blog - customers

How To Make Video Testimonials Work For you

September 23, 2017

Filed under: General

Social Media Marketing – it’s on everyone’s lips these days. The questions to ask yourself  is not if you should be using social media, but how you should be using it. Social media is fast becoming much more mainstream. Apart from Facebook, Twitter, Digg and LinkedIn (to name a few), another medium that has gained traction over the years is YouTube.

Popular TV programs such as Glee and America’s Got Talent opened up their auditions via YouTube. Teen singing sensation, Justin Beiber, was discovered on YouTube. Thousands of brands these days showcase their promotions and launch new products via their YouTube channel. You can do the same via YouTube or a web Video. All it takes is a little imagination and creativity.

Your customers are your best sales people. Why not build customer confidence with a web Video testimonial? There’s nothing more credible than having your customers talk about their experiences with your company, in their own words. Word-of-mouth, even if it is viral, is so powerful. Where do you start?

Ted Page, cofounder and creative director of Captains of Industry a marketing agency and video-production company based in Boston, oversees the creative development of videos, and interactive Web marketing campaigns for a range of renewable energy and clean-tech clients. He’s come up with the top 5 reasons why, plus 10 tips for making testimonials work harder for you and is based on an e-book, "How to Make Customer Video Testimonials."


WHY

1. Credibility
Having real people on camera who have had a great experience with your brand lends unassailable credibility to your message. Your customers are your very best salespeople. They are the ones who can honestly and credibly explain to potential customers that their solar panels are cutting their electric bill, or that their vacuum cleaner is the best.

 

2. Your website is a TV channel. Make sure it has good content that people want to watch
Your web TV channel is on 24/7. And the best part is, since you're not paying a network to air your commercial, or a magazine to place your ad, your media costs are zero. Accordingly, the process of having customer testimonials on your website is simplified.

 

3. More referrals
Customers are honoured to go on camera and praise your business. They know that what they say matters and that you value their opinion. It's a source of pride for them. And what do proud people do? They talk with their friends about what they've done. They become, in effect, a more motivated ambassador for your brand. Often, the result is additional qualified sales leads and a lower cost for customer acquisition.

 

4. Give people something to Tweet about
Good content and social media go hand in hand. People see something, then send tweets about it to their friends—amplifying the power of your testimonials.

 

5. Get across the personality of your company
The era of un-advertising on the Web is much more personal and human than the brochure-ware of the past. Nothing speaks to the unique personality of your company better than the people who trusted you—and are glad they did. Your customers are your brand, and they have a lot to say.

Clearly, video testimonials are a perfect fit for almost any company—including yours. Now, here are some tips for how you can make them truly effective.

 

HOW

1. Tell a story
Before you interview people, think about what story you want to tell. For example, do you want to get across that wind farms benefit local economies? Or that your software is easy to use? Once you know what story you want to get across, develop a list of questions that are likely to inspire the interviewee to tell the story you're looking for.
If you are planning to have multiple people in a single video, you can edit the piece so that the various responses string together to create a compelling narrative.

See these examples of video storytelling created for First Wind, a developer and operator of wind farms.

 

2. Make your videos "snackable"
Keep each video less than four minutes—ideally not more than 1-2 minutes long. People hunt for information and prefer to nibble short videos.

 

3. Aggregate your videos in an online media center
A media center like this one from Alteris Renewables makes it easy for customers to browse.

 

4. Guide viewers into your online sales funnel
Picture people at their computers, watching your videos. They've watched three or four, and now they're ready to take the next step... perhaps to request an estimate. The layout of your Web page that's displaying the videos should clearly show your offer and encourage viewers to click.

Think of your videos as cups of delicious coffee at Gloria Jean’s. The longer people hang around, the more likely they are to buy. Just make it easy for them to take action when they're done sipping, or you'll lose them.
You have to be careful, however; you don't want to be in the customer's face, selling overtly. Remember that this is un-advertising: You're educating your customers, but also making clear that you are there for them when they're ready to buy.

 

5. Encourage absolute honesty
When you interview customers, encourage them to tell the unvarnished truth and not to gild the lily just because they're on camera. People see right through BS; they also recognize the truth when they see it.

You might even want to have a customer talk about a situation where, for example, a problem occurred with the product you're selling, and how your company recognized the error and fixed it. That approach gets to the heart of credibility, and your customers will appreciate it far more than canned expressions of delight.

 

6. Optimize your videos for search
Do some research to see what search terms your target audience is using to find solutions such as yours. Then give your videos titles that include those search terms.

In addition, when you post the videos to your Web page or YouTube channel, include some text that's relevant and searchable and make sure the text is in close proximity to the video. Some companies actually publish transcripts or abstracts from the videos on the same page as the videos because search engines can quickly locate text, but not necessarily video files.

