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Five Reasons Emails are better than Phone Calls

Emails are better than phone callsIn the initial phase of designing a website for a client, it is very important for me to make a connection via a quick phone call to that person. Even if it is just to confirm that there is a real person behind my email, this initial phone call is often the “closer” on the deal and we can start doing business.

Beyond this however, I am real advocate of email only business. I find that phone calls are often unnecessary, cause disruption to the work flow of business in general and eat away at time that could easily be used more efficiently.

Here are five reasons why email HAS to be the communication line of choice when working with any type of business.

#1 You can’t review a phone call before you have it

Phone calls are often spur of the moment. You can’t look over what you are going to say during a conversation – it just happens. And, as with spur of the moment events, things can be skipped, left out or forgotten completely. This will often to a second, time consuming phone call.

With emails, you can type your thoughts and views quickly, review them and edit before clicking the SEND button. If something is forgotten, it takes less than a few seconds to quickly shoot out a second email however this is less likely to be needed as you have already reviewed the content of the first! Time saved!

#2 It’s hard to set aside time for phone calls

Unless you have a secretary with an iron clad policy to follow (no phone calls between certain hours), you invariably are going to have phone calls dotted throughout your day. Just you are just getting “into the flow” of a new project or work assignment then, bang, in comes that phone call. It takes you away from that important work, breaks your concentration and, when the call is finished, you have to get back into the zone, if possible.

Most efficient email users set aside a portion of their day to use specifically for the purposes of email. They know that, for example, between the hours of 8.00am – 9.00am the emails will be looked at and the correspondence for the day will be taken of – free of interruption.

#3 Emails are easier to focus on the point (no unnecessary small talk)

Phone calls are always filled with some small talk (how’s the family, did you watch the game, great weather we’re having) just to keep the conversation at a friendly level. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this, this type of talk is generally reserved for lunchtimes and outside of work hours. It slows productivity and breaks the work flow of the day.

With an email, you can start with curt greeting and launch straight into what needs to be said. No small talk, just action.

#4 You can’t attach anything to a phone call

Have you noticed that very few businesses are utilising the fax machine these days? Some are still holding onto this archaic, out-dated piece of technology but most have realised if you want get that document, file, photo, image or form to its intended recipient, there is no substitute to the prompt delivery of an email attachment. Enough said.

#5 Phone calls can interruption to the work flow of a day

As already pointed out, the main factor against the use of a phone call in favour of an email is the sheer interruption that it can cause to a day. Some people can handle the constant flow of calls (read one of Donald Trump’s books to see how many he fields in a day – moderated by a team of assistants) but most business people need to focus on the work that needs to be done. Scheduled email times and less phone calls will allow them to do just that.

Of course, I will be the first to admit that if you are dealing anyone who is not “on top” of their email then a phone call must be the way to go. Personally, I subscribe to the GTD methods of organisation and this helps me to keep my inbox at zero. It only takes few minutes a day (which I set aside) to answer emails, reply and sort other items into actionable folders.

Are you an advocate of emails or do you prefer to connect and communicate through phone calls? Let me know using the comment section below and start a dialog on the benefits of both.

Five Steps to Spam Freedom

Spam FreedomDespite all the protection in the world, Spam still appears in our email inboxes every day of the year. It’s annoying, intrusive and pointless. I cannot remember a single instance where I have seen an item of Spam and said “Wow! I really must buy something from this business.” In my mind, any business that resorts to “advertising” via Spam deserves no customers at all.

All lot of spam can be traced directly from your website to your email because these two items are often interlinked for obvious reasons. The Catch-22 is – we need our websites AND we need people to be able to contact us via our website. Luckily, with a few simple precautions, your website can be made (almost) spam-free. Here’s five tips that work for us at Rusty Mango Design:

1.       Keep all your frameworks and plug-ins “up to date”

If your website runs on the WordPress framework or something similar, there are regular updates that you must be installing. These updates fix known issues in the system and often address any identified security problems.

To install these updates, simply find the UPDATES button on the main Dashboard (in WordPress, at the very top of the screen – other systems have something similar) and update any components that are listed on the page. Note:  It is always wise to backup your site before applying any updates to your system.

2.       Disguise your email if you must display it on a page.

Spambots, the automated “robots” used by spammers to trawl the internet, have been designed to seek out email addresses from business websites to add to their databases. To avoid your email address being used, you can disguise your email address inside the code of the website (you may need your designer to do this).

