments quickly and drive traffic to the business’ page and website.

Instagram Engagement

Visual content drives Instagram. Photo, video and graphic content are the drivers of the platform. Content is the primary focus of posts, second is captions, and comments are supplemental. This means interaction requires more effort.

  • Pose questions (polls, trivia, etc.) in posts. Use attractive graphics and fonts to encourage users to comment and participate.
  • Follow influencers, organizations and media outlets relevant to the product or service. Create associations that make sense for brand positioning.
  • Reply to comments on relevant influencer, organization and media pages. Engage in natural conversations with users.
  • Repost content from customers. Showcase successful use of the business’ product or service.

Basic Best Practices

  • Enable comments on posts. Reply to comments and welcome dialogue. Respond to negative comments openly and with confidence to establish trust.
  • Allow direct messages, even from non-followers. This is an important customer service vehicle that becomes part of the business’ reputation.
  • Credit original sources of shared and reposted content. This establishes trust and credibility and, most importantly, mitigates legal risk.
  • Be quick and diligent in addressing offensive and abusive comments. Avoid possible mis-associations by quickly addressing and eliminating issues.

Understanding how to engage with target markets on Facebook and Instagram is important for small businesses. Meeting target customers in their digital environment establishes a connection that converts to sales and loyalty. Remain consistent to maintain these connections. Facebook and Instagram provide resources to increase engagement using their platforms.

Social Media Shopping: 3 Channels That Make Shopping Seamless & Subliminal

4 people with shopping bags with the logo of social media channels like twitter, facebook, pinterest and instagram to represent social media shopping haul
Image source: www.brainsins.com

Have you been social media shopping? A study by the OMD group shows that over 70% of consumers refer to social media before making a purchase. Social media today is more than about connecting with your tribe. It is transforming the way consumers discover and shop. It enables brands to be present where consumers are. Therefore social media subliminally influences consumers to be impulsive while in their comfort zone. With gentle nudging and visual navigation Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat have become social media shopping gateways. Let us explore how these channels have transformed to cater to this trend.

Snapchat: Making Augmented Shopping a Reality

Mobile phone with Snapchat logo in a yellow background to represent Snapchat as a social media shopping channel

Snapchat is no more about just fun filters and fading memories. 78% of Snapchat users in the US are between the age group of 18-24 years old. They are the digital natives and future consumers with spending power. Snapchat has already jumped onto the social media shopping trend through the snap, search and shop feature with Amazon. Snapchat owns the camera and visual search space on social media. A whopping 528,000 are shared every minute. Hence it is not surprising that Snapchat has augmented this trend for social media shopping. Enabling consumers to explore and buy products in real time. Snappers need to press and hold the camera screen while looking at a product or barcode. It will pop up an Amazon window to select recommendations and place the order.

Instagram: Encouraging Influence and Instant Gratification

Mobile phone with Instagram logo on it to represent Instagram as a social media shopping platform

Instagram has 1 billion active monthly users, 80% of accounts follow a business. It is a favorite and is growing in popularity among Millennials. Instagram rolled out its shopping feature in 2018 for brands and business accounts. Brands can now share product details in the content. Embed shopping links. Thus making posts and stories subliminal shopping carts. This helps shorten the consumer purchase journey. With influencers helping in discovery, and brands providing information it adds to consumer’s instant gratification during social media shopping.

Pinterest: From Ideas to Inspiration

How many times have you searched Pinterest for ideas? Pinterest is no more just a beacon for ideas. But it is an emerging powerhouse of social media shopping. Over 93% of pinners use Pinterest to plan for purchases. 87% have purchased something because of Pinterest. Over 72% of consumers say that it influences their offline shopping. Therefore Pinterest has redefined itself beyond a social media platform.  Pinterest is becoming a powerful e-commerce engine and a product discovery tool with its recent roll out. Up to date pricing, stock details, new shopping recommendations, and direct shoppable links. These are some of the features focused on active pinners. The average age of active pinners is below 40 years. They are the earning population and purchase decision makers. Thus Pinterest is all set to ace the social media shopping game where it matters most. 

You would agree that Millenials and Gen Z are quick in adopting social media shopping. They are the drivers of Social Media growth and future of the nation’s spending power. It is time brands take note and reach out to cultivate this new shopping habit by building a seamless, secure and thriving ecosystem.

Simple Social Media Hacks

Social media hacks can save time and money. Below, Builder Magazine talks about what builders are doing to find and engage their customers. Grow likes, follows, and leads. To learn more click the link below. 

https://www.builderonline.com/builder-100/marketing-sales/four-simple-social-media-hacks_o

 

Four Simple Social Media Hacks
Simple Social Media Hacks

Social Media Hack 1: Go Where Your Customers Are

Go where your customers are. Sounds simple, right? However, social media options can seem endless. Don’t get frustrated, get smart. To start, only use a few social platforms. Learn how to connect with your audience. As an example, if you build homes for Baby Boomers, use Facebook. Baby Boomers do not use Snapchat. This simple social hack is about focus.

Social Media Hack 2: Be Smart About Your Time – And Get Help

Managing social media requires energy and bandwidth. The proper set-up, guidance, and best practices are critical to success. This simple hack helps organize a tailored strategy. Executing that strategy requires a savvy manager. If you don’t have the bandwidth or time, ask for help.     

Social Media Hack 3: Maximize Engagement

You have heard marketing is dead, it is all about engagement. Engagement is about creating rich, robust content. It includes everyday moments that can be shared to tell your brand story. Engaging your audience allows customers to be promoters. There is no more affordable way to boost your brand.  This simple social media hack saves money. 

Social Media Hack 4: Spend Smartly

Marketing budgets are always tight. It is important to know how ROI differs across platforms. Grow organic or paid audiences based on how much you have to spend.   

Social media is not worth doing if not done right. These simple hacks help find how and where customers are. And, how conversations take place. They focus time and money to help find a customer. 

Thank you for stopping by. If you enjoyed my blog please follow along. See you next time.   

