12 Social Media Tools Your Business Can’t Live Without

We sifted through the absolute best of these social media tools to bring you our top recommendations. Use them to open your social media profiles up to become more diverse and creative. You will also end the frustration of struggling through complex workflow to complete tasks.

image6We tried to avoid any platforms that require a significant buy-in. As a result, most of the following tools are free or have a low-cost option for business owners. We’re also leaving out the big total management tools like Buffer, HootSuite, SproutSocial, AgoraPulse and others.

The following best apps and browser-based platforms fit our criteria and can improve your social media marketing success in 2018 and beyond.

Bitly

Bitly does two amazing things for you: 1) Shortens links to make post text cleaner and better looking 2) Provides a custom redirect so that you can track CTR on your shared links and possible behavior after the click. The free version of Bitly is indispensable for any social media page that wants to share links. Without it, you have no reliable way to track engagement.

Backly

Backly lets you share links while providing on-page reminders to go back to your branded site or social account later. The tool provides a pop-up frame on content pages you share, keeping audiences thinking about your brand even as they browse outside your owned pages. Use Backly to drive traffic back to your website with each link share and avoid people getting distracted from your in-brand experience.

Refind

Ever see something cool online, think “I’ll save that for later,” and then forget about it? Lots of people do, which is why tools like Refind are so great. Refind saves and tracks links you find when browsing. It can also analyze your links and find other ones worth looking at and sharing. The Refind platform ultimately intends to work as a type of social community. You can link up with other Refind users through their social accounts to see what else they are saving and sharing. These stats help you track trending content, especially among niches.

Quuu

Quuu is perfect for finding interesting links in your brand niche. The app is 100% free. All you have to do is plug in a number of interest categories, and it starts suggesting and saving personalized recommendations. Using Quuu will help flesh out your content and keep it focused towards your business area and brand values. The only drawback is that the current version must plug into Buffer or Hootsuite in order to operate.

Social Mention

Social Mention is a search browser specifically for mentions of certain brand, influencers, trending topics or products. Use it to get a quick overview of conversations involving your brand or area of business interest. You can also link the Social Mention API to other apps if you are savvy enough to handle the custom coding.

Yotpo

Yotpo lets you gather together all reviews and user-generated content related to your brand. The platform is super useful since it makes it easier than ever to link to or share content mentioning your brand. For instance, you can use it to find user photos related to your business and share them as social proof that you have loyal fans. It is one of the few tools we’ll mention that requires a higher-end plan to work, but the platform is incredibly versatile thus worth a look.

Yala

Yala can schedule posts for you automatically, but it has an even better feature. By monitoring your feed for engagement, Yala will suggest peak times for posting your content. You can use Yala through either Slack or Facebook messenger. It has a free trial as well as a monthly or yearly subscription.

Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark is the perfect tool for editing photos on the fly. It’s free and works right in your browser or app. You can use it to touch up photos taken on your mobile device before posting or create unique content through effects, text captions and more. Spark also lets you rapidly create branded videos with text captions.

Rocketium

Rocketium can turn photo slideshows or short videos into captioned videos.  It is an even more lightweight and easy to use platform than Adobe Spark. While it lacks Spark’s editing prowess, it does make up for this with rapid results.

Pixabay

Pixabay is one of the best sources online for royalty free stock photos. You can use it to search for free stock photos through your browser or the Pixabay phone app. Since images are important for getting better engagement on social media posts, Pixabay can be a lifesaver. It’s particularly effective when you combine it with photo editing tools like Adobe Spark or Rocketium.

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo helps you find trending content on certain keywords and topics. Business owners can use the tool to hone their conversations, optimize content to get better engagement, and find buzzworthy links to share.

IFTTT

IFTTT stands for “if this, then that”. It lets you create custom rules that trigger certain events across a range of apps. For instance, if you post a new blog, IFTTT can automatically create new posts in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, post them for you, and email everyone on your mailing list about the new post.

The dozen tools we covered are just of the tip of the iceberg. There are countless other free or low-cost social media tools that provide huge benefits to business owners. So tell us which ones we missed! If you have a favorite tool you use, we would love to hear your recommendations in the comments. Tell us how you use and why you love it. Between our own recommendations and those from our fellow readers, business owners will quickly find themselves getting better social marketing results than ever

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8 Secrets of Social Media Marketing That Everyone Misses

Social media marketing sounds simple enough to many newbie business owners, but they need to recognize the difference between personal social media use and professional use.

Think about it like this: if you make a good pot of coffee to serve your family, then that’s something you can manage on your own. But if you plan on serving 1,000 cups of coffee to peers over the course of a three-day business conference, then that’s an entirely more complex matter!

35339477 - man with a note and marketing plan conceptsEverything gets more complicated when you move from personal to professional, and the results matter more, too.

Suddenly, you aren’t just posting on your Facebook when you feel like it. Nor can you just feel good about the occasional reply and like. Instead, you’re actively trying to drive business goals and represent your brand in a likeable way.

The dramatic difference between the two approaches catches many business owners off-guard. To help them out, here are a eight secrets the pros use when it comes to social media marketing — and that many small businesses overlook.

Write Down a Policy and Style Guide

A social media policy guides the brand voice as well as the decisions a business makes when posting. So, if you were trying to pick between two image types, the social media policy could help you decide on the one that aligns better with your social goals.

Set policies for employee social media use, too. Make sure they know they represent the company! Let them know what sorts of offenses could get them in hot water, including posting extreme political opinions or offensive takes.

Creating a social media style guide can similarly help make posting easier, especially if more than one employee handles the duties. Align everything in your policy and style guide so that your social media accounts can support both your brand and your marketing goals.

Target Your Content and Conversations Towards Personas

You want your posts to speak to a highly targeted audience based on the traits of your best customers. For instance, if you pitch your services to existing IT departments, don’t be shy about using jargon. Stay current on any discussion, too, so that your ideas don’t seem dated.

