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Safety Practices for Small Business Social Media Use

No longer the “New Kid in Town.” Social Media and its marketing resources have gone from a compulsive form of recreation for many to a fundamental piece of any business plan, large or small.

What is still not readily known by many business owners and managers is that use of social media by companies and their employees can seriously compromise a businesses’ security. Very often, when it comes to maintaining safety and security via social media, employees can end up being the biggest issue.

Whether it’s from posting on their personal page about things happening at work, or clicking on things they shouldn’t while using an office computer, employees can accidentally leak information or download mal-ware into your network without even realize they are doing it.

To help avoid the issues that can result in these seemingly small actions, here are some tips to assist you in keeping your business and your employees safe from social-media troubles, both at work and at home.

Advise Employees to Avoid Posting Info About Where They Work

Even though you can’t stop an employee from telling people where they work, explain that like giving out their home address and phone number online, revealing where they work can make it easy for people to find them and collect more info on their daily routine.

Employees should also be informed that associating the company with a personal account on questionable social networks could hurt the company and, by default, hurt the employee as well.

Keep Privacy Settings Updated

This is important on two fronts. First, train your employees how to maintain their own accounts’ privacy settings, this will lessen the possibility of unauthorized info getting leaked.

On your businesses’ accounts, it’s likely you don’t know most of the followers you’ve cultivated. Taking steps to secure those accounts as much as possible, with privacy settings that will work best for your company, will significantly add to your online security

Establish Work Place Use of Social Media

Most of us have done it, checked our Facebook page during lunch or a break. Instead of trying to ban the use of social media on work computers, it may be better to create some policies on how to use it instead.

For instance, stating that visitation of these sites may only be made during breaks and that the use of apps like games, quizzes, or anything else that requires clicking on links, are prohibited on company computers. Putting these policies in place will assist you in avoiding issues that can affect your network.

Make Sure Your IT Specialists Are Trained to Handle Social Media Specific Issues

Once you’ve established an office policy for Social Media use, it will need to be enforced. This means ongoing surveillance of online activities. To accomplish this, invest in consulting, and antivirus protection via software and hardware.

Additionally, the company’s technical staff will need to be updated about current social-media security risks.

A Word on Hacking

All businesses and their social media accounts are potential targets. Any compromise of these tools could result in irreparable damage. Fortunately, the items we’ve already discussed can help prevent a hacker from successfully breaking into your account.

Additionally, use strong passwords with unique alpha-numeric combinations. These days to create the best possible login security, you need to use upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and accepted punctuation as allowed.

Once you have one password, don’t use it for multiple logins. If a hacker manages to figure one account out, you’ll have given up the keys to the entire kingdom.

A Little Prevention Can Go A Long Way

The most important way to prevent harmful issues from social media use is to educated and even provide training for your employees.

Whether this is via a workshop, meeting or included in a section of the employee handbook, be sure your employees have the knowledge that can save your business’ social media accounts and their own from unnecessary attention and use.

Monitoring the social media marketing landscape is vital to your success.

October 17, 2017   No Comments

Knowing Your Blog Posting Options

These days it seems like everyone has a blog. whether it’s an outlet to type out our inner musings of the world today or to let people into a part of our lives we would have difficulty discussing out loud, there a never-ending number of reasons to start one.

If you own a small business, there are even more reasons to have one. While there are a few that would argue as to whether blogs are still applicable with the surge of social media marketing platforms that have taken the world by storm, it’s believed by most that blogging can be an integral piece of your marketing plan.

In case you are still waiting to take the plunge into the web log world, some reasons to consider moving forward with your own blog are:

They are a great way to develop better relationships with your current customers
They will increase your SEO on sites like Google and Yelp.
They can position your brand as a perceived industry leader, even if you are just starting out.

Types of blog posts: Articles on your own blog, mini articles on a microblog, and articles on other peoples’ blogs.

What is a Microblog?

Microblogging is a combination of blogging and instant messaging. It allows users to create short messages to share with an audience online. Two common microblogging platforms are Twitter and Tumblr.

Benefits of Microblogging to consider:

Your content will take less time to create.
It’s easier to post more frequently.
It’s perfect for disseminating urgent information to a large audience.
Ease of access through mobile apps.

How and Why You Should Consider Guest Blogging

Guest Blogging is basically creating an article for a blog that is not your own. It’s a way to share your knowledge with others while simultaneously increasing traffic to your blog. This also means you will need to plan on featuring posts from other bloggers in the future. Featuring guest posts will give your audience a new perspective on your industry as well as help freshen your content if you’ve gotten stuck in a rut.

To get started, first decide what benefits you are looking to get from the process of guest blogging. This will assist you in finding businesses you may be interested in creating content for and give you an idea of which guest bloggers would be good to invite to post on your site later.

Research is essential to guest blogging, begin by asking yourself some questions:

Do the businesses you are looking at have a large number of active followers?
Do these followers regularly participate by posting comments or sharing?
Do these businesses also have a Facebook page and Twitter account where they share their blog posts?

