Archive for : Best Practices

Digital Branding [Part 2]: The Results

Digital branding has its merits in producing fantastic results towards businesses both small and large. It is a means to personal branding too as we look towards an integrated digital era where work and personal ambitions combine in a unified online persona. Let’s take a look at what you can reap as you focus on digital branding.

1. PLATFORM PREPARATION

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” – Benjamin Franklin. We are uncertain of the future if we do not start preparing and using technologies of the future. Digital branding allows you to constantly work and massage digital assets such as social media platforms where it acts as a place for content dissemination to a ready community.

2. PEOPLE (Community)

Once you get into the momentum of preparing your social media platforms, the constant exercise of digital branding allows you to build a community of advocates that will have a higher chance of brand loyalty and communication. Content fed to them are more relevant and allows for a more receptive bunch of consumers.

3. CITIZEN JOURNALISM

A community is made up of different individuals that have their own characteristic and level of advocacy towards your brand. In the case of customer to customer (C2C) marketing, these individuals that are highly vocal; always willing to share their experience, will be your evangelists. They become your journalists to push for your brand’s promise, experience and product / service.

4. FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Building your brand digitally allows for quick feedback. First impressions online are vital to whether that lead stays or drops out. With proper digital branding and strategising, your brand has higher chances of capturing that lead with multiple impressions; curating content and a brand image that suits that lead. Make sure to constantly ensure that your brand is on-point with its overall look and messaging.

5. LEAD GENERATION

Ultimately, brands want to generate leads and convert them into customers. With a ready platform, a committed community and brand evangelists, it is almost in auto-pilot when a potential customer discovers your brand. If that lead is your target audience, proper digital branding allows for a quicker feedback and decision making from that lead. Take it one step further and capture that lead with a campaign; collect their data in exchange for a reasonable gift / prize so that they can experience your brand with a lower barrier of entry. Note: Always state clear terms of data usage, do not misuse data for mass marketing. Your brand can still run without an online presence or any form of digital branding. However, what sets your brand apart with digital branding is the headstart you have to manoeuvre through the changing times, intentionally communicate with your intended target audience and stay far in front of your competitors. Give your brand that edge and make it global.

Read Part 1 for the benefits of digital branding.

Digital Branding [Part 1]: The Benefits

Branding is simple and it should be. The goal is to establish a recognisable name, symbol, design, outlook that serves as a unique identity of a product or service. It tells of your story and the experience that customers can expect. It boils down to perception. So, what is digital branding? Simply put, brands these days do not solely rely on offline mediums to cultivate their brand. Brands are leveraging on digital mediums such as websites, social media, mobile apps, digital advertisements, email and the likes, to solidify their online position; allowing a more wholesome experience.

Creating a brand perception online takes into account all the possible digital platforms that your customers are actively on. The term ‘digital’ can be broken down to 4 main elements – Interactivity, Multichannel, Virility and Progressiveness. Each of these has its own benefit towards your brand. Let’s break it down.

1. Interactivity

Gone are the days of one-way communication. Brands have to embrace a rather engaging approach to attract customers. Digital branding allows for greater interactivity where brands can choose different elements within a content to be marketed in a more engaging manner. For example, showcasing your product USPs via a GIF, hosting a live video on Facebook / Periscope / YouTube and responding to comments on-the-go, launching clickable banner ads on related websites.
Allow your customers to do something, get them in on the experience. This will create a deeper branding strategy.

2. Multichannel

Having your brand strongly vested in digital branding allows for a convergence of different platforms. Imagine your brand’s identity being unified across multiple online platforms (social media, email, online advertisements, chat applications) with different display mediums; all in unison, preaching one message yet customised to every customer.
Your brand’s content requires a channel as an outlet. Digital platforms are at your fingertips. Set them up and integrate them to showcase your brand.

3. Virality

Virality has come a long way and has been misused many times. Having your brand go viral is a post result instead of a pre-planned process. There are viral elements to potentially push your brand towards a further reach in a short period of time but there is no guarantee. The beauty of digital branding is that brands can easily pick up speed by customers’ engagement through shares, clicks, recommendations, feedbacks, dark social and so on.

