Category Archives: Internet

Tips for Building Up Your Business on LinkedIn

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An average of 45 million profiles are viewed on LinkedIn each day.  As a result, LinkedIn has become a key tool to help market your business and professional life. LinkedIn company pages don’t have the accessibility as a personal LinkedIn profile. Joining groups is one of the key ways to put your company’s name and expertise out there as well as gain new connections and opportunities. 

 Tips for LinkedIn Groups

1)    Don’t join too many groups.. Join five to six groups at most  so you will have time to participate, engage and build a strong presence with each of them.

2)    Join Content Niches. Be specific in your posts to find people who have similar interests.

3)    Connect with people who frequently talk/ comment in your groups and conduct private conversations, follow them on Twitter or other forms of social media.

4)    Add “Follow us on LinkedIn” on your company website and email signature.

5)    Don’t just join communications or PR groups. Join groups that relate to your clients interests as well.

6)    Follow the rule of thirds. What’s that in this context? I remember learning about it in photography class

Tips for Company Pages

About 80 percent of LinkedIn members want to connect with company pages. Even though company pages do not have the same accessibility, it is still important to have them.

1)    Brand your page to make it SEO friendly. Google previews will show 156 characters of your description page text. Use industry keywords in your description. Members will find your company page by searching those keywords.

2)    Post in the morning. This is gives your post a longer shelf life and insures that more people will view and engage with it. Updates with links have a 45 percent higher engagement rate.

3)    Link your website and other social media on your LinkedIn page to ensure that potential clients can easily find you.

 

Part One: What does our visual culture have to with your company?

 

It’s no secret that with the rise of social media, a highly visual culture has emerged. High quality, sharable images reign supreme online. One of the biggest mistakes a company can make when posting or distributing a press release/product/general announcement is to do so without an image.  It’s like throwing a needle in a haystack. There are several reasons why.picstitch

Picture-focused social sites like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook show how valuable photos are because of the “sharable” factor. Posting images can help increase engagement.  For example, photo posts account for 93 percent of the most engaging posts on Facebook. They average 53 percent more likes, 104 percent more comments and 84 percent more click-throughs on links than text-only posts. Check out how American Express uses strong visuals to “capture” and engage its audience. The page is interesting and makes you want to stay and explore.

Social media isn’t the only online space to consider when it comes to photos.  According to PR Newswire, a study analyzing more than 10,000 press releases showed the more multimedia you include in a press release distribution, the more views it receives.   In my experience, pitching releases is easier when you have accompanying photos. Editors know they increase readership and will be more likely to run your news.

Also, images are proven to affect local searches. Consumers are more likely to contact a business if there are accompanying images attached to any news/company blog site because it simply grabs their attention.

Aside from distribution and social media, maintaining a visually pleasing company blog and website are equally important.  Most companies have a specific goal in mind when it comes to their home page: to drive website traffic to it.   The most successful websites use photos in a way that makes cross posting on social media a breeze. You don’t want to make your social media sites look great only to drive traffic back to a stark website with nothing to see.

In my next post, I’ll discuss how to use photos in each capacity – for media distribution, social media and your company website. 

What NOT to do on Social Media

 

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We’ve all seen lists telling us what do to increase your social media influence…but what shouldn’t you do? Knowing what not to do can be just as important as knowing what tactics your company should be using. Here’s what not to do on social media and some simple ways you can fix these common mistakes.

 

  1. Don’t post an irrelevant Facebook status to engage with your audience. Your audience has followed or liked you on social media for a reason and they expect consistency from you. Asking a question or posting a quote that has nothing to do with your business or field confuses followers and hinders engagement.

Fix: Try to engage with your audience by asking questions that are relevant to your field and can also help your business grow.

  1. Only talk about yourself. Sure, you want to grow your business and show your followers all the amazing products/ services you have to offer. However, talking only about your company comes off as egocentric and could keeps you from making connections with other businesses or customers.