In addition, when you publish your videos on sites such as YouTube, add "tags" to each video that put them in easily searchable categories (e.g: solar power, cars, widgets).

 

7. Keep publishing new videos
Just as you're constantly gathering customer case histories for print, it's important to continuously publish videos to your site. Customers like seeing new, fresh stuff on your site. And search engines will rank your site higher if it's frequently updated with new content.

 

8. Interview customers who reflect your ideal new-customer profile
Look at the buyer personas of customer groups that are most likely to buy from you, then find current customers to interview who match those profiles as closely as possible. You want your Web audience to relate to the person they see onscreen.

Also, remember that you're not looking for models. You need people who look real—not like they just jumped out of a David Jones catalogue.

 

9. Intermix shots of your customers with images or video of your product
Seeing just customers on camera can get a bit dull. Spice up your testimonials with a roll showing customers using the product.

 

10. Pre-interview your customers
Have a call with each customer before the shoot to give them a sense of what you'll be talking about. You don't want to tell them what to say, but talking with them beforehand in general terms about the subject can set their mind at ease and help them to be more relaxed during the interview.

 

If your product or service is of a high quality and your customers derive satisfaction from them, they would gladly say positive things about your product in videos. The credibility and acceptability the videos would give you and your product is unquantifiable. Ready to get started?

Contact us if you’d like to develop your new website with a video feature added in.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more insights into the world of digital marketing.

Tags: social media, marketing, video, customers, testimonials

Don't Stop The Music

June 29, 2011

Filed under: General

Someone recently sent us this email that gives us all food for thought. We loved it so much that it is reproduced here:
“ Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later
The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes later
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes
A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pulled hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly…

45 minutes
The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour
He finished playing and then silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.


What no one that day knew was this - the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate musical pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 a piece.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in that metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities. The questions raised were: in a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made.....

How many other things are we missing?”

When was the last time you stopped to listen to your: customers, employees and yes, even to your inner self? What pressure points to you need to push to move your business forward? Have you listened to the music?

Tags: business, pressure points, customers

5 Items To Delete From Your Website Today

October 11, 2010

Filed under: General

How often have you had marketing experts tell you what your website must have? The must have’s often include: start a blog, monitor social media, or optimize your site for search engines. While all of these things are important, Kipp Bodnar recently created a list of items you should delete as soon as possible from your site. Kipp’s advise is to do something completely different: think about things you should stop doing and offers a few suggestions on things to remove from your business website.

1. Complicated Animations
Flash-based animations can be bad for search engine optimization, but they can also complicate the website experience for visitors. Remember that when users visit your website they looking for something specific. Animations can often be slow to load, which slows down the user and can make them abandon your website. Perform a test. Remove your animation for a set period of time and see how it impacts metrics like lead conversion and time-on-site.

2. Industry Jargon
Your website should be written for your customers. Assuming that potential customers know and understand industry terminology is a mistake. Look through your website and highlight terms that are not commonly used outside of industry circles. If you aren’t sure if a word should be removed, ask one of your customers if they are familiar with it. Delete the highlighted words and replace them with more common explanations.

3. Images
Images are important. Images help to tell a story. However, many websites have too many images. The problem with having too many images is that they can drastically slow down the load time for your website in a web broswer. Search engines also take into consideration page load times when ranking websites. Websites that have been around for a while can often collect lots of images, and some of them no longer go with the content of the site. Keep some images, but go through and remove all images from your website that don’t help tell your company’s story.

4. Long Pages of Text
Research has shown that Internet users don’t like to scroll. Having a product page that is full of text and graphs that takes several scolls to reach the bottom is asking for your information to be ignored. The truth is that if you have long text pages of your website, you are probably trying to communicate too many ideas on that page. Read through and ask yourself, “Is this all about one topic?” If the answer is “no,” then divide that page into a couple short pages that each contain a single idea. This type of simplification will make it easier for your visitors and search engines to understand what your site and business is aobut.

5. “Contact Us” Form
Contact us forms don’t work. Instead of qualified leads, they mostly attract spam. Having your business contact information as part of your website is critical. However, when it comes to using forms, use landing pages. Landing pages provide a dedicated form that is connected to a lead generation offer. For example, if you have a form connected to a free assessment, you clearly know that submissions from that form are related to potential customers who want a free assessment. You don’t have this clarity with a contact us form, and response rates for dedicated landing pages are much higher.

Sometimes, less is definitely more.

Source: Hubspot. Click here for the full post.

