May 24, 2013 What to do if your Website Ranking has Been Impacted By Penguin 2.0!
Penguin 2.0 and the Impact on Small Business Websites
Google yesterday released its much anticipated Penguin 2.0 Algorithm and this has the potential to seriously damage a business’s ranking in Google search results. And as any small business with a premium ranking website in Google will tell you, being removed from the home page of Google in search results can have a devastating impact on your business.
At GOOP we have always focused on building search engine rankings by writing quality content on behalf of our clients in a well-structured flowing website that Google and other search engines reward with premium natural organic rankings. In essence we pride ourselves at GOOP on being more about Search Engine Validation (SEV) as opposed to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) which by its very definition would imply that it is out to deceive the search engines.
We always recommend to clients that they write regular monthly blogs on their website (not Blogspot, or Blogger or Wordpress etc.) again to provide high quality content that will attract search engines because of good quality regularly updated content.
Why Penguin penalises sites?
The volume of links was once enough to help boost your rankings in Google however Google had become increasingly aware of this being rorted by so called SEO experts to boost the Google rankings of not so well built websites. The Penguin 2.0 update chases down these back links and measures the quality of these links. Where these links come from is now of critical importance to your website. Are they good reliable quality websites or are they ‘spammy’ and generic and possibly built for the purpose simply boosting Search engine rankings by providing simple access to linking services.
Once you have ascertained where your links are coming from it is fairly easy to establish (for a web developer) if the websites back linking are good or bad. Does this back linking website have;
low Google domain PageRank less than 1
young websites typically less than 6 months old
Very high Alexa Rank greater than 7,000,000
Many external links from the page. We would suggest that more than 20 are too many. This is a key indicator that the site was set up to boost SEO
Links from websites with identical C class (the first 3 digits in the IP address) Shows multiple sites set up on one server and is a clear indicator that this is set up for SEO deceptive purposes.
What to do if your Website Ranking has Been Impacted By Penguin 2.0!
The good news is this can be fixed; the bad news is that it will take some time. Call a reputable web developer that can find these backlinks quickly and identify these poor quality websites that link back to your website. Once this has been done your website needs to be disassociated with these poor quality websites by lodging disavow applications via your Google Webmaster control. Again, the best thing you can do is call a reputable web developer for this purpose. Disavowing with Google though can take a notoriously long time and it may also help to touch base with the offending website to see if the offending back link can be physically removed from this website.
Karl Morris is the Managing Director of GOOP, an Australia company dedicated to providing complete digital marketing services to small businesses Australia wide. With over 500 small business clients GOOP believes in Search Engine Validation (SEV), a term coined by Karl, as opposed to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This is doing what Search Engines tell us to do as opposed to pushing the boundaries and deceiving the Search Engines in to ranking your websites higher than they otherwise would be.
EdgeRank is an algorithm that Facebook uses to determine which relevant and wanted ‘stories’ (posts and apps) get placed in peoples newsfeeds. Understanding the algorithm has become critical for businesses so that they truly grasp how Facebook is to work. Confusion continues to surround it, but thanks to one on my favourite bloggers in the US, Jon Loomer, who generously shares a lot of information about how Facebook works (including EdgeRank), I regularly refer to his posts (and information from others) on how we can learn how to unravel its complexities. Naturally Facebook has every right to want to protect its investment in its social platform, the biggest in the world, and second most visited site next to Google. Many businesses are very frustrated that not all of their content reaches their fans, but let’s face it; delivering content to every billion users on Facebook, every minute of every day is near impossible/implausible. Look at it another way: you pay for an ad to go into a newspaper. You have NEVER been guaranteed that every reader is going to see that ad in the newspaper. Same as Facebook. Like an ad, your content has to be valuable and interesting. Or, consider the business pages you follow – do you truly enjoy and/or engage with every one of the posts you see in your newsfeed? I sincerely doubt you do.
So get used to it and get to understand EdgeRank.
