How Can Blogs Expand Social Media Reach?

What is a blog?

Essentially, a blog is a piece of content written for your website that keeps users up-to-date with your products, services, or industry. It can range from a small informational piece to an interview, a news story, or a post highlighting an upcoming event.  Blogs are an effective tool in expanding social media reach and should be written, posted, and shared across your social media frequently.

Crafting the perfect blog by using suitable keywords and ensuring that your blog is fully optimized is crucial. But how else can blogs work for you?

blog for social media

In this blog, we’ll teach you why blogs are an important part of your overall SEO marketing strategy and how they amplify your social reach.

1. Maintain Your Position as An Industry Leader

Publishing blog posts is one way for your business to maintain its position as an industry leader. It shows your followers that you’re interested in keeping up to date with the latest developments and that they can trust you as a reliable source of industry-relevant updates and insights.

You should aim to post a blog article at least once a week in order to maintain a presence. Blogs provide value to followers; sharing them across social media reminds followers of your expertise and know-how.

For example, if there’s a new update in your industry and a reader learns about the change via a blog post that was posted to your social profile, they’ll value your presence and likely follow your page to keep up-to-date.

2. Increase Social Referrals Back to Your Website

Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms are extensions of your blog. By sharing your blogs through these various channels, you’re expanding their potential reach and even reaching a new demographic of readers/potential customers or clients.

You’re also going to increase overall social referrals back to your website. Social referrals are the number of page views coming specifically from social networks and are composed of both paid and organic traffic. Posting website content like blogs across social platforms increases the likelihood of click-throughs to your website and thus leads to an increase in overall traffic.

3. Social Signals Improve Organic SEO

Social media marketing and SEO are interwoven strategies that produce outstanding results. Both are organic, inbound strategies that focus on building an identity that naturally attracts users.

A strong social media presence relies on high-quality content. Done properly, it can greatly increase your search rankings.

Using methods like social media and blog posts can continuously drive search engine traffic your way. Increasing your reputation on social media through increased engagement and high-quality content will lead to an overall increased brand presence. This will lead to an increase in branded searches on Google and an increased ranking for non-branded keywords.

4. Blogs Can be Broken Down into Pillars

Blog content can be used over and over again. That’s because blogs contain a plethora of information that can be broken down into pillar content and distributed in various ways across an assortment of social media channels.

For example, a blog post could be distributed across all basic social platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Next, the blog could be re-formatted into microcontent. Microcontent consists of short-form pieces of content that’s turned into memes, quotes, stories or graphics. These can then be distributed across pillars. You can then listen, engage and monitor insights to see what content is performing best.

Once you have a solid understanding of what’s resonating with your audience, you can apply these insights into more microcontent. The cycle is never-ending and all it takes to get started is a relevant, optimized blog.

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The Smart Way to Deal With Fake Negative Reviews on Google, Yelp and Other Sites

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re in damage control-mode. Your business has been hit with a fake negative review on Google, Yelp, or another online platform, and you want to deal with it ASAP. Preferably by wiping it off the face of the Internet.

Fake negative reviews are all too common. It’s trivially easy to create an account on these sites and write feedback for all the world to see. For business owners who’ve worked hard to build their reputation, these types of reviews are exasperating.

It is possible to get fake reviews removed in some cases. But that’s not always the case. Dealing with fake negative reviews is a delicate process, and it’s one you should prepare for before it becomes necessary.

We’ve laid out a step-by-step process for how to deal with fake negative reviews of a business, including how to report fake reviews and what to do when removal isn’t possible.

How to Deal with Fake Negative Reviews, Step-By-Step

Dealing with fake negative reviews is easier when you have a plan of action. The process will differ between businesses, but the basic steps are as follows:

  1. Verify that the review is fake.
  2. Determine if the review violates the rules.
  3. Report the fake review through the official channels.
  4. If the review stays up, decide on the best course of action.

1. Are You Sure the Review is a Fake One?

When we say ‘fake negative reviews’, we’re talking about reviews that are either:

  • Written by someone who was never a customer, client, or associate of the business; or
  • Making claims about the business that aren’t true.

It does a business no good to conflate bad reviews with fake ones. Do your research before alleging a review isn’t genuine.

If you have a very small customer or client base, it’s easier to tell if a review is coming from someone the business has never dealt with. Otherwise, some tell-tale signs of a fake review include:

  • Review was authored by a brand-new profile with no other reviews and a sparse profile
  • Tone is overly aggressive or threatening and clearly meant to provoke
  • Language includes industry jargon that actual customers or clients rarely use

2. Does the Review Break the Rules?

Suppose the review comes from someone you know has never dealt with the business. What next?

You can tell that to Google or Yelp. Trouble is, they don’t know who your customers are. Should they take your word for it?

People don’t even need to be customers to leave a valid review; they just need a customer experience. That can mean reaching out to the business by phone or email, or dropping by the premises.

It’s seldom possible to get a fake review removed simply because the reviewer wasn’t a customer. The most promising route to taking down fake reviews is to report them for violating the site’s terms of use.