Fix: Rule of thirds. One- third of the time post created content. One- third of the time, share content from others. One- third of the time try to have a conversation with your followers (see rule #1).

  1. Spam followers. Followers want updates about your latest project or important news regarding the industry. However, when companies post back- to- back social media posts it can start to annoy your followers.

Fix: Use a social media platform like HootSuite or TweetDeck to schedule your posts. Try to spread them out at least an hour apart.

  1. Post vulgar or inappropriate content. Human error happens. We’ve all seen posts where an employee posted something on their company page when they meant it for their own personal social networks.

Fix: Make sure your employees do not have their personal social networks attached to social media platforms, like HootSuite, where it might be hard to differentiate between accounts.

  1. Don’t have too many social media outlets. It’s great for companies to expand their reach to multiple social media outlets and try to up their SEO. However, if you have too many sites, chances are you aren’t consistent across the board. Someone might stumble upon your dormant Facebook page and think your aren’t serious about social media.

Fix: Limit the amount of social media outlets your have. If you know you can only commit to one or two sites then simply have those one or two site and post content regularly.

  1. Not cross promoting. If you have a large Twitter following but are lacking in Facebook likes you are doing your company an injustice by not promoting the Facebook page on your Twitter account.

Fix: Cross promote your social media sites. You want to have a good number of followers or likes in every outlet, not just one. 

– NP

Finding the Right Social Influencers

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To expand reach and network, your company needs to find key social influencers. Building relationships is the basis of getting your brand out there.

Social Influencers are everywhere and are not bound by employment with traditional news sources. Social influencers are important because they are able to cover news faster than many traditional news sources – and they can reach a larger audience. A group of social influencers is called a tribe. A tribe is a group of persons having common character, occupation or interest.

How to Find Followers

You probably know – and have already found – several influencers in your field. Once you have those influencers see how they are following, talking to and referencing. Look at their tweets. Who are they retweeting? Who are they following? Look at their blogs. Who are they mentioning and collaborating with?

There are also sites and programs designed specifically for finding new influencers.

• Cision – social influencers search

• Triberr – suggestions based on content/ interests and joined tribes

• GoogleAMP

• Twitter- suggestions based on who your followers follow

Finding your Niche Community

Once you find relevant followers, you need to find the right community.  This community should consist of passionate followers.  Although many companies strive to increase their number of followers, the real importance is not the quantity of your influencers but the quality. You want influencers that are passionate about the same things you are.  When looking for influencers, be specific. 

Once you find influencers

After you have found influencers try to build good relationships with them. Remember, this takes time.  Don’t ignore the little guys either.  You want to build relationships with people that are passionate in your industry.  Reach out to these influencers on social media. Remember the rule of thirds. One-third of your posts should be about yourself, one-third of your posts should be sharing other’s content and one-third of your posts should be interacting with your social media audience.

Empower your community

Allow your followers and employees to put their own spin on your story. This gives it a more honest value. Viewers and influencers like to hear storytelling, not shameless self-promotion. This also gives the community ownership of the message and will help you get the commitment of your followers. 

Pitching

Some journalists and influencers complain about misdirected pitches and will even go so far to blacklist certain PR professionals. Before reaching out to an influencer makes you ask yourself these questions:

What is my goal?

What is my target audience?

How visual is my story?

Is my idea timely?

Once you have answered those questions make sure you know who your audience is, be brief and customize your pitch to your audience. 

-NP

 

 

 

We need to talk . . . on Twitter

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We need to talk . . . That phrase is so often the prelude to breaking up, losing a job or some other dire life-altering event.  But not this time. In this instance I’m talking about Twitter and the fact that too many brands don’t get everything they can out of it because they simply don’t use it right. They use Twitter like an electronic billboard putting up tweet after tweet about their new products, sales meetings, personnel changes or maybe once in a while a job opening.  I hope you see the pattern here. It’s all about them.  They talk at the Twitterversus, not with it.  It’s like going to a party talking about your job, your family, your hobbies, etc., then saying goodbye to everyone and walking out the door. No matter how fascinating you are that’s going to turn people off and certainly not get you a return invite.  In Twitterdom that translates into getting ignored and losing followers – the death knell for any marketing/communication effort.

