The A-Z guide to setting up your Facebook page

Creating your company’s Facebook page is just the tip of the iceberg. Once you set it up, there are constantly new tools and features being added that can help you enhance your brand’s presence online. In short, your social media endeavours are an ongoing process, so it’s important to stay on top of the trends.

If you’re a newbie to the social media landscape and want to take a stab at setting up your company’s Facebook page, check out Social Media Quickstarter’s guide to Facebook.

The site provides a comprehensive approach to setting up your social media sites, and also segue’s into creating your Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube pages, plus so much more!

37 ways to create content that drives traffic

There’s no question that creating compelling content can be a full-time job, and one that requires skill and savvy. If you’re interested in creating content that will generate traffic to your web site, Quick Sprout has developed a handy 37-point checklist that will help you create great content.

Here are some highlights:

General writing tips

  1. Use the words “you” and “I” – using the words “you” and “I” within your content will create a feeling of a conversation between you and your readers, which will keep them engaged longer.
  2. Keep it simple – don’t try to use fancy words within your posts. If a fifth-grader can understand your vocabulary, you’re doing well. Otherwise, you will lose a lot of readers.
  3. Get to the point – no one likes reading fluff. The quicker you get to the point, the better.
  4. Use sub-headings – using headings within your post will make content more skimmable.
  5. Make your headline eye-catching – from creating a sense of urgency to creating curiosity or making a promise, make sure your headline is attractive enough so people will want to read the rest of your content.

B2B writing tips

  1. Back up your points – stats are everything. If you can’t back up your data, no one will take you seriously. Make sure the sources you are using are credible.
  2. Showcase your accomplishments – somewhere within your content, or in your author bio box, you need to show off your accomplishments. This will prove that you are an authority, which will help cultivate a following.
  3. Make your content actionable – people should be able to read your content and know what to do next. From how-to posts to list posts, the more actionable you make your content, the better off you are.
  4. Use instructional videos and images – in the B2B world, using images or videos that help guide people through the steps they need to take to achieve a certain outcome is an easy way to provide more value.
  5. Give them more – at the end of your article, consider offering additional resources or guides. For example, having a downloadable PDF or a checklist will help increase the value of your content.

B2C writing tips

  1. Don’t forget the emotional crack – consumers have a short attention span, much shorter than B2B readers. Keep your substance-filled content short and edgy.
  2. Be trendy – in the consumer world, trendy content tends to do better than evergreen. Trendy content is typically more socially driven.
  3. Timing is everything – the quicker you are to break a story, the more readers and traffic you’ll get. Stay on top of Twitter and Google Trends to see what’s hot.
  4. Visuals are more important than text – consumers prefer visuals (images and videos) over text.
  5. Connect your content with pop culture – if you can incorporate what’s happening in the world into your content, you’ll get more social shares.

View the full list here

When to send email campaigns for best results

As part of my routine for some of my clients, I am responsible for the creation and distribution of their email campaigns. I stumbled upon this useful post on Buffer Social by Belle Beth Cooper, highlighting the best times of the day and week to post tweets, Facebook posts, emails and blog posts.

Here’s an excerpt that I extracted for the purpose of focusing on email campaigns:

There’s been lots of research done on the best time to send emails, particularly in the case of email marketing. Some research done by Dan Zarrella from Hubspot broke down each time of day and worked out which type of emails work best for that period. Here’s what he found:

  • 10pm–6am: This is the dead zone, when hardly any emails get opened.
  • 6am–10am: Consumer-based marketing emails are best sent early in the morning.
  • 10am-noon: Most people are working, and probably won’t open your email.
  • Noon–2pm: News and magazine updates are popular during lunch breaks.
  • 2–3pm: After lunch lots of people buckle down and ignore their inbox.
  • 3–5pm: Property and financial-related offers are best sent in the early afternoon.
  • 5–7pm: Holiday promotions & B2B promotions get opened mostly in the early evening.
  • 7–10pm: Consumer promotions are popular again after dinner.

What I thought was really interesting about this breakdown is why each type of email is more popular at certain times. From 3–5pm, for instance, the reason people open financial and property-related emails is that they’re more likely to be thinking about their life situation and how to improve it. Understanding how these time blocks work can be a good start to sending your emails at just the right time.

And since 23.63% of emails are opened within an hour of being received, this is something we definitely want to get right.

