• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    Why Employee Advocacy Matters

    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.
  • Greg Gerik
    Greg Gerik on September 16, 2014

    Shaking Up Social: Attending the Social Shake-Up in Atlanta

    Last year, the Social Shake-Up was one of the best social conferences to attend and this year promises to be even better. Here are a few of the hottest topics and sessions at the Shake-Up this year that are sure to deliver and drive this industry forward.
  • LPope
    Leah Pope on September 23, 2014

    Using Social Intelligence to Build the Sales Pipeline

    The social web has opened new channels for consumers to discuss products and brands, share opinions and ask for recommendations. Brands today must take a more responsive approach focused around interests relevant to the individual consumer. With the right tools in place, brands can uncover these opportunities, engage strategically and directly contribute to trackable lead generation.
  • While it’s true big brands need more time to prep for the holidays because they’re operating at a large scale, there are still lots of reasons small businesses should start preparing for the season early, too. It’s like warming up before a big game. If you don’t do it, you won’t be able to play at your best.

    It’s October and my company already has a couple months of planning for the holiday season under our belt. Sounds a bit zealous, right? Well, as it turns out, not really. For big corporate companies like Walmart and BestBuy, planning six or more months in advance for the holidays is normal. Why isn’t the case the same for small businesses?

    While it’s true big brands need more time to prep for the holidays because they’re operating at a large scale, there are still lots of reasons small businesses should start preparing for the season early, too. It’s like warming up before a big game. If you don’t do it, you won’t be able to play at your best. What business doesn’t want to be at playing at their best when Christmas rolls around?

    If you haven’t started strategizing for the holiday season yet, time is still on your side! Here are five Facebook strategies you can start implementing now:

    1. Promote Shopping Holidays Your Fans Already Love

    Believe it not, in the United States, there are nine other holidays recognized by brands and consumers other than Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. My team described them all last year in a blog post titled, “9 Shopping Days Businesses Must Know About This Holiday Season.

    One of the most popular shopping holidays for brands and consumers to celebrate is Free Shipping Day (FSD). It lands on December 15th this year and, as you might have already guessed, it’s a day when businesses offer free shipping with the guarantee that all orders made on that day will be delivered by Christmas Eve.

    For last-minute holiday shoppers perusing their news feeds, an update from your business with a free-shipping offer could be the perfect incentive to help them decide to purchase from you, rather than another brand.

    If your brand has never participated in FSD, here are some things to consider:

    • Don’t let high shipping costs jeopardize your holiday sales: Forty four percent of online shoppers abandon their carts because of high shipping costs, according to a Forrester Study.

    • Offering free shipping is Amazon’s most successful recruiting incentive — it could be yours, too: So far, in 2014, 63 percent of Amazon customers have joined the service because of free shipping.

    Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 11.01.41 PM


    2. Use Posts and Forms to Get Valuable Insight from Your Fans

    There are two really simple ways to start gathering valuable insight from your Facebook fans today.

    1. Make attention-grabbing visuals for insight-seeking status updates: Last year, the company Everpurse received valuable product feedback from their fans when they shared this status update:


    Maximize Social Business

     

    If you’re wondering which product to feature in your upcoming holiday promotions, you can use these types of Facebook posts to quickly gather sentiment data.

    2. Reward fans with extra giveaway points when they share their insight: If you’re not a product company, you can still benefit from gathering insight from your fans before the holiday season gets underway.

    My company, for example, started collecting information about our fans’ expected holiday behavior this month. When a user visited our September“Facebook Monthly Giveaway” app, they were given the chance to double their chances of winning our prize by responding to our holiday-themed question.



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    The results of this question will help us decide the direction of our blog and Facebook post content as we go into the holiday season.

    3. Host Facebook Giveaways to Quickly Build Your Email List

    Did you know that 55 percent of brands use email as their number one holiday marketing channel (Accenture) and a massive 74 percent of holiday retailers use email to get customers to cash in on deals (Shop.org)?

    There’s no doubt email marketing is powerful during the holiday season, but what if the size of your list doesn’t support your ambitious holiday email marketing plans? Hosting an action-gated giveaway is one surefire way to quickly grow your list before December.

    What’s an action-gated giveaway? Action-gated giveaways are hosted on your Facebook page via a third-party app instead of as a stand-alone update. These campaigns aren’t for collecting general comments under a status update; they’re for collecting specific demographic or contact information, like email addresses.



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    Here’s an example of a simple action-gated giveaway hosted by the clothing retailer Lulu’s. For the chance to win a $50 gift card to their online store, Lulu’s Facebook fans must first share their email address.

