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Social Media Day – June 30th!

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Mark your calendar. This year marks the fifth annual Social Media Day, created by Mashable!socialmediaday.logo.blue

On June 30th, #SMDay, thousands of people organize hundreds of meetups across the globe. From Austria to England, and Argentina to Peru, social media enthusiasts gather every June to participate in this global movement.

Mashable launched the event in 2010 as a way to recognize the digital revolution happening constantly, all around us.

What can you do?Digital curate create

Embrace the 4 C’s of digital:

  • Creating

  • Curating

  • Connecting

  • Culture

Engage in the conversation with the official hashtag: #SMDay

Here are some recent social media statistics:

  1. According to Erik Qualman, author of “Socialnomics”, in 10 years, 40% of the Fortune 500 will no longer be here.
  2. Facebook has 1.28 Billion monthly active users
  3. 75% of the engagement on a Facebook post happens in the first 5 hours.
  4. Weekends are the most popular time to share Vines.
  5. 40% of YouTube traffic comes from mobile.
  6. B2B marketers using blogs generate 67% more leads.
  7. Twitter has 255 million monthly active users
  8. Google+ has 540 million monthly active users
  9. Instagram has 200 million monthly active users
  10. 20 Billion+ photos have been shared on Instagram to date
  11. Pinterest has 40 million monthly active users; 80% are female

We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media. The choice is how well we do it. – Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics

Facebook fun fact

How Infographics Can Increase Branding & Traffic

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

While there is no denying that words are an exceedingly powerful tool in creating a brand or driving relevant traffic to your site, they are but a piece in the overall marketing equation. Why does your brain crave infographics? As humans, we are very visual creatures. And in today’s society of online A.D.D., marketers need to be clever and savvy in how they grab the attention of potential customers. thumb---infographic

While the digital form of infographics is relatively recent, explaining an idea in image form is nothing new. Infographics are the smart new digital way of communicating ideas, data and knowledge.

Did you know the world’s information is currently doubling every two years? It’s no wonder people experience information overload.

The use of visualized information has increased drastically.

  • 9900% on the internet (since 2007)
  • 142% in newspapers (between 1985 & 1994)

From 2010 to 2012, infographic search volumes have increased over 800%.

In 2013, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, Gareth Cook, was brought in to edit the first volume of The Best American Infographics.

So, why do infographics work?

  1. We live in the information age: In one day, we create 1.5 billion pieces of content, 140 million tweets and 2 million videos. But we have less and less time and attention spans to read and take in as much content as we want. Most people decide to stay or leave a site in just 2-4 seconds. With infographics, it’s much more likely your content will be remembered.
  2. We are Visual: An infographic collects data, organizes it, and turns this information into an easy to understand visual. A well-researched and designed infographic empowers readers by breaking down complex ideas into visual groupings. Stunning images or well-designed charts simply make a bigger impression.
  3. Demonstrate & Convince: Want to learn how to do the Moon Walk? You could read about it, but it would be a lot easier to view an infographic with step-by-step pictures. An infographic also can easily tell a story, behind the statistics of just about anything you can think of. They make it easy to understand even complex concepts.
  4. Brand Awareness: Infographics have company logos embedded for instant brand awareness. And built on the same principles of content marketing components, it should tell a good brand story.
  5. Earn Links: Because of the visual appeal, infographics are easily shareable on all social profiles. They allow sites in niche industries with minimal natural linkage to earn links from other markets. Infographics can provide global coverage, at a much smaller cost, than print media ever could.
  6. Become an Authority: The research required for an infographic will help you become the expert in the topic or industry.
  7. Measurable Results: Infographics are meant to go viral. Good infographics equal enhanced search visibility and increased SEO. Infographics offer quick measurable results from social shares, backlinks and traffic.infographic---infographic-200px

Some fantastic examples:

  • 50 Years of Space Exploration: Massive infographic that displays the last 50 years of space exploration. Designed by Sean McNaughton and Samuel Velasco for National Geographic.
  • Grand Mosque: This is an infographic press release from the Gulf News (Dubai)

Information has to be digestible for it to go viral. Generate a unique connection with visitors with creatively designed, animated and educational infographics. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

 

Hashtags: Keeping Up with the Conversation

Friday, February 21st, 2014

In 1988 hashtags were firstly used on a platform named Internet Relay Chat. It was one of the first protocols on the Internet that was used to send messages in real time. For most, it was an afterthought on our telephone keypads and then a way to ensure your voicemail was delivered. Now, the pound sign is a typographical symbol with lofty ambitions.thumb---hashtag

Six years ago, Twitter’s users invented what’s now known as the hashtag and has found its way into commercials, football games and even spoken language. In 2007, developer Chris Messina proposed, in a tweet, that Twitter begin grouping topics using the hash symbol.  The pound sign (or hash) turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link.

