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Snapchat: Could YOU REALLY Use It In Your Business?

Over the last few years, Snapchat has seen incredible growth as a social media platform. According to BusinessofApps.com, Snapchat has over 100 million active users and 400 million snaps are sent everyday.

You might be thinking “isn’t Snapchat for teenagers and college students? What does that have to do with my marketing strategy?” While the primary users of Snapchat are between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four, the growing popularity of the app is something that can’t be ignored. According to the SocialTimes, Snapchat has surpassed even Facebook messenger as the most frequently used messenger app. With the development of Snap Stories, many brands started using the platform as a marketing tool to engage their audience. How can you do the same?

Although, it’s, different than other media channels, you CAN still make it effective.

Snapchat is more casual and instantaneous than other platforms, so be sure to embrace that culture. Perhaps what makes the different for Snapchat users is that it’s not all about presenting your best side, as seen in Facebook and Instagram posts. Snapchat is more humanized and shows the every day moments to connect with users. Light-heartedness is what makes the app such a success with the audience. This can boost your brand by making it more relatable. Snapchat is a great tool for getting users involved; there is less pressure with the posts and adds a sense of fun. You can make your posts your own with the different editing tools that include captions, the ability to draw on the pictures, and add different emojis. The possibilities are endless for creativity!

The biggest difference between Snapchat and other platforms is the time limit on the posts. The videos and pictures sent on Snapchat are subject to a time limit before they disappear. It adds an exclusive feel to the marketing and offers a great opportunity for teasers of new products. The time limit also works for your benefit because the users of Snapchat are just scrolling through quickly; their attention span isn’t long enough for wordy posts. However, knowing the time limit is there is important to ensure that as a marketer, you’re taking advantage of every second. Work with your team to create an effective strategy to embrace the time limit.

With the Discover tool on Snapchat, users and brands are able to create stories, the main tool that marketers are taking advantage of. With Snapchat Story, you can take a series of images and videos and combine them into longer posts for viewers. This tool is great because it can help you build up anticipation for something, such as an upcoming feature or product. Major brands including Taco Bell and Pizza Hut have seen great success with their Snapchat accounts.


Snapchat is a great way to engage users. While the images are only temporary, you are able to take screenshots of what people send to you. A Snapchat expert, Shaun McGuire has been hired by many brands including Disney because of his ability to interact with fans. During a promotional campaign to Disneyland and Walt Disney World, Shaun posted to Snapchat, showing off his adventure, promoting different rides and events at the parks, and even asked his followers for tips and tricks. Shaun fooled the best advice and posted proof to his account, helping his users feel active and engaged in his content.

Developing content is the first step for any marketing strategy. Things that would fit for Snapchat include tutorial videos on something in your area of expertise. You can take a series of pictures for a how-to campaign and post it to your Snapchat account. This worked for a Sephora make-up campaign, where the brand posted images of a model getting ready for a fashion show with her Sephora products. This can also encourage your followers to stay-turned to learn the next step in a process.

Adding Snapchat to your strategy can be fun and useful in the following ways:

  1. Get behind the scenes: Give your followers a “backstage pass” to see how the magic happens when creating their favorite products. Because Snapchat is a “real-time” tool, you can give followers “up to the moment updates.” This is quite popular among music groups, as seen on the latest One Direction tour. While their fans were waiting for the show to start, the group posted images to their Snap story of the preparations backstage and build the anticipation for the show.
  2. Provide access to live events. Even for those who are unable to the event, they don’t have to feel left out with up to second updates on Snapchat. The NBA is a prime example here. Fans can see everything happening at events like the Draft and the All-Star Game by following on their Snapchat.
  3. Create contests and giveaways. Many brands have offered contests to their followers that engaged the user and boosted the number of followers. A ticket-broker company called Chat Sports offered free event tickets to followers who could convince their friends to follow Chat Sports as well. With the contest hashtag, the users could refer their friends and reply with a unique image to win. This contest had over 150 people enter within the first 48 hours. GrubHub found great success with their giveaways when they included special promo codes in their Snap Stories; consumers had to watch the entirety of the story to receive the code and received discounts on menu ideas.
  4. Partner with Influencers. Many brands on Snapchat are creating partnerships to boost their brand. For example, McDonald’s sponsored with LeBron James on their Snap story to promote a new item- while LeBron may be a little out of reach, you can try to find the major influencers in Snapchat and asked them to help boost your brand’s personality. Sour Patch Kids found Logan Paul, a social media star in his own right, to host a Snapchat campaign. With his 500,000 Twitter followers watching, Paul helped to build more awareness for Sour Patch Kids on Snapchat.

Snapchat may have a prominent audience of millennials, but new users are joining every day. It is an excellent opportunity for your brand to get noticed build relationships with your audience creative marketing opportunities.

Adobe Spark Video

ConvinceandConvert.com called 2016 the ?Year of Video Marketing,? and web traffic studies have shown audiences are straying away from traditional blog posts toward video content. Keep with up with the evolving marketing strategies with Adobe Spark.

Adobe Spark is design tool, making it easier than ever to create attention-grabbing marketing content, even for those without the highest level of design skills. It is free to use via iOS app or desktop. At this time, Adobe Spark is not available on GooglePlay, but expected to be released soon.

To use, you can create a new account or log in through an existing Adobe, Facebook, or Google account. Upon logging-in, you will be prompted to confirm your email and agree to the program?s terms and conditions before you can get started.

To create a video:

  1. Select video
  2. Enter a title or idea (this isn?t permanent! Spark offers the opportunity to go back and edit!)
  3. Pick a template or start from scratch.

Spark offers a variety of templates from ?Personal Growth? to share your experiences to ?Promote an Idea? to create a call-to-action campaign.

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With Spark, you?re able to record your voice telling the story, add photos and text to each slide, and play it back before publishing to ensure everything is just as you want it. Spark makes it easy to share across social media and the web.

Each template offers a step-by-step guide to create the video, prompting you to fill in the setting, the problem, and a call to action. There are different themes and layouts available for each template, making the video customizable to your brand. You have the ability to add music, whether pre-recorded and provided by Adobe, or uploaded from your files. You can also create voiceovers for your video, add pictures, change the texts, and add icons.

When you?re ready, share your video! You can download it for your files as well as create a link to embed into websites and blogs, as well as post on social media sites.

Videos aren?t the only thing you can create on Adobe Spark; the same easy-to-use templates are available to create social graphics, web stories, and more. Adobe Spark is a great tool to have on hand to create new content- and the best part? It?s free!

Optimizing the Conversion Rate on Your Website

It?s all about the ROI right?

Sure! But on your website, it?s not JUST about making a sale. What about those not ready to buy quite yet? Your website is also there to capture the visitor?s information so that you can consistently market to them until as we say; ?they buy or die.?

So is there a method to the madness with optimizing your conversions?

Absolutely! Have you ever gone into a store with a purchase in mind and just gotten completely overwhelmed by choices and walked out? That happens a lot online too.

Quick Sprout conducted a study to see if too many choices on a website could create a lower conversion rate and found, in this case, ?less is more.?

Here are a few key findings from the study:


  • Out of 100 conversions, the sites that asked for 3 fields of contact information (i.e.: first and last name and email) saw a 25% higher conversion rate over sites with six or more fields (i.e., under a Portfolio menu: Branding, Illustration, Print Designing, Typography, etc.).


  • The number of choices in a drop-down menu also affected the conversion rate. Those with only one option on the menu had a 16% conversion rate over that of a site with four or more options, which had a 14% conversion rate.


  • What you?re asking for deters people from filling out online forms. It was found that if you ask for a telephone number, you could lose up to 5% of the conversion rate. While you need to know the best way to contact someone, limit it to email or less intrusive form of communication.


  • Too many package offerings can make a purchasing decision harder. The magic number lies between 2-6 options. Even Amazon doesn?t show more than six options as a suggested purchase in their ?Customers who bought this, also bought? section. You want to let people know other opportunities are available, but to keep from changing their mind about the purchase.

Are you making some of the above mistakes? Take a look around your site and see where you can afford to make some reductions!

Did you know that outdated website design can ALSO hurt your conversion rate? Not only can outdated code hurt website load times, which can affect conversion rates, but outdated design can too. Just ask CloudSponge about their experience.

The Kissmetrics Blog completed a study on how different businesses worked to improve their conversion rates and reported the case studies: CloudSponge, a company that imports address books to make mass emails more efficient, was seeing a decline in conversions and redesigned their website to be cleaner and more modern. After the makeover, CloudSponge saw a 33% increase in their conversion rate.

If a complete website overhaul may not be the option for you (although if it is, I can help!)? What about the copy on your page? How is the wording, or the call to action? By ensuring your site is using action-oriented phrases, you can also increase your conversion rates.

You?ve heard of the KISS model, right? Keep It Short and Simple. It applies to everything ? including your webpage! Clear your homepage of clutter and make it easier to navigate you?ll see an increased conversion rate. By streamlining your call to action into a simple step, consumers can see what they can get out of your services and understand quickly if it?s right for them, taking the doubt away. People are busy, they don?t have time to play around on pages to find what?s being offered- they just want to know how it affects them. Take a look at the Weather Channel?s website- it used to be a hot mess but has since been cleaned to have one objective: to subscribe and receiver weather updates. Since then, Kissmetrics Blog reports they have seen a 225% increase in conversion.

Gather data on your own sites and test out all the changes that you make to track through split testing. Split testing, also known as bucket testing, is a method of comparing two versions of an webpage against each other to see which one works more efficiently. Many of these studies were conducted through the use of split testing. Services available to assist with the testing include convert.com or optimizely.com. Both offer a free trial along with monthly packages to fit your needs.

Explore the sites you always buy from and ask yourself: what drives you to that purchase? Are you drawn by the images or the customer testimonials? Whatever it is, apply that your site and watch your conversions increase.

By paying attention to your conversion rates, you will be able to fix problems that are deterring new clientele- ones that you may not have been aware of in the first place!

The higher a conversion rate, the better your ROI. Even better than that, having an effective conversion rate will help you reach the right kind of customer: drawing visitors to your page who are in need of your service. Research and testing will help you to determine what works best for your site. Don?t forget to listen to customer feedback and learn what people need out of the website. All of these things can set you up for success on your website and overall busine

Convert Plug

Are you having challenges gaining subscribers with your media content? Consider the tool called ConvertPlug to add pop-ups and inline forms to your website, encouraging new traffic to sign up for your marketing content.

ConvertPlug is a WordPress plug-in that is used to help users to build email lists and create campaigns with triggered pop-ups while offering insight with analytics and build engagement with visitors. It offers users the capability to build email lists, promote offers, drive traffic, and share updates with subscribers.

ConvertPlug makes designing emails and pop-ups easy with a wide array of templates for users to choose from. On the homepage, you can choose the modal that will best fit your needs ? whether it is a coupon or pop-up.

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To use ConvertPlug:

  1. Download the plug-in on WordPress and follow the prompts for installation.
  2. Click ?Let?s get started.? You will be able to select the modal you want to create, whether it is an ?exit intent? pop-up, an ?exclusive offer,? or an ?opt-in.?
  3. Choose a template. There are so many to choose from and they?re all customizable with a live editor! To help you decide, hover your mouse over a selection and see the ?Live Preview? so you can see exactly what you will be creating.
  4. Customize to your brand. Add your own text and color scheme. You?re even able to customize the animation of how the pop will appear on your screen! Don?t forget to save.
  5. Under the Target Pages tab on the plug-in, you?re able to customize the behavior of the pop-up. In other words, you can make so this particular pop-up doesn?t show up to previous subscribers or make it invisible to current users.

Does ConvertPlug actually work? According to a case study completed in March 2016, the website narrowem.com saw a 412% increase of conversions when using ConvertPlug. Making the most of this tool can build your conversions exponentially. With results like that, it might just be worth the minimal fee.

A license to ConvertPlug is $21 and includes the service and six months of support. If needed, a user can purchase an additional six months of support for $6.30. Investing in a tool like ConvertPlug can help boost your email lists and generate leads that are meaningful to your business.

Interactive content marketing is here to stay

Over the last couple of years, the growing trend of interactive content has been increasing and it?s expected to continue through 2016. Gone are the days where just having written content is enough to convince consumers to buy. These days consumers want to know the person (or people) behind the product before making a purchase. From online quizzes and personality assessments to video marketing and online surveys, there are many ways to engage further with your audience in a more interactive way. Are you taking advantage of them?


If you?re new to Interactive Marketing, get started by trying something simple such as a poll. Polling offers audience engagement by asking customers for their opinion. It not only provides good content, but it also implies that your business is listening and taking the opinions of their customers and followers into consideration. Polls have the added benefit of causing their audience to interact twice with a brand: once with the question and then again with the results and their comments.

A simple Google search will bring up a ton of different polling tools such as Polldaddy and Poptip that can be used to run your poll. Even Twitter has a poll tool you can add directly to your tweets!

On your Twitter page, whether you tweet from a smartphone, tablet or web, simply type out your question and hit the poll icon at the bottom of the tweet. You?ll be prompted to enter up to four choices for answers and choose a duration time of up to seven days for your poll.

UntitledThe Twitter polls are kept completely confidential, so no one will know who voted and how. When using this tool, keep in mind that you have to remember when the poll ends; there isn?t a notification that tells you when it ends. Don?t forget to check the results!

Polling doesn?t seem right for you? If you?re looking for another way to interact with your audience but not looking to ?reinvent the wheel,? recycling older content into an infographic is a great strategy. Infographics are images that present data in a more visually appealing way. You can also take the infographic one step further by adding an interactive element that allows users to click around on points of interest. Interactive infographics add dialogue to the image, allowing you to ask your audience questions to find out where they are in the buying process.

Infographics are easy to create, whether you have design skills or not. Google Developers offer tools to add graphics with a variety of charts to display on a website. The account is free and you can configure it to display data in real time, keeping the most relevant information available to site visitors. It?s easy to get started at developers.google.com. At this site, you can add a Google Chart with a JavaScript embedded into your webpage. Google Chart has a library of charts to choose from, all of which are basic but customizable. These charts have an HTML5.SVG technology, which means they are designed to be visible across multiple platforms, from IPhones to Android and basic web browsers.

Take an infographic that has already been created by your team (or you can create a new one, your call!) and think about points on it where you can ask questions, expand the knowledge or even insert a poll. These tools make it more engaging and ultimately allow you to gather more leads.

Quizzes are another great Interactive Marketing strategy. Thanks to Buzzfeed and Playbuzz, quizzes are becoming more common, even on marketing sites. They?re a fun way to get a personalized engagement with your audience. You can apply that to your own strategy with a personality assessment of sorts. Analyze your products based on who would benefit the most from them and then you can help consumers decide which product will directly fit their needs. Not only will customers to your site be intrigued to test their knowledge and get personalized tips, but you?ll also get a feel for what they?re looking for. Assessments can also build the ideas to create different products to fit other needs and discover what your content is missing.

What do you need to create these different types of Interactive Marketing? A solid knowledge of your products and projected audience for starters, but to actually create the quizzes, polls, or infographics there are a lot options for your marketing strategies.

So, will Interactive Marketing really help your ROI or is it just another trend? Case studies from SnapApp.com, a one-stop shop for all things needed to create Interactive Marketing products, show that Interactive Marketing does engage more audiences and gets results. For example, Blackbaud University, a company that offers training on products and services benefiting nonprofit organizations, wanted to generate more leads from their marketing efforts, so they looked into Interactive Marketing. In August of 2015, they developed different content, including calculators and assessments that worked to show the audience what they could gain with a Blackbaud product. Using those assessments and calculators, the marketing team was able to generate more content that better interacted with consumers and gave a more comprehensive view of their products and how consumers could benefit from using the right product. The sales team was also able to analyze the results from the website calculators and show those real results to potential clients. By the end of the first quarter with these tactics, Blackbaurd saw growth of more than 500 qualified leads and over $600,000 of additional sales, resulting in a 133% growth of the first quarter?s quota.

Many different bloggers and social media experts, from Social Media Today to Convince & Convert Consulting Media, have predicted that Interactive Marketing is the wave of 2016 because it is a new, creative way to stand out in the sea of content. Soon many organizations will be searching for ways to make their content more interactive and shareable across a variety of platforms. Be sure to conduct your own research and test out ideas to see what fits your audience and company when it comes to using these new trends to make your content even more interactive!

How To Navigate Social Media For Traffic Generation

Traffic generation is a hot topic in regards to internet marketing. However, when you start to break down the components that make this all up, you are going to see that there are strong suits within every single method you can attempt. The only real way to properly navigate the different mediums to decide what will pay off most you?ve got to test. That being said, the following should (hopefully) start you off on the right path. And to quote Guy Kawaski ? Still, do not take my word as gospel. These are my tips, tricks and insights, and I hope they work for you.?

Differentiate Your Profile

Make all your profiles the same.

Your personal profile and your business profile need to be mutually exclusive. The biggest mistake that you can make at first, is setting up your page to be a mix of the two. Do not allow them to intermingle unless you want your business to become stifled with personal issues. Learning how to keep both entities separate will allow you to get more market share over time. If you feel that this is not something that you can do, then at least focus on posting personal elements that are not going to interfere with what you?re trying to build. One post could derail months of work, so be careful if you?re going to walk a fine line with your profiles.

Befriend Verified People

Use twitter to tag key players.

Do not just go on a ?friendship? spree. Take your time cultivating the audience that you want to market to. That means that you should not befriend anyone that you cannot verify as being a real person. There?s a lot of bots out there, and some sites are worse than others. Keep in mind that you need to have people that are interested in what you?re doing, your niche, and industry to qualify leads. If you don?t have good leads, then you are going to have to deal with a lot of issues trying to market to the audience that you have. Marketing to bots is no good, and if you have one thousands friends that aren?t interested in what you?re doing, you?ll be wasting your time.

Do Not Buy Friends or Relationships

This is a controversial tip, but it?s absolutely important. Do not purchase your friends, likes, or connect to others for money. If you do this, you could end up losing out on the bigger picture, and the quality of followers and friends will be scraping the bottom of the barrel. There are a lot of companies out there that allow you to purchase influence, but be careful when doing that. If you absolutely have to purchase anything within these realms, make sure that you purchase sponsored listings, advertising, and things that you can verify can help build your business over time.

Use The Site?s Advertising Programs

Every social media site today has an advertising arm that you can take advantage of. Do not dismiss this as a cash grab, because it?s not. If you look at the tools that are in place right now, you are going to find that there are demographic, geographic, and further elements that you can divide and market your business to with ease. This trumps traditional advertising methods because you could pick and choose exactly whom you want to see your ads, and whom you direct your content towards. With as little as $5 you could influence thousands of people within your niche and get a great deal of support for your pages. If you dismiss the advertising options that abound on these pages, you could end up falling short of the bigger picture, and therefore end up isolated or worse, ignored.

Engage The Audience

No matter what size audience you have, make sure that you engage them in conversation, comment on their posts, and do whatever it takes to befriend real people. The biggest issue that you are going to find with social media marketing is ad blindness. People have learned how to look past whatever it is being overtly advertised, and will mark it as spam. You don?t want to get labeled as a spam artist because you could end up getting banned from the profile pages. Instead, take your time getting to know your audience, share their posts, comment, like, and showcase genuine involvement in whatever it is they are working on, and with. If you do this, you?ll find that your posts will start to get more and more traction in time.

Do Not Neglect Your Profiles

One of the worst things that you can do is leave your site dormant. A dormant page will not only lose steam, it will become a page that is no longer relevant to your niche. This happens a lot, and it is hard to regain your stature once you start to decline. Neglecting a profile and not updating for a few days is a death sentence when it comes to social media. It?s imperative that you do not allow your pages to lose out on the traffic, and marketing capabilities that abound. Since social networks run 24 hours a day, and people post at all hours of the day, you will want to figure out a way to stay relevant, post at various times and figure out how to best use your time.

At the end of the day, if you are serious about making moves within social media take your time. The more you know about your audience, and the more selective you are about befriending others, the higher quality your leads will be. Lead generation through social avenues is a great way to build your business, but it?s going to take a bit of effort to get started. Don?t assume that you can master all of this within a short span of time, it?s not possible. It?s going to take some leg work, but it will pay off dividends for sure.

How To Leverage Content Marketing For Any Website

Look online for what marketers think about content marketing, and I won?t be in the minority when I say that ?content is king.? They say that content is king, and some will argue that it?s just a fraction of the bigger search engine optimization land. The truth of the matter is that if you don?t work with this type of element, you are going to miss out on a lot of the direct traffic that you can get from establishing authority online. When working with updates, your site will fall into a couple of categories. It will either go with the live, and active pages. Or it?s going to diminish and end up with the dormant sites. Dormant websites rarely get moving forward after they are categorized there. Once search engines determine that your page is not getting updated nearly as much as it should, you will end up with a lackluster return on your investment straightway. It?s with that in mind that you should look at how to leverage real contextual updates for the purpose of marketing. Doing this correctly will usher in a great deal of traffic, some of which will be 100% organic and convert well on sales, newsletter signage, and much more.

Setting Up Content Management Systems

The first step that you need to look at is in regards to your website?s overall reach. You absolutely have to set up a content management system, or you will not be able to move forward. If you have a static website today, you need to modify it or at least link to a location where you are going to update often. Setting up a CMS is a matter of looking into how you?re going to format the changes to your site. Will you be including a blog, or will the updates stream into the home page? Will you hose the blog on your domain or will you have a third party element? Can you custom build this or are you going to use software to establish the connections? Whatever the case is, you have to set this up before you can start making moves within the world of content marketing and design.

Onsite Updates

Assuming you?re going to set up your CMS within the pages of your domain, you?ll want to focus on building information in the form of posts that give your audience answers to the top questions. Start answering as many questions as you can within the world of your niche. You may think that this is archaic, or rudimentary, but it?s very important. You want to establish your page early on in terms of authority. Authority modules on the web can mean the difference between ranking #1 for your niche or ranking way below. You don?t want to treat your audience like experts all the time, because some of them aren?t. You want to educate them to make the right decisions, and sprinkle in a call to action here and there in terms of self-promotion.

Keyword Density

As you start to update your pages, make sure that you keep in mind this notion of keyword density. This is in reference to repeating phrases and words within a block of text. It?s the backbone of SEO content updates, and it can make or break your future listings. Some people strive to get density protocol that is upwards of 3% or even 5% in terms of repetition. You want to aim for a limited expansion and formula in this regards. Search engine algorithms are getting a lot better at picking out density that seems to be ?gaming? the system. In order to comply with a good overall standard, keep this below 3% but not to a point where you don?t select keywords to target at all. Make sure that you sprinkle the words into a larger block of text and make sure it helps the meaning of what you?re saying. If the end user looks at your content and sees you making frivolous repetitions, they?ll walk away, and you?ll lose credibility.

Frequency of Updates

The number of times you should update your site depends on your audience. A good rule of thumb starting out is to update your page 2 to 3 times a week. From there, look at the analytics of your page and see whether or not you are getting any traffic for your efforts. If you see that your traffic is not doing so well, or you aren?t getting traction, change up your frequency and spend more time editing and breaking up your posts. The worst thing that you can do here is to double up your posts and have them all ignored. When you start to see some traffic, ask your audience to comment and suggest more topics or ask questions. Make sure that you do not forget about the end user here, because what they experience matters just as much as how they are interacting with your site.

Types of Updates

Content marketing doesn?t relegate itself to just one type of update. In fact, some of the best SEO marketers in the world talk about trying out 15 different types of pages. If you?re stumped as to where to start, consider reviews. Reviewing products, services, and different experiences within the lexicon of your niche could help you start working towards building a bridge between your page and search engine rankings. Once you exhaust this, work on the next option that you can think of, and try to diversify your posting schedule. If you are posting too much of one thing, you?re going to get limited traffic or you?ll bore your audience.

Call In Guests

One of the best things that you can do long term is look into getting guest authors for your site. This can break up the content and create compelling relationships for you to build marketing collateral with. This is also a good opportunity to create updates for other people?s websites and give you a leg up on backlinks and more. From time to time you will need to engage audiences that are beyond the walls of your site, on your quest to master this type of marke

How to connect with Snapchat followers

In 2012, two college students created Snapchat at Stanford University. Since it?s debut, Snapchat has reached an audience of over 100 million viewers and is continually growing every day with users that include presidential candidates, celebrities, and your average Joe.

As an entrepreneur, Snapchat can be a powerful tool to connect with a wider audience- especially if your target demographic is tech-savvy or in the millennial generation. Here are some ways to add a new people to your audience on Snapchat:

  1. Add by username.

Open Snapchat on your mobile device ?it?s compatible on both iOS and GooglePlay platforms. Tap ?Add Friends,? which will take you to a screen where you can search by Username. Type in the user you want to find and tap the add plus sign.

  1. Add by Snapcode.SEO June 3

To make adding friends even easier, Snapchat created codes for each user and it?s located on your home screen. Take a screenshot of your Snapcode and upload it to your social media sites and add it to web content. Anyone who has a picture of the code can add you directly to his or her friends list.

To add another user by Snapcode, take a picture of their code and through the ?Add friends? menu, you will see an ?Add by Snapcode? option. It will take you to your camera roll and select the Snapcode that you wish to add and tap ?Add Friend.?

Even easier than that, you can Snapcodes by opening Snapchat, point the camera at a Snapcode and tap and hold to automatically add the user.

  1. Post your Snaplink on your social media channels. Just like every user has a unique Snapcode, every user also has a Snaplink. Your Snaplink is simply snapchat.com/add/yourusername (for example, the Buzzfeed Snaplink would be snapchat.com/add/ Buzzfeed.) When someone is on their smartphone and opens the link to your Snaplink, the Snapchat app will automatically open and add that person.
  1. Try the Ghostcode app! Named for the Snapchat ghost mascot, Ghostcode is an app that can be used specifically to find like users on Snapchat. To make an account, download the app ? it?s available on iOS and GooglePlay platforms. You?ll be prompted to fill out your personal information and add your Snapcode. On Ghostcode, you can also add your interests, industry trends, and other content that will help you connect with a potential audience member. Next select a category for your account- be sure to select one that fits best with the content you will be posting on Snapchat. For example, a brand like Sephora would select the category of Beauty or Fashion as a category. From there, your home screen will show potential users to follow and engage with, all related to the interests you?ve provided. You?re also able to search through Ghostcode with a keyword search.

Snapchat is a great way to humanize your brand! It offers the opportunities to show a behind the scenes look as well as connect with millions, as it?s popularity continues to grow everyday.


How To Avoid Email Marketing Pitfalls

Although it can be deceptively easy, email marketing is a powerful tool. Done correctly, it will generate leads, improve customer loyalty and contribute to a powerful personal brand.
But what makes a good, really good, email marketing campaign? Here are some of my tips and tricks to be successful with email marketing, enjoy!

There is nothing wrong with some good ?ole fashion, marketing tricks. And, it starts with your subject line. The BEST email subject line we have ever used (in the 9 years of both The Dicks + Nanton Celebrity Branding Agency AND CelebritySites) was ?Hey, dude?.

No joke.

What does that tell you?

That ?tricking? them reader into thinking that the email is a personal message from you and not another ?marketing ploy? gets their attention? and better yet, making your email marketing seem personal in EVERY way that you can is KEY to not only getting your emails open and read, but your prospects and clients interacting as well.

Accurate Message to Market
If you have a giant list of people interested in your business, narrow down your list a bit. Segmenting a large list can help you categorize individuals that might be interested in a specific product or service you are offering at that time.

For example, in our own business for every TV Show that airs, Big Print feature that runs or Book that gets published we go in and add tags to each of our buyers to segment our own list by male/female as well as occupation industry. This means if we have a specific book that speaks to female financial planners, you bet I can tell you every female financial planner that has ever bought from us and they?re a pretty good place to start for that campaign.

Longer Doesn?t Mean Better?
Dan Kennedy has an old quote hat says ?A sales letter can never be too long, just too boring.? This goes for your email as well. Say enough to get your point across but don?t try to create epic emails. There?s no need to send someone 1,000 words if you can get it done in ? (or less). Using bullet points, lists, and creating emails that are going to be easily scanned and responded to can also increase your response rate.

Video Emails, Video Emails!
How many emails do you get a day? How many emails do you get a day that are all text? How many emails do you get a day that have a video in them? Exactly?

Video is all the rage- and is increasing in importance not just in social media and your website, but email marketing as well. BUT not everyone has caught on the video bandwagon? and in fact, it?s still a pretty small number who have.

Sending video emails is a great way to mix up your marketing and break up the message that they are used to seeing from you.

Looking for a source? Check out BombBomb.com they are SUPER easy to use, you can have them create custom email templates to match your brand AND they allow you to upload any list (no double opt-in required).

Spam is one of the biggest issues that you are going to have to deal with. No matter what type of business you?re in, this is something that you could easily fall prey to and become someone that you don?t want to be. The easiest way to trip up here is to purchase your list of subscribers from a nefarious locale. It?s best not to spend a great deal of your marketing budget on your list. If you purchase your email list, you will find that you could very well be buying emails that are either not active, or aren?t responsive to your messages. You absolutely need to stay away from this, even if you?re promised a great deal of leads. If you are caught spamming, the results are going to be problematic, to say the least.
Infrequent Newsletters
Another pitfall that you are going to want to avoid, and something that is simple, is frequency. You?re going to want to make sure that you update your audience frequently, but not too much. You need to find a balance within this world, and focus on only sending out messages that are within a timely fashion. Keep it seasonal at first, then try to engage the end user from time to time. If you are infrequent you are going to end up losing out over time, but if you push too much, you are also going to have a detrimental impact. Finding a happy medium is the key to getting to the frontline of many lists and creating the right turn around for your forward progress.
At the end of the day, these pitfalls can be avoided and done right, email marketing is an incredible tool for your business. Not only can it be used to engage your customers, increase loyalty, and generate new leads? but it can also position you as the leading Celebrity Expert? in your market.


We all know the importance of having a photo to accompany text, whether on a website or blog posting. However, finding the perfect photo can be a bit tricky, but thankfully, once again, we can turn to the Internet for help. With sites like Unsplash, you?re able to browse thousands of photos and use them to your liking for both commercial and personal accounts.


All of the photos are licensed under Creative Commons Zero, which means that users can copy, modify and distribute their chosen photos for free and they don?t have to ask for permission. Unsplash encourages uses to give credit to the photographers, but it?s not a requirement to use the photos. Each photo lists the name of the photographer and, while Unsplash encourages uses to give credit to the photographers, it?s not a requirement to use the photos.


To start your own account, it?s free! Simply go to unsplash.com and create an account with your email address. You can also sign up with Facebook. As a user, you can browse the many different collections of photos and find the perfect one for your content. The collections range from perspective to creatures, to in the office and pictures of people. Unsplash features photos every ten days that you can choose to have sent straight to your inbox or you can come back and browse the featured photos as you see fit.


To download a photo, click on the one that you want and there is a download icon in the top right hand corner. You?re then able to down the photo and save it to your computer and use as you see fit.


A tool like Unsplash can help you to save time and draw in an audience with an eye-catching website or profile.SEO Alert 527

Video Marketing

Video was one of the most popular content marketing formats in 2015- with good reason. According to a 2016 study conducted by Aberdeen Group on video trends, companies that use video content see 41% more traffic from searches than those brands that haven?t adopted video.


Build your audience with simple strategies to incorporate video:


  • Incorporate Vine and Instagram to add video content. These tools offer an opportunity to put short videos and connect them to a blog or website. Many brands, such as Dunkin? Donuts, have seen success on Vine using humor and catchy music as tools to draw in an audience and gain views.
  • Give your audience a ?behind-the-scenes? peek. You can post a ?day in the life? video blog of a staff member, or create a how-to demonstration of a product. These types of videos show the people behind the brand and offers unique chance to engage customers.
  • Offer ?real-time? updates, responses, and contests. With tools like Facebook Live and Periscope, you?re able to get consumers in the know as things are happening. Consider looking through commonly asked questions about a product and service and conducting a live question-answer session with consumers. If you want to unveil a new product, a live video could be a great way to get your consumers involved in the excitement.


With your video strategy, keep the message simple and concrete. To make the best of a video, be sure to rehearse beforehand and get right to the point with content to keep your audience?s attention. When posting your video to platforms, summarize the content in a text sentence, giving a quick reference to what viewers are seeing.

Voice Searches

In your digital marketing strategies, you may have seen a rise in questions-based searches and the use of long-tailed key words? what does this mean? Further research into these trends has come to find that the SEO world is changing because of voice-based searches. With the rise of services like Siri and Cortana, many mobile users are actively using the talk-to-text features to conduct Internet searches on their devices.

In December 2015, Search Engine Land reported that over percent of voice/search command users have only recently just started to use the service within the last 6 months. This rapid growth can change the face of digital marketing and SEO; how can you be sure that your brand is coming up in voice searches?

Prepare your brand in three steps:

  1. Think about how you?re showing up in brand searches. Is your brand?s name spelled phonetically? Voice searches don?t always spell names correctly, so be sure to research common misspellings or mispronunciations of a product, name, or search term. By adding those ?variations? to your keyword optimization strategies, so that your brand will still come up even if the voice search interprets words incorrectly.
  2. Adjust for natural language. Typing in a Google search is a lot different than speaking into something. For example, you might type ?London day tip excursions? into a search, but when speaking, the question could be rephrased to fit normal speaking patterns: ?How much does it cost to take a day tour around London.? Natural language tends to be more specific than computer language, so be sure you?re aiming for search results that can answer a question most directly.
  3. Aim to be at the top of the funnel by answering the questions asked in the voice searches. If consumers are conducting research based on their specific questions, they need to be introduced a to a brand that can help. With your content, add keywords that could show up in a question to boost your visibility in a search. Think about general FAQs about your brand and pull out relevant keywords to optimize for SEO.

Voice searches are still growing, becoming more prevalent. There?s no time like the present to jump on the trend to stay ahead of the curve and boost your SEO visibility.


Repurposing content

Are your archives full of blogs, PowerPoint presentations, and other media that are just collecting dust, despite it’s continued relevancy? Older content may not be ready to be put to rest just yet; consider repurposing it for a new post.

What content is fit for repurpose? First, it must be evergreen, meaning that it is still relevant and likely to stay relevant through time. Second, was it popular the first-go round? Could it help even more people? And finally, do you have something more to say about a topic that you posted about months ago? Now could be the perfect time to elaborate.

Ways to repurpose evergreen content:

  1. Create new blogs and articles. Create a “spin-off” of different points made throughout. A new article could go into further detail of helpful information that was only touched upon the first time around.
  2. Create a presentation. Did a piece have a lot of interesting statistics or a quote that really stood out? Bring more attention to it with a slideshow presentation. Using tools like Slideshare and Canva, you’re able to create visually appealing presentations that you can embed right onto your website with the right plug-ins.
  3. Build an infographic. If a presentation doesn’t seem like the right to go with statistics, create an infographic. You can highlight useful information with appealing imagery. Infographics are also a great way to repurpose and summarize “How-to” tutorials, adding interesting visuals to make the lists more eye-catching.
  4. Turn statistics into tweets. Share some fun facts with your audience via Twitter! A good way to drive traffic to the blog is to enter the stat directly into the tweet with a link to see the post.
  5. Turn a blog post into a podcast or webinar. People may not always have time to read a blog, so a podcast is great way to catch them on the go.

Repurposing your content can be a huge benefit because it is a major time-saver and you also have a new opportunity to reach a new audience. Repurposing also boosts your SEO, especially when you are using the right keywords in your posts.

Advertising on Instagram

Ever considered an ad on Instagram? With a community of over 400 million users (making it one of the world’s largest social media platforms), Instagram ads can help you reach a larger audience by building awareness and driving traffic to your website.

There are three types of Instagram creative ads:

  1. Photo –representation through imagery.
  2. Video- visual representation through a thirty-second video with the added elements of sound and motion.
  3. Carousel- a photo ad carousel, giving users the opportunity to swipe through multiple images.

To get started with Instagram advertising, your brand needs a Facebook page. If you don’t already one, you can create one here. To add an Instagram account to the Facebook page follow these steps:

  1. Go to your Facebook page
  2. Click “Settings” in the top-right of the page
  3. Click “Instagram Ads” on the left menu.
    1. If you already have an Instagram account, click “Add an Account” and sync up the username and password.
    2. If you don’t have Instagram, click “Add an Account” and select “Create a new account.” A screen will appear, prompting the instructions on how to join Instagram.
  4. Click “Confirm.”

To create your Instagram ad:

  1. Go to your Facebook page and click “Create Campaign.”
  2. Select an objective, such as promote a page
  3. Set target audience, budget, and schedule.
  4. Click “Chose Ad Creative.”
  5. Choose the content of the ad, which can be run solely on Instagram or both Instagram and Facebook simultaneously.
  6. Format the ad by selecting the creative: video, photo, or carousel SEO 429
  1. Select your respective Facebook Page and Instagram accounts to represent the ad.
  2. Fill in the ad details: headline, text, and call to action to add links.
  3. Ad Preview will show the placement of the ad in the media channels where it will run. Default settings will include Facebook news feeds and audience network. You can customize the ad’s placement with the “remove” icon to the right.
  4. To run the ad, click place order.
  5. Facebook will review the ad for appropriate content and pricing; once it’s approved, the ad will begin running on Instagram and other selected media channels.


Happy advertising!




Your New Assistant Could Be Coming to a Phone Near You!

Have you heard? Rumor has it that Facebook will be launching a new Artificial Intelligence “Bot” within their Messenger app next week at their F8 conference. Facebook’s new bot, called “M,” is an AI service overseen and trained by real people. M could be your new best friend, or at least your assistant. You’ll be able to ask “M” questions about products and services and she will offer you the best options and be able to complete tasks for you, such as making a purchase.


So how will this impact your Facebook strategy as a marketer? Hard to say for sure as it’s still a bit speculative at this point, but understanding what a bot is (and isn’t) as well as how a bot works will be our first step.

There are several kinds of bots, but most common in marketing is the Chatterbot. Chatterbots are used to automate conversations with consumers, acting as a customer service agent. They are designed to simulate intelligent conversation via text or auditory messages and SEO_415give users a programmed response. Remember Clippy from MS Word, the paperclip that would help you learn how to use the program? He is a great example of the early uses of a Chatterbot in computer software.

Today, the use of bots has gotten more dynamic. As people are becoming more dependent on smartphones, applications are creating ways to add bots to existing services to make finding information faster. For example, Taco Bell and Slack (another messenger app) are partnering together to create Tacobot. Tacobot will be a service on Slack where consumers can order tacos and even converse with the bot, if desired. The bot uses artificial intelligence to learn more about the consumer and their ordering habits, so when the consumer comes back, the process will be even faster.

Many experts are predicting that, eventually, bots may replace apps. They offer a more interactive service than apps, including instant-messaging customer service, the ability to buy products and services, learn additional information, and ask questions directly related to the brand. Because Facebook Messenger already has 900 Million users (and growing!), M could be the new black and be a game changer for mobile platforms becoming the new standard across all devices.


Meme Marketing

Have you ever considered thought about meme marketing? Memes are images that reference popular culture with an image and a few lines of text that is virally shared across social media platforms and blogs.  Marketers are turning to memes as a source of pop-culture that appeal to a mass audience

Memes can be a great marketing tool for several reasons:

  1. They’re attention grabbing and easily digestible.
  2. They’re funny and relatable, adding value-content to your strategy.
  3. They’re easy to share and help you stay relevant on social media.
  4. They’re fun and easy to make!

SEO_ 48Memes can be created on Photoshop with an image and text, but if your design skills are lacking, there are many tools available to create a meme for free. Here’s how to generate a meme on imgur.com:

  1. Go to imgur.com
  2. Browse popular memes or, if you already have an image in mind, click "Upload images" at the top of the screen.
  3. Click "Make A Meme" from the dropdown menus
  4. Browse popular meme images and select one to make your own. You can filter by the meme name or upload your own background.
  5. Enter your text and format to your liking.
  6. Click "Make This Meme" on the right (by doing so will be accepting Imgur terms and conditions.)
  7. Share!

Imgur offers the ability to see your meme by link or by downloading it to your library. You’re able to post it to various social media and get the links to share, direct link, and embed it in HTML to add to a website or blog.

Using Twitter Events to Your Advantage

Twitter Analytics offers a lot of useful information: they collecting data on your mentions, profiles visits, and followers. No Analytics will enable you to learn even more about what’s trending across the platform. Why is that useful? Researching the trending topics on Twitter can help you join the conversation on trending topics and engage with audiences based on their interests. One of the ways to do this is through Twitter Events. Twitter has a record of all the major events from around the world, including the iHeartRadio Music Awards to the New York International Auto Show and April Fools Day.

To learn what events are being discussed, log into your Twitter account, and click on you account icon and select “Analytics” from the drop-down menu. Once on the analytics page, you’ll click on the “events” tab at the top of the screen to see a full list of events being discussed. By clicking on a specific event topic, for example, entertainment or sports, you can see the most popular events from around the world in those categories and learn more about the demographics surrounding that specific event, including gender and geographical location.

Certainly browse the trending topics that best to relate your brand, but don’t be afraid to stray away to other topics, especially if they’re trending in the demographics that align with your target markets. If something is seemingly unrelated, this analytic offers a chance to get creative. For example, a craft store joined the conversation on Daylight Savings by tweeting about a fun project for kids to teach them about time differences. They were able to market some key products, show they’re family-friendly, and utilize a trending hashtag, all of which can help boost ROI and attract customers.

Getting involved with the conversation is a key part to audience engagement and it’s now easier than ever with these types of social media analytics. Many companies use tools like Twitter analytics to expose their brands and be seen across the platform, getting involved with events could be that first step to exposing your brand to a larger audience.


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Facebook Instant Articles

On February 18, Facebook introduced the concept of Facebook Instant Articles: a new platform that will be available to all content publishers starting in April. What makes a you a content publisher on Facebook? Publishers include social media marketers, bloggers, as well as big publishing companies such as BuzzFeed or NBCNews.

Publishers will be able to distribute articles and content with different interactive developments, including auto-play videos, interactive maps, and tap-to-zoom image display. One of the major goals for Facebook Instant Articles is in the name: instant. This technology is developed to be quicker on a mobile platform and gives the readers the ability to immerse themselves into the story.

Instant Articles will be available to add on WordPress as a new plugin called "Simple Facebook Instant Articles." It is optimized for faster mobile performance and a customizable visual display. The Instant Articles plugin uses a standardized markup language to apply different interactive functionality to the posts. With this plugin, the articles will be viewable on iPhones and Android devices exclusively and will be easier than ever to share articles across a mobile platform.

Here’s what you need in order to have to be ready for Facebook Instant Articles:

  1. A Facebook page and Facebook page app to preview your content.
  2. An RSS Feed to help you automate content publishing to Facebook Instant Articles.
  3. A minimum of 50 articles to submit to Facebook for approval into the program. Approval is based on the style of content and how the design fits into the article layout and the markup elements of Instant Articles. Learn more
  4. Facebook Business Manager, in case you are ever in need of support on the site. Without the Manager, you won’t have direct access to the support.

What makes Facebook Instant Articles different? For starters, publishers are in complete control of their articles, can sell ads on their content and keep that revenue, as well as leverage their own analytical tools. Best of all, Facebook Instant Articles load much faster than adding a link to a post. On the average mobile, it would take at least 8 seconds for the post to load. Facebook Instant Articles load instantly, as much as 10 times faster than the standard mobile web.

One of the best ways to find out if Facebook Instant Articles will work for you and your content is try it out! By signing up at Facebook, you can learn more about Instant Articles Publishing and how it could benefit you.

Repurpose content on LinkedIn

Do you have some older posts or content ideas that didn’t get their due credit? Repurposing content is growing trend in 2016, many marketers are finding ways to recycle "oldie buy goodie" tips. Sometimes when a post doesn’t get the traffic, putting it on different platforms can boost visibility. Consider LinkedIn.

In 2014, LinkedIn added Pulse to the platform, which gives users a feed of articles based on interests, skills, and likes. As a user of LinkedIn, you are able to post your own content to be seen on your connection’s feed.

  1. Create a LinkedIn account and log in.
  2. Under the "Interests" menu, select "Pulse"
  3. Click "Publish a Post"
  4. Create a headline and write your post
  5. Add embedded links or videos or images (optional)
  6. Click "save" or "publish"

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Don’t be afraid to get creative, even in the professional world of LinkedIn. You want to catch the attention of your audience; the headline is the place to do it. You’re also able to add tags to your post, so be sure to include keywords that are commonly used in search engines in relation to your content. If people are searching for similar content, with those keywords, they’re more likely to come across your post. According to a study from January 2016, these different practices helped make a post more successful:

  1. Specific headlines ("Over 55,00 Dental Care Providers. Accepted Guaranteed." Versus "Best Price Dental Care- Without Insurance."
  2. How-to tutorials
  3. Lists posts
  4. Question posts (ex: "Why Publish on LinkedIn?")
  5. Include visuals
  6. Publishing time (when should you publish to find the right traffic?)

Ensure your content is evergreen, meaning that it is sustainable and has lasting relevancy to the readers. That way, even long after its publishing date, it can still turn up in search engines and gain traffic.

Using Facebook Reactions

Gone are the days on Facebook where "liking" a post is your only option. Now, whether you are a mobile or desktop user, you’re able to show more emotion with the new "Reaction" icons. On desktop, simply hover over the "Like" button (or on mobile, hold down the "Like" button) and you will see the Reactions pop-up for selection.

SEO FB Reactions

After careful studies involving their original stickers and the strong use of emojis across the board on social media, Facebook added Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Anger as reactions to Facebook posts. As marketers, you can take this information to learn about your audience.

To get started, suggest that your audience to test out how to use this new feature can drive traffic and start conversation. Inside Cheerleading Magazine even started a contest with their reaction buttons, entering all the people who "Loved" their status in a drawing for a prize.

With a specific reaction, you can really see what people think about your post. The results of the posts are easy to see: the count shows right on the page. You can even use the Reactions to research your competitors and see a summary of their reactions to posts.

Getting Started on Canva

Developed in 2012 in Sydney, Australia, Canva has experienced massive growth. In just three years and with Guy Kawaski, former Chief Evangelist for Apple, on the team, Canva now has over 8 million users around the world. The purpose of Canva is to bring an element of design to social media pages, print media, presentations and more.

With a simple drag-and-drop structure, Canva makes design easier than ever for users with little to zero graphic design experience. They have over a million designs at your disposal to create eye-catching media to boost your profile and attract an audience.Canva 1

It is simple to get started – and free! Create a username and password and get started right away. Pick a type of design to create, from a Facebook Cover to a blog graphic and Twitter posts. The site offers tons of options in layout, elements to add (including shapes, lines and much more), backgrounds, and text. You’re able to upload your own photos and add them to design.

The feature works much like creating a PowerPoint presentation, but with much more creative artwork and design at your disposal.

Canva 3 Canva 4

Scheduling Tweets on Hootsuite

In 2015, Hootsuite was named the top social media tool for managing multiple accounts for one brand and it continues to be at the top of the list for the most recommended tools. Equipped with a dashboard to help stay organized and scheduling tools to keep you active on platforms, and save time in your social media strategy.

Hootsuite offers the ability to interact from Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and most recently, Instagram efficiently. With one dashboard, users are able to add multiple accounts and post, monitor, and analyze the content. The dashboard is customizable through tabs and streams that will keep you organized.

The tabs are set up much like the tabs in an Internet browser. Users can switch between tabs to see the different activity across platforms. If you manage several accounts, you’re able to set up a tab for each.

On each tab, set up streams to monitor each social media account affiliated with tab. On each stream, you will be able to customize what you see. For example, on a Twitter stream, you can click "Add stream" and add another section to monitor, from Mentions, Messages, and posted tweets.

Hootsuite offers a scheduling tool to post tweets in 7 simple steps:

  1. Click compose message
  2. Type your message with links included
  3. Pick the profiles to post the message by clicking the star icon. (Note that Hootsuite organizes by platform, so Twitter accounts are grouped at the top, but scroll down to add the message to Facebook, LinkedIn, etc)
  4. Click the calendar icon
  5. Select the date for the message to be sent
  6. Pick a time for the tweet to be posted
  7. Click "schedule."

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Once the tweet is scheduled, a green confirmation bubble will appear and your tweet will be posted at the designated time.


Customer service with social media

More and more consumers are turning to social media to file complaints. To ensure you’re building trust with your customers, follow these steps to restore faith in your brand, keep a customer, and learn from mistakes.

Respond quickly. If you can, try to respond to the complaint within the first couple of hours of it being posted. For a lot of consumers, they just want someone to listen to them and ignoring the problem can only lead to more negative reviews.

Acknowledge mistakes. Acknowledging a problem is the fast way to resolving it. Take ownership of the issue and post solutions on how to fix it. Most people will remember the outcome of an issue rather the initial problem itself. As always, be respectful and when apologize, be genuine.

Take Conversations Offline. Try and engaged the irate consumer one-on-one, to offer that person the best possible solution. An on-going conversation can not only fill a newsfeed, but it prompts other parties to get involved. It gives that consumer individualized attention and makes their voice heard.

Get Personal. Use the customer’s name in your response and empathize with their frustration. Using automated templates is a great time-saving tool, but before sending any sort of reply to a situation, read it through it first and personalize it as much as you can even if all you have to go on is the customer’s name. On the other hand, don’t take the consumer’s anger personally and respond in that effect. Most of the time they’re angry at the situation and need a pair of listening ears.

blog screen shot 2 19

No one wants to receive negative attention, but it’s inevitable. Form a crisis plan with your team just in case you ever need to respond on a dime. Preparing yourself as much as you can is the best way to turn a negative into positive. Accepting consumer feedback for your brand, both positive and negative, helps to better your brand and build trust with consumers.

How to Monitor Your Competition’s Facebook Reach

Keeping a close eye on your competition’s reach on Facebook is an important practice that is simple and free, thanks to the metrics available within your Facebook page insights section.

To see each post from your competition during the past week and gauge the reach and engagement of those posts, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to your Facebook admin page.
  2. Click on the insights tab.
  3. Click on the top posts from pages you watch tab.

add pages to monitor

If you haven’t already chosen pages to follow, this is your chance to add competing Facebook pages. Simply click the "Add pages button." After you’ve added pages to follow, you will be able to view those pages:

  1. Posts
  2. Post reach.
  3. Post engagement.

Monitoring this info not only allows keeps you aware of their marketing focus, it also provides actionable intelligence to consider for your own future posts. For example, if your competition is doing a series of posts about a topic that is gaining lots of comments, likes and shares, you may want consider posting about the same subjects and topics. Conversely, if they are failing to generate much interest, you may want to decrease your emphasis in those areas.

How to Post Your First Podcast in 5 Easy Steps

Do you have strong opinions or valuable insights on key topics in your field of expertise? If so, you should consider adding a Podcast to your marketing plan. Entering this endeavour won’t require many tools or much of your time.


Below are some simple steps to start recording and posting podcasts at a cost lower than $10 total per month.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 11.12.02 AMStep 1: Write a basic script for the points and topics you want to cover in your podcast.
Step 2: Use a smartphone or the microphone on your computer to record your podcast SoundCloud gives you the choice record straight to their website or upload. (Tip: If you want to upgrade your smartphone’s microphone, you can find lapel mics for iphones on Amazon and Ebay at prices under $3.)
Step 3: Save the audio of your podcast in one of the following file formats:

AAC (Also known as M4A – The default format for the standard voice recorder on smartphones.

Step 4: Sign up for an account with a podcast audio hosting site such as SoundCloud.com. Hosting is free up through the first total 180 minutes of audio. If you plan on uploading podcasts larger than 5 mb or more than than 180 minutes worth of audio total, you may want to consider a Pro plan for $7 a month.

Step 5: Upload your podcast to SoundCloud.com or the audio hosting site of your choice.
After you successfully upload your podcast, make sure to copy the link to the podcast and share it across your social media and your email contacts.

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Make Your Social Media Graphics Stand Out With GIFs

Ad-supported web-based tools are giving web marketers have more free resources to create compelling content than any point in the history of the internet.

With sites such Online-image-editor.com, GIPHY.com and MakeaGif.com, you can add animated elements to your graphics and/or jpgs. Below is an example of an image that was enhanced with an animated GIF without any cost for the user.


Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 1.56.24 PM

  1. Visit FlamingText.com/Animated-Logos and select 1 of the 12 animated text GIFs you prefer. (Hundreds of fonts are available for each GIF)
  2. Enter the text you want to animate. (E.G. – “Free Estimate”) and Download the GIF.
  3. Visit Online-image-editor.com , select the JPG or PNG of the image or graphic where you will add your animated text GIF.
  4. Click the “Convert to GIF” option.
  5. Click “Upload.”
  6. Click the “Wizards” tab add the top of the editor.
  7. Click the “Overlay image” option.
  8. Upload the animated text GIF you created on FlamingText.com
  9. Click “Apply.”
  10. Click “Save.”

Congrats. You now have animated text that will appear over your graphic.


  • Go to Giphy.com.
  • Upload your GIF.
  • Click the “Advanced” Tab.
  • Highlight and Copy the Link in the field “GIF Download.”

Animated GIF Find Share on GIPHY

  • Paste the GIF download link on your Facebook status and wait for the GIF link to upload.
  • Enter any status text and click post.

How Your WiFi Signal Can Gain Facebook Fans


facebook wifi

WiFi signals are always in demand, and if you have many customers or other visitors near your business, you can convert the foot traffic into Facebook fans.

With the Facebook Wi-Fi login program, you can:

  1. Make the action of "Liking" Your Facebook Page the equivalent of entering a password for WiFi access.
  2. Promote your page to friends of your customers utilizing Facebook WiFi Login who will see their friend "liking" your page when it’s listed in their own respective newsfeed.
  3. Eliminate all of those requests for your company’s wifi password.

There are some requirements for setting up Facebook Wifi. For starters, you must use one of the following routers:

If you have one of the compatible routers, you can set up Facebook WiFi Login by following Facebook’s 6 steps below:

  1. Log into Facebook.
  2. Make sure you have a router that supports Facebook Wi-Fi.
  3. Enable the sign on with Facebook option. This process will be different depending on the router you use:
    • Meraki: Launch your wireless router’s admin console and select Sign on with Facebook in the Splash Page section.
    • Cisco: Log into your Connect & Engage dashboard from the Cisco Mobility Service Engine 8.0 and select Facebook Wi-Fi on the menu.
    • NETGEAR: Visit www.routerlogin.net and click the Advanced tab. Then, click Facebook Wi-Fi > Configure.
    • D-Link: Visit dlinkrouter.local. and click the Setup tab > Guest Zone. Check the boxes Enable Guest Zones and Enable Facebook Wi-Fi.
    • Open-Mesh: Log in to your network at CloudTrax.com and select Facebook Wi-Fi in the SSID #1 Splash Page section.
    • Aruba: Select Facebook Wi-Fi for sign-on, then set the session length and terms of service.
    • Intelbras: Visit the IP address provided in your manual, then start the install wizard and select Facebook for Wi-Fi access.
    • Ruckus Wireless: Log into ZoneDirector. Click Configure > WLANs > Create WLAN > for WLAN Type, select Social Media > for Social Media Login, select Facebook.
  4. The Facebook Wi-Fi Configuration panel will open in a new window. In the dropdown menu, select the Facebook Page associated with your business’s location. Facebook WiFi Configuration
  5. In the Bypass Mode section, you can choose whether customers can use a Wi-Fi code that you give them or click on a link to skip checking in.
  6. Click Save Settings.

Congratulations! You’ve added a new avenue to introduce people to your Facebook page.

Creating a Social Media Quiz

A great way to drive traffic to your website is creating a quiz. Quizzes are a benefit to bring more people to your site, pique interest in products, and they are easy to share among users.

When creating your quiz, you need a plan. What is the ultimate goal? To bring more followers? Showcase your brand? Announce an event? The first step is to consider the overall goal of this quiz.

What about this quiz will benefit your audience? The answer to this question creates a topic for your quiz. If you’re looking to introduce your brand to a new audience, consider your products and how they can be useful to people. You might develop a personality quiz based around the products you’re trying to showcase. Previously, we discussed how to build a "fandom" with your audience- a quiz is a great way to find out their interests and join the conversation and build a relationship. Or you can create a poll or survey to get feedback on products that you’ve already showcased. The possibilities are endless!

There are a variety of tools out there including Viral Quiz Builder, Qzzr, and more, all offering different services, based on your needs. The basics of a package include tools to create the questions, ways to upload media to make the quiz more interactive, and embed the quizzes to make them more shareable across multiple platforms. Sometimes

Things to consider in your questions and results:

  • Keep it short – if a quiz is too long, users may lose interest.
  • Use images- this can draw the attention of the quiz taker.
  • Keep it simple- make the quiz easy to understand and easily shareable.
  • Make it fun- while more sales are your end goal, the focus of the quiz should be for participants to have fun.

SEO 18 1Results! Don’t reveal the results too soon- a good rule of thumb is to add an opt-in page for the partaker to join a mailing list or event an offer to receive a free gift participating. However, there should be an easy way to skip this step.



The results of the quiz should all remain positive, because people are more likely to share a positive result, rather than a negative. Keep the wording upbeat and encouraging, especially to get their friends to take it too! Include the link to website, offering the chance to learn more. The Girl Scouts provide a great example of a results page:


Quizzes are the type of media that can be used again because you can always change the topic to fit your needs. Whether you’re trying to boost a brand or drive sales or connect with followers, there’s a quiz for that!

How to Add Captions to Facebook Videos

During the past year, natively-uploaded videos gained significant popularity on Facebook as businesses and individuals noticed demonstrably higher engagement with followers compared to embedded YouTube video links.

In response to the viewing preference, social media marketers have been adapting tactics to distinguish their native videos apart from the steady addition of new videos posted by other pages competing for attention. Native videos in Facebook’s newsfeed autoplay on mute. As a result, more Facebook page administrators and marketers are adding captions to their native videos. Captions appease Facebook users who can digest video content with minimal effort.

Below is a guide to adding captions to your own native uploaded videos on Facebook.


  • Open a text editor or online converter such as 3playmedia’s caption converter http://www.3playmedia.com/services-features/free-tools/captions-format-converter/
  • Write the cue number: The order where your sentence will appear. The first sentence will be one, the second sentence will be 2, etc.
  • Enter the timespan The timespan format is laid out accordingly: hours:minutes:seconds,milliseconds – I.E.: 00:00:01,000 –> 00:00:010,000 would indicate a duration spanning between the first full second and the tenth second of your video.
  • Enter the Verbiage for the sentence: If you wanted the phrase "We Are Social Media Management Professionals." to appear in the first cue for the full duration between the 1 second mark and 10-second mark, here’s how you would type that in your SRT script:

00:00:01,000 –> 00:00:010,000
We Are Social Media Management Professionals

  • Enter the Verbiage for the following sentence in the same format until you have completed your caption script.

How to Gauge Competitors’ Website Traffic for Free

Track Your CompetitionThanks to free web traffic analytics offered from trackers such as compete.com and similarweb.com, you can see how your site’s number of visitors compares to your top competitors.

For example, let’s say you’re the web administrator NBC’s orlando affiliate TV station: WESH Channel 2. Via sites such as Compete.com, WESH can compare its traffic on WESH.com to one of its top competitors in the Orlando market: CBS’ affilliate WKMG, which is on ClickOrlando.com

Below is an overview of SimilarWeb.com’s analysis of WESH.com vs. Clickorlando.com:Wesh.com Analytics See Traffic Ranking Stats

A look at Compete shows different totals but the same overall traffic trends, with ClickOrlando.com having a stronger November than Wesh.com:

wesh.com 385 320 UVs for November 2015 Compete

wesh.com 385 320 UVs for November 2015 Compete

In case you’re wondering where these tracker derive their traffic numbers, here is an explanation from Compete.com: "Once our multiple data sources are transformed into a cohesive panel, the data is processed daily by employing algorithms and advanced analytics techniques so that our insights are representative of the Internet behavior of the population. The Compete panel’s patented normalization system was developed by leading experts in the fields of marketing, media and data research in 2000 and has evolved to lead the industry in behavioral insights over the past decade. The process is updated continuously to account for changes in the evolving digital world in areas such as consumer demographics, behaviors, Internet technologies, data collection methods, and device usage."

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While the numbers aren’t 100% exact, they are a reliable long-term metric to gauge the most vital trends within your industry. Professional versions of these trackers include deeper analysis in areas such as paid keyword ads, search display ads, etc. Regularly scheduled review of this data will provide actionable insights to adjust your marketing efforts.

Free Tools to Optimize Visual Content for Social Media

Anyone with a social media account can post images, which raises the challenge to create posts that truly stand out from the visual competition on Facebook newsfeed, Instagram and Twitter. If you’re posting raw photos or never incorporating graphics that feature or compelling elements or relevant text, your posts will never reach their full potential audience.  

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 12.11.42 PM 1Thanks to free apps and ad-supported web-based editing tools, you can enhance any image or video.  

Below is a list of free tools to expand your editing abilities before you post your content.

If you don’t have the budget for photoshop, but you need to edit your images, Pixlr.com’s editor may become your new best friend. This free web-based photo editor provides you with most of the same editing tools found in photoshop, and it doesn’t require any software download.

Canva.com is an excellent free resource to find themed layouts, pre-sized template for social media posts,  fancy font headers or icons to use for an infographic.

Add humorous or attention-grabbing text to your images & immediately share them on all of your social platforms with a meme-generating app such as mematic. This draws far more attention to your app then the standard status update that accompanies every single social media post.

memeatic example2Add humorous or attention-grabbing text to your images & immediately share them on all of your social platforms with a meme-generating app such as mematic. This draws far more attention to your app then the standard status update that accompanies every single social media post.

Three Reasons You Should Be Using Polls

Have you started an online poll? If you don’t see the value in posting polls, take a look at the three reasons why you need to add online polls to your arsenal of web marketing.

Online Polls Engage Your Social Media Audience

620px-Your_Vote_Counts_BadgeNo matter what type of product or service you sell, there’s no denying the value of an engaged audience in your social networks. You can’t expect to pitch a product to people who can’t even see or hear your pitch.

Regardless of your total number of followers on social media, the number most worthy of your focus is the number of fans who are engaged with your posts. Since attention has emerged as the unofficial currency of the web, polls have become an essential tool for gaining attention.

Online Polls Can Grow Your List of E-Mail Newsletter Subscribers

Have you been looking for creative solutions to add to your list of opt-in email newsletter

subscribers? With most online poll programs, even free versions such as Wufoo, you can add an optional or mandatory field for voters to add their email address.

Make clear that they’re opting in for your email, and if these entries will all become extremely valuable once they’re adding to your mass email marketing campaigns in the future.

Online Polls Provide Valuable Insights About Your Target Market

Last but not least, online polls can provide valuable insights about your market audience. With the information you derive from the results, you can adjust the focus, tone or target of future marketing campaigns to appeal to the mindset of your prospective clients and customers.

3 Valuable Apps for Social Media Optimization

3 apps 600

Earning attention on social networks is more challenging than ever. Without the proper tools to optimize your images and videos, competitors will overshadow your presence on the most coveted online real estate that is social media news feeds.

Below are three apps you should be using to ensure your social media posts gain as much attention as possible on news feeds.

1. Photo Editing Apps. (Example Given: PhotoGrid)

photogrid app download previewcollage

With photo editing apps and collage makers such as PhotoGrid, you can add text to images and produce collages. Since many of your fans may not take the time to flip through an entire album, a collage presentation of your images is an alternative to ensure that your images are all immediately seen in the timeline.

IMG_5577Another advantage of photo editing apps is the ability to add text over images and graphics with a call to action or website.  As social media users scroll through their news feeds at fast speeds, images trump text for gaining attention, therefore images with text are the ideal content to pitch your product, content or service.

A new trend with video posts on social media is the use black frames with white descriptive text above and below the movie. This format initiated with still images and became known as the "MEME" format. With video editing apps such as Movie Maker, you can add text above and below your video. When you add text to your video, use a short & concise description of the video’s subject and content.

2. Video Editing Apps.(Example Given: Movie Maker)

movie maker example

A new trend with video posts on social media is the use black frames with white descriptive text above and below the movie. This format initiated with still images and became known as the "MEME" format. With video editing apps such as Movie Maker, you can add text above and below your video. When you add text to your video, use a short & concise description of the video’s subject and content.


3. Facebook Page Manager App.

facebook pages app exampleMobile management of Facebook pages on a browser or the standard Facebook app is extremely limited. While the current version of Facebook’s pages manager app doesn’t receive rave reviews, it does provide page admins with important insights including the reach of a post (organic reach and paid reach), and it also gives administrators the ability to boost posts on their page. With these controls at your fingertips, you can leave your pc or mac with the peace of mind knowing that important adjustments are still possible on the run.

Google Plus Gets Another Overhaul

Twain and Google plus

What do Mark Twain & Google Plus have in common? Rumors of their death were greatly exaggerated. Last week, Google made a major announcement that is sure to be parodied by bloggers: A  "fully redesigned Google Plus."

Judging from the initial preview and description from Google, the latest version of Google Plus resembles Pinterest more than Facebook or Twitter. Rather than centering its focus around trending topics or breaking news, the new Google Plus will highlight conversations around niche interests & online groups known as "Communities" and "Collections."  


Google plus re-design 2
"Today, we’re starting to introduce a fully redesigned Google+ that puts Communities and Collections front and center," Google’s Luke Wroblewski
said. "Now focused around interests, the new Google+ is much simpler. And it’s more mobile-friendly—we’ve rebuilt it across web, Android and iOS so that you’ll have a fast and consistent experience whether you are on a big screen or small one. Your feedback got us this far—as we continue to refine Google+, we’d love to keep hearing from you. In the meantime, we look forward to seeing how today’s changes help kickstart even more conversations around everything from Zombie Cats to Vintage Calculators."

Don’t expect the new Google Plus to be a silver bullet solution for gaining new traffic. You should treat it as one of multiple social networks to share your most compelling content. If you can devote the time to curating compelling content to share with communities interested in your product or service, the new Google Plus may prove to be worthy of your time.

How to Use Pinterest’s New Visual Search Feature to Your Advantage

We’ve all heard the saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words", and the online marketplace is no exception.

Google established itself as the go-to source for image searches, but formidable competition may be on the horizon with Pinterest’s new "visual search" feature, which features image recognition technology capable of finding matching images within its social network.

With the inception of Pinterest’s image recognition technology, digital marketers now have a major incentive to increase the quantity of high-quality, target-market relevant images they add to Pinterest. If your images uploaded to Pinterest feature products likely to popular on related boards, your pin, which can contain a link to your online store or website, could be among the top results shown to a member utilizing the visual search feature. You can’t ask for a more qualified lead!

"Sometimes you spot something you really love on Pinterest, but you don’t know how to find it in real life, or what it’s even called." Kevin Jing, Engineering Manager said. "There’s that perfect lamp hiding in a Pin of someone’s living room, or maybe a random street style shot with the exact shoes you’re looking for. Well, now we’ve got a new tool that lets you find all those things you don’t have the words to describe."

visual-search-results-static 1 of 2

"When you spot something in a Pin that you want to learn more about, tap the search tool in the corner," Jing said. "Then select the part of the Pin you’re interested in, and we’ll show you Pins just like it. You can even filter your visual search results by topic so you find exactly what you’re looking for. So if you zoom in on that lamp, you can discover what it’s called ("Antiqued Metal Funnel Pendant"), and where you can find it (Restoration Hardware). If you want to know more—like how to get a table like that—just resize your selection and move it around to instantly see more Pins."