People login to Facebook to check their newsfeed. This is a summary of what's been happening recently among their friends (and pages they like) on Facebook. In essence, every action that persons friend takes on their newsfeed is a potential newsfeed story. Facebook calls these actions "Edges". That means whenever a friend posts a status update, comments on another status update, tags a photo, joins a fan page, or RSVP's to an event it generates an "Edge," and a story about that Edge might show up in the user's personal newsfeed. So, as it is overwhelming and impossible to post every story, EdgeRank predicts how interesting a story will be to each user. The algorithm is used to trawl people’s newsfeeds and see what post has been the most popular/top-ranked i.e. by number of likes and comments.
The basic details surrounding the algorithm are as such:
Very briefly: Affinity – how connected are you to the Edge Weight – comments over likes Edge – the older the news, the quicker it loses Edge ‘points’; time dependent on when someone logs in to their newsfeed and what story is top-ranking at that one point in time
To simplify this further, the elements of this algorithm is centrally focused around:
Personal interaction of the follower with a set of different Facebook posts – how often the followers likes or comments on a post, and whether you typically engage with one type of post i.e. photos, quotes etc.
Network reaction – a grouped of Facebook users reactions to one specific post – the more people engage with this post the more likely you are to see it in the newsfeed
EdgeRank is like a credit rating: it's invisible, it's important, it's unique to each user, and no one other than Facebook knows exactly how it works. Every interaction within Facebook has an EdgeRank score, relative to each individual fan. There are a wide variety of factors that are taken into consideration when examining each of the three main components. Facebook analyses each of these factors and how it assesses each business page varies, as content delivered from each page and followers’ behaviour of each page varies.
Negative Feedback is also weighted and can hurt the performance of the post, especially pages that receive high levels of negative feedback. What is most important to focus on is what will build the EdgeRank of the interaction. Building the EdgeRank of an interaction boils down to driving ENGAGEMENT. Brands are starting to figure out what works with their audience and providing content that meets their needs. And that’s what it gets down to. Great content. Think about what you are posting. Is it interesting? Is it of value? Would you ‘like’ or comment on the post if it was dull, boring, non-emotive, same-old?
Timing is also important. Great content can perform very well, but can perform even better with excellent timing. You need to test different forms of content i.e. tips, tricks, updates, photos, links to websites, videos, links, contests, quotes and then further test sending the posts at different times of the day. Rewrite your posts another way – test different language and expressions, ask questions. Seek to get a response. You will not be rewarded for selling all the time. Understanding your target market and the demographics of your current followers is also important. Are they mums, 9-5 workers, tradespeople...when are they usually engaging with you? What are they responding to the most?
Whilst it pays to keep an eye on your competition and see what type of engagement they are getting with their posts, this is not a license to copy them or be same-same. Be true to your business and lead the way with your own followers. They like your business page and want you to engage them. So don’t rely on your competitor to provide the fodder for your posts.
Expect to see the things that Facebook use in the newsfeeds to assess viability of the post to change on a constant basis. Remember to focus on what works for YOUR business. Test, trial, learn and leverage.
Jo Manderson consults small business owners on brand and marketing strategy including social media management, at GOOP - Geelong based digital marketing business.
GOOP was set up in Geelong in 2007 by myself and my wife Amanda. Having moved from Melbourne we love the lifestyle and the opportunities this city has to offer. 20 Minutes to the Surf Coast and less than an hour from our front door at home to being seated at Ethihad Stadium or having dinner in Lygon St.
As a website developer and social media business specialising in small to medium businesses we now have clients Australia wide with a predominance in regional Australian towns. A big thanks to Caleb at the Geelong city council for cutting the following video clip.
Karl Morris is helping small businesses market their business in a cost effective manner utilising modern maketing tools including websites and social media. With over 500 small business clients Australia wide GOOP has a lot of experience in helping small businesses.
Getting help with your social media marketing for your business
Do you want your business to start using social media but you are stuck on where to start?
Are you looking to set up a business page on Facebook? Do you already have a Facebook page, but are not doing anything with it?
Do you want to understand what Google+, Twitter or Instagram platforms are and how they work?
Do you just need someone to help look at your social media planning and apprach, just to get you started?
GOOP can help. Not only can we set up your social media accounts and help with the actual planning and posting of content onto the social media platforms for you, we also offer a one-on-one coaching session, usually around 1 hour at our Geelong offices (or we can do over Skype), to help get you started from scratch or to help you on your way if you have already established a presence on social media.