Having a digital base allows customers to have quicker access to the brand’s identity; allowing them to make quicker decisions on engaging with it. The more customers feed on it, the potential to go viral is higher.

4. Progressiveness

As you continue to uphold a digital branding strategy, you will realise that it is easier to expand your brand’s appeal in order to progress in this fast changing environment we live in.

In order to progress, we need to have all our branding channels at hand. Digital allows that. It allows for versatility.
  Integrate your branding strategies. Cultivate a habit to unify your brand identity both online and offline. Digital branding is becoming a staple method of branding. Jump on board!

Read Part 2 for the results for digital branding.

3 Modern SEO Basics for Your Brand: Technical Relevancy [Part 3]

What should I look out for in modern day SEO?

Search engine optimisation, or SEO in short has much relevance with the technical aspects with your website. Sure, content still plays an important role to your brand’s ranking on search engines but implementing good technical structure can help give it a boost too!

The below will walk you through the technical concepts of SEO that you should know about.

Part 3: Technical Relevance in SEO

SSL Certificate

In the era of web and data security, SSL certificates have become very common on transactional or eCommerce websites – but that does not mean it does not concern you. Investing in a SSL certificate can indicate to search engines that your website considers data security and therefore, more credible compared to other websites.

Key takeaway: There are a ton of inexpensive SSL Certificates that you can invest in. Go for the basic ones as those are enough if you are not working with sensitive customer data. It’s the easiest and the least you can do for your website.

Site Structure

Having a clear and straight forward website structure helps search engines index your website more effectively. Do not have hidden pages or complex links especially between your main pages. If it is confusing to search engines, it can indicate that your website isn’t friendly to readers. Creating an XML sitemap can help too!

Key takeaway: Keep your website’s structure as straight forward as possible. Minimize the need of hidden pages (why do you even need them?) and make sure they are well linked and accessible across the website.

User Interface

While this does not directly affect searchability on search engines, having good user interface contributes to good user experience and in return, potentially reducing bounce rates which is an added bonus to contextual relevance on SEO.

Key takeaway: Having good user interface is never a bad thing. This includes a clear navigation scheme, related links, social sharing icons and even placing of textual content from page to page.

No 404

This is the dreaded error code when a page cannot be displayed or found with a given URL. In short, your website should not consist of broken links. Not only it annoys human readers, but search engines will consider your website as incomplete, therefore affecting your website’s ranking on search engines.

Key takeaway: Sometimes, it is inevitable for a website to have 404 pages (especially if you have huge amount of content over time). The least you can do is to ensure that your 404 pages are not left as ‘default’. It helps to have a customised 404 page that allows users to navigate to other content instead of hitting the ‘back’ button on the browser.

Mobile Support

Mobile compatibility has been a rising consideration by search engines. Websites that caters to mobile generally fares better compared to one that is unreadable on mobile. It’s good practice to ensure key content and navigation is easily readable on both desktop and mobile devices.

Key takeaway: Your website has to be at least mobile responsive to pass this requirement. If you are unsure, simply visit your website via your mobile and see if the content fits well on screen with no side scrolling required.

Loading Speed

This is an important factor as slow page load time can cause search engine crawlers to ‘give up’. Elements that can cause slower loading times include image size, animations,

Key takeaway: Never assume that your website is okay even if it loads quick on your PC. There are a number of free tools that provides a more realistic analysis on page load time, including a breakdown of the areas causing it to be slow.

See: Part 1 or Part 2

3 Modern SEO Basics for Your Brand: Context Relevancy [Part 2]

One of the biggest difference in modern day SEO as compared to what it was before is how intelligent search engines have become. What was deemed as ‘SEO friendly’ back then was heavily influenced by content relevance, such as optimising keywords and meta data as described here on content relevance.

It is important to note that search engines are always finding ways to further optimise its results to searchers so you should have a balanced approach instead of focusing on beating the search algorithms. Today, search engines are known to be able to read contextual information beyond the content provided as a gauge of your brand’s credibility through your website.