Social Media Tips for Small Businesses

Social media for small business can be a challenge especially when fighting against large, well-know companies who can afford a team and paid ads. On top of that, you are more focused on the day-to-day responsibilities of running your own business. Only 53% of small businesses say they actively use social media. Even though you might think you need to hire an expert, with a few social media tips for small businesses, it’ll be easy and simple.

Small business using social media to fighting against larger corporations

1. Start with a Social Media Plan

Just like you created a business plan, a social media plan is vital for having a successful social media strategy. A plan is good to know what your goals are for your business on social media. Do you want to promote certain products? Reach more people in your area? Keep reading below for more social media tips for your small business.

2. Choose the Best Social Media Platforms

Start off with one social media platform your audience uses more. For example, 62% of all online men and 72% of all online women use Facebook. You can research your audience by age, gender, location, and ethnicity. Knowing your audience can help writing posts catered to them.

Small business using social media platforms

3. Brand Your Business’ Social Media Page

Social media tips for your small business includes branding. Branding is important in any business. It helps consumers recognize your brand no matter the platform. From the logo to the business’ personality, it should all be consistent and show on the social media page. Use the logo as the main profile image and when writing posts, ensure your business’s tone shows through. Here is a good reference when deciding your company’s tone.

4. Make a Social Content Calendar

A content calendar will keep you on track on the posts and your goals. It gives you a view of what content is being posted, where it’s being posted, and when. Plan posts and schedule ahead of time. Facebook lets you schedule posts so you don’t have to track them everyday. Hootsuite is a good social scheduling system if you want to schedule posts to other platforms. There are also certain times when your audience is on social media the most in the day. Research the best times and go from there to help you schedule posts.

Start Simple with Your Social for Your Small Business

Tie is money and social media might not be you top priority. However, it is an important part of marketing your business and connecting with your customers. Start simple with one social media platform and plan ahead to keep consistent. 

Use LinkedIn for B2B Marketing

Social media logos LinkedIn and text B2B Marketing

Do you use LinkedIn for B2B marketing and wonder if you are making the most out of the platform?  As stated by Foundation Inc, as of January 2019, eighty percent of B2B leads come from LinkedIn versus thirteen percent on Twitter and seven percent on Facebook!  What are the best ways to use LinkedIn for marketing? Continue reading

Hit the Mark Using Digital Personalization

Digital marketing is evolving fast. Using the power of digital personalization will help you send custom advertising that’s powerful. You won’t waste you or your customers time. In 2019, hit the mark using Digital Personalization.

Its all about the Customer.

Digital Personalization will let you acknowledge your customer as an individual and not simply a small part of a larger group. Getting personal with customers is getting more critical. Customers expect you to know what they like and dislike. Digital personalization lets you know your customer, so you can make them the center of the story.

Dynamic Advertising Can Change Like The weather.

Create dynamic ads that are smart using digital personalization. Is your client a hunter? If it’s hunting season, send them a coupon for hunting gear. Are they health conscience? Send them information about the latest supplements. Is the forecast predicting lots of sun? Send your clients an ad for sunscreen.

Moving Forward.

The Future of advertising is going to be more and more personalized. It’s moving into every digital channel. It’s time to embrace this new technology and start knowing what your customers want. “Personalized digital messaging is exciting for all digital channels. It presents a new opportunity for over the top advertising in 2019. Social channels can embrace the advances in personalization immediately. As personalization continues to advance, adoption by marketers next year will push brands into a new era of digital communications – ultimately helping to build stronger consumer relationships across digital touchpoints.” Adrian Pearmund

https://www.marketingtechnews.net/news/2019/jan/22/why-2019-will-be-year-advertisers-successfully-adopt-digital-personalisation/

Tourism and the Power of Social Media

tourism social media

Tourism is a big sector in the U.S economy, therefore, it is important to adapt to new social media strategies in this industry. By 2027, tourism will contribute more than 2.6 trillion dollars to the economy. Continue reading

Strategically Increasing Connections via Email

Strategically Increasing Connections through Email

The average office worker receives about 90 emails a day, and on average around 40 or more are business related. So, if you are looking at this deeper into the numbers, a company who has 500 employees will send out about 20,000 business emails per day.

Now you come to how you could use your emails to create more attraction to your actual company? How can you add personal business connections and create relationships by adding links below your email signature?

Your signature can be 100% personalized with the best criteria to help you and your company excel. When you are trying to further or increase connections, there are plenty of techniques to do so.

1.     Add your company site

2.     Add any of your company’s social media platform links (ex. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook Page, LinkedIn, Etsy Account, etc.)

3.     If you are more personally based or advertise your business through your personal accounts, be sure to add those as well. (LinkedIn, personal website and Instagram, cell phone number, extension through main office contact)

4.     Ex: if you are a realtor, add a direct link to the homes you have listed

5.     Add a link to sign up for whatever your company is trying to provide. Ex: if you are a Mortgage Lending company, place a link to apply for a loan below your signature)

Depending on your profession, your links and signatures may vary.

In the example above, Amber has listed all forms of social media and connecting sites to her signature.

As a result of updating and improving your signature, you will create more leads for yourself. By altering your signature, your company increasing your client’s knowledge and awareness, all the while accumulating more traffic thus increasing yearly profit.

Compliance 101: Delete your Facebook dummy profile

Man on computer screen looking though binoculars with Facebook logos in lenses

If you’ve ever assigned first-time social media roles, you know the anxiety many employees share concerning privacy—specifically on Facebook. For many admins with “privacy anxiety,” the remedy is to create the infamous Facebook dummy profile.

Creating a dummy profile might appear a harmless solution, but Facebook is clear on its community philosophy. Creating only one profile is among several guidelines created to keep users accountable and connected. Similar to using a real name and not sharing passwords, an authentic profile keeps your account credible and off the Facebook radar.

If your account is caught breaking any community rules, Facebook reserves the right to delete your content and/or your page(s). The best way to protect yourself against being blindsided? Read your terms and policies.

Facebook Terms and Policies

Unbelievably, Facebook’s Terms and Policies are quite clear and digestible. The information covers data policy, advertisement guidelines and general user responsibilities.

