Turn Employees Into Brand Ambassadors On Social Media

Turn Employees Into Brand Ambassadors On Social Media

“Employees are a company’s greatest asset…” – Anne M. Mulcahy, Former Chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation

Employees are an organization’s greatest asset, so why aren’t more companies tapping into their greatest resource? The lines between personal and professional social media accounts are becoming more and more blurred, making it possible and even ethical to promote organizational successes on personal pages.

Employee personal social media accounts can serve to enhance your brand, and more often than not those employees are proud of the work they, and their company are doing and they want to shout that pride from the rooftops. Just think, their reach can be your reach. So if you have that enthusiastic employee base, why not use it!

Here are some things to consider when turning employees into brand ambassadors:

1. Make a goal and communicate it

Think about what your organization’s overall goal is and how it can be satisfied by using employees as brand advocates. Is your goal to increase brand awareness? If so, give employees the tools necessary to introduce your brand to their audience. Is your goal to get more unique visitors to your website? Then give employees a way to share or retweet posts that link directly to your site. Goals come first, and they must be communicated to employees, especially if you want them to be an ambassador for your brand. These goals should be measurable and relate directly back to the organization’s business plan.

2. Give employees the training and tools they need to be successful

We all know posts on social media can turn ugly in the drop of a hat, but with the proper training and tools at their disposal, employees can become amateur social gurus in no time. The training needs to be face-to-face, the guidelines need to be in writing, and the tools need to be easily accessible and full of content. There are several online resources that can help organizations compile content for employees to share on social, such as Addvocate, Command Post, and Everyone Social. These tools can help guide you on your organizational social media journey. Also, it doesn’t hurt to make it clear that the organization encourages employees to use social media at work for organizational posting. Communicate the importance of sharing content on Facebook, posting blogs to LinkedIn, and using hashtags on Twitter. The more you teach them, the more excited they’ll be to become a brand ambassador, and good ones at that.

3. Encourage open conversation

Trusting your employees with organizational content can encourage open and honest dialogue on social media channels. This, in turn, can create confidence in your brand with a wider variety of audiences. Publics who see organizational content shared on personal accounts may view the brand as more authentic.

4. Measure, measure, measure

Understanding how employees are using social media is vital to understanding how successful an employee social media campaign is. And to do this it is absolutely necessary to measure everything. Make sure you’re using analytics to track social media activity. LinkedIn posts low? Facebook shares up only in the winter months? Analytics can help you pinpoint where your strengths and weaknesses are and allow you to make a plan based off real numbers. Hashtags are also a great way to measure employee activity on social media, and are an easy way for employees to keep track of what they’re posting. Once you have a few month’s worth of numbers to crunch, you’ll be able to see which employees are having success with their social media use. These staff members would make great social media champions for the company and can encourage other employees to promote the brand on social. Don’t forget to tout success stories with the entire company, it can be a boost for morale!

5. Monitor

While giving employees the training, tools, and trust to be brand ambassadors on social media is important, management should also monitor social media channels. This is true not only for employee posts, but for entire organizational social media accounts in general. Have a screening process in place to ensure quick action if something goes awry. This will allow you to get out ahead of a potential crisis quickly.

6. Don’t force employees to be brand ambassadors

No company should require employees to share posts on social media. This action should be voluntary, but there is no harm in providing incentives or rewards for those who feel comfortable using their personal social channels for professional posts. Check with your Human Resources department before you do anything.

Have questions about how you can turn your employees into brand ambassadors? Ready to take the plunge but not sure where to start? Contact us and we’ll help you navigate the waters of employee social media use.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Email

8 Ways to Increase Engagement on LinkedIn Company Pages

8 Ways to Increase Engagement on LinkedIn Company Pages

With slower summer days at the office, now is the perfect time to revisit your marketing plan. Although your office may not be experiencing a flurry of activity, you don’t want the same to be happening with your social media pages. Use your downtime wisely by taking a look at how your pages are doing with engagement from your audience.

In this post, we’re focusing on LinkedIn. Your strategy may be holding you back from getting the most engagement on your Company Page. Here are eight ways to get more from your audience on LinkedIn, and take advantage of all of its features.

1. Post a variety of compelling content

Mix it up! Avoid posting the same kinds of content over and over on your Company Page. People will get bored if you’re only posting promotional material or solely industry news.

Types of content to post:

  • Articles that would interest your audience
  • Links to your company’s blog posts or articles
  • Visuals: graphics, photos, videos
  • News and exclusive content about your company
  • Industry news

2. Make your updates stand out in the mix

Here are some ways to make your updates stand out from the rest (this applies to both Company Pages and personal profiles):

  • Sum up whatever you are sharing with a concise intro and snappy headline, or share an interesting quote from the article as a way to spark interest.
  • Include a call to action with a link. Including a link will drive 2x the engagement.
  • Make sure the images or thumbnails posted with your updates are relevant to the content being shared since they further convey your message. Sometimes the wrong image pops up, and this could throw people off. No thumbnail image at all will take away value from the post.
  • Including an image or some rich media will help your updates stand out. Images result in a 98% higher comment rate.
  • Post videos from YouTube. Links to YouTube videos play directly in the LinkedIn feed and usually result in a 75% higher share rate.
  • Engage with people who comment on your posts. Keep the conversation going!