Social media is meant to be a conversation. You can post stuff about your company on the website and it can sit there for everyone to read, but you go to social media when you want people to share, comment and interact.  Talking with, not at, your social community is what makes it social and there is a lot of value in having a real conversation. 

  • It shows that you care about having an open dialogue – something customers highly value in vendors.
  • It gives you information about what is important to your customers, vendors and partner organizations.
  • You get feedback and questions from your customers, which is always helpful, but too often hard to come by.
  • You learn new things.  Twitter can be a valuable resource for information and news about what is going on in your industry and with your customers.

So, how do you start talking on Twitter – I mean really talking? Here are a few suggestions on ways to begin the conversation. 

It’s not all about you – Talk about more than just your company.  Look for interesting articles or news about your industry.  If, for example, you’re selling security cameras, look for news articles and blogs that support the use of your product.  It might be a survey from a research firm reporting about the booming camera market or an article talking about a situation where security cameras helped stop a potentially dangerous or criminal incident. It shows your product in a favorable light and it does it without chest pounding.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a place on Twitter for self-promoting tweets, but not all the time. In fact, the majority of your tweets should not be commercial. The soft sale is very effective and works well on social media.

Retweet, favorite and mention – Start interacting on Twitter by retweeting other accounts.  If you see an interesting tweet that would be relevant to your Twitter followers, by all means retweet it.  Your followers will appreciate the additional information and the fact that you are savvy enough to keep informed about your industry.  At the same time, the account you are retweeting will appreciate the shout out and will be more likely to retweet you in the future.  Also your retweet will show up in that account’s feed, so more people will see your post and you just might gain some followers.  The same goes for making a tweet a favorite and for mentioning accounts in your posts.  The more you start talking to people on Twitter the more attention you’ll get, which, after all, is the point.

Hashtags – Use hashtags, but use them sparingly and wisely.  Hashtags are a way of making your tweets stand out for people on Twitter who are interested in following specific topics and key words.  Do a little research.  Find out which hashtags are going to work best at reaching your target audience.  Again, if you are selling security cameras then putting a hastag in front of #security and #camera may work best for you.  But check it out first, you may find that many people are tracking security cameras by making the hashtag into a smash word and following #securitycamera.  It’s just a matter of working with Twitter to see how people in your industry are using hashtags.

Reply & DM – Reply to tweets, ask questions and thank people.  If you see an interesting tweet and you not sure about the source reply or send a direct message asking a question.  Thank people for following and retweeting. And definitely answer any questions sent your way.  Even if you don’t know the answer you should acknowledge the question.

Starting with these basics will get your Twitter conversation going.  It should get you noticed, attract followers and add real value to your social marketing efforts.  Obviously, the most difficult part of this equation is the time it takes to follow Twitter and get this dialogue in gear.  But once you have developed your strategy and you know the direction you want to take Twitter can be managed by the marketing communications team or even outsourced to an agency.  Making it someone’s job to talk on Twitter is probably one of the quickest ways to get the conversation underway and get everything out of each 140-character message that you can. 

Cindy Weigle
Follow me on Twitter
Connect with me on LinkedIn

 

 

Google and SEO, What You Need to Know Part I

 

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In my last blog I wrote about the importance of content marketing for business growth but content marketing can also drastically improve SEO — Search Engine Optimization — that determines where your company’s web postings rank in a Google search. Traditionally, website structure and keywords alone impacted SEO results.. In 2011, Google launched its “Panda Update,” an update that changed Google’s ranking algorithm to focus on user experience. This meant that while the structure of a website was still important, content was even more important. This is where content marketing comes into play. Businesses can improve SEO results by revamping their website and focusing on the quality of content.

