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Best (and Worst) Practices on Social Media

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Best (and Worst) Practices on...
Last week we covered the topic on choosing the right social media platforms for your business. Once you’ve chosen which sites are relevant to your business and set up your profile, then what? Check out this list of best (and worst) practices for your business on social media:

Update your Status Regularly

A page that sits stagnant without an update will get deserted or forgotten by its followers, as it shows you don’t care or have much to offer. If you don’t give a regular status update you might as well not have a page at all because it’s not doing you any good. Posting at least once or twice a week to your page will show a commitment and grow your followers.

Keep it Simple and Personal

People generally don’t take the time to read long status updates. Your social media status is for you to introduce what you have elsewhere, like a blog article or product page that may have quite a bit more information. Also, if your status lacks a personal tone and feels more commercial to your audience, you may lose their interest, so let your personal voice come through.

Engage Readers

The beauty of social media is the ability to engage readers. It is perfectly fine to ask people for their opinions and feedback. After all, social media is all about making connections.

Include a Visual

The first impression matters and people’s eyes are more often attracted to a visual of some sort, so use photos and short video clips to capture your audience’s attention.

Respond Every Time

When readers comment on your post, you should respond. Not responding shows you don’t care. If you get negative feedback, hoping it will disappear will not solve your problem. You can often turn negative feedback into a positive experience for readers if you respond with sincerity.

Be Consistent

The most important piece of advice is to be consistent – on posting regularly and in how you deliver your message. The tone of your voice should fundamentally remain the same across all of your social media accounts and for every status update you make.

If you decide to get your business presence out there on social media, make sure you work it and own it!
#PSPinc #Blog #SocialMedia #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #Facebook #Twitter #LinkedIn

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Where to Build your Company's Social Media Presence

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Where to Build your Company'...
Your business doesn’t have to have a presence on all social media sites; that would be a lot to keep track of, especially if you’re small enough where you don’t have a dedicated marketing person or department to manage it. And truthfully, some sites may not be very relevant or beneficial to your business model anyway.

For example, if you are a consumer product company, you may want to focus on Facebook, Instagram, and other consumer-oriented platforms. But if you are a B2B service company, you may want to be visible to those who are on LinkedIn instead.

Instagram is all about photo sharing and end users will not read anything longer than a few hashtags. So if you have a product that is more visual, a bakery for example, Instagram is the perfect platform to show off your baked goods and entice customers to buy from you. But if you are a tax return service provider, lacking the visual appeal of a product, Instagram will not benefit you in the same way. The tax return service provider, however, may benefit by sharing a short informative video (commercial) on YouTube.

To figure out which social media sites are right for your business, first you have to define your audience and your brand story. When you do that, you’ll be able to place your business on social media sites that are relevant to your customer base and show off your product or service in the best way possible. Just remember, the social media sites that you engage in socially may not be the same platforms that work to promote your business.

Here are some questions for you to think about when considering where to build your company’s social media presence:

- What is your story, your brand, your product or service?
- What age group are you targeting for your business?
- Where do your consumers spend time and seek information from?
- Why do they want to purchase from you?
- Where do you want to be known?

Even within the consumer-minded social media sphere, you have several choices as to where to promote your business. Depending on how you would like to deliver your message, you will be able to choose different websites to join. But choose wisely - you don’t need to waste your valuable time trying to keep up with every single one.
#PSPinc #Blog #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #SocialMedia

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What is Social Media?

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What is Social Media?
We always talk about how social media changed our way of life, but what is it really? This month, we are going to cover the basics of social media so you will be able to take advantage of this powerful tool for your business.

Let’s start with the definition:

“Social media are computer-mediated technologies that allow individuals, companies, NGOs, governments, and other organizations to view, create and share information, ideas, career interests, and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks." - wikipedia.org

The true birth of it came about when a new concept called “Web 2.0” was introduced in the early 2000s. Web 2.0 is a concept where users generate website content, and multiple ways to communicate collaboratively and easily on various platforms. That concept gave birth to many internet applications such as social media and blogs.

Social media is a Web 2.0 based application that goes a step further - it facilitates the online connections of individuals and groups. When we hear the word social media, we always think of Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and such, but with this definition all user-generated content sites such as YouTube and Wikipedia are also social media outlets. We can even stretch it further to include online shopping sites that share user reviews and comments.

In our society today, we literally build our social connections virtually, and social media is the platform to do that. For those of us who are in business, it is vitally important to understand social media, what it is, and how it can benefit our companies. We cannot ignore the fact that social media is the new way to be seen in business, and if we do it right, it can be a driving factor in our success.