Consider reading one section at a time, one day at a time. The terms cover many platform features, so prioritize what is most relevant to your social strategy. Avoid trying to memorize the document. As a social media lead, you should simply know the rules enough to make an informed decision when necessary.

Know ALL your social policies

Building a sound social media strategy includes investing the time to be sure you are following the rules on all your social platforms. If you are creating a social media team or building a new page, include platform policy review as part of the process. Not only will you feel more secure in your company’s social media decisions—your work will have the official Facebook stamp of approval.

Rules are rules, so it is helpful to get creative. Social pro Lissa Duty shares a few of her tips for using customized Facebook lists to improve security and ease anxiety for admins. The more you know the platform, the better you can make it work for you.

Emotion in Digital Marketing

As you know, adding emotion in digital marketing is the key to good content. Reaching a target audience starts with a development and distribution plan. Then, connecting with that audience through inspired and engaging content. Emotional content must be genuine, not generic. Below are two tips to help make good content go viral.    

 

Emotion in Digital Marketing
Emotion in Digital Marketing

In my last blog, Will from M/I Homes shared several tips. He talked about finding an audience, creating a compelling origin story, and focusing on mini-conversions. In a recent interview with Quint Lears of NewHomeSales, Will shared tips to add emotion. No matter if you sell new homes or widgets, these tips work. Click on the YouTube link or video below to see the interview.  

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAcxD7pCTFg

 

Emotional Content in Internet Marketing

Emotion in Digital Marketing: Create Contagion

Emotional content allows you to stand out. It also allows you to fight advertising apathy. As you know, digital marketers love to saturate ad space. As a result, consumers get dozens of ads every day to every device and platform. So, how to create engagement, or better yet, start a viral contagion with content? The first step, be smart. Practical triggers and socially current messaging work. Third party messaging removes the self-promoting nature of marketing. The more inspirational the content, the more open rates, time in session, likes and follows.            

Emotion in Digital Marketing: Personalize Content

Once you add emotion to your content, personalize it. Personalized content starts with listening to your audience. Data collection, analysis, and automated technologies help tailor information and create a call to action. Companys that add emotional content to their digital marketing strategies will build brand loyalty over time. 

Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoyed the blog. Check in next time and we will discuss strategies for new home sales.          

Four Ways You Can Drive Engagement On Instagram

With 1 Billion Instagram users, this platform is attractive to any business. Now that you’ve created profile with quality content and have a strategy in place, let’s get your followers engaged. I will share with you four ways to help you drive engagement on Instagram.

IGTV 

IGTV was launched in 2018. Welcome to the world of vertical TV. This addition gives users a platform to create content for their followers. Let’s say you’re an aspiring chef. What better way to drive engagement with followers by sharing weekly cooking tips or DOTW, dish of the week. IGTV gives you the ability to showcase your message. You also can add the video to your profile so that followers can view at a later time.

 

Use IG Story for Engagement 

Stories are designed to give your users a snapshot of the day of the life. There are many features you can use such as asking questions, creating countdowns, creating polls, and using the emoji slider. Needing help deciding on which outfit looks the best, create a poll to get your followers involved on your decision. Use the countdown tool to alert followers of a big announcement. Go Live! For instance, bring your followers on your journey at your photoshoot. Followers are able to like and comment as you stream live. You can add the video to your story after you’ve ended a session and followers still can view the footage.

Cross Promotion for Your Followers 

You can share your posts on other social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. You have the option to share the post automatically or you can create a link and share on those platforms later. Also, share your profile or post via text. 

Caption This

A photo might tell a thousand words, but adding caption can tell a thousand more. Be descriptive in caption related to the photo. Your caption can be informative or educational. Inspire your followers! Tell them a story. As a result, your followers will be more willing to comment or like. 

In conclusion, these tools will help drive that conversation needed with your followers. 

Four Strategic Ways Brands Can Use Instagram Stories

Instagram launched Stories in the summer of 2016 and the feature has spread quickly since. Stories offer brands a huge opportunity to reach a higher number of people by taking advantage of one of the fastest growing social networks. Instagram reports that Stories have encouraged users to stay on the platform longer and visit more often. Here are four strategic ways brands can use Instagram Stories.

Use links in your Stories to gain traffic and generate leads.

One of the greatest consequences of social media is the intimate connection brands can form with their followers. Instagram Stories have taken the opportunity for connection one step further. If your brand isn’t capitalizing on the attention it gets from Stories, then the connection is wasted. The easiest and best way to do that is through direct links.

With the amazing “swipe up” feature, you can link out to your own hosted content assets or, if you’re an ecommerce marketer, to product pages. Your followers simply swipe up on your stories and get redirected to your preferred URL. Marketers can link to lead-generation forms or any other desired content.

Take advantage of polls within Instagram Stories

Instagram launched a feature that allows users to add interactive polls to their Stories. These polls are a fun, frictionless way to engage with your audience and hear their thoughts on specific subjects. Gaining instant feedback from your audience is a huge asset for brands. As a result, many household name brands use Polls in Stories. As simple as it looks, when intentionally used, it is both professional and well-structured, and results in valuable feedback.

Influencers and brands alike have seen an increase in Stories engagement after employing polls since the feature’s inception. Using Instagram Insights, they can track engagement per post or entire feed activity per time period.

It’s all about storytelling

The increase of Stories has proven the value of authentic, uncut content in the eyes of your audience. As a result, documenting your journey with Stories makes your brand approachable. Many successful brands use Stories to share behind-the-scenes footage.

Stories should be used to tell an actual story. Tell stories about your product and services. This creates brand loyalty and greatly increases the potential of a purchase and referral in the future.

Perfect examples of digital storytelling include a manufacturing plant showing how a product is created or a restaurant showing how a dish is prepared.

Use the power of Instagram takeovers

Instagram takeovers are fun and easy ways to grow your following by either taking over another Instagrammer’s account or having them take over yours.

This is a great way to build a mutually beneficial relationship between yourself and another influencer and it provides a great avenue for expanding your audience.