Tags: website, marketing, site, customers, contact, information

Make Video Testimonials Work For You

May 12, 2010

Filed under: General

Social Media Marketing – it’s on everyone’s lips these days. The questions to ask yourself  is not if you should be using social media, but how you should be using it. Social media is fast becoming much more mainstream. Apart from Facebook, Twitter, Digg and LinkedIn (to name a few), another medium that has gained traction over the years is YouTube.

Popular TV programs such as Glee and America’s Got Talent opened up their auditions via YouTube. Teen singing sensation, Justin Beiber, was discovered on YouTube. Thousands of brands these days showcase their promotions and launch new products via their YouTube channel. You can do the same via YouTube or a web Video. All it takes is a little imagination and creativity.

Your customers are your best sales people. Why not build customer confidence with a web Video testimonial? There’s nothing more credible than having your customers talk about their experiences with your company, in their own words. Word-of-mouth, even if it is viral, is so powerful. Where do you start?

Ted Page, cofounder and creative director of Captains of Industry a marketing agency and video-production company based in Boston, oversees the creative development of videos, and interactive Web marketing campaigns for a range of renewable energy and clean-tech clients. He’s come up with the top 5 reasons why, plus 10 tips for making testimonials work harder for you and is based on an e-book, "How to Make Customer Video Testimonials."


WHY

1. Credibility
Having real people on camera who have had a great experience with your brand lends unassailable credibility to your message. Your customers are your very best salespeople. They are the ones who can honestly and credibly explain to potential customers that their solar panels are cutting their electric bill, or that their vacuum cleaner is the best.

 

2. Your website is a TV channel. Make sure it has good content that people want to watch
Your web TV channel is on 24/7. And the best part is, since you're not paying a network to air your commercial, or a magazine to place your ad, your media costs are zero. Accordingly, the process of having customer testimonials on your website is simplified.

 

3. More referrals
Customers are honoured to go on camera and praise your business. They know that what they say matters and that you value their opinion. It's a source of pride for them. And what do proud people do? They talk with their friends about what they've done. They become, in effect, a more motivated ambassador for your brand. Often, the result is additional qualified sales leads and a lower cost for customer acquisition.

 

4. Give people something to Tweet about
Good content and social media go hand in hand. People see something, then send tweets about it to their friends—amplifying the power of your testimonials.

 

5. Get across the personality of your company
The era of un-advertising on the Web is much more personal and human than the brochure-ware of the past. Nothing speaks to the unique personality of your company better than the people who trusted you—and are glad they did. Your customers are your brand, and they have a lot to say.

Clearly, video testimonials are a perfect fit for almost any company—including yours. Now, here are some tips for how you can make them truly effective.

 

HOW

1. Tell a story
Before you interview people, think about what story you want to tell. For example, do you want to get across that wind farms benefit local economies? Or that your software is easy to use? Once you know what story you want to get across, develop a list of questions that are likely to inspire the interviewee to tell the story you're looking for.
If you are planning to have multiple people in a single video, you can edit the piece so that the various responses string together to create a compelling narrative.

See these examples of video storytelling created for First Wind, a developer and operator of wind farms.

 

2. Make your videos "snackable"
Keep each video less than four minutes—ideally not more than 1-2 minutes long. People hunt for information and prefer to nibble short videos.

 

3. Aggregate your videos in an online media center
A media center like this one from Alteris Renewables makes it easy for customers to browse.

 

4. Guide viewers into your online sales funnel
Picture people at their computers, watching your videos. They've watched three or four, and now they're ready to take the next step... perhaps to request an estimate. The layout of your Web page that's displaying the videos should clearly show your offer and encourage viewers to click.

Think of your videos as cups of delicious coffee at Gloria Jean’s. The longer people hang around, the more likely they are to buy. Just make it easy for them to take action when they're done sipping, or you'll lose them.
You have to be careful, however; you don't want to be in the customer's face, selling overtly. Remember that this is un-advertising: You're educating your customers, but also making clear that you are there for them when they're ready to buy.

 

5. Encourage absolute honesty
When you interview customers, encourage them to tell the unvarnished truth and not to gild the lily just because they're on camera. People see right through BS; they also recognize the truth when they see it.

You might even want to have a customer talk about a situation where, for example, a problem occurred with the product you're selling, and how your company recognized the error and fixed it. That approach gets to the heart of credibility, and your customers will appreciate it far more than canned expressions of delight.

 

6. Optimize your videos for search
Do some research to see what search terms your target audience is using to find solutions such as yours. Then give your videos titles that include those search terms.

In addition, when you post the videos to your Web page or YouTube channel, include some text that's relevant and searchable and make sure the text is in close proximity to the video. Some companies actually publish transcripts or abstracts from the videos on the same page as the videos because search engines can quickly locate text, but not necessarily video files.