So what is coming in the near future?

There are a several predictions for how we may see social media evolve, but here is what we think you should look out for:

- Live streaming videos
- More photos, less words
- More segmented social media for interest groups

Please visit us throughout this month for more articles about social media for businesses.
#PSPinc #Blog #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #SocialMedia

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PSP Children's Foundation will award scholarships for University of Washington Foster School in 2017

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PSP Children's Foundation will...
Pacific Software Publishing, Inc. (PSPinc) in Bellevue, Washington, will celebrate its 30th year in business in 2017. To commemorate the anniversary, PSPinc plans to cover all expenses for a golf tournament fundraising event hosted by its non-profit organization PSP Children’s Foundation (PSPCF) in partnership with UW Foster School of Business.

Read more Press Release at http://en.bloguru.com/pspcf/280263/psp-childrens-foundation-will-award
#blog #UW #PSPchildrensfoundation

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How to Evaluate your Online Campaigns

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How to Evaluate your Online ...
Unfortunately, you can’t evaluate your online performance solely on your hard work and effort alone. The best way to succeed in the online space is to take a quantitative approach when it comes to looking at the actual performance of your campaigns so you can compare, learn, and adjust to do a better job.

Earlier this month, we talked about Click Through Rate (CTR), which is one way you can measure the performance of a campaign. But don’t stop there. Check out these important things to know before setting up your online campaigns:

Define your Ultimate Goal

What is your goal for the campaign? I like to set a campaign goal that is more quantitative than qualitative because it is much easier to measure your success objectively. For example, you can set your goal to have 10 inquiries in a week for your product, or 3 reservations for your restaurant from your online campaign.

In order for you to get 10 inquiries online, how many people do you think you should have visiting your product page? 100, 1000, or 10,000? You may be guessing at first, but this is part of why you make goals, assess and try new things.

Set your Budget

Let’s continue to use the example where you want to get 10 inquiries a week. Say you estimate you need at least 1,000 visitors to land on your product page in order to get that. Now you have to set your budget. If you think getting 10 inquiries is worth $500, then let’s spend $500 on a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign. But remember, with this $500, you want to get 1,000 visitors, and not just any visitors; the target audience who you believe would be interested in your product. If you spend $500 per 1,000 visitors, that means your ad budget is about 50 cents per click.

Evaluate the Time Frame

If your $500 budget is based per week, now you need to determine how many weeks to go on with your campaigns? If you are not meeting your goal of 10 inquiries in one week, is it worth losing as much as $500 per week without meeting your goal? Did any of the inquiries you received convert into sale(s) that would give you a sufficient return on your investment and reimburse your campaign budget?

Adjust Accordingly

Now you need to assess the numbers. If you are getting over 1000 visitors, yet you are only getting 5 inquiries per week, then you can estimate you need 2000 visitors to hit your goal of 10 inquiries. If you are getting 1000 hits but no inquiries, you probably need to redefine your target audience. It would also be ideal to know how they behaved once they landed on your site – Google analytics and other tools can show you where they departed from and how long they stayed on your website. You can use this information to re-align your strategy, your messaging, and revise your campaigns accordingly.

In the end, having a successful online campaign requires discipline in evaluating these areas on a regular basis and trying new things till it pays off.
#blog #PSPinc #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #SEO #SEM #Google #SearchEngineMarketing

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The Fundamentals of Email Marketing

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The Fundamentals of Email Ma...
The best way to get the most exposure to your business online is by using what I like to call “a hybrid approach” to online marketing. It’s a combination of using websites, blogs, SNS (social networking services), and e-newsletters. You can’t be successful using one without the rest. You need all of those elements to work for each other in reaching the most people online.

Today, we’ll talk about email marketing, also known as your e-newsletter, which is a critical web tool that gets delivered straight to the prospective customer and gives you the platform to talk about your website, products, services, even your social media sites.

Here are some tips for you to consider when writing your e-newsletters:

Create Goals

Like any other marketing campaign, you need to set a goal for your newsletter. For example, if you manage a bakery and want to bring in more traffic/sales in the slower hours of the afternoon, add a coupon inside your newsletter that gives customers a discount off purchases in the afternoon. Or, if I want to bring more traffic to my web hosting company, I can include links back to my website, links to my social media sites, or links to my blog articles.

Know your Audience

Knowing who reads your emails will help you set the topics and style of your newsletter. If you know you have younger readership, they may be reading your article via smartphones with limited viewing space. You should make sure your newsletter is easily viewable on smaller devices.