Part 2: Context Relevance in modern day SEO

Localisation

It is important to know that modern search engines now display results based on the searcher’s location. This means you need to take advantage of that (you can do so on local.google.com for Google Search) and help search engines to recognise where are you based at, especially if your target audience is local.

Key takeaway: In most situations, being well positioned on local search results also yields pretty good ranking on international results; which is a plus to your brand.

Post-click Activity

It is for the longest time brands like you have been trying to lower the bounce rate on your website, and here’s another reason for you to do so – especially if you haven’t been doing anything about it. Search engines now track if searchers are bouncing off your website and returning to the search results. If that happens, Google will learn that your website probably did not address the search term provided and you drop in relevance.

Key takeaway: Make sure your keywords matches what you have to offer, and offer it good! Always aim to satisfy the readers when they discover your content and you will do fine.

Shareability

Social is not a new comer to search engines. In fact, Google Plus was created to help bridge search and social though it didn’t really pick up over the years. However, having your content shared (and linked) back to you on social media platforms do give you added points on SEO as it builds added credibility to your website.

Key takeaway: Make it easy for readers to share your content. Also, be sure to have your images and content excerpts ready so it shows up nice and pretty on social media channels to encourage more shares.

External Links

Also widely known as back links, i.e. websites that are linking back to yours. Imagine it as testimonials or recommendations other websites are giving you. The more credible links you receive, search engines will perceive your website as one that is equally credible and therefore deserves attention on search results.

Key takeaway: Not all links coming in are good – especially if they are from spammy sources. Your goal is to create meaningful links back to your website from reputable websites.

Internal Links

Having a similar concept as external or back links, internal links are links between the web pages within your website. Being able to deep link your content, shows search engines that your website remains within context and that you have some authority within the keyword’s domain.

Key takeaway: Over the years, both external and internal links have declined in significance to SEO. However, it is still good practice to have them in place as it is also beneficial to your readers in navigating around related content.

 

See: Part 1 or Part 3

3 Modern SEO Basics for Your Brand: Content Relevancy [Part 1]

Today’s search engine requirements are unlike before and much has changed just within the span of three years. Since then, we have seen brands falling out of search results as they were unable to keep up with search engine’s ever changing search algorithms.

What is the problem with changing search algorithms?

A change in search algorithm can mean better search (and optimised) results for consumers but it also means havoc for your brand, especially if you capitalised heavily on specific SEO requirements.

Should I capitalise on specific SEO requirements?

It is almost never a good idea to focus on specific requirements as these requirements change from time to time as part of a search optimisation process by search engines. A good example is keyword spamming – a very popular way of getting to the top back then which is heavily penalised today.

What should I look out for in modern day SEO?

There are three (3) main areas to look out for when it comes to search engine optimisation today: content relevance, context relevance and technical relevance. These areas will be covered in detail over three blog posts that will be published over a couple of days.

Part 1 of 3: Content Relevance in SEO

Content relevance are one of the key areas related to the content of your website as most search engines do take content very seriously. For example, duplicated content are frown upon while unique and original content thrives on search engines.

The below are some areas related to content relevance for your brand when it comes to search engine optimisation.

Article Text and Image

Text has always been a major part of SEO since its early days and remains true today. It is important for your written article content to contain the desired keywords for search engines to pick it up at ease but you do not want to spam them across the screen!

Images (and even videos) are also a growing influence on SEO. With the help of image and video search on popular search engines such as Google, you would definitely want your photos to show up in the results and you can do that by optimising the title tag and file name of your image.

Key takeaway: Not all text are made equal in SEO. Header text (or <h1>, if you’re familiar with basic HTML) are more significant than say, a <h2> or paragraph text. As such, you want to place your keywords wisely for maximum results. Text in images don’t count either.

Word Relevance

This is an interesting one. Modern search engines have become more intelligent where it does not read content word for word. It has evolved to also understand words that are relevant to keywords. For example, an article with the keyword ‘fishing’ will have relevance to ‘sea’, ‘boat’ or ‘fish'; and you can use them without fearing that you will lose out on SEO relevancy.