If you want coaching on 'Getting Started on Social Media', a session will typically involve:
- a summary of what social media is and its role in your overall marketing program; - an overview of the main social media platforms i.e. Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Linkedin and You Tube; - discussion of your marketing goals (what do you want to achieve by using social media?) and target audience (who is that you want to talk with?); - determining appropriate platforms and which to start first; - instructions on how to set up i.e. a Facebook page.
We normally allow an hour, but the sessions can run up to two hours to allow for questions, discussion about your business and time management and tutorial time.
If you have existing social media accounts and are looking for coaching on 'Establishing/Building my Social Media Presence', a session will typically involve:
- a review of existing platforms i.e. is your Facebook page set up correctly, or fully optimised?; - defining marketing goals and target audience; - establishing a posting plan; - introduction to social media management tools and tips; - brainstorming marketing ideas; - Q&A.
We usually allow an hour for this session. You of course can request coaching for longer than this, and we can also come to your office and will run coaching for teams.
We can provide ongoing social media/phone/email support post-coaching sessions, however for full development of posting or marketing plans, or management of overall content management strategies and implementation, additional service fees will apply.
Call us to discuss your social media marketing needs. We immerse ourselves in the world of social media so we can help you.
Jo Manderson GOOP - Geelong based digital marketing business, clients Victoria-wide Jo oversees all social media and marketing strategy and implementation for GOOP clients.
March 28, 2013 Local shoppers turning to their mobiles, A summer of mobile shoppers
Mobile Specific Websites, a must for retail, coffee shops, cafes, restaurants and hotels
Almost one in every three visits to local business web sites are coming from a mobile phone or tablet. So says a recent report from GOOP.
We wanted to support our clients with a better understanding of how mobile shoppers were connecting with them. So we analysed three months of live traffic data from more than 350 clients across Greater Geelong and regional Victoria.”
The results highlight the importance of mobile marketing to small and local businesses. Almost one in every three visits to GOOP’s clients’ web sites is coming from a mobile device. And almost half of these visits are coming from tablets.
Mobile marketing is big business. A large number of people are browsing local business web sites on their mobiles. And these people could well be just around the corner and ready to buy. Amobile shopper looking up your details is ‘red hot’ shopper. They want your products and or services
It’s vital that mobile users are part of the marketing mix for local businesses.
We believe that digital marketing now requires a ‘twin screen’ strategy that meets the different needs of large screen and mobile users.
You need a large screen site with all your company information and prominent contact details. This will meet the needs of both computer and tablet users, whether they’re researching at home or work or looking to find you when they’re around the corner.
And you also need a small screen site. Your small screen site needs to be easy to read on a smartphone (which normal web sites aren’t). It also needs to make finding you very easy – with prominent contact details, location (and directions) and opening hours.
GOOP’s research also found that Apple dominates mobile local shopping. This really surprised us, When it comes to mobile local shopping, there’s Apple then there’s daylight. Despite Apple’s declining share of mobile and tablet ownership, a stunning 85% of all mobile visits to our clients’ sites came from an Apple device.
Karl Morris is helping small businesses marekt their business in a cost effective manner utilising modern maketing tools including websites and social media. With over 500 small business clients Australia wide they have a lot of experience in helping small businesses.
GOOP gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Wayne Aspland in compiling the data from Google Analytics and collating, digesting over 350 GOOP client websites for this blog contribution.
March 19, 2013 Misleading domain registrations
Unsolicited and misleading website domain name registration requests
All too often clients are being bombarded with requests to renew either existing domain names and/or new domain names (relevant to their business) from other domain name registration businesses that are not related to the current registration. This can be confusing and concerning, especially as the paperwork is often received in the form of an invoice or a bill. It can also frustrate clients, as most often they have paid for a registration for their domain name with GOOP for a period of two years, and they are aware that the renewal is handled by GOOP.
First and foremost, when you receive these in the mail and/or via email, in most cases you can safely assume it is spam email or junk mail. There are many domain name registration businesses spruiking for unsolicitored business. We stress the importance of NOT paying these invoices and ignoring the notices.
