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We recently discussed the latest Twitter profile updates and how to use them to your advantage. Now that you’re creating banner images and pinning tweets with the best of them, let’s dig a little deeper. According to Twitter Brand Partner Alex Ticas, Twitter has 255 million active users. Ticas also states that there are 1 billion tweets (yes, *billion*!) every two days. That’s pretty incredible. This doesn’t mean you can’t rule Twitter! You’ll just have to work a little harder to cut through the noise.

Here are 3 great ways:

1. Choosy tweeters choose GIFs.

Those often-hilarious moving images you see across the internet are called animated GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format). They were introduced by CompuServe in the late 1980s but have had a recent resurgence in popularity.

cat animated gif

This summer, Twitter announced that the platform now supports animated GIFs. Now you can delight your followers with short animated images of fluffy animals or your latest products or sale items. As with all other image-related marketing, the possibilities are endless.

Fun fact: did you know that GIF’s pronunciation deliberately echos the famous peanut butter brand JIF? CompuServe employees used to say that “choosy developers choose GIF” as a nod to the peanut butter brand’s slogan.

 

2. Embed photos.

Rule Twitter

If you aren’t attaching images to your tweets yet, now is the time to start! This is a great way to attract more views for your tweets, so reserve this feature for your most important messages. On Twitter, click the camera icon when composing a tweet to add your image. Hootsuite now offers the option to post images via pic.twitter.com as well so that your images will show in native Twitter feeds even if you aren’t posting directly from the Twitter platform.

Social Media Examiner offers a great article on how to prepare your images for Twitter’s automatic cropping and resizing.

 

3. Find Leads with Advanced Search. 

Twitter is a great place to meet people virtually and begin the path to real-world relationships and business exchanges. But what if you want to reach beyond tweets from people and businesses you already follow? That’s where Twitter’s Advanced Search comes in handy.

Do you want to see who is talking to (or about) businesses like yours? Type “to: @username” into the search box.

rule twitter

Only want to see conversations happening near you? No problem. Here is a search for all tweets within four miles of San Francisco’s 94102 zip code, tagged with #sanfrancisco:

rule twitter

You can also search for tweets based on subject and sentiment. Here is a query for people saying positive things about black shoes:

rule twitter

Get more tips for using Twitter’s Advanced Search function with Beth Gladstone‘s excellent and detailed post on Social Media Examiner.

Do you have Twitter tips to share? Let us know in the comments section!


- By Cariwyl

If you spend time on social media, it’s no secret to you that 2014 is all about content. You’ve also likely noticed the lifestyle emphasis of popular content this year. Videos, images (both with and without text), and the beloved listicle are also very popular in 2014. And if it seems like your news is coming from more and more varied sources, it’s true! As the 2014 social media marketing trends infographic below by TalkWalker states, more and more brands are becoming content producers.

2014 social media trends

Talkwalker.com is an excellent social metrics platform for brands. Signing up is easy and free. And once you are logged in you can search for social media metrics on any brand you like. Track your brand’s buzz, engagement, potential reach, and see how you stack up against brands similar to yours. See what people are saying about you and get a general idea of the sentiment surrounding your brand too. But look closely! Sometimes this aspect of social listening is inaccurate. For instance, Talkwalker sees the phrase “crazy cool” as a negative statement.

As Talkwalker’s infographic states, be passionate with your content and your social messaging!

What social media trends are you noticing this year?


- By Cariwyl

In our last post we discussed recent changes to Facebook advertising. In keeping with the theme of always-changing social media platforms, we’re back with must-have tips regarding the latest Twitter profile changes.

Twitter announced their new profile format in early April. Though resistance to change is typical among those on social media, it was immediately clear that the updates really did provide an enhanced Twitter experience.

In today’s post we highlight Twitter’s recent profile changes and how they can be useful to you and your business:

1. Larger Banners

The large banner images we know so well on Google+ and Facebook have now made their way over to Twitter. Get the most out of this new feature by using images that show customers what your business is all about!

Caterpillar Twitter banner

image via hubspot.com

Apple App Store Twitter banner

image via hubspot.com

The examples above from Caterpillar and Apple show two very different ways you can utilize Twitter’s enhanced banner size to share eye-catching images with your audience. Be creative and have fun!