Since Google search is among the most over-saturated areas of web marketing, Pinterest’s Search Feature equals a level playing field for businesses and entrepreneurs who may be a few years late to the game. Take action now and start uploading, before it’s too late!

How to Find Your Facebook Fans’ Top Interests

In the era of data-driven web marketing, knowledge is power. In the world of social media marketing, the most valuable knowledge you can acquire is accurate insight on your audience’s primary interests. With this intelligence, you can target future social media posts and advertisements to Facebook users who follow pages directly related to those interests.

For example, if you have Facebook page about business news, and you discover that the majority of your fans are also fans of the TV Show "Shark Tank" you could utilize that information to grow your number of Facebook followers with a Facebook ad campaign targeted to people who LIKE the Shark Tank’s official Facebook page.

The key to deriving this valuable information is to utilize Facebook’s built-in search engine. Below are three steps to find the Facebook pages that your Facebook fans follow.

  1. Go to the search bar at the top of Facebook and search the phrase "Pages liked by people who like [Insert name of your Facebook Page]. E.G. "Pages liked by people who like CelebritySites."
  2. If you want to find pages liked by people near your physical geographic location, choose the option "Pages liked by people who live near [Your page’s name].Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 1.49.24 PM
  3. If you want to find pages liked by people who also like your page, select the option and click the magnifying glass.

Armed with this valuable information, you can apply this knowledge by targeting these pages in Facebook ads to promote your page to people who don’t follow your page yet. You can also consider running Google Display ads on websites that match the Facebook pages.

For example, if you see that many of your page fans are also fans of  the USA Today Facebook page, you could add usatoday.com to your list of websites to target on Google’s list of websites eligible for Google Display ads.

KEY TIP: DON’T FORGET YOUR COMPETITION! Consider some of your top competitors and use the same steps to find Facebook pages followed by their fans. Once you find those pages, consider adding those to your ad campaigns as well.

For Social Media Image Uploads – One Size Does Not Fit All

Today’s world of rapid communication prompts many marketers and business owners alike to fall for the temptation of syncing multiple social media accounts. Social media syncing may seem like an efficient time-saver, the long-term costs of posting un-tailored content from one platform far outweigh the short-term benefit of convenience.

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 5.04.44 PMOne of the most glaring differences between Facebook and Twitter is the 140 character-count limit for Twitter, but that’s just one of several areas where social media networks differences are too vital to ignore.

In 2015, graphics and photos are the most essential elements in social media for generating engagement with your post. Unfortunately, a photo upload on Facebook will appear differently in Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn unless the photo is custom-sized to match the specs for image uploads on each of those respective social networks.

How does that impact you? If you don’t adjust your image size to Twitter’s specs, Twitter will chop off your Facebook-spec-friendly photo at the top and the bottom, and LinkedIn will chop it off from the sides.

Below is a list of links to find ideal sizes for your images on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.


Facebook: Image size specs are listed on its "Sharing Best Practices for Websites & Mobile Apps" page HERE.

LinkedIn: Image size specs are listed on its help center page, HERE.

Twitter: Image size specs are listed under the helpful tips section of its photo card page, HERE

Since updates are made on a regular basis, your best bet is to check back on these sizes regularly to ensure you’re following the latest guidelines.


You Don’t Have to Wait for Instagram’s Ad Rollout

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.56.50 AM

Good news for online marketers and business owners: You don’t have to wait for Instagram to rollout its ad availability for your business.  If you’ve seen the notice pictured below in your Facebook ad platform, you may have been discouraged about the fact that Instagram ads weren’t available for your business, but thanks to Facebook’s Power Editor, you can take a shortcut and start posting Instagram ads today!

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.17.59 AM

Follow the steps below to start your Instagram advertising campaign today.

To get started, you will need to go to the Facebook page you want to connect with your Instagram account, if it is not already connected.

  • Go to your Facebook page and click the settings option in the upper right part of your page.
  • Once you’re in settings, click "Instagram ads"
  • Click "Add an Account"
  • Enter the credentials for the Instagram account you want to connect.

Instagram ads option under settings

  • After you have connected your Instagram page with your Facebook page, you can head to Facebook’s power editor at https://www.facebook.com/ads/manage/powereditor.
  • Once you are in the power editor, click the "Create Campaign" button on the top left of the screen, under the manage ads tab.
  • Name your campaign.
  • Choose the "Clicks to website" objective.
  • Name your ad set.
  • Name your ad.

Instagram ad first 3 steps

  • Set your daily budget.
  • Set your ad’s schedule.
  • Set your ad’s audience.
  • Under placements, select Instagram.
  • Select the pricing plan for your campaign.

Instagram placement optimization and pricing


  • Click "Manage ads"
  • Click your Instagram ad.
  • Enter the website link where you want the ad to land. [Continued next page)
  • Enter the text for your ad.
  • Select the image you want to use for your ad.
  • Click "Apply"
  • Click "Review Changes."
  • Upload changes to your Facebook Ad account.

Creating ad visuals instagram ad 500

Congratulations on launching your first Instagram ad! With this social network added to your advertising campaign network, you will be extending your ad’s reach to a network of young internet users that has over 400 million monthly users, with 53% of its users between 18 to 29 years old and 25% of between the ages of 30-49.


How to Turn Your Company’s Video Into a YouTube Ad

How to Turn Your Company’s Video Into a YouTube Ad

Ten years after YouTube’s launch, it has emerged as much more than a destination to watch cats playing keyboards, it’s the leading video platform in the world and one of the most valuable areas to expand your company’s brand power.

Despite the fact that most viewers opt to skip YouTube ads, the number of overall views on YouTube has reached such a critical mass that its reach can’t be overlooked. Each month, YouTube visitors view 6 billion hours of video. Every second, 300 minutes of video are uploaded. If your company isn’t on YouTube, you’re missing the chance to reach those viewers who are also your target market.

If you have high quality video from your company that you want to turn into a YouTube ad, follow the steps in the guide below, using the example of a video about a mouse trap made by a company named Tomcat.

  1. Upload your video to your YouTube channel. If you don’t have a channel, you can get started at YouTube.com
  2. Login to Google AdWords. If you don’t have an AdWords account established for your advertising, you can create an account at adwords.google.com.
  3. Click the red-colored button that reads CAMPAIGN PLUS & choose VIDEO. Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 12.59.50 PM
  4. Name the video campaign.
  5. Set your daily budget. Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 1.01.22 PM
  6. Networks will all be checked, leave them all checked for maximum exposure.
  7. Select the geographic area and language for your ad. Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 1.01.33 PM
  8. In the field "Ad group name", enter the name your ad group.
  9. In the field that reads "You video." paste your video’s youtube link
  10. In the field that reads "Bidding", set the maximum amount you’re willing to pay per full video view. Name Ad Group paste url and bid
  11. In the field "Display URL"Enter the URL of your main address
  12. In the field "Final URL" enter the URL of your landing page for the ad.
  13. In the field "Ad Name", name your ad.vEnter your address landing page ad name
  14. Under targeting, in the field "Demographics, enter the gender, age and parental status you wish to target. set targeting demographics
  15. (OPTIONAL) Under targeting, interests, select interests and topics to target. Set targeting by topic
  16. (OPTIONAL) Select "Placements" & enter related websites you wish to target.set targeting by related websites
  17. Save and Link to YourTube Account.link youtube channel

How to Track Your Site’s Conversions Via Google Analytics

Thanks to web traffic tools such as Google Analytics, anyone with the ability to paste a code on the backend of their website can see the volume of visitors their site receives on every single page. Visitor traffic numbers are undoubtedly a useful metric, but they provide more insight when you can see the percentage of those visitors converted to a purchase or registration opt-in.

That’s where Google Analytics’ goal conversion tracking tool comes into play.

Below is a simple list of steps to make your Google Analytics account track the number of  your website’s visitors who successfully convert a defined goal, whether that goals  is registering for your email newsletter, purchasing a product, completing a form or taking any action that leads them to a specific landing page.

An important note: Before you set up your conversion goal in Google Analytics, make sure you have a specific page on your site where visitors land only after they’ve taken the necessary steps (I.E. – Filling out a registration form) to complete the conversion you want to track.


  • After you login to your Google Analytics account, go to the bottom left of your page and click conversions, then click the goals overview link.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 10.03.09 AM

  • Click "Set up Goals."

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  • Click the Red "New Goals" button.

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  • Under goal description, name your goal, then select the type as "Event"

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 10.04.50 AM

  • In goal details, paste the page visitors land after they successfully purchase a product or complete a form.

insert landing page and monetary value

  • If any monetary value is involved, turn the value switch on and enter the value of the conversion.

Google’s New Standards for True “High-Quality Content”

googlelogoWhen it comes to search engine’s criteria for rankings, the only constant is change. Search engine optimization in 2015 requires much more sophistication than stacking keywords and gaining links from related sites.

Perpetual growth of content on the web constantly creates more competition for your page to rank among the top search results. To keep all of us satisfied with the quickest, most useful information, Google and other search engines now pull data from many more clues and signals than in the past. As a result, web marketers must make sure that every page of content they produce features the maximum amount of text, images and photos related to the question and/or topic in the searcher’s query.

Rand Fishkin, one of the most trusted analysts of search engine results, says today’s web marketers must produce pages with content that is "10 times better" than competitors’ content. You’re probably wondering, what makes your page content "better"? Below is a list of checklist of questions to check for each page you publish:

  • Is my page intended to provide an answer to a specific question? If so, does it answer the question with more detail than rival sites’ answers?
  • Have I included images and videos with related content?
  • Is my page responsive or mobile-friendly to ensure it’s easy to read on any device?
  • Is my content laid out in a logical way that is easy to follow for the visitors to find all of the pieces of information they may need to satisfy their curiosity?
  • Does my page include as many visuals, if not more, than rival site’s pages?
  • Have I shown enough sources and info to convince the visitor that they can trust the information the page is providing?

While the standards and priorities of search engines have changed, that doesn’t mean you should neglect fundamental aspects of SEO that remain part of the algorithm. In addition to the aspects listed above, make sure you take the following steps for each page of content your produce:

  • Include keywords and phrases in the title of your page.
  • Include keywords in the subheader of your page.
  • Include Keywords in the URL (web address) of your page.
  • Write descriptions on all image.
  • Write a meta title with targeted keywords.
  • Write a meta description with. targeted keywords.
  • Insert links to related pages on your site.

Should you take the time to follow the guidelines provided above, your web pages will provide Google with words and documents that are clearly related to the info your target market seeks, and your pages should be ranked for the related searches.



How to Use Your E-Mail Lists for Effective Search Engine Marketing

adwordsA recent announcement from Google pleased business owners and web marketers: Google will provide advertisers the ability to target ads according to email lists. The new targeting feature, called Customer Match, can target gmail, google search and YouTube.

With this unprecedented specificity now open for targeting, you and your business can ensure that your ads are geared to reach your most loyal customers. Users can control the ads they see, including Customer Match ads, by opting out of personalized ads or by muting or blocking ads from individual advertisers through Google Ads Settings. Below is an example how Google explains the new feature:

"Let’s say you’re a travel brand. You can now reach people who have joined your rewards program as they plan their next trip. For example, when these rewards members search for "non-stop flights to new york" on Google.com, you can show relevant ads at the top of their search results on any device right when they’re looking to fly to New York. And when those members are watching their favorite videos on YouTube or catching up on Gmail, you can show ads that inspire them to plan their next trip."

How Customer Match Works: in Three Simple Steps

  1. Retailer creates a list from the email addresses their customers have given them.
  2. Retailer creates a “Search Network only” campaign that targets this list.
  3. Retailer’s customers, who are signed in to their Google Account, see the retailer’s ads as they use Google search.

Using Customer Match, you can also generate Similar Audiences to reach new customers on YouTube and Gmail who are likely to be interested in your products and services. For example, you can drive awareness on YouTube for new non-stop flights by showing TrueView ads to prospective customers who have similar interests and characteristics to your rewards members.

If you haven’t used Google AdWords for web marketing, there has never been a better time to utilize the platform. Google provides more details about customer match HERE. If you are interested CelebritySites search marketing services, visit our search marketing page.

3 Reasons to Prioritize Mobile Site Optimization

Today marks the debut of the iPhone 6S, which means you’ll be seeing more Apple fanatics raving about their new gadgets. Small business owners and marketers should note that the iPhone 6S release signals more than a milestone for Apple, it’s the latest step toward smartphones becoming a larger focal point of our attention throughout our daily routines.

Days such as today are the perfect occasion to ask yourself if your mobile site is as user-friendly and intuitive as possible. If you don’t have a mobile website or you haven’t made mobile website optimization a priority, consumer surveys show that you will lose the vast majority of your visitors to competitors with better mobile sites.


Below are three crucial reasons why your mobile site should be optimized as soon as possible:

  • On average, smartphones are viewed at least 150 times per day.

The average smartphone user checks their phone at least 150 times per day. Assuming the average person is awake 17 hours per day, that means their phone is checked 8.8 times per hour. (Source: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Internet Trends Report, 2013.)

Consider the time, money and energy your advertising and marketing team devotes to print, radio and television, none of which are viewed as frequently throughout an average day as a consumer’s smartphone. To ensure your service or product has the most exposure to the consumer as possible, you must ensure it’s discovered and easily viewable on mobile web format.

  • If your mobile site isn’t user-friendly, visitors will head to a competitor’s site.

Google reports 91% of of users will stay not on a mobile site or app if it doesn’t satisfy their need to find information or navigate quickly, and 30% of users surveyed said they immediately go to another company’s mobile site or app for what they need. (Source: Consumers in the Micro-Moment, Wave 3, Google/Ipsos, U.S., August 2015, online smartphone users 18+)

  • Smartphones are the modern equivalent of a "daily paper" in morning routines.

According to Google’s consumer survey from August, 2015, 68% of Smartphone users told Google that they check their phone within 15 minutes of waking up in the morning. (Source: Consumers in the Micro-Moment, Wave 3, Google/Ipsos, U.S., August 2015, online smartphone users 18+.)

Don’t expect smartphone usage to decline anytime soon. Pew Research reported that 64 percent of U.S. adults own a smartphone, up from 35% in 2011. If you need help with mobile site optimization, contact us at CelebritySites.com

Top Reasons To Limit Options on Your Page Layouts

too many choicesWith the consumer power at all-time high, many web masters and business owners assume consumers want to explore as many options as possible, but data from the most trusted traffic analysts as well as academic journals suggest your website’s visitors prefer a simplistic layout.

  • Google’s Data Suggests Simple Sites Are More Appealing.

Your website’s visitor know clutter vs. simplicity within the blink of an eye Google discovered sites w/ low visual complexity which much more appealing to users and the study also found that most people determine if a website is simple or complicated within 50 milliseconds.

  • Researchers Say Too Many Choices Exhaust Consumers.

Choice overload "exhausts" consumers, according to researcher Barry Schwartz told FastCompany.com:

“As the number of options increases, the costs, in time and effort, of gathering the information needed to make a good choice also increase,” writes Schwartz. “The level of certainty people have about their choice decreases. And the anticipation that they will regret their choice increases.”

  • 3. Studies Show Higher Conversion Rates on Simple Layout Sites.

Studies by Notre Dame and multiple web traffic pattern analysts show that simple site layouts make it easier for consumers to find their desired product or service, which improves conversion rates.


  1. Reduce cluttered images: If you have too many images on the screen, keep your favorites but toss any that may seem redundant.
  1. Trim the amount of menu tabs: Put your most frequently visited pages as tabs and avoid using more than six or seven tabs.
  1. Limit the amount of text on each Page: Visitors don’t want to read a novel, they want to find the information or product as quickly as possible. If you have multiple paragraphs of quality content you think your visitors will enjoy, devote that heavy amount of text to a blog post.

How Facebook Shop Could Give Your Biz A Boost!

Regardless of your personal opinion on Facebook, has become too large to ignore in your online marketing plan, and the latest addition to the social network could prove to be a major business portal for online retailers: Facebook Shop pages.

With over 45 million business pages on Facebook, we all knew it was only a matter of time before Mark Zuckerburg and the geniuses in his programming department figured out a way to turn those pages into legitimate portals for e-commerce. According to the website Mashable, Facebook began testing the Shop pages in July.


Facebook will be setting up the Shop format in two sections. The official launch date has yet to be announced, but under the services tab, you will be able to list your services under a services tab. If you sell products, they can be sold under a shop tab. Each tab is highlighted below:

FB-services 500

Facebook says the features reflect their belief that every company, your page should house the information people are looking for, help you communicate with your customers, and support your unique goals,” Facebook wrote in a statement Tuesday.

Facebook says it will continue to add more sections for pages and call-to-action options in the future as it ramps up its features for businesses. Facebook says the updates are meant to make companies’ Facebook presence more customized based on the type of business they are in.

How To Increase Page Views Per Visit Via Internal Links

Acquiring new traffic to your site is always a great accomplishment, but it’s only half of the battle for converting visitors into customers.

To ensure your most valuable content reaches the maximum amount of qualified readers, create an internal hyperlinking system that leads your visitors to related content on other pages on your site. In our recent blog post, "Back to the basics, why blogging is important", we listed many benefits of blogging. Related content linking is an aspect of effective blogging often overlooked by business owners and entrepreneurs.


Image from Moz

Internal hyperlinks don’t just send your visitors to additional pages of your site, they also enable search engine crawlers and “spiders", to crawl your content and reward contextual relevance on your site by factoring those links into its algorithm for search engine results.

From a search engine optimization and marketing perspective, this area isn’t as valuable as it was several years ago, but it’s still a vital aspect of optimizing your page for Google and other search engines.

Additional Elements to Consider for Increasing Pages Per Visit:

Interactive sidebars: On a side column, feature top-visited pages on your site or customize it to show your most popular posts of the week, month or year.

Teaser images: Another element to consider adding to your pages is an image and/or graphic about a related topic on another page.

online poll example

Image from IndieWire

Link to an Internal Poll: Do you have a question that will intrigue most of your readers? Consider creating a landing page that features a poll, then link to that poll in any and all posts related to the topic of that question.

Don’t Limit Your Video Uploads To YouTube

On Facebook, Natively-Uploaded Videos Receive Higher Engagement Than 3rd Party Links

Online video has emerged as the most valuable use of a company’s web marketing resources. For the PAST several years, the key to ensuring maximum reach with online video was to diversify the social networks where your video was uploaded, ranging from YouTube, to Facebook, Instagram, Vine and others.

Today, the key isn’t to simply diversify the number of social networks, but to ensure your original video content is uploaded in the most widely-consumed format on a particular social network. A great example is seen in the leading social network: Facebook and native video uploads. Analysis from the past year revealed that the silent autoplay feature of native videos in Facebook’s newsfeed not only defied the odds and didn’t annoy Facebook users, they actually became the preferred format for video consumption in the news feed.  In Facebook’s most recent report, Mark Zuckerburg reported the social network behemoth now receives four billion views of natively uploaded video.


Search Engine Journal, a site devoted to covering search engines and social media data, conducted a study on native uploads on Facebook vs. third-party versions of the same content. When SEJ compared natively uploaded (raw file) Facebook video posts  to third-party (YouTube, etc) embedded videos, the natively uploaded video posts reached 2X the amount of people and received

• 2X the amount of “Likes.”
• 3X the amount of Shares.
• 7X the amount of comments.

Search Engine Journal concluded:

"Facebook does seem to favor native video uploads versus third-party video embeds…native video uploads on Facebook does seem to be the best approach right now..Our study indicated that on average, native videos reach 2.04 times more people, getting 2.38 times more likes, 2.67 times more shares, and 7.43 times more comments."


You can no longer apply a "one size fits all" approach in the area of video sharing. When you have original video content to share, take the time to upload the video’s original file on the social networks that allow you to upload the video straight on their system, then title, tag and target your video to the most relevant audience possible on each respective social network.


How To Improve Conversions On Ad Landing Pages

improve landing page conversions facebook

One of the most important adjustments website administrators can make to their site is to make the process of buying a product or service as easy as possible. Otherwise, remarkable ads may send visitors to your site, only to see them leave the page without converting.

The old saying “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink it.” applies to web marketing.


No matter how effective your offsite ad is at drawing traffic to your site, the visitor ultimately determines the ad’s impact by either converting or leaving the page without a conversion.

To help you improve your conversion rates, here are some basic guidelines to follow for your landing pages:

1. Find out the most-clicked areas of your page with a heatmap.

Tools such as CrazyEgg.com provide click-tracking tools that display the areas of your site which are most frequently clicked. With this data available, you can gain valuable insight on the areas of your site which are most effective at gaining the attention of your visitors.

2. Put a clear incentive with your call to action.

While some offers are enticing enough on face value to gain a high conversion rate, some offers may need added incentives, such as a free-trail period, free sample or a special discount to earn a conversion.

3. A/B test your CTA’s and compare conversion percentages.

If you have enough control of your site to create multiple landing pages, create campaigns with the same content but different call to action language on different landing pages. At the end of an identical timespan for each campaign, compare and contrast the stats for the different CTA’s. You may realize that the language for one CTA is notably more effective at converting visitors.

4. Create urgency by putting a time limit to your CTA.

While this may be considered one of the oldest tricks in the marketing playbook, it’s just as valuable in web marketing as any other media. Without a sense of urgency to respond to your CTA, the visitor to your page may leave your site and never return. This time limit should also be applied to retargeting ads, which can serve as a valuable reminder to the potential customer as they browse other websites, including potential competitors.

Find Info About Your Site’s Visitors’ Habits & Interests Via Google Analytics

Quality Content production is a key for every webmaster who wishes to keep current website visitors loyal while attracting new visitors.

One of the most valuable pieces of data on your website’s visitors is their top interests, whether it’s for entertainment, product information or news. Fortunately, Google Analytics’ provides visitor data in two crucial categories: Affinity categories and In-Market segments.

  • Affinity Categories identifies users in terms of lifestyle; for example, Technophiles, Sports Fans, and Cooking Enthusiasts. These categories are defined to be similar to TV audiences.

Affinity category

  • In-Market Segments identifies users in terms of their product-purchase interests. Customers who are researching products and actively considering buying a service or product like those you offer. In-market audiences are available to advertisers in all AdWords languages.

in market segment

Let’s say you’re an admin for a website comparable to Living Social, with discounts to local restaurants, events and shops. Imagine how much you would value the data provided in the two examples from Google.

  1. Affinity Category: Movie theater discounts, concerts and digital photography classes would likely be popular pages, according to the affinity category breakdown pictured below.
  2. In-Market Segment Takeaway: According to the data, many of your visitors are seeking employment, and many others are seeking dating services. Since your site offers discounts, and the affinity data indicates many movie lovers, one idea for an ideal post would be a package for a "Discounted dinner and a movie date night."

The big question: "Where does this data come from?"

According to Google, the data comes from the third-party DoubleClick cookie (for web traffic) and from anonymous identifiers for mobile apps (i.e., Advertising ID for Android and IDFA for iOS).

How to setup demographics and interest in Google Analytics:

  1. Enable Advertising Features for your property,
  2. Enable the Demographics and Interests reports for the view.

Conclusion: If you have Google Analytics, but you have yet to explore In-Market segments or Affinity Categories, be sure to enable both of these advertising features so you can access this treasure trove. If you have yet to install Google Analytics, make it a top priority to either install it yourself or have an expert install it for you.

A New Option for E-Commerce: Pinterest & Shopify’s ‘Buyable Pins’

Few sites can rival Pinterest visitor engagement with visual-content Thanks to "Buyable Pins" a new advertising option offered by Pinterest & E-Commerce platform Shopify.com, small business owners, artists, retailers and anyone who sells online can "pin" their products to boards that feature everything from recipes, crafts, apparel, handmade goods and virtually any conceivable interest or hobby.

shopify_pinterest_blog (1)

Buyable pins are linked back to their seller’s product page where it can be purchased through Shopify’s checkout. According to Shopify, if you have an online store with Shopify, you can start selling on Pinterest by adding the Pinterest sales channel in your Shopify admin.

Compared to traditional cost per click campaigns and search engine marketing, Pinterest’s Buyable pins offer a much more visceral appeal to potential customers in a much different mindset than the typical online shopper on a fact-finding search for the lowest price discount on a particular item that they already had in mind.

Here are some online consumer stats regarding Pinterest transactions that are sure to make you consider selling your products on Shopify.

The average order value of sales coming from Pinterest is $50 – higher than any other major social platform.
A major driver of online traffic: Pinterest is the #2 overall source of all social media traffic to Shopify stores.
2M people pin product pins per day. That’s 20x more than there are daily shoppers at the Mall of America.
93% of Pinterest users use the platform to plan purchases.
Orders from Pinterest on mobile devices has increased by 140% in the last two years, and orders from non-US countries has increased 130% from 2013 to 2014.

VIDEO: Searching for Buyable Pins:

If you aren’t yet a Shopify merchant and would like to sell using Buyable Pins, you’ll need to sign up for an online store with Shopify and set up the Pinterest sales channel.

How to Target Google Search Ads & Facebook Ads to College Students

College students represent a coveted demographic for many companies, and for good reason. While many college students don’t enjoy disposable income comparable to other demographics, they represent o one of the largest growing demographics. According to federal data, the number college students in the U.S. grew by 37% since 2000, with 21 million students enrolled in colleges and universities during the most recent school year of 2014.

This rapid growth presents great opportunities for online businesses. At universities with major athletic departments, sports team-affiliated apparel and school logo-themed merchandise represent some of the most commonly-sold items. Even if you’re not selling school-themed merchandise or products, college students are valuable to target on the web due to the fact that they’re typically very savvy with online technology.

Fortunately for online marketers, two of the largest PPC ad platforms, Google AdWords and Facebook allow marketers to pinpoint ads to students at a specific university, including geographic targeting to the exact perimeters of the college’s property.

How to Target College Students in a Facebook Ad Campaign:
Step 1: In Facebook’s ad platform, click the "More demographics option.
Step 2: Click “Education” and move your mouse to the options on the right.

Step 3: Click "Schools", and enter the college or university you want to target.

select college

Step 4 (Optional) To exclusively target college students who live on campus, enter the zip code where the college is located.


Step 5: Add a personal touch to the ad by featuring a campus icon in the ad, such as the football stadium, bell tower or any well-known statue or landmark, supported by call-to-action text directed at the student body. If you’re taregeting students intersted in sports, be sure to use the team mascot in the call to action. I.E.: Florida Gators, FSU Seminoles.

UF swamp example

How to Target College Students in a Google AdWords Campaign:

Step 1: Go to "Locations" and select: "Let me choose my own."
Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 2.03.40 PM

Step 2: In the box that reads "Enter a location" type the name of the college or university.
Step 3: (Optional) To exclusively target college students who live on or near campus, enter the zip code of the school, as well as surrounding zip codes, or the city where the college is located.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 2.04.07 PM

Step 4:  Add a personal touch to the ad by featuring a campus icon in the ad, such as the football stadium, bell tower or any well-known statue or landmark, supported by call-to-action text directed at the student body.

UF ad -belltower

5 Places to Share Content for New Referral Traffic

While Facebook and Twitter are the dominant platforms for sharing your brand’s best content, don’t overlook or disregard additional social networks and online communities where your relevant content will be appreciated.


linkedin logoLinkedin Groups.

Regardless of your industry, you can find a Linkedin group with conversations directly related to your field of expertise. In these groups, you can direct fellow LinkedIn members to your blog posts about topics that they are currently discussing or a topic that you bring up for the group to consider. https://www.linkedin.com/grp/?trk=nav_responsive_sub_nav_groups


pinterestPinterest Boards.

A great network to share your content that is notably visually compelling, including infographics is Pinterest. Either create a board about your topic or find existing boards about your topic, and link your image to the related page on your site. Your brand will receive a two-fold benefit. Each time you pin a new image, you expand your brand’s presence on a social media site. You also create an additional backlink, which adds credibility to your site as information source for your target audience. https://www.pinterest.com/


stumble upon logoStumbleUpon.

StumbleUpon is one of the oldest bookmarking sites on the web, but don’t let its old age discourage you from utilizing this valuable content-sharing network. StumbleUpon is a social network that offers users fresh and unique content each time they click the "Stumble" icon. This is a great site to post your content that already has a proven track record as remarkably compelling, with a good amount of engagement on other networks. If StumbleUpon users find your content to be interesting and give it a high rating, it is more likely to appear in the random search rotation. https://www.stumbleupon.com/


Small business news  tips  networking   BizSugarBizSugar.

You share your business blog posts, videos and other content, so that others can learn from you. Benefits: you reinforce a reputation as a thought leader and bring online visibility to your content. http://www.bizsugar.com/


reddit iconReddit’s "Subreddits"

Reddit is widely known as one of the web’s most popular news and content aggregate sites. To reach your desired audience, find a sub-forum devoted to your topic, and post content that has a proven track record on your other social media sites. http://www.reddit.com/r/redditlists

How to Target Hispanic Markets on Google & Facebook

If you heard about a strategy that would improve your online ads’ click through rates by 20%, wouldn’t you implement the necessary tactics immediately? According to a newly -released report from Google you may only need to adjust your ads’ demographic targets to achieve this outstanding improvement.

Google’s report "New Research Shows How to Connect with Hispanics Online" revealed that 66% of U.S. Hispanics surveyed pay attention to online ads, an average nearly 20 percentage points higher than the general online population. Another key insight reveals Hispanic consumers favor online sources over family, radio, and TV to learn about a product they’re considering for a purchase. To the dismay of broadcast and cable executives, Hispanics, which represent America’s fastest-growing demographic, rank online consumer info sources 20 percentage points higher than TV (54% vs. 34%).

Considering the fact that a Hispanic’s preference for web ads is verifiably higher than the average person online, ad campaigns accurately targeted to Hispanics should be more effective than a typical web ad campaign, which should result in higher click through rates at a lower cost per click average.


Within social media and search engine marketing ad platforms you can target particular groups with much more specific qualifiers than TV, print or radio can offer.

Facebook provides targeting that starts with age, gender, location and ethnic affinity, with the ability to drill down to specific categories, including:

  • Family arrangements (Parents with 1 kid, parents with two kids), as well as
  • Purchase habits based on retail data.
  • Favorite Sports they follow.
  • TV shows they watch.
  • Favorite Movies.
  • Favorite Books.

Imagine you sell soccer merchandise featuring teams and players on different Major League Soccer teams located throughout the U.S. With Facebook’s targeting tools, you could create ad campaigns featuring star players on every MLS team, with ads targeted to Hispanic soccer fans in each respective team’s surrounding metro area. For example, below you can see an ad targeted to Hispanic soccer fans in Orlando who are fans of Orlando’s Major League Soccer team, the team’s star player,  international soccer teams and professional soccer:

Hispanic football fans targeted on facebook


While Google AdWords’ search marketing tool doesn’t allow ethnic-specific marketing, it does provide language options to reach Spanish-speaking customers who live in the United. States. According to Google, as long as your customers’ Google interface language settings are set to Spanish, your coffee ads can show when your Spanish language customers search for your keywords. Keep in mind that if your customers searched in Spanish but their Google interface language settings were set to English, your ads wouldn’t show. That’s why targeting all languages might be helpful.

Below is a screenshot of the area in a Google AdWords campaign where you can adjust an ad’s language settings.

google languages

If you would like to learn more about social media and search engine marketing, contact us at CelebritySites.com.

Social Media Study Suggests Early Tweet Gets The Click

One of the largest social media posting platforms, Buffer.com, conducted a five-year-long study  a total of 4.8 million tweets from 2 million different users to measure to determine the ideal times to tweet. According to the data Buffer recorded from October 2010 to March 2015 , tweets before noon received the highest proportion of clicks.

“On average, for each timezone, the highest volume of tweets are sent between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm. When looking at US data, the greatest outlier is the Pacific timezone, where 8:00 am to 9:00 a.m.  is the most popular time to tweet. If your goal is to get more clicks on the links included in your tweets, then you’ll want to send those out between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. This also happens to be the time when the fewest amount of tweets are sent, on” – Buffer.com

Among all word time zones, Buffer determined that the 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. window averaged the most amount of clicks,  and the lowest amount of clicks occurred after the workday started, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The data in the below chart is the worldwide average, calculated for the local time in each time zone. So the peak at the 2:00 a.m. hour would hold true as the overall top time no matter which time zone you’re in—2:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, New York, Cape Town, Hong Kong, etc.

Best Times to Tweet for Clicks Worldwide

As you can see in the chart below, the most popular times to tweet conflict with the ideal time-span for clicks for your tweets.


CONCLUSION: The most popular times to tweet are also the most competitive times to tweet, which means its harder for your tweet to stand out. To improve your click through ratio per tweet, plan your tweets to show up before people begin their morning routines at work.

Expand Your Online Following With New Facebook Author Tags

Consistent content creation on your site or blog is a valuable investment of time that will benefit your brand or business for years to come. While your current followers will appreciate the routine updates, you can’t count on them to do your marketing for you.

This is where social media marketing of your content comes into play. This week, Facebook announced author tags. These tags make it extremely simple to find additional content from an author, with links posted below posts featuring their articles. See an example below.

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 3.08.06 PM

Here’s how Facebook describes the update:

"In addition to making it easier for people to follow the author of an article, Author Tags help journalists connect immediately with the readers who are most engaged and interested in his or her work and grow their following on Facebook. Journalists can then build deeper relationships with their Facebook followers by engaging directly in conversations, holding Q&As, and sharing behind-the-scenes content.”

Only one additional line of code in the header tag of the page is needed to implement the tag site-wide. Developers can find documentation on the article:author metatag here.

How to Increase Traffic From Instagram, Pinterest

While Facebook and Twitter are obvious priorities for social media marketing campaigns, image-centered social networks such as Instagram and Pinterest offer valuable platforms to build your brand and reach new audiences that include potential new visitors to your site.

In order for your website to receive the maximum amount of referral traffic from Pinterest, you must make it as easy as possible for other members of Pinterest to find sections of your site related to the content in your pins. Below are some basic guidelines to follow for effective marketing on Pinterest:

  • Create boards devoted to topics related to your industry or expertise. For example, if you’re a dog trainer, create boards for various categories of improvement, such as: "Train your dog to sit", "Train your dog to rollover", etc.
  • Plan and schedule pins to promote new content that may be added to your website and/or blog. For example, if you’re planning to write a blog post about dog training on an upcoming Friday, create pins that illustrate your points and schedule them for Friday.
  • Link pins (or posts on Instagram) to related pages on your site and blog and be sure to include related hashtags and keywords. For example, link your dog training board to your dog blog blost post or webpage.


  • Add text to your images so views immediately know the topic if viewing the image from a stream or feed.


Improve Your Email Open Rates With Mobile-Friendly Formats

As smartphone usage continues to expand, mobile-friendly formats are a necessity for a successful email marketing campaign. Recent surveys revealed several eye-opening statistics for anyone and everyone involved in online sales and digital marketing:

  • Among 18-30-year olds polled, 88 percent read emails on mobile devices.
  • Non-mobile friendly formatted emails are deleted by 75 percent of recipients.
  • According to Google, 75 percent of Gmail access their accounts on mobile devices.
  • Mobile email opens grew 180% in three years.
  • Ipad and Iphone users read emails for an average of 0-3 seconds, only.

Movable_Ink_US_Consumer_Device_Preference_Report_Q2_2014 (1)

When you consider the potential amount of your brand’s content consumption impacted by email formatting, the implications are significant enough to make or break your business. Below are some simple tips to make your emails mobile-friendly & appealing.

  • Avoid using too many images, which are auto blocked by many email vendors.
  • Use large font to ensure that message is easy to read on all screen sizes.
  • Keep your subject line between 20-30 characters to ensure it isn’t cut off.
  • Use emotional and personal words in the opening sentence.
  • Use a person’s name as the sender, not a company name.

YouTube Shopping Ads: How Your Site Can Benefit

Last week, Google announced that the world’s most popular video platform, YouTube, will begin featuring commercials with direct links to various products.

In this new commercial format, when users click on a product in one of the ads, they will be sent directly to the product’s specific page on the advertiser’s website. The ads within the video commercial will resemble the sample below, provided by Google AdWords:

YouTube TrueView Ad 560

“TrueView for shopping enables advertisers to scale the manual process of connecting individual products with individual videos…..Advertisers need only connect their campaign with a Merchant Center feed to dynamically add products to their in-stream videos, customized for each user through contextual and audience signals like geography and demographic info.” – Google AdWords.


According to Google, brands that participated in early tests of TrueView product listing ads on YouTube enjoyed remarkable improvement for driving interest and sales. In one example, online home goods retailer Wayfair saw a 300 percent revenue increase per impression served when compared to previous campaigns.


The new format provides more than just an improved presentation, it also gives the advertiser demographic targeting options to ensure its product (or services) are shown to a qualified audience that is most likely to be interested in the product.

Utilizing this combination of product-specific links presented in a straightforward, video that’s targeted to your desired demographic & geographic market, you can dramatically increase qualified traffic to your website.

If you want to showcase your product or service in this format but prefer a web marketing professional to manage your campaign, check out CelebritySites Search Marketing Solutions.


Bing to Follow Google’s Lead on Mobile-Friendly Search Engine Results


Less than one month after Google tweaked its search engine to prioritize mobile-friendly websites for higher rankings Microsoft announced a similar rollout for Bing.

Unlike Google’s issuing of a courtesy warning to web masters with specific date set for implementation, Microsoft isn’t setting a specific date for Bing’s mobile-friendly update, but Bing offered a series of recommendations for webmasters to prepare for the mobile-friendly shift. Below is a statement from Bing on May 14, 2015, which was the closest Bing came to giving a soft timeline of the mobile-friendly rollout.

"In an effort to work hand in hand with our web masters and ensure a smooth transition to a mobile-first world, we will continue to share details on the roll-out of our mobile friendliness ranking technique through updates on this blog….We have also been working on a tool that will allow Webmasters to analyze web pages using our mobile friendliness classifier and help them understand the results. This tool will become available in a few weeks from now and help Webmasters find and fix areas of their site that suffer from mobile friendliness issues. Understanding the factors that influence mobile friendliness will help serve our growing mobile user base much better."

Bing’s factors for determining mobile-friendly website (Images courtesy of Bing.com)

  1. Navigation: Large, well spaced navigation tabs: According to Bing, web page’s menus, buttons and links should be large enough and spaced well apart to aid touch-based navigation. Below is an example of a mobile-friendly site on the left and an unfriendly site on the right.


  1. Readability: The text on the page should be readable without requiring zooming and lateral scrolling to access specific content.


  1. Scrolling: The content of the webpage should fit within the width of the mobile device.


  1.  Compatibility: Is your website’s homepage loaded with flash content? If so,  the flash content won’t render or play on an iPhone.


Takeaways from the latest mobile-friendly search engine update:

While Bing’s volume of search queries is only a fraction of Google’s, their users are just as valuable if they end up on your website than any visitor who discovers your site from Google. If you own a website but you’re not the administrator, now is the time to check your site to ensure it meets the mobile-friendly guidelines provided by Google and Bing.  Procrastinating may prove to cost you many visitors who find your competitors listed above you when they search for your product or service, so sieze the day and start the process of making your site mobile friendly

Google / Twitter Fusion Signals Major Changes Ahead For SEO

How often do you tweet? To the average business owner or self-employed entrepreneur, your answer may seem trivial, but it’s more important than ever, thanks to a major incentive from Google.

When an agreement between Google and Twitter was signed last February, web marketers speculated about the impact of a social/search fusion of the leading giants in their respective arenas. Earlier this month, Google gave us a sneak preview when it displayed search engine results for the Manny Pacquiao/ Floyd Mayweather boxing match with Tweets incorporated within the top-ranking search results.

Examples of Google Search / Twitter integration.
Below are some screenshot examples of Tweets appearing in Google search results.

Google results with Tweets

Social Media Impact of Google Search / Twitter Fusion
You may be wondering how this alliance will impact your social media marketing tactics. From the social media specialist’s perspective, the Google/Twitter search/social alliance not only signals another likely nail in the coffin of Google Plus, it also opens doors for additional exposure in an area where you may not have enjoyed much success in the past: search engine results. The Google/Twitter fusion may not be a "Silver Bullet" for SEO, but it could provide a nice shot in the arm for social media users who know how to capitalize on related topics with relevant context presented at when those topics are trending.

How Trending Topics Can Work in Your Favor
With the right strategy in place, your business can utilize trending topics to attract new visitors thanks tweets within Google search results. Imagine your business is an online store for dog grooming products. One day when you login into your Twitter account, you notice that the annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show and the first-place-winning-beagle named "Sam" are both trending topics on Twitter, trending with the hashtagged phrases: "#WKCDogShow" and "#SamTheBeagle"

To capitalize on these topics that are directly relevant to your business, you tweet about the #WKCDogShow with a link to your store’s grooming products & mention your products used on #SamTheBeagle.

Your Tweet:
"ReTweet this if Your Pup is as Cute as #SamTheBeagle at #WKCDogShow
Get the Same Combs Used by Sam’s Groomer at http://bitly.com/12345"

Should your tweet end up among the most popular (Retweeted) tweets for the either of the trending topics, your site could appear among the top Google search results for "WKC Dog Show" or "Sam the Beagle at WKC dog show." The top-ranking search result would undoubtedly result in an influx of qualified, new visitors to your site, who wouldn’t have discovered your store prior to the Google/Twitter fusion.

SEO Impact of Google Search / Twitter Fusion
Whether you consider yourself a Search Engine Optimization expert or you’re the average Google search user, the Google/Twitter fusion will eventually change your experience with Google searches. From the SEO-specialist’s viewpoint, the melding of search and social opens a Pandora’s box that will make a volatile industry more erratic, and difficult to predict.

Consider your typical web search today, then imagine a future where a Google search results page with top-ranking results impacted in real time by the most relevant recent Tweets. This potential scenario presents an intimidating challenge for any SEO Specialist or web marketer to consider. In the world of combined search engine / social media results, the usual methods for raising your website’s rankings will either be rendered useless or require much more time from you or your marketing department. In the dog grooming store example, a major retail pet store such as PetCo or PetSmart’s top ranking for "dog grooming combs" could be temporarily leapfrogged by a small business, or vice versa.

CEO’s Offer Few Details on Proportion of Results w/ Tweets in Future
By this point, you’re likely asking two questions: 1. When will the Google/Twitter fusion become more noticeable? 2. Will it impact every search? Unfortunately, there aren’t any concrete answers. When the impact of Google/Twitter alliance was mentioned during a Twitter conference call on company earnings back in January, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo was asked about the practical impact on the user interface.

According to SearchEngineLand.com, Costolo told everyone on the conference call:

"We’ve got the opportunity now to drive a lot of attention to and aggregate eyeballs, if you will, to these logged-out experiences, topics and events that we plan on delivering on the front page of Twitter. And that’s one of the reasons this makes a lot more sense for us now."

Earlier this month, when Google was asked the same question regarding the presentation of search results with Tweets included, a spokesperson for the tech giant admitted to recently bringing Twitter’s "real-time content" to certain Google search results, but they remained ambiguous about the details of the next phase of their plans, saying they didn’t have more announce at this point.

Conclusion: To Prepare for the Google/Twitter Merge: Blog and Produce Social Media Content as if Your Search Engine Rankings Already Depend on it.
Whether Google waits a few weeks or a few months until it increases implementation of Tweets into search engine page results, you and your company should already be planning to increase your blogging production as well as your of Facebook, Twitter social media posts which utilize key phrases and commonly questions associated with your speciality, service, craft, field of expertise and/or industry. Without a proactive approach to this shift, you may find yourself scrambling to catch up with competitors who devoted more time to Twitter.

Is Google+ Going Away?

Upon hearing the news earlier last week, many of our clients reached out to question what’s going on with Google+. To be honest, until Google makes an official statement, everything that has been discussed are likely just speculations. No one is sure if Google+’s death is imminent.

Should I still be using it?

If you’ve found great success with Google+, then by all means keep using it! Several of our clients have a large number of followers that they correspond with regularly on Google+. If this is your case, don’t stop! Continue sharing, LIKE’ing and connecting.

Are there any great alternatives to Google+?

From what we know, Google+ will be going away but will also be turning into other products. Perhaps these products will make the transition easier. We certainly hope that Google Hangouts sticks around but we’ll definitely know more once Google makes the official announcement.

Will this be bad for my site?

Absolutely not. As your social media experts, we will continue to work hard to make your online presence shine. Google+’s disappearance will not make or break that.

Are you a big fan of Google+? We’d love to know how you’ve found it effectively for your business.

Three Reasons Why You Need A Blog

You’ve heard about blogs. Everyone has heard about blogs. Blogs have been present on the e-space since before they had a formal name. Despite what you may know about blogging, do know that blogs can very much help your visual presence on the World Wide Web. Many of our clients wonder just why they need a blog. They feel that because they don’t read blogs, that attaching one to their sites would be pointless. Who reads blogs anyway? And do they really matter in terms of SEO and attracting potential clients and customers?

The answer is simple…YES.

Blogs have been and are still very much important for all business owners and companies. We’ll focus on three main reasons for why blogs can help you and your business.

They can bring up your ranking.

In order to understand this, you may have to dive a bit into understanding how search engine optimization works. Simply put, the more information that you put out there surrounding your niche, the greater your chances of popping up in search engines. While your website may not get updated regularly, an active blog with several blog posts each month ensure that you are relevant, alive and an authority in your industry.

Blogs help you feel personable.

While running a business is your top priority, having a conversational tone with your customers and clients can be very beneficial. Everyone likes to feel as they know the people behind the scenes. Having a blog gives you the chance to tie in a bit of your life with your business. Want to show off pictures of your new dog? Came up with a new recipe? Want to spread some holiday cheer? This can all be done easily through blog posts.

They keep people up to date with what you have going on.

Those you do business with may not have the time to constantly visit your website to see what updates and changes you have made. Having a blog means you can update with current events, industry news, speaking engagements and meeting locations. How easy is that?

We’d love to know what you think? Do you find a blog helpful for your site?

Hire Someone To Manage Your Social Media

One of the biggest questions people ask regarding social media management is…”Why?”Many question why they even need to invest the money in having someone manage their social media presence online. How hard can it be to tweet? Anyone can upload a video to YouTube, right? Instagram couldn’t be any easier and even Google+ is pretty basic. Why should you hire someone to do something that you can likely do on your own? The answers are simple.

You don’t have the time.

You are the brains behind your business and while you can certainly do it all, you will likely be more productive if you leave the heavy duty social media work to the professionals. After all, that is what we do. We are great at what we do and you are great at what you do. Why try to catch up on tweets and figure out how to amplify Facebook posts when you could be focused on your clients and customers? How great would it be to get a monthly report every month that shows how well your website is doing? The idea is that if you’re focusing so much on marketing and social media, another area of your business may be lacking. Handing off the duties to those who best fit your practices and ideas may be ideal.

You Don’t Enjoy Doing It

Do you find yourself stressed out just thinking about social media? If you really don’t enjoy posting tweets and engaging with your communities on Facebook and YouTube, why not pass the torch to someone else? We tend to be very successful at the things that we enjoy doing. Remove the stress and let us take care of it!

You Aren’t Sure What You’re Doing

Several of our clients came to us because they felt that they didn’t know enough about social media marketing to really incorporate it in their businesses. This makes sense. While the basics may be understood by many, others find that they get overwhelmed and are simply lost at taking their social media activity to the next level. We know what we’re doing and we would be honored to have your business.

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Instagram

We’ve talked quite a bit about Instagram and we aren’t done! If you aren’t hip to this social media network, you may want to explore it a bit more because Instagram is taking the world by storm. More and more people are logging on and brands and businesses are really able to reach out to many of their clients and customers by simply uploading a picture.

We have 5 reasons for why we think Instagram is so great!

It’s easy.

Facebook seems to get more complicated by the second. Twitter may confuse because people they aren’t sure where to use hashtags or how to use that little @ symbol but Instagram?!  It’s practically fool-proof and virtually anyone can upload an image and add text. The app is simple to navigate with only few options and this makes updating regularly super simple.

It’s visual.

Many people love Instagram because it just looks…attractive! Where other social media networks tend to have too many words which may annoy some people, Instagram is all visual. You don’t have to think much to access it. You just look at images. Easy enough, right? Instagram, for some, is like a vacation because you’re able to see pictures of many different sites, people and places around the world. All while casually browsing!

The hashtags soar.

Have you tried searching for hashtags on Twitter? It’s hard! It isn’t as easy on Facebook either but when it comes to Instagram, simply tapping on a hashtag sends you right to a stream of pictures. This can help you connect with several potential clients and customers as it it easier to weed through what’s interesting. Who doesn’t like looking at pictures?

Connecting is easy.

Want to send someone a message? Tag them! Reply to them! Send them a direct message! Instagram takes the guesswork on how to really reach out to someone by giving you several ways to network and connect.

It is growing in popularity.

If all of these reasons haven’t convinced you enough, consider this one. While all social media networks continue to grow, Instagram is REALLY taking off and growing rapidly. Don’t be left behind.

Do you have a presence on Instagram?

Tackling Social Media, Part II

Did you read our first post on tackling social media? It was there where we gave some suggestions on how to amplify your posts and reach on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. We are still fresh into 2015 and it’s not too late to figure out a system or get into routine. If you find doing so challenging, time-consuming or virtually impossible, remember…we can help! In the meantime, check out some of our suggestions on ways to boost your traffic and presence on Yelp, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.

Yelp: Don’t think Yelp is for you? Think again! If you have brick and mortar, you should be active with ensuring that your Yelp profile is up to date. Considering we live in a review-based world, customers often like to take a look at a place of business before they actually visit it. Your reviews can make or break your business. Responding to comments and getting suggestions from those who have visited can greatly help your business overall.

LinkedIn: Depending on your business, having a presence on LinkedIn can be a great thing! This is especially true if at some point you plan to add to your company by way of hiring a qualified person. LinkedIn is being used heavily by those in search of jobs and headhunters. Outside of that, you may want to consider adding a company page and keep it updated regularly so that those interested in your company can get an idea as to what you have going on behind the scenes.

Google+: If Google+ confuses me, invest some time in really getting to know this social media networking. Aside from it really being beneficial on the SEO side of things, Google+ may be a fantastic way to reach potential client and to stay in touch with current clients and customers. Hashtags is the word and if you use them correctly and regularly, your messages can be seen globally!

YouTube: Even if you do a video once a month, having a presence on YouTube can greatly benefit your brand. Consider doing 1 or 2 minute videos highlighing some of the members in your company. Show off an up and coming product or give shout outs to clients. Putting a face with the name oftentimes help customers feel as if they really know you.

We’ve got even more to share! Stay tuned for part III where we share email marketing, giveaways and more.

Tackling Social Media, Part 1

Last week we discussed having an overall social media game plan and we received a lot of great feedback from our Celebrity Sites supporters! We’re glad to see that we aren’t the only people passionate about really ramping up social media practices and activities in 2015. One of the biggest questions we received was, “How do we put this game plan into action?”. Of course the answer will vary from business to business and from brand to brand. While a real estate agent may find enormous success on Facebook, an attorney may not be as lucky. That’s okay, though! Your best bet when drafting your game plan is to really take into account of your niche and how your customers and clients best communicate with you. Once you’ve figured that out, check out some of our suggestions as they relate to each popular social media network.

Facebook: Once again, the top dog of social media sites has changed their algorithm and by doing so, this has frustrated many small business owners. The idea is simple, if you want to reach out to all or the majority of those who Like your page, you’ll have to pay to do this. Configure this in your monthly budget to see if it’s cost effective but do know that for many people, to really catch the eyes, you’ll have to pay to play.

Twitter: How did you do with hashtags last year? Did you keep up with them? Tweet along with the popular hashtags? Did you create your own hashtag? If the answer is NO to one or more of these questions, why not give hashtags a spin this year? If appropriate for your brand, you may want to consider doing Twitter parties to really engage your customers, clients and fans. Doing a Twitter party surrounding an event may bring in even more potential fans.

Instagram: Don’t think this social network may appeal to the people in your target demographic? Think again! Even if you’re posting motivational quotes, showing behind the scenes of things going on in your office or doing sneak peeks behind new products, those that support you will LOVE to know about. Try engaging them by posting a picture a day. If you’d really like to get fancy, use your custom made hashtags.

Pinterest: Pinterest seems to explode even more and more each year and if you aren’t hip to all of the cool things on Pinterest, you may want to take notice. Even if you don’t have a product to sell, consider creating boards related to your business. Regularly pin items to those boards. Also, design and develop graphics that can be pinned from your website. This is a great way to bring in people who may not have otherwise run into you.

Stay tuned for part II when we dive into Yelp, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube!

Your Social Media Game Plan for 2015

The New Year is here and if you’re like many, you’ve already laid out several New Year’s resolutions. While they may not be practical for everyone, resolutions can really help not only bring focus but revisiting them each month can help you stay productive and actually achieve those goals that you’ve listed. If you’re against the whole notion of resolutions, what about game plans for your social media activity in 2015. Have you thought about it yet? You should! Whether it’s learning more about Instagram, finally launching a YouTube video or putting up your first Facebook ad, setting a list of goals and actions can really help you and your business this year. We’ve got some suggestions on how you can map out your social media game plan this year. And as always, if you’d rather we be the ones to do the work, don’t hesitate to let us know.

  • Make monthly goals for each social media channel.
  • Discover a new social media channel.
  • Are you hooked on getting followers and subscribers? Try directly communicating with people. You may come across a potential client or make a new friend in the process.
  • Create an editorial calendar. This will help you stay organized each and every day.
  • Think about hosting giveaways. This will not only help bring in new clients and fans, but you’ll get the opportunity to show those who have supported you how much you appreciate them.
  • Develop partnerships. Know of someone that you’d might like to work with? Think about hosting a Twitter chat or a Google Hangout.
  • Design those Twitter backgrounds and Facebook headers. Do something different that is also eye catching and works nicely with your brand image.

Do you have any of these ideas on your game plan!

Get Noticed: Seven Ways to Drive More Traffic to Your Business Website

Building a powerful CelebrityExpert® brand on the internet starts with a great website. Your website should be visually appealing, packed with strong content, and most importantly should position you as an expert in your field. I’ve written quite a bit about the process of building an effective website, and with good reason – because often, your website creates the first impression that your audience has of you.

But here’s the thing… no matter how impressive your website is, it doesn’t count for anything if nobody sees it! In order to brand you as a CelebrityExpert® and ultimately grow your business, your website first needs to receive traffic – specifically, potential clients and customers in your market. So today, we’re going to focus on this vital step and examine seven ways you can drive more traffic to your website.

1) Get active on social media. Social media sites, like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, have hundreds of millions of users each day. And they are only growing more popular. For that reason, establishing an active social media presence is one of the quickest and most effective ways to boost your website traffic. Your business should have a presence on each of these sites, and should regularly feature blogs, articles, and other content that provides value to your audience. This allows you to demonstrate your expertise while driving traffic to your website at the same time.

2) Use email marketing. If you’ve got a large email database, email marketing is an affordable and efficient way to attract website traffic. (If you don’t have many email addresses, get to work building your list – it can pay big dividends!) Use email marketing to highlight special offers and promotions, but also to feature content such as blog entries and articles that provide value to your readers. This will allow you to keep your audience engaged and ensure that they are continuing to read your emails and click on your links. Track the results over time so that you can see what’s working and what’s not.

3) Leverage the power of video. Video is an increasingly powerful tool for business owners on the internet. It’s useful for a number of reasons. Well-produced video sends the message that you and your company are highly professional and credible. Video that addresses common questions your market and your customers have is a great way to demonstrate your expertise. And most importantly for today’s purposes, using video sites like YouTube and Vimeo is a great way to reach a larger audience and ultimately direct them back to your website. Take advantage of this powerful tool!

4) Write blogs and articles to attract search engine users. Written content, like blog entries and articles, is a powerful way to boost your visibility on search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing. The key is to focus on topics and keywords that your audience is searching for, and then write about them. For instance, imagine you’re a retirement coach. One of the topics that your audience is always looking for help about is the best approach to receiving their Social Security benefits. Writing content which addresses this topic increases your chances of being found on search engines for this topic – so if a searcher types "When should I begin receiving social security benefits" YOUR blog entry may show up. The searcher will often then click on the link and end up on your website, where he or she can read the blog entry and then contact you for further assistance.

5) Increase visibility by syndicating articles across the internet. In addition to featuring your blogs and articles on your website, you can also syndicate articles on other sites across the web. There are hundreds of article directories and social bookmarking sites available – and if you’d like help figuring out which are the most valuable for your business, get in touch with me. Syndicating your content allows you to reach a huge audience of readers looking for information regarding your area of expertise and drive them to your site.

6) Create website content that is keyword-rich and search engine friendly. Just as important as the visual design of your website is the written content that you feature. In fact, for the purposes of driving traffic to your website, the written content matters more than just about anything else! Many business owners don’t give much time or effort to writing this content, but that’s a mistake. Not only is well-written content important when it comes to converting leads and closing deals, but it’s critical for achieving high rankings on search engines. Part of creating your website should be determining which keywords are most important for your business, and then creating content around those keywords. I know that this process can seem overwhelming, so if you’d like some further guidance please get in touch!

7) Include a website link in your email signature, on LinkedIn, on your business cards, and everywhere else it’s appropriate. Finally, an obvious step that too many people miss: list your website address everywhere you can! When you meet someone and hand them a business card, make sure that they’re going to be able to find your site to learn more. Include your website in your email signature – if you’re like me, you may send hundreds of emails per week, and that’s hundreds of opportunities to drive more traffic to your site. It’s also important to list your website on LinkedIn and on other social networks.

A compelling website is an important step in building your CelebrityExpert® brand. But what’s the point of a great website if nobody ever visits it? These seven steps will help you drive more traffic to your website and ultimately help you grow your business. I hope that you find them helpful – and if you’ve got questions, or if you just need some help getting started with these strategies, I’m here for you! Get in touch with me today to learn more.

Don’t Let Them Off the Hook: Nine Ways to Keep Your Customers and Prospects Engaged

My father loves to fish. But as any fisherman (or woman) knows, fishing can be an extremely frustrating hobby. And there is nothing more frustrating than when a fish hits your line, devours your bait, fights your efforts to reel him in before finally getting free of your hook and getting away.

If you’ve spent any time fishing, you can probably relate.

As a business owner, there’s a similar threat that you need to watch out for and that’s letting your customers and prospects off the hook. It happens all the time: you meet a prospect, or he visits your website, or follows you on social media, or signs up for your email but you never hear from him again. You had the individual on your marketing hook, but he got away. And in business, this costs you real money.

In this article, I’m going to share nine ways that you can use the internet to create an engaging presence which ensures that you get your prospects all the way into your boat. In addition, these tactics will help you increase your credibility and enhance your CelebrityExpert status:

1) Create a website that is visually appealing and easy to use. If your website is unattractive, hard to navigate, or doesn’t work the way that it should, your visitors aren’t going to stick around. They’ll look around for a competitor that provides a better online experience, and chances are you’ll lose their business for good. The good news is that you don’t need to create an artistic masterpiece you just need to create a site that looks nice and functions properly. Let me know if you’d like help getting started!

2) Provide free resources on your website. If your website is nothing more than an online sales pitch, your prospects have little reason to return. But if you offer free, valuable resources, they’ll keep coming back. One great option is creating a Special Report or White Paper which provides practical information for your readers. You can then offer it as a free download, in exchange for the viewer’s email address. This allows you to plug the prospect into your email marketing database and get to work reeling him in.

3) Regularly write blog entries and articles for your site. In addition to reports and free resources, regularly publishing blogs and articles is a great way to keep your audience coming back for more. You can also feature this content on social media and on article directories across the internet. Focus this content on practical information that provides value to your readers answering common questions is one good way to approach this task.

4) Feature video and photographs of yourself and your team. Static, boring, text-heavy websites don’t grab the attention of most visitors. As much as possible, use multimedia like photos and video to engage your visitors. Of course, the media you feature must be consistent with your brand, with the story you are trying to tell, and with the visual design of your site.

5) Create a mobile version of your website. Millions of Americans access the internet primarily through their smart phones, and if your website doesn’t have a mobile version, you are missing out. A mobile version of your website allows you to engage the segment of your audience that interacts with the internet through their phones and chances are, it’s a large segment!

6) Get active on social media by going where your customers are. Creating an active social media presence is an important way to engage your audience but it requires a strategic approach. For instance, if your audience is teenagers and college students, LinkedIn is not likely to be a fertile channel. Which social platforms does your audience favor? Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? Instagram? Figure it out and then go where your customers are!

7) Post great content on your social media channels. Once you’ve identified the key social media channels to target, it’s time to focus on providing valuable and engaging content. Nobody uses social media because they want to hear a sales pitch, and if that’s all you are providing, you’re not going to engage your audience. Instead focus on providing interesting content like informative videos and fun photos of your products or your team at work. And share links to important information like breaking news that is relevant to your marketplace.

8) Use email marketing to reach your audience. Email marketing is another very valuable channel that you can use to keep your audience engaged. It’s especially important for reaching prospects and customers that don’t proactively visit your site or your social media channels. However, like social media, you have to be very careful to provide valuable content. Otherwise, your recipients will consider your messages to be spam and they’ll probably unsubscribe. Feature links to your best blogs and articles, share important news, and don’t hesitate to include a joke, an inspiring quote, or other light-hearted content to keep your email messages appealing.

9) Create news and then spread the word. Finally, make it a point to create a buzz for your business. There are plenty of ways to do this: write a book, launch a community initiative, appear on the radio, hold a special event, and the list goes on. Make sure that your audience is aware of all that you’ve got going on, and you’ll find that they are much more interested in your business.

If you can perfect the process by which your business engages your prospects, it can mean a HUGE increase in sales and in your bottom line. The internet, and platforms like social media and email marketing in particular, make it much easier to do this in a cost-effective way but this is true for your competition as well. So ask yourself, are you doing everything you can to keep your prospects engaged or are you letting them get away?

Does Your Website Make You a Celebrity?

Why should you care about being a celebrity? After all, you’re a business owner interested in making a profit, not making headlines on TMZ.com or in the tabloids. So what’s the big deal?

It comes down to two simple reasons. Becoming a celebrity within your market allows you to bring in more business. And it allows you to charge higher rates, boosting your bottom line.

More customers and a higher profit margin per customer. Those are two goals that every business owner would consider worth pursuing. But how can becoming a CelebrityExpert help you achieve them?

Because customers want to work with an expert. Think about it for a moment if you had to choose a new dentist for your kids, and cost wasn’t an issue, how would you make this choice? Chances are, you’d look for the most well-respected, expert dental professional in your area. The same goes for a lawyer or a retirement planner. Expertise matters, and your CelebrityExpert status will establish YOU as the expert in your market. This position in your market will ensure that you have a steady stream of new business and it guarantees that your customers will be willing to pay premium rates for your services.

That in a nutshell is why branding yourself as a celebrity within your market is so important. But as you can well imagine, there’s a lot that goes into such a campaign. From publishing a best-selling book to appearing on local TV affiliates, we help our clients achieve CelebrityExpert status through a variety of channels.

By now, most businesses have a website. But there’ a big difference between any old website and a website that effectively positions you as a celebrity within your market. And because your website often creates the first impression of your business for potential customers, if it doesn’t create the right image, you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle to establish your unique value to the customer.

Online Marketing Secrets: How to Get the Most Out of Your Google+ Local Listing

The world of online marketing is fast-paced, to say the least. I talk to clients every day, and many of them confess that keeping up with all of the latest trends and developments can be overwhelming. I’ll tell you the same thing that I tell them… which is, don’t worry, that’s my job!

Today, I am going to bring you up to speed on an online marketing platform which is becoming more and more powerful… Google+ Local. Google+ Local is a platform by which local businesses can list their information, similar to a Facebook business page. Consumers, meanwhile, can use the service to find local businesses. In addition to the usual information, like contact details and a company description, users can also read reviews, look at pictures, leave feedback, and more.

It’s a particularly powerful tool because of the importance Google assigns to these listings when it comes to search results. Creating a Google+ Local page, quite simply, is going to help more people find you through Google.
So if you are a local business, it’s time to get engaged if you aren’t already. To make the process a little easier, below are ten keys to creating an effective presence on Google+ Local.

1) Fill out your profile completely. Google+ Local gives you the ability to list your address, your phone number, and your website. But it gives you more options, as well. Take the time to fill out everything that you can—your hours of operation, your company description, and so forth. This makes it easier for consumers to answer their questions, and it also provides more information for Google to index.

2) Use a local phone number. Many of you have a toll-free number in addition to your local phone number. For Google+ Local, you are better off using the local number. For one thing, the majority of the consumers that find your profile are going to be locally based. In addition, it is likely that Google will treat profiles with local numbers as more credible, considering that the whole point of the program is to connect consumers with local businesses.

3) Ask for recommendations. As you probably know by now, positive testimonials and reviews are a critical sales tool. This is particularly true on a platform like Google+ Local, as most of your viewers will also be viewing the profiles of other businesses. The presence of strong reviews (or the lack) will often be a major factor in determining which business the consumer chooses. As I tell my clients, don’t be afraid to ask your customers and clients to leave you a review. Many of them will be glad to support you in this way.

4) Brand your profile as much as possible – logo, company colors, etc. As always, it is important that your brand is properly reflected on your Google+ Local page. While the design options are limited, at least for now, you should still take advantage of every opportunity to use your logo, your company colors, and so forth. Your profile shouldn’t feel "out of place" when viewed alongside the rest of your internet presence.

5) Link to your website. This should be obvious, but I’m telling you anyway because it’s important! Many consumers will start their search on Google, flip through a few profiles, and then click through to the website of a business that they’re interested in. Not listing your website can cause you to lose out on a new customer. Don’t make this mistake!
6) Double-check that all information is correct and matches your website. Many consumers will click through to your website with the specific purpose of verifying that your contact information is correct. Make sure the information on your profile matches what’s on your website. Incorrect information is a quick and easy way to lose credibility, so check everything carefully.

7) Use accurate, descriptive language—don’t try to fill your profile with SEO keywords. Some business owners may be tempted to use the old SEO strategy of stuffing their page with keywords. This is a losing strategy for two reasons. First, Google recognizes excessive usage of keywords and will likely penalize you for it. And second, real people will read the information on your Google+ Local page—and they want English, not SEO-speak.

8 ) Use photos as much as possible. You’ve heard me talk about how important photos are for your website and for your social media presence, and your Google+ Local page is no exception. Upload pictures of your team, your services, consumers enjoying your products, and so on. This gives viewers of your page the confidence that you’re a legitimate business and it gives you the opportunity to strengthen your brand at the same time.

9) Link to your profile from your website and from your social media presence. Now that you have built a great profile, make sure it gets noticed! Link to it from your website. Highlight it on social media. Invite customers to take a look (and leave a review!). The more exposure, the better off you will be, so make sure that it is highly visible!

10) Monitor your profile regularly. Finally, you can’t forget about your profile listing! This is something that many business owners are guilty of, on Google and elsewhere. If you move, you need to update your contact information. If you change your phone number, update it. If you change your business name, your logo, your scope of services, and so forth… update your Google+ Local profile! Otherwise, consumers are going to find it, try to find you, and end up frustrated. In addition, you want to know when you get new recommendations and other interactions, so check up on your profile regularly!

