4 Reasons to Include Social Media Video in Your Business Marketing Strategy

No matter what size your business or what niche you’re in, you’ll need to take social media video marketing seriously. Though it’s not the only tool in your social media toolbox, it definitely is a major one. The ability for a business to tell its story and engage its audience is a powerful sales tool, and video is helping to tell better stories.

Two men holding a laptop, editing an online video.

Video content can help businesses reach 4 specific goals:

1. Web Traffic

Social media video content is an effective way to drive traffic to your website. Video content continues to grow and drive the internet. It plays an integral part of the online social lifestyle. Demand for social media video content is continually growing on social channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and especially YouTube. A successful social media video campaign will include a CTA (Call to Action), the most popular being “Visit our Website”. Other CTAs include “Learn More”, “Sign Up Now”, “Book Now”, or “Shop Now”.

Gaia.com is an online resource that streams videos about alternative health, yoga and inspirational films and documentaries. This brand knows the benefits of using video on social. Their video on Facebook had 248 shares and 6.3 M views with a clear CTA to visit their website to learn more.

2. Engagement

When social media videos showcase your brand and tell your story effectively you connect and engage with your audience. When that video content is not only worth watching but also worth sharing, you increase your audience reach.

Canadian Tire™ successfully showed its support for the Canadian Olympic team during the summer 2017 Olympics with this inspirational video that only subtly shows its product: tires. It turned out to be one of the most viral videos of 2017. It just goes to show that your businesses’ story is not just about showcasing your product. It’s also about the things your company believes in and supports.

3. Brand Awareness

More and more brands use social media videos to tell their story and give their brand personality.  It’s that personality that followers want to see, and what makes your brand stand out from the crowd. Recognition is a key element to your product’s story.

Taking a similar marketing approach as Dove™, Always™ came out with this video as part of their “Like a Girl “campaign. They used a powerful message of empowerment for women to gain attention and respect for their brand. Their campaign went on to win numerous awards including an Emmy.

4. Generate Excitement and Educate

Leveraging the power of short social media video content by creating instructional how-to videos, showing off a new product from every angle, or simply using text to tell your product’s story creates interest and excitement while getting your message across. If you create content that’s both informative and useful, you’ll create trust in your brand, and a set of loyal customers.

Today’s Parent shows off an easy Ikea™ hack using one of their products in this cheerful video with a “Back -To-School” theme so relatable to families that want to avoid the common entryway clutter.

Are you looking to optimize your digital marketing strategies using video? Contact us today and let’s get started!

7 Tired Social Media Tactics to Retire in 2019

Social media is constantly evolving, so the life expectancy of any given tactic is usually relatively short. Unfortunately, some tactics don’t seem to die when they should.

Cartoon hands holding up social media action signs.

These techniques can become a significant problem, since they’ll likely lead to a waste of resources and advertising budgets. No matter how simplistic the strategy, it still takes some level of time and effort to execute, meaning that resources spent on tired social media tactics could be re-allocated to something more effective.  

Furthermore, tactics that don’t properly reflect your brand could cause you to make unnecessary or even detrimental changes to your strategy.  

Here’s a look at 7 of the most tired social media tactics to leave behind in 2019.   

1. Gaining a Following by Following the Masses

Although this used to be one of the most popular ways to gain followers at a rapid speed, there are big problems with this technique.   

These days, consumers are increasingly selective about who they follow. You may have been able to gain followers quickly years ago by following massive amounts of people, but today, potential followers could flag you as a fake account. This will in turn hurt your brand reputation and social value 

Mass following will not work anymore. In fact, gaining followers this way will ensure that most of them don’t have any interest in your product or service, and will also lead to a feed that’s full of irrelevant posts.

2. Using Automatic, Impersonal Messages

Consumers are putting a huge value on personal contact and attachment when it comes to how they choose to spend their time and money. Obviously, no one feels attached to an automated message, especially if it’s clear that it hasn’t been modified in the slightest.  

In the past, a potential customer would hit “follow” on a brand’s social media page, and their inbox would immediately light up with an automated message to welcome them and invite them to make a purchase. However, consumers are becoming less keen on being treated like a faceless prospect.  

Instead, wait some time. Once the relationship has been fostered, and the consumer is familiar with your brand, you can then begin to send messages that may come across as promotional. Better yet, tailor your messages to each potential customer.  

3. Fluffing Posts with Backlinks

Very few people ever seek out advertisements. Most people try to avoid advertising as they scroll through their various social feeds. Quality content is important. Your content should be creative and make you stand out as a leader in your industry.  

Unfortunately, many brands tend to stuff their content full of backlinks to their products or services or fill up social posts with hashtags in hopes of attracting more attention. Both of these are drained tactics that make your content less appealing to followers. In 2019, it’s more about selling your brand by selling your authority, not your products or services.  

Offer people a genuine value in exchange for their attention, and they’ll come to you without much pushing.  

4. Publishing Duplicate Content on Multiple Platforms

Cross-posting is no longer effective. 

