5 Reasons You Need Instagram for Your Business

Instagram has entered the territory of “must” rather than “nice-to-have” when it comes to social marketing for businesses. There are a few key reasons why every business should have an Instagram account, and why you’re going to be pretty left out if you don’t get on this social platform.


1. Skyrocket Your Engagement

The data shows that Instagram is the #1 platform for getting post engagement.

That means that if you want to establish a relationship with your client base (which you do), then you’re going to need that post engagement that only Instagram can provide.

But let’s back it up for a second…

It’s an interesting time to be involved in social media marketing… Facebook is facing major allegations, and as a result—people are doing crazy things like starting movements to delete their Facebook accounts… (For my sake, and the sake of your distant relatives, please do not delete your facebook). As much as internet trolls might have you think that it’s the social media Armageddon, I assure you that life will go on.

It might be looking a little overcast in the internet landscape, but before we pack our bags —there’s still some hope. Facebook’s more charismatic and adopted little brother (Instagram) still has users entranced with its purity and boasts a pristine opportunity for brands who are ready to stir up the marketing pot.

Now, Instagram is the #1 platform for post engagement because its focus on visual content creates a very unique space for brands to interact with others—and if you’re a skeptic, the numbers don’t lie. According to a study conducted by Forrester, Facebook and Twitter organic post engagement levels are currently less than 0.1%. In comparison, the millennial-centric Instagram boasts regular engagement at 4% for brands. (That’s 40x better btw).

instagram stats

2. Grow Your Following with Ease

80 percent of Instagram accounts already follow a business on Instagram, and 65% of top-performing posts feature products. The translation here is obvious, Instagrammers want to see branded content, and they want to connect with brands.

Add the engagement levels for brands (4%) that we just saw and we have the optimal landscape for growing your branded following on this platform.

3. Generate Leads

Instagram is a tool for lead generation.

We know that social media strongly influences purchase decisions, even if that is at the subconscious level of the consumer decision-making process.

It’s 2018, and our favorite lead generation tool (Facebook) is making algorithm changes that are making it harder for brands to get heard. With engagement rates already resting around the 0.1% mark, it just might be the ideal time to expand your reach to include some Instagram marketing.

With Instagram, 60% of users have first heard of a product or service through the platform, and over 120 million Instagram users visited a website, got directions, or called/emailed/direct messaged a business as a result of their engagement with the platform (sproutsocial). That means that 120 million Instagrammers have been lead to a business through the platform.

You can easily use Instagram to generate new business and sales with strategic content and links in your bio, as well as reach new targeted and engaged audiences through paid ad campaigns through the Facebook ad platform.

4. Stay On Top of “Instagram Reviews”

A little-known fact is that when an Instagram user posts something on Instagram and uses a location tag, this tag isn’t owned or regulated by the business that owns the physical location. All location tags on Instagram, or “Instagram Geotags”,” are tied to a separate public account that Instagram will store posts under.

Instagram Reviews

For businesses, this is a blessing and a curse.

Best Case Scenario:

Say you own a local restaurant and you have numerous dedicated and consistent customers who love to post at your restaurant and have nothing but glowing words to accompany beautiful pictures of your space. When others look at your location on Instagram, this is what they see, and they are that much more likely to convert and become loyal customers as well.

Worst Case Scenario:

You own the same local restaurant, but one dissatisfied customer took it upon themselves to post a picture of your front door exclaiming their disgust with the service that they received. This post has lingered on the web and likely dissuaded other customers from posting to the location, and has resulted in the loss of unknown amounts of revenue through prospects who steered away from your business as a result.

Although you have no control over the things that users might be saying about your brand (much like standard reviews), you can still help mitigate some possible damages by having a branded Instagram account and monitoring the posts on your location. Much like negative reviews left on other review platforms, by responding to negative Instagram posts, you are much more likely to prevent harm to your reputation.

5. Don’t Get Left Behind

As of 2017, nearly 71% of businesses in the United States were already using Instagram. The release of Instagram business profiles and the ability to to run ads/analytics with ease have been large factors in driving the Instagram growth movement.

business instagram use
Source: eMarketer

You may notice that this looks like an exponential growth graph, and that’s probably because it is. Fortunately for you, just because 71% of these businesses are using Instagram doesn’t mean that these businesses are using it to its full potential.

We can make a pretty good estimate as to where this usage rate is going to reside by the end of 2018, so don’t get left behind.


Don’t wait, get started on your Instagram strategy today to generate new leads, amplify your brand, and build new business!

