The Social Media Quick Step

Social media is more than just a fun way to engage and communicate with friends & family. It is an extremely powerful business marketing tool if strategically implemented correctly.

A common mistake businesses make is failing to develop a formal social media plan. Having a plan for social media is just as important as it is any marketing strategy. A savvy business owner does not buy traditional advertising without developing a plan, and the same applies with social media.

A social media marketing plan includes many of the same elements of a traditional marketing plan. Research into target markets and consumer purchasing is a must. Identifying brand strengths and weaknesses is also important.

Once you’ve conducted research, it is time to start outlining strategies and developing your plan.

 

 

Below is a social media marketing strategy plan.

1. Identify a social media manager

With the many tasks involved with running a successful business, social media can fall by the wayside. Before your business embarks on a social media campaign, it is a good practice to identify a person or multiple people who will be in charge of monitoring and posting content. It is important for the social media manager to not only ensure content is posted on a regular basis, but also monitor and respond to all comments and feedback. The assigned staff should be willing to monitor the company’s social pages 24/7, which can be easily accomplished through e-mail alerts and mobile apps.

2. Create branded pages

Once you have identified your manager, it’s time to create branded pages. First, determine which social media sites you want to use. Small businesses should consider Facebook, Twitter and Google+ at the very least. In some cases, other sites including LinkedIn, Pinterest and Houzz may also be appropriate. It is important for all of your social media to have the same look and feel as your company website. Facebook cover pages do have some flexibility and allow you to have some very specific elements can be incorporated for maximum impact:

Use colour and photos
Integrate your profile picture into your cover
Incorporate a call to action
Point out where people can call or contact you

After you create your social pages, be sure to include links on your website and invite all of your customers and friends to join your pages.

3. Develop a planning calendar

Now that your social sites are “live”, it is time to start developing a planning calendar. Ideally, this should be done on a monthly basis. Your planning calendar may outline the following: Number of posts per week,
Time the post will be made, you should vary your posting times, Identify content for each post.

A planning calendar lays the foundation and ensures you are maintaining your social sites and posting on a regular basis. Of course, you can also post other news, tips and ideas as they arise. The biggest pitfall businesses run into are they generally have a lot of excitement when they first establish their social media presence, but the momentum quickly fades. Having a monthly planning calendar will help keep your social media efforts moving forward.

4. Generate engaging content

Now that you have identified a manager, set up your pages, and developed a planning calendar, it is time to

start generating engaging content. Once you generate content, you can plug it into the dates/times you have reserved on your social media calendar to compose posts. As you consider content, think outside of your company and put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What type of information is not only engaging, but is something followers would like to share? Creating sharable content is one of the quickest ways to pick up new followers.

Let’s take a look at some content ideas:

Weekly tips and advice
Post something humorous (in good taste)
Highlight and recognize your customers
Incorporate “social media” only offers
Be interactive – ask questions people will want to answer
Photos and videos
Coupons and contests
Product overviews
“How To” videos
Sales and special events

Remember, maintaining the attention of your followers will keep them engaged.

5. Monitor responses and track your results

It is imperative to monitor all comments and respond in a timely manner. Good or bad, all feedback needs to be addressed. If someone praises your product and/or service, thank them. If they have a complaint or concern, reach out to them. It is important to investigate the validity of the negative comment and address it immediately. Customer feedback can help you better understand reaction to your products and/or services. Also be sure to incorporate a good tracking system. This can really provide important insight into your customers and their behavior. Companies such as Global Response provide excellent outsourced social media analytics programs that can be easily incorporated and integrated into your social strategy.
6. Use results to better understand consumer behavior 

What better way to gauge customer demand than to ask them yourselves? Don’t be afraid to engage your followers and get their opinions. Doing so can help identify both areas of strength and weakness. As we discussed earlier, prompt response to comments is key to developing a relationship with your followers. Even big box stores work to maintain open and responsive communication with their followers: I find in my marketing practice, social media intimidates many small businesses. If you approach it like any other form of marketing and develop a plan, it can become a very useful and effective tool which complements your traditional marketing strategies.

Here are 9 things you may not know about social media.

1. A social media strategy, guidelines and a system for handling negative comments are the first steps to mastering social media.

2. Facebook’s algorithm means that only an estimated 10 per cent of your Company Page updates are seen by the people who like your page. This percentage has a better chance of increasing if you post regularly, and your fans ‘like’, ‘comment’ and ‘share’ your content. Or you can always fork out money to boost your posts, but this can get expensive.