If you have a GOOP website, your domain name is owned by you but often registered with Melbourne IT. GOOP is a registered reseller of Melbourne IT. All domain name registrations and renewals are managed on your behalf by GOOP.
Contact us if you are at all concerned, otherwise ignore all requests.
March 13, 2013 Should I persist with Yellow Pages
Should I persist with Yellow Pages?
We have been receiving a large volume of calls from concerned clients, about the manner in which Yellow Pages representatives are pushing them into digital packages.
A lot of what we have been told that Yellow Pages representatives are saying simply is not correct; in most cases you DO NOT NEED a Yellow Pages digital package at all.
Yellow Pages only recently announced further redundancies with another 650 people losing their jobs as usage of the Yellow Pages directories continues its ever spiralling decline.
In reaction to this Sensis (Yellow Pages) has declared that it is now not only a directory based sales business but it is now also a digital agency and can represent all of your online digital needs. And I can say first hand that I consider their practices to be dubious at best. Toyota does not go to News Limited an ask them to plan how to spend its entire media budget. It allocates a portion of their budget to them.
Should I use Yellow Pages to do my Adwords campaign on Google?
Many people need to rely on Google Adwords because their website does not rank on Google. The Yellow Pages sales representatives have been telling many clients they need to take out Adwords campaigns with Yellow Pages and even when they do, the Google Adwords campaigns run by Yellow Pages often point to their Yellow Pages directories ads and not the client’s websites. (This is akin to ‘paying someone else to plough their own paddock’). These ads need to point at your website not the Yellow Pages Directory. Be clear about your online marketing objectives. Adwords campaigns can work well to specific campaigns or events i.e. Valentine’s Day. Please call us if you want to know more about Adwords. As a GOOP client we pride ourselves on your Google ranking so why pay for clicks when they are coming in organically. Please ask us to help review your analytics and if we think you need an Adwords campaign set up then we can help and advise accordingly.
When you set up a website you need to purchase a domain name. You need to ensure that you are the owner of this domain name (Many developers actually register this in their own name, or company) and that you are the ‘administrative contract’ with the domain registrar.
Transferring the management of a domain name between Registrars should be a very straight forward and simple process if you own the domain name and the administrative contact details are yours and not your IT Company or web developers. Please visit Melbourne IT WHois section to verify your ownership.
The process of transferring domain management should be a very simple process.
We are having serious issues transferring the management of domain names held with Yellow Pages (Sitesmart). In our experience they list their details as the administrative contact and not the rightful owners in addition they like to charge (hold you to ransom) a fee of $120.00 for this service of simply transferring this domain. This is the most outrageous fee I have heard of in online and truly is testament to the fact that ‘a leopard does not change its spots’.
Yellow Pages Online - Don’t go there.
Yellow Pages online is one place not worth going to. If your website is built properly it should rank on Google naturally and provide all of the information your potential customer requires. You don’t need to be in the Yellow Pages Directory as your website will outperform the Yellow Pages. You own your website and you need to invest in this; you do not own Yellow Pages and it is simply an overpaid online directory. If you need help with any aspects of online or have any questions please contact GOOP.
Karl Morris: It was once said that if the Yellow Pages were the Romans then Karl is 'Attila the Hun' leading a pack of independent web developers all eating away at the once mighty and powerful dominance of Yellow Pages. Karl has been an avid supporter of helping small businesses get online by getting a powerful web presence at a marginal cost compared to cost of advertising in the Yellow Pages
Short answer, yes. We have watched Google+, a social network and recommendation platform, closely over the past 12 months and we are increasingly getting more excited about its potential. As at January 2013 it was cited as the second largest social media network in the western world (Jan 2013 CNET) Even so, people in Australia are only very slowly adopting or switching to this platform; they remain attached to Facebook and will only slowly migrate as they start to see benefits, of which there are many. We are certainly encouraging our socially platform savvy clients to take another look at it and would encourage your business to do likewise.
Users are able to post rich content and detailed status updates to their profile and have ALL of this content show up in other user’s newsfeeds.
