CaptureUsing social networks to connect is crucial to the modern day business. Virtually everybody on the marketing scene knows how important having an account on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can be when it comes to attracting to and connecting with new fans and followers.

However, it can also be a boon to businesses to think outside of the box and consider connecting through specialised social networking sites. Almost every hobby or industry has its own social networking site, from those involved with the fine arts to those involved in engineering. Social networking sites oriented toward these professions are much smaller, more intimate and, more importantly for marketers, come with the guarantee that most – if not all – of those connecting through the site are interested in the product or service a business or individual is providing.

Finding & Choosing A Specialised Social Networking Site

Finding a social networking site dedicated to a particular area of interest is as simple as performing quality research on Google. Once the site itself has been found, it’s time to do a little research to determine whether or not that site is a good fit for your marketing needs. If possible, determine how many people have accounts on the site. Then, do a little digging to determine how many of those individuals are active users. Finally, be sure that the site is up-to-date and that is hasn’t diminished in popularity. It is best to choose an up-and-coming social networking site rather than one that has already seen its glory days.

Become An Active User

One thing to remember when connecting to potential fans and followers through a specialised social networking site is that your regular marketing tactics might not work. Usually you are speaking to other individuals within an industry who might have more experience than the average computer user. Because of this, it is important to think about what you can offer than even those within the same industry cannot.

Share content that can help others within the industry. Interact with others by offering helpful advice, tips, and tricks when needed. Collaborate, and use the insight of others on the site to generate new ideas and to get a better idea of where the industry is headed.

Also remember that the networking you do on a specialised social media site can be good for generating ideas and content for your other social media sites. It is likely that being on a specialised, niche social networking site will help you gain access to valuable feedback on your content and your marketing approach, which can be applicable to your entire Internet marketing strategy.

Thanks!

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

WorkersYou’ve likely put a lot of thought into the company social media accounts, blogs, and other content sharing mediums. However, have you ever thought about what your employees are doing – and what they could be doing? An increasing number of businesses are doing just that, and for many there have been some big benefits.

There are many reasons to encourage employees to get connected and to engage in the marketing process. One of the biggest is the fact that there is power in numbers, and you are more likely to reach a wider audience with several social media accounts connected to your brand as opposed to just one. Additionally, knowing that the employees support their brand and are proud to stand behind it can go a long way toward building an audience’s trust. However, there are some things to consider if you do plan to get your employees connected with your marketing strategy.

Consider Your Employees’ Talents – And Use Them

You hired your employees for a reason. They possess a unique set of skills and specialised knowledge. So why not allow them to share their skills and knowledge with your fans? It’s likely that they have a better insight on certain aspects of your company than even you do, and that’s something that can attract a lot of followers.  When encouraging your employees to engage in social media, also encourage them to share their insights, skills, knowledge, and talent with their followers.

Build an Employee Network

When your employees go online, help them to build an online network of social media sites and accounts. Additionally, inform them of the importance of sharing information and updates from their fellow employees, as well as content from your company’s main social media account. That can go a long way toward “getting the word out” when it comes to your company and can help encourage audience engagement.

Be Aware of Potential Pitfalls and Know How to Prevent Them

Anytime you put social media in the hands of your employees, you are potentially setting yourself up for marketing pitfalls. This is especially true if your employees are not themselves social media or marketing experts. Combat this by teaching your employees the basics of using social media for marketing purposes and by giving them some basic guidelines for the use of their company account.

Do remember that because they are not official company accounts, your employees should feel free to be more casual with their social media usage. One of the best ways to encourage them to keep up with their Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or LinkedIn is to ensure that they are having fun with it.

Thanks!

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

Pinterest logo on ribbonPinterest is a rapidly growing social networking site, with the potential to rapidly spread your goods and services with viral popularity. The question for most Internet marketers is, how do you take advantage of the popularity and success of Pinterest to market your business?

Be recognized as an authority

The good news is you don’t have to create all of the content you share on Pinterest. Instead, you can combine your existing content, such as videos on your YouTube channel or posts on your blog, with content from other people that you link to. The key is that all of the content you link to must be of the highest quality. Therefore, the first step for your marketing plan is to identify which people and companies already on Pinterest represent the best of your industry. The second step is to identify those people and companies who are not on Pinterest that are also leaders in your industry. If you’re lucky, they will have a Pin-it plugin on their blog or website that allows you to easily create a link back to their information. Otherwise, you’ll need to create the pin yourself. When choosing what to pin, use the criteria that every item must be useful, educational, helpful, and relevant. Create a number of different boards to address common concerns of your customers, or create boards that appeal to the needs of your previously created marketing personas.

