Category : Blog

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Blog Writing

5 Important Tips in Writing Your Company Blog

Writing a blog for your company is now considered an important factor in helping customers find you.

How? People turn to the web to help them solve problems. You will want to create blog entries that will help solve your potential customer’s issues, but also help with search engine optimization (SEO) to bring you to the customer with their search query.  Here are the 5 items to keep in mind when writing:

1 – Go for Quality vs. Quantity: Before changes in search engine algorithms, writing frequent blog posts would increase the likelihood of your website being served up on internet searches. Today, Google and other major engines are rewarding content generators on the quality of the information being produced and its relevancy to what people are searching for. Whatever posting schedule you come up with (monthly or bi-weekly for instance) stick with it so your readers know what to expect and when, as consistency is important in keeping your website visible with your readers.

2 – Timely and Relevant: Writing about topics that your readership views as important (and valuable enough to share) is also critical to getting your blog noticed. It will also establish your area of expertise and been seen as a credible source of information. Brainstorm a list of items that are relevant to your customers and then look at what are “hot topics” going on in your industry or the larger marketplace that could impact your customers – then blog about it!

3 – Keep Your Audience in Mind: Search engines look at overall length, how hard or easy it is to read, type of language used and how many times you use the keyword in the post to help in relevancy ranking. While long format postings tend to do better with search engines, put yourself in your reader’s shoes; Are they super busy? Then be brief or utilize bullets to make your key points visible. Do they want in-depth explanations and technical details? Then make it longer. Writing for them will help you reach your ideal client.

4 – Continue to evaluate what is working: Look at what posts got comments, likes / shares, links or clicks through to your contact form. Conversion from information seeker to customer is an important ROI of your website’s performance, so monitoring and measuring it on an on-going basis is important.

5 – Integrate your blog into your larger marketing strategy: Include your blog in your social media strategy by posting it in your different channels, use relevant posts in printed materials for prospective customers and use your blog to announce company events or information.

Need some help with your company’s blog? Contact Social Thrive about how we can help you come up with a plan!

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B2B

B2B Challenges

Business-to-Business companies have many of the same challenges Business-to-Consumer entities do; Establishing a brand, staying ahead of the marketplace and customer loyalty are key to successful B2B operators.

Establishing Your Brand

B2B companies have to overcome the normal obstacles of establishing a brand and creating a market for themselves without many of the advantages of other “consumer brand” companies have. Companies don’t know that they need your product or service. Not only do you have to establish what you do and why you do it, but you have to appeal to other businesses as to how it will benefit from them. Do most companies recognize new technology or market innovations that will benefit their business? Not necessarily. Successful B2B companies, like Salesforce, appeal to businesses on the basis of fueling growth. Creating strong messaging and successful case studies around why your company will help another’s business is the key to carving out your market share.

Technology Changes

Technology has also fueled innovation at a dizzying pace. It is difficult to keep up with the latest trends or new competitors to the marketplace. Consistently evaluate your offerings to stay relevant: Assess competitors, stay current with industry trends and evaluate customer demands.

Customer Retention

Working with your current customers to retain them is also key to making your B2B business more successful than most. The costs involved in retaining a customer is 5 to 6 times less than finding a new one, according to Fred Reichheld of Bain & Company. By retaining current customers and using them to talk about successes in working together, you will attract new customers.

 

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Social Media Policy

Social Media Policy: What Every Employer Should Give Their Employees

Using social media to promote your company is an important part of doing business today. Outlining the rules of engagement for your employees on social media channels to protect your brand and reputation within a policy guideline is also a business necessity.

A Social Media Policy doesn’t have to be a detailed document, as demonstrated by the adidas group, but it should include guidelines around your company’s official accounts and how employees should conduct themselves on their personal accounts.

