Social Media Marketing
The Scots may be in denial over cholesterol – with a taste for dumpling, deep fried Mars Bars and tea cakes – but Scots engage often: fully accepting and embracing social media. Scotland has a bigger appetite for social networking sites than anywhere else in the UK. But members of the general population aren’t the only ones with a steady diet of Tweeting and Facebooking, the Scottish government has been very progressive in its approach to social media. The government is very aware of the major implications – socially, economically and culturally, because in 2011 they established a digital infrastructure action plan with a goal of becoming a world-class digital nation by 2020.
Don’t panic, they won’t abandon the traditional menu entirely. Scotland will still be the home to Irn Bru, whisky, haggis, and a guid night oot but they are not about to be left out of the information revolution.
Here in health-crazy Canada, Out-Smarts Marketing, providers of social media and internet marketing strategies, has been a leader in helping small and medium-size businesses leverage the benefits of social media for years. The connection? Mhairi (Var-i, Gaelic for Mary) Petrovic, Out-Smarts founder, who hails from near Edinburgh but now calls Vancouver, British Columbia her home. Mhairi was involved in marketing online technology to Scottish businesses before the internet was available in most of the country. Evidently, the penchant for digital runs in the tartan – and the blood.
Mhairi provides nourishing ideas on SEO, internet marketing, website, email and social media strategies to help your business grow, whether you’re in Canada, the UK or the USA. To celebrate St Andrew’s Day today, and in the lead up to Hogmanay, over the next few posts she’s going to be sharing some tactics that will have a definite Scottish flavour to them, so keep your kilts pressed and handy.
Tell us your New Year’s Resolution
Watch our Facebook page for our challenge to Martin Gibbons, CEO of Peoplemaps, Bob Gignac, Best Selling Author of Rich is a State of Mind and Speaker, and Willis Turner, President & CEO of Sales & Marketing Executives International, Inc. as well as everyone from Canada to the great land of bagpipes and the Picts: tell us your New Year’s resolution for 2014 (whether they be dietary or business related) – like cutting down on crisps and poutine or optimizing your website – and we’ll give the author of the best laid plan a 21 point diagnostic website review package from Out-Smarts Marketing. Included will be recommendations to help you with internet marketing and use of social media for your small business. Stay tuned for developments on both fronts! Au ra best!
Mhairi was recently interviewed by Susan Le for The Level’s first podcast episode.
In this podcast, we discuss how a business can kickstart their Social Media Strategy, how to overcome common challenges, the social media landscape and how a business can measure success.
With so many social media networks out there, businesses are often left to decide which platforms to to be a part of: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Vine, Instagram.. and the list goes on. Businesses should not take on too many but instead should find the ones that their target audience use. Businesses should check if the tool aligns with their target audience, business strategy and vision. When used properly, social media networks can help businesses “educate, connect and build a community” around their brand.
Listen to the podcast now:
The Level is a web development company specializing in developing custom websites and web applications. They build custom web solutions for global and local brands.
The new Facebook star system is currently rolling out and will enable people to rate their experiences of your business or service. According to Facebook, this will help your page to appear in the News Feed.
It is being rolled out gradually and not all business pages have this new feature yet. Right now I can see it in pages’ admin modes but not using my personal profile although it is rolling out to desktops across North America as we speak – the change has yet to be reflected my tablet and mobile devices.
How do stars differ from the likes? Stars are different in that they allow people to express sentiment about the business and to add a comment or complaint. The benefit of this from a businesses perspective is that it will help you to be discovered by prospective new clients through existing ones (as long as your service is great and you get top marks and comments). But what happens if someone gives you a bad rating? Well, right now there seems to be little recourse beyond getting your insiders to post fake rave stars which is hardly authentic. Perhaps Facebook is looking at this as a revenue generating opportunity a la Yelp.
What do you think?
Are you seeing stars yet?
Out-Smarts has been on Twitter for over 6 years now but recently we’ve seen our follower count start to stagnate. It was stuck hovering around 4000 followers for over a month despite the fact that we had been doing all the things we’ve always done. The trouble was that we had been doing the things we had always done! So I decided to shake things up a little.
Here is what I did to kick start the Twitter following and put a little spring in our step.
Kick start your Twitter following:
1. Using Just Unfollow , I went through following to see who was inactive, inappropriate or not in our target sweet spot and un-followed those, giving us plenty of space to add new followers while still keeping our following to follower ratio in the black. You have to be careful to do this gradually and not to unfollow too many at once.