Google, Yelp, Facebook, and other sites each have their own separate community guidelines. In general, the following behaviour is usually grounds to report a review:

  • Demonstrably false information
  • Current or former employees reviewing their employer
  • Business owners or their employees reviewing a competitor to manipulate rankings
  • People posting the same content repeatedly, or reviewing the same business from multiple accounts
  • People claiming to represent an individual, company or organization without permission
  • Obscene or offensive language that goes beyond ‘colourful’
  • Threats, harassment, bullying, or discrimination

If you believe the review in question violates the site’s rules, proceed to step 3; otherwise, skip to step 4.

3. Will Google/Yelp/Facebook Remove the Review?

Don’t call out the reviewer as a phony in public. Go through the website’s official reporting channels. While awaiting a verdict, decide how to proceed if the review stays up.

To report a review on Yelp:

  1. Locate the review in the Reviews section of your Yelp for Business Owners account.
  2. Click the button with the three dots, then click Report Review.
  3. Submit your report.

To report a review on Facebook:

  1. Locate the review in the Reviews section of your Page.
  2. Click the button with the three dots, then click Report Post.
  3. Submit your report.

To report a Google review:

  1. Locate the review on your Google My Business page.
  2. Move your cursor over the review and click the flag icon that appears.
  3. Submit your review.

4. Should You Respond to a Fake Review?

It’s never a good idea to ignore fake negative reviews.

51% of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within seven days. Posting a response gives you an opportunity to demonstrate you’re responsive to customers, even if they have nothing nice to say.

How best to respond to negative fake reviews can be tricky. It’s not smart to accuse the person outright, because it makes the business owner look petty and defensive.

A better tactic? Take the high ground. Write a courteous, professional response. The most important thing is for customers to see that the business is willing to acknowledge negativity and do something about it.

If there’s a clear sign the review is fake (talking about products or services you don’t have, or an experience that couldn’t have happened), there are subtle ways to address the discrepancy.

Don’t say, “We don’t sell ice cream, liar.” Say, “We’re sorry to hear you had a bad experience, but you may be confusing us with another restaurant, as we don’t have ice cream on our menu.”

Don’t say, “You never once used our service and we know it.” Say, “We’d like to investigate, but have no record of a client with your name. Please provide more information about your experience.”

Bad reviews hurt; fake reviews can hurt even more. But don’t give into frustration. The worst thing you can do is fight fire with fire, responding inappropriately or threateningly to someone who’s trying to bring you down.

Dealing with Fake Reviews

We’ve helped various clients navigate the process of dealing with fake reviews, and it’s never fun. But with a solid plan and a clear head, you can minimize the damage.

As always, the best way to overcome negative reviews is to surround them with positive ones. Don’t forget to let your happy customers know how much you appreciate their feedback.

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Use Google+ To Its Full Potential

At first glance it might seem as if Google+ is the underdog when it comes to having a powerful company presence on social media and the Internet as a whole.

However, Google+ is the perfect platform to bolster your business’s social media presence and overall legitimacy. This is especially through posting original content, since it is the best way to help position your business as an authority in the industry.

When it comes down to it, Google+ is Google. They use this social media network for rankings in Google by indexing every page and post. This is a major reason why using hashtags and optimizing your keywords are both essential to improving your SEO ranking.

Ensuring you use keywords appropriately on your business’ Google+ page allows for more results to appear in Google search—each post will often receive its own listing in Google. This is strong reason why you should only be posting original content on Google+. Take every opportunity to turn people towards your business!

It is also important to note many consumers place a lot of weight on business reviews, both with the comments and ratings a person leaves as part of their review, as well as the social proof the simple existence of reviews provide. Google+ gives your business the chance to have reviews appear directly in Google search results, e.g. with Google My Business, which is the best place for the reviews to gain positive attention from potential consumers.

So how can you help ensure your business has the best chances at success on Google+? Let’s review!

Relationships Through Hashtags

One of the major ways Google connects topics on Google+ is through the use of hashtags on each post. Every time you search a hashtag, you will also end up with some related hashtags—the connection between these topics is something your business can actually have a hand in teaching Google.

Consider the keywords you want your business to rank for and include two of them within each post (or at the end). Do not leave any post without a hashtag! Adding your own means you ensure the hashtags are relevant, and you target the people looking for those things, thus expanding your reach.

Targeted Headlines

Did you know the headlines you put on Google+ posts actually act as mini posts themselves? The headline is what you will see when the post appears in Google search results, which is the first thing that attracts a reader.

This is a great place to put your most important keyword for the overall post. Incidentally, this main keyword can also make for a good hashtag at the end of the post.

Use Google+ To Its Full Potential

Optimize For Engagement

There are many opportunities for engagement on Google+, such as through the commenting system, +Post Ads, and interactive posts. The commenting system, for instance, allows the commenter to easily share the post with their own followers on Google+, which greatly increases your chances of getting more comments, shares, and link clicks than if the original user only commented without sharing.

The +Post Ads gives your business the chance to change the most successful organic posts into ads Google then shows across its vast display network—otherwise known as a world of opportunity! This opens up interaction beyond Google+ itself, and allows sharing to continue long past the paid promotion period.

Want more interaction on a simple Google+ post? You have the power to automatically embed a wide variety of call to action for your audience, including: watch a video, sign up for a mailing list, make a reservation, et cetera.

