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Social Marketing: How to Create Shareable Content

June, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

With millions of connected users across the globe, it’s hard to overestimate the power of the social web. Traditional word-of-mouth marketing can’t hold a candle to a viral web story, which is why it’s important to focus on crafting content that captures the attention of the masses. If you’re eager to harness the power of the social web for your business, use the following five tips to gain more followers, create shareable content, expand your brand clout, and ultimately, drive your bottom line upwards.

1. Elicit an Emotional Response

If you’ve ever found yourself crying over a Hallmark commercial, you’ve experienced the power an emotional advertising campaign has on its audience. Research conducted at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that good news spreads faster over social media than negative information. Tell a story through your content and aim to tug on the heart strings of your followers to maximize your content’s leverage.

2. Focus on Aesthetic Appeal

Audience perception plays a vital role in the success of your content. Not only should you craft text, photos, and videos that demonstrate authority within your niche, but you also need to ensure visual appearances aren’t neglected. Invest in a quality responsive site theme, or partner with a freelance graphic artist to produce stunning visuals for your content marketing campaign. Content that looks appealing makes a bigger impact.

3. Respond Quickly to Current Events

As stories gain traction online, Facebook and Twitter will often recognize these as trending subjects. Savvy marketers can use these trending topics to catapult their content to new heights. As web users search for information on these events, related content is displayed.

While sharing content tied to current events can result in a dramatic uptick in the popularity of your materials, you should always exercise caution when taking this approach. Too many brands have tried to tie their content to extremely sensitive subjects, in turn incurring the wrath of the blogosphere. Keep your content relevant, appropriate, and respectful to avoid this pitfall.

4. Reshare Old Content

In the current marketing landscape, it isn’t uncommon for a new blog post, video, or ad to be quickly replaced by content from other sources. Don’t craft a long post, publicize it once, and call it a day. Instead, reshare old content frequently, ensuring new followers discover it and those who may have missed it have a chance to see it again. This approach helps conserve marketing dollars and boost the power each piece of content holds.

5. Make it Easy to Share

If you want your readers to share your content, don’t ask them to jump through a million hoops. Instead, provide sharing buttons on your website that make it easy to broadcast your content with the click of the mouse. Plenty of WordPress plugins provide this functionality, helping you ensure your content reaches the largest audience possible.

The Power of Business Blogging: Why You Need to Start Today

June, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

No matter whether you’re an established brand or a budding startup, using a blog to grow your business could lead to dramatic growth for your company. Consider this simple fact: brands that create 15 blog posts a month average a whopping 1,200 new leads in that period. (source) With statistics like those, it’s hard to overlook the hidden potential business blogging offers. Looking for even more benefits? Consider the following six reasons business blogging simply makes sense.

1. Blogging Leads to More Followers

According to Twitter, interesting content is one of the top reasons users follow brands on social media. As a social media marketer, you’re competing with billion-dollar companies, entertainment conglomerates, and every other business tweeting around the clock. Without content that resonates, you’ll struggle to gain any traction. Start blogging and watch the visitors come knocking on your door.

2. Companies with Blogs Receive 97% More Links

Getting others to share the word about your business is an important goal, and few techniques are as effective as creating a blog. In fact, research suggests that companies with blogs receive 97% more links than sites with static content—that’s nearly twice as many inbound links.

3. Blogging Makes a Long-term Impact

When it comes to spending your marketing dollars, it’s important to consider the overall return on your investment. Whereas PPC campaigns and other advertising initiatives only influence immediate traffic, blogs can pull in new visitors for years to come. Focus on creating “evergreen content”—content that is not time-sensitive—to maximize your blog’s potential.

4. Frequent Posts Impact Your Search Ranking

Appearing higher in the results on a popular search engine is about much more than vanity. The higher your site ranks for a particular keyword, the more likely a web user will click your link. Frequently posting encourages search bots to index your site, while the ranking algorithms use factors like the number of active posts to determine site authority.

5. Small Businesses with Blogs Generate More Leads

Thinking blogging only makes sense for big brands with thousands of active followers? Think again. Research shows that small businesses with blogs generate up to 126% more leads, as opposed to businesses that neglect online marketing altogether. Can you think of a single reason not to double your leads with a blog?