For more general emails, open rates, click-through rates and abuse reports were all found to be highest during early mornings and on weekends.

How much do typos cost?

6433350979_6dc8523b87One thing’s for sure. Typos happen. No matter how cautious you are, no matter how many times you run spell check and proofread, one of those suckers will slip through.

Maybe that’s why whenever I catch a typo in someone else’s marketing I’m suddenly a little bit happier. Sounds a bit cruel, I know, but other people’s mistakes just makes me feel a little less alone in this crazy world.

In all fairness, not all typos carry the same weight of embarrassment. Some errors end up costing companies much more than shame.

Check out these 10 very costly typos

 

101 Awesome Marketing Quotes #Hubspot

The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing

If the concept of content marketing still seems a bit wooly, you’ll love this detailed guide that Quick Sprout has created.  This useful resource is filled with practical, ready-to-use ideas that will help you to increase engagement and traffic to your website, and to drive sales.

From planning to writing to promoting your content, you’ll have handy information at your fingertips to be successful and prosperous on the Web — all in one place!

Whether you’re a novice or a pro, this guide provides tons of actionable tactics you can put to work today to begin engaging your ideal customers with high-value content.

Without further ado, view the guide now

Clean up your digital act

Social-Media-Trends-2014Earlier this year (February 5th to be exact), Technorati published its 2013 Digital Influence Report. The bold headline was quite clear that digital spending was not equal to the influence of blogs.

According to brand marketers, social spend in 2013 will increase substantially. Despite this increase, however, spending on social makes up only one-tenth of brands’ total digital budget. On the flip side, blogs still are one of the most influential mediums, ranking high with consumers for trust, popularity and influence. The disconnect between brand marketers and influencers is a result of a challenge they both face – a lack of uniform metrics to effectively measure the success of influencer marketing campaigns.

While preparing your marketing/PR plans for 2014, it’s important to take stock of what you’ve achieved this past year as you pave the way forward. Use Technorati’s report to see what you may have missed out on, need to improve upon, or perhaps remove because it doesn’t fit your brand or personal identity; remembering, for example, that you don’t need to be on every  social media outlet if it doesn’t necessarily fit your brand, or your efforts just don’t reap the rewards. Be realistic.

I recommend digital housekeeping at least annually, and what better time than the present?

Not sure where to start?  I can help!

What tools do you use to gauge where you’ve been and where you’re going for your online marketing/PR plans?

10 ways to ruin (and protect) your business’ reputation

Image Source: getsynchronicity.com

Reputation is everything when it comes to any business, but smaller businesses make take particular precaution. According to O2,

  • Seven out of ten customers never forgive a small business if they experience bad service
  • Over half of consumers believe all businesses, no matter what size, should have a website
  • Four in five now go online to research a small business before they use them

Here are some common yet easily preventable mistakes that can cause a small business’ reputation to crumble.

1. Making empty promises

Expect some serious backlash if you’re offering a warranty on your product without ensuring the permanent availability of its parts; or offering to fix an error that appears on a website you have designed that has since been managed by another party.  

2. Providing bad customer service – or no service at all

Gives the impression that either you don’t care about your customers, don’t know how to help them, or don’t have time to address their problems. This will cause customers to lose confidence in your company quickly. Make sure to allocate sufficient time and resources to customer service.

3. Lackluster updates

If your company is has joined social media, keep in mind that your fans are the best judges of whether a post is valuable or not, as they read hundreds of posts every day. Your posts have to resonate among your competition.

4. Lack of respect for timeframes

Basically, if you can’t deliver the goods, don’t give unrealistic deadlines. You should be at least on par with your competitors. Or, if timing isn’t within your company’s unique selling points (USP), highlight the ones that can help you win over potential clients. My favourite piece of advice that was given to me when I first entered the job market many moons ago, was to under-promise and over-deliver. If a project or quote will take you two days to complete, promise three days, and deliver in two. Always best to leave your clients pleasantly surprised than unexpectedly annoyed.

5. Debating controversial topics

Your customers will undoubtedly have differing views on politics, religion, or current events. Focus on keeping an objective view of these topics or anything that can isolate your stakeholders. Social media is too vast a platform to engage in topics that divert attention from your business or service, and will simply have a negative impact on those who want to business with you.