Making Social Media and Content Marketing Work Together

Social media is a powerful marketing tool, helping businesses of all sizes and in all industries, reach their target audience. It’s the most effective way for a brand to connect on a more direct and personal level. While simply having a presence is good, developing a plan and tailoring your social media content to your industry and audience is the best way to optimize these platforms.  

What is Content Marketing?  

Traditional marketing tactics have become less and less relevant with the emergence of today’s digital landscape. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as a “…strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”  

So, instead of traditional practices like pitching your product, content marketing allows you to provide truly relevant and useful content to your audience like video, blogs, etc. By focusing on sharing quality content on social media, a business can achieve great things.  

Building Relationships  

Posting quality content on social media can help a brand establish and build relationships with desired audiences.  

In life, the best relationships are built over time, based on mutual interests and philosophies, and grow strongest when tended to. The relationship between your brand and its audience isn’t much different.  

By doing your research, catering to your audience’s interests and producing quality content, you can build strong and long-lasting relationships.  

Amplifying Your Message  

Content marketing allows a brand to connect to its desired audience and build relationships by providing valuable information. The beauty of using social media platforms to share your content is that once it is out there, there are few limits to where it can reach.  

Brands can use social media to encourage users to share content in a variety of ways. Visual content usually gets more views, clicks, shares and likes than text-based material. So, turning that lengthy blog post into an infographic or finding the perfect image to accompany a post are two tactics that can further your content on social media.  

Quality content is meant to be shared and social media is the perfect vehicle to get your material noticed.  

Trust & Credibility  

Posting quality content on social media can help establish a brand as an industry leader and expert. 

Credibility online comes from a mixture of visibility and opinion. If your audience sees your brand out there, beyond your website, they will naturally find it more credible.  

When you take the time to educate, help and share through quality content, it reaffirms that your brand is trustworthy and credible. Using social media and content marketing in unison can significantly increase brand authority.  

Gain Valuable Customer Insights  

Brands can leverage social media to better understand consumers and gather insights to improve content. Social media has made it possible to glean information from authentic, real-time conversations that audience have with one another.  

As well, using these platforms to see what other brands are talking about lets you stay atop of industry trends. When developing quality content, it is important to develop ideas that are on trend and align with your audience’s interests – social media can help you gather these insights. 

At the end of the day, your brand should make social media and content marketing work together. By doing this you can build stronger relationships with your audience, amplify your messaging, develop credibility as a brand and gain valuable customer insights.  

 

How Public Relations Can Amplify Your Online Efforts.

According to the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS), public relations is the strategic management of relationships between an organization and its diverse publics. An “organization” can be anything from a brand, an individual, or a company. As the business world continues to evolve, so does the practice of public relations. There are two main approaches to this practice, traditional PR and digital PR, which are differentiated by tactics. Although traditional PR is still relevant in today’s digitalized world, digital PR tactics can help an organization amplify their online efforts.

PR & Content Marketing

Public relations and content marketing share a common goal: to create and amplify quality messaging related to your organization. Part of a PR professional’s job is to study and predict trends across a wide spectrum of industries. Similarly, content marketers are tasked with staying on top of industry trends and consumer insights. PR and content marketers can work together to identify topics relevant to audiences and industry trends. As well, a PR professional can help amplify your organization’s quality content by reaching the right people. PR professionals create and maintain relationships with journalists, bloggers, and influencers. These relationships can act as a launch pad in amplifying your content.

At the end of the day, public relations and content marketing are working towards the same goals. By unifying these two practices your organization can increase brand awareness, educate audiences, and create better industry positioning.

PR & Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

When it comes to digital marketing, public relations and search engine optimization (SEO) go together like peanut butter and jelly. Understanding how audiences communicate about and with your organization online is a cornerstone of SEO. Using SEO keywords can help PR professionals develop content (press releases, blogs, etc.) that will drive targeted web traffic to your organization. Reaching out and maintaining relationships with industry influencers is a large part of public relations. A PR professional can leverage these contacts to get online press coverage, helping build natural editorial links from high-traffic, authoritative websites. As well, with increased exposure, chances are other publications will want to cover you, resulting in more exposure and links. It’s a powerful cycle.

Combining public relations and SEO practices is the ultimate game-changer in your organization’s digital marketing strategy. At the end of the day, it increases your organization’s visibility in the overcrowded digital world.

PR & Social Media Marketing

With a newly integrated and constantly evolving digital landscape, you have the ability to fuse public relations and social media to create notable results for your organization. Public relations and social media share the same goal: to manage your organization’s reputation and audience relationships. Public relations can present your organization with more formal and traditional communications, while social media can be done in more relaxed and conversational tone. Social media is also instantaneous and allows an organization to communicate with their audience quickly. This is a great asset when it comes to being proactive and managing your brand’s reputation in a time of crisis. As well, social media makes it easier for PR professionals to identify and reach digital content creators or influencers who can help spread your message to a specific audience.

Social media helps amplify PR efforts, while in turn, PR helps generate social media coverage. If you can seamlessly merge your public relations and social media efforts, you can achieve impressive results.