2. Edited our cover image to show a picture of me – I am behind the Tweets, and humanizing the Twitter feed is important – people follow people more than brands on Twitter. I also edited the bio to make it more upbeat, personal and interesting.
3. Doubled up on the effort to interact and retweet in order to build real community and engage them.
4. Scheduled follow time into my Twitter day, gradually following Twitter accounts in our target area. You can’t control who follows you but you can impact this because if you follow people in your target audience, they are more likely to follow you back. Twellow is a great tool to help you with this but you can also get creative by checking out prominent people in your industry and locality to see who they follow.
5. Rather than just posting links to great articles, I also try to augment the Tweet in order to give a little perspective about what the article or link is about. I am also having some fun with symbols. Doing so has resulted in more shares and favs.
It has only been a few days but so far we have added almost 40 new followers and most of those are in our target zone. The lesson learned is that you always have to be reviewing your processes and the way you do things if you want to avoid stagnation and this goes for Twitter as well as most other aspects of your marketing.
What have you done to build your Twitter following? Share your tips with us!
Our first blog about Twitter
Spice Up Your Status Updates
Your Twitter feed sucks – here’s how to fix it.
Here at Out-Smarts, we’re big fans of online advertising. We like the fact that it’s affordable, traceable and tailored to your target audience – meaning you’re not spending important advertising dollars to get your ad in front of people who don’t have a need or want for your product.
Advertising online is highly targeted and beneficial because it relies on keywords that people use to search for content online with Google Adwords, and topics people have indicated an interest in on their Facebook profiles with Facebook Ads.
When you advertise offline, such as putting up a billboard downtown, it’s hard to know how effective that billboard was at driving traffic to your business. The nice thing about including online advertising in your overall marketing strategy is that it’s highly traceable. You know exactly who visited your website or interacted with your Facebook page as a result of your advertising efforts – and, as a bonus, online ads generally won’t break the bank.
The two biggest ways to advertise online are through Google Adwords and Facebook Ads. We discuss both in detail below.
Google Adwords is a cost effective way to rank highly in Google search results for highly targeted keywords that describe your business. We recommend using Adwords to augment your SEO efforts such as targeted website copy, completed META titles, tags and descriptions, directory submissions, link building, etc. If you’ve completed all of the above, or you’re in a highly competitive industry, and you’re still not ranking at the top of first page search results, then Adwords is for you. Very few people go beyond first page search results, meaning if you don’t have some sort presence there, your website may never be found by potential clients.
Adwords is great because you can target by geographic area and language, and it’s tailored to your budget. You can spend as little or as much as your budget allows each day on advertising. There are also extensive built-in metrics that track how well your ads are doing including; clicks, impressions, click through rate (number of clicks on your ad compared to how often it appeared to your target audience), average cost per click, total cost, as well as your best and worst performing keywords and ad campaigns. The sheer amount of data and metrics available through Adwords can be overwhelming at first but, trust us, it can quickly become addicting to tweak your keywords and campaigns, and watch the effect it has on your ability to reach your target audience.
Adwords also gives you the option of your ads appearing in search results, on their content network, or both. Search results are pretty self-explanatory – your ads may appear when someone executes a Google search using keywords you’ve bid on. Advertising on the Google content network means your ads may appear on websites that Google has determined are related to the keywords that you have bid on.
Facebook Ads are great because of how highly targeted you can make each ad. For example, if you’re a Vancouver based fitness centre, you can get as granular as targeting women, between 30-40 years old, that are married, living in Vancouver, with a university education, that have expressed an interest in fitness and healthy living. It’s easy to see how beneficial this can be for your business.
Another nice thing about Facebook Ads is that they are completely tailored to your budget. You can pay as little as $1 a day, or as much as your budget allows for advertising. As well, you can direct your ad to land on either your Facebook business page or your website, depending on whether your goal is to build your Facebook presence and engagement, or drive more traffic to your website.
Once you’ve run a Facebook Ad campaign, you can see how effective your ad was using built-in metrics such as campaign reach, frequency, social reach, actions (people that connected with your page after viewing your ad), clicks (people that clicked on your ad but didn’t connect with your page), as well as your click through rate and ad spend.
You do need to provide Facebook with your credit card information before you can set up Facebook Ads, but this is a simple process and allows for easy billing once you start generating clicks on your ads. Speaking of which, we always recommend choosing the ‘pay per click’ option – meaning you only pay if someone clicks on your ad versus the ‘impressions’ option – meaning you pay whenever someone sees your ad.