I know… I know… the last thing you want is *another* social media platform to worry about. But for better or for worse, Google is the dominant player in the search industry, so it makes sense to maintain a presence on their platform. The good news is that setting up your Google+ Local profile isn’t difficult. As always, I’m here to answer any questions or concerns you may have. Good luck!

Celebrity Branding Online: How to Build Your Email List

You’ve heard me say that building a strong email list is a critical part of growing your business. A well-crafted email marketing strategy leads to new clients, higher client retention, and ultimately higher profitability. But without a strong email list, none of this is possible.

So… how do you build your list? In the early days of email marketing, purchased email lists were often the solution. You may be familiar with this concept—but basically, it involves purchasing hundreds (or thousands) of email addresses to use in your marketing campaign. This strategy may have been effective in the past, but it’s a bad idea today for a number of reasons. First and foremost, sending unsolicited email (SPAM) hurts your brand. It’s not professional, and your recipients aren’t going to appreciate it. It’s also a good way to get your email address "blacklisted" as a spammer.

Bottom line – stay away from purchased lists!

It’s far more profitable, more professional, more ethical, and more effective to build your own email list. And you can do this relatively easily using your website and your social media presence. There are two basic steps – first, driving targeted traffic to your site, and then capturing their contact information so that you can add them to your list. We’ll talk in detail about each step below:

Step One: Drive Targeted Traffic to Your Site

Social media. Social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest are all great ways to drive traffic to your website. You can do this in a variety of ways – by posting links to your blog entries, by sharing information about your products and services, by offering special deals and promotions, etc. And social media traffic also has the benefit of being highly targeted, since your audience on social media is already interested in you and your company. (Otherwise they wouldn’t be following you!)

Blogging. A blog can be a tremendous tool for increasing website traffic. For one thing, your blog entries can be publicized via social media and other channels. In addition, they will often serve to increase your visibility on Google and other search engines. Consistently writing blog entries that provide value to your audience is a great way to bring in more traffic!

Articles. Article writing works in a similar way as blogging. By syndicating your articles across a variety of online sites and directories, you dramatically increase the exposure of your brand and your website. And as long as the articles are well written and provide value to your readers, you can count on a number of them "clicking through" to your website in order to learn more about your business.

Video. As sites like YouTube and Vimeo grow in popularity and videos become easier to create and distribute, business owners are finding video to be an effective source of website traffic. The premise is simple – create a video that focuses on the unique benefits of your product or service and distribute it via social media and other sites. When a viewer sees it and wants to learn more, he or she will visit your website. Simple and effective—but don’t cut corners when it comes to creating these videos, as an "amateurish" or low quality video doesn’t position you in the right light. Remember, you’re becoming a CelebrityExpert®… and everything you do must reflect that brand!

Offline promotion. In addition to driving online traffic to your site, you can spread the word in the "real" world too. One great way to do this is by plugging your website while speaking or networking. Make sure your site is listed on your business card or other promotional materials. And don’t just ask your audience to visit – give them a compelling reason to do so!

Step Two:  Capture Email Addresses

Use attractive, easy to use forms on every page of your website. Now that you’ve got traffic to your site, the next step is to capture their contact information. Priority number one is making sure that each page of your site features and attractive and user-friendly contact form. If your forms are ugly, hard to find, or difficult to use… they aren’t going to be used. Make it easy for your audience!

Offer freebies. These days, most internet users are hesitant to give out their email address. We all have plenty of email in our lives—the last thing we want is more messages to monitor. To overcome this natural reluctance, sweeten the deal! Offer a free special report, white paper, or e-book to your visitors. This strategy is a win-win—it provides your visitors with great value, and it gives you the opportunity to tell them more about your business and how you can help, while capturing their email address at the same time.

Capitalize on "lukewarm" interest. Some of the traffic to your website will be "hot"—ready to make a purchase or sign up for your services immediately. Some of the traffic will not be interested at all. But a sizeable percentage of it will be "lukewarm" or semi-interested. They may not be ready to make a purchase… but they would like to learn more. These lukewarm leads will often convert into clients down the road—but if you don’t capture their information, chances are they will be gone for good. So make sure that your lead capture forms appeal to these people. Phrases like "learn more now" or "get the details" are a good way to capture their interest (and their email!) without requiring them to make a commitment.

One last word on this process—don’t be afraid to make adjustments! Keep tweaking your site and your strategy until you find an approach that generates results. Sometimes, a bit of trial and error is all it takes.

A healthy, growing email list is vital to the success of your business. Email marketing is highly effective, but only if you’ve got a list of prospects to market to! These tips will help you build your list, your CelebrityExpert® brand, and your business. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help!

Celebrity Branding Online: How to Use the Internet to Tell Your Story

The emergence of the internet and the recent surging popularity of social media sites have changed things dramatically for small businesses. The internet has leveled the playing field in many ways, giving small businesses the opportunity to compete toe-to-toe with large competitors.

On the other hand, the relative ease by which a business can launch a website and create a social media presence means that there are a whole lot of businesses marketing themselves online.

This raises a simple but important question… how can you stand out from the crowd on the internet?

That’s a big question and I’m not going to pretend that I can give you the whole answer in just one short article! But I will share with you one very important strategy to do just that.

You can separate yourself from the competitors by telling a compelling story.

We all love stories. We like getting to know characters, we like watching them overcome challenges, and we like watching them grow. And if you can identify your story and learn to communicate it powerfully online, you’ll find that it’s possible to separate yourself from the competition.

Below are seven ways that you can use the internet to accomplish this goal:

1) Emphasize your key points of differentiation on your website and through social media. One of the most important functions of a good story for your business is that it creates a clear contrast between you and your competitors. These points of differentiation need to be emphasized throughout your internet presence. It may be your years of experience. It may be your completely unique product or service. It may be your fanatical devotion to customer service. Whatever your points of differentiation are, make sure you highlight them often!

2) Write blogs and articles that support your story. Writing blogs and articles is a great way to attract potential customers to your site—and also a great place to further tell your story. For example, let’s say you own a retirement planning firm, and part of your story includes your personal desire to help your clients enjoy a comfortable, stress-free retirement. If that’s the story you’re trying to tell, you could fill your blog entries and articles with practical tips and ideas—while always sticking to the theme of working towards a comfortable retirement. It doesn’t take much—just a sentence or two can be enough to connect your blogs and articles to the central story you are trying to tell.

3) Use pictures to illustrate your story—especially on Facebook and Instagram. A picture is worth a thousand words. This is especially true on the internet and on social media, where photos have been shown to outperform text posts and other links by a huge margin. Leverage this fascination by taking and sharing pictures that illustrate your story and flesh it out. The retirement planner we discussed in the example above could share pictures of himself and his team working closely with a retired husband and wife, for instance. Just make sure that the pictures represent yourself, your brand, and your business in a way that you’re happy with.

4) Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through your social media presence. Interesting characters are essential to a good story. So in order to get your audience to take an interest in your story, it’s important to let them get to know you! And one way to do this is simply to be yourself on social media. Don’t be afraid to make jokes or root for your favorite sports team. Some of you know that I love to use Pinterest to share fashion ideas, home décor inspiration, and of course, anything and everything shoe-related! Don’t be afraid to be yourself and let your personality out of the box. Because nobody likes a story with a boring main character!

5) Leverage well-produced video on your website and on social media. We talked about the value of photos in telling your story—and video is even better. Video gives you the opportunity to bring your audience into your world and show them exactly who you are and what you do. But there is one major word of caution I have to share –poor quality video is very damaging to your brand. These days, almost everyone has access to quality equipment, so there is no excuse for posting a video that looks like it was shot on a cell phone 10 years ago. If you’re going to use video to tell your story, which I highly recommend, you have to be sure that you do it right!

6) Show growth and progress – don’t "stand still". Another common element in every good story is growth. Characters in great stories face challenges, overcome them, and often transform themselves in the process. Don’t be afraid to let your audience see you grow. Sure, you don’t want to post on Twitter every time something goes wrong with your business… but you can use social media to celebrate your victories and to let your audience see how you and your business are evolving.

7) Stay consistent – don’t contradict your story or your brand. Finally, one of the biggest problems that many business owners have with telling their story and developing their brand is inconsistency. This is a major challenge on the internet because there are simply so many different "places" that you have to be mindful of. Your website, your Facebook page, your LinkedIn profile, your Google+ page, listings on directories like Yelp… it goes on and on. If you aren’t careful, you will end up contradicting yourself—saying one thing on your website and another on Facebook, for instance. Stay disciplined and don’t undermine the story that you’re trying to tell.

Every business owner has a story to tell—and the internet is a fantastic tool for doing exactly that. I hope that these seven tips will help you communicate your story more effectively than ever before… and as always, please reach out to me if there is anything I can help you with!

Celebrity Branding Online: 6 Ways to Join the Conversation Taking Place in the Minds of Your Prospects

One of the principles of effective marketing is that if you can find a way to join the conversation that is already taking place in the minds of your customers and prospects, you will have a far easier time winning their business. If you are unfamiliar with this concept, it might sound a little bit weird but basically, it just means that if you can make your marketing messages align with the thoughts that already exist in the minds of your customers, they are going to be more receptive.

One classic example is found in the dental industry. Nobody looks forward to sitting in the chair and having their mouth worked on. But just about everyone wants a bright, clean smile. So rather than trying to change the conversation and get people excited about sitting in the chair, smart dentists instead tried to capitalize on the desire that already exists – the desire for a great smile.

If you can find a way to do the same for your market, you are going to be more successful. And your internet presence is one great way to achieve this. You can use your website, your social media presence, your videos, and your blogs and articles to join the conversation that is already taking place.

Below are six ways you can do this.

1) Address the fears of your customers and prospects. What are they worried about? What keeps them awake at night? Work to identify these fears, acknowledge them, and then show how your products and services can wipe those fears away. Take financial planning, for instance. Many investors and retirees are fearful of running out of money during retirement. Addressing these fears and then showing how the right financial advice and the right strategy can ensure a comfortable retirement is a winning approach.

2) Reinforce their hopes and dreams. On the other end of the spectrum, everyone has hopes and dreams. By articulating these hopes and dreams, and then demonstrating that your business can help your consumers achieve them, you can make a compelling argument for your audience to do business with you. Nike’s marketing is one great example of this strategy. Think about the last advertisement or commercial you saw from them. They spend virtually no time discussing the details of their shoes or equipment, and virtually all of their time making the case that Nike products will turn you into a winner. They know what their target market is hoping for and working towards, and they make the case that their products will help. What are your target customers hoping for? What do they dream about? And how does your business help them make these dreams a reality?

3) Break down timely information. Current events often drive conversations within the marketplace. For instance, whatever your politics may be, the implementation of Obamacare over the next couple of years is a very significant event. If you work in a field that will be impacted, as a doctor, an insurance broker, a tax accountant, and so on, you can bet your consumers are thinking about it. If you can take the time to explain to your audience how these coming changes will impact them, many of them are going to take the time to listen to you. And if you can work your products and services into the equation, even better. Current events area key driver of conversation, so keep your eyes open for ways to engage.

4) Stay relevant to your market, visually and otherwise. You can’t join any conversation if you don’t speak the language. And part of speaking the language, in a marketing and branding sense, is looking the part. You have to look like you belong. If your target market is young, tech-savvy professionals, your business must look like it belongs. That may mean a sharp, edgy logo and a cutting-edge website. Whatever the specifics are, the point is that if you are going to be a part of the conversation, you had better stay relevant. Your website and your social media presence go a long way towards creating the perception that your market will have of your business, so make sure you are sending the right message!

5) Project expertise. One conversation that is almost always taking place is the desire for expertise. Think about if whether you’re hiring a financial planner, a doctor, a real estate agent, or someone to take care of your lawn, you want to hire an expert. You want to know that your assets, your health, and your home are in good hands. That’s why it is so important that you build a CelebrityExpert® brand that emphasizes your expertise. Building this type of brand makes it easier to attract new business, and it enables you to charge higher rates and still win the business. Your customers want to work with an expert so show them that you are the expert they are looking for!

6) Speak "plain English", not techno-speak. Finally, you can’t connect with your audience and join their conversation if they can’t understand you. So drop the technical language and speak to them in plain English. Lawyers, for instance, spend much of their time writing in highly technical language for an audience that consists of judges, other lawyers, and other legal professionals. That’s great—that’s why they went to law school. But a lawyer can’t use that type of language on their website or on social media and expect the average layperson to understand. In order to join the conversation that is happening, you have to speak and write in a way that makes sense to your audience. So make sure you are speaking their language!

6) Speak "plain English", not techno-speak. Finally, you can’t connect with your audience and join
their conversation if they can’t understand you. So drop the technical language and speak to them in
plain English. Lawyers, for instance, spend much of their time writing in highly technical language for an
audience that consists of judges, other lawyers, and other legal professionals. That’s great—that’s why
they went to law school. But a lawyer can’t use that type of language on their website or on social media
and expect the average layperson to understand. In order to join the conversation that is happening,
you have to speak and write in a way that makes sense to your audience. So make sure you are speaking
their language!

If you can find a way to join the conversation that is taking place in your marketplace, you’re going to bring in more business. And your internet presence is an important way to accomplish this goal. So take a few moments right now to evaluate your website and your social media presence based on the six ideas we covered today. And as always, please let me know if you have any further questions!

2014 is Flying By: Are You Building Your Celebrity Status… or Are You Losing Time?


In 2012 I published an article suggesting several New Year’s resolutions to help you build your brand and increase your CelebrityExpert® status in the New Year. I talked to many of you at the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 and 2014 about your goals for the year to come. I know that many of you made serious commitments to make this year when you get serious about your personal brand—and your online branding efforts specifically.

Well, believe it or not, we’re already about a third of the way through the year. Time flies when you’re having fun, and also when you’re running a business. (Hopefully you’re doing both!)

So this is an opportune time for a "check up" of sorts—a chance to evaluate your progress so far in 2014 and identify areas that may need increased focus Below, we’re going to ask a series of questions intended to measure your progress—as well as offer some specific tips to help you stay on track (or get back on track!).

1) Does your website position you as a CelebrityExpert®? There is more to online marketing than your website—but your website is where it all begins. It is the "hub" of your marketing efforts. For that reason, it must do an effective job of branding you as an expert within your market. How can you do that? For starters, featuring professional quality pictures and videos of yourself. Also including content that reinforces your expertise, such as Special Reports and White Papers, sends a message of expertise and exclusivity. Professional design and functionality is a must.

2) Are you showing up on the first page of Google when potential customers look for help? As you are no doubt aware, in today’s world many consumers start their search for a product or service on Google. So the million dollar question (sometimes literally) is… when a potential customer searches for what you do, will you show up? (For instance, if you’re a tax attorney based in Jacksonville, and someone searches for "Jacksonville tax attorney", do you show up?) If not, you’re losing business to your competitors. The good news is that you can move up in the search engine rankings by producing great content (like blogs and articles) and by being active on social media, among other things.

3) Are you leveraging social media to drive traffic to your website and build brand awareness? Many of you likely have a Facebook page for your business by now, and I know some of you have a presence on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. But are you using your social media presence to promote your website and build your brand? Are you actively posting content at least once or twice per week? If not, you are losing out on an easy opportunity to build your brand. Blog entries and articles that you have written make for great content to share—but so do inspirational quotes, tips, news articles that impact your audience, and so on.

4) Have you begun writing blogs and articles to showcase your knowledge and expertise? I have mentioned blogs and articles a few times already. As you can see, not only are they a good opportunity to show your own expertise while educating your audience, but they are also very helpful in terms of providing content for social media and for improving your ranking on Google and other search engines. So if you’re not already doing so… start writing! If you’re not sure how to begin, ask yourself "what are some of the most common questions that my customers and prospects have?" and then write content that addresses these questions.

5) Are you capturing email addresses – and marketing to your list? Many consumers that find your website aren’t ready to make a commitment at that time. Instead, they are looking for information and gauging their options. The problem is that if you don’t find a way to capture their information, you may never hear from them again. That’s why capturing contact information is so important—and you can do that by offering Special Reports, e-newsletters, etc. Once you have captured this information, it’s important to regularly market to them in order to stay "top of mind." Informational newsletters and e-zines are a great way to do this.

6) Are you having fun with your branding efforts on social media and elsewhere? There are a whole lot of businesses marketing themselves online. So how can you stand out from the crowd? One key way is to be yourself and to have fun. Tell jokes. Talk about your favorite sports team. (Go Gators!) Loosen up and be yourself. Social media shouldn’t be all business, all the time. Let your audience get to know you. People buy people, and if you want to be perceived as a genuine, authentic person, it’s important to be yourself. It’s also a lot easier to stay active when you’re having fun with it.

7) Do you have a system in place to create consistency… without burning yourself out? So far this probably sounds like a lot of work. There are a lot of moving parts to be aware of. What’s more, it’s important that you stay consistent so that your brand awareness and positioning is continually built and reinforced. But here’s the good news: it doesn’t have to take up hours and hours each week, and you don’t even have to do it all by yourself. Your team can help—many of you probably have a staff member or two that are savvy when it comes to social media, and they would probably enjoy spearheading your social media efforts. Perhaps there is another member of your team that can write blog entries and articles if that’s not your thing. The key is that you first create a list of what must happen, then delegate each part of the equation to specific employees, and then follow up to make sure it is all happening. Once you get your system running smoothly, you will be amazed at how little effort it takes on your part—and how good the results are. I’ve seen it over and over again!

So how are you doing in these areas? If you’re not making the progress you would like… don’t worry! There is still plenty of time to make 2014 an incredible year as you create your online CelebrityExpert® brand. As always, let me know if there is anything I can do to help out!

SEO Secrets: What You Need to Know About Writing Search-Engine Friendly Content

In today’s day and age, most business owners are called upon to do some writing every once in a while. It may be blogging or article writing, it could be creating the content for your website, or it may be updating social media. Meanwhile, you’ve probably heard a lot about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and what it takes to get your site on the first page of Google. Many business owners think of SEO as something that is way too complicated to worry about it—but the truth is that the writing you do is a major factor for SEO. Your blog posts, articles, web content, and social media postings all matter for SEO purposes… and since it’s stuff you’re doing anyway, why not learn how to do it in a way that the search engines love?

Today, we’re going to take a look at important concepts to keep in mind when you’re writing—and don’t worry, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to make sense of any of this.

1) Start by identifying your audience. You wouldn’t launch a new product or service without carefully considering your audience, and you shouldn’t start writing without identifying your audience, either. Obviously this starts with defining your target market in general. (A financial planner here in Orlando, for instance, may target high net work homeowners in Central Florida.) But also consider the audience of the particular piece of content you’re working on. If it’s sales copy for your website, you’ll want to write differently than you do while updating your blog or posting on Facebook.

2) Identify your top keywords. In addition to understanding the audience you are writing for, you also need to figure out what they’re searching for. In other words, what are your potential customers typing into Google when they’re looking for your services? Returning to our example of an Orlando based financial planner, possible keywords could include "Orlando retirement planning", "Orlando investment advisor", "financial planning Orlando", etc. If you’d like to learn more about how to identify these keywords, please get in touch with me! This is a vital step to writing good SEO content, because otherwise you’re taking a shot in the dark, and you may end up writing content focused on keywords that nobody is actually searching for!

3) Use keywords as appropriate. Now that you have identified the keywords that you are targeting, the next step is working them into the content that you are writing. Search engines give extra weight to prominent content, such as the title of a page or blog entry, headlines and sub-headlines, and even bold or italic text. Using your keywords in these locations can be very effective. That said, it is very important that you use your keywords naturally. Don’t cram keywords into content when they don’t fit, and don’t go out of your way to use your keywords or keyphrases over and over. 15 years ago, SEO experts would trick search engines simply by "stuffing" a web page with the same keyword over and over. At that time, the search engines would rank these pages highly—but nowadays, they are much smarter than that. Use your keywords, particularly in titles and headlines, but make sure you don’t overdo it. This brings us to our next point…

4) Write for your human audience. This is where many business owners and SEO experts go wrong. Yes, it is important to optimize your writing for the search engines. But never forget that search engines are your secondary audience… potential customers are your primary audience! Let me tell you, nothing turns off a customer more quickly than a website that is full of barely legible content that is clearly designed for a search engine. All of the content you create should be readable, engaging, and relevant to customers. You can then tweak it for maximum appeal to the search engines… but this always comes second!

5) Create an editorial calendar or schedule to stay on course. One of the most important components of good SEO writing is consistency. Search engines regularly "index" your website for their search results, often multiple times per month. One of the things that they are looking for is fresh content. For that reason, it’s important to find a rhythm of consistent writing—a blog is perfect for this. But you’re busy… I understand, because I’m in the same boat! As a business owner, it can be hard to find the time to write consistently. That’s why I recommend creating a calendar or a schedule that you can follow in order to stay on track. For best results, share the calendar with a friend, family member, or employee and ask them to hold you to it!

6) Stay true to your brand. Finally, it’s important that you run everything you write through the filter of your personal brand. We’ve talked in great detail about this elsewhere—but for today’s purposes simply remember that everything you write should reflect your personality, your points of differentiation, and your expert status. It’s easy to lose focus on your brand when you’re thinking about SEO and generating sales, so make it a point of emphasis to double-check everything you write for brand consistency.

SEO is a complicated subject—and many business owners don’t want to invest their precious time and energy into figuring it out. And that’s okay, I don’t blame you! It’s a fast-moving industry, and unfortunately is full of unsavory characters that will promise all sorts of results… but never deliver.

The good news is that it doesn’t take much in the way of time and effort to learn the basics of writing content that the search engines love. The steps we’ve covered today will get you started in the right direction—and if you apply them regularly, you’ll start to see results. As a CelebrityExpert™, you BELONG on the first page of Google, and these tips will help you get there. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to learn more!

Can your phone help you stay productive?

We pride ourselves on staying on board with technology trends. We’re the people that stalk websites waiting for the very second a new phone is released. Do we really need that new iPad? Probably not. A new desktop or program probably isn’t needed every year, but when you work closely with marketing efforts, you want to ensure that you are using the most recent products and programs. For this reason, we make it our duty to carry reliable mobile phones. Long gone are the days of when your phone was just a device to talk on. Phones are now mini computers with functional keyboards, speakers and video cameras. Your phone is a powerhouse tool and if you use it for business, we know that it is important that you use a phone that best fits your needs and lifestyle. This is especially important if you own or work closely with a business. Getting information quickly is essential and it is recommended that you carry a phone that delivers that information with ease and efficiency. We have provided a few questions that we think can determine if your phone is great at productivity or if it’s time for an upgrade.

How does the screen look?

If you dropped your phone and you now have to squint your eyes to see what what a text message is, it may be time to upgrade. After all, you may have 5 cracks in the glass today but you don’t want those 5 cranks to quickly jump to 20 with another drop.

Can you use it?

Many of us have become victims of marketing and we buy phones because they look cool. Or because a coworker recommended. This is great, but how good can a phone be if you don’t know how to use it? Watch YouTube videos or talk with the professionals at your wireless provider store to see if they can help you learn how to use your phone effectively.

Are you using apps to provide a richer experience?

The Notes app is one thing but have you ever tried Evernote? Take a look at some of the applications that you can download on your phone. You may be surprised at how well some of those apps can help with your productivity.

If it’s time to upgrade, be sure to consider your needs before purchasing. Do you need a lot of memory? Are you a real estate agent who needs a phone that can allow you to take high resolution images? Do you require the ability to tether? Does your phone need to be large? It is without a doubt that considering a new phone is a big deal in this day and age. We hope that we’ve made the consideration a little easier for you.

The Weather Is Getting Cooler – How About Your Social Media Presence?

Many people don’t understand social media – even if they access it themselves. For whatever reason, some were perfectly fine with advertising for their businesses through traditional outlets. Managing a Facebook page isn’t something they ever thought about doing. Until they did it. Many jumped aboard the social media train unwillingly but hey, at least they’re here, right? While some presence can actually be better than no presence at all, it is important to remember that you do want to have a likable voice and overall social media presence.

Take a look at your Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram account. Would you want to follow you? What is it about your pictures or language that may prompt someone to revisit you in the future? Keep in mind that while your primary focus is to educate clients, fans and customers, you can still have a little fun! Show that you are a person behind the brand. Have a special cause that you really like? Tell your readers.

If you find yourself at a complete lost in the creativity department, see what your competitors are doing. Do they offer promotions to their clients? Are they hosting local events, doing giveaways or providing useful information? Stay authentic with your voice but be inspired by those in your arena.

If all else fails and you’d much rather leave the heavy lifting to someone else, think of us! We make it our business to to take care of yours.

A Presence On LinkedIn Is Important

If you thought LinkedIn was just for those seeking employment, you could not have been more wrong. While the popular social networking site is ideal for those looking for jobs, an active LinkedIn presence proves to also be beneficial to businesses, both small and large. Even small business owners will find that keeping their LinkedIn profiles up to date can put them in front of potential customers, contractors and investors.

Unlike YouTube and Google+, LinkedIn’s resume-style format allows for members of the site to browse at individuals’ work histories. This is where you get a chance to shine. Posting previous jobs that you held is great but adding images, videos and showing examples of your work is even better. LinkedIn allows for you to upload files to directly to your profile. Viewers are able to click around and take a look at the work you’ve done. Did one of your clients land in a major publication? Did YOU land in a major publication? Add this information to your LinkedIn account.

LinkedIn Can Be Social

While you may not think to head to LinkedIn to share every bit of your life (that’s for Facebook!), did you know that LinkedIn allows for users to do status updates? Providing information about new products, developments and industry news shows that you’re in the know and that you stay up on hot topics. Does your business have a blog? Share those blog posts on LinkedIn and give those who follow you an idea of how knowledgeable you are in your area.

LinkedIn is a vessel of information and this user-friendly site makes it easy to share and find information that often gets lost on other social media sites. LinkedIn status updates tend to live a bit longer than a tweet or Facebook status update. You don’t have to worry about getting buried under a stream of irrelevant content.

If you’ve been neglecting your LinkedIn account, it is time to get hip to it again. LinkedIn continues to be a leader in the social networking field and the site isn’t dying out any time soon.

Social Media Growth Takes Time

As social media experts, we hear it often, “How can I make my Facebook page grow?” or “How can I get 10,000 new followers in 2 days?”. We live in fast paced society and when we see KickStarter campaigns reach millions of dollars in just a matter of days, we make the assumption that quick numbers and attainable growth can happen overnight for any and everyone. However, this isn’t the case. For many businesses, organic growth takes time. This isn’t the answer that many people want to hear but it is the reality in which we live in. Yes, of course you can purchase followers if your numbers matter to you more than engagement do, but keep in mind that potential followers may catch on to this. Valuing  quality over quantity can only benefit you in the long run.

Think of it this way…would you rather throw a party of 100 attendees who you never get a chance to speak to or would you rather have 5 close attendees that you can network with and have a good time with? Many would pick the latter as we all find that great thoughts and ideas come from meaningful conversations. Think of your Facebook Fan Page or Twitter page as the same thing. Your voice has the ability to reach many people but ideally, you would want those people to engage with you. You would want them to retweet your content, like your posts and visit your website for additional information about what you do.

Growing and cultivating a strong social media audience will not happen as quickly as you may like, but consistency in posting and providing your audience with your natural tone means that you are on your way to growing your a nice and strong social media presence.

If time is of the essence and you’d rather and you need help in online marketing, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would love to help you build and nurture your online presence.

Why Businesses Should Forget About Dumping Facebook

Over the past few years Facebook has made some serious changes. In the eyes of many businesses, bloggers, markers and brands, these changes have mostly been negative. Despite how you may feel about Facebook, one things is for sure…you should keep using it. Though the algorithm changes time and time again, a presence on Facebook isn’t only recommended, but it is almost essential in growing your business.

As the #1 social media site in the world, Facebook has its issues but one thing that it does have over other social media sites are eyes. Facebook captures more peoples’ attention and for longer than Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. Facebook’s ability to provide easy-to-use mobile apps means that any given moment, browsing can happen quickly and easily. These are things that we all know but it’s hard to keep those thoughts in mind when your Facebook fan page has over 15,000 followers yet your posts only catch the eyes of about 100 (if that) fans.

Facebook wants us to pay to play and from a business perspective, this makes sense. The company has given us free information, resources, communication and has revolutionized social media. Facebook has always been a free website and many believe that were long overdo for paid marketing Still, that doesn’t prevent many of us from griping as we type in our credit card numbers with the attempt to boost our content to the fans and followers who thought they would get information from our Facebook pages simply because they LIKEd them.

Whether you have the marketing dollars or not to invest in Facebook marketing, you have to continue to use Facebook. Decreasing your activity on the site is one thing but dumping it altogether is something else. Until another social media beast takes over the internet, it’s best to to continue to tango with Facebook.

The iPhone 6 Is Coming! Are You Ready?

Tech lovers everywhere are losing their minds over the release of Apple’s newest iPhone. We’ve seen this before, haven’t we? Oh, that’s right – EVERY Apple iPhone release is like this. In almost a week we will get a chance to see if the rumors are true and if this iPhone is indeed the one that you HAVE to have. ‘

Of course we still don’t know all of the specs that this superhero of a device will have but we do know that Apple is going to be giving us a larger screen. This has a few iPhone fans a bit worried as one of the many things that made the device likable is its size and how nicely it fits into the palms of hands. Users can comfortably hold the phone in one hand and allow their thumbs to move about easily while accessing the phone.

Will the larger screen help or hinder productivity?  A larger screen would make viewing documents, sending emails and having FaceTime conversations much easier, but will will holding the larger phone make for cramped wrists and the need to use another hand? Only time will tell. As iPhone lovers, we are convinced that Apple can’t do any wrong and we are excited about getting a chance to see this new family member up close and personal.

Forbes has given us a nice breakdown on how the size of the new iPhone will change things. Believe it or not, there really is a science behind all of this but we’re too far anxious to sit and ponder over it. We’d much rather get our hands on that iPhone…now!

Top 5 Ways To Bump Up Your Social Media Stats

Social-learning-media-growthSince the beginning of time, social media lovers have always wanted more. Having 5 followers is not enough. Especially if you can have 5,000. Organically growing your business through social media takes a bit of time and strategy, but it can be done. We have 5 ways to boost those social media stats and we think you’ll appreciate how achievable these tasks are for both social media novices and professionals alike.

Stay consistent

News doesn’t stop and neither should your posting. Social media moves at a the speed of light and to keep up with it and to succeed at it, consistently posting content is ideal. Also, many have found that posting on weekends helps them reach an audience that they normally wouldn’t get in front of during the week.

Don’t just like and follow…comment!

If you think that following a ton of people is is a good idea, well…it is! Keep in mind that what’s better is directly communicating with them. A like or follow acts as a wave whereas an actually comment can make people feel special. Don’t hesitate to let others know how much you really like their content.

Create a weekly schedule

If you struggle with trying to come up with these to say each and every day, developing a weekly schedule may help. Coming up with a schedule once a week (or once a month if you’re feeling ambitious) can help you think ahead and decide what you’d like to post. If you have more flexibility, you can push things down should current events pop up and require immediate posting.

Develop series

Lovers of what you do follow you for a reason. Keep them coming back! A weekly or monthly series gives them something to look forward to. Using hashtags like #MoneyMonday or #TricepTuesday helps the series become recognizable and can bring in new fans.

Host giveaways

Everyone loves freebies! Treat potential fans and current fans with a sample of your product or a gift card that can be used anywhere. If it’s in the budget, monthly giveaways can lure in new fans and the great content that you push out can keep them.

36 Rules of Social Media

Screenshot 2014-08-19 15.53.30Like any functioning system, the practice of social media marketing comes with its own set of rules that you should follow to get the most out of your endeavors. While some may be open to interpretation and others are merely guidelines practiced by some and not others, here are a few Universal truths that should always be followed.

#2. Stop & Ask: Would an ACTUAL person talk that way?

Even through a digital medium, people respond to people, they trust other people and they want to talk to other people and BUY from other people.  By making sure that how you are engaging on social is how you would talk to your neighbor and not how you would write a marketing brochure, you are making and keeping that oh-so-important human connection alive.

#12. Not everything will work and THAT’S FINE.

Want to know a secret? No one has the magic formula for what will and will not work on social. Moreover, what works for one brand or business may not work for another.  It all depends on where your audience is and how they want to connect with you and it’s a matter of trail and error until you find the right mix. Don’t be afraid to tweak processes to work better for you or to skip channels altogether if they don’t make sense for your brand.

#21. Social Media doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Make traditional media and social work together.

The beauty of social media is its ability to complement other endeavors from traditional media to support functions to marketing to sales. Add your social links to your email marketing and signatures.  Share links to online versions of local news stories.  Post videos of TV appearances to Google+ and Facebook.  Add social icons to your marketing materials urging people to find you there. The more you integrate social media into all of your marketing and media activities, the more chances you provide for people to find you.

#35. Think past vanity metrics like followers.

Social media is not a numbers game, it’s an ENGAGEMENT game. Although your goal should be to reach as large an audience as possible, you are far better off slowly and steadily building an engaged following rather than adding low quality Likes and fans simply to inflate numbers.

#36.  It’s an ORGANISM not a PROCESS.

Social media is a living breathing entity that needs frequent care and attention.  Left on its own, it will wither and die.  Without attention and pruning, it can grow wild and unwieldy.  It needs to be fed consistently with new content.  It needs love some days and a firm hand others.  As social thrives in human interaction, no two days will be the same and while an overall plan is essential, day to day needs may vary greatly.

Below you find the remainder of the 36 rules.  Which do you feel are most important? What is missing? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Screenshot 2014-08-05 16.06.43

Understanding Content Marketing : Repurposing Content

content_is_kingContent Marketing is defined as any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers.  Each time you update your status, write a blog post or share a photo or a link online, you are a content marketer. In previous weeks we discussed where to find the content to share online and some tips for sharing.  In this post, we are going to cover repurposing content: How to format content for different social sites and the importance of evergreen content.

Step Three: Repurposing Content

Now that you are adept at finding and sharing content, here are a few tips for using this content across your social sites and creating evergreen content that can be continually shared.

Sharing Across Social
Since all social networks are a bit different, the messages you post to them should be, too. This doesn’t mean that you have to find a unique article to share for each social network, but neither should you post the same message at the same time across multiple social platforms. In order to get the most our of your social endeavors, here are a few tips for tailoring your messages.

    1. Share at different times during the day or week. As we discussed in Step Two : Sharing Content, each social network has optimal times to post messages. Paying attention to the best time to post will allow you to optimize your content across multiple social sites without spamming or fatiguing people who happen to follow you on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
    2. Use a scheduling tool. Services like Buffer and Hootsuite allow you to schedule and post messages across multiple social sites. They also suggest best times to post and allow you to easily see what is posting where when.
    3. Change it up. Since Twitter has a 140 character limit, Facebook and Google+ thrive on images and LinkedIn is strictly professional, it makes sense that the how you present information on each platform should vary. By adding different introductory comments to a link on each platform, you can emphasize different aspects of the item you are sharing. For example, links to the same article may look something like this:

Twitter: New Financial Tool Helps Predict Your Retirement Age. [Link]

Facebook: Our clients are always asking about their optimal retirement age. Here is a new tool that helps predict this. Do think this is helpful and accurate? Would you use it? [Link]

Google+: Wouldn’t it be great if there was an app that took all the guesswork out if retirement? XYZ company thinks they may have found the solution. [Link]

LinkedIn: XYZ Company recently released a financial tool to help retirees. Will this be a game-changer for the industry? [Link]

What is Evergreen Content?
Like the name implies, evergreen content is information that is sustainable, timeless and lasting. It will be as fresh next year as it is today. It is content that can be referred to multiple times as questions arise and the information it contains will be as true next year or two years from now as it is today. Here are a few examples of evergreen content:

  • How-To articles
  • FAQs
  • Tips & Tricks
  • Product Description
  • Success Stories
  • About Us Pages
  • History Of…

What ISN’T Evergreen Content?

  • Press Releases
  • Holiday-themed Posts
  • Pop Culture References
  • News Articles
  • Case Studies on Current Trends

Why Evergreen Content?
The beauty of evergreen content is that since the information is timeless, it can continue to draw readers to your site for months or even years after it has been published. The more people it brings to your site, the higher the content is ranked in the SERPs. The higher it ranks in the SERPs, the more people it attracts to your site. In addition, you can continue to refer to and link to this content as you add new content that touches on the same topics. You can also link back to this content periodically via social as a reminder to your followers or as current events dovetail.

And that concludes our lesson.  Hopefully this series has given you a good foundation on the importance, theory and a few best practices of content marketing. If you have further tips and tricks, we’d love to hear about them!  If you’d like to discuss how to best utilize content marketing for your business, please be sure to contact us today!

The Importance of Authenticity in Social Media

fake-followersHave you ever viewed a Twitter account and wondered how they got several thousand followers when their avatar is the egg and they have only posted one tweet…in 2012?  Or have you seen a Facebook page that only posts affiliate links, but has thousands of Likes? Chances are, these followers and Likes are fake; bought specifically to make those social media accounts appear as though they are popular and well-received.

This type of artificial inflation is all too common and may initially seem like a good idea to get fledgeling social media accounts off the ground.  However, you may be doing more harm than good to your online reputation.  A fake audience provides little in terms of engagement or authentic interaction.  And, it can damage your SEO efforts and search engine ranking.  According to a recent Forbes article:

“Not all social signals are authentic or organic. If you’re using a social site to boost SEO and brand awareness, we hope you haven’t been caught trying to fake your way to a following because it’ll ultimately put you in SEO jail. Google did a great job of fighting off black hat SEO marketers because it got better and better at identifying high quality websites. They’ve now turned their attention towards measuring the quality of your friends, likes, and views.”

This type of negative attention from Google can come with severe consequences including the removal of  comments, likes and followers found to be inauthentic, being penalized in your current ranking and even being removed from the SERP’s altogether.  The article concludes:

“If Google finds that you’ve purchased a stadium of fake people in hopes to improve SEO traffic, it won’t just ignore you. It’ll shut you down, fine you, and remember what you did.If it doesn’t do it now, just wait till the next release.”

So, despite the allure of a quick fix, remember that’s it’s always a better idea to let your social media accounts grow slowly, organically.  To gain followers and Likes, follow people, ask them to Like your content. Interact with them, ask questions, share their content and post frequently.  Before you know it, you will have an engaged, enthusiastic audience who is actually interested in what you do and happy to share it authentically with their audience.

If you’d like to talk more about the best way to grow your social media presence, please contact us today!

Understanding Content Marketing : Sharing Content

content_is_kingContent Marketing is defined as any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers.  Each time you update your status, write a blog post or share a photo or a link online, you are a content marketer. Last week we discussed where to find the content to share online.  In this post, we are going to cover sharing the content you found: Where to share it, when to share it and how to share it.

Step Two: Sharing Content

Once you’ve found content you wish to share, here are a few tips to get it out to your audience easily and effectively.

Where to share

All social networks are not the same and the things you share on Twitter may not be appropriate for your Facebook or LinkedIn audience. Although you always have to determine what works best for you, here are some general guidelines to follow.

  • Share more personal and visual content on Facebook and Google+.  Company milestone celebrations, New product or service launches, new employee welcomes, life milestones (child graduation, new babies, etc.) are all great options for Facebook.  Did a longtime customer visit your office?  Did the staff participate in a charity event? Did your office have a bake-off? Great! Snap a photo and post to Facebook.

  • Contests, giveaways and coupon codes should stay on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Keep LinkedIn professional. LinkedIn is not the place to share your award winning chili recipe or your company retreat photos.  Stick to sharing professional mentions of your company and articles about your industry.

  • Twitter is best for short, specific messages. Headlines with a link to a photo, article or video are best.

  • If you have the technology to create short videos instead of written text, do it! Sites like YouTube, Vimeo and Twitter’s video component Vine make uploading and sharing this content easy and this opens up your content to a fresh set of eyes.

  • Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr and Tumblr are all ideal for visual content.  If your picture is worth a thousand words, then one of these platforms is the right place to post it.

  • Have a lot to say on a topic? Write a blog post. Nothing draws people more directly to your website than fresh content.  The more you update your site, the more often it gets visited by Google and the more doors are created for you to be found.

When to share

Believe it or not, there is a science to sharing content and many studies have been done on getting more retweets, the best time to post and even myths of social sharing.   Here are the big takeaways.

  • Facebook posts later in the week get more engagement.  If you only have the time to post once a week, make sure it’s sometime between Wednesday and Friday.

  • Don’t skip the weekends! People are more likely to check Twitter when not working.

  • Most people do their blog reading in the morning and Mondays are the best day to post.

  • 11AM is usually the highest trafficked hour for most blogs.

  • Overall content posted on Thursdays gets the best engagement.

How to share

Now that you know what you’re sharing, where you’re sharing it and the optimal time to share, here are a few tips to help you share like a pro!

  • Links inserted 25% into the copy of a tweet get more shares.

  • Shorten your URLs for Twitter to give you more characters. Check out bit.ly to shorten quickly and easily.

  • Make sure to cross-promote! Add social sharing buttons to your website, link your social sites in your email signature, completely fill out your social profiles to include links to your other social sites.

  • Always use a thumbnail on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.  Posts with images are more interesting and engaging.  If the article you are sharing doesn’t have a relevant image attached, you can upload one on your own.

  • Remove permalinks from status updates on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. Once the preview generates, you no longer need the long link.

Screenshot 2014-07-15 16.10.05

And there you have it!  By now, you know how to find content to share and are able to share it like an expert.  Next time we’ll talk about how to repurpose your content to keep the cycle going.

Understanding Content Marketing: Finding Content

content_is_kingThere is a lot that goes into building a business from having a creative vision to hiring a staff to finding and nurturing your customer base.  And all this effort is directed toward keeping your business relevant and growing. Marketing – the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling that product or service –  is a necessary part of business growth.

In the online world, getting the word out about your business is accomplished via the content you post online.  Content Marketing, therefore, is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. Seems pretty simple, right? Anytime you post to your blog or share a status, link, photo or video via your social media sites, you are a content marketer.

But, how do you find that content?  Where do you post it?  How do you share it so you know it is reaching your audience?  The answer is surprisingly complicated.  This post is the first in a three-part series on understanding content marketing.  Finding content, sharing content and repurposing content.

Step One: Finding Content

Before you can share content, you have to find it or create it. There is a lot of content out there, but not all of it is suitable for sharing.  Some content is outdated, some doesn’t share your point of view, some is poorly written and some is great, but written by your competitors! Here are a three ways to find shareable content.

1.  Google Alerts: One of the first things any business owner or new hire should do is to set up Google Alerts for their own name and the name of their business.  You can also set up alerts for key terms about your business or industry.  For example, if you run a financial services firm, you can set up alerts for financial planning, retirement and wealth management.  Setting up alerts will send the top matches for these to your inbox daily so that you can review them and share what interests you.  Or you may find content that you feel compelled to write your own commentary on or counterpoint to on your blog.  Just be sure to link to the original source!

2. Twitter Searches: Twitter searches are a great way to find content to share.  There is a search box at the top right of your Twitter account or via content management tools like Hootsuite.  Typing a keyword into this field brings up all tweets that use this terms as well as suggestions of Twitter accounts to follow which heavily feature that term.

Screenshot 2014-07-10 15.36.06

3. LinkedIn Groups: LinkedIn is the number one social network for business and can help you find prospective employees, promote your business and connect with other professionals and prospective clients. LinkedIn hosts nearly two million groups related to every professional topic imaginable. When you join a group, you are apprised of new threads created within the group which can be merely informative or used for sharing. Best of all, the topics created contain links that have already been curated by professionals in your industry for suitability!

Now that you are familiar with finding content, we’ll use our next post to talk about the best ways to share that content. Stay tuned!

How Fit Is Your Social Media?

socialfitA recent Huffington Post article compared the use of social media to a physical fitness regimen and the comparison is particularly apt. In order to be successful with a fitness program, you have to consistently and consciously put forth the effort long before reaping any benefits, and the same is true for social media.

Just as one aerobics class or a salad for lunch is not going to magically remove years of unhealthy habits from your body, neither is tweeting for a week or setting up a Google+ page going to magically double your site traffic or sales.

According to the article:

"This instant gratification mentality is certainly the pervasive attitude of many entrepreneurs as they dive into social media marketing. When, after a couple of weeks of sporadic tweeting, random Facebook shares, and an occasional Google+ post fails to catapult them into the next tax bracket, they’re often left feeling bewildered, because despite their most Herculean efforts, they inexplicably have not been able to garner more than a few likes, retweets, and followers.

The inevitable conclusion: Social media does not work.

  • I tried Google+. Nothing happened.

  • I tweeted like mad last week. Why didn’t my sales double?

  • I changed my profile picture on LinkedIn and I’m still unemployed. What gives?

What gives? This is what gives:

The one ingredient that keeps people from reaching their social media goals is the same ingredient missing in most fitness plans: consistency.

Social Media is not a short-term tactic; it is not a quick-fix method you can employ to drive instant sales; and it definitely is not something that “works” when it is dabbled with inconsistently. For social media to be effective for you and your business, you need to change your mindset. Simply put: Social media is a lifestyle."

The article goes on to describe the main areas to which you want to consistently apply effort in order to make social media work for you including the frequency with which you post,  the consistency of your messaging, how well you connect all of your efforts together and making sure that you are using social as a two-way channel, engaging with your followers rather than talking at them.

I would further expand the analogy by adding that you should also embark on any social endeavor just as you would a fitness program; set up milestones to hit and goals to achieve from the start.  Create a schedule and stick to it no matter how tired or busy you are and take time out every once in a while to sit back and celebrate your successes.

And if creating and maintaining your social presence just isn’t for you?  Not to worry! Unlike personal fitness, social media can be outsourced. We’d love to talk with you about your options.  Be sure to contact us today!

40 Social Media Marketing Acronyms Revealed [Infographic]

In the social media universe, it is often necessary to keep your messages brief. This has brought about an explosion of Internet specific acronyms used to communicate thoughts and ideas quickly and efficiently. Whether you are new to social media or a self-proclaimed expert, there will come a time where you’re perusing your favorite social site and you wonder, what in the world does that mean?!?!

For your enjoyment and edification, may we present forty popular social media marketing acronyms and what they stand for.

SM Acronyms

40 Social Media Acronyms Revealed

1.  API = Application Programing Interface

2.  B2B = Business to Business

3,  B2C = Business to Consumer

4.  CMGR = Community Manager

5.  CPC = Cost Per Click

6.  CTA = Call to Action

7.  CTR = Click-Through Rate

8.  CX= Customer Experience

9. ESP = Email Service Provider

10. G+ = Google Plus

11. GA = Google Analytics

12. FB = Facebook

13. FTW = For The Win!

14. DM = Direct Message

15. IG = Instagram

16. ISP = Internet Service Provider

17. KPI = Key Performance Indicator

18. LI = LinkedIn

19. P2P = Person to Person

20. PPC = Pay Per Click

21. PV = Pageviews

22. ROI = Return on Investment

23. RSS = Really Simple Syndication

24. RT = Retweet

25. RTD = Real-Time Data

26. SaaS = Software as a Service

27. SEM = Search Engine Marketing

28. SEO = Search Engine Optimization

29. SERP = Search Engine Results Page

30. SM = Social Media

31. SMB = Small Business

32. SMM = Social Media Marketing

33. SMO = Social Media Optimization

34. SMP = Social Media Platform

35. SOV = Share of Voice

36. TOS = Terms of Service

37. UGC = User Generated Content

38. UV = Unique Visitor

39. UX = User Experience

40. WOM = Word of Mouth

See any that we missed? Please be sure to add them to the comments!

Does Your Business Need Pinterest?

0pinterestPinterest is the newest darling of the social media world – and with good reason! Pinterest boasts 70 million users 23% of whom use it every day. User demographics are overwhelmingly female (80%) and mainly from the US (60%). The average time spent on the site is 14.2 minutes.

That’s a large, captivated audience with substantial buying power that you could be in front of. But, the question still remains, is Pinterest a good fit for your business? Before jumping into Pinterest, here are some questions to ask yourself:

Do you have a large female clientele? As mentioned, 80% of Pinterest users are female. If you sell men’s health products or farm equipment, Pinterest may not be your target audience.

Do you currently use a lot of visuals? Pinterest is a visual platform. All items are shared via picture and those pictures click through to content. If you use a lot of charts, infographics and photos to showcase your business or product already, Pinterest might be a good avenue for you to explore.

Can you find a way to make Pinterest your own? As with any social media site, the emphasis is on social. This means that it is not meant to be simply a marketing channel where you sell to people, but an open forum where you share content that relates to you, your company and your industry.

Within this framework, many brands have found a way to pin creatively. Baylor Health Care System created dozens of boards with healthy recipes, advice and inspiration, while finance leader Dave Ramsey has a Get Out of Debt board containing helpful tips, tools, articles and support.

Do you have the time to maintain a Pinterest account? Pinterest is free, fun to explore and has the potential to refer a lot of traffic to you. However, creating and maintaining your boards takes a time commitment. In order to be successful, you need to be sure you have an hour or so each week to devote to curating and adding to your boards.

Once you have decided to take the Pinterest plunge, jump in and explore! Get a few boards started, start following the boards of others, like pins, comment on pins and share great pins via your Twitter and Facebook accounts. In no time, you will be a pinterest master.

5 Reasons Hashtags Are the Unsung Heroes of Social Media

hashtagThere are lots of tips and tricks out there to help you get the most out of your social endeavors, but if you only become proficient in one, it should be the use of the hashtag.  Why is the hashtag so great, you ask? It’s just a symbol.  A couple of lines intersected by another couple of lines.  How can it possibly help promote me or my business?

So glad you asked! Here are the top five reasons why hashtags are the MVP of Social.

Hashtags Travel

Once upon a time, hashtags lived only in the land of Twitter.  However, when the other realms saw how well this simple character worked for organizing categories, finding relevant content and search, they began to adopt hashtags to function in the same way. Adding a hashtag to a word or phrase on any of the major social platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram) will allow that content to be seen via searches for those terms.  This is especially important if you tie your social accounts together or schedule messages.  Now one message with a hashtag can expand your reach on multiple platforms with minimal effort.

Hashtags Collect

If you’re trying to find specific content on social media platforms, a hashtag search will provide all content with those tags.  If you tag your own content, it will show up when others search.  This maximizes the reach of your message and puts you in front of people who may not already be following you.

Hashtags Connect

Hashtags are a great way to find customers or like-minded people via social.  Have you ever gotten started on a social site and wondered who to follow? A hashtag search for your business keywords or interests can lead you people with whom you’d like to interact or whose questions you may be able to answer.  It will also lead you to competitors so you can evaluate how they interact and adopt the practices that fit for you. In addition, you can use hashtags to connect on a deeper level by creating a specific hashtag to sort a conversation out of the general stream. This can be a one-time event or a weekly conversation on a specific topic.

Pro Tip:  Did you know that you can hashtag your profile information on Twitter? This is another great way for people to find you. Not sure how to do that? Click here.

Hashtags Report

Hashtags are an easy, instant way to view and quantify the results of a social media campaign.  By choosing a unique hashtag and asking anyone who participates to use the hashtag or providing a hashtag for people to use at offline events, you can easily quantify how many people participated while expanding your reach.  Also, since social media sites are time stamped, you are able to determine the effects of a campaign over time.

Hashtags Lead

A quick and easy way to get involved in breaking news is to follow along with trending topics.  These may be sorted globally and locally giving you several opportunities to join active conversations and get in front of a larger audience.  Of course, the caveat to this is to make sure that you are not spamming the trending topic with irrelevant messages and always strive to be sensitive to the situation at hand.  You certainly don’t want to be that company highlighted as a ‘Don’t’ example across the internet by using a national tragedy to help you sell shoes.

And there you have it.  The top five reasons why you should live, learn and love the noble hashtag.

All Hail the Hashtag!

Incorporating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day Into Your Online Marketing

As most of us (hopefully!) know, Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 11th) and Father’s Day (Sunday, June 11th) are coming up fast! While you’re probably already planning ways to celebrate your own parents, it’s also a good idea to post something on social media to acknowledge any clients of yours that may be parents. After all, who doesn’t like a little appreciation now and again!

To give you some ideas, here are eight ideas of ways you can celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day on social media!

1.    Post a Happy Mother’s/Father’s Day gif. Create or find a free-use image wishing your clients a Happy Mother’s or Father’s Day for them to see when they log in. This doesn’t have to take long, but it will make any mothers or fathers who follow you feel very appreciated!

2.    Share your plans. Sometimes people are at a loss for how to celebrate these days with their parents. By sharing your plans, you’re not only letting your followers get to know you better, but you could potentially give a follower or two an idea for a great day!

3.    Post a family picture. Even though these holidays never fall on #ThrowbackThursday, that doesn’t mean you can’t share a throwback picture! Not only would it be easy to share a picture of you and your parents as a child, your followers would get a kick out of it!

4.    Offer a discount or free gift. While this may not seem like the most obvious choice, there are still ways where a discount could work for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. For example, if you’re a nutrition or fitness expert, offer free reports on how moms and dads can feel their best.

Retirement experts may want to offer a free report or consultation as well. And this could work one of two ways (or both): a free report on ways to help your parents transition into retirement, or one parents can give their children to help them start planning for retirement. After all, parents never stop worrying about their children, or it’s not uncommon for children to start worrying in return as they and their parents get older.

5.    Tell a story. We all have fond memories of our parents, so why not share them with the world. You can also ask your followers to share their favorite memories with their parents in return. Similarly, you could share what you respect most about your parents, the greatest piece of advice they ever gave you, etc.

6.    Go ahead and bring your own kids into it! Yes, I know these holidays are about the parents, but what parent wouldn’t jump at the chance to gush about their kids?

7.    Make a short video. It’s so much more personal when your followers can see you, so why not shoot a short video wishing all the moms and dads out there a special day? With smartphones being as advanced as they are, you don’t need a lot of time, or special equipment! You can not only share this video on social media, but you can send it via email, and post it in a blog on your site!

8.    Involve your employees. Combining some of the ideas below, you could easily create an online gallery of each employee with their mom or dad, and ask them to share their favorite memories of their parents.

Now that we’ve given you some starter ideas, plan something and get at least Mother’s Day scheduled now, so that you’re ready to celebrate mothers and fathers when the day arrives!

What Myths Do You Believe About Your Website?

In the third article in our series about online marketing myths, we’re going to tackle the myths many people still believe about their websites! Not only are many of these pervasive ideas outdated, they can actually hurt your web presence!

1)   Regular redesigns are imperative. Actually, regularly overhauling your website can hurt you. Once your clients become used to a certain design and layout, drastic changes can be jarring for them. Even worse, if they once knew exactly where something is, but then can’t easily find it on the new site, they can get frustrated and leave. Instead, make changes to your site that make sense! For instance, if there’s a new widget that can get you new Facebook likes and shares, then by all means, add the widget. Or, if your web company didn’t do a great job with the design and layout, find someone who can do better! But try to avoid complete overhauls as that can hurt your previous branding work.

2) Design and layout don’t matter. While you don’t need to pay an exorbitant amount for a designer, but you DO need someone who specializes in web design. Even a great print designer is not necessarily going to understand the requirements for a good website. For instance, you need to make sure your most important credentials are easily visible, and you should have a photograph of yourself as a focus!

3) People will just show up. If you have a party, but don’t send out invites, how many people do you think will show up? No one, of course! It’s the same thing with your website: if you don’t promote it, share it with your clients, employ good SEO practices, etc. people won’t know your site exists.

4) Maintaining a website is difficult. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. If you find a good company, they’ll be able to listen to your needs and capabilities, and set up a site you can manage. One really common solution is a content management system, which essentially lets you input blog and articles into a simple form. Granted, something a little more complicated will look more sophisticated, but sometimes you have to work with what you have! Even better, find a company that will handle updates for you, so you don’t have to worry about it at all.

5) Stock images are fine! This is one of the biggest website misconceptions I come across. Think about it: if you go to a company’s website and it seems incredibly generic, what questions does this raise in your mind? That they don’t want to show who they are? That they won’t have a unique enough approach to meet your unique needs? That they didn’t want to put the effort in to doing something better? Instead, show them you. Show them your staff. Give them the ability to put a name with a face, so that they feel more connected to you when they call. As we always say, "people buy people." And they buy the people they talk to, not generic stock photo people.

So there are five of the biggest website myths that I hear from clients all the time! Wondering if something you’ve been told is fact or fiction? Don’t hesitate to ask!

Are You Safe From Heartbleed?

As companies have rushed to find out if they’ve been affected by Heartbleed, and what to do if they were, I’m sure you’ve received emails or read articles about how to protect yourself from this security flaw.

And the question most people have is simply "Is my website safe?" And if your website was built with CelebritySites, we’re happy to assure you that it is! So, if your clients have been asking if their information is safe with your site, you can confidently tell them that your site is secure and their data is safe!

Now that we’ve been able to assure you that your website is safe, let’s talk about what Heartbleed is, and how it happened. Essentially, Heartbleed is a coding flaw in the heartbeat (hence the name) extension of the OpenSSL library. It sends a malicious server request that asks for more information than it needs, which exposes additional memory on the server.

While the hackers can’t control the information they receive, they could end up with anything from encryption keys that allow them to read data to access to information like usernames, passwords, and credit card information. What they receive can also allow them to impersonate a user.

While the developer insists it was an accident (and we don’t even know if anyone with malicious intent knew about or was able to manipulate the bug before discovery), there are a few known instances of the bug being exploited before patches were installed. For example, a 19-year-old Canadian was arrested this week for using the flaw to steal around 900 Canadian Social Security numbers.

The vulnerability may have existed for up to two years, and is said to have affected around 2/3 of the Internet, including major sites like Pinterest, Google, and Yahoo. While the majority of sites reportedly patched, you can double-check sites you’re concerned about via a tool from LastPass.

As for the question of whether or not you need to rush to change all your passwords, the answer is that it depends. If a site hasn’t been patched, the odds are that changing your password now won’t do you much good. If an affected site has been patched, the answer still varies. For instance, Google says you don’t need to change your password, while Pinterest is saying they’ll be in contact with any users they think may be vulnerable. Mashable has a handy guide that compiles responses on how to proceed from some of the Internet’s most popular sites.

Heartbleed was discovered by three security engineers from Codenomicon, as well a researcher from Google Security.

Celebrity Branding Online: Are You Speaking Your Audience’s Language?

The world of online marketing is evolving rapidly. Social media, SEO, video production, content marketing, and the list goes on. If you are like most small business owners, just trying to understand these various strategies is overwhelming – let alone actually implementing them successfully for your business.

But despite the rapid pace of change and the often-confusing technical terms, it’s important to understand that internet marketing, like all marketing, eventually boils down to having a conversation with your target market. Sure, the technologies and the strategies that you use may change, but ultimately, they are simply providing a platform for you to interact with your target audience.

For that reason, it’s critical that you, as a business owner, are effectively guiding this conversation with your market. You don’t have to understand the nitty-gritty technical details, and you don’t have to be up to speed on all of the latest developments, but you do need to be in control of the message. In this article, we’re going to put aside the technology and focus on one important aspect of your marketing message: the language you’re speaking to your audience.

No, I don’t mean English, Spanish, or Mandarin Chinese. I’m talking about the unique "language" that your target market speaks. Many business owners habitually speak in their language – an IT consultant uses complex technical jargon, a lawyer speaks "legalese", an investment advisor talks about interest rates and financial ratios.

And that’s fine when you’re talking to your employees or your colleagues. But when you’re talking to potential customers, if you’re not using language that they understand, you might as well be speaking Chinese! It’s critically important that you speak to customers in their language – that you boil down complicated technology and terminology into words and concepts that make sense to your audience.

Below are several ways you can do this. These concepts should be applied to your website, your social media presence, your e-mail marketing, and any other marketing "touch points" you have with your customers and prospects, whether online or offline.

1) Ditch the technical jargon. You can’t talk to your customers in the same way that you talk to other professionals. If you’re a lawyer, speaking in "legalese" is going to leave potential clients confused and intimidated – and most likely looking for help from someone else. For instance: a woman going through a divorce doesn’t want to hear about Petitions, Affidavits, or Addendums. She wants to hear that you can help her, that you can guide her through the process, and that you’ll fight for her rights and her interests.

2) Don’t bore them with specifications – focus on the benefits of doing business with you. Many business owners like to talk about their products or services… how big the hard drive is, how fast the processor is, how high of an interest rate they can earn. This is a mistake, because it’s not what customers ultimately care about. They don’t care about the hard drive, they care about storing pictures of their family and friends. They don’t care about the interest rate directly, they care about the secure retirement you can help them achieve. Don’t focus on the details, focus on the benefits for your customers.

3) Appeal to your audience’s emotions. What keeps your audience up at night in fear? What are they secretly dreaming about? It is important that you understand your market’s emotional needs and seek to address them – ideally the benefits of your products and services (that we discussed in the previous section) will line up with their emotional needs. Don’t focus on dry details – focus on the emotional needs and desires of your audience.

4) Share stories of success. People love stories. And your customers are no different. One great way to help them understand the advantages of doing business with you is to share success stories with them. They’ll quickly substitute themselves for the individual who the story is about and will then have a clear picture of how you can help. Make sure that these stories line up with the benefits you provide and the emotional needs of your audience, as discussed above. An example is a retirement advisor sharing a story about a now-retired couple who came to him years ago in a panic. In the story, the advisor could describe how he helped them to create a plan which allowed them to achieve their goals… and now, they’re living "happily ever after" travelling the world, golfing, and spending time with their grandkids.

5) Be entertaining where appropriate. In order to hold the attention of your audience, it’s important that you’re engaging and entertaining. Platforms like social media, in particular, offer an opportunity to communicate in a very conversational, down-to-earth style. But even on your website and other marketing channels, read through your content and look for opportunities to make it more engaging. If you bore your audience, they’re not going to stick around.

6) Make your website and social media profiles visually engaging. Speaking the right "language" is about more than just words. The pictures and images that surround your content have an important role to play. If the visuals are dull and boring, there is a chance that potential customers won’t even bother to read what you have to say. Do your best to create a website and a social media presence that is visually appealing and engaging – so that your audience will stick around to hear how you can help.

If you aren’t speaking the language of your audience, they’re not going to understand you. Take some time right now to evaluate the content on your website, your posts and information on social media, and the content elsewhere in your marketing presence. Is there too much technical jargon that won’t make sense to readers? Are you appealing to their emotions and clearly communicating how you can improve their lives? Are you telling stories and keeping your audience entertained? Are your visuals engaging?

These are key questions when it comes to the strength of your marketing message. The bottom line is very simple: it doesn’t matter how technologically advanced you are, or how "cutting edge" your marketing presence… if you’re not speaking your audience’s language, they’re not going to get it. Please get in touch with me today if you’d like to learn more!

Fact or Fiction: Social Media Marketing Myths

Now that I’ve covered some of the biggest email marketing myths, let’s go over some of the biggest social media marketing myths that persist today. Unfortunately, it seems that there are even more social media marketing myths than there are email marketing myths!

One of the most pervasive is that purchasing followers will help you, when in fact, it will only hinder your social media presence. Not only does is just look bad when you have 2,000 followers on no retweets or favorites on a regular basis, but, when it comes to Facebook, it will actually decrease the number of people who see your posts.

What causes the poor follower to engagement ratio that hurts your social media presence? It’s simple. Most of the people that offer all these new followers are just creating quick, fake accounts with a new email address and then never do anything with them ever again. So these new "followers" aren’t real people, and they won’t become real clients.

Another common misconception is that you need to be on every social media account in order for your social media marketing to have a real impact. Just like in the situation above, more isn’t necessarily better here either.

If you don’t have the time to devote to all those different sites, your attention is going to be lacking somewhere. Then, when people look you up in search engines, they’ll find half-done and rarely updated profiles, which doesn’t look very good. It’s better to determine how much time you can devote to your social media presence, and then pick a couple or a few of the sites that will best fit your goals. After all, you can always add more profiles as more time (or help!) becomes available.

A third common misconception is that businesses expect to see results fast, whether it’s with an increase in sales, or an increase in followers. I think this misconception is often one of the reasons businesses resort to buying followers!

However, real growth takes time. How much time? Well, that will depend on your type of business, your goals, your target audience, and the amount of time you’re devoting to your social media presence. But, just keep in mind, even if you work on your social media all day and spend quite a lot of money on promoted posts, you’re not going to go from 0 to 1,000 followers overnight!

Finally, one of the biggest myths I come across on a regular basis is that people think that all they need to do is promote their own content and their profiles will grow. This is wrong on two levels.

First of all, you have to do more than just promote your own content. You want to present yourself as the expert, but part of being an expert is staying up-to-date with your field, whether it’s national news, industry-specific updates, or even funny images that come up related to what you do. Showing your followers that you stay up-to-date is a great way to further solidify your credibility.

Secondly, just posting isn’t enough. You need to be available to answer questions from clients, say thank you if they compliment you, or just in general interact with other people on social media. Too many people have the idea that social media is just another sales platform, when it’s really for connecting and building relationships. That, over time, leads people to trust and respect you, and then they’ll want to buy your products or services.

Do you have any other questions about social media? Has someone suggested something to you that just doesn’t sound right? If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch today!

Email Marketing Myths Debunked

In honor of Gmail’s 10th birthday, I thought now would be the perfect time to go over some major misconceptions about email marketing, and why you still need to take it seriously as a way to connect with your clients and prospects!

The biggest misconception is that email marketing is either dead, or dying. While some online marketers have been predicting in its demise for years, these predictions have yet to come to fruition. And why is that? Because far too many people still use it.

For example, Gmail alone has about 425 million active users. Outlook, which replaced Hotmail, has 420 million accounts. Yahoo Mail has 273 million accounts. Even though there’s likely some overlap (many people do have more than one of these), all of them combined still equal well over a billion users, and that doesn’t include the fact that those are just the top three services! If you take into account that these services are all still actively growing, it’s easy to see that email isn’t going anywhere.

A tangent of the previous myth is that email is going away because younger generations don’t like to use it, instead preferring to communicate via Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, or other social media accounts. To the contrary, Gmail and Outlook are both more likely to attract users in the 18 to 34 range (although Gmail skews male and Outlook skews female).

Yahoo Mail pulls in a wider range (18-49), while AOL is the only one whose likely user base starts above the average of the other three (35-64). If this information shows us anything, it’s that almost everyone fits into the average user age profile of one of the top email services.

The final misconception I’d like to address is that mobile email marketing doesn’t matter because people access the same email accounts on their computer. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Mobile email opens are up to 51% in December 2013, after growing 21% over the course of the year. This number goes up to 68% when we’re talking about Gmail and Yahoo Mail users.

Even more importantly, emails read on a mobile get more unique click-thrus than those read on other devices (around 40%). So if you’re not making sure your emails look good on mobile, you’re missing the best opportunities to connect with your customers!

Have any questions? Then don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’d love to talk to you about ways you can grow your email marketing program!

Paid Vs. Organic

There’s been a lot of talk over the past couple years over the use of paid vs. organic. While paid on search engines is commonly accepted, paid on social media is less so, and sometimes for good reasons.

So, which is better on social media: paid or organic? The answer is that it depends. After all, there’s a big difference to paying for reach, and paying for followers. When you’re paying for reach, your ads and sponsored posts are shown to real users. However, when you’re paying for followers and fans, that’s often not the case.