New Updates to Google My Business – Fall 2017

All businesses, big and small, should be using Google My Business to bolster their online presence. Google is the first place people turn for information about a local business, and according to the company’s internal data, a well-maintained Google My Business page gets five times more views than unclaimed listings.

Like many Google products, Google My Business changes constantly, often with little fanfare. Features can appear (or vanish) without warning. Business owners must adapt on the fly to keep up with the latest updates.

Here are some important 2017 Google My Business updates you may have missed, plus a look at the future of the platform.

Google My Business Posts

The most substantial Google My Business update in 2017 so far is the posts feature. You can now publish posts to your Google My Business listing and the knowledge panel on both Search and Maps.

Each post can have an image, up to 1,500 characters of body text, and a call to action button that takes users to a page on your website.

The available calls to action are:

  • Make Reservation
  • Sign Up
  • Buy
  • Learn More

Currently, there are two kinds of posts available: regular posts and event posts. For event posts, you can set a title as well as a start and end date for the event. Regular posts expire after seven days, while event posts last until the event is over.

So, what can you do with Google My Business posts? Since they show up right in the knowledge panel, posts are a great way to share timely content and updates about your business.

For example, you can use posts to draw attention to an upcoming event, a new product launch, a daily special, or a current promotion. You can also use posts to promote your online content, like the latest blog post or video. There are tons of possibilities.

Since this feature is still new, it’s unclear how important posts will be when it comes to search engine optimization. The only data Google gives you is the total number of views on each post, making it difficult to gauge their performance.

What we do know is that posts are free, easy to make, and highly visible in search. If you have a Google My Business page (and if you’re a business owner, you should!), it’s worth your time to explore this feature.

To create a post, sign in to Google My Business (if you have two or more locations, choose the one you want to post to) and click Create Post. Stick to 150 to 300 characters of text, and choose a 720 x 720px image that looks good in both full and thumbnail size. Click Preview to see what the post will look like, and then click Publish to go live when ready!

Local Businesses URLs

One of Google’s aims with its business listings is to give searchers all the information they need right in the search results. To this end, Google has added more options for local businesses URLs in the knowledge panel.

Certain categories of businesses, including restaurants, tradespeople, and professional services like dentists, can now add links that let people take action directly from Google Search or Maps. You can use this feature to direct users to a landing page on your site.

The available actions include:

  • Booking an appointment
  • Placing an order
  • Reserving a spot
  • Searching for items
  • Viewing a menu

 

Business owners should note that although adding your own URLs is optional, certain links may appear automatically. According to Google’s support page on local business URLs:

“Links to certain booking and ordering services can appear automatically with your business listings in Google Search and Google Maps. These links are updated automatically via third-party providers. There’s no way to add, edit, or remove these links in Google My Business. 

Google works with select third-party providers that provide booking and ordering services for local businesses. If you want to remove or fix a link in your own listing, please reach out directly to the third-party provider in question.”

This saves time for businesses already working with third-party providers, but the fact business owners can’t remove the links could be problematic. For now, it may be wise to keep an eye out for questionable links on your listing.

To add local business URLs to your listing, sign in to Google My Business and click the URLs section. Find the appropriate fields, enter the URLs, and click Apply. That’s it! Now, you can direct customers to a landing page straight from the knowledge panel.

Customer Questions and Answers

Google is always looking to encourage user contribution. Recently, it launched a new way for customers and businesses to interact: customer questions and answers for Google Maps.

This feature adds a new section to the knowledge panel showing user-submitted questions about the business. Both customers and business owners can submit or answer questions, and users can Thumb-Up those they find useful and relevant.

Google is rolling out this feature in stages. At launch, people could only view it on their own listings, giving business owners an opportunity to post answers to frequently asked questions before the rush. Google then opened the floor to Local Guides with level 2 status and above.

Soon, this feature will be available to all users, which presents both opportunities and potential challenges for business owners.

Like Google Reviews, customer questions and answers could become a valuable tool to attract customers and boost your search engine ranking. However, it could also be open to spam and abuse. Businesses can flag inappropriate or irrelevant questions or answers, but they can’t delete them.

Currently, the feature only appears on the Google Maps App for Android devices, but it’ll likely expand to desktops and other devices. To access questions and answers, open the Google Maps app and sign in with your Google account, then search for your business and click “more info.” You’ll see the question box above the photo section.

The Future of Google My Business: It’s All About the Customer

When it comes to business listings, Google has been gunning for more user feedback and interactivity between customers and businesses. This is set to continue with the messaging feature, which will let people message businesses directly via a button on the local knowledge panel.

This feature is already live in the United States, Brazil, and India. We can expect to see it in Canada in the future. Businesses that opt-in to messaging can link their account to a mobile device via SMS or Google’s Allo app to receive notifications and customer messages on the device.

The push for user participation is also evident in the expansion of Local Guides this past year. In March, Google gave Guides the ability to approve edits to local listings, and it recently overhauled the Local Guides system to provide bigger and better perks for users who contribute data and photos of places they visit. Google is working to get more people on board with My Business, and the platform will become ever more important as this trend continues.

Features may come and go, but the basics of Google My Business remain the same: keep your listing accurate and up to date, add photos that show off your best side, and encourage happy customers to write reviews.

Used wisely, these latest features are yet another opportunity to connect with searchers and get noticed.