Personalize Emails to Increase Donor Engagement

This week, I experienced a simple and effective way to increase engagement with my donors: use their name. Email marketing is, by design, a one-to-many style of communication. However, personalizing emails to create the feel of one-on-one communication will increase the likelihood of engagement with your donors. Addressing someone by their name is the most personal way to communicate. I’ll show you three ways to create a personal connection with your donors to increase engagement, whether that means opens, reads, clicks or responses.

First Things First: Tidy-up Your Subscriber List

Take a look at your subscriber list. The best way to review a large list of names is to export them to a spreadsheet. Start with a sort on the first name and then run a spell check. With names in alphabetical order, incorrect spellings will jump out at you. Next, turn on Filter; this will show you every occurrence of a uniquely spelled name. Finally, repeat the process for the last name. Before uploading corrections, separate subscribers who are missing a first or last name and include a tag (“missing first” and/or “missing last”) as you upload so those can be omitted.

An Eye-catching Subject

Put your donor’s name right there on the Subject line. What a great way to differentiate your email from those others! In Mailchimp, use the format *|FIRST|* wherever you’d like the donor’s first name to appear. And while you’re at it, go ahead and put their name in the Preview text, too.

Before:

After:

A Proper Greeting

How do you like to be addressed?  

  1. Hello Steve, I want you to know that, thanks to your generosity, we found homes for 15 dogs and 9 cats yesterday.
  2. (No greeting.) I want you to know that, thanks to your generosity, we found homes for 15 dogs and 9 cats yesterday.
  3. (Anonymous.) Hello, I want you to know that, thanks to your generosity, we found homes for 15 dogs and 9 cats yesterday.

Well, if I’ve donated to your cause, I’d appreciate it if you knew my name and used my name. Enough said. So let’s personalize the greeting:

Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect

Now that you’ve personalized the Subject and the Greeting, one last way to personalize your email is to include a photo specific to your donor. If you need to segment your subscriber list to do this, just add a tag like “parent” for donors with children or “senior adult” for donors of a certain age. Then replicate your email and for subscribers with a parent tag, include an image of their children, not a stock photo. For subscribers with a senior adult tag, include an image of them or their friends.

Add this image to emails with a “parent” tag.
Add this image to emails with a “senior adult” tag.
Make it personal!

Try all of these for a home run and let me know if you see an uptick in the responses from your donors.

How to set SMART goals for your Digital Marketing Techniques

There are different digital marketing techniques you can use for your company such as SEO, content creation or social media in order to attract traffic and sales. But for any technique to be effective, a well-designed strategy must be designed where all participants are clear about the goals they want to achieve. The creation of communication and content strategies is a complex work that implies knowing very well, not only the products and services, the market and our competitors, but also the patterns of our Buyer persona. Continue reading

Leverage Hashtags to Grow Your Business in 2019

The Hashtag

Hashtags have been around for a while now (and officially became a part of the Oxford Dictionary in 2010), but how can you leverage hashtags to grow your business in 2019? Here are 8 tips on what to do (and not to do)!

1. Do your research!

Ultimately, hashtags are a great way to see what people are talking about on social media. See what people are talking about!

2. Keep it short and sweet

Nothing is worse than when a hashtag is so long you aren’t even sure what it says anymore. Try to keep them under three words. Clear and concise is best when it comes to hashtags.

3. Use them as an extension of your brand’s voice

Hashtags are a great way to stay consistent with your brand’s voice. Think of them as an extension and a way to create content for your brand. (Hint: this is a way to once again leverage Hashtags to grow your business!)

4. Cater your Hashtags to each social media Platform

What works on Twitter, might not work on Instagram or YouTube. After all, Instagram and YouTube are more visual social media platforms. These hashtags will be more specific towards each post, whereas Twitter and Facebook are more generalized topics of conversation.

5. Don’t use more hashtags than words in the caption

Having too many hashtags is distracting to your followers and make take away from your main goal of the post. It can also take away from your brand’s voice.

6. What is currently trending? 

Are the trending hashtags applicable to your brand? Will the trending hashtags help you use the conversation to grow your business?

7. Create your own hashtag for specific campaigns

Need to get the word out about a new product or special offer you are running? No better way to create a conversation surrounding your new product than to create your own hashtag!

8. Finally, measure your hashtags effectiveness!

Keep metrics on hashtags. It is important to know what is working and what is not. KPI’s are essential to a successful social media strategy. 

Finally, I’ll leave you with Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon… Who remembers when they #hashtagged their entire #inperson #conversation? #seewhatididthere 

Small Businesses Need Facebook

A platform built around community, Facebook helps small businesses create direct connections to their audiences. Users share written posts, photos and video content via mobile app or web. Post features encourage user interaction through commentary and dialogue.

Facebook is the number one social media platform worldwide. As of 2018, there are 1.52 billion active daily users. The site constantly explores new ways for users to interact. In 2007, they introduced their first business tool: Facebook ads. Their tools continue to provide ways to increase reach and interaction with audiences.

Basic Facebook Features

Facebook’s basic features allow users to connect and socialize with other users, brands, organizations and celebrities. The ability to create and build communities is the primary function of the social network.

  • User Profiles showcase information about individuals on the platform. Contact information, hobbies, interests, photos and posts are viewed on a user’s profile.
  • Friends are a user’s network. This network can view the user’s full profile. Followers cannot view a user’s full profile, but can view their public posts and updates.
  • Posts are how users share content. A user creates a post then it is visible on friends and followers’ timelines. Other users can react to or comment on posts, then reply to other comments on posts.
  • Groups are public and private collectives of users with like interests. Members do not have to be friends or follow each another to interact in groups.
  • Facebook Live is a live-stream feature, like Instagram Live and Periscope. Users share video in real-time then are able to chat with friends and followers as they watch.
  • Messenger is a private communication feature. One-on-one or group conversations occur outside of public posts and visible timelines.

Helpful Tools for Small Businesses

Business Pages are an essential tool for small businesses to drive engagement and sales on Facebook. The platform can be a primary site or supplement a website.