3. Post at optimal times of day

Increase engagement with your content by posting your updates at a time of day when most of your followers are on LinkedIn. Data from HubSpot shows the best days of the week to post updates on LinkedIn are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The best times to post are between 7 – 8 a.m. and 5 – 6 p.m. (beginning and end of a typical work day). Posts get the most clicks and shares on Tuesdays between 10 – 11 a.m. LinkedIn consists primarily of a B2B audience, which is most likely the reason the highest engagement rates are during weekdays and business hours.

However, you’ll also want to post updates throughout the day –even on the weekends – to increase post visibility and engagement with those logging in throughout the day. There are some professional who do engage all week long, so consider an always-on approach.

4. Sponsor important updates

Like other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn gives you the option to advertise updates to expand your reach. If you’re a business with a healthy budget moving from print to digital advertising, you may want to allocate some money towards sponsored updates.

With sponsored updates, you can reach your target audience beyond your followers and get your message out to the right people. Sponsored updates raise greater brand awareness, generate quality leads, and promote deeper relationships with your audience by extending the reach of your company’s updates. You’re able to define your audience using criteria such as location, company size, industry, job function, and seniority. You can monitor the performance of sponsored updates with LinkedIn’s detailed reporting tools.

Before you go through the process of sponsoring an update, know your audience. Are you speaking to colleagues or companies you might do business with? Remember, LinkedIn consists primarily of a B2B audience, so you may need to speak to them differently than you would speak to your customers. Make sure your message is appropriate for your audience.

LinkedIn’s Sponsored Updates User Guide will show you step-by-step instructions on creating, managing and analyzing sponsored updates.

5. Create Showcase Pages

Showcase Pages are extensions of your Company Page, designed for spotlighting a brand, business unit, or initiative. They are niche pages. With this awesome feature, you can create a page for aspects of your business with their messages and audience segments to share with. All Showcase Pages link directly back to the Company Page, which means your pages are all centralized around your company.

LinkedIn users can follow singular Showcase Pages without following the business or their other Showcase Pages. This allows businesses to promote for and cater to the audience specific to the page.

As with a Company Page, you can share updates and sponsored updates with LinkedIn members who can now follow the aspects of your business they’re interested in. However, unlike a Company Page, there are no careers, products, or services tabs at the top of the page. And employee profiles cannot be associated with a Showcase Page.

You can create up to ten free Showcase Pages. To create Showcase Pages, click the “Edit” menu on your Company Page. Select “Create a Showcase Page.” For more information, review LinkedIn’s frequently asked questions about Showcase Pages.

6. Choose the right profile and banner images

As with your other social media pages, your company’s logo and a banner image will bring your LinkedIn page to life. Your logo appears when members search for your company as well as on your employees’ profiles, so be sure it’s the right size. Also, be sure your banner image is the right size as well.

Banner Image: minimum 646 x 220 pixels; PNG/JPEG/GIF format; maximum 2 MB; landscape layout (image should be wider rather than taller).

Standard Logo – 100 x 60 pixels (image will be resized to fit); PNG/JPEG/GIF format; maximum 2 MB; landscape layout (image should be wider rather than taller). LinkedIn will be supporting higher resolution logos up to 4 MB, which require a minimum size of 300 x 300. This change will be rolled out gradually and won’t impact the quality of the image currently being used.

Square Logo – 50 x 50 pixels (image will be resized to fit); PNG/JPEG/GIF format; maximum 2 MB.

7. Monitor and analyze through analytics

Leverage Company Page analytics to track engagement on posts, follower growth, and key metrics and trends. Use that valuable data to optimize, refine, and customize your content. Page admins can view rich data about their Company Page divided into specific sections: Updates, Followers, and Visitors.

The Company Updates section has three areas: Updates, Reach, and Engagement. The Followers section is divided into four areas and provides information on where followers are coming from, their demographics, trends, and competitive comparisons. The Visitors section contains information on visitors and viewers of your page. This information was previously available under Page Insights and was moved into the Analytics tab.

8. Link your Company Page to your personal profile

By linking your Company Page to your personal profile, you’ll create awareness for your business and the page. To do this, go to experience, click on your company name to edit the position, click “Change Company,” and then start typing the name and the page should pop up.

Get some inspiration for improving your Company Page from the brands that are on top of their game. LinkedIn has named these Company Pages as the best of 2014:

Dell
Evernote
Hootsuite
L’Oreal
Luxottica Group
Marketo
The Nature Conservancy
Procter & Gamble
Tesla Motors
Wells Fargo

If you’re overwhelmed by how much time and effort it takes to optimize your LinkedIn Company Page, feel free to contact us for assistance. inBLOOM offers a complimentary consultation for new clients. We’ll incorporate our ways to increase engagement on your LinkedIn page into a social media strategy tailored to your business.

Resources

15 Tips for Compelling Company Updates on LinkedIn –LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

Best Practices for Your Company Page –LinkedIn

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Email

5 Summer Strategies for Your Blog

picjumbo.com_HNCK3983

The lazy days of summer are here. But bloggers, summer just might be the prime time for you to get ahead of the eight ball. Sure, relaxing on the beach all summer may sound tempting, but this time of year is a good time to get inspired, get creative, and get writing!