Why Advertise with Facebook?

Facebook advertising is a complex landscape where even the most experienced users can get lost amidst the expansive data and constantly changing features. To simplify the process, we offer this article, which breaks down the benefits of the three main campaigns we like to run on Facebook. This will allow you to understand the “why” behind every dollar your business spends.

A Page “Like” Campaign

The concept behind this one is simple: the more followers you have, the larger the audience you can reach. This is the main premise all social networks are built upon, but let’s take a detailed look at why you would consider paying to gain more followers.

The average organic growth rate for a Facebook business page is 0.64% per week or 39.34% per year.  So, if you began with 100 followers and your goal was to get to 1000, it would take about seven years.

Now, let’s see how that growth rate changes when you spend some money. The following data is gathered from actual page “like” campaigns we have run for previous clients.

If you were to spend just $150 on a one-time page “like” campaign when you were at 100 followers, it would take about half the time for you to reach your goal of 1000! What’s even more impressive is the total your following should be at by the seven-year mark: about 6450! That’s just with $150, so imagine if you had a whole strategy!

If that sounds impressive, spending $150 per year on a page “like” campaign should get you around 13,480 after seven years!

The campaign works through the power of compounding. The sooner you can gain a follower, the sooner you can leverage their network and grow your own. These campaigns are most important for pages that have a small follower base, as the value of a new follower is more impactful to the overall growth rate. The concept is a bit like the old notion of starting to save when you are young; in this case, you start spending when your base is small.

The takeaway: a page “like” campaign can have an exponential effect when it comes to growth. It’s a must for companies with a new page or a relatively small follower base.

Engagement

Engagement campaigns gain value from their ability to promote original content on user’s news feeds. These campaigns “boost” posts, allowing you to cut through the millions of pieces of content on Facebook and get your company in front of the right eyes. When users engage, they become attached, interested, and invested in your brand, coming back time and time again for relevant material. This is the modern iteration of top-of-mind advertising.

How does engagement compare to traditional methods of advertising? We will break it down by each medium.

First, let’s start with the three main outlets: TV, Radio, and Print. Generally, they are quoted in cost per 1000 people reached, so we followed that metric throughout this comparison.

TV is the most expensive. It costs $34.75 for a 60-second spot, not including the production costs.

Radio is more cost effective. It averages around $12-$16.

Print is more difficult to calculate because you pay for ad size. A small ad in a local paper is around $24.50.

Using real data we have collected from our clients’ engagement campaigns, Facebook sits at about $3.00 per 1000 people reached.

In addition to running campaigns optimized for people reached (known as “impressions”), Facebook allows us to optimize ads for action. Instead of simply showing your post to as many people as possible, Facebook will show your ad to those most likely to engage. When running an ad based on this metric, Facebook sits at about $18.00 (per 1000 people reached). We prefer this style of campaign.

Now you might not be seeing specifically why a Facebook engagement campaign is a clear winner over ‘traditional’ methods. After all, as we saw, radio is cheaper, but consider the following:

  • Facebook numbers are fact. You know with 100% certainty how many people saw your post and how many people acted. With ‘traditional’ methods, the numbers are very “wishy-” Think about how many times you’ve changed the station or picked up your phone when commercials are on. There may not be as many people seeing your ad as they claim, which makes their cost-per-view much higher.
  • You can have very targeted audiences on Facebook. This will ensure that only people fitting your buyer persona see the post you are paying to promote. How many times have you seen a commercial where the product didn’t relate to you at all?
  • There’s a lot more flexibility in what you can spend and that makes scaling easier. You can spend $25 and get results on Facebook. Try running a commercial for $25!

The takeaway: Facebook is a great and highly cost-effective way to achieve a more engaged form of top-of-mind advertising.

Click-to-Website

The last style of ad we like to run is known as click-to-website. This one is all about driving customers to your website and converting their clicks into sales. Generating sales is the main reason anyone runs advertising, so maximizing your leads while minimizing your costs in this area is key!

Click-to-website falls within the pay-per-click style of advertising.  Google AdWords is the largest player in this field, so let’s see how they compare.

Metric Google AdWords Facebook
Click-Through Rate 1.91% 0.9%
Cost-Per-Click $2.32 $1.72
Conversion Rate 2.7% 9.21%
Cost Per Conversion $85.93 $18.68

The only area where GAW has an advantage is the click-through rate. However, note that these numbers are industry averages. The average click-through rate that we get with our clients for click-to-website ads on Facebook is essentially the same at 1.90%.

In every other category, Facebook is a huge winner (especially if you consider TrafficSoda’s average cost per click of $0.42). There are a lot of reasons for why there is such a difference in cost, but essentially, Facebook is much more complex than AdWords, as it gives more possibilities for targeting, ad creative conception, and styles of campaigns.

The takeaway: Facebook should be a part of most pay-per-click campaigns because of its cost-effectiveness.

Summary

  • Page “like” campaigns can have a dramatic effect on your online growth. It’s a must for companies with a new page or a relatively small follower base.
  • Engagement campaigns are a great and cost-effective way to achieve a more engaged form of top-of-mind advertising
  • Facebook needs to be part of most pay-per-click efforts due to its cost-effectiveness over Google AdWords

Sources: Wordstream, Fanpage Karma, FitSmallBusiness

Facebook Ads VS. Twitter Ads: A Friendly Face-off

Let’s be honest: deciding where to allocate your marketing budget is a daily struggle.