Simply substitute the @ symbol for its code equivalent (@) in your code. Your email address will look exactly the same on the site however the Spambots will see something totally different and ignore it completely!

3.       Use a high quality Spam filter in your CMS

Most savvy computer users have a spam filter attached to their email program to snag any of the nasties trying to slip by. These filters can also be installed on your Content Management System to prevent Spam comments and emails being sent to/from your site.

Two of the best I have found for WordPress are Spam-Free WordPress and the generically installed Askimet. Be warned that Askimet is only free to personal bloggers – for a business site, you will need to subscribe with a monthly payment. Spam-Free WordPress is completely free and currently the install of my choice – it does a great job.

4.       Include a “honeypot” on your contact form

A honeypot is an invisible field inside your contact forms.  Cleverly written, Spambots are designed to fill any fields that you have on your forms and submit them. With a honeypot, the Spambot will complete an invisible field by default (a human can’t see it on screen and therefore can’t fill it out) and your CMS will recognise this as an act of Spam. Bang! Stopped at the first gate! Simple but effective.

5.       Alter your .htaccess file to block continued spammers

This is a system file that is loaded from your server when anyone visits your site and controls some of the site configuration. Certain codes can be included in the .htaccess file to help prevent spam and malicious attacks but as it is a V.I.P. file, you’d best leave the coding of it to your web developer.

In the worst case scenario, rather than just receiving Spam, it can actually be coming OUT of your website, addressed to others from you! In this situation, people around the world will receive spam emails FROM your email address – not a good image for any business.

This nasty attack is called “Spamvertising” and is caused by an actual security breach (hack) into your web server.

The number one way to prevent this sort of hack is to keep whatever framework your site is built on up-to-date with the latest updates and patches. The programmers who create these frameworks are generally at the top of their game and will be acutely aware of anything (or anyone) attacking their systems.

Do you have a spam problem? A new client approached me last week with a significant spam problem – over 50 emails a days from their website’s contact forms. Using the five simple tips above, I have reduced their spam back to a much more manageable level (less than one or two a day), for which they are very thankful.

Of course, no system will be foolproof but with a few simple precautions, a major Spam problem can be reduced to no problem at all.

Five Essential SEO items that you can’t neglect

Five Basic SEO EssentialsAs you may be aware, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is crucial to the success of your website. Even if you have the most effective, well-designed and comprehensive website in the business, it won’t amount to anything if it can’t be found on major search engines. The statistics below support that if your site isn’t on that all important first page of results, your website could be practically invisible to most internet users.  In monopoly terms, the first page of Google is Mayfair and Park Lane, anything else is Old Kent Road.

Statistics courtesy of Chitika – Online Advertising Network

  • #1 in a Google search gets 32% of all the clicks.
  • #2 in a Google search gets 17% of all the clicks.
  • #3 in a Google search gets 11% of all the clicks.
  • 92 out of every 100 people who search on the internet do not go past the first page of their Google search.

Small business proprietors often hand over the reins of their SEO to outside agencies to take care of, some of which are expensive and over-rated. What these business owners don’t realise is that there is a lot that can be done without any outside help at all. In this post, we will look the essential items that must be attended to for successful Search Engine Optimisation.

Note #1: For the tips below, it is assumed that you have access to your site with a Content Management System. If you don’t, then you are already behind the times. Upgrade that site today!

Note#2: For WordPress owners, make sure you have Yoast SEO or All-In-One SEO installed in your plug-in. For other CMS, do a Google search and find out the equivalent for your system. There are dozens of options.

#1 Page Content

As has been discussed in previous Rusty Mango blogs, you must fill your pages with useful, appropriate and high-quality content.  The whole purpose of your site is to provide a service to your clients and prospects. Don’t lose site of that goal! To boost your SEO, you need a number of inbound links (people linking to you) and this won’t happen without content that is helpful and valuable to your visitors.

#2 – Page URL

This is actually name of the page that is used in the address bar of the web browser. If at all possible, use a couple of keywords in the URL that globally describe the content of the page. Don’t use spaces or underscores as these can confuse the Google bots, instead use hyphens to separate words.

If you are a WordPress CMS user, check your permalinks in the Settings section of your dashboard for this item.

#3 – Title Tags

A title tag is the small snippet of information that gets displayed at the top of a web browser. For your site, use your SEO plug-in (see above) and ensure that each and every page (and post) that you create has a relevant title tag that includes keywords from the text on the page.