2. Pinned Tweets

Finally, we have the ability to leave an important message at the top of our Twitter feeds for as long as we want! In an environment as hectic as Twitter, it can be difficult to be seen–regardless of the importance of your message. With the new pinned tweet functionality you can ensure your latest news will be the first thing visitors see when viewing your profile.

nike pinned tweet

Simply log into your Twitter account, click on “Me” to go to your profile, scroll down to the tweet you want to pin to the top, click the three dots next to the trash can icon, and select “pin to your profile page.” The pinned tweet will remain at the top of your profile until you select a new pinned tweet.

3. Highlighting Your Best Content

Twitter now gives your most popular tweets a larger font size, which both encourages users to post quality tweets and makes it easier for profile visitors to see your best content. More favorites and retweets than you typically receive for a tweet is all it takes to activate the larger font.

Stay tuned for more Twitter tips on the blog next month!


- By Cariwyl

If we told you that Facebook advertising changes were coming your way next month, would you be surprised? We’re guessing you wouldn’t. Marketers and consumers alike notice frequent changes (often with shock and dismay) to their favorite social networks. While sometimes these changes are for the better from a consumer perspective, more often than not social media users are frustrated by surprise layout and functionality changes. As marketers, we understand the ramifications these changes can have if they catch you off guard! Scrambling to catch up is never fun, which is why we’re here to let you know that yet another round of Facebook advertising changes is set to roll out beginning in June 2014. The right-hand column ads we all know and love (pictured below) will be displayed at a larger size starting next month. Facebook righthand column ads   The current 100×72 size will be phased out, which means the best way to get the most out of your right-hand column advertising is to create new 600×315 versions of your ads. These new ads will be rendered at 254×133 and are expected to increase engagement with your potential customers. We certainly can’t argue with that. Start planning your new right-hand column advertising strategy today and stay ahead of the curve!


- By Cariwyl

According to eMarketer.com, the average American adult spends five hours per day online–more time than we spend consuming any other form of media.

emarketer

Many factors influence how we interact with a website: easy-to-read text, images, clear call-to-actions, and a clean design encourage web users to stay awhile. But did you know that color has a great impact on user behavior as well?

This infographic from TestKing.com shows us which emotions are evoked by each color, discusses subtleties determined by color shade, and how to best use colors to evoke the emotions you want potential customers to feel when they visit your site:

color infographic

Does Facebook’s use of blue and gray inspire us to trust the site with the most important moments in our lives? It’s very possible, considering that some of the most-used social networking platforms utilize similar color palates: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

What emotions do your favorite sites evoke?


- By Cariwyl

The internet is a noisy place. With numerous social networks, search engines, and popular websites, it can be difficult to remain visible to potential customers. While services such as Google AdWords help businesses acquire new customers via search, retargeting keeps your brand front-of-mind on the sites web users love most. In this post, we explain what retargeting is and how to use it to help your business gain new leads and customers.

What is retargeting? 

Retargeting is a type of paid online marketing that targets potential customers based on their previous web-based actions. Visitors to sites that have implemented retargeting are tagged with a cookie or pixel and are later served image ads about that company to entice them to come back and make a purchase.

Have you ever visited a hotel website or shopped for products online and later saw images advertising these businesses as you surfed the web? That’s retargeting.

retargeting example

Example of a retargeting ad.

You also may have heard the term “remarketing.” This is simply retargeting via Google and their partner sites. Google is the company serving the ads and the type of advertising is called retargeting. This can be a bit confusing but don’t fret! They are not two different types of advertising. That said, many marketers are now using these terms interchangeably.

What are the benefits of retargeting? 

The rule of thumb with eCommerce is that only 2% of users make a purchase when visiting an online retailer. Retargeting enables you to remain front-of-mind among the 98% of visitors who spent time on your site but did not convert during their first visit. Unlike traditional advertising, you can customize your ads to specific types of users via retargeting. For example, you can serve ads showing specific items from abandoned shopping carts to encourage potential customers to come back and make their purchase. You can also keep current and former customers interested in your brand by showing them ads for customer loyalty programs and other special offers.

I’m already using paid search. Isn’t that enough?

While implementing paid search on Google and other search engines is a great place to start with paid online marketing, it is important to be where your customers are as often as possible. This means having a presence on search, social, and the websites your potential customers visit.

Consider this: say a potential customer visits your site via a Google AdWords ad, looks around a bit, but does not make a purchase. This visitor later sees image ads for your business while surfing the web and/or social media and remembers that they were interested in your products. This user is significantly more likely to come back to your site and make a purchase than if they had seen your content via AdWords alone!

