Category: Social Media

All Progress Takes Place Outside Your Comfort Zone

All Progress Takes Place Outside Your Comfort Zone

Sometimes you just need to try as you only learn by failure and each failure brings you closer to success.

 

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” Frank Herbert, Dune

How to grow your Instagram

How to grow your Instagram

Instagram is a very visual social media platform that allows you to share your pictures, photos and videos. Instagram has a smartphone app, which provides the best access to the features available. Like other social media platforms, Instagram accounts have profiles, news feeds and followers. When you make a post it shows on your feed, the feed of those that are following you, the hashtag feed (more below) and if popular the feed of those who are interested in your type of content.

How do you get followers on Instagram?

There are several ways to get followers, some of them controlled by you and others controlled by Instagrams algorithms. But basically if other people on Instagram like your posts or what you have to say they can start following you.

Instagram has several ways that it presents your posts to others. Instagram allows a user to search for a topic of interest, follow a topic of interest by following a hashtag, allows users to follow others and using its algorithms it knows what users like so starts presenting them posts they may be interested in, which could be yours. The more engagement your post gets the more Instagram presents it to others.

Hashtags are the most common way to get followers. When making a post you are able to add hashtags that relate to the topic of your post. For example, if you are selling furniture you may add the hashtags like #furtiture #modern #lounge. When you add a hashtag to a post your pictures will show in the hashtag feed. Other Instagram users are able to search or follow hashtag feeds because they are interested in the topic or content. Or they may have shown an interest in similar posts in the past, so are presented yours. When they see your post they can like it, comment on it, click on your profile picture and see your other posts. If they like what they see they can follow you. As long as they are following you, your posts will be shown in their feed.

One other tag that may help is the geotag. When Instagram users are looking for a local supplier of products or services they may search the hashtag and location. If you are near your posts will be shown.

Other factors also determine the level of engagement you get. What time you post, do you make comments on others posts, do you like other peoples posts, are you consistent with your posts, do you ask others to follow you, do you follow others, are you offering something for free and most importantly is your post visually engaging.

If you have a good story to tell that you cannot tell through a single post, you can add stories to your Instagram profile. Anyone visiting your profile can view your stories and when you add a new story, anyone following you will see it at the top of their feed.

Using Instagram you can improve your brand, product and services visibility, but there are only a few ways to get people to click through to your website.

  1. Your website link on your profile (clickable)
  2. A website address in your post (not clickable)
  3. Instagram ads (clickable)
  4. Stories on a verified Instagram account can use swipe up to link to your website (swipeable) (verified accounts have a little blue tick next to their name in their profile)
  5. Certain businesses can tag products in their organic Instagram photos. When a user clicks this product they are shown a short product description and then they have the option to click-through to the website to learn more or make a purchase.

If you are looking to promote to a specific audience other than hashtags, there are two ways.

  1. Paid advertising on Instagram, which uses the facebook AdWords platform where you target people using a range of parameters. This also provides clickable posts to your website URL.
  2. Sponsored posts or stories where you search for an Instagram user that has a large following, normally related to your topic. If they have a contact button on their profile you can ask them to put your post or story in their feed for a small fee, giving you instant views from thousands of people. If they are a verified account (little blue tick next to their name in their profile) you can get them to link your story to your website.

Grow your Instagram

What tools do you use for content marketing

What tools do you use for content marketing

Tools for Content Marketing

There are many places and ways that you can promote yourself or your business using the internet. We all know about the main channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+. Which channel you use will be based on the audience you want to target or the best vehicle for your message.

Some of you will just focus on one channel, while others will use multiple channels. If you are targeting multiple channels consider an automation tool to reduce the effort required and gather engagement analytics. If you want to track conversions from your content marketing efforts there are a range of tools available which normally include dynamic tracking URLs in your posts.

Facebook – Engage your audience with updates, advice and promotions. Consider paid promotions to get more reach.

LinkedIn – Helps to manage your professional relationships, grow your business network and connect with new prospects.

Twitter – Share up to the minute news, events and updates. Maximise reach with hashtags.

Pinterest – Create company boards and pin content relevant to your audience.

YouTube – training videos, client testimonials and product demos.

Google – Create a profile for your business on +. Register as a local business.

Instagram – Share images of your products and inspirational words that are relevant to your customers.

You also have webinars, podcasts, press releases, local search and PCC.

Regardless of the channel, most of these are focused on getting customers to engage, with a lot of them arriving at your website. You need to have your website ready to receive them:

Landing pages to convert, specials, offers, downloads and promotions

Presenting your business

User experience

Capturing Leads

Mobile optimised

Directing customers to buy

Where you can you should optimise your content engagement to capture emails. Email marketing is considered to be one of the best tools for internet sales.

Based on the integration and channels your use you can then use paid marketing to promote to those who have shown an interest in what you offer.

Good content marketing

content marketing channels

Social Media Strategy Goal

Social Media Strategy Goal

Do You have a Social Media Strategy Goal?

You can spend a lot of time on Social Media, creating materials, giveaways, interesting posts, promotions all in an effort to attract new customers or maybe just to get likes and followers.

But if you really want Social Media to work for you and you are serious about Social Media as a way to achieve your what you want, then you need to have a goal. Having a goal will focus you on how you measure your success and then how you optimise your social media efforts.

Based on your goal it may become obvious that certain Social Media platforms are not going to work for you, or that you need to be across multiple platforms to create the exposure and direct them where you want them to go. You may find that certain images, messages, words, videos, have more impact than others with your target audience.

Start with one or two and see how it can potentially focus your message and maybe even reduce your efforts.

Social Media Strategy Goal

How do you measure success

How do you measure success

There is a success in social media when you achieve more follower, like, shares, reach, impressions, mentions, reads and clicks. All of this means your brand, product or profile is getting more exposure on the internet. More exposure normally means more business.

So to measure your success in terms of the actual dollars is a little different. If you are using advertising there is the amount you spend to get the new customers. If you are just using posts, videos, images, SEO and blogs there is still a cost for the time and effort involved. In this image are some of the measure you can use.

Measure dollar success

How do you measure Social Media Success

How do you measure Social Media Success

Do you want to measure the impact of your social media

How you measure Social Media Success should be part of your marketing efforts.

Wondering which social media metrics you should focus on?

Did you know that when it comes to social media metrics, there are hundreds you could be analyzing? But the real question is, do you know where to find them and are they all necessary for your business? Which ones matter most for your business?

While some social media marketing metrics are universal, there are also platform specific, plus some data is calculated differently depending on the platform and social media metrics tools you’re using.

Here are the main ones that are followed to measure success.

  • Page Likes: Total Page Likes is the number of unique people who like your Page. New Page Likes shows the number of new Likes your Page received during the period measured.
  • Post Reach: Total Reach is the number of unique people who have seen any content associated with your Page, including ads, during the last seven days. Post Reach shows the number of unique people who have seen your Page posts.
  • Engagement: People Engaged is the number of unique people who have clicked, Liked, commented on or shared your posts during the last seven days.
  • Reach: Post reach is the number of people who have seen your post. Your post counts as reaching someone when it’s shown in the Feeds.
  • Engagement: People engaged is the number of unique people who’ve clicked, Liked, commented on or shared a post on your Page.
  • Impressions: The number of times a post from your Page is displayed, whether the post is clicked or not. People may see multiple impressions of the same post. For example, someone might see a Page update in News Feed once, and then a second time if their friend shares it.
  • Engagement Rate Percentage: Engagement rate is the percentage of people who saw a post that Liked, shared, clicked or commented on it.
  • Profile Visits: The number of people who have visited your profile.
  • Mentions: The number of times your username has been mentioned by others.
  • Followers: The number of followers.
  • Interactions: The number of likes, comments and shares on your update.