But if you want to offer managed IT services to regular businesses, they may not know a CAT cable from a cat collar. Feel free to post basic how-tos, and try to keep terminology approachable.

Decide upon the segments you want to speak to in order to raise your chances of success. Imagine traits of a single person in this segment, including their typical job role, the things they value most, and broad aspects of their personality. This is your “persona” for an idealized version of a target audience group.

Strategize, Set Goals, And Ditch Vanity Metrics

Always set goals for your social media usage. It should serve a concrete purpose that ultimately benefits your business. Common social media marketing goals include:

  • Raising website visits
  • Generating leads through job quotes
  • Helping introduce new products to people
  • Getting more participants for events, contests, and things like webinars
  • Upselling existing customers
  • Reminding prior customers to return again
  • Promoting a specific brand value, especially through philanthropy

No matter what your goals are, ensure they actually help your business get more money or improve its brand.

Carry on Actual Conversations and Engage

Everything you post should be targeted towards the personas you have created and tied towards business goals. With this in mind, you want your audiences to feel like your brand is carrying on a conversation rather than just talking at them.

Respond to certain positive comments or interesting ideas. Try to see if you can get the full perspective from people who have something negative to say. Make each response feel personal, not canned.

Give your audience opportunities to take center stage. Post a question for them, like “what are your favorite ways to save money?” Ask them if they would like to see more of certain content types, or less of certain post types.

Make Time for Off-Schedule Posting

New articles and ideas will pop up on your radar all the time. Maybe something interesting happened in your industry this week. Maybe you just snapped a great photo of your team at the office. Give yourself the chance to actually share content during opportunities like these rather than hoarding it all until next month. If you set aside, say, an hour each week to make time for unscheduled postings, then you can flesh out your existing content and make your page feel more organic. Just remember to stick to your policy, goals, and persona guides. Also, proofread twice!

Promote Content Posts to Put Them in Front of Targeted Audiences

Promoting content on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can be highly affordable. More importantly, it can grow your audience beyond people who already follow and interact with your pages. Start experimenting with promoting certain posts and using custom audience building features. Platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook even offer the ability to target specific companies or hyper-local areas.

Don’t Assume Social Media Marketing Is Easy to Do Yourself

There’s a reason “social media manager” is a full-time job at most big companies. Even for small businesses, managing it all and doing it right can be tough. On top of that, you may not have the time to dig into your data or revisit your strategies and guiding documents. So seek out help. Share the burden with others who are qualified and whose judgement you trust.

As Social Media Week observes: “Long gone are the days when you could rely on an intern to manage your business’s social media accounts. Either hire an in-house expert, or outsource to a social media management firm.”

Crawl Before You Walk, Walk Before You Run

As with anything in business, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Stick to one or two social networks at first. Otherwise your pages could feel like soulless cookie-cutter copies or, worse, ghost towns with nary an update in months. But if you stay focused on your goals and your principles, then you can start out small to find gradual success. Only once you get the hang of it should you start to scale out and do more.

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2018 Trends in Facebook Advertising That Will Help You Reach Prospects

Facebook has come a long way since its debut in 2004, especially when it comes to the
Facebook Advertising platform. Facebook has almost single-handedly turned paid
social media marketing into a cornerstone of modern digital marketing tactics.
In the next year to come, we can all expect Facebook to evolve in deeper ways. These
evolutions include both new features and shifts in the way business will be able to use
Facebook ads to reach prospects.

Let’s explore the most important Facebook advertising trends for 2018. With them,
you can improve your marketing funnel and hopefully find more leads than ever in the
coming year.

digital04The Importance of Facebook Video Ads

Mobile audiences eat up video more hungrily than ever. Altogether, Facebook users
watch over 100 million hours of video a day.

As a result of their demand and improvements in video players, we have seen an
explosion in both paid and organic video content. On average, videos on Facebook get 135% more organic reach than photos.

Your business can potentially improve both its organic reach and engagement on paid
posts by creating more promotional assets as videos. Making the switch does not have
to be expensive or painful either.

With just a few Facebook video ads, you can improve engagement and prospecting.
You also help people remember your messaging since people remember video almost
seven-times better than they do text.

More Diverse Ad Types

In addition to video ads, Facebook has been quietly diversifying their ad inventory.
Marketers and small business owners can use these ad formats to accomplish specific
business goals.

  • Carousel ads can use multiple images, multiple offers, or multiple USPs in one go, providing a richer experience and a more compelling CTA.
  • Slideshow ads use lightweight video to load faster and intrude less on thebrowsing experience. They can be a great transition for small businesses looking to create more video.
  • Collection ads allow users to browse through multiple products or informational pages in-app. This grows awareness while generating less friction compared to an outbound link.
  • Canvas mobile Facebook ad formats transform your ad from a single video or image into a full screen, scrolling experience. Use them to showcase high-quality assets or nurture prospects further along in the buy cycle.
  • Dynamic ads can use a single ad template to promote several products or create customized pitches for different segments. These ads maximize relevance and returns while helping you A/B test more quickly.
  • Link ads include a prominent, customizable CTA button to direct prospects to a landing page or offer. They encourage action, increasing conversions.
  • Lead ads incorporate a lead capture form directly in the app! We’ll explain the significance of this ad type and similar formats below.

Facebook Likes To Keep People On The Facebook
Platform

Ad formats like lead ads and collection ads keep audiences in-app as they interact with
your brand.

For instance, Lead ads pull up a lead capture form in-app and autopopulates it with
information from the users Facebook user profile. This feature dramatically reduces
friction in your marketing funnel, encouraging more prospects to convert thanks to
the simpler process. You also reduce the number of needed assets by getting rid of
certain landing pages.