Key takeaway: This is a great way to score on SEO without having to spam your keywords throughout an article. There are various keyword analysis tools out there that you can use to find out what are the relevant words to your keywords.

Article Length

There are many debates on this one but from experience, lengthier articles do better as they are presumed to have more context, depth and relevance. It is said through research that the ‘optimum’ length for search engines are between 1,000 to 1,200 words.

Key takeaway: Let’s face it, 1,200 words is too much to take in for human readers. Have a mix of content length between articles to have that balance for your readers. Shorter and snappier articles also makes it good for social sharing which also helps in search engine optimisation (we’ll cover that later!).

Meta Data

Without the technical jargons, meta data are simply descriptions of your website that includes a title, short description and keywords that helps search engines in understanding your website’s content at a glance. These meta data are typically written in basic HTML tags such as <title>, <meta name>, <meta property>, <link rel> and more!

Key takeaway: While the significance of meta data is on a decline, it is still a relevant point to take note of as it ultimately used to describe your website whether as a snippet on search engine results or on an embedded link unto social media platforms.

Domain Name

Your website’s domain name, or URL, helps your consumers, readers or search engines identify you on the web. It also means that instead of having a domain name like www.yourbrand.com, one like www.searchterm.com can potentially perform better on search results. This can be particularly helpful if your brand is lesser known.

Key takeaway: It’s not compulsory to have a domain name with your keywords but it does help you get there especially when combined with all other factors discussed.

Voice Compatibility

Voice search is slowly becoming a norm especially with the introduction of smart watches and other portable computing devices – especially among mobile consumers. Having your content easily readable by voice readers will get you a better shot in appearing on voice search results.

Key takeaway: Not all brands will benefit from voice search today but if you are one that thrives on mobile, having your content in conversational languages will definitely help!

 

See: Part 2 or Part 3

5 Types of Engaging Social Media Posts

Postings = Oxygen to your social media platforms.

More often than not, content creators crack their head to produce content for their Facebook pages, Twitter and so on. No matter the struggle, it is vital for you to remain creative and craft some engaging content for everyday postings.

5 Types of Social Media Postings to keep a page running and breathing:

#1: THE VISUAL: Uploading pictures that capture attention

Visuals are naturally more eye catching. If we take a look at your Facebook newsfeed, it does not take long for you to realize that it is filled with activities and posts. With that in mind, visuals usually are more appealing and usually takes up more space in the newsfeed. Couple that with an interesting one line statement, you will have a higher chance of winning more viewers. Plus, your Facebook page name travels together with every share by your friend or a friend of your friend, it is basically getting the mileage you always hoped for.

#2: THE QUESTION: Asking questions and prompting feedback from fans

 

Fans love to be involved in your brand. When prompted correctly, they can be a tool for higher sales in the long run. Ask them questions and receive their feedback. Analyze their thoughts and utilize these feedback to improve your brand and service.

#3: THE BLANK: Leaving a blanked space for fans to engage

Allowing fans to have a say in your brand is what grows a brand today. Craft a sentence and leave a blank for fans to fill in their answers / thoughts so to increase engagement. Allowing fans to finish your sentence or write their own statuses enhances brand relation. Fans will feel more connected to the brand; remember it is all about your relationship with your customer that counts.

#4: THE BUZZ: Sharing tips related to your industry

Get on up with the latest happenings in your industry. Bring your fans up to speed by sharing with them any piece of article / information that concerns your industry. There are a few reasons why people like brand pages on Facebook, but one obvious fact is that they become fans because they relate to your brand. They are interested to know more and stay updated with latest announcements either pertaining to your brand or industry. So, share relevant news and keep your fans on their toes.

#5: THE FUN FACTOR: Incorporating humor

There is a child in every person. That goes for all your fans too. Do not limit or red tape your page’s content to only what is formal and serious. Throw in the fun! Add in a hint of humor to enlighten your fans. Having that said, do take precaution to not overstep the boundaries of fun. There are times when you are not sure of the “fun” content; one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Therefore, always run through those humor posts with your colleagues or superiors, better yet your content strategist or community manager. Above all, keep it light, clean and engaging, enough to bring a smile.