3. Twitter’s Advanced Search lets you find tweets on a topic within a certain radius.

4. LinkedIn lets you keep information about the people in your network. You can add ‘how you met’, set ‘reminders’ like birthdays or follow up calls, and also add ‘notes’ and ‘tags’.

5. The three main formats of YouTube videos that you can create are ‘talking head’ (like on the news), ‘interviews’ (via Skype or in person) and ‘screenshare’ videos.

6. Google+ has made a change to its ‘authorship’ system. Your headshot no longer appears in the Google search results, but your name still does.

7. You can get super creative with Instagram. There are cool free apps (like Photo Editor) and paid apps (like WordSwag) that let you overlay words onto your pics.

8. Pinners (aka people on Pinterest) absolutely love infographics. Try publishing one yourself and see how many backlinks and social media shares you get. Ask your designer, or else try oDesk, Elance or Fiverr if you’ve got a tight budget.

9. Tools like Feedly, Buffer and Hootsuite make social media a breeze. Follow your favourite blogs with Feedly, schedule your social media updates with Buffer and monitor your accounts with Hootsuite.

Content Marketing Made Easier

Putting my research hat on again I discovered some cool tools to make your content marketing strategies a lot easier.

Content manager and content marketers lives can get a bit hectic. They spend a lot of time identifying what is seen as relevant and valuable content, in relation to their product, with the intent of changing or enhancing

consumer behavior.

That is content marketing and the belief of this marketing strategy is that if you help increase the intelligence of your consumer base by putting more information in front of them, valuable information, then they’ll reward

you with their business and loyalty. This often requires long hours of internet research to find what is considered relevant and valuable information that will elevate your target audience, putting together posts that have both great content and great visuals, and doing it on a consistent basis.

Below are 15 free content marketing tools that will help you deliver that amazing content to keep your customers coming back for more.

Tools for screenshots

Let’s face it, content is always great to have, but human beings are visual creatures. “I’ll believe it when I see

it,” didn’t become an adage for no reason at all. There is universal truth in that statement, which is naturally

understood. Consumers most often prefer to be shown, not told, about the features to help them best make

their decision, or to increase their knowledge of your industry, niche, or products. This is where screenshots or how-to videos come in. These are the tools to help you with them.
1. Jing

Jing is a downloadable tool that allows it’s user to capture the screenshot, alter the screenshot with different

markup features and send screenshots to your social media platforms with easy sharing tools. What sets

Jing apart is its recording feature that is maxed at five minutes for “instant, focused communication.”

2. Awesome Screenshot

Awesome Screenshot is actually a plug-in that is created based on Google Chrome, but also can be used in

other popular browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Apple’s default browser Safari. Its stand-out feature is

that it’s built-in to the browser, so if your work or product is internet based (what isn’t now a days?), it’s

easier to utilize this tool than one that needs to be downloaded and ran separately.

3. Monosnap

Monosnap also comes fully equipped with the expected features of a screenshot tool, allowing you to

highlight the important parts of the screen with pen, text, arrows and shapes. Be sure to use the blur out tool

to blur out your confidential information. This tool comes with free cloud storage.

 

Writing & Editing Tools

The most important part of all content marketers’ job is the content. This is the bread and butter; the chicken

& the gravy. Without professional, accurate, knowledgeable content delivered in an easy to understand

manner, there is no work. There will be no consumers seeking out your company’s service or product.

Ultimately there is nothing without content. Here are the tools to make sure your content meets all these

criteria, or if you have difficulty generating content, resources that will help you do so.
4. Paper Rater

Paper Rater is a Natural Language Processing engine that runs behind Paper Rater is the stand-out feature

of this website. It not only checks for plagiarism but it seeks to improve the writing of the author by avoiding

false-positives on grammar detection which happens a staggering 50% of the time with other technologies.

5. Essay Mama

Essay Mama is different from paper rater, whereas instead of checking your work, you can purchase essays

or content from writers who hold Master’s degrees and PhD’s in their field. If you have a large enough profit

margin for your business, and think having 100% original content from experts in your industry will help boost

the value you give to your consumer, then Essay Mama is the place for you.

6. Copyscape

Copyscape allows you to protect your content by seeking for exact copies online. It’s been ranked number 0ne by

independent tests as the most powerful and most popular plagiarism detection software. You can purchase

Copyscape premium for upgraded features; therefore, unlocking the full power of the plagiarism detection

software. Copysentry is the second feature of Copyscape Premium, which automatically scans the web

daily or weekly and e-mails you if any copies of your content are found.