Because of these abilities, Hubspot asserts that Lead ads can “skyrocket conversion
rates and make mobile ads more effective for B2B marketers.”

Understanding Facebook’s goals for their user experience will enable you to get the
most out of your Facebook advertising budget.

Facebook made waves when they announced that they were experimenting with a
newsfeed that contained zero organic branded posts. All of this content would be
moved to a separate “Explore” feed.

If Facebook implements this change globally, then all branded Facebook Pages will
see their organic reach tank.

Even if that doesn’t happen, though, these Pages have already seen dramatic drops in
reach over the past few years. With fewer people seeing their content appear on its
own, these Pages must now resort to funding paid Facebook advertising campaigns in order to generate impressions.

Truth be told: this has been the situation for years. Businesses simply cannot rely on
the Facebook algorithm to serendipitously show their content to meet their reach
goals. By funding a paid ad or promoted post campaign, you guarantee yourself a
sizeable audience.

Even better, you can fine-tune the targeting for your ads to maximize relevance and
ROI. Facebook has gotten much more granular with its targeting features.

You can use these features to weed out audiences who are unlikely to buy your
product, increasing your conversion rate and your overall returns.

Ultimately you must embrace paid advertising if you want to continue to reach your
target audiences on the platform.

Take Advantage of Facebook Advertising Trends in 2018
and Beyond

By looking to the above Facebook Advertising trends your business can find greater
successes in reaching your ideal prospects to grow in 2018.

Make sure you combine your Facebook Advertising strategy with other digital
marketing practices for maximum gains.

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5 Keys to Reputation Marketing Success

Reputation marketing allows your business to take what consumers are already saying
about your products or services, and leverage it for your own use, to increase your
industry ratings and, ultimately, your revenue.

Given that reputation marketing stems from what other people are saying about your
business, it’s tempting to sit back and relax.You can’t control what people will post or change the mind of every customer who has a bad review, so you can just leave them to say what they will, right?

Wrong – reputation marketing isn’t just people’s ideas about your business that pop
into their head for no reason.

digital03Reputation marketing is the active management of your customer’s comments and
criticisms to create the brand image that you desire.

Reputation marketing doesn’t need to be complicated, just stick with these core
strategies to achieve reputation marketing success:

1. Create Systems for Collecting Feedback

Rather than just trolling around to find out what people are saying about your
product, go out there and capture that information yourself.

Customers are eager to review products and weigh in with their opinions, so create
forums for them to do so and collect the data that comes from it.

Some of the most effective ways to gather feedback on your brand is through online
surveys, contests for users on your Facebook page or from your email list, opening
your blog posts up for comments, or tweeting questions for your followers to answer.

This type of data collection is priceless – it gives you a direct link to what your
customer thinks. Don’t let this information go to waste – devote some analysis to your reputation marketing strategy where you look closely at who your customers are.

Are they the same people that you thought you were targeting? What are their buying patterns? Ages? Where do they live? Which customers seem more likely to leave a positive review?

Developing systems for data collection and interpretation allows you to tap into the
great resources that are already out there via your online presence.

2. Build Your Reputation

Waiting around for a good reputation to “happen” to you isn’t an effective marketing
strategy.

If you want to have your customers say positive things about your products and
services, you need to put the time and energy into making that happen.

To do this, you need to open yourself up to what’s going on around you. Read the
comments, search relevant hashtags, or scan the internet for reviews of your business. Once you’re aware of what people are saying, you have the power to harness it.

Take your bad reviews and deconstruct them. What specifically are you doing wrong?

If enough people have the same comments, changing the way you perform in that area
can create a huge shift in your customer’s minds. Then look at the praise your brand gets – what are the areas that you excel in? How can you strive to be even better, so you leave your competitor far behind you?

Reviews are an indispensable way to gather your customers’ likes and dislikes about
your products so you can turn around and give them exactly what they want.

3. Market Your Reputation

Even though your customers are doing a substantial portion of your marketing for
you, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue using your existing channels to
communicate your brand’s message.

To use reputation marketing to your advantage when creating your other campaigns,
you need to pay close attention.

This means looking at more than just whether your customers are leaving positive or
negative reviews. Drill down into the specific things they’re saying.

Paying attention to the keywords that keep popping up in your comments or online
reviews can inspire your next campaign and directly address those comments.

For example, if you keep seeing the word “inconvenient” coming up in negative
reviews, you can tailor your marketing campaigns or social media strategies to focus
on highlighting how convenient your product or service can make their lives.

In this way, reputation marketing helps you identify a problem and create a solution
to it that you can drop directly in your customer’s laps.

4. Manage Your Reputation

The beauty of reputation marketing is the wealth of information it gives about your
customers. To keep their comments and reviews pouring in, you’ll need to spend some
time creating an incentive for your customers to engage in the conversation.

For example, you might see a spike in reviews when you introduce a new product.
However, after several months on the market, you may lose momentum and see your
customers turn their attention elsewhere.

To manage your reputation and keep the dialogue open, your business sometimes has
to make an effort to keep the hype going, so you don’t fall off your customers’ radars.
Some ideas for generating buzz is to create and offer promotions, special offers for
your followers, host events, or offer exclusive discounts.

These tactics motivate customers to purchase when they might normally be ready to
move onto the next thing.

5. Monitor Your Reputation

The key to monitoring your reputation is in repetition. This doesn’t mean reading
reviews once and then never looking at them again. The conversation is always
changing. What was irrelevant yesterday could be tomorrow’s hottest trend.

For this reason, monitoring requires regular attention to what’s being said about your
brand. This might mean a weekly or daily read through your social media posts,
searching for online reviews, and scrolling through the comments on your blog or
Facebook page.

Regular monitoring allows you to see if things are working or if they’re de-railing in a
relatively short period. Looking at comments once a year means that someone may
have said something negative six months ago that you could have acted on or
addressed, and now it’s too late.