These are only a few to get you started on your everyday postings. Ultimately, you need to know your fans and craft a content strategy that suits your audience. Use the suggestions above wisely and creatively. Remember, crafting content for your social media postings is fresh air both to you and your fans. Keep it pumping!

What types of postings do you usually use and do you have any new and creative ones to share? I would love to hear from you!

5 Types of Facebook Fans and How to Win Them

Have you ever wondered what are the types of fans that have liked you on Facebook, beyond the given demographics? The thing is this – it is impossible to please every single one of them with a single update and at the same time, bombarding your fans with updates of different nature will drive them away too.

The trick: Talk to them, not at them.

Truth be told, there isn’t a need to engage every single one of your fans all the time simply because not all of them can be reached at one go. Instead of trying to please everyone, try identifying the types of fans you have and understanding the 5 different types of Facebook fans will help you engage them better, at their pace.

#1: The Friend

These are the people you know and maybe you’ve invited them to like your page and they did. Many pages started with this to get a head start in the number of fans (and it is absolutely fine) but that also poses a challenge – to keep them engaged or ‘entertained’. I say it’s a challenge because they may not actually like what you have to offer, but did it as a mere form of support.

What to do?

While they are a challenge, they can work to your advantage as you (should) have a better idea on their preferences. Try breaking them into smaller groups based on their interest (e.g. sports / cooking / gaming) and ask yourself, “What would they like to see?” and try creating content in that area.

They make great sounding boards too! Ask them for opinions to see how are you doing thus far – are your updates too frequent? Are they relevant? Are they eye-catching enough? These are great people to receive honest feedback from. Occasionally, consider getting them to promote your updates / content for you.

#2: The Observer

This group of fans may have liked your page for various reasons – whether its because a friend did the same, something you posted caught their attention or they liked you by accident (it happens). Regardless of how they liked your page, these are fans that prefers consuming content instead of participating.

What to do?

This is a tough one and there’s no one way to do it. Experiment. And keep experimenting. You’ll need to be able to sniff out what content sells and what does not. Are your fans more receptive to photos, quotes, videos, product updates, event updates or polls?

Note: most observers are reluctant to post a comment but they may be good ‘likers’. Use that as an initial indication to determine which content type works and see if you can push it further the next time by initiating a simple call-to-action.

#3: The Customer

It is common for brands to think that this is the most important group of fans – but they aren’t (we’ll come to that soon). These are fans that your brand has come in contact with in one way or another – through a roadshow, a past purchase, a flyer that has created an interest in them or fans that are saying “Let’s see what you’ve got”.

What to do?

Don’t sell. Instead, provide value. Consider providing them social exclusives. Show them how you are improving and how mindful you are to meet their needs and expectations and always look out for opportunities to reward their support. KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese went as far as producing a ‘Likeapella’ to say ‘Thank You’ to 4,800 fans that Liked them on their Facebook page. Now that’s one special way to say thank you!

#4: The Advocate

Nope, these aren’t the most important group of fans either. These fans are awesome to have for every business (who doesn’t want their customers talking about them anyway?) and will actively ‘Like’, ‘Share’, comment and even reply to other fans on your behalf.

What to do?

Don’t smile to yourself and leave them be. Acknowledge their support, contribution and help by simple rewards and recognition. Tools like Crowdbooster are great (and free!) to identify which are the most engaging fans on your page. Mashable went to the extend of putting up a wallpaper of all their Facebook fans in their office.

#5: The Haters

These fans are what brands fear the most. In fact, this is the reason why many brands do not want to have an online presence – the fear of negative comments and bashing from the fans. However, this group of fans is in fact the most important of them all for one reason: a chance to show them (and the other fans) your dedication and sincerity to them.

What to do?