#4 – Image ALT Tags

In the “olden” days, ALT tags (the text that pops up when floating a cursor over an image) were used primarily to help visually impaired users of the web. These days, in additions to this important role they still play; ALT tags can be used to boost SEO by including keywords in them once again.

Are you starting to see a theme here? KEYWORDS are everything to SEO!!

#5 Keyword Overuse!

Despite what I have “pushed” throughout this post, Google will apply penalties if the keywords you use override your content. This is to prevent the brazen old practice of loading a page to the brim with visible and non-visible keywords. Nowadays, the content relevancy has been added into the Google page ranking algorithm and key-words must only make up between 5-7% of the overall page information.

Conclusion

Once you take care of the above, you’ll need to wait patiently for Google to re-index your site so that you can see the benefits of your efforts. If you don’t get the results that you want, look over the list again, check your site statistics and ensure that you are using the terminology of your potential clients. The question to ask is – What are they typing into Google to find you?

 

 

 

 

Social Media finally shows it’s heart!

After the events of the past week here in Australia, I’ve decided to take a step away from web marketing for this week’s blog. In fact, there’s real no takeaway for small business at all. This post is however about the way that Social Media has allowed us to connect with and support each other in one of the saddest days in recent times.

Social media has been bashed by many critics for its detriments and the way it has been used to bully and harass but the tragic passing of young cricket player, Phillip Hughes,  last week has finally brought to the fore that Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and others can be used for so much more.

Very few people could have missed the news of the tragic accident at the Sydney Cricket Ground that has led to the death of one of Australia’s most promising young sportsmen. This single event has affected every day people from all walks of life and not just Australians, thousands from around the world have joined us in mourning one of our own. No-one can quite pinpoint why – was it because this young man died playing one of nation’s favourite games? Was it because he was so young and so promising? Or was it because of the nature of Phillip Hughes himself – so cheerful, uplifting and unassuming? Whilst we can’t understand why this event has driven so deeply into our hearts, we have shown that we stand united in comradery for Phillip, his family, friends and the man at the other end of the pitch, young bowler Sean Abbott.

This show of unity really began shortly after the passing of Phillip Hughes was announced through regular media. Tweets and posts started to appear with the hash tag #63notout. Images of Phillip in his baggy green cap (number 408) began to circulate through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Baggy Green #408But a real phenomenon really began when Sydney man Paul Taylor decided to put his cricket bat at the front door of his house, took a photo of it then sent it out on Facebook with the hash tag #putoutyourbats. Within minutes, this tag took hold and soon everyday Australians were heading out to their backyards, grabbing their trusty willows and putting them out the front to show a rare form of condolences for the passing of Phillip Hughes.

Soon, it wasn’t just just Australians taking part – the movement spread across the world. From Pakistan to England and beyond, individuals, sporting clubs and even businesses were putting their bats out. Even Google placed a simple cartoon cricket bat onto their main search page in Australia.

It was through this simple gesture, people were allowed to connect with what had happened and really take part in an amazing tribute to an amazing young man. I actually got a lump in my throat as I put the bat out the front of my house and uploaded the image of it to Facebook.  The family of Phillip Hughes, despite the terrible loss they have suffered, must be completely blown away by the outpouring of support for them and the young fast bowler, Sean Abbott must know that we have got his back and that no one blames him for what was a simple, unfortunate accident.

This whole outpouring of support not only allowed us to show support for the family and friends of Phillip Hughes but it also banded “us aussies” together in a way that has not been seen before. And none of it would have been possible without the power of Social Media – finally being used for something truly amazing.

 

Show your “true” colours to your customers

Pyschology of ColourIt has long been recognised that certain colours can invoke certain emotions in people. Some colours automatically convey an instant importance such as the colour red which grabs attention or can warn you to stop performing a particular action (traffic signs, no smoking, and danger). Other colours can be associated with an emotion: orange conveys a feeling of warmth whilst blue can exude a feeling of tranquillity. These feelings and emotions have been ingrained into human psyche and we can feel them without even acknowledging that we do.

What most people may not be aware of is that colour can be and is used in brand marketing and design to incite the same type of reactions. Can you imagine an all-action brand like Red Bull using any other colours than red and yellow? Would you feel the same emotion if they used a combination of blue and grey? Not a chance.