In past years, you may have gotten away with posting the same content across multiple platforms without any real issues. Things have changed. You can no longer cross-post without swapping out copy or content. 

Audiences are becoming more and more segmented. This year, your posts need to be optimized to each platform to maximize your engagement and customize your approach. Learn which platforms work best for your needs and how to leverage them based on your objectives.  

5. Trying Things Once and Giving Up

Advertising is an ever-evolving process. Social media campaigns take time to garner leads, and they’re not an overnight, one-time effort.  

Have you tried: 

  • Sponsored Content on LinkedIn?  
  • Video content on Facebook?  

Many people try things once, ‘fail,’ and never give them another chance. It takes time and experimenting to discover what does and doesn’t work for your brand on social media.  

If you tried LinkedIn ads and didn’t see results, perhaps it’s time to try them again and track your process to review later.  

6. Asking Users to Share Content

Remember the ‘Like and share’ campaigns popular in the past few years? This approach has gone out of style.  

Although these types of posts may appear to have an effect, most of the time, they’re not receiving any more engagement than a regular post. More importantly, they can make your brand come across as needy or desperate.  

Although this technique is still acceptable when running promotional giveaways, there are other ways to gain a solid following and potential leads.  

7. Relying Solely on Organic Posts to Reach Your Audience

The days of exclusively organic content has diminished rapidly. Social platforms – Facebook in particular – are constantly updating their algorithms to favour paid content.  

Your brand cannot simply set it and forget it. It’s important to incorporate a paid advertising strategy into this year’s marketing plan.  

Do your research. There are many variations of social media ads. When thinking about which social networks to use for advertising, look at which ones are performing well organically and go from there. 

Of course, we’re here to guide you through this year’s marketing trends. Contact us today to discuss your marketing goals. Let’s chat!  

Beyond LinkedIn: Why Other Social Media Platforms Still Matter in B2B Marketing

There’s no denying it – LinkedIn is one of the most effective tools for lead generation for B2B marketers. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only effective tool.

Sure, you may be thinking – other social media platforms only work well for B2C marketers. Well, let us explain how to look beyond LinkedIn and find out how Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can work for your B2B business.

Socual Media Marketing

Facebook

Did you know that Facebook has 16 million business pages? If your company isn’t on Facebook, you’re missing out on all those opportunities to market to millions of possible leads.

Facebook isn’t a professional platform like LinkedIn, but Medium says that “the most successful B2B companies on Facebook provide fun, interesting, and helpful posts but ensure they remain relevant to their mission statements.” This is important as many people scroll through in their timelines during down-time and engage more often than on other social media. Although LinkedIn users may be using the platform in a more professional manner, Facebook has many more eyes on their content. So, if Facebook hasn’t worked in the past, keep in mind that Facebook and LinkedIn are two different beasts – meaning they require adapted messaging.

Also, Facebook has its own advertising platform that shouldn’t go unnoticed. It garners attention from outside your follower base and can be tweaked based on your desired age range and location. Bonus: Facebook’s advertising costs a lot less than LinkedIn’s.

Instagram

According to Media One Creative, 80% of Instagram users follow business platforms. Instagram has a large following at 1 billion active accounts – and although 80% may have a clear B2C focus, even 10% is 100 million users.

Now if you’re not convinced that Instagram may be the right platform for you, even with the large user base, it is an important supportive tool. The great thing about Instagram, aside from their growing popularity, is their visual content focus. This is an opportunity to support your brand by showcasing who you are and what you stand for through a visual story. Whether it be through their different styles of ads – photo, video, and carousel, it can put a relatable face to your name.

Instagram may not be the place to push sales but focusing on creating a friendly/relatable brand face or story and make all the difference between choosing to do business with two similar companies.

Twitter

The majority of B2B marketers use twitter as a part of their content strategy – 87% to be exact. With 330 million active users per month, many businesses are taking advantage of this quick response platform. Are you?

Twitter is another excellent example of putting a face to your brand – but more specifically, a voice. A great example of this is Wendy’s. They have done an excellent job of putting a human voice to their brand. With consistent posting, a distinctive brand personality, and an immediacy in responses, Wendy’s is showing us how Twitter can be an effective social strategy. Granted, your brand personality may not need to be as “spicy” as Wendy’s, but working on creating a conversational tone, engaging with your followers, and even using a little humour, can make your brand feel more “real”.

The only catch with Twitter, is it is an extremely busy platform. Like in the Wendy’s example above, the business side of this platform requires any queries to be answered quickly. If you can keep up and not fall behind, Twitter can be an excellent supportive social tool for interacting with and landing future clients.

The Bottom Line

If you only leave with one takeaway from this article, let it be this: Don’t be self-serving – think of the content that your audience would like, and deliver “shareworthy” content.

If you’re not sure about this, Sprout Social says that a good way to know if you’re putting out good social media content is to ask yourself “If I didn’t work for this company, would I look at this post?”

Ultimately, LinkedIn may be the king of B2B marketing, but don’t forget that your strategy is strongest with supportive marketing on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Create or update your social strategy to include every social platform as an extra layer to strengthen your B2B marketing strategy and your brand.

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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