In addition, when you publish your videos on sites such as YouTube, add "tags" to each video that put them in easily searchable categories (e.g: solar power, cars, widgets).

 

7. Keep publishing new videos
Just as you're constantly gathering customer case histories for print, it's important to continuously publish videos to your site. Customers like seeing new, fresh stuff on your site. And search engines will rank your site higher if it's frequently updated with new content.

 

8. Interview customers who reflect your ideal new-customer profile
Look at the buyer personas of customer groups that are most likely to buy from you, then find current customers to interview who match those profiles as closely as possible. You want your Web audience to relate to the person they see onscreen.

Also, remember that you're not looking for models. You need people who look real—not like they just jumped out of a David Jones catalogue.

 

9. Intermix shots of your customers with images or video of your product
Seeing just customers on camera can get a bit dull. Spice up your testimonials with a roll showing customers using the product.

 

10. Pre-interview your customers
Have a call with each customer before the shoot to give them a sense of what you'll be talking about. You don't want to tell them what to say, but talking with them beforehand in general terms about the subject can set their mind at ease and help them to be more relaxed during the interview.

 

If your product or service is of a high quality and your customers derive satisfaction from them, they would gladly say positive things about your product in videos. The credibility and acceptability the videos would give you and your product is unquantifiable. Ready to get started?

Contact us if you’d like to develop your new website with a video feature added in. While we don’t produce videos, we know businesses that do and would be happy to point you in the right direction.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more insights into the world of digital marketing.

Tags: social media, marketing, video, customers

Give your brand a Karma check with social media site

March 25, 2010

Filed under: General

The world’s biggest brands are under the spotlight with the launch of a new Australian social media website which ranks good and bad brands based on categories such as how they treat their customers, the environment and their employees. As reported in B&T today:

Launched yesterday, Brandkarma aggregates comments on 300 iconic brands providing each with a score. At the heart of the platform is the Brandkarma flower which has five petals focusing on how the brand treats its customers, employees, investors, suppliers and the planet. Users enter comments about one of the five areas and grade the brand with a colour from bad (red) to good (green). The colours are then reflected in the relevant flower petal, depending on the number of responses.

Brands featured on the site - which include Google, Apple, Tesco, Toyota, Nokia, McDonald’s and Nestle among others - can also be compared on the five criteria and overall ranking score. The site, which is currently in beta testing, was designed to help people make better brand choices as well as influence brand behaviour for good.


Increasingly people are understanding there are consequences around the things they buy, and not all brands are made equal. Most people want to do the right thing, if they knew what it was, and they knew where to start and it didn’t cost them much money. And finally people increasingly rely on friends, family, colleagues and strangers more than they rely on business leaders, governments, NGOs and experts and certainly marketing. Brandkarma is a way to pull those things together.

It represents the ever changing dynamics between the five key stakeholder groups which are customers, employees, suppliers, investors and the planet. It is all five of these that gives you an indication of the brand’s karma.

Users need to register at the site www.brandkarma.com where they can fill in their profile details. News feeds about the brands are also included and users who are active are ranked on how much they “Doo” or contribute on the site, enabling them to attain “Super Doo’d” status.

Brandkarma will not moderate comments unless they are flagged by other users.

Tags: brandkarma, customers, social media

7 Steps to Sleep Your Way to The Top In Business

January 21, 2010

Filed under: Business

Intrigued? These steps are just foreplay to what really goes on inside the pages of 'Sleeping Your Way to The Top in Business – The Ultimate Guide to Attracting & Seducing More Customers'. Author and Public Speaker, Ben Angel admits his new book is certainly not for the fainthearted. His methods for attracting new clients to business are unorthodox and some would even say controversial.

Angel says, “The marketplace is flooded with lookalike businesses, the only way to stand out and attract more customers is to do something very different. Business can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines and remain quiet. With the advent of social media we have seen a significant rise in the number of channels in which consumers are bombarded with by marketing communications. To achieve cut through it is going to take more than a well designed brochure or website to stand out. It requires much, much more.”

Here are Ben's 7 simple strategies you can use to help you bring in New Customers:

1. Social Proof
Social proof or ‘pack mentality’ provides evidence others have tried and tested the scenario, goods or services beforehand and given it the ‘thumbs up’ of approval. Social proof is often the catalyst needed to assist you to convert prospects to new clients. Apply social proof throughout your marketing material by presenting evidence demonstrating others approval of your offerings. This can be done via: testimonials (video & written), media endorsements, commentary on blogs and published articles in your area of expertise in industry journals and magazines.