 

How to Use Facebook Analytics for Your Website 

How to Use Facebook Analytics for Your Website 

Learn about implementing Facebook analytics on your website. Like any good analytics platform, there are many layers of information available. Once you have Facebook analytics installed on your website you are able to use the data for Facebook advertising. With this level of data, your advertising campaigns can be targeted toward the increasing number of people who are using Social Media search to find products and service.

This article is a good guide for getting Facebook analytics setup, using it to collect specific information and an overview of the reporting you can receive.

earn about implementing Facebook analytics on your website. Like any good analytics platform, there are many layers of information available. Once you have Facebook analytics installed on your website you are able to use the data for Facebook advertising. With this level of data, your advertising campaigns can be targeted toward the increasing number of people who are using Social Media search to find products and service.

This article is a good guide for getting Facebook analytics setup, using it to collect specific information and an overview of the reporting you can receive.

Source: How to Use Facebook Analytics for Your Website : Social Media Examiner

5 Ways You Should Be Using Social Media as Your Top PR Platform

5 Ways You Should Be Using Social Media as Your Top PR Platform

Social media helps PR fulfill a more nuanced role by helping with relationship management, identifying brand threats, and engaging influencers.

Back in the day, public relations professionals would give a statement on air, release it in print, or publish it online. Social media has disrupted the field, making public relations a faster-paced and more delicate matter.

We need only look to our Commander in Chief to know that a social platform like Twitter can now serve as the primary channel for a business, brand or celebrity to release official information about itself. The lesson here is clear. Businesses that fail to use social media to manage their reputations may not only lose reach in the digital world, but may not even be noticed amid all the noise. For PR purposes, few modern mediums pack the same punch as social media. Here’s how professionals are now using social platforms as their primary option for managing information about a client or company.

The Evolution of Public Relations

Before digitalization, public relations professionals primarily engaged with the public after a major change. They announced new offerings, minimized reputation damage, and reacted to industry changes as the face of the organization. With the blossoming of social media, that’s evolved. Now many public relations professionals play a much more nuanced role. They may proactively engage in reputation management activities, counsel leadership, and identify potential problems in a business’s relationship with the public.

Social media eliminates the walls between members of the public and a brand, shortens the time a company has to react to relevant stories, and blurs the line between marketing and public relations. Often, public relations’ and marketing professionals’ roles overlap on social media.

Crafting and maintaining a positive public appearance requires a balance of engaging content and a careful awareness and reaction to public opinions. For brand reasoning, explanations, and crisis response, modern public relations professionals may look to social media as the first line of defense in an increasingly connected world.

How Public Relations Professionals Use Social Media

Social media can help public relations professionals meet their goals or it can hinder the reputation management process, depending on the situation. Some of the most common ways public relations teams use social media include:

  1. To find influencers – Influencers give brands a voice they could never use on their own. Social media influencers have massive digital followings that brands can tap into to promote offerings and protect reputations. When public relations professionals create relationships between brands and influencers, they’re really adding another line of both promotion and defense the brand can use to its advantage.
  2. To identify brand threats – Social listening gives professionals the power to understand the public’s opinion before it turns into a trending topic. They can proactively find and address online threats and possibly prevent a major brand reputation crisis. To think like a public relations expert, consider using one of the dozens of social listening tools out there to understand what social media users really think.
  3. To influence journalist’s stories – The public can actually see PR professionals on social media when they address a crisis, but many work behind the scenes to shape a brand’s image. When a trending topic arises, journalists often put their ear to social media to see what people are saying. Public relations professionals will often join that online discussion in order to influence journalists to present a certain angle. PR pros may not always end up seeing the published story they’d like, but they can still use social media as a tool to keep their angle in the public eye.
  4. To swiftly react to negative press – Social media is one of the first places people look for a brand’s reaction to a negative claim. Public relations professionals may use a company account to craft and publish an immediate response and to direct the public to another medium for more information. Social media gives public relations professionals immediate access to a large, attentive audience.
  5. To make announcements – Word travels fast on Twitter, so public relations professionals often use the platform to announce awards, product launches, and company updates. With captivating short snippets and links, professionals can reach a much wider audience via social media than traditional forums.

Social media is a natural fit for public relations and one of many tools businesses can use to protect and promote their reputations. When public relations and marketing teams combine their efforts on social media, brands often enjoy immediate positive results.

Think Like a Public Relations Professional on Social Media

Regardless of professional public relations support, all businesses can use their social media accounts to help manage public opinion. Don’t wait for others to create stories about your brand. Create interest with some public relations influencing tactics. Create flattering and engaging stories about your brand, react to other large stories, and react publicly to negative comments. Think like a public relations expert and create content like a marketer on social media to boost your reputation and earn new followers.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

Source: 5 Ways You Should Be Using Social Media as Your Top PR Platform | Inc.com

7 Rules Of Great Type Design (That Any Creative Can Use)

7 Rules Of Great Type Design (That Any Creative Can Use)

House Industries–a Delaware-based design firm and type foundry–might not be a household name, but you’ve definitely seen its work. It designed the New Yorker’s layouts and typeface, the font used in Shake Shack’s branding, and Jimmy Kimmel Live’s logo, among others.

House Industries: The Process Is the Inspiration [Image: courtesy Watson-Guptill/Penguin Random House LLC]

Andy Cruz and Rich Roat cofounded the studio in 1993, and have made a name for themselves in designing groovy fonts that nod to midcentury culture, including families inspired by Charles and Ray EamesAlexander GirardRichard NeutraGoogie architecture, and hot-rods. How do they do it? There’s no hard-and-fast formula and no rigid playbook, but they do have a process-driven approach that’s guided by a handful of loose rules.It wasn’t until Cruz, Roat, and Ken Barber sat down to compile House Industries: The Process Is the Inspiration (Watson-Guptill, 2017)–a monograph detailing their design philosophy through case studies from their 24-year career–that patterns began to emerge in their work.

“Going through the process of decoding, and playing the record backwards so to speak, revealed what were were doing,” Cruz tells Co.Design. We spoke to him to learn more about how House Industries creates its fonts.

[Photo: © Carlos Alejandro/Courtesy of House Industries]

1. MINE YOUR PERSONAL HISTORY

In the book, Cruz writes that House Industries “built on the selfish notion of incorporating personal interests into our work.” One of the most influential hobbies to House’s aesthetic is hot-rodding. Cruz’s dad restored Corvettes and brought him along to car shows, teaching him the science behind engines and explaining both the art involved in designing the body.

“The garage taught me the value of customizing a mass-produced machine and transforming it into a personalized work of art,” Cruz writes. “House built a company on hot-rodding the alphabet, whether it was related to lowbrow car culture or highbrow modernism. The approach was the same; it was just the medium that was different.” House’s earliest work leaned heavily on automotive references, like its Rat Fink Fonts inspired by model car kits.

The personal histories of every designer at House seeps into the studio’s work. Its Flyer fonts, for example, were inspired by Jeremy Dean, the first full-time designer Cruz and Roat hired. His history as a paste-up artist–someone who manually cuts and pastes type into layouts–informed the “anti-design” aesthetic of the font family, which looks like lettering you’d see on punk posters.