So, why are hashtags now a big part of our society?

The role of business in society is all encompassing and social media has forever changed the way we communicate.  Hashtags are the little links that brings it all together.

The social scene is massive and often overwhelming. The hashtag adds clarity and direction and allows for wordplay, humor and sometimes, even poetry. Their flexible and versatile and it improves the chance that other Twitter users will find your tweet in targeted Twitter searches.

Those who can adapt to society around them tend to be the ones who evolve and create new ideas. Will hashtags soon become an official piece of #punctuation in formal writing?

We’re taught at an early age, with cognitive development, in preschool and beyond, that social interaction is crucial. Social networks and hashtags particularly, create influence and an opportunity to learn and find information. #RealTimeLearning.infographic---hashtag-200px

The hashtag gives the writer the opportunity to sarcastically undermine their own tweet. Can I answer my own questions with hashtags? #Yes. Be thoughtful and choose relevant hashtags.

Here are a couple of examples:

Shoulder pads make me look awesome. #kidding

Need to go to #NYC for a wedding. Advice on #CheapTravel?

So why should your business care about hashtags?

Hashtags imply categorization, classification and commentary. Deliver metaphors in just a word or two.

Hashtags like #SMB or #smallbiz are great to seek information, resources and current news of the small business variety. The #marketing and #sales hashtag contains a lot of business-related content. Use a branded hashtag if you have a very specific message to convey.

Curious which hashtags are trending across social media? Hashtags.org tells you which tags are hot in real time. Third parties like Webstagram provide helpful breakdowns of the trendiest hashtags.

Language has evolved before and will inevitably evolve again.  Will your business keep up with the conversation?

Blogging for Business

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” thumb---blogging

In today’s online world, blogging allows you to engage your target audience, attract new customers & establish credibility.

With the release of Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, frequent, fresh, high-quality content is critical for increasing your website’s ranking.

Blogging is one of the easiest ways to improve your organic search performance because every time you write a new post, you create a new URL for your site.  Every new URL is a brand new opportunity for your website to be ranked in search. Building rich content means more traffic. And fresh content is still a key to beating out your competitors in the search engine results page. Search engines are looking for active websites on a particular searched term or topic.

Make sure you create UNIQUE content.

Search engines will penalize you for duplicate content, which is content also found on other sites.  In your blog posts, it’s important to use keywords that you want to rank for.

infographic---blogging-200px

Blogging allows you to build your brand as an expert. Display your talent and knowledge in articles that demonstrate why someone should hire you or purchase your product. Build trust with consistent, honest and helpful content. Blogs provide another source to deepen the connection with your customer. Customers want to feel they have a personal connection with your company. Today’s marketer helps customers solve a problem or find a great solution.

What’s a cool side effect of blogging? The process encourages you to stop and think deeper.

Create content that’s creative and interesting. Ask yourself, would you want to read it and share it with your network?

Search engine algorithms can detect if a blog provides a good user experience. Utilize tagging features and make sure the author, title and publish date are easily identifiable.  With the increasing number of people accessing information on mobile phones, it’s important that your blog is viewable on mobile devises.  Make it responsive!  If your blog isn’t responsive to mobile and tablet devices, readers are more likely to find similar information on another site. Include social sharing icons so that search engines and potential readers or customers can recognize which articles are popular.

  • Make it unique
  • Make it optimized
  • Make it responsive
  • Make it social
  • Make it creative

From Fortune 500 companies to smaller shops, millions are utilizing blogging because it provides endless opportunities for your website to rank in search.

Blogging helps you stand out among your competitors. Just ask Google.

Confessions of a Digital Marketing Executive

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

I still struggle with the idea of social networks. There, I said it. I am a CEO of a digital marketing company and I struggle with social media. Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Pinterest… But before you go off and say to yourself, I knew it, it’s all bunch of hooey. Let me add, I also struggle with traditional old fashioned networking.

Put me at a chamber mixer, and I am the guy having a beer with an old friend. Over the years, I have read half dozen books on the power of traditional networking. It’s hard to ignore the math. It costs little, it can have geometric reach and according to the books, it’s easy. Well maybe for the authors.Baron Christian

So the truth is that it’s not the digital networking, it’s networking in general that presents the challenge. Being both a geek and a creative has me genetically predisposed to be an introvert.  You see, for me being spontaneously interesting, clever or funny just doesn’t happen. I could never get past the question “so what do you do?“ By the time I could muster up the next question, the conversation already reached that painful chasm of silence.  So quickly the exit line… “it was nice to meet you”, which puts an end to the networking effort. But what I did not realize until recently is that, digital networking is also tailor made for the introverted and socially awkward.