Last week I stumbled upon the excellent infographic below created by the folks at The Logo Company. Brands that you and I see every day have been grouped into their primary colour bands and the effect is striking. This one diagram illustrates exactly how important the choice of colour is to the success and growth of a band.

colour_emotion_guideThe possibilities of how colour pyschology can be used in everyday marketing are endless. A couple of suggestions could be:

  • Paint your office
  • Using images in your materials that include plenty of the colour you are trying convey.
  • Vary your text to include colours.
  • Weave your colour throughout all your branding materials.

What about in your website design and content layout? Colour can be used to great effect to drive customers into making decisions whilst visiting and interacting with your site. Your Call to Action must be in colours that incite some form of reaction from the site visitor. Your branding needs to be created to envoke the same feelings as done so successfully by the brands in the infographic above. Your content presentation needs the same level of attention too – too often a site is “let down” by poorly implemented content layout.  

To avoid mismatching of colours and the wrong colours being used, make sure your designers have been fully and clearly briefed on:

  • your business’ mission statement.
  • why you do what do.
  • what your business wants to be known for.
  • who is your  target audience.

While you are in discussions with your designer, ensure that they are acutely aware of the appropriate colour choices for your brand and business.

To help break down the psychology of colours even further, here’s a quick guide to colours and the generally accepted feelings that they invoke.

colour_pyschology

As always, if you have any questions about this topic or you are desperately in need of a “colour stylist” for your brand and website, get in touch with us at Rusty Mango Design.

A little piece of colour trivia to round-out this week’s blog:

“Tim Berners-Lee, the main inventor of the web, is believed to be the man who first made hyperlinks blue. Mosaic, a very early web browser, displayed webpages with a (ugly) gray background and black text. The darkest color available at the time that was not the same as the black text was that blue color. Therefore, to make links stand apart from plain text, but still be readable, the color blue was selected.”

Why is your business site so lonely?

Why is my business site so lonely?Many people believe that they just have to build a business website and then sit back and watch the rush of business coming their way. When the expected rush doesn’t happen, the obligatory question pops up – “Why isn’t anyone visiting my site?” At this point (earlier would be better), it’s time to take a closer look at the site and find out why the inflow of traffic to the site is low and determine what can be done about it.

There are literally dozens of reasons why people would avoid a particular site. In this post, I will focus on five (5) areas that must be paid some serious attention in order to left the fortunes of a business website. In each, I will also suggest a simple remedy that should be implemented to counter that particular problem. Please note that with some of these tips, you will need to be patient and allow a couple of weeks for the changes to have any effect (unsurprisingly, this is also one of the topics below!)

 Your Current Site Looks Cheap (and it was!)

When a new business builds its first website, there is a general temptation to save money and use cheap or free web design. If this is you, try to resist this temptation as much as you can. Spend a little extra time and a little extra money to get exactly what your business needs. This might mean hiring a designer that understands your field of work and the direction you want take with the site. Maybe you need to use a copywriter to write  content aimed at your specific target audience. You may even need a Virtual Assistant to manage your Social Media presence if you just don’t have the time. Remember, in the eyes of a consumer, a low quality online presence can be result in your business being perceived as a high risk proposition – “Their site is cheap and nasty, maybe their work is too?”

Nobody knows that your brand-new site exists

If no-one can find your site on Google and you don’t have a social media presence, how on earth can  anyone be expected to find you? Stop hiding under that rock and get out there. Shout it out to the world! Exclaim your site’s existence to all that will listen on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and all the other Social Medias. Blast out an email to your entire mailing list and let them in on the secret. Chances are if nobody knows about your site, it’s probably because you haven’t told them about it!

Be Patient

Harping back to my comment in the intro of this blog, sometimes it pays to be a little patient. It can take Google anywhere from 2 days to 2 months to find your new website, check it all out with their bots and then display it on search results. It won’t be there overnight, nor will it appear at #1, unless you are very lucky. Optimising your site for the search engines should be slow, gradual process – so take your time and get it right!

Your content is rubbish

Now this might sound a little harsh however if your site reads like an essay from your local primary school, than it is highly unlikely to grab a prospect’s attention and pull them in through the virtual doors. It may even have the opposite effect. If you struggle to write sales copy (the text that sells on a website), get in a professional to do it for you. It’s cheaper than you think and often involves no more than a few bulleted points on your behalf and your copywriter will do the rest.