2. MAKE WHAT YOU’D WANT TO USE YOURSELF

When House designs a typeface, it’s often because it’s looking for something that doesn’t already exist. “They start off as selfish endeavors,” Cruz says.

In the process of compiling the book, Cruz realized that many of the fonts House designed reflected how he was decorating his home at the time–some of the same things that caught his eye in his daily life were seeping into his work. This eventually led him to collaborations with the Eames Foundation, the Girard Foundation, and estate of Richard Neutra; and fonts that riff on the style of tiki bars (Cruz collects tiki mugs).

“I try to approach [design] history from a fan’s perspective. If we are fortunate enough to collaborate with one of our heroes, I want to be reverent and do our best to share what got us excited about their work.”

Meanwhile, what cars are to Cruz, bicycles are to Roat. This led to the Velo collection of bikes–with a frame by Waterford Precision Cycles, decals designed by House, and custom parts and accessories from Cinelli, Tanner Goods, Brooks, and Specialties TA.

[Photo: © Carlos Alejandro/Courtesy of House Industries]

3. USE THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB

Cruz came to graphic design through illustration, and because of that the studio often leans on analog techniques like painting and ink drawing to arrive at their digital fonts.

“Money can buy fancy tools and special effects, but some of our most valuable tricks and techniques were born from a lack of it,” the studio writes in the book.

Its Studio Lettering collection, drawn by Ken Barber, for example, nods to pre-digital design.

“If you want a form or stroke to capture the feeling of drawing or painting by hand, it’s best to do that with an analog tool, then translate it to the digital world,” Cruz says. “I feel that’s one thing that humans seem to have a soft spot for—they might not be able to articulate it but can sense those considerations that add a little warmth or soul to a project.”

4. THINK HARD ABOUT CONTEXT

“Letter forms can trigger memories, experiences, and emotions. As manipulative as it sounds, depending on the image, [typography] can be used as a tool to provoke those sorts of feelings from a reader,” Cruz says.

House’s design work leans toward the evocative side, but that’s because they know where and when to deploy exuberance and restraint. When Cruz took a call from Jimmy Kimmel to design his logo, he learned that Kimmel studied graphic design before going into television. That fact helped them develop a more adventurous aesthetic. For the New Yorker, they took a more subtle and buttoned-up tack.

“There has to be a sense of, that’s cool, but is it right for this project?” Cruz says. “When does your personal taste outweigh or take a backseat to that thing we consider function? You’ve got to know the right time and place.”

[Photo: © Carlos Alejandro/Courtesy of House Industries]

5. DECLARE INDEPENDENCE

Cruz and Roat met while they were both working at design firms in Wilmington, Delaware, but they decided that they could produce more creative work if they were their own bosses.

“We definitely knew we could make a living [in the corporate design world], but it didn’t take very long to realize that it wasn’t for us,” Cruz says. “You can only do so many corporate design gigs when you’re young and idealistic. As the magic faded, we started seeing opportunities that didn’t have so many rules or focus groups. There was a much bigger design world out there we could play in.”

6. THINK BIGGER

Fonts are the bread and butter of House, but the studio also designs three-dimensional objects and products including toyshouse numbers, jerseys, and textiles. It’s also in talks with a developer to work on a project at the architectural scale.

“Anyone who knows us might usually come in through our font door, but they soon find out that our design ADD doesn’t restrict us from doing ceramics, bicycles, an interior, or even a satellite,” Cruz says.

Now their interests are in getting more people interested in the hands-on processes behind graphic design through educational programs.

“You can sit and talk about your work and logos, but it’s nowhere near as cool as seeing a 6-year-old or 66-year-old take our workshop and use their hands to letter their name or pull a squeegee and make their own serigraph,” Cruz says.

[Photo: © Satoshi Asakawa/Courtesy of Hermès Japon]

7. STAY FOREVER YOUNG

Part of what keeps House dynamic is that it approaches design with the same level of interest as someone who’s just discovered the field–but with the added wisdom and experience of decades in the business.

“Honestly, I’m still doing the same stuff I was doing when I was 16, and I think that’s what’s kept it interesting,” Cruz says. “We tried not to lose sight of the things that got us into design—whether that’s illustration, or type, or packaging. It’s all those little details that I dug that made me want to take a commercial art class in high school then continue learning through my interests, whether that was trying to make my car go faster or figuring out how to exploit the power of a printing press. We’re still doing a variation of all of those exercises. The more I can stay in touch with my childhood, the happier I am.”

Source: 7 Rules Of Great Type Design (That Any Creative Can Use)

5 Tips on Creating a Killer Facebook Ad Campaign

5 Tips on Creating a Killer Facebook Ad Campaign

 

While just about every social-networking platform now has its own fully integrated advertising system, Facebook still reigns supreme in terms of features, insights and audience. As a business, that means Facebook is the ideal place to start. But unfortunately, just because Facebook is a great platform for advertising doesn’t mean all brands use it effectively. Many end up wasting money and throwing resources down the drain, because they have no strategy or don’t understand how to use it. Hopefully that’s not you. All it takes to succeed is a little knowledge of how Facebook advertising works and what some of the best practices are.

Here are my five tips for creating a killer Facebook ad campaign:

1. Mine audience insights.

Facebook’s Audience Insights is one of the best tools you have at your disposal. It essentially allows you to learn about specific audiences before risking your budget or targeting them. It works by mining available Facebook data and showing you exactly who your target market is, based on people who already like your page.

Instead of taking a shot in the dark, you now know exactly which users are likely to follow through with your ad’s call-to-action. It saves a lot of time and money, allowing you to focus on the quality of the ad and avoid wasting time on targeting.

2. Create unique ad sets for each audience.

One of the neatest features of Facebook’s advertising platform is that you can create separate ad sets for unique audiences. In other words, you can create two different ads and deliver them to two completely unique audiences. Or you can create the same exact ad and send it to two different audiences. Ultimately, the result is better targeting.

For example, let’s say you’re a retailer that sells kitchen supplies. Maybe you have a really awesome new stainless steel mixing bowl that you’re trying to market to two different groups. Instead of delivering the same ad to everyone, you can create two unique ads and deliver them to two distinct target markets. The first ad could be targeted towards professional chefs, whereas the second one may be focused on stay-at-home moms who like quality chef-grade kitchen supplies. The two ads will be completely different, despite the fact that the same item is being pushed.

3. Accompany ads with landing pages.

Very rarely should you connect an ad to your website or product page without first pushing visitors through a landing page. Landing pages allow you to maximize your Facebook advertising efforts by educating users before asking them to buy.

Landing pages make sense because Facebook advertising isn’t cheap. You’re going to spend money on your clicks and you want each one to count. Simply sending them to a basic website or product page without any clear direction of what they need to do is a waste of money.

4. Use striking imagery

You’ll hear people teach entire courses on how to write Facebook ad copy, but for some reason, the same amount of attention isn’t given to the images used in these ads. This is unfortunate, since visual content is far more influential than textual content.

“You don’t have to use a shot of your business, product or service,” says Nicolas Gremion of Free-eBooks.net. “Rather use a (relevant if possible) image that will catch people’s eyes and have them read your ad.” Facebook tells you that you can’t use images that contain more than 20 percent words, so it’s clear that images are designed to grab attention, not display a message. Take advantage of this valuable real estate within your ad.

