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Why Use Google+?

If you’ve ever attended a conference, luncheon, or workshop, marketers are always stressing the importance of using Google+ as part of a social media strategy. You most likely have heard things like:

“It is the next big social media network.”

“The number of people using Google+ keeps growing.”

“Google+ is the future of social media.”

Although the validity of these individual statements are up for debate, one overarching theme holds true: Google+ is an important piece of the social media puzzle.

It is a piece of the puzzle that is typically overlooked due to the lack of a user base that fits the target market for most companies. A large number of people who have Google+ accounts have no idea that they even have one (if you have a Gmail or YouTube account, you have one). When you wake up in the morning or before going to bed, most people take a look at Facebook and Twitter, not Google+. Since it is not a staple in most people’s daily life, it has the perception of being a network that is used by marketers to talk about marketing.

Although you audience doesn’t typically use Google+ multiple times per day, there is a hidden benefit that is typically overlooked by many companies. Companies that use Google+ obtain an advantage in the world of search. Google essentially rewards those who use their service by offering special search features reserved only for Google+ users.

If you haven’t noticed already, your search and web history is being tracked each time you are online. Google knows what websites you visit, what you searched for last night, and can even predict what you might search for in the future. Using this knowledge, Google aims to provide the best answer to any question you might have. Since your Google+ account is tied to your overarching Google account, Google places a high value on the content that is published on its own native social platform.

Content that is published on Google+ is essentially given bonus points when it comes to search engine rankings. The bump in search engine rankings comes down to the variables in Google’s algorithm (which is always changing and improving to make the search experience more user friendly) and how the social aspect of search is growing.

Though it may seem counterintuitive to publish content on a platform that is not used by your target market, it can actually increase your search ranking and in turn increase traffic to your website. If you aren’t using Google+ already, you should give it a try and start publishing content today. It will put you ahead of the other companies in your industry and keep you on the cutting edge of the integration of social and search results.

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5 Unique Targeting Factors of Facebook Ads

Very few companies know as much about their users as Facebook does.

Facebook is constantly collecting information about your likes, dislikes, demographics, friends, and web history. Every time you log into Facebook (through a computer or mobile device), data is being collected, and Facebook is using that data to make sure you receive the updates and ads that are relevant to you.

The collection and analysis of this data provides advertisers and marketers with a great opportunity to make sure their messages are getting to their target market (and only paying for the impressions or clicks from that target market). This increases ad effectiveness and shifts marketing to more personalized messages. Companies now have the ability to clearly define a target market and make sure they are receiving messages that are personalized for them.

When building a Facebook ad, you have access to a plethora of demographic, interest, and behavioral factors to determine your target audience. Audiences can be defined by factors such as location, age, gender, and language. However, the real power of Facebook ads is the ability to drill down into the interests and behaviors portion of the audience.

Here are 5 unique targeting factors of Facebook ads that you might not currently be using:

1. Employers: Facebook actually allows you to directly target people based upon where a person works. If you are actively trying to market to a specific company, you are able to do so when those individuals are home. It can help give the perception that you are everywhere and can help send an extremely targeted message.

2. Business Travelers: Facebook uses multiple indicators to determine the likelihood that someone often travels for business purposes (both domestically or internationally). This is great information to have as tradeshows draw near as you can send targeted Facebook ads to those likely to be attending. This factor can also be used in conjunction with the Planning Travel factor or the Returned from Trip factors.

3. Technology Adoption Rate: If you are launching an online initiative (such as a new website, online store, or app), you can directly target those who are typically early adopters of new technology. Since these are the people who are most likely to embrace the introduction of new technology, you can make sure they get the right message before those who will adopt it at a later time.

4. Competitors: If you want to directly market to those who are interested in your competitors, Facebook can make that possible. By using other factors such as Industry, Interests, and Job Titles, you can make sure you message is getting to those who potential customers who might not even know your brand exists. Of course, this also means your competition can be doing the same thing to you (just another reason it is better to be an industry leader when it comes to digital marketing).

5. Mobile Device: If you are looking to take your ads to mobile, Facebook can help you narrow down to which devices your ad will be delivered during the campaign. The choices range from device type (tablet, phone, etc) to actual specific types of devices (iPhone 4S or Kindle Fire HD).

These are just a few examples of how many different factors can be used to create a dynamic Facebook ad campaign. With the correct targeting factors and message, Facebook can allow your company to be in the news feed our your perfect prospect without spending money on who will never become a customer.

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The Seven Commandments of Twitter

10073432733_86c9f55212_bTwitter is continually growing in its usage, popularity and functionality. Marketers of any industry should take note of all Twitter has to offer. The short, to-the-minute nature of a tweet provides instant, frequent access to a target market unlike any other platform, giving companies a variety of options for posting original or curated content.

Although the easiest way to jump on to the Twitter bandwagon may be to do just that – jump in and to play around, using the social network incorrectly, or even worse, committing one of the numerous Twitter faux pas could damage your brand’s online image and give the impression that your marketing efforts are ammature.