    4. Collect User Generated Content to Stretch Holiday Marketing Bucks

    If your marketing budget is already a little tight, consider collecting user generated content as a means for stretching your holiday dollars.

    Last year, Yosemite’s Scenic Wonders, a vacation rental company, hosted a photo contest on Facebook and received 247 photo submissions. Those 247 pieces of user generated content (UGC), as they see it, is $741 dollars worth of unique photos from their fans. They came to this conclusion by assigning a value of $3 per photo if they would have had to download the photo from somewhere else.



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    Making an effort to collect user generated content early not only helps supply your brand with key marketing content, it helps drive healthy engagement with your fans before the holiday madness begins.

    5. Allocate Money for Facebook Ads

    If leading into October the reach of your Facebook posts is low, you need to find a solution for the issue pronto. There’s nothing that can kill the success of your holiday Facebook marketing efforts faster than consistently low post organic reach.

    If you aren’t able to find a solution for your low post reach by November, start investing in Facebook advertising to boost your most important marketing messages. Although I wish it weren’t so, ads are the only guaranteed way to ensure your fans are exposed to your brand this holiday season.

    Conclusion

    Through promoting popular shopping holidays, collecting insights from fans, building lists with giveaways, gathering user generated content and, finally, investing in advertising, businesses can prepare themselves for success this holiday season.

    Readers, how does your business plan to use Facebook this holiday season? Have you already started preparing your strategies? Let me know in the comments below!

    What is content, how do you create it, and how can your business benefit from it? We’d like to share three ideas which will answer these questions and help kick-start your content marketing to help you generate business online today.

    More and more businesses are using content marketing to help successfully generate leads. They are achieving this through creating valuable and informative digital content. So what is content, how do you create it, and how can your business benefit from it? We’d like to share three ideas which will answer these questions and help kick-start your content marketing to help you generate business online today.

     ‘How To’ guides

    Have you ever tried to put Ikea furniture together without the instructions? You always end up fitting the legs upside down. Sometimes using a business’ products/services can be confusing for customers. Helping your prospects understand how to use your products/services can help them overcome any potential challenges. This is why ‘How To’ advice is one of the most effective ways to help generate leads online. If you’re selling software as a service, for instance, a 'How To' guide that demonstrates how to use your software to best effect will ensure that customers gain the most value out of using the service you’re providing.

    To see a real-life example take a look at this ‘How To’ guide, created for the telecom expense management (TEM) company Efftel. Their guide explains to potential customers how TEM can help businesses achieve significant savings in the area of telecom expenditure. The value that prospects gains from reading this digital publication aligns exactly with Efftel’s service offering and can be used to open up a sales conversation. Using a ‘How T’o guide to educate prospects and customers is an idea that transcends any industry.

    Top Tips

    We all love a top tips list. Buzzfeed have become one of the most visited websites in the world using the power of the top list of things, check out their ’17 top tips for a better life’ article for an example. This style can work nicely as part of your own content marketing. Using your experience, think of the five best pieces of advice you can give to a potential prospect. These can be used for the theme of a blog on your website or within an online forum. There are many possibilities here, what’s important is to ensure that the information that you’re sharing will provide real value to your prospects.

    If you’re wary of giving advice away for free however, sharing your knowledge will help prospects see you as an expert in your field, as well as someone who is helpful and trustworthy. Each of these elements form an important part of the decision making process for prospects considering purchasing your products/services.

    Industry Infographics

    If there’s one thing we’ve learnt over the last few years it is that online users love statistics and pictures (especially pictures of kittens). Our brains are wired to process images more efficiently than text alone, which is why infographics have become so popular.

    If you’re not sure what an infographic is take a look at this example from antibacterial company Microban. The graphic explains why ‘UK consumers are interested in antibacterial textiles’. The use of clear images and a strong statistics help prospects understand the benefits of using Microban technology. This infographic is used to educate Microban’s target market on the benefits of their product and the value they can add.

    With a little bit of thought it’s not too difficult to come up with good ideas for infographics no matter what industry you work in. There are several applications available that can help you create infographics. You can try www.canva.co (free) or www.piktochart.com (paid) and see what you can come up with.

    As promised here are three content marketing ideas that you can try today. If you want more ideas on creating valuable content why not download our free guide below that will provide lots of help? If you’re still struggling to think of ideas for your industry then leave a comment and we’ll get back to you with some advice.

    Write about what is going on in each picture, convey the significance of that moment; explain, even narrate, the story behind the image. We love human stories that resonate with us. Title, description and story.