5. Establish a bid strategy and budget

Finally, it’s critically important that you set a bid strategy and budget. Otherwise you’ll end up spending way more than you intended. Thankfully, Facebook makes this easy by allowing you to use what’s known as Optimized CPM.

With this tool, you’re essentially giving Facebook the permission to bid for ad space based on the constraints and goals you provide. This generally allows you to maximize your budget and avoid overspending. Until you get an idea of how much ad space costs and how to allocate your budget, it’s best to let Facebook take care of this aspect of your campaign.

Putting it all together

Creating a killer Facebook ad campaign is all about understanding the platform and utilizing the features you have at your disposal. While you certainly need to think about the ad itself, you have to start with the platform you’re using. Once you determine who you’re targeting and how much you’re willing to spend, you can then focus on the finer details.

Using these five tips, you should be able to get started and experience some initial success. As always, remember that Facebook is constantly changing its advertising platform, so stay on top of any new developments and apply them accordingly.

Source: Create a killer Facebook campaign

4 Ways Small Businesses Can Master Marketing

4 Ways Small Businesses Can Master Marketing

One of the first hurdles a small business owner faces is getting the word out about her new business. Or, if the business is established, growing the business and attracting new customers. At the heart of driving sales is marketing. For business owners without marketing experience, this can seem overwhelming. The good news is there is a lot a small business owner can do to market a business easily and efficiently.

1. Define your unique value proposition (UVP).

The first step in marketing a business effectively is understanding your capabilities and the white space your business is filling in your industry.

Inevitably, you will face competition, so take the time to outline what sets you apart from your competitors. Become as informed as possible on your industry. Sign up for industry newsletters; read relevant trade publications; and consider participating in industry events. This will allow you to identify trends, and stay up-to-date with important news. It will also help you identify your competitors. Take a close look at what they are doing and how they present themselves to potential customers.

Then determine who your target customers are and what they want. This is important – one of the biggest small business marketing pitfalls is to assume you know your customer without doing research.

Clearly identify the service you are providing and the problem you are solving for your target customers. This will help you define your UVP – the unique benefit you are providing for your customers.

You’re not trying to sell to everyone, which is a good thing. Your goal is to clearly define who you are targeting, why they want your product and how best to reach them. Once you know that, your job is to consistently execute your marketing plan.

2. Maximize your online presence.

Armed with a clear understanding of your business and its industry, it’s time to market it to potential customers.

While there are many marketing channels to consider, typically the most efficient and cost-effective are online.

Take time to audit your online presence. An easy place to start is your website. Make sure the website design is consistent with your brand and that the site is easy for customers to navigate, and find the information they’re looking for.

If it’s appropriate for your business, make it easy for customers to sign up for a mailing list. This will enable you to build a database of customers, who give you permission to reach out to them regularly with product updates, interesting news or coupons.

In addition to listing your products or services, consider adding a blog to your website to provide tips and product or service updates to customers.

Beyond your own website, be sure to build your presence on and spend time managing review sites, like Yelp and Angie’s List. These help validate your business and can boost sales. You can even share good customer reviews on your website.

Whether you’re communicating via your website, a blog, an email, a third party review site or social media, be sure to keep a consistent voice. Every customer touchpoint is an opportunity to build your brand.

3. Start a conversation.

Social media channels are a low-cost way to get the word out about your business and build relationships with your target audience.

Choose a channel, which your customers are already on. Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn serve very different purposes, so be smart in your choices, and think about the kind of content you like to post. Using platforms specific to your business makes it easy for customers to find and interact with your business online.

When it comes to posting on social media, consistency is key.

Create a schedule to ensure you are posting regularly so your audience knows to expect content. For example, plan for three posts a week, which you can draft in advance.

In order to keep content dynamic, take a three-prong approach:

  1. Talk about yourself and your business,
  2. Talk about your customers,
  3. And talk about your industry.

Share updates about what’s happening at your business, such as a new shipment you’ve received or a peek behind the scenes. Be sure to thank your customers, and engage them through questions.

Finally, share interesting news articles, and invite your social media followers to share their thoughts. In all social media posts, make sure you’re authentic and realistic so your audience can connect with you.

4. Consider paid content.

The paid aspects of social media can also be a great way to boost your business’ profile, and get in front of new customers.

For instance, you can target the exact type of customer you are looking to attract with advertising through Facebook and LinkedIn campaigns, based on the information individuals have shared on their profiles.

If you have the ability to incorporate this tailored approach into your budget and cash flow, it is an option worth exploring to supplement your free social media efforts. Sometimes a small campaign can make a big difference.

Regardless of size, every business owner can use the tools available to market their business successfully. Small business owners can be their own CMO, even without a marketing background, by developing a keen awareness of their industry landscape, building out their social media presence and developing their brand identity.

Source: entrepreneur.com

7 Ways to Increase Sales with Marketing Automation

7 Ways to Increase Sales with Marketing Automation

7 Ways to Increase Sales with Marketing Automation

you know the basics of marketing automation: it streamlines, automates, and monitors routine marketing tasks. But a good marketing automation platform is about more than making life easier for the marketing team—it should also help you close more deals.

So, how can you tap into different aspects of marketing automation to increase sales? Check out these seven tips:

1. Pass Over Sales-Ready Leads Using Lead Scoring

Tired of hearing sales complain about marketing’s unqualified leads? Determining when a prospect is sales-ready can be difficult, but a robust marketing automation platform scores leads behind the scenes.

Lead scoring is an automated strategy that adds or subtracts points from each lead based on actions taken or not taken. It can also be used to track demographic data to provide a higher score to a lead that fits your ideal buyer persona. When a lead reaches a threshold that you set, it is deemed “sales-ready” and is passed onto the sales team.

Here is an example of some lead scoring you can implement, based on behaviors:

Lead Scoring Example

Lead scoring helps ensure that your sales team doesn’t waste time on unqualified leads. It can also shorten overall sales cycles.

2. Personalize Your Website

By the time a lead hits your website, they’ve already gained an impression of your company. A personalized website will increase your conversion rate and make a better impression. The lead and customer data (who they are, where they work, online behavior, etc.) can be used to personalize landing pages and other web content seen by each lead. Even anonymous web visitors’ experiences can be personalized.

Identify Web Visitors with Web Personalization

For example, if you are an online retailer, and a visitor who has been shopping for winter coats finds your website, a web page for winter coats would be presented first. Personalized web content helps build a better, more personal, relationship with leads and ensures that their experience with your company is the best it can be–and therefore increases in sales.

3. Provide Your Sales Team with the Info They Need to Follow Up

To make sure your sales-ready leads are being followed up on with the right message by sales–it’s important to provide sales with the information they need to have the best conversation. By tracking the interactions leads have with your company and providing that information to sales in an easy spot, such as their CRM system, sales will be able to have a personalized and effective conversation with each sales-ready lead.

Here is an example of a dashboard that can help prepare your sales team. It’s called Interesting Moments, and it’s a part of the Marketo Sales Insight application in Salesforce.

Marketo Interesting Moments

4. Keep the Conversation Going Using Triggered Emails

When a lead interacts with your company, it’s important to stay top of mind by keeping the conversation going. Triggered emails get sent automatically based on a lead’s actions. They help turn more leads into real customers without wasting your sales team’s time. For example, if a potential customer views a pricing page, an email designed for interested customers can be sent.

Triggered emails have been shown to perform three times better than other types of emails (even batch emails).