 

Image and Design Tools

Beyond the penultimate, valuable content, with how-to tutorials and/or valuable screenshots, consumers want

to know that their decision of utilizing your website for valuable information is the correct one. Having a great

web design and utilizing images, helps increase credibility, and build your brand. Here are a few places to

help make this component of your content grade A.

7. Thinglink

Embed content within your images with ThingLink, from product descriptions, links to purchase pages of

products, tell the story behind the image, etc. all to increase your click-through rate and increase consumer

interaction. They offer real time analytics of consumer engagement, and can even make a ThingLink image

an interactive App on Facebook. Utilizing ThingLink is sure to increase consumer engagement.

8. Canva

Canva is a design tool that was founded by a design visionary to take as much hassle out of design as

possible. Design software has been complicated from the beginning and can take weeks to months of trial

and error before you achieve your desired result, even if you do. Utilize Canva, and you can create beautiful

designs with the simplicity of their stand-out, drag and drop feature. The designs can be made for web or print

and covers things such as flyers, presentations, Facebook covers, blog graphics, business cards, posters,

and invitations.

9. PicMonkey

PicMonkey has a bunch of cool things going on with their team, which includes a monkey of course. Their

features include Touchup, which users can utilize to get the best look out of their profile pictures. They also

have a photo editor, loads of collage templates, and graphics that can be used to customize the design for

your brand, product or service. What is standout about PicMonkey are the tutorials that they offer for support.

So not only do they provide you with the tools for free, they teach you how to use and get the most out of

them for free as well.

 

Creative fonts

Fonts, not just any fonts, but creative ones, help to create the creases and ripples in your brands fingerprint.

If chosen correctly, and adhered to, it will help separate yourself and give you a more defined brand identity.

These are a few sites that offer free, downloadable fonts that you can use as your brands namesake.

10. Dafont

Either if you know it or not, Dafont has been around since 2000! Pushing on their fourteenth year

anniversary is only a testament of how longevity favours simplicity. You can easily find fonts either via

alphabetical order, or type and in a few clicks you can have it downloaded and running in your program of

choice. Use their FAQ and Forums for help getting your newly acquired font, into the software or website

where you want it. They also have a tools section which advertises purchasable font software.

11. Google Fonts

Google just seems to find any and everything they can capitalize on, and then do it. Here is another example

of their subtle monopoly into every possible online frontier imaginable. With over 600 font families, Google

Fonts makes it just three easy steps before the font is running on your website. The standout feature is

simply that – the Open Source CSS font code is already prepared and easy as adding it to your website in

seconds.

 

Infographic and video creation.

If you haven’t seen an infographic, you’re not with the times. These are graphic visual representations of data

or information that’s intended to present information clearly and quickly. The tools for video creation will be

beneficial for the content manager who needs to make more than just a five minute how-to by using a tool like

Jing.

12. Piktochart

Never made an infographic before? This is the tool for you. Hit the ground running with your choice of 100,

fully customizable themes, a library of over 1,000 images to use or upload your own and share it with as

many consumers you can reach. How many more consumers could you inform if you were spreading your

product/service data with infographics instead of old school articles? The standout feature for piktochart has

to be their support. They have the most comprehensive resource list out of all these tools and advertise the

most support. There’s no way you can lose with Piktochart.

13. Infogram

Infogram has already had more than 2.5 million inforgraphics made on their website, and yours should be

next! They offer 30 different chart types, with a backend spreadsheet that allows you to easily edit your data

and alter your charts. No design skills are required to create and you can download your infographics as

PNG or PDF for presentations or to send to consumers via e-mail marketing. If you have any trouble you can

contact them via their support bar on the side, or reach them via a social media channel such as Skype, FB

or Twitter.

14. Wideo

Wideo is an online video creation tool that allows its users to create, edit and share video for free. The videos

are fully animated and are made with their own available images, movement, objects, shapes, audio or text;

or you can upload your own images, backgrounds and music. Wideo has been utilized for business,

education and just for fun! Either way, animated videos are always fun and if utilized appropriately can be very

beneficial for your purpose.

 

15. Stupeflix

Stupeflix, a startup online video creation tool, created in Europe can be used for personal reasons, education,

business, and developers. The videos can be up to 20 minutes long and each one comes with a free theme,

made and ready for the web with a single click. Standout Stupeflix features are its ability to add maps,

custom transitions, add voice-over, set movie pace, individual durations or even slo-mo. Stupeflix does offer a

PRO version with an additional fee.

Three Top Tools

Below are three top tools to consider for any Internet Marketing campaign.