2. Packaging (Yourself)
Personal branding is self expression amplified to influence and command attention. Identify your most admirable traits and put them to market. The only thing your competitors can’t copy is the essence of who your are as an individual. Just as we have a business brand, we also have a personal brand. To develop it, answer the following question: “What do you want to be known for and why?” This will form the foundation of your personal brand.

3. Be Seductive
The essence of being seductive is learning how to be interesting. Our whole world is built around stories of interest that grab our attention and draw us in. How do you draw your clients in? Do you tell long winded stories about your business? Or, do you share inspirational ideas in which your clients can get what they want? Become an information advocate and produce content that teaches your clients how they can get the results they want whilst engaging them in the process. This may mean up-skilling yearly and even pulling concepts from other industries to add colour to your conversations.

4. Who to Sleep With
There are movers and shakers in every industry. As a business professional who wants to get to the top, you are going to need to identify who these individuals are and make contact with them. Be-friend them and be sincere about it. It is not what you know but who you know. Identify individuals who have access to your target market on mass but are non-competing. Build relationships and work out ways in which you can assist one another. A friend in business will do more for you than a business colleague who happens to be a friend.

5. Groomed Professional
55% of all communication is visual and it only takes four minutes for someone to lock in a first impression and countless meetings to undo it. Studies prove that the better you look (and look after yourself), the more you will get paid and the better you will be treated. Example: Suits that are structured give you a professional appearance to which others draw conclusions about you, such as – that you are professional, structured and care about the finer details. Make the extra effort and you will convert more clients.

6. Flirt or Fail
To flirt is to behave as though attracted to someone, but for amusement rather than with serious intentions. A 2004 study found that there were two types of flirting – romantic and platonic. Platonic flirting in the work environment makes you memorable and creates a lasting impression compared to your dreary counterparts. What you think on the inside appears on the outside. What’s your inner world saying about you? Express your personality appropriately and you will gain the influence and credibility other’s won’t.

7. Move Me
When in the presence of a prospective client, colleague or the media, you will need to move them emotionally if you want any kind of impression that has lasting impact. Shift them energetically throughout your conversations by getting them to experience various positive emotions whilst in your presence. This could be getting them to laugh several times through to sharing stories about their and your personal or business challenges during the conversation. Whatever you do, do not have a monotone conversation that doesn’t make them smile or laugh. Observe yourself in the next meeting you have and see how interesting you really are.


There you have it - The 7 steps you must do to sleep your way to the top in business. Ben’s book 'Sleeping Your Way to The Top in Business' is available exclusively through his website www.benangel.com.au

Tags: business, marketing, communications, customers, social

10 Commandments For Effective Online Social Networking

December 3, 2009

Filed under: Social Media

A 10-step game plan or practical guidelines that will make you a better member of the social-networking communities in which you participate. Full details of this excerpt can be found in author Paul Chaney’s "The Social Media Handyman" (www.thedigitalhandshake.com ).

1. Pull, Don't Push
One of the first lessons you will learn very quickly when engaging in social media is that old-school marketing tactics don't work. Don't come out of the gate pushing your products or services. New tools require new rules.

For example, don't respond to new Twitter followers with a "Thanks for following. Visit my website for a free... [insert promotional message]."

Such a response is a dead giveaway that you are new to social media and do not yet understand that it's a "pull" medium, not a "push" medium. If I want to review your credentials, I'll read your bio. (You did complete your bio, right?)
 

2. Win the Right to Be Heard
Social-media engagement is a conversation, and participation in the community is required. In fact, you might say that participation is the fifth P of marketing. (The four Ps are product, price, place, and promotion.)


Your value as a participant is judged by the value you provide to the community as a whole. Be a "glory hog," and you'll garner little attention. Share freely, and you will become a respected member.
 

3. Content Is Still King, but Conversation Is Queen (and Conversion Is the Prince)
Nothing beats well-written, informative, entertaining content in all its forms: blog posts, tweets, videos, podcasts, images, webinars, or whitepapers. Place yourself in a position of being a knowledgeable expert (assuming you are, of course). Community is the context.

Moreover, keep content and commerce separate. Never the twain shall meet is a good rule of thumb. Editorial and advertorial content should be distant kin, if related at all.
 

4. Authenticity and Transparency Are Social-Networking Cornerstones
The words "authenticity" and "transparency" may seem trite, but I believe they remain the cornerstones of this new media-marketing paradigm. Be real. Be open. Be honest. Admit mistakes when you make them.

 
5. You Don't Have to Be on Every Social Network

It's impossible to maintain an active presence on every social network, and you don't have to. You do have to be where your customers are, however. They expect you to be there.
 