Keeping close tabs on your reputation allows you to spring into action as soon as
your customers identify an area that needs improvement.

Consumers love to support businesses who have a personal touch. If your reputation
matters to you and you make an effort to give your customers what they want (not
just what you think they do), you’ll stand out in a sea of faceless businesses who don’t
have the time to listen to their ideas and comments. Satisfying and delighting your
customers doesn’t require a flashy sales tactics or aggressive marketing.

What you need to do is get quiet and listen. Your customers are telling you what they
want, what they dislike, and what they love.

Now it’s your job to deliver more of the things that make them happy and keep them
engaged in the success of your business.

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6 Reasons Why Every Small Business Should Consider Video Advertising

The benefits of digital video advertising have quickly switched it from a “nice to have”
for larger businesses to a “must have.” Now, this status has begun to trickle down to
smaller businesses. Brands already embracing video ads have have a distinct advantage over their competition. Soon, video advertising for small businesses could become table stakes for all business owners. Without it, they may not be able to viably compete for new customers and overall sales. In other words: video ads provide so many advantages that small businesses without a video marketing strategy may get left behind. Discover the benefits of video advertising and learn about six huge reasons your small business should consider video ads by reading on.

1. Digital Video Has Runaway Growth with No Signs of
Slowing Down

First, business owners should know that digital video is not just a “fad.” It’s a
legitimate trend that reflects our evolving use of technology.

Online video has become an absolute monster in the past few years with no signs of
slowing down. People watch over 500 million hours of video on YouTube each and
every day. An estimated one-third of all online activity is spent watching video.

digital02Video uploaded to newer platforms has also quickly caught traction. Since
introducing native video for Facebook users in 2013, the platform has grown to have
over 500 million people watch at least one video in a given day.

There are many reasons behind this upsurge in video production and consumption,
but mobile is one of the most important to keep in mind. As smartphone adoption
rates rose and device owners gained access to cheaper data plans, the simultaneous
explosive growth in content production and attentive audiences created a full-blown
phenomenon.

Over half of video content is now viewed via mobile device, and mobile video saw 20
percent consumption growth last year.

Altogether, these facts show that if your business invests in video, it won’t be stuck
with something no one uses five years from now. Instead, not using video advertising
could actually make your business feel like a dinosaur.

2. Most Marketers Are Buying into Video Ads, And They’re
Seeing Real Results

While more consumers are watching videos, more marketers are also spending more
money on video advertising. Comparing 2016 to 2015, marketers spent 53 percent more
on digital video ads — $9.1 billion in total. Looking just at mobile video ad growth,
spending increased 145 percent year-over-year during the same period.

And while video ads made up just 12.5 percent of overall digital ad spending last year,
digital advertising as a whole eclipsed traditional TV advertising. TV has long been
the king in the ad world since the 1960s. That fact that digital can unseat it is a big
deal.

Also, many brands have begun to give video the lion’s share (56 percent) of their ad
budget, signalling a larger sea change in the handoff between digital and traditional
pay TV.

Overall, people have begun to pay less attention to traditional media outlets like
broadcast TV and more attention to digital video. Businesses using video ads will find
bigger and bigger audiences over time. Those who stick to older forms of ads will have
shrinking audiences.

This trend has strongly motivated marketers to pay attention. Currently, over 67
percent of brands say that they purchase video ad inventory on Facebook. The
majority intend to spend more on video in the next year.

Since “programmatic ad platforms” can automatically match your video ad with
people most willing to buy, the tremendous appeal of video content has helped
marketers find big, high-value audiences and better conversion rates.

3. Video Sharing Helps Your Ads Go Viral and Expand
Reach

Video is not only appealing but also highly sharable. In fact, traffic to video sharing
sites has more than tripled. Also, 92 percent of mobile video viewers report that they
regularly share videos with others.

Because video is so sharable, a single ad placement can turn into free exposures from
people sharing your ad with friends and associates. Video ads therefore help small
businesses get more value for their dollar.

Four times as many people would prefer to watch a product-focused video compared
to reading about it.

4. Video Communicates More Than Words or Images
Alone

Video content combines sight and sound with motion to create a deeply engrossing
experience. By combining moody imagery with soothing music, for instance, small
business brands can make viewers feel emotion more effectively than images or text can
by itself.

Consider that a two-minute explainer video can be capable of delivering over 200
words of script. It will also show deeper information with animations, visual cues and
things like editing. Maybe this is why people say that if a picture is worth 1,000 words,
1 minute of video must be worth 1.8 million!

Additionally, people tend to remember video far more clearly compared to text. The
average viewer claims to remember 95 percent of what they saw in a video compared to
just 10 percent of what they read through text.

For small businesses marketing, these benefits mean that video does more with less.
Your viewers will get more of your message, enjoy it as an experience, and remember it
better overall.

5. Video Helps You Rank Higher for SEO and Social

Google’s search index gives video approximately a 50 times higher chance of appearing
on the first page of results compared to any content page that just uses text. Video
search results also tend to show at the very top of SERPs (search engine results pages)
or near the top-five overall results.

By having your video more likely to appear in search results, you can get more clicks
from search users directly in the SERPs. Having your video appear on the SERPs can
also increase organic traffic by 157 percent compared to text-based webpages. Put together: each video you make can generate more business with less effort.

6. Video Can Drive Serious Conversions

The addition of video to your existing campaigns can help convert more people more
quickly. For instance, including a video on a landing page can increase conversions by
over 80 percent. Similarly, including a video in the first email of your drip campaign
can increase your subscriber click-through rate by 96 percent.

On top of this, using video anywhere on your website can drive engagement overall.
According to studies, the average user spends 88 percent on websites that contain
video. Additionally, blogs incorporating video tend to earn around three times as
many inbound links compared to text-only posts.