When it comes to social media, the decision is often split between Facebook and Twitter. So, how do you decide which makes more sense for your money?

In this blog, we’ll be analyzing three aspects of those platforms: reach/budget, targeting, and reporting.

Facebook Advertising

Reach/Budget

Although it’s amazing for large companies, if you’re a small business with a somewhat small budget, Facebook ads are also ideal for you.

Organic Facebook posts have an extremely low reach due to the platform’s ever-changing algorithm. So, running a Facebook ad is almost expected, but it’s worth it for growing your fan base, gaining engagement, clicks, or a larger reach than 30 people.

Targeting

On Facebook, targeting is limited to location, gender, age, demographic, interest, and behaviour. You can also exclude people from viewing your ads, which can be key depending on your campaign strategy.

One great targeting feature is Custom Audiences. This feature allows you to target audiences based on your existing connections. This means you can serve up ads to your current customers/fans rather than looking for new ones. This is done by uploading a list of customer data (e.g. purchaser email addresses), and Facebook will aim to reach them (and don’t worry, this information will be encrypted).

Another impressive feature Facebook offers (that Twitter does not), is the ability to save your audience and re-use it for other ads. This could save you and your business some valuable time if you are regularly targeting your ads to the same audience.

 Reporting

Facebook reporting is quite intuitive: it’ll give you the information you need based on your objective, and more. That said, it’s sometimes simpler to collect data right from the platform as opposed to exporting it into an Excel file, because it’s visually easier to gather.

You can also create a custom metrics dashboard so it only provides you with the numbers you care about, and not the extras.

 In conclusion, Facebook Ads are best for…

  • Video view campaigns
  • Growing your followers
  • Re-targeting for retail businesses

Twitter Advertising

Reach/Budget

Let’s not beat around the bush: Twitter is expensive. However, with Facebook’s algorithm changing regularly, it may not stay this way forever.

With a larger budget permitting more than just Facebook, your reach can be quite extensive. The benefit here is that Twitter allows you to get very specific with your targeting, and reach those who are more invested in your band.

Targeting

Twitter allows you to target more effortlessly and with more detail than Facebook. Other than the usual details (location, gender, and language), you can target based on hashtags, key words, interests, and specific accounts and their followers. This means you can directly focus on your competitors, and that’s a marketer’s dream.

Twitter is where people go for news, trends, and immediate world updates. This is a major advantage for large companies. Take Google, for example.

On October 4, 2016, Google announced their new product, Pixel. If you weren’t watching live, you probably first heard the news on Twitter. That’s because the hashtag #MadeByGoogle was immediately trending and everyone was talking about it (in 140 characters or less).

Now imagine how easy it would be to target all those people if you are a competing tech company. You could take advantage of that massive reach and serve them your own ad.

Reporting

Twitter reporting is a little more renowned because it allows you to break down the metrics by audience segment (keyword, gender, handles, language, interests, platform, location).

This lets you see which fans are the ones engaging with your posts. As takeflyte puts it, “Being able to pinpoint exactly which segments of your audience is working and which ones aren’t is a simple task that will help you improve your ROI.”

In conclusion, Twitter Ads are best for… 

  • Product launches
  • Holiday campaigns

At the end of the day, testing is key. If you have the budget, try both platforms to see where your audience is most engaging with your brand.

How Canada’s Anti-Spam Law Affects Your Marketing Strategy

Does your business promote its products or services via email, social media, or other electronic means? If so, Canada’s anti-spam law affects you.

How Canada’s Anti-Spam Law

Don’t get us wrong — we know you’re not a spammer. Truth is, the law applies to many forms of Internet marketing, including things we don’t normally think of as ‘spam.’ It covers everything from electronic coupons to newsletters, and even certain social media activities.

If your business has a digital marketing strategy, you should know the rules and take steps to ensure compliance. We’ve put together a quick primer on Canada’s anti-spam legislation and outlined steps you can take to stay on the right side of the law.

Quick Summary

 

What is CASL?

Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) came into force on July 1st, 2014. It sets rules for when and how you can send commercial electronic messages to individuals and businesses.

 

Does CASL Apply to Me?

CASL applies to anyone who sends commercial electronic messages in Canada. A commercial electronic message (CEM) is an email, text, or other electronic message that encourages participation in commercial activity. Electronic ads, newsletters, coupons, and promotions are examples of CEMs. The law also applies to some social media activities.

What are the rules?

1.     With few exceptions, you must obtain the recipient’s consent to send them a CEM.

2.     All commercial electronic messages must identify the sender and contain up-to-date contact information.

3.     You must give recipients a fast, simple way to unsubscribe from your messages.

 

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation

Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) sets rules for how and when you can send commercial electronic messages like email ads, offers, and discounts. The law also tackles malware, phishing, and other practices, but we’ll focus on the sections that deal with commercial electronic messages.