Here are a few tips for the small business owner or nonprofit leader on how to make the most of your summer blog schedule:

1. Think ahead.

The last thing you may want to think about in the middle of the summer is school starting, winter coming, or Christmas shopping, but thinking ahead to holidays, season changes, and big events coming down the pike can keep you on track, ensuring that you don’t miss any relevant topics for your blog. Kids will head back to school before you know it, and with it comes school shopping, football practice, and choir concerts. The leaves will change soon after, and with it comes a busy fall, packed with festivals and outdoor activities. The weather will start to get cooler, and we’ll dust off our jackets and scarves and start craving hot chocolate. All of these topics are jam-packed with ideas that could relate to your blog, or the people who read your blog. Think about how you can creatively tie in products that relate to whatever topic you pick. There’s always room for cross-marketing in the blog world.

2. Recruit a guest blogger.

This summer doesn’t have to be all work, however. If you feel like you need a break, think about recruiting a guest blogger. Guest bloggers can bring new audiences — audiences that can become a part of your loyal following. A new writer can bring a fresh perspective on a topic and even spawn new blog post ideas. Make sure you trust the person you pick and don’t go overboard on the guest blogs. A nice sprinkling between your posts is sufficient. But how do you find these guest bloggers? You can post a call for writers on your blog, making sure to list the requirements and responsibilities. If you have a specific topic, you’d like a guest blogger to write about, search out a respected person in that field and ask if they’d like to write for you. They’ll gain exposure and introduce themselves to a new audience. Or you could let the writers come to you by creating a ‘write for us’ page for people to submit a request to produce content. This allows you to screen for quality. Once you find the perfect fit, you can sit back and put your feet up for a bit!

3. Expand your creativity.

Summer is the time for vacation and play, and these things make us more relaxed — mind, body, and spirit. When we’re less stressed, our creativity can soar, opening up a new world of possibilities. This is great for keeping blogs fresh and interesting. Try to set aside time each week to jot down a few ideas that may pop into your head once your troubles start melting away. Then when things start to ramp up again, you have a list of new, fresh, and creative ideas to get you writing!

4. Tell your story.

Like we’ve mentioned, summer is full of exciting and new adventures, and you should write about them! Your audience reads your blog because you have something interesting to say, and they want to see what you’re up to and what new escapades you’re having.

5. Don’t forget the important things.

Just because things get a little off kilter in the summer, doesn’t mean you should drop the ball on the important things. Don’t forget to: Email your contacts a link to the blog.
Linking to a blog and including a teaser email featuring your blog posts is a great way to build buzz on your blog and increase readership. inBLOOM sends weekly emails to our contacts highlighting our latest posts.

We give a brief overview of the post (about one to two of the best lines), include the main image hyperlinked to the post, and provide a call to action, such as “read it here.” In Constant Contact, we keep track of our open and click-through rates and also take note of which blog topics attract the most interest. Continuing to write about a topic that falls flat is a waste of your valuable time.

Think about SEO and keywords.
The more you post, the more exposure you get. And the better your search engine optimization (SEO), the better your traffic will be. To ensure you’re getting the most bang for your post, make sure you know the right keywords to use to increase your SEO. But you’re not all on your own here. Tools like Yoast, Moz and HubSpot can help you with SEO and get you started on the path to SEO success.

Still want to sit in your beach chair and soak up the sun and let the waves wash your stress away? No worries, inBLOOM can take care of all your blogging needs. With our team of expert writers, you can rest assured your blog is in good hands with people who understand the importance of promoting your brand, keeping your audience engaged, and responding to rising trends. Contact us to find out more.

cover photo: pic jumbo

 

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Email

The Do’s and Don’ts of Crisis Management and PR in a Viral World

Do’s and Don’ts of Crisis Management and PR in a Viral World

In a world gone viral, bad news can spread in the blink of an eye. Literally.

Companies and organizations both big and small are at risk for potential crises that may hamper profits, destroy reputation, and cause general harm to assets. When a public relations crisis strikes, there are things organizations can do to help minimize the negative effects of a negative situation.

But first things first…

Are you really in a crisis?

Just because another electronics store opens down the street from your electronics store, doesn’t mean you’re in a crisis. That’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes. W. Timothy Coombs, a leading guru in the public relations crisis management world, defines a crisis as “an unpredictable event that threatens important expectancies of stakeholders and can seriously impact an organization’s performance and generate negative outcomes.” That being said, a crisis is perceptual. If your organization’s stakeholders believe the company is in a crisis situation, you are, and you must act accordingly.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

No organization should be caught unprepared for any crisis. And these days there are more opportunities for crises to arise than ever before. Social media escalates the rate at which undesirable news spreads, and online review sites can spread negative comments like wild fire. A crisis management plan can ease the pain of dealing with a crisis, and possibly prevent the situation from crippling an organization. Identifying potential crises is a good place to start. Is your organization at risk for a widespread impact from a flood or another natural disaster? What would reports of employee misconduct do to your company? Murphy says anything that can go wrong, will. So prepare for it.

Once potential crises have been identified, a crisis management plan, complete with a communication strategy, designated crisis team, and post crisis plan, should be created. When a crisis occurs, this complete plan will prevent many headaches, and serve as a guide for handling negative situations.

So you’re in a crisis. Now what?

