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So what about Twitter for business? Your Social Landscape, Part 2

Last month we talked about your social landscape and how you could get started on social media, especially on LinkedIn. Moving on this month to another popular platform that has transitioned quite a bit in 2017, what about Twitter?

In 2016, Twitter made some very important decisions to battle user loss and try to revamp the platform’s image. With channels like Instagram and Facebook that are making video more accessible and popularizing the idea of stories, started by Snapchat, Twitter heard their users and decided to work on themselves. This said, a lot of minor but impactful changes arrived in 2017 and could be useful for your business. So how can you start your journey on Twitter?

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Why should you be on Twitter?

Like any other platform, it depends on your audience.

Is your audience active on Twitter?

Are you in a niche market that has a forum on Twitter?

Do you operate a business that can offer quick discounts? Or exclusive deals?

My main advice is to take a look online. Go on Twitter, search a few keywords that are related to your business and see what are the results. When I worked with PROSAR on the social media presence of a soybean company, we never thought that growers would be online, even less on Twitter but yet, to our surprise, they were strong users of the network and many growers were online, sharing their story. This media became an important one in our social media strategy.

Do not push it aside too quickly for the new and shiny networks that are popping up on the social landscape. Depending on your business, Twitter could be a good fit for you!

 

How can you use it for your business?

Twitter can be used in different ways. One main use is support. Twitter is associated to speed and quick accessibility. For many customers, if they are not able to reach the company that is causing them an issue, they will go on Twitter, expecting a quick response. If this is something that makes sense for your business, then it is a great way to offer immediate support and resolve a customer issue, while the rest of the social world bear witness to your great service.

You can also use the platform to have an online presence during events. Most events, tradeshows and conferences will be live tweeting the event. If you are at that same event, you could be participating in the conversation, creating mindshare and thought leadership by sharing captivating quotes from keynote speakers or cool things that you see at the event. With the right tags and hashtags, your tweets could get picked up by the event and distributed to the list of participants following the event, hence giving you a much greater reach and increasing brand visibility. It could also be a way for you to promote your booth during an event or your own conference, if you are hosting one. You can widely expand your reach and number of participants if you live tweet your event and people can attend remotely.

Finally, you can increase traffic to your website but promoting blog posts or other content already available.

 

What new features help you better serve your customers?

Video

Instagram has been a leader in making video cool and accessible after YouTube. Even LinkedIn recently added a video feature to their platform. So Twitter, is also joining the video party and making live streaming a part of their DNA. As a business, you could add video to your virtual event. You could have a talk with your customers about a topic in particular or you could stream the launch of a new product. Video is a strong asset and is more and more a part of our content, so if you haven’t started experimenting with video yet, now is the time.

 

More characters to share your message

This might seem small, but it is not easy to fit all you need to say in a 140 characters’ limit. After many years, Twitter has finally made this policy a little more flexible. Indeed, images and videos no longer count towards your 140 limit, which means that you can still enrich your tweet with dynamic content without losing any space to add your brand and work on your messaging. Same for replies, so coming back to the support idea from the beginning, you no longer have to add the person you are replying to in your tweet, which means you have more characters to actually support your customer and answer their questions. Having worked in social media and managed communities online, I can confirm that these minor changes make a major difference in your online interaction with your customers.

These first few steps will help you get familiar with the platform and decide if this is the right place for you and your business. Get in touch with PROSAR today to have your first Social Media Audit and an overview of your landscape! We can definitely help you get started!

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How to Write Alt Text

Alt text, short for “alternative text”, is text in the metadata of images that shows up either when the image doesn’t load, or for screen readers. If you’ve ever had an email full of images have the space replaced with, say, a coupon value, you’ve seen alt text.

While it appears simple, alt text requires time and effort to get the hang of.

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Why should you put in alt text?

In short, it makes the graphic content of your website readable. This is useful for:

  • SEO
  • People with slower/limited internet connections
  • Individuals who use screen readers

If you’re in Ontario, you might be facing down the legal requirements of AODA, which requires all graphic information to be accessible in text. This is in accordance to WCAG, the international standard for web accessibility that is becoming the norm worldwide. While this is a laborious task, it reaps many rewards outside of disability circles.