Small business owners using both paid video ads and non-ad-related video content
will therefore have an easier time finding more leads from multiple sources.

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2018 Digital Marketing Trends For Small Business

Luckily, leveraging digital marketing doesn’t have to take a lot of your time or money.
You just need to raise your awareness, learn some basic strategies and jump right in!
To help you get you started — and to make this coming year more profitable for you
— you can learn about 5 important digital marketing trends for 2018 below. Once you
deploy them, you’ll be well on your way to finding fast sustained business growth!

Content Marketing to Attract and Engage Prospects

digital01Content marketing is nothing new, but it is definitely evolving. Small business owners have gone from simple blogging to more complicated strategies involving infographics, ebooks and more. You don’t have to go all out like that, but you should be providing your audience some sort of value through the content you post.

People want to be educated. They want answers to burning questions. They also want
to learn more about the things they already do so they can do them better. Satisfy their need with content, and you will win their attention. Hold their attention with consistently awesome content, and you can win their repeat business. 70% of people say they would rather learn about a company through articles than ads. For this reason, around 90% of businesses that advertise online use content marketing currently. Most are interested in shifting dollars from traditional ads to content, where they can find better returns.

You should create engaging, in-depth content with a strong visual element to attract
prospects. Reach more people by learning about the content they want to consume
and giving them more of it.

If you stay in front of your prospects through regular content posting, you’ll
increase the odds of being first-in-mind anytime someone requires your services.

When you can balance your services & expertise with things your audience wants to
learn about, you can hit a marketing sweet spot. You’ll find bigger returns on web
traffic, social media engagement and lead generation.

Video Continues to Dominate

You might not be into Facebook Live yet, but you probably should be! Recent data
from Facebook shows that people are 10x more likely to comment on a Facebook Live
video than otherwise.

Even if Facebook Live does not work for your business, incorporating video into your
marketing is key. Consider that 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook
or YouTube videos each week, on average.

Now, keep in mind that there are over 2 billion active Facebook users in the world. A
little bit of number crunching reveals that approximately 1 billion people watch one
hour of video a week. That’s a huge embedded audience to explore!
Video holds much more attention and communicates messages more effectively than
text or still images alone. Recognizing this, small businesses have been using video and
finding huge returns. Whether as a type of content or a paid ad, video drives huge
amounts of engagement.

Research from Wyzowl indicates that 79% percent of consumers surveyed would
rather watch a video to learn about a new product then read about it.
Also, “64% of customers are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video
about it.” So, people are not only watching video but also remembering what they see
and actually buying things afterwards!

Small business owners can start working on their video strategy easily by answering
common questions customers have — either Live or as a prerecorded release.
From there, consider repurposing some of your existing content into short,
informative videos and uploading them directly to social media. You know the audiences are there, you just have to give them something worth paying attention to.

Facebook Advertising To Reach Prospects

Facebook ads have become quite sophisticated in the past couple of years. They’re
finally at a point where even marketers for small businesses can target effectively while
gain valuable audience insights.

Facebook has 1.3 billion active daily users, and they made $7.6 billion in ad revenue in
Q1 of 2017 alone. So, you know for a fact that audiences are there and that others are in
on the game.

Without your own Facebook ad presence, your competitors are staying in front of
your customers when you are not looking.

The average cost-per-click on Facebook is just $1.72, which means you it is a cost
effective way to reach your prospects where they spend their time.
You can put your message about your business in front of high value prospects, even
among very specific demographics.

When you combine video and Facebook Ads you really start to multiply the impac.
Recent data highlights the fact that social video (basically any kind of branded video
or advertisement) generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined.

Using paid media and specifically Facebook Ads has quickly become a must to amplify
your brand and product messages to your customer and prospects. Even if your Ad is
not runaway viral advertisement it can still likely generate more engagement, likes and
awareness for your brand online.

Instagram & Influencers Drive Engagement

When it comes to consistent engagement, Instagram is the number one social channel
out there. That’s the conclusion of a study done by Yopto , which found engagement
rate on Instagram to be 45% greater than on Facebook and 40% greater than Twitter.
What exactly does ‘engagement’ mean? It means this: over 75% of users will take action
on an advertisement post in their feed.

The key here is to let your customers do the posting as much as you do. The
same Yopto study found that 77% of people are more convinced by user-generated
photos of a product rather than professional photos.

Crowdsource your own content by asking loyal customers for pictures of them using
your product. People love the attention, and you save on professional photography,
so it’s a win-win for all.

Another key thing to know about Instagram is how powerful Instagram Influencers
are.

“Influencers” refers to people with lots of followers and tons of engagement from
fans. There are all types of influencers, including subject matter experts who post
videos and photos related to their expertise.

Small businesses can tap into these influencers at a relatively low cost. Case studies
have shown that niche experts in your industry will drive direct sales traffic
without costing your company an arm and a leg.

Take the example of RESCUE, for instance. RESCUE wanted to push their range of
natural products, and asked a number of micro-influencers and bloggers to share their
personal stories and include a “buy one, get one free” coupon with their post. The
results? A 258% increase in Instagram followers — not to mention over 6,00 clicks to
the coupon site.

Because of success stories like these, there is no question that leveraging microinfluencers
to drive conversion rates will be a major trend in social media marketing
going forward.

Businesses Not Optimized For Mobile Will Be Left Behind

Digital devices have completely changed how your customers search for and buy
things. 2/3 of the world’s population is connected by mobile devices, and people now
spend more time browsing on mobile compared to desktop.

According to data collected by SimilarWeb.com, 36.46% of Google searches come
from a desktop in 2017, while 63.54% come from mobile. It is expected that mobile use
will continue to grow in 2018, likely surpassing the 70% mark by the end of the year.