The Do’s

  • Yes, social media can work against an organization in crisis, but it can also work wonders to connect audiences and stakeholders. When Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012, energy company Con Edison took to the Twittersphere to communicate power restoration efforts to its anxious customers. Over 1,650 tweets went out, and Con Edison was able to communicate directly with those who used Twitter to get in touch with the organization. Twitter, along with other social media platforms, allow organizations to communicate quickly and effectively with large audiences, which is vital in a crisis when time is of the essence.
  • Public relations professionals must keep their fingers on the pulse of public opinion at all times, and during a crisis this is especially true. People talk, good or bad, and responding to questions and comments is a good way to be transparent and honest in trying times. Know what’s happening before, during and after a crisis.
  • Any good communication plan has an entire section entirely focused on post-crisis, where all the lessons learned from dealing with a negative situation can be evaluated. Then a plan for the next potential crisis can be made based on those lessons.
  • Image restoration tactics should be implemented once a crisis dissipates. After the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP rolled out a multi-level image repair campaign, focusing on its connection to the people impacted most by the disaster. The hope was that the campaign would rebuild trust with publics and restore its image with stakeholders.

The Don’ts

  • Don’t wait; deal. If a crisis arises, the first reaction can be to ride it out until it goes away, but often it does not. Begin to communicate with the public early and work to reassure them that the issue is being resolved.
  • Don’t lose focus. Crises can snowball quickly. Don’t lose focus on the crisis at hand, and make sure your communication efforts are firmly grounded in your communication plan.
  • Don’t forget about employees. Employees can be the best resource for spreading the good word about an organization, and they are usually eager to do so. Image restoration efforts should include employees, who can be used as brand ambassadors.
  • Don’t take advantage of consumers. Many businesses, such as American Apparel and Urban Outfitters, showed a lack of sensitivity to the citizens affected by Superstorm Sandy, using marketing ploys offering discounts for those impacted by the storm. The backlash from these gimmicks was harsh, and hurt the companies’ images.
  • Don’t say ‘no comment.’ Saying ‘no comment’ to any question implies guilt and is often just a bad as saying nothing at all. Stick to a crafted message until more details about the situation emerge.

When disaster strikes, take a deep breath, keep a cool head, and delve in to the issue. Guided by a strategic crisis communication plan and an ace crisis management team, a public relations crisis will be much easier to handle.

cover photo: Kriston Lewis

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Email

Why Social Media Strategy Determines a Company’s Success

Why Social Media Strategy Determines a Company's Success

If you haven’t already realized it, social media MUST be part of your marketing and PR mix, and it must be taken seriously. The fact that businesses can reach out and communicate on a personal level with current and prospective customers on a daily basis through social media is a game changer.

When your business is on social, you get the opportunity to engage in marketing, PR, sales, customer service, and internal communication, all from within each one of your pages. It’s an incredibly powerful tool with so many benefits and every business should be taking advantage of it. Honestly, how could you pass this up?

According to Hubspot a leader in B2B and B2C marketing, 92% of marketers in 2014 claimed that social media marketing was important for their business, with 80% indicating their efforts increased traffic to their websites.

So how are these successful businesses seeing results through social? Do they just hop on whenever they get a chance, post and communicate when they can? Maybe log on early a couple of mornings each week before they begin the work day? Is it that simple?

Not so much.

To be successful on social media, it takes more than that. It requires a planned, strategic approach. With the help of a social media manager, whose main job is to carry out a strategy involving page interaction on a daily basis, your business will see results.

Part of executing this social strategy should involve a daily to-do list. In the world of social media marketing, there’s a lot to be done and it’s not always easy to keep track. The handy to-do list will make a social media manager’s job so much easier.

If your social media manager is able to check off all (or at least a majority) of these tasks, then your business is sure to succeed.

A Social Media Marketing Manager’s Daily To-Do List

1. Engage with customers

When you engage with customers, you’re telling people that your company takes customer service seriously. Social media is THE PLACE to connect with existing and potential customers. Post interesting content several times daily without selling something. Read all the comments and messages on your social media pages. Address any questions, even if you don’t have actual answers (it shows you’re paying attention). Remember, people like talking to real, relatable people, so be casual (but stay professional). Use these virtual interactions to show them that you are not a robot! Where are said virtual interactions?

According to HubSpot, these are the best times to post on social media:

Facebook

  • Early afternoon – 1 p.m. to get the most shares; 3 p.m. to get the most clicks.
  • Engagement peaks on Thursdays and Fridays.

Twitter

  • Weekdays provide 14 percent more engagement than weekends with B2B.
  • Engagements and click thru rate (CTR) are highest on weekends and Wednesdays with B2C.
  • The best time of day to tweet Is 5 p.m. for retweets; 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. for highest CTR.

LinkedIn

  • Weekdays during business hours are the best time to post, from 7 – 8 a.m. and 5 – 6 p.m.
  • The most clicks and shares occur on Tuesdays, 10 – 11 a.m.

Instagram

  • Engagement stays consistent throughout the week with slight spikes on Mondays and a slight dip on Sundays.
  • The best time to post is off business hours.

2. Stay on top of customer service

Unfortunately, you may find customers criticizing and complaining from time to time through posts directly to your page or on their own page mentioning your brand. Take the opportunity to fix any issues and ensure satisfaction. Do a search for your company name and see what people are saying. If you have a unique hashtag, see what’s being said under it.

3. Touch base with employees for content

Your company employees are thought leaders and their blog posts are SUPER helpful. They also drive tons of traffic to your site. If you already know this, you’re probably pushing out content weekly. Share this content on your social media pages during those strategic times we mentioned.