By utilizing alt text to the maximum capacity, you can reap a rich keyword benefit that won’t visibly clog up the page (but don’t overdo it, as Google will still penalize you for keyword stuffing), and make your site available to a larger demographic.

Implementing alt text on a WordPress site is as easy as installing Yoast (for SEO) and allocating the hours to writing the material.

How to put in alt text

Simple images: describe the image in the “alternate text” window provided when you go to edit an image on your website. Sometimes, you need to go into the image’s properties to find this window. If the image has a caption associated with it, make sure the caption and image are vaguely related— the image might not be read with the caption!

Complex information: Diagrams that show a company’s organization, pie charts, and other images that present information graphically must also have alt text provided. It can be tricky to know how to tackle these, because usually you do graphics to make complex information more easily digestible.

For things like pie charts or flow charts that don’t show many steps, you can still describe the image in the alt text window. Just be extremely clear what information leads to others. For pie charts, descriptions should include what it’s for and the percentages per allocated slice. An example is:

Pie chart for [diagramed information] displaying: 49% of funds went to rent, utilities, maintenance; 32% to programs; 16% to staffing; 3% other.

Flow charts can be done much the same way:

Chart shows [item] at head, displaying four branches labeled 1, 2, 3, 4. Down the 1 branch, we have items A, B, and C. Down the 2 branch, we have L, M, N.

For larger pieces such as infographics, consider having a transcript of the whole chart that is available at a well-described link, such as “Click here for transcript of infographic.” (making sure your links are descriptive out of context is also required for WTAG compliance!)

Regardless of how you write the descriptions, making sure to include key terms you want to rank for (when appropriate) will boost your overall SEO. It is a heavy time investment, but the rewards are numerous— including people knowing your company is thinking about multiple types of web users.

Image credit: oatawa

Branding for a multilingual market

 

Being aware of your audience is one of the key aspects to successful branding. And, in today’s ever-changing market base, which has become so diverse, we can no longer expect that a one-tier cultural brand marketing approach will effectively connect throughout. In fact, without even realizing it, you may be ignoring an entire group of clients.

In 1969, leading car manufacturer Chevrolet came out with a new car, the Chevy Nova. There was one tiny problem: “no va,” in Spanish, literally translates to “it doesn’t work.” No surprise here, for many Spanish communities this came across as a joke and stopped people from considering buying it.

Obviously, it’s not just about having a cute brand name or slogan but you need to check how a more diverse population is going to react to it. This is where an inclusive approach to branding comes in. Brands have an opportunity to create meaningful connections with clients, and make clients feel welcome.

As we’ve said in one of our earlier blogs, “branding is an essential part of a marketing strategy, which is where it should all begin.” (I Have a Website, Why do I Need Branding?). If you have a business that caters to a multilingual demographic then inclusive branding should be fully considered from the start.

What can happen when your company makes additional efforts to relate to a specific community? Let’s take Starbucks as an example. Starbucks coffee shops across the country have recently started to teach their employees basic American Sign Language and some stores have even enabled drive-through webcam software so that deaf people can place an order. Using an inclusive approach with language, Starbucks’ unique branding approach has managed to successfully win over an entire community.   

Including specific audiences opens more doors

No matter what language you speak or how well established your business is, you will benefit by focusing your efforts and expanding your customer base. Fostering a multilingual inclusive approach to your branding and appealing to a new audience has great advantages.

It is critical to know your audience and to choose which area of brand marketing you want to focus on. Using language correctly attracts your market and engages them so they are ready to listen and will actually hear your message. Going further, once you have their ear use the language effectively to convey your messages in a way that they will understand. Avoid any mistakes or pitfalls that could actually cause rejection or harm your brand.