5. Segment Your Lead Nurturing

In an ideal world, all marketing leads would be sales-ready. But in reality, most leads are not ready and need some nurturing before they can be passed to sales.

By implementing segmented lead nurturing, you can provide specific content to each lead to push them to become sales-ready–when they are ready. Segmented lead nurturing can be done by industry, role, or company size.

6. Track Your Leads on Every Channel

Your prospects are on every channel—whether it’s browsing on social, searching the web, heading to events and more. It’s important to track each interaction your prospect has with your company–no matter what channel. This will help guide your message to a prospect, based on what types of content your audience is interacting with. This will help increase sales because relevant content is the number one way to keep a prospect engaging with your company.

Use tools native to your engagement platform like predictive content, web personalization, digital ads and triggered emails to help you engage your leads with a timely, relevant and personal message, while also capturing data about their engagement (or lack of engagement) with your message or content.

7. Track Your Results and ROI

Doing the same thing over and over hoping for different results isn’t going to cut it in today’s digital world! Marketers need to be tracking the ROI of every program they run to see if there are tangible results. An ideal ROI is 5x–meaning you are generating 5 times the amount of pipeline or revenue compared to what you paid to run this program.

By tracking this type of data, you’ll know which programs yield the best results for revenue – and keep running those programs and cancel the ones that are not performing.

An engagement platform with marketing automation doesn’t just offer benefits for the marketing team—it can help sales win more deals, more often and more efficiently.

Source: Lizzy Funk

Social media strategies to find more customers

Social media strategies to find more customers

Social media strategies to find more customers

Does the idea of “social selling” make you break into a cold sweat? Or, do you simply avoid it?

Many sellers are nervous about using social media tools to fill their pipelines. They worry about being inappropriate or that the tools are too “fluffy” and won’t get them to a deal quickly enough.

And they’re not wrong! If you use social media tools badly, the results are terrible! But, that’s true about any sales method, right?

The fact is, small and medium-size businesses that beef up their sales strategies with social tools are far more likely to hit their numbers. So, it may be time to learn a little more.

In a recent Microsoft Office Small Business Academy webcast, three business experts shared social selling strategies you can start using today to beef up your sales pipeline. (Click here to watch the replay.)

Below are three points that jumped out at me.

Microsoft-SMB experts.jpg

1. Be consistent and curious 

Even 15 minutes a day improves your ability to connect with your ideal customers. The key is consistency. Make a checklist of what you’ll do each day on your favorite social platform. Don’t just wander into the site; go with a clear idea of what you’re looking for, do your work, then get out.

A simple way to start? Use the tools for research.

I often go to LinkedIn to learn more about my top prospects. How do they define their job responsibilities? What’s important to them? Where did they work previously? Do we have any mutual connections or interests? What groups do they belong to? What are they reading?

It’s like being invited to my prospect’s office where I can see the certificates on the wall and leaf through the magazines on their desk. I look for insights that help me connect in new ways.

2. Beat the big companies to the punch

If you’re with a smaller company, social media tools allow you to be agile. Many giant companies have strict guidelines about using social media sites, some even block employees from accessing them.

Use the tools to start conversations about mutual interests or to explore new concepts in your industry. Soon, you will be catching the eye of your ideal new customers while the big guys are still trying to get their message approved by three teams of lawyers!

3. Watch for trigger events

It doesn’t take long to start finding triggers that your ideal customers are ready to buy. Perhaps you’ll see that someone has switched jobs. Whenever there’s a new decision maker at the helm, the grip of the status quo is automatically loosened and change is likely. It may be a great time to approach them with a new idea.

Maybe your ideal prospect belongs to a group where they are asking questions or even complaining about something you know how to fix! The tools allow you to “read their mind” and get their attention. My son is a master of this. He belongs to a very targeted group of pilots. Whenever questions are raised about insurance, he offers valuable advice, but never a pitch. Invariably, other group members will jump in and say, “If you need insurance, Ryan is the best.”

Social selling is a long game.

It is all about building rapport, trust, and connecting in meaningful ways. Used well these tools help you get noticed by your prospects, find the right people to sell to, detect triggers that your customer is ready to buy, and even build trusting relationships that bring you new streams of revenue.

Source: Jill Konrath

Digital Disruption has changed sales

Digital Disruption has changed sales

Digital disruption has forever changed the sales and marketing landscape. Instead of waiting to be told about a company’s products and services, buyers are turning to social media to research vendors and make buying decisions.

In this new environment, it’s more crucial than ever for sales and marketing to align and create a united social media strategy to reach prospective customers. Organizations that have embraced social selling are able to influence buyers throughout their buying journey, provide them more value and ultimately drive sales success.

As much of the B2B buying process continues to move online, social networks have become fundamental to the success of sales organizations. In fact, sales professionals who use social selling help best-in-class companies achieve a 16 percent gain in year-over-year revenue. Today’s top salespeople are using social media to increase their revenue potential, exceed quota, prospect more efficiently, and consistently create a more robust pipeline.

How to write good content that people will read.

How to write good content that people will read.

Writing good content for your website and Blog has a lot to do with understanding your customer or audience.

If you have ever been through a good strategic planning or sales excellence exercise you will have looked at your value proposition, which should give you what you need to make it easy to write an article that relates well to your customers.

As you will see in this article the first step is to state your value proposition, followed by the feature then the benefits.

If you were looking at your value proposition in a business planning or sales excellence exercise you may have also looked at your channels to market, types of customer relationships and customer segmentation. Your value proposition message may change based on these additional elements. For example, the customer segmentation may have different age groups as segments and as a result, you will have a differrent language of value propositions.

It’s not necessarily about writing well.

It’s about writing persuasively.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a world-class wordsmith or a literary genius.

If you can’t effectively move readers through the proper sequence of steps and ultimately convince them to buy, your conversions are going to suffer.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the world’s greatest writer.

You probably won’t see me publishing a novel anytime soon.

But I’d like to think I’m good at copywriting, which, in its simplest form, is “the act of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing.”

In this post, I’d like to provide you with a straightforward formula you can use to become a highly persuasive copywriter with the end goal of maximizing conversions.

I’ll explain both the basic structure and the specific techniques you need to use to become more persuasive.

Start with a killer value proposition

Research from Nielsen Norman Group found that you have a very small amount of time to grab a visitor’s attention before they leave your page.

In fact, you usually have a max of 20 seconds.

Your first order of business is to make it abundantly clear what your value proposition is.

Now, there are several ways to go about this, but I believe in keeping things simple.

Getting too complex tends to dilute the message and confuse prospects.

What I’ve found to be most effective is keeping my value proposition short, sweet, and clear.

Like this:

I think the Moz homepage does a really good job at this as well:

Don’t make them guess what you’re offering.

Let them know in a split second what you are offering with your crystal clear value proposition.

To accomplish this, try to condense the essence of your product down to just a few words.

Swiftly move to the benefits

“What’s in it for me?”

That’s what most visitors are thinking after hearing your value proposition.

But here’s the thing.

Most people have a tendency to emphasize features over benefits.

But it should be the other way around.

Just look at this Venn diagram from ABC Copywriting:

Notice that benefits are valued over features.

Of course, you need to explain how your product works. But you can elaborate on that later.

What you want to do first is explain how the product fulfills a need or desire.

In other words, explain how your customers’ lives will be better after they buy your product.

Here’s a great example from Moz:

See how prospects instantly understand the benefits of using Moz?