If you don’t have a staff cranking out articles for you, ask your employees to share with you articles they find interesting and explain why. Have them share photos and video of what they’re up to throughout the day. If you work at a restaurant or bakery, ask them to send you photos of their culinary creations. If you work with pets, you’ll need photos and video of the pets doing whatever they do throughout the day (playing, grooming, napping, etc.).

If you want to grow your business consider investing in a professional writer who can provide you with researched blogs based on a keyword strategy that lines up with your growth goals. That content will be a long term online asset that customers and clients will return again and again to, making an investment with long term dividends.

4. Build relationships with media and social influencers

Face it – press releases alone aren’t cutting it when it comes to attracting media. You need a way to cut through to the people making the news online. By socially connecting with bloggers, journalists, editors, producers, etc. who cover your industry, you’re ahead of the rest. Platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are excellent places to reach out to these folks.

You can attract media by researching and finding the Twitter accounts for the people covering stories related to your business or area of expertise. Once you follow them, create lists on your Twitter account to make it easier for pitching when the opportunity presents itself. Connect with them on LinkedIn if you’ve already established a relationship. You can communicate there as well.

Work on creating lasting relationships with social influencers – those people in your industry with large follower accounts and high visibility. These people possess the power to influence others in their social media circles. The content they share should be relevant to your business, and their follower base should consist of people that would bring value to your business. Their blog or website should rank high on Google and they should have a large following on social media.

5.  Attend a tweet chat

Tweet chats happen when a group of people all tweet about the same topic at a scheduled time using a specific hashtag. They are prearranged and sometimes repeat weekly or bi-weekly.  Think of it as a virtual get-together.

When you’re part of the chat, you’re engaged in conversation. You may notice on Twitter many users are constantly just pushing out content, but not really interacting. Tweet chats give you the opportunity to easily interact, while showing your expertise on a topic. TweetChat.com is a great tool that will make a tweet chat easier to follow.

You can find tweet chats that meet your interests and/or industry through sites like Chat Salad, Tweet Reports, or Twubs.

6. View social insights/analytics

Want to know if your strategy is actually working? View your page’s social insights /analytics. On Facebook, go to the Insights tab, where you’ll be able to see what’s going on behind the scenes of your page. Among many things, Insights monitor your post engagement, reach, page likes, most popular posts, and how you’re comparing against competitors on a weekly basis.

On Twitter, go to the Analytics tab and you’ll find monthly summaries of data. See the amount of tweet impressions, new followers, link clicks, retweets and favorites you’ve received. You’ll also discover your most popular tweets.

Keep track of your social insights/analytics as often as possible. The more you review them, the better your strategy will be.

7.  Read about what’s trending in social media marketing

Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ often change their features and designs. As a social media manager, it’s important to keep up to date on what’s new in your world.

Sites like Facebook for Business, Social Media Today, Social Media Examiner, HubSpot, Mari Smith and Entrepreneur are all great sources for this information. We recommend subscribing to their email lists to help keep you on top of things.

Have questions about any of these to-do list tasks? Feel free to contact me for assistance. inBLOOM can also come up with a social media strategy tailored to your business. We offer a complimentary consultation for new clients and can connect you with professional writers who can leverage your industry knowledge in the online space.

photo: picjumbo

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Email

The Machines Are Rising Say SEO Experts. Are You Ready?

The Machines Are Rising Say SEO Experts. Are You Ready?

Digital marketer, professor and SEO expert Marcus Tandler believes we are entering an age where links will no longer be a part of online SEO ranking formulas. In fact, he thinks Google may be already working on leveraging the power of machine learning to separate itself from old school ranking factors, becoming more independent in the SEO game.

At this year’s YoastCon, a Netherlands conference dedicated to website optimization, Marcus will discuss the changing world of SEO and the next evolutionary steps in search engine rankings. He’ll talk about the approach of Russian search engine Yandex, and how at the end of 2015 its announcement to stop counting links as a ranking factor for commercial queries stunned the SEO community. And the Russians aren’t the only ones annoyed by linkspam. Google has taken measures to tackle the problem and Marcus expects OnPage SEO to become more important in years to come.

What is OnPage SEO?

It refers to factors that have an effect on your Web site or Web page listing in natural / organic search results. There are marketing agencies like inBLOOM available to help you improve your website’s SEO by focusing on usability, content, tools, and quality, instead of trying to cheat search engines with keyword stuffing and spam links.

So how does a search engine like Yandex now assess the importance or authority of a website without the help of links?

Yandex looks at over 800 factors, including those that are internal (content of the website and its structure) and external. They collect all data about the website they can collect while complying with users’ privacy policy.

What does all this tech talk mean to your digital marketing efforts? You should spend less time and money on paid links and more on SEM (search engine marketing). Instead, start focusing on your site’s design, content, and visitor behavior. Offer value and search engines like Google will take notice.

Here are some general things to know about SEO optimization according to Marcus:

  • Over 5 billion searches are done on Google every day
  • Search is the most visited website on mobile phones and Google has become a mobile-first company
  • Search, search behavior, search needs, search expectations have evolved, and search engines have no choice but to respond
  • You need to learn who is clicking in order to know what is providing value
  • It’s not just about finding what you’re searching for; it’s finding answers to your questions and needs as quickly as possible
  • Search must become more personalized, moving from a web search to a contextualized search that answers people’ questions

So how does Google rank content if there aren’t a lot of links to a post?