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Business Website Essentials

Telling a small business owner to “assume the perspective of your customer” is one of those classic easier said than done problems. It’s not for lack of trying, but owning a small business isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle. And when you put that level of passion and commitment into something, your unique familiarity with it can be tough to shake.

Yet this is the simplest way to quickly optimize your website. By deeply considering your customer’s perspective and buying journey, we can make decisions that put everything in the right place for the customer to easily and quickly complete their interaction with your business and maybe even leave a nice review to boot.

While it’s absolutely essential to have each of these elements be part of your website, the specifics of their presentation need to be in consideration of your specific customer demographics. Most notably will be the difference between information on an online store, where the priority is to drive sales, versus a traditional brick and mortar business, where the priority is to get them to visit you.


The must haves

Contact information

Much of your web traffic will be coming from customers looking to use your website as a tool to communicate with you. Whether by email, phone or in person, the information that helps them accomplish this needs to be a top priority. Placing an easily found “contact us” link in the top right corner of your website is never a bad move. But if your customers aren’t web savvy, consider putting your address, phone number and hours of operation right on the home page. Additionally, if your business location is a little off the beaten path, consider using a map application on your website to help people better understand your location.

Product information

This is a growing priority for small businesses online, as a huge number of searches now happen on mobile with the intent of “in the moment” product research, sometimes even in-store. This means that the more specific information you can have online about what you sell, the better. This may even lead to customer conversions while they are in a competitor’s store.

Keeping an up-to-date and functional product catalog online can be a lot of work, but it is most certainly worthy of consideration given the potential value. This is particularly important if your demographic skews younger and more web savvy.

Business description

Give a quick, easy-to-find snapshot of your business and history available for people interested in learning a little more about you. Keep in mind, if people are looking at this part of your website, they are likely close to buying. Make sure you put in a little marketing effort here to help seal the deal. Make it concise but include things like business history, location, relevant achievements and philosophy. It’s also not a bad idea to include customer testimonials if you have them.

Quicklinks to social channels

Social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all great tools to help foster a direct line of communication between your business and its biggest fans. Your website should prioritize getting those follows and likes as easy as possible by installing a quick link widget into the footer or header of your website. That way, no matter where you customer goes on the site they are always one click away from connecting with you on Social.

Content/media

It’s becoming more and more common to see small businesses feature active content strategies and it’s easy to see why:

  1. Content is authentic – No one likes being sold to, and content is a great way for a business to build a relationship while leaving the hard sell on the shelf.
  2. Content is made for local – A good content strategy can help a business establish itself as grounded in its local area through authentic stories that are for and about their community.
  3. Content is hyper-targeted – Based on how you answered the first three questions your website, at least a little, is likely targeting customers at a specific part of the sales funnel. Having a fully realized content strategy allows you to add balance to your site. For example, if your site is designed to drive new sales, perhaps the content can be targeted towards customer retention by adding value to those people already in the fold.

Easy content strategy win = how-to videos

These can be extremely effective and easy to produce. Plus, creating how-to videos gives you the platform to demonstrate your expertise. Double-win if it’s related to your business.


Putting it all together with design

When considering design and layout, it’s completely appropriate to look at it as an opportunity to infuse some of your business’s personality into your website’s look and feel. But heed this warning: design is where it’s most critical to consider the customer’s perspective. Too often small business owners create a website that works perfectly for themselves while failing to consider how it will work for their customers.

Here are two top level considerations when choosing a design.

Mobile functionality is king

This has to be top of mind at every stage of design. While most modern design templates are mobile functional, it’s worth taking second looks at the ones that do it best. And if you haven’t updated your website since the inception of the smartphone, you might want to think about a redesign.

Keep it simple

You may have noticed that this article really pushes the need for priorities. With that in mind, consider putting only the most crucial information on the home page. Your home page must include easy links to: contact info, product info and business description. After that, it becomes really dependent on your goals and objectives. But when considering the perspective of your customer, oftentimes less is more.

Build for speed

By keeping things simple and prioritizing mobile functionality you are likely also building for speed. But this point is critical enough that it bares repeating. Your site needs to be fast! According to a study from Forrester Consulting 40% of shoppers will wait no longer than 3 seconds of load time before abandoning a retail website. As well, Google uses load time as factor in determining your search rank so a slow site might even be keeping customers from finding you when they look online.