Clarity.fm – This has become my favorite spot for on-demand
business advice from some of the best business minds online.
Clarity has created a revolutionary platform that allows you
to setup one-on-one calls with over 20,000+ experts.
It’s like mentoring on-demand.
They have some of the best experts in the world on business
development, sales funnel strategy, blogging, social media,
email marketing, product development, WordPress rockstars,
and more…
Putler – I consider this a must-have sales analytics app.
It allows me to view all the important stats in our business
in a single glance.
You can easily see how many sales you’ve made today, search
for a specific customer, issue refunds with a single click,
cancel or suspend a subscription, and track your monthly
revenue goals.
Integrates seamlessly with PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net,
2Checkout, Shopify, and many others.
It is a great All-In-One Marketing Dashboard.
ClickFunnels – One of my favourite new softwares of the year.
It’s similar to LeadPages in that it allows you to create squeeze pages,
sales letters, webinar pages, thank-you pages, and more in about 5-10
minutes with a WYSIWYG editor.
However, ClickFunnels takes it one step further because it also integrates
with all the top payment processors. So you’re not just creating pages.
But an entire sales flow.
You select what type of funnel you want to create (Launch Funnel, Webinar
Funnel, Sales video Funnel, TripWire Funnel, etc…) and then you
point-and-click to choose which page you want to use for each step.
Clickfunnels then strings them all together in one complete funnel.
Adding people to your subscriber list, taking payments, and even
creating an entire member’s area!
These few top tools can take your internet marketing to a brand new level.

Website Load Speed Matters

When it comes to your user’s site experience and position in search engines, your website load speed matters and is a vital factor.

runnigInternet users today expect a website to load as fast as possible. High quality content, inbound links and easy navigation are not enough to make your blog or website successful.  They really feel cheated by blogs that take a very long time to respond to their web requests.

 

Why speed matters

User experience:

It’s a well known fact if a website takes too long to load; a visitor is more likely to move on to other website (most likely competitors). With the increased internet speed, usage and accessibility, today’s users expect the fastest and most reliable online experience. Everyone has “very limited time” to surf the internet and no one likes to wait on a web page to load.

So, what’s the time limit for a visitor to wait for loading a web page? Previously it was considered that maximum waiting time should be less than seven seconds. But today, in the world of improved technology, users expect a web page (with simple content) to completely load within two seconds or less. And if a web page takes more than two seconds to load, chances are up to 40% of users may leave your site.

AdWords quality score:

Maybe you’re not aware of this, but the speed of your website can actually impact your Quality Score. Google knows very well that customers are likely to convert on a faster website, so they’ve put more emphasis on the landing page loading speed. If the performance of your landing page is dull, then your Quality Score will suffer.

Apart from this, Quality Score drives your CPC campaigns. It means faster loading speed can help you reduce your advertising costs. In short, faster page load speed results into higher quality score, and higher quality score leads to enhanced spending efficiency and more reach.

Organic rankings:

In 2010, Google announced that page load speed would be an important factor in determining the ranking of websites in search engine results. Google algorithm makes use of multiple factors to determine where to rank your website in search engine result pages. Some of these factors are evaluation of the legitimacy of the website itself (like number of quality inbound links and age of the domain name), while others are related to a webpage content itself (like title, description, text, URL etc.).

However, after the announcement of Google, it became crucial for website owners to improve their page load time. So if you care about getting ranked higher and more traffic from Google, you should improve your website website’s performance. Though fast load time isn’t a huge ranking factor, but it’s quite important.

Mobile users:

Generally, it is considered that mobile users have more patience than desktop users. The reason is that they use a slower internet connection. But in the present scenario, while the internet connection speed is very fast, page load time became an important factor for mobile users.

Therefore, website owners should keep in mind this factor while using tools to manage mobile versions of their websites. Also, designers and coders should create simple and lightweight mobile version of a website in order to avoid server overload and make sure that the website will load quickly on mobile devices.

Competitors cash in:

When a user clicks away from a web page on your site due to slow load speed, your competitors benefit from it. In traffic rush hours, 75% of online consumers move to a competitor’s site rather than having the patience to wait for a website to load. Hence, if your site is slow, you’re not only going to lose your visitors and money, but also indirectly handle your valuable customers over to your competitors.

 

Free tools to test your site’s speed

Google PageSpeed Insights:

Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool lets you test the performance of a web page both for desktop and mobile devices. It fetches the URL of a web page twice, once with a desktop user-agent, and once with a mobile user-agent. It measures how the page can boost its performance on: time to full page load and time to above-the-fold content load. After analyzing the content of a web page, it generates “consider fixing” and “should fix” type recommendations, which you can use to make your web page faster on all devices.