It reverts to the way search engines were before links – judging based on the text on the page. The way Google works is that it says the first time we see the word on the page, count up a little bit more. The next time, ok a little more but not a ton more, but after a while they say we’ve seen this word a few times maybe this page is about the topic. However, it doesn’t help you to keep repeating that keyword over and over again. And at some point, Google might view that as keyword stuffing and the page would not do as well as it would with just a moderate mention of a keyword.

Page rank doesn’t just focus on backlinks. There are several ways Google accesses the quality of content, such as determining if the page sits on a domain that seems reputable. But typically, if a user is typing a rare phrase and there are no other pages on the web that have that particular phrase, even if there aren’t that many links, the page can be returned because Google thinks it might be relevant to what the user is looking for. The search engine is looking at the quality of the content that is on the page, rather than looking for links.

Getting external links was once the single most important objective for attaining high rankings. This stems from the idea that external links are one of the hardest metrics to manipulate and thus, one of the best ways for search engines to determine the popularity of a given web page. This idea was first used by the early search engine Alta Vista and later improved upon by Google.

Google first made its mark by introducing the Stanford community to PageRank (an algorithm developed by Google co-founder Larry Page). This algorithm counted hyperlinks as votes for popularity. The pages that had the most links pointing at them were considered the most popular. When they were deemed relevant for a particular query, the most popular and relevant pages would become the first pages listed in Google’s results. Although this algorithm is much more complex today, it still likely includes the notion of external links as votes.

So now that you have the prediction for what’s up Google’s search engine sleeves in the coming years, it’s important that you gear up for the change. Start providing your website visitors with engaging, helpful experiences from the start and you will be rewarded.

Cover photo: Martin Gommel

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Email

Tips for Businesses Facing Facebook’s Friendlier News Feed

Tips for Businesses Facing Facebook's Friendlier News Feed

Your Facebook News Feed is about to get friendlier. As a result of user feedback, Facebook has decided to increase the amount of content from close friends appearing in News Feeds. The most popular social network is going to make some key changes to what content it displays in users’ News Feeds, and yes, these changes may have an impact on business pages.

Here are the three key changes:

  1. Users will start to see more content. Facebook is going to lift restrictions on seeing multiple posts from the same source appearing in a row.
  1. Users will see more important posts from close friends that they weren’t seeing before, which means less media and corporate posts. Facebook will show more photos, status updates, links and videos from friends higher in the News Feed.
  1. Posts about your friends liking or commenting on others’ posts will have less importance and will either appear lower in the News Feed or not at all.

So, what does a friendlier News Feed mean for your business page? Basically, organic post reach and referral traffic could potentially decline, resulting in your page having less visibility in News Feeds.

But even though competition to appear in News Feed has once again increased, as long as you continue to post entertaining and valuable content, you can still reach your fans. The more your audience engages with your content, the more reach you’ll have.

To see what works for your Page, monitor the reach of your posts by checking the bottom of each one to see how many people you’ve reached. You should also be checking your Page Insights to monitor post engagement and organic and paid reach.

You should also allocate some of your advertising budget towards boosting posts. This way, you can reach more people and target specific audiences. Here are some tips for boosting posts:

Tips for Businesses Facing Facebook's Friendlier News Feed

POST ENGAGING CONTENT

Be sure to include high quality photos and videos – visuals are more engaging than plain text. Images should not be made up of more than 20% text (this includes logos and slogans). Try not to be overly salesly in your post.

Keep your business’ target personas in mind when writing your content. For example, if you’re advertising camps or classes to moms and dads, write as if you were talking to them specifically. This way, you’ll instantly connect as you share content that resonates with them.

To increase traffic to your website, boost a post that includes a link to your site. This is an effective way to get people from News Feed to your website.

REACH THE RIGHT AUDIENCE

The big question when boosting a post – who are you trying to reach? Facebook gives you the option to select “People who like your Page,” “People who like your Page and their friends” or “People you choose through targeting.” Select people through targeting for a more predictable reach. You’ll be able to target people by location, age, gender and interests.

Are you looking to reach locals or expand into other locations? What are these people interested in? You can add up to 10 interests for your target audience.  Reach those who will care by choosing topics relevant to your post.

SPEND A LITTLE, REACH MANY

Your budget will determine the amount of people your post will reach. Even if you start small with just $5.00, you’ll still see some great results.

MEASURE YOUR RESULTS

You can check in on your results anytime from the Boost Post button on the post itself to see how your ad is performing. Be sure to review your Page Insights to see which types of posts resonate best with your audience.

Yes, Facebook may be getting friendlier, but if you have the right social media strategy, you can still make it in the mix with those real-life friends! If you have any questions about the changes to Facebook’s News Feed or need assistance with your social media efforts, feel free to contact us. We offer a complimentary consultation for new clients.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Email

Gain Clarity By Letting Go: Public Speaking Tips From a Pro

Ted Coine at TEDxNavesink: Accelerations by Jennifer Bennett Photography

cover photo: Ted Coiné at TEDxNavesink: Accelerations by Jennifer Bennett Photography

Whether you’re making a presentation in front of a dozen people or thousands, public speaking can be nerve-wracking. The anticipation of making it through the entire speech without a flaw can put so much pressure on a person that stress levels go sky high. But what happens when you let go of the stress and expectation of perfection and live in the moment? You may just achieve speaking gold.

At the recent TEDxNavesink conference, two dozen speakers gathered to share ideas worth spreading with an audience of over 700 people. Topics ranged from patient advocacy as part of health care innovation to impatience as an accelerator in life, from the most mysterious questions about the universe to how breakups can actually be a good thing. The speakers practiced and rehearsed for months, fine-tuning their talks to create the perfect presentation.