Final thoughts

All in all, it’s a pretty swell time to be building a website for your business. Hosting is cost effective and secure, design templates have never looked nicer, and there is plenty of great content out there to help guide you through the process. But if you are ever curious if your website is serving you well, just follow this tip from Kevin Lao at Google: take out your phone, pull up your site and ask yourself “do you like what you see?” Now go to your closest competitor’s site and ask yourself the same question. Your answer will tell you all you need to know.

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Creating the Perfect Social Post

What makes for good social posting, anyway? In order to craft the perfect social post, we need to take a look at why people follow businesses in the first place.

  • Interest in services and promotions: People love sales! Don’t get TOO excited though. Over posting this information is also one of the leading reasons people unfollow a business.
  • Updates and information: People are interested in what your business is up to! Have new products? Moving locations? Getting an office dog? Post it!
  • Communication: Social media is for connecting. People want to talk to you, and they want to review your products and services. Make sure you’re responding to them: it shows you care about your customers.
  • Entertainment: Are you not entertained? People use social media to get a break from their humdrum day. Post content that will put a smile on their faces or give them something to think about. Hint: it doesn’t always have to be related to your business.

So now that we’ve got a good idea of what people want to see, how do we make the magic happen? When I write social posts, I use three main guidelines to direct me.


The 3 Golden Rules of Local Social Media Marketing

  • Does it provide value? People engage with content that is relevant to them. Consider whether the post is solving a problem, starting a conversation or educating. People love to share information that is new and exciting. In order to provide the best value to your followers and customers, the vast majority (up to 80%) of your content should be useful or engaging information. In fact, posts promoting the business should only account for 10%-20% of the content.
  • Is it emotionally engaging? People love stories, and they share content they connect with. Don’t be afraid to show the more personal side of your business. Really, who hasn’t teared up during a Coke ad or giggled at the Budweiser Clydesdales? Brands that go the extra mile to create an emotional connection with their customers stick in their memories longer. Why not post a cat video? Everyone loves a cat video.
  • Is it visually stimulating? 1200 pixels are worth 1000 words. We’re talking high quality photos, videos and infographics here! Posts that include visuals get way more (almost 650% more) engagement than those without. Keep in mind that not all visuals are created equal. The best ones are the ones that you take yourself, because they’re local, personal and relevant. If you don’t have the capacity to take photos, reposting from other websites and profiles is a great way to keep your page relevant. Quality stock photos are also great resources, just make sure to pay attention to copyright!

Creating content for social media is essential—you need to be present where your customers are, and they’re on social. While it is free to partake, creating an effective social media strategy and sticking to it takes diligence and determination.

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What is SEO and Why Does It Matter?

Search Engine Optimization—or SEO—is a term that may sound scary at first, but is simple when you break it down. It’s the process of optimizing your online content (website, blog or otherwise) for search engine algorithms like Google’s. Search engine algorithms are what look at all the content on the web, and lay it out on the search engine results pages. This is where your business will get found, or be lost in the world of “second page and beyond.” Your business’ SEO efforts are what determines your SERP (search engine results page) ranking, and consequently, determines how “findable” you are online to your customers.

Still confused? Basically, SEO is the process of tweaking your website, blog and other online content so that Google, Bing and other search engines will put you at the top of the search results page when customers start looking for you online.


Basic SEO terms

SERP

Stands for Search Engine Results Page. The list of results that search engines formulate and present to the user after a search is made. Your SERP rank is where your website/content appears on the list of results.

Backlink

When one webpage hyperlinks to another website; very popular in blogging and creative writing. The more backlinks your website gets, the better your SERP rank!

Keyword

A word or phrase that a consumer enters in search. Your website and content should be optimized to draw in the consumers who are searching for specific keywords. E.g “best hairdresser Texas”

Metadata

Data that tells the search engines what your web page/content is about. This helps the search engine algorithms know if your content is relevant to what the consumer is looking for.


Why does SEO matter to my business?

If you’re thinking “well, that doesn’t matter for my business,” then you’re wrong! Optimizing your website and blog content with the right keywords, meta data and other SEO factors will be hugely beneficial to your business.

If you play your SEO cards right, it will get your business found when customers ask Google and Bing about things relevant to your business. If you’re a Texan hairdresser, SEO can help you be found whether local Texans are searching “www.yourhairdresser.com (you)” or “best hairdresser Texas,” or even “where should I get my hair cut?”!

Here are the four biggest reasons you should care about SEO, no matter what your business is.