Your website is ssssllllllooooowwwwww

With high-speed broadband becoming the norm across the developed world, a site that is slow to load will be a site that gets skipped. In the days of dial-up internet, a site had ten seconds to load or the visitor went somewhere else. These days, that time span has dropped to three seconds.

Here’s a test: Get on your computer, clear your computer’s cache (you’ll find it in your browser’s options) and open up your website. Conduct a stopwatch test and see how long it takes for your site to load.

If your site is slow, and you are running a WordPress site, help is easy to find. Simply install the W3 Total Cache plug-in and your page speed will instantly improve. Play with the settings that are recommended by the plug-ins creators and watch that load time drop away. Fast Loading Site = happy site visitor!

 

Have you worked with a non-performing site to turn it around? If so, please leave a comment below and let others know about what you tried and if you succeeded in the long run. Your advice may be just what another business is looking for!

If you would like more information on how to improve the traffic to your business website, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design and have a chat with me about what can be done to boost your site’s popularity.

Week 16 of 52 – Five signs that your site needs a MAKEOVER!

Does your site need a makeover?The internet has evolved in leaps and bounds over the past five years and there is no sign of slowing down any time soon. Social Media, online technology, broadband speeds and ecommerce shopping among other advances have changed the way people live day-to-day.  A commercial website that doesn’t keep up with these changes is in danger of driving away potential customers by conveying the image of an out-of-date business brand that fails to innovate.

So the question needs to be asked – when was the last time you gave your website a full makeover?

There are some blatantly obvious signs that your site needs some form of makeover and others that are a little more subtle. Here are five of the most important signs that your site needs some serious makeover love:

1.       Your site looks and feels like a vintage website from the late 90’s

Maybe it’s not that old. However if your site is over five years old, it is definitely time for an update. You may be still using your original website or one created with integrated Flash content (which is soooo last year…) or even worse, a site designed by an employee using Microsoft Word – yes, that Microsoft Word! (I have actually seen this)

Regardless of how old your site is, what’s on it or how it was created, if it doesn’t feel like it belongs alongside the current crop of sites from your competitors, get an upgrade.

2.       The site is not mobile responsive

Everyone knows that mobile internet access has dramatically increased over the past couple of years but how’s this for a statistic: According to online magazine Fast Company, 25% of smartphone owners ages 18–44 say they “can’t recall the last time their smartphone wasn’t right next to them.”

Wow.

Let’s put it simply – if your site doesn’t respond or convert for mobile usage, you are missing out on a huge chunk of action. Get a mobile responsive site today!

http://www.business2community.com/mobile-apps/21-vital-mobile-marketing-facts-statistics-2014-0850425#b8OxdTHcMI12frWx.99

3.       Your Social Media feeds are not integrated

Having a Social Media presence is no longer optional for small business. If you want to engage and interact with your clients, you must be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+. On top of this, any post, update or tweet that you make should be automatically displayed through onto your site.

This will serve two purposes:- one, you will create new content for your site every time you update your Social Media and two, you can gather more followers through the use of on-page links. If your site can’t do this, once again, you are missing out!

4.       Your content is past its used-by date

One of my pet peeves (and one that I was guilty of until I started my Blog challenge) is visiting a website with blog posts that have a really old date on them. Of course, you can cheat and not use a date at all however you are kidding yourself if you think that a potential client with a keen eye won’t notice. The same applies with your page to page content. Make sure your information is always up-to-date and if you can’t commit to a Blog post at least every month (more is better), then maybe you should give that task to someone else on your team.

5.       You are receiving very little new business referral from your site

How do your customers first get in touch? Do they find you in a phone directory, a newspaper or radio advertisement or via your website? Conduct a quick survey with customers as they make a purchase – we’ve all seen the instant competition ploy at small business counters. Fill in a survey form (a couple of questions at most) and pop it in the box to win a prize.

Look at and compile the results. If your website is not delivering the customers in a manner that you would expect, then maybe it’s time for the big makeover. Something is not connecting with site visitors and must be fixed to ensure a healthy inflow of prospects to your business.

If any of the points above apply to your site, get in contact with the team at Rusty Mango Design today and we’ll take an in-depth look at your old site to determine what needs to be done and provide you with a detailed report – for free!

 

Week 15 of 52 – Be smart and don’t miss out on Golden Opportunities!