Rules Around Your Company’s Official Social Media Accounts

  • Specify who is responsible for managing posting and interactions on your company’s official social media accounts. This could include customer service departments, HR, IT and public-facing executives.
  • Give specifics about how employees can share important company news and what they can share. Utilizing your employees to spread your company’s messaging on social media is a great way of increasing your web presence. 
  • Specify what company logo images should be used by employees. This will keep the look of your social media presence consistent.
  • Remind employees of the usage of stock images and how to obtain permission prior to use on the internet.

Employee Personal Account Conduct

  • Define what behaviors will result in disciplinary action. Without specifying what activities are prohibited, your company may not be able to fire an employee for misconduct.
  • Give employees a course of action if an issue arises with an interaction – do they call HR? Or Marketing?
  • Remind them that company issued technology are the property of the company as is all information and usage on those devices, including social media sites or apps.
  • Outline potential security risks associated with using social media platforms along with best practices to avoid potential virus infection or security breaches. Again, give employees next steps on whom to contact should they detect any issues.

Social media platforms are constantly evolving.  Your policy should be continually assessed and updated annually. Additionally, there are different laws globally governing what companies can or can’t do around monitoring or enforcing policies with employee social media usage or monitoring. You will need to consult with your legal department on what applies to your company’s operations.

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Open SIgn

Where Do Your Customers Come From?

Where do your customers come from?  If you answer this question with anecdotal evidence and not hard numbers, then it’s time to start looking at ways to track the answer.

Why is monitoring your traffic sources so important? Assessing your on-going advertising is key in ensuring your business is spending marketing money where it contributes the most revenue growth.

What are the different ways to find out how your customers found you?

  • Ask at time of sale – “How did you hear about us?” should be a part of your checkout process and RECORD their answer! This can be in-person or through the electronic form they complete on your website. Train your sales staff to include this question in their customer service dialogue. Make recording the answer as simple as possible, like a tally sheet at the register or, for a website, a single drop-down menu or check box to ensure you get an answer!
  • Survey – Send a quick inquiry to your current or former customer list with an incentive for them to complete (like a coupon good for their next visit!) to get the answers you need AND drive traffic back to you.
  • Google Analytics – Anyone with a website should have Google Analytics set-up to see what sites are referring traffic to yours. Is it social media sites?, organic searches? or links from other websites? Google will tell you just about everything.
  • Coded Advertising – If you do a direct mailing, print or media advertisement (such as social media, TV or Radio) with an offer, then have a code on it to track how many people respond by utilizing that unique code or link.
  • Tracked Phone Calls – If you have customers calling, tracking where they got your number from is often a forgotten piece of the puzzle. Phone call tracking systems can record how customers found your website (paid search, free search, social media, referral sites etc.) by giving them a unique number to call and many integrate with Google Analytics to give you timely conversion information.

All of these different ways of measuring where your customer traffic is coming from will help you spend marketing money effectively and keep tabs on your customer base.

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Instagram

How to Use Instagram for Your Business

It’s no secret that Instagram can help get your business noticed on social media. What tends to elude some businesses is how. With over 700 million active accounts on Instagram and more “Story” users than Snapchat, creating an Instagram feed that is going to help your business can seem daunting, but it can be an important tool if you can clearly show your audience why you are on this platform.

1 – Clarify your Purpose

Are you going to raise brand awareness, drive sales, increase website traffic, or engage customers? Being clear on the intent of the company’s Instagram account will help keep content focused and consistent. Keep in mind that Instagram’s demographics tend to run younger and they are looking for a specific experience when going on this site: something positive, authentic, and identifiable.

Start with crafting a candid bio blurb and use a profile photo that is consistent with your website and other social media platforms. Optimize your profile by including as much pertinent information as possible. Be sure when doing this to include a link to your website to drive traffic to your company’s designated page which you can track in Google Analytics.

You will need to know how to develop content for your profile vs your Instagram Stories. Keep in mind it’s not only why you use one over the other but how. With a 24-hour view-ability, the biggest differentiator are that Stories are more timely, personal and “on the go”. They can be video and images like regular Instagram posts, but can be interactive with fun overlays like polls and live hashtags. Instagram posts themselves should be much more planned and formatted within a cohesive visual theme.