In the digital world, you have time. You get to consider you responses, you get to post something interesting when the thought occurs and you get to share your knowledge to an audience that inclined to be interested. Oh, and the best part, like Baron Christian de Neuvillette, you can have someone else help you with the words.

As our firm grew from web developers and traditional marketers, to digital marketers, I have experienced the power of social networking dozens of times. We have used it to effectively position our firm as a thought leader in our local market. Our president is asked at least once a week to speak on digital marketing. When we were looking for a new bookkeeper, we posted on social media and had a half dozen recommendations with-in hours, most of them from the more valuable employee pool, those currently working but looking to make a change. We get at least two to three opportunity leads a week.
Bottom line is bottom line results. Just as in the case with traditional marketing, reach and frequency is the key. But in this space it is not about buying more ad space. It’s about sharing knowledge.   It’s about telling the story of your brand. It’s about connecting. It’s about earning the right to do business with someone. The adage that we choose to do business with people we like and just as in that chamber mixer, if someone finds you interesting, knowledgeable and likeable; they are more likely to be a prospect or customer.

As in any endeavor, you can’t go to one mixer and say networking is part of your marketing. Networking requires consistency, participation and frequency. So get started or if you are started –do more.  Oh and if words or the lack thereof are your excuse, find your own Cyrano.

Why Should Your Business Invest in Facebook Ads?

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

There are over one billion people on Facebook. According to HubSpot, 93% of adults on the Internet are on Facebook. Facebook like thumb

Facebook’s three ad formats have been combined into one:

• Page Post Like Sponsored Story
• Page Post Comment Sponsored Story
• Page Post Ad

A “Like Ad” is simply an ad on Facebook that shows one of your friends has Liked a certain page.

Now, when you promote a post from your Facebook Page, the ad will automatically include likes and comments. According to research from Nielsen and comScore, this social context leads to better performance and ROI.

“Like Ads” work for a few reasons:

– They’re easy to set up
– There’s no commitment, try a week test
– They instantly get your page exposed to new fans
– They have social proof, which encourages others to also like the page.

Facebook ads of course, have great targeting options.

Facebook ad infographic

6 reasons why Facebook ads work

1. Location – Are you a local business? Try targeting a city or zip code within 50 miles of your business.
2. Age – If you’re product is more suitable for certain ages, specify this in the set up. It’s a good idea to also create a couple-several ads, testing age ranges, to see what performs best.
3. Gender – Promoting a make-up seminar or women’s clothing? Well, don’t waste your ad on 60 year old men.
4. Precise Interests – This can be powerful and Facebook ads ace in the hole. If you’re in the business of organic pet food, you might want to target those who have “liked” animal related pages, fitness, Whole Foods, etc.
5. Broad Categories – Use this category to target people that share similar interests as well.
6. Connections – Here you can choose to show the ad to “anyone”, “Only people not connected to your page” or “Advanced connection”.
7. Friends of Connections – We all consider friend recommendations when thinking about a purchase. That’s why this feature is great. From here, you can choose to only show the ad to people whose friends have already “liked” your page. Birds of a feather flock together.

Facebook ads hold an overall premise that recommendations from friends and companies alike are going to be more effective than traditional display advertising. Andrew Lipsman, VP of Industry Analysis at comScore, and co-author of the recent study, “The Power of Like[2]: How Social Marketing Works performed a collaborative study between comScore and Facebook.

According to Lipsman, “Facebook ads can absolutely drive advertising effectiveness,” he says, “but there aren’t enough data points to generalize yet.” In other words, there are many variables at play, including the type of ad, demographics, image used, location, product and creative elements.

The study found that “fans” of retailers, on average, spent significantly more at those stores than did the general population — more than twice as much at Amazon, Best Buy and Target, and almost that much more at Walmart.

What differentiates Facebook ads from traditional online advertising is their effectiveness is better judged on the basis of the “behavioral lift” from the message a user has received after they’ve already liked the brand.

So, why do Facebook ads work?

1. They are well targeted. Advertisers can tell Facebook who exactly should see the ad.
2. The second reason lies within the creator of the ad and their ability to create good copy, striking imagery and targeting that makes sense for the product or service.