It will save them time and make things more efficient.

They also don’t have to worry about deciphering complex data because Moz takes care of this for them.

When it comes to describing benefits, there are three main types to cover:

  • Tangible
  • Intangible
  • Commercial

This illustration from ABC Copywriting explains these various types of benefits in more detail.

As they point out, “Benefits need not be unique, but they must be compelling.”

Keep this in mind when deciding on an angle.

I personally find that it’s best to highlight the benefits before getting down to the nuts and bolts of the features.

That way prospects should be more receptive and willing to wade through the details.

But if you go the other way around and cover the features before the benefits, you’re probably going to lose a sizable portion of your leads.

Just sayin’.

Now explain the features

“What’s in the box?”

That’s what Brad Pitt’s character David Mills wanted to know in the closing scene of the movie Seven.

While the contents of the box were quite grisly (his wife’s severed head), this question demonstrates the importance of promptly telling your leads what they’ll get by making a purchase.

In other words, let them know what’s in the box.

They already know what you’re offering and what the benefits are.

Now it’s time to succinctly break down the features of your product.

Again, I feel like Moz pulls this off flawlessly, so I’ll use this as an example:

I prefer breaking features down into bullet points or concise little sections like Moz does.

“Digestibility” is huge, and you want to present your product’s features in an easy-to-absorb, intuitive way.

You also want to touch on specifics to distinguish your product from competitors and to add a sense of value.

by NEIL PATEL on MAY 31, 2017

How to create loyal customers with good content. 

8 characteristics of content that develop trust

Effective marketing strategies can be delivered in many ways, but they have certain aims in common, such as increasing website traffic. Still, the difference between getting visitors to your site and building a loyal following is huge. In order to grow your audience and nurture long-lasting relationships, you need more than a constant flow of enticed prospects. You need a brand that people trust.How do you build trust? A 2012 study called “The Trust Factor” has some interesting answers to offer. According to participants, a trustworthy brand is the one that uses its content to deliver accurate, helpful and relevant information without trying to shamelessly self-promote and sell.Here’s are 8 characteristics of content that develop trust.

1. Content that develops trust: is written for enthusiasts by enthusiasts

Perhaps you’re a seasoned content writer, but think of yourself as a niche blogger instead of an expert. Even though a slight change of attitude can make you influential, creating with passion rather than pomposity has its own benefits too.

People consume content in different ways and for many reasons – while some read to pass time, others do it to find a solution to a problem. Then again, there are those who devour their daily portions in the hope of getting inspired.

These are the enthusiasts who want nothing but an opportunity to learn more and get excited. In simpler terms, they need content that’s been written by like-minded people that are just as fervent about the subject at hand as they are. Though welcome, expertise is not of crucial importance here.

A 2010 study found that the most-emailed New York Times articles were the ones that tugged at the reader’s heart strings and inspired positive feelings. Being written for enthusiasts by enthusiasts, they compelled readers to spread the message further and stand behind it.

This tactic can nurture brand ambassadors. This type of content is great for generating social proof and building trust in the most organic way possible.

2. Content that develops trust: shows a deep level of understanding and experience

Solution-seekers are a different audience. While researching their problem, they pay close attention to what they read and trust nothing but content written with experience and expertise.

Expert content has to be insightful and useful. It requires a deep understanding of the topic and provides resolutions written by authorities in the industry. Such high-quality content comes from both first-hand experience and comprehensive research, thereby enveloping a wide range of proven suggestions, tips and solutions that readers can trust and apply.

To develop trust, your words should exude enthusiasm and expertise at the same time. It may seem hard to reconcile these discursive differences, but consider this: when written in simple, conversational language, expert content can be both informational and exciting.

3. Content that develops trust: provides plenty of quality references to back up its main point

While link building has an irreplaceable spot in content marketing, the potential of source linking is mostly unleveraged. Data-driven content can establish you as an expert, but these articles need to be backed up by the data’s original context.

The line between creation and curation is a thin one. If crossed, it can diminish the credibility of your entire brand, but if maintained with source links and quality references, it actually builds it.

4. Content that develops trust: avoids marketing clichés and offers a dose of honesty

In the digital publishing age, there are plenty of content creators to compete with. If you don’t have anything original to show, you won’t be able to stand out from the crowd. But, if you develop a whole marketing strategy around transparency, the competitive edge is yours.

Take an example from Everlane. This online clothing and accessories retailer built its story around its tagline – Radical Transparency. By offering complete disclosure of sourcing (manufacturing process, factories and, most importantly, labour), their approach attracts socially conscious fans. With transparency about pricing (manufacturing costs for each product together with the company’s profit), however, Everlane proves that its objective is not to take advantage of its customers, thus instantly earning their trust.

5. Content that develops trust: is straightforward, succinct and to-the-point

Everlane’s take on transparency is brilliant, but you don’t have to build your entire philosophy around it. Honesty is an effective way of attracting customers. Even if you don’t make it your Unique Selling Point (USP), staying honest with your followers will stand you in good stead.

It comes down to professionalism and respectability. Both are established through content that says what it means and means what it says. However complex your topic is, avoid vague language; be succinct and stay to-the-point.

6. Content that develops trust: doesn’t insult the reader’s intelligence

Quality suffers from quantity, and that’s content marketing’s biggest trap. Those who fall into it are mostly overwhelmed by the workflow, which is something we can all relate to.

If content is your brand’s main building block, then “don’t insult the reader’s intelligence” is your number one rule. Your audience expects quality, it rarely forgives inconsistency and it’s up to you to respect that. Whatever it is you’re writing about, it needs to be highly relevant.

7. Content that develops trust: is consistent and uses a unique recognisable style

Finding your own, unique voice is one of the biggest aspects of building a brand. Your message can exude luxury or promise adventure – regardless of what kind of experience you choose to provide, it still needs to be recognisable and consistent.

These requirements are the two sides of the coin: the one that attracts and the one that converts. More importantly, they both speak on behalf of your prowess, creativity and dedication. Content that’s easily recognisable is the one that’s original and inventive, while consistency showcases your passion and professionalism.

8. Content that develops trust: is relatable and uses a more personal tone

The last characteristic of content that develops trust serves as a comedy relief for both you and your readers. It’s what allows you to break the character as an expert and reveal yourself as a human. This “relatability” strategy is often used in social media campaigns, but can be effective in content marketing too.

While trying to write about complicated things in plain words and short sentences, if the topic allows, a bit of humour can make your content interesting and help readers relate. Humour triggers emotions and reminds your audience that their content provider is a person, just like them.

The same goes for first-person writing and using a direct tone. It’s much easier to trust advice when somebody gives it from personal experience, isn’t it? Whenever you can, back up your points with your own real-life examples. Address your audience as if you were talking to them face-to-face, and they’ll find you friendly and affable. Brands are built to appeal to real people, so don’t try to stand higher than them.

The importance of brand trust can’t be overstressed. If you choose to build it with content, than make sure it conveys your passion and expertise in an honest, succinct, unique and relatable way.

Source: https://gathercontent.com/blog/8-characteristics-content-develops-trust

Words you use on your website are important

Words you use on your website are important

Don’t overlook the words in your digital overhaul.

A website migration or refresh is a great opportunity to practise some digital feng shui – to rethink your goals, refocus your user journeys, archive all the content you don’t need any more, and ensure your content is aligned with your up-to-date proposition.