Practice KISS

Don’t bore your audience with long articles in your emails. You can always publish lengthy articles on your blog or elsewhere and then link back to them from your newsletter. Let your subscribers receive the newsletter, the titles and the links to full articles. When it comes to newsletter content, remember to KISS – “Keep It Simple and Straightforward.”

Be Consistent

Keeping your newsletter style and schedule consistent will make your subscribers more likely to notice your newsletter and open it up. Even if they don’t read the newsletter the first time, if you are consistent in sending it, they will most likely open it up eventually.

Allow Subscribe/Unsubscribe

You will need to provide all readers the ability to “opt out” from your newsletter. It is required by law, or else you will be considered a spammer. You also want to keep growing your readership by having an “easy to subscribe” form visible and handy on your website. You can plug it on social media too. After all, newsletters aren’t effective if you don't have any readers.
#blog #PSPinc #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #SEO #SEM #Google #Marketing

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Advertising on Social Media

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Advertising on Social Media
Writing a blog article like this one is an effective strategy in optimizing your website’s search engine presence, but if no one reads the article, what is the point? It would be a shame if no one noticed this article even existed. Hence, the need for social media advertising.

In the last few years, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become a powerful tool to get your blog articles noticed by your friends, your friends’ friends, and a larger network of people on social media. But some of the statistics suggest that the chance of your post being shared is very minimal - less than 0.1% of articles get shared and viewed more than 1,000 times. Fortunately, now there is a way to buy more views when you advertise on social media.

This is what we do:

Every article I post on our blog is shared on our Facebook page. I post two blog articles every week which also go out in our bi-weekly newsletter – another great strategy to get more views on my content.

Depending on the popularity of the article from our friends and colleagues, we then take it a step further and advertise the blog article on Facebook by “boosting” the post.

For example, you can choose to boost a Facebook post which then allows you to set a specific region where your Facebook post will appear, a specific age group to whom it will appear, and a specific daily budget which determines how many times your post will be displayed. You don’t have to have a big budget either – a daily budget can be as low as $4. By boosting your Facebook post it’s like paying for shares, so you can guarantee to get a certain number of eyes on it and hopefully some clicks into your blog. Facebook also provides you with “insights” that show you the reach of your campaign and how many people viewed your post.

If Facebook isn’t your preferred platform, you can do this on other sites like LinkedIn, and Twitter. Each one has its pros and cons, which I’ll explain in a future article (stay tuned).

If you would like to sign up for our digests, please subscribe to our e-newsletter at www.pspinc.com.
#blog #PSPinc #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #Facebook #Twitter #SocialMedia #Blog

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The Basics of PPC Search Engine Marketing

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The Basics of PPC Search Eng...
Google calls it AdWords, Microsoft calls it Bing Ads, and Yahoo calls it Yahoo Search Ads. These are all online marketing programs where you can buy Pay-Per-Click ads (PPC). Fundamentally they all operate the same way: You bid on a keyword or phrase. When that keyword is searched, your sponsored ad shows up in the search engine results page (SERP). If someone clicks on the link within your ad, you pay the bid price. It’s a form of paid lead generation.

Google is the market share leader in this industry so I suggest you start with AdWords if you want to try it out. There are two types of ads you can create in AdWords - a search campaign and a display campaign.

With a search campaign, your sponsored ad appears at the top or on the side of the Google SERP. You basically buy your keywords by bidding on your ad position within the SERP and you can set a daily budget to cap the cost. Depending on your budget limitations, your ad position might be on the third page of the SERP instead of the first page.

It’s important keep in mind you don’t want just any traffic to your site, but what you really want is your target customer to click on your ad so they don’t depart from your website after just a few seconds. In other words, you can buy sponsored ads, but you still need to come up with a marketing plan in terms of strategizing about the messaging you put in your ad, as well as the content you have on the page people land on when they click on your ad. Your messaging will help drive quality leads to your site over quantity.

You can also enhance your ad performance using Google AdWords Extensions. Extensions will allow your campaign to be more visible in order to increase your Click-Through-Rate (CTR) by offering additions to your ad like a “CALL” button, or site links to specific pages, or a map to your location.

You can also set parameters to reach a more targeted audience. You can choose in which regions your ad should run, the time of day your ad should appear, or whether or not to target only mobile device users.

The key to succeed, however, is the strategy behind your campaigns. Whatever the program and tools you choose to promote your business, your content, your message is the key to your online marketing success and lead generation.