Now everyone knows perfection is an unattainable goal. Stuff happens. And sometimes that stuff is funny. Sometimes that stuff is eye opening. Sometimes that stuff is better than what was written down on paper and rehearsed over and over again.

MK Harby, owner of MK Harby Public Speaking, is dedicated to making speakers great communicators. She believes ideas are shared most efficiently when they are conveyed with creativity, warmth, and humor. As the speaker coach for the TEDxNavesink presenters, she helped get the most effective message out of the talks and assisted the speakers in presenting in an engaging way. But that doesn’t mean things went off without a hitch or that every speaker stuck their original material. And those moments going off script? Some of the most memorable moments of the event.

TEDxNavesink speaker Ted Coiné enjoyed a spontaneous moment during his talk about the positive power of impatience. And for Ted, and arguably the audience, that moment stood out as a great one from the day.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 1.40.48 PM

For all those who strive to stick to the script, MK has some advice.

“How do I rehearse for a speech but try to sound “unrehearsed?” This is not easy advice to give. While you do not prepare for the actual “off the cuff/impromptu talk,” there are some things that will help you deliver an original message,” she said.

1. Have a clear objective.

An objective is a purpose, or what you as the speaker want to accomplish.  Stick to your objective throughout your entire speech.

2. Listen to others. Read the room.

Take in the verbal cues as well as the non-verbal cues from your audience. If you speak to a group and you see that they are relaxed and smiling they probably will be more receptive to your message. If you look out and see hungry and annoyed members of the audience, you may want to try and break the ice with an interesting question or an empathetic statement.

This was exactly the case at TEDxNavesink for speaker Dr. Don Lincoln. As the last speaker before the lunch break, the audience was indeed hungry and most likely ready for a break. Instead of delivering his talk as rehearsed, he opened with a joke about lunch. “Being the last speaker before lunch, it’s hard to compete with that!” he said. The audience responded with what might have been the biggest laugh of the day.

3. Become a better listener in life. 

Observe people. Watch how others react. Keep your mouth closed and listen….and listen more. Intuitive people are good listeners. It’s easier to stay in the moment and read an audience if you are listening.

4. Take a moment. Be in the moment.

Look at what is going on around you. Do you ever wonder why someone can fill  an entire room with joy? These people are observers of life. They spend time watching people, listening to people and observing reactions. Their humor comes from observation. No, not everyone has to be a comedian during their speech;  I don’t recommend it at all. But there is a saying by Victor Borge, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”

5. Tell a story.

It is easy to stay in the moment when you are telling a story. You have already lived it. Make sure that it has a clear beginning, middle and end, but allow yourself to improvise the lines in between.  Be your authentic self and connect to the audience by being a good story-teller.

6. Trust yourself.

This is probably the hardest thing to do, but you will be very well received if you trust yourself. If you stick to your objective, smile, connect, listen, tell a good story and trust yourself, what can go wrong?

So the next time you’re speaking in front of an audience, go with the flow and see where letting go takes you. You might just find that you gain clarity, and maybe a laugh or two.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Email

3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media

3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media

Managing a social media campaign for a business of any size is no small job. It means hours of hopping on your phone or computer to monitor all those dings and alerts. Your customers and employees may be active on your sites so you may be responding to inquiries and engaging in online conversations daily.

But are you spending more time being reactive than proactive in your efforts?

Basically, are you putting more time into reacting to the comments and insights on Facebook and LinkedIn, instead of actually crafting quality content that attracts your target customer or client.

Maybe a large part of your communication on social isn’t even with the people who you are trying to reach?

Many people spin wheels publishing daily with little or no thought behind the content they’re pushing out. It may even be a social media epidemic at this point. Maximum input with little return.

But, for the companies that are tracking the ROI of their efforts, they understand that a savvy social media marketing campaign will score valuable relationships that offer value.

Here are three questions to ask yourself before you publish those posts, tweets, and blogs:

1. Are you posting with your target audience in mind?

If you’re not about to spend the big bucks on market research, do yourself the favor of at least getting a better understanding of your business’ target personas. According to Hubspot, personas are fictional, generalized characters that encompass the various needs, goals and observed behavior patterns among your real and potential customers. They help you understand your customers better. Creating personas will allow you to keep them in mind when writing and sharing content on social.

For example, if you’re managing the social media for a pet boarding facility, you’ll want to write for the dog mom – a single woman who may not have a family yet but lives to spoil her furbaby, spending money regularly on grooming, daycare and pet massages. Talk to her as a mom, not a pet owner, and you’ll instantly connect and be able to share content that resonates with her.

If it’s not a customer, maybe you’re trying to connect with an influencer in your industry that will open up the doors to your target audience. It could be a design blogger who you connected with on Twitter and is now sharing your latest blog on trends in tile with his Facebook page of over 40,000 likes.

Each post you write and share can help you to get a step closer to attracting, converting, closing and delighting your personas, so they become customers.

2. Does your content address your audience’s needs, pains or questions?

Now that you have a better understanding of the types of people you are trying to convert, listen on social media to the conversations people in your industry are having and then turn their needs, pain points, and questions into desirable content.