So, to help you out, we’ve compiled a list of things you should avoid when composing a new tweet. Here are our Seven Commandments of Twitter:

1. Thou Shalt Not sync a Facebook account to a Twitter account

Time is money. And if you’re busy, you may be tempted to cut some corners in your day to day social media management. However, setting up the social “hack” of pushing all of your Facebook posts directly to Twitter is one corner you’ll want to avoid cutting. Because of the character limitations and nature of a tweet, Facebook posts tend to not play well with Twitter. This synchronization often leads to tweets cutting off in mid-sentence, ending with an ellipses rather than a complete thought. If you wish to post the same content on Facebook and Twitter, take the time to repurpose it for each network.

2. Thou Shalt Not tweet image links

Images are great ways to boost your content’s visibility and likelihood of engagement on any social platform. With the recent design changes of the Twitter feed, images are now natively embedded into tweets, which is all the more reason to use them. However, using aggregators like Hootsuite or other social networks like Instagram to post photos to Twitter causes images to show up as links, which adds an additional step for users to see your content. Be sure to always post an image directly to Twitter, or change your settings in programs like Hootsuite to do so.

3. #Thou #Shalt #Not #overuse #hashtags

Hashtags are what make Twitter so powerful. They’re great for searching for, compiling, and encouraging the posting of content. However, sometimes tweeters get too excited when using hashtags, which can often lead to over usage. Try to keep your tweets to a three hashtag maximum, and be sure the hashtags that you do use are kept short and concise.

4. Thou Shalt Not tweet too little

Twitter is meant to provide quick, relevant, frequent content to users’ feeds – and as such, your tweets should also be quick, relevant, and frequent. Often, new users will create an account, only to tweet once or twice a week, or worse, a few times a month. If you want to be taken seriously, you’ll need to provide at least a few tweets a day to satisfy your followers.

5. Thou Shalt Not tweet too much

In the same way tweeting too little will bore your followers, going on a tweeting overload can annoy users. Although Twitter can handle much more content than networks like Facebook or LinkedIn, tweeting too much can clog your followers’ feeds, causing them to unfollow you. There are best practices for how much you should tweet a day, however, a simple rule of thumb is to use discretion depending upon your reasoning for tweeting. Certain instances may call for more tweeting than others.

6. Thou Shalt Not use all 140 characters

Trying to stay within the 140 character limit of a tweet can be challenging. But if you really want to encourage interaction with your tweet, you’ll want to use as little characters as possible. Keeping your tweets under 140 characters (when possible) allows you followers to share your content easily, giving them the space to add their own comments or thoughts in a retweet, etc.

7. Thou Shalt Not begin a tweet with an @ if you’re not responding to a mention

@ symbols are for mentioning other accounts within your tweets. An @ symbol at the beginning of a tweet is for responding to someone who has mentioned you (a conversation). When you begin a conversation on Twitter, the network only shows that conversation to people that follow you AND the person you’re mentioning, leaving out a potentially large reach for your tweet. So, if you’re planning to send out a tweet that begins with an @ but is not part of a conversation, be sure to place a period before the @ symbol.

By following these commandments, your Twitter adventure will be off to a successful start. Now, on top of creating/finding content to tweet out to you followers, keep looking for tips and advice on how to best use your digital tools. Consistently educating yourself on the best practices of all social networks, not just Twitter, is one of the best ways to keep your brand presence fresh and your marketing efforts effective.

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Searching for an Answer

“I’ll Google it!”

This might be the first phrase that comes to you when you’re asked a question you do not know the answer to. Google has become much more than a search engine. It has become a staple in our quest for answers. When there is a question, there always seems to be some sort of answer on Google. The ability to instantly find information at home or on the go has changed the way we travel, shop, eat, and even stay connected with family and friends.

As our uses for search engines have evolved, so have the search engines. In the past few months, Google has made a series of algorithm changes that have shifted search towards a more semantic query instead of one based upon keywords. The search engine is now searching for the exact answer to your question instead of a page that might cover the same topic. The answer has become the true end goal of a search engine.

This shift is something that businesses need take seriously. The days of ranking high on search engines by simply using keywords and backlinks are long gone. The focus has shifted to strong content that answers questions and has authority in the topic area. Google has introduced the notion of keyword groups that aid with the determination of authority in a topic area. The more pages of strong content on a website, the more likely the site has the answers to the questions being asked.

So what should your company be doing to optimize your website for these changes?

1. Focus on producing more strong content over topics in your field. This includes blogging, website updates (or overhauls), and creating sections such as FAQs.

2. Don’t focus on just one topic. Make sure your content covers numerous subjects in your area of expertise. Show that you know what you are talking about in your industry.

3. Turn your attention towards answers, not keywords. Remember that Google is looking to answer a question as quickly as possible. Put yourself into the shoes of a website visitor and ask, “Does this answer my question?”

4. Do not practice “black hat” SEO techniques (techniques that are used to trick search engines into ranking your site higher in the results). Another recent update to the Google algorithm now penalizes websites that use these practices.

5. Optimize your website for mobile devices. Searches have gone mobile and people want to see a site that is responsive to all of their devices.

If you just remember people are searching for answers when you write your content, you will be on the right path towards website optimization for today’s search engines.

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