Some social networks (Facebook, for example) have been accused of deprioritizing organic reach in their algorithms in order to push users towards buying paid ads as these companies find ways to monetize. While that may be part of the goal, it’s not the only one. It’s part of a larger effort to make sure companies are putting up quality content instead of just spamming users. And as someone who has seen many company pages post links to the same site content over and over and over again, it’s something to be grateful for.

It’s similar to the algorithm approach from search engines, where they’ve fought very hard to minimize approaches to search engine optimization that were "spammy" instead of high quality. Of course, the downside of this is that there are now three ways to be seen: 1) create powerful, engaging content; 2) pay for ads; or 3) pay for ads for powerful, engaging content. The first approach is definitely the best approach, but bumping those posts up with ads can encourage genuine engagement amongst people who don’t know about your brand yet.

On the other hand, when you try and buy followers, you will most often end up with fake followers. Why? Because the people offering you 500 followers for $5 aren’t actually getting their friends to follow you. Instead, they’re quickly creating a bunch of fake profiles in the hopes that they can get enough people to buy their services to make it worth their time. Even worse, some of these "followers" are spam accounts hoping that they’ll be able to get you to click on some fake link, and then share whatever they’re promoting with your followers (sometimes a virus) without your prior knowledge.

For a business, the true problem with these fake followers is that they kill your engagement and discourage more people from following you. On Facebook, the algorithm promotes posts with high engagement (which comes from genuine followers) and hurts those that have a miniscule percentage of engagement compared to the number of followers. Even on Twitter, which doesn’t use a complicated algorithm, it hurts genuine engagement when you have so many followers, and so few favorites or retweets. With savvy audiences, it screams disingenuousness.

In short, it never hurts to promote genuine content to real people. It’s no different than any other form of legitimate advertising. On the other hand, promoting your content to fake followers will only hurt your cause, especially in the long run.

Back to Basics: Common Website Terms You Need to Know

Last week, I covered some of the terms you need to know in order to fully expand and grow your social media presence. This week, I’ll explain some key website-related terms you need know to make the most of our your online presence!

Here are the terms you need to know:

1)   Visits. This is the number of times a website was frequented. It does not take into account repeat visits, so if John Doe visits your website 10 times, this will be counted as 10 visits. Visitors will tell you the number of people that visited your site.

2)   Page views. This will tell you have many pages on your site were looked at during any given period. It’s different from visits, because visits tracks the overall visit no matter how many pages a person looks at. On the other hand, page views gives you a more accurate perspective of how many pages each person is visiting.

3)   Ezine. Do you send out a monthly print newsletter to your clients? An Ezine is basically an email version of that, and it provides news about your company, as well as valuable information for your clients. Your blogs and articles are perfect information to include!

4)   Call-to-Action. A Call-To-Action is simply a form on your site that allows people to take further action by signing up for an Ezine, requesting a consultation, requesting a free chapter or report. Your Call-To-Action will have better results the stronger the draw is. For instance, a complimentary workbook to go with your book will draw in more people than a request to sign up for an Ezine.

5)   Autoresponder. When someone signs up via a Call-To-Action on your website, you don’t want to just send them to a thank you page and be done with it. You need to keep the user engaged. One of the easiest ways to do this is to set up an autoresponding sequence, which is just a series of emails with useful information that you send to subscribers. For instance, if someone has requested a free chapter of your book, the first email in the sequence would send them the link to download the chapter. The next might tell them how to connect with you on social media. A well-spaced sequence will keep users from forgetting about you.

6)   Landing page. The landing page is just the first page on your site that a visitor sees. For instance, if you link to your blog on social media, then that blog is the landing page for people who click on the link.

7)   Bounce rate. The bounce rate tells you how many people left your site after looking at the landing page. It’s normal to lose a sizeable percentage of people on that first page (50% is generally considered the average bounce rate), but a bounce rate that’s too high says that your content isn’t connecting with users, and that’s costing you clients.

8)   Referrers. These show you where your traffic is coming from, and can including search engines (from paid or natural search), or any place you promote your content (such as on your social media profiles).

9)   Keyword. The keywords you see in your report tell you what words people are searching for that brings them to your site. They can be pretty straightforward (i.e. "financial planner in Illinois"), or, increasingly, they’re longer and more conversational (i.e. "how to save for retirement past 50"). The latter type is called a long-tail keyword.

So, there you have it: the terms you need to help you understand your website and how it’s doing! Have any more questions? Don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Back to Basics: Common Social Media Terms You Need to Know

With a constant influx of new social media platforms (and constant updates to old ones), it’s easy to get confused about the latest social media lingo. Even worse, different sites use different terms to describe the same thing, which makes it even more confusing!

So today, I’m going to explain ten of the most common social media terms to help you navigate today’s social media landscape. Here we go!

1)   Followers/Friends/Fans. While most sites (Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc.) use the terms "Followers" to describe the people who subscribe to receive your posts, Facebook uses "Friends" for personal profiles, and "Fans" for Pages.

2)   Tweet/Blog/Status Update/Pin. All of these refer to posts you create and share as the original poster (OP). So, if you share your opinion on an article from USA Today, then that is an original post. Twitter uses the term tweet, Tumblr users blog, Facebook users post status updates, and posts on Pinterest are called pins!

3)   Retweet/Reblog/Share/Repin/Regram. Facebook is the most accurate here, by simply using the term "Share" whenever another chooses to share your content with their own followers. Twitter uses "Retweet," Pinterest uses "Repin," Instragram uses "Regram," and Tumblr uses "Reblog." Getting people to share your content is important on any new site, because it exposes you to potential new followers (aka a large prospective client pool).

4)   Like/Favorite. "Liking" (on Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, or Instagram) or "Favoriting" (Twitter) a post is a way to say you enjoyed it without sharing it on your personal feed. However, it won’t necessarily encourage other people to then retweet you.

5)   Bit.ly. If you spend much time on social media, you’ll eventually come across links from bit.ly (or ow.ly, t.co, etc.). These are just shortened links that help users stay within the character limit requirements social media sites impose. They also help sites like Twitter (which uses t.co) limit the risk of users being taken to virus-laden pages. Using a site like bit.ly can also offer additional benefits, such as the ability to track the number of clicks each link gets.

6)   Hangout. This is the Google+ video chat service that allows you to video chat with up to 10 users at once. It’s becoming more and more common for businesses to conduct remote calls, small webinars, or client coaching sessions via services like Hangout.

7)   Hashtag. A hashtag is an annotation that goes in a social media posts. They serve two main purposes: additional commentary or a way to index posts. If it’s additional commentary, someone might post "#ilovemydog" on a post that features a picture of their dog, or "#didntseethatcoming" on a post about being surprised. Really, it can be anything! For the latter, the purpose is to help other people find the posts. For instance, hashtags that use a trending topic allows those searching for the topic to find related posts. Even a general hashtag like "#retirementplanning" can help interested parties find your post.

8)   Engagement. The rate of engagement refers to the number of people who interacted with your post, whether they like, share, or comment on the post. A high engagement rate improves your reach, and helps you get new followers.

9)   Reach. This refers to the number of people who see any individual update you post. Surprisingly, this is rarely the same as your number of followers due to Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, which we’ve covered in the past. If no one interacts with the post, fewer people will see it. If people engage with the post, then you’ll have some of your followers, plus the followers of anyone who interacted with the post!

10) Cover photo. Different than a profile picture, this is the large photo that goes at the very top of your profile. While profile pictures are almost always square or round, cover photo size requirement vastly vary from platform to platform. Always check the individual sites for specifications before getting one designed!

I hope this clarifies some of the most common social media-related terms! If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Spring Cleaning Your Online Presence

With spring thankfully only two weeks ago, it’s time to think about Spring Cleaning! But we’re not talking about cleaning your house, or even your office; we’re talking about sprucing up your online presence!

Too often, people set up their website and social media profiles, and then never re-review the text. This is a big mistake! After all, your business has experienced growth and change over the last year, and you want to make sure your sharing your best assets with current and prospective clients!

Here’s what you need to review and update this spring, to make sure your website is up-to-date:

1)   Website bio. When’s the latest time you read your website bio? Last year? In reality, it’s probably been longer than that, even if you’ve created a new website since then. The bio is something most people slip to the bottom of the to-do stack when they’re busy, but in reality, you’re selling yourself short if you’re not telling your most current story.

2)   Staff profiles. If you’ve added new staff in the past year, make sure they’re on your website so your clients can put a name with a face! And if staff members have moved somewhere else, make sure to remove them, so that clients aren’t spending time trying to get a hold of the wrong person. Adding titles and a short description of what each staff members does can also make it easier for clients to get in touch with the correct person.

3)   Check forms. Because technical errors can happen, it’s always a great idea to periodically test forms on your site. This is also a great time to review your autoresponders and make sure they’re the best they can be!

4)   Videos. Again, since video hosting services changes their technology, it’s always a good idea to make sure videos aren’t returning error messages for your visitors! While you’re reviewing the videos, you can make a list of what you have, and then brainstorm what could be useful to your clients that you’re currently missing.

5)   Social media descriptions. When many people set up their social media profiles, it sort of becomes "set it and forget it." However, whenever you update your contact page, About page, have any new accomplishments, etc. you need to update your profile information on your social media accounts as well.

6)   Social media cover photos. In the world of social media, cover photo requirements get updated constantly. If you haven’t checked on your image in over a year, there’s a chance it’s blurry, stretched out, cut off, or needing some other update. It’s worth checking it to make sure your profile looks its best.

7)   Email lists. Periodically, it is good to do what is called "list hygiene." This is where you send an email to those who haven’t opened an email in a certain period of time (6 months is common, but 1 year might be good if you don’t send emails often) to see if they still want to be on your list. The benefits include perks ranging from giving you more accurate open rates, to reducing the risk of being blacklisted because people who want to unsubscribe just report you as spam.

8)   Profile picture. How long ago was your profile picture taken? Have you drastically changed your hair? Gotten Lasik? You don’t want prospective clients to be caught off guard when they come to your office, so make sure your picture reflects the current you!

So there you have it: eight tips on how to Spring Clean your online presence. Don’t hesitate to get in touch in you have additional questions!

The Power of Testing

Often times, companies either stick with what they’ve always done, or they make haphazard changes without checking to see if they’re helping or hurting their business. Either way, you can lose out on clients and purchases. However, you can make sure the changes you’re making are the best for your website with some simple testing.

The key to effective testing is to test one thing at a time. You can’t test a color change and a text change at the same time; the results won’t tell you which change made a difference!

Using your call-to-action as an example, here are just a few things you might want to test:

  • Size. This applies to both the size of the call-to-action box and the text, and it can be different for different audiences.
  • Location. While having your call-to-action above the fold is almost always the best idea, different placements might work for you, depending on the overall layout on your site.
  • Color. Color psychology is a frequently studied subject, and it would be worth looking into the affects different colors can have on users. After all, you want to make sure your call-to-actions match the feelings you’re trying to evoke.
  • Text. Of course, testing your wording, font, and font size are all great places to start!

Once you’ve chosen your tests and had the design changes set up, then you need to pick a program to use to set up your test. There are many different options, but today I’m just going to cover a few of the most well known.

  • Google Analytics Content Experiments. While this program is free, it does require coding to be able to do the tests.
  • Optimizely. While you do have to pay for Optimizely, you only need to make one-time coding updates, which makes testing simple for those without an on-staff developer. Plans start at $17 a month.
  • Unbounce. This is also a paid service, but it features a simple drag and drop update interface that makes it extremely easy to use. Plans start at $49 a month.
  • Five Second Test. This tool allows you to test first impressions of your content by giving testers five seconds to view your content, and then answer some questions of your choosing. It’s a great way to check on the quality of the first impression your site gives. Plans start at $20 a month, but there are free options available.

One last thing to keep in mind: testing isn’t a one time thing. Just because a specific wording or color works this year doesn’t in mean it will work next year. And if you’re a site with frequent repeat visitors, the same set up may lose effectiveness over. For the best results, constantly experiment to find out what’s working for you!

Five Ways to Improve Engagement

Many professionals are catching on that having a well planned website and continuous content are an important way to help you brand yourself in the Internet age. However, too many are throwing up dry content that could only be interpreted by someone in their own field. If potential clients can’t connect with your content, they’re not going to buy your product or services!

To help you create more engaging content, I’m going to go over five tips to help make it easier for current and prospective clients connect with your content. Let’s get started!

1)    Don’t use jargon. While you want to show your clients that you are the expert in your field, you need to be able to do that without a minimal amount of jargon. And even more, you need to explain to be able to explain words that prospective clients will be unfamiliar with in simple, clear terms. If they can’t understand what you mean, they won’t understand why you’re the expert.

2)    Connect emotionally. If people are looking for your services, there’s a reason why. A couple may be excited to beef up their retirement planning so that they can enjoy an active free retirement where they are free to explore their interests. A small business owner might be feeling nervous because he’s in trouble by the IRS. If you can show how you can bolster their joy or assuage their fear, they’ll be much more likely to engage with you.

3)    Show, don’t tell. You can’t just tell prospective client you can help them, you need to prove it. Luckily, there are many ways you can do this: sharing statistics from studies that prove your point, sharing the stories of other clients you’ve helped, weaving testimonials from happy clients into your bio, creating videos or graphics that clearly demonstrate the facts … this list could go on for a while. If you can back up your opinions with facts and success, prospective clients will begin to trust you.

4)    Keep it brief. With people spending so much time on social media, most people are becoming more and more accustomed to reading shorter blocks of text online. After all, Twitter’s limit is 140 characters, and studies have shown that posts with between 100 and 250 characters get 60% more likes, comments and shares on Facebook. That’s not much to work with! Although your website content certainly shouldn’t be that short, it’s important to keep in mind that attention spans are definitely decreasing online, with most readers only reading about 60% of articles online.

5)    Draw them in early. The first ten seconds a visitor spends on a webpage are the most important. This is when most people "bounce," or choose to leave after only one page. If you can get them to stay for those first several seconds, you’re likely to get them to stay on a page for at least two minutes, and then hopefully visit other pages on the site. This is why having an engaging title, and interesting, clear first paragraph are so important.

If you follow these fives tips, you should start to see a difference in the amount of time people spend on your pages, and the frequency with which they share your content. If you have additional questions about how to improve engagement for your content, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Could You Benefit From a New Domain Extension?

Web.com has recently released 50 new domain extensions, giving business owners and experts a whole slew of new options to choose from when setting up their websites. Instead of the standard options like .com, .org, and .net, site owners can now choose from a wide range of options, including .guru, .tips, and .training. Many of the new extensions will be of particular interest for small business owners.

How could this benefit you? For starters, it gives you further options for branding your business. If you’re a business coach who specializes in helping people set up systems for their business, having the domain business.systems could help you get a leg up on the competition, both in terms of an easy to remember URL, and in search engine friendliness. Health.tips or weightloss.tips are further examples of domains to get in on quickly.

Also, if you once came up with a great URL for your website, only to be disappointed to find that the .com, .net, and .org versions of the URL were no longer available, now is your chance to get the very best URL for your business. If your preferred URL contains one of the new extensions, even better.

At the very least, you’ll want to register for appropriate domains that contain your name (like lindsaydicks.me), especially if you have a very common name! You certainly don’t want your competition picking those up.

Of course, because the standard domains will remain the most popular (at least for the time being), you can now scoop up the domains most relevant to your business for less than you’ll be able to in the future. However, domains are just now in pre-registration, so if there’s a lot of interest, that can drive the price up. If multiple people request the same domain, it can also send the domain into auction, where you’ll need to bid for it!

Now, this is a topic you’ll need to keep an eye on for a while, as more domain extension are scheduled to role out in the future. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will be rolling out another set in 10 to 12 months. The organization, which currently handles Internet governance issues such as top-level domain assignment, has 1,930 new extensions planned.

If you need help choosing the best new URLs for your brand, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me today!

Back to Basics: Does Your Site Need a Call-To-Action?

The quick answer is: Absolutely! Many clients come to us without any way for people to sign up for something on their site, even a basic newsletter, so they’re missing so many opportunities to connect with new and potential clients.

If you don’t have a Call-To-Action that encourages people to sign up via your website, here’s what you’re missing:

1)   A way to keep in contact with current clients. Clients are bombarded with ads and mixed messages every day. Getting their emails so you can send them a monthly Ezine that showcases your latest expertise (in the form of a blog or article) helps keep them in the forefront of their minds, and reassures them that you are the expert.

2)   The ability to share your knowledge. Ideally, your Call-To-Action should include an offer for a free report, book chapter, or some other piece of tangible information that you can then send to the client as soon as they fill out the form.

3)   New prospective clients. Many clients look at multiple options before choosing who they’re going to work with, and one of the first things prospective clients will look at in this day and age is your website. Offering a free Call-To-Action will entice them to sign up and give you their email address. From there, you can reach out and further share your expertise.

4)   An autoresponder sequence. When people fill out the forms on your website, you should have your forms set up to automatically send them a thank you email. This is called an autoresponder. Of course, you don’t want to leave it at that one email. Instead, set up a sequence that includes your thank you email, an offer to connect to your social media profiles, and some other other, such as a free white paper. This sequence gives visitors additional ways to connect with you, but you can set up a sequence without Call-To-Action.

Now that we’ve covered why you need a Call-To-Action, let’s go over a few different versions you can use.

1)   Ask people to subscribe to your Ezine. This is the most basic version of them all, and simply asks visitors to sign up to receive your e-newsletter. However, because people are more enticed by a free offer, I only recommend if you don’t currently have something you can offer. It is better to have something than nothing at all.

2)   Offer a white paper. Conveniently, you can turn just about any blog, article, or other piece of writing you have that shares your knowledge into a white paper in minutes!

3)   Give away a free chapter of your book. If you’ve written a book, giving away a free chapter is a great idea! Not only can it entice visitors to want to read more, but it seems like a heftier gift, since books have a purchase price.

4)   Offer a bonus for those who have purchased your book. Even a free worksheet that helps them process the information they’ve read can be very helpful for everything from life coaches to health experts to financial advisers. What pre- (or current) retiree wouldn’t like a little help getting started on retirement planning?

5)   Offer a free series. If you have something you give clients each month, such as a free workout video, free recipes, etc. offer it up as a free series to subscribers! This makes for an intriguing offer that will continue to keep you in steady contact with the people that sign up.

So not only do you now know why you need a Call-To-Action, you have some ideas to get you started. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

5 Email Marketing Best Practices to Remember

Each day, every single one of us is inundated with emails. While a few of these are from family and friends, many are from things we’ve signed up for ages ago, such as a requesting a coupon or entering a contest. Because we’re overwhelmed, many emails featuring content we’re interested in and/or need to see often end up in the trash.

As you can imagine, if you’re overwhelmed with the number of emails in your inbox, it makes sense that your clients are as well. However, having an email marketing program is extremely valuable, so you need to make sure your emails stand out in the crowd, and actually get read. Here are five best practices to help you make the best of your email marketing program:

1.   Be consistent. It can be very damaging to your email marketing program if you only send emails sporadically. If people just receive an email from you after 6 months, they’ll likely have forgotten why they signed up. Conversely, sending emails too frequently can cause people to unsubscribe. Of worse, report you as spam. You should try sending at least one email a month, but beyond that, aim to find the happy medium that works for your business. One way to do this is by asking your subscribers how often they’d like to receive emails!

2.   See what works. Testing can seem overwhelming, but it is an important thing to do. And, even better, it’s also not nearly as difficult to set up as many people think! All you have to do is create two very similar emails, and then set the emails up in your email marketing program to automatically send each email to a random half of your list. However, keep in mind that you can only test one thing each time, or you won’t be able to easily determine what your results mean!

3.   Don’t use generic subject lines. One of the simplest mistakes I see as I’m looking over my inbox and trash folders is the number of emails that either use the same title over and over again, or they use something that tells the subscriber absolutely nothing about what’s in the email. For example, I have an email in my trash folder right now that has the title "News Update for January 28th." I didn’t click on it because it said nothing that intrigued me and made me want to click. If the subject line doesn’t peak your subscribers’ interest, they won’t open the email.

4.   Don’t leave them hanging. If a client signs up for your email list the day after you send out your monthly email, it will be quite a while before they actually receive an email from you. While a thank you page is great, it doesn’t do anything to further the connection between now and the next email.

A great alternative is to set up a short sequence that sends emails a couple of times after someone signs up. If you have a Call-to-Action, rather than a standard sign-up, the first autoresponder can send them the item they signed up for, like a free chapter from your book. The next step can be to ask them to join you on social media. Whatever you do, make sure to keep them engaged!

5.   Make it personal. Even the littlest things, like making sure you start with "Dear John," instead of "Dear client," can instantly (and easily) make an email seem more personal. You can take this even further by adding tags to each subscriber’s profile in your email marketing system to allow you to easily narrow the audience for each email you send. For instance, you wouldn’t end up sending an email about a client appreciation event to someone who’s not yet a client, nor would you send an email introducing your services to an existing client.

So there are five best practices to keep in mind while building your email marketing program! Have any questions? Don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Email Marketing 101: Creating the Perfect Template

While it may seem obvious to just create an email template that looks like your website, that’s actually only part of the solution when solving your email marketing problem. In fact, there are many best practices for creating your ideal Ezine template!

Here are the tips you need to create the email template that will make you stand out from your competitors:

1. Make sure it’s branded. You want customers to instantly recognize your Ezine as yours, so don’t just use the color scheme from your website and call it a day. You need to make sure your company logo and—preferably—your picture are prominently featured. Remember, "people buy people," so make sure they know you!

2. Promote your expertise. If you post blogs, articles, and press releases on your website (which is always a good idea), make sure to push that content through in your Ezine. An Ezine and social media are two of the easiest ways to share your knowledge with existing clients and maintain a consistent relationship, so make sure you include space for them in your template.

3. Include a Call-To-Action. Give people some hook that encourages them to go to your website and ask for more information from you. This could be a free chapter from a book, a free special report, or whatever else you want to offer. You will want to change it up occasionally, so that people continue to be intrigued.

4. Don’t forget social media. Make sure you include a logo that links to all your social media profiles to continue remind people to follow you on social media for the most recent updates. You don’t want this to be a one-time thing, because you just never know when someone is going to join any particular social media site, and you don’t want them to forget to follow you!

5. Show off your credentials. If you’ve written a book, been in a magazine, or been on TV, don’t forget to give that information priority placement! After all, this information not only gives credence to your expertise, but it also helps you stand out from the competition!

6. Make sure it looks good on mobile. Over half of all emails are now checked on a mobile device, so you need to test and make sure your email template works on more than just a desktop computer. If it’s cumbersome to read your Ezine on a smartphone, there’s a good chance your email will just end up in the trash folder.

7. Don’t forget unsubscribe links. A “clear and conspicuous” opt-out option is required to be in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, so make sure it’s easy to find. Also, make sure opting out is a quick and simple process to ensure people don’t just report you as spam. If you get too many spam reports, you can be blacklisted by providers, and your emails won’t go through for that provider.

So there you have it: the seven things you need to keep in mind when designing your email template. Have any questions? Get in touch today!

The Online Marketing Year in Review!

As the final day of 2013 winds down, let’s take a few moments to look over some of the biggest stories in the rapidly evolving world of social media and SEO in 2013. From new apps taking the world by storm, to major changes in how we do SEO, it’s been a busy year in online marketing!

  • Facebook added hashtags. One of the last to add the prominent social networking symbol, Facebook finally added hashtags this summer. While their use on the social networking is growing, they still aren’t nearly as popular as they are on Twitter, and they’re definitely not having the same viral effect.
  • Google released Hummingbird. The new algorithm put the proverbial nail in the coffin for people who still try to keyword-load, and made it a priority to create unique and high-quality content if you want your site to be seen.
  • They also updated Google+. Not only did Google+ jump on the hashtag bandwagon before Facebook, but they also made the site more visually-focused and adding photo-editing tools.
  • Vine launched. It’s hard to believe, but the mega-popular 6-second video platform just launched this year. Even more impressive is that they’ve managed to gain over 40 million users in under one year.
  • Instagram introduced video. While it didn’t turn out to be a Vine-killer, the update is still well-liked, with over 5 million videos uploaded in just the first 24 hours!
  • Pinterest became one of the most popular referrers. It’s now only second to Facebook, whereas Stumbleupon and Reddit have dropped as referrers (although they’re both still in the top five).
  • Snapchat exploded in popularity. While the disappearing-message app launched last year, it only took off this year. As of October, 9% of phones had the app installed on them, and hundreds of millions of messages are sent and received each day.
  • Twitter went public. Through careful planning, including taking advantage of rule in the JOBS Act that let them keep information under wraps until about a month before going public, the company managed to avoid many of the missteps Facebook made last year.
  • Yahoo! buys Tumblr. Yahoo! is seeking to refresh their brand’s image, and one of the most-talked about steps they took to accomplish that was the $1.1 billion dollar acquisition of the personal-blogging site.
  • Twitter is pushing photos. Just last week, Twitter updated their iOS app so that it automatically defaults to your photo gallery instead of your keyboard when you go to compose a tweet. It looks like most social media networks will be image first in 2014!
  • Ads are becoming ubiquitous. In an effort to increase their profit margin, social networks across the board ramped up advertising options. From simply adding them to feeds to them becoming completely unavoidable on Facebook, 2013 has become the Year of the Social Ad.

So there’s your 2013 Year in Review! Now, what are you most looking forward to in 2014?

Five Online Resolutions to Make for the New Year

Christmas is this week, which of course means that New Year’s is just around the corner! While many people are making resolutions to improve their health, to get organized, or to volunteer more, you shouldn’t neglect making resolutions to improve your company’s online presence in 2014!

Here are the five resolutions you need to make in 2014:

  • Commit to a schedule. While it’s best to post something on social media every day, even a schedule of three times a week is better than posting a sporadic once or twice a month. For your blog, it would be ideal if you could commit to creating and posting two blogs a month. Keeping your site current and updated is the best way to keep your business in your clients’ minds, gain new followers through social media and syndication, and give yourself the greatest chance on Google.
  • Use your email. While social media is a great way to share your content with the outside world, it should not be your only way to share. In addition to syndicating your blogs, articles, and press releases, having an Ezine is an ideal way to share your content with existing clients. Creating a simple template that features a blog and a press release every month is a quick, easy way to be able to send it out every month, and drive your existing audience to your site (and hopefully get them to share)!
  • Monitor your data. You don’t have to check it every day, but it’s important to check in at least once a month and see how things are going. Not only will this help your figure out which content and social media posts are a hit, and which are a miss, but it can help you see whether your traffic is growing or shrinking at a glance. You can also find out which long-tail keywords are already bringing traffic to your site, so that you can capitalize on those and get even more traffic!
  • Keep setting goals. If you want to achieve big things, it’s important to set small goals to help you get there. This is true of achieving any goal in life, including big online goals. You might start off small with something like just making sure you post regularly, but eventually you can move on to figuring out how to double traffic to your blogs in any given month. Whatever your big picture for your online presence is, setting small goals can help you achieve them.
  • Focus on visuals. Throughout 2013, social media has become more and more visually focused, and I’m sure this trend will only continue through 2014. Therefore, you need to make sure your online efforts match the trend and are image- and video-heavy. For instance, if you’re not regularly posting videos on your website, now is the perfect time to start!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday, and if you need help with your online efforts in the new year, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Bringing the Joy of Christmas to Social Media

It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year! Life is filled with Christmas carols, sparkly decorations, and spending lots of time with friends and family. As it gets closer to the big day, you’ll want to spend more and more with loved ones, and less time focusing on social media. If you plan now, you can keep sharing your expertise (and Christmas spirit!) with your followers all season long.

Here are ten ways to spread Christmas cheer all the way through the December 25th:

  • Make a Christmas card to share. Get everyone in your office to show up dressed in a Christmas theme (this can range from Santa hats to the ugly Christmas sweater trend to just wearing red and green) and take a group photo. Make sure to use a wide-enough angle that you’ll have room to add text that says something like "Happy Holidays from Acme!" Then share it on social media!
  • Give gifts. In the days leading up to Christmas, why not have your own 12 Days of Christmas by offering a series of free "gifts" to your followers? These might be things related to your business, like a special free chapter of your book, or something just to share some holiday joy, like a cute Christmas-themed YouTube video.
  • Offer a discount. Most businesses offer some sort of discount during the holidays, and your business shouldn’t be the exception. Now’s the perfect time to offer a percentage off to new clients, or a free gift to those who sign up!
  • Share your office’s favorite holiday traditions. You can send a short survey to your staff (asking them for things like their favorite Christmas carol and favorite Christmas treat) and create a Facebook album with their pictures and responses. Not only does this give you some Christmas-themed content, but it also allows your followers to get to know your staff better. It’s always a great time to improve client-company relationships!
  • Don’t forget to share office party photos! Office parties are a great way to celebrate and have a good time with colleagues, but it’s also a great way to show off office fun and personalities to your followers.
  • Send a holiday video. Now that smart phones are ubiquitous, it’s easier than ever to shoot a quick video to wish your followers a Merry Christmas "face-to-face." You can even have some fun with it and sing a short Christmas carol (like "We Wish You a Merry Christmas") to put a smile on everyone’s face!
  • Spread good tidings. Christmas is a time of giving, not only of gifts to those you love, but also to help those in need. In fact, 34% of the Americans who give to charity are more likely to do so during the holidays! Now is the perfect time to highlight your company’s commitment to helping others, and hopefully bring in even more donations for the cause close to your heart!
  • Sharing is caring! Ask your followers to share their favorite holiday carol, tradition, recipe, or craft. Who knows? You might just pick up a new favorite.
  • Give your profiles a Christmas theme. Celebrate Christmas all season long by adding a holiday vibe to your profile pictures, backgrounds, and cover photos. Updating your profile with snowflakes, gift packages, Christmas trees, or any other holiday décor automatically delivers the holiday spirit.
  • Schedule a "Merry Christmas!" image post. Find or create a festive image to wish your followers a Merry Christmas, and then schedule it to go out Christmas morning. When they log in (and let’s face it: most people probably will), they’ll see a friendly holiday greeting from you!

That should get you started on keep your holiday campaign going on season long! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

What’s Going to Make a Splash in Social Media in 2014?

While 2013 is coming to a close, there’s that much to look forward to in social media in 2014. From new Facebook features that could help small businesses, to more ways to reach potential customers in your zip code, 2014 is going to be an exciting year!

Here are some of the big upcoming developments that are going to have a big impact on the next year:

1)   Twitter now offers geo-targeted ads. What does this mean for you in the coming year? It means that you’ll be able to target new customers on Twitter by their zip code! Instead of sending your ads out to people who don’t even live near you, you’ll be able to advertise your business to an even more prime audience.

2)   Facebook is adding reviews. And they’ll appear directly below the company name under the cover photo, giving them very eye-catching placement with the potential to give companies a major credibility boost. This is set up automatically for any company that lists their business address, and you cannot remove individual reviews. To help get your page started, it would be worth asking some trusted clients to add their rating!

3)   Foursquare is not going away. Despite there being many predictions of it’s demise, Foursquare has found a way to branch out and integrate itself into larger, more dominant sites like Pinterest and Instagram. By expanding it’s location-based data and notification services to other sites, Foursquare could end up being very helpful to companies looking to target people who are actually local to their business in new and creative ways.

4)   Ads are expanding. In 2014, paid advertising will become even more of a focus on social media. Instagram will soon roll out ads, and Tumblr is working on expanding their offerings, including a "Sponsored Trending Blog" option. Facebook is also pushing ads by lowering a page’s reach. The rational? There’s so much new content constantly being posted that it’s making it harder for as many people to see it. The advice? Make sure your posts are engagement and, of course, buy ads.

5)   Content creation will be more important. Many publications, including Forbes, are predicting that creating unique, informative content related to your brand will be even more vital in the new year. Creating content that highlights your expertise is one of the best ways to leave your mark on a very crowded World Wide Web.

I hope these five points help you when you’re planning out your online presence for next year. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Tools to Help You Maintain Social Media Over the Holidays

As it gets closer and closer to the end of the year, you’ll be spending more and more time with your family and friends, and less and less time on social media. However, you don’t want to just leave your followers hanging over the holidays. Not only are you likely to lose followers, but you’re also missing great opportunities to connect with your clients on a more personal level.

To help save you time, and make maintaining your accounts stress-free, here are five apps you can use to help you out during this holiday season:

1)   Hootsuite: No one wants to spend their time tweeting while they’re decorating cookies with their children, or at a holiday party. Instead, schedule holiday posts in advance so that you’re truly free to spend time with those you care about.

2)   Buffer: If you work with a social media company that normally manages your social media accounts, they’ll likely have your accounts in Hootsuite, and two people can’t manage the same account at the same time in that program. Buffer is a great (and really easy to use) option so that you can schedule any personal posts you’d like to add. It’s free to set up one account per social media site.

3)   Over: With more color and font options than many similar apps (and the ability to buy more fonts), Over allows you to easily customize photos with fun graphics and text, and then share them on many popular social media sites right from the app. It’s a perfect way to add a little holiday cheer, and it’s only $1.99 for iPad and iPhone!

4)   Chisel: You can download the toolbar add-on, then turn any highlighted text on a web page into a beautiful quote image in just a few minutes. It’s the perfect way to share your favorite holiday quotes, song lyrics, etc. with all your followers, while only using a tiny amount of your day.

5)   Canva: The site is still in closed BETA, but if you reserve your URL, you’ll get access pretty quickly. Canva is a little more in-depth than the other sites listed, but allows you to create nicely designed graphics for your blog and social media in a short amount of time, with NO Photoshop skills necessary. Almost all of Canva is completely free, unless you want to use one of their premium (but fair-use!) images. Then each image is just $1.

I hope this helps you continue to maintain (and have fun) on your social media accounts all season long, without taking precious time away from your friends and family. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

How to Choose the Right Social Media Sites for Your Business

Unless you’ve hired a social media marketing company or designated staff to handle your profiles, you’re likely trying to figure out where you can get the most bang for your buck. After all, you’ll quickly eat up a large percentage of each day if you try to maintain profiles on all the sites available to you, and even then you might not be building the relationships that will really benefit your business!

Below I’m going to go over some of the most popular social networking sites, and describe the types of businesses will have the best results. If you have the time, you can make many sites work for you, but today we’ll focus on picking the best sites for each small business.

  • Facebook works for the greatest percentage of small businesses, because with over 1 billion people using the site, your customers are already using the site. Therefore, you can create a page to share tips and news with your clients, as well as somewhere to address their questions. However, you need to let your clients know the page exists by putting buttons on your site, and sending around a promotional email once the page is set up. It’s also a good idea to invite friends from your personal page to like your new business page.
  • Twitter is also rather general, but customer service can be more difficult because of the character limits on responses. Not that it isn’t possible, but if you have limited time, and your goal is customer service, I’d pick Facebook. However, Twitter is great if you want to share news, tips, and other content with your clients. Even though this is true with most social networks, you’ll need to be especially careful to be too self-promotional, since any tweets with images, videos, etc. have to be expanded before the content appears. If you’re being too self-promotional, your feed will start to look like a wall of the same thing over and over again.
  • Google+ has become one of the most visual social networking sites, so this is a great place to share everything from holiday parties to visual inspirational quotes to infographics. If you’re hoping to rely solely on text posts and links to your articles, I wouldn’t count on gaining a large audience on Google+.
  • LinkedIn is the place for professionals, making it a great places for tax exports looking to work with small businesses, financial planners looking to connect with executives, and anyone else looking to connect their businesses with professionals who need it. It is not a great place to dispense relationship advice, fitness tips, recipes, and the like.
  • Pinterest is extremely popular, but has a very particular lifestyle niche. If you’re a fitness expert, real estate agent, chef, or anyone else in lifestyle field that offers a lot of visual inspiration, Pinterest will be a great fit! Less visual fields, like retirement planning or tax experts, aren’t going to work as well, because Pinterest users aren’t going to the site for information on those topics. You’d have to share the types of content that are most popular on the site (recipes, fitness, home décor, and style are a few examples), and then slip in your advice in occasionally and hope your followers are interested.
  • YouTube can be a great way to share your advice with people searching for your expertise, but it is more time-consuming than many of the others site, although you can get away with not posting as often. But if you’re willing to create at least one video a week, it’s a great way to share your knowledge (and increase your expert status)!
  • Tumbr is, in some ways, a combination of a long-form Twitter and Pinterest. You can create short blogs to share with your followers, although much of the content is created and shared is visual. The key is to keep blogs brief, and make sure most of your content has a great visual with it. If you’re a life coach, fitness expert, or relationship expert ("love" is one of the most popular tags on the site), Tumblr would be perfect for you.
  • Instagram is one of the newest "it" sites for social media, but it really shouldn’t be your main target in most cases. However, if you’re in fashion, photography, or any other artistic field, Instagram could offer a great boost to your business.
  • Quora allows you to post both your own blogs, and answer questions from other users. You can answer questions submitted to the general public on the site, or individuals can submit questions straight to you, which is a great way to share your knowledge (although answering specific questions can get time-consuming). It’s perfect for retirement planners, tax experts, and anyone trying to share written expertise on a topic. It would be less useful for anyone whose product is mostly visual, like a photographer, unless you’re wanting to share tips on technique.

So there’s a brief overview of several of the different social networks to help you determine which might be the best fit. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Now’s The Time To Start Planning for Thanksgiving

And no, we’re not just talking about planning your menu and décor, and inviting your guests. We mean for social media!

Not only is Thanksgiving a great time to publicly give thanks for your clients and followers, it’s also a perfect time to let them get to know you a bit better! By getting a bit more personal, you’re letting your clients feel like they know you on a personal level, which is really important on social media!

Here are ten ideas to get you started with your planning:

1. Give thanks. As I mentioned before, this is the perfect time to thank your clients, your followers, and your staff. A great way to thank your clients and followers is by taking a staff picture and adding text along the lines of "Everyone at Acme would like to take this opportunity to let our clients know how thankful we are for them. Happy Thanksgiving!"

2. Offer a discount. Not only is offering a discount a great way to show thanks, but it’s also a great way to offer something up for Black Friday. An alternative to offering a discount would be to offer a free special report that’s perfect for this time of year. For instance, a tax attorney can offer a free special report on end of year tax tips.

3. Share family photos. You can either show a family photo from this year, or you can post one from years ago (after all, Thanksgiving is always on Throwback Thursday). Either way, it’s a great way to help your followers connect with you.

4. Say what you’re thankful for. Many families have a tradition of going around the Thanksgiving table and sharing what they’re thankful for. Why not extend this tradition to social media by sharing what you’re grateful for, and asking your followers to do the same.

5. Share a favorite family recipe. Is your great-great-grandmother’s stuffing recipe the best stuffing recipe in the world? Then share it! It adds a fun and personal element to your social media—and who wouldn’t want to try the best stuffing in the world?!

6. Update your cover photos. Add a Thanksgiving element or two to spice up your Facebook, Twitter, and other cover photos, and celebrate the holidays! Depending on your existing theme (and where you live), you could add a turkey standing in some fall leaves, a fresh pumpkin pie, or a snowman wearing a fall-themed scarf!

7. Create a video. Make a quick video of you and your staff wishing your followers a Happy Thanksgiving, and post that on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, etc. Such a video wouldn’t take long to make, and has a nice personal impact.

8. Ask questions. Ask your followers to share their favorite family traditions, holiday activities, recipes, etc. with you. Not only does that increase your engagement, but you might just a new holiday favorite out of the deal!

9. Get employees involved! Your followers will love being able to connect with the people they talk to with the faces they go with, so think about creating a Thanksgiving-themed Facebook gallery that matches a photo with that person’s answer to any of the topics above. For example, you could ask each employee for a favorite family recipe, or to share what they’re grateful for this year.

10. Share the blessings. While many people spend Thanksgiving giving thanks and celebrating with their families, counting our blessings also often inspires us to contribute to our favorite charities and causes, whether that’s by donating food, buying a toy for a child in need, or giving money to an organization. Help your favorite charities get a leg up this holiday season by sharing why you support them with a link to a video, about page, or success stories on your social media.

Now that you’ve got some ideas, don’t forget to start planning now before the hustle and bustle starts! You can even schedule your posts in advance so that you can focus on spending time with your family, while still spreading some holiday joy!

Back to the Basics: Why Blogging is Important

Sometimes when people hear the suggestion to create a blog, they just shrink away. They think it will be too time-consuming, they think no one will read it, they think it’s a waste of time … However, it’s none of things, or at least, it doesn’t have to be.

A blog doesn’t need to be time-consuming at all. If you write what you know and what you care about, the words should come relatively easily. Now, that’s not to say that there won’t be new developments in your field that you’ll need to research on occasion, but realistically, you’ll need to do that research whether you put it in blog form or not. One of the benefits of putting it in a blog is that it allows your clients to see that you’ve done your research, instead of just hoping you have.

If blogging isn’t something you enjoy, try hiring someone or having someone on your staff write blogs for you. Many people have a ghostwriter to help them share their ideas and expertise with the world.

Another important reason to have a blog is to boost your Google search results the natural. Writing quality blog content about subjects your current and potential clients are interested in is a great way to cover a variety of topics (a.k.a a variety of long-tail keywords) that people are searching for. It also shows people searching for someone in your field in your area that you know what you’re talking about, and that you stay up-to-date on the latest news.

Getting traffic to your blog doesn’t have to be very complicated either. One of the easiest ways to do this is to push it out via your social media profiles. It’s important to have social media profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and any other site that’s relevant to your field, and one reason it so that you can share your new content with your followers.

Once you’ve shared it with your existing followers on social media, share it on social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon, Reddit, Delicious, and Technorati, among the many others that are out there. While this may seem time-consuming, it can actually be done quite quickly once you get used to the sites. Just make sure you use the keywords people are most likely to be searching for (i.e. retirement vs. your company name), and you’ll get your expertise in front of those who need it.

Devoting an hour or two a month to creating and sharing blogs can be extremely valuable to your business. While you shouldn’t expect results overnight, you’ll start to build up your credibility and Google search results over time. An added bonus: once you create a blog, the benefits don’t go away after a week, or a month. A blog can continue to bring you traffic and new leads years after it’s written, if the content is still relevant.

The Link Between Images and SEO

Since Google made the switch to change to their Hummingbird algorithm, things have changed for images used on your site, in addition to your content posts. Luckily, though, the changes aren’t that drastic, and most of them point back to what we always urge: use images and descriptions that clearly reflect your content instead of generic stock images with meaningless descriptions. Here are five tips to help you out:

1. Make sure your pictures relate. Far too often, content creators rely on things like pictures of people smiling for every single blog. However, this is a big no-no with the Hummingbird updates, since Google will now be able to recognize content in pictures and then direct people accordingly. If you’re using a generic smiling person, then Google is going to pull up your site’s pictures for people who may have not be looking for your area of expertise.

2. Don’t rely on generic stock photos. I’ve said it before because of quality value, but it’s now even more important if you want your content to have a higher impact in search engines. Relating to the point above, if 200 sites are using the same stock photo of a smiling person, then your results won’t stand out in the search engines. Make sure your pictures are unique, and people will pick your picture out of the crowd.

3. Upload images at the size you need. Google includes page load time in its algorithm, and large images slow down the page load. Therefore, re-size your image to the size you want it to show up on your site using a basic photo-editing program, and then add it. Don’t use a widget in your site to re-size the image, which can sometimes lead to distorted images.

4. Use a meaningful file name. Sometimes people don’t think to change their file names from whatever comes off their camera, but this is a big mistake. Something like "Cannon440" or "IMG2259" tells search engines absolutely nothing about the content of your image. So, instead of just going with those, clearly describe your image by changing the name to something like "housing-sales-chart-august-2013" (and make sure to use hyphens not underscores).

5. Don’t forget alt text. Alt text may be hidden in the background of your site, but it has multiple uses. First of all, it shows up in search engines, so your alt text needs to clearly and simply describe your image. Secondly, alt text is useful on Pinterest, where your alt text can automatically show up as the description on Pins. This just emphasizes that images need to be related to your post, and your alt text needs to clearly describe your image!

So there you have it: five tips you need to make your images work with, instead of against, search engines. If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch today!

Basic Tips To Get You Going With SEO

Now that we’ve gone over Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, let’s go over some of the basic things to keep in mind when trying to optimize your site for search engines, both for search engines crawling your site, and the people searching for content!

  • Make sure you localize. Unless you have a national or international business, you’re most likely looking for local clients. In return, when it comes to car dealerships, financial investors, doctors, and many others, clients are looking for someone who can help them locally as well. So, make sure to make sure your site is clear on where you’re located, and give Hummingbird a helping hand with pointing those looking for your content to your site.
  • Hold off on internal links. Because of recent changes, Google now penalizes those who use keywords to link back to related pages in their content. For instance, if I’d hyperlinked the words "Google’s Hummingbird algorithm" to last week’s blog post, I’d have been penalized for that. So even if you have something that you find useful for someone reading your current blog, hold off, and instead making sure it’s easy for visitors to navigate to other interesting content.
  • Change your focus when writing. Instead of thinking in short, clunky keyword groups, write your content as if you were explaining it to a friend, client, or colleague. Not only will this help you ensure that your content is easy to comprehend, but making content conversational will help Google pick up on long tail keywords that will help them point your content to those that could most benefit from it.
  • Use a unique META description on each page. The META description may get hidden in the code on your website, but it can be immensely helpful in showing people that you have the information you need. This text shows up under the Google result for your page, so if it says that "John Doe is a financial planner in Honolulu, Hawaii" on every page, that doesn’t let the person know if you have any information that can help them. Instead, craft one sentence that let’s searchers know exactly what’s on your page.
  • Use your keywords in your page title. Too often, people use ugly links with numbers and random letters, which gives those using search engines absolutely no clue about your content. Instead, make sure your URL describes your content! One simple idea is to make sure you have a brief but descriptive title, and then use that as your URL, with each word separated by a hyphen (not an underscore). This makes it easy for both humans and search engines to read.

Now keep in mind that these are just some of the basic tips to use when creating your online content. Later on, we’ll go into more details on specifics points, but for now, I’ll leave you with this: never try to game the system. Search engine algorithms are being increasingly designed to ensure that people are creating genuine content versus trying to "over-optimize," so it’s as important as ever to just be authentic.

What Google’s Hummingbird Update Means for Your SEO

Google just recently released it’s Hummingbird algorithm, and those checking the top keywords bringing traffic to their site have likely already noticed a difference: instead of groups of words like "small business organization help," the keywords are suddenly more conversational. Google’s aim is to better determine a searcher’s intent, and then provide the content that best suits that intent.

While this is bad news for those who are still relying on trying to keyword-load to beat the system (a practice Google has been trying to discourage for years), it’s great news for everyone genuinely trying to create content of value.

A benefit to the content creator is that they’ll get a clearer glimpse of the things people are talking about and searching for, and can tailor their content accordingly. After all, tailoring your content to what your audience actually wants and needs to read has always been the best practice.

However, seeing "tax help" in your data is so general that’s not of much use. If you’re a tax attorney, you already know people are looking to you for tax help. On the other hand, seeing "does a tax lien get removed when non collectable status expires" gives you a very specific question that people need answered. These long tail keywords will help you help even more people!

Another benefit for businesses aiming to serve locally is that Hummingbird will now use any registered locations to help point people to results in their current area. So instead of finding answers to questions from a company located on the other site of the country, people could see results from someone in their own city. This creates better quality leads for you, and helps consumers find an expert who can answer their specific questions more easily.

Here are a few tips to help you create Hummingbird-approved content:

  • Regularly publish high-quality content. If you just have a static website with an About page, Contact page, etc., but no regularly updated content, people aren’t going to keep coming back, and people searching for your type of expertise will not return (or they’ll leave quickly) because you’ll have a limited amount to offer them. Publishing blogs and articles remains an extremely important way to keep people coming back.
  • Use those long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are basically telling you exactly what your site visitors want to know, so make sure you give them what they want. And use those keywords well, so that people can easily find the content. For example, if you find the keyword used above, "does a tax lien get removed when non collectable status expires", turn that into your blog title and your META title to help people quickly find what they’re looking for.
  • Link to other pages on your site. But only when it really works. But if a current blog references a topic that you’ve written about before, then point your readers to that related blog using clear keywords that fit the current blog. If searches are bringing people to your site, put it in the effort to keep them there with more high-quality content.
  • Make sure to share your content online. Whether it’s on your own social media profiles or through social syndication, anything you can do to encourage people to share your content will increase your site’s authority, which is something that continues to be important to Google.

Have specific questions about how Hummingbird could affect your site? Don’t hesitate to get in touch today!

The Importance of Syndicating Your Content Online

Creating fresh content for your site on a regular basis is an extremely important way to improve your Google Search rankings. Not only does it give you more results, but it also allows you to easily share your expertise with those searching for someone in your field. For example, if someone’s looking for a financial planner in Tulsa, and you’re the only financial planner that’s regularly posting blogs, articles, and press releases, then you’re going to be the financial planner in Tulsa that seems the most credible and trust-worthy.

However, creating new content isn’t just important for your Google Search rankings; it also allows you to share your expertise with current and potential customers on social sites.

The most obvious way to utilize this is by making sure to share your newly published content on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, and any other social profiles you have online so your existing followers can see it. If it’s engaging and helpful, they’ll hopefully decide to share it with their friends and followers, giving you access to potential new clients. On Facebook, people don’t even necessarily have to share content in order to increase your reach (i.e. the amount of people who see your post). Because of EdgeRank, even a quick like or comment increases the number of viewers for each post.

Of course, you shouldn’t stop there when sharing your content! Social bookmarking allows you to easily and quickly share your content on popular websites, and tagging your bookmarks correctly allows you to share it with those who are looking for what you’re writing about.

Currently, some of the most popular social bookmarking sites are as follows:

When choosing tags, try to focus on what you think people are searching for instead of tagging content with the same words you would use as SEO keywords. For instance, you don’t want to geotarget your tags, because it’s far more likely that people will be search for the general category "retirement" instead of "retirement experts Tulsa" on social bookmarking sites.

The general rule is to try and think of words you would use if you were looking for that information. Then add those tags to your post and hit publish!

If you have further questions about using social bookmarking to share your content, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Is Tumblr the Right Fit For Your Business?

When many people think of Tumblr, they think of it as the domain of teenagers. But while it is popular among teens, over half of users are actually over the age of 35, and most of those users are college-educated, making it a great fit for a variety of businesses.

Another benefit is that users are spending more time on Tumblr per visit than they are on Facebook or Twitter, giving you a better opportunity to get your content in front of their eyes.

It also allows for both strictly visual content and longer form blogs, so you can post anything from quote gifs to longer blogs, all in one place (it’s still advisable to keep the text short—people only read an average of 28% of any given web page, and the percentage decreases as the word count gets higher).

As with anything, the higher a percentage of the population your industry directly affects, the more luck you’ll have on Tumblr. However, even if you’re topic is more niche, Tumblr can still be extremely effective for you because of tags. Tagging several related keywords allows those who are interested in your topic to find it, which is better than no one seeing it at all. After all, getting your content in front of 30 really interested people is better than 1,000 people who aren’t going to particularly engaged.

So here are the key tips you need to keep in mind to be successful on Tumblr:

  • Make good use of tags. As I previously mentioned, using tags is the best way to get your content in front of the right people. And unlike with other social media sites, it’s more generally accepted to use five tags instead of the one or two used on Twitter, and people definitely click on them to find related content.
  • Don’t forget to re-blog. It’s standard practice on Tumblr (probably more-so than any other social networking site) to get a large percentage of your content by re-blogging others posts. In fact, doing so helps you become more ingrained in the community. So if you see something you like, go ahead and share it!
  • Rely on images! While Tumblr allows for long-form blogging, most posts you’ll see on your dashboard will be images. Those posts are also more likely to get re-blogged than plain text posts. So instead of just typing out those quotes, use an online app to create a shareable image!
  • Post regularly. Just like Facebook, most Tumblr users just get their content from their dashboard, and only visit a specific page about 30% of the time. If you want people to see your content, you need to post regularly. Otherwise your followers will forget you’re there!

Tumblr can be beneficial to your business whether you’re a doctor, a financial planner, or a fitness expert, as long as you make sure to focus on your target audience instead of sheer numbers! If you have questions, please get in touch!

Using Social Media During Your Events

In celebration of the National Academy of Best-Selling Authors’ Thought Leaders Summit and Golden Gala Awards this week, let’s talk about how you can use social media to help you capture and make the most of your upcoming events!

Whether you’re going to a major event to receive an award for becoming a Best-Selling author, or hosting a workshop for your clients, there are plenty of ways to include social media. Here are some tips!

  • Create a custom hashtag. While you can’t "own" any particular hashtag, you can pick one that’s unique to your event and encourage your attendees to use it. This has benefits for both your and your guests, including letting you answer any questions that may come up, and allowing them to find and connect with other attendees on social media.
  • Project those tweets! Use a site like Tweetdeck or Twub to project tagged tweets during the event. Not only does this allow you to encourage and display real-time participation in your event, but you can also use these programs to keep track of participants and offer a prize! If you’re an attendee, don’t forget to participate!
  • Get video. With the popularity of Vine and Instagram, it’s easier than ever to get and share behind-the-scenes video from an event, no expensive video equipment needed! You can then embed those short videos on your site and/or on your wrap-up blog about the event!
  • Don’t forget photos. In takes mere seconds to capture an event and share it to social media, so it’s a given that you should take as many pictures as you can! To keep from frustrating your followers with constant posts, add the photos to a Facebook gallery in related groups, and then share that gallery via your other social media profiles.
  • Let guests contribute! Depending on the size and type of the event, it could be good to create a shared Facebook gallery or Pinterest board so that your guests can post their pictures from the event. While you do really have to know your audience, it’s a great way to get more photos from different perspectives, and get those images (and therefore your company) shared with even more people.
  • Stream your event! Allow those who aren’t able to attend to participate in the experience by live-streaming relevant parts of your events (like speeches) via YouTube, Facebook, Livestream, or Ustream. Don’t forget to share permanent versions on your social media after the even too!
  • Tag your guests! When your share pictures, quotes from speakers, and anything else related to a person at your event, make sure to tag them! This not only gives them the opportunity to respond, but it gives them the chance to share their experience with their friends and family. People are often really excited to do this, so give them the chance!
  • Use your hashtag to keep attendees up-to-date. Encourage your attendees to keep track of your hashtag for up-to-the-minute updates on current happenings. For instance, if you have to move rooms for a breakout session, social media can be one of the easiest ways to let participants know without disrupting other sessions.
  • Set up different locations for your event on Foursquare. By encouraging your clients to check in, you can get some valuable information on which workshops or events were most popular for your next event!

Need help putting together a specific social media for your upcoming event? Get in touch to discuss your options!

How Embedded Posts Can Help Your Brand

With most social media platforms jumping on the embedded post platform (Google+ being the latest), people are starting to wonder how they can use this new tool to beef up their online presence.

While the practical uses may be limited, there are some simple things you can to take advantage of this tool. Here they are:

  • Customer reviews. It’s quite common nowadays for customer to leave their commentary on a company’s social media page. Now that you can embed posts, it would be really easy to create a "From Social Media" section of your testimonials page and embed all your great reviews there. Seeing the person the review comes from helps add an extra layer of legitimacy in the eyes of the person reading your site.
  • Related posts. If, for instance, you have a Facebook post that’s related to a blog you’ve posted, you can embed it in the blog as an added bit of information. This is especially helpful with photos, quote images, and tip images. If the post generated good conversation with your followers, even better! Hopefully it will encourage your blog readers to keep the conversation going, and it will definitely encourage them to go follow you!
  • Real time updates. If you embed posts from Facebook (vs. Twitter), your readers are able to interact directly from your website and their responses will show up on your website and on Facebook. This encourages and builds up engagement both on your site and on Facebook in one fell swoop!
  • Customer sharing. Since your business page is public, other users will be able to embed your posts on their own sites. For instance, if a blogger finds your tip of the week useful and then posts about how it helps them, they’ll be able to embed your tip directly into their blog, which increases your reach and can help you gain new fans!
  • Custom apps. If you have a custom app that offers a coupon or another offer for liking your Facebook page, you can then embed that on your website to entice your blog readers to follow-through with liking your Facebook page. Then you’ll be able to share your other content with them on a more consistent basis.

Those are just a few of the ways you can make embedded posts work for you! Have more questions? Don’t hesitate to get in touch!

How to Get the Most Out of Your Google+ Local Listing

The world of online marketing is fast-paced, to say the least. I talk to clients every day, and many of them confess that keeping up with all of the latest trends and developments can be overwhelming. I’ll tell you the same thing that I tell them… which is, don’t worry, that’s my job!

Today, I am going to bring you up to speed on an online marketing platform which is becoming more and more powerful… Google+ Local. Google+ Local is a platform by which local businesses can list their information, similar to a Facebook business page. Consumers, meanwhile, can use the service to find local businesses. In addition to the usual information, like contact details and a company description, users can also read reviews, look at pictures, leave feedback, and more.

It’s a particularly powerful tool because of the importance Google assigns to these listings when it comes to search results. Creating a Google+ Local page, quite simply, is going to help more people find you through Google.

So if you are a local business, it’s time to get engaged if you aren’t already. To make the process a little easier, below are ten keys to creating an effective presence on Google+ Local.

1) Fill out your profile completely. Google+ Local gives you the ability to list your address, your phone number, and your website. But it gives you more options, as well. Take the time to fill out everything that you can—your hours of operation, your company description, and so forth. This makes it easier for consumers to answer their questions, and it also provides more information for Google to index.

2) Use a local phone number. Many of you have a toll-free number in addition to your local phone number. For Google+ Local, you are better off using the local number. For one thing, the majority of the consumers that find your profile are going to be locally based. In addition, it is likely that Google will treat profiles with local numbers as more credible, considering that the whole point of the program is to connect consumers with local businesses.

3) Ask for recommendations. As you probably know by now, positive testimonials and reviews are a critical sales tool. This is particularly true on a platform like Google+ Local, as most of your viewers will also be viewing the profiles of other businesses. The presence of strong reviews (or the lack) will often be a major factor in determining which business the consumer chooses. As I tell my clients, don’t be afraid to ask your customers and clients to leave you a review. Many of them will be glad to support you in this way.

4) Brand your profile as much as possible – logo, company colors, etc. As always, it is important that your brand is properly reflected on your Google+ Local page. While the design options are limited, at least for now, you should still take advantage of every opportunity to use your logo, your company colors, and so forth. Your profile shouldn’t feel "out of place" when viewed alongside the rest of your internet presence.

5) Link to your website. This should be obvious, but I’m telling you anyway because it’s important! Many consumers will start their search on Google, flip through a few profiles, and then click through to the website of a business that they’re interested in. Not listing your website can cause you to lose out on a new customer. Don’t make this mistake!

6) Double-check that all information is correct and matches your website. Many consumers will click through to your website with the specific purpose of verifying that your contact information is correct. Make sure the information on your profile matches what’s on your website. Incorrect information is a quick and easy way to lose credibility, so check everything carefully.

7) Use accurate, descriptive language—don’t try to fill your profile with SEO keywords. Some business owners may be tempted to use the old SEO strategy of stuffing their page with keywords. This is a losing strategy for two reasons. First, Google recognizes excessive usage of keywords and will likely penalize you for it. And second, real people will read the information on your Google+ Local page—and they want English, not SEO-speak.

8) Use photos as much as possible. You’ve heard me talk about how important photos are for your website and for your social media presence, and your Google+ Local page is no exception. Upload pictures of your team, your services, consumers enjoying your products, and so on. This gives viewers of your page the confidence that you’re a legitimate business and it gives you the opportunity to strengthen your brand at the same time.

9) Link to your profile from your website and from your social media presence. Now that you have built a great profile, make sure it gets noticed! Link to it from your website. Highlight it on social media. Invite customers to take a look (and leave a review!). The more exposure, the better off you will be, so make sure that it is highly visible!

10) Monitor your profile regularly. Finally, you can’t forget about your profile listing! This is something that many business owners are guilty of, on Google and elsewhere. If you move, you need to update your contact information. If you change your phone number, update it. If you change your business name, your logo, your scope of services, and so forth… update your Google+ Local profile! Otherwise, consumers are going to find it, try to find you, and end up frustrated. In addition, you want to know when you get new recommendations and other interactions, so check up on your profile regularly!

I know… I know… the last thing you want is *another* social media platform to worry about. But for better or for worse, Google is the dominant player in the search industry, so it makes sense to maintain a presence on their platform. The good news is that setting up your Google+ Local profile isn’t difficult. As always, I’m here to answer any questions or concerns you may have. Good luck!

Creating and Growing a LinkedIn Group

LinkedIn groups can be a great way to present your expertise and thoroughly engage with potential clients. It can help your increase your influence and your LinkedIn connections. And luckily, starting one is not difficult!

1)   Pick a topic you’re an expert on. Don’t be too general, because that will make it difficult for people to distinguish if your group is to help the general population, or if it’s just a networking group for others in your industry. For example, choose "Planning Your Perfect Retirement" instead of just "Retirement".

2)   Let people know you’ve created a group! Your clients can’t join if they don’t know the group exists, and they definitely can’t invite their friends. You should post about it on your LinkedIn page, as well as all your other social media accounts. If you send out an Ezine, include a note about your new group in the next edition!

3)   Decide whether or not to pre-approve members. Some experts may not be concerned about this, but it can be a very handy tool to help you devote your time to better leads. You can create a group policy that specifies your criteria, and then only approve members who meet those criteria. Being selective will help you focus your efforts. Who wants to spend a lot of time working with someone in California, when you only work with clients on the Southern East coast?

4)   Take the lead. Now that you’ve created your group and it has members, it’s time for you to start posting and responding. You can post a short synopsis of an important tip or point, and then invite your group to add their comments and questions. Make sure to respond to comments and moderate the group (especially discussions your members start!), and you’ll be well on your way to establishing trust with your members.

5)   Send group announcements. The members of your groups are clearly interested in what you have to say, so make sure you share your opinion! Group announcements are the perfect way to let members know about your new blog, book, video, or any other bit of expertise you have to share. Just don’t send them too often, or people will leave the group! Anywhere from once a week to once a month is a good number to aim for.

There are five tips for creating and maintaining a LinkedIn group. And don’t forget to join existing groups that meet your interest! After all, participating in existing groups is a great way to connect with new people!

Tools to Make Your Social Media Images Stand Out

bill-cosby-succeedWith Facebook’s announcement that the site is adding shared photo albums (allowing you to add up to 50 contributors per album), I thought now would be a great time to share some free online tools that will make the images you post on your social profiles stand out from those of your competitors!

  • Skitch. Instead of just posting your favorite quotes to your social media, you can your posts noticed more by taking an image of the person you’re quoting, and writing the quote directly on the image. If you’re currently thinking "But I’m not a designer!", don’t be alarmed. Skitch allows anyone, designer or not, to make a nice-looking graphic quote in a matter of minutes.
  • LiveLuvCreate. This site also allows you to create images using quotes, your tip of the week, or something like "Five Things to Keep in Mind When Planning For Retirement". It provides a variety of background images to choose from, as well as several fonts, filters and effects. Essentially, there are an unlimited number of combinations to create!
  • Recite. While Recite is the most limited option so far, it’s the quickest option to use. While you can’t determine text placement, font or color, and there are limited templates available, you can create an image that’s guaranteed to look good in under a minute.
  • Pixlr. Pixlr has multiple settings, depending on the time of edits you need to make, and it also has iPhone and Android apps. Pixlr Express just covers the basics, like cropping or other simple corrections. With Pixlr Editor is much more complex, with layers, toolbars, and the more traditional tools that you’d find in Photoshop or GIMP.
  • PicMonkey. A combination of the sites listed above, PicMonkey has some photo editing options (like cropping, color correction, and even an auto-correct option), will also letting you add text, themes, and other options.
  • GIMP. This powerful editing tool is the most-frequently compared to PhotoShop. While it doesn’t have all the various tools Photoshop has, it’s a great free alternative for someone looking to get into more high-level photo editing.
  • Aviary. Aviary is more basic that GIMP, but it’s an easy-to-use tool that allows you to adjust certain photo qualities like brightness, add filters, and re-size or crop your image. There’s also an app that makes photo-editing easy to do on the go.

So there you have a variety of tools that will allow you to make the best out of the images you share on social media. They require a variety of skill levels, so there’s no need to feel overwhelmed or limited. And if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch today!

Five Things to NEVER Do on Social Media

Lately we’ve been going over all the things you SHOULD do on the various social media sites, but this week I thought we’d go over some of the basic things you should never do, especially when your clients follow you.

1)   Argue with followers. At some point, it’s likely that someone will post a negative review or comment about your company, whether it’s on your profile, or on a social review site like Yelp. Some people will have genuine concerns, while some people will just be trolls. In both cases, it’s best not to argue about the incident listed in the complaint. It’s not productive, and it doesn’t make you look good to be arguing publicly. Worse, it just antagonizes trolls.  Instead, post a genuine response apologizing for any problems, disappointment, or offense, and ask the complainant to call your office so you "can get to the bottom of the matter". Then you can discuss the issue privately, and this will usually stop trolls who are just looking to stir up trouble.

2)   Don’t just promote yourself. Unless you genuinely have something to offer (such as new blog or article), don’t just constantly promote your site. After all, people will get bored and unfollow you if all they see if "Need the best accountant in town? Call John Doe today!" Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong with announcing your new book, or posting a press release about your TV appearance. Your followers do want to share in your good news, and those posts tend to get likes because people are genuinely happy for you. But, that falls more under the category of sharing good things from your life, versus blatant self-promotion. Instead, focus on sharing things that will either help your followers (such as a weekly tip), or posts from your life. If you need some ideas, check out this blog.

3)   Don’t ignore customer posts. One of the biggest mistakes I see is people making their profiles a one-way street. If you ignore clients who are commenting on your posts, messaging you, or otherwise interacting with your page, it comes across as bad customer service. Even a simple "Thank you!" when someone says they like your service is a great place to start. After all, social media is social, so if you wouldn’t ignore someone’s response in an in-person conversation, don’t ignore it on social media.

4)   Don’t over- or under-post. Posting only once a week can be just as bad as posting five times a day. EdgeRank gives fresher content a higher score, so posting only once or twice a week limits the number of people who see your posts. However, posting every hour comes across as spam, especially if all your content is very similar. A good general rule is to aim to post once a day, and definitely no more than three times a day. Of course, these things can be subjective, so if you want to try posting a little more often (or a little less) and see if it affects engagement, you can use Facebook Insights and bit.ly to help you find out.

5)   Don’t spread yourself too thin. While having a presence on social media is imperative in this day and age, don’t commit to more profiles than you can manage. While you can use many posts across multiple platforms, some do require different character counts, or different elements such as images. If you’ve created profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram, make sure you have time to use them, or delete the ones you don’t have time for. Just having the profiles isn’t enough.

If someone Google’s you, these profiles should show up high in your search rankings. If half of the accounts are inactive, that doesn’t look very good. Not maintaining profiles will also cause whatever followers you do have to unfollow you. It would be better to pick the one’s that are the best fit for your business, and focus on those.

If you still have any questions about what you can do to improve your social media presence, get in touch today!

Ten Ways to Stand Out on Instagram!