If we’ve convinced you about the important of online advertising, and we hope we have, contact us and we can help you get started.
Vine, the mobile app that allows you to create and post short video clips is the one of today’s most popular apps available for download. An offshoot of Twitter, Vine, which was launched in January 2013 quickly became one of the most used video sharing apps of 2013 so far.
Vine lets you create a very short video clip on your phone and when I say short, I mean it – Vines are only 6 seconds long which means you have to get really creative! Vine is versatile and can be used by practically anyone with a smartphone.
From a small business perspective Vine can be a neat tool to can help you got a short message across without too much work in creation. Vine clips can be used as a how to tool – if you want to show someone how to use your product or services for example, they can be used for branding, to give directions and to spread the word in a fun and meaningful way.
Vine for Business
As with any business marketing media, ask yourself: if your audience is using Vine (most Vine users are in the younger age brackets although Vine has an age limit of 17 – mainly do to a spike in pornographic Vines earlier in the spring); if you have the creativity / know how to pull this off without cheapening your brand (does Vine fit with your overall brand appeal); and if you will add value for your audience by including Vine in your online marketing mix.
Already there are some great examples of how companies are utilizing this technology – here are a few:
Vine For Directions – Allan Financial
Our client, Allan Financial recently moved to a brand new office. Their new digs are on the second floor and some clients have found the office hard to find so Allan Financial created this short Vine in conjunction with Randal Kurt photography to showcase their second floor location and warm welcome.
Vine for Advertising – Trident Gum Vine
Trident embedded a Vine to launch a TV ad (love this coming together of old versus new media).
Vine to Promote and Event or Campaign
General Electric used this Vine to promote National Inventors Day.
How To Vines
Cadbury launched this Vine to showcase how to enjoy a new Egg n Spoon line.
Alternatives to Vine
With the speedy growth of Vine, Facebook didn’t take long to take note - Instragram launched video capabilities in June. Instragram videos are longer, at 15 seconds they are more than double the length of Vines and more big brands are using Instragram (likely because they have been around longer and because of Facebook’s clout over Twitter). Which you use will depend on your goals and preferences.
If you are using Vine or Intragram for your small business, we would love to hear about. Please share your Vines in the comments below.
What is the point of having a website if no one can find it?
It is critical as a small business that you rank on the first page for your business name (first and foremost) and then for search terms that your local audience might use to try to find you on Google or Bing. How can you achieve this? A recent study by Searchmetrics (you can download the enitre report on their site) examined 300 URL’s that ranked highly to find out what they had in common. Here are the key contributors:
1. Social Media - over the past couple of years the value of social links (i.e. links from social networks back to your site) has been increasing. If your goal is to rank higher then you should be active on these networks. Google+ is the best tool to use if rank is your priority.
2. Backlinks – links are like gold online but not all links are equal. The more links your page has from other , authoritative sites the more likely it is to rank highly.
3. Technical - the length of the URL, position of your keywords in the title to headers and site speed are all contributing factors to ranking higher. Hopefully your web designer knows this and took it into account when building your site. It is good housekeeping to make sure your website is using the latest version of the CMS and to update your plugins frequently.
4. Content – rich, strong content that is written well and adds value for your audience is key to helping your website convert but it’s also an important factor in helping your site get found in the first place. Remember to place links in your page content that link to other pages on your site or related external pages, to try to keep the content on each page to a manageable amount (no more than 600 words) and always update and refresh your content on a regular basis.
Improving your ranking often starts with strong navigation and in making sure that you are using the right keywords in your META: Titles, Descriptions and on page content. Take time to research the words you use to make sure that you aren’t competing with everyone and anyone in your industry.
Need help with this? Contact Out-Smarts - we would love to assist.
With over 200m users worldwide, LinkedIn is not only one of the most popular networks but also one of the oldest (launched in 2003), and it is by far the most used network in the business community.
These days, if you are a professional and you’re not on LinkedIn you risk being perceived as old fashioned, out of touch, or worse, lazy. If you have been procrastinating about using LinkedIn for business and are not sure where to start, this blog post is for you.
LinkedIn is a social network that centers around your career and your connections. You post your resume, in as much or as little detail as you feel comfortable with, and start connecting with people you work with, or have worked with in the past. You also connect with people you went to school with, or people you know through your existing business connections.
Why use LinkedIn?
People use LinkedIn for a multitude of reasons. Your goals and usage will depend on your career, your ambitions, your role and, ultimately, your business goals.