The latest Stories Highlight function lets you pin any one of your Stories to your page and lets people click within your bio to view it if they happened to miss it within your Story itself. Think of it as your own video message waiting for people to see when they want to learn more about your company!

Instagram’s Insights function will also help you understand follower demographics, what stories get “likes”, profile visits or website clicks.  Then you can refine your messaging guidelines based on what is getting “likes” or comments.

2 – Help your Customer Find You

Since Instagram uses an algorithm to serve up content vs. serving it up in chronological order, it is important to make your posts more “visible” to users by using different tools within the app:

  • Geotags: For traditional “brick and mortar” businesses adding your business location to your posts will help people locate you, they can “check in” when they visit you and search for posts in their current location. You can also “re-gram” their posts (also known as User Generated Content or UGC) should they use your geotag.
  • Connecting to other Instagrammers: Just like in Twitter, the ‘@’ symbol is how you tag others within your post caption or Story. Be sure to engage with users on their pages too!
  • Hashtag: Adding hashtags to your post caption can also help you reach a larger audience. It could be a trending hashtag or something specific to your brand. The more the better; but remember only have a few hashtags within the caption and create a comment under your post with an additional 20 hashtags. It keeps your original post clutter-free.

3 – Tell your Company’s Story

Moving beyond regular photo posting, Instagram Stories was introduced in 2016 and has become more popular than Snapchat. The Stories function can be a collection of up to 10 photos or short videos, highlighted at the top of the Instagram home page.

As with regular photo posts, being clear on the intent of the “story” is important.  Popular business stories include:

  • Giving followers a “Behind the scenes” look at work
  • Sharing your company’s culture to help people understand why your business is more than just a place to work
  • Highlight customer stories with your followers – positive feedback or suggestions you will be implementing based on customer input
  • Show how-to clips on the amazing things your company does
  • Utilize these nifty Instagram Hacks and take advantage of some of the additional stylistic features Instagram offers to make your content pop even more

These video insights into your business can also be done with a LIVE broadcast using Instagram.  Real-time broadcasts are a great way to promote events, celebrations or capture news as it is happening. Instagram will also ping your followers each time you go live with a “catch it before it’s over” urgency. This is a major perk to utilizing the LIVE feature.

4 – Starting Ads

Just like in Facebook, you can advertise on Instagram, but you can utilize features specific to Instagram, like Stories, to promote your business. Instagram does give you the streamlined capability to manage your ads simultaneously on both Instagram and Facebook. This framework includes four options to display ad content (Photos, Videos, Carousel or Stories).  There are also lots of ways to target your audience including location, demographics, interests, behaviors and more!  These precise ways of targeting people means you don’t need a huge budget for ads. Analyzing results to see who you are reaching is important to refine your message or ad spend.

Knowing your audience and how to reach them is key to being successful on a social media platform. Instagram for Business is positioned to help companies reach their target audience and backs it up with data, too! If starting out your company on Instagram seems daunting, remember that’s what Social Drive is for!

#doyouinstagram? #instagood

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mubariz-mehdizadeh-427362

Gifts for the Techno Geeks

It’s not too late to find some last-minute gifts for the techies in your life!

Here are some of our favorite suggestions from around the web:

  • Tune in anywhere with Bose SoundLink Revolve Bluetooth 360 Portable Speaker to listen to their music or podcast. Or they could record one with this Snowball USB Microphone.
  • Instead of typing queries into Google, just ask the Google Home Typing is SO 2017!
  • Know someone with a tough commute? Make it easier with the gift of Audible books that they can listen to while driving.
  • Is your bestie like the nutty professor who keeps misplacing things? Get them a tile 4-pack and they’ll never lose their keys or phone again!
  • Have a budding scientist who enjoys brewed beverages? This pint glass will fill their heart with joy (and smug self-satisfaction).
  • The gamer in your life will wear this t-shirt all weekend long while playing. Maybe you can get them a back-up shirt as well. Or something for them to play on like the new Nintendo Switch. Make sure they stay hydrated!
  • Just in time for the new Star Wars movie, help your friend deck the halls with festive R2-D2 lights. More of a dark side fan? We’ve got that covered too.Star wars
  • When all the shopping is done, how about a gift for yourself like a pair of Noise Cancelling headphones 🙂
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Person working on computer