Do you have retargeting success stories to share? Join the conversation in the comments section below! Contact us today to kick off your retargeting campaigns. We look forward to working with you!


- By Cariwyl

“Improve 1,000 little things by 1%…”

Dollar Sign

A few months ago, I was referred to a new customer by a colleague of another customer. Since most of my new business is referral based, I spent extra time getting to know the business of the new customer and understanding how we could help. As is quite common in the Digital Marketing industry, the project as described originally by the client turned into something a lot more extensive. What started as SEO consulting for an eCommerce site, blossomed into social media marketing, being the webmaster, blogger and web marketing analyst. Needless to say it has been a blast learning a new industry, business and making a new relationship with my client. I am also grateful for the opportunity to share a small success story about it.

What’s the biggest indicator of digital marketing success?
Dollar signs of course! And we saw a significant increase in the number of sales in Q4 2013 compared with all previous sales on the website. We started optimizing the website in August and adding the other responsibilities in September. As you can see from the chart below, the numbers speak for themselves.

Chart Showing Success with large increase in sales in Q4 2013

“You cannot improve one thing by 1000% but you can improve 1000 little things by 1%” – Jan Carlzon Former President & CEO of the Scandinavian Airlines Group (SAS)

What are your favorite success stories from 2013? Please share in the comments below.


- By Suse Barnes

Google Search Updates, Algorithms, Pandas, Penguins and Hummingbirds

You may have heard of Google’s biggest most recent search engine update called Hummingbird, but do you know what it does and how it impacts your search engine results placement? In other words, how does Hummingbird affect your business?

This post covers a little history of algorithms, Hummingbird and what you need to do now to increase your search engine rankings.

Hummingbird | Google Search

First let’s understand what a search engine does. A good search engine will index all content available on the web and then serve up results based on any given search. So if you’re looking for organic blueberry chocolate (without quotes) the engine will provide you with what it considers to be the most appropriate results for your particular search. For a search on organic blueberry chocolate today, Google found about 37,900,000 results (in 0.32 seconds). That means there are 37,899,990 other web results competing for page one placement when people search for organic blueberry chocolate.

How does the engine know which sites to show the person searching (user)?
That’s where the algorithm comes in. An algorithm is a mathematical formula, which calculates the appropriateness of each search result based on each person’s search. So if someone searched for How to make organic blueberry chocolate we will see a different set of results, because Google understands that the search is different. The first search (for “Organic blueberry chocolate”) is likely being performed by someone interested in buying some chocolate and the other search is about learning how to make it. Those two things are quite different. Ponder on that for a minute.

I hope you’re starting to understand that the search engine is trying to be smart and doing it’s best to offer you as the user, the best experience by providing the most appropriate search results. So you want to know a couple of things.

1. How does the engine figure out which sites are the best ones to show?
And
2. How do you get your website or page to show on page one of Google?
Right?
Yes, well that’s where the Hummingbird comes in. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Before Hummingbird there were a few other updates that were talked about in search engine optimization and marketing circles. Most recently, these were Panda and Penguin. Both of them were Google’s way of getting rid of junk content or spammy websites that were cluttering up it’s index and muddying the search results. These were a couple of the bigger updates and gave the search engine marketing industry something to talk about, but in reality Google makes hundreds of algorithm changes per year. According to Moz, “Google makes 500 – 600 algorithm changes per year.”

What are these changes and why does Google make them you ask?
Sometimes the changes are small ones to shift the way the best quality search results are calculated and to keep search engine optimizers on their toes. Other times there are updates to penalize black hat (read unethical) SEOs for trying to game the engines. And yet other times there are major overhauls of the algorithm or engine to make it perform better in numerous ways. Hummingbird is such an update. It is like a replacement of the entire engine instead of just the replacement or repair of a part of it.

Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineLand.com says that one of the reasons for the name of the Hummingbird updates is because it is “precise and fast.” If you’ve ever seen a hummingbird, they are amazingly small birds with super powerful wings and thrust. They also seem to understand exactly where their food is based on color and scent and can quickly and efficiently retrieve the energy they need to sustain such an active little lifestyle.