Poorly constructed brand names, slogans and badly written text slam the door on the business of some clients

So, you have a chosen a brand name that expresses the value of your organization, your client base trusts your brand and believes in what you stand for.  Pay close attention to the language you use, this will reinforce and maintain your brand positioning. Firstly, if your brand has a negative image you may consider changing your company name and look, if you do, check the spelling and pronunciation in the languages of your target audience. And secondly, make sure that it does not have any silly or negative connotations.  

Here’s a prime example, when Coca-Cola introduced their brand to China, it was at first pronounced “ke-kou-ke-la,” which means “bite the wax tadpole.”  Even coming from a huge conglomerate that sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it?

When you have an established brand name, slogans/taglines are good way to market your brand to diverse groups. Be sure to adapt your slogan rather than straight translation. It may, at first, seem smart to hire a translator, yes and make sure that your translator knows your target cultures and market goals. That is why your best approach may be to pick a combination team with translators and marketers. A good marketing team shows respect to the client by having a knack for languages, target cultures, and is aware of today’s diverse market. Whatever you do, do not simply use translation software. This seems obvious, but many prospective clients have been lost that way.

Photo By: CreativaImages/gettyimages

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Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

Ontario is in the midst of rolling out AODA, a set of guidelines to make Ontario more accessible for people with disabilities. Websites will soon be judged on whether or not they adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, AA compliance (except for live audio and video). The timeline for when compliance is required can be found on Ontario’s AODA page.

Reaching WCAG guidelines helps open up your website to a wider variety of potential prospects, and earns goodwill among clients. Many principles of content accessibility are good SEO, smart design, or both. Even if compliance isn’t mandatory (which it is for all public companies and all private companies over 50 employees), WCAG are often simply good design.

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Where to Start

Low or no vision accommodations make up a large percentage of WCAG guidelines; this includes making sure all links are comprehensible out of context, there are proper code markers in place for screen readers to know there is text to read, and all information available in graphics is also available within text.

This is one of the most comprehensive places to start, and one that shows the most immediate benefit. Making graphic information available in text also helps your SEO by giving either alt text (for simple images) or search engines a better idea of what is displayed on your webpage (which helps determine its relevancy).

 

Keep Cleaning Up

If you have audio or video content pre-recorded on your site, transcripts and descriptions need to be available for those. Building a site map is also advised, for how it helps people navigate and find the page they’re looking for more quickly. If people have to make choices on your site, make sure colour is not the only differentiating factor.

Any PDFs you have available on your site should also be checked. If you have Adobe Acrobat Pro, you can use tools within the suite to determine if they’re accessible. Make sure all buttons have a programmed purpose, so a screen reader can say what button to press.

 

Continue to Maintain

Reaching WCAG guidelines is both an initial investment and a continuing one. If you refresh content on the site frequently, then any and all new content must also be compliant. This includes new graphics, PDFs, pages, and audio/video. Determine how often you should review your content based on the frequency you update the website, and allocate time to run a small scale audit for accessibility.

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7 Reasons Why You (Probably) Need a New Website

I spoke with the owner of a manufacturing company recently who asked “why should I invest money in a new website when I already have good clients and I don’t deal with the public?”

 

In another discussion, a client stated, “We need to keep our costs as low as possible, so perhaps we’ll look at a revamping the website next year.”

 

As an experienced marketer, I found it incredible that seasoned and capable managers could have these viewpoints. Obviously, if times are tough and you need to choose between a new website and paying your staff and suppliers, marketing should take a back seat while you hunker down and prioritize payments. However, if you are simply waiting until your cash flow is particularly flush before addressing your website, waiting for the “right” time may be your downfall.

 

An effective website is a crucial piece of your marketing arsenal and shouldn’t be put-off or overlooked as an effective conduit for sales. Despite management’s best intentions, very few websites are actually designed to facilitate the sales process. Simply listing what you do and including a map as to where you are, won’t cut it anymore. The real role of a website is to interest and engage those who aren’t already sold. To educate those who don’t know about your product/service or how it can benefit them. To position your company and product/service favourably with customers and prospects. To initiate or nurture strong relationships.

