Ways Businesses Fail on Facebook

If one of your goals for 2013 is to have a stronger presence on Facebook, don’t make the mistakes that too many businesses make:

1. They break the rules. Facebook changes the rules often. And unless you are diligent about staying up-to-date by following blogs like Socially Stacked or AllFacebook, some rules might change and you won’t know it. Even if you inadvertently violate Facebook’s terms of service, your Page may be removed — along with all your content and the connections to people you’ve made over the months or years. To save yourself a headache, bookmark Facebook’s Terms of Service and read them periodically — along with our blog, of course — and make sure you’re playing by the rules.

2. They ignore their fans. Remember the #1 tenet of social media? It’s the “social” part of the equation that matters most. If you have fans who leave you messages and ask questions on Facebook, you must answer them. No two ways about it, and there is no such thing as a stupid question (or at least you shouldn’t make your followers feel like their questions are stupid). Another thing to remember is that on social media your fans/followers expect a response fairly quickly. A question asked on Facebook is not the same thing as a question asked via email. At the very least, when someone directs a positive comment your way, “Like” it — it’s a pretty easy way to let them know you’re paying attention.

3. They post inconsistently. If Facebook is part of your marketing effort, attend to your Page. It’s that simple. You have Likes and followers because people are sincerely interested in your business and what you have to say. There are tons of studies out there suggesting the best times of day, and the numbers of times each day or week to post, but there are so many variables to consider that it’s tough to say there is a hard and fast rule. Aim to post at least once a day and remember the 70-20-10 rule: 70% of your Page’s content shared should be information that is valuable and relevant to your Facebook fans. 20% of your posts should be shared content, i.e. content that comes from other people. The final 10% is Facebook posts that are promotional: sale announcements, new product alerts, events, etc.

4. They leave URLs in Status Updates. If you’re linking to your website or some other content, remove the extended hyperlink — or at least shorten it — before you hit post. Why? Once a pasted URL appears in the body of the unpublished Status Update, the link appears in the status box so you can safely remove the link without affecting the content. Leaving in the the URL just clutters the post.

Which looks better? This:

cluttered facebook status update

 

or this?:

 

clean facebook status update

 

5. They forget to include a visual with every post. According to a recent Fast Company article, “44 percent of respondents are more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures than any other media.” Why? Pictures help us sort and understand the piles of information we’re exposed to every day. Plus, they can be fun!

Which would you rather see? This:

 

boring status update

 

or this?:

fun photo status update

 

6. They don’t add basic *free* apps. There are dozens of free apps you can add to your Page to make it more engaging — for free. Using the default apps, such as Events and Photos is a good start, but why stop there? If you’re a retailer, you should have the Pinterest app; if you’re in the service industry, install SnapGuide and create step-by-step guides — for cooking, building, fashion, etc. — that you can share with your fans.

7. They don’t create custom apps.  Obviously this one is near and dear to my heart, but create custom apps to make your Page stand out! It doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. With a third-party provider you can create contests and promotions — as many businesses know — but also newsletters, calendars, reservation and appointment requests, forms that let customers request more information about your business, maps, customer support, testimonials, surveys and the list goes on.

Jim Belosic

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How to Leverage the Knowledge Graph for SEO

Nice Try, Microsoft

Nice Try, Microsoft (Photo credit: René Clausen Nielsen)

Knowledge is power, as the old saying goes. So what do marketers need to know about Google’s Knowledge Graph to power their SEO and search strategies?

There has been a lot of commentary around the semantic Web. The theory is that search results are becoming smarter by distinguishing between words with different meanings. Whether that is true or not largely depends on who you believe and how much stock you place in search engines’ ability to “learn” the wants and needs of their users.

The inception of Google’s Knowledge Graph, which began rolling out in May 2012, has been the driving force behind the rise of the semantic Web.

Understanding the Knowledge Graph

The Knowledge Graph is basically a knowledge base consisting of more than 570 million objects and 18 billion facts. Since its inception, search result pages have gone through noticeable changes. These include the ability to distinguish between words with different meanings and a new sidebar feature that provides a snippet of related facts.

Through semantic integration, or the process of matching related information from diverse sources, Google has been able to serve narrower, more refined search results based on what people are searching.