When it comes to sending commercial messages, CASL creates three major rules:

  1. Consent: You must have a person’s permission to send them a commercial electronic message.
  2. Identification: All commercial electronic messages must identify the sender and contain up-to-date contact information.
  3. Unsubscribe mechanism: You must give recipients an easy way to unsubscribe from your messages.

The law has been in force since July 1st, 2014, but some parts only take effect this year. Though the private right of action (lawsuit) portion has been suspended, you can still face steep fines from the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commissions (CRTC) for breaking the law. If you don’t have a CASL plan yet, now is the time to make one!

Does CASL Apply to My Business?

CASL applies to all individuals and businesses who send commercial electronic messages in Canada. A commercial electronic message (CEM) is any message that encourages the recipient to participate in a commercial activity, such as promoting a product or service.

A CEM can include any commercial message sent to an “electronic address,” like:

  • Emails (newsletters, promotions, deals, coupons, advertisements, etc.)
  • Instant messages
  • Text messages
  • Some social media activity

A public social media post, like a Facebook wall post, would not fit the definition of a CEM. However, since social profiles are a form of “electronic address,” a commercial message sent to a specific user would have to meet CASL’s requirements. It is unclear how the law might impact friend requests, tags in posts or photos, or Tweets at individuals.

What CASL Does Not Cover

Certain types of commercial electronic messages do not fall under CASL. These include:

  • B2B messages where you and the recipient have a previous relationship.
  • Internal messages related to your business’s activities.
  • Messages you are legally obligated to send, such as safety recalls.
  • Messages sent within an existing relationship. Includes a family relationship, business relationship, or non-business relationship (donations, volunteer work, etc.)
  • Responses to referrals, so long as you name the person who gave the referral, and that person has a previous relationship with you and the recipient.

You can send these messages without the recipient’s consent, and it does not need to meet the other requirements for CEMs.

Getting a Recipient’s Consent

It is against the law to send someone a commercial electronic message without their permission. The good news is, there are a few different ways to get consent.

The best way to protect your business from potential claims or fines is to get express consent. Express consent is when you ask the potential contact for permission to send a message, and they explicitly agree. It requires an active “opt-in” process, where the recipient takes some action to show their agreement. For example, you can provide an online form that lets customers sign up for your newsletter.

There are a few rules to follow when seeking express consent. To start, you must state to the recipient:

  • Identifying information, including your business name, mailing address, and either a telephone number, email address, or website URL.
  • Why you are asking for consent.
  • Description of the messages you will send.
  • That the person can withdraw consent and unsubscribe at any time.

The recipient must actively affirm they want to receive CEMs from you. You cannot get express consent using a default or pre-checked toggle box. Additionally, you cannot “bundle” a request with another action. For example, the user shouldn’t have to consent to CEMs in order to agree to your terms of sale.

Do not ask for consent via an electronic message! This counts as a CEM. Instead, provide another way for people to sign up.

When Consent is Implied

Sometimes, you can infer consent from the recipient’s actions in lieu of express consent. However, implied consent can be difficult to prove, and it often expires after a certain time. It’s always preferable to obtain a potential contact’s express consent before sending a message.

Regardless, you may use implied consent under the following circumstances:

  • Relevant CEMs: You may send CEMs which are relevant to the recipient’s official business role, function, or other duties if they gave you their electronic address or published it in a public place (like a company website).
  • Responding to inquiries: You may contact a person who contacted you with an inquiry, complaint, or application within the past six months.
  • Existing relationship: You may contact those with whom you had an existing business relationship or non-business relationship within the past two years.
  • Clubs/associations: You may contact a person if you were a member of their club or association within the past two years.

If a person states they do not wish to receive unsolicited CEMs, it negates implied consent.

Exceptions to the Consent Rule

In the following circumstances, you can send a CEM without the recipient’s express or implied consent. You do not need permission to send:

  • Quote or estimate the recipient requested.
  • Information related to a transaction the recipient previously agreed to enter.
  • Legal information such as warranties, product recalls, or safety or security issues related to a product or service the recipient has used or purchased.
  • Digital products or services, including updates and upgrades, the recipient is entitled to receive.

Note that even when a consent exception applies, your message must still meet the requirements outlined in the section below.

Required Information for CEMs

Every commercial electronic message you send out must clearly and prominently set out:

  • Your name, or the name under which you carry on business.
  • If you are sending a message for someone else, include their name and indicate who is sending the message on their behalf.
  • Your mailing address and either your telephone number, email address, or website URL. This information must be valid for at least 60 days after it is sent.

The message must also contain a working unsubscribe mechanism, as explained below.

Unsubscribe Mechanism

You must give the recipient of any CEM a quick and easy way to revoke consent and “unsubscribe” from your messages if they choose. The process must be convenient, accessible, and free of charge. For example, an email CEM may have a hyperlink or a clickable button at the bottom of the message which removes the recipient from the mailing list automatically.

If a recipient asks to unsubscribe, you must fulfil the request within 10 days.

Making a CASL Action Plan

If you weren’t aware of Canada’s Anti-Spam Law before, you may have to make some changes going forward. There are things you can do to make the adjustment easier on yourself and your customers.

