• 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.
  • BeverlyMay
    Beverly May on August 13, 2014

    Countdown to the UX Awards: Get Discounted Tickets and Vote Now for the Winners!

    We're a partner with the UXies, the premier global awards for exceptional digital experience, which is in downtown San Francisco on September 11 after 3 years in New York!
  • In the last six weeks of summer, there has been a lot of depressing news. The Malaysian Airline tragedy in the Ukraine, the Ebola virus outbreak, the conflict on the borders of Israel/Palestine, Iraq/ISIS, Ferguson, and the sad passing of Robin Williams. So maybe it is not too surprising that something that makes us feel good while doing good and is a little silly, like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, went wild on the social networks.

    In the last six weeks of summer, you could turn on any TV news channel, NPR, or read news articles online, and there was depressing news. The Malaysian Airline tragedy in the Ukraine, the Ebola virus outbreak, the conflict on the borders of Israel/Palestine, Iraq/ISIS,  Ferguson, and the sad passing of Robin Williams. These are all very serious and sad world events. So, maybe it is not too surprising that something that makes us feel good while doing good and is a little silly, like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, went wild on the social networks. (That’s the response I gave during NPR Morning Edition when asked why it was catching on.)

    The challenge involves dumping a bucket of ice water on one’s head or donating to the ALS Association, with a social media component. Participants film a video of themselves dumping the water on their heads or donating, and tagging other people in their network to do the same. This was not a campaign started by the ALS Association, but young people who wanted to support the cause. Soon celebrities and main stream media joined in the fun as it continues to sweep the nation. Technology rock stars have also joined the bandwagon, including Bill Gates, Robert Scoble, and Mark Zuckerberg (who was challenged to do this by Chris Christy, Governor of NJ).

    I’ve written about the rise of Philanthrokids, those young people otherwise known as Generation Z, who are online social network savvy and can easily use their smartphones to raise money or awareness for a cause. I’ve seen colleagues take the challenge with their children, like my colleagues Lisa Colton and Marc Pitman, both of whom have a family member who suffered from ALS.

    It sounds counterintuitive to ask people to donate $100 to ALS or make this goofy video and share on social.  But according to news reports, it has increased awareness and dollars raised  for ALS research. The association reports $15.6 million in donations since July 29, compared with $1.8 million in the same period last year, including 300,000 new donors. There were over a million videos created, according to various reports.

    Even my favorite charity and philanthropy cynic, my colleague Tom Watson who writes a regular column for Forbes Magazine, gave the Ice Bucket Challenge a big thumbs up in his recent column, pointing out all the reasons why it was a success beyond the dollars raised. One reason is that wacky and goofy fundraisers work.  Another reason is the social proofing element, where friends tag their friends on social network. Social proof is peer pressure in a positive way, the positive influence created when people find out others are doing something – now, suddenly, everyone else wants to do that something too.

    Like everything on the Internet, there was a backlash and criticism. It’s publicity stunt philanthropy. It's encouraging slacktivism, not a long-term relationship between the donor and the charity.  It won’t make a difference to those with ALS. And all about social media narcissism — a selfie on steroids and ego philanthropy. Some suggest it is a just fad and is not really expanding charitable giving:

    That would be all right if new donations to ALS added to the total of charitable giving. But the evidence is to the contrary. The concern  of philanthropy experts is that high-profile fundraising campaigns like this end up cannibalizing other donations–those inclined to donate $100 to charity this summer, or this year, will judge that they’ve met their social obligations by spending the money on ALS. (See this piece by MacAskill for an explanation.)

    The explosive spread of the ice bucket challenge could even end up hurting ALS fundraising in the long term. The challenge is a fad, and fads by their nature burn out–the brighter they glow, the sooner they disappear.

    The hard work of philanthropy always lies in creating a sustainable donor base. But the ice bucket challenge has all the hallmarks of something that will be regarded in 2015 as last year’s thing.

    In a discussion with colleagues, I think Nancy White had the right idea. She was challenged and honored her friends request, but since wasn’t a fan of video self-promotion, she created a cartoon and also bent the challenge rules. She also donated $100 to ALS, but also sent a donation to Doctors Without Borders because right now there are many West African countries who are so short of medical providers given The Ebola Crisis.  She challenged her friends to donate to ALS and to match their donation to another cause saying, “Let’s spread good intentions, but wisely.”

    Another alternative is the #noicebucket challenge:  Don’t dump cold water on your head; donate to ALS or other charity; and encourage your friends to do the same. Inspired by Nancy, I’m foregoing the video and the water (we’re in a drought in California) and donating to charity:water, in honor of founder Scott Harrison’s son, Jackson, to welcome him into the world.

    While the amazing success of the Ice Bucket Challenge isn’t going to be something that every nonprofit will be able to replicate, the ALS challenge will be how they can retain all these new donors. For other professionals who work at nonprofits who may be asked by their board to cook up viral social media fundraiser, the challenge will be to extract the lessons learned and apply to social media infused fundraising campaigns and be ready to launch during the next negative news cycle.