    If you have a company, brand or small business with an official Facebook page and you’re looking to direct traffic to your point of contact by using photos, increasing engagement and conversations to extend your communication and marketing, then perhaps you may want to take the following issues into consideration.

    Our aim here is to optimise the pictures and photos you upload to your page to maximise their impact.

    Coherent labels

    Pages of the collaborators, partners, artists, musicians, sports personalities, public figures or anyone involved in those photos. Do it in such a way that the page will be mentioned and shared. Make sure they receive it by contacting them and asking for that extra bit of help.

    Tell a story

    Write about what is going on in each picture, convey the significance of that moment; explain, even narrate, the story behind the image. We love human stories that resonate with us. Title, description and story.

    Find your “prime time”

    Publishing algorithms to identify the best time for publishing are only relative. What works for some (depending on the company, industry and specific features) doesn’t work for others (in different markets or with different customers). Use trial and error to find your “peak hours” and start publishing at the time where you have your best results.

    Call to action

    Place links to the place where you intend to make your conversion or ROI. This can be your website or your blog, a proposals’ form, a landing page for bookings, your online store, your Instagram page or the page with your phone contact. Shorten your links, follow them and customise them with bit.ly. Place them at the end with a call to action on your photo.

    Marketing

    When you upload an album, upload the best photo first. In that way, it will appear as the album’s main picture. However, you can also do this manually later on by editing: once your photos are in the album, click “Highlight”. Don’t upload too many photos or photos that are just OK; upload only your best and “shiniest” photos: they will show what you intend to communicate perfectly. If you plan to upload “whatever”, then it’s best not to bother.

    Dissemination

    For greater visibility of the photos you’re interested in, publish them on your timeline, not in an album. When you publish the album, alternate pictures and posts so that they don’t become part of an album automatically. This would prevent you from visualising the latest picture you uploaded.

    Whenever your album is public, use Twitter to disseminate your pictures. Publish one photo per hour, for instance. Programme your tweets.

    Publish your pictures in your Instagram channel with a message that is different than what you wrote on Facebook. Better still, use a variation of the photo rather than the same one. This will encourage people to be connected to both your channels.

    Be provocative

    Conversation, interest, action or reflection. Use your photos to make your audience think. Include questions, use unfinished phrases that are completed by the image, play with signs; occasionally, include no message: let them (your community) imagine. Use images that are attractive, provocative, fun and human.

    Pictures are your best weapon on Facebook. What other ways can you think of to optimise your Facebook photos? Which are you currently using?

    Photo credit: Andri G.

    I’ve recently created several notification circles on Google Plus and have learned quite a lot from the process. The first time, I created a notification circle on Google+ the whole thing was very new to me, and therefore I did things which looking back could have been done a lot better.
    I’ve recently created several notification circles on Google Plus and have learned quite a lot from the process. The first time, I created a notification circle on Google+ the whole thing was very new to me, and therefore I did things which looking back could have been done a lot better. Hopefully after reading this post, you’ll be able to avoid my mistakes and create the perfect opt-in circle first time around.
     

    Practical Tips and Steps

    First thing you must understand is that the average Google+ user hasn’t heard about opt-in circles and doesn’t know anything about them. So before going into details about how to subscribe, you should start by explaining about the basic concept of the opt-in circle. Don’t make the explanation to long, but do give your audience enough information about your plans. So here are the steps I’d recommend:
     

    Briefly explain about what you’re doing:

     
    “Hello friends! I’m creating a blog notification circle here on Google Plus! The idea is that each time I share a new post on my blog, I’ll send out a notification to this circle letting them know about the post.”
     

    What’s in it for me?

     
    As an initiative for subscribing, a cool thing you could do (but really don’t need to if you have great content) is promise to share exclusive giveaways or posts with that circle alone, or at least before your share them with the rest of the world.
     

    Call to Action – Tell people how to subscribe (in a simple way!)

     
    “If you’d like to be included in the Blog Notification Circle and be the first to know about new posts & tips – simply +1 this post and you’re in!”. Don’t forget to mention that people can opt out of the circle at any time. An alternative for this is sharing the post and then quickly adding a comment on to that post saying: “+1 this comment to be included in the notification circle!” and then disable new comments on the post.

    Create a Dedicated Image

     
    This worked great for me in my last notification circle, so I’d highly recommend using an eye catching bill consolidation design that clearly describes your goals and call to action.
     
    Disabling reshares and comments on the post leaves only one option – +1’ning the post (is that English?!). Keeping the subscription process simple makes it easier for people to understand what they need to do in order to subscribe. When comparing this to a mailing list signup form on a website, I always find it easier when I’m asked to only fill in my Email Address and hit subscribe (rather than name, family name and so on).
     