Traffic

If one person types in “best hairdresser in Texas” into Google, and your business is at the top, then they’re likely going to click on your name. But there isn’t just one person Googling that term—there are thousands. Each person who clicks on your name from Google is another boost to your website traffic, and more potential business and sales for you! Hello SEO, hello more traffic, hello higher revenue!

Offering helpful solutions for customers

Optimizing your content for specific keywords like “hairstyle tips” or “best hair for my faceshape” means that when a customer goes to Google to find answers to their questions, they’ll find you. Creating a name for yourself in your industry as a helpful, informative brand will improve your reputation, and get more customers flocking your way!

SEO makes marketing easier (and cheaper)

If a customer can find you at the top of Google by typing in “best hairdresser Dallas,” then why would you need to pay for ad space at the top of the page? SEO is what determines where your business appears on Google, so optimizing your content for the search engines just makes sense when it comes to where you spend your marketing bucks.

Don’t give business to your competitors

Still not sure why you should use SEO? Well here’s a big one—if you don’t implement SEO tactics for your business, then it’s your competitors who will be found when local customers go looking. Someone has to be at the top page of Google, right? If you’re not employing SEO tactics for your business, then it will be your competitors who show up when your potential customer turns to Google for advice and answers.


Search Engine Optimization is important to consider when creating and publishing any kind of online content—whether it’s your business website, blog or otherwise. The better your business gets at optimizing your content for SEO, the more likely you are to be seen online, and the more business you’ll get to your storefront!

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Review Management Best Practices

Why your business needs to stop removing reviews.

1) People can tell your business is filtering the reviews.

68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores (Econsultancy, 2012). Customers are more review savvy and can spot when things look too good to be true. 95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see bad scores (Reevoo, 2015).

2) It looks fishy, like your business has something to hide.

30% of consumers assume online reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews (Webrepublic). Only 8% of consumers expect a business to have a 5-star rating before they will consider using them (Brightlocal, 2016). If there are only five star reviews on a review site, customers know that your business is grooming your reviews and assume it’s because your have something to hide.

3) Reviews that are removed will only anger customers trying to share their experience.

If your business doesn’t allow or encourage reviews, your customers that have something to say, good or bad, will find it odd that they can’t leave a review for your business. Customers can still leave reviews for unverified listings and profiles so just because your business can’t see the bad reviews, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

4) It looks like your business doesn’t value customers enough to win them back.

If your business doesn’t allow for feedback, it appears to customers that you don’t really care about them or value customer service. If customers can’t expect good service, don’t expect them to want to visit your business. Customers like to see businesses that are open to feedback and especially the businesses that are listening enough to try to win customers back.

5) It doesn’t give yours business an opportunity to win back their trust.

If a review isn’t published, it can be very infuriating to customers. If your business did fail the customer, it gives you a chance to win them back. Since your business is responding to the reviewer publicly, your business can possibly win them back as well as show other customers that you care about how you treat your customers. Customers like that.

6) Businesses are missing out on valuable feedback to improve.

While customers at times can be unrealistic with their expectations from a business, some can provide feedback on possible oversights. Oversights happen to the best of us and there is always room for improvement.


Situations when it is okay to gate reviews

Here are the situations when it is acceptable for your business to filter out which reviews are published:

1) When the review contains graphic material or inappropriate language.

If the review is inappropriate, contains explicit language or graphic material. Fortunately, many review sites are all over this, but if they happen to miss it, you can flag it as inappropriate.

2) When reviews are irrelevant to your business.

If a review doesn’t provide any mention or context to your business, products or services. Sometimes customers leave reviews but they really want to ask a question. If it really doesn’t add context as a review from a customer, it is okay to suppress that review.

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3) When reviews are spammy or someone is plugging another business.

If a review isn’t related to your business but is obviously spam, or if a person starts talking about their business instead of you business. In the example below, the review was for a direct competitor and was a case of mistaken identity.

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4) When the review is a fake or planted by a competitor (and your business knows it is).

In the case of review fraud, it is completely acceptable to suppress the review and remove it. In the example below, the person hasn’t ever been to the establishment, they just left a review that they read other reviews.

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Unfortunately, reviews have been used as blackmail and this sort of unscrupulous behavior does occur. The fact that this behavior is on the rise speaks to the importance of practising review management and using reputation management software. If you want help determining if a review is a fake or not, try the free Review Skeptic tool backed by research from Cornell University.

Again, Please Don’t Review-Stuff

The review below is an example of a business owner promoting his own business. There’s a lot of specific detail that even the most committed reviewer wouldn’t delve into. On top of that, the review is so long many people will probably just skim over.

