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Beyond Social Media: 6 Digital Trends to Keep Your Eye On

August 6th, 2012 ::


While social media is often cited as the most important element to add to your marketing strategy, it is only one piece of the marketing pie, a marketing pie whose main ingredients are engagement and personal interaction.  Here are 6 other digital trends I have observed that all small business owners need to keep their eyes on – plus tips on how to take advantage of them.

1. Videos, Games and Apps

Blog posts, ebooks and how-to guides are incredibly important to your content strategy, but branded videos, games and apps do far more to pull in your audience.

Tip: Start with a 60-second, personable “explainer” video on your home page, and work your way up to a game or app as your budget allows.

2. Mobile Sharing

Location-based services are becoming more focused on actions, such as a “like” or sharing a link, than on check-ins.

Tip: Tweak your offers to include links to your social media accounts and website, where users can receive exclusive offers – and be pulled into your community.

3. Content Everywhere

With the use of tablets, smartphones and e-readers proliferating, so too is the consumption of video, podcasts, social media, games, ebooks, etc.

Tip: Diversify your content creation to include short videos and podcasts you create on your computer using the built-in camera – and stay active on social media (you knew I was going to mention that eventually!).

4. Mobile Optimization

Tablets and smartphones are increasingly the preferred way to access the Internet  and consume all types of content.

Tip: Develop a mobile site and offer the most popular content – optimized for mobile – on that site.

5. Advertising 2.0

I’m not talking about advertising online, but rather advertising masquerading as fun and engaging online and offline activities, such as viral videos, events and sponsorships.

Tip: Sponsorships aren’t just for Fortune 500 companies.  Find a local event to get involved with, and build your customer base by interacting with people in person at the event.

6. Mobile Sales

Mobile devices aren’t just being used for email and Internet access – they are also being used for online purchases.

Tip: Use geolocation to offer real-time deals, and make sure your ecommerce site is optimized for mobile.

What other trends have you tried out as part of your online or offline marketing strategy?  Share your experience below!

Image courtesy of claireburdett.com

Social Media Small Business Success Stories: Part 1

February 14th, 2012 ::
This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Social Media Success Stories

Social Media Success Stories Part 1

I’m a firm believer in benchmarking to learn new skills and to tweak my knowledge base.  Studying what other successful marketers have done well, and avoiding others’ mistakes, is an efficient way to gain a competitive edge.  Here are eight social media small business success stories, broken into two articles, to inspire and to teach:

Success Story 1:  Take a quick visit to The Prospecting Expert’s social media sites, and you will find our first example of social media success.  The Prospecting Expert, founded by Steve Kloyda, is a B2B consulting firm to help sales professionals refine their prospecting skills.  Here are the tactics in Kloyda’s bag of social media marketing tricks:

  • Kloyda has made impressive use of video and podcasts to expand his social reach and convey information in an clear and interesting way.  Does your content translate to these media?
  • His social media channels share consistent branding, though use of Kloyda’s photo and logo across all platforms.  Clean up your own image by checking your platforms for consistency.
  • Kloyda’s content is mobile through the offering of an iPhone app directly on his site.  While custom apps may be expensive, they offer considerable value for on-the-go customers.

Success Story 2:  Click on over to Coconut Bliss, an organic dessert company whose products became well known through social media marketing.  Here is what Coconut Bliss does to make everyone scream for their ice cream:

  • The company shares fun experiences of customers eating their ice cream to show the brand’s friendly personality and delicious products.  Does anyone on your staff know how to take great photos?  Invest in a camera, and share photos across all your social media platforms.
  • Coconut Bliss gets fans engaged by running promotions and contests exclusively on social media.  Consider launching your own contest to grow and excite your fan base.

Success Story 3:  JamaicansMusic is an online music channel and quite the social media success story.  Using their social media savvy, the company grew their fans to 1.5 million in only four months!  Here’s what they do best:

  • JamaicansMusic keeps fans coming back for more by offering contests, free music and games to encourage Facebook fans to revisit their page and share it with friends.  What can you do to encourage repeat visits to your own page?
  • Visitors to JamaicansMusic’s website know instantly that the company is social because there are three opportunities – right on the home page – to connect socially.  Are you sending enough social signals and providing plenty of opportunities to connect?

Success Story 4:  You don’t have to be a large company, or even one with multiple employees, to be a social media success.  Ana White, a self-described “homemaker” who is really a carpenter, runs a website that empowers women to take on carpentry projects.  White has over 51,000 Facebook fans who enjoy her DIY furniture projects.  Here are her smart and simple tactics:

  • White publishes free how-to guides for building furniture, and she asks fans to post pictures of their finished pieces.  Fans enjoy sharing with each other, and White understands that this sharing provides great user-generated content.  How can you get your own community involved in the content creation process?
  • White has created a community and tended to it without overshadowing it.  She comments on roughly half of her fans’ posts, and she doesn’t post all that often.  However, her fans constantly post and answer questions for each other because the community has been set up for real communication.  What can you do to take your own Facebook communications from one-way to a place of real community?

Next up: More inspiring stories in Part 2!

Image courtesy of creative design agency Arrae

GrowSmartBiz Conference: How to Multiply the Effects of SEO With Great Content

November 15th, 2010 ::

One of the Marketing Track sessions I attended at the GrowSmartBiz Conference had a great title–Stories, Content, and the Search Engine Sword Over Your Head–and delivered useful information in spades.  No matter how new or established your business, this session was a great way to learn exactly how to improve your search engine optimization efforts and results.

Ben Cook, the SEO Manager at Network Solutions, moderated the panel of 4 pros, including Tinu Abayomi-Paul, principal of Leveraged Promotion, Dr. Alan Glazier, founder and owner of Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care, Deborah Ager, principal of ClickWisdom, LLC, and Liana Evans, CEO of LiBeck Integrated Marketing.    (You might be curious as to why there’s an optometrist on the panel.  Dr. Grazier has successfully implemented SEO at Shady Grove Eye and become a prolific blogger in the process.)

Here are their tips on using great content to boost your website’s search engine optimization:

Write for your audience! To produce great content specific to your audience, you need to understand what they search for when online.  Use Market Samurai, a keyword analysis tool, to help you figure what people are searching for.  Then you will be able to write content that addresses their needs.

Use long-tail search terms in your content. Long-tail search terms are the descriptive keywords people enter in the search box when they’re conducting research online.  For instance, “children’s navy blue cotton jacket” rather than “children’s jackets”.  The more pages your website has, the more content you’ll have, and the more chances you’ll have at being found for long-tail terms.

Content type is important. Blogs, videos, and podcasts are great for search engine optimization, thanks to plenty of chances for back linking (aka, links from other sites).  All search engines, including Google and Bing, measure how often content is linked and how many views it gets, so the more varied your content, the better.

Make it easy to share content. Twitter makes sharing content and getting links easy as your content is spread from one person to the next.  On your blog, make sure you add “tweet this” and “like” buttons.  Google rewards websites that have links back to it from both new and established websites.

Optimize video and podcasts. Because search engines cannot read videos or podcasts, add a transcript.

The importance of the URL. You can create custom URL shorteners for branding purposes (I had no idea!).  Awe.sm is the first company I found in search results that does this.  Also be sure that your blog’s URLs contain the title of the blog post rather than numbers.

Photo Courtesy Shashi Bellamkonda