Something to remember regarding content marketing is consistency.. Google analytics can see when you are continually uploading content and that will start to improve your SEO rankings. If you stop uploading content your SEO results will drop.

Constantly creating new content is challenging which is why re-purposing your content is a good idea.  One way to do this is to write blog, white papers and case studies about your industry and then re-purpose them into shorter posts, an infographic, an email newsletter and tweets. Spread these posts out over the course of a few weeks. If you post everything at once it will help your SEO for only a short amount of time. Pace your content.

In 2012, Google launched a follow up update to Panda called Google “Penguin.” Again, this changed Google’s algorithm. This update looked more at links and shares from social media. It took into account the sources that picked up a story or press release. When those get picked up, it shows Google that specific content is useful and enjoyable and as a result, you will get better SEO results.. Don’t just build links or use fake accounts to increase content reach because Google can tell. The important part of sharing your content organically is that it helps you build a relationship with reporters/ bloggers in your industry. Once you establish that relationship it will be easier for your future stories or releases to get more traction.

Another way to increase your SEO results is to update your Google Plus page. After you’ve created content, post the story or the link onto your G+ page and share it. You can also go onto Google Author and establish yourself as an author and cite your works. This helps give you and your work name recognition in Google — again giving you better SEO results.

Google also has a Webmaster Tool that allows you to see your impressions and clicks on your company’s website for free.

SEO now relies on both technical structuring of websites as well as content marketing. Remember, create content that people are interested in, post it regularly and watch your SEO improve.

-Niki Perri

 

Content Marketing

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Building relationships with customers and clients is the best way to generate business. People and businesses do not want a hard sell.. They want to feel like they know and trust your business before buying your product or service. That is why content marketing is so crucial. 

Content marketing in its most basic from is the creation of content (i.e. press releases, infographics and social media posts) to a target audience in the hopes of engaging them enough to share your content.  The whole idea is to build an audience and relationships with potential clients.

You want to create content that you know  and yourtarget audience can use.In turn, they will be more invested and will be more likely to share it with their friends, followers, etc. The more your content is shared the higher your SEO results will be. This is great for generating leads and getting new clients. Keep in mind content that is over 2,000 words tends to rank higher on Google.

What type of content should you create? PR professionals are constantly creating content, that’s an integral part of our job. Clients want content that will create traffic, like blogs, infographics, and helpful solutions. Companies that blog or post unique content 15x per month, generate 5x more traffic than companies that don’t post regular or enough content.  However, the best type of content is useful content. This is content that informs and is valuable.

Content doesn’t have to mean blatent self-promotion. Customers and clients want to see that you have their best interest at heart and care about the same things they do. Think about when you go into a department store and are looking for a specific brand of jeans. You go up to the sales person and he/she tells you that they do not carry that brand of jeans but the department store down the road has the brand you are looking for. Instead of the sales person trying to persuade you to purchase a different brand of jeans, he/she gave you helpful information and you now trust and respect that department store more. This is the same in public relations.

A great way to advertise while still offering helpful content is through social media ads. Instead of obvious ads, PR and advertising teams can search sites like Twitter and lookfor relevant questions. Say you have a client in the computer/ information systems industry and you go onto Twitter and notice people have been asking about how to unfreeze a computer. You might respond to them saying “Press Control, Alt, Delete at the same time.” Now you have helped people out and theymay now have a newfound respect and  connection to your company.

Another form of content marketing is native advertising. Native advertising is content that fits with the user experience. Again, this is content that does not feel like you are being advertised to and helps you build a relationship. An example of this is the “recommended for you” features on web articles. Here the advertisers are trying to appeal to your taste preferences. It makes it seem like the viewer found the article on his/her own. 

Advertising has become extremely difficult, people can rewind TV commercials, listen to ad- free radio stations so advertisers need to be creative. They need to give the client what he/she wants. That means helpful content-based ads and marketing strategies that develop a bond between you and the customer.