 

Here are seven reasons why your website is important, and deserves your attention:

 

1) Powerful Prospecting

 

Whatever you sell and whoever you sell it to, your market is doing its research online. Prospects are clarifying product info and qualifying your company as a worthy supplier. If your website isn’t designed and edited to engage viewers and facilitate the sales process, you’re losing potential sales.

 

2) Create Caring Customers

 

We all understand the value of our customers and the importance of nurturing those relationships. Websites are an opportunity to always have the porch light on and the welcome mat out. A warm place where customers can be reminded of what you do, as well as learn about services they had no idea that you provide. It’s easy to take existing clients for granted, so review your website every now and then with a customer-centric point of view and ensure you’re addressing their needs and affirming their decision to do business with you.

 

3) Engage Employees

 

Using your online presence to motivate and retain employees is an important aspect that should go beyond a website application form. Featuring your team online, highlighting social outings, participating in blog articles… there are many ways to involve company staff in the website and welcome them as part of the family.

 

4) Build Brand

 

Brand sets the tone and positions your organization in the minds of your audience. Your website should be a hub for your brand. The design, messaging, and functionality combine to deliver a user-experience that will either support or malign your brand. A strong brand will help you gain sales, recruit talent, attract solid suppliers and please the public; so how is your website supporting your brand?

 

5) Supercharge SEO

 

In order for people to do business with you, they have to first of all, find you. Your website is not only your opportunity to tell your story, but it can serve as the magnet to attract viable prospects, too. Properly setting up your site for SEO and having strategically written content will lead to more traffic based on relevant organic searches. This increases your website’s potential to deliver qualified leads.

 

6) Responsive Design

More and more people are searching the web on their smartphones. In fact, this past Christmas season, Amazon shipped over 3 billion packages and 72% of those orders were made on a mobile device. Whether you have an e-commerce site or a blog, making your website easy to navigate and read is critical. A responsive website adapts to the screen size so laptops, tablets and smartphones can all provide an enjoyable user-experience. It also helps with your Google rank, as the search engine giant appreciates sites that adapt to the users’ screen, and penalizes websites that don’t.

 

7) Accessibility

In some states and provinces, having a website that is accessibility by people with a disability is regulated. In Ontario, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) outlines how your website must comply (based on WCAG 2.0 criteria). It covers colours and contrast, size of type, consistency and ease of navigation, Alt text for all images… there’s a long list of design and technical considerations to optimize the user-experience for a variety of users with different abilities. Not only is it good sense to make sure your website can be used by the entire populatin, but now it’s the law.

There are more reasons good reasons to look at what your website can be doing better for you; such as providing fresh content, facilitating administrative actions, creating process efficiencies, polling and intelligence gathering… what would you add this list?

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Image Credit:  IvelinRadkov / Getty Images

Paying Travel Expenses

Manage Sales Costs With Marketing

Sales calls fact – it’s damn hard to get in to see anybody these days.

 

I recently spoke to a business owner about sales travel. He replied that his sales people were travelling less these days. It’s hard to get suspects and prospects to commit to appointments. Past customers are not interested in the latest and greatest unless they actually need something. Factor in the high cost of travel and the sales’ regular road trips are often not viable.

 

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Willie Loman would die an early death in today’s markets.

 

Still, business relies on a constant supply of new customers and new business. Although the specifics vary by business and industry, the cost of acquiring new customers is multiple times the cost of retaining customers. There are resources and costs required in both efforts.

 

Business owners and sales managers have a dilemma. How to manage resources effectively between acquiring new customers and retaining existing customers?

 

Marketing can help with managing the costs of both obtaining new customers and keeping existing ones.

 

In many cases, a majority of sales come from existing customers. The satisfaction of existing customers and ongoing “staying in touch” are obviously very important in retaining customers.

 

Focus on acquiring new customers is equally important in keeping the sales pipeline full and fuelling company growth.

 

Marketing Qualified Leads

 

One aspect of marketing is to cast a wide net for new business opportunities.

 

Marketing can do much of the ”leg work” of qualifying leads before the expense of sales people are required. Marketing can reach many in an instant, much faster than even your speediest inside sales star or your heartiest cold caller.