Before the Knowledge Graph, if someone searched for “Kansas,” the results would split between information about the state of Kansas and the band Kansas. The Knowledge Graph allows Google to better associate specific results to the most relevant “Kansas.”

Benefits of the Knowledge Graph

This specificity is great for users. They are able to find what they are looking for much more efficiently without the noise caused by results for words with different meanings.

There is also an inherent benefit to advertisers. No longer do they have to compete with irrelevant search results for valuable search engine real estate. With more refined results, there are fewer pages that can potentially outrank an advertiser’s brand.

The Knowledge Graph offers additional benefits to brands.

It can be manipulated to enhance a brand’s reputation by directing consumers to sources with the most appropriate brand messaging. Additional opportunities come with updating content strategies to take advantage of some of the benefits the Knowledge Graph provides.

Let’s take a look at how a brand can manipulate the Knowledge Graph to help ensure the right message is being displayed about the brand. In order to have a level of control as to what information about the brand is included in Knowledge Graph, it’s important to understand the sources it pulls information from.

Knowledge Graph Sources image001

The main sources that the Knowledge Graph pulls its information from are Wikipedia, Freebase, and the CIA World Factbook. Information from these sources is often displayed in the right sidebar of Google’s search results for certain queries. Submitting information to Knowledge Base sources opens the ability to manipulate the information that is displayed.

While it’s nearly impossible to submit to the CIA-run Factbook, other Knowledge Graph sources present SEO opportunities to brands.

For example, the Knowledge Graph information about Paramount Pictures comes from Wikipedia. A Wikipedia page offers brands the potential to have some level of control over the information the Knowledge Graph displays on Google. This helps build a positive online reputation for the brand. This can be particularly useful if there are any search engine results that speak negatively about the brand. Having a Knowledge Graph-informed sidebar summary can detract users from seeing those negative listings.

Brands can retain a level of control over the messaging display about it in search results by creating a Wikipedia page. Just remember to carefully follow Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines.

Once a brand achieves Knowledge Graph information in a search engine result page sidebar, it’s important to review the summary content to identify exactly where the information is coming from. This will be useful if you want to change the summary information about your brand. In the example of Paramount, the summary comes from the first paragraph of its Wikipedia page. If slightly different messaging is desired, that first paragraph can be edited within Wikipedia.

Content Strategy

The Knowledge Graph is beneficial to on-site content strategies, especially post-Google’s Panda update. Before Panda, it was typical for content strategies to include developing unique pages around all targeted keywords. In order to rank for two different phrases that have the same meaning two pages would be created, each optimized for one of the synonymous phrases.

The problem is that since the two content pieces are about the exact same topic, the content would be very similar and not have any added value to the user. The fact that the Panda update made this practice essentially obsolete by flagging the similar pages as “thin content” and devaluing them posed a great threat to SEO.

With the introduction of the Knowledge Graph, however, this post-Panda content issue has been somewhat resolved. Because the Knowledge Graph is able to make connections among semantically similar phrases, creating and optimizing a single page provides the potential to rank for all synonyms. This not only allows a site to rank for multiple keywords while staying in line with Panda, but also provides a better user experience because visitors won’t have to read through all the fluff to find the information they are looking for. Therefore, the added benefit could be gained of increased engagement on the website.

What changes have you seen in SEO strategies since Google’s Knowledge Graph was unveiled?

By Marc Purtell

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6 Reasons Sales Campaigns Fail

Why does one sales campaign end in success and another in abject failure. In almost every case, it’s because the seller neglected an essential step in the selling process. Here are the most common errors, along with some advice on how to avoid them.

1. Failure to Research the Customer

In today’s information-rich business world, customers expect you to know the following, before you contact them:

  • Who they are
  • Who they work for
  • Who they work with
  • What their company does
  • Who their customers are
  • Why they might need your offering

Whenever you ask a customer a question that could be answered by spending 30 seconds on the Web, you’re telling that customer that either you’re stupid or you don’t really give a damn. So why should they buy from you?

2. Failure to Qualify the Opportunity

It’s easy to get excited when you’ve see the opportunity to make a big sale. When visions of huge success float through your brain, you’re already enjoying the pleasure of that success. That’s why it’s difficult to ask questions that might reveal that the opportunity isn’t real.