Expand your audience

The methods of expanding your audience on Pinterest are similar to the standard Internet marketing strategy of joint ventures. Just as when you choose a joint venture partner, when you choose a Pinterest co-marketing partner, you should choose one that has a similar but not competing niche. Determine what you can offer, and what you can gain from them, to make sure both sides are benefitting. The two main items of currency in Pinterest are number of followers and perceived authority and legitimacy. If you are already recognized as an authority, or if you have other sources of legitimacy such as being a leading edge product in your industry, you can bestow some of that authority and legitimacy on another Pinner. In exchange, their followers will see the pins they make on your behalf, ideally then becoming your followers.

Use pins worth sharing

An excellent pin that is worth sharing can end up being shared 100 times more than the number of your followers. Since the goal of posting pins to your boards is to drive traffic back to the original sources, these excellent pins succeed admirably. To create a pin worth sharing, the content it links to first has to be useful, solving a problem, inspiring, or appealing to a desire. Next, use an image that concisely summarizes the point of the original content, and make the associated text clear and compelling.

Thanks!

 

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

 

(Image: Icon from Free Ribbon Social Media Icons BY designbolts)

helpYou might think that the best way to gain and retain customers is by offering the best product, at the lowest price, with the best customer service. You’d be wrong. The best way to gain and retain customers is by solving problems in those customers’ lives. The good news for Internet marketers is that the problems you’re solving do not necessarily need to be solved by your products.

Find out what problems your customers have

Figuring out what common problems are shared by your customers may involve creating personas for your ideal customers, or listening to your customers on various social media platforms. Don’t limit your thinking to problems that your products can address. Find out all of their problems, whether it is finding a good school for their kids, the best restaurants for important business dinners, or a way to stop the neighbour’s dog from barking.

How can you be uniquely useful?

Once you figure out what problems your customers have, you need to determine what solutions are already available to them. Consider an Internet marketer whose products appeal to business people who work from home. Some of their customers’ problems might be finding professional locations to hold business meetings, keeping their work life and home life separate, and reducing distractions to allow them to work effectively. Solutions already available for these problems include virtual office space providers, organizational specialists, and noise cancelling headphones. A uniquely useful solution might be a series of articles describing how to choose and engage the best virtual office provider, with a forum for customers to relate their own trials and tribulations. Notice how once the first solution is offered, the usefulness is compounded by learning additional problems and their solutions from your customers.

Other aspects of usefulness

In addition to being uniquely useful, you need to ensure that your usefulness continues as the needs and concerns of your customers change with time. If you are providing a rating service of some sort, you need to ensure that new products or venues are added to the list, and defunct ones removed. If you are offering how-to information, you need to make sure that your instructions work with new versions of software. You should also make sure that it is clear how your usefulness relates to your overall business. Therefore, if you review anything, state whether you purchased the item at retail or were given it for free in exchange for your review. Clearly state whenever the thing you are reviewing or recommending comes from one of your advertisers or business partners. Do not give anyone reason to question the usefulness of your offering due to bias or a secret intent to make sales. And on those occasions when you actually do have a product or service that can solve your customers’ problems, by all means mention it!

Thanks!

 

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

 

(Image: Morguefile)

large black video cameraThere are two types of sales videos — the lengthy video that fully demonstrates your product and gives consumers all the information they need in order to purchase it, and a short video teaser that creates interest or buzz about your product or brand. Think of them as the online versions of infomercials and commercials. These tips will help you to create captivating short sales videos or sizzle videos.

Use high quality content

Your videos do not have to be slick and polished, or look like a high priced advertisement. However, they should not have grainy video or audio that is difficult to understand. Film your video in high definition, which is available from inexpensive consumer cameras. Properly light the subject of your video, and frame the subject of your video correctly. If your product is featured, it should be clearly visible. Film your video in quiet settings so that the audio recording is clear, or use studio voiceovers. Music should be appropriate to both your audience and the message you are sending.

Target a specific audience

You should know exactly who will be watching this video, based on your targeted demographic persona. Each persona should be targeted with a separate video, so that it can be tailored specifically to the needs and desires of that persona. Determine the style of video that will be most appealing to that persona, whether it is full of infographics, slow reveals of key product features, or a rapid montage of images.