The only conclusion you can draw from this: You must optimize for mobile.
Otherwise, you’ll hurt the experience for mobile viewers, causing them to seek out
other businesses that can offer a better one.

What does being “mobile optimized” mean in 2018? Looking at your search results
appearance, for one.

Get found online by researching how your page appears on mobile search. Mobile
searches tend to bring up locally focused information, so reviews and accurate
information about your business matter.

For instance, 50% of local mobile searches lead to store visits, so having accurate
information on your hours is critical.

The continued transition to mobile means people are searching for what they want in
the moment at which they want it. Let’s say a tourist is walking in downtown Chicago
and searches for ‘best pizza’. How will they compare the quality of competing
restaurants within walking distance?

Usually, they will look to reviews. Research from BrightLocal points out that 90% of
people search for reviews of a business before visiting. That’s nothing to sneeze at!
The quality and frequency of reviews matters, so make sure to ask customers for
reviews as part of your regular business routine.

Also, ensure the information available on your business from Google is plentiful and
accurate. You can start by using Schema markup on your contacts page. At the same
time, make sure you have accurate, updated directions to your business listed and your
hours of operation updated.

All of these informative features need to be monitored and optimized for mobile use in
order for you to keep getting business — rather than scaring business away.

Take Advantage of These Five Digital Marketing Trends
for 2018 to Find Success Growing Your Business

In 2018, competing online is no longer an option. It’s a must in order for your business to survive. To grow your business you must apply a complete digital marketing strategy .
One that gets more Leads & Sales. One that takes advantage of the shifts in Mobile, Social, Video, Reputation, Search and other digital marketing trends. One that connects all the dots, so that people can find you on any channel but still have a consistent experience. One that gives the information people need to make a buying decision through helpful content and a mobile-optimized experience. This is the only way for your business to not be left behind. If you take advantage of these trends, you will have a distinct advantage in growing your business over your competition.

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2018 Trends in Content Marketing to Help You Attract and Engage Prospects Pt. 2

2018 is just around the bend, and content marketing has changed a whole lot in the past few years. While it was once a small component of larger digital marketing campaigns and strategies, big brands have started to realize that content can be a marketing end unto itself.

As a result, most marketers are betting big on content. 60% of marketers publish a piece of content daily. In 2015, content marketing had its sixth consecutive year of double-digit growth in spending.

Image5_2018 Trends in Content Marketing to Help You Attract and Engage ProspectsPeople also spend around six hours a day consuming content online, on average. Note that this statistic includes people using two screens at once, so we often consume content on two different devices for hours on end.

All of these facts point to one thing: the demand for content marketing is there, and marketers are putting more and more effort into satisfying it.

How should you align your content priorities in order to reach prospects in 2018? Look to the following trends for answers on how to develop a winning strategy in the coming year ahead.

Companies Leaning in Heavily on Premium Original Content

The quality and quantity of original content has quickly become a competitive differentiator for big companies. You can see how this fact affects the business world by considering the staggering amount huge brands are investing in creating or purchasing premium original content.

Apple, for instance, just set aside $1 billion for original programming. The shows produced from this budget will likely end up on their streaming Apple TV platform. By curating premium, high-quality content, Apple not only drives subscribers to its service but builds out its brand.

Others like Johnson & Johnson have been able to convert lead-generating and brand-strengthening content into a viable business model. J&J’s babycenter.com gets so much engagement that revenue generated from the site makes it actually profitable.

This first trend may not be too relevant for small business owners without deep pockets, but it helps set perspective. While you may not be keen to spend millions on a dedicated content site launch, you can know that your efforts to create quality content are considered a smart move.

As the Content Marketing Institute writes: “All senior marketing executives are curious about the creation and flow of content, especially since nearly every company is creating more content this year than last.”

With this in mind, know that high-quality content creation is quickly becoming table stakes in digital marketing for businesses of all sizes.

Mobile Optimization Should Be Viewed as the Standard

No ifs, ands or buts about it: your content should always be optimized for mobile. In fact, you may want to consider a mobile-first strategy when designing content.

Nearly 70% of media consumption now occurs on mobile, according to Comscore. That means your audience is 2.3 times as likely to be viewing your content on a mobile device as opposed to desktop.

In response, you should ensure your content strategy and design embraces a mobile-centered viewpoint.

For example, all of your blog content layouts should use a responsive design that looks good in a vertically scrolling format. You should also ensure that your photos look big and bold on small mobile screens.

Knowing that the person who views your next article or video is likely to be using a mobile device will therefore influence the choices you make and how you approach content in general.

Video Marketing (And Live Video) Gets Even Bigger

We’ve already talked a lot about how important video marketing is for helping you succeed.

Just to recap a few statistics: 45% people spend more than an hour a week, on average, watching videos just on Facebook and Youtube. People collectively watch over 10 million videos on Snapchat in a single day.

Those stats indicate that huge audiences are out there, hungry for video content. Businesses able to get their attention through eye-catching videos and a steady stream of must-watches stand a better chance at bringing prospects into their marketing funnel.

One area where video has completely taken off with small business owners is live video. Most small businesses don’t have the time or budget to start producing slick video assets. Yet, they do have access to smartphones and tripods.

A small business owner (or their marketing head) can quickly devise an HD recording setup on their desk and begin live streaming. People generally have lower expectations of live streaming because they are more engaged and feel more closely connected to their hosts.

In fact, viewers are willing to spend eight times longer watching live video compared to pre-recorded content. Business owners who host Q&As, live news updates, demonstrations or other types of content can attract captive audiences.

 

Best of all, they develop a stronger affinity for your brand. “Live streaming is a powerful content marketing tactic because of transparency,” observes Curata. “People love brands that are real; brands that talk, act and look like them.”

Native Advertising Becomes a More Consistent Source of High-Quality Content

In an era of Ad-Blocking and general marketing oversaturation, high-quality native advertisements have helped guide content strategy towards more engaging formats.