– NP

 

 

PR and the Mobile Age

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There is no question that we have entered the mobile age.  Sales of desktops are decreasing, there are enough cell phones for everyone in the world to own two and even Third World countries have cell service. On top of that, 25 percent of smart phone owners ages 18- 44 can’t even recall the last time their smartphone wasn’t next to them. Many business professionals see mobile as the future of social media. As mobile technology continues to increase, it’s important that PR professionals take notice and learn how to adjust to the mobile experience.  

That experience lets industry professionals see the latest news from anywhere. Even though you can reach a larger audience, you have to be aware of how your content is displayed. Although smart phones can access the same sites as a desktop like Twitter, and Facebook, etc., there are key distinctions between them. One being that smart phone screens are significantly smaller than a desktop sotweets and posts need to be short and to the point. Another thing, hashtags don’t work on Facebook mobile. 189 million Facebook users only use Facebook through their smart phone.  So save the hashtags for Twitter.  

Also, even though Twitter allows the user to tweet up to 140 characters, the chances of someone reading a tweet that long on a mobile device are small. The reason being, if mobile users have to expand the tweet, they probably won’t read it. Keep in mind that the end of a tweet is often where professionals attach links for users to retweet. 

Compose your tweet so that it is less than 120 characters if you want it to be retweeted — or even read.  A University of Florida study found that 43 percent of B2B companies get new customers through Facebook and 34 percent of marketers get leads through Twitter.  Getting the right people to see all of your content is crucial.

Some social media programs are only available on a smart phone, like Instagram and Vine.  Social media is image based.  An MIT study showed that Facebook posts with images received 37 percent more engagements.  Images are useful because they quickly tell the story. Many smart phone cameras are of equal quality to the average digital camera.  Pictures are also larger than text, which means they take up more of a person’s news feed.  Your company, whether B2B or B2C, should be using smart phones to get content out there, whether it be posting pictures on Instagram or posting videos to Vine.  

Another unique feature of smart phones is text messaging.  Many social media programs started out as SMS programs.  Text message campaigns (opt in only, of course) are a great way for B2C and B2B businesses to showcase new products, update consumers on new projects and give monthly factoids about your industry. 

Some mobile apps are especially useful for PR pros.  Tools like Hootsuite, Microsoft Office and Drop Box are all available for many smart phones. There are also some new smart phone-only apps that you might want to check out. , Apps like Taptu, Flipboard and Pulse can take your social networks and websites and merge them into visually appealing and easy-to-read read streams. These new PR smartphone apps make getting the latest information that much easier. 

Being mindful about how the mobile experience works, providing the potential to reach a bigger audience and expand a business’ message.

-Niki Perri

@neperri

 

Google Plus 101

 

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A recent Social Media Benchmark Report estimates that in 2014 Google Plus will surpass Twitter and Facebook to become the top B2B social media channel.  Currently, Google Plus is the third most popular social media site for businesses with about 36% of businesses using it.  Even though Google Plus has a substantial amount of users, its features are still a mystery for some. 

What makes Google Plus so powerful is that it is owned by Google – increased SEO results anyone?  The key to this is the little “+1” at the top of your businesses Google Plus page.  Think of this like a Facebook “like” button.  The more people view and “like” your business, the higher it will show up on a Google search. You can also link the “+1” to articles or press releases about your business or client to show your influence in the industry.

Another “plus” to having a Google Plus account is that the images you post on your page have a higher likelihood of showing up on a Google Image search.  Posting pictures on social media sites has always been important in reaching out to more followers but having them show up on a Google search takes it to a whole new level.

Pictures on Google Plus are extremely important, especially the cover photo.  You may have realized in the past two years cover photos have become a great way to promote your business’s brand and logo and are now on all major social networking sites.  The cover photo is massive, which gives you ample space to leave a lasting impression on everyone that visits your page. 

Taking a page from Twitter (and now Facebook), Google Plus has hashtags.  This gives you the ability to see what is trending or create a personal hashtag for your business’s event, product or campaign.