 

The Internet has made marketing more focused and effective by allowing for very specific targeting, yet on a broad scale.

 

Marketing can filter the wide catch of prospects into those that you actually have a chance of doing business with. Filters like company size, geo location, and simple questions determining needs can qualify prospects before assigning to sales.

 

Marketing to Existing Customers

 

Another aspect of marketing is retaining existing customers and loyalty.

 

There is a lot of work to satisfying customers and showing the appreciation that you really care about them. It’s delicate staying in touch with people while respecting their reluctance to talk to sales people when not they are not in shopping mode. Sales people often feel they are banging their heads against a wall.

 

The Internet plays a large role in marketing effectiveness. Engagement is the key and in today’s world often public. The public nature of social media, reviews, and commentary is well serviced by the marketing dept. This takes some of the heat off of sales staff in not getting mired down in trying to do everything for existing customers.

 

Marketing techniques and marketing automation service existing customers until they are ready for sales assistance. Again, “leg work” is provided until valuable sales people need to get involved.

 

Managing Sales Costs

 

Having marketing help manage sales costs can make a big difference in profits:

 

  • Marketing can bring down the costs of acquiring new customers by qualifying suspects into prospects. Marketing qualified leads can be passed on to sales. Sales can then do what they are hired to do – work with legitimate prospects and close them.

 

  • Marketing can bring down the costs of customer retention by delivering consistent messaging and managing customer engagement. Satisfied customers become repeat customers. The lifetime value of repeat customers should not be underestimated.

 

Managing sales costs in today’s markets is a challenge. Marketing can help by doing the “leg work” of getting your message out in the widest distribution possible. Marketing qualifies the interest generated to ensure precious sales staff only focus on potential opportunities. Marketing maintains the message that your customers are important and your organization is always a part of the conversation.

 

 

The ABCs of SEO: A Project Manager’s Perspective

To say that there is a lot to know about SEO is quite an understatement. For not only is there a great deal of knowledge, skill and experience required to be truly competent at planning and managing SEO campaigns, but the rules keep changing. Google is constantly changing the landscape, sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically, but each new algorithm can drastically influence the effectiveness of your efforts. Mastering SEO is like going to school, and the class never ends.

That being said — and acknowledging upfront my ignorance to the wild inner-workings of Google’s algorithms and how to tame them — this article deals with a top-level approach to SEO.

Whether you work for an agency, a small enterprise, an international conglomerate, or a non-profit organization, SEO is one of the tools you use to improve your online presence. If it isn’t, it should be. Virtually every organization these days benefits from a strong online presence, and SEO is an integral part of the online marketing mix. But what do you know about SEO and are you confident in how to approach it? Hiring knowledgeable people is an excellent first step, but you still need to be able to manage these people, as well as your company’s expectations.

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We’ll start with a quick clarification, SEO can include the following tactics:

– Organic: Writing strategic content (web pages, blogs, white papers, social media, etc.) to help your website rank higher in searches.

– PPC (Pay Per Click): Paying Google (and other search engines) for keywords and ads to drive interested traffic to your website.

– Advertising: Paying other websites and online publications for banners and other online ads to drive interested traffic to your website.

[NB  Paid efforts can also be referred to as Search Engine Marketing or SEM.]

Here are three important criteria for project managers when considering SEO. Your staff, contract workers or agency should be able to explain and address each of these areas to your satisfaction.

 

Accountability

First and foremost is getting results. So what do you need to provide I order for your SEO efforts to be successful? Your agency, or inside team need guidance and information to direct their strategy and tactics. Consider the specific campaign objectives, areas of focus, targeted markets (demographic, geographic, industry), content, keywords and budget.

Then, what should you expect from your agency or staff? They will quantify your objectives (how many leads, submissions, page views, clicks, etc. are required to meet your objectives), perform keyword research and assessment, create/edit targeted content, design/write ads, create an implementation plan, provide ongoing monitoring and reports with recommendations. Working as a team, you will constantly refine and add to the tactics and work closer to your objectives.