Social Media Legal Matters and Copyright Questions Answered

We can all agree that Social Media channels are among the most informal spaces for users and marketers. With that comes a much more relaxed attitude about certain things, including Copyright, Trademarks, and other legalities. We often receive questions from clients regarding these topics and so we decided to lay it out on our blog.

Often times clients confuse what’s OK for individual users to post on Social and what’s LEGAL for business to post.

There really is no right answer, and we are not lawyers, but we can offer up some best practices and rules of thumb to help keep you on the safer side. Any look on Google for “answers” (because well it’s 2017 :P), most “answers” you see are very confusing and far more complex and in-depth than most marketers and business owners expect or would like. Here are the top three concerns we often talk about with clients:

  1. Trademarking Logos
  2. Stock photos
  3. Music

Trademark

Trademark laws typically cover anything that might be used to identify a company, so of course, most logos are created entirely for this reason, which means logos are generally protected under Trademark Laws. You might ask why larger companies don’t use the TM or R symbols across their platforms and the answer is simple, a large company known by millions is not going to have as many people trying to steal their logo or use their logo in an inappropriate way. For much smaller companies that may not be the case which is why our research leads us to one thing: be proactive, adding the TM or R symbol to your logo is a great way to help prevent others from using your logo.

Photos

“If it’s on the internet it’s fair game.” We hear this a lot. While in many cases using images you don’t own on Facebook is common, given credit to the owner of the image is always recommended. Anytime you are using someone else’s image you are using property that THEY own, not you. However, DO NOT, in any case, use any image you don’t own on a business website. Even with giving the owner credit, this could get you in big trouble. Be sure to purchase or get written consent before publishing images on your website. The biggest distinction is to think of it this way: if you’re using someone’s creative property to sell or make money (whether in an ad or on your website (a place of business), and the person can sue you. Unless there is a Creative Commons License stamped on the image, it is royalty-free, or you have paid for a stock image, you do not have rights to those images.

If asking for permission or buying the image is not an option, there are plenty of great FREE stock photo websites.  One royalty free website we can confidently recommend is Unsplash. Facebook also has a massive stock library of photos free for you to use if you are advertising on their platform. *OR* be original and create your own custom images. It’s the best way to 100% avoid any issues with Copyright laws and is the best way to personalize your brand!

Music

Another common concern we hear about is using or creating videos with music. Facebook is going to much greater lengths to control what videos are put out on Facebook and many of you have probably run into this in the past with YouTube already. If you try to create a Facebook Live video and Facebook bots hear copyrighted music they will stop your video immediately.

Just like images you use on your pages, you must have rights to the music you use. Ways to avoid running into an issue like this would be by getting your music through websites such as https://audiojungle.net/ or the YouTube music library if you’re on YouTube. It might not be as great as your favorite Beyoncé single but in the long term, it can prevent any potential lawsuits.

While this topic is complex and ever-evolving, we believe some of the best practices we listed above will help you to steer clear of any legal troubles you could come across. Knowledge is power, here is a link from the government to learn more about copyright and copyright laws. If you have further questions about topics we didn’t cover in this blog, just reach out to us!

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snapchat hacks 2017

The Newest Snapchat Hacks You Can’t Do Without!

In late 2015, Hootsuite declared social video to be the top trend of 2016. This trend has only continued to grow, with the other networks, platforms like Facebook and Instagram having recently introduced real-time stories to their portfolio of products. Nevertheless, Snapchat continues to be the platform of choice for sharing real-time stories. We’re here to share some of the best classic and brand-new Snapchat #hacks. Read on to learn more!