     

    Add all subscribers to your Opt-In Circle (Yep, this step is important…)

     
    Great! So you’ve followed the above steps and people have asked to join your notification circle? Now it’s it’s time to add them to the circle! Head over to “activity on this post” either by hovering over the profile thumbnails at the bottom right of the post, or by going to the dropdown menu in the top right corner and selecting “activity on this post”. Next, hover over the names of people who’ve +1’d the post and add them to your “Notification Circle”.
     
     
    Doing this one by is definitely possible, but rather time consuming. So be sure to check out Circloscope chrome extension and premium version which allows you to add multiple profiles from any post to your circles at once.
     

    Send out your first post!

     
    When you send out the post make sure to tick the “also send email to” box, and you’re all set. If you don’t do this, you missed the whole point and your subscribers won’t be notified about new posts.

    Important things you should note

     
    Even though it’s rare – it’s possible that even if you’ve done everything right, you won’t see the “Also send emails to …” checkbox. If this happens it’s probably because most people who’ve asked to opt in aren’t following you, and in that case Google+ will not allow you to send emails, and this is done to prevent spammer from bombarding your email with spam messages.
     
    The solution for this is the following – determine which people in the circle are not following you (this can easily be done using Circloscope) and then do one of the following things: Reach out to the non followers in order to explain the situation and ask them to follow you. Unfortunate, but remove the non-followers from your notification circle. After doing that you might need to create a new notification circle in order to refresh the backend system.
     
    I’m repeating this because it’s important – let people know that they can opt out at any time. It’s also a good idea to occasionally send out a message to your notification circle alone just to ask and make sure they still want to be included.
     

    Things you shouldn’t do

     
    A mistake I did the first time I created an opt-in circle was writing about the opt-in circle at the very end of the post and leaving the post open for comments and +1’s. What happened was that many people left comments related to the post’s content and it was difficult to keep track of people who’ve asked subscribe to the notification circle. So don’t mixed up too many things in one post, if you keep it simple and to the point life will be easier for everyone.
     
    Don’t forget to disable reshares on the post. If you leave reshares open and someone shares your post, people will probably start to +1 the reshared post. If this happens you won’t get any indication about that engagement and therefore lose out on all those people. Comments should be disabled mainly to keep the post tidy and help the call to action button (+1) to stand out more.
     
    Don’t send out email notifications if the post is not related to your original opt in circles purposes! If you do this, people will simply mute you and will stop receiving notifications from you. And if you really go too far with this, people will probably even report your profile. Remember, you’re sending out a notification and an email, so think twice before you hit share.
     

    Conclusion

     
    Google+ notification circles are great in so many ways and can easily become a part of your marketing tools. When writing your opt-in post remember to keep things clear and offer a simple way for people to subscribe to your circle. Think twice before you share a post with your notification circles and never send spam. Remind people of the option to opt-out and most important – share great content. If you do – people will never even think about opting out.
     
    Image Source: Steve Jack 
    Sharing up to date content online is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your website or blog however, if you are not continuously distributing content via other sources, you may be losing out on a lot of traffic. Here are 5 of my favourite tools that will help you distribute your content online.

    Sharing up to date content online is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your website or blog however, if you are not continuously distributing content via other sources, you may be losing out on a lot of traffic. Here are 5 of my favourite tools that will help you distribute your content online.

    Hootsuite

    I have been using Hootsuite for at least  four years now and can’t recommend it enough for all my clients and anyone who wants to save time scheduling content across Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. Free of charge to use on the basic plan and in my opinion, this is all small businesses need.

    Outbrain

    If you want to share your posts across more than just social media, Outbrain is a great tool to reach a larger audience in the easiest way possible. Outbrain will share your content on popular sites (separate from social) but have a similar audience that are interactive.

    SimpleReach

     Just like Outbrain, SimpleReach allows you to share content on popular sites with audiences similar to those on social media however it has a unique feature. This feature allows users to predict how well an article will drive traffic to a site based on SimpleReach’s 0-99 score chart.

    Buffer

    Buffer is one of the longest standing distribution tools when it comes to social media. Just like Hootsuite, you can schedule posts to go out at certain times of day however Buffer also has an option to allow users to leave it in their hands. By this I mean allowing Buffer to decide when the most optimum time to post is for each individual user based on their audience.

    Skyword

    Skyword takes the simple idea of Outbrain but improves on it by offering users the chance to reach an even larger audience by distributing content through Skyword’s approved partners.

    How are you distributing your content online?