Focus on finding bloggers within your niche and market industry. You should agree with what they have to say, their opinions should match your own. If they don’t this could lead to content issues later if their content doesn’t line up with your business, personality, or tone.

Be sure to promote your guest blog posts on your own social media accounts and on your own blog. This will bring more traffic back to your guest’s blog and their business. It should become a habit to share your content, plus it’s a good way to say thank you to your host for publishing your guest post.

Overall, blogging in each form is a good way to widen your reach and bring more traffic to your own web presence.

Monitoring the social media marketing landscape is vital to your success.

October 10, 2017   No Comments

Is it Time to ReThink Your AdWords Strategy?


Are you throwing 98% of your online ad budget away?

Last week at a Global Retailing Conference, Restoration Hardware delightfully colorful CEO, Gary Friedman, divulged the following striking anecdote about the company’s online marketing strategy, and the state of online ad spending in general (courtesy of @parsimony16). What Friedman revealed – in brief – was the following: “we’ve found out that 98% of our business was coming from 22 words. So, wait, we’re buying 3,200 words and 98% of the business is coming from 22 words. What are the 22 words? And they said, well, it’s the word Restoration Hardware and the 21 ways to spell it wrong, okay?”

Stated simply, the vast, vast majority of online ad spending is wasted, chasing clicks that simply are not there.

I’ll share a little anecdote with you on this point.

We had our marketing meeting in the company several years ago and the online marketing team was pitching to double their budget, right, and at the time, say, look, nobody in the company is doubling their budget. But tell me why you believe that’s the right thing to do. And they said, well, look, our customer acquisition cost and our ad cost is the lowest in the company. And I said, well, tell me about the data, show me how. And they said, well, people who click through the words that we buy on Google, the ad cost was lowest. And I said, how do you know that they’re clicking on the word and going to the website because of the word you bought versus they saw a store or they received a source book? They said, oh, we know.

I said, well, how many words do you buy? They said 3,200. 3,200 words. I said, well, what are the top words? How are they ranked, the ranking of the words? Oh, we don’t have that, right. And I was getting the look at like, oh, Gary is kind of one these old brick-and-mortar guys. He just doesn’t get it.

And I said, well, what are the top 10 words? And they didn’t have the information. I said, why don’t we cancel the meeting and come back next week when you have the data? I’m sure that Google sales representatives who are taking you to the expensive lunches and selling you the 3,200 words have that data. So why don’t we get the data and then let, review the data?

And they came back the next week and we sat in a meeting and all of a sudden, I can tell you there’s a little change in the faces. They had to wear it kind of down. Everybody kind of came in. I said, so what did we find out?

And they said, well, we’ve found out that 98% of our business was coming from 22 words. So, wait, we’re buying 3,200 words and 98% of the business is coming from 22 words. What are the 22 words? And they said, well, it’s the word Restoration Hardware and the 21 ways to spell it wrong, okay?

Immediately the next day, we cancelled all the words, including our own name. By the way, we are paying for the little shaded box above our words and said, oh no, we have to hang on to that because Pottery Barn might squat on top of us. I said, excuse me? I said, if someone goes to a mall or a shopping center and they’re going to Restoration Hardware and there’s a Pottery Bam there, they’re already squatting, okay? It doesn’t mean they’re going to go into their store. If somebody wanted to buy a diamond from Tiffany and just because Zale’s is sitting on top of them in a shaded box doesn’t mean they’re going to go to Zale’s and buy a diamond.

I mean, I can’t believe how many companies buy their own name and they’re paying Google millions of dollars a year for their own name.

Check your tracking links, you might just save some money.

Original story from Zerohedge Restoration Hardware AdWords Revelation

September 14, 2017   No Comments

Mastering Visual Content Marketing


When tackling a content marketing campaign, you need to know what will rouse online growth and engagement. Text-based content will always be important, but in this digital era, visual content is integral to the success of content marketing.

Websites that are mobile-optimized should focus on visual content as the internet has made attention spans shorter than ever. The popularity of content presented in big blocks of text is long gone.

It makes sense to use visual content when over 50 percent of people are visual learners. Content that resonates psychologically is said to be at least 43 percent more persuasive. To reach your audience on a deeper level, here are 3 types of visual content to incorporate in your next campaign:

Compelling Images

Images are the first thing people think of when it comes to visual content. Knowing to add images to your content marketing campaign isn’t the hard part, it’s choosing the right type of images to get your point across.

Just like relevant keywords are important in text-based content, high quality and relevant images are vital to visual marketing. When deciding on how to choose images for your campaign follow these tips:

Aim for original images over stock photos
Candid photos over posed
Capture a feeling

Stray away from the cheesy stock photos for several reasons: your viewers can sense that they are fake and there is the chance that other businesses in your niche have used the same photo. Original images add a personal touch to your campaign that will only contribute to its unique qualities.

Depending on the aim of your campaign, candid photos may be a better choice than posed ones. Unlike posed stock photos, candid images are more realistic and therefor, more relatable. Your viewers will find it easier to picture themselves in your ad.