1. Simultaneous filters – You’re able to up to add up to three filters simultaneously. Once you’ve applied a color filter, hold down with one finger and swipe to add up to two more. For example, you can apply the black-and-white color filter, a location filter, and a time filter all at once.

2. Geo-filters – Creating your own customized geo-filter for personal or business use is super easy! Head to the Geo-filters section on the Snapchat website to create a geo-filter from a series of templates or download the template toolkit to design your own filter using your favorite design program (we suggest Canva for those with little experience). Remember the 2017 social profile image dimensions, a Snapchat geo-filter’s dimensions are 1080 x 1920! Visit Snapchat’s Submission Guidelines or the blog below to learn more.

3. Group chat – Anyone can create a group Snapchat the same way you’d create a private message. A group snap can include up to sixteen users and messages remain available for twenty-four hours. However, messages will immediately disappear for any user that leaves the group!


4. Stickers – Use your own photos to create customized stickers! Snap a photo and then tap on the scissors tool in the upper right-hand corner (just above the time feature) to cut an image and create a sticker. Then share your Snap as you normally would.


5. Snapcode – Create a customized website Snapcode of a website by heading to: Settings > Snapcodes > Create Snapcode. Once you’ve created a code, share it with friends through the app.


6. Custom Stories – Snapchat recently announced a new Custom Story feature. A group of friends can individually upload Stories to create a unique group story. Users can invite friends from anywhere in the world to participate and Snapchat will create a 1-block geofence so that nearby users can participate as well.

Any hacks we’re missing? Let us know and share them in the comments!

Sources:
• Mashable Snapstory
• Snapchat

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profilepic

2017 Image Sizes for Social Media Profiles

When it comes to posting images on social media, size matters.

Image sizes most definitely play a role in the effectiveness of a social media post. Most social media networks require a square image for profile pictures. Adjusting the dimensions of a profile image is relatively easy. It is a bit more challenging, though, ensure sure that the size of your cover and header photos are correct.

Don’t worry – we’re here to help! Check out our guide below to help you navigate the changing landscape of optimal profile images.

Facebook: Use a logo or image that represents your brand as your profile picture – this image will be viewed across the social network. A more creative image is ideal for the cover photo and will only be visible to people who visit your Page. The optimal dimensions of a shared image are:

  • Profile picture: ≥ (Greater than or equal to) 180 x 180
  • Cover photo: 828 x 315
  • Shared image: 1200 x 630

Twitter: The maximum image size for a profile photo is 100 KB and a header’s is 10 MB. Your profile picture appears everywhere on the network, so choose wisely – first impressions count! Use the cover photo space to incorporate a creative image applicable to your brand. You may share up to four (4) images (max size of 5 MB for photos and 3 MB for GIFs) in a tweet.  Twitter will resize these images, as necessary, as long as a 2:1 ratio is used. This size will effectively fit in followers’ streams.

  • Profile picture: 400 x 400
  • Header photo: 1500 x 1500
  • Shared image: 440 x 220

Instagram: By nature, Instagram is a visual medium. Keep text to a minimum and keep the focus on visuals and photos. All images are square, with an aspect ratio of 1:1

  • Profile photo: 110 x 110
  • Shared image: 1080 x 1080
  • Photo thumbnail: 161 x 161

LinkedIn: The network has recently undergone a massive change in layout. The new optimal cover photo dimensions are listed below. The dimensions of the new cover photo are wide, so resize appropriately.  If need be, create a photo with an outside border. This will look better than stretching the image wide. In addition, the ideal image size for a shared links is 150 x 80.

  • Profile picture: 400 x 400
  • Cover photo: 1536 x 768
  • Company logo: 100 x 60
  • Shared image: 550 x 375

Google+: Although the Google+ profile picture displays as a circle across the network, the optimal dimensions listed are those of a square photo. Take note of the way your photo displays once updated and make adjustments accordingly. Also, keep in mind that shared images may appear in Google search queries related to your post or business.