Your CASL action plan should include the following steps:

  1. Determine if CASL applies to you. If your business has a digital marketing strategy, there’s a good chance it sends some form of commercial electronic message. Review your online presence and determine whether your activities fall under CASL’s scope.
  2. Get express consent from your existing contacts. Since July 1st, 2014, the law has required that you document express consent for each new Canadian contact. You must also be able to prove express consent for old contacts by July 1st of this year. If you haven’t been doing this, you should start now! Send a message to these contacts asking them to affirm their express consent. You can offer a clickable link or an address they may contact to confirm. Don’t send another CEM until they do.
  3. Document express and implied consent for all new contacts. Develop a plan to document where and how you got each new contact’s consent. If you intend to rely on implied consent, keep track of when it expires so you will know when you must stop sending CEMs.
  4. Ensure all messages contain the right information. All electronic commercial messages must contain your name, mailing address, and either your telephone number, email address, or website URL. You must give recipients a simple way to opt out of receiving CEMs. Create a template which includes all the necessary information.

It may seem like a lot of work, but once you put this plan into action, you’ll find that complying with CASL is actually good for business. Many of these measures were considered best practices for digital marketing before the law came into effect. Keeping record of when and how you obtained consent can help you understand where your leads are coming from and spot trends over time. It also creates a more open, transparent relationship with your contacts.

Looking for more information about Canada’s anti-spam legislation? Check out these links from the government of Canada:

Image: vasabii

Top 10 Canadian Social Feeds We Love

As a Canadian business deeply entrenched in marketing and social media, we all love to add Canadian content to our social media feeds. If you are anything like us, you do as well! Here are 10 of our top Canadian social media feeds on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

Top 10 canadian social feeds we love

CBC Books


Are you a fan of books? Want to include more Canadian authors in your reading? CBC Books is the perfect Twitter feed for you. They consistently share suggested reading lists featuring a number of Canadian authors, their most recent being this list of summer reads. This Twitter feed is also home to the infamous Canada Reads competition, The Next Chapter, and other iconic Canadian events associated with books.

DavidsTea


Did you know? DavidsTea is a Canadian company! We are big fans of their stunning visuals displayed on both their Twitter and Instagram feeds. As regular customers will know, they always feature a couple of teas in their stores, with the blend rotating each day. To help boost store visits, they post well-designed promotional images once a week on their Twitter letting their followers know exactly what free samples they can try that coming week. They are also pros at interacting with customers and are just about as excited as you are when a shipment is on the way.

Legacy Greens

Are you a foodie? Do you like to garden and grow your own fruits and vegetables? Legacy Greens is a green grocer in Kitchener, Ontario and their Instagram feed is perfect for you! We love the bright colours across their pictures, seeing produce growing in the fields, and their product features. They are also great at supporting other local businesses in their area. Go Legacy Greens!

Ontario Parks

What better way to celebrate Canada 150 than spending time surrounded by the gorgeous natural landscape our country has to offer? Ontario Parks features countless images from across the provincial parks in Ontario on their Instagram, including numerous snaps from the park visitors themselves! Their feed not only showcases Canada’s natural beauty, but also serves as excellent inspiration for planning your next Canadian adventure.

Jacqueline Poirier

#tbt to chillaxin in the countryside & painting the incredible colours of Mother Nature…🍂🍃🎨 #fall #allthecolours #plart

A post shared by Jacqueline Poirier (@thecrazyplatelady) on

Are you a fan of art? Jacqueline Poirier, otherwise known as The Crazy Plate Lady, paints anything and everything onto simple white plates, and highlights her art on Instagram for the world to see. She even paints scenery on the plates and holds it up to the camera as if it were part of the photograph as well.

Stats Canada Parody


Want to make looking at statistics fun? You do not have to look any further than the Stats Canada parody Twitter account, sharing mind-boggling funny statistics and other facts related to Canada. It’s great for a laugh on a dreary day, that’s for sure!

Algonquin Provincial Park


Remember how we mentioned we love the Ontario Parks Instagram? Say hello to the Twitter account for Ontario’s oldest and most famous provincial park! Algonquin Park is home to stunning wildlife and scenery, and has been known to have gorgeous displays of the Northern Lights if you are there when the time is right. They also share a lot of content from visitors to the park, making for a down-to-earth and truly Canadian experience.

Canuck and I


Have you heard about Vancouver’s infamous crow, Canuck? He made the news when he allegedly stole a knife from a crime scene. His antics have become so normal in his neighbourhood, he even has his own Facebook page where people can share stories of their encounters with Canuck. Piece of advice if you meet him? He likes Tim Horton’s Timbits and would love if you brought him one—truly Canadian!

Red Brick Café


The Red Brick Café has become a staple in Guelph, Ontario—particularly the downtown location. This hub in Guelph has curated an excellent Facebook page featuring events for the café, such as music nights for musicians as well as monthly trivia events. They also highlight items from their delicious café menu. Believe us, looking at this social feed will make you want to run down there right away!

Aldo Shoes


Are you a fan of Canadian fashion? Aldo Shoes is a great Canadian fashion company, showing their interesting and colours designs for shoes and other accessories across their Instagram feed. Do you wear their products? If you tag them on your own Instagram, you may even be featured on theirs, as they share a lot of content from others! Definitely a lovely visual for Canadian fashion.

Image: strelov