Instagram was launched less than three years ago, but it’s already amassed over 150 million monthly active users, and over 16 billion photos have been shared. As it expands, first by adding video, and then by introducing photo and video embeds, it’s becoming more and more of an asset to businesses.

If you’re looking for ideas of how you can use it for your business, then look no further! Here are ten ways to use Instagram to help your business stand out …

1. Share your company culture. People want to get to know your company and who you are. As I’ve said in the past, "people buy people", so the more your audience connects with you and gets to know you, the more comfortable they’ll feel doing business with you. This could mean anything from posting pics from your company’s holiday party to showing off the office dog; anything that let’s followers see the real you is fair game.

2. Show off what you offer! This could be anything from your new Best-Selling book to the results you were able to get for a client trying to lose weight. You can also show off your awards, newspaper features, and anything else that highlights your expert status!

3. Share advice. People are out there looking for advice, so make it easy for them to find it! You can either post a short, nicely-designed image tip, or post a short video offering advice. You can get as much into a 15-second Instagram video as you can in a tweet, and then you can embed the videos in blogs or another location on your site. If you make these quick clips regularly, you may even be able to add a Tip of the Week video to your front page.

4. Demonstrate a tip. Many people need to see something demonstrated versus just reading about it, and Instagram can be the perfect place to share these visuals. For example, if you’re a yoga expert, then posting an Instagram image or video of the correct position for specific poses would be extremely useful for your followers. If you’re a tax expert, posting a brief image or video explaining how many deductions to select when filling out your W-4 would also help a lot of people.

5. Quotes. People are always looking for inspiration, whether it’s success quotes from a business leader, marriage quotes from a marriage counselor, or wellness quotes from a health expert. You just need to add your quote over an image (try Quozio to help you out) and share it with everyone who follows you. Hopefully they’ll then share the images with their own followers!

6. Pictures from events. If you have an event for your clients, share the pictures on Instagram. Instagram is all about people sharing their lives, so join in on the fun! Just don’t share too many in a row, or your followers will feel like you’re spamming their feed! I’d limit it to 2-3 images per event.

7. Tease new products. If you’re going to be featured in a new book with a high profile expert, have a good time with that on Instagram! Instead of just saying who you’re going to be in a book with, blur out a picture of their face (preferably with you in the picture as well) and post it with a clue about their identity. Let your followers have some fun guessing, all while you get to promote your upcoming project!

8. Respond to follower comments and questions. Clients love to know that companies they support actually listen to them, so make sure to respond to any comments or questions your followers leave below your posts. Even if it only requires a simple ‘Thank you!", engaging with your customers will keep them engaging with you, both online and off.

9. Share your posts on other sites. Instagram makes it really easy for you to share your pictures and videos on other sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Not only does this help streamline posting across multiple sites, but it also let’s your followers on your other social media profiles know that they can come follow you on Instagram.

10. Use the right tags! While tagging is more important on some social networking sites than others, it’s very important on Instagram. You can find posts under almost any tag you can think of, so pick the best tags for your industry to help you find the right followers (such as #retirement for a financial planner). Keep in mind that, unlike on Twitter, you will need to use hashtags even with single words. And don’t overtag! Your followers will get frustrated if they have to sort through lists of 30 tags under every post.

Instagram is all about having fun, so don’t be afraid to have a good time with it! And if you have any questions you need answered, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Getting the Most Out of YouTube

Last week, we went over some tips and tricks for Twitter. This week, we’re going to go over how to get the most out of YouTube.

YouTube is the third most popular site in the world, and appeals to almost everyone, making it an optimal place to share your knowledge with the people looking for it. As we covered in this blog, YouTube can work for almost anyone willing to give the site a chance. There’s definitely a niche for you!

However, there are ten key things you need to keep in mind to make the most out of the experience. Here are some tips:

  1. Use a unique name. Many people come up with something generic, like RetirementGuy101, which just gets lost in the crowd. Make sure to use your name, or your business name (which will help you build your Google results, as an added bonus). This makes you seem more official.
  2. Add a cover photo. While YouTube cover photo requirements are larger than many sites (2560 x 1440), it is imperative that you have one. Many people simply leave this off, which leaves the strange, boring background on display. This does not make your company look established and trustworthy. Getting the dimensions and layout right can be tricky on YouTube, but they do provide a handy guide here.
  3. Include an "About" description. Create a short, concise description of you or your company. Make sure to describe the ideals, qualifications, and bragging points that make you unique. You are trying to convince new people to pick you over the competition, after all. And, since this is social media, making sure to keep it short to keep viewers engaged. Around 245 characters is a good limit.
  4. Embed them on your site. You already have a built-in audience on your website, so make sure to embed them there. If you don’t already have one, it would be a great idea to create a media page for your site! You should also prominently feature a link to your YouTube channel (and other social networking sites!) near the top of your site.
  5. Link back to your site. Not only can you include a link in your description, but you can add an annotation over your video that gives the URL of your site, and then links directly to the page. It’s also a great idea to have a call-to-action annotation at the end where you give people a special incentive to visit your site. Offering them a free report or free chapter from your Best-Selling book (that links to where they can sign up to get it) are great options!
  6. Take advantage of the title and description. You never want to leave one of these blank! Not only will a descriptive, catchy title encourage people to click on your video, but it’s a great place to mention your name/business name and give your search engine rankings a boost.
  7. Don’t forget tags! I cannot stress this enough. Tags are how new people will find your videos on YouTube. If you leave them off, you’re missing so many perfect opportunities! For instance, if you’re a financial planner, tagging common terms like "retirement", "retirement planning", and "Retirement 101" will help those planning their retirement find you. YouTube can also be good about suggesting common tags, so make sure you take a look at what they suggest when making your choices.
  8. Notify your followers that you have a channel. If you have an email list or other social networking accounts (including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest), make sure to let them know you have a channel once it’s live! A quick announcement is a good way to start, and then I’d recommend promoting all new videos through your email and social media sites.
  9. Announce new videos to your subscribers. When you are uploading a new video, there’s an option under "Basic Info" to "Post to your subscribers". You should always do this! You never want to count on your subscribers to come back and find your videos, especially if you post sporadically. Which brings me to my next point …
  10. Post regularly! I would try to commit to at least one video a month, or your subscribers will get bored and forget about you. If you can do one a week, that’s even better! In addition to keeping your current clients interested, this will help you gain new followers. After all, if you’re searching for videos on "retirement", are you going to go with the person with one video under that term? Or are you going to click on a video from someone who seems to consistently put out reliable content? Exactly! And don’t forget to like other videos, comment, and subscribe to other channels. This also makes your channel seem more active and reliable.

Now that you know the ten key tips to help make your YouTube channel a success, what are you waiting for? You can get started on creating your channel today! If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to contact me any time!

Tips and Tricks for Twitter

Twitter is the 12th most popular site in the world, and adds hundreds of thousands of new users each day. To say the least, it’s important to have a presence on the site. However, many people still think Twitter isn’t right for them. They may think they can’t make a dent amongst the millions of users, when really, they’re only aiming to reach a select subset of those on the social networking site.

Or, they may think Twitter is only for Millennials who aren’t quite ready to buy their products. In reality, the site has a large number of users across every age demographic. In fact, a GlobalWebIndex study from earlier this year shows that Twitter is showing the fastest growth among those 55- to 64-years-old!

Many are also concerned that people are only looking to talk to their friends, or follow celebrities, and not read the advice they’re giving. Instead, finding the news and doing research are two of the top five ways people use Twitter (men are actually more likely to use Twitter to find news than they are to post a status update, and it’s pretty close for women).

So, now that we’ve cleared up a few misconceptions, let’s go over a few tips and tricks to help you get started:

  1. Make sure you completely fill out your profile. This may seem like common sense, but so many small business profiles only provide half of the information needed. The most common omissions are a cover photo and a link back to their website. Having an incomplete profile makes it look like the person isn’t committed to participating in the site, like the business doesn’t understand the site, or like they just don’t really care. None of these look good to a potential client.
  2. Don’t follow people randomly, buy followers, or use some other program to gain followers quickly. While it may give you thousands of followers in a short period of time, these followers will not be high quality. In fact, many purchased "followers" are just spam accounts. It’s a much better idea to send an email to your email subscribers, Facebook fans, and other already interested parties to build up your follower count naturally. It will take longer to gain a solid following, but quality is much more important than quantity here.
  3. Add variety, and add value. If you want to attract followers, you need to generate interest. Posting the same things all the time won’t generate interest. Only self-promoting for the sake of self-promoting won’t generate interest. You need to be offering something useful to people. This is why it’s a great idea to tweet out your blogs and articles, because those contain valuable information. You can also tweet news articles related to what you do, and add your expert commentary. A tip of the week is also a way to add value. The goal is to make people see why they need to follow you in order to get the best advice and information.
  4. Interact with your followers. Once people feel like they’ve gotten to know you through your tweets, they’ll start to respond and retweet. If someone responds with a great thought on your post, retweet it. If they ask a question, give a thoughtful response in a timely manner. And don’t be afraid to reply to people you follow either. Interacting is a great way to create a loyal audience.
  5. Use hashtags wisely. When people first get started on Twitter, they sometimes think they need to hashtag every keyword in order for people to find their content. However, you don’t need to hashtag a general term like retirement, since people can search for that would all on it’s own. Hashtags work better for phrases, such as #retirementplanning. Keep an eye on the trending topics, and that will help you get a feel for what needs a hashtag and what doesn’t.

You should also search for hashtags you’re interested in to find high-quality people to follow yourself. This is also a good way to find Twitter chats related to your industry.

While Twitter is definitely a platform where slow and steady wins the race, it is a great site to use! Just focus on building genuine relationships instead of attracting thousands of followers overnight, and it will be a great experience for you!

Pinterest Do’s and Don’ts

As promised in last week’s article Ten Ways to Use Pinterest, this week we’ll be looking at 5 do’s and 5 don’ts for this social networking site. Don’t feel overwhelmed though: Pinterest is one of the friendliest social networking sites out there, and users pride themselves on keeping the community positive! If you follow these quick tips, you’ll be sure to have a great time using the site.

Let’s start with the do’s:

  1. Link to the original source. Whether you’re pinning something yourself or re-pinning from someone else, make sure the link you include actually goes to the content you’re talking about. Don’t just link to a Google image instead of the blog, and if you’re linking to a picture of a recipe, make sure the link you use includes the recipe. This way you don’t send your users on a rabbit trail to find the actual content you’ve shared with them, and you’re giving credit to the content creator.
  2. Keep captions short. Unless you’re sharing detailed instructions for a project (as you would in a recipe pin), your captions should be brief and descriptive. Pinterest is very visual, so too much text can distract from the flow. If you look at the "Popular" page on the site, you’ll notice that very few, if any, of the captions get anywhere near the 500 character limit. In fact, most captions are well under a hundred characters.
  3. Find ways to interact. This can include offering a contest where people enter by repining, offering a special discount for your Twitter followers, or allowing people to pin to a themed group board, such as "Share Your Tips and Recipes for Healthy Work Lunches". You can also interact by following people’s who’s posts you like.
  4. Add a pin button to your website. Just as you can add buttons for people to easily share your blogs and articles on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites, you can easily do the same with Pinterest. One of the key differences is that you must use an image in whatever you want people to pin, or people won’t be able to pin it.
  5. Pin regularly. Because of Pinterest’s set up, it’s pretty easy to get away without posting every single day. However, if you only pin a couple of times a month, people are going to forget you’re there. In general, it’s a good idea to post a few items throughout the day.

And now here are the don’ts:

  1. Don’t just advertise your own brand. I know I said this last week, but I think it’s important enough to stress again: interacting with others is key to creating a strong presence on Pinterest. Not only will only posting from your own site annoy the Pinterest community and keep you from getting a substantial following, but it prevents the community from getting to know other aspects of your personality. Don’t get me wrong: sharing your content is great! Just make sure you diversify some as well.
  2. Don’t pin what you think people want you to pin. The Pinterest community prides itself on authenticity, so people will see through this. Pinning things you aren’t interested in will also cause you to lose interest in the site quickly, since it won’t be a fun experience. Pin what you like, and the right people will find you.
  3. Don’t use boring stock images. Just like your captions, your images need to be engaging. On a site that’s visually focused, the image is the first thing people notice, and a boring or blurry stock image will not encourage people to click through to your site, follow you, or re-pin your content. You can use a stock image, but make sure it’s actually related to your content, and not just a random, smiling person.
  4. Don’t autofeed your pins to your other social media accounts. This is especially true if you post often. If you post several times a day, then your frequent posts will start to overwhelm your followers on other sites (while you don’t want to post a hundred times a day even on Pinterest, you can get away with posting more frequently that on other sites). If you’re posting a recipe or project instructions, then you’re caption will get cut off in a random spot.
  5. Don’t forget to follow other users. And I don’t mean go on a mass following spree of other users! Instead, search for the types of pins you’re interested in, and then follow people who have content you like. While you won’t gain a ton of followers overnight, many people will follow you back if you post similar content. After all: they’re looking for great new pins too!

Pinterest is a very welcoming and opening site, so it’s pretty hard to make a misstep as long as you follow the unspoken rules to be authentic and interact with others. Still have questions? Feel free to get in touch!

Is Instagram Video Right for Your Business?

Last week, Facebook announced a major Vine competitor by adding video to Instagram. In general, they’re very similar in that both allows users to share extremely short videos online, but Instagram has a few key differences that may make it easier for businesses to embrace:

  • A longer format. While 15 seconds is still quite short, it’s still more than twice the length of Vine’s 6-second allowance. It’s also one of the lengths allowed for pre-roll ads, which could allow some businesses looking to advertise online to kill two birds with one stone.
  • Stabilization. Instagram has added a handy feature called "Cinema" that keeps your videos from looking shaky and amateurish. Since most small businesses aren’t secretly hiding a large-scale video production team in a back office, this is a great bet for making your videos look the best they can!
  • Filters. One other departure from Vine is the presence of Instagram’s signature filters, which can help enhance the appearance of your videos.

However, 15 seconds is still an incredibly short period of time, and that won’t work for everyone.  It’s not the place for complicated tutorials or explanations, but it is a great place to tell your business’s story. You can share quick videos of something funny that happened at the office, or clips of your office helping out at a local charity event. If your office has a great view, take a quick video and post it. These types of videos are not time-consuming and they help people connect more with you and your business.

On the other hand, there are still more practical ways that quick video can help your business. For example:

  • Get long-time clients to record a quick testimonial while they’re in your office and share it online.
  • Give a quick explanation of a new book you’ve launched, or show off your article in the Wall Street Journal.
  • Introduce your clients to new staff members.
  • Get your office team to wish a loyal client a happy birthday.
  • Give a quick tip of the week. If it can fit in a tweet, then you can probably get it in a 15 second Instagram video.
  • Show off the amazing entryway or view of the new home you’re working to sell.

You can’t currently share your Instagram videos on other sites, which is a pretty big limitation, but that should change soon. After all, Vine introduced the capability only a few short months after launch. And if you’re looking to post the video on sites that are hosted on WordPress, then you’re in luck: plugins like Embedly can already help you work around the issue.

With that said, Instagram video could be a great way to help your clients get to know you better!

Making Hashtags Work for You

Now that hashtags have been added to Facebook, they’re now an important part of all the major social networks. Unfortunately, not everyone is sure of how to use them, which leads to avoidance—and missed opportunities. Here are five ways to make hashtags work for you:

  • Major news stories: If a major news story breaks in your industry, there’s no better way to quickly get in on the action than the join the conversation on social media. However, if you just post your commentary without using the commonly associated hashtags, you’re posts will only be seen by your followers instead of a much broader audience. Using popular hashtags allows you to get your expert knowledge in front of a very important audience: people who are already looking for information on the topic.
  • Join a chat: many industries hold chats to talk to each other and answer questions from non-experts. These are always designated with a chat-specific hashtag. Joining these chats can help you dispense knowledge and grow your followers. You can find chats through announcements/participation from people you already follow, or by doing a quick search.
  • Tagging your name/business name: tagging your name or business name helps new followers or people who have stumbled across something you’ve written to find more information from you. Just make sure to delete the spaces between words when creating your tag when required. For example, your hashtag could be #firstname lastname on Tumblr, but would need to be #firstnamelastname on Twitter.
  • Tagging common industry terms: Adding common industry tags to your post on a site like Tumblr allows people searching for related information to find your advice and expertise. For instance, if you’re a financial planner, adding tags like #financialplanning and #retirement will make it much easier for those looking for retirement advice to find you.
  • Don’t over tag: While you can get away with more tags on some sites than on others, it’s never a good idea to add 30 tags to any one post. Not only does it make your posts very hard to read, but it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll ever find that many hashtags that really work for a single update. If they don’t make sense, then you’re just going to frustrate readers instead of engaging them.

Keep in mind that while using hashtags is valuable, even using them correctly won’t gain you an enormous amount of new followers overnight. That shouldn’t be the goal. Instead, incorporate them into what you’re already doing to help find and engage the people looking for your expertise. And as always, if you have questions, or want additional tips, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Five Apps to Help You With Your Social Media Presence

Posting on the go is a great way to show your clients what your business is up to in day-to-day life. You can post pictures from social events for your clients, informational workshops and seminars, and pictures of you and your staff hard at work. And since inspiration doesn’t always come at the most convenient time (aka, when you’re at your computer), your smartphones allows you to post a great tip you’ve come up with or article you’ve found anytime, anywhere.

However, some people are concerned about how to get those pictures and text updates posted while out and about. Luckily, the main social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and the list goes on) all have free apps for both iPhone and Android devices. And to help you make those posts the best they can be, here are five apps you can use on the road to help you get content up on the go.

  1. Hootsuite: Hootsuite saves you time by allowing you so post to several of the major social networks at once. No longer do you need to log in to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn individually to post once status update. It also allows you to schedule posts to go out at a later date and/or time. Available for both iPhone and Android.
  2. ManageFlitter: This site will make managing an overflowing Twitter account so much easier. It helps you make sure you’re only following people you want updates from, see who’s unfollowed you, figure out the best time to post, and all around makes maintaining your Twitter account easier. Desktop only.
  3. Magisto: Did you take a great video at a company event, but there’s just that one moment that throws the video off? Try using Magisto which allows you to trim and make basic edits to videos right on your smartphone. Available for iPhone and Android.
  4. Fotor Photo Editor: This photo-editing app is currently the #2 app overall in Apple’s app store. It’s also available for Android. Not only can you take pictures straight from the app, but it contains great editing tools to help you quickly clean up a photo. Once you’re happy with how it looks, you can post it to social media accounts from within the app.
  5. Postling: This is a really great all-in-one monitoring system for your social media accounts. Not only can you post to your blog and social media accounts from the app, but it allows you to track mentions of your name or business so you can respond quickly. You also receive notifications when you get reviews on Yelp and CitySearch. The iPhone app is free with a $10/month paid online account. Android app is coming soon.

Still looking for more social media help? Don’t hesitate to contact me for all your social media needs!

Making the Most Out of Online Videos

Many people are afraid to jump into the wide world of online videos, and it’s usually for one of these three reasons:

  • they think it will be time-consuming and expensive
  • they can’t imagine how their video will have any impact in the massive sea of online videos (YouTube alone is up to 72 hours of new video every minute, and counting)
  • they’re stumped for content ideas

I’m here to assure you that none of these things need to be a major (or even minor) concern. Here’s why:

Time and money. Your video does not need to be long in order to have an impact. In fact, in the age of Twitter, shorter is better! Multiple researchers, including some from Google, have put the ideal YouTube video length at between 3 and 3 ½ minutes. Does that mean you have to cut yourself off right at 3 minutes and 30 seconds? Of course not! Just keep the attention span of the average video viewer in mind, and you’re good to go.

You also don’t need to buy a bunch of really fancy, really expensive video equipment and editing software to make a great video. While you want your videos to be good quality, don’t worry about it looking as good as something that’s going to air on network television. Leave that for when you’re actually going to be on television! For a video you’re shooting for YouTube or Vimeo, you can get an HD video camera for a very reasonable price on Amazon or your local electronics store.

Making an impact. Unfortunately, too many people feel like the only path to video success is with a certified viral hit. Fortunately, this just isn’t true. And even better, it’s not what you want to aim for when you’re trying to present yourself as a CelebrtiyExpert®. After all, while videos of animals being cute and people making hilarious mistakes may be funny, they don’t exactly scream (or even whisper) "credibility".

Instead, you want to focus on doing what you do best: helping people make sense of complicated issues. Make sure your name is in the description, and that you’ve tagged your video with all related topics (including your name!), and you’ll get your video in front of the people who need to see it. You’ll also improve your Google search rankings, which is extremely important to your brand!

Choosing a topic. The most important thing to do is share your knowledge! You’re the expert, so you have specialized knowledge that other people need.

In practical terms, the best thing you can do is post educational videos (and put them under that category). Here are some quick suggestions:

  • Explain the most common mistakes people make related to your field and how to avoid them.
  • Make video responses to breaking news stories (and tag them with commonly used keywords surrounding the story to get more views).
  • Record a video on the top five things people can do to stay ahead of the tax, retirement, etc. game.
  • Create a weekly tip video to break down a related topic in a way that’s quick and easy for people to understand.
  • Post testimonials from your customers.

So there you have it! Creating and maintaining YouTube and Vimeo channels does not need to be overwhelming or time-consuming. Instead, they allow you to show your expertise to those who need to see it most!

Ten Things to Share on Social Media

As I mentioned two weeks ago, diversity is very important to your social media presence. It keeps your audience from getting bored, and helps them learn about different aspects of your personality and your business. However, sometimes people stumble when it comes to how to actually vary their content. Here are ten ideas to get you started:

1. Your blogs and articles. This is usually the first idea people have, and for good reason! Your blogs and articles are where you share your expert knowledge on your website, and that expert knowledge also needs to be shared on your social media sites. After all, this brings the information to your clients instead of waiting for them to come to you, and it allows them to share your expertise with potential new clients.

2. Your events. If you’re holding a workshop, informational seminar, or social event for your clients, invite people via social media with a quick post. Don’t stop there though. Have someone take pictures at the event, and then post the pictures online afterwards!

3. Other articles related to your business. Did you read a great article in Forbes this morning that’s related to your industry? Share it with your followers! Not only does this help you diversify, but it also helps show your clients that you stay up-to-date on industry news. Just be sure to add your own commentary to further establish that you’re the expert.

4. Your charitable involvement. Does your organization sponsor a charitable fundraiser? Are you a drop off location for a toy drive? Do you volunteer at a food bank? Post about it. This lets your customers get to know what you care about, and it helps brings more awareness to your favorite causes.

5. Quotes. If you have a favorite quote that perfectly sums up your business and/or life philosophy, go ahead and share it with your followers. It will give your customers a greater insight into your business, and quotes are one of the most shareable types of content on social media, so you can you draw in new customers looking for an expert that thinks just like you.

6. Office life. Your clients want to see and get to know you and your employees. If you have a teambuilding day, share the pictures. If you have a holiday party, share the pictures. Even if it’s just a staff meeting, take a friendly picture of everyone in your office, and tweet it out. People like to be able to see who they’re working with.

7. A weekly tip series. Start a weekly series where you share one short tip each week. And I do mean short, since the character cap for tweets is only 140 characters. However, keeping it short allows you to send out a quick "food for thought" that your clients can immediately bring into practice.

8. Promote your media. If you appear in a TV show, are quoted in an article, or have a new book coming out, post about it! If you have a weekly radio show, invite your followers to tune in a little bit before it starts to air. And don’t forget to take behind-the-scenes photos and share those too!

9. Ask questions. As I’ve mentioned in the past, this is a great way to get your customers to interact with you, and an amazing tool for learning about their needs. And you don’t have to limit it to asking them what they want to know; you can use this to create an intriguing lead-in to a recent blog or article you’ve posted on your website.

10. Offer promotions. If you’re giving out a free chapter from your latest book, promote it online. If you decide to reward loyal customers with a discount, share the discount code via social media. You can even do an exclusive discount solely for your social media followers to reward them for keeping up with you so closely.

So there you go! With these ideas, you should have no problem keeping your online presence engaging and varied. Of course, the sky’s really the limit when it comes to the types of posts you can do. If you can think it up, then you post about it!

What Google’s Changes Mean for You

Last week Google introduced several new changes to its various product at Google I/O 2013. While some of these changes don’t apply to social media (or won’t apply to most people for a very long time, a lá Google Glass), there are changes to two key products that anyone trying to promote themselves online needs to take note of.


You may have noticed Google+ just received a major makeover. Not only does the revamp look a lot more like Pinterest, but Google made around 40 other changes. Here are the ones you need to know about:

  • Google just made Google+ a much more visually focused site, meaning that images and videos are now even more important (and even larger in size) for profiles on the site. While text posts are still okay, using only text posts will get very boring very quickly for your followers.
  • Google+ is now actively using hashtags. Not only will Google now suggest related hashtags for your posts, but your followers will be able to click on the hashtags to see related content.
  • Google has also added new photo-editing tools (one of which is actually called Auto Awesome) that will be extremely beneficial in helping you get great photos on your site.

For example, let’s say you decided to take some office photos to help clients get familiar with your staff. When reviewing the photos, though, you noticed that you don’t have a single one where everyone is smiling and has their eyes open. Google can now help you "stitch" together one great photo from all the other not-so-great ones, no special Photoshop skills required.

That’s only one of the many new tools Google+ has added to make sharing great photos easier than ever. The new tools also help you pick out the best images, remove red-eye, sharpen the photo, among a host of other things.

Google Maps

While some of the changes may appear cosmetic (such as the map now being full page instead of a partial page), many of the changes will require you to be more thorough in filling out your Google Places profile.

For instance, Maps will now display your company’s info card right below the search box on the maps page. Users will be able to see photos and reviews, get directions, and save your business info to come back to later.

What does this mean for you? It means you’ll want to make sure your business profile is completely verified and filled out with the address, website, and any other relevant info. It’s even a good idea to collect reviews from loyal customers to add to your profile so people see how much people respect your business at first glance. Having a complete profile makes your business look more credible to potential customers.

Maps will also start more clearly highlighting related places (a.k.a. your competitors), which makes it even more important that you have a complete profile.

If your profile is currently lacking, you can search for your business name, click the "Places" icon beside the name, then click "more info" to view your full profile. Once on your profile, you can scroll down to the "Manage this page" icon to make changes.

Those are the biggest social media-related changes from Google I/O 2013. Have questions or want more information on how you can improve your presence online? Don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Five Simple Ways To Improve Your Facebook Presence Using EdgeRank

While it’s not new, you may have heard a lot lately about Facebook ‘s EdgeRank and how it’s complicating things for businesses on Facebook.  EdgeRank is Facebook’s content-ranking algorithm that determines which content shows up in each user’s News Feed. Though it can seem overwhelming, EdgeRank does not need to make Facebook a frustrating platform for businesses. Here are five easy things you can do to make the most out of EdgeRank:

  1. Make posts visual! There’s a reason the saying "A picture’s worth a thousand words." has been around for so long: it’s true.  And it’s even more true on Facebook , where the most highly ranked items are images and video. Does this mean you have to use an image or video with every single post? No. It just means it’s best to use them whenever you have a great photo or video that relates to what you want to post about.

    Just so you know, EdgeRank ranks posts containing links the next highest, followed by plain text posts.
  2. Keep it short! According to Facebook, posts between 100 and 250 characters get 60% more likes, comments and shares, all of which help your EdgeRank score.  This is especially important now that more than half of monthly active users are accessing the site via mobile devices where it’s less enjoyable to read long posts.
  3. Diversify! While photo and videos do receive a higher EdgeRank score, you don’t want to limit yourself to solely visual posts because it will quickly get boring for your fans. Instead, use your Facebook page to link to articles you’ve written, or articles that express your views that you’ve found elsewhere on the Web. You can even post quotes that express your views on life and business. Of course, incorporating visuals when it makes sense will only make them better.

    Another valuable type of post for any business owner is a simple question. Not only does this add variety to your page, but it can also allow you to gain valuable insight into what your customers are thinking. For instance, if you ask your fans "What’s your biggest fear about retirement?", you can then create a blog or article to specifically addresses those concerns. This just positions you as even more of an expert to your clients.
  4. Post at least once a day! Once someone likes your page, there’s a 96% they’ll never visit your profile again. But before you start wondering why you’re bothering with Facebook to begin with, keep in mind that they’ll be looking for information from you in the same place they’ll be looking for information from their friends: in their News Feed.

    Therefore, the best way to keep your business fresh in the minds of your customers is to post relevant content every single day. While you don’t want to over-post (i.e. don’t post every hour or every thirty minutes), posting at least once a day gives your content a higher priority because EdgeRank gives fresher content a better score.
  5. Interact with your fans! As your business presence grows and people react more to your brand, they’re more likely to start adding comments and asking questions. While you don’t need to check for responses constantly, checking once or twice a day shows that you care about your customers and truly want to help them.

    For example, if you ask a question and then write a corresponding blog about the feedback, go ahead and post it as a new status, but then go back and post it in the previous status and tag those who initially responded. That way you make sure they know you’ve addressed their concerns.

    Need another reasons to interact with your clients? Engagement makes EdgeRank very, very happy. The more you engage with your clients, the higher your engagement goes, and the more likely your posts are to show up in the News Feed.

So there you go—despite recent commentary to the contrary, EdgeRank does not have to be a hindrance to your online presence. In fact, knowing how to use EdgeRank to your advantage can only help your business grow!

Celebrity Branding Online: Bring in New Business by Creating Content That Your Customers Love

You’ve heard me talk about "content marketing" before. In case you’re a bit rusty on your terminology, content marketing is the process of creating relevant content and using it to attract and engage your audience. So rather than saying "here is my website, here are my products, buy them", content marketing creates content (such as blogs, articles, or videos) that is relevant and valuable to your audience, and uses it to engage them.

Ultimately, content marketing has the same goal of every other form of marketing—to generate new business. But rather than "pushing" your products or services, you’re sparking the interest of your audience, educating them, and encouraging them to purchase from you when they are ready to make a purchase.

While the concept of content marketing isn’t new, the emergence of the internet and social media have provided a perfect environment for it. Whether it’s writing blogs and articles or posting photos on Facebook, there are a variety of channels available that allow you to connect with your audience and send them content that offers them valuable information while simultaneously reinforcing your CelebrityExpert® status.

Today, we’re going to dive a bit deeper into this process, first talking about what type of content to create, and then exploring the various channels you can use to reach your audience. Let’s jump in!

Creating Content

Remember, the goal is to create content that has value to your audience. You want to give them a reason to keep reading (or watching, or listening)! There are many ways to do this—below are a few ideas:

Offer Tips. As a CelebrityExpert®, you’re in a unique position to provide helpful information to your audience. As an accountant, you could provide a "top five" list of tax preparation mistakes to avoid. If you’re a dentist, you could provide a tip each week for a brighter smile. The possibilities are endless—just remember to provide value to your audience!

Report Breaking News. Passing on breaking industry news that is relevant to your audience has two immediate benefits. First, it’s helpful information for your audience. And second, it reinforces your position as an industry expert. As a retirement advisor, for instance, your audience would certainly be interested in news relating to changing tax law.

Tell Stories. One of the best ways to engage your audience, educate them about your products or services, and demonstrate your expertise at the same time is by telling stories. Whether it’s a cautionary tale of an individual who didn’t follow your advice or a personal success story, stories are an effective means of getting your point across in an engaging way.

Using Pictures & Videos. You’ve heard that a picture is worth a thousand words—and so is a video! Pictures or video of your team in action, your products, or yourself can be very effective when they’re done right.

Distributing Your Content

Now that you’ve got an idea of how to create engaging content, let’s talk about where you can use it. Below are several great starting points:

Facebook. Facebook is the king of social media networks, at least for the moment. It’s a great place to engage with your market, particularly if you sell to consumers. Post links to your blogs and articles, your website, photos and videos, and more. Facebook is also a great place to share weekly tips for your audience.

Twitter. While not quite as mainstream as Facebook, Twitter is still a tremendous platform to leverage. You can most much of the same content as you would on Facebook—but remember to make it short and sweet!

LinkedIn. While LinkedIn functions much like Facebook in many ways, the audience is different. It’s professional, which means that if you’re selling to other businesses, LinkedIn can be a goldmine. You’ll want to adopt a more formal tone than you’d use on Facebook and Twitter—but the content you share, such as your blogs and articles, doesn’t have to change.

YouTube. If you’re creating video, you’ll want to share it on YouTube. The platform also gives you the opportunity to create your own branded "channel", allowing you to build your brand and drive traffic to your website. A quick word about video marketing—take the time to do it right. In today’s era of affordable video equipment, there’s no excuse for posting low-quality footage! You want everything that you create to build your CelebrityExpert® credibility, and that includes your videos.

Pinterest. Pinterest is MY favorite social networking site, as many of you know. (Shoes, home décor, fashion… what’s not to love J?) And while it’s not right for every business, if you sell products or services that have "lifestyle" appeal, Pinterest can be a great fit.

Blogs & Articles. Writing blogs and articles is an effective way to build your credibility and your visibility. There are many approaches you can take—everything from sharing stories to providing helpful tips to highlighting industry developments. And once you’ve created these blogs and articles, you can use your social media platforms to create further exposure.

Now that we’ve covered how to create engaging content and where to distribute it, I’d like to close with a couple of reminders.

First, remember that the key to engaging your audience is to provide value. If the content you’re creating isn’t interesting or helpful for your target market, they’re not going to read it and they’re definitely not going to share it with their friends and family.

Second, remember that everything you create and distribute impacts your brand. In order to maximize your CelebrtiyExpert® status, make sure to stay focused on your target market and the brand you’re working to build. It’s easy to lose your focus in the busy world of social media, so make a constant effort to stay on track.

And finally—have fun! Growing your business may be hard work, but there’s no reason you can’t enjoy the process. And when it comes to creating content, you’ll find that having fun and being yourself is the most effective way to engaging your audience.

As always, please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help YOU establish your CelebrityExpert® brand!

Seven Ways to Create "Sharable" Content

On the internet, content is king. And it always will be.

Whether it’s pictures, text, video, tweets, status updates, or whatever… the content you create will in large part determine the success of your internet marketing efforts. That’s why I’m always telling you to work so hard at creating content that reflects your expertise and positions you as a CelebrityExpert® within your marketplace. That’s why writing a blog is so important. That’s why publishing articles is key. And that’s why great photos and videos are so valuable.

But… you’ve heard it asked that "If a tree falls in a forest, but there is no one around to hear it, did it really make a sound?"

I’d like to rephrase that. If you create a great piece of content, but nobody ever sees it, does it matter?

The answer is no, it doesn’t. So it’s not enough to create content—you must create content that gets noticed, gets read, gets watched, and gets shared. Social media means that content can travel all across the country or even the world in a matter of minutes… if it’s appealing enough. So today we’re going to look at seven tips for creating content that engages your audience– and that they want to share with others.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Yes, originality is a good thing. But when it comes to creating content for your internet presence, don’t out-think yourself. If you’ve been writing a blog or publishing articles for some time, you should have a decent idea of what works, and what doesn’t. (You can get this information using programs like Google Analytics which track traffic to your website and blog.) Take some time to analyze this data and figure out which types of content are most effective. Then, continue to create content that "fits the mold." Once you know what your audience likes, just keep giving it to them!

Leverage emotion. Whether it’s fear, anger, hope, happiness, or something similar, studies have shown that content which arouses emotion is far more likely to be shared than content that does not inspire emotion. As a business owner, one of the best ways you can do this is to share stories about your industry and your customers. As a tax attorney, for instance, you could write a blog entry or film a video in which you describe a miserable situation that your client was facing—but that he was eventually able to overcome because of your assistance. Just keep in mind that you don’t want this type of content to be overly promotional, so keep it subtle.

Start with an engaging headline or title. For blog posts, articles, white papers, special reports, and similar content, coming up with the right headline or title is all-important. The headline needs to be provocative, descriptive, and engaging in order to arouse interest. But it also can’t be misleading, as it will leave your reader disappointed and highly unlikely to recommend the content to his or her network. Studies have shown that specific headlines, such as "Five Steps to Making More Money Online" are typically more effective than a general headline like "How to Create a Profitable Website". Don’t let choosing a headline be an afterthought – it’s critical!

Remember that a picture is worth 1,000 words. Photos and videos are extremely powerful when it comes to online marketing. Sharp, high-quality pictures of your team in action give your viewers a chance to "get to know you" without ever meeting you. Take every opportunity you have to create strong multi-media content. But even when you are writing blogs or articles, look for the opportunity to insert graphs, photos, or other visual content.

Make your content easy to share. Online retail giants such as Amazon.com know that the easier they can make it for their customers to place an order, the more money they are going to make. The same is true when it comes to getting your content shared. If it’s easy for your readers to do so, they are going to share content at a higher rate. Make sure there are prominent "share" buttons on your website and on your blog. And encourage them to do so—sometimes a simple blurb like "Did you like this article? Share it with your friends!" is all that it takes to inspire action.

Make your content easy to read. You may have written the best, most-interesting blog entry in the history of the internet—but if it is laid out like a constitutional law textbook, good luck getting anyone to read it, let alone share it! It’s critical to create content that is visually appealing and inviting for your audience. You want reading your content to be an enjoyable experience.

Answer the questions that your readers are asking. What does your audience want to know? If you can identify the key questions that they are asking, you’re well on the way to success. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how visually appealing and well-written your content is… if it’s irrelevant to your audience, they’re not going to read it, let alone share it. Your job is to figure out the burning questions that consumers in your market are asking, and then to provide the answers. If you’re not sure where to begin, just ask! Call up a few of your loyal customers and let them know you’re thinking about starting a blog, publishing articles, or producing videos. Ask them what subject matter they would be interested in hearing about. Ask around until a consensus emerges… and then get busy!

Well-crafted content that positions you as a CelebrityExpert® within your market is valuable. But it doesn’t matter how great the content is, if nobody is reading it. So as you create blog entries, articles, videos, etc, keep in mind this important question: "Is it sharable?" These tips will help you make it easier for your audience to spread the word about your business, ultimately translating into more exposure, more traffic to your website, more leads generated, and more money in your pocket. And that is a worthwhile goal!

Six Common Internet Marketing Mistakes—and How to Fix Them

The field of Internet Marketing is rapidly changing. So, like mine, I’m sure your to-do list is never ending! Thus, spending hours each week reading up on the latest trends is a task that probably doesn’t even make your top 20.

So let me help!

Here are some of the most common mistakes that I see small business owners make as they pursue Internet marketing. 

1) Un-authentic customer testimonials—or none at all.

If your website doesn’t feature customer testimonials, you’re missing out on sales you otherwise would have made. Testimonials are an essential element of any site,  but all testimonials WEREN’T created equal. If your testimonials are short and robotic, your customers will smell them from a mile away. They’ll assume that either you created the testimonial for yourself, or that you bribed someone else to write a glowing review. Your testimonials must be authentic and believable. If you can include contact information and a picture of the individual, do so! Effective testimonials will dramatically improve your conversion rate because they give the shopper a sense of confidence and security knowing that "other people love this product!"

So how do you get a great testimonial? You ask! I have never found a happy client that wasn’t willing to give a testimonial. Now, they may have a hard time finding the time to write it- so, another strategy is to write it for them and they can edit and approve.

2) A confusing value proposition.

As I have written before, you have a matter of seconds to capture the attention of a visitor to your website. If a visitor can’t tell what you do or what you are offering by quickly scanning your home page, they are not going to stick around. From the headline you choose to the graphics that make up your home page and other landing pages, it is important that every element of each page is designed to clearly convey your value proposition.

3) Poor stock photography

An effective website is made up of compelling content – which means more than just text. Content includes videos, podcasts, and of course, photos. In many cases, these photos aren’t of you, your employees, or your workplace—they’re stock photos. Now, in principle, stock photos can be effective… but nine times out of ten, they look "fake" and out of place. And that’s a very bad message to send to potential customers.

Your customers want to know that the people on your website work for your company. Invest in professional photography and replace the stock photos on your website with great pictures of yourself and your team. Your customers want to know that they are doing business with real people—so let them get to know you!

4) Bad copy

As a non-lawyer, how much fun is it for you to read the pages of legalese at the end of a contract? Have you ever taken the time to read the entire iTunes Terms & Conditions agreement, just for fun? Of course not, because nobody in their right mind enjoys reading a wall of text that seems written deliberately to confuse them.

Yet, that is exactly what many business owners do on their own website! Remember that your customers and prospects are not experts in your industry. They don’t have the faintest clue about the technical details of your operation—nor are they interested in finding out. When you write the copy for your website, write for your audience, not for yourself! Describe your products and services clearly, and in a way that reflects the benefits they provide. Give your website visitors a reason to purchase from you—don’t give them a headache.

5) An inconsistent social media presence.

I know, I know—you’ve heard me talking about the value of social media plenty by now. (And to your credit, many of you have listened to me!) But as social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter explode in popularity and business owners begin to get involved, they make a critical mistake: they are inconsistent. They post infrequently, often only two or three times per month, and they make no effort to engage their audience. And unfortunately that approach just won’t work. Social media is a place to build relationships and broadcast your brand—but neither of those objectives can be met if you are inconsistent. Your audience needs to hear from you regularly, several times a week ideally.

Now, that may sound unrealistic to some of you, and that’s okay, you don’t personally have to spend time each day on Twitter—but if you can’t, you need to hire a professional or create a system which ensures that someone on your team is consistently interacting with your audience.

One final thought—social media can be fun! I’ve built and nurtured so many great relationships through social media, and been exposed to people I likely never would have met without it. Whether you’re a sports fan, an American Idol enthusiast, or a devoted shoe-shopper like me (BTW, for the women who are reading this… my wedding shoes with those beloved "red soles" DID come in and they are fabulous!), I can promise you that you’ll find an interesting community to participate in.

6) Email marketing without a strategy.

What’s your email marketing strategy? Or better yet, do you have one?

Sadly, that’s the case I see the majority of the time- businesses don’t have one. Their approach is basically to send out an email blast to their entire database whenever they feel like it. Not a very affective approach.

So how do you develop one? The first step is to determine your objective. What are you hoping to accomplish? For many businesses, email marketing is a way to strengthen relationships with current and former clients. For others the goal is to promote specific products and services with the direct objective of making sales. Defining your objective allows you to create a plan that will meet your needs.

The other major mistake I see with email marketing is creating content that isn’t interesting or valuable to the audience. If your audience isn’t interested in the emails you are sending, you may as well be a spammer. Work to create content that is useful and valuable, and you’ll be able to keep your audience engaged.

So there you have it! If you can cut out these six mistakes, you’ll be way ahead of the internet marketing curve. Of course, as always, feel free to contact me with any questions. In the meantime, remember to stay true to your brand and your message… and of course, have fun!

Social Media Marketing: 13 Social Media Myths Exposed

Over the last 20 years, the internet has revolutionized just about everything when it comes to business—from communications to data storage to marketing. And over the last 5 years or so, social media is shaking everything up again.

As you know, social media provides a number of valuable channels for branding and marketing. But it’s also intimidating for many business owners. After all, let’s face it—you’re busy. You’ve got enough to do running your business, let alone staying up-to-date with an industry that is changing every day.

Unfortunately, the rapid pace of growth in the world of social media combined with the lack of information that many business owners have regarding social media has created a whole bunch of misinformation.

Today, we’re going to shine a light on some of these common myths regarding social media:

  1. I don’t have the time for social media. As I mentioned a moment ago, I understand that you’re busy! I run a number of businesses too, so I get it! But the truth is that social media doesn’t demand huge amounts of time in order to be effective. What’s more important is that you make engaging on social media a habit—even if it’s just for 60 seconds a day. After all, you have the time to brush your teeth and straighten your tie each morning, right? That’s all it takes!
  2. My customers don’t want to connect with me on social media. Recent studies have shown that virtually every demographic in the country is embracing social media—including seniors! And the numbers increase each and every day. Between Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest… I can almost promise you that you can find your customers!
  3. I have a website, I am all set with my online presence. Building a website is an important first step, so congratulations! But what good is a website if nobody visits it? Social media is an effective way to drive targeted visitors to your site.
  4. The more followers or friends I have, the better my social media campaign. It’s not quantity, it’s quality. What’s important is not the sheer number of friends or follower you have, but who those people are. An audience of 50 people in your target market is better than 500 people who aren’t!
  5. I must have a presence on every single social media network. This myth is a major reason that business owners are afraid to begin leveraging social media to grow their business. It’s simply overwhelming. It’s also untrue—plenty of businesses have been successful by focusing on just one social network, such as Facebook or LinkedIn. It just depends where your customers are—and it’s always better to start small than not to start at all!
  6. LinkedIn is for business contacts and Facebook is for personal contacts. This may have been true originally, but increasingly professionals and business owners are using social networks like Facebook and Twitter. There’s no need to limit yourself to LinkedIn if you’re marketing to businesses!
  7. You can’t say anything meaningful in 140 characters. "I have a dream." "There is nothing to fear but fear itself." "One small step for man… one giant leap for mankind." Each of these iconic quotes is less than 140 characters. You don’t have to write a novel to capture the attention of your audience!
  8. If I do this right, I should see results fast. Like most other things in life, doing social media right requires an investment of time on your part. Social media is all about establishing relationships and building trust, and that simply doesn’t happen overnight. If you create a Facebook page and expect to start generating leads the very next day, you’re going to be disappointed. Understand at the get-go that it will take some time to see results… but that the time you are investing today will lead to great results tomorrow.
  9. There is just too much information. There is certainly a whirlwind of information flying around most social media networks. It can be overwhelming. But by creating a sound strategy and focusing on the core of your brand, you can cut through the "noise" and connect with your target market.
  10. It’s about creating content. Content (like blogs, articles, and videos) is important. But at the end of the day, social media boils down to relationships. I like to say that "people buy people", and that’s what social media is all about—connecting with people!
  11. There must be constant contact. Many business owners think that they need to be monitoring Facebook and Twitter all day, every day. That’s simply not the case! Designate a time each day (or every other day) to check your social media presence.
  12. Social media will magically fix my business. Social media is not a magic solution—it’s a tool in your marketing toolbox. Social media can be very helpful when it comes to growing your business, but just like radio, TV, or print advertising, it’s just a part of the bigger picture. A very important part in today’s world, but still just a part!
  13. Social media is the new advertising. Social media isn’t replacing other forms of advertising. In fact, at its best, social media isn’t advertising in the same way that a TV commercial is. That’s because, like we’ve mentioned, social media is about relationships. It is about connecting with your audience, getting to know them, and letting them get to know you. It’s about trust and understanding—not advertising!

Social media is a fast-paced field, to be sure. But don’t let the "techno-speak" fool you—at the end of the day, social media is nothing new. It’s been around for hundreds of years, because we humans are social creatures. We’ve always found ways to talk, share gossip, and swap stories. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter present a valuable opportunity for businesses to grow—so don’t let any of these common myths discourage you!

Build Your Online Celebrity Status: Why Online Reviews Are Essential to Your Success

In today’s high-tech business environment, credibility is more important than ever. There’s an expectation that a business, in almost any industry, will have an online presence. A business that doesn’t have such a presence is going to be written off by many consumers as "behind the times" or "unprofessional."

But increasingly, we are finding that simply having a website isn’t enough. Many consumers want to see some sort of "social evidence" that your company is worth doing business with. One powerful way to accomplish this is by using testimonials on your website—especially video testimonials. But many consumers today want more. They want to see evidence from a source other than you and your website. They want to hear from other, unbiased consumers. And that is where online reviews come into play.

Sites such as Yelp, Yahoo Answers, and Mahalo offer platforms for consumers to read and write reviews of various local and national businesses. And because these sites are very search-engine friendly, it’s common to see reviews for a specific business display high on the search results when you search for that business.

Obviously, this presents both a threat and an opportunity. The threat is that poor reviews are likely to hurt your conversion rate—and there’s very little you can do to prevent a negative review from being posted if a customer is determined to do so. The opportunity is that, if you are able to secure positive reviews, they often serve as a final "stamp of approval" for prospects who are trying to decide whether or not to do business with you. In other words, these positive online reviews often serve as the "final step" in a successful sales funnel.

Now, five years ago, most businesses didn’t have many online reviews—positive or negative. Today it’s different… many consumers expect to see reviews of your business. And if they don’t, they get suspicious. They begin to question everything they saw on your website or via social media.

In fact, I just heard from a client who experienced exactly this. He writes "I just lost a transaction because my lender partner had no Internet footprint and no feedback. So the client judged both of us and felt uncomfortable."

It wasn’t enough that my client had a great online presence, including positive online reviews. The fact that his partner didn’t have similar online credibility was enough to scuttle a potential deal. This is MUCH more common than any of us realize—because in most cases, when a customer decides that they aren’t satisfied with your credibility, you never know it. It’s not like they call you just to tell you that they’re not impressed with your lack of Yelp reviews—but you lose out on the sale just the same!

So here’s the bottom line. If you are serious about growing your business online, you need to secure positive online reviews on major sites.

The good news is that this doesn’t have to be hard. Here are a few easy ways to accomplish this:

1) Identify "raving fans" and ask them to do you a personal favor by leaving a review. All of you can identify at least two or three customers who count as "raving fans" of your business. I can assure you that, in almost every case, if you ask them to leave you a review on sites like Yelp.com and Yahoo Answers, they’ll gladly do so. (One recommendation: make it as easy for them as you can. After they’ve agreed to help you out, send them an email with a link to the sites you’d like them to post a review on. You can also mention "key phrases" that you’d like them to include—like "provides great customer service" or "can’t beat their prices!")

2) Prompt every single customer to leave reviews by including language in your packaging or elsewhere urging them to do so. Many customers are glad to leave a review and just need to be prompted to do so. If you sell physical products, include a little note asking them to visit specific sites and leave feedback. You can also include an item in your email signature… something like "If you love our service, please let the world know! Leave a review…" As long as you’re consistently asking, you’ll find that a percentage of your customers are more than happy to oblige.

3) Ask for reviews on your website and via social media. By including a prominent link on your website or using social media to encourage customers to leave reviews, you’ll get the attention of customers who might otherwise not have thought it. You don’t have to be over the top – just a friendly reminder that you would appreciate their help will get results!

If you don’t spend too much time on the internet, the whole concept of "online reviews" may seem unnecessary. Especially if you’ve been in business for a long time, your initial response may be "I don’t need something called ‘Yelp’ to establish my credibility!" Trust me, I completely understand where you’re coming from! But whether we like it or not, today’s consumers DO expect to see online reviews of your business. And if they don’t find what they are looking for, it is entirely possible that you will lose out on business that you should have won—so don’t put this off!

Again, the good news is that this doesn’t have to be hard. Most of you have at least a handful of customers that will be more than happy to help you out… all you have to do is ask!

If you’ve got questions, I can help! You may be wondering what types of things you should ask your customers to say, which sites are the best review sites for your industry, or what you can do about poor reviews that may have been posted about your business. I’d love to answer any of these questions that are specific to your business or your industry, so feel free to get in touch with me! You know how to reach me. J

Internet Marketing, Celebrity-Style: How to Overcome 7 Internet Marketing Obstacles

The internet has changed the world of marketing forever. This isn’t news to any of you—every business owner is well aware of the power of the internet. It’s particularly valuable for smaller businesses that don’t have the resources of a Fortune 500 company, because the internet allows businesses to target their audience and communicate their message in a very cost-effective manner.

But the internet is a double-edged sword for business owners. Yes, it makes it easier and more affordable for you to reach your target market. But it does the same for your competition. As a result, the level of competition on the internet can be overwhelming. And that is why celebrity branding is so important—a powerful personal brand allows you to stand out from the crowd. In particular, a celebrity-style website gives you the ability to overcome many of the most challenging obstacles to effective internet marketing. Today we are going to take a look at several of these challenges—and how you can overcome them!

How to "get found"! The most immediate problem for most business owners is simply attracting potential customers to their site. It doesn’t matter how incredible your website is if nobody sees it, right? That’s why it’s important to work on your visibility throughout the internet. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest (my favorite!), LinkedIn, and YouTube are very valuable in this regard. And that’s why blogging and article writing are important as well—it’s another way to draw potential customers to your site.

How to "hook" visitors. The typical website visitor makes the decision to stay on the site or leave in a matter of seconds. If your website doesn’t "hook" visitors with a great first impression, they are going to hit the ‘back’ button and look for help somewhere else. In addition to having an appealing, modern visual appearance, you need to give your visitors an instant reason to dig deeper into your site. If your website brands you as a celebrity, chances are your visitors are going to be intrigued and want to learn more.

How to establish credibility. There is no shortage of shifty, fly-by-night businesses on the internet. And unfortunately, these shady businesses and scammers make it more difficult for legitimate businesses to operate online, because they have ensured that every potential customer is on "high alert" while on the internet. As a result, in order to generate leads or make a sale, your website must establish a high level of credibility. There are many ways to accomplish this—blogging and writing articles helps, featuring testimonials is very effective, and highlighting media coverage that you have received is particularly beneficial. Take a moment and look at your website right now—does it give your visitors a reason to trust you? If not, chances are you are losing out on sales that you otherwise could have made!

How to communicate your message- quickly. As we discussed earlier, the typical website visitor does not stick around for much time at all unless they are "hooked". That’s why it is critical that you communicate your message very quickly. Your website should broadcast a very clear and simple message—for instance, a CPA may choose to emphasize his experience, his affordability, and his commitment to customer service. To be effective, this message must get across very quickly. Video can be a great way to accomplish this, along with photos and carefully chosen headlines. The bottom line is that, in order to keep your visitors interested in your site, you need to quickly give them a reason to keep reading!

How to establish value. Another challenge for business owners marketing online is finding a way to establish their value. After all, many shoppers think that the internet is a place for "bargain shopping", and they’re often in search of the lowest possible price they can find. So how can your website establish your position in the market as a high-end business, and establish value in order to justify your prices? This is another area where celebrity branding really is a game-changer. If your website is successful in positioning you as a CelebrityExpert® within your market, your customers are going to have an expectation that your prices are higher than your non-descript competitors. It’s important to highlight your knowledge and your expertise as well—another reason that writing blogs and articles is valuable. And of course, featuring your media appearances is helpful in establishing your value as well.

How to create a personal connection. You have heard me say that "people buy people." In other words, consumers want to do business with others that they know and trust. That’s why a handshake and a smile can go so far in terms of closing a sale. But on the internet, you obviously don’t have this ability. In order to generate the type of trust that is necessary to generate a lead or a sale, it is critical to create a personal connection. Videos are one way to accomplish this, as they give your audience a chance to see your face, hear your voice, and hear your story in your own words. Similarly, photos of yourself also work to establish this personal connection. And once again, writing blog entries and articles gives visitors to your website the opportunity to get to know you even further.

How to generate leads. At the end of the day, your website needs to generate leads or sales. If it doesn’t, what’s the point? That’s why lead generation forms featuring a strong call-to-action are so important. In addition, offering free content like a special report or a white paper is a great way to generate leads.

The internet is incredibly competitive when it comes to business marketing—and it’s getting more competitive every day. The obstacles we’ve identified today MUST be overcome if you are going to be successful online, and if you’d like to learn more, please get in touch with me today!

1-8-13 Tuesday Training: How to use Hootsuite Efficiently

For the average user, Hootsuite is a free and very convenient service used to manage your social media accounts. You can schedule posts, view your Home Feeds, see analytics and all kinds of other stuff for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and more! At times, we’ve found this service to be very handy but other times it’s unfortunately been a detriment to its user. But as long as you follower our advice, you’ll be able to get the most out of Hootsuite without falling into the common trap.

First off, if you haven’t already, visit Hootsuite.com to set up your free account. They’ve got a pretty slick set up process so it just takes a few minutes to hook up all your social media platforms.

Once it’s all set up, we recommend looking around the site for a little while. Maybe even take the short "tour" they provide. Soon enough, you’ll have a good grasp on what Hootsuite is all about.

One of the most popular uses for Hootsuite is post scheduling, so that’s what we’ll focus on in this session. Post scheduling is where some people fall into a trap. They think they’re being efficient with their time, scheduling posts in advance, but really, that "efficiency" is just a nice way of saying "convenient enough that it allows me to be lazy." Obviously, that’s not the best approach to social media. And truth is, you’ll more than likely see the effects of that laziness returned in the lazy (or non-existent) engagement from your followers.

We want to offer three tips to make sure that "efficiency" that Hootsuite offers, really is efficient for you. Because if you aren’t able to engage with your followers, it’s really not an efficient system at all in social media. It’s a waste of everyone’s time.

Efficient Tip # 1: Plan.

Yes, we said it, do plan posts. A vital part of effective online marketing is a marketing plan. Know what you want to accomplish with your social media sites. Determine what steps you can take to get you there. Craft strategic posts for things you can see in advance.

Efficient Tip #2: Set it, DON’T forget it.

Businesses especially seem to take to the idea that people will engage with their preplanned posts and that it is the business’s right to not engage back. It may be your right, but what is the point of your customer engaging with a post about your product when you’re not there to post the sale? Always keep in mind which posts you have going out on which day. And then remember to check on those posts and breathe a little extra life into them if necessary.

Efficient Tip #3: In Addition to…

Your Hootsuite posts should never be your only posts. If you’ve got an active presence on the world wide web, odds are new topics and stories might come to you as you go through the rest of life. Or maybe there’s news in your office? These are perfect opportunities to make "live" posts on your social media sites to ensure that what you’re putting out there really is relevant and up-to-the-minute.

No matter which way you slice it, social media needs a person on both ends. The business end doesn’t need to be a CEO, but it can’t be an online service. And why would want an online service "personally" engaging with your customers when you could have an educated and talented employee doing so?

Still struggling with managing your social media sites? If you’re frustrated with your current website, or just looking for a little help, we’re now offering website reviews for only $295 (normally $495)! If you’re interested in learning more please email info@celebritysites.com

1-1-13 Tuesday Training: How to Cross-Sell with Facebook

We all know by now that Facebook can be a great marketing tool for your company (not to mention free). You’re able to engage with your users on an outstandingly personal level and constantly send them whatever message your company wants to send. But how can we move from selling your brand on Facebook, to selling your product?

Our short answer? Applications!

Facebook Timeline comes equipped with a whole host of apps to add to your page. What do you wish people could do through your page? Buy your book? Well maybe they can!

When your Facebook business page is created, you’re given a few default apps. These include "Photos," "Likes," and maybe "Events" and a map of your location. It’s up to you to add more applications that work directly with what you’re trying to accomplish on Facebook.

Wish people could see your website straight from your Facebook page? Try the "Static HTML: iframe tabs" app! You can create an app that directs to a page of your website by just having the URL – no coding required! Or use the "Static HTML: iframe tabs" app to direct them to your book on Amazon, or any other URL where they can buy your products.

Another app we love is Youtube. Your customers can see a list and description of your videos straight from the Facebook App. And if one sounds interesting, they can simply click the link and Youtube will open a new tab with your video!

Of course we love the RSS Feed apps. It’s another direct way for your customers to access your content and think about purchasing your expertise to fulfill their needs and wants.

There are some 9 million apps out there on Facebook, so use your imagination. What do you want Facebook to do for you? Talk with your Social Media Coordinator at Celebrity Sites and see how you can begin to utilize Facebook to sell your products and begin to monetize your social media.

Still struggling with managing your social media sites? If you’re frustrated with your current website, or just looking for a little help, we’re now offering website reviews for only $295 (normally $495)! If you’re interested in learning more please email info@celebritysites.com

Become an Online CelebrityExpert™: Do You Know Your Audience?

Do you know your audience (your target market)? "Of course," I can hear you all saying.

But do you REALLY know your audience? Do you understand their hopes, their fears, what keeps them awake at night? Do you understand the frustrations that they deal with on a daily basis? Do you understand the opportunities they see, the threats they are faced with, and their options for navigating into the future?

In order to create a powerful personal brand, and to leverage that brand to grow your profits, you must understand your audience on a deep level.

Why? Because if you don’t truly understand them, you can’t appeal to them. And the bottom line is that each target market is different—the tactics that work with one audience may not work with another. To illustrate, consider a celebrity we’re all familiar with… Justin Bieber. Bieber has made himself into an international celebrity by appealing to a VERY specific audience, namely teen girls. He’s tailored everything to fit that audience—his music, his wardrobe, and even (especially!) his hairstyle. And the success with that audience he has achieved speaks for itself. It’s a result of his ability to understand and appeal to his audience… recognizing that the rest of the population may not appreciate his brand. Few consumers outside Bieber’s target audience will buy his albums or attend a concert—and that’s just fine with him!

Think about how this applies to your business. Do you understand your target market inside and out? Have you tailored your brand to appeal to them? In particular, does your online presence resonate with your audience?

Here are five specific questions to ask yourself:

1) Where does your audience spend their time online? If your audience is primarily consumers under the age of thirty, chances are that they spend a significant amount of time on Facebook and Twitter. If they are shopaholics like me, Pinterest is probably high on their list of most visited websites. If you’re marketing to a professional audience, LinkedIn may be the best place to find them. On the other hand, if your audience is retirees or the soon-to-be retired, they may spend more time on traditional websites or directories. You need to understand where your audience spends their time, so that you can most effectively reach them.

2) What are common challenges facing your audience, and how can you solve them? If you ask a doctor what his most pressing challenge is, you may well hear "finding enough time in the day to get everything done." A lawyer may name "communicating exactly what it is that I do to potential clients" as a primary challenge. A restaurant owner may simply need to get more people through his door for dinner! As you get to know your audience, look for recurring themes—these are golden opportunities to grab attention and demonstrate your value. You can leverage this on your website, in blog entries, on social media… but it all starts with understanding what those challenges are!

3) What can you offer your audience that no one else can? As you become more familiar with your target customers, work to identify what makes you different than everyone else. What can YOU provide to your audience that nobody else can? It could be your years of experience, it could be your exclusive products or services, or it could be something else entirely. Give your audience a reason to choose you instead of the competition in your market, and make this reason a centerpiece of everything you do online!

4) What is the right "language" to use while communicating with your audience? If the average person attended a conference for lawyers, or for dentists, or for chiropractors… chances are they would be mystified. This is because different industries tend to develop their own phrases, acronyms, and terminologies. And if you’re going to be marketing to a specific audience, you had better be able to speak their language! There are plenty of ways to learn—such as subscribing to industry magazines, attending trade shows and conventions, and simply spending time getting to know your market. Learn the buzzwords and make sure you’re using them as you market yourself and your business online. It may seem like a minor detail, but using the "industry lingo" goes a long way towards establishing your credibility as someone who truly understands your audience.

5) How do you inspire trust? You’ve heard me say, many times over, that "people buy people." Your customers want to do business with people that they know, like, and trust. How can you leverage your brand and your online presence to inspire these feelings? One of the most important things you can do is build the perception of yourself as an expert, by writing blogs, articles, and social media content that demonstrates your industry knowledge. We also help our clients to write and publish books and appear on TV affiliates across the nation—all of which can be further leveraged on your website and through social media. What can you do to inspire your audience to trust you? Whether or not you can come up with a great answer to that question will play a significant role in the success of your business!

So I’ll ask you again… do you REALLY know your audience? Do you know them as well as Justin Bieber knows his legions of adoring fans? Have you taken the time to understand their frustrations, their hopes, and the challenges they face on a daily basis?

If not, now you know where to begin!

On the other hand, if you HAVE already put in the time to answer these questions, the next question is… are you leveraging this information? Are you taking what you’ve learned about your audience and creating a powerful internet presence to go with your CelebrityExpert™ brand?

As always, if you’d like to learn more about this process, please feel free to get in touch with me today!

12-18-12 Tuesday Training: How to "Highlight" something on Facebook

This a simple concept, but we’ve found that with Facebook’s change to Timeline format, this feature went unnoticed by many people. Because of the change to Timeline format, the layout of business pages has changed for better and for worse. It a fun format and with exciting features but one negative aspect in some people’s opinions is the "Recent Posts by Others" box on business pages. While some love that it puts what everyone else is saying to the side and the regular viewer is able to just see what the company is saying, other people hate it.

The solution? The "Highlight" option.

To start with, we’ll approach from the business post perspective. Have you ever seen that Fortune 500 company’s business page with the giant picture that stretches across the whole screen? That’s because the post has been highlighted.

Posts that you’ve made as your business will already appear on your business page timeline. But what if you want to highlight one of those posts even more? What if you want to put a giant picture on your timeline? It’s simple!

With your cursor, hover over the post you’d like to highlight.

Click the star in the top right corner, and voila! Your post is highlighted. (You may need to refresh your page to see this change)

Now, we’ll talk about highlighting "Recent Posts by Others," which can be a little bit confusing. As we mentioned before, Timeline format kicks all the posts by your followers to a box on the side. But what if a client writes a recommendation? No one will see it in that box over there. You need to get it out on the full Timeline so that visitors to your Facebook page will be able to see it right away.

In the top right of the "Recent Posts by Others" box, click "See All."

Find the post you’d like to highlight and hover over it with your cursor.

Here’s the confusing part: An "x" will appear in the top right corner of the post. In the past, this "x" was basically used to delete a post. And there’s no other indication that it would do anything different now. In fact, if you hover over the "x" with your cursor, the word "Remove" will appear. We don’t know why Facebook would do it like this, but the "x" in this case really functions like a drop down menu. It doesn’t remove, necessarily. It gives you several options, one of which is to remove the post. So click the "x" (even though we know, it goes against your instincts! An "x" in the top right corner always means "go away" and not "highlight").

Once you click it you will see the option "Highlighted on Page" which you can then click.  And there you go! All will be able to see that post in giant format! Keep in mind that Timeline is still in chronological order, so if you are highlighting a post that was put up a month ago, it will show up back before the last month’s posts.

We hope this post was helpful in untangling one of Facebook’s slightly confusing features. We’ve found that Facebook and many other social media sites can be constantly evolving, making it difficult for business owners to stay on top of things. But that’s what we’re here for! We stay up to date on the latest and greatest in social media and are ready to implement it for you at your command!

You tell us – what else would you like to learn about social media?

Still struggling with managing your social media sites? If you’re frustrated with your current website, or just looking for a little help, we’re now offering website reviews for only $295 (normally $495)! If you’re interested in learning more please email info@celebritysites.com

12-11-12 Tuesday Training: How to Tackle Pinterest for your Business

As one of the fastest growing social media sites (they hit 10 million unique vistors per month faster than any website ever) and with its referral traffic higher than LinkedIn, Google+ and Youtube combined, Pinterest isn’t really something many companies can afford to ignore. Perfect for our visual culture, it’s a picture sharing machine. Since pictures say a thousand words, users don’t have to read about products and services. They can see them. And then be directed straight to an opportunity to purchase them.

Like any social media community, Pinterest has its own breed of users. And more important than jumping in, is knowing what you’re jumping into. We’re making three recommendations to help give you a solid foundation to put your business on Pinterest.