  • Profile photo: 250 x 250
  • Cover photo: 1080 x 608
  • Shared image: 497 x 373

Pinterest: The ideal pin has a width of 238 pixels and scaled height to match. Expanded pins have a minimum width of 600 pixels. Use larger images for more engagement (more likes or re-pins). Only width is fixed, allowing height to be scaled up.

  • Profile picture: 180 x 180
  • Board cover photo: 214 x 100
  • Pin size: scaled height x 238 width

YouTube: The optimal channel cover photo dimensions vary across the platforms on which YouTube will be viewed. The optimal size for a desktop and television display (2560 x 1440) vary from the optimal size for a tablet (1855 x 423) or a smartphone (1546 x 423). Use this space to share what kind of content your audience should anticipate to view on the Channel. In addition, YouTube is a video sharing site, with an optimal 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio.

  • Channel icon: 800 x 800
  • Channel cover photo: Varies

Tumblr: Choose an image that represents your brand, as the profile picture is visible across the networks – next to the ‘Follow’ button on your profile and as a thumbnail, site-wide. Images up to 10 MB are allowed, except GIF’s (maximum size of 1 MB). In other words, Tumblr has the capability to use very high-quality images.

  • Profile picture: 64 x 64 
  • Image post: 500 x 7501280 x 1920 maximum size

Snapchat: All photos taken in the app are 1080 x 1920. Custom geo-filters must be created in this size to be applied properly on a photo taken within the app. Visit our post on creating a custom geo-filter to learn more about the process.

  • Geofilter: 1080 x 1920

Lastly, while optimal profile picture and cover photo sizes are important, there are still other sizes to keep in mind. This post from Hubspot features a great infographic with an in-depth explanation of the optimal sizes of all visuals for each network. We suggest re-sizing your profile picture to fit the ideal square dimensions of each platform. Also, we recommend creating a different cover image for each network, as those dimensions vary greatly.

We’ll talk more about Snapchat in our next post, but keep in mind that your geo-filter should fit within the above dimensions of 1080 x 1920. Also, the layouts of the profiles may change soon. We advise you to keep an eye out for the latest updates and how they affect you.

Sources:
Make a Website Hub
Constant Contact

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parker-byrd-139348

How to Perfect Your Media Pitch

If you’re in the public relations field, then chances are you’ve had to do a media pitch. Since reporters e-mail inbox is full of media pitches you want yours to stand out. Here are a few ways to make sure your story gets noticed:

Keep it short and sweet. Journalist and editors are constantly getting a new media pitch in their inbox. Chances are they won’t read your pitch if it’s too lengthy.

Get personal. If you have met this person then remind them. If they know you well then ask them a pertinent question (How is your wife Jane? Is your son enjoying soccer?). Briefly bring up previous and relevant work they have done.

Don’t send out a mass pitch. Make sure each media pitch is unique to the individual. Also, a personal touch makes a difference.

Be appreciative. In order to build a relationship with these people show your appreciation of their time. YOU NEED THEM!

Be persuasive. In addition to building a relationship, you want your story covered. Be clear and know your story. Give them something they can’t say no to.

Hook ’em! Grab their attention with an interesting hook or curiosity arousing line.

First paragraph. In 3 to 4 sentences get to the point. Tell them the what and why. This is where you explain the benefit of this person covering this story.

Second paragraph. Here’s your chance to give background information on the organization you’re representing and their coverage worthy event or product.

End with a call to action. You are responsible for following up with them. Instead of asking them to “let you know,” tell them when you will get in touch with them. In the meantime, provide them with all materials and links they may need if they are interested.

The real key to perfecting your pitch is to practice. By following these guidelines you can ensure your media pitches are checking all the necessary boxes. Always know your story and stand behind it. Happy pitching!