Users are able to follow anybody that they want to without requiring their target to accept a ‘friend request’.
Google+ Circles - create custom groups; send exclusive updates and insights to just your clients, share cat photos with just your family or even share news to all of your circles AND to their extended circles. Extremely effective in building relationships.
Customisable audience segmentation.
Communities – join others or build your own - same interests; conversations; sharing.
Google+ Hangouts – simple and live video conferencing, which can be broadcast (live or later)!
Authorship - link Google+ profile to blog posts – great for exposure and ranking on Google (Authorank = SEO).
No promotions allowed – yet!
Interestingly Google+ recently changed the dimensions of its cover image (2120x1192px) to be more visually appealing and provide an even more evocative platform by which to display visual imagery for the personal user and the business page user. I personally think this detracts from the ability Google+ has to really own the rich content space and weed out the irrelevant hyperbole that can jam up other newsfeeds. We'll continue to watch, use and learn from it.
February 20, 2013 Small Business Websites - Meta Titles and Descriptions
Include your keywords in your Meta Titles and Descriptions for your Small Business Website
Meta Titles are what show up in the search results within Google (See diagram below) Ideally each page of your website should be individually tagged with Meta Data so Google knows exactly what is on each page.
Meta Titles (circled in green) play a key role in helping your small business website rank on Google. At GOOP we recommend a maximum of 65 Characters for your Meta Title. It's always good to use key geographic locations here as well you will notice the example Meta Data opens with 'Geelong Web Developers'
Meta Descriptions (circled in red) Whilst Google gives much less emphasis to meta descriptions for your rankings results they are quite important as the words used here are what may ultimately convince a user to select your website over others listed below or above.
Keep each page limited to one or two key words but always include specific unique keywords in your Meta Data to each page on your website. Make each page specific with Meta Data and do not duplicate words in your Meta Data. Google is getting much stricter here. Try to use 170 Characters or less for your Meta Description. DO NOT duplicate Meta Data across pages within the website. Also remember that your Meta Description is not just about making your site Google friendly, this text is used to compel qualified Google users to visit your site.
Karl is passionate about teaching small business the virtues of getting a website as compared to the old fashioned Yellow Pages print Directories.
February 19, 2013 What to post on my business social media pages?
Before you start posting on Social Media, start with a plan
So you have decided to open a Facebook page and maybe a Twitter and Google + profile for your business. Well done. Welcome to the new world of connecting and engaging with existing and potential customers.
Maybe you have had your pages going for awhile and you are keen to ramp things up a bit or you are feeling a bit fatigued? You need to start posting but how and where to start?
A plan is a good place...so start by asking yourself:
Why am I doing this?
Who am I talking to?
Then really think about what is it about your business that you want to talk about? What do people need to know about your business, your products, and your services? What is going to be interesting or engaging for them? What sort of things do you want to find out about your followers? What advice or tips can you be giving your followers? What information are they going to love talking about or sharing with others? Think about what you love about some of the businesses you follow. Lastly, remember that people on social media networks are there to be social and not necessarily to be commercial. They might love talking about shopping but they are not there to do any shopping!
Businesses need to maintain their relevance on Facebook with engaging and topical content that activates fans, turns them into advocates and creates a presence for the brand via their fans’ news feeds.
A plan will help you do this by being consistent and constant with your content.
Jo oversees digital marketing strategy for small businesses which includes business blogs, newsletters and social media. Jo has a senior corporate services brand and marketing background and loves applying marketing practice to digital channels.
February 13, 2013 The Right key words for your small business website
Start with the right keywords
Identify your key words by knowing your products and services and linking them to a geographic location. Targeting the word ‘plumbers’ is of little use if you are a plumber in Geelong. In this case ‘plumbers Geelong’ would be better to target. You may become even more specific, to drive qualified traffic to your site e.g. ‘domestic plumbers Geelong’.
By identifying Key Words before starting your small business website, you can then design your site around these keywords to optimise your results. This also gives you something to bench mark your site against once it has been indexed by Google. If you are not ranking with your key words then further work needs to be done.
About the Author Karl Morris is the managing director of GOOP, a business that follows a systematic website development process to ensure that its small business clients websites are designed to rank in Google. If you would like help with your website and keywords call GOOP now.