If you don’t have any other social media presence, and you’ve avoided it like the plague, then LinkedIn is the place you should start. Given that, with the current economic times, no job is a job for life; building a LinkedIn presence can help you stay current – just in case. Not only that, LinkedIn can also save you a lot of time and effort in your current role. Those are just a couple of reasons why LinkedIn is a must for business people. Here are ten more reasons why every business person should be on LinkedIn:
1. LinkedIn for Research – LinkedIn’s questions and answers is great place to crowd source. If you are working on a project and need to do some research, why not consider asking the LinkedIn community. People are often keen to show their knowledge, and you will find that if you word your question correctly you will get valuable feedback, links and information that will save you time.
2. Looking for work? Find out if the person who is hiring, or prominent people from the company that you want to do business with, are in your extended network and ask for a connection from the person you have in common. It’s always easier to get an interview or a first meeting if you are referred by someone trusted. Also if you are on the job market, make sure that you post your resume to LinkedIn and update it as your experience grows. LinkedIn is often the first place recruiters look when considering hiring someone.
3. Share an Update – Use your status updates on LinkedIn wisely. You can use them to inform your networks of what you do, or what you are looking to do. For example, if you are conducting a strategy session with a client, tell your network that – many of them might not know that you provide this service. Or you can entrench yourself as an expert in your field by posting valuable links to articles or news pertinent to your field that will educate or add value for your connections.
4. Company Profiles – LinkedIn isn’t just for individuals, businesses can have profiles too, and yours should. Doing so will help build your organization’s web presence, will allow interested parties to learn more about your business, give you valuable referrals and will improve your web ranking. Make sure that employees know about your page and link to it, and that your services are prominently displayed.
5. Save Time and Maintain Relationships – In the old days people had a rolodex and had to lift a phone on a regular basis in order to keep in touch with their connections, and only managed to keep in touch with the main ones because it took so much time. These days you can use tools like LinkedIn to stay at the forefront of people’s minds (even those on the periphery of your network). I am not saying that you shouldn’t lift a phone – you should, but by using LinkedIn you can more easily keep in touch with more people and augment your relationships.
6. Build Your Network – Not only is it important to keep in touch with people but it is also important in business to connect with new people. When you do so, follow up with a LinkedIn connect request and take advantage of your in person networking in the virtual world too. Get in the habit of doing this and your LinkedIn network will quickly grow. Connect with people you meet, work with, people you connect with online and use this as a way to stay in touch with your connections as in point five above.
7. Reach the Powers that Be – LinkedIn is the social network used most by top level executives so it can be a really valuable tool in connecting you with decision makers. This is especially powerful for strategic selling.
9. Hiring – with over 100m potential candidates online, have you thought of using LinkedIn to facilitate in your hiring process? People use LinkedIn for recruitment and for finding jobs and, given the professional nature of the tool, it can help you find just the right person for the job. You can easily set this up – it costs about $195 for a 30 day job posting.
10. Advertise – LinkedIn recently started allowing members to use sponsored ads to advertise on its network in a highly targeted way. You can advertise to specific people by company, geography, title, gender and age. You only pay for click throughs (each time someone clicks on the ad) and the cost is quite affordable (minimum $10 per day), but one downside is that you are limited by characters in the text.
If LinkedIn is on your to-do list please remember that we provide LinkedIn set up, maintenance, education and coaching services. Contact us and let us know how we can assist.
Please connect with Out-Smarts on LinkedIn at Out-Smarts.
I might be dating myself here but I remember hearing about the Internet for the first time in the late eighties. A professor teaching a seminar on Change Management veered off topic and talked about all of the computers in the world being connected and all I could think about was a series of great pipes and tubes criss crossing the globe. The Internet has come a long way since those early days, so much so that some of these stats will blow you away. We’re online and we’re embracing the digital lifestyle.
Staff.com – Connecting Great Companies with Global Talent
If you have been using social networks for your business and want to take things to the next level, this presentation is for you. Join us from 1-4pm on Wednesday the 10th July.
Are you currently using Facebook and Twitter for your business and want to find out how to maximize your presence and focus your actions? This seminar will teach you how to create more engaging strategies and to implement attention catching tactics!
• Learn why you want to create customized business pages
• The benefits of targeted ads
• What is valuable content
• How your business can use YouTube in your social media campaigns
• How to measure your results
This seminar is hosted at Small Business BC in Vancouver and delivered to other locations via live video conference and webinar. All webinar participants will also receive access to a recording for seven days after the live session.
Register now at the following locations: