Creative Commons image by Michell Zappa.

Creative Commons image by Michell Zappa.

Happy New Year! Now that 2017 is here, you might be ready to roll up your sleeves and really get serious about your digital marketing. Or maybe you have been serious all along, but you just need to boost your appeal to your audience and convert more interest into actual sales. Whatever the case may be, this is the perfect time of year to make the changes you need to see some real differences in the way your business grows through the new year. Take a look at these new year’s resolutions to consider making when it comes to your digital marketing strategy.

Get Organized

One of your personal resolutions might be to get organized. But your laundry situation and the overwhelming piles of paperwork on your desk aren’t the only things that need to be whipped into shape this year! Consider your marketing strategy and figure out how you’re going to organize it. If you’re currently flying by the seat of your pants, it’s time to sit down, take inventory of what worked for you in 2016, expand on that, and throw out what wasn’t working.

It’s best to make a plan of how you’re going to spend your marketing dollars, how often you’re going to put up content, how you’re going to handle social media, and exactly how you’re going to convert leads into sales. This is a big job, and it’s not something you’re likely to figure out during one sit-down session. Schedule some time in the coming weeks to really think about all of this. If needed, schedule a consultation with a marketing expert who can help you see the forest through the trees and figure out what to focus on.

Beef Up Your Brand

Think about what message you’re sending out to the world with your branding. First, the little things: Is your logo and case consistent across every platform and on every site? Check your Google Business listings and various review sites to be sure that your business name, address and phone number are correct. Is your own name spelled correctly on sites that list ownership? Go through your website to make sure that each time your phone number is listed, it’s correct. Nothing screams “amateur” like having your address spelled wrong on your own website!

Once the basics are covered, think about how you are coming across to the world. Do you have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube account? You might not need all four; consider who your target audience is and figure out which platforms they’re most likely to be using. You can check out some stats at the Pew Research Center. If you don’t have the time to keep up with your social media, think about hiring someone to handle that for you. Many times, your social media accounts are the first impression you get to make, so make it a good one.

Create More (or Better) Content

Are you blogging? Think about your content and consider ways to make it better.A� If you aren’t sure where to start, here are some hints from Kissmetrics. If you aren’t putting up creative, unique, and engaging content regularly, consider finding someone who can do this for you. Remember that publishing content is not all you need to do. A good editorial calendar combined with a promotion plan is a must. Your social media platforms will be very helpful here!

Decide what your goals are for 2017 and think about what type of new year’s resolutions you should be making for your business. If you are floundering when it comes to digital marketing and content creation, don’t hesitate to contact Most Optimal for help!


Creative Commons image by  Silveira Neto

Creative Commons image by
Silveira Neto

Do you listen to podcasts? According to Convince & Convert, over 1/5 of the population does. If you’re one of them, you probably have your favorite podcasters; if you’re not, you might be missing out on a great way to learn about a wide variety of topics. You can listen to podcasts while jogging, driving or doing just about anything, so they’re really a convenient and simple way to be entertained or learn something (or, preferably, both!).

Learning the ins and outs of marketing and SEO takes lots of time, but if you listen to certain podcasts, you can cut down your learning curve. Here is a list of podcasts that might be just right for the small-business owner or entrepreneur who wants to learn how to market his or her website or business using digital marketing, SEO or other strategies. When you are trying to find a podcast that fits, personality is key; no matter how informative someone is, if you find their voice annoying or don’t like the way they approach topics, you’re not going to get much out of it. So if none of these work for you, don’t be afraid to keep trying to find a podcast that speaks to you personally and gives you the tips you need to succeed.

As Told by Nomads

As Told by Nomads is a great one for anyone who enjoys thinking out of the box a bit. The guests include a lot of innovators, particularly those who have traveled the world and made names for themselves in their new locations. Even if you aren’t planning on taking off for Fiji or even another state, some of the tips might give you some great inspiration as you look for novel ways to market yourself and your business.

The Fizzle Show

Have you been looking for information on how to grow your business, gain a bigger audience or otherwise improve your online business? If so, The Fizzle Show might be just the podcast you need. The hosts are entertaining and you’ll find yourself laughing as you learn how to maximize your marketing strategy to attract and pull in your target customers.

Edge of the Web

The Edge of the Web podcast tells you about all things digital marketing, from SEO strategies, to keeping your online reputation healthy, to the newest Google updates and how they might affect you and your business. They have a variety of guests with different levels and topics of expertise, so you’re very likely to learn something new from each episode.

SEO Dojo Radio

Are you ready to get serious about your SEO and content strategies? If so, SEO Dojo Radio is a podcast that you shouldn’t miss. You’ll be able to get the news when it comes to what’s going on with search engines, as well as hear the opinions of the experienced hosts and their speakers.

There are countless other podcasts out there that can help you market your business better. Take a look through your favorite Internet radio and podcast service to find shows that you’ll find helpful and interesting, and try to make time each week to listen to a show. Over time, your knowledge base will widen with just a little bit of effort on your part.


Creative Commons image by AJ Cann

Creative Commons image by AJ Cann

Last year, there was a lot of chatter about Mobilegeddon, which was a Google algorithm change that strongly encouraged companies to make sure their websites were mobile-friendly. With a sizable percentage of Internet users surfing the ‘Net from their smartphones and other mobile devices, it makes sense not only from an SEO perspective, but also from the perspective of your customers, to make sure your site loads up quickly and properly on mobile devices. About half of small businesses were affected, and many of them, maybe yours included, made the changes necessary to bring their sites up to par as far as Google was concerned.

Maybe you don’t get the bulk of your hits through Google search, though. If this is the case, you might not have complied. After all, if you’re getting most of your clientele from social media platforms like Facebook, it might not have seemed necessary, at the time, to make sure your site was mobile-friendly.

Well, now that’s changed.

The social media giant is now focusing more on whether advertising sites are mobile-friendly. They understand that if a user clicks on an ad via their smartphone and the site does not load up within a few seconds, they’re likely to click away in frustration. In an effort to minimize Facebook users closing their apps prematurely, Facebook is beginning to show ads of non-mobile-friendly sites less frequently. If your business is one that attracts attention through Facebook ads, this can be quite detrimental.

So, if you haven’t updated to a mobile-friendly version of your site, here are some steps you can take to be sure that your Facebook ads are still being shown as much as they have been in recent months:

  • Use Facebook Pages. Pages are a way for businesses to showcase their products and services right on the Facebook platform. This eliminates the chances that your non-optimized website will affect your advertising strategy; just switch your links to go to your Page rather than your website. If you have no time, desire or ability to update your website, this might be the way to go.
  • Use Facebook Canvas. Canvas is an ad format that brings your photos or video to life right on the Facebook app. It’s faster than most websites and it gives your customers the information they need.
  • Make your site more mobile-friendly. If you want your ads to redirect to your site, you need to make sure that your site is optimized for people using their smart devices. Some ways you can do this include minimizing landing page directs, eliminating unnecessary plug-ins, compressing files, and switching to multi-region hosting. A web developer can help you get your site to where it should be in terms of mobile-friendliness.

Just as the businesses who depend heavily on Google search results survived Mobilegeddon in 2015, you will survive Facebook’s version. Use the services provided by the platform itself, and don’t be afraid to get a web developer involved to help you make sure your site is as mobile-friendly as possible.


Creative commons image by microbiologybytes (flickr).

Creative commons image by microbiologybytes (flickr).

You’ve probably heard that video marketing is the next big thing for businesses, and maybe you’re wondering whether it would be a good strategy for you. What would you make your videos about? Since video appeals to so many people, there are definitely ways for you to take advantage of the craze and develop a name for yourself on YouTube, Facebook, SnapChat or one of the other many platforms that support videos. Here are some tips on making the most of the opportunity, no matter what type of business you have.

How-To Videos

Chances are great that there’s something that you, as the owner of your business, know how to do that the average layperson does not. This might be using one of your products most effectively, if you sell products. It might be DIY-ing a solution to a problem that many of your customers approach you with. It might even be somewhat unrelated to the service you provide, but still something that your clients need to know how to do. You could create a how-to video that will not only bring viewers to your website (or YouTube channel or Facebook page), but will also increase your authority. All you need is someone to record you doing whatever it is you’re teaching your viewers how to do while narrating it so people can follow along at home. As a bonus, you could type up the process and include it in the video description.

Demonstrations

If you have a product or products, why not demonstrate how to use them on-screen? This can be more effective than an instruction manual for those who are more kinetically inclined and less likely to follow written instructions. It can also minimize the need for you to be constantly answering troubleshooting questions; if your customers can see what they’re doing wrong because the video is showing them how to do it right, they’re less likely toA� have trouble that would necessitate a phone call or visit. This can also be a great sales piece, as people who watch your video will see how simple and easy your product is to use.

Expert Interviews

Sure, you’re the expert on your niche, but your customers might have questions about products or services that are complementary to yours. Try interviewing local experts about what they do, too. This brings interest to your channel and makes you a friend outside of your own industry. Maybe he or she would be willing to interview you for their blog, website or video channel, too.