January 29, 2013 Small Business Websites - The Basics
Small Business Websites – The Basics - Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Many small business operators think that building a website is all that is required to get noticed on Google. They remain oblivious to the multitude of factors that can impact how your site ranks on Google and other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo. The key is to get the structure right before you even think about getting your website built and the launching pad is key words: not the words you think, but the words people / users looking for your product or service are actually typing into Google.
The following lists the basic fundamentals you need for your website to rank on Google. This is not designed to be the definitive guide to getting your website ranking highly on Google but more of a simple guide. Each week I will endeavour to elaborate more on each of the topics listed below.
Start with the right keywords
Include your keywords in your Meta Titles and Descriptions
Content is King – Write good copy
Label your images
Use descriptive URLs
Use Internal Key Word Links
Get Backlinks to your Website
Verify your site with Google
About the Author Karl Morris the managing director of GOOP, a business dedicated to helping small businesses make the transition from the old world of print directories to the modern digitial world. It is not about web developers or posting on Facebook, it's about having an objective and then utilising the most cost effective digital tools to achieve those results. GOOP does this for small businesses Australia wide.
Social Media for small business - what are the big themes in 2013
We spend a lot of time here at GOOP keeping up with advances in the social media space and other digital trends and it can be difficult to keep up to speed with the rate of change. Things come and go and we aim to sift through the information and identity what is important and relevant for our clients.
We are curious to see what the social landscape looks like for 2013 and naturally for many businesses it can be a watch and learn and wait and see mentality that dictates behaviour and action (mind you, if you are using or doign something that is working, don't ditch it to keep up with others!).
We have compiled a really brief list of things to watch and what we see as being themes and big movers when it comes to social media and digital marketing for this year. We will review this list on an ongoing basis and report in with developments.
1. Ignorance is not an excuse anymore – we will see more small business get on board the social media train. Most importantly, businesses will look to pursue one or two of the major social networks, understand how to use them for their business and use them to drive awareness of their brand. Remember, if you are not there, chances are someone is on social media talking about your brand – good or bad!
2. Google + - it’s here whether we like it or not. It is a really interesting ‘beast’ and the potential with it for businesses is huge. It’s ability to group real life social or business connections, followers into communities and to target specific content accordingly is clever. It’s going to take momentum and patience to get the following (and to shift people from Facebook over to Google+).
3. Content marketing – look at your business and see how much you have to tell and share with your followers. It’s information overload out there and you have an opportunity to distil it, or better still, create your own, pertinent to your audience’s need and want and post it in varying online forms. Customers are dictating more about what they want to see – listen to them and help them get that information, and watch them convert.
4. Social media strategy – may be an overused term but still grossly underutilised, especially with small business. We suspect though, that small businesses are taking social media marketing more seriously and are looking to be more strategic to be smarter about how they market their business. No more ‘silver bullets’; having clear objectives, clear thinking and clear planning will help build brands, get follower engagement and ultimately drive sales.
5. Engagement - people are there online but time and interest is a rare commodity. Keeping interest and their following (let alone their custom) is a challenge. However, the shift from just ‘being online’ to being ‘engaging’ is gaining momentum (see point 4 above!).
6. Instagram, Slideshare and YouTube – the power of all things visual continues its juggernaut this year. Businesses are increasingly becoming confident and creative about using these mediums for maximum benefit. With a little bit of training, intuition and fun, these channels are really inexpensive, yet totally powerful tools for your business.
Of course there are loads more we could commentate on but let’s keep it simple at this stage. What do you think?
Social Media Manager - GOOP websites
Need help with you social media planning, implementation or just need to get started? Contact us at our social media Geelong office and we will gladly help.
Content marketing has evolved as the real buzz-word for 2012 and it won’t die down in 2013.
Content marketing is simply a marketing process of creating and distributing valuable and informative information in a broad range of online (or digital) formats, to attract, acquire and engage an audience (that is specifically defined and understood) to ultimately take a desired customer action.