  • Product Shops are an eCommerce tool where customers can shop for a business’ products directly on their Facebook page. Customers can complete transactions directly through the site or redirect to a business’ website.
  • Page Insights are analytics that track key metrics like traffic and engagement. Small businesses can then use the data to better plan content and schedule posts.
  • Scheduled Posts bypasses the need for third-party schedulers like Hootsuite. Content is created then scheduled to post at a later date or time.
  • Promoted Posts are visible on more timelines and reach broader audiences. Content receives exposure to more users on the platform for a fee.
  • Facebook Ads continuously evolves with the platform. Standard ads are visible on a user’s timeline, like regular posts. Video ads play before, during, or after video content is watched. Messenger ads allow users to connect directly with businesses via messenger after seeing an ad.

Facebook provides help for small businesses to better connect with their audiences on the platform. There is detailed information for different business types. Information for integration with other social media platforms is also provided.

Organic Reach on Social Media: Six Ingredients for Success

Box of cupcakes with social media icons as toppings to represent ways to make your social media post delectable for the audience to pick it up and share there by improving organic reach on social media
Image source: http://sciencemeetsfood.org/social-media-food-science-and-me/

Don’t we all want more mileage per post? And all that without investing those extra bucks? Organic reach on social media is what we are looking for. Organic reach is when your posts take wings and reach as many people as possible without investing those extra bucks. Well, there are very basic but very essential ingredients to increase organic reach on social media.  With algorithms constantly changing across social media platforms, it is essential for every brand to be aware and whip up these recipes for social media success.

Content is the Chief Ingredient

When you have great content, people love to share it. They always scoop it up generously and share. Invest in good content. Appealing high-quality visuals and well-crafted verbal content are the secret ingredients. The appetite for each channel is different. Hence the content should be suited to the audience and the channel’s palate. Engaging content garners more audience. Therefore your posts gain organic reach on social media.

Bring in some Popular Exciters

french fries arranged in the shape of a hashtag to represent sharing fresh content and tagging it to enhance organic reach on social media
Cross share and tag new and exciting content

Add a dash of freshness to your page by reposting interesting content from other pages and platforms. It is a great way to enhance interest. A good fusion of content adds a lot of flavor to the entire page. It is an effective way to invite a fresh audience to this social media get-together. Adding a new audience set and viewers to your posts and pages enable organic reach on social media furthermore. Hashtag the keywords and add links for the audience to move in and out of your post.

Sharing is Caring for Your Brand

Encourage your audience to interact, comment and share your posts. Most social media channels, especially Facebook, puts a lot of emphasis on boosting posts that are most talked about. So, interactions with posts impact organic reach on social media. It is a two-way process. Great stories get shared and stories that are shared automatically gain organic reach on social media.

Variety Adds Spice

a man's palm with pills with social media logos to represent building variety in content and posts act as a vitamin boost to improve organic reach on social media
Variety in content act as vitamins that boost reach

Don’t we all want to try something new and different? Variety spices up life and fuels appetite for more. Always try to add variety through videos, stories and going live from time to time to enhance organic reach on social media. Adding variety in content gives a healthy boost like vitamins to a page. It adds newness and hence makes the audience come back and check for more. Thus they share more.

Consistency is Key

Want to make your page and post reach its full potential? Then you must consistently churn out posts. And hey, they must be engaging and obviously brand relevant as well. Always remember quality over quantity. One hit wonder does not work on social media. The social media platform algorithms love constant change and newness. So, the more planned and consistent the posts are, the more they would gain in terms of organic reach on social media. Giving new things to the audience periodically will enhance engagement and encourage them to share more in turn.

Get Feedback and Track

All this would be futile if we don’t monitor what is cooking. Did they like what you dished up? Would they like you to serve more of that? These are important questions to find answers for. It is hence important to track audience participation. A post is only as good as its reach. It should resonate with the audience for it to gain momentum. It is also good to rehash a popular post from the past to boost some more reach. So, if you want to know if what you served was a winner. Monitor the engagement, reach and action conversion.

This is the standard recipe and basic ingredients to enhance organic reach on social media, but there are many more steps to ensure the organic reach spikes. It is observed that paid or boosted reach is gaining momentum while organic reach is slowly declining. However, by adopting some of these techniques one can surely rise above and not get stuck in the maze of the algorithms.

Why Dog Moms Can Be Your Next Brand Ambassadors

Moms are a large target audience and have an impact on social media including Facebook and blogs. So why wouldn’t a dog mom be the same? Well, millennials have taken their love for dogs up a notch to where they treat their pets like children. “Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com, claims millennials now account for 31 percent of all pet owners, boasting 43 million pet owners in the 18- to 34-year-old age group.” Women love to boast about their pet children in their social media accounts and blogs. Many even have a dedicated Instragram account for their furry child #dogsofinstragram. Millennials might see their pets as starter children and that is a big opportunity for brands. Dog moms can be your next brand ambassador even for non-pet products.

What if My Product Isn’t for Pets?

Dog food, pet groomers, doggie day cares are just some of the verticals that are obvious in teaming up with dog mom influencers. If you have a product or service that is not related to pets then it is time to start thinking outside the box. Many brands that sell cleaning products or offer services find a way to partner with dog moms for brand ambassadors particularly lifestyle bloggers who love to write about their pet. In this blog post, Bounty did a good job integrating that their product can also clean up dog messes.

Reaching Dog Mom Influencers

Dog mom taking selfie with dog

You want to first ensure your product or service is pet-friendly. If you are a makeup brand, you would want your product to be cruelty-free and safe if a dog was to get into it. Research the prospective blogger. Know who will be your brand ambassador before you try to reach them with your proposal. Unfortunately, dogs get sick or old and you might not know if they recently lost their beloved pet. A great and easy way to draft your campaign is to first create it for actual moms and then tweak it to cater to dog moms. Millennials and their pets are a growing audience. Research the dog moms of that generation. They are usually the bloggers and social media influencers you want to be as your brand ambassadors.

Avoid Costly Social Media Mistakes!