Whiteboard Explanation

Do you want to explain the science behind your product or service? Drawing it out on a whiteboard (you can use an actual dry-erase board and dry-erase markers) can help your viewers understand what you’re talking about. This type of video marketing is also a great idea if you want to discuss the history of your business or the different types of products or services available from your business.

Simple Entertainment

Once you have a video channel set up, keeping it lively by interspersing informative information with some entertaining stories or company-produced music videos or holiday greetings can be a great way to keep interest in your channel alive. Have fun with it! (But do remember to be appropriate and sensitive to your viewers by staying away from political or other types of controversial topics.)

Convinced yet? Video marketing can be a boon to your business if you have some ideas on how to create a good handful of videos for your chosen platform. With any luck, they’ll get passed around and you’ll see an increase in your bottom line.

 


Creative Commons image by Sean MacEntee.

Creative Commons image by Sean MacEntee.

With over half of the adult population (58%) using Facebook, therea��s no doubt that this social media superstar is making a tremendous impact on not only the Internet, but our lives as a whole. More than just an online water cooler, Facebook has become an advertising platform, a place to get job leads and, now, with Facebook Professional Services, possibly a substitute for Yelp and Google Reviews.

With the new Facebook Professional Services, users can type in the type of service theya��re looking for, and Facebook will provide a list of the local companies in their local area that have reviews on the site. When you visit the services page, which is available only on the desktop version, your location will be automatically populated. Run a search for a�?pizza places,a�? a�?plumbersa�? or a�?podiatrists,a�? and youa��ll be able to see the recommended service providers in your neighborhood, complete with reviews from other Facebook users. You may also be interested in lord of the ocean slot 100% bonus + freispiele.

Like the Google algorithms, the Facebook algorithm for deciding which businesses are shown first is not precisely known. Ita��s likely that since Facebook knows about individual preferences, the order of businesses shown is slightly different from everyone. Still, reviews are taken into consideration, without a doubt.

What does this mean for you, as a small business owner? Ita��s important to make sure, first and foremost, that you have a Facebook page for your business. Also, you will want to garner not only likes, but also reviews. There are a few ways you can go about this:

  • Just ask. Customers who are happy with the service or product that you provide are likely to want to help you by leaving a review, but they might not go out of their way to do so on their own. If someone mentions that theya��re pleased with what youa��ve provided, ask them to leave a Facebook review. Chances are great that theya��ll say yes.
  • Make it easy. While asking is the key, ita��s just as important to make it simple. Leta��s face it: People are busy, and leaving a positive review for a service that theya��re happy with is probably not anyonea��s first priority. Leave a link to your businessa��s Facebook page on the bottom of your outgoing emails, or ask your clients and customers if you can text them the link, so they can leave a review right from their smartphones.
  • Make it quick. The day of or after you provide service is the right time to ask for a review. If you let too many days (or, worse, weeks!) pass, your customers will likely just put it out of their minds. Spending a few minutes emailing or texting each daya��s customers can pay off in the long run.
  • Make it worth their while. Mention that everyone who leaves a review will be entered in a monthly drawing for… well, thata��s up to you! A free service, a half-price service, a gift card to a local restaurant, or just about anything else.

Will the as-yet-unadvertised Facebook Professional Services become a leader in the reviews-and-recommendations industry? Only time will tell. Based on Facebooka��s overall successes, however, ita��s wise to act as though it will be a hard-hitter in this realm and get the reviews needed to boost your business toward the top of the results page in your local area.

 


A nest full of hash tags.
Creative Commons image by Garrett Heath.

Creative Commons image by Garrett Heath.

You might have heard that Google is now displaying Tweets in search results. If youa��re not on Twitter, you might not know what all of the hullaballoo is about. Basically, Twitter is a microblogging site, and Googlea��s decision to show Twitter posts is giving individuals and businesses another way to become recognized. Want to know more? Read on for tips on optimizing your Twitter account.

Follow, Follow, Follow

If you have a Facebook or Instagram account, you might find that ita��s better to limit who you follow so you can actually interact with people. Because people who Twitter tend to post a bit (or a lot) more prolifically than those who use other social media sites due to the nature of the platform, youa��re not going to be able to acknowledge every Tweet (or even every tenth Tweet) anyway, so go ahead and build up your audience.

Following other people is a great way to get them to follow you. Dona��t discriminate: If someone follows you, you follow them right back. In addition get into the habit of following other business owners in your area, friends of friends, people who have hobbies similar to yours, people who have similar (or different) political views… you get the idea. Keep in mind that if you are following many more people than are following you, Twitter will impose some limits once you follow 2,000 people.