6. Give, and You Shall Receive
Having an attitude of helpfulness goes a long way toward establishing a credible name for yourself in social-media circles. "Seek first to understand, then to be understood," said St. Francis of Assisi. "People don't care that you know, until they know that you care" is how I put it.

"Lose control of your marketing," is how author David Meerman Scott puts it. Give ideas and information away freely, with no strings attached. Be willing to give up control of the marketing message (as if you could hold it close to the vest in the first place, given the current Web 2.0 landscape).
 

7. Don't Throw the Marketing Baby out With the Bath Water
The rules of marketing still apply to social media—well, most of the rules, anyway. Social media is another channel to build your brand and market your message. It's not a panacea, and it's not a replacement for other forms of advertising and marketing.

I have learned that marketing has room for integration. Email and search remain the areas where most marketers spend their top dollars, and for good reason: Email and search both perform very well. All forms of marketing are interrelated, and social media is finding its place in the spectrum.
 

8. Social Media Is a Mindset, Not Just a Toolset
You have to incorporate the essence of social media into your thinking. Don't just change your toolset (tactics); change your mindset (strategy).
 

9. Be Yourself, Whoever That May Be
A good friend of mine has a mantra that she follows in every respect: "Be yourself." (It's even her personalized license plate.) No better advice can be given, whether or not you engage in social media. One thing is certain: You can't be who you are not. (See Step 4.)

Use your photo as your avatar and your name as your handle. That's not to say you shouldn't have an identity tied to your brand. It's just that in social media people would rather relate to and build trust with other people than with brands. It's a trust economy, after all.

 
10. Social Media Is Not a Religion
Although it does come with a set of largely unwritten rules (sorry, I don't know of any stone tablets that have been brought down from Mt. Sinai), social media is not a religion, no matter how hard guys like me try to make it one. There is room for experimentation. In fact, experimentation is the only way the medium will grow.

Tags: social media, marketing, market, brands, customers, video

Facebook Is A Business Tool

November 18, 2009

Filed under: Social Media

The following article is based on an excerpt from Paul Chaney’s  "The Social Media Handyman" , author of The Digital Handshake: Seven Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media.

Much the same way a power company connects homes and businesses with electricity, Facebook is a "social utility" designed to facilitate connections between people as well as businesses. Accordingly, it can be highly useful as a business tool. This article addresses various ways that businesses can market using Facebook.

Facebook Public Profile
A Facebook Public Profile (aka a Facebook Page) is an ideal place for businesses to establish a beachhead within the social network. It is, also, one of the most overlooked.

I've noticed that many companies use other parts of the platform (Groups and personal profiles, in particular) to set up a presence, but they never bother to create a Public Profile.

One possible reason may be that Facebook lists Public Profiles under the advertising category, which may lead people to believe it is a premium feature. It's not. Businesses can set up a Public Profile at no cost.

Facebook Public Profiles, which mimic user profiles in design and function, allow users to express their support of your business by adding themselves as fans. They can write on your Wall, upload photos and videos, and join other fans in expressing opinions on topics introduced in discussion groups.

You can send regular updates to fans, and, unlike personal profiles, which are limited to 5,000 members, the number of fans you can have on a Public Profile is unlimited. In addition, you can set up a business page without having to provide a personal profile.

One of the best reasons to have a Facebook Public Profile is that it can be indexed by search engines. That is no small consideration, because Facebook is one of the most highly trafficked sites on the Internet.
If getting noticed on Google and other engines is an important part of your online-marketing strategy, then using Facebook Public Profile makes perfect sense. After you set up a Facebook Public Profile for your business, make it your base of operations from which all other forays into the network extend.
 

Facebook Events
Another useful Facebook feature, one that can be launched directly from your Facebook Public Profile, is Facebook Events. With it, you can let fans and others know about upcoming events and activities your business will be hosting.

A restaurant can use Facebook Events to promote appearances by musical acts. A B2B company can promote upcoming webinars or workshops. Nonprofit and civic groups can enlist support for fund-raising activities. Remember, activities that Facebook members engage in are reported in the newsfeed, so word about the events can spread quickly and virally.
 

Facebook Groups
Facebook Groups allow you to create or participate in as many as 200 affinity- or geography-based groups. Each can serve as a viral channel for extending your presence within Facebook, and each can be used as "fishing pools" to help you find prospects and build relationships.

Before you set up your own group, however, participate in two or three groups to learn how they operate. As with Facebook Events, use Facebook Groups to supplement your business page, not act as a substitute for it.
 

Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads resemble Google AdSense ads in that they are primarily text based, but they do allow inclusion of a small graphic.

You can opt to include Social Actions, which are stories about a user's friends that are related to and displayed alongside your advertisement. Whenever a user takes an action associated with the ad, that user's avatar and screen name will appear along with the ad on the friend's profile pages. That result implies endorsement, so use the component wisely.