But done well, a migration is an opportunity to refresh and review not just the structure and design and look-and-feel of your digital presence – but the words too. What’s the point of spending all that time and effort and resource on a shiny new UX, a super-smart, contemporary new look and a cutting-edge CMS, only to pour back in all the tired words from your old site? And yet this happens, of course, and depressingly often.

So to make sure your website refresh is also a copy refresh, here are three key questions to have front of mind as you craft new content for your shiny new site:

1: Do I know what I’m doing?

Sounds flippant, but it’s really not. A good piece of web content packs a very clear sense of purpose and focus from the word go.

So for any piece of content you’re thinking of writing, you need to be able to answer those basic existential questions: Who is this content for? What do they need from this page? What do we want them to think or do after reading this page? How does this page support our business goals? And how will we know if this page is a success?

Poor planning usually begets confusing copy. If you’re struggling to come up with crisp, clear answers to any of these questions, maybe a rethink is in order before you begin.

2: Am I making life as easy as possible for my users?

Your customers are your business. Digitally speaking, your users are why you exist. And when it comes to copy, effortlessness is the cornerstone of a positive user experience.

With web content, the perception of ease is a powerful nudge to engagement and conversion. When a user looks at a new page, they carry out a very, very quick mental calculation: Is the probable effort being asked of me as a reader here likely to be worth the rewards of consuming this content, in terms of information or entertainment?

So ask yourself: Have I structured the content so that users get an instant sense of what it’s about? Are messages layered in order of user priority? Is the signposting intuitive?? Are there multiple entry points? Does the copy pass the reader’s ‘So what?’ test? Does it focus on benefits, not features? Are the words and syntax used simple to process?

3: Is the language fresh?

So the page is well-planned. You know who it’s for and what it’s about. It’s scannable and intuitive to look at, and the language is plain. So why is it still such a dull read?

Perhaps because the copy falls back on clichés and legacy language, the sort of words and phrases marketing writers often turn to because they feel safe and familiar. You know: ‘tailored to your specific requirements’, ‘today’s fast-moving world’, ‘we’ve got Christmas all wrapped up’, ‘something for everyone’, ‘solutions provider’, ‘state-of- the-art’, and all the rest.

The problem here is that the reader is so used to seeing such phrases that they cease to have any impact or even meaning.

So ask yourself: Am I showing rather than telling? Am I talking about what we do in fresh, interesting and specific ways? Am I thinking hard about why anyone will care about these words? Am I writing stuff that is interchangeable with what you could find on loads of other sites in our space? Have I injected any tone or personality?

10 Design Principles to Enhance Your Social Media Posts

10 Design Principles to Enhance Your Social Media Posts

 10 Design Principles to Enhance Your Social Media Posts

This article was contributed by Anna Guerrero.

It’s no secret that visual content dominates on social media. Visuals help express ideas quickly — which is a refreshing contrast to the clutter of written content we absorb online every day.

But when you’re competing against virtually thousands of other brands — how you can compete?

That answer is with good design. If the purpose of social media is to leverage your fans towards your business, then good design can help get you there quicker.

Let’s take a look at 10 principles you should follow to create beautiful and effective social media posts.

  1. Use your brand colors consistently

Colors are a powerful tool for social media because they offer a way to convey mood and meaning without words. When choosing the right color for your brand, consider:

  • Is my brand masculine or feminine?
  • What kind or feelings are associated with my brand?
  • How do I want my customers/audience to feel?

The psychology of color and branding is a dedicated art, so ensure you choose brand colors that speak towards your personality and focus. Once you’ve created your brand color palette, which should consist of two to four colors, apply your colors consistently within your designs.

Your color palette applies to the colors you use in your social media graphics, as well as the imagery you choose.

Benefit Cosmetics does a great job of appealing as a “feminine”brand through its consistent use of pink. In this example, it has used pink for the background color of a quote graphic, as well as on the backdrop of an image shot for its Facebook page.

  1. Choose fonts that reflect your identity

Fonts bring your design’s message life. The fonts you choose should embody the personality and character of your brand, as demonstrated in these examples from Dove cosmetics

Notice how Dove use a cursive font on its Facebook page, which creates a feminine feeling to the graphic. This is a nice choice to advertise their range of women’s beauty products. Compare this to shaver brand Gillette. In this example it uses a bold and regular uppercase sans serif font to create a simple and strong look.

Social media images are a great opportunity to branch out from your usual set of brand fonts. For example, a cursive or uppercase font wouldn’t be the best fit for longer sections of text on a webpage. Social media design is your chance to get creative with your font collection. Whatever fonts you choose, make sure you apply them consistently.

  1. Choose background images with clear copy space

Copy space refers to empty areas in images. Placing your text in areas with clear copy space will improve the legibility of your design, and help you get your message across.

Duolingo use copy space effectively on its Facebook page by placing text in areas which can be easily read.

If you need to create more copy space within an image, enlarge and crop it. This will give your text more room to breathe.

  1. Use consistent layouts

You can create a series of posts using consistent layouts. These are a great way to engage your fans, as they look familiar every time your post them on your social media pages.

Make sure the layouts are designed with a common theme in mind. Nutella has demonstrated this approach on its Facebook page, creating a series of graphics with suggestions about how to eat nutella. This is a clever, not to mention time effective, way to create unique visual content that builds your brand image and boosts user engagement.

  1. Present data visually with infographics

Infographics are a powerful tool for brands to use on social media. Did you know that publishers who use infographics grow in traffic 12 percent more than those who don’t?

Infographics are made up of text, icons and images, and can be a great tool for charity organisations or educators who want to get facts about their work across.

Fairtrade uses infographics regularly on its social media platforms to present powerful data about its charity work. This example, taken from its Twitter page, uses red, yellow and orange to break up the statistics on the graphic. Notice how several icons, including the coffee beans, trophy, and shovels have also been used to present the facts visually.

  1. Place your logo consistently

Try and keep the positioning and size of your logo consistent for the majority of your graphics. If you need to change it to suit a particular kind of design, make sure it is either centre, right, or left aligned intentionally.

Your logo should never overpower your design, but it’s also important that it isn’t too small. Determine a minimum size for your logo and add the requirement to your visual style guide.

See how Oreo has places its logo consistently across this series of Valentine’s Day graphics taken from its Facebook page. As an extra tip, never place your logo flush with the edge of your design. Instead, leave some padding (extra space)) around it, to make it look more intentional.

  1. Use filters that enhance your brand identity

Whether you’re posting images via social media or using them as backgrounds in your designs, applying a filter can help give them a unique look and feel. Some filters will brighten your images, while other will bring out certain colors, so it’s important to have a clear idea about how your want your images to look. Remember filters are optional, so only use them if you feel like they add value to your post.

Lifestyle magazine Kinfolk uses an iconic photo filter for all of the images across its social media platforms to give them a clean and crisp aesthetic.

Notice how Kinfolk’s photo filters complement its ‘less is more’ or minimalist approach, making it an effective way to brand its images.

  1. Create visual posts around hashtag campaigns

Hashtag campaigns can be used to market your brand, or particular campaigns. They encourage fans to join the social media conversation by posting their own images or status updates with a corresponding hashtag.

Check out this Twitter graphic created for Lululemon Athletica’s latest hashtag campaign #givepresence. Including the hashtag in the post makes the graphic more sharable, and encourages more fans to engage with the campaign.

9.Optimize your image posts for different social media platforms

Maintaining your social media presence will have you posting on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google, which all have different preferred image dimensions.