Nevertheless, there’s nothing worse than spending hours, days and weeks of effort on making a sale that was never going to happen in the first place. That’s why you MUST, within the first ten minutes of meeting with a customer, ask qualifying questions that confirm there is a real need for your offering, that the need is a priority, and that there’s money to buy it with.

3. Failure to Research the Competition

In every sales campaign, there’s a very real danger that the competition either already has the inside track or will swoop in a scoop the deal out from under you. The only way to keep from being blindsided and outsold is to know more about the competition than the competition knows about you.

It’s not enough to simply know the competitor‘s offerings. You must also understand how that competitor positions those offerings against your own products and services. Ideally, you should even know the names of the people calling on your potential customer and, even more importantly, who they are talking to. (Hint: use LinkedIn to suss out your competitor’s possible allies.)

4. Failure to Define the Financial Impact

Even if you’re sure the customer needs your offering, they’re not going to spend money to buy it unless and until you can show them both the positive financial impact of buying and the negative financial impact of failing to buy.

Early in the sales cycle, work with the customer to define ALL the ways that your offering addresses impacts their revenue and profit: direct costs, lost opportunity costs, lower personnel costs, higher sales, higher profit and so forth. Then describe the specific elements of your offering that uniquely address those financial issues better than the offerings from the competition.  Do this carefully and thoroughly, and nine time out of ten, the customer will say something like: “So, when do we start?”

5. Failure to Focus on Helping

More than anything else, customers want you to have their own interests at heart, even if it means that you’re not going to make the sale. Customers immediately sense when you’re more concerned with closing the deal than helping them out and, zip!, up go the barriers.

I don’t know if the “hard sell” ever really worked, but today, anything that smacks of pressure is great way to get yourself thrown out of the building. The only way to approach a selling situation is with honest curiosity combined with a willingness to do whatever it takes to make the customer happy…even if it means admitting that you’ve got nothing the customer really needs.

6. Failure to Discover the Buying Process

Every firm has its own way to make buying decisions, with its own timetable for making them. If you want a sales campaign to end successfully, you’d better know those stages or you’ll probably end up with some unexpected surprises: like contracts that don’t get signed and P.O.s that get issued.

During your initial conversations, work with your customer to define the way that they buy the sort of product or service you’re offering. Create a brief document that defines that buying process and what to do (or who to call) if something goes awry. That way, when you get a “Yes!” you’ll know that really means something!

-INC.COM

 

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4 Ways to Take Advantage of Facebook Mobile Ads

You’re a few clicks and a few dollars away from reaching customers on Facebook mobile. Here are four simple ways to do so.

With roughly half of all U.S. mobile subscribers using smartphones, Facebook is very focused on serving ads to mobile users. This is obvious when you see Facebook’s revenue was up in Q3 because of mobile advertising.

“There are over 12 million small businesses using Facebook, and if you do the basics of updating your page, it is a low-cost, rich visual presence in mobile without needing a mobile website,” says Matt Idema, the director of monetization product marketing for Facebook, who focuses on small businesses and their use of Facebook pages. Idema advises all businesses to fill out their profile with location, phone, and hours of operation as well as an attractive cover photo. Getting past the basic profile, there are four, straightforward ways to reach customers on mobile.

1. Promoted Posts

Using Promoted Posts, you, a page owner, can take a post you’ve already created and pay to ensure it is seen by existing fans as well as friends of fans. Idema adds, “You can target page posts according to gender, age, geography, and other factors, and should promote the post so that as many people as possible will see it.” An example might be a picture of a sale item or a picture of food you have posted on your Facebook page that you then promote. There’s no distinction between desktop and mobile in Promoted Posts–your fans see the post on whatever device they’re using at the time.

2. Facebook Offers

Another simple marketing unit is Facebook Offers, which allows couponing, discounts, and deals. Offers can be redeemed in-store, online, or have an option for both. Customers can print an offer or show it to an employee via a mobile phone, or the offer can be redeemed on a website via a code. Micah Gaudio, mobile social strategist of Via Digital Media, has successfully used offers for his client SweetFrog Frozen Yogurt. “We average a 2.9% redemption rate on Facebook Offers, and we’ve had some stores report over 10,000 in-person redemptions.” Facebook provides several case studies of businesses that successfully use offers. Promoting offers can increase your reach. A page owner can limit the number of offers shared per day, or make the number unlimited.