6. Unhappy workers

The online world makes it very easy to give people a voice, anonymously or not. This includes disgruntled employees. Treat these essential components of your business fairly and give them the opportunity to be heard the right (offline) forum. It’s equally important that your human resources department is equipped with information to protect both parties to avoid defamation.  

7. Constantly modifying your user interface

I think most of us can agree that there’s nothing more irritating than getting used to a certain platform or experience, and then having to get used to a complete overhaul – especially if it’s worse than what you started with. Of course, you will have naysayers either way, but if you keep challenging your audience, it’ll only threaten likeability (no pun intended!). So, try to stick with the tried and true, and make only necessary changes. After all, enhancements should make engagement easier, not more difficult, so keep that in mind.

8. Complaining

Bottom line, save your complaints for family and friends. Your customers don’t need to hear it, and chances are, they don’t want to. When you’re seeking a product or service, the last thing you need to experience is that disgruntled employee I talked about in #6.

9. Selling and communicating too much

There is a fine line between engaging with your customers and being down-right annoying. As a professional organization, daily text or email blasts will do you more harm than good. Eventually, people tune out, and you’ll never get them back. I once had the displeasure of dealing with a sales rep who would try to meet me for coffee on a weekly basis, or casually drop into my office assuming I had nothing better to do.  It got to a point where he got the best of my friendly demeanor and my dark side had to come out. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Plan your communication calendar and sales calls carefully so that you can monitor how often and much you are interacting with your clients.

10. Shock advertising

“Shock advertising or Shockvertising deliberately, rather than inadvertently, startles and offends its audience by violating norms for social values and personal ideals.”  Shocking advertising content may also entail improper or indecent language, like French Connection‘s “fcuk” campaign.  While recognized as a form of art in Poland, German and Dutch, it is still quite a sensitive form of advertising, so be sure to evaluate whether this is the right approach for your business before you employ it.

Your reputation is a delicate asset. Of course, there will be blunders, trials and errors along the way, but how you handle these blunders is what will ultimately help you realize your ultimate success or failure. If you spend too much time rectifying a problem that could have been avoided in the first place, you’re potentially denying new and fruitful opportunities, not to mention damaging the integrity of your business.

Andrea E. Antal is a corporate communications consultant for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB), interested in marketing, public relations and the digital social landscape. She is certified in marketing communications from the University of Toronto, Canada, and has worked with a variety of leading brands. She currently lives in the Kingdom of Bahrain since 2010. She has a blog and you can find her on LinkedIn and on Twitter @andreaeantal

Content Marketing? There’s a checklist for that!

If you’re anything like me, you love checklists! There’s nothing more satisfying than accomplishing mini tasks within a larger project, and tracking results along the way.

Siege Media has come up with a handy dandy tool to help track your content marketing process at each stage, from idea generation all the way to post-launch.

You can also print and email it as needed.  Go to the checklist

SiegeMedia

Workplace fraudsters beware… We’re onto you!

Would you have assumed that small businesses (less than 100 employees) are more at risk for internal fraud than their larger counterparts?

The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Adam Courtenay recently published a stunning article entitled Top five frauds small businesses face, and it’s well worth the read.

Here are the top 5 fraud risks for small business from Courtenay’s article:

1. False invoicing – most popular with fraudsters is the payment to fictitious suppliers or making payments to valid suppliers but diverting them to the fraudster’s own account.

2. Transferring money by EFT to one’s own account – is on the increase in both small and large businesses as online banking technology is adopted.

3. Cheque fraud – this mostly incorporates writing cheques to cash, or overwriting cheques in the fraudster’s favour. The risk is heightened if the same person who writes cheques also completes bank reconciliations, which in small companies can often be the case.

4. Payroll fraud – especially if there is a poorly segregated, or larger base of between 70 and 100 employees. It’s easier for payments to go undetected if not properly scrutinized by someone other than payroll but with requisite knowledge of the payroll. Overpaying overtime is also a problem, especially in collusion with an employee.

5. Skimming/theft of cash. This happens in businesses with less formal receipting processes (the ability to receive cash without issuing a receipt), or where the receiver can manipulate the debtors’ ledger and apply other receipts to the cash transaction that was misappropriated (also known as lapping).

Read the full article: Top five frauds small businesses face

How would you handle the situation if you caught a colleague engaging in any of the above fraudulent activities?

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