Native ads force businesses to understand their audience and what they expect when they consume media on a certain venue. For instance, a promoted Facebook post that looks like any other post from a friend can generate engagement. One that looks like an obnoxious banner ad won’t get clicks — and it may not even run.

Over time, native advertising has given companies an opportunity to flex their creative muscle. They are essentially being given a platform for standing alongside other popular content. Like amateur night at the Apollo, the last thing they want to do is embarrass themselves and get the hook.

Small business owners that think about their content from a native ad perspective can often find greater levels of engagement and lead nurturing.

“Stricter advertising policies from tech giants like Facebook, combined with increasingly savvy consumers who won’t respond to noticeable, poor-quality ads will force native advertising to completely disassociate itself from terms like clickbait and wormhole,” content strategist Megan James told Entrepreneur. “Intelligent native advertising will be one of the largest distribution methods for high-end content that drives conversions.”

Putting the 2018 Content Marketing Trends to Good Use for Your Business

If your goal is to engage and convert more prospects in 2018, content marketing can easily become your golden ticket.

By creating more live videos, using mobile as your standard and thinking about content from an audience perspective, you can boost the quality and appeal of your content like never before.

As a result, 2018 just might be the year you engage more prospects than ever through great content!

Meta: Create better content in the coming year by taking these 2018 content marketing trends to heart, including why mobile-first and high-quality matters.

KWs: 2018 content marketing trends

Social: Follow our tips for seizing content marketing trends, and 2018 could be your best year yet!

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2018 Trends in Content Marketing to Help You Attract and Engage Prospects Pt. 1

Facebook has come a long way since its debut in 2004, especially when it comes to the Facebook Advertising platform. Facebook has almost single-handedly turned paid social media marketing into a cornerstone of modern digital marketing tactics.

In the next year to come, we can all expect Facebook to evolve in deeper ways. These evolutions include both new features and shifts in the way business will be able to use Facebook ads to reach prospects.

Let’s explore the most important Facebook advertising trends for 2018. With them, you can improve your marketing funnel and hopefully find more leads than ever in the coming year.

Image 1The Importance of Facebook Video Ads

Mobile audiences eat up video more hungrily than ever. Altogether, Facebook users watch over 100 million hours of video a day.

As a result of their demand and improvements in video players, we have seen an explosion in both paid and organic video content.

On average, videos on Facebook get 135% more organic reach than photos.

Your business can potentially improve both its organic reach and engagement on paid posts by creating more promotional assets as videos. Making the switch does not have to be expensive or painful either.

With just a few Facebook video ads, you can improve engagement and prospecting. You also help people remember your messaging since people remember video almost seven-times better than they do text.

More Diverse Ad Types

In addition to video ads, Facebook has been quietly diversifying their ad inventory. Marketers and small business owners can use these ad formats to accomplish specific business goals.

  • Carousel ads can use multiple images, multiple offers, or multiple USPs in one go, providing a richer experience and a more compelling CTA.
  • Slideshow ads use lightweight video to load faster and intrude less on the browsing experience. They can be a great transition for small businesses looking to create more video.
  • Collection ads allow users to browse through multiple products or informational pages in-app. This grows awareness while generating less friction compared to an outbound link.
  • Canvas mobile Facebook ad formats transform your ad from a single video or image into a full screen, scrolling experience. Use them to showcase high-quality assets or nurture prospects further along in the buy cycle.
  • Dynamic ads can use a single ad template to promote several products or create customized pitches for different segments. These ads maximize relevance and returns while helping you A/B test more quickly.
  • Link ads include a prominent, customizable CTA button to direct prospects to a landing page or offer. They encourage action, increasing conversions.
  • Lead ads incorporate a lead capture form directly in the app! We’ll explain the significance of this ad type and similar formats below.

Understanding and taking advantage of these Ad Types will be a large key to success.

Facebook Likes To Keep People On The Facebook Platform

Ad formats like lead ads and collection ads keep audiences in-app as they interact with your brand.

For instance, Lead ads pull up a lead capture form in-app and autopopulates it with information from the users Facebook user profile. This feature dramatically reduces friction in your marketing funnel, encouraging more prospects to convert thanks to the simpler process. You also reduce the number of needed assets by getting rid of certain landing pages.

Because of these abilities, Hubspot asserts that Lead ads can “skyrocket conversion rates and make mobile ads more effective for B2B marketers.”

Understanding Facebook’s goals for their user experience will enable you to get the most out of your Facebook advertising budget.

Paid Advertising Increases (As Organic Reach Nosedives)

Facebook made waves when they announced that they were experimenting with a newsfeed that contained zero organic branded posts. All of this content would be moved to a separate “Explore” feed.

If Facebook implements this change globally, then all branded Facebook Pages will see their organic reach tank.

Even if that doesn’t happen, though, these Pages have already seen dramatic drops in reach over the past few years. With fewer people seeing their content appear on its own, these Pages must now resort to funding paid Facebook advertising campaigns in order to generate impressions.

Truth be told: this has been the situation for years. Businesses simply cannot rely on the Facebook algorithm to serendipitously show their content to meet their reach goals. By funding a paid ad or promoted post campaign, you guarantee yourself a sizable audience.

Even better, you can fine-tune the targeting for your ads to maximize relevance and ROI. Facebook has gotten much more granular with its targeting features.

You can use these features to weed out audiences who are unlikely to buy your product, increasing your conversion rate and your overall returns.

Ultimately you must embrace paid advertising if you want to continue to reach your target audiences on the platform.

Take Advantage of Facebook Advertising Trends in 2018 and Beyond

By looking to the above Facebook Advertising trends your business can find greater successes in reaching your ideal prospects to grow in 2018.

Make sure you combine your Facebook Advertising strategy with other digital marketing practices for maximum gains.