Note that SEO is not a quick fix. Attracting new traffic with content is essential and long-term, but may take months to have a measurable effect. Even PPC and ads, which can generate traffic quickly, typically take some time to consistently drive the right audience to your website. Moving the new web traffic through your funnel, or nurturing the desired behaviour (e.g. register for a course, ask for a quote), is also a process that takes time to prefect.

 

Benefits

A marketing rule of thumb is that no-one does anything with receiving some form of benefit. It may more altruistic than “What’s in it for me?,” but there needs to be some form of gratification or reward to encourage action.

Consider how your targeted markets will benefit from engaging with you and articulate that clearly and in a compelling manner. Look at each action you would like your new web traffic to take (e.g. clicking through to website, clicking on a CTA/banner, signing up for your blog or e-newsletter, asking for a quote) and provide some incentive to help them along the path.

 

Congruency

Some see the ultimate objective of SEO to drive more traffic to your website; of course, it’s more sophisticated than that. Increasing traffic is a step towards developing business, so certainly it is important, but you need to attract the key audiences that fit your ideal personas. So, if you’re an organization that is focused on serving parents of elementary school kids, you’ll only be successful if a good portion of that new web traffic fits that demographic.

Beyond the audience you attract, your SEO initiatives must represent, and ideally promote, your brand (which should already take into consideration your mission vision, etc.). Organic, PPC or advertising all revolve around content. Ensure that the tone, vocabulary and information presented all embrace your organizational brand and culture. Even if one of those parents mentioned above does not click through to your website, you’ve had an awareness and branding opportunity to positively position your organization in their mind; maybe next time they will click through.

And, of course, your SEO efforts need to flow with any other marketing and advertising campaigns your organization is running. Not just from a brand perspective, even theme. You may be able to increase the effectiveness by leveraging the theme from an existing campaign.

What would you add to this list of important criteria for a project manager to consider when employing SEO? Add your thoughts to comments below.

Top 3 Tips to Find a Great Social Media Manager

MillenialsWhen in need of a social media manager or community manager we often assume that if we hire a person born after 1990 that they should automatically be qualified for the job. I don’t mean this as a good or bad thing, but simply as an assumption that we make, myself included. Now that I am in charge of coaching and managing a junior team of community managers I realize that they need as much support as any other role within a company. To help you find the right fit for your team, here are a the top 3 tips to find a great social media manager, rookie or experienced.

When I started consulting in social media I realized that being familiar with the platforms and knowing how they work was not enough to truly help my clients build a strong online presence and maximize their business socially. I worked hard to improve my knowledge of each channel; the advantages and disadvantages of each, their main messaging, their focus and what kind of audience they target. I also improved my skills in content marketing and did a lot of tests to see what works. I looked at competitors in different industries to pull out best practices that could be applied in a variety of fields. Although I am not here to share my experience with you, here are a few pointers to take into account when looking at a resume.

 

Tip #1: Ask questions!

The best advice that I can give you is to ask questions. Although you might not know much about social media, ask your candidate about potential social media strategy for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Give them an initial case in which they need to explain to you how they will increase your engagement rate by 50%. Even if you may not know all the answers, you will be able to observe their reaction.

Answering-hard-questions-during-a-job-interviewAre they confident in their answers?

Are they stumbling over their words?

Are they rambling?

Do they seem to know what they are talking about?

Also, listen to their words and see if they are mentioning any previous projects and examples of how they implemented the approach they are proposing. My colleague from PROSAR, Jenn Jefferys, wrote a great article on how to hire an inbound marketer and what to look for. You can apply many of these tricks to your search for your next social media manager.

Tip #2: Check them out online!

The advantage of today’s social networks is that you can look up anyone online. Simply Google your next candidate and see what comes up. As a social media or future community manager, they should have started to build their online reputation with a LinkedIn profile, a topic driven Twitter account and even a blog. If they have a blog take a look at the articles and their style of writing and the level of language.

SM_PROSAR_-_findIs their written form grammatically correct?

Does the article have a good flow?

Are you captivated by it? Or bored?