    Robin Williams photo: Wikipedia Creative Commons

    A question for you: why has the McDonald’s corporation been able to sustain dominance in the restaurant world for so many decades on end? Is it because they serve the best food? The answer to that should be an obvious “Not even close”. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would choose a McDonald’s burger over any other burger given the side-by-side choice.

    A question for you: why has the McDonald's corporation been able to sustain dominance in the restaurant world for so many decades on end? Is it because they serve the best food? The answer to that should be an obvious "Not even close". You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would choose a McDonald's burger over many other burgers, given the side-by-side choice. Even other fast-food restaurants like Hardees would handily beat them out, especially in a blind taste test.

    Yet there is no doubt that Mickey D's is the undisputed king of burger sales, so how do they do it? There are two answers. First, they basically invented franchising and have opened more outlets through that method than any other restaurant in history. Second, and perhaps more importantly, they gear their advertising towards the younger generation. Not every restaurant can franchise out or put a new location every few blocks globally, but when it comes to reaching out to the young crowd the door is open and waiting for you to walk through.

    Food + Social Media + Millennials = $$$

    The Millennial generation spends around $250 billion per year at restaurants, which is a pie that you want a piece of. They rely on word-of-mouth suggestions for local eats, and they use review sites like Yelp when they are in an unfamiliar town. As of last year, they check in at restaurants with Instagram even more than they do with Foursquare, and they love to post pictures of their meals. Over 30% check the menus from their smartphones before they go. And the biggie: over two-thirds of them take social media conversations about a restaurant into consideration when they are deciding where to eat.

    Add to this formula the fact that Millennials eat in large groups more than any other demographic group, and the point becomes pretty obvious: restaurants need to be doing social media well. Why the emphasis on Millennials? If it isn't obvious, they're going to be around a lot longer than Gen X or the Boomers, and they are quickly becoming the primary spending power in the world. It's time to find out how to slice a bigger piece of the pie from them.

    Tell a Story

    Engaging with your followers and fans is obviously a given, but there are certain aspects of engagement that make a difference much more than others. For example, today's consumers want more than just a product list and a coupon (not that these should be ignored). They react much better to an overarching story and to involvement beyond the walls of your restaurant. The most notable and obvious example of this over the last decade has been Starbucks.

    More recently, the meteoric rise of Chipotle shows us how this strategy works. Chipotle is committed to "food with integrity", using organic, sustainable, and local ingredients whenever possible and practical. This has resonated with the younger, more socially conscious generation. Beyond just a slogan or even a practice, Chipotle actively promotes this theme using social media. Their Facebook page displays calendar events when they will go to visit farmer's markets to buy ingredients. They also promote and sponsor the Cultivate Festival, a traveling outdoor event for food, music, and ideas, and post pictures of the events on their page.

    They also post their food pictures (and others) on Pinterest, the fastest growing and second largest social network today. Every restaurant should have a Pinterest account where they at the very least showcase their menu items. The New York restaurant Comodo encourages their patrons to post pictures of their dishes on Instagram before they eat it, creating a customer-based visual menu that is full of recommendations by default. This also would let you keep a pulse of what should be kept or removed from the menu.

    Proactively Engage

    Eateries like Pinkberry frozen yogurt and Nando's chicken are masters of the response, even if the other party wasn't expecting one. They daily and actively respond not only to direct tweets and comments, they also monitor social media for restaurants  through keywords and brand mentions looking for opportunities to respond. Proactive responses are viewed as authentic engagement rather than obligatory service, and it's that kind of interaction that creates brand loyalty.

    Perks and Promotions

    The last several years of a poor global economy have ingrained a sense of thriftiness into people, particularly into Millennials. They gravitate towards discounts and offers. Sunda, an Asian restaurant in Chicago, offers weekly special as well through their social media accounts. They also offer loyalty discounts such as a free appetizer after three Foursquare check-ins, as well as surprise flash promotions like a discount for the first ten check-ins at lunch on a given day. Over 40% of Millennials say that coupons and discounts are important when deciding where they will eat.

    Online Customer Service

    Customers expect you to have online customer service through social media. It's just become the norm. When I had an issue with my smartphone several months ago, I took to the customer service Twitter account for my carrier. Although the issue wasn't resolved that way, I had a response and a back-and-forth conversation that helped greatly within a couple of hours. Every business should adopt this strategy.

    Your restaurant (and every business, imho) should have a dedicated Twitter account for customer service. It is the quickest and easiest way to handle most issues, and it will create loyalty and satisfaction more often than it will problems. Significantly, 83% of social customers will abandon a purchase or a business due to poor customer service. If you can ignore a statistic that high, you might as well give up now.

    Unlike the old, Outbound style of marketing, which involves buying advertising, cold calling, and hoping for leads, Inbound Marketing focuses on creating quality content that attracts qualified prospects towards your brand, products, and services. Let’s take a closer look at the major differences between the Inbound & the Outbound Marketer.

    In today’s fast-paced world, your customers hardly have the capacity to pay attention to the barrage of old-school marketing being thrown at them. Instead, they want marketing messaging that is going to help inform them, entertain them and appeal to their interests. That’s why we turn to Inbound Marketing. Unlike the old, Outbound style of marketing, which involves buying advertising, cold calling, and hoping for leads, Inbound Marketing focuses on creating quality content that attracts qualified prospects towards your brand, products, and services. Let’s take a closer look at the major differences.