Once a fan claims the offer, it is shown to their friends in their news feed, providing a viral bump in exposure. Gaudio has used offers to bring fans to a custom tab on the Facebook page where they are encouraged to share their mobile number for a chance to win a free yogurt. These users convert at an even higher percentage once acquired in this way.

3. Facebook Ads

“The majority of small businesses use the self-service Web interface for ads,” says Idema. Facebook has made it easier to run ads in the main news feed, which gets them running on mobile as well. You can use ads to acquire “Likes” for a page, or to promote content, which is very similar to promoting a post. Ads have numerous targeting options, letting page owners reach a specific audience segment.

For those more technical users, Facebook offers a Power Editor to do really fine-grained targeting for mobile users. “If you want to target mobile users directly, you should download it, dive in, learn how to use it. “The Power Editor lets you target local Zip codes, phone models, and more. Consider targeting people who haven’t yet liked your page to get them to do so, then reach them via Promoted Posts or offers–this can be cost effective.” Keath also offered a serious power tip. If your company has an existing email list, you can upload that list to Facebook via Power Editor, and it will target your existing email subscribers with ads.

4. Sponsored Stories

Sponsored Stories is another type of ad unit, in which a user’s interaction with a page (liking it, commenting on a post, checking in) becomes a promoted item in their friend’s news feeds. “By selecting Sponsored Stories, small businesses will get news-feed ads on desktop and mobile.” One targeting option is for people who have used Facebook on mobile, which doesn’t guarantee they’ll see your ad on mobile, but helps limit your audience to those who are mobile users.

Reaching customers via mobile has become much easier in recent months, and most businesses can do so without diving into advanced features or power settings.

Let us know if you’ve had success with these techniques and others in the comments below.

Howard Greenstein-inc.com

 

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Choose a Great Name for Your Company

Here’s what I’ve learned about naming your business:

You have two options: Name it something relevant or something extremely catchy
Most smart entrepreneurs go with the straightforward option and name the business something relevant to their industry or goal. Charity:water is a great example. It doesn’t get more straightforward than that. Often times, this will give you the easiest and most fireproof way to brand your business: Just utter its name.

Often times, however, companies with bigger budgets will make up a cool-sounding nonword that’s extremely catchy. Squidoo and Piperlime are examples of that. I personally like this option better. It’s more of an uphill climb to brand your company, but worth it when you get there.

Follow the KISS rule: Keep it short and simple
I cannot even begin to describe the issues we’ve had by having such a long name (and hence URL) attached to our company. It’s hard to pronounce, and it’s hard to remember. Don’t make the same mistake. Stay short, stay simple, stay close to your idea. Ten letters or fewer is ideal. You want people to be able to retain the name and concept after just a glance.

Choose a font that can be easily translated into a big, eye-catching sign
Assuming the risk of being generic or boring with your logo, you may want to think closely about the repercussions of choosing a font that may be hard to incorporate into a big LED sign–a sign that one day will be at the forefront of your expanding locations. Our original logo had a cursive and thin font, and we had great difficulty finding a sign company that wouldn’t butcher the aesthetic feel of it. We finally decided it would be in our best interest to change the font to one that could be reproduced more easily, lending itself to LED lighting (or any other type of lit sign) in the future.

If you are–like most of us–a typical business owner with no outside funding, most potential consumers won’t know about your company until they’ve had exposure to it. You want them to know what you’re about as soon as they read your name. Take it from someone who learned the hard way.

Mayra Jimenez-inc.com

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3 Basics of Facebook Analytics

You’ve got a few months’ worth of Facebook activity under your belt. Now’s the time to dig into the data and see what’s working.

facebook analytics marketing

You’ve spent a significant amount of time setting up your business’s Facebook presence and are feeling pretty good about it. You’re finding content to share on a regular basis, and steadily growing your “like” base beyond just friends and family.

But this isn’t the time to start slacking off. In fact, it’s now–when you’re gaining some momentum–that you need to take your Facebook efforts to the next level.

Now that you’ve got a few months’ worth of activity, you should begin to look at what kind of content is resonating with your audience and what’s not, so you can become more targeted and efficient with your efforts. This knowledge also is important if you’re thinking about doing some paid Facebook advertising.

1. Analyze Your Content

If you don’t already know, Facebook Insights is the platform’s free built-in analytics package, and it’s available to Facebook page administrators. Facebook Insights will be your new best friend.