Emojis reflecting unhappy emotions with the center emoji reflecting happy faceBrands need to evolve with their customers to stay relevant, but in doing so, they may make social media mistakes.  A quick internet search reveals several companies that have lost credibility among their customers.  For example, in 2017 Dove published a racially insensitive Facebook ad. It showed a black woman morphing into a white woman after using Dove soap. Offended social media users voiced their displeasure and quickly damaged Dove’s reputation and sales.   How can brands avoid these social media missteps and take reasonable risks? Continue reading

Build Your Integrity with Digital Marketing in 2019

The buying experience is getting more critical to the consumer and they want to buy from a dealership they can trust. They need to know that you have their best interests in mind. Digital marketing offers many ways of showcasing the excellent customer service your dealership provides. Build your integrity with digital marketing in 2019.

Promote A Culture Of Family-Friendly Shopping Experiences.

Video should be an essential part of your digital strategy.  YouTube is the second largest search engine.  If you’re not participating in this area, then your missing opportunities that your competition is leveraging.  Testimonials and short customer reviews about your dealership help build trust and integrity.  The next time a customer has an exceptional experience, share their story and elevate your marketing.

Promote Your Team.

Employee shaking hands with customer

Do you have employees that have been with you for more than eight years?  A great shopping experience begins with a solid sales team.  Long term employees often have sold to multiple generations. Create short stories about these loyal team members.  Highlight their relationship with their customers.  Show potential customers you are family friendly. 

Be Creative and Precise With Your Message!

Digital advertising allows you to be very creative and precise. The ability to target your ad to a specific consumer is unmatched. This will allow you to create particular ads for select groups of people, such as Russian speaking consumers. Create campaigns that are meaningful to your specific audience in 2019. Remove the limitations of traditional advertising and be more intentional and thoughtful. A creative and precise marketing campaign will improve integrity with your clients.

It’s Time To Make It Happen!

New tools are constantly being developed to help you perfect your digital campaign.  Log into your Google Analytics and examine your website traffic.  Are you converting web traffic into store traffic?  Simple website optimizations can make significant differences in building new sales for 2019.  Monitor your online reviews.  Quickly address any negative comments.  Leverage the tools available, and build your integrity with digital marketing in 2019.
“Dependent upon the platform, you want to be building your dealership’s reputation with reviews, culture content, special offers, and communicating with your followers while at the same time working to gain more.”
Alexandra Patty https://www.dealerteamwork.com/blog/setting-up-a-successful-2019-automotive-digital-marketing-strategy

3 Reasons Why Your Client’s Lead Conversion Sucks!

Lead Conversion is at the bottom of the Sales Funnel but can have a big impact on Sales.
Is Your Problem at the Lead Conversion Stage?

Have you ever worked your tail off on an awesome marketing campaign, generating great leads for your client, only to find that few of those leads are converting into paying customers?

It happened to us, running ad campaigns for doctors.

You can learn from our real-life lessons on three ways your client may be inadvertently sabotaging their own lead conversions and what we did about them.

If you are confident that you are targeting the right audience and bringing relevant leads, then you will want to investigate these areas for problems.

For Average Lead Conversion Rates by Industry – Click Here

Problem 1: They Don’t Have Dedicated, Trained Staff for Lead Conversion

Picture of President Obama on the phone in the Oval office, with feet on desk.  Is he Converting a Lead?
Converting a Lead?

If your clients are small to mid-size, they likely don’t have dedicated staff to respond to leads.

In our case, we found one doctor had receptionists and nursing assistants assigned to working their leads.

That can be okay if their staff prioritizes lead contact and follow up.

It is a bigger issue if that same staff has no experience or training to “close the deal”.

Resolution:

Have a discussion with your client and their staff who are handling the leads.

With our client, we found they lacked training, and their responsibilities were unclear.

We connected them with resources that would get them the training they needed. Also, the doctor designated a primary and a backup individual.

Result:

They went from barely any lead conversions to over 10x improvement in conversion rate.

For a Little More Depth on Lead Conversion Sales Process – Click Here

Problem 2: They Are Not Responsive to Incoming Leads

From last photo of President Obama, this is Michelle Obama on the phone in front of Christmas lights.  Is he engaging with incoming leads or something else?
Engaging with Leads?

Leads age. Every hour that goes by, their value declines. Your leads go from a potential customer who was ready to engage to one who may have had a change of heart.

Another of our client doctor’s staff had challenges in following up within 24 hours.

We found that the lead forms that came to them in an email were not “visible” in the sea of regular emails they had.

Resolution:

You may need to do some detective work, secret shopping, as well as, frank discussion to get to the bottom of this.

We ended up agreeing to change their ads to route a call to a designated office number where Leads were sure to get an instant response.

Results:

Their lead conversion improvement turned a negative ROI into a rather profitable source, and bigger ad spend.

Why Follow Up in 24 Hours is Critical to Lead Conversion – Click Here

Problem 3: They Are Not Attentive / Managing Their Staff on Lead Conversions

President Obama is in a media theater room with hands in air, cheering a touchdown in Superbowl game.  Is he managing his staff, or having a party?
Party Time!?

Your clients may be like ours – they are not professional sales managers.

Yet, they do need to adopt measurements and processes that ensure they are keeping tabs on their staff’s performance.

Resolution:

This is hard to assess and delicate to discuss with a client.

One of our doctor clients had several “lines of business. Ultimately, with a trusting relationship and frank discussion, we were able to understand that the one we were advertising was, unfortunately, not a high priority for him.

If he were motivated, we were prepared to help him plan metrics and reporting that he could review with his staff weekly, and monthly, to maintain a healthy lead conversion ratio.

Results:

There are some things you cannot fix.

We agreed to halt the ad campaign. It was not a good investment for the doctor to continue without the supporting back-end for success..

We did leave the door open if his priorities were to change.

If Three Reasons Lead Conversions Suck are not Enough – Click Here for Eight

The Ultimate Fix

President Obama is in Oval Office signing a paper in front of his Cabinet members.  Is he solving the lead conversion problem by instituting a checklist?
Add to Your Checklist

Ultimately, you need to get this right from the start to optimize lead conversions.