  • Know the audience. Pinterest is predominantly women. To put a number on it, about 70% of users are female. This is one of the most important factors in developing your social media marketing plan for the site. What do you have to offer women? Is your product solely for men? If so, your Pinterest marketing plan would have to accommodate both a narrow audience of men and an audience of women who have their man in mind. Be sure to spend time considering your marketing plan for a crowd that is almost exclusively women. What kind of woman are you targeting? Homemakers? Prominent business women? Health conscious women? Once you’ve developed an understanding of who you’re talking to on Pinterest, you can start to understand how to talk to them.
  • Know the site.  When a user "pins" something on Pinterest they pin it to a certain "board" which falls into a certain category. Understanding the most popular categories can  give you a head-start in planning what types of posts might be the most widely viewed on the site. Currently, the top five categories are: Home, Arts & Crafts, Style/Fashion, Food, Inspiration/Education. Is there a way your product, service or brand relates to one of these categories? Be creative! You might be surprised by just how possible it is that your brand does have a place on Pinterest. Don’t believe us? Check out what General Electric http://pinterest.com/generalelectric/ is doing .
  • Know how to have fun. Another lesson you can learn from General Electric besides creativity is how to relate to your customers in an intentionally fun way. The more time you spend on Pinterest the more you’ll be able to see the trends and jokes and be able to participate in the conversation. See how General Electric participated in the "Hey girl" trend here. http://pinterest.com/generalelectric/hey-girl/

These three tips can give you great insight into the world of Pinterest and help you formulate an effective and relevant marketing plan for putting your brand on one of the fastest growing social media sites to date.

Still struggling with managing your social media sites? If you’re frustrated with your current website, or just looking for a little help, we’re now offering website reviews for only $295 (normally $495)! If you’re interested in learning more please email info@celebritysites.com

12-4-12 Tuesday Training: How to Keep Facebook Interesting

If Facebook has become boring and monotonous for you to update, you can bet that your followers probably agree. And they’re probably long gone. Social media is all about keeping things interesting and up-to-the-minute.

A page full of status updates is not interesting. It’s a newspaper. And newspapers aren’t popular anymore – for a reason. People don’t want long stories full of heavy text. They want to be able to interact. Pictures that grab their attention. Things they can comment on. Enter you, the business, longing to interact with customers and prospects. So how can you keep Facebook interesting so you can interact with your customers? We put together a few simple reminders to help.

  • Pictures – Didn’t we already say this? Yes. Because it’s 2x important. Statistics show that people love pictures. More than updates and more than videos. What do you think made Pinterest so popular, a social media site that revolves around pictures? It was pictures.

  • So what kinds of pictures can I post?

    • Event pictures – Cocktail parties, events at your office, volunteer outing for your staff.
    • Full staff photos – maybe post your company card as an image wishing your followers a Merry Christmas?
    • Memes – What’s a current trend, picture or joke going around the internet? Maybe you can relate it to your field and make a funny joke for your followers.
    • Caption contest – Invite your followers to caption a photo you put up.
    • Products or services – Is there an interesting way you can take pictures of your products and services for Facebook?
  • Polls (Facebook now calls them "Questions") – Yes, your followers are allowed to comment on just about everything you put on Facebook. But will they? Maybe not. Polls are a way to actively engage your customers and seek out their opinions.

  • What kind of polls can I post?

    • Let your customer decide – Thinking of providing a free workshop on real estate? Do a poll – are people more interested in learning about short sales or getting a first-time home-buyer lecture?
    • Has something recently happened in your industry that affects your customers? See how they feel about it.
    • What do you wish you knew about your consumers – Sometimes it’s best to just ask! You’ve got a free market research opportunity right at your fingertips.
  • Milestones – Don’t forget about these. Just what they sound like, they represent noteworthy moments in your business’s timeline. These posts show up in different format than most people are accustomed to viewing so they can be attention-grabbing and interesting. In addition, they give your follower a special sense of involvement in the growth of your company.

  • What are some examples of milestones I can post?

    • Did your company change locations or add a new office this month? Make it a milestone! It shows you’re expanding and thriving. And don’t you want to get the word out about where your customers can come see you?
    • Is your company acquiring another? Posting a milestone about it will inform your followers and can help the customers from the newly acquired company to feel valued and involved.
    • What is your company celebrating? Share it with your Facebook followers!

Remembering to incorporate these different kinds of posts into your status updates and links can make a huge difference in your followers’ engagement with your page. It livens it up and provides visual and content variety creating all kinds of interest in your posts.

Still struggling with managing your social media sites? If you’re frustrated with your current website, or just looking for a little help, we’re now offering website reviews for only $295 (normally $495)! If you’re interested in learning more please email info@celebritysites.com

11-27-12 Tuesday Training: The Top Three Things YOU Need to Do on Your Social Media Sites

Of all people and businesses, we understand that you might not have very much time to invest into social media outreach for your brand. But that doesn’t make it any less important. Below are three social media priorities that should be explicitly designated to whomever manages your social media.

  • Put Something Up! – A social media page without recent updates borders on worthless. Of course, it has its SEO and third-party-verifier uses which are extremely important. But if a client goes to Facebook to verify your brand and they find a ghost town for a business page, they won’t exactly get a positive impression. And to put it logically, a social media page with no social engagement just isn’t social. It’s just a page.
  • Post a video or a link. Even a simple status update. Something that will connect with your users. Do you have hobbies that they might be able to relate to? Is there a buzz in your industry about a related topic that you could comment on? Holidays are also great times to relate to people. What does your brand want to say about the upcoming celebration? And don’t forget, people love pictures.  Take pictures of an event or maybe an office party. Just connect with your followers. They will appreciate the effort and who knows, maybe they’ll engage with your brand and eventually give you their business. Social media is a great way to keep constant contact with your customers and potential customers. Don’t let that potentially lucrative opportunity turn into an empty page.
  • Check Your Messages! – People don’t like to be ignored. Especially from a customer service standpoint. Start seeing your social media inboxes like your customer service hotline. Many social media users today see interactions on social media sites on par with conversations in any other medium. This means, that many customers will have the same expectation to have their issue resolved via Twitter as they would the phone. Is it your company’s customer service policy to let the phone ring when it’s a customer with an issue? No, someone answers the phone and provides resolution. In the same way, a message should never sit in a social media inbox unchecked.
  • And even beyond complaint resolutions, we’ve seen many people ask for more information on a product or service through inboxes like Facebook and LinkedIn. We’ve even seen those inquiries converted to sales!
  • Whether you do it to provide excellent and responsive customer service or to facilitate sales, monitoring your social media inboxes is imperative.
  • Grow Your Network! – Even if you have someone managing your social media sites, this might be one you’ve got to do on your own. You can designate someone to post on your behalf, but you can’t quite designate someone to be you. Your social media manager may never know that the new CEO of a Fortune 500 company was your roommate in college. And they’ll probably never try to connect with them on LinkedIn unless they know. Only you know that you bumped into an old colleague at the grocery store whom you’d now like to do business with.
  • Obviously you could tell your social media manager each of these things. But odds are, you’ve got more important things floating around in your head. Instead, take 15 minutes every week and spend it on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ etc. and grow your network. It’s a simple and enjoyable habit that could reap huge rewards for your business.

There are other very important parts of managing social media, but if you start with these priorities, you’ll have a solid start on building an online presence that works for you.

Still struggling with managing your online branding? If you’re frustrated with your current website, or just looking for a little help, we’re now offering website reviews for only $295 (normally $495)! If you’re interested in learning more please email info@celebritysites.com

11-20-12 Tuesday Training: How to Get Your Klout Score

In last week’s Tuesday Training we wrote about measuring your influence in social media outlets through a website called Klout.com. The application gathers information about your engagement on different social media sites and about others’ engagement with you, and then generates an overall score reflecting your influence.

This score can be a great tool in simply monitoring your involvement and discovering areas for improvement. But as time goes on and the website becomes more popular, it is possible that the Klout score itself will hold an increasing amount of weight to your potential clients, aside from your actual social media engagement itself.

That makes two reasons to work for a higher Klout score. To improve and social media engagement, and to improve your score itself.

First, check your home page on Klout. Look through "Your Moments." This is going to show your influential social interactions within a recent period of time. Are there themes here? Can you see that some moments were more influential than others? Maybe one social media outlet has had more user engagement than another. Maybe people responded well to a personal post.

Whatever it is, see if you can find a theme. Advice that is most often overlooked is the data that comes from our own experience. And oftentimes that is most relevant to you! What has been successful for you in social media? Try to replicate and tweak those effective engagements.

Beyond using your own data to improve your influence, we came up with two small ways to help improve your score.

Promote Post "Likes" – This is surprisingly easy to forget. When posts are created, we often just assume that our fans will "like" them when they actually like them. But sometimes our beloved Facebook users need a little help. Try prompting them in your update. When our people from Celebrity Branding Agency traveled to California for the National Academy of Best-Selling Authors Annual Best-Sellers’ Summit and Awards Gala, they posted "We made it! ‘Like’ this post if you’re checking in to the Hollywood Roosevelt with us today! – or if you WISH you were!" This post earned more likes than most others from that same event. A little prompt that promotes user engagement can go a long way with your Klout score (not to mention with your clients!)

Retweet others – Twitter can be a give-and-take sort of social media outlet. Sometimes. Sometimes, others want to be retweeted just as much as you do. Taking the first step doesn’t hurt. Retweeting your customers or like-minded organizations can be a great way to make positive connections on Twitter. And it can open the door for them following you or wanting to retweet you! Now, if you retweet the president, he probably won’t retweet you. If he did, your Klout score would probably skyrocket since he is rated highly influential on social media. But know that it will never negatively affect you to retweet someone who has a lower score than you. Engagement can only help!

Both of these ideas seem overly simple, but every little bit helps when it comes to your Klout score and social media engagement. Sometimes fine-tuning something you’re already doing is exactly what you need to get totally different results.

Still struggling with managing your social media sites? If you’re frustrated with your current website, or just looking for a little help, we’re now offering website reviews for only $295 (normally $495)! If you’re interested in learning more please email info@celebritysites.com

11-13-12 Tuesday Training: How to Get Your Klout Score

Klout.com is a website that measures a person’s influence in social media. To be more specific, it measures how people interact with your content and how you interact with others’ content and then generates a total score of your social influence.

The application works with our four main social media sites – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ as well as a few others. And of course it interacts with each in a different way. For instance, when measuring Facebook influence, Klout looks at Mentions, Likes, Comments, Subscribers, Wall Posts and Friends. And on LinkedIn, Klout is concerned with your Title, Connections, Recommenders and Comments. And that’s just an overview

It also factors others’ Klout scores into yours by assigning more value to a comment from a LinkedIn member with 1,000 connections than a LinkedIn member with 10 connections. Or assigning less value to a Facebook comment from a user that often comments on many statuses versus a Facebook user who rarely comments on anything. All these things and much more are seen by Klout as indicators of your influence.

So how can you check your score

  1. Start by visiting Klout.com. If you’re interested in learning a little more, click "How It Works" in the top right corner. They go into even greater detail about how your Klout score is generated.
  2. Click the "Connect with Facebook" or "Sign in with Twitter" button
  3. Sign in to your account and authorize the app.
  4. Klout will probably ask for your other social media sites also – LinkedIn, Google+ etc. And adding these sites will most likely help your score.
  5. Get your score!

Rumor has it that Justin Bieber is the only person with a Klout score of 100. But as the app becomes more popular, that could easily change.

While other Klout users can see your score, use the number right now as just one gauge of your social media health. As the app becomes more widely received, your score may contribute to an online perception of your company – people may see your score and assume that you are or are not a person or brand that truly engages on social media.

But for now, it’s a great test. Because even though Klout’s measurements may seem in-depth and complicated, they really are a pretty relevant reflection of how other social media users see you. Whether they do consciously or not, potential customers will ask themselves similar questions and make determinations about your influence. "Is this person connected to anyone?" "Is this person connected to anyone I find interesting?" "Why does this company follow more people than it has followers?"

As with any score, see it as a picture of the places you can improve. If your score is low, take a closer look at what Klout measures. Then experiment with ways to improve in those areas. Or check out nest week’s Tuesday Training for a shortcut!

Tuesday Training 11-20 How to Improve your Klout score

Become an Online Celebrity: Five Ways to Inject Some Life Into Your Internet Presence

Five years ago, simply creating a Facebook page or a Twitter profile was enough to qualify your business as engaging, customer-centered, and forward-thinking. But let’s face it: today, everyone and their mother is on Facebook, and Twitter isn’t far behind.
Simply creating a social media profile isn’t worth much anymore—because everyone has one.

This is a blessing in disguise for business owners who understand marketing, however. Because while most businesses consider their job done once they’ve created a Facebook account, savvy business owners understand that marketing is all about building trust and establishing a relationship. It doesn’t matter what the platform is. Direct mail, face-to-face selling, social media… the principles are the same.

You’ve heard me say that "people buy people", and more specifically, people buy people that they trust and consider credible. That’s why we spend so much time talking about the power of a brand-centered website and a dynamic social media presence.
But there’s more to it than "just" looking like an expert. You also need to appear real. If you want to build relationships with your audience (which is the entire point of social media), you need to give them more than an uptight, carefully scripted persona to interact with. Below are five ways to do this—as always, not every one of these is a good fit for every business, but use what you can:

1) Ask your customers for feedback. Most businesses view social media as a "one way street." They are happy to broadcast content for their audience to see, but they aren’t interested in actual engagement. Why? In many cases, because they’re afraid of opening themselves up to criticism online. And yes, that is a risk—but if you’re offering products and services that you’re proud of, the vast majority of the feedback is going to be positive. And even negative feedback represents an opportunity to show the world how seriously you take your customer service. Don’t fear feedback… ask for it!

2) Acknowledge your competition. Whether it is sharing an insightful blog post written by a competitor or posting a news story acknowledging their commitment to the community, praising your competition can be a real eye opener for your audience. They’ll quickly realize that you value honesty and openness rather than cutthroat competition, and that gives everything else you say a major boost in credibility. It also sends the subtle message that "We’re not afraid of the competition. In fact, take a look at them. We’re not threatened!"

3) Go off topic. Don’t make your social media presence all business, all the time. Again, customers want to do business with people they know and trust—and "letting your guard down" a bit is a great way to establish a relationship. Talk about your favorite sports team. Post pictures of your latest shopping excursion (there’s nothing I love more than showing off my latest pair of shoes on Twitter or Instagram ☺.) Talk about the weather, or your hobbies, or your family life. Yes, it’s off topic… that’s the point! Real people don’t talk about business 24/7, and your social media presence shouldn’t either!

4) Take a controversial stand. Again, this isn’t right for every business. But taking a stand on a controversial issue can be a great way to inspire loyalty and build relationships. This can be political (like Chik-fil-A this summer) but it doesn’t have to be. Being vocal about your personal faith, expressing your support for controversial causes, or embracing figures that are outside the mainstream can all be very successful from a marketing standpoint. The key, obviously, is knowing your target market and understanding the brand that you want to project. If taking a stance on an issue is going to alienate a significant amount of your target market, you should probably avoid it. But if you can take a stand in a non-offensive way, you’ll stand out from the crowd of bland businesses—and that’s what we’re all working towards!

5) Be funny. Got a joke to tell? Do it! Some humorous insight into a recent celebrity mishap or news story? Share it! It’s been said that "the shortest distance between any two people is laughter", and social media is no exception! If you can make your audience laugh every once in a while, I can promise you that they will pay far more attention to your content in the future. And beyond that, a sense of humor adds to the perception that you’re a real person, not just another faceless business owner.

Do you see what all of this is coming back to? One word: personality. As any salesperson can tell you, building a rapport with your prospect is essential to making a sale. And you simply can’t build rapport without being yourself. So whether it’s your website, your social media presence, or a blog entry—don’t be afraid to be yourself.

However, it’s important that you don’t take a "random" approach to this process—or you’ll end up saying or doing something that doesn’t mesh with the brand you want. The first step, which you should do right now, is to take some time to define the brand and the image that you want to create online. Do you want to be funny? If so, what’s appropriate and what isn’t? Are you going to be vocal about your faith or your political leanings? Are you willing to open yourself up to feedback from consumers? Ask yourself these questions and write down the answers. This document will serve as a "guide" to ensure that you don’t go too far off script and end up undermining the brand you are seeking to build.

And most importantly… have fun! Social media offers the opportunity to get to know your customers and let them get to know you in a relaxed, informal setting. It can be a lot of fun… and even more importantly, it can be highly profitable with the right approach. As always, you know how to reach me if you’d like to learn more!

How to Read Basic Facebook Page Analytics

Facebook business pages can be rather easy to set up and maintain. If you were at all experienced with Facebook when you created your page, you probably found it all to be quite simple. It’s the analytics where things can get thick.

For being free to use, yet enabled to market to literally millions, Facebook is truly a notable advertising product. If that weren’t enough, it offers useful analytics to monitor user engagement, effectiveness of campaigns, demographics, and the list goes on. In fact, just exporting the "Page Level Data" for Celebrity Branding Agency’s Facebook page for one month, we’re given around 92 different "key" metrics. We’re not even sure we want to know that much! But we’re not complaining. This wealth of information gives us the freedom to discover many things about our potential clients – if we just take the time.

Now, we don’t recommend that you dive into this overwhelming pile of data right away, so in this training session we’ll just be focusing on the basics.

Login to your Facebook account and navigate to your company’s page. You’ve probably always noticed the Admin Panel at the top. But have you taken a little time to absorb the information? New Likes, Messages, and the topic of the day, Insights. The Insights graph is presented pretty simply.

The purple dots, of course represent your posts, the larger ones representing multiple posts within a day. Pretty straight-forward.

Skipping head to the blue line, "Reach" is a pretty easy concept to grasp too. It means, "the number of unique people who have seen your post." Keep in mind "unique" basically means non-repeat. This metric won’t include people who have seen your post in their news-feed two or three times.

The green line is an expression of the people "Talking About This." That sounds great, but what does that really mean? Are there really people who have been to your Facebook Page and have then created their own status update saying, "Celebrity Branding Agency just posted a tip on personal branding and I think it’s great!" Not necessarily. Facebook defines it as, "The number of unique people who have created a story about your page in the last 7 days." But what is a "story" then? Back to Facebook’s definitions, a "story" is created when someone "likes, comments on or shares your post; answers a question you posted; or responds to your event. Basically, your "Talking About This" number is the number of non-repeat users who have engaged somehow with something you put on Facebook.

Want more information out of this number? Click the "See All" link in the top right corner of your graph on the Admin Panel. A larger graph will show up and below that, a list of your posts by date. Identify the post you’re interested in and the "Talking About This" column, then click the number. A small box with a pie chart will appear showing just what kind of "stories" make up that number.

If that isn’t enough for you, change from the "Overview" tab to the "Talking About This" tab at the top. You’ll find information on gender, age, location and all kinds of great stuff about your engaged users.

It might be helpful to take a little time on a slow afternoon to explore your Facebook Insights. You might be surprised at what you find. And I guarantee it will give you useful information as you continue to refine your outreach tactics and learn what best engages your Facebook clients and potential clients. This awareness of your reach and special understanding of your clients and potential clients is just another way to stand out from the competition. When you can learn to effectively utilize the data your potential customers are giving you, you’ll be able to reach them in a personal and specific way that will help them view you as their expert.

Still struggling with managing your social media sites? If you’re frustrated with your current website, or just looking for a little help, we’re now offering website reviews for only $295 (normally $495)! If you’re interested in learning more please email info@celebritysites.com

10/30/12 Tuesday Training: No Such Thing as Free PR? An Introduction to HARO

If you’ve never heard of Help A Reporter Out (HARO), you’ve probably been missing great Public Relations opportunities. The company functions as a middle man between reporters and the subjects and experts they need to interview for their articles and segments. Reporters from news agencies such as FOX, ABC, Associated Press and many others along with radio show and television hosts utilize this great go-between. In today’s media-driven world, this extra exposure could be exactly what you need to drive traffic to your site, increase sales and most of all, become known as the celebrity in your field.

How it Works:

A reporter submits her topic to HARO along with a description of the type of person she needs to interview.

Then HARO takes that query along with many others and places them in an email.



Summary: Your Best Entrepreneur Tips

Name: Susan Payton CorpNet.com/blog

Category: Business and Finance

Email: query-2k5h@helpareporter.net

Media Outlet: CorpNet.com/blog

Deadline: 2:00 PM PST – 26 October


I’m looking for tips for someone starting a new business from
 entrepreneurs. What are your top 3?


Please send tips directly as I won’t be conducting interviews,

rather pulling tips from the responses I get.


HARO sends out three different emails a day filled with all kinds of PR opportunities (morning, afternoon, evening).

Next you, the source, sift through the email’s queries to see if any fit your niche. You might be surprised at how often your niche will show up in a query. But that’s why you’re in business, isn’t it? Because there’s a need in the world for your specific expertise.

Once you’ve found a query that fits you – respond! Remember that branding yourself as the celebrity expert in your field not only takes strategic PR but also persistent PR. If you aren’t quoted in one article, maybe you’ll be quoted on a radio show you submitted for.

How to Start:

The Basic Program is FREE and has the potential to make a big difference in your business. If you’d like to see priced options that are more tailored to you, check out their website here. http://www.helpareporter.com/sources

To sign up for the Basic Program, visit their website and sign up! They’ll ask for a little information about you and your company. Then, after the confirmation email, you should be entered into their morning-afternoon-evening cycle right away! And a great bonus – they don’t sell your email.

HARO is just one small cog in the machine of online and media branding. As I’ve said before, it’s Circular Marketing that will gain recognition for your name. A combination of our branding tools and capitalizing on opportunities such as the ones HARO offers is the branding approach that will give you a true Return on Investment.

Still struggling with managing your online branding? If you’re frustrated with your current website, or just looking for a little help, we’re now offering website reviews for only $295 (normally $495)! If you’re interested in learning more please email info@celebritysites.com

10/23/12 Tuesday Training: How to Respond to Negative Feedback on Social Media Sites – Part 3

Our last two training sessions have been dedicated to this important practice. As more people continue to migrate their social interactions to sites like Facebook and Twitter, their customer service complaints will travel as well. Not only will an increasing amount of customers begin attempting to resolve their concerns via social media, they will also be proclaiming their service experiences through status updates, recommendations and reviews.

We’ve covered Part One – "Monitor your Brand" discussing the importance of paying attention to your feedback and using tools to see what people are saying about you.

In Part Two – "Listen" we highlighted the importance of actively working to understand your customer. We used the real life example of a company that didn’t take the time to really listen to a customer’s negative review and instead, ignorantly responded with irritation and a sharp tone – for all their would-be customers to see.

This week is our last installment in this series about how to respond to negative feedback on social media sites.

3. Respond Quickly

To be clear, by "quickly," we mean respond in timeliness, not haste – as we saw the negative outcomes of that in Part 2.

In Part One we saw a real-life example of a company that failed to respond quickly to negative feedback and things got out of control. The customer became increasingly frustrated and increasingly vocal. Others joined the conversation and by the time the company actually became involved, many potential customers had already been referred elsewhere. And to top it all off – this took place on the company’s own blog. It’s extremely important to respond quickly for reasons like this. Be involved in the conversation before it gets really ugly. And most importantly, make sure the customer feels "heard" by you and not ignored.

According to an infographic released by peopleclaim.com, "1 in 2 consumers who’ve tweeted a complaint toward a business expected either a response or at least the tweet to be read." And that number increases with age, they say – 65% of customers age 55 and older expecting the company would read the tweet.

Take a second to ask yourself, what is your target demographic? Do you deal with retirees? Then pay special attention because as we’ve just learned, that typical age group tends to be the most expectant of good social media customer service.

Or do your customers typically fall between the ages of 35-44? The stats for this age group came in at 54% of them expecting their tweet would be read. Are you delivering what your customers want from you?

According to the same infographic, "86% of tweet-complainers would have been happy to get a response back." Which goes back to customer service common sense – the customer needs to feel "heard." And people found that when customers do feel "heard" by receiving a response from the company, "3 out of 4 are somewhat or very satisfied."

Again, don’t forget the timeliness aspect we touched on. You can offer the greatest customer service with specific attention and a positive attitude, but none of it will matter 6 months later. The customer will have likely moved on, informed others of his negative experience, and resolved not to buy your product or service again. We suggest resolving social media customer concerns as soon as possible. Aim for at the longest – under a week. Keep in mind that the internet is instant. People can instantly buy things, instantly say things and instantly see things. Your customer will probably be hoping for instant (or timely) access to your company’s ear.

Try and take a little time, or designate someone at least once a week to run a quick check of your social media sites to make sure you’re not missing an important opportunity to offer your special brand of expert customer service to someone who needs it

Remember to see social media customer service as a great opportunity to show the world how well you treat your clients. If you try to put our three-part series into practice, you’ll have a head start in effectively and positively engaging your clients and potential clients. By monitoring your brand, you’ll be on top of what people are saying about you and will be able to join the conversation. By listening, you will ensure that your brand is represented accurately and intelligently, and you’ll gain a greater understanding of your customers and their thought processes and challenges in buying or using your product. And by responding quickly, your customers will feel "heard" and cared for.

Still struggling with managing your social media sites? If you’re frustrated with your current website, or just looking for a little help, we’re now offering website reviews for only $295 (normally $495)! If you’re interested in learning more please email info@celebritysites.com

10/16/12 Tuesday Training: How to Respond to Negative Feedback on Social Media Sites – Part 2

Last week we discussed the importance of this practice. In today’s communication climate, the customer service storms are taking place on Facebook and Twitter instead of private phone lines with customer service representatives. Because of this and the glaringly public nature of these complaints, companies have an opportunity to capitalize on publicly resolving customer concerns in a noteworthy manner, or publicly failing to care for their customers.

Part one in this series was  "Monitor your Brand." We highlighted a social media management company that was utterly unable to manage its own social media.

This week we are underlining another integral part in managing negative feedback on social media sites.

2. Listen

This might be a cardinal rule of customer service – or perhaps communication in general. There is no hope in resolving a complaint if you don’t listen long enough to really understand what the complaint is. You’ve heard the old adage, "You have two eyes, two ears and one mouth, use them at that ratio." Even though online you have two eyes and ten fingers to type with, we still suggest retaining the former attitude. Don’t just read their comment or message. Really listen to what they are saying. What is it that they want? Resolution? Maybe just an apology?

As we mentioned earlier, a very important part to remember in this process is its public nature. What are you telling your other customers as you respond to this customer?

One company we found was doing a great job of monitoring their brand. They kept a close watch on their Facebook page and Twitter mentions, and even managed their customer service on directories such as Yelp and YellowPages. But what they failed to do was listen.

A customer posted a negative comment on a directory and gave the airport parking service 2 out of 5 stars saying, "Don’t buy a reservation online; you’ll pay a service charge and down payment and then get ripped off at check out because they don’t honor the quote. The excuse is that they are independently owned."

To which a representative replied, "There is not a service charge to book online… There has never been a fee. We honor all coupons. We do not give out quotes. You must be speaking of another airport parking lot in the area. Please remove your negative comment."

The company’s representative saw the discrepancies in the customer’s experience and the company’s policy, but didn’t take the time and common sense to really understand the customer’s situation – and that the customer had been confused.

The customer had purchased his reservation on a third party website with empty promises and apparently found upon arrival that the website had no affiliation with that airport parking company. If the representative had taken a moment to remember that scams exist like the one listed above, he might have approached the interaction with more understanding. Instead, the representative immediately assumed the customer was ignorant and then took the offensive, and asked him to remove his post.

Rather than using short, sharp sentences, the representative could have asked for more information about where the customer made his reservation. The customer service representative simply could have said, "We apologize for any inconvenience but we are independently owned. If you plan to park with our company, please be aware that we do not accept reservations or rates from third party websites."

The latter would be informative to anyone researching the company on directories. It would also redirect the negativity away from the company and toward the scam. It could even be added to their website to avoid further confusion for their customers. But instead, the representative didn’t listen to the customer’s issue, used pointed and relatively aggressive communication techniques and completely missed an opportunity to resolve and prevent further customer issues.

And what does the company’s approach to the issue say to potential customers that come across this interaction? That they are not going to listen to your issue? That when they don’t understand your issue they will respond with irritation? That if they don’t understand you, they will ask you not to exercise your voice?

Not exactly what we look for in customer service…

This customer service exchange has been public on Yahoo Local for about four years. That means for four years, people have read the interaction and made their own inferences about the type of service they will receive with this company. Who knows how it has affected their business.

Remember to treat negative feedback on social media like any other kind of customer service – with patience and understanding. But above that, remember that your reaction is public, and it can also be lasting.

By following these guidelines, even negative feedback can be turned into a star on your mental report card in your customers’ minds. It can be informative, preventative, or helpful. And it can help you stand out above your competitors and help your brand become recognized as the celebrity in your niche.

Stay tuned for part 3 next week!

Still struggling with managing your social media sites? If you’re frustrated with your current website, or just looking for a little help, we’re now offering website reviews for only $295 (normally $495)! If you’re interested in learning more please email info@celebritysites.com

10/09/12 Tuesday Training: How to Respond to Negative Feedback on Social Media Sites – Part 1

Social media sites are where people go to speak their mind on anything from the brand of coffee they’re currently drinking to their political affiliations. Instead of the beauty parlor or a customer service hotline, people are going to Facebook and Twitter to share gossip, recommend a brand and vent about a horrible product or service.

In the realm of recommendations, this is great news for your brand. When it comes to the "venting" aspect however, this can pose a little more of a challenge. But view this challenge as an opportunity. Sure, it’s not ideal for someone to say anything negative about your brand to someone ever. But as is true in all customer service, complaint resolution can be an incredibly positive step in building the customer relationship. On top of that, it gives the rest of the world a chance to see the kind of specific attention you give to your customers. And when a truly solid customer service reputation is built, you’ll become the go-to brand – the celebrity in your niche.

By following the steps in this three part series, you’ll have a head start in managing this challenge and building relationships with your customers.

  1. Monitor your brand

This is a good practice in general. It helps to keep your marketing feet grounded so you can really understand why and how customers are engaging with your brand. From a customer service standpoint, it’s imperative. If you’re not out there monitoring your brand on the worldwide web, things can get out of control fast.

One way to monitor is by using a site called socialmention.com. (Learn other great ways to use this tool here) Type in the name of your brand and the free site will show you posts from various social media sites containing those words.

Another even more important habit to develop is checking comments on your blog posts, Facebook posts, tweets, etc. After all, the whole point of posting updates and writing blogs is to engage with your customer. But if you’re not reading the responses, you’re simply not engaging. What a waste of time for both you and the customer!

One company that actually sells social media management software failed in this area. A dissatisfied customer made a negative comment on one of the company’s blog posts. The comment wasn’t dealt with, and over time, the customer became increasingly frustrated and had no problem leaving those feelings in further comments. Soon others joined the conversation about the poor reflection on the company’s management software if the company itself isn’t even able to manage its own social media.

By the time the company actually started to take part in the negative conversation on their blog post, people were already being referred to other products and services. Things got totally out of control.

If they had simply been paying attention to their customer in the first place, the conversation would have gone much differently. Likewise, if you are actively monitoring what’s being said about your brand on social media sites, you’ll be able to take part in the conversation. And if you’re diligent enough, you might even be able to jump into those conversations quickly enough to change the tone, resolve the issue, and build a strong customer relationship.

Check out Part Two: Listen Here!

Still struggling with managing your social media sites? If you’re frustrated with your current website, or just looking for a little help, we’re now offering website reviews for only $295 (normally $495)! If you’re interested in learning more please email info@celebritysites.com

10/02/12 Tuesday Training: How to Tweet @ Someone

When Twitter first started it was mostly a way to put out little bits of information about your or your thoughts. And not much else. Over the years it’s grown into a much more interactive community and thus a great place to jump into to grow your business.

One way to interact on Twitter is known as tweeting "at" someone. It would be the equivalent of standing in a room and saying, "John, I loved your last blog post." But instead of being in a room together, you’re on Twitter together. And instead of typing "John…" you’re typing John’s Twitter handle.

If you’re not familiar, a twitter handle is basically a person’s username on Twitter with the "@" symbol in front of it. Celebrity Branding Agency’s Twitter handle, for example, is @CelebBranding (and no, capitalization does not matter when it comes to Twitter). It’s written in gray font after the title. So be mindful, to tweet at someone you must use their username along with the "@" symbol. Don’t just use the title – the tweet might not work. An example again – the @CelebBranding Twitter has a title of "CelebrityBranding."

So if you wanted to tweet at John and his Twitter handle is @john789 you’d type "@john789 I loved your last blog post." Simple as that! The next time John logs in to Twitter and checks his "Connect" page, he will see your tweet and can easily reply!

There are two other very easy ways to tweet at someone – directly from your feed or on their profile. If you see a tweet in your feed that you’d like to reply to, simply mouse over the tweet. Directly underneath the Tweet will appear the option to "Reply." When you click that, a box will open below the tweet with that person’s Twitter handle automatically already in the box. Just type in what you’d like to say to them and click "Tweet"!

If you’re on someone’s profile and you’d like to Tweet at them, you’ll see right underneath their profile picture Twitter gives you a blank to "Tweet to ______." Again, Twitter has automatically filled in their Twitter handle. Simply compose your tweet and click "Tweet"!

Tweeting at other Twitter users is a great way to get your name out there, build a community and of course, network. Give it a try! Jump on Twitter and tweet at @CelebBranding or another friend just to test it out. In no time at all, you’ll be totally comfortable and totally connected.

Still struggling with managing your social media sites? If you’re frustrated with your current website, or just looking for a little help, we’re now offering website reviews for only $295 (normally $495)! If you’re interested in learning more please email info@celebritysites.com

09/25/12 Tuesday Training: How to Find Relevant Content Ideas for Your Social Media Sites

We’ve consistently discussed that social media is a necessity for businesses these days. And if you choose to tackle these monsters alone, it can be especially daunting. What sites do I use? What risks do I take? Who am I targeting? What should I post about?

Thankfully, there are tools out there to help you answer some of these questions. One obvious example – this blog. Another tool we found is socialmention.com. Once you learn to use the site, it can yield a wealth of relevant data to inform your social media updates.

The tag-line of the site is "Real-time social media search and analysis." Basically, the site searches content on nearly all social media sites (though the results are often predominantly Twitter-related) and shows you what everyone is saying about your chosen topic.

Let’s give it a try:

  1. After following the link to socialmention.com, type in a topic related to your industry (i.e. "wealth management").
  2. You’ll notice the "in" dropdown box. This lets you choose if you want to search for your topic in blogs that people are writing, or maybe images that people are uploading etc. For now, we’ll leave "All" selected and click "Search."
  3. Reap your results! These are all blog posts or social media updates people have made about your topic.

Take a second to scan down your results.  What are the popular posts? Are there news articles? Youtube videos? Once you start to explore some of what other people are saying, you might find some relevant content to share on your own page. Maybe you can even share your own insights about an article you find.

Now check out the left side of the screen. It’s full of percentages and bar graphs galore. It might look a little overwhelming but it’s got good information to really help you zero in on key points for your posts. To keep it simple, pay special attention to the "Top Keywords," "Top Hashtags" and "Sources" sections.

“Top Keywords" is a chart showing you the significant words that are most often found in posts relating to your topic.

"Top Hashtags" tells you the hashtags people are most commonly using in Tweets relating to your topic.

And the "Sources" graph gives you an inside look at where all these people (who are apparently interested in your topic – and maybe soon, your posts!) are on the internet. Photobucket? Twitter? Reddit? Where are people most often talking about your topic?

Now that you’ve got this information, you can start to use it to shape your updates. Maybe instead of a Youtube update, you put content on Twitter because according to the "Source" chart, that’s where users who are interested in your topic tend to be today. And maybe you post a comment about a recent news article that showed up three times in your results. Then you can top it off with a hashtag that you’ve found is popular and relevant to your topic.

Before you know it, you’ve crafted a relevant social media update using information you gleaned from a free website. You’re welcome!

It’s practices like this that help you become recognized as a thought-leader in your industry. Finding and developing fresh, relevant content, making it visible and presenting it with the twist that can only come from your unique experiences and educated perspective.

Still struggling with managing your social media sites? If you’re frustrated with your current website, or just looking for a little help, we’re now offering website reviews for only $295 (normally $495)! If you’re interested in learning more please email info@celebritysites.com

Use Your Tool Chest: How the Right Social Media Channels Will Turn You Into a CelebrityExpert®

Successfully branding yourself as a "celebrity" is a game-changer when it comes to growing your business. As I have written before, establishing yourself as a CelebrityExpert® enables you to easily attract new customers and clients—and gives you the ability to charge premium rates and still win the business. And while there are a variety of strategies and tactics that need to be leveraged in order to accomplish this goal, today we are going to focus on the internet—and more specifically, on social media.

First, let’s clear up a giant misconception that many supposed "experts" continue to spread: social media sites aren’t one-size-fits-all, interchangeable platforms. There are a variety of diverse options out there, and they must be used differently.
"Social media" is like a tool chest – full of different and uniquely valuable tools. You wouldn’t pick up a screwdriver and use it to drive a nail into the wall, would you? Well guess what… using Instagram to generate B2B leads is just as inefficient.
Today, we’re going to go through six of the most valuable "tools" in your social media tool chest—and talk about how you can use each of them to improve your online celebrity status.

Facebook. Facebook is the king of social media sites, at least for the moment. It is a versatile platform that offers many opportunities for marketing and branding. The most obvious, and often most effective, is simply using pictures to tell your story. Studies have confirmed that pictures are the most engaging form of content for Facebook users, by a significant margin. So take advantage and share pictures that tell your story. This might mean a shot of you and your team huddling with a client, it might be an image of a gorgeous new product line, or it might be a picture of yourself giving a speech to a big audience. I’m even known to use Facebook to fill the world in on my latest shopping trip, night out, or Gators football game! Keep in mind that business owners and executives tend to spend more time on "professional" networking sites like LinkedIn—so if your primary marketing strategy is B2B, Facebook may not be the best fit.

YouTube. When it comes to branding business owners as celebrities, few tools are as valuable as video. A well-produced video is incredibly powerful—whether it’s a short "introduction" to yourself and your business, a commercial, or even an in-depth documentary that serves to tell your story and the story of your business. And as you probably know, YouTube is the leading site for hosting and sharing these videos. But the platform allows you to do more than just display videos—you can create a customized profile, include information about you and your firm, and even interact with your viewers. If video is part of your marketing and branding strategy – and it should be – then YouTube is an essential element of your social media presence.

Twitter. Twitter has a very diverse user base, including healthy numbers of consumers, business owners, and professionals – not to mention musicians, politicians, and other celebrities. The format ("tweets" must be 140 characters or less) doesn’t lend itself to in-depth communications or impressive visuals, but it does offer the opportunity to post concise, relevant information for your target market to consume. Twitter is a great way to keep your audience up to date on your latest adventures, as well as to drive traffic to recent blog entries, articles, and to your website in general.

LinkedIn. LinkedIn is far and away the most popular social networking platform for professionals, and currently has nearly 200 million members. In addition to strengthening current relationships and interacting with potential customers in your market, LinkedIn offers the opportunity to reach targeted professionals through paid ads. These ads can be targeted to specific industries, physical locations, and even job titles. Similar to Twitter, LinkedIn is also a great platform for sharing blogs and articles. It also offers topic-focused Groups that allow professionals to discuss specific topics.

Instagram. Instagram has burst onto the scene as a photo-sharing service. In this respect, it is similar to Facebook, but with much more limited functionality. However, if your business lends itself to great photo opportunities, Instagram is a perfect fit. You can approach it with a similar mindset as you do Facebook—look for pictures that tell your story. In fact, many businesses share their photos on Instagram, and then add them to Facebook as well.

Pinterest. Pinterest is a picture-oriented "lifestyle" site. It allows users to share and discover new interests, by "pinning" pictures to "pinboards." It’s similar to posting content on a Facebook wall, except that each user has multiple boards and can organize them around a unifying theme. (For instance, "arts & crafts", "for the home", and "recipes" are all common.) On a personal level, you could probably guess that Pinterest is right up my alley. Check out my profile (http://pinterest.com/lindsaydicks/) and you’ll see the collection of recipes, clothes, and craft ideas that I’ve shared. But in addition to being a fun way to share interests with friends, Pinterest is a great place to share pictures and other visuals that relate to the "lifestyle" your business focuses on. For instance, as a real estate broker or a home stager, sharing great photos of your latest listings is a perfect fit.

One quick word of caution: before you jump head-first into social media, it’s important that you evaluate your website. Your site serves as the "hub" for your online presence, and if it doesn’t mesh well with your social media presence, you’ll be unable to create the CelebrityExpert® brand that you’re going for. So be sure to take care of "first things first!"

Social media is fun—but more than that, it represents a great opportunity to connect with your customers on a frequent basis. But like anything else in life, if you don’t take the time to learn the "rules of the game", you can’t use it effectively. We’ve covered the basics here today… but as always, feel free to get in touch with me if you’d like to learn more!

09/18/12 Tuesday Training: How to Choose Keywords for your Website

Keywords are an extremely important part of search engine optimization. These are the words that Google (or your other favorite search engine) uses to determine whether your site is relevant for their user. Google takes these keywords from places like your URL (website address) or from the actual content on your website. For now, we’ll focus on your website’s content.

If your website is already up and running, go ahead and test out some of your pages on tools.seobook.com/general/keyword-density/. Type your URL into the blank, leave all the options default and click "Go." Next you’ll see a list of your page’s keywords – according to SEOBook, this is what you’re telling Google you’re all about.

Are those the words you were hoping to see? It’s always good to stop and consider your customer. Is he or she likely to type those words into a search bar?

Check to see if your keywords are logical. First, that they’re accessible, likely words a customer would use to search for a company like yours. But beware, because choosing keywords that are too simple won’t help you show up on the first page of a search either. For instance, a small-town candy shop relying on a keyword like "chocolate," has approximately no hope in showing up anywhere near the top of a search. Hershey’s and Godiva will beat them out every time. But adding a geographical keyword like "Duluth, MN" to their site could help exponentially. This is especially good to keep in mind if your product or service is location specific.

Second, aim to balance your keywords. Try not to hang all of your hopes on one word or phrase. You’ll notice that the keyword analysis you just did on your pages also yielded percentages. While the numbers really range depending on the actual words you’re using, some experts recommend aiming to have your main keywords rank around 3-4%. Again, this number is subject to your specific keywords so it’s also suggested by some to do a keyword checkup on the number one site and then aim for 0.1% higher than that percentage.

Last of all, be sure your keywords are truly relevant to what you offer. It might be tempting (and occasionally helpful, we admit) to over-broaden, but the best policy is to be true to your company and engage your best customers. Learning to own your niche like this is a big step in becoming a celebrity in your field and having a truly effective online presence.

Online is not the place to be haphazard, disorganized and subsequently invisible. Determine what you really want to say to your customers and potential customers and then use keywords and other tools to focus on reaching them in the most efficient and engaging way possible.

Need help with search engine optimization for your site? We’re currently offering website reviews for only $295 (normally $495)! If you’re interested in learning more please email info@celebritysites.com.

Email Marketing… Celebrity Style

Email marketing is a powerful tool. And these days, it’s accessible and affordable for businesses of all sizes. However, there is a big difference between doing email marketing and doing it well. Successful email marketing campaigns generate leads, improve customer loyalty, and contribute to a powerful personal brand. On the other hand, ineffective email marketing is a waste of your time and your resources.

How can you use email marketing effectively while continuing to build your personal brand and establish yourself as the leading celebrity-expert in your market? Read on…

1) Understand who you are writing to.

Who is your audience? You should be able to easily answer this question on a big-picture level—for instance, a retirement planner would likely have an audience consisting of retirees and those planning to retire soon.

But that’s not enough. One of the keys to an effective email marketing campaign is speaking directly to your audience, as personally as possible. Nobody wants to feel like just another name in a massive database—if they do feel that way, chances are that your email messages will be deleted without a second thought.

So learn more about your audience. Determine whether each contact is a business, or an individual. Identify gender. Identify age. Identify geographic location. Identify hobbies and other interests.

One great way to do this by asking these important questions on your sign-up forms. In other words, in addition to asking for their name and email address, ask your prospect to share additional information that is important for your campaign. Of course, the more information you require, the more likely a prospect is to say "forget it"—so you will want to experiment and track your results.

Bottom line: learn as much as you can about your audience, so that you can engage them personally.

2) Segment your audience for a more "personal" connection.

If you followed my advice in step one, you now have detailed information for each of the contacts in your email database.

Now it’s time to use it!

Forget sending massive "one size fits all" email blasts to your entire list. If it’s not personalized, it’s going to be far less successful.

The first step is segmenting your audience. Break your master list down into segments. What these segments will be is determined largely by the nature of your business. You could break your list down into geographic regions. You could segment your audience by age, gender, income level, level of education, and much more. I used a retirement planner in an earlier example—he or she would likely start by segmenting an email list into "retired" and "not yet retired", as obviously these two audiences would be interested in different information.

Once your list is segmented, the next step is crafting content, information, and offers that appeal to each segment of your audience. Non-clients, for instance, could be targeted with special introductory offers designed to get them "in your door." Current clients, on the other hand, could be offered a referral program which offers an incentive for them to connect you with new leads.

The options are endless—as long as you segment your audience. Your mailing list does not consist of thousands of identical individuals… so don’t treat them all the same!

3) Be a "real" person.

Nobody likes spam, and if your email blasts feel like junk mail, they will be ignored.

Here are a few easy steps you can take to address this problem:

-Use your name in the "sender" field.

-Send the email from a real address. (As opposed to something like do-not-reply@xyz.com)

-Greet your recipient by name. It’s easy to set up your email blasts to begin with a personalized salutation, i.e. "Dear Mike" or "Hi Joe."

In addition, it’s important to let your personal brand shine through in the body of your email. For some of you, that means humor. For others, it may mean "action photos" of yourself or your team hard at work. I like to keep my readers up to date on a variety of topics—especially the results of my shopping adventures!

Whatever the specifics may be, the key is to seem like a person—not a robot. Be real, be interesting, be yourself… and your audience will be far more interested in what you have to say.

4) Always provide value.

At the end of the day, successful email marketing campaigns have at least one trait in common: their audience is interested in what they have to say. The audience has a reason to open the email—and to spend time reading it.

This boils down to one word: value.

How can you provide value for your audience?

Many businesses do it by providing coupons and other savings opportunities. If you receive emails from your favorite local restaurant, and you know that they often include great coupons, you’re going to open those emails every time… am I right?

But you can also provide value by offering helpful information to your audience. Going back to the example of our hypothetical retirement planner – he/she could share stock market forecasts, tips for saving money on taxes, and all sorts of additional information.

The best part about this approach is that it not only answers pressing questions for your audience, it also positions you as a leading authority in your market. It turns you into the celebrity-expert you are working to become, and it provides great value for your audience at the same time.

So take some time right now and ask yourself what type of information your audience is interested in. If you’re not sure, ask them! Call up three or four long-term clients and simply ask them what type of information they would be interested in.

Identifying the type of content that interests your readers is a vital step—once you’ve done so, it’s just a matter of communicating the information in a clear and engaging manner.

Done right, email marketing is an incredible tool for your business. Not only can it be used to engage your customers, increase loyalty, and generate new leads… but it can also position you as the leading Celebrity Expert™ in your market.

08/07/12 Tuesday Training: How to Schedule Tweets using HootSuite

Twitter can be a powerful business tool if you know how to manage it properly. One of the best ways to keep up with this, sometimes time-consuming, social media outlet is to schedule your Tweets. When scheduled Tweets are done correctly, they can be a great way to maximize your time in front of the computer, control your content flow, and increase your visibility.

Instead of sitting at your computer and sending out 10 Tweets in 10 minutes, why not spend a just few minutes at your computer to schedule 10 Tweets to be sent out over the course of 10 hours? Staggering your messages like this will allow your content to be seen without flooding the Twittersphere with back-to-back Tweets. This is a less obtrusive way to reach your followers, and it optimizes the little time that you have to spend on Twitter.

HootSuite is one of the most popular tools used for scheduling Tweets. Here is how to schedule your Tweets usng HootSuite:

  1. If you haven’t already done so, sign up for an account and download the free program at HootSuite.com.
  2. Then, login to your panel and craft your Tweet.
  3. From this panel you have the ability to set the date, time and the specific social network to which you want post your message.
  4. Once this is complete your Tweet will show up in the pending Tweets panel of Hootsuite.

Yes, it is that simple J There are many other services for scheduling messages similar to HootSuite, as well!

Now that you know how to schedule your Tweets to be sent out on specific dates and times, allow me to briefly discuss the proper etiquette when it comes to automated Tweets. Remember, scheduled Tweets are not always the solution. Individuals who abuse Tweet automation with annoying sales blasts can be labeled as spammers, and this will not build your online reputation.

Instead, be sure to always provide your audience with quality Tweet messages that authentically promote your brand and engage your followers. Remember, you don’t want to fully automate your Twitter efforts! However, when Tweets are scheduled with the intention of providing your followers with substantial content throughout their day, it can be a great tool to grow your online reputation, thus making you the go-to expert in your field! J

If you’re frustrated with your current website, or just looking for a little help, we’re now offering website reviews for only $295 (normally $495)! If you’re interested in learning more please email Kristin@CelebritySites.com.

07/24/12 Tuesday Training: How to Use Twitter for Customer Service

Twitter can be one of the best tools when it comes to providing your clients with great customer service. Why? —Because it’s personal and it’s fast.

More and more, businesses are beginning to understand the value of social media in the workplace, especially Twitter. Actively engaging with your clients on Twitter is a great way to build their trust, gain that 3rd party verification that YOU are the EXPERT at what you do, and it provides your audience a way to connect with you! So, why not also use this powerful marketing tool to provide your clients with great customer service too?!

Respond Quickly and Authentically:

Use the speed of Twitter to your advantage by dealing with client issues quickly and using the @reply feature that Twitter provides. The @reply is a tactic that many successful companies like Honda, Toyota, Starbucks, and Microsoft are using in their client relations efforts.

The beauty of Twitter is, if someone mentions your business in a post, you can easily follow the conversation. When you find someone complaining about your company or an issue relating to your business on Twitter you can @reply them to see how you can help! The conversation is going to happen with you or without you, so it is your job to step in and turn a negative into a positive ☺

@replies provide a quick, public and transparent face to your customer service! It allows others to see what you’re doing for your clients, how you handle their needs. The public nature of @replies can also answer questions that other clients might be wondering.

Be Personal:

Twitter is a conversational platform, so make sure you are joining in the conversation! Don’t be a distant, rigid corporate entity that your clients can’t relate to; instead, be personal! Twitter is a great way to build a trusting relationship with your audience AND reinforce the fact that there are REAL people behind your business, so use it to your advantage!

Twitter and social media are redefining how customer service is done in today’s business world. Using Twitter as a customer service tool can be a great way to build trust with your audience and reinforce the fact that your clients come first!

Remember, the conversation is going to happen WITH you or WITHOUT you—so it is your job to step in and take action! If you come across an unhappy client on Twitter, address it with an @reply and always be approachable ☺ You can easily turn a negative into a positive by displaying fast and quality customer service on Twitter!

If you’re frustrated with your current website, or just looking for a little help, we’re now offering website reviews for only $295 (normally $495)! If you’re interested in learning more please email Kristin@CelebritySites.com.

07/17/12 Tuesday Training: Integrating Facebook With WordPress

With over 845 million users, Facebook is the world’s largest social networking site, and with over 53 million WordPress sites in the world, WordPress is one of the most popular publishing platforms out there. In today’s business world, integrating these two social media powerhouses isn’t an option—it’s a MUST!

Before I go into HOW to integrate Facebook with your website, I first want to explain WHY it is important J Integrating Facebook with your website allows visitors to share your content! Also, people who visit your website need to know that they can connect with you, and if your website is lacks a way to connect through Facebook, people are going to wonder why!

Remember, linking your business website with Facebook is a great way to get your content shared, connect with your audience and obtain 3rd party verification that you the go-to expert in your field!

A great way to begin integrating social media sites, like Facebook, with YOUR business website to choose the right WordPress Plugin! If you visit http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/ you can browse thousands of WordPress plugins for integrating Facebook with WordPress. Here are some Plugins to start you off:

Add Link to Facebook: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/add-link-to-facebook/

Automatically add links to published posts or pages to your Facebook wall, pages or groups and more!

Social Sharing Toolkit: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/social-sharing-toolkit/

This plugin allows visitors to easily share your content and connect with you on social networks!

Facebook Comments for WordPress:


This plugin integrates the Facebook commenting system right into your website. If a reader is logged into Facebook while viewing any comment-enabled page or post, they’ll be able to leave a comment using their Facebook profile!

Once you integrate Facebook with your WordPress website, you can begin to add social sharing capabilities for other popular social media platforms—like Twitter and LinkedIn! Social sharing allows visitors to your website to share your content on their own social media sites and provides a way for visitors to connect with you! Remember, integrating social media sites with your website is seen as 3rd party verification that you are an expert, thus making YOU the CELEBRITY of your field 🙂

If you’re frustrated with your current website, or just looking for a little help, we’re now offering website reviews for only $295 (normally $495)! If you’re interested in learning more please email Kristin@CelebritySites.com.

07/10/12 Tuesday Training: Using Pinterest For Business: Keywords, Hashtags, and Links!

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is the world’s fastest growing social media platform to ever grace the interner, reaching more than 10 million followers faster than Twitter and Facebook. On Pinterest, "trending" images, with links back to the original source, can get Pinned and Repinned on thousands of virtual display boards!

Using Pinterest For business:

Businesses have caught on to this popular visual marketing tool, using Pinterest to grow their brand and promote their online presence! Not only can businesses generate buzz with attention-grabbing images, but they can also use Pinterest to build links for that sought after 3rd party verification! So, before your business becomes the next CELEBRITY on Pinterest, you need to understand the value of keywords, hashtags, and links on this!

Keywords and Hashtags:

When creating a description for a new Pin, you can optimize your Pin by adding specific keywords that users are most likely going to type in when searching for specific content on Pinterest! You need to think: what are people searching?

For example, say you are a fitness expert, and you want to post a wonderful eye-catching photo of a healthy recipe, with a link back to your website. When coming up with keywords to use for your Pin description, you probably do not want to use the same language that you would use when speaking to another fitness expert. Avoid industry jargon, and stick to what you know people will be typing in!

You may also wish to add hashtags to "tag" your Pin. For example, you might add "#healthy or #fitness to the end of your Pin. You may add as many as you like, but remember that too many hashtags can look like spam! So, having too many actually work against you!


Be sure to add links to your company website and your other social media platforms on your Pinterest profile!

When posting a new Pin, you can also bring users to specific web pages on your website by adding the specific URL in your Pin description 🙂 You can also add a "Pin-it" button on your blog and website! This will allow users to Pin these photos, and you can achieve that 3rd party verification!

Now that you know how to optimize your marketing strategy on Pinterest by adding specific keywords, unique hashtags and linking pins back to your website, you can become a CELEBRITY Pinner and grow your onine presence! You can create a Pinterest catalog, host a competition and even Pin special offers—all linking back to YOUR site for that 3rd party verification!

If you’re frustrated with your current website, or just looking for a little help, we’re now offering website reviews for only $295 (normally $495)! If you’re interested in learning more please email Kristin@CelebritySites.com.

07/03/12 Tuesday Training: Happy Pinning! How to Add a "Pin it" Button

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is the fastest growing social media platform ever, reaching more than 10 million followers faster than Twitter or even Facebook. "Trending" images (with links back to the original source) can get Pinned and Repinned on thousands of display boards!

Why Pinterest?

Originally, the only images that were trending on Pinterest were creative recipes and wedding ideas; but this social media powerhouse has grown to be so much more than that! Now, trending images can consist of various products, or images linked with useful tips and services!

Perhaps your business is hosting an event—take pictures and Pin-it! Think of creative ways to Pin what you do 🙂 Whether you are a yoga instructor, or a tax relief expert, there are always visuals and images that you can use to attract attention to your business!

Businesses have caught on to this popular visual marketing tool, using it to grow their dollars and promote their online presence! With Pinterest, you can easily build links and advocate your brand! But before you can become a CELEBRITY on Pinterest, you need to know how to install the "Pin-It" button to your website!

How do I start Pinning?

So, now that you are brainstorming which images you want to use to grow your business, lets install a "Pin-It" button that allows users to easily Pin images right off your website!

If you have a WordPress, the work is done for you 🙂 (WordPress just makes everything easier!)

When you sign in to WordPress, just go to Settings on your Dashboard then click Sharing and make sure you add the "Pin-it" button to automatically be available on all of your posts! If you do not have a WordPress, you will need to add your "Pin-it" button manually.

Here’s the code you’ll use to place the "Pin-it" button on your blog in each of your blog posts:

<a href=”javascript:void((function(){var%20e=document.createElement(‘script’);e.setAttribute(‘type’,’text/javascript’);e.setAttribute(‘charset’,’UTF-8′);e.setAttribute(‘src’,’http://assets.pinterest.com/js/pinmarklet.js?r=’+Math.random()*99999999);document.body.appendChild(e)})());”><img alt=”Pin It!” style=’border: none;’ src=”INSERT IMAGE URL HERE”/></a>

If you do not have a blog and want the "Pin-It" button to be present on your traditional website, Pinterest has made it easy for you! Go to this link http://pinterest.com/about/goodies/. This page allows you to enter your website information so that individual images can have a "Pin-it" option!

Now that you know HOW to make your images "Pinnable," you can begin to explore the powers of Pinterest and become a CELEBRITY online! You can create an online catalog, host a competition, Pin a business event, and even Pin special offers

06/26/12 Tuesday Training: How to Install a WordPress Plugin

WordPress Plugins are prepackaged codes that you can install to add unique features and functions to your WordPress website! Thousands of WordPress Plugins are available to the WordPress community and new Plugins are made every day! However, this information doesn’t do you much good if you don’t know how to install them 🙂

Finding the Right Plugin:

Not all Plugins are beneficial for your website! Here at CelebritySites, I like to provide you with a useful, weekly WordPress Plugin on our blog to make it easy for you! You can also browse through the available Plugins on the WordPress website!

Installing your Plugin Automatically:

To install your Plugin automatically, you must know your hostname, FTP username, FTP password, and your connection type. (FTP just means File Transfer Protocol and it is a way to upload files to your web hosting account.)

When you log into WordPress, go to Plugins > Add New and enter the name of the WordPress Plugin you wish to add. To view additional information about the Plugin and receive installation assistance, click Details under the Plugin name! Then, click Install, which is located directly under the Plugin name.

This is when WordPress asks you to please enter your FTP information to move forward with your Plugin installation. If the WordPress Plugin installs correctly, the resulting screen will ask you to click Activate! Your WordPress Plugin is now active on your WordPress website 🙂

If your Plugin fails to install, WordPress will notify you immediately. You can then try the manual installation method; however, keep in mind that there is a possibility that something may be wrong with your Plugin if it did not install automatically.

To install your WordPress Plugin manually:

First, where you found your WordPress Plugin, click download, and begin downloading the latest version of the Plugin to your computer. Then with an FTP program, access your website’s server. Copy the Plugin file (or folder) to the /wp-content/plugins folder! (I know that was a lot of tech-talk :)) Now, in your WordPress Administration Panel, click on Plugins and your new Plugin should be listed!!

Don’t forget that we do most of the work for you if you read my weekly SEO and SMM alerts!! I will provide you with a new, useful Plugin for your website every week with the link and a description.  Now that you know how to install a WordPress Plugin, you can start taking advantage of customizing your website for your business, making YOU a true CELEBRITY on the web!

Eight Ways to Use Social Media to Boost Your Celebrity Status

When it comes to personal branding, you have probably heard it said that consistency is critical. Since the objective of your branding efforts is to shape the way you are perceived by your audience, it’s essential that you broadcast a consistent message. If your message lacks consistency, your audience doesn’t know what to think—and you end up with a personal brand that is weak or nonexistent.

Consistency goes beyond your logo’s colors. You must be consistent in your thoughts and beliefs as well as your promotions and the way you "act" online. It’s all a part of your brand and what you do reflects highly on your brand. If you were a Church you probably wouldn’t be promoting drinking and smoking for example.

And while the specifics of your personal brand may vary, you know by now that the key to achieving the business success you desire is branding yourself as a celebrity within your industry. You’re not just another "typical" business owner—you’re a respected expert. This position gives you the ability to lock out your competition—to charge higher prices than your competitors and still win the business. And because most consumers prefer to work with an expert, your personal brand will make it easier to attract new clients and retain your current customers. Therefore, it’s important that every element of your personal brand reflect the celebrity status you are working towards. From TV appearances to your social media presence, positioning yourself as a celebrity expert in your industry must be a primary goal.

In this article I wanted to give you specific ideas that you can focus on TODAY to start elevating your social media efforts– and specifically, how you can utilize your social media presence to establish yourself (and your brand) as the go-to guru within your market. Below are eight suggestions:

1) Tweet analysis of breaking news. Twitter is known as a great source for breaking news—and with good reason. While keeping your audience updated with regard to breaking news in your industry is helpful, I recommend taking it a step further—go ahead and post a link to a developing story, but take a moment to add your analysis. As a tax attorney, for instance, don’t just report that a new law is making its way through congress… take the time to tell your audience what the new law could mean for them.

2) Post pictures on Facebook and Twitter of yourself "in action". If you take a look at my Facebook profile, you’ll see photos of myself and my partners working with clients in a variety of locations… at the Grammys, filming on location in Washington D.C., etc. Not only is it a fun way to keep people in the loop, but posting these pictures reminds my audience that I’m always hard at work helping my clients strengthen their celebrity status. Look for opportunities to do the same!

3) Post video tips on YouTube. Video tips are a great way to connect with your audience—as it’s easier to bond with someone "face to face" than it is by reading their status updates and Twitter posts. Take the time to produce these well—you’ll be amazed at how much mileage you can get out of a handful of well-produced video tips. In addition to the branding benefits, search engines are giving video sites like YouTube more weight than ever—so get involved!

4) Share your blog entries and articles across Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Hopefully by now you have listened to me and are regularly publishing blog entries and articles! (If not, it’s time to get with the program!) In addition to sharing your content on your website, take the time to post them to your social media accounts. Doing so is a great way to drive traffic to your website, and it is a reminder to your audience that you’re an expert in your industry!

5) Answer questions your followers and connections may have. One of the best parts of modern day social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter is the ability they provide to interact with your audience in real time. If you pay attention to the conversations that are taking place around you, you will often see individuals asking questions or looking for advice. When you see an opportunity to share your expertise, chime in! Not only will you be helping the person asking the question—you’ll also be subtly demonstrating your expertise to your audience. People will take note—and over time you’ll build a reputation as THE go-to person in your industry.

6) Get personal… but not TOO personal. Social media platforms represent a great opportunity to get to know your audience… and vice versa. It doesn’t have to be all business, all the time. Let your audience know what you’re up to—where you’re travelling, what restaurant you’re eating at… whatever you’re comfortable with. The best part of this is that you have the opportunity to have fun and be yourself… while at the same time building your brand. In my case, comments on a Gator game, a status update about a trip to Bloomys (Bloomingdales as you may call it J) a picture of my favorite bottle of wine, or my new favorite recipe I found on Pinterest… it’s all a way to strengthen my personal brand. It’s important not to frop your guard too much, as yes, we are mixing business with pleasure! But you do need a happy medium of both- I like to think of the social media world as a giant cocktail party. Have fun, relax, tell jokes… but keep it classy!

7) Share actionable tips for your customers and prospects. Sharing information with your audience is great… but providing them with actionable, easily digestible tips is even better. Whether you’re a real estate broker sharing tips for adding value to a home, or a landscaper sharing advice for dealing with garden pests, providing actionable tips demonstrates your industry knowledge convincingly.

8) Post valuable content from authoritative sources… and add your commentary. When it comes to sharing content, you don’t have to limit yourself to content you’ve created. Of course, you won’t want to promote your competitors, but posting content from other authoritative sources shows your audience that you are "in the loop" with regards to developments in your industry. Take it a step further and add your own analysis!

At the end of the day, your overarching social media goal should be to provide value to your audience. If you aren’t doing so, they are going to tune you out. What good does it do you to have 1,000 followers on Twitter if none of them are paying any attention?

Look for opportunities to make their lives easier—by sharing tips, by keeping them up to date in regards to developments in your industry, and by analyzing breaking news. This will keep your audience engaged… and when you incorporate these celebrity branding tips, you’ll be reinforcing your standing as an expert with each and every interaction.

06/19/12 Tuesday Training: How to Host a Tweet Chat!

Hosting your own Twitter Chat can be an excellent way to interact with your clients and other business professionals. It will give you the opportunity to get to know your community, as well as promote your brand and business though relationships and conversation!

First, allow me to clarify what a Twitter Chat actually is 🙂 A Tweet Chat is a public conversation centered around one unique hashtag, which allows individuals to follow and participate in a discussion. Hosting a Tweet Chat for business purposes is an effective way to interact with clients and make you the CELEBRITY of your niche market! 🙂

Step #1: Pick a topic that generates buzz!

For your Tweet Chat, you can identify a topic in your industry that people are talking about, or even address some questions that your clients have about your company. What conversation do you want to have with your followers? What types of discussions could grow your business and promote your brand? Remember, when you do choose a topic, make sure you stick to it throughout your entire Twitter Chat!

Step #2: Choose a unique hashtag!

This step is important, because this is HOW clients will follow your conversational event. Once you’ve decided on a hashtag that is suitable for your event (this can also be your company hashtag if you have one), and researched to make sure it’s not already being used, it’s time to register it! This will give you ownership of the hashtag. I suggest going to http://twubs.com/ and registering 🙂 Once on the site, click "Register Your Hashtag." That’s it!

Step #3: Set up a day and time!

Next, let your clients know when your Tweet Chat "event" will be taking place, and don’t forget to address different time zones! You can advertise your Tweet Chat by writing a blog about it, emailing desired participants or promoting it on your other social media platforms. Tell your audience the time of your Tweet Chat "event," the topic that will be discussed, your unique hashtag and why they should join the conversation!

Step #4: Run your Tweet Chat!

Remember this checklist when it comes time to run your Tweet Chat:

1. Start with a welcome (give your followers a few minutes to say hello)
2. Announce your chat topic
3. Tweet your own thoughts and ideas on that topic/ask your first question
4. Give at least 5 minutes for your chat participants to share their ideas
5. Retweet and summarize the best answers
6. Thank everyone for participating
7. Tweet the chat conclusions

Ok, so you have set up a hashtag on Twitter, set a date, invited your party and now it is time to run your Twitter Chat! Have your clients go to TweetChat.com and type in your unique hashtag at the very top. This will bring them to your Twitter Chat event! (It is also easiest to run your Tweet Chat from TweetChat.com because the site is set up specifically for Twitter Chats :))

Also, when you use TweetChat.com you have the option to set up automated Tweets. For example, if you wanted to post a different question every 5 minutes, you can use TweetChat.com to do so 🙂 The "style" of your Tweet Chat really depends on whether you need automated Tweets. Are you only posting questions? Do you prefer an open discussion? Are you running a contest?

Step #5: Remember, the Tweet Chat may be over, but the conversation continues!

Remember, when your Tweet Chat comes to a close, your followers can still continue to have discussions centered around your unique hashtag 🙂 Make sure you check and see what conversations are going on about you and your business, and continue to build relationships! Tweet Chats are just one of the many social media marketing tactics that you can use to grow your business and become a true CELEBRITY!

6/12/12 Tuesday Training: Crafting a Hashtag

Twitter can be the key to effectively promoting your business through social media! With Twitter, you can host Tweet Chats, facilitate conversations to grow your business, get instant feedback from your clients and successfully make you the CELEBRITY of your niche market! 🙂 But, before you can do any of this you need to know how to craft a unique hashtag!