A main selling point of Google Plus has been its circles.  These circles are categorized groups of “friends.”  This lets you, as Google Plus says “share the right things, with the right people.”  For example, businesses can create circles for coworkers, clients or prospective clients and choose what information to share.  This makes it easier to filter news and reach target audiences.  It also makes it easier for businesses to filter out posts.  You can also contact prospective clients through their Gmail accounts, show them what your business has planned through Google Calendar and give them Google Offers.

Apart from circles there are communities.  Communities are groups of people or businesses that share a common interest.  You can join pre-existing communities or create your own.  Think of them like Facebook or LinkedIn groups.  This helps you hone in on your target market as well as learn valuable information about your particular industry.  Communities are great places to engage followers, create discussions, and show your expertise. The only problem with communities is that they aren’t as regulated on Google Plus as they are on other social networking sites.  That means there is an increased possibility that your community will collect spam.

Another great feature about Google Plus is that it integrates video chats.  Although Facebook does let you video chat with people through its messaging system, Google Plus provides an easier and larger platform for video chatting.  These chats are called Google Hangouts. Hangouts let you connect with up to 10 people at a time.  They are great ways to: pitch a story to a client, take a conference caller give a presentation remotely.

Finally, all these features are accessible through mobile integration.  This is perfect for busy business executives on the go with their iPhone or android.  And it has been predicted that the future of social media sites is in mobile integration. 

I hope my rundown of Google Plus gives a better look at what it can do to help you grow your business.

-Niki Perri

@neperri

 

LinkedIn for B2B Marketing

 

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Everyone knows LinkedIn as a social networking site for professionals looking to network, specifically through job seeker- employer relations.  However, LinkedIn can be used for more than just finding employees for your business.  It’s a great platform for business-to-business marketing. 

All social media sites are great outlets for promoting your business; but what makes LinkedIn different is the professional atmosphere it brings to social networking.  Attention for your business does not have to compete with Instargrammed pictures of food or political rants that may clog up other businesses’ or client’s news feeds. 

One of the ways LinkedIn can help market a business is through building a strong brand image.  Doing things such as posting your company’s logo onto an Internet banner and adding your company blog to your profile are good ways to promote your brand.  Use the about me section to detail the product/ services your business offers.  Another great feature is polls.  Polls allow your business to engage with other businesses, clients or professionals.  They show that you have an interest in other’s opinions- not just your own. 

Take videos that show what your business is up to or what the average day in the office looks like and upload them on your page.  Also, something unique to LinkedIn is the recommendation feature.. Ask another business to recommend your business and build up your reputation.  All these things help create awareness and improve brand reputation. 

Another way to use LinkedIn for marketing is simply by posting. Post what’s new with your business, events that are happening at your company and interesting factoids about your industry, etc. to show your presence and visibility within the industry.

Show your expertise. LinkedIn also offers Q & A chat-rooms that let businesses/working professionals ask questions related to a particular field or topic.  Answering questions and offering up advice regularly shows other users that you’re involved and know the field. Just don’t get the questions wrong.

LinkedIn is also a perfect avenue to promote events like conferences and tradeshows. While many companies post large-scale events through Facebook and Twitter, you are more likely to reach your true target audience through LinkedIn. 

Join key groups.  Your business can create up to 10 groups and can be a member of up to 50 groups.  Joining groups allows you to better connect with people and other businesses.  This lets you really hone in on your target audience and identify the best group opportunities. Location and industry- based groups are the most effective to connect with other businesses. Beware of spam groups that are not monitored or well maintained.  Once you join/create a group, contribute to the conversation and get your business out there.  Simply posting through your own account does not guarantee that the right people will see what you post.  You may have people or businesses in your circles that are not necessarily in your field.  By joining a group you can be sure that the right people will see, connect and engage with your business. 

Don’t forget to connect your Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to your LinkedIn account to maximize social media presence and visibility.

– Niki Perri

@neperri