When you first engage with a client for a lead generation campaign, ask them about these three things.

Are they prepared for success too?

It is now part of our checklist for engaging clients and should be on yours too.

And with your existing clients, where lead conversion seems a problem, these are the key areas to check for ways to improve those numbers and THEIR ROI.

Social media success: It starts with a social media plan

chalk board with "social" post-it note reminders

How often have you heard a company express excitement about joining social media, only to follow with a story of how the page is now stagnant?

And what about the company Facebook page with stories that never quite connect? Endless #NationalDay posts, poor photos, and copy-and-paste messaging flood their timeline with no consistent tone or quality. 

Many companies fall into the trap of “winging it” on social media. Social is casual, so the assumed approach is to treat the company page similar to a personal page. Add some disorganization and a fear of transparency, and social media can become a nightmare for a company’s image and credibility.

Today, companies cannot survive on social without a basic social media plan. And because goals, trends and platforms change, it’s important to assess and adjust your plan regularly. Thankfully, structure is a profound benefit of planning. Once you can answer a few strategic questions, you are well on your way to creating sense of direction for your social media presence.

Elements of a social media plan

Know your objectives. (WHY)

Make sure you are clear on company objectives and how social media should support them. Once you establish WHY you are using social media, each post or campaign should support that mission. Create a list of goals and prioritize them from highest to lowest.

WHERE will you be social?

While it is tempting to jump on as many social platforms as possible, it’s not always necessary. Where is your audience most active? How many channels can you manage reasonably? There is no shame in starting small as a means to establishing a cohesive social footprint.

HOW will you post and measure success? – Decide how you will post to each platform. Will you post three times per day? Should every other post include video? Should all posts include a link to more information? Also, decide which measurements matter to your success. Do you want to increase website clicks? Are you looking to increase newsletter subscribers?

If this is your company’s first social media plan, a deeper dive into the WHY is appropriate. Consider Sprout Social’s guide to Creating a 30-Day Social Media Plan. The guide is a day-by-day approach to creating a foundation for how your company uses social media. Not only will you walk away with a polished, customized social media plan—you will have a data-driven document to guide and educate everyone involved.

Focus your team’s efforts and you will see success not only in your numbers, but in overall cohesiveness.

3 Pillars of Social Media to Enhance Brand Intimacy

Woman smiling while looking at her tablet screen with multiple digital connections represented by drawings on the wall behind her showing her social media intimacy
image courtesy www.youthvoices.live

Do you want to enhance your brand intimacy on Social media? You need to focus on three key pillars. Connect to engage, converse to excite and listen everywhere. The result is a more engaged and devoted audience. Let’s explore these three pillars that boost brand intimacy on social media.

Connect to engage: Make the right type of connection.

A dog and cat looking at each other through a glass door trying to connect with one another to show it is important to connect with right audience to enhance brand intimacy on  social media
Connect with the right audience

The secret to a successful relationship depends on making the right connection. There are many social media platforms to choose from however to enhance brand intimacy, you should choose the right channel mix. And hey, there is no universal formula in social media. Therefore, not all channels connect with the audience in the same way. Each channel is unique with a distinct audience, different purpose and communication style. For instance, Facebook builds community, Twitter is crisp and topical, LinkedIn is a professional powerhouse. So, craft the engagement strategy keeping in line with this difference and you will see your brand intimacy maximize on social media.

Converse to excite: Collaborative communication.

Three monkeys engrossed in a two-way conversation with head tilted to represent like in any relationship collaborative conversation is key to enhance brand intimacy on social media
Free-flowing two-way communication

Encourage audience participation. Social media and traditional media are not alike. Social media allows for two-way communication. Take advantage of it. Such exchanges on social media enhance brand intimacy. Be consistent. Be collaborative. Also, use a good mix of rich verbal and visual content. Adopt a fun interplay and conversational style communication and see your brand peak on engagement metrics. Want to enhance the brand intimacy furthermore? Engage your audience through games, polls, and contests. This is a great way to boost audience participation and brand affinity. Additionally, brands must recognize that everyone has an equal voice. Always avoid statements or imagery that might have a negative impact on consumer sentiments.

Listen everywhere: Listen intently with your eyes and ears open.

A cute dog listening intently with a raised ear to show listening is important to enhance brand intimacy on social media and relationship
Listen intently

Do you want to improve your relationship? Then listen more. It improves the understanding of a relationship. Brands must listen to consumers across all digital platforms to improve brand intimacy. Practice active listening. Keep a constant check on comments and posts across channels. This helps avert crisis and build credibility. There are several listening tools and monitoring tools for social media. Use these to monitor what is being said about your brand and its competitors. This is a great enabler for brands to be agile and responsive. Consumer’s attention span is shrinking. Therefore in social media, time lost is an opportunity lost. So, it is critical to listen intently and everywhere to enhance brand intimacy on social media.

It is a fast-paced digital world. There are multiple brands competing for consumer’s love. Hence, it is important for the brand to be always top of mind. Social media enhances brand intimacy by empowering it to understand and react to the consumer pulse in real time.

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Small Brands Need Instagram

How do small brands stand out in a noisy, digital world? Be seen. Instagram is a visual content-driven social media platform. It is one of the best tools to for small brands to gain visibility, drive engagement and build awareness.

Why Is Instagram Important for Small Brands?

In 2017, Instagram had an estimated 500 million daily active users. It is the second most popular social media network in the world. Instagram’s vast and valuable reach is an advantage for small brands on the platform. According to Digital Vijay, audiences receive visual communications faster and better retain it. This makes visual content even more critical in digital marketing and branding. 

Instagram Uses and Features

Instagram’s core feature is content sharing. Users edit then share photos and videos as posts on their profile pages. Posts also become visible on their followers’ timelines. Once a user uploads content, they can add captions, hashtags, and geo-tags and tag other users. With these features, posts are easy to track and search, and increase in visibility.