Why Do You Need to Know How to Craft a Hashtag?

A hashtag is significant word or series of characters preceded by the # symbol. Hashtags help categorize posts and can make it easier for other Twitter users to search for tweets. By creating your own hashtag, you can use it to drive conversations about your business, event or blog!

How to Choose a Unique Hashtag:

First, you need to make sure that whatever hashtag you choose isn’t already taken! You can search to see if a hashtag is taken on hashtag.org or twubs.com. Once you’ve decided on which hashtag you want, you need to register it. Registering your hashtag helps prevent other events or organizations from using your hashtag, that way you can have your "own" conversations to promote YOUR business. When crafting a unique hashtag I suggest making them short and easy to remember. You can always abbreviate 🙂

Registering Your Hashtag:

Once you’ve decided on a hashtag and researched to make sure it’s not already being used, it’s time to register it! This will give you ownership of the hashtag. I suggest going to http://twubs.com/ and registering 🙂 Once on the site, click "Register Your Hashtag." That’s it!

Now, you have a hashtag to facilitate interaction between you and your followers to build relationships and promote your business, have fun with it and be creative! Host a Tweet Chat, encourage clients to use your hashtag at an event, have a contest—there are countless ways to promote your business using Twitter! Join the conversation and be the CELEBRITY of your field 🙂

Your Celebrity Expert Status Starts on the Web! Seven SEO Mistakes to Avoid!

Like it or not, your Celebrity Status starts on the web. The first thing anybody does before doing business is goes to the web. If they’ve heard about you from somewhere, they will Google your name or company name to see if you really are an expert. If they have a problem and they need a solution, they’re Google the problem.

You have to be everywhere!

Unfortunately, the world of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is constantly changing. Google plays a substantial role in these fluctuations—every time the search giant tweaks its algorithms, SEO strategies must be tweaked to compensate. But in addition to Google-prompted change, there are new software programs, techniques, and strategies popping up regularly. It can be confusing, to say the least!

As a result, if you don’t spend time on a weekly basis monitoring SEO best practices, it’s easy to fall out of the loop. And unfortunately, sometimes being outside of the loop can lead to SEO practices that actually harm your website. So today, we are going to take a look at seven common SEO mistakes to avoid. Are you committing any of these?

1) Keyword stuffing. A popular early SEO strategy, the concept of keyword stuffing is simple—you use a huge volume of keywords over and over on a single page. The search engines picked up on those keywords and ranked the site accordingly. That strategy has been outdated for several years now, however, and keyword stuffing today will have a negative impact on your SEO results. You should feature your keywords in the content that you write—but only when they are relevant and natural. Don’t force-feed keywords into your content!

2) Poor keyword selection. One of the very first and most important steps when it comes to SEO is keyword selection. Unfortunately, many website owners rush through this step and wind up investing valuable time and resources into the wrong keywords. There are two fundamental mistakes to be made here—the first is choosing a keyword that is too competitive. Unless you have a tremendous amount of resources to expend, going after competitive phrases like "investments" or "financial advice" is going to leave you frustrated. On the other hand, choosing keywords that have a low search volume won’t help, either. The key is to select "long-tail" keywords that will deliver targeted traffic to your website, without being so popular that it’s impossible to make the first page. For instance, "investment advisor Orlando" or "Financial advice for Florida retirees" would be better choices than the original examples I shared. There are a number of tools that can make the process of keyword selection easier—contact me to learn more!

3) Focusing heavily on article directories. Until about a year ago, submitting content to article directories across the web was a great way to build backlinks. Recently, however, Google has dramatically reduced the weight it gives to article directories. Continuing to post on these directories won’t hurt your SEO results, but it won’t help, either. This could change in the future, but as of now, utilizing article directories as a link-building strategy is essentially a waste of time and resources.

4) Using hidden text. This is another strategy that was effective years ago, but will now actually harm your SEO efforts. Whether it is hiding SEO content at the bottom of pages or utilizing other methods to conceal it, hidden text is simply a losing strategy. Focus on creating valuable content on your website and blog—don’t utilize hidden text.

5) Ignoring video and social media. As strategies like keyword stuffing, hidden text, and article directory submission are phased out of Google’s search algorithm, something has to take their place, right? Lately, Google and other search engines have placed an additional emphasis on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+ and Flickr. This is actually great news for reputable businesses—as it changes the focus of SEO strategies away from content that is more or less invisible to consumers, towards platforms that facilitate market interaction. As a result, not only is developing a strong social media presence a great way to interact with your customers and prospects, but it will also pay SEO dividends. Video content is particularly important—so if you haven’t begun creating a presence on YouTube or other video sites, now is the time to get with the program. Contact me if you’d like help getting started!

6) Ignoring title tags and meta descriptions. Title tags (the text at the very top of your browser window) are very important from an SEO standpoint. Many websites fail to utilize them and end up with title tags like "Home" and "Contact" that don’t do anything for the search engines. Incorporate your keywords into your title tags—for instance, at CelebritySites.com, the title tag on our home page is "Orlando Social Media Agency | Orlando Online Marketing Agency". Make sure that your title tags are different from page to page, as well—otherwise you’re basically telling Google that every page on your site is the same. Your meta description tags are critical as well—this is the text that often appears under your website on search engines. Don’t engage in keyword stuffing, as you’ll be penalized for it. Instead, summarize the content of each page accurately, while working in keywords naturally. Title tags and meta descriptions have a major impact on your SEO results, so don’t overlook them!

7) Failure to track results. At the end of the day, it’s impossible to know how well your SEO strategy is playing out if you aren’t tracking results. Without reviewing the data, you can’t know which initiatives are working and which aren’t. I recommend reviewing your SEO results on a monthly basis, if not more frequently. At a minimum, pay attention to your search engine rankings for your top keywords as well as traffic levels and sources to your website.

How does your SEO strategy measure up? Are you making any of these mistakes? If so, the good news is that now you know better! And even if you have been engaging in practices that harm your search rankings, the damage can be repaired—you simply need to stop what you’ve been doing and shift your resources to appropriate techniques. If you need help building your Celebrity Expert status online, feel free to get in touch with me today if you’d like to learn more about cutting edge SEO strategies that really work!

Seven Elements of an Effective Website

Great websites come in different shapes and sizes, but when it comes to creating effective websites that really work (as measured by generating leads and sales), there are several elements that are absolutely essential. Below are seven of the most important—how does your site compare?

A great website:

1) Establishes personal credibility. Credibility is always an issue when it comes to closing a sale. Think about your daily life—when was the last time you made a significant purchase? If you think through the process, you’ll realize that at some point during your decision, you addressed the issue of credibility. This is often a simple question you ask yourself, as in "do I really trust that this product or service will work for me?" Keep in mind that this credibility check is even more important online—because consumers are naturally more skeptical. If your website feels "anonymous," you aren’t going to sell effectively. It’s important that your personal brand is communicated—and that you are presented as a credible and authoritative. Remember that people buy people—so present yourself in the best possible light.

2) Features appealing visuals. Visuals are important for any website—but many designers go too far. Fancy animations may look great to you—but nobody is going to sit around and wait for sixty seconds while your website loads. Your design should be professional, organized, and appealing—but never overwhelming.

3) Offers easy navigation for your target visitors. It is important to ask yourself who your audience will be. If you don’t expect your visitors to be tech-savvy, make sure that your menu navigation system is straightforward and easy to understand. No matter who your visitors are, never make your menus more complicated than they need to be. The goal of your menu system should be to allow your visitors to easily find the information they need (and the information YOU want them to see). So don’t overthink it!

4) Features a strong call to action. This is an area where many web designers go off course. They come up with great content, stunning design, useful tools—everything you could ask for. But then, they forget to come up with a compelling call to action. This can be in the form of a contact box, a free special report that requires an email address, or simply a prominently placed phone number combined with a great reason (a benefit for THEM) for your visitors to contact you. It doesn’t do you much good to have strong traffic to your site if nobody is actually contacting you, right? Without a call to action, you simply aren’t going to maximize the leads you capture or the sales you generate—so make it a priority!

5) Has a prominent opportunity to sign up for free content. Obviously, your primary hope for every visitor is that they will contact you and become a customer. However, it is important to recognize that many of the visitors to your site aren’t ready to commit at the moment. They may be window shopping (Trust me… I do plenty of window shopping, online and at the mall!), they may be researching, or they may just be curious. In any case, they aren’t going to make a purchase immediately—but they likely will make a purchase in the future. If you can capture their contact information, you can begin marketing to them and establishing yourself as the premier provider of the good or service that they’re interested in. If you continue to market to them, you can bet that, when they are finally ready to make a purchase, you will be the first person they contact. You can capture this information a number of different ways—but my favorite is by offering FREE valuable content, as long as they are willing to give you their email address, of course. This can be in the form of a special report, a weekly newsletter, or even a "members only" blog. Remember that the content must be relevant to their interests and must provide value—otherwise, they’re not going to sign up.

6) Includes a great "About" page. A surprising number of businesses fail to include an "About page" on their websites. Not only is this page a great opportunity to provide more information about your business and build a stronger connection between yourself and your visitor, but it’s another great place to build your personal credibility. You can do this by referencing your credentials, highlighting accomplishments, and sharing your knowledge. If you publish a blog, make sure you provide a link. If you’ve written a book, provide a link to your Amazon bio page! Take advantage of your About page to establish your personal brand, build trust, and present yourself as an expert in your industry.

7) Features strong and appealing content. I highly recommend including a blog on your website for a number of reasons. Most obviously, regularly publishing blog entries relating to your market makes you appear knowledgeable and well connected. It sends the strong message to your visitors that you are an expert on the subject. Your blog is also a great way to draw visitors to your website—by posting links on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere, you give potential customers a reason to visit your website. And, a regularly updated blog will give your search engine rankings a boost. Google and other search engines love fresh content, and your blog is a perfect place to deliver it. Remember to keep your blog entries focused on your industry and to use your top keywords regularly—particularly in the titles. Whether it is a blog, articles, or videos, take the time to produce great content for your visitors. It can make all the difference!

Of course, there is more to creating a great website than I can fit into a single article—but if your site stacks up well in these seven areas, chances are you are going to be happy with the results! On the other hand, if you know that your site needs some work, or if you aren’t sure where to begin, contact me today! I’d be glad to help you out.

Use Your Social Media Presence to Increase Credibility and Establish Yourself as an Expert

The rising popularity of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube present a valuable opportunity for business owners.

But before we get there, let’s talk about a common misconception about social media.

Many marketers seem to believe that social media is a new development.

But social media is not new—in fact, it is thousands of years old. Digital tools like Twitter are simply the latest version.

Humans are relationally oriented… we like to talk, gossip, share experiences, and strengthen friendships. This was true in 3000 BC, and it is true today. Sure, modern technology makes connecting faster, easier, and more convenient than ever before—but  there is nothing new about our desire to connect with one another.

Understanding how social media fits into everyday life is the key to unlocking its power. Today, many people use social media like the telephone was used 20 years ago. On a daily basis, I personally use Facebook to not only share personal stories and photos but also for business tips and events. I also regularly use Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn ,YouTube as well as social bookmarking sites to share both business and personal stories.

Sharing is nothing new here. Social media doesn’t represent a mystical fourth dimension—it’s just a tool that people can use as they see fit. And once a business owner understands this reality, they can create and execute a strategy designed to engage with customers and prospects in their market.

Used correctly, a business owner’s social media presence can provide increased visibility, credibility, and ultimately more business. Here’s how to begin:

  1. Create profile pages that reflect your expertise. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or another social network, it is critical that your profile page represents your personal brand (and personality) and establishes you as an expert. From the choice of your picture to your written biography, be sure that every element of your social media profiles communicate the brand and image that you want to convey.
  2. Use your social media presence to share and break down developments that impact your industry. By reporting and analyzing news that matters to your industry, you position yourself as well connected and knowledgeable. For instance, as a retirement advisor, you could note the passage of a new law through congress—and then break down the implications of this new law for your clients and potential clients. As a dentist, you could break down the benefits and drawbacks of a new toothpaste or mouthwash. A real estate broker could break down recent market trends, provide projections for the future, or keep his or her audience in the loop regarding homebuyer assistance programs. Whatever your area of expertise, the key is to report and analyze the news authoritatively—and in a way that makes sense to your customers, clients, and prospects.
  3. Interact with your followers and fans—answer questions and share suggestions. If you spend much time on Twitter, in particular, you will notice that users are constantly asking questions on a wide variety of subjects. As a dentist, obviously, you should pay attention to questions that pertain to oral health. Whenever possible, answer the question… or provide a link to a helpful resource. This type of interaction is a win on two fronts—most obviously, it provides a great boost to the relationship between yourself and the individual that you assist. But even more importantly, it sends a strong message to your entire audience. Answering questions makes it obvious that you know what you are talking about—and it makes you appear friendly and approachable as well.
  4. Regularly share tips or hints that help your audience. Many business owners have discovered the value in publishing blog entries and articles that provide actionable tips to their audience—and this approach works well for social media networks as well, albeit on a smaller scale. As a real estate agent, for instance, you could post a "homebuyers tip of the week" every Monday. This could feature financing tips, help for buyers seeking to narrow down a huge list of homes to a small number of final choices, or whatever you think would be helpful to your audience. This is a great way to provide value to your current customers—and it’s a great way to position yourself as an expert in the eyes of your audience.
  5. Engage in conversation—don’t make a sales pitch. This is an area that many business owners go off course, and the error stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of social media users. As we discussed earlier in this article, social media is a tool used to communicate. In fact, I like to think of social media networks as a giant cocktail party. You wouldn’t walk into a party shouting "I SELL INSURANCE!" at the top of your lungs, would you? More likely, you’d buy drinks for people and engage in conversation.  Obviously, it’s ideal if these conversations center upon your industry, but it’s also a good idea to invest in creating relationships with your followers and fans, even if the conversation doesn’t directly correlate to your business. Remember that "people buy people"—and that anything you can do to establish trust in a relationship is a positive.

Do you have a social media presence? If not, it’s time to get in the game! Thousands of potential customers join networks such as Facebook and Twitter every day—and if you aren’t actively seeking to engage them, you can bet that your competitors are!

If you ARE active on social media, great—but are you utilizing your presence to build credibility and position yourself as an expert within your industry? The five tips I’ve shared above will help you move in the right direction. If you’d like more information or aren’t sure where to begin, feel free to get in touch with me today!

Seven Ways Your New Website Will Revolutionize Your Business

If you are like most business owners (myself included), you are always looking for ways to take your company to the next level. Whether it is hiring more employees, securing additional funds to invest, or launching a new marketing campaign, business owners will leave no stone unturned when it comes to growing their business. Now, in the years I’ve spent both working on my own business and working with clients, I have identified many strategies which lead to increased profitability and sustained growth. However, over that time, no investment has been more consistently successful than the creation of a dynamic, content-centered website. (and web presence in general). You may already have a website. You may even be receiving some business through your website. But don’t underestimate the value that a new, dynamic website can add to your business. Below are some of the benefits you can expect from a new, content centered website:

1) Your new website will brand you as an expert in your field. A good website is designed with the intent to make the business owner look like a celebrity within his or her market. No, you don’t need to become the next Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie—but you do need to be branded as a credible expert. If you’re a dentist, you should be positioned as the go-to guru in your market. When your customers view your website side-by-side with the website of your competition, you’ll be the easy choice! Everybody wants to work with an expert, and that’s exactly how your new website should position you.

2) Your new website will showcase your knowledge and enhance your credibility. Your new website should feature a space for your blog entries and articles—allowing you to display your knowledge of your industry. When a prospect visits your site, he or she will see that, in addition to looking like an expert, you also have the expertise to write knowledgeably on subjects that relate directly to your target market. Nothing builds credibility more efficiently than writing on topics that are relevant to your industry, and your new website should provide the perfect forum.

3) Your new website will plug you in to the exciting and fast-growing world of social media. As social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and yes, Google+ continue to explode in popularity, it is more important than ever that you and your company are engaged. Your site should be designed to be integrated into your social media presence—resulting in a vibrant, dynamic website that keeps you plugged in to the fast-paced world of social media. These days, it is not enough to have a static, standalone website. Your new website should seamlessly connect to your various social media profiles, allowing you to present exciting content to your audience across the social media universe.

4) Google will love your new website. You can have the most beautiful website the Internet has ever seen, but if Google doesn’t love it, its effectiveness will be dramatically reduced. Why? Because a sizeable percentage of the traffic to any business website results from search engines like Google. If your website doesn’t show up on the first page of Google for the right keywords, you simply aren’t going to get the traffic that you should be getting. Your new site should be designed not only to look good to humans, but also to look good to Google. By featuring expertly created content and a SEO-friendly layout, your site can attract more traffic—which ultimately translates to more business.

5) Your new website will appeal to journalists and other media members. As you probably know, media coverage can dramatically increase the level of interest in you and your business. Therefore, it makes good business sense to have a website that will appeal to the media. When reporters and journalists are looking for a source to quote or a business to feature in a story, they look for credible experts. Your site should be designed to maximize credibility—so that when a journalist visits your website, there is no doubt that they have found an expert.

6) Your new website will capture information from clients who aren’t ready to buy today—but might be next month. Too many websites are focused on generating immediate sales, to the point that if a visitor is only looking for information, he or she leaves without initiating any contact whatsoever. The reality is that many visitors to a website are only browsing, "window shopping" if you will, and have no intention of making a purchase at the time. When they see something that interests them, however, they are often interested in learning more—and therefore are willing to provide their contact information. A properly designed website will effectively capture this information. Once you have it, you can continue to provide information about your products and services as you build your relationship. When they are finally ready to commit, you will have positioned yourself perfectly to gain their business.

7) Your new website will generate leads effectively and with no effort on your part. The bottom line, when it comes to judging a business website, is lead generation. It’s not enough to simply attract traffic—your website needs to capture the information of potential customers. This requires a multi-pronged approach to site design that accomplishes several things: It must look good, and make you look good. It must present you as a credible expert in your market. It must compel your visitors to sign up for your services—or at the least, provide their contact information and request further information. And it must be optimized for maximum appeal to Google and other search engines, in order to draw potential customers. A site that accomplishes all this will be much more than simply a web page—it will be a sales machine.

If you are looking for the best way to take your business to the next level, a dynamic, content-centered website is the answer. If you’d like more information, you know where to reach me!

Online Branding Tips: Give Your Audience What They Want

Connecting with your audience is critical if you want to establish a strong brand.  It’s simple: if they aren’t paying attention to your blog, articles, and social media presence, your brand can’t possibly resonate with them.  Many business owners realize this, and go to great lengths to be sure that they are producing compelling content which keeps their audience engaged.  However, far too many people overlook the best way to guarantee that they are giving their audience engaging content—which is to simply ask them!  Of course, you aren’t literally going to shoot of an email to every blog subscriber or Twitter follower… but there are simple methods available to gauge the interests of your audience.  Below are ten great ways to be sure that you are producing engaging content for your online audience:

1) Pay attention to your retweets. Everyone on Twitter loves to be retweeted.   But that retweet is more than just an opportunity for additional exposure—it’s a sign that whoever retweeted your tweet found it interesting or informative.  If you pay attention, you will start to see a trend emerge, and you’ll be able to identify which types of tweets are most often retweeted.  And that tells you something valuable: it tells you which content your audience is most interested in.  So figure it out and keep it coming!

2) Monitor your "favorites."  Twitter allows users to mark tweets as "favorites," which allows the user to essentially bookmark a tweet to be found later.  Services such as Fav Star (http://favstar.fm/) allow you to track your tweets that have been marked as favorites.  Just as tracking retweets allows you to determine which content your audience finds interesting, monitoring your favorites allows you to identify the tweets that stick out to your followers! 

3) Keep an eye on your URL click-throughs. This tip applies to any social media site.  Using a service such as bit.ly (www.bit.ly) allows you to determine how many clicks a given link that you post receives.  This is an even more powerful tool than tracking favorites or retweets—because it allows you to gauge the actions you are prompting with each post.  Obviously, the more click-throughs a certain type of link receives, the more interested your audience is in that type of content.

4) Watch your Facebook Insights. If you have a facebook page for your business (which you should!), you have access to valuable statistics regarding activity on your page.  Pay attention to the posts that generate the post feedback, in the form of comments and ‘likes.’  Again, those are the types of posts that your audience appreciates—so keep them coming!

5) Poll your Facebook audience. Facebook offers a "question" functionality for their users.  Simply click on "Questions" while viewing your wall and ask away!  Something like "What would you guys like to hear about next: YouTube tips or a Facebook strategy?" would work well.  Not only does this technique give you an idea of what your audience is interested in, but it is also a great opportunity to interact with them and send the message that their feedback is valued.

6) Track your email marketing or e-newsletter statistics. Most services offer stats for each message that you send out—make sure to pay close attention to which messages are most widely read.  Look for trends, and continue to provide the content that seems to be most popular!  You can also experiment with various subject lines to see which elicit the greatest response.

7) Monitor click-throughs on your email marketing messages and e-newsletters. The more clicks a certain URL receives, the more valuable the information was to your audience.  Once you have figured out the type of material that most interests them, you can create campaigns that truly keep your audience engaged!

8) Keep an eye on your blog comments. For a blogger, seeing a post lead to a flurry of comments is incredibly rewarding.  In fact, the interactivity offered by blogs is one of the reasons for their exponential growth over the past decade.  But comments are more than just a reward for a great post—they provide crucial information about your audience.  Which types of blog posts inspire the most discussion?  What information does your audience most appreciate?  The number of comments you receive on a given post is often a great barometer of audience interest. 

9) Directly solicit feedback from readers. This strategy is applicable to your social media platforms as well as any other content you produce.  Simply asking your readers to let you know whether or not they found your content helpful is a great way to gauge interest.  You can do this by creating a survey to post on your blog, or you can simply send out a tweet asking for feedback.  Every interaction you have with your audience is a great chance to continue building your brand, and sending the message that you care about your audience is always a great thing to do!

10) Analyze your blog statistics. Most blogging platforms allow you to view statistics about your blog—which posts are the most read, how people are referred to your blog, etc.  Over time, you will notice that certain posts are more widely read and shared than others.  This is a great indicator of the type of content your audience appreciates, so do your best to produce more along those lines.

If a tree falls down in a forest, but nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?  If a business owner writes a blog entry, but nobody reads it, does it really provide any value?  I’m no philosopher, but I can promise you that your online presence will be much more effective if you can keep your audience engaged.  The way to keep them engaged is to provide content they are truly interested in.  And the way to determine which type of content they are interested in is to keep an eye on the metrics I have covered above!  As always, if you have any questions, or if you would like further information, you know where to find me!

Google+: What Does it Mean for Your Business (And How to Get Started!)

So I’m sure you have heard the recent buzz about Google+ (whether you have had a chance to get started or not)… but what does it mean to your business?  Is it all hype and no substance, or might we be witnessing a major shift in the world of social media?

The truth is that it is too soon to say for sure.  And personally, even though I got my invite a few weeks ago and I see the SEO implications, even I am slow to "catch on." That being said, we do know that any time Google puts the full power of their brand behind something, it is a force to be reckoned with. Ok- so Google Buzz wasn’t all that great; however, with Google+ we now see the reason for both Google Buzz and Google’s +1 and while it is impossible to say how powerful Google+ will become, here is what we DO know:

1) Google has succeeded in generating a substantial "buzz" around Google+. If you spend much time on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you know what I mean.  Seemingly one out of every five conversations right now references Google+.  Their launch has been very well executed—by requiring an invitation in order to join, and by limiting the amount of available invites, Google has created an online frenzy.  It’s the internet version of a huge crowd camping outside Best Buy on Thanksgiving night in anticipation of massive sales the next morning.  Creating a buzz doesn’t guarantee success—but it does mean they are off to a good start.

2) Google+ can be used both personally and professionally. As you know, LinkedIn is a social network catering to professionals and business owners.  There is little room for casual interaction with friends and family.  Facebook, on the other hand, is primarily used for personal relationships.  Their business pages do allow professionals and business owners to connect with their audience and with other businesses, but not as effectively as LinkedIn.  Google+ appears to offer the best of both worlds—their "circles" feature allows users to easily sort contacts into different groups.  You could have a "friends" circle, a "clients" circle, a "family" circle—and more.  While it remains to be seen how this functionality will play out over time, Google+ at least offers the potential of being a great social network for both professional and personal use.

3) Google+ has the potential to revolutionize the online social universe. Why?  One word: integration.  Google+ has the potential to pull together the countless services offered by Google into one convenient social location.  YouTube, Google Places, Google Offers, Google Maps, Gmail… the list goes on and on.  While other social networks, Facebook in particular, have been very successful at integrating with a variety of services across the web, Google+ has a tremendous advantage simply by being part of the Google network of services.  It is not hard to imagine Google+ profiles given priority in search results, and it seems likely that Google will take every opportunity to link Google+ profiles with services like Google Places.  Again, it is too early to predict how it will play out, but it is clear that Google+ has the potential to become literally the center of the internet!

What does all of this mean for you and your business?  It means you need to get involved immediately!  Google recently announced that they will offer unique services for business owners, and have suggested that businesses wait to create their profiles. However, there is no question that business owners and professionals need to join the network, as individuals, as soon as possible.  Remember that only a couple of years ago we were debating the merits of Twitter for businesses and business owners.  And while many sat on the sideline, the early adapters got a head start and have benefitted tremendously.  So even though Google+ may not have the impact many experts expect it to, the upside makes investing the time to get started an easy decision.

Getting started on Google+

The first step is securing an invitation. As of now, Google+ has yet to open the doors to the general public.  You’ll need to find someone who already has access and ask them to invite you.  I’d be glad to invite you if you get in touch!

Once you have your invitation, log in and create your profile. Setting up your profile on Google+ is very similar to doing so on other social networks.  You’ll want to upload a photo of yourself (I recommend using the same picture that you use on other social networks—remember that consistency is the key to building a strong brand!).  Then, fill in the biographical information and personalize your profile.  Try not to leave any fields blank—the more complete your profile is, the more professional you look.

Now that your profile is complete, begin connecting with others. On your Google+ Home page, if you look to the right side of your screen, you’ll see a list titled "Suggestions."  These are individuals that Google+ thinks you may want to connect with—click on "Show all" and you’ll see a list of potential contacts.  Click on their pictures to connect with them.  If you have run out of suggestions, you can also search for individuals by typing their name into the ‘Find People’ box at the top of your Home screen.

Organize your contacts into circles. Immediately to the left of the ‘Find People’ search box is a button showing two circles—click it and you’ll be taken to the ‘Circles’ page.  Simply drag your contacts into the appropriate circles—and if necessary, create a new circle to better reflect your needs.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll be off to great start on Google+.  It remains to be seen how the platform will evolve (especially with SEO and Google’s personal search results), but once you have created and optimized your profile, you will be in great shape to take advantage of the opportunities provided by this new social platform.  If you have any questions or would like further information, feel free to get in touch.  Otherwise I look forward to connecting with you on Google+!

Building Your Business Blog Empire

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard the term "blog." If not- you might possibly be living under a rock 🙂 Although I have no doubt you are aware of the term and know what it means, I’m still shocked how many sites still don’t have one… do you?

Today, blogging has become an effective way to communicate across the web as well as a great way to market yourself and/or your company. The best blogs are a delicate balance of information and personality, and that little bit of cleverness can be an excellent way to build (or reinforce) your business brand.  Blogs are a great way to get the conversation started about what you do or have to offer.

Like every other aspect of your business your blog should be "branded." And when I say that- I don’t so much mean like a logo is branded, but rather I mean the "theme" or "tone" of the blog should be branded; what you are preaching on your blog should match your overall theme of what you are promoting from your business as a whole.

As we always say, "people buy people" and customers like to see a face behind the business name. After all, it’s what makes you unique and what will make you stand out (and above) your competition. And while personality is very important, your customers and prospects are equally interested in having up-to-date news on what’s happening in the business in general, and not just up-to-date… it really should be more specific; it’s up-to-date RELEVANT content. The best blogs are the blogs that weave personality and humor into great takeaway content. Blogs are one of THE BEST ways to brand you as the expert in your niche.

Here are 6 benefits of a business blog:

  1. Expert Status. Today, the first thing someone does when making the decision to do business with a company is check them out online. A well-updated blog with valuable content is a great way to showcase your expert status to you prospects and show that you are well informed.
  2. Real-time Discussion. Blogs are instantaneous and allow you to share information directly (and quickly) with your clients and prospects. They also provide a way for your clients and prospects to engage with you by leaving questions and comments on your posts.
  3. Boosting Traffic with Backlinks. You don’t have to limit your blogging to just your own blog. Being a contributing blogger to traffic sites can be a great way to create quality backlinks and increase traffic.
  4. Good SEO. One of the keys to SEO (search engine optimization) is to make sure your website is constantly being updated with current, relevant content. Blogs make it easy for businesses to add fresh content to their websites on a regular basis.
  5. Low Cost Marketing. Blogs are a very cheap way to keep your customers informed with new products/services you are offering. They are also a wonderful way to continue building your relationship with your customers and prospects.
  6. Keeps You Ahead of Your Competition. In today’s competitive industry, a blog can help to distinguish you from your competition. By showing your personality and keeping up-to-date information about your company and your industry, a blog can give you that little extra boost to rise above your competition.

If you want return readership, make each post count.  Consider what a customer reading your blog might hope to gain from it.  Maybe you are a trusted product reviewer.  Maybe you are insightful and offer good wisdom or inspiration.  Your appeal might be your humorous writing approach.  Perhaps you know how to offer a good inside scoop. What better way for a customer to monitor the climate of a company or get real-time updates than through reading an insider’s blog?

Think of blogging as a type of high-quality, interactive advertising. It can draw people towards your company and boost your profile. But it can also do more than that. It can show what your company is interested in and that you are engaged with the rest of the world; it can show that you care about listening to others. The boost that it can give to the reputation as well as the sales of your company is considerable.

Every company, no matter how small, should have a blogging presence. If you don’t already have a blog, jump in and try it.  It might just be a vital key you’ve been missing to gaining more clients.

Video-Marketing Quick-Start Guide: How to Set Up Your Video-Marketing System

A couple of months ago Google released its "Panda" update. The update effectively made article syndication worthless and with no SEO value. The many marketers who used article syndication as a part of their overall SEO strategy need to now figure out what to replace it with. With the release of Google’s Panda update the importance of video and social media has skyrocketed. Now, more than ever, video is a MUST in your online-marketing strategy.

Why You Must Start Video-Marketing Immediately!

There are five important reasons you must start using videos without delay:

1. Google. Enough said.

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, second only to Google (Google also owns YouTube). Instead of having to read solutions, videos provide face-to-face solutions and searchers now use various videos sites (no, not just YouTube) as search engines.

2. Creating short videos for the Internet is simple, quick, and inexpensive.

You can create and upload videos to YouTube without expensive equipment or technical expertise. All you need is a computer, a web camera and a good Internet connection. Most modern computers have a web camera and microphone built in that can be used to record your video. Free software is also available to edit your video before exporting to YouTube (Windows Movie Maker for PC users and iMovie for Mac users).

3. Leverage the massive popularity of YouTube for free.

YouTube gets more than two billion views a day. By uploading your videos to YouTube, you get access to more than two billion viewers worldwide every day. Best of all, you can create your own video channel to upload and share your videos on YouTube free of charge.

4. Develop better rapport and connection with your prospects.

Using online videos allows you to establish a personal relationship and generate a greater level of trust with your audience. You also gain greater credibility because video content is perceived to be more valuable than text or audio content.

5. Benefit from viral spread of your videos.

YouTube enables viewers to freely share their favorite videos and to embed them in their own websites and on Facebook. This can result in the rapid spread of your videos across the Internet because users are more likely to share videos rather than text or audio.

How to Set Up Your Video-Marketing System Using These Five Simple Steps

Creating your first video may seem scary, if you have never done it before. That’s natural whenever you do something for the first time. Think of it as a learning experience and create a short and simple video to upload to YouTube. Once you successfully create your first video, you will gain tons of confidence. In time, you may find it’s easier and more fun to produce video content than text content.

1. Create your first video for YouTube.

Thankfully, you no longer need a studio to produce high-quality videos for YouTube. To create your first online video, follow these simple steps:

  • Write a script for your video (or at least an outline for what you want to say).
  • Set up the elements of the shooting area of your video, which includes positioning the camera, subject, script, microphone and lights.
  • Record your video using the free software on your computer and save it as a computer file.
  • Edit your video using the same software and then export the file as a movie file that can be uploaded to YouTube.

2. Register for a free account and set up your YouTube video channel.

Before uploading your video, you need to register for am account at YouTube, which is free and painless. Follow these three steps:

  • Select the name of your YouTube video channel carefully.

Your YouTube channel name is the same as your username when you register for a YouTube account. Therefore, choose your username carefully before registering. Do some keyword research and choose a name that contains the main keyword phrase of your targeted niche. For example; if you’re in the dieting industry, instead of choosing a user/channel name like "johnsmith007," use "loseweightnaturally." Your YouTube channel address will then be youtube.com/user/loseweightnaturally, which is more likely to appeal to your target audience.

  • Enter relevant keywords in your YouTube video channel fields.

The right keywords in fields such as channel title, type and tags fields will increase the chance of new prospects visiting your site and also help to optimize your channel for search engines.

  • Set up a professional YouTube video channel background.

A professional background is a simple way to stand out from your competitors. To upload a new background to your channel, click on the "Show advanced options" link in the "Themes and Colors" tab of your channel page. Then click on the option to upload your new channel background. (Note: you will need a designer to design this image — if you’re looking for some help, contact me at Lindsay@CelebritySites.com)

3. Upload your first video on YouTube.

  • After signing in to your YouTube account, click the "Upload" link at the top of the YouTube page and then click the "Upload video" button.
  • Select the file you want to upload and click "Open."
  • Enter information about your video including title, description, tags and category while your video is uploaded.
  • Click "Save changes" to save the updates you’ve made to the video file.

4. Optimize your video for your audience and search engines.

Title field: Choose a title for your YouTube video so that people can find it easily and it ranks for the right keywords inside the YouTube search engine. For example; if your video contains tips to lose weight naturally, name it "Natural Weight Loss Tips."

Description field: Write a short article describing your video using relevant keywords.

Tags field: Add the most important and relevant keywords in the tags area.

5. Embed your YouTube video on your website.

Once you have successfully uploaded your video to YouTube, copy the code from the "Embed HTML" box, which you can find in your "Edit Video" page. This code can be sent to your webmaster to be added to your website. (If your website was created using WordPress, simply click "Edit HTML" within the post editor of your post, paste the video’s code into the body of your post and click "Publish post.")

Taking Video One Step Further

YouTube is currently the #1 video syndication site. However, THERE ARE OTHERS. And if you search the "video" results in Google you will see that. Sites like Metacafe.com and Dailymotion.com are also great websites to post your videos. The best FREE resource we have found is Tubemogul.com. Tubmogul allows you to post your video on numerous video sites at one time (yes, including YouTube, MetaCafe and DailyMotion).

Thousands of new websites and blogs are created every day. Whether you are already an online entrepreneur or you are planning to start, you have to use new marketing techniques to stand apart from the crowd. The quickest and most effective way to succeed online is to use videos to leverage their tremendous search-engine popularity.

Happy recording!

Stay Connected with LinkedIn

You’ve heard me say it before… LinkedIn can sometimes be thought of as the "redheaded stepchild" of the social media sites. However, with the average household income per user is $109,000 MUCH higher than Twitter or even Facebook, LinkedIn is considered by many to be the most beneficial for business.

Launched in May 2003, it now has over 90 million users across a number of countries, accepting English and a number of other European languages. Among these, many are using it to full advantage for their business needs, once they are familiar with how it works.

Not sure about LinkedIn and how to best use it? Don’t worry- that’s what this article is for! J

Your Profile

Setting up your profile is the most important step in all of this. With Google’s recent algorithm changes social media is becoming more and more important for building your brand online. You want to make sure your profile is filled out completely and that it gives the best first impression it can.

And while customizing your profile on LinkedIn is different than Facebook or Twitter, it can be done… and it should be done! Be yourself… always. Show your personality and your expertise. Remember, people buy people.

Make Connections

LinkedIn is all about making and maintaining connections. It’s virtual networking. So how do you start making connections? Initially, you can only request a connection from someone you have formerly been in contact with, and it’s a great way to find people with whom you have previously had some kind of working relationship.

Being Proactive

As with most aspects of life, with LinkedIn you’re only likely to get something back if you put something in. Incorporate some time for LinkedIn into your daily routine and log in regularly.

Continue to build your network of connections. Once you have connections, you need to check theirs and see if you already know any of them, so you can add them. If you see people you’d like to be connected to, you can ask your friend for an introduction to them.

Read all your connections’ updates and look for ways to be helpful. Read questions and see if you can offer an answer. You can send private messages to your connections, or make your suggestions publicly. The more you give the more you will receive. And if you think highly of someone, give a recommendation.

Update your own status regularly. When something works well for you, don’t keep it to yourself. Share it so that others could benefit from it too. Post about upcoming events that might be interesting to your network as well as tips, articles and success stories. One of these easiest ways to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date is by connecting it with your Twitter account. This way you only have to update one place!

Groups and Discussions

The next step is to join some groups. It doesn’t matter what your business is, there is a group (kinda like "there is an app for that!" :)) …and either way, you can always start your own! Participating in niche-related groups is one of the KEYS of LinkedIn. Starting your own group helps build your credibility and shows your expertise.

Other Ways to Benefit

You can find work and other business opportunities. You can add a company page to the site. You can post jobs openings. You can place advertisements on the site. You can link your profile to your blog, etc., etc., etc.

One of the BIGGEST tips I can give is that you create a CTA (call to action). You can’t create HTML buttons within LinkedIn, BUT what you can do- is in the section where you can place your website link don’t just call it "My Company." LinkedIn allows you to create your own title. So "Click here to contact me" or "Click here for Social Media Help" or "Click here for my FREE Report" all are MUCH better titles than "My Company."

Also, be sure and check out LinkedIn’s advanced applications that allow you to add calendars, video and other great ways to help customize and brand your profile.

As your connections list grows, be sure to check in on all your connections from time to time. You’ll be amazed at how many people you could reach out to in a very short time. If you make good use of LinkedIn, it could be the best investment of time that you ever make.

Tweeting for Small Businesses

This article is a little different than the typical article that I write. If you like, you can skip down to the part where I actually get into about "Tweeting for Small Businessess," however, there is a reason that I’m starting this article the way that I am.

When I was a little, my father taught me about the cycles of life and the never-ending ebbs and flow.

Like the ocean tide, it goes out, but it will always come back in. A little too philosophical for a 5yr old that was more concerned with the "fishies" in the ocean verse the symbolism it had. But I have grown to understand and appreciate the comforting feeling that although the tide will for sure go out it will always come back in.

Knowing that, the challenge is to prepare for the changes in the tide…. On both ends; being prepared for it to go out; making sure there continuity and backups in place to carry you through as well as being prepared for the flood to come back in and making sure those same systems can handle the influx.

While some may say that I am young, and I am, I have experienced the ebbs and flows of life both in business and personally. Losing all the money you have, going through short sales of properties, divorce and many other things along the way… the tide was undoubtedly "going out."

So I bring all that up for one reason… social media is no different. The phenomenal rise of social media coincides with one of the worst economic decades this country has ever seen and consumers want more from small businesses, whether it’s discounts, diversified information, tips, or resources.

Consumers are finding comfort in social media because they aren’t alone in their situation. At any given time you can go online to various forums, communities and social networks and find someone "like you." You can find an answer to a question, solve a problem or even become "friends."

Social Media is undoubtedly the "flow" of business right now.

I have said this before; social media is not a new concept. It’s human interaction, and that is what we are all after… human touches…. people buy people.

So why did "social media" take off the way that it did? In an economic time like we’ve been in, people looked more to their "friends" for bargains and general advice.

Consumers have become more skeptical traditional advertising and more dependent on the referral of others. Isn’t that what we do as a society when we get scared? Ask for advice? As scary as it may be, social media is that advice people seek.

When used right, the social network "mini-blogger" has the capability to hook a new customer and convert them from follower to loyal customer. There’s a myriad of articles flooding the Internet about how to use social media for your small business, but for the most part these guidelines and blog posts are missing actual examples small business owners can use…. And the one that people are still questioning is Twitter.

How can it actually generate business (and profits)?

Here’s a list of some of the most common types of small businesses and examples of effective ways Twitter can be used to distribute their messages.

Real Estate Agents –Real estate agents provide a service in exchange for a fee, so there’s no real product to Tweet about. However, agents can find success in growing their follower counts by becoming the "go-to" expert in their neighborhood area, Tweeting about news and local happenings, new home listings or information for first time home buyers (or luxury home buyers or any of the other niche industries within real estate). They can also build up a following of other agents and starting a referral community all based on Twitter.

Other service industry Tweets: Create a discount or loyalty system for your clients, and then Tweet about it. Maybe you offer 10% off for new customers or a discount if a customer uses your service on the weekend…. Or mentions that they saw your ad on Twitter.

Restaurateur- Restaurants of all types and varieties are seeing an uptick in sales this year over last thanks to heavy discounting and mass coupon websites like Restaurant.com. You’ll find that Tweeting about those coupons, directing your customers to specials, happy hour deals and more will not just grow your restaurant’s social following, but bring new faces to your tables too.

Other food industry Tweets: Tweet locations of moving vehicle vendors, invite customers to rate your food and interact with other customers on your Twitter feed, or hold a creative contest that somehow allows followers to win gift cards in exchange for interaction with your Tweets.

Retail – If your small business retails sports equipment, for example, Tweet about the products that are selling the best and use brand names. Describe the different strengths of that brand and what makes your product or shopping experience unique. Tweeting about your opinions on sports teams and pop culture can be appropriate, but don’t bad mouth other teams. If you sponsor a little league team, Tweet about it.

Other retail industry Tweets: Where suitable, Tweet the price advantages you have over your competitors. You can also Tweet links to pages and products on your e-commerce website.

For some professionals, finding relevant and interesting things to Tweet about can be much more challenging. Here’s some ideas to get you going if your find yourself itching to get social, but just don’t know where to start.

Lawyers – Lawyers do not typically have discounts or products they can Tweet about, however, their firms do have a brand and a reputation. Lawyers can tweet about their accomplishments and their personal approach to popular legislative initiatives. Becoming a specialized and expert voice and personality in a particularly narrow niche can help lawyers attract and retain Twitter followers.

Insurance Agents – Ironically, while insurance is a necessity for every adult in America, most of us disdain obtaining or maintaining the various policies we own. Find a unique way to make insurance-related news and information engaging. One way to keep your followers interested it to Tweet about local neighborhood resources and ways to save on insurance.

For example: Use dollar amounts and real testimonials. "John Doe saved $364 by switching to us from Generic Insurance Company" is much more attractive and effective than "Save money with us".

Accountants – With every passing year, the U.S. tax law changes, creating a vortex of confusing code, rules, and exemptions most of us need a proverbial machete and weeks of frustration to hack through it all by April 14th. As an accountant, you can Tweet tips and insights that make these changes simple and understandable for your average client.

Tweeting effectively for small business doesn’t have to be complicated, a little imagination and out-of-the-box thinking can go a long way! Don’t feel discouraged if you’re in an industry or profession you don’t feel is interesting or suitable for Twitter. As long as your service, product, or offerings bring value to customers, then so too will your words and Tweets.

March 4, 2011- Google is using outside human raters.

Just released today it seems that Google is using outside human raters (in part).

Google’s Amit Singhal said they asked raters questions like "Would you be comfortable giving this site your credit card? Would you be comfortable giving medicine prescribed by this site to your kids?"

Matt Cutts said other questions Google asked to establish trust include "Do you consider this site to be authoritative? Would it be okay if this was in a magazine? Does this site have excessive ads?"

So what does this mean to you? This is speculation and interpretation at the moment until we see how it really pans out- but some SEOs think this will knock sites with overloaded with AdSense and other flashy advertisements. We also already know that Google HATES squeeze pages (banned already from PPC)- so I’d pull back from those as well- or keep them on a separate domain.

Who Said Your Tweets Don’t Matter?

So, when checking my rankings today after Google’s recent announcement about article syndication I came across some interesting results for my name…

Now- I had seen Tweets coming up in the “instant” before… and I had seen my Twitter account come up when you searched my name, but this is the first time I have seen actual recent tweets cached for my name.

Who Said Your Tweets Don’t Matter?

How Google’s Recent Change has Changed my Rankings

Although I do still see some articles (on page 3) that were distributed using some of the article syndication sites that got knocked yesterday- the biggest difference I see is now suddenly my videos are popping up- or more of them at least.

Before- I would have 1 or 2 on page 1 of Google and that was about it. NOW I have 4 on the 1st page, 2 on page two and 2 on page 3.

The other thing to note- THEY ARE NOT ALL FROM YOUTUBE.

Check it out!

Page 1

Page 2

Ah- the changes of Google

(in case you want to know how we’re changing our strategy do to recent Google changes- this is the email I sent to all my clients about 2 minutes ago)

Well- part of why I love what I do is because it never stays the same!

I’m sure by now you’ve seen recent changes Google has been making since November- their "war again spam." Although I’ve been monitoring it- up until now, I haven’t seen a need to change anything.

That changed yesterday…

Effectively released yesterday- article syndication is dead. While I do still have some of my articles showing up on page 3 from some previous syndication- the weight from these types of sites is no longer signification and I would bet that as soon as I put out more relevant content these pages will disappear.

Is your website going to hurt? Not at all.

This doesn’t affect your website- what is does affect is the "link juice" these sites pass to yours… Or now, as they are saying- they don’t pass much at all.

What does this mean for you? All this really means is we will tailor our strategy for you so that you get maximum exposure. I will continue to watch these article syndication sites because I assume that they, in a couple months, will bounce back with some stricter guidelines that might make them useful again…. But as of now we will stop submitting to these sites as they are no good. I am also watching Hubpages and stopped syndication there as well because they got hit too BUT WE WILL submit to KNOL and Squidoo as part of our strategy for you.

Rest assured that you will still see content being indexed for your name and company name- and the articles produced WILL still brand you as the expert- just the syndicated/distribution channels will be changed slightly.

This also means that these strategies will play an even bigger role in online brand domination:

  • Videos for your YouTube channel
  • Photos on Flickr
  • Create a Podcast for iTunes
  • Squidoo Lenses
  • Press Releases
  • Build a strong following on social networks

So- if you currently are not using videos and photos as part of your overall strategy- let’s look at how we can help you do that.

I just wanted to give you an overall update on the changes. Again-these links DO NOT NEGATIVELY AFFECT YOU– they just no longer really help 🙂 Let me know if you have any questions- I’m happy to answer!

Online Customer Conversion: Concepts That Increase Sales

The key to customer conversion is simple: Remove the word “no” from the equation, offer options to entice the fence sitters, and make it easy to complete the purchase.

After many years of online shopping, I can attest that these simple steps are VERY important for online sales… however, if my shoe buying habits aren’t enough to persuade you. Studies agree with me as well! ?

The One-Click Rule

You must make it easy for customers to pay you.

I see this mistake countless times on websites that I visit. And although I consider myself pretty Internet savvy, apparently, I’m not "intuitive" enough to know where to look to purchase something; or, maybe, I shouldn’t have to look.

In today’s fast-pace world, it is now more important than ever for the "flow" of the sale to be as easy as possible. Therefore, your order page MUST be accessible in one click regardless of where someone is on your website.

For a few products, a website should offer a prominent menu item which takes the customer to the order page where all of your products are available to purchase. If your website has hundreds of products, every web page that provides information on a product should include an “add to cart” button and you should be able to access the shopping cart from the top of every page of your website.

In addition, if you have a web page dedicated to a product or service that includes a lengthy description of the product, the description should include embedded text links leading to a buy now or add to cart window.

For every extra click it takes to buy your product, you will lose customers.

Keep the Check Out Process Simple

If possible, keep the check out form on a single page. Don’t force your customers through a series of pages in order to complete the check out process. Ask for the shipping address and billing address on the same page and always offer a checkbox to denote the same address for both.

While it’s okay to gather information such as an email address or ask how they found you, don’t get carried away and keep them filling out forms and answering questions. The longer your potential buyers are forced to linger in check out, the more chances they have to change their mind and abort the purchase. Keep it simple.

Bundle Products and Services to Entice More Sales

Bundling products and services for a discounted price is a good way to increase the sale. You earn more than you would from selling a single item and the customer gets a discount.

Buyers tend to shop on impulse and you should do everything in your power to make an additional sale while they are at your website with a credit card in hand. Once they leave your website, the odds of getting them back to make that additional purchase decreases.

This concept can also help you by offering an “add to cart” option rather than a buy now button for a single product that forces check out for each individual item. If they can add items to a shopping cart and check out all at one time you’ll increase your odds for multiple sales from a single customer.

Offer Choices That Remove the Word “No”

With a single purchase option the customer must make only one decision: whether or not to buy. This is a simple yes or no question for the customer. If you offer choices that change the basic question from yes or no to which option, you increase your odds of a sale.

For example, if you sell Widgets for 19.95 each and Widget Holders for 10.00, you can offer three different options to buy a Widget.

1. Offer the basic Widget for 19.95.

2. Sell the Widget plus the Widget Holder for 24.95 giving the customer a $5 discount for purchasing both together.

3. Partner with a company such as Trialpay to give the Widget away as a freebie while still earning 19.95 for the Widget.

This gives your customer choices, which is a proven method of gaining sales. The customer is no longer thinking in terms of yes or no, he is now focused on selecting the best option. (Amazon does a beautiful job at this.)

Provide Alternatives for Payment Processing

Not everyone is comfortable with the same payment options. Several years ago a prominent payment processor changed their method of detecting fraud. The end result was that some checkouts were asking for social security numbers in order to verify the customer. Sales took an immediate nosedive as people didn’t want to enter their social security numbers for Internet purchases and if that was the only option you were offering, your sales would have followed the downward spiral.

By offering more than one option at check out, you increase your odds of gaining a sale. If the customer sees an option they are familiar with and more importantly, comfortable with, they are more likely to convert to a sale. For example you could offer three choices: Paypal, Google Checkout or your standard credit card processing.

Get Paid to Give It Away For Free

There will always be customers sitting on the fence, somewhat interested but not fully compelled to purchase from you. They may believe there’s a better price or a product with more features. Perhaps they’ve never heard of you and would be more comfortable with a known name brand even if the product isn’t as good. It may be as simple as having an unprofessional website that turns them off.

You must motivate the purchase. For the fence sitters you need to offer some sort of enticement that brings them off the fence. One option is to offer a freebie with the purchase or put the item on sale. An alternative is to offer your product for free yet still get paid for it. They might hesitate to lay down $20 but the option of getting it for free might be the incentive that makes the sale.

Payment processors such as Trialpay.com offer innovative methods for you to partner with big name companies and gain extra sales. Your product becomes a giveaway that accompanies a more prominent product. The big name company pays you for the product and the customer gets it for free.

It seems simple, but it’s SO important to make it SUPER easy for someone to pay you. By simply avoiding these mistakes, you can dramatically increase your online sales. Happy selling!

Simple Publicity Tricks

You don’t need to be a professional publicist or marketing expert to write effective online press releases. Writing a press release for online distribution is a quick, easy process. After writing a press release, submit to free online distribution services. For an extra fee, some services will further optimize press releases and blast out to larger distribution markets.

Begin your press release with a strong headline. The headline should be no more than 80 characters. The first paragraph (the lead or introductory paragraph of the press release) summarizes the main information. Don’t add fluff – stick to the basics. A press release covers the five Ws: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. It should not exceed more than one page.

Stick to newsworthy facts. Write "facts" and avoid writing that sounds sales/advertising-oriented. If a press release reads like an advertisement, it’ll be rejected by online distribution services and media outlets. The goal of a press release is to gain media coverage and exposure. A press release should read like a news story and includes newsworthy that quickly grabs the media’s attention.

Use optimized keywords. Sprinkle keywords throughout the press release but do not stuff keywords for the sake of optimization. If allowed, always add the company’s website within the text of the press release (some distribution services do not allow hyperlinks within the press release).

Review for grammar and spelling errors. Do not add superlatives to the press release (example: very). Use active verbs and write short, succinct paragraphs. Review the press release for grammar and spelling errors before you send to online distribution services and media outlets.

11 Myths About Social Media Marketing

Social media has become a very important part of many people’s lives- both personally and in business. The downside of this rapid increase in sites like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and YouTube is that along with all the good information being shared there are also many myths about social media that are commonly believed as fact. Here are 11 myths to be weary of!

1. It’s a new concept. Social media is definitely NOT a new concept; the tools that we now use to "share" information have certainly changed as technology has changed. But social media has been around as long as gossiping has.

2. It is totally free or extremely cheap. Most of the tools and resources required to participate in social media are indeed free. However don’t discount your personal ROI. So there is a balance that you indeed have to look at. What is your hourly rate vs. what is the rate of a specialist who understands how to make a social media campaign work effectively for you and your business? You MUST look at this and decide which is best for you and what is the best use of your time… and keep in mind that as with many aspects of business the old saying you get what you pay for is very true in social media.

3. It is very simple. Using the basic tools and broadcasting information is not complicated. As the social media sphere grows it becomes more and more complex. More and more tools and applications are available every day and it requires time, knowledge and perception to decide which are effective business rules and which a waste of time.

4. It is a short-term fad that we needn’t bother with. The Internet is essentially a space for conversation and free flow of information between individuals and companies. The tools used and platform with the most impact may change over time but I can assure you that customers have become used to the concept of conversational marketing and it is here to stay. Any business that believes interest in social media will simply run its course and then fade is asking to be left out of one of the world’s potentially most lucrative markets.

5. Only teens and young adults are interested in social media. Yes, "Social media," or rather these big social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and YouTube were initially adopted mostly by students, other young adults and teenagers. However, they have now evolved to become a dominant business social media tool.

Don’t believe me? Fun fact: It is estimated that almost half of Facebook profiles now belong to people aged 35 and up. And as you know, this age group is a HUGE target market due to their buying power coupled with greater awareness and familiarity with social media tools.

6. Marketing through social media is simply a matter of advertising on Facebook. Strange as is sounds, the way to start marketing via social media is not to start marketing at all. The online community is often suspicious of profiles set up for the sole purpose of blatant advertising. Social media channels are fundamentally all about communication. Listen first, contribute to conversations and start some conversations of your own. Once people trust you and value what you have to say, they will be more receptive to messages about your business. Even then though keep it subtle and low key.

7. Anyone can do it. Too many companies delegate the establishment and management of social media projects to a junior or inexperienced staffer. Mostly this is because they believe it to be very simple or because they don’t see its importance as an element of the overall marketing mix.

8. A successful social media campaign can be handled internally. This goes back to previously mentioned: Personal ROI. Effectively using social media in a business context requires knowledge of the tools, target market and what works and what doesn’t. It can also be very time consuming, especially for an inexperienced person. Generally companies that succeed in using their online presence to complement their offline marketing efforts do so because they make use of a specialist (or team of specialists in the case of larger businesses or projects) skilled in the use of social media. This specialist will work closely with internal people to gain insight into the company’s product or service offering and then mix this with their knowledge of the online landscape to manage the image of the business effectively and gain maximum online exposure.

9. The results of engaging customers via social media can’t be measured. Many aspects of social media engagement can indeed be measured. One of the keys is to have clearly defined outcomes that are desired. If there are no objectives then measurement will be difficult. For example goals like increasing website traffic or getting people to sign up for a newsletter or other communication can be set and accurately measured.

Here are some ways you can track:
• Call tracking number (check out Richard Seppala’s www.yourroiguy.com)
• Link tracking- see stats on the links you push out (check out http://bit.ly/)
• Web form codes- use FBML on Facebook and make sure you have a CTA (call to action) to have people sign up. This CTA can be the same as what is on your site BUT make sure that the form code is different so you can track that where it came from.

10. There are no rules. As social media platforms evolve and become more sophisticated, a distinct culture is growing around the technology. As in all cultures a system of etiquette applies. There are some basic rules, like not over-promoting yourself or your business and not attacking other people or groups, that are common to most platforms. The diverse and constantly changing nature of social media mean that the mostly unwritten rules are different from site to site and change with time and the technology. Generally, just keep in mind that it’s called "social" media for a reason… people buy people ? Keep that in mind and you should be good to go!

11. The amount of social media connections you have is an indication of your success. Simply having thousands of social media connections is no guarantee of success. You need to be connecting with people with whom you can form a clear communication channel. They also need to be interested in your product and in a position to support your brand. Recruiting random strangers as followers, friends or connections on social media sites is unlikely to increase business for you. Remember that quality counts more than quantity in the interactions you establish. This is also EVER more important as Google released in the beginning of December that the quality of followers and friends will have an impact on your rankings. So just because you have 4,205,937,423,497 (yes, that’s a technical number ;)) followers doesn’t mean anything ?

6 Important Factors to Consider When Creating a Business Blog

Gone are the days where companies are faceless… with the rise of social media consumers are getting smarter and smarter. Whether it’s the middle of July or now during the Holidays, the first thing anyone does is search for something online. It doesn’t matter if your company is service or product oriented if you’re not online… and online in multiple ways, you should be.

Social media is great; I’m a HUGE fan. It provides a platform for businesses to easily connect with their customers, and if you’re using it correctly can 100% increase your bottom line. I’ve recently gotten two different clients solely from Facebook. Now- did that happen over night… absolutely not, I’ve been on Facebook since it was first established… however, it has now become a vital part of my overall business strategy.

The problem with today’s "social media" (and I say "today’s" because if you think the concept is new, you’re wrong… it’s just a new platform) is that if Twitter YouTube, Linkedin, Facebook, etc all disappeared tomorrow and you haven’t moved your "friends," "followers" and "fans" to a list that you can market to you’re is serious trouble.

This is why it is VITAL to have a blog on your website… and ideally not just a link from your company site to a blog page… but actually incorporated into your website (this is better for SEO).

Although the thought can be overwhelming, I promise you it is worth it. Here are some simple steps to helping you tackle this task. If you already have a blog, still read the rest of this as these guidelines can be used as a formula for organizing the various aspects involved in creating a successful business blog.

What You Will Need to Set Up a Simple Business Blog

1. Content
People visit a business blog for information. So it goes without saying that this is the most important aspect of any blog. Be prepared to provide useful, quality content that readers will appreciate. Try to include pictures, diagrams, screenshots, and video wherever possible as this helps to break up passages of text and makes the blog appear more vibrant and interesting. The biggest question I get asked is "How often" should I post… and my answer… is always… you have to test. And although it may sound like a "cop-out," it’s not and it is very true. What works for one market might not work for another. The relationship you have with your list will also dictate how frequently they want to hear from you. Once great way to find out- ask ? You can do this very simply with a survey on your website. If you’re on wordpress, check out http://lesterchan.net/wordpress/readme/wp-polls.html it’s a great plugin that allows you to setup surveys quick and easy!

2. Who Writes?
This question really boils down to 1 thing… What is your highest and best use, or your personal ROI?
If the answer, take a sales call, speak an at event, meeting with a client, conference call or really anything other than sit down and write a blog, then my answer will be: outsource.

There are some FABULOUS ghostwriters out there. I have several that I snatched up to write for our clients. Here’s the key to making a ghostwriter work for you. They MUST know how to write with personality. This is VERY important. There are fabulous writers out there, but they can be dry. You need both a technical writer so there are no grammatical mistakes, but also one that can capture your voice.

3. Marketing and Promotion
Just because you build it, does not mean it will come! Unless you’re a celebrity or some major company like Apple, just because you throw up a blog doesn’t mean you’re going to see new profits overnight. This is one of the biggest misconceptions out there, and ultimately, this is what makes social media so powerful.

You must look at the blog as a business. You don’t just open your doors and all the sudden you’re a millionaire (and anybody that tells you that is lying). You open the doors and then you market your business, interact with your community. Same with a blog, you start your blog then use the power of social media to market your blog and interact with your customers. It’s a two-step process and if you’re missing either step it won’t work.

4. Monetization and Profit Generation
I’m not talking about your own products or services, but rather the affiliates you promote or other advertisements you allow on your blog. These "other" promotions need to be carefully planned and you need to make sure what you are promoting is in line with the type of business that you are in.

Here are a couple of ways you can make a little extra money with your blog: Charging other businesses for hosting their ads on your blog; Placing affiliate product ads on the blog; Using CPC textual ads (like Google Adsense) to increase blog revenue; Incorporating CPA adverts into the site.

There are many ways to increase the profit from a business blog. The main point to concentrate on is that advertisements can distract from your content so choose wisely. External ads should be topically related to your own content so that readers are likely to be interested and more liable to click on the ads and earn you money. The look of the ads is also important. They should blend in with your blog theme and should be attractive, not garish. Textual ads can appear tacky and distracting if overdone.

5. Overall Design and Brand Establishment
There are a couple ways to have a blog from a technical standpoint. If you already have a business website and you are unable to incorporate a blog that is actually a part of your domain (for example: www.YOURDOMAIN.com/blog) than you can set up a standalone wordpress blog and link to it from your website.

If you have the option, ALWAYS have the blog actually a part of your website (this means that your whole website will be put onto wordpress), this is the ideal way to go for search engine rankings. However, if you don’t have that option for what ever reason make sure that you design your blog so that it mimic the overall business (and business website). Also that you link often back to your main website, and have lead capture on your blog just incase your visitors never make it over to your main website.

6. Direction and Purpose
Think about why you are creating a business blog and what you want it to achieve. Do this before you start thinking about how it will look and what content it will contain. Is this a blog designed to increase customer interaction? Are you hoping to gain valuable free market research? Is this blog simply going to be another extension of your sales department? Are you looking to use the blog to promote a new product or boost a sales campaign?

The various aspect of a business blog can be altered to facilitate different functionalities. Pure sales blogs will differ from those hoping to work more on CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Of course, there is no reason why a business blog cannot incorporate numerous roles, but if this is to be the case then the specific aims should be established before the blog is designed. Knowing what you expect from a blog and the direction it should take increases the chances of achieving a positive end result with fewer design mishaps.

The Bigger the Effort, the Better the Result
A good business blog should be looked at an extension of your business and a part of your sales time. The easiest way to make sure it’s not overlooked is to set some editorial guidelines and stay on track for posting content. Blogs can perform a multitude of beneficial tasks and provide a business with an additional source of income, increased brand recognition, and enhanced customer interaction. Don’t think ‘why do I need a business blog?’ Think ‘why have I not got a business blog already?’

6 Tips To Improved Facebook Marketing

When it comes to social networking there’s little doubt that Facebook is the largest and most influential of the social networks online. It has more than 500 million registered user and, at the time of writing this, the average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events. For businesses this means that a Facebook page or other piece of Facebook real estate is a serious way to generate social and viral traffic but only if it is done well.

There are 900 million objects that people interact with which means, first and foremost, yours needs to stand out. It either needs to provide something that others don’t (unlikely given the amount of competition) or it needs to do what it does better than the competition. One of the most common mistakes by small businesses is believing that Facebook traffic is a quick hit; it can take months to build up a decent sized list of fans that avidly read your content but there are some steps you can take to help attract greater numbers.

The Facebook Platform

Fortunately, there is an extensive platform on which you can build unique Facebook pages and interact with existing and potential readers and your business needs to make the most of these in order to generate the best possible results.

1. Be Unique Not Generic

There is a lot of competition on Facebook, virtually regardless of the type and topic of content that you’re providing. Ensure your Facebook page really stands out by creating a unique design. You don’t have to have the standard Facebook page design and you can implement all sorts of features that help your visitors recognise you as a leader in your field.

You can also serve different landing pages to different visitors. For example, fans and first time visitors to your page do not need to see the same thing and Facebook offers the functionality to change these settings. Show a page that encourages non-followers to fan your page, and show the main content to those that have already done so. Offer incentive such as coupons for your products or services, or free resources like Ebooks and other giveaways, to members that have not yet clicked to follow your page.

2 . Use Giveaways

Giveaways have long been and continue to be one of the most effective branding and promotional techniques there is. Ebooks, gift items, and coupons are just some of the Facebook-specific items you can offer to those that are willing to sign up for your Facebook fan page. You can offer regular giveaways to members to ensure that people follow you over time and as an extra incentive for becoming what is essentially a subscribed member of your fan page.

3. Use Competitions

Competitions can generate even more buzz than a giveaway. If you place a financial value on each of your fans then you can calculate a decent prize to give away. It could be one of your own products or services or something relating to one of your partners. Make sure that it is related to the content you offer as well as the products or services that you promote. Competitions can go viral too, so encourage your readers to spread the word with their friends – you can even build this in to the competition by offering extra prize draw entries for each friend referred to your page.

4. Get Personal

Facebook is first and foremost a social network. The fact that it can also be used to help promote your business is an added benefit but users are predominantly on the site because it allows them to connect with others and hunt down content that they are interested in. It is, therefore, a personal experience and your readers will for the most part want to believe that they are dealing with real people. Add a large photo to your Facebook page.

If you organise events or can take photos of your visitors some other way then do so, and tag the people in those photos. It is possible to let readers upload their own photos and tag themselves (I would of course watch this carefully, but it can be a great way to get people involved).

5. Say Thanks

A little "thank you" can go a LONG way. As soon as somebody becomes a fan send them an unobtrusive message thanking them for becoming a fan and welcoming them to the fold. The message doesn’t need to be long and it can be automated, but remember, people buy people, so a little personal touch will go a long way!

6. Don’t Give Up

Don’t be surprised if your Mom and your Sister are your only fans after a few days of adding content and personalising your page. It does take effort to develop a high quality Facebook fan page. Keep posting, keep updating, keep testing, keep evolving, and keep trying – don’t’ give up!

Facebook Marketing

Facebook is the largest social network online having surpassed half a billion users. While competition is fierce, if you can master the art of creating a popular and beneficial Facebook page then you can also master the art of generating social traffic and your marketing message can go viral producing massive returns in the long run.

Happy status updates! ?

SEO Basics: 20 Tips for Building a Natural-Looking External Link Profile

OK, so, we all know "External link building is essential for improving search engine rank." But, the bigger question is HOW do you get these external links. Not to mention that there are so many scams out there by "SEO companies" that manipulate the process making it appear unnatural to the search engines, and quit frankly could result with a red-flag by the Almighty Google. If you’re looking to take FULL advantage of an external linking campaign- here are a few guidelines that you should pay attention to.

20 useful tips for ANY website looking to build up a credible external link profile.

1. Never buy links. Google has stated many times that it will penalize any site that is buying or selling links. The links that are sold are nearly always low-quality, non-relevant and likely to damage a website’s quality score. Note: there are some highly quality links out there that you can get. These can be VERY expensive, and using quite secretive. The links that I am referring to here are from the "link farms."

2. Build a specific page for external links. Never name this page ‘Links’ as most people do. All this achieves is to inform search engines that a website is trying to obtain links in order to manipulate its search engine position. Search engines want websites that have something useful to offer. Name the page ‘Resources’ or ‘Useful Websites’ and suggest to search engines that the website is interested in offering its readers alternative avenues of relevant content.

3. Two thumbs up for receiving free links by providing quality content. Content is king on the Internet, and by posting quality content, readers are more likely to mention and link back to the source on other websites, providing free links for the original content provider.