6. New Content Keeps Users Engaged

Attracting an audience online is a tricky equation that requires plenty of hard work. Pulling new visitors to your site is only half the equation; you also must work on keeping their attention. Routinely publishing new content helps keep your followers interested in what you have to say, which in turn affects the overall health of your business.

Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?

June, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

So, you’ve spent several weeks perfecting your business site for its primetime debut—from the well-written copy to the beautiful design, your site is destined for great things. Or is it? Is your website mobile friendly? Preparing a website for mobile visitors often ranks near the bottom of the priority list for small business owners, but overlooking this key element could prove devastating to your marketing endeavors.

Not only will a lackluster mobile site cause you to miss out on substantial traffic, but it could also cause Google to penalize you. Before you make a crucial mistake, consider the far-reaching impact of mobile design.

Catering to the Masses

Up until a few short years ago, mobile web browsing still represented a relatively minor portion of overall Internet traffic. Today, however, millions of smartphone and tablet users rely on their devices for access on the go. In fact, nearly half of all Google searches now originate from mobile devices.

Perhaps even more importantly, research shows modern consumers are using their phones on the move to find restaurants and small businesses to patronize. In fact, a whopping 64% of restaurant searchers convert within an hour. This figure represents substantial growth opportunities for small brands.

Employing Responsive Design

With users accessing the web on a myriad of digital devices, each with a different screen size and resolution, how can you provide an optimal experience to every page visitor? Webmasters of yesteryear used to build a separate mobile site to serve as a standalone alternative to a full desktop site, but this isn’t ideal for SEO purposes.

Enter responsive design. This innovative technique allows modern websites to effectively resize themselves based on the dimensions of each unique visitor’s screen. From would-be customers on their home desktop to smartphone users browsing with their thumbs, a responsive site looks great on every device.

Considering the Google Equation

Google long ago sprinted to dominance as the most popular search engine in the world, and today the search behemoth’s actions can be directly felt by nearly every domain on the Internet. In April of this year, Google changed its search algorithm to prioritize sites with responsive design over other web destinations. Nicknamed mobilegeddon by the media, this change, sent webmasters scrambling to ensure their sites could compete with early adopters of responsive design.

If your site isn’t already using a responsive theme, it’s important to rectify this as quickly as possible. Small businesses are often slower to adopt changes of this nature, but failing to make the switch could cause you to lose significant ranking.

From catering to buyers searching for local options to keeping the search engines happy, responsive web design offers an assortment of appealing benefits. Investing in responsive design is a smart long-term strategy for your business, as it keeps you competitive and helps ensure you won’t lose out on potential conversions. If you haven’t yet made the change, make your move quickly to keep your business healthy in the digital age.

Exploring the Top 10 Reasons Your Business Should Use Pinterest

June, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

When it comes to establishing a full-fledged social media presence, many small businesses focus their attention exclusively on Facebook and Twitter. While the impressive reach of these two networks is undeniable, platforms like Pinterest represent an incredible growth opportunity for small brands. 83% of Pinterest’s users would rather interact with brands than celebrities, and a further 52% use the platform to make buying decisions. If you need further convincing, don’t overlook these key ten reasons to use Pinterest for business.

1. Pinterest Users are Motivated Buyers

Pinterest is driven by content. Research suggests that 47% of social media users have made a purchase based on a Pinterest recommendation alone.

2. There is No Better Platform for Sharing Content

Reaching the masses with your brand content often proves challenging, but Pinterest makes easy work of it. Encourage people to share your blog posts, photos, and videos by including share links directly on your website.

3. It’s Easy to Express Your Brand Aesthetic on Pinterest

The visual appeal of a brand falls under Marketing 101, but some social networks aren’t well-suited for branding messages. Pinterest makes it easy! Optimize your leverage by creating “pinnable” square graphics to accompany your content.

4. Pins Represent Long-Term Value.

Minutes after you share a tweet or Facebook post, users will see newer information at the top of their feed. Popular pins, on the other hand, can refer traffic days, weeks, and months after their original publication. If you’re striving to maximize your social media ROI, Pinterest offers a smart place to start.