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How can your business practice white-hat review management?

Here’s how your business can practice white-hat review management:

  1. Provide exceptional customer experiences
  2. Ask your customer to leave a review (in store signs, surveys, etc)
  3. Read and analyze the review. Does it meet the criterion to suppress or remove?
    1. If yes, remove and you are done managing the review
    2. If no, the review stays published
  4. Respond to the review
    1. If the review is positive, thank them for their feedback
    2. If the review is negative, try to move the conversation offline. Try to remedy the situation to win the customer back. If you have remedied the situation, try asking them to adjust their review. If not, then at least the customer may come back.

White hat review management visual guide

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Why it’s best to take the review management high-road

At the end of the day, people can tell that if your business is grooming your reviews if all of your reviews are too positive. From a consumer’s perspective, it is better to see a business with a mix of reviews, mostly positive but with some negatives as well. So long as a business is trying to remedy the situation by responding to the customer and following the proper review management protocols, it actually says more about the business than a business with all perfect five star reviews.

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What is Online Reputation Management?

A business’s reputation used to be what they said about themselves in their advertising and the reach their customers had via word of mouth. Now, consumers are pushing out a company’s reputation and image collectively by providing real-time feedback online through review sites, social media, forums and other channels. Basically, if it is an online source and a consumer can say something about a business on it, then it is a channel where your business’s reputation should be managed.


Digital marketing and online reputation management for businesses

Online reputation management is a part of a greater digital marketing strategy that works alongside review management, business listings, paid search/ads, social media management and SEO to help your business stay competitive and relevant online. While your business should be managing each of these segments of digital marketing to maintain your online presence and (consequently) offline reputation, many businesses are not. They really should: four in five consumers surveyed use search engines to find local information from multiple devices to find store address, business hours, product availability and directions.


Online reputation management: your business has options

Your business’s reputation can be affected at anytime on just about any source across the web. You can use products (SaaS), services (outsource services) or people (outsource or hire a digital marketer) to cut down on your reputation management time expenditure. Even if your business tracks and constantly checks on social media, there may be sources that your business is unaware of such as a new review site from a listing that your business never knew that existed.

Your business should weigh the pros and cons of conducting online reputation management in-house or outsourcing, but there are definite best practices when responding to reviews that your business should be aware of. Maintaining your business’s online presence is one of the most worthwhile services a digital agency or local media company can provide your business and is one of the most worthwhile services you can invest in.


Why your business’s online reputation matters

An online reputation needs to be backed by reviews and ratings by consumers. Without them, there would be no reputation to manage and quite frankly, it would appear as if no one ever visited the business.

Ready or not, consumers are talking about your business

Whether a business chooses to manage their reputation online or not, consumers are talking about their favorite and not-so-favorite businesses. If a business simply ignores their reputation online, the consequences can be detrimental.

Unmanaged negative responses can create an angry mob mentality and bad word of mouth spreads like wildfire. While a business may not realize how exactly one instance can affect their online reputation, it is possible that only one negative post on a highly ranked site can actually be what shows up near the top of a search results page when a consumer searches for that business’s name.

Consumers Control the Conversation and Everyone’s Feedback Matters
Social media is a two-way conversation — businesses can no longer broadcast the message they want people to see. There is a democratic nature to social, with brands, consumers and everyone having an equal voice in a shared space. Customers can rave about a business or let everyone know they had a terrible experience. Social networks have dramatically changed the way businesses communicate. Today, consumers can converse with brands and vice versa as if they were talking to a friend. As a result, businesses have had to become more personable than simply a business entity and manage their social presence in a manner that reflects as such.

Reputation drives conversion

What people see online matters. Approximately 74% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations—this is a huge shift in thinking that has become more prominent as time goes on. This trust in reviews translates to dollars, as customers put their money where their trust is. A Harvard Business School study found that a restaurant that sees a one star increase on Yelp will see revenues increase anywhere from five to nine per cent.

As discussed previously, many businesses find that cultivating their digital profile on their own is too time consuming. There are reputation monitoring tools that make keeping up with customers way easier, saving time and money. Whatever your business does, it is essential that you are not perceived to be ignoring your customers online. The worst thing your business can do is appear unresponsive.


What makes a good online reputation?