While other updates focused on penalties to sites for keyword stuffing, bad inbound links and poor PageRank, Google’s Hummingbird’s main change is focused around understanding what the user wants. In search and web marketing this is known as user intent and a huge amount of energy has gone into being able to understand user intent in order to provide the most appropriate search results. According to Giselle Aguiar, “Hummingbird looks for natural language — well-written (no typos or grammatical errors), high-quality content on webpages.
Google’s goal in all this is to give the searcher exactly what they’re looking for. Google now wants fresh, relevant content written for the human reader.”

And in a recent case study, Giselle found a way to attract the Hummingbird to the feeder. How? She posted to a blog at least 3 times a week with one of them being a video. Because YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine after Google and YouTube is also owned by Google, “embedding video in a blog post combines the best of both worlds.” And Giselle is not a trailblazer there are many other SEOs backing her up. James Wedmore will tell you this as well. Just look at how many “How to…” articles he has posted on his homepage.

MarketingTypeGuys.com says “businesses that take the time to write content that addresses common questions from consumers, will find themselves naturally rising to the top of Google’s search results pages.”

And Salman Aslam writes: “This doesn’t change everything about the way we do SEO, but, we need to now put less focus on specific keywords and instead, think about what the user is thinking/needing/feeling when they’re searching – and then give them the most relevant content and experience possible. As a site owner, this is your responsibility too.”

Salman also brilliantly shows how there has been a significant increase in the number of “how” and “what” words in search queries over the last few years. Look at his chart here and read his thoughts on Hummingbird strategies.

Last but not least, we still have lots to learn from the pool salesman, Marcus Schneider who was able to sell tons of fiberglass pools in a dwindling economy just by understanding his audience’s needs.

So how do you get found with search?
In Summary:
1. Focus on good content that will be useful to your audience.
2. Answer questions that your customers are asking.
3. Write blog posts frequently and embed videos in them for your own Jab Jab, Right Hook combination.
4. Remember that SEO is a marathon and not a sprint. Content marketing takes time. Know your audience, understand your market and always provide value.
5. Help people find what they are looking for. Answer search questions.


- By Suse Barnes

Successful Pinterest Contesting Tips

Pinterest Contest Guide
One of the things I love most about working in the Internet industry is that we never stop learning. There is always something new to try and offer our clients and I personally love learning just as much as I enjoy teaching. We’ve recently been hard at working learning as much as possible from top Social Media Experts at the Social Success Marketing Summit. The following Pinterest Contest Guide was inspired by a recent webinar by Melanie Duncan.

How to Run a Successful Pinterest Contest

Running a Pinterest contest is a great way to gain new followers, increase traffic to your website, obtain new leads, and increase sales for your business. Within this guide, we will discuss useful tips and guidelines for running a successful contest on the Pinterest platform.

Pinterest Contest Do’s and Don’ts

Do:
1. Read Pinterest’s anti-spam guidelines and contest guidelines.
2. Remember that Pinterest is all about inspiration.
3. Reward inspired pinning.
4. Make it easy to participate and make your guidelines clear.
5. If you are going to reference Pinterest in your contest, review their branding guidelines.

Don’t:
1. Ask Pinterest to sponsor or promote your contest. This is greatly frowned upon!
2. Make people pin or repin your contest rules.
3. Run a sweepstakes in which each action (pin, repin, new board, follow, like) counts as an entry.
4. Require comments or any other potentially spam-related behavior.
5. Require a minimum number of pins.
6. Ask for votes with pins, repins, boards, or likes.

Strategy & How to Build a Contest

One of the most important aspects of running a Pinterest contest is having a strategy. Before starting your contest, determine your guidelines, the goal of your contest, and what you will award to winners.

1. Contest Type
The first step in building a successful Pinterest contest is determining your ultimate goal.

a. To gain more followers: Require entrants to follow you on Pinterest.
b. To gain traffic to your website: Ask entrants to create a new board with your company’s name in the title and have them pin their favorite images from your website (and other images about your company) to the new board. You can also run a campaign similar to this with the goal of increasing brand awareness.
c. To increase sales: Offer a select number of items for a possible giveaway and ask entrants to pin their favorites. Another option is to have entrants pin images of them using your product.

Once you establish your contest goal, create a clear outline of contest guidelines for participants. Keep it simple so your contest is easy to enter. You’ll receive more entries this way!