5. Pinterest Drives Impressive Traffic.

Forget about paid advertisements and complicated SEO strategies—Pinterest represents one of the web’s most formidable forms of traffic generation. The network was responsible for the second-most social media referrals in 2014.

6. Market Research and Trends Abound

Never again wonder what interests your target audience. Instead, simply peruse the boards of your brand’s followers for a veritable treasure trove of information about your buyers’ habits and preferences.

7. Pinners Crave Lifestyle Content.

Pinterest’s user base skews overwhelmingly female, and its most active pinners focus their attention of food and drink, lifestyle topics, and home decor. If you’re operating in these industries, Pinterest represents explosive growth potential.

8. Pinterest Caters to a Diverse Audience.

Cutting-edge social networks like Instagram and Snapchat may be the most popular with Millennials, but Pinterest’s demographics show it counts large numbers of users across the age spectrum. Diversify your marketing efforts and start pinning!

9. The Network Keeps Growing.

Pinterest now counts nearly 80 million unique visitors monthly, an increase of 47% over last year’s numbers. Compare these numbers to the stagnant growth of both Twitter and Facebook to understand how powerful Pinterest is set to become.

10. Pinterest Plays Nicely with Other Social Networks

Fear you don’t have enough time to invest in operating a social media presence across various platforms? Fortunately, Pinterest works in conjunction with other networks. Integrate your account with Facebook, for example, and kill two birds with a single stone.

Hashtag #POWER: Tips for Growing Your Business

June, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

Plastered across every television commercial, advertising campaign, and social media update, the humble hashtag has trail blazed an impressive path to dominance. Many business owners feel intimidated by the simple hashtag, but the idea behind this buzzword is quite simple. When it comes to growing your social presence, connecting with more followers, and spreading the word about your products and services, mastering the art of the hashtag can have a far-reaching impact. Use the following simple tips to become a hashtag pro in no time.

Get Acquainted with the Hashtag

Hashtags are labels composed of a keyword or phrase, beginning with the # symbol. The masses on social media after create organic hashtags to coincide with current events and hot topics. For example, #Election2012 was used by voters in the 2012 election to share updates revolving around the vote. An impressive 31.7 million people shared statuses using the label, breaking records for Twitter.

Brands have also begun to use hashtags to encourage people to share their thoughts on social media. Examples include ABC’s use of #TGIT (Thank God it’s Thursday) for its highly anticipated Thursday lineup while Charmin playfully courts followers with #tweetfromtheseat. When social media users use a hashtag, other people can click the hashtag and see related updates from other users.

Using the Hashtag to Trend

The words “trending” and “viral” are enough to make any modern marketer salivate. When a particular topic starts gaining traction on the Internet, hashtags are often part of the equation. A number of different elements determine whether a particular video, article or ad goes viral, but making it easy for the horde or social media users to participate with hashtags is a large key.

When it comes to using the hashtag for your own business, creating a catchy tag can help, social media users find your brand and learn more about your products. You might not be aiming to reach a nationwide audience, but don’t discount the hashtag just yet. Hashtags make it easy to create contests, court user-generated content, and ask for feedback. Clicking the hashtag makes it easy to access all of this data in one simple place.

Jumping on the Bandwagon

Creating your own hashtag is merely one way to use these unique social labels to your advantage. Many savvy marketers will also use currently trending hashtags to further their own business endeavors. Creating a tweet or status update that coincides with a current hashtag is a great way to get more people familiar with your business.

Hashtags are easy to use and effective, which is why social media users continue to plug these labels into their updates. Getting comfortable with the various facets of the hashtag will help you maximize your social media game in no time. By making hashtags part of your everyday social routine, you’re bound to enlarge your sphere of influence, stimulate conversations amongst followers, and ultimately, build impressive brand clout for your business.

10 Great Content Ideas for Restaurants

June, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

Content marketing accounts for an astounding $135 billion in annual spending, for one simple reason: it works. Great content should engage users, encourage social sharing, and ultimately convert visitors. Generating new content for the web can prove challenging, however, particularly for small businesses and restaurateurs. If you’re eager to capitalize on the power of content marketing for your business and not sure where to start, consider the following ten content ideas for restaurants.

1. Turn Your Best Dishes into Instagram Stars

Large chains spend billions of dollars each year bombarding television screens with delicious imagery in an attempt to lure in diners. You might not have the budget for a television advertising campaign, but why not use Instagram to document your latest creations?