The problem with using ads on Facebook Ads or other social networks is that members rarely click on the ads. The average click-through rate for Facebook Ads is estimated to be an abysmal 0.008%. That means for every 10,000 times an ad appears, it is clicked on only 80 times.

People don't visit social-network sites to view advertising; they visit to be social. Still, Facebook Ads provide another way to extend your presence on the site, so they may be worth considering.
 

Facebook Apps
One of the first things you'll notice when you begin participating in Facebook is the bevy of widgets (what Facebook refers to as "applications," or "apps" for short).

The apps, created by third-party developers, number into the scores of thousands and cover every conceivable category, from games to music to travel to just plain fun (and just plain stupid).

It's easy to get caught up in the hype, but sooner or later "app fatigue" sets in. Some applications can be used to promote your business inside Facebook. One way to do that is by developing branded applications, or "appvertisements," that connect your company and the people you wish to reach in a more useful, meaningful way.

For example, Buddy Media, a company that develops branded applications, has launched dozens of campaigns for leading brands. Its data shows measurable success in engaging users.

"In particular, users spent an average of 2 minutes and 35 seconds engaged with our branded applications per visit, or 75 times greater than the time consumers spend interacting with traditional banner ads and five times greater than the time spent watching a typical TV commercial," said Buddy Media CEO Mike Lazerow.

You don't need to develop applications yourself. You can incorporate many of the business-oriented applications already available in the applications directory, such as business cards, networked blogs, and testimonials, to help promote your business.

It's worth looking through the business category to see which applications might be useful for your business.
 

Facebook Lexicon
Lexicon is Facebook's answer to Google's Zeitgeist. It is a tool you can use to spot and compare trends inside the network.

In Lexicon, you input single words or two-word combinations and compare as many as five strings per query to mine and analyze millions of Facebook Wall posts.

The results are returned as a variety of graphs and charts. For marketing professionals, the results gleaned can provide valuable insight into what's on the minds of Facebook users on a daily basis.

Lexicon pulls only aggregate information, and the privacy of its members is never violated.
 

Facebook Share
Facebook Share is a small button or hyperlink you can add to your website that lets visitors share the site with their friends on Facebook. Essentially, it's a way to drive traffic. Facebook Share is easy to install, but it does require a minimal knowledge of HTML.
 

Facebook Connect
Facebook Connect is the next evolution of the Facebook platform. It provides a way for members to log in to other websites using their Facebook account and "connect" their Facebook identity, friends, and privacy settings to those sites.

For sites that use it, Facebook Connect means never having to create another online profile. You take your online identity with you wherever you go.

To better explain how Facebook Connect works, let me cite as an example Kudzu.com, a website that aggregates user reviews and ratings on local businesses.

You can log in to Kudzu using your Facebook account, and from there you can interact with all your Facebook friends. When you write a review for a restaurant, for example, you'll have the option to publish that story on Facebook, where your friends can see it.

For business owners and marketing professionals, two aspects of Facebook Connect are important:
• First, Facebook, once a walled garden, is now open to the entire Web via third-party sites. And when we're talking about third-party sites, we could be talking about those you own.

• Second (and this could be the most important factor for you), Facebook Connect is not just a registration system but a marketing channel that comes complete with a built-in audience of multiplied millions, some of whom may find their way to your door.

Facebook Connect does require a slightly more extensive knowledge of HTML and programming, but implementing Connect should not be difficult with the assistance of the many Facebook application developers available.
 

Personal Profile
In social media, people relate better to other people than to brands. Face(book) it: We like to do business with people we know and trust.

An ideal scenario is to have a brand or company presence via the means outlined above, and to supplement and extend that business presence with a personal one.

Though your company can create a Facebook Public Profile or ad without creating a personal profile, there are many reasons to have a personal presence: to network with colleagues and peers, to find business contacts, to build business relationships, to grow your personal brand, to target your niche audience, to increase traffic to your website, to enhance your Google rankings, and so much more!

Having a personal profile is a way to extend that digital handshake and get to know people in a more casual, nurturing environment where you can make friends.
 

Conclusion
For many reasons, Facebook can be used effectively as a tool for business. Start by setting up both a personal profile and a Public Profile (Fan Page) to showcase your business.

Consider running some ads to drive attention to your Page. Although they may not result in loads of clicks, at least they are inexpensive. Judiciously and cautiously leverage your network of friends, encouraging them to become fans and to invite others. (In other words, don't overload them with invitations.)

