• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on January 22, 2015

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • MCohen
    Marcy Cohen on January 21, 2015

    Could a Pair of Bedazzled Bowling Shoes Lead to Social Good?

    What if 2015 became the year when the collaborative model didn’t just make it easier to buy groceries but helped emerging economies on their path to inclusive growth? What if it could be a force for social good?
  • There is a lot being said about having content on your site and in your advertising that is unique, creative, and focused. It’s enough to make a marketer want to crawl into a corner and hide on some days, am I right? It’s very difficult to continually come up with unique, creative, focused anything after a while.

    There is a lot being said about having content on your site and in your advertising that is unique, creative, and focused. It’s enough to make a marketer want to crawl into a corner and hide on some days, am I right? It’s very difficult to continually come up with unique, creative, focused anything after a while.

    But there are three questions that can help the process:

    • Who are my customers?
    • How am I similar to my competitors but better at it?
    • Why am I different than the rest?

    Who Are My Customers?

    Everything you do should have a definite “buyer persona” in mind. If your business hasn’t figured out who the ideal customers are, you need to stop right now and get that in place. Most of us have several “buyer persona” profiles, and they should be integrated into all marketing strategies. You have to know your audience and speak their unique language.

    The more specific your targets are, the more creative your content will be.

    How Am I Similar To My Competitors But Better At It?

    The reason we have competitors is because we are after the same target customer. That means there are going to be many things you do that your competition does. But those similarities give you a base to build on and your content can show how your basic products and services, while similar, are better.

    The more specific you can be about how your offerings are better, the more focused your content will be.

    Why Am I Different Than The Rest?

    Every company is unique, even in franchise chains. What makes us unique? The people who work here as well as any unique products or services being offered. Your content can include interviews with repairmen, sales clerks, warehouse workers, or customer representatives. You can have an employee of the month with a bio. You can show a process in a video and acknowledge the people who make the process happen.

    The more specific you can get about why your business is different, the more unique your content will be.

    Online marketing strategy includes the challenge of content that is creative, focused, and unique because the content is what the searcher is looking for.

    Photo Credit: Content Focus/shutterstock

    The power of a trusted opinion is priceless. Many people urge small businesses to get local influencers to write/talk about them, and that is good. But a missed opportunity is getting your existing customers talking about you, too. This strategy can be even more effective.

    Did you know that more than 4 out of 5 consumers value word of mouth recommendations over all other sources? Amazing isn’t it? The power of a trusted opinion!

    Local influencers are people Small Businesses should target. This recent blog talks about the importance of connecting with local influencers to increase your word of mouth. There are 2 data points are worth considering:

    1. Consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than double the sales of paid advertising (Source: McKinsey)
    2. 84% of consumers say they trust word of mouth recommendations from friends and family above all other sources of advertising. (Source: Nielsen)

    The blog lists tips and suggestions on how to reach out to local influencers in your area so that you can generate this word of mouth. Great suggestions, but the post omits the most obvious and important influencers – your existing customers.

    If you can identify prominent local influencers in your area, definitely engage. As we’ve mentioned before, local influencers and hyperlocal publishers are often the best messengers for your business – their audience is targeted to just the right people you want to reach. You should also leverage your existing customers to help spread your word of mouth online.  If you don’t, you are missing out on the most effective piece of this strategy!

    The key is to find the tools that allow you to expose your existing customers message to their friends and family, as well as to other consumers. They are out there (hint: Bizyhood is one of them!), and they generally cost significantly less than paid advertising. When you combine that with the first data point above, the real question is, how can you not be engaging your existing customers to help find new customers?

    Although more than 35 percent of American consumers research health conditions online before calling their doctor, many physicians are reluctant to market their services online. The reasons they give are as numerous as physicians themselves. However, we'll debunk a few of the more common ones.

    Although more than 35 percent of American consumers research health conditions online before calling their doctor, many physicians are reluctant to market their services online. The reasons they give are as numerous as physicians themselves. However, we'll debunk a few of the more common ones.

    Reasons physicians give for not using social media:

    1. They feel they should concentrate on healing. Some physicians feel that their primary focus should be on medicine rather than marketing. There's no denying that healing is the reason you earned your medical license. However, you'll be able to do the most good the more patients you are able to attract. Use Social Media channels like Facebook and Twitter to help educate your local community on seasonal health topics (like flu season). By sharing your wealth of knowledge, you are more likely to impact more people than by keeping that information within your practice walls. 

    2. They don't have the expertise. Many physicians feel that they don't have the marketing knowledge necessary to launch an effective and professional online marketing campaign. It doesn't take a lot of specialized knowledge to be effective at social media marketing. However, there are a number of agencies that specialize in creating and maintaining an online presence for your practice. It's just a matter of finding a partner that understands your hopes and goals for your business. Outsourcing the responsibility may make sense in your case, but I would use a local agency if applicable. 

    3. They don't have the time. This one I can understand because social media does involve a time commitment. If possible, delegate social media responsibilities to a member of your front desk staff (or even a team). Chances are there are a few staff members who are active on social media channels and can provide guidance to you (or the team) or take ownership of the responsiblity. Social Media marketing is best done in-house because you want to be able to react/post on local current events to get the most exposure within the community. The more physicians learn about Social Media, the easier it becomes to integrate within your everyday routine, lessening the time commitment. 

    4. They're afraid of attracting the "wrong" patients. According to a recent study by Kareo, only about one-third of American physicians use social media sites to market their practices. One reason that was frequently cited in the study for avoiding social media was that such marketing might attract uninsured, expensive-to-treat patients who would end up costing the practice money. However, a thriving, dynamic practice is in a good position to put in practice policies to guard against such an event, such as cash-only, concierge services and/or a no-medicare policy.

    5. They are afraid/uncomfortable with computers. To practice effective medicine today, a physician needs to be able to use a computer proficiently. Storing patient records online is a much more efficient and secure way to handle sensitive patient information. This knowledge can translate easily into working with social media and marketing your practice via the Internet.

    6. They receive a lot of refferals from other physicians. That's great! But what happens when some of those physicians move their practice or retire? Best business practices would be to expand your referral generation channels and not put "all your eggs in one basket". Digital channels (including Social Media) are an efficient and effective means of generating new patient appointments. The dollar investment is usually lower than most traditional marketing channels (Print, TV and Radio), but will involve some time invested in launching programs. 

    Marketing your practice online doesn't have to be scary or time-consuming. Taking the time to embrace online marketing and/or finding a marketing partner who shares your vision can yield surprising results, both in number of people you can help and to your practice's bottom line.

    Photo Credit: Doctor Social Media/shutterstock

    There are many different ways that you can reach your target audience online. You may choose to interact on several social media channels. Only you can decide which ones work the most effectively for you. You can also choose to use YouTube to post compelling videos. Videos will satisfy those target audience members who are visual.

    There are many different ways that you can reach your target audience online. You may choose to interact on several social media channels. Only you can decide which ones work the most effectively for you. You can also choose to use YouTube to post compelling videos. Videos will satisfy those target audience members who are visual.

    Why YouTube?

    You may not be aware that YouTube is an extraordinarily popular social media channel and billions of people go to the YouTube website regularly (around the world). Of course, it is understood that making a video comes with its own set of challenges. That is especially true if you have never made a video or have very limited experience in that area. If that is the case, you will need to establish your comfort zone when it comes to making videos for business. There are several step that you will most likely find helpful when it comes to creating videos for business and evoking the sort of reaction that you are looking for.

    • Choose your keywords and key phrases carefully: Before you do anything else at all, you will need to choose your keywords. Make sure that you choose them very carefully. You can make use of the YouTube Keyword Tool, which will make choosing  your keywords and key phrases relatively easy. That tool allows you to track the number of queries you have received (related to searches) in any given month. The way that it works is that you type in a keyword or key phrase and select “exact” to find out the number of people who are looking for your exact keyword or key phrase. That will give you a strong sense of whether you are hitting the mark the way that you should be.

    • Know your competitors: As is the case with any social media channel, it is very important that you understand who your competition is and what they are doing or what they have that can trump you. Whichever number of results appears is basically the number of competitors that you have. It is an easy way to gauge. Of course, that means that you wand as small a number of videos as possible to show up! The keyword search tool is very effective and once you have performed the initial search, you can go back and hone your searches.

    • Create the shell for your video: You are now at the stage where you can name your video file and create a thumbnail image. As always, you should consider content king. It truly is that. When it comes to how content is received (and viewed) by the search engines, they don’t recognize images. They only recognize and rank text. That is extremely important to remember. With that in mind, you need to understand that a keyword in your video file name is extremely important for search engine optimization (SEO). It is very easy to make that happen with a video that you post on YouTube. As far as your thumbnail is concerned, you should strive to make it as enticing as possible. You will be happy with the results if you can manage to do that. Of course, it is critical that you don’t only share an enticing thumbnail and then disappoint your target audience because your video has fallen short.

    • Don’t forget the meta tags, video description, and video title: When it comes to creating the most effective title possible, you should strive to have your title no more than 100 characters. The writing should be short and clear. It is also important that you remember to include a keyword in your title. When it comes to the specifications of your video description, it has been proven to be most effective if you place a keyword or key phrase in the first and last sentence. Those two places are where the keywords/key phrases will get the most attention. That may earn you higher search engine rankings. Now onto the meta tags. With YouTube, you can tag your video with the most effective keywords/key phrases.

    • Use closed captioning: You might have seen closed captioning on television programs (0r at least the option of it). It is a good thing to include with your video because it allows more of your target audience members to have the opportunity to view what you are sharing. It also is an effective way to get the search engines to pick up your content. It is an easy and effective way to increase your visibility online.

    • Use calls-to-action: Of course, it goes without saying that you don’t have total control over how many people actually view your video and whether those people choose to interact with you. However, you can provide them with the opportunity to interact with you. You can do that by providing a call-to-action that will make it as easy for them to interact with you as possible. In your call-to-action, you should either ask them for what you want or give them something that will enhance their interactions with  you. You can use similar calls-to-action as you would in a written article. You can ask a thought-provoking question, leave an insightful comment, etc. People will probably be more than willing to share their opinions with you.

    • Once your video is complete, embed it: It is very important for you to embed your video on your website for maximum exposure and buzz. You will need to optimize the page on your website where you have chosen to embed the video and that is an excellent way to build your credibility. Your video is showing instead of telling people about your business and demonstrating what you can do and what you are capable of doing for them.

    Conclusion

    If you follow the steps that have been outlined here, you will create and share a successful video that will get a lot of positive attention. YouTube is an excellent social media channel and you owe it to your business to take full advantage of it to bring your business to the next level. From the beginning, it is critical that you have a video content strategy outlined and you should make sure to stick with it on a permanent basis. Of course, it is also very important to remember that you are not in a world by yourself and without other people, you will not have a successful business. With that in mind, you must remember that if other people have been instrumental in your success, you should make sure to acknowledge their contribution in some way.

    We are pleased to provide you with the insightful comments contained herein. For a complimentary assessment of your online presence, let’s have coffee.

    Photo Credit: YouTube Promotion/shutterstock

    It’s no secret that effectively producing content is a key aspect of marketing your business. Not many people are going to start patronizing your establishment simply because they heard or saw a commercial, or banner ad for it. Today, if you want to reach consumers where they really live, you have to meet them online.

    It’s no secret that effectively producing content is a key aspect of marketing your business. Not many people are going to start patronizing your establishment simply because they heard or saw a commercial, or banner ad for it. Today, if you want to reach consumers where they really live, you have to meet them online.

    Here’s the thing, though – putting content out there is only an effective strategy if you’re actually able to get people to see it. A tree falling in an empty forest might make a sound, but you’d really prefer if an audience were around to hear it. The goal is to engage with people, make connections and eventually land a few paying customers. You can’t do that if no one sees the blog posts, social media updates and multimedia content you are creating.

    So how can you do it? How do you, if you’ll forgive the cliché – market your marketing? Figuring this step out is a key aspect of becoming successful in business. Once you have an engaged audience for your marketing material, you can begin to move people further down the sales funnel. A great side benefit….? If you do this right, they’ll bring others

    A great side benefit….? If you do this right, they’ll bring others.

    Starting from the bottom
    The great challenge of content marketing is that when you first get started, you have nothing. If no one is visiting your website and no one cares about the content you’re producing, it can be a daunting proposition. Where do you even begin?

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    A field of dreams content strategy simply doesn’t work. Just because you build it, doesn’t mean the masses will be beat a path to your website.

    According to Forbes, the “tree falls in the forest” problem is an all-too-common one for numerous entrepreneurs. Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of Seattle-based marketing agency AudienceBloom, explained that you’re going to need to start from the bottom. Creating content is relatively easy, but generating awareness is often the hard part.

    “If you’re a savvy marketer, you’re already actively engaging in content marketing,” DeMers noted. “Unfortunately, many business owners are so focused on the creation of their content that they’re forgetting the marketing component of the equation. After all, what good is amazing content if nobody knows about it?”

    Your strategy for “marketing your marketing” is going to depend on a few factors. For example, how much money do you have to spend? And do you have any connections in the business world that can help you? Once you’ve assessed what kind of resources you have to work with, you can begin to put together a road map.

    Working with owned media
    Obviously, the easiest resource to use for marketing is one that you control by yourself. This is what’s known as “owned media.” You have your own site, your own social media profiles, your own web and mobile applications and so on. The beauty of these platforms is that you have complete autonomy to control what they say and how they say it.

    blog now

    Another big plus… YOU own the relationship.  Your relationship with the audience you’ve built is not dependent upon someone else’s platform or algorithm.

    Of course, there’s an obvious drawback there. Owned media may be the easiest to use, but it’s also the hardest to get any real impact from. Why would anyone visit your blog if they’re not aware of the content there? Owned resources, therefore, are only going to be effective if you use them in conjunction with other strategies.

    One thing you can do is focus on search engine optimization (SEO) – if your site is loaded with keywords and subject matter that will draw the attention of Google searchers, that is definitely a huge plus. Another viable strategy is to use platforms that are already successful – maybe you have a strong email newsletter, mobile app, twitter following or direct mail campaign. Use it to create awareness of your other owned media channels. Eventually, awareness will spread.

    Reaching out in new directions
    It’s very difficult to get where you want to go using owned media alone. There’s another avenue that can be more effective, but it’s a more difficult challenge – it’s called branching out to “earned distribution channels.” An example of this strategy is publishing a guest blog on another site that’s more prominent, or getting favorable coverage for your business in the press.

    This can be hugely effective. If you’re able to land exposure for your enterprise from a major outlet that will bring eyeballs to your site, that’s great – but it won’t happen overnight. Getting to this point requires that you make connections in the business and leverage them at opportune times.

    Ultimately, one of your goals should be to establish a position for yourself as a thought leader. If people in the business respect your opinions and want to hear from you more, you should be able to turn that reputation into big marketing opportunities. If you’re well-respected, you won’t have to beg people for a guest blog or a PR spotlight – they’ll come to you and ask first. Getting to that level, though, is a gradual process.

    One great place to start is HARO . From The New York Times, to ABC News, to HuffingtonPost.com and everyone in between, HARO, boasts of nearly 30,000 members of the media having been quoted as sources in their stories. As their site says, “Everyone’s an expert at something. Sharing your expertise may land you that big media opportunity you’ve been looking for”.

    Investing in key markets
    The third level of marketing for your marketing is the use of “paid distribution channels.” If you’re willing and able to set aside a few dollars in the budget for promoting the content you produce, then such an initiative can go a long way.

    With some types of traditional media, like radio, when you bought advertising, thing were a little uncertain. You had no idea how many people would hear the ad, or how many would care. You had some idea of the reach but little was certain. But now, with digital media, you can pay a fixed rate for a sponsored Facebook post and guarantee that, say, 1,000 people will see it? That is value that’s guaranteed and predictable.

    Note that investing in paid distribution today is far different than the example of paying for radio commercials mentioned above. In the modern technology landscape, you have the potential to study your target markets more closely and zoom in on specific areas where you can make improvements. For example, what demographics are you interested in selling to more? Through the use of Facebook and Twitter sponsored content, and search engine boosters like Google AdWords, you can invest in specific areas that matter to you.

    Whether you’re trying to reach restaurant owners across the country, IT decision makers in a single zip code or anyone in between yopu can qith the robust advertising platforms of many of today’s leading social destinations and search engines.

    In short, you want to maximize your resources and invest in real marketing power. That means not just producing content, but also promoting it and making sure it’s seen. Remember, if you build it AND promote it, they will come.

    The post Marketing Your Marketing – Make Sure Your Content Is Seen appeared first on Cox BLUE.