Find five features

Each video should mention the benefits of at least 3 and no more than 5 features of your product. Determine which features and benefits are the most important to your target audience, and mention only those.

Keep things moving

Ensure that any still images in your video appear to be moving by using transitions. Avoid using static images or blocks of text, although short catch phrases or important statements can be used sparingly. Titles and closing credits should have some movement to the backgrounds, even if the text is static.

Think reusability

You’ll get more use from your video if the parts that change rapidly (such as sale information) or vary between otherwise identical scripts (such as location names) are done in a voice over or using a replaceable title card. When they change, the video can be easily updated, without requiring an entirely new video production. Similarly, if you are creating a number of different videos for different personas with different collections of featured benefits, careful scripting and editing will allow you to reuse the descriptions of individual features in multiple videos, rather than needing to shoot each video in its entirety.

Thanks!

 

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

 

(Image: Morguefile)

McDonalds brandBranding goes beyond have a common look and feel to everything that leaves your office, although that is certainly an important part of your branding strategy. Ideally, your brand becomes so recognised that people can use the name of your company as shorthand for all of the value attributes that are associated with it.

Research current opinions

Before you can create a new brand for your business, you need to know what your current brand identity is. Even if you never created a brand, you will have one in people’s minds. Existing customers can tell you what values and attributes they associate with your company, as can your employees and business partners. If you are a new company, you can compare and contrast your product line with existing products and ask prospective customers what attributes about your products would make them switch from the products they buy now.

Identify chosen values

From the list of attributes and values identified, select all of the positive values that you feel are core attributes of your business, or that you want to be known for. Weed out any values that are shared by other companies in your industry, such as good customer service. If any negative values are identified, find a value that puts a positive spin on that value. For example, if people think your company is “slow”, assert that your company “takes the time to do it right”. The values that remain should be those that are necessary and sufficient to define your business – all of the values that are distinct to your business and no others.

Visually represent those values

Design a logo for your business that expresses all of the core values you have identified. The logo should use images, colours, and fonts that combine to express your values. It is well worth hiring a professional for this, rather than attempting to do it yourself with some clipart and a basic graphics program. Your logo will form the visual centrepiece of all of your product packaging. You will be using colours and fonts from your logo to create thematically consistent product literature, product packaging, and advertising.

Make a promise

Finally, create a tag line for your business that goes with the values expressed in your logo. The tag line is not simply a memorable rephrasing of your core values. It expresses the emotional reason why someone wants to do business with you. Think of the original Federal Express tag line, “When it absolutely positively has to be there overnight.” That tag line conveys the desperation of the customer, and promises that the problem would be solved with rock solid reliability, so they do not need to worry about it. The emotional reason being promised is peace of mind.

Before I sign off, here is another great article on branding for you:

Thanks!

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

(Image: MorgueFile)

plus signA Google+ site for a business is much like a personal Google+ site. It can be used to blog, to embed content from other websites, or to link to other websites. Your business Google+ site is linked to your business Google+ account. If you do not already have a Google+ account for your business, your first step is to create a Google+ account.

Claim your existing Google+ listing

Many business pages for local businesses were created automatically by Google, based on available information. To find out if your business already has a page, log on to your Google+ account (http://plus.google.com) and search for your business name. If you have a page that you have not claimed, there will be a button under the heading “Is this your business?” that reads “Manage this page”. Click the button to claim the business page.

Create a new Google+ page

To create a new page, on the left hand side of the screen, select the Pages icon if available, or if not select the More icon followed by the Pages icon. Then click the “Create new page” button and follow the prompts. You will need to select the type of page, whether a local business, a business with multiple locations, or a product or brand. Since you can create multiple pages, you can create one for every business location or every product, as well as one for your entire business. Verify the ownership of the page, and assign multiple managers to oversee the page.

Personalise your Google+ page

Add a description and links to your website. Add a profile picture of 250 x 250 pixels, and then change the cover image to either a single image spanning the page or a row of five smaller images. Pages for local businesses should also include an introduction, your business hours, the website name and address, the contact information, recommended links, photos, and videos. See How To Use Google+ Local for more details specific to local business use. The Google+ page allows you to post updates, pictures, and videos. Use these interactive features to list your latest special offers, link to your most recent blog posts, or display your latest videos.