Address them and address them quick. Negative comments spread like wildfire over social platforms and it is up to you to reply them almost as soon as you spot them, but tactfully. Do not, ever, delete or hide their complaints for whatever reasons or to defend yourself. Instead, apologize first and seek whatever clarifications you would require and always offer to compensate.

In most cases, your Advocates will step in to defend against your plight and this is the perfect opportunity to show them that you indeed care and value your fans and to turn haters into lovers.

Everyone is a Potential Customer

By now you should have noticed that regardless of the type of fan they are, every fan is a potential (repeating) customer. Take some time to understand, to experiment and to converse at their own pace and you will be seeing results soon.

What type of fans do you have and how have you been engaging them? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Are You Integrating Your Social Media Marketing Efforts?

With the adoption and acceptance of social media among businesses and consumers continue to grow, it is likely that your business already has a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter handle, a YouTube channel or a Google+ page. That isn’t bad at all but let’s face the fact – it is getting a little crowded on social networking platforms, yes? Your competitors are on it and perhaps your small business seems to be on the losing end when compared to your larger counterparts. Alternatively, maybe you’re raking in the “Likes” or the “Follows” and you’re thinking that you’ve succeeded in becoming social. Either way, you thought wrong and here’s why:

Social media is not just a game for the large in size.

Unlike certain sports such as American football where physique does matter, social media is a fair game. It also favors small businesses a lot. And by that I really mean, a LOT. Sure, your competitors may be a digit away in the number of ‘Likes’ compared to you but that doesn’t mean they’re doing it right simply because: 1. likes / followers can be bought (very affordable too!), 2. their fans aren’t responding to them (no conversations), 3. their page is deprived of updates (a ghost town), or worse, 4. their page is populated with updates that aren’t theirs (spam) So, are they successful now? Probably not. The thing is, you as a business owner or a marketer should be looking out for opportunities to integrate the power of social media into existing promotional avenues, or to create new ones.

Here are three (3) integration points of social media to get you thinking on your next marketing campaign:

wallmart facebook receipt

Social Media Attribute #1: Networks

What value do social media networks have if you cannot build your own networks on them? Your marketing campaign should incorporate ways that can assist you in growing your networks whether it is on Facebook or Twitter, it is always good to have an established network BUT, don’t stop there. Take it a step further to build your database by understanding your followers by collecting more information such as their email address to create an audience profile or just to keep in touch with them. Interestingly, research shows that consumers that follow your page / profile DO intend to hear more from you so use this privilege to your advantage. Don’t abuse (spam) them! Integration ideas: current e-newsletters, in-store promotional standees, press advertisements, roadshows / exhibitions, opt-in registrations, seminars / talks / workshops, pre-releases, product launches and etc.

Social Media Attribute #2: Conversations

Building your own network on social media platforms organically can be tough, and it is an on-going process. One of the key drivers of social media is that it allows you (or your business) to be social, and that means be conversational. Many businesses out there think their job ends at amassing “Likes” but the question is: “What’s next?”. Get conversations going with your followers. Ask questions, brainstorm for ideas, leave wishes on their profiles, share photos with them… and the list goes on. The trick is to be human and talk as a human, not a corporate figure. Integration ideas: FAQ page, website / blog (via comments), festive greetings, follow-up content (from other advertising sources), polls for consumer feedback and etc.

Social Media Attribute #3: Sharing

Your next marketing campaign should be something that has the ability to tap into the existing networks of your fans (or personal friends if you just got started) to get them to reach into their own networks. It can be something that they can easily share or actively participate.  It could be a simple contest, a video, fun facts or even some behind the scenes action behind your business. However, before going into the idea of creating something viral – let me also say that you cannot create something viral. Because viral just happens. It cannot be created on purpose. Most creators of viral content (including videos and games) often say that they did not expect it to become viral. Integration ideas: in-store promotions, website / blog, roadshows / exhibitions, mini games, videos, contests, seminars / talks / workshops, pre-releases, product launches and etc.

Are you ready to kick start your next marketing campaign with social media?

Keep the above in mind and you should be getting on right track in your marketing plans.
Activate your fans, don’t just collect them like baseball cards. – Jay Baer, Convince & Convert