2. Embrace the Listicle

Buzzfeed counts an impressive 200 million unique visitors each month, thanks in no small part to the digestibility of its listicles. Try your hand at creating something similar, such as 10 Plates
You Won’t Want to Miss this Month or 6 Dream Dates in [Your City.]

3. Tell Your Story in Video Format

Consumers love to learn the story behind a brand, and few mediums get the message across as well as video. Why not partner with a local videographer to broadcast what makes your restaurant truly special?

4. Release an Iconic Recipe

If your customers can’t get enough of your steak marinade or key lime pie, why not share the recipe with the masses? It sounds intimidating, by sharing favorite recipes can generate brand loyalty, encourage repeat visits, and more. Customers don’t patronize your restaurant just for the food—your ambiance, customer service, and preparation counts for more than you realize.

5. Get Your Chefs Talking

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many consumers are awful cooks. Why not ask your chefs to prepare a list of 5 simple tips you can share via social media?

6. Highlight Other Businesses

Instead of making everything about you and your brand, why not create a blog exploring the best destinations in your community and include your restaurant? You might be surprised how much traction these articles can gain quickly.

7. Host an Online Giveaway

People love free stuff. Why not host a gift card giveaway and require user submissions via social media. Encourage your followers to tag your restaurant for a chance to win, and watch the residual traffic pour in.

8. Seek Customer Input with a Poll

Internet users love to share their thoughts. Why not create a poll that will encourage user participation and provide valuable insight for your brand? Ask respondents to indicate which new special you should add to your menu or the best part of your restaurant’s cuisine.

9. Go Behind the Scenes

Customers are always intrigued by what happens behind the scenes at their favorite hotspots. Why not document a day in the life of one of your staffers or explore the creation of a new dish for the menu?

10. Create a Meme

Feeling clever? Why not make a meme using a photo taken in your restaurant? Put your link on the image and share it with the masses.

Conquering Local Search Engine Optimization

June, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

The undeniable power of search engine optimization has helped make the technique a marketing powerhouse over the course of the past decade. SEO offers a myriad of benefits for organizations of all shapes and sizes, but local business owners need to address a unique set of criteria to maximize the effectiveness of their optimization efforts. If you’re an entrepreneur looking to boost your site’s marketing prowess in your local market, consider the following essentials for mastering local SEO, once and for all.

Local Directories: Listing Your Business

Long gone are the days when consumers would turn to the Yellow Pages to connect with local business owners. Instead, modern buyers use sites like Google+ Places, Google Maps, Yahoo! Local and Bing Places for Business. Listing your business in these directories has a twofold effect. Firstly, the directories themselves serve as a valuable tool, should web users start their search with one of these portals. Local listings also enhance the overall SEO power of your website, in turn boosting your search rankings.

Social Proof: Demonstrating Your Value

Ask yourself the following question: Would you be more likely to trust the advice of an advertisement or an independent customer? In almost all instances, you’d choose a real customer’s input over a company’s advertising copy, right? This simple exercise demonstrates the incredible potential review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google+ represent.

It’s not enough to merely claim your business’ listing on one of these sites, however. You need to publicize your presence on review sites. Many entrepreneurs include easy links in their email footers and on their business cards. You can also print signage to include in your storefront, or place small widgets on your site. Remember, it’s important not to directly solicit positive reviews, however, as you could find yourself in violation of the terms and conditions of these directories.

Mobile Users: Making Your Site Responsive

If you didn’t already know, Google changed its algorithms earlier this year to prioritize responsive sites. Responsive websites shift to fit the screen of each unique visitor. If your site isn’t yet responsive, make this a top priority in the months to come. Not only will adopting a responsive design boost your SEO performance, but it will also better convert the 63% of smartphone users performing local searches.

Running a local business and managing a corporate brand differ in a multitude of ways. Utilizing business directories, gathering social proof, and catering to mobile customers may not make much impact on a large conglomerate, but these marketing techniques have far reaching implications for small businesses. By investing your attention and resources in pursuing these marketing channels, you’re bound to increase your site’s traffic count, convert more visitors, and hopefully, grow your bottom line.