I suggest you come up with a few different campaigns with unique ads, landing pages, and differing parameters. Let them compete with each other and see which one gets more activity from the search audience. Set a budget for each campaign so you don’t lose control of the costs associated, and see what happens. You won’t know until you try!
#blog #PSPinc #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #PPC #SEM #Google #SearchEngineMarketing

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Understand the Basics of Search Engine Marketing

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Understand the Basics of Sear...
We tech people love to abbreviate terms and words, making them more mysterious and complicated than they are. The same is true for online marketing, and many things web related.

Let’s review some industry acronyms and what they stand for:

SEM - Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing is the process of marketing your website via search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. It can include getting visitors to land on your site via paid or organic strategies.

SEO - Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization is one of the marketing methods in which you optimize your website to rank higher in the search engines for specific keywords or key terms. This doesn’t include the paid “sponsored ads” that appear at the top, bottom or right side column in a search engine. Optimizing your site can include adding quality, keyword-rich content, updating URLs, Meta tags and descriptions, and linking strategies from websites with relevant content.

PPC (CPC & CPA…etc.) - Pay-Per-Click

Pay-Per-Click is the method of marketing where you bid on a keyword in order to have your sponsored ad appear in the search engine when that keyword is searched. Sometimes it will show as display ad on other popular websites as well. The most commonly used platform for PPC is Google AdWords. CPC means Cost-Per-Click, related to the actual cost you incur when someone clicks on your ad after searching a particular keyword in your PPC campaign. On the other hand, CPA stands for Cost-Per-Action, and it refers to the costs you incur from an action a web visitor takes on your site such as a purchase, sign up or inquiry.

CTR - Click Through Rate

When someone clicks on your ad, the action of the click is counted against the number of views (people who saw the ad but didn’t click), and that results into a Click Through Rate. It measures the efficiency of the ad, sponsored links, or simply a link in your homepage or in your newsletter.

SERP - Search Engine Result Page

SERP sounds more technical than it is. It simply means Search Engine Result Page and it refers to the page displayed by the search engine for a particular search term. The point of SEM, paid or not, is to get a higher rank in the SERP when a keyword related to your site is searched.
#blog #PSPinc #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #SEO #SEM #Google #SearchEngineMarketing

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Online Marketing Tools you Need to Know

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Online Marketing Tools you Ne...
The idea of online marketing can seem overwhelming when you’re just starting out. You’ve got various search engines and their respective pay-per-click programs to learn about. You can join several social media sites to gain followers and promote your business. You have to learn about content marketing, blogging, and understand new buzz words like “boosting” and “optimization.” This wealth of information can send your brain into overdrive, so how do you get started?

One way is to hire a professional marketing agency, but that can be expensive. For those of you who would rather do it yourself, here are some free online tools available to you:

Pay-Per-Click

Pay-per-click can seem confusing at first, but Google offers user-friendly tools to get you started, including tutorials to help get you up and running. Google’s AdWords Editor and Keyword Planner are free tools that help you plan and manage your ad campaigns. You can try out a few campaigns, adjusting ads and bids to see what works and what doesn’t, and grow from there. You set the budget and you are in control of your spend.

Search Engines

On Google, you can search keywords that are relevant to your business and get a good snapshot of how your competitors are advertising online. You can do this right now and it’s free! Search Engine Tag Analyzers are also handy – you can plug in your competitors’ URL and see what keywords they’re focusing on in their content and Meta descriptions. You can also look up free Search Engine Results Page (or SERP) analysis tools and learn how to optimize your website to show up higher in search results.

Content

Having lots of good, keyword-rich content on your website is important for search engine optimization (SEO) which is why having a blog linked to your website is critical. You can even find Blog Topic Generators that are free, but again, going back to the basics by searching your relevant keywords in Google may provide the best source of content ideas. Just be sure you don’t plagiarize word for word what your competitors are posting, or you could get penalized with a lower ranking on the search engines. Google doesn’t like to see duplicate content.

Analytics

Google Analytics is a free statistics tool. You will need to embed a special tag into your website’s html, but when you do, Google will show you how many visitors came to your site, from where, and how they behaved (i.e. what they clicked on). Alexa.com is another source to show your site’s ranking and other metrics, which essentially gives you an idea of your site’s “value” according to search engines.

In the end, learning these tools and utilizing them will give you the ability to compete in the online space. You just have to give it a try, analyze, and be flexible to adjust your marketing strategies as needed.
#blog #PSPinc #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #SEO #SEM #Google #SearchEngineMarketing

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