Content marketing is not selling. Today’s consumer predominantly does not want to be overtly sold to. Consumers choose (literally) what media, and in what medium, they want to, well, consume! They fast-forward TV commercials, glaze over printed catalogues and barely flinch at ‘flashing ads’ online. Sure, a significant sale notice can grab your attention. Why wouldn’t it in this cut-throat world of brand saturation, consumerism and in many cases mediocrity, where a bargain is available nearly every second day? The ability for brands to cut-through and for consumers to cope with being ‘spoken at’ on a daily basis has become overwhelming. Selling and marketing is no longer a one-way street and the shift is almost solely in the hands of the consumer. Which is where content marketing comes in to play and presents businesses with the next best opportunity: to use content to engage and enlist customers to ‘love’ their brand.
Content marketing is ‘non-interruption’ marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent and valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.
Big businesses are using it and smaller businesses are adopting it as a cost-effective way to market their business. In many cases, smaller businesses have been doing it for longer and better than their larger counterparts. Larger businesses have taken longer to catch on and have still been under the influence of more traditional (and far more expensive) marketing mediums and models, many of which are one-dimensional and difficult to measure. Why the shift? Because it is where consumers are (online) and it is working for businesses (brand awareness and sales).
Effective SEO, informative and interesting blogs, engaging social media pages and profiles, simple, easy-to-use and informative websites and relevant enewsletters are proving powerful tools in delivering information about products and services to a consumer who has nominated a business as important to them. It is almost a new form of permission based marketing: “I like you...tell me more about you. Keep me interested (not just via price point) and I might just buy from you!”
The Content Marketing Institute makes a great point though. Take out ‘relevant and valuable’ from the description of content marketing, and you are left with what most of us have been doing traditionally for years. Take note: the content you intend to distribute needs to be useful, informative, consistent, relevant and valuable for your audience. Don’t worry yourself about what the business up the road is doing, develop your own specific content marketing strategy and choose the online mediums that you know your targeted customers use to obtain the information from you. Devise your overall digital marketing strategy, make a content management plan, be frequent in delivering your content, ask customers to do something, mix it up and try new stuff. Don’t be afraid to be different (read innovative); content marketing allows you to establish a point of difference as the boundaries of traditional marketing methods are not there, and your opportunity is to flaunt that as much as you can.
PS: Content marketing is not easy. It can take time and effort to implement. Businesses are faced with challenges whether it’s managing time, planning a content management approach, coming up with new content ideas, maintaining a blog and writing new material consistently, or simply planning what content to share on Facebook and Twitter. Fortunately, there are several great tools that can help you with your content marketing efforts and GOOP can also help. Contact us for an informal, no—obligation chat about how content marketing can work for you.
(Jo Manderson manages digital marketing strategy at GOOP. Jo's background is in marketing communications and corporate brand management with over 15 years of experience in blue chip services industries. Jo's interest now lies in adapting marketing theory and practice into new digital marketing mediums for small to medium businesses)
It’s an affectionate joke by our Managing Director, Karl Morris, that he refers to me as GOOP's ‘social media guru’. Even in email, his nomenclature for me is ‘socialmediaguru’ and our Chief Operating Officer (who is also, incidentally, his wife) is ‘wonderwoman’. It’s his way of expressing how he values us in terms of our ability and our knowledge, which is very humbling. Having said all of that I do remind him often that I am no guru. In fact, we actually more pertinently refer to ourselves as ‘social media students’. We are learning in this space all the time, and being still such a relatively new medium, particularly in marketing terms, and the fact it changes weekly, there is no way we can claim to be gurus in the space. We like to think we have broad experience in management, marketing, services, SEO and website development, all of which can (and should) be applied to these new channels for building businesses. We also make it our business to ensure we are on top of the changes and developments and to evaluate where the people are and what is and can work the best for businesses. It’s with interest and intrigue that we see other website and marketing businesses (maybe yours does?) frequently quoting themselves as experts in social media. Are they really? Bill Faeth, President at Inbound Marketing Agents in Nashville, recently published via Business2Community an article highlighting reasons why a social media guru may not in fact be one at all. I have borrowed his ‘reasons’ and am referring to them as the key factors social media managers should be focusing on (maybe you could use this as social media manager checklist!)...