And do they have any guest posts? Are they writing for another website? Or publishing on LinkedIn?

Another way to check them out is to take a closer look at their LinkedIn profile. Many profiles today have top skills that are endorsed by others, recommendations that are added to a profile and even the option to see one’s portfolio. Another way to help your search is to directly post your job opportunity on a network like LinkedIn. You will probably get a candidate that has an active profile and that looked you up online as well. It has been proven that a post on career-oriented social media generates more than 60% of referrals towards the homepage of your company.

Tip #3: Follow your channels!

Here’s some advice if you believe you have found a great social media manager and that they are the right fit for your business. Although you trust their resume, their credentials, and what you have seen online, it might be to your advantage to become a little more active online and on your own channels. Get involved in your own social media strategy. If you have an existing network then start following your company Twitter account, LinkedIn company page or Facebook business page. Without being a micro-manager, your engagement will help you understand the advice your social media manager is giving you and maybe learn a thing or two about your company, your customers, and what is being said about you online.

You are making an investment in social media as an advertising, brand awareness and distribution channel. Follow the content that is being published, the customer feedback that you are receiving and the increase in the engagement that you observe. Finally, like any great strategy, it’s always great to have an overview from an expert.PROSAR has worked with many companies to help them setup their social media efforts and coached their internal specialists to implement tactics that work. Why not guarantee social media success with results from day 1?

S.M.A.R.T Marketing Goals

It should come as no surprise that goals are important for your business and marketing strategy. They drive you forward and act as the X on the proverbial map to the buried treasure of success. However, it’s never quite so easy to stick to that advice. Day to day operations shorten your vision, making it hard to keep goals in mind. If you’re not constantly engaging with your goals, then the old adage “out of sight, out of mind” applies — and your business suffers.

That’s why S.M.A.R.T. goals are so important. By breaking them down into specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely steps, you’re more likely to keep them in mind and put them on place when looking at your business processes. As a result, you make strides towards them and reap the rewards.

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Specific

Relate it to directly something in particular that you want to achieve. A website goal could be specific in terms of visits or conversions. Try to be as small as possible for each goal, so they don’t get overwhelming. If you want to focus on both visits and conversions, write a separate goal for each.

 

Measurable

Make sure it has a number. You can’t tell how well you’re reaching your goal if you don’t have a yardstick for what “reaching the goal” looks like. It also should tie into metrics you can gather on your site; if you’re not gathering metrics on your online properties, you have no way of knowing if you’re succeeding or not.

 

Attainable

If your goal is more ambitious than the top 25% of companies can attain, or even more than your direct competition is doing, then you may never reach it. While there are some people who change the game and break all barriers, those are the anomalies. You’re better off starting realistic and working your way up to game breaking strategy.

 

Relevant

It should relate to what you do. If your business goals are about sales, you want goals that measure how many sales you make. Social engagement is nice to know about, but unless social engagement ties directly into your sales funnel, a goal focusing on it is irrelevant. That being said, don’t ignore something that is genuinely relevant.

 

Timely

As the old saying goes, “a goal without a deadline is just a wish.” If you don’t set a time limit for when the goal should be reached, and don’t hold yourself to that deadline, then your goals will continue slipping out of reach.

 

Takeaway

Breaking down a goal along the S.M.A.R.T. checklist creates more manageable steps that you can actually achieve. If success is the buried treasure, S.M.A.R.T. goals are the instructions on how to get there.

7 Common Dangers of Social Media Illiteracy to Your Business

Most people can agree that social media is a large part of modern culture. So much so, that it can be easy to make the mistake of thinking that (aside from the very young, old, or the counterculture) most people know everything they need to about social media.

While most people use social media on a regular basis, you may be surprised to find out how many people are, in fact social media illiterate.

Social Media Illiterate (def.): Individuals who may or may not use social media often, but do not understand all of the important nuances and subtleties that can make the difference between appearing either intelligent and clever or, thoughtless and idiotic.

Here’s the terrifying reality: These people WORK IN YOUR COMPANY.