What benefits can be accrued? Quite a few: brand awareness, personal engagement with your customers and prospects, a network that allows fans to easily and quickly share your message, and inexpensive advertising to boot. What's not to like?

Tags: social media, relationships, facebook, apps, business tool, engagement, customers

Using SEO To Help Grow Your Business

September 22, 2009

Filed under: General

Search engine optimization is a method of increasing the amount of visitors and the awareness of a website by ranking high in the search engines. The higher the rank of a website in the result of the search engines the better the chance the website will be visited by users.

Over the last few years we have seen the emergence of some major internet companies, with search engine giant Google now amongst the most influential on the internet. While there are other search engines such as Yahoo! and MSN, which have a place and a presence on the internet, Google is by far the most powerful. If you have no presence on Google, your chances of success will diminish drastically.

Here are some basic SEO tips included in the search engine optimisation tutorial you might consider doing yourself to get better search rankings and increased site traffic:
 

1. Keywords
It’s important to know which keywords to optimise for. If you are a retailer of gift hampers, it’s important to know what consumers type into Google while searching for gift hampers. There are many tools available on Google that can help generate this for you. Try the keyword tool in Google AdWords or Wordtracker

Do a search for your top keywords and analyse the results that Google throws up. View how many times a particular keyword appears in the title, in the description, in the URL and on the page content. 
 

2. Title
Ensure that the title of your page is not more than 60 characters. That’s all that will be read by Google. 

Once you are done analysing the search on your keywords, understand how you can structure the content in your title, description, URL and home page, in that order.  Ensure that you are higher than your competitor. Having said that, don’t try to use all your keywords in such a way that it’s non-meaningful or desperate. It’s a fight between quality and quantity.

It’s important for Google to know that you have not put junk in your title. The way they determine this is by checking if the words in your title match those in the content of your page. If they are not, you won’t do as well as you could. So figure how you can have those keywords on your home page, too.

If you and your competitor have the particular keyword in equal quantities on your title, the next factor becomes the placement of keyword. In this case, you have to ensure that the keyword in your title is before that of your competitor’s. For instance, if the keyword is the 25th character of your competitor’s title, yours should be anything less than that. This way you will feature higher.    
 

3. Multiple URLs and URL address
Don’t place all your keywords in your home page. Optimize all the URLs in your site for different keywords. It’s important to achieve a good balance between content and form. Don’t let extra content kill the design of your site. If your URL address contains the keyword, Google gives it more weight. 
 

4. Keywords Meta tag
Disregard this. Google has stopped reading this a while back. 

5. PageRank
A simple formula devised by Google to check relevancy and the quality of a site is PageRank. It’s a vote that shows how other sites look upon you. If site x points a link to site y, then that’s a vote of confidence in site y by x. This goes well in Y’s PageRank. The more quality links you have in your kitty, the better. Work towards getting more people to point towards you. Read up on PageRank on Google.

Sometimes sites which are less relevant as yours may show up higher than you. That’s probably because they have a higher PageRank than yours. Don’t worry. You can’t help that. Just work on yours. 
 

6. Content
Google will give more weight to content right on top than that below. More brownies will be given to content in H1 (header) tags than regular content. More weight goes to larger font than smaller. Negative marks will be given (and you will probably disappear off Google) if you try to hide content by making it non-readable (either making the font the same colour as the background or making it very small).

Ensure that you have your keywords in a higher density than other words. Quality content is more important than quantity. So, ensure that when you are filling your page with keywords, it still makes sense to the customer. Otherwise, they will leave your page in no time and all time spent on SEO will be worth nothing.
 

7. Images
Don’t use any flash, unless people know your URL and you don’t have to depend on SEO. If you do, use good images that compensate for the lack of flash. Googlebot stops when it sees flash.

Did you know that you could put a name to your images? There is something called alternative text. Use this in the best way you can. What is alternative text? In case your image does not show up in a browser, the alternative text describes the image for the user. So, if I have the company logo and that doesn’t show up for some reason, the alternative text will. So, don’t fill keywords there, but then again, don’t forget to put your company identity / or category in there. 
 

8. Age of your URL
This is another factor that Google considers important. A competitor’s site that is less relevant may show up higher if they have been around longer than you. There’s nothing you can do about this though. Once you cross the one year barrier, you will probably be in the same league as your competitors.

SEO is a high impact, high value tactic for reaching Customers online. It focuses on Customers seeking a business’s service and not the other way round. Many smart businesses are starting to see the potential long term benefits of a committed SEO strategy during tough economic times to get more bang for their buck, so the question asked is why shouldn’t you be doing the same for your business?

Interested in what SEO can do for your business? Speak to us.

Tags: search engine optimisation, seo, internet, optimisation, google, pagerank, customers, keywords

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