Golden OpportunitiesDespite the constant messages and obvious benefits of being online, it is unbelievable that some businesses still don’t get it. It doesn’t matter who you are or what line of business you are in, you need to have an online presence. To be competitive, your business must be easily found and the best way to do that is by getting it online. Stop fluffing about with the Yellow Pages directory and other costly alternatives. Get active with a Facebook page, a Youtube Channel or even a fully fledged website. Put the hard yards into developing an online footprint and it will reap you the benefits.

So why don’t some SMB’s get this message? Because some small business owners don’t fully understand the possibilities of what can be done with an online presence.

Let’s take a look at some theoretical case studies that I have observed in my own home town:

The Local Stationery Store

It’s not as hard as it sounds to take on the big boys here when it comes to online commerce. Of course, some consumers are always going to take the path of Officeworks or the other big retailers simply because of the price (which, by the way, isn’t that much cheaper than our local guy here). To make sales online, our local store should market purely on convenience and speed. They can:

  • Make all stationery goods available online allowing the consumer to log into an account and place an order quickly.
  • Ensure that staff fulfil and collate that order within the hour.
  • Then deliver the customer’s order to their door within a couple of hours – ensuring they have no disruption to their day.

Order by 10am – delivered by lunch. Beat that Officeworks!

The Pizza Shop

Our local pizza store already has a great online presence (www.roscoes.com.au). They also use their Facebook page to promote their business through spur of the moment competitions – “How many pizza boxes are currently stacked over the ovens at Roscoes Innisfail?” – Win a free pizza!

But borrowing from Andrew Griffiths (Australia’s leading small business author) – the store could also take advantage of slow nights in the same way. If the pizzas aren’t flying out the door on any given night, they could make an announcement via their Twitter feed or Facebook page by announcing discounted or two-for-one pizzas. There is a backpackers hostel mere metres from their restaurant and there’s nothing more a backpacker likes than a cheap feed! Just get them to follow….

The local Accountant

What about in a crowded marketplace? How can you stand out when every man and his dog has a website and social media presence too? You do it by being helpful. If you are an accountant, get that site loaded with helpful content.

Everyone hates tax-time. It is easily the most stressful time of the year for businesses (and everyone else too).  An accountant can help to ease the pain during tax time with useful online tools such as:

  • How-To videos showing the completion of a BAS statement .
  • On-site calculators for determining taxable income.
  • Downloadable templates for all manner of money management.

Do a great job with helpful content and the snowball effect will kick in. Soon everyone will be heading to the site checking out the tricks, tips and tools on offer. The more site visitors that come in and see how helpful you are, the more likely that some will convert into customers.

As you can see, the potential of online marketing is clearly apparent for some businesses. For others, it may take a little creative thinking to draw out the possibilities of getting online and generating a profit.  But in this day and age, any business would be foolhardy not take advantage of the online world and the opportunities that are available to them.

If you aren’t sure of the online advantages for your business or organisation, give Rusty Mango Design a call and have a chat about your online presence and what it can do for the marketing of your business.

 

 

Week 14 of 52 – Three essential tips to get your social media buzzing!

Social Media BuzzDoes anyone else get a real buzz when they see their posts shared around on Facebook or their tweets re-tweeted? What about when that post share or re-tweet comes from a highly respected member of your industry? That buzz can be enough to push you onto bigger and better things with your social media presence.

Through my Facebook and Twitter accounts, I’ve managed to engage with people throughout the world in all manner of industries that I otherwise couldn’t have “talked” too. I’ve had a brief conversation with Brad Sugars (CEO of ActionCoach), received responses from Gary Vaynerchuk (CEO of Social Media company Vaynermedia) and corresponded with marketing guru, Timbo Reid from Small Business Big Marketing. Of course, these conversations haven’t been personal  or even very long but the engagement through social media can greatly benefit a brand.

Regardless of how it happens, once your social media presence starts to attract the attention of people in your industry, two things can happen. One, you will start to recognise the power of social media marketing and what it can do for your business. And two, the buzz behind it can  inspire you to delve deeper into the possibilities of these platforms and expand that “audience” of yours even further.

To kickstart a dormant Social Media plan into action, I’ve put together the following tips:

Never Ever Give UpPersevere to build traction.