“One of the biggest benefits for Facebook advertising is that you are reaching your target demographic in their comfort zone. When a person is logged into their Facebook page, they are comfortable. When they see your ad on their Facebook page there is a certain amount of trust that is inherent and that you don’t get when seeing a random link on a Google search.” ~ Tyler Barnett, founder and president of Tyler Barnett PR.

And to make things more interesting, Facebook is now in the remarketing game. Remarketing is not a new concept for advertisers; Google has been doing it through their display network for years. For example, a shopper has been checking out a blender on Target or Macy’s. When they come back to Facebook, they can show the user that exact high-tech blender they were considering on the brands website. Because chances are, those prospects will head to Facebook later, at some point.
Studies show that there is a significant increase in the click through rates on advertisements that are integrated with remarketing. It’s a friendly little nudge at the end of the marketing buying cycle.

It’s still relatively new to Facebook as they only released this functionality in 2012 and marketers were limited to targeting based on demographics and educated guesses. Second, according to Facebook, more than 950 million people spend over 6 hours per month on Facebook’s site. That’s huge.
Facebook began opening up news feed ad inventory to Facebook Exchange at the end of March and expanded the inventory offering to all its FBX partners in May. Triggit, a Facebook Exchange (FBX) partner, says that the FBX news feed click through rates now rival those they see from AdWords.

And on October 8th 2013, Facebook just announced an overhaul of both its basic ad-buying platform, Ads Manager, and its Power Editor, both now boasting a more streamlined interface. Now, advertisers are first asked to identify their objectives. This could be a sales conversion on a website or increasing total page Likes.

Once an objective has been identified, Facebook guides advertisers to the most appropriate ad. The advertiser then chooses where the ad appears, in the News Feed or the right column. Users can also now upload multiple images for a single campaign, allowing five different ads to run at once. In the analytics dashboard, you can now quickly assess which images are performing best.

Have you tried advertising in Facebook?

Instagram & Vine – The Mobile Video Showdown

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

blog-image-mobile-videoIf the Buggles had only known how forward thinking their lyrics were back in 1979, they may have danced to “Longer bite sized video with custom photo filters & editing features slowed down the other video app Star,” in their hit song. But it just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

The app best known for photo-sharing added video last month. Now, when any company with a large user base announces a major change to its app or site, the reaction can be both positive and negative. In this case, most of the negative reviews are due to amateur videos clogging up the users’ feeds or slowing down their ability to view photos.

Similar to Twitter’s Vine app, holding down the video icon will capture video. Releasing it will allow you to pause the video.

“It’s everything we know and love about Instagram, but it moves,” Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom said.

(more…)

What’s the Real Deal with Checking In?

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Does this sound familiar? Your business has a Facebook page and a few check-ins on Foursquare but your audience isn’t growing. You can’t remember the last time you saw a new “Like” or check-in, and you’re wondering if it’s time to give up on the social media fad altogether.

Before you give up, have you thought about what drives people to click “Like” or check in?

The answer is simple: Deals.

The bottom line is people like to save money. If liking your Facebook page or checking into your location on Foursquare can help them save money, people will be more likely to click “Like” or check in.

These social media deals can also help bring a new customer base to your business. If you are a restaurant owner who promotes deals on Facebook, potential customers might see that special and change their lunch plans to come to your restaurant.

All because you offer an online deal.

With City Wok, a Southern California Chinese restaurant and Graphtek client, we use a few different social media deals to grow the restaurant’s brand recognition, audience and, ultimately, profits. For example, City Wok’s Facebook fans enjoy a weekly deal when they say the secret word found exclusively on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

And customers who check in on Foursquare get a unique special when they show their phone to their server. As an added bonus, City Wok rewards check-in loyalty by rewarding the Foursquare mayor (the person who has checked in the most over the last 60 days) with a special discount on their order.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when launching your social media deals:

  • Promote: Let your audience know they can get a special deal by checking in on Foursquare or liking your Facebook page. Consider putting a sign in your window or near your registers to let your existing customers know about your online promotions. And once customers start liking your Facebook page, communicate with your growing audience by engaging them and having conversations online. Don’t be afraid to cross-promote, either: City Wok’s Facebook page is regularly used to let fans know about Foursquare check-in specials.
  • Be Consistent: Offering consistent deals on Facebook or Foursquare will help build brand loyalty as your audience will begin to check your social media pages regularly. If you consistently have a weekly Foursquare check-in deal or Facebook promotion, you’ll also continue to attract new customers who find your specials while using social media. Graphtek has worked with City Wok to build a loyal audience by consistently offering new deals on Facebook and Foursquare each week.
  • Train Your Staff: When setting up your promotions, be sure to establish a method of internal communication that will keep your staff educated on the current deals and how customers can redeem them. It can be discouraging to customers when they have a difficult time redeeming a deal, but a painless redemption process will help build brand loyalty and bring customers through your doors time and time again. City Wok issues a weekly memo to its staff to ensure they are aware of all check-in and Facebook deals.
  • Track Results: As with any marketing strategy, you need to track results to measure the effectiveness of your promotions. How many customers are coming in and asking for the Facebook special? How many people are checking in to your location on Foursquare? Implement a method to effectively track these results. At City Wok, each promotion is redeemed through a unique code in the POS system, making promotion tracking a breeze.

Is your business ready to cash in with a social media marketing strategy that builds customer loyalty through check-in specials and Facebook deals? Contact Graphtek today to get started!

7 Essentials to Turn Your Website On

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

7 Essentials to Turn Your Website On

Congratulations! Your business finally has a website. After months of development, your site is online and ready to bring quality leads and new conversions to your business.

Or is it?

There’s a difference between website development and website marketing. Your site might be online but is it engaging and connecting with your audience? Is it being found by search engines and potential customers? Is your site serving a purpose?

In other words, is your website turned on?

Aside from showing off your corporate logo, your website needs to convert. When your website is turned on, it’s a powerful marketing tool that drives results. These seven essentials can help turn a frigid website into an irresistible marketing machine.

Be Engaging

Create and maintain a presence on the Web that accurately represents your brand and resonates with your target audience. The best way to engage your audience is to find your voice and use it well. Here are a couple of ways to create an engaging experience on your website:

  • Update Your Content: Well-written blog posts and informative articles can educate your audience and position your business as the go-to resource in your industry. Fresh content not only ensures your audience is engaged but can help boost your search engine ranking, too.
  • Analyze the Competition: Have you looked at the competition’s digital marketing approach? Learn from your competitors’ marketing hits and misses. Analyze their efforts to make sure you’re keeping up with the industry and constantly innovating.
  • Analyze, Measure and Strategize: Every marketing strategy needs to be based on analysis and measured for results. Your site’s analytics not only provide a baseline reading of its performance but can also show where there is room for improvement and help you measure a campaign’s results.

Be Found

Develop and implement interactive marketing plans that leverage a combination of analysis, analytics, SEO, PPC and targeted local search. If you give search engines the right data, they’ll find your site and index it properly. Here are a few ways to increase your site’s chances of being found:

  • Implement SEO: Look at your analytics, the marketplace and the competition to develop a set of keywords. While working toward organic SEO, you might consider running a pay-per-click campaign for keywords you aren’t ranking for. At Graphtek, we can also use tools such as a grader to uncover the best keywords for your campaign.
  • Use a Grader: Is your call to action the first thing your readers are drawn to? Are small code errors hurting your search engine ranking? Our graphics analyzer and grader can analyze your site and ensure your site is optimized for both your readers and search engines.

Be Connected

Build ongoing relationships by providing “must read” content that seamlessly integrates with your website blog and social media. Regular communication with your clients is the key to successful online marketing. Here are two ways to connect with your customers through your site:

  • Integrate Social Media: It’s a smart idea to link your social media accounts to your website. The trick, though, is to keep readers on your site, not on Facebook or Twitter. Rather than linking to third-party websites, embed your Facebook stream or Twitter feed directly onto your site so your audience stays with you.
  • Make an offer: What action do you want your potential customers to take and what result do you want to get? Put it on your website with a strong offer. One great strategy is to offer something of value, like a free white paper or report, in exchange for an email address or newsletter opt-in. Your offer should always be something that is given in exchange for customer information.

Is your website turned on yet? If you need some help, Graphtek has the magic touch. Learn how we can help turn your website on by contacting us today!

Is Social Media Right for Your Business?

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Evaluate your resources and your audience.

In today’s always connected, always plugged in – and dare I say “status update obsessed” society – selling social media packages have become all the rage in the Internet marketing industry. The popularity and reach of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Foursquare (to name a few) have paved the way for a revolution in online marketing. Initially, a means to stay in touch with friends and family, social media sites are now being used as tools by Internet marketing firms to promote a client’s brand – to help sell their goods and services. In fact, a new industry of service providers has emerged to help marketing firms and individuals manage multiple social media efforts at the same time. While this evolution is great news for industries selling the dream of taking a brand “viral”, it presents an interesting question that (more…)