Other functions are now available on the platform. They allow users to engage in new ways:

  • Stories lets users post content that is only visible for 24 hours, like Snapchat. Other media are available to layer, including licensed music, emojis, gifs, text and links to user profiles and external sites. Users can archive and group Stories into collections for others to view beyond the 24-hour expiration.
  • Instagram Live, similar to Facebook Live and Periscope, allows users to live-stream video and interact with viewers via a chat function.
  • Instagram TV is similar to Facebook Watch or LinkedIn Learning. Users can create and share long-format video content. These videos are available to post on the user’s profile and add to collections. 

Instagram also offers business profiles with additional tools for brands to  build awareness and drive engagement. 

  • Contact buttons are located at the top of business pages. They immediately connect users with businesses via email, text or phone call.
  • Promote boosts the visibility of a previously shared post.
  • Insights provides analytics into follower demographics and post performance. 
  • Shopping tags posts with product information (descriptions and prices) that link directly back to a brand’s website

Tips and Tools to Get Started

There are many right ways to use social media in marketing. Clear and concise messages, and posts with intention are always important. As you integrate Instagram into an overall social marketing strategy, remember these tips:

  • Content must have a clear purpose. First, determine the intention (promote, raise awareness, etc.). Then, ensure all elements (images, captions, hashtags) are an accurate reflection of the brand and intent.
  • Use text sparingly in images. Convey the message in one view. Use the caption to continue the story. Canva and Adobe Spark are tools that help create captivating posts that tell stories with few words. These tools are also cost-efficient for small brands with limited budgets.
  • Create and use brand-relevant hashtags. Create a brand-unique hashtag to build awareness. Include other relevant hashtags to boost the brand’s visibility in searches.
  • Be aware of your audiences’ interests and triggers. In digital communication, intention and tone is not always apparent. Messages are easily misinterpreted. Be careful and deliberate in combining images, captions and hashtags. Consult multiple people to proof content before post.
  • Plan ahead. Consistency is the key to maintain visibility. Create a content calendar and plan posts ahead of time. This will ensure messages are on-time and relevant. Hootsuite and Planoly allow you to create and schedule posts. Allocate one hour per week to brainstorm topics, create images and schedule posts.

Hootsuite’s list of over 24 Instagram statistics is a helpful with strategy creation. These statistics show the significance of Instagram as a branding tool. Instagram’s Business page is a robust resource for small brands that want to gain visibility on the platform using a business profile. 

Man’s Popular Website Homograph Attacked on His Punycode

Are Your Fat Fingers Letting You Get Robbed?

We jest, but Homograph Attacks are an increasingly serious problem.

Google calls this the “URLephant in the Room” and has an update that protects you from URL imposters.

If you fell victim to these lookalike URLs, you will often find yourself at the wrong end of a phishing or malware attack.

Even with this update, as a website owner, you may still want to evaluate your website name for attacks like these to protect your visitors.

Avoiding a Homograph Attack

Google’s Canary release for Chrome 70 contained a new feature you can enable called “Navigation suggestions for Lookalike URLs”.

If you mistyped a URL, Chrome will provide a message with an alternative that it thinks you wanted to visit.

Just Deserts or Just Desserts?

(No this isn’t the Chrome Message)

This protects you against a class of attacks known as domain name homographic attack. One form is typosquatting, such as paypai.com for paypal.com.

Protect Your Punycode

You are also protected against another homograph exploitation – how a browser displays Unicode characters in regular (ASCII) text (think “Citibänk” instead of “Citibank”) – called punycode.

This obscures domains while displaying the same or similar text for a link (xn—80ak6aa92e.com – a domain translation made from Chinese characters – becomes apple.com in your browser).

You can turn this protection on by entering the URL below in the address bar, and selecting the option to enable:

chrome://flags/#enable-lookalike-url-navigation-suggestions

Go Deep on Punycode and Homograph Attacks – Click Here

What’s a Website Owner To Do?

To protect your brand and reputation from homograph attacks, you could hire an internet security firm.

For More on Impact to Brand Risk – Click Here

They would scan the web for branding and trademark related lookalike domains. They’d also monitor for new domain name registries to flag.

If you run a larger enterprise, you will also want to analyze your internal networks too for any vulnerabilities.

On a limited budget? You could go to this domain checker to cover the most obvious imposters:

Hold Integrity Domain Checker

Background on the Domain Checker Tool – Click Here

Puny or Punny?

Yes we made a bit of a joke of it, but now you know about Homograph Attacks and how you can protect yourself and your website from those URL impostors!

But Wait! There’s More!

The fun hasn’t ended yet. Check out this Justin Bieber Parody.

3 Easy Social Media Tactics to Engage Your Audience in 2019

Engagement. When it comes to social media, everyone wants it, but not everyone has it. The question remains, how do we get our customers to engage? Below are three easy social media tactics for you to implement and engage your audience in 2019.

Before we get started, you must know your audience and which platform best suits their needs. Have amazing images that need to be seen? Look no further than Instagram. Interested in increasing your brand awareness and traffic to your website? Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest can all help with that. When posting, don’t forget about # (hashtags)! They are a great way for your audience to find you.

Now that we know a little bit more about each platform, let’s chat about three easy ways to engage your audience in 2019

Ask!

First, ASK! How will your audience know what you want them to do unless you ask them? Make sure your intentions are clear. The more the audience knows, the more likely they are to engage with you and your brand. This post from Hubspot gives a few different ideas on asking specifics from your audience.

Consistency is Key!

Next, stay consistent. As with most things, consistency is key! Getting in front of your audience often and using a consistent voice will help your audience gain trust and confidence in your brand. According to this blog from Sprout Social, “43% of social media users only interact with brands to get a direct response to a question or issue.” If your brand does not remain consistent with its voice, your customers may feel your brand is in-authentic. Always be timely with replies to your customers.

Be Useful!

Last but not least… If you want your audience to engage with your brand in 2019, be useful to your audience. At its heart, Social Media is a place to connect. Listen if there are problems. Provide information to your audience that will help them out. Keep in mind that not every post needs to be about a promo or a sale.

There you have it. Three easy Social Media Tactics you can implement right now in order to help engage your audience in 2019. Let me know what you think in the comments below!