Hang out

Google+ pages are different from other social media pages in that they integrate with Google Hangouts. This allows you to put a video chat room feature on the page. You can use the Hangouts to create specific events such as product briefings or video training seminars which can be recorded and posted on YouTube. You can also use the Hangouts as a customer service platform, or as a bonus feature provided to VIP clients.

Thanks!

 

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

 

(Image: MorgueFile)

Inspiration believe stoneIt is well known that people do business with other people whom they like and trust. But how do you create and keep that trust, especially before someone is a client of yours? It turns out that correct usage of social media is one of the crucial means of creating trust before a sale, and of keeping trust after a sale.

Executive social media

A recent poll determined that more than 80% of consumers were favourably or very favourably inclined to trust companies whose executive officers used social media to communicate the goals, vision, and values of a business. That translated to 77% of consumers saying they were favourably or very favourably inclined to buy from such a company. Note that this doesn’t refer to the designated social media person talking about what is going on at the company. The executive officers are the ones who set the policies, strategy, and vision for the company. They should be using social media to explain what they have decided the company should do, and why. This is akin to the way that publicly traded companies analyse the past year and why the year to come will be different in their annual stock reports.

Confusion equals distrust

Consumers like to know what they’re getting from a company. They have certain expectations regarding advertisements, and certain expectations regarding informational content. When a company blurs the lines between advertising and content, such as by creating “advertorials” (paid advertisements that look like news pieces) or product comparisons that are highly skewed in favour of their own products (for example, by failing to mention the areas in which their competitor’s product outperformed their product), customers lose trust in the company.

The worst offenders in this category are online videos, which look like informational content but are revealed to be advertising at some point after the viewer begins watching. About 85% of the people surveyed by MediaBrix regarding this topic reported that they had fallen prey to this deception. Coincidentally, only about 15% of the people who saw such videos approved of the company that created it, with a whopping 85% of the people neutrally or negatively impacted.

Right and wrong social media

Other categories of line-blurring that people objected to, in order from most severe to least, included advertorials, infomercials, Facebook sponsored stories, and Twitter promoted tweets. Refrain from trying to lure a few extra eyeballs to your website by using these strategies, since the backlash can cause more damage than you gain.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t use Facebook sponsored stories, or Twitter promoted tweets. They can be an excellent way to increase the visibility of your information to your fan base. But make it clear to your reader whether the story or tweet is advertising or content. Do that, and you’ll increase their trust of your company.

Thanks!

 

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

 

(Image: MorgueFile)

Bird tweetingRecent statistics show that more than 4 out of 10 Twitter users follow specific companies or brands on Twitter. Of course, you should also be using social media tools to follow your own company or brand, so that you can find out what people are saying about you. But who else is following you? If you’re not building your brand, interacting with your current customer base, providing customer service, developing relationships with key bloggers and media people in your sphere, and building buzz for your events or products, you’re not taking full advantage of Twitter for your business.

Create both business and personal accounts

Even if you’re a one-person shop, you should have both a business and personal Twitter account. The business account, by its nature, is more formal, used to discuss things that are relevant to the business as a whole such as press coverage, product releases, and sponsored events. The personal account puts a human face on the business, and is used for relationship building. Use your business name or brand in your account name, and avoid unprofessional underscores or numbers.

Customise your account profiles

Edit your new profile, and add a profile graphic. This should be your logo for your business account, and a photo showing your face or you engaged in your favourite sport for a personal account. Enter your company’s full name, location, and website. You only have 160 characters to create a compelling Twitter bio for your business or personal account, so leave out the puffery and cut to the chase. What can you tell people that will convince them your tweets are worth following? Remember to tell them what’s in it for them, without sounding like you’re begging for followers.

A picture is worth a thousand words

For a professional image, you should create (or outsource the creation of) a custom background image that can be easily scaled for different sizes of screens, and a custom header image. These images should be simple and easily understood graphics for people who may not be familiar with your brand. So, for example, the custom header of a manufacturing company could include pictures of their products and the custom header for a service company could include a group photograph of their employees. The custom background image for each company would be a simple combination of graphics and short text such as the company’s slogan or marketing catch phrase.

Once your profiles have been customised, you can begin creating tweets, finding people and businesses to follow, and attracting followers of your own. You only get one chance to make a good first impression, so ensure that your profile will give visitors the best possible impression of your company before doing anything else.

Thanks!

 

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

 

(Image: MorgueFile)