Meta: These trends in Facebook advertising for 2018 will shape social media marketing practices in the year to come and help businesses get better ROI.

KWs: Facebook advertising

Social: Keep your eye on the future with these Facebook advertising trends that will bring businesses huge lead-gen and ROI in 2018.

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4 Reasons Paid Search Should Be Part of Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

At this point, it’s hard to deny that inbound marketing should be playing a central role in your marketing strategy. Making your brand’s presence known throughout a buyer’s journey significantly increases the likelihood that that searcher will become your next client. To that end, there are several methods that you can take advantage of in order to get your messaging in front of the right people at the right time, and one of the more powerful tools that should be in every marketer’s belt is paid search. Here we will discuss several reasons why your inbound marketing strategy can benefit from and should be benefiting from paid search.

4-reasons-paid-search-should-be-part-of-your-inbound-marketing-strategy

1) Instant Traffic

With paid search, you can instantly increase or decrease traffic to your site at the flip of a switch. Newer sites or companies can especially benefit from this feature. Whereas organic optimizations and content writing can take months to start noticeably affecting your traffic portfolio, there’s no waiting for paid search traffic. This is also a wonderful feature for advertisers that are targeting specific organic terms that they aren’t currently ranking for, because with enough budget or crafty targeting, you can achieve great positioning for these terms almost immediately.

2) Be Where Your Potential Customers Are

There are multiple options for placing your ads so that you can be sure that your brand is visible where and when you want it to be. Do your customers frequent Facebook? Or maybe a specific industry forum? With paid search, your ads can get directly to your audience, with almost limitless possibilities.

3) It’s the Perfect Testing Ground

Paid accounts grant marketers an agility not seen in other marketing avenues, and when paired with paid search’s ability to quickly drive actionable data, this can make for a powerful testing ground for your various marketing strategies. Utilizing paid search, new messaging strategies, landing pages, and workflows can be “proved out” in real-world situations before pushing them live in other marketing initiatives that might have longer lead times. This feedback also means that marketers can pivot away from strategies that aren’t as effective, saving time and money for what’s working.

4) It’s Effective

Arguably the most persuasive reason why paid search should be playing a large part in your inbound marketing strategy is that it works! Well-optimized paid search accounts can significantly increase the effectiveness of your overall marketing portfolio. When paired with paid search’s ability to drive very attributable traffic, it is also easy to communicate the success you are driving in your accounts.

When looking at these reasons alone, it is clear that paid search should have a rightful spot in your marketing strategy. That said, there are innumerable other reasons why you should consider folding paid search into your traffic portfolio. What successes have you seen incorporating paid search into your inbound marketing strategy? Share your stories in the comments.

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Launching Call-to-Action Units for Instant Articles

As part of the Facebook Journalism Project, we’ve been in ongoing conversations with a number of publishers about opportunities to extend the business value of Instant Articles. Across the board, publishers want to have more direct lines of communication with their readers and drive the conversions that matter to their business.

Given that feedback, we’ve worked closely with partners to create and test Page Like and Email Sign-Up call-to-action units, prompts for readers to like a publisher’s page or sign up for an email newsletter from within an Instant Article. Since the beginning of the year, we have on-boarded over 100 publishers globally into the call-to-action beta program.

We’re excited to announce that next week we’ll be rolling out these call-to-action units to all publishers on Instant Articles. Publishers will be able to set these up through a simple, self-serve creation flow, and access insights on the performance of their call-to-action units.

blog_header_image_v2

Build Direct Relationships

Starting next week, you will be able to set up the following call-to-action units directly from your page:

  • Email Sign-up call-to-action unit: Readers share their email address and agree to receive email newsletter updates from a publisher. Flexible design options allow publishers to customize messaging and clearly represent their brand.
  • Page Like call-to-action unit: Readers that Like the publisher’s Page are eligible to receive updates and posts from that publisher in News Feed.

Some of our beta partners have shared early results:

For Slate, the Email Sign-up call-to-action unit has accounted for 41% of their total email newsletter list growth over the past two months:

“We currently use the Email call-to-action unit for Instant Articles to drive signups for our daily newsletter list. Over the past two months, the CTA has accounted for 41% of our total list growth. That is a meaningful number and we’re looking forward to partnering with Facebook to continue to grow the program from here.”

Chris Schieffer, Senior Product Manager at Slate

For The Huffington Post, the Email call-to-action unit has made Instant Articles one of their highest performing acquisition channels for driving email newsletter subscribers:

“Facebook Instant Articles is now one of our highest performing acquisition channels for driving email newsletter subscribers. Over the last three months, IA CTA’s generated 29% of the HuffPost Morning Email signups. We also found that signups acquired via Instant Articles are just as likely to stick around as signups obtained from our own sites. We’re excited to work with Facebook to figure out how to drive other actions that help us build deeper relationships with readers, like mobile app downloads.”

Mark Silverstein, Head of Business Development at The Huffington Post

And we’re just getting started…

We recognize that publisher business models are diverse, and we’re continuing to collaborate with the industry to identify and develop new call-to-action units to deepen relationships and form new connections between people and publishers. Some examples already in the works include:

  • Testing Free Trial call-to-action unit: We are currently testing a quick and easy way for people to sign up for a free trial to a publisher’s digital subscription through Instant Articles with a small group of publishers.
  • Testing Mobile App Install call-to-action unit: Many partners have asked for a way to drive adoption for their mobile apps. So, this week, we officially launched an alpha test of a new Mobile App Install call-to-action unit with a handful of partners.

We are continuing to collaborate with our partners to drive value through call-to-action units in Instant Articles. We’re grateful for the participation and partnership to date, and we look forward to identifying additional opportunities to drive deeper engagement and build relationships between publishers and their readers on Facebook.

By: Josh Roberts

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