Be selective when it comes to choosing images for you content marketing campaign as a photo has the power to transport. Think about what you want your viewers to feel when they see your campaign and choose a photo that inspires those feelings.

Videos

Videos can become the chief representation of your brand if you are successful in creating the right one. For a visual marketing campaign, videos are images brought to life through movement, sound, and music.

Just as images, videos need to be of the highest caliber. Anticipate that your video will be watched and shared, so plan to optimize it.

Whether your video is for a landing page, e-mail campaign, or a blog post, there are several types of videos to choose from. To begin, think about the message you’d like to convey through your video.

There are a variety of videos that can enhance your business:

How-to videos
Animated explanations
Demonstrations
Customer testimonials
Expert interviews

It’s important to keep in mind that whichever type of video you choose, it should fall in line with the style of your brand.

Considering that most people may view your video on their e-mail or through a mobile app, it should be short and to the point. Give the viewer all the information they need, but be quick and concise about it. If they’re scrolling through e-mails or their social media feed, they don’t want to be held up for too long.

Memes

Memes are most commonly known as images that are followed by funny captions. They are new to the visual marketing campaign, but vary popular amongst internet users across social media platforms.

Memes were originally a form of entertainment amongst teens and college students but have gained traction as an easy, creative, and even quirky way to present visual content. Given their origins, it would benefit you to decide whether memes are appropriate for your niche.

If your brand is targeted towards a younger audience, memes are one of the best ways to motivate engagement. With this engagement, memes can build a community around your brand and allow to make inside jokes about your niche.

The measurement of success for a meme is when it goes viral and people begin replicating it. Viewers not only post and share the meme, but they go back to the original source which means major exposure for your brand.

Visual content is a great way to encourage your audience to explore your brand. Aim to create high quality visual content that truly connects with your audience. Don’t rush to put up any visual content for the sake of a schedule – substance is of the utmost importance.

August 15, 2017   No Comments

Content You Didn’t Know You Had and How to Use It


Content marketing is extremely important when it comes to navigating the online world. Knowing which content to market and how is equally as important.

From social media to blogging, it is crucial for a business to establish its identity and find elements that express it properly. Content that is relatable and can be easily shared will take your campaigns from good to great.

How do you stay Google-relevant while maintaining a unique content marketing strategy? Read on for strategies that will enhance your next campaign.

Move past corporatization

Now more than ever, businesses have an all-access pass to their audiences. There’s no need to have a wall between corporate and the customers. Forming real relationships with the people who love you brand will not only keep them coming back, but attract others as well.

Your customers need to know that you are people just like them. Your business should express the passion that you and your employees have for what you do.

Remove the veil of mystery of your business and be more open with your customers. How do you turn openness into content?

Utilize social media accounts such as Twitter and Instagram to give a behind-the-scenes look at the work your company is doing
Confront rumors and myths through transparent and honest videos that allow your customers to interact and get involved in the process

Don’t be afraid to share those photos of late-night work sessions. Answer the questions that your customers have.

If you think that coming out and talking about some of the issues your company has, take this opportunity to address these issues and let people know you’re working on it.

Just because you’re marketing online doesn’t mean your company should get lost behind the internet. Show your customers real faces and establish trust.

Be more than just a brand

It’s one thing to sell a product and another to sell a lifestyle. Content marketing that offers a lifestyle through their products makes their products need, not just wanted.

Instead of beginning with a product, start with your targeted customer. Ask yourself the following questions when developing a targeted customer profile:

What is their life like at this moment, without your product(s)?
How would their life be better with your product(s)?
How does using your product make them part of a different class?

Think about how your product will fit seamlessly into the life of your targeted customer. Tailor your content to an individual customer rather than your brand.

Cater to your customers by:

Engaging with unexpected topics
Put forward content that creates unique experiences—videos, product presentation
Strive to work with like-minded collaborators
Targeting their personalities from music tastes to fashion interests

This strategy will require more care than simply posting a somewhat-relevant blog or barely meaningful photos. Dig deep into the psyche of your customer and use your content to reach them there.

Let your followers share their story

Your followers are a big part of your success. Without them, no one’s buying your products, sharing your videos, or reading your blogs.

Content that evokes emotion through relatable or provocative stories invited audiences to share such an experience. Of course, these stories need to be real, genuine, and purposeful.

Companies that are genuine in their aim to support their customers and hear their story will be successful. Letting followers be a part of the story by sharing their experiences and attracting likeminded people will build community amongst your customers.

Create a platform where your followers can share their experiences. Be it a forum, a video-sharing challenge, or a hashtag, give your followers a chance to connect with you and others.

Knowing how your customers use your product is valuable insight that can be used to deliver creative content. Content that captures attention, is relatable, and is easy to share will take off in virality.

Set your blog, articles, and infographics apart by:

Sharing information on general personal habits of your customers – people love reading about themselves!
Integrating attractive, original photos from your followers – stock photos are a turn off

There are variety of resources for your company to create content from. If your business has customers, that means you have just as many stories, photos, and knowledge to share that will express your love of what you do.

Showing your customers that you are more than just a company will take you a long way.

August 7, 2017   No Comments