Facebook Insights collects a lot of data about your page, from visits and reach to engagement and demographics. You can see how each individual piece of content is connecting with your audience. You can get a snapshot view of how many people have seen each of your posts (“Reach”), clicked on it (“Engaged Users”), commented or liked or shared (“Talking About This”), and a whole lot more. You can also see how well certain types of content–photos, videos, links, questions, etc.–perform compared to each other.

So, for example, if you find that a photo of your pup at company headquarters resulted in a spike in engagement, you might want to start having Fido make more regular appearances. If you tend to get more engagement on Saturdays and Sundays, save your best content for the weekend. See what happens with your analytics.

2. Analyze Your Audience

Who are your “likers”? Are they in their 20s, or 50s? How many “liked” you by clicking on your page’s “like” button, and how many by clicking on an external plugin?

Facebook Insights can tell you all this, too. These stats can help you deliver even more targeted content and grow your community. If your audience skews younger, for example, it might be okay to sprinkle some “LOLs” once in awhile in your posts. If a lot of them “like” you through an external social plugin, think about where these plugins are (maybe your blog or website?) and consider making the buttons more prominent.

3. Give Facebook Advertising a Try

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with Facebook Insights, you might want to test a small advertising campaign to get more exposure. There are different advertising options, including ads and sponsored stories that run on the right-hand side (and are most effective to get new fans), and promoted posts (which gets your post in front of more people who already “like” your page). Learn more about Facebook advertising here.

The great thing about advertising on Facebook (besides the fact that it’s really easy) is that you can target your ad to a specific audience based on location, gender, age and/or interests. And, you can start with a small/limited campaign and, based on how well it’s performing, adjust your budget–or stop advertising altogether–anytime.

We have a saying here at my online marketing company,  “Always be testing.” This should be the case for your Facebook strategy, too. And Facebook Insights is an amazing tool to help you test, track and refine your efforts.

Have you used Facebook Insights to track your page’s performance? What metrics/numbers are the most helpful?

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3 Tips Choose a Great Name For Your Company

We thought we had a great name and logo for our company. But we made three simple–and costly–mistakes.

name logo branding idea facebook twitter pinterest

When I started my business, my husband and I decided to name our company after something that resembled our clientele: exotic, bold, and beautiful. That’s why–among other sentimental reasons–we decided to name it The Orchid Boutique. Looking back, this was probably a mistake. We’ve had a harder climb when it comes to branding because the name is not immediately associated with our product–luxury swimwear and accessories for women. I’m reminded of this every time someone asks me if we sell flowers.

Here’s what I’ve learned about naming your business:

You have two options: Name it something relevant or something extremely catchy
Most smart entrepreneurs go with the straightforward option and name the business something relevant to their industry or goal. “Charity:water” is a great example. It doesn’t get more straightforward than that. Often times this will give you the easiest and more fireproof way to brand your business: Just utter its name.

Often times, however, companies with bigger budgets will make up a cool-sounding non-word that’s extremely catchy. “Squidoo” and “Piperlime” are examples of that. I personally like this option better. It’s more of an uphill climb to brand your company, but worth it when you get there.

Follow the KISS rule: Keep it short and simple
I cannot even begin to describe the issues we’ve had by having such a long name (and hence URL) attached to our company. It’s hard to pronounce, and it’s hard to remember. Don’t make our same mistake. Stay short, stay simple, stay close to your idea. Ten letters or less is ideal. You want people to be able to retain the name and concept after just a glance.

Choose a font that can be easily translated into a big, eye-catching sign
Assuming the risk of being generic or boring with your logo, you may want to think closely about the repercussions of choosing a font that may be hard to incorporate into a big LED sign–a sign that one day will be at the forefront of your expanding locations. Our original logo had a cursive and thin font, and we had great difficulty trying to find around for a sign company that wouldn’t butcher the aesthetic feel of it. We finally decided it would be in our best interest to change the font to one that could be reproduced more easily, lending itself to LED lighting (or any other type of lit sign) in the future.

If you are–like most of us–a typical business owner with no outside funding, most potential consumers won’t know about your company until they’ve had exposure to it. You want them to know what you’re about as soon as they read your name. Take it from someone who learned the hard way

Mayra Jimenez-inc.com

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