For example, Cynthia Schonmaker of ACD Granite uses the publishing platform on LinkedIn to share her knowledge of building materials and establish herself as a thought leader in the design community. She answers many of the questions she has heard for years and answers them on social media. And this is very valuable! You’ll see on this post about marble maintenance and care that she hits the nail on the head with her connections.

3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media 3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media 3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media

3. Do you have an action that you want your audience to take?

Let’s face it, not every post you share is going to ask people to do something. Nor should it. You are talking to people and need to connect with them in other ways, too. But as a marketer, you need to produce that ROI, and you also need people to take the next step on their buyer’s journey. An action can be anything from read on, sign up for an offer or newsletter, or an event invitation. It should be inviting, easy and maybe even fun. If you address their needs and pains, then they may even be eager to take the next step. The important thing is that you have them willingly give you something, and often an email will suffice so that you can further build the relationships and provide value.

Even a free cupcake, like in this promotion on the bakery Facebook page from Cupcake Magician, can be a sweet deal for a fan. Remember, no matter what you’re offering, don’t be overly salesly. It will sweeten the content if you can connect with people with a compelling reason to click.

3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media 3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media

If you’re able to answer the above three questions before posting your content on social media, you’re going to gain a better understanding of your followers’ needs and wants.  If you want to take your social media campaign to the next level, contact inBLOOM Communications and our team will assist you with creating a campaign that gets the results you seek. We offer a complimentary consultation for new clients.

Cover photo: picjumbo.com

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Email

April Fools’ Day Marketing: 3 Brands Fake Out and Make Out

April Fools' Day Marketing: 3 Brands Fake Out and Make Out

No doubt your inbox (and maybe your house) was filled with April Fools’ Day pranks yesterday.

For me some of those jokes fell flat. (I hope none made you wince like the one I got pretending a beautiful historic building had been damaged in a fire. Yeesh. Not funny.)

But a few made me truly laugh out loud and then think, damn that was good marketing.

In case you didn’t get enough of the friendly pranks, I’ve rounded up our three favorite April Fools’ Day jokes that not only made us laugh, but also leveraged the holiday for some serious marketing. The three we chose have vastly different products but all managed to use prank day to do three things:

  • Highlight brand identity
  • Build customer loyalty
  • Turn followers into insiders

So check ‘em out:

  1. Grove Labs: The fake breaking news alert

You probably haven’t heard of Grove Labs, the Boston startup set on bringing an organic farm to your kitchen, but they could be in your house in the not too distant future. Founded in 2009, the company is now beta testing self-contained hydroponic gardens (fed by goldfish) housed in a chic maple (Or is it birch? Who cares, it’s freakin’ gorgeous) cabinet that would be at home in a West Elm catalog.

Imagine my surprise then, when I opened my email this morning to a YouTube video announcing their latest product launch, the burger module. (Note to Grove Labs: It’s not nice to tease me.)

First off, I felt special that I was an insider privy to the sneak peek of a new product launch. Second, by the time I realized it was a joke, Grove Labs had already resold me on their brand mission of putting fresh food in every suburban and urban kitchen. And third, when I was done I stuck around to watch another (real) marketing video about the cabinet maker, who makes those sleek housings. Winner, winner, organic dinner.

  1. Boden: The fake product recall

Really, I can’t believe I fell for it.

A recall on “inappropriate imagery” spotted on one of the printed dresses sold by the British clothier Boden known for their bright, preppy and feminine pieces. Since when have the Brits been shy about “inappropriate imagery”? (That’s our department in the US.) They’re the ones who birthed Benny Hill.

April Fools' Day Marketing: 3 Brands Fake Out and Make Out

But still I clicked the link in the Instagram profile that led straight to their Like to Buy where my early morning (pre-caffeine) naiveté was revealed. So I had a little chuckle, commented “You got me!” and spent five minutes (when I should have been getting my kids off to school) tapping around their latest shoe collection. Dangerous for me, but smart marketing for them.

  1. Redbox: The fake new product announcement

This one was sent to me by a friend because it was too good not to share.

Who doesn’t know someone who has elevated their pets’ lifestyle to that of an adviser to Her Majesty? (Maybe YOU’RE that someone).

In their veiled April Fool’s joke, Redbox announces “Petbox”, a movie service for your pet as they wait for you to choose a film.

You laugh because you’ve been that guy, standing in front of the 7-11 with people queuing behind you, when they just want to return their movie for Pete’s sake!, as you sort through the new releases, alphabetically. You click on the email because you’re like, what the?

April Fools' Day Marketing: 3 Brands Fake Out and Make Out

And then you laugh again because: Furry – The best war film since Spaying Private Ryan. And then you tweet it because, #Petbox is totally something your friend who sends her dog to daycare would buy. It’s a joke that practically dares you not to share the brand. But the best part is, the joke came with a promo code for 50 cents of your next rental. Everyone loves a joke that comes with a coupon.

April Fools' Day Marketing: 3 Brands Fake Out and Make Out

All three of these brands communicated with their customers and prospects without pushing their product because they focused their efforts on their customers’ experience, what would make them laugh, and what would make them click. And they didn’t make any jokes in poor taste, make their followers feel betrayed, or pull off half-baked schemes. These were polished, professional, high level jokes indicative of polished, high level brands.

Instead of it being a “jokes on you” day, it was an opportunity to create an inside joke. And who doesn’t love being an insider?

So now tell us, what were the brands on top (and bottom) of your list of April Fools’ Day jokes?

cover photo: Lotus Carroll

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Email