I’m sure everyone has seen a version of the poster on the left. This could never be truer than with your social media marketing. If you want to build a following using Facebook, Twitter or any of the platforms, never ever give up! Just log on, get in and start using all the tools at your disposal! Try the following:

  • Load up Tweetdeck or hootsuite on your computer so that you can access your feeds as easy as possible.
  • Be sure to pass on any valuable industry-relevant information that you come across. Include the name of the original writer or poster.
  • Announce your blog posts and content updates on all the platforms that you have access to.

Create a Social Media Checklist.

If you are like me and love to work from a list that you can tick off, create a Social Media checklist and laminate it. Put it somewhere clearly visible in your workspace and check off the items as you use your various platforms each week. By having this on hand at all times, it’ll ensure that you are getting your brand out there on a regular basis.

Close the gap between David and Goliath.

Search for and follow as many KPI’s * as you can find. When key figures pop-up in other people’s posts and tweets – make sure you snap them up and follow them! Re-post and re-tweet their content and information when it is relevent. Use their brand to help build yours. Show your followers that you have your finger on the pulse of your industry.

Don’t be afraid to engage with these people in conversations – at the end of the day, they are just business people like you (but probably making a lot more money). Send them messages and add their personal hash tags whenever you mention them or their work on Twitter. If you are respectful and pass on content that is worthwhile, you will get their attention (and maybe that of their followers).

Conclusion

These three simple points should get you going along the road to Social Media success. If you need more, there are literally thousands of ways to build an online presence – just try a simple Google search on that topic.  The key to social media success is always going to be perseverance – just keep trying different avenues along the road and your brand’s audience will continue to grow.

If you or your business have had success with other ways to build a following via Social Media, please share them in the comments section below. All tricks and tips will be gratefully received!

*KPI = Key Person of Influence

Week 13 of 52 – Tired of being a needle in the haystack? SEO that you can do TODAY!

Help search engines to index your siteWith a title like that, I have to be upfront with you about this topic. Nothing you do today will be immediately effective in turns of search engine response. The three tips below will undoubtedly improve the SEO performance of your website but the effects won’t be seen until the search engine minions (known as bots) crawl through your site again and react to the juicy goodness we are about to leave for them. Once they have had taste of them, they will report back to their home base – “This site deserves more respect!”

To get that respect, it’s not overly hard to take action. The tips below don’t require you to be a rocket scientist (or even a web developer) but they will make a difference to the “findability” of your site.

Make sure your page is loading at full speed

Without going into too much detail, page loading speed has always been important to Google. The faster a page loads for them, the happier they are with your site. And the happier Google are with your site, the higher ranking they will give you. Can’t get any simpler than that!

From a marketing standpoint, a fast loading page is always a good idea anyway. With advent of faster internet, people just don’t have the patience to stick around anymore. Research has shown that if the content isn’t starting to be delivered within two seconds, visitors will click that back button and go somewhere else.

Tools to help with your page speed:

  • In-depth analysis of the speed of your pages can be done here.
  • If your site is built on the WordPress framework, installing the W3 Total Cache plug-in is a must to increase site speed.

Make sure all your content is optimised for SEO

This is a topic that I could write about all day. There are so many elements to SEO optimisation and I continuously come back to them in these posts. But in the interest of keeping things to the point, I can’t break it down any better than this brilliant checklist from Salesforce.

Tools to help with optimising your content for SEO:

  • WordPress users can’t go past All-In-One SEO or Yoast SEO.
  • Not a tool as such but utilise a company that specialises in SEO optimisation to help get your content hitting those elements every time.

Make it easy to share your content

If you think you are making great content and want people to share it, make sure that you make as easy as possible to do so. The geeks over at Google love their social media and it goes to reason that that a strong social media presence now correlates with good rankings in Google’s index.

Tools to help share your content through Social Media:

  • The Digg Digg plug-in for WordPress places a floating bar next to your content with every social media option you could ask for.
  • Hootsuite is a brilliant way to post onto and keep track of all your social media from one dashboard.

If you implement the tools and tips above but you’re still hungry for more SEO action, check out Google’s own informative site on exactly how they use their secret algorithm to rank your page. For real beginners, BlankPoint also has a great site with the “ins and outs” of SEO broken down into layman’s terms.

If you have any internet marketing, WordPress, website design or SEO questions, leave them in the comment section below and I’ll try to answer them in a future post. I love a bit of feedback so all other comments are welcome too.

Enough blogging for today – get in there and give that site of yours an SEO boost. Go and grab that market share that you know it deserves!

Rusty Mango Design

Rusty Mango Design