2. Contest Marketing

a. Don’t limit your contest promotion to Pinterest. Instead, utilize your other social networks, your website, and your mailing list as channels on which to promote your Pinterest contest.
b. Create an eye-catching contest page on your website and use this as “home base” for your contest. This gives participants a gateway to your website as well as a location to refer back to after the contest is over. This is also a great place to host key images you would like to see pinned as part of your contest.
c. Create an eye-catching “pinnable” image to help launch your contest and spread the word. This should be colorful, include your brand, and include a call to action such as “pin to win”. This should also include a buzzword such as “promotion” or “giveaway” and mention of what the prize will be.

3. Selecting Winners
There are three main ways to select a winner for your contest:

a. Collect votes. (For example, a “like” counts as one vote and a “repin” counts as two votes.)
b. Judge based on criteria such as the number of repins an entry received or pin creativity.
c. Run a sweepstakes and select the winner at random. (try a service like www.random.org to help you with this one)

Whichever method you choose, be sure to be up front with entrants in your contest guidelines!

4. Contest Follow-up
a. If you collected email addresses for all participants, notify them of the winner via email and offer everyone a discount or other small prize for their participation.
b. If signing up on your mailing list was not an entrance requirement for your contest, notify contest winners via pin comment and also update the contest page on your website to reflect this information.

Additional Pinterest Contest Tips

• Choose a great prize! Tangible items tend to work best.
• Whatever your method of notification, offer a small, limited-time discount to all contest participants. This will continue to drive interest and sales.
• Run your contest for approximately 10 days to prevent your promotion from being too short to be noticed or too long to keep people interested.
• After your contest ends, change the text on your website contest page to let participants know that it has ended and that you will inform them when the next contest begins. Have a form available for them to sign up on your mailing list.
• Pinterest offers “Pin It” buttons for you to use at: http://business.pinterest.com/widget-builder/#do_pin_it_button

Your Turn

Do you have any successful contest campaigns you want to share or questions about Pinterest? Please post in the comments below.


- By Suse Barnes

Oct
22

What is DNS?

DNS = Domain Name Service

DNS compared to Postal Service

 

Have you ever experienced your website being down and your webmaster or site administrator tell you “it’s a DNS issue”? DNS stands for Domain Name Service and it is what tells all the servers on the Internet where to find your website. Imagine millions of servers all over the world having to take zillions of requests for all kinds of different websites on browsers a gajillion times a day!

Think about it like the postal service
DNS is what enables your website to be served to a visitor when they request your domain name in a browser. I like to think of it like the central post office or postal or zip code system. Your Domain Name is registered on a domain name service provider like Network Solutions, GoDaddy.com, Domain.com, TuCows.com or many other domain name registrars. These registrars tell anyone requesting a website through a browser, where to find that website, i.e. the server address which is usually in the form of an IP address. IP just means Internet Protocol. Since we’re on the Internet, the Protocol or method is just a language, or directive to tell one computer where to send the visitor to find your site.

Imagine a world where none of the postal workers understood zip codes or city names? When your DNS is down or not working for a minute that is what happens on the Internet. DNS is what point the request to the right server. The server then interprets the domain name, figures out where the site is hosted and show you the correct webpage. And this all happens within a matter of milliseconds.

The technology is quite amazing actually, kind of like electricity, where you just flip a switch and have light or energy, like mobile phone service, when we can talk over the “air.” DNS is a small piece of Internet with a lot of power. For example Network Solutions was down for about two hours this morning and many many customers were without their websites. If your website is your livelihood, this can be very damaging to your business and the only thing you can do is wait until your domain name service provider fixes the issue. It’s frustrating for everyone, but ultimately it makes us understand the value of a good domain name service provider.

DNS Issue Service Alert from Network Solutions on Twitter

 

Your DNS provider is usually the same as your domain name registrar, but in some cases it may be different. Usually your website is hosted on a different server altogether as well excerpt if your host is GoDaddy. They do both domain name registration and web hosting and their business model is to offer you cheap domain registration so that you will also buy hosting and other services from them.

Who is your DNS provider?
Would you like to find out? There’s a handy dandy site for that called “Whois.” Go to: http://whois.net/whois/ and enter your domain name and click “Go.” The whois site will return who your registrar is and where your domain name server lives. Why is this helpful? Well, you could look up the DNS provider and see if there are any service issues happening and you will feel better informed. Knowledge is power. It’s one of those things, when it’s working you never think about it, but when it’s not, it is very painful.

Do you have more questions or thoughts about DNS? Please enter them in the comment area below.


- By Suse Barnes