1. Providing Value – having a Facebook page is not enough. Content can be buried quickly, especially on the biggest social media network (Facebook) on the Planet, so you need to post often, on different networks relevant to your audience (think Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and Google+) and post content that is going to be valuable for your client. Not sure what is valuable? Try different stuff out all the time – see what is getting the best engagement. Sometime the most unlikely content may surprise you the most!
2. Incentive – why should people follow your page and what do they get out it? Same old content, same old images and overdoing the quotes and personal pics won’t keep your followers on your page, and won’t convert sales, particularly as more businesses get on the social media wagon and fight for space in your newsfeeds. Differentiate your brand from competitors by standing out on social media. Mix it up – post info about your business, products, services, humorous content, great links or run great competitions – whatever it is, make it the best of your followers time. How will you know? Are they engaging with your content? Are they ‘liking’, commenting or sharing your posts?
3. Skills - we could not agree more with Bill when he quotes “Any teenager could have done what they did. For no money. And much faster.” Bill goes onto say “I’m way over the internet’s ongoing argument about how old your social media manager should be. I honestly don’t care if they’re 103 or 18, as long as they’ve got the skills to manage your campaign.” Social media managers or experts should seamlessly transition from product manager to customer service representative to data analyst to marketing manager in a matter of minutes. They should understand your business, your brand and its values and ensure they understand how to talk to your followers and ultimately your customers. They should also be able to adapt – and quickly. The 18 year old receptionist may know how to work Facebook but I doubt they have the maturity or the experience to work social media in its truest form, and if you honestly think that social media is nothing more than just having a Facebook page, being there for the ‘young kids’ or ‘maintaining pretty pin boards’, then you need to reassess your thinking – now.
4. Effort – Bill cites Gary Vaynerchuk as probably the worlds most worthy claimant of social media guru. He has over 958,000 Twitter followers (as at 23 November 2012), and he built his wine company predominantly by what Bill refers to as ‘effort’. Gary spent an enormous amount of time a day putting in the ‘effort’ to engage Twitter users who were talking about wine. Gary’s take on social media is that “99.5 percent of social media experts are clowns.” Because they’re not willing to provide effort. It is worth checking Gary out...he is inspiring!
5. Your Followers – ‘vanity metrics’ mean zilch. Businesses are obsessive about the number of followers they have – this is what is referred to as a ‘vanity’ measure, but they are not a reliable measure of reach. We firmly believe in ‘quality’ of numbers following you on social media and how well they engage with you. We know that engaging with followers (and potential prospects) drive more brand awareness, interest in product and ultimately sales, that a few hundred or thousand ‘fake’ ‘likes’ will not guarantee you. Lesson? Don’t purchase followers, no matter how appealing it might look and focus on the few quality followers you have. Get your strategy right, get good engagement, and followers will come.
6. No ‘silver bullet’ – this is what we at GOOP refer to when answering doubtful clients about social media’s ability to influence brand and purchase decision. At the end of the day, social media is just another channel to get in front of buying customers. As a result, we all need to be prepared to , talk with them, build relationships with them, help them, serve them, deal with them when they are not happy, confront issues, negative feedback and conversations, have an ability to deal with crisis management and have protocol in place to manage sticky situations. Better to be on social media and dealing with disgruntled customers and feedback than avoiding it all together, where customers will be talking about you anyway. That is of course if they have bad things to say about you (by the way, why would they anyway?) This all takes a LOT of time and yes, effort.
7. ROI – Social Media managers should have a feel for the numbers. One of the best things about this medium is that the numbers are right there at your fingertips. Google analytics, traffic and follower sources (organic/referred?), audience/demographics and social reach are just some of many metrics and numbers available to see how your social media is working for you. Know your numbers and let them tell you the story about your social media efforts.
Do you need help with your social media? GOOP can help. We may not be gurus, but we are working on it, all the time.
Jo Manderson (Jo heads up social media and marketing at GOOP. Jo's background is in senior corporate services industries in brand strategy and marketing communications roles, who now enjoys applying big business experience and marketing theories to developing and implementing digital marketing strategies for small to medium businesses)