4. With the explosion of social networking, word-of-mouth promotion is a powerful ally. Create social networking accounts and provide informative posts that people will share.

5. Upload a video to YouTube, or any of the other video sharing sites. Make a tutorial, create a promotional video, or think of something quirky that will capture the viewers’ interests and include a link in the video pointing back to the main website. ALWAYS INLCUDE A LINK BACK TO YOUR SITE! J

6. Post on forums that are related to the websites area of interest. Interact with other users and make informative posts. Signature links can be included after a set amount of posts. Once the forum user is regarded as an established member, direct links may be allowed in actual posts.

7. Keep resource (link) pages organized. Create separate categories for links and don’t overcrowd the pages. 50 links a page should be a maximum. If the page exceeds 50 links; build more pages.

8. Post on blogs that are topically relevant. Make useful posts or risk having any comments – and links – deleted. Look for blogs that are powered by WordPress. Looking for a little help on where to comment? Check these tools out: http://commentsniper.com/

9. Use anchor text for links. Ensure that the website’s main keywords are used within the anchor text. Watch spamming and don’t overload your anchor links. Overloading them can send a red flag to the search engines that a website is manipulating links. Vary the keywords used in links.

10. Do not have all inbound links pointing to one page. The majority of links should point to a website’s homepage , but a decent amount should point to secondary pages. Don’t forget about lower category pages, it is all part of building a natural link profile. When in doubt, go with the "50-50 rule." About 50% of the links should go directly to your homepage, the other 50% should be spread around the site (just make sure that these are still useful and converting pages for you!)

11. Search engines look for a natural link profile. Build links gradually and spread their location throughout a website. If 20 links are created every Monday and none are built any other day, a search engine may suspect that a website is manipulating links. Spread any link building over time and never create links in bulk batches. Search engines love links but they want them to be achieved naturally. Offer the appearance of a gradual link-building process that looks realistic.

12. The more relevant the link, the better. Not to say that if you are a Doctor and you have a link from a printing company that this link won’t count, but it would be better if you had one from a medical association, medical blog, medical forum, etc.

13. The more authoritative and reputable the site, the better the link. If the linking website is a favorite of the search engines, this link will hold more importance. Remember that links are really votes and the more esteemed the voter, the more influential the vote. Links from high PR sites can be good but do not get too distracted by PageRank – it can be misleading. If you want a good tool to help with deciding high authority pages check out the Firefox plugin "SEO Quake."

14. Make a website a natural link magnet.  Encourage links from other websites by offering their readers a discount or free gift. Let other site owner know that their readers will have the chance of a reduction or preferential service. Website owners love their readers to think they will only get access to a particular offer on another site because their website is the referrer. Most websites will be happy to link to your site if you offer favorable treatment to their readers.

15. If you want a reciprocal link from a website that is slightly out of your league you will have to up the ante. Offer them a premium link. This could be an entire page that is dedicated to their website and their services. All you ask in return is to place a simple little textual link on their site. This may seem a bit one-sided but the link from the bigger site will hold valuable search engine influence and could be worth the extra effort.

16. Add your website to relevant business directories.

17. Article submissions to article directories are a good method for obtaining free links. Check out http://www.submityoutarticle.com.

18. Press Release submission is also a good strategy. We like PRLog.org (and it’s free!).

19. Be aware of NOFOLLOW and DOFOLLOW attributes. There is no such thing as a "DOFOLLOW" tag, it just means that it doesn’t have a "NOFOLLOW" tag and will pass "link-juice" (as we SEO geeks like to call it) to your website.

20. Don’t waste your time trying to arrange a link with a commercial site. These large sites hardly ever accept link exchanges. That does not mean that you cannot post on their blog, if they have one, and gain a backlink from an influential blog. Even better if the blog has a DOFOLLOW attribute. Remember that the blog should still relate to your own site’s content.

Links are crucial to achieving a good search engine rank, but be wary of how you obtain links and where you get them from. A successful link-building campaign requires planning, preparation and research. Focus on building a natural link profile. This may take longer to achieve but the end result will be worth the extra effort. A natural link profile will never result in damage to a website’s reputation – unlike many of the quick and easy link-building alternatives.

Should You be Using Flash on Your Website?

There are many benefits to using flash on your sites, but there are also drawbacks. The pros and cons need to be weighed carefully when deciding if Flash is the right application for your Website.

My two cents is that we don’t use it, it doesn’t play in mobile browsers and with the SEO disadvantages- we stay clear! (However, there are some SEO friendly versions that look like flash that your web designer can get away with!)

Anyway, because I was asked about Flash from a client this week- I thought I would list some pros and cons!

Here you go!

The Benefits of Using a Flash Website:

By using Flash, you gain advantages in design and the ability to use a variety of media. Flash can be used to incorporate music, text, photography and video – bundled together in a sleek format  that offers your website visitors an uniquely immersive experience when visiting. The ability of Flash to provide a state of the art multimedia event can draw your visitor through an immense variety of information. It can do so without requiring a click, and can provide a stunningly effective introduction to your business.

The Disadvantages of Using a Flash Website:

Web surfers are impatient. A  Flash site has the drawback of additional load time, and you may lose a percentage of visitors who click away for this very reason.  The larger the file, the longer the load time. The main drawback to be aware of is search engine rankings. Spiders cannot read the context of your Website if flash is incorporated and may have difficulty ranking it. If your business is highly dependent on organic rankings and traffic, Flash may not be the best option.

Flash is like any other application on your Website. It’s important to be aware of both benefits and drawbacks, enabling the designer to make the best decisions for your Website and the business it represents.

Online PR NOT the Same as Offline PR

Here’s the biggest misconception I get when talking about PR. People still think that today’s world of online PR is the same as it has always been in the traditional offline “PR.” That’s just not the case, today’s game is much different, and actually, to your advantage.

First, let’s clear this us; PR doesn’t mean public relations… today, it means public relationships.

And good news for you, you don’t need to be a professional publicist or marketing expert to write effective online press releases.  Writing a press release for online distribution is not only quick and easy process; but it’s one of the most valuable tools you can use in your business, not only for credibility, but for SEO.

Here’s a couple tips when writing your online PR:

Begin your press release with a strong headline. The headline should be no more than 80 characters. The first paragraph (the lead or introductory paragraph of the press release) summarizes the main information. Don’t add fluff – stick to the basics. A press release covers the five Ws: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. It should not exceed more than one page.

Stick to newsworthy facts. Write "facts" and avoid writing that sounds sales/advertising-oriented. If a press release reads like an advertisement, it’ll be rejected by online distribution services and media outlets. The goal of a press release is to gain media coverage and exposure. A press release should read like a news story and includes newsworthy that quickly grabs the media’s attention.

Use optimized keywords (and this is THE key). Sprinkle keywords throughout the press release but do not stuff keywords for the sake of optimization. If allowed, always add the company’s website within the text of the press release (some distribution services do not allow hyperlinks within the press release) as well as anchor links as these are the best kind of backlinks you can get.

When you’re done with your release, take 5 minutes and submit to an online distribution channel like http://www.prlog.org (that’s my fav!).

To your success!


Producing Content that Keeps People Coming Back to Your Site

As a result of personalized search, anyone who maintains a website will now have to focus on content more than ever before. In order to remain competitive and ensure continued high ranking in the SERPs, your website will need to include current and informative content that is of real value to your visitors.

If you maintain a website or a blog, it is critical that your content is updated on a regular basis. Ideally, you should be adding content every day, especially if your site is new. People will begin to click on your site on a more regular basis in anticipation of what your next piece will be about. They may even bookmark your site. When this happens, Google will recognize it as a site the person likes and will list it higher in the search results when then perform a relevant search. When you are adding content sporadically, people will begin to lose interest in your site and not only will you lose hits but you will also slip further and further in the search results. If you are not able to add content on a daily basis then you should be updating your site at least three times a week.

As you can see, quantity is very important producing content. This does not mean that you can slack on quality. Not only will you need to update your content regularly, but it must be of high quality and provide useful and relevant information. Timeliness is essential. You have to be knowledgable of the current trends in order for your site to stay relevant. If you run a niche blog or website, stay on top of the newest developments in that niche so that you can relay that information to your visitors. If you are unsure of what to write about, subscribing to an RSS reader is a great way to quickly find out what the day’s “hot topics” are (Google alerts are also a great way to monitor trends and topics in your industry to comment on). This will usually give you an idea of what your visitors are interested in and you can tailor your content accordingly. Keep your posts brief (but it can be okay to occasionally compose longer more in-depth posts if they are focused and well-written) and pay attention to spelling and grammar.

After you have taken the time to develop this fantastic content, does this mean you can now sit back and passively wait for the hits to start rolling in? Nothing could be further from the truth. In many ways, your work is now just beginning, because you will now have to work to ensure that your content is indexed in the search engines. Simply relying on a search engine to eventually crawl to your site and index your content will result in costly delays. Some quick and easy ways to get indexed faster include updating the XML map for your website, posting links to your content on Twitter and subscribing to a service that automatically pings major online hubs and notifies them when you have updated new content.

By being consistent in producing content that is high quality, you will not only get a loyal following, but you will also enjoy high search engine rankings, higher rates of conversion and greater credibility in your niche.

Increasing Consumer Impatience: Why Businesses Need to Take Notice of Real-Time Updates

The Internet is now faster than ever. With the explosion of social media, and search engine leader Google rolling out its new interface, incorporating real-time updates, people now expect everything in an instant. This sudden shift towards immediate gratification is also likely to have ramifications for business operations and their product transactions.

The acceptable periods for digital downloads, customer service responses and even physical deliveries are rapidly diminishing. That old 7-10 business day time-frame is starting to seem like forever and is becoming unacceptable to many.

The promise of an email reply within 48 hours will just not cut it anymore. People are becoming increasingly impatient and have gotten used to the new real-time updates – where they receive everything in an instant – and they are transferring these expectations to the business world.

If a business wants to maintain customer satisfaction, it will need to prepare for this new fast-turnaround revolution. Failure to keep up could result in lost business, canceled orders and a drop in repeat sales. So what needs to be done to comply with the real-time crowd?

For businesses promoting and delivering digital products, the transformation is a relatively simple process. Most digital product dealers may already operate in real-time. Orders are made, processed and sent out within minutes – if the whole process is adequately automated. If a digital retailer is not automating the whole system, they need to upgrade and do so now. Sitting on a digital order and delivering the product 2 days later is not acceptable. Money is now transferred almost instantaneously and so should the products – if this is not done, expect a drop in return custom and a reduction in sales.

Customer service has always been notoriously slow to respond in many industries. But with the explosion of social networking there is now no excuse. Companies can use social media sites to keep customers up-to-date, in real-time, with any problems and the ongoing progression of an order.

People will not stand for 2-3 day delays for email replies anymore. What used to be a fast response is now an unacceptable waiting period. An initial automated response is still tiresome but acceptable, but the follow-up answer needs to arrive sooner rather than later – or complaints will follow. People are not willing to accept ‘sorry for the delay’ excuses anymore.

Companies that sell physical products cannot be expected to deliver immediately – but they are not exempt from the real-time environment. Customers need same day replies and they expect to be kept in the loop every step of the way, from order confirmation, to payment process, and then finally told that their package has been processed, shipped and when it will arrive at their door.

Process and packaging needs to be closely monitored and delivery times kept to a minimum. Customers will accept a 3 business day delivery estimate, as long as the company has processed the order efficiently and kept the customer constantly updated with the progress of their order.

The old saying ‘Time is Money’ describes the problems facing businesses that fail to respond and accommodate this new real-time perception. If they cannot make efficient use of their time and adapt to this new post-haste consumer expectation, they should anticipate a realistic reduction in their money from a sudden decline in business.

Business Lessons from an Early Age

A story my father wrote about me and one of my first business lessons…

“Teaching your children seems to be getting harder these days. I don’t know whether it was ever easy.

To teach a lesson requires being on hand when the problem arises and then guiding the child through the learning process.

Such was the situation when my youngest presented her latest crisis. Her best friend was going to copy her Halloween costume down to specifics and now they would look exactly the same on that special day. Now, this may not seem like a 10 on the Richter Scale for problems to you, but to Lindsay it was sufficient to give her a class-one stomach ache.

Enter Dad. Easy problem. Easy solution, right? Wrong. One man’s problem is another cake walk. This is true no matter the age or the problem. I have seen people financially destroyed and declared bankrupt because of a $200 payment. I have seen others millions in debt negotiate to borrow more money to help them pay the debt. I have learned that an individual’s problems can never be minimized and no matter how big or seemingly small, the problem must be attacked with equal vengeance towards the solution.

‘You must learn to compartmentize the problem,’ I counseled my six-year-old.

‘Compartmentize?’ she asked in the questioning tone that let me know I was speaking in tongues.

‘Take the problem, break it down, and try to find a solution. You know MacGyverism,’ I said. A ‘MacGyverism’ she understood. MacGyver being the character of a TV show by the same name who routinely solves complex problems with brain instead of brawn.

‘But that won’t work with this,’ Lindsay said, indication a negative attitude I also wanted to break.

‘I’ll tell you what. You come up with a good MacGyverism to solve this problem and I’ll pay you one dollar,’ I told her realizing that I needed an additional motivation factor. The reduced tears and the determined look on her face told me I had been right. It isn’t always that we fathers are right about our advice and I’m always happy and a little smug when I think I’ve scored a victory. I had taken the time and I taught my daughter an important lesson.

Early the next morning, Lindsay bounced in my room advising me of her solution that she had working out in her mind. It was simple, but it worked.

‘Great job, Lindsay,’ I said. giving her encouragement and feeling proud that my guidance worked.

‘Do I get my dollar?’ Lindsay asked excitedly.

‘You sure do. And tell me, what lesson did you learn?” I asked knowing I would hear the reinforcement in my training.

‘Well,’ said Lindsay thoughtfully. ‘When you have a problem and you need a solution, just throw some money at it. Right?’ she asked, her facial expression indicating she had found the secret of life.

‘Well, that’s close, Lindsay,” I laughed. That’s close, I thought to myself. Parenting is such a precise science.”

… although some of that I think Daddy was a bit judicious with his writing… when I re-read that story again, it made me think of some very simple business concepts that I can tend to overlook.

1. What comes easy to you, may not come easy to others. How can you turn that into something that you can help others with?
2. Even in a “bad economy” people will pay for knowledge (or service) that they need…. and fortunately, it’s a little more than a dollar!
3. A client’s problem, although may be “small” compared to others, might be paralyzing to them- treat them all the same.

Just some “food for thought,” that I was reminded of from a simple story Dad wrote years ago and how it still applies to business today.

To Your Success!

A Break from Social Media Marketing…

I have been blessed with a wonderful family, all of which I admire and strive to be more like. My father is my mentor… and in business he has given me 1 rule: “Find what you love to do and figure out how to make money doing it.”

I have been fortunate enough to figure that out, kinda :), although, I’m still not exactly sure what I want to be “when I grow up,” but for now I’m doing what I love. I also take comfort in the fact that my father still says he’s not sure what he wants to be when he grows up :).

However, taking that one step further, I was listening to Frank Kern the other day and he was talking about imagining what would make you happy, what your day would be like if you could have a “perfect” day. Although I do what I love, I had never thought about what a perfect day would be like… what would I enjoy doing from the time I wake up until the time I went to bed.

I quickly grabbed my journal and started describing my day and what it would look like. I described what I wanted to do, who I wanted to surround myself with, where I wanted to be, etc. After I was finished, I looked at it and thought “well, now why don’t I do that? What’s holding me back?”

It was simple, I had never put down on paper.

With that simple exercise, I quickly changed the way I was running my business… and my day. After all, isn’t that what it’s about? If you aren’t having fun, then you need to change what you are doing.

For me, that meant figuring out what made me smile most in life and making sure I filled my day with that as much as possible. It’s amazing how much more productive you become when you are smiling.

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”

Building a website? HTML vs WordPress

So you want to build a website. Should you go with simple HTML or use a platform like WordPress. The ultimate answer lies in the question, "What do you want to do with your site?" Let’s look at some advantages held by each option.

1) Updates – How often do you plan to update the site, and who will be doing the updates? WordPress has a supreme advantage over a straight HTML site when it comes to updates. Not only is it an open-source platform that allows you to use multiple programming languages, so you get all the bells and whistles (HTML, PHP, MySQL, ASP, etc), but it is also user friendly for those who don’t know programming code. In other words, if you are creating the site for someone other than an online marketing agency and you want them to be able them to be able to update the site themselves, WordPress gives them the flexibility to do so. Of course, you still need to create anything major, but the user will be able to update the blog, add pages and make basic updates without bothering you.

One point to WordPress.

2) Bandwidth – Because WordPress offers so much, it’s a big platform. This means it takes up a lot of bandwidth. Simple HTML sites tend to take up less space. But ultimately, the extra bandwidth is no big deal if you are prepared for it – just make sure you are prepared for it!

Half a point to HTML – HTML is smaller and leaner, but it isn’t really much of an advantage if you are prepared.

3) Plug ins – One of the great advantages of WordPress is that because so many people use this universal platform, new plug ins are created almost daily. Instead of reinventing the wheel, find a plug in that does what you are looking for and with a few clicks you’re in business. Plug ins can be used to add social media marketing, SEO tools, display images, improve security, add forms, embed videos, lock out spammers and more. Yes, you can do all of these things with HTML, but you have to write the code and hope you don’t make a mistake in your code throwing the whole code off.

One point to WordPress.

4) Security – With hackers around every corner, this continues to be an issue for all websites, regardless of how they are built. However, the advantage goes to HTML on this one. It is much more difficult to hack a site that has been individually coded in HTML, though not impossible. If you go the WordPress route, it is important to make sure that you keep you with the latest security plug ins.

One point to HTML.

5) SEO – If you are building a website, you probably want people to see it. Therefore, putting everything else aside, this is the most important aspect of your website. One of the great features of WordPress is its ability to integrate SEO into your site. Yes, you can optimize your website with HTML, but you have to know all of the important SEO elements and spend time incorporating each one. Since WordPress was built as a blogging platform, SEO is kind of built-in (plus there are tons of plug ins to make it even better). You still have to work on SEO, but since Google loves new content and WordPress makes adding new content a breeze the SEO advantage goes to WordPress.

One point to WordPress.

If you have been keeping tally, then you know WordPress came out on top. With its flexibility for design and ease to update plus its SEO capabilities and all of the plug ins available, WordPress comes out on top. While it isn’t perfect (what is) as a social media agency, WordPress is the platform we use for all of our clients. So, if you are building a website, check it out.

Facebook "Likes"

If you are on Facebook, you may have seen a change this week. No longer are you a "fan" of a company fan pages (such as our social media agency fan page for CelebritySites), now you "like" them. Not to worry, for users and fan pages, there is really no change in the functionality of the button, "liking" a fan page still allows the page to push the same content to your news feed. So why the subtle change, why fix what ain’t broke?

For Facebook, this is another step toward its plan to create an Internet-wide "like" button. Yep, much like the button Facebook users have become accustom to using to like a friends post, video or pictures, we will soon see a "like" button on public sites. This seemingly competitive move against Digg and other such sites may be a dream come true for social media marketing. Since so many people already have active Facebook accounts, this move would allow publishers to connect content to Facebook networks with the simple click of a "like" button.

The plan is just getting started for now… but we shall soon see more.

6 Steps for a Digital Spring Cleaning

Spring has sprung and closets everywhere are getting a seasonal cleaning, but closets aren’t the only place to de-clutter. No, I am not pointing out the mess in your guest room. I am talking about the chaos on your website.

When you built your website, I am sure you had great intentions of staying on top of it. But unless you hired an online marketing agency to watch over your site, like your closet, over time your website probably took backseat to running your business. While it is understandable, it isn’t good. Your website is your digital connection to the world; you have to keep it in good working order. So, let’s shake out the cobwebs and clear out the clutter.

1) Check links. There is nothing more annoying then visiting a website and finding broken or misdirected links. It flat-out looks like you don’t care. Click on every link on your site and make sure it takes you where it should.

2) Check contact info. Is your contact info readily available on EVERY page? You never know when someone is going to decide they have seen enough and they are ready to contact you to sign up, don’t make them search for your contact info, put it everywhere. (And, of course, make sure the info is correct.)

3) Make sure your services are up-to-date. If you list services on your site make sure they are current. I can’t tell you how many times I have inquired about a service listed on a website only to find out that service is no longer offered. If you don’t offer it, remove it. Got new stuff, add it.

4) Check your prices. If you list the price of those services, make sure your rates are current. There is nothing worse then someone finding a cheaper price on your website only to be told they are looking at an old rate list.

5) Add your social media links. Do you Tweet? Do you have a Fan Page? Tell people about it. Include social media icons with links to encourage visitors to stay in touch with you. (Tip from a social media agency, if you still haven’t gotten into the social media scene, get there.)

6) Got news? How old is the "current" news on your site? More than six months? Surely something has happened in the past few months that’s worth sharing. (If there really is nothing newsworthy, maybe you need to do something! Not sure what to do, hire an online marketing agency to help.)

We know it’s hard to stay on top of everything you do for your business, so give your website a good spring cleaning and get it back to where it needs to be to make you money. After that, if you are still concerned that you aren’t able to keep up with it, consider consulting with a social media agency to help you stay on top of your digital presence. Don’t let you site go another year before you check to make sure everything is ship-shape.

How to Use Facebook as a Branding Strategy for Your Business

If you aren’t already connected to the social media revolution, it is time to get your head out of the sand and harness the power of the digital network. If you want to get out ahead of your competition and make consumers excited about interacting with your brand, social media is the way to go. It isn’t an overnight marketing fix, it takes time to build a following, but if done correctly you can use social media to drive people to your website and ultimately to your front door. Are you ready?

After building your incredible website and blog, it is time to build a Facebook fan page. Before your run away at the thought of building your own page, let me assure you that it is easy to get started, and I am going to walk you through it. But, of course, if you get stuck or need additional help with the more complicated aspects, we’re always here to help. (But I promise; set up is easy.)

The first thing you need in order to create a Facebook fan page is a personal profile. What? You don’t have one yet? Time to get one! I am not going to waste time walking you through profile set up because the steps are pretty self explanatory. Just got to Facebook, fill out the information to get started and let the steps guide you. You can probably set up a basic profile in about 15 minutes. After setting up your personal profile, spend some time poking around Facebook and getting to know the site – have fun. Check out some of your favorite companies’ fan pages (Celebrity Branding Agency for one) and connect with friends.

Now to set up a fan page.

Once you are logged into Facebook, scroll to the bottom of the page and click "Advertising," and then click "Pages." There is some great information here about fan pages, so take a moment to read through the information, when you are ready click "Create Page." As you go through the set-up process, remember that in any branding and marketing it is important to categorize your company in the right area to help people find you. So choose carefully.

One of the great things about Facebook is the ease of set up navigation. From here, setting up a fan page is really about following the prompts. Rather than point out each step, let’s look at the important ones to get your personal branding going.

1) Photo – Before you do anything else, make sure you have the perfect photo for your page. Maybe your logo is the best photo for your page, but maybe not. Think about other branding materials you have, maybe something seasonal. Obviously, you want your fans to see your photo and recognize your brand – that’s the goal. But if you have a creative image that is also recognizable, it might help your fan page attract fans with an element of fun.

2) Write something about your company – See the little box under your picture that says "Write something about your company" this is very important because this is one of the items that is visible on every tab of your fan page. This is your elevator statement in 250 characters or less. Be sure to include a link to your website here, and in order to make your link clickable, don’t forget the http:// before the www. (Note – this statement can be changed at any time, so it is a great place to highlight a promotion or other important happening for your company.)

3) Wall Settings – Another important tool in the set up of your page are the wall settings. You have to decide if you want visitors to be able to post messages for everyone to see or if you only want your own messages shown. Unless you have a super controversial company, I recommend starting with allowing everything. It will help you build your wall faster because people like to post messages. If the posts become out of control or unflattering, you can always delete individual posts or turn off the setting all together later. (You will find "Wall settings" under "Edit page.")

Once you fill in all of the basic information, you have successfully created a fan page. Don’t forget, it is easy to change if something changes, so don’t sweat it.

Now you are ready to take your page live, it is important for you to let people know about your page. This is where having an already active personal profile comes in handy because if you already have a lot of "friends" who are interested in your company, you can "suggest" your new page to them.

Alright you have a page, you have suggested to all of your friends, now what? Now you start the real work. Marketing and branding takes time and attentiveness. You can’t just set up this page and hope people find you. If there is nothing on your page that interests people, no one will become a fan. Social media is fun – your fan page should be too. Post interesting things about your company, but don’t be afraid to post something fun too. Try posting open-ended questions (to entice responses from your fans) such as "What is your favorite XYZ?" "What do you plan to do for the XYZ holiday?"

Posting links and/or photos are also a great way to get people interested, plus they are more visually appealing so people are more apt to pay attention. Posting links to your website has the added benefit of pushing people to your site to find out more. Try posting on your fan page every time you update your blog – "Check this out" and attach a link to your blog.

Remember, the most important reason you have a Facebook fan page is to use it as a branding strategy to promote your personal brand. So, if your company is very "green" conscious, share tidbits about being green. If your company is all about marketing and branding (like us), you might post pictures of events, links to blog posts and information about the companies you help brand.

Those are the basic features of a Facebook fan page, but once you get going you will realize that there are many more things you can add to your fan page such as customizable apps, connect the page to your Twitter feed, and much more. But you can’t do any of the fancy things until you get started with the basics, so for now create your page and start building your fans. Oh, and don’t forget to include a new link on your website to let people know they can become a fan on Facebook.

And that is how you can use Facebook as a branding strategy for your business.

Do You Have a Social Media Game Plan?

Whether you’re a novice or expert on the Internet, you probably use social media on a daily basis (if not hourly if you are @brianhorn @davidbullock or myself ?). And, if you own a business or are a marketing agent of some kind and haven’t really utilized these networks to help you spread your message, you’re really missing out on a wealth of relevant followers. There is a captive (and passionate) audience out there that you can certainly tap into but to quote David Bullock’s tweet from last week "Is social media a fad or distraction for you? Do you have a pragmatic social media plan or are you just chatting? Hmmm…."

That even made me think (thanks Dave)… am I effectively utilizing my game plan?

Social Media by it’s meaning is "social." So it should certainly be used for that purpose- and if you are spamming your followers with nothing but advertisements that will get you nowhere in their minds.

However, like any other aspect of your business, you have a plan and you should absolutely have a Social Media plan… and treat it as such. Not to say, don’t "tweet" when you think of something valuable to push out to your audience, but overall have a game plan for what you are trying to accomplish. Set it weekly, monthly… two days in advance if that’s all you can do… but, whatever you find that works for you and your business have a plan nonetheless.

Figure out the goals you are trying to accomplish from using Social Media. Is it more traffic to your site? More referring sites? More page views? More downloads? More returning visitors? Increased visitor interaction? Find the ROO (return of objective) that you can measure and set a game plan to get yourself there.

Don’t just "chat"… make money while chatting ?

Social Media Marketing Quick Tip: Be Yourself!

With the social networking sites growing at alarming rates, everyone is jumping in and working towards learning social media marketing and how it can be used to their best use. Learning to harness the captive audience that is out there right now actively searching for what you have to offer can be tricky at times, but has its finer points (like being low/no cost); however, I don’t want to over look one key point…

Social Media Marketing is not complicated. However, when approaching this type of marketing, you absolutely have to make sure you’re not spamming people. You have to build a certain trust with people and make them believe that you’re not a robotic poster that is just looking to cash in. This is a bit hard, but if you’re sincere and personal at many points, you’ll move forward fast with this type of marketing.

There are a lot of people working on social media marketing, and what separates the success stories from the failures is the sincerity and honesty of some users. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience for a moment. If you would feel comfortable with the information you’re passing to people, then continue, but if you find that the information doesn’t really excite you on a personal level, you should definitely not continue with that promotion. Social Media Marketing isn’t too difficult to jump into; however, to be a success at it, it’s going to take some work. Once you’ve established a following, you’re going to see relevant interest like never before.

Remember, people buy people… so use it for business by all means, but be yourself!

Personalized Search Results, What Does This Mean for You?

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard the buzz about Google’s new personalized search results (although not really new, they have been beta testing for a while). So what does this mean? It means, that Google will now start delivering results to their users based on sites previously visited. This means that while Coke may have previously come up #1 for “soda companies,” if you are used to ordering online from your local market, that may come up instead.

So how could this change affect your online traffic?

Here’s a great article written by a friend of mine (and the “Glazer- Kennedy’s Secret Weapon”) @brianhorn that does a wonderful job of describing what to expect.

Check it out the full article here: Google’s Change That Will Rock Your World in 2010

But here’s a snippet from the article and what to expect:

The Big Players Will Get Even Bigger
Those at the top of the search results for their industry’s most popular keywords are likely to benefit the most from this change. The longer tail queries that would once have shown more alternative sources will now bring up those "previously visited" sites when previously they wouldn’t have earned a top position.

This will likely contribute to some lowered diversity in the results, but can also help fight against spammy results from low quality republishers.

Paid Traffic Could Boost SEO

If Google is tracking what websites a user has visited before, and using that data in their search results…it makes sense to get as many people to your site ASAP, right?”

To Your Success!

Lessons from a friend about Personal Branding

I was speaking with a friend the other day, and we were laughing over something he said in passing that was taken a little deeper than it should have been. What he meant by it was nowhere near what the other man took it as… in this case, profound… but, it got me thinking…

What is the language we use everyday to show who we are, both verbal and nonverbal. How does this message correspond with our business? Does it relate or is their a disconnect in what you are saying and in your actual message?

This thought is where Personal Branding comes in… where people buy in to what you are saying, simply for who you are…. People buy people.

Take a look at how you are portraying both yourself and your business in not only the way you speak but also your marketing and certainly in your social media. Make sure all of them are accurately portraying the message you want to come across… and control your media! ?

To your success!

People buy People- please don’t forget your picture in your marketing!

So, it’s that time of year again… we all start receiving massive amounts of both Holiday cards in the mail as well Holiday emails. Today, I was reminded about the importance of a picture.

I, like you, are undoubtedly on countless mailing lists. Way too many to keep up-to-date with them all. So the easiest way to remind me of who you are is with your picture. I may not remember your name, or even what you do necessarily, but if I see your bright and smiling face I’ll probably recognize it. And if I do, I’ll probably listen to what you have to say.

Unfortunately, this afternoon I got a Thanksgiving “greeting card,” which was really just an HTML email- and although it was written well, I have no clue who this person is. There are two very valuable points to make. One, the person does not stay in the forefront of my mind with continued drip pieces and two, no picture.

I encourage you all when sending out not only your Holiday emails and direct mail pieces, but also the typical ones in your business, to include your picture. No, this is not because Nick and I love the way we look :), but rather we know that it builds recognition with who we are and what we do!

Happy Thanksgiving!

To your success,

Social Media: Frequently Asked Questions from Small Business Owners

I came across this article today that I found interesting and thought I would share: “Social Media: Frequently Asked Questions from Small Business Owners”.

In this article they discuss frequently asked questions that I think every business owner has asked himself/herself at one point in time, questions like ” have a smalls staff. How do I find the resources to keep up-to-date with content on social networks.”

Click Here to check out the article

25 Social Media Sites for Entrepreneurs

I was monitoring my Google Alerts this morning and I came across this article that I thought I would share with everyone.

Check it out: 25 Social Media Sites for Entrepreneurs

5 Things you MUST have in your Twitter Profile!

A friends and client emailed me the other day about out Twitter designs that we have done for ourselves and some other clients… which got me thinking about this blog post.

People buy people… right? And by now, everyone should understand the power of twitter… so, are you putting your personality into your twitter profile like you would your website?

Here are some things that your twitter profile SHOULD have it in…

  1. Your picture
  2. Your logo
  3. Short bio
  4. Contact information
  5. he current branding that your website or other promotional items have.

Take a look at some examples that we have done and I think you’ll have a better idea of how this can be useful.

And to take it one step further, you can also carry these designs through to your YouTube Channels:

If you have a web designer, just give ‘em the things mentioned above and tell ‘em to get to it! And if you don’t Click Here for Twitter Designs and Click Here for YouTube Designs and we’d be happy to handle it for you quickly!

To your social media success!

Social Media Revolution

Nick (@nicknanton) came across this GREAT YouTube video about the “Social Media Revolution” and I thought I would share it with all of you.

It definitely shows the power of social media and what it has already done to revolutionize the way we do business, search for products and communicate.

Check it out…

“Skip Intro”

As I am writing this blog, I am on the plane heading to NY to join the rest of the America’s Premiere Experts for our Celebrity Branding Experience.

Since I travel quite often I usually try to save some business reading (various Dan Kennedy books & publications, Stompernet’s Net Affect, etc) that I have accumulated over the past couple of weeks for the flight. Today is no different (@davidbullock and @jwest5150 thanks for the material this time!).

This trip I’m also flying with my father, who is sitting next to me reading “Understanding Digital Marketing” by: Damian Ryan and Calvin Jones. As we both come across interesting tid-bits we can use not only in our own businesses, but for our clients as well we interrupt each other to share.

My latest: a horrible use of advertising space and an almost non existent headline because it was so small…

Dad’s: a statistic- the most widely clicked on button on the Internet: “Skip intro”

So what does that tell you?

STOP selling before you build the relationship!

Unless you have caught people specifically in the buying mood (not likely) then you are there to educate and build the relationship. Once you do that, they will THEN buy from you when they need your particular products and services.

Think of how many times you “skip intro” so you can get to the “meat” of what you’re looking for. I know I do all the time. So “skip intro” by just not putting it there! 🙂

(By the way, don’t confuse this with not putting video on your site…that’s a whole other article!)

To you Social Media Success!

GREAT use of Social Media to get customers in the door!

While updating my Facebook profile today, I was prompted with an event that Starbucks was putting on. The event was for a free pastry on July 21st.

Here’s what the event details said:

"Celebrate our simpler, more delicious recipes. Bring your invite to Starbucks for a free pastry with your drink purchase"

So- they made an event around their promotion date and advertised it using Facebook ads to get customers in their door.

Starbucks is the first I have actually seen to do this, but I have heard that several of major companies using Facebook (and other social medias) to get customers in their doors, try something new and even are enticed to bring friends.

Great use of social media and yes… I RSVP to attend!

Subway’s New Cell Phone Policy

So I’m at Subway the other day… a pretty regular part of my routine and I see the message below. Do you think they meant me?

Subway, Eat Fresh! 🙂

7 Tips for Making Twitter Work for You and Your Business!

Your ultimate goal when using Twitter should be to network, it’s like an online social hour (or social 140 characters). And like in every networking organization it’s all about who you know, and in Twitter’s case, who you "follow" and who "follows" you. The key to making Twitter work for you and your business is to weave the social aspects of your life in with your business.

So how do you do that?

Below, you will find 7 steps that will help you develop not only a loyal Twitter fan base but also reveal some dos and don’ts to making Twitter work for you.

First, you’ve got to find people! So, how do you do that?

1. Search for people you may know who are already using twitter via the "find people" link up at the top of Twitter. Once you click that link you can type in their name and see if they’re currently on Twitter so you can connect with them.

2. Using the same "find people" link up at the top and then clicking on "find on other networks" you can match up your current contacts from your Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail and MSN accounts with your contact’s twitter accounts and then follow them from there.

3. Use the twitter search! You can either search right from your Twitter homepage or go to http://search.twitter.com/. Search using the keywords for your industry and find people tweeting about specific topics in your industry and within your niche. From there you can follow them, and also follow their followers!
Now that you’re on your way to having followers, here are a couple of tips to maximize your "Tweets."

4. Mix in your "social tweets" with your "business tweets." Remember, people buy people, and that goes for Twitter too! Build a loyal fan base by allowing them to get to know you, like you, trust you and respect you and weave in the "I’ve written blog about social media, check it out at www.celebritysites.com" (of course, you would actually link to the blog post, but since I haven’t written that yet… which now I will… I just put our homepage in there for demonstration).

5. You can also use http://search.twitter.com/ to find other current tweets about your industry that you can comment on. If you find a tweet that interests you, you can respond directly to that person by using "@TheirName" in your tweet so they get your reply, ultimately contributing to the Twitter community, gaining more content for your own twitter account and participating socially with other users.

And finally, here are some of my favorite Twitter tools to make your life easier!

6. TweetDeck (http://www.tweetdeck.com/) allows you to manage your Twitter account in a much simpler way by separating your replies, direct messages as well as specified groups of people. TweetDeck also allows you to update your Facebook status automatically with your Tweets.

7. Tweet Later (http://www.tweetlater.com/) allows you to setup tweets to be sent out at a scheduled time, automatically follow anyone who follows you and send out auto-responders to anyone who follows you.

Remember, Twitter can be used for many different purposes including social networking, marketing a business, prospecting, research and new ideas, reconnecting with old friends, etc. Millions are tweeting every day including just about every TV show, radio personality, movie star, pop singer, rap artist, sportscaster and professional athlete. Although this concept may seem a little foreign to you, remember that email was once that way and now it’s second nature! Ultimately, what makes Twitter so popular is the ability to connect with not only friends, but likeminded people. Remember, people buy people!

Google’s New First Page Ranking Criteria

Last week Google announced that they are once again changing their ever mysterious, ever changing, "algorithm " by which they assign their top rankings.

The change in the algorithm places significant weight on new information. So what does this mean? Those outdated, static, brochure-looking websites will be just that… outdated!

This is why, as the Wall Street Journal reported, " A search for a celebrity would show recent news about the person as opposed to their website."

So how do you stay with the trend?

Dynamic content: blogs, articles and press releases.

All of these content driven systems can be updated regularly. Not only do they help to show your expert status, but they give Google the new content they’re looking for. You can also take these posts one step further and book mark your blogs through social media sites, syndicate your articles through article syndication sites and submit your news to press release syndication sites automatically creating links backs to your site, as well as traffic, and of course, ultimately converting them to a signup on your mailing list, which you can then market to later. But that’s another conversation for another day!

Either way, with Google’s recent announcement it is imperative that you stay with the trends and have one, if not all, of these features on your site. If you’re looking for a great blog platform, checkout WordPress, it’s the best blog platform out there and has a ton of capabilities. To see some examples of some of full websites built on wordpress and all it’s capabilities visit http://www.celebritysites.com/portfolio/.

“Where Everybody Knows Your Name”

Each month I try and share with you the latest tips and tricks for SEO, online marketing and promoting your business. This month, at the urging of my father, I decided to share with you a story instead…

You always hear us talk about "people buy people" and while many of your accept that fact solely on face value, I believe it whole heartedly because I live it each and every day.

My reminder comes from a well know little coffee shop named Starbucks (ever heard of it? ?). And while the media, without fail, promotes our failing economy and $2 cups of coffee will no longer sell… I think quite the opposite. Sure sales might be down- but I believe that is a part of what we call a business cycle.

With competitors like McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts now coming up with their own version of the Mocha Lattes and Frappuccinos (and at a fraction of the cost, I might add) why in the world would I continue to go to Starbucks every morning, yes every morning… especially since both McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts are also on my way to work? Because people buy people… Cynthia, Jared, April and the whole rest of the crew know me by name and know my order by heart. As soon as I walk into the coffee shop my drink is waiting. I cannot say the same for their competitors, whom, quite frankly, would not care who I was and they probably would get my order wrong!

And whether they truly think about what they are doing and why, I am treated with a smiling face and a personal connection. It’s the old "Cheers" philosophy; you go "where everybody knows your name."

So yes, I spend $2.14 every day on my way to work… $556.40 per year on coffee that I could undoubtedly make at home. Why? Because people buy people…

What kind of experience are you selling? What kind of person are you selling to your customers? I am reminded every day how important personal connection is and how human interaction can affect your business. And, even if this tough economy, people WILL spend money if you make it worth their while.

List of Ranking Factors For Designing A High Traffic Website!

So I came across an article the other day that gives you an all encompassing list of SEO factors for your website and what REALLY affects your rankings and what doesn’t.

I thought it was a great list and did well at explaining what each item was, so I thought I would pass it along…

Check it out here:


To your success!

Organic or Pay-Per- Click?

There is always a discussion on which is better: organic rankings in the search engines or pay-per-click advertisements. My answer: what are you trying to accomplish? Like most things, it depends.
Although they are harder to get and will cost you more time and more money, organic search rankings do offer distinct advantages over pay-per-click (PPC) advertisement and will always be better for you in the long run.
I recently read an article that compared organic rankings to PPC advertisement rankings and which were better. Here are some of the results:

  • Searchers are up to six times more likely to click on the first few organic results than any of the PPC ads
  • 14% of searchers trust PPC ads (meaning 86% of searchers do not)
  • 29% of searchers are annoyed by PPC ads
  • Conversion rates are 17% higher for organic results

Well with stats like that, why would you ever use PPC? Here are a couple reasons:

Time. PPC can be instantaneous and can jumpstart your website traffic. Organic campaigns can take 3 months (and sometimes longer depending on your competition). So, if you have a short amount of time or a seasonal business PPC might be better suited for your goals.

Cost. If you are working on a tight budget PPC will always cost less. PPC allows you to limit your campaign to as much or as little as you want to spend. And by limiting your keyword and keyword phrases to those that bring the most qualified traffic you can operate your campaign on a smaller budget.

Testing. PPC is a great way to test headlines and keywords to see what pulls better for your niche and your market. You cannot do this with organic SEO. By setting up different ads with different headlines you can easily see in a day which resonates more with visitors and which drives more traffic to your site.

So, it really does depend what you’re looking for. For long term appeal- organic is the way to go. For short, quick tests- PPC is a better option.

If you’re looking for some resources for finding your keywords and helping develop PPC campaigns here are a couple:

How to Write Content that is Optimized for Search Engines

To me, I always feel like Search Engine Optimization (or SEO as it is known in the industry) is the big elephant standing in the middle of the room that nobody wants to talk about. It’s a whole lot of work. Right? Or so you’ve been told…

It’s true, Search Engines, mainly Google, like to make up complicated algorithms and schemes to try and make this very simple concept into the giant elephant that it is. When it boils down to it… write your copy so that it contains the keywords your potential clients are searching for. Having keywords throughout your copy increases the relevancy of your page for those keywords. Thus, when someone is searching for a particular product or service- you come up!
Here are 3 quick tips for placing keywords in your online copy:

1. Title Tags:

This is the most important place to include keywords. The title tag is the title of your web page- it runs along the very top of your browser and usually contains the name of your company and a brief description. That brief description is where you should include the keywords you are trying to maximize for each page of your web site. Be aware that computers (Search Engine spiders), like humans, read from left to right. They also give the most weight to the words on the far left versus those to the right. Also keep in mind that Google only displays 66 characters in the title tag, everything else will be cut off. So make sure to keep them short, simple and to the point… oh yeah and include those keywords!

2. Headings and Subheadings:

Another important place to put keywords is in heading (H1 tags) or subheadings (H2 tags). Search Engines give these tags more weight than they do keywords in the body of your site. So, it is a good idea if you can find a way to incorporate keywords in both the headings and subheadings of your pages- just don’t forget to make sure that they make sense to readers!

3. Synonyms

Here’s the thing… although you may think that you’ve got your keywords nailed down to a science… it’s a good idea to incorporate synonyms of these words into your copy. Using synonyms not only breaks up the monotony of just using a single word or phrase, but searchers may be using these synonyms or related words to find your products without you even knowing it. Overture is a great free source that will help you find synonyms and related keywords searchers may be using to find your products or services. To view this keyword tool visit http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion/.

One last little tip. After you’ve got your keywords down and you know how and where you want to use them, don’t forget to make sure your copy is actually readable and it isn’t just loaded with keywords. Once you’ve got that down, the last thing to remember… make sure your copy is interesting!

Derek Gehl’s Top Directory List

I recently got my copy of this month’s No BS Report by Dan Kennedy. And as usual there was an Internet Update in there by Derek Gehl. Now- if you aren’t familiar with Derek, you should be!
In the article he gave away some good directory resources to submit your site to- now of course, most of them are not free, so he also provided a list. In case you didn’t see it- I thought I would post for you all to see.

Here is his top directory list (and their prices):

01 Web Directory- $49
Aviva- $34.95
Azoos- 489.95
Best of the Web- $69.95
Browse8- $35
Business- $199
DMOZ (Open Directory Project)- FREE (and very good if you can get it!)
Gimpsy- $40
GoGuides- $39.99
JoeAnt- $39.99
Librarians Internet Index- $24.95
Massive Links- $24.95
Rubber Stamped- $29.95
SevenSeek- $40
Site-Sift- $29.95
Site Snoop- $10
Skaffe- $39.99
Starting Point- $99
This is Our Year- $24.95
Uncover the New- $49
Web Beacon- $49.99
Wow Directory- $37
Yahoo! Directory- $299

Does Your Website Stand up to Design?

I received my copy of The Net Effect this month… by the way, if you do not receive this magazine — GET IT. It will change the way you view the web, SEO and online marketing. It is one of the only magazines I actually read cover to cover each month, but I digress! Interestingly, one of the very first articles I ever read in the magazine was entitled "It’s Your Eyes that Buy!" Funny, if you do not believe that to be true, ask your wife! When was the last time she truly needed that third pair of black heels? Retailers have been dominating this theory for years… online is no different.

Research shows that we have only seconds to make a positive impression upon our viewers. If they don’t like what they see — maybe it’s too busy, too complicated or what we commonly refer to as "analysis paralysis" — they will leave your site and, quite frankly, never come back.

The design of your site (or even your blog) can help with lead capture as well as lead conversion. Here are five things to keep in mind when designing your site… and if you’re not looking to design a site, ask yourself if your current website does this. If not, you may be looking to redesign your site shortly!

1. Give information to people in bite-sized pieces. Research shows that if you not only group like items together, but also group them into bite-sized pieces, our brains can process the information more easily.

2. Direct people where you want them to go with buttons, shapes and colors. That is why we use a specific format for all of our CTA (call to action) buttons.

3. Product pictures, CTAs and all other buttons should be consistently sized.

4. Use shading and other textures within the design to guide the visitor’s eyes. Texture can also make harsh colors softer on the eyes.

5. Keep colors and fonts consistent throughout the site.

Those first few seconds when your potential customer visits your site are all you get to make a good impression, so make it count! "Good visual information design makes smart use of Consistency, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity," according to The Net Effect.

Nick Nanton Speaks About Celebrity Branding

For those of you still not quite sure what we do 🙂 Check out the article below where Nick Nanton is interviewed by Dr. Marlene Siersema about Celebrity Branding.

Check it out!


The Social Media Loop- Are You In It?

Social Media, as defined by Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media), is primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings. The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends upon the varied perspectives and “building” of shared meaning among communities as people share their stories and experiences.

Today, Search Engines are looking more and more to the bookmarking trends of these Social Media sites to determine the quality of websites. According to the Search Engine Journal (http://www.searchenginejournal.com/social-medias-direct-influence-on-search-engine-ranking/5576/), Social Media can help your sites in multiple ways, for example:

• Indexing Sites Faster: Humans bookmark sites launched by their friends or colleagues before a search engine ‘bot’ can find them.

• Deeper Indexing: Many pages bookmarked are deep into sites and sometimes not as easily linked to by others, found via bad or nonexistent site navigation or linked to from external pages.

• Defining Quality: If someone takes the time to bookmark a site, it usually has some quality to it.

• Measuring Quality: Essentially, if more users bookmark a page, the more quality and relevance that site has. A site with multiple bookmarks, across multiple bookmarking services, by multiple users is much more of an authority than a site with only multiple bookmarks by the same user.

• External Meta Data: Users who bookmark sites tag them with keywords and descriptions that add an honest and unbiased definition, which is created by the public and not the owner of the site.

• Co-Citation: Social bookmarking sites tend to categorize sites and pages based upon the tags used by humans to describe the site; therefore search algorithms can classify these sites with their peers.

So, to stay on top in the rankings and to make sure you’re a part of the "it" crowd, you should start implementing some of the different Social Media strategies. Here are some of my favorites that we use for clients… and better yet, they’re all FREE:

• Tubemogul (http://www.tubemogul.com/) allows you to deploy videos (seeded with keywords) to various video outlets like YouTube, Yahoo, MetaCafe, DailyMotion and many more! You will also be able to see how many times your videos have been watched from each of these sites.

• Digg (http://digg.com/) allows you to share content from the Internet that you find interesting. Once a link and story have been submitted, you can cast your vote for the story, also known as a digg. Although your story may get submitted to Digg, digg votes are what will get your story on the front page.

• Reddit (www.reddit.com), like Digg, is a social news website where you can post links to various websites. You then can vote on the sites (up or down), thus giving them more presence on Reddit.

• del.icio.us (http://delicious.com/) is a social bookmarking web service where users can share sites that they like with others.

• Twitter (http://twitter.com/) is a social networking site where you can send text-based updates to other users (otherwise known as "tweets") to let them know what you are up to.

• Knol (http://knol.google.com/k) is closely compared to Wikipedia and is run by Google. This site is more of an article/blog syndication site where users can post articles/blogs, called knols, versus bookmarking the website page for other visitors to view (like dig, reddit and del.icio.us).

There are many different Social Media sites out there; these are just a couple of my personal favorites. One thing to note, however; don’t overdo it. Not every post should be put through every media outlet out there. Be sure to mix it up a bit with which Social Media site you are using. Whatever method you choose, get out there and start digging, tweeting and bookmarking your way to success

How to Get YOUR News on the Google Radar

Google: the great search engine mystery. How do you get your news picked up by Google News? Unfortunately, Google doesn’t publish a manual on the things they look for in Google News articles (if they did, they could make a lot of money!). However, as with everything else in business, there are trends to watch out for. Below are some tips on how to get YOUR news on the Google radar.

1. Make Your Headline “Newsy”– Unfortunately, sales copy doesn’t work here. As my father always said, “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck” it’s a duck. You have a better chance of getting included in Google News if you stay away from headlines that sound like ad copy. Instead, try and formulate your headlines so that they grab readers attention but are also newsy. To get an idea of some good headlines, take a look at Google News and see what they are currently picking up. Then, craft your headlines around those. Remember Dan Kennedy’s S & D (steal and distribute)!

2. Location, Location, Location – Each day, only the top 30 press releases are considered for inclusion into Google News. Do whatever you can to make sure that yours is somewhere within the top 30 for its scheduled day of release. To get your release into the top 30, make sure that your content is both relevant and educational.

3. Be Conscious of the Date in Your Press Release – This is something simple to look for but easy to mess up. If your press release has a date in the first paragraph, make sure it matches the date of release. Press releases that have an incorrect date are generally not considered. Fortunately, many of the press release services such as http://www.prlog.org and
http://www.prweb.com stamp the date for you, so that’s one less thing to worry about!

4. Watch the Number of Links Within Your Release – I would try to stick to 2-3 links within the body of your release. A good rule of thumb is one link for every one hundred words. If you choose to include more than that, your release runs the risk of looking like spam and will generally not be considered for inclusion.

5. Length – Keep you release between 150-500 words. Any more or less and the chances of inclusion will get even slimmer.

Unfortunately, we can’t read the Google manual, but if you follow these general rules, you’ll be better off than most!

Is Your Website Deadly?

Websites are designed to sit there and look pretty, right? After all, everyone has a website today and don’t you feel obligated to throw some thing up there so that you too have a web address to put on our business card? Unfortunately, THAT is what is wrong with 99% of today’s websites… they do just that, sit there are don’t do anything for you, or your business. In fact, they are probably actually costing you money.

Why would they be costing you money? Consider this, you give your business card to someone you meet- and he/she, like all of us, goes and "checks you out" on the Internet. When they arrive they are greeted by analysis paralysis with too many choices on the navigation bar, long paragraphs on the homepage, buttons that may or may not work, articles and documents that haven’t been updated since 2006 (at best), music… and wait…. who are they actually dealing with- a large corporation? Who’s the contact person? So, they say to themselves, "this is too confusing" and leave your site. That person could have been one of your biggest clients; no matter how good your sales pitch was, you lost them through the chaos of your website.
Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, we hear this a lot from our clients. And yes, at one point I too fell victim to the "deadly website."

What do we ALL want when looking to do business with someone? Be it a doctor, lawyer, clothing line, whatever- we look to connect with the person. We wear Nike to be like Tiger, buy dishes to cook more like Rachael Ray, buy Louis Vuitton well, because it’s Louis Vuitton! As a consumer, we want to know them, like them, trust them and ultimately do business with them. Your website should be no different. It should have YOUR personality to it and showcase YOU as the expert in your field. If you can do this, then why would anyone want to do business with someone else if YOU are the expert?

To be the expert you have to declare yourself as the expert. You do this through content. I recently received a call from an ABC producer that wanted to speak with one of our clients about being on Good Morning America (although, as the story would pan out she got bumped by our new President Barack Obama- but, that’s a different story….). How did this producer find her? Through a Google search looking for a foreclosure expert in the Orlando area. After visiting her site, which confirmed her expert status, he called to book her. Your website should be doing that too, so that be it a producer or a potential client it hat is searching on the Internet for the expert they find YOU, and your website confirms it!

Want people from around the world bidding to design YOUR logo?

When developing your business, one of the biggest things to consider is you brand. A brand as defined by Wikipedia is "a collection of images and ideas representing an economic producer; more specifically, it refers to the descriptive verbal attributes and concrete symbols such as a name, logo, slogan, and design scheme that convey the essence of a company, product or service. Brand recognition and other reactions are created by the accumulation of experiences with the specific product or service, both directly relating to its use, and through the influence of advertising, design, and media commentary. A brand is a symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to a company, product or service. A brand serves to create associations and expectations among products made by a producer. A brand often includes an explicit logo, fonts, color schemes, symbols and sound which may be developed to represent implicit values, ideas, and even personality. The key objective is to create a relationship of trust."

So when thinking of your business, how are you going to brand yourself? Your company? Your logo is probably the biggest part of branding so you want to get it right. I know what your thinking… it’s difficult to find a good designer and it costs a lot, right? WRONG!

This month, I decided to share with you a little secret we use for almost all of our clients- www.crowdspring.

crowdSPRING allows you to post your project (much like a craigslist or Elance), set the price you want to pay and watch as designers from all around the world actually bid for your project by submitting their designs to you! However, unlike craigslist or Elance you won’t get a proposal- you’ll actually get the logo for you to see! You can then give feedback as you go to give people the chance to tweak the design to your liking and when it’s all said and done, you just pick the best design!

Better yet, crowdSPRING GUARANTEES that you will get at least 25 submissions or you get a refund!

We have found that you can get fantastic results with as little as $300 dollars. Trust me for full rights to the design and people actually bidding to have the job that’s nothing!

You hear us talk about celebrity branding and the philosophy that "people buy people" over and over again- having a great logo is the first step…what better way to get a great logo than to let a bunch of people pitch you!

Where Do I Start When Writing Content for My Website?

Month after month we share our online secrets with you… well, they’re not really secrets, because we want you to know them, but I’ll stick with the "Former Wannabe Singer Reveals How to Create a Massive Fan Base and Increase Profits" story because it sounds better (and yes, that title is about me)!

One of the questions I get asked is where do I start? Where do I start when writing my blog… my article… my ebook? If you aren’t a natural writer (or the though of writing makes your skin crawl) it may be hard to sit in front of a computer and stare at a blank page that says "Document 1" up at the top.

To get started with any type of writing, I encourage people to write what they are thinking- don’t worry about putting your thoughts into formulated sentences or even full thoughts- that’s what editing is for! Just write what you are thinking… many times our brain moves much faster then our fingers can type (or write) so your greatest challenge, at the start, is to make sure you don’t forget any of those wonderful ideas you’re thinking about!

Writing content for the online world is very much the same- you tell a story and tie it in to a benefit for the reader. If you can’t give the reader some sort of actionable content somewhere in the article, meaning some kind of content they can go take action on right after they’ve finished reading your article, then you probably won’t get much traffic to the article. Also, with every story you have a headline (or title) and then the second most important element- the opening paragraph.

Since "where to start" is usually the most difficult thing when writing your online blogs or articles here are 3 tips for how to start your opening paragraph.

1. Ask a Question

Asking a question might be the easiest way to get your reader involved in your writing. By asking a question you engage the reader- even if it is a rhetorical question.

Although a little flippant, we have toyed ourselves with using the phrase "Does Your Website Suck?"

… well, does it?? If it does… you know where to find us…

If you can start your writing off with some sort of question it will not only involve your reader but immediately connect them to a pain they are having (and your services may just so happen ease that pain!) then you’re on your way!

This strategy doesn’t have to evoke fear or pain- it can also just be a simple rhetorical question to get your story flowing.

2. Share a Story (be brief you only have a few seconds to grab their attention!)

You have heard us say over and over again that "people buy people" well, it is no different on the web… in fact, you have to work even harder to give people that same warm, welcoming feeling that you would if they stepped into your office to meet with you. Your writing is no different and stories allow you to share a bit of you, so that your visitor can get to know you. These stories will also help to hold your reader’s attention.

3. Share a Shocking Statistic

By nature, we are curious creatures. So peaking someone’s interest with an interesting/shocking statistic is always a good way to start off. Of course, you do always need to relate that interesting/shocking piece of information to the rest of your blog/ article, otherwise you will lose your reader (and very quickly, I might add) when they discover it was only a ploy and the rest of the piece has nothing to do with that statistic- bait and switch is NOT something I suggest!

In general, the writing on your website is there to provide content and education for not only your visitors but also the search engines, so keep it interesting and always remember to add your keywords into everything that you write!

3 Simple Tips to Make Your Website User-Friendly

The one assumption you need to make to follow along with me in this article is "People Buy People." It can be a hard concept for many people to understand and agree with. However, millions of spent dollars have proven this premise to me, so I consider it more of a law than a theory. (If you’d like more information on this specific topic, check out Jack and Nick’s book, Celebrity Branding You™. You can find it at any bookstore or online at www.CelebrityBrandingYou.com)

If you understand the rule that people buy people, then your website MUST have a pleasant atmosphere that allows the visitor to connect with you, your company and your products.

By now, you’ve heard me talk about our Celebrity Branding™ philosophies, and the fact that you need your picture on your website goes without saying. But, there are some smaller, often overlooked, areas that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Here are three simple tip to make your website user-friendly:

1. Navigation

The navigation on your site is probably its most important element. If visitors find your site confusing or cannot successfully navigate through it, they will leave. Make your navigation bar as simple as possible. One of the worst mistakes is using an expanding navigation bar that makes the visitor scroll over it in order for the menu to reveal their options. Most often, this type of navigation bar has too many choices; your visitor doesn’t know where to go, so they get flustered and leave.

Navigation on your site is an art, and you should direct your visitors through a logical path to where YOU want them to go (not to where they think they want to go). One way to do this is through call to action buttons or CTAs. We use these buttons on all of our sites; a visitor will go to a main page, and then we can direct them to the parts of that site that we want them to be aware of. We use this method instead of an expanding menu, because we find that it is more logical for visitors. With this method, you can direct visitors to where you want them to go, allowing you to control the buying process.

Quick Tip: most "expanding menus" are created in Macromedia Flash. Search engines cannot read Flash, and therefore they will not pick up these links on your website. If the search engines do not pick up the links on the navigation bar and these links are nowhere else on your site, they cannot accurately crawl or index your site. This is search engine suicide, because without even knowing it, you are stopping search engines from understanding what your site has to offer and from driving traffic to you.

A good rule of thumb is that a visitor should be able to get to every page on your site with two clicks from your home page. Now, this is not realistic for very complex sites. If your website is complex, you can have a sitemap to help visitors navigate. Some sort of search function may also be a good idea for your site.

2. Page Load Speed

It’s hard to believe that some people are still stuck using dial up. Even if you have entered the world of high-speed Internet, no matter what you do, some websites will load slowly. (If you’re frustrated using high-speed Internet, imagine the frustration of those on good ‘ol dial up!)

Page load speed is VERY important. I know that when I am surfing the Internet and I stumble upon a site that loads slowly, I get annoyed, frustrated, and don’t browse the site for very long. If your website is loading slowly, you are probably losing out on valuable customers, no matter what business you are in.

In today’s web world, we are seeing more and more images, audio files and videos. These things are useful, but you have to be careful that they do not affect the inner workings of your site (in this case, the time it takes for a web page to load). You want to be careful about the size of the images on your website. Both large-sized images and using too many images can cause your website to take too long to load, resulting in visitors leaving. Another tip is to convert videos into a jpeg (image) that only loads and plays the video when a visitor clicks on it. Yes, you may be adding more images to your website, but these are usually small image files; in the hierarchy of the web, a video will slow down your website much more than a small image.

Another factor that can influence the load time of your website is the amount of excess code you have on your site (that is a topic for another day – but ask your webmaster, and they will know what I am talking about).

3. Information

The number one thing that visitors look for is information. They are coming to your site to be educated about your products and/or services and, most of all, how THEY can benefit. With this in mind, it is critical for the information on your website to be accurate, complete and up-to-date. Visitors will leave your site in a split second if the information you are providing is old news.

What’s that best way to provide up-to-date information on your website? The best way we suggest is through blogs and articles. (In case you missed my article last month on how to write a blog in any industry, you can read it on the resources page of http://www.celebritysites.com). By having a section on your website for blogs and articles, you can provide new, relevant and educational information to your visitors. Adding them is not only simple, but it is fast too!

So there are my three simple tips for the month on how to make your website user-friendly. Although this covered just the beginning of what your website should contain, don’t worry, I won’t leave you stranded– I’ll reveal even more tips in next month’s article!

How to write a "How To" Article

First to understand why these types of articles are great, you have to understand why people like them so much. So why do people like them? First of all, "how to" articles are easy to follow. Their step-by-step formula makes people think, "I can do that!" And right there, your battle as a writer has been won… you have involved your reader.
So here’s your "how to" for writing a "how to " article:
Step 1
Figure out how many tips, steps, etc. you have for your information. Make an outline so you know where you are headed. If you are writing a book (or eBooks) each chapter should be a step. By outlining it this way, it makes your book, article, etc. fairly quick and easy to write.

Step 2
Remember it’s all about the benefits. Readers always want to know, "What’s in it for me?" So give it to them! In this case, your "How To" article will hopefully provide useful information that the reader is interested in. It should give them an inside look into the topic and "reveal" some sort of secret.
"How To" articles are great because as a culture we seek the "easy route." We seek the tips, tricks and secrets to make the task easier. Always remember to focus on the better, faster and easier way. Don’t be afraid to reveal your secrets, trust me- nobody ever actually wants to do the work, they just want to say they know how to… they have enough to do already! (And once you prove you are the expert, they’ll just hire you anyway!)

Step 3
Come up with an undeniable headline. Your headline is about all the time you have to grab your reader’s attention and draw them in.
There are many practices for teaching how to write headlines, and truthfully it is an art that if mastered will bring you great success. Here are a couple of headline ideas.
First, double the benefit. Make the headline so incredible, so irresistibly good by doubling what they are going to get out of reading your article (again, what THEY will get out of it- selfish creatures we are!) For example, which is better: "Learn How to Make Your Clients Happier Than Ever" OR "Learn how to Triple Your Profits and Make Your Clients Happier Than Ever," I think it’s pretty clear…
Another simple headline formula is to take a routine task and put it with a great reward. This formula is simple:
"How to" Routine Task That Brings Great Benefit.
For example:
"How to Buy a House That Saves You Money"

If you take one thing away from this article, remember to always keep your focus on your reader and what THEY will benefit from. If you can keep them in mind, and give them what they want, you will be very profitable.

How to Blog in ANY Industry

“Blog- A blog (an abridgment of the term web log) is a website, usually maintained by an individual, that has regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to web pages, including other blogs and media related to its topic.” (Source Wikipedia, June 4, 2008: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog)

Knowing this, how does a blog relate to your business? Surely, your business cannot profit from a blog or can it?

Blogs are conversational. The best blogs are the ones that relate to people and current events (holidays, politics), and then they relate everything back to your business. To write a good blog, you need to be able to: (1) write about your business, which I know you can do and (2) be able to see if it’s sunny outside. Can you do that? You bet you can!

Why do we use blogs on business websites? Because, blogs are an easy way for your clients, prospects, and vendors to get to know you and your company. Like we have said before, people are not buying your product, people are buying YOU. Blogs are a simple way to relate to your audience and keep them up-to-date with what’s happening with you and your industry.

When writing a blog, here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. As I have said before, make entries conversational and keep them short. Nowadays, people have short attention spans and will not read long blogs. Keep entries between 100 and 300 words.

2. Watch out for industry jargon. Although you may know all of the elaborate industry terms, your audience probably doesn’t. So, make sure you write for your reader in order for them to understand you.

3. Make sure that there is always a link to your website at the end of your blog. If your blog is on your website, this strategy won’t be too effective. But, this is a necessary strategy if you have submitted your blog to a social blogging site (which I suggest check out www.digg.com, www.reddit.com, www.technorati.com and del.icio.us). When someone comes across your blog and likes what they see, they will follow you to your website.

4. Make sure to have an RSS (really simple syndication) feed attached to your blog. You can find this at www.feedburner.com. This will allow your clients, prospects, and vendors to sign up to receive e-mail updates instead of having to frequently check your website for the latest happenings. Also, this is a good strategy to attach to any articles and press releases that you post on your website.

Get out there and start blogging! It’s one of the simplest resources you can use to keep new, relevant content on your website. Best of all, it’s fast, easy, and will let your clients get to know you! As we always say: people don’t buy your product; people buy YOU!

Top Three Critical Components for a Search Engine-Optimized Website

Everyone wants to know: How can I get my site on the top of the search engines? Although Google doesn’t publish their magical algorithm that will get you there, there are some well-known facts and strategies to keep in mind when designing or updating your website.

1. Accessibility

There are several different components that determine whether or not your site is accessible – and it’s not just about how easily your website can be found. Here are some things to look at:

• Broken Links- Check all links on your website regularly. Broken links can hurt you in two different ways. First, if a link leading viewers and search engine crawlers to another part of your website is broken, they cannot access the content. For viewers, this means receiving a very annoying error message. For search engines, this means the page may not get indexed. Second, some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) gurus out there have said that having broken links on your site can actually reflect negatively on your site rankings in search engines. So check those links!

• File Size- Typically, websites larger than 150K are not fully cached or indexed by search engines. If you want to make sure your entire website can be indexed, keep it under 150K.
File size also reflects how fast your website runs, which leads me to…

• Website Speed (Downtime)- Make sure you are aware how fast your site runs. Not only can a slowly running site be annoying to visitors, but it also bothers search engines. Therefore, your site’s performance can have a negative impact on your search engine rankings.

2. Search-Friendly Text

There are several styles of text that cannot be indexed. Making the visible text on a page search-friendly isn’t complicated, but it is an issue that many sites struggle with. Text styles that cannot be indexed by search engines include: text in an image format such as jpg, png, pdf, gif, etc., text embedded in a macromedia flash file, text embedded in a java application, and text only accessible from a form submission (no true link).

Don’t worry; even if you do not understand all of these styles, your Webmaster will!

3. Title Tags & Meta Tags

Title tags are located at the very top of the browser and tell a visitor what website they are on. More importantly, they tell the visitor how that particular website is going to suit their needs. Meta tags are not as visible, but are also very important. All of these tags help search engines read your site. It is very important for all of these tags to be relevant and contain your top keywords.

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