     

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    [Click Here to See Full Size Infographic]

    There are a number of reasons why websites suffer downtime. The server may be experiencing systems overload, hardware malfunctions or data center issues. It may be DNS-related like the DNS address may have been wrongly encoded or the domain name has already expired.

    There are a number of reasons why websites suffer downtime. The server may be experiencing systems overload, hardware malfunctions or data center issues. It may be DNS-related like the DNS address may have been wrongly encoded or the domain name has already expired. The outage may be due to scheduled maintenance brought about by a recent web redesign or database migration. An incorrect coding parameter or a malicious attack from hackers may also be the primary causes for it to go down. Regardless of its source, the problem should be promptly addressed as it can greatly impact the business quite negatively.

    What Is The Impact Of Website Downtime To Businesses

    Look through some of the negative effects of having a down website. Understand the importance of uptimes to the success of your digital marketing campaign.

    1.       Reduced search engine rankings. If your site is always inaccessible to the users, that’s a big indicator to the search engine giant that there is something wrong with it thus Google will forward its searchers to another resource. There’s nothing to worry about if it only occurs for a day or if it is something temporary. It is a totally different story if the issue is recurring or if it happens frequently. Not only does it influence your page and SERP ranks, the bots will rate you negatively as well.

    2.       Bad UX (user experience). No matter how great the content and how neat the design is, no matter how attractive the promotions you offer, the bottom line is that it is still inaccessible or loads very slowly which makes the entire digital marketing effort useless. Why would the users stay and stick to your page when there are thousands out there who can service them faster and better?

    3.       Negative reputation and credibility on the brand. A slow or non-functioning site can be associated to how your brand performs in the real world. It can turn off not just your targeted audience, but possible investors as well.

    4.       Lost profits. Considering that this is your platform to communicate with your audience, every second that passes by equates to missed opportunities from potential customers. To cite an example, suppose you have an e-commerce website. Your products are ahead against your competitors, so as your pricing. How do you think your customers would react if during the middle of their shopping experience or when they are about to check their shopping cart out, the webpage suddenly shows an error code? Do you think they’ll visit and buy from you again?

    If you've recently put up a website for your business, it will not immediately appear when you search for a relevant keyword in your favorite search engine. To earn your spot on the first page of results, you need to publish SEO web content. Search engine optimization, or SEO, content consists of articles, blog posts, or other written website material that is created to feature prominent keywords.

    If you've recently put up a website for your business, it will not immediately appear when you search for a relevant keyword in your favorite search engine. To earn your spot on the first page of results, you need to publish SEO web content. Search engine optimization, or SEO, content consists of articles, blog posts, or other written website material that is created to feature prominent keywords. Search engines will crawl throughout the web, grab these keywords, and catalog them in an online database, where they are called up during keyword searches. The more keywords that are inserted into the content, the more frequently and prominently your website will appear in search results.

    So what is involved in creating SEO web content, and how can you do it to best maximize your business's potential?

    1. Pick a topic relevant to your business

    The first thing you need to do when writing SEO web content is decide on a topic that relates to your business. If you want your business to appear in more search results, you must write about topics that pertain to your product or service. You can direct the topic you choose toward a particular goal, such as increased sales, website hits, or social media shares.

    Writing with a specific topic in mind is also important when deciding on your writing style. From your topic, you can determine the type of audience you want to target and write the articles with those readers in mind. The language and style used and the information you choose to highlight should draw your audience, and you need to write according to their needs.

    2. Use relevant keywords

    Keywords are an important part of your content because they are the key factor for SEO. These words and phrases should be carefully selected for SEO web content because they need to effectively relate to your business and appear in searches. Make sure to research the keywords that customers commonly search for when looking for businesses similar to yours.

    When writing your SEO web content, also make sure that these keywords are strategically and frequently included. That way, your business's website will appear higher on the list of search results. These words should be integrated into the content so that it flows naturally. You don't want it to be flagged and marked by search engines as spam.

    3. Use relevant promotional techniques

    Once your content is published, you need to increase your SEO rating through other platforms as well. The more your website is linked to by other websites, the higher the ranking it will receive in the search results. To improve your linking strategy, create a reciprocal relationship with other websites by linking to them, and they will likely link back to your business in return.

    In addition, social media plays a huge part in the SEO web content process. By sharing your content on multiple social media platforms, you can ensure that your content is reaching different areas of the web, where it will be picked up by the search engine spiders.

    Publishing SEO web content goes beyond simply writing articles for your business's website. It takes research, writing, and promotion to effectively implement an SEO web content strategy and use it to improve your business's search engine ranking. If you're uncomfortable taking on this job or you simply don't have the time, you can outsource your SEO web content writing to Inklyo.com's writing services. Instead of laboring over content writing for hours and hours, you can hire one of our professional writers to craft finely researched, written, and promoted articles for your business's website. Visit Inklyo.com today to learn more about how our SEO writing can benefit you.