Jump Into Conversations

Dona��t wait to be invited. If you have a response to a Tweet, then go ahead and Tweet it! Keep in mind that these Tweets might be what comes up on your Google search results, of course. Re-tweet items and link to other peoplea��s websites.

On the side of your main page, you will see that there is a list of trending terms. If you have something to say about any of these terms, go right ahead. On the other hand, if you have nothing to say, dona��t try to work them in where they dona��t make sense.

Dona��t Be Spammy

People who only promote themselves on their Twitter feeds will soon find themselves without any followers. Link to other sites in and out of your industry. Share interesting tidbits that dona��t have anything to do with your business. Link to your blog, but link to othersa�� blogs as well. In short, dona��t be too self-centered. Remember that brevity is a virtue; do not type out a long post and just divide it into several Tweets. It really doesna��t work that way!

In conclusion, the two most important things to keep in mind when using Twitter are:

  1. Be human. Dona��t Tweet like a robot; have opinions, and share them. Customize your background. Go ahead and use some text-speak, as long as you can be understandable; people know that you are limited to 140 characters.
  2. Use some discretion. Now that Google is putting your Tweets out there for the world to see, youa��re going to want to keep that in mind every single time you post. Remember, the Internet is forever.

Happy Tweeting!


Social Media Success
Social Media Success

Creative commons image by Sean MacEntee.

Over the past couple of weeks, we have talked about many different types of social media and image-sharing websites. Hopefully you have been able to take some time to decide which sites are best for you to focus on when it comes to marketing your small business. Since each site is different, we are going to go through a few hints for engaging with your followers. Some of the tips will not be applicable to every site, of course, but you will be able to get a general idea for what you should be doing (and not doing) in order to boost interest and interaction with your social media profiles.

Be Consistent

Probably the most important thing to remember is the adage, a�?out of sight, out of mind.a�? You need to post often enough that your followers dona��t forget who you are. Now with that comes a caveat: You dona��t want to annoy people! Dona��t post a dozen videos in a row, dona��t promote yourself 20 times per day and dona��t let all of your followers know every food item you put in your mouth (unless youa��re a food blogger or a chef!).

Come up with an appropriate schedule for posting. If youa��re using Facebook, you will want to do this no more than a few times per day. If youa��re on Twitter, however, you can plan to post more often if you want to. Take a look at the site in question and notice what other are doing in terms of post frequency.

Dona��t Be Predictable

Once you have gotten your consistency strategy down pat, youa��re going to want to vary things a bit. Rotate the types of posts you put up. If you have a blog, go ahead and post links to each post as you publish them, but consider introducing one with an infographic, another with a quote, yet another with a question, and so on.

Acknowledge Your Followers

If you get new followers, go ahead and call them out! People love to be acknowledged. Also, if someone asks a question on your YouTube channel or Facebook feed, go ahead and answer it right there. Respond to comments. In short, you want to avoid giving the impression that you do not care what your followers have to say.

Provide Something of Interest

Whether ita��s a link to a shocking news story, professional advice or a contest that will earn one of your followers free services or products, make sure that most of what youa��re posting will capture the attention of your readers. Choose images carefully and do what you can to encourage responses, likes and shares/repostings.

Dona��t Forget to Network

Remember the a�?sociala�? part of social media. Have fun with it and get in touch with others! You can run a search to find people who are in the same industry as you are, who have grown up in your hometown or who have the same non-work interests. Fill out your profile and dona��t be shy about contacting others.

Also, try to develop a network of people in your area who have businesses that complement yours. For example, if you are a plumber, you might want to refer a client to an electrician at some point. Go ahead and use social media to your advantage in finding local contacts. The more people you know, the greater your chances of having more referrals rolling in.

As you can see, you can really spend a lot of time on social media! If youa��re just starting out, ita��s best to choose just one or two sites to get up and running before devoting time to more. Remember that while social media is an important part of marketing in 2015 and beyond, ita��s not the only part. Limit yourself to a certain amount of time per day or per week and make the most of it!


Social Media
Social Media

Creative Commons image by Jason Howle

We recently talked a bit about using social media as part of your marketing strategy. We went over the biggest sites, including Facebook and Twitter. Today wea��ll be discussing some of the sites that you might not have thought of.

It is important to remember that this is by no means a comprehensive list, nor is it a list of sites that you must use. When youa��re developing your social media strategy, ita��s very important to pick and choose only the sites that you have time to keep up with and that will work well with your industry and your target clients.