YSlow:

YSlow, developed by Yahoo, analyzes a web page and accordingly gives you suggestions to improve its performance. All the generated suggestions are based on a set of 23 web performance rules, which are defined by Yahoo’s Performance team. Additionally, it gives your web page a Grade that is based on one of three predefined rule set.

GTMetrix:

GTMetrix is another popular and effective website performance testing tool that helps you optimize your website’s speed and give your visitors an all-around improved experience. Using Google Page Speed and YSlow, it grades the performance of your site and makes actionable recommendations available to you. In addition, you can also set up monitored alerts and view your page load in a filmstrip view.

Pingdom:

Pingdom offers a wide range of website speed testing tools that enables you to monitor the performance of your website and provides invaluable insights to help you make it faster. Using Pingdom, you will be able to monitor individual files and requests on your site and can know the reasons which cause poor website performance. From page analysis to a performance grade, they provide quite useful information related to your website.

MaxCDN Tools:

MaxCDN recently released their set of testing tools through which you can test your website’s performance at 12 different locations around the globe. Performing Ping test, you can compare the ping speed of two domains and know how your site performs against your competitors. Finally, the HTTP Speed Test enables you compare the speed of first and last byte of two websites.

 

Quick tips to speed up your site

Upgrade your server:

The connectivity and speed of a website depends on the type of server being used for hosting. If your site is hosted on a shared hosting server, upgrade it to a VPS or dedicated server that allows your website having more server resources available. Hosting your website on a shared server may result in web pages being load slower.

Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network):

One of the best ways to decrease your website’s page speed is to host your media files on a content delivery network. Using a CDN, you can save up to 60% bandwidth and halve the number of requests made by your website. Some of the popular and reputed CDNs are MaxCDN, CloudFlare, and Amazon CloudFront.

Minimize HTTP requests:

According to Yahoo, up to 90% of the end-user response time is tied up in downloading the different components – like images, scripts, flash, style sheets etc. – of a web page. When someone land on your website, an HTTP request is made for each one of these components. The best practice for minimizing the number of HTTP requests is to eliminate all unnecessary things from your site.

Enable Gzip compression:

Nowadays, Gzip is the most used compression method that doesn’t only save bandwidth, but also speed up web page load time. A web page containing high quality content is often bigger than 100kb and this result in slower page load time. By compressing your website’s content, you can reduce the response size by about 70%. To check whether your site is Gzip enabled or not, you can use Gziptest.

Optimize images:

There are two important things that you should keep in mind while uploading images to your website: size and format. As large images take much longer than expected time to load, so it’s crucial to crop your images to the correct size before uploading. For the format of your images, .jpg and .png are best options. Use GIFs for small graphics, and also avoid using .bmp and .tiff formats.

Minify your HTML, CSS and JavaScript files:

WYSIWYG resources make building web pages easy for people, but they sometimes generate junk code that can slow down your website. To avoid slow loading time, you need to minify your files. To minify HTML, you can use chrome extension PageSpeed Insights to get the optimized version of your HTML code. To minify CSS, try cssmin.js and YUI Compressor. And to minify JavaScript, use JSMin and Closure Compiler.

Put scripts at the bottom:

If you want to get your content delivered to your visitors as fast as possible, it’s highly recommended to put scripts as close to the bottom of your page as possible. The reason behind this is simple: visitors would not like to see a blank page while the browser is busy in loading different script related files. Also, put your CSS at the top of your page since browsers would render the CSS file before rendering your page.

Minimize redirects:

Though sometimes it is necessary to redirect a visitor from one URL to another, but if you have a lot of redirects on your site, your site will suffer delay in page load. Redirections lead to additional HTTP requests, which increase web page load time. So minimize the number of redirects even though you have a responsive version of your web site.

Enable browser caching:

When a visitor lands on your site for the first time, different components (like HTML document, style sheets, JavaScript files and images) of your website are stored on his hard drive in a temporary storage, or cache. The next time when the user visits your site, the browser loads the web page from its local cache instead of sending another HTTP request to the server. So, it’s quite important to enable browser caching in order to enhance the performance of your website.

Monitor & improve:

One of the best ways to make your website super speedy is to monitor its performance on a regular basis and make necessary improvements accordingly. Furthermore, always run some quick tests especially when you make any changes in your website’s code or content to see the results.