Covering all bases on social media can be time consuming — the easiest way to optimise your graphics efficiently is to create templates for post types that you create regularly. For example, you could try these ideas:

  • A weekly quote post
  • An industry tip
  • A cover image for a company blog
  1. Prioritise Images over text

People respond well to images on social media because they’re easier to digest than text updates. Take advantage of your visual elements and only use text when necessary.

Using icons is a creative way to minimize your text in your graphics. See how in this example an icon had been used to replace the word “fly”. This adds visual interest to the graphic and makes for an original social media post.

In fact, if your images are strong enough,  you might not even need any text or graphic overlays. Nutella also does this well — proving that a few words and a strong image is all it takes to engage their fans.

Over to you

Creating visual graphics for social media is an dedicated discipline, so it’s important to be conscious of design principles to achieve the best results.

4 Major SEO Shifts You Need To Know About

4 Major SEO Shifts You Need To Know About

Websites and SEO go hand in hand.

You will rarely find a successful website that doesn’t rely on search engine traffic. Which is why it is important that you are aware of the ever evolving Google Search algorithms and accommodate those changes in your SEO strategy.So it is pretty clear that you can’t setup SOE once and forget about it, with algorithms changing. I am sure you haven’t been living under a rock all these years and do know some of the basics of SEO like using the right keywords, creating in-depth content, and getting backlinks from high authority blogs.It is the more recent SEO developments that many aren’t aware of (they are slightly technical as well, but don’t worry I’m here to simplify this for you. Below are 4 relatively recent developments in the SEO world that you need to incorporate in your strategy.

1. Google’s Mobile-First Index Means You Can No Longer Ignore Mobile Users

You already know that Google takes mobile users very seriously. Google’s Mobilegeddon update in 2015, which made mobile friendliness a core part of the search engine’s ranking algorithm, sent shockwaves through the SEO world.

And while it did not immediately cause the drastic changes everyone was fearing, it was a clear sign that Google was going mobile pretty soon. According to Duda, responsive and mobile friendly websites saw an immediate 11% traffic uplift as a result of Mobilegeddon.

Source: Impact of Mobilegeddon

Last November, however, something huge happened, very quietly. For the first time ever in the history of the internet, the number of online users from mobile devices (51.3%) exceeded desktop and laptop users (48.7%).

The gap is pretty narrow right now, but it is only going to grow from here, and so is Google’s focus on mobile users.

Google announced its mobile-first index towards the end of 2016. This essentially means that Google will now primarily look at websites from a mobile user’s point of view. Unresponsive blogs and websites will be demoted in search results.

In short, mobile friendliness is not just an option anymore, it is a necessity, and you should be prepared for it.

Here are a couple ways to do it.

  • Adaptive Over Responsive Design

Responsive websites adjust dimensions according to the visitor’s device, while the content remains the same. If your blog is using responsive design, you are in Google’s good books as far as mobile friendliness is concerned.

However, since responsive design serves the same content to both mobile and desktop users, you won’t be able to customize your content according to specific devices. For example, you might want to show a certain opt-in box or a header image on your blog to your desktop users only.

This is where adaptive design comes in. Adaptive websites not only adjust design dimensions but also serve different versions of your content based on the visitor’s device.

WooCommerce, one of the leading eCommerce platforms, uses adaptive design in most of its new store themes and is a good example of a leading company using this design variation the right way.

Using adaptive design helps you provide a more personalized user experience which leads to higher user engagement and lower bounce rates, all leading to a more stable SEO profile.

  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a recent initiative by Google similar to Facebook’s Instant Articles. It is about creating pages, stripped off additional graphics and plugins, that load instantly. AMP enabled websites and blogs get preference in mobile search results and are clearly marked with the AMP tag.

The jury is still out on the SEO pros and cons of using AMP, but it is certainly the path Google wants webmasters to follow.

2. Having a Secure HTTPs Site is No Longer Just an Option

How would you feel if Google attached a “not secure” label with your sites URL? Something like this…

Not pretty, I know. Unfortunately, this is already happening to all non-HTTPS websites and blogs. As of January 2017, any page on your website that is non-HTTPS and has a password form or credit card field will be labeled as “Not secure” in the address bar by Google Chrome.

And this is just the first step. Here is what Google’s official blog says about their future plans:

“In following releases, we will continue to extend HTTP warnings, for example, by labeling HTTP pages as “not secure” in Incognito mode, where users may have higher expectations of privacy. Eventually, we plan to label all HTTP pages as non-secure, and change the HTTP security indicator to the red triangle that we use for broken HTTPS.”

In simple words, if you want to avoid potential future penalties and demotions in search results, install an SSL Certificate and move your site from HTTP to HTTPs.

3. Keyword Research Has Evolved Thanks to Google’s RankBrain

Over the years, Google has become much smarter at understanding the searcher’s intent. It can no longer be fooled by stuffing a piece of content with a particular keyword. In fact, thanks to the advanced Google algorithms, you might even rank for keywords that you have not used in your content at all.

The reason for this change is Google’s AI based ranking algorithm RankBrain which ranks content based on the searcher’s intent. In the post RankBrain world, keyword research is about finding and using a closely related group of keywords in your content, instead of using just one target keyword.

In Google’s language it’s called Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI keywords. When a piece of content has LSI keywords in addition to the main target keyword, its gives Google a better understanding of the overall context.

For example, the following can be LSI keywords for an article about basketball:

⦁Michael Jordan
⦁NBA finals
⦁Basketball drills
⦁Basketball
⦁How to improve your basketball shot

The easiest way to find LSI keywords is by looking at the related searches for any search term at the bottom of the search page. For example, here are the related searches for the term “freelance blogging”

 

The evolution of keyword research is great news for quality conscious websites. It means you no longer need to compromise on the quality of your content and stuff keywords to get higher search rankings.

You can focus on creating your best content and use natural variations of your target keyword wherever you see fit.

4. An Engaged Email List Can Boost Your Sites Search Ranking

If you have a list of engaged and loyal email subscribers, you can continue driving free traffic to your site even if a search engine(s) completely wipes you off the face of the internet. The dramatic analogy aside, email marketing needs to be a key component of your site’s content promotion strategy.

According to GetResponse there are 3x more email users than Facebook and Twitter combined, and nearly 90 billion emails sent every day.

Source: Email Marketing Stats

Tapping into this massive user base and getting them on your list will not only help you beef up your subscriber base but also impact your site’s search ranking. Not sure how? Let me explain.

One of Google’s core objectives is to provide the most valuable and relevant search results to its users. Content engagement, time on site, and social signals are 3 important factors Google uses to determine the relevancy and the quality of a search result.

If readers spend more time on a particular page and share it frequently on social networks, Google considers it as a strong quality signal. Your email list can have an impact on each one of these factors. An email subscriber who has willingly joined your list and eagerly waits for your emails is much more likely to spend more time reading your blog content and share it on social media.

It is, therefore, no surprise that some of the top sites on the web spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on email marketing to engage and grow their subscriber base.

Wrapping Up

You need to have a basic understanding of SEO and how it impacts your sites’ audience. Thankfully, SEO is becoming more and more quality oriented. If you’re genuinely helping readers with your content and provide a seamless user experience to your site visitors, you don’t need to use dubious grey-hat or black-hat techniques to rank higher in search results.

How seriously do you take SEO? Do you think these tips will help you reach a wider audience?
I’d love to hear your comments.