Google+

You might find that many of your social contacts prefer other sites, namely Facebook, to Google+. Instead of thinking of this site as a replacement for Facebook, however, understand that it has some different features.

First, ita��s connected to the rest of your Google account. This means that if you have a Gmail account, your connections will be able to see when youa��re online and will be able to share things with you. Google+ is also geared more toward professionals than Facebook is, so therea��s a better chance that your clients, colleagues and customers will want to add you in their Circles.

Ita��s worth noting that if you are uploading images to Google+, they will be saved with high resolution, which is unlike the images saved on other social media sites. If you already have a Google account (and leta��s face it: you probably do!), using Google+ might make sense.

Tumblr

If you are marketing to a younger (under 35) crowd, you may want to look into the social blogging site called Tumblr. In general, Tumblr users are college students or younger adults who might not be in the midst of the mortgage-spouse-kids years quite yet. You can post images, write up content or share other peoplea��s material from their Tumblr sites. Depending on your a�?perfect customer,a�? this might be a site worth considering.

Vine

Have you always wanted to produce videos that were six seconds long? Well, this is the point of the free app called Vine. You might be surprised at how much creativity you can pack into just a few seconds. You can show your followers how to do something using the stop-motion feature, say (or sing!) your tag line, tell a quick joke, or whatever you want. You can read more about some of the reasons to consider this app, as well as see some cool examples, here.

YouTube

Video marketing is projected to see some impressive growth over the next several years. Why? Ita��s easy, it appeals to people who dona��t have the attention span or time to dedicate to reading an article, and it has the potential to engage people more than a two-dimensional website can. As a member of YouTube, you can also comment on other peoplea��s videos and gain a following. Conduct your own webinar or answer FAQs on your video. The possibilities are endless!

Flickr

If your business depends on quality images, Flickr is an excellent site to consider using. Not only are images stored at full resolution, but theya��re easy for others to find and view. You can save the photos in such a way as to prevent unauthorized downloading, or you can put them up under a Creative Commons license, which allows others to use (and, if you allow it, modify) your images for their own websites. Imagine finding your photos on an informative site owned by someone else!

Remember, setting up social media accounts is only the first step. Once you have decided which sites are best for you to concentrate on, the more difficult part comes along: engaging with your followers. We will be talking more about that soon!


social media for local business
social media

CC image courtesy of Jason Howie

As a small business owner, you are undoubtedly busy. Whether youa��re a new entrepreneur or you have been running your company for a while, the responsibilities of keeping a small business afloat can be overwhelming. Ita��s understandable that you dona��t have a lot of time to devote to your social media presence. In 2015, with the majority of people not only using social media, but also relying on it as a main source of information, it is vital that you devote some time and effort to building and maintaining your Internet presence.

Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing ways that you can relate to your clients, customers, colleagues and the community at large through social media. For today, wea��ll talk about the different sites that you can use to begin promoting yourself as you engage others.

Facebook: The Big One

If you ask a random sampling of people which social media site is used the most frequently, chances are excellent that most will mention Facebook. They would be correct; with billions of users, Facebook is the most popular social media site today. If you are going to make only one social media profile, chances are good that Facebook is the one that makes the most sense.

Twitter: Keep It Short, Sweetheart

Part of Twittera��s appeal is that users are limited to 140 characters in each post. This makes it easy to sip your coffee and read through the daya��s (or more likely, the houra��s) news. The character limit can make it challenging to post the details that you need to, however, so youa��ll need to practice brevity to succeed here.

Pinterest: An Up-and-Coming Leader

Pinterest is gaining a lot of interest. Most business owners can carve their own niche into Pinterest, even if it does not seem obvious at first. While some might think that the site is geared toward crafty homemakers, there is a lot of opportunity here for almost anyone.

Instagram: Say Cheese!

Instagram, a smartphone app based on images and video, is a hot social media site worth looking into. It takes little time to keep it updated, and you can snap photos with your phone, making it convenient to use.

LinkedIn: Business Networking Meets Social Media

LinkedIn is great for any business owner or entrepreneur. It will put you in contact with others in your industry, as well as those looking for professionals in your field. This is one of the networking sites that you can get away with not updating as frequently, but it is important to keep your contact details current.

And Much More

There are many other sites to consider as well, including Google+, Tumblr, Vine, YouTube and Flickr. Wea��ll be going over the pros and cons of each of these.

In the digital age, it makes sense to keep your social media presence as a high priority. If you dona��t have a lot of time to devote, wea��ll go over some tips on making the most of the time investment that you can make. We think youa��ll find that ita��s worth it to put some effort into engaging with your potential customers, past clients and others in the community.