So, here are seven common dangers of social media illiteracy to look out for in your business.

Oops key on a keyboard

1) Most 20 year-olds aren’t the social media experts you think they are.

Be wary that most 20-somethings aren’t sufficiently well-equipped to build and safeguard brands. Conduct online research on your potential new employee before giving him or her this important title.

Even so-called social media specialists, whom you may have hired to helm your social media campaign, have been known to screw up on a very public scale due to oversights (as chosen by Digiday).

The importance of hiring someone who is fully social media literate cannot be over-emphasized.

2) Failing to realize that employees represent themselves AND you and your company.

Never underestimate the power of an employee to unwittingly take down your brand. This might seem utterly ridiculous, but humour me for a moment:

You know that a brand is a carefully curated perception based on what your company represents. It can take a good deal of time and effort to build it and should be safeguarded at all costs.

Both you and your employees (from the top executives to the most junior interns) need to be educated on the ins and outs of social media. Much of this can be accomplished by relaying researched best practices to employees but the remaining gaps should be filled by experts in inbound marketing who can teach the necessary skills and knowledge to avoid costly mistakes.

3) Failing to reread your tweet/post/blog before you publish it.

Once you write a post tailored to each of your buyer personas or target audiences, be sure to put yourself in their shoes and re-read your post. Consider how they would interpret it and how it would appeal to them or possibly turn them off.

The truth is that a bad social media post can spread like wildfire. Even if you manage to delete a terrible post once you realize your mistake, it may already be too late. Think of what a parent tells their kids (‘Look both way before you cross the street!’ – this is almost the modern equivalent). Once it’s posted to the Internet, it’s there.

The power of screenshots is real.They take less than a second and allow a mistake of yours to become immortalized on any computer or smartphone without your consent, knowledge, or control. And unfortunately, the screenshot is here to stay.

If your followers are very influential in their social media circles and a lot of people begin sharing or retweeting your post-gone-wrong – you or your employee can single-handedly, potentially irreparably, damage your brand.

4) This goes for spelling, too. STAHP MSPLLING THIINGS. DONT UZED POUR GRAMRR.

No matter who you are or what you represent, it simply does not reflect well. That is not to say you can’t use everyday, casual language (if it fits the context and the brand). Whether you like it or not, you WILL be judged, so be aware.

Of course, sometimes mistakes happen. Having someone on your side who is social media literate will minimize such accidents, and will ensure they are quickly and thoroughly cleaned up if they do arise.

5) Failing to apologize when you make a mistake (and to fully recognize and publicly acknowledge it when you have).

When making a post that you notice begins to garner negative feedback, here is exactly what not to do:

• Delete negative comments

• Ban loyal fans from your company’s social media pages, accounts, and online groups

• Tell those with negative feedback be quiet or leave

• Ignore desperate appeals from broken-hearted, loyal customers

Don’t be one of those companies who continues to dig themselves deeper and deeper. Be sure to admit your mistake as soon as you realize it. Ignore this warning at your peril.

This brings me to my next point.

6) Failing to listen to good advice and forgetting to stay humble.

Continue to research and listen: read blogs on the subject (clearly, you’re off to a good start), discuss grey-area topics with other industry professionals, subscribe to blogs, Twitter feeds, and LinkedIn groups with people who know more than you about social media.

Never forget to stay humble, we can all learn more and improve, and we never know when or where that education may come from. Pride too often creates crucial blind spots that can hurt your company’s edge, perceived intelligence and adaptability.

7) Failing to have an active presence on social media (A.K.A. giving your competition a leg up).

This is one of the biggest mistakes your company can make. Your competitors are getting an edge on you by *deep breath in* gathering intelligence on the industry and their customers; making important connections with other industry leaders, customers, and prospects; reading and analysing the market at large; establishing a presence to simply say “we’re here, we’re current, we matter”; giving customers that extra level of value-added service to make them feel that they matter; and generating leads and new business for their company – *PHEW*. There’s a lot you’d be missing out on without a good, consistent social media presence.

That’s the power of social media literacy.