Being present (listed online) and having a good reputation (reviews and reputation management) go hand in hand. Not being listed on a reference site customers use is just as bad as having bad reviews on that site. Building a consistent online presence and a positive reputation is important for both consumers and search engines. Some of the most important aspects of the online footprint include:

  • number of business listings
  • consistency of business listing information (name, address, phone)
  • overall sentiment in reviews
  • frequency or current velocity of new reviews
  • overall volume of reviews
  • social activity and engagement (especially with reviewers)

Customers now view social recommendations and reviews as more authentic, expecting \\reviews to be a mirror of the actual customer experience that they would experience themselves. This means that maintaining your business’s online reputation is gaining importance as each review is a perceived snippet of what your potential customer expects to experience.


Online reputation management: the main sell

According to Google, 9 out of 10 of local searches lead to action, with more than 50% leading to sales. If businesses have a good web presence, customers will go to them rather than the competitor. Once they’re in the store, 79% of customer use their smartphonesinside to look at reviews or compare prices and 74% of them end up making a purchase. Those numbers alone make the opportunity clear: online reputation management is essential for your business to get consumers in the door to make the sale.

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How to #Hashtag

How hashtags can help you reach the out-crowd and engage the in-crowd

The facts are in: if you are not using hashtags, you are missing out! With a tweet with hashtags being 33% more likely to get retweeted, these handy hashtags can make the difference between #GameOver and #Trending when it comes to social media success. Hashtags are more than just a fad, they are a means of organizing information and standing out from the crowd. Hashtags are also a way to engage with millennials where they shine brightest – through social media savvy. With millennials beginning to outnumber previous generations, speaking their language has become increasingly important. Do not miss out on this opportunity to #GetSocial!


Hashtag basics

The hashtag (#) turns any word, or group of words, into a link that can be searched. When writing a hashtag, leave your grammar at the door – no punctuation, no spaces! The best way to keep your message clear is to capitalize each word #LikeThis, otherwise known as using CamelCase. Got it? Let’s move on!

There are two ways businesses can use hashtags to their advantage.

  1. To reach the out-crowd by joining a conversation that is already in progress.
  2. To engage the in-crowd by starting a new conversation.

Reaching the out-crowd

As a business, using hashtags to reach potential new customers is a no-brainer. How do you do this effectively? By joining a conversation that is already in progress! Start thinking about what words people would search when looking for a business like yours. If you don’t know where to start, remember the old saying, “Keep your friends close, and your competitors closer”! Follow businesses who are doing similar work to you on all your favorite social media websites – especially those who have a great following. What hashtags are they using, and how many? Keep in mind that less is more both in scope (as hashtags that are more niche have a more engaged following) and in presentation (as too many hashtags looks inauthentic).

For example, this, “Take a bite out of our best burger today! #BurgerLover #Foodie #CheatMeal” is better than this, “Take a bite out of our best burger today! #WhatsForDinner #Foodie #EatClean #CommonTable #OnMyTable #TasteMade #ForkYea #OnTheTable #FoodStyling #BeautifulCuisines #HeresMyFood #TheArtOfSlowLiving #FreshFoods #CheatMeal #BurgerLover #Foodstagram #BurgerLife”.

So, K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Social-Media-User! Using hashtags by joining a pre-existing conversation takes your business and puts it in front of someone who would have never found you otherwise. That’s something you can feel #Blessed about!


Engaging the in-crowd

The second way that you can use hashtags to build your business is by starting a conversation with the followers that you already have by creating an original hashtag. Brands from Calvin Klein (#MyCalvins) to Charmin toilet paper (#TweetFromTheSeat) have managed to create original hashtags that engage their audience in a way that builds their social media momentum. Original hashtags can be used for promotions, contests, events, or general brand awareness. Just be sure that when you are creating an original hashtag that it is clear, simple, unique, and catchy. No one will want to join your conversation if it’s confusing or boring.

Imagine if Coca-Cola’s classic #ShareACoke hashtag was #TakeACocaColaAndGiveItToSomeoneElse – not very fun or memorable! Original hashtags give your followers something to talk about and a way to interact with your business on a personal level.


Not all social media sites are created equal

Using hashtags is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each platform will have its unspoken rules of how many hashtags are acceptable. Where Instagram shows posts with an average of nine hashtags performing the best, Facebook posts get the greatest engagement with only one hashtag. Each social media site is unique in its function and audience, so take the time to explore the sites you want to use for your business before posting.


Are you #Trending yet?

These tips and tricks for how to use hashtags as a business are about more than getting ahead in a technological age. Hashtags, above all, are about building community. By putting a simple pound sign in front of a word, you are taking that message and immediately sharing it with someone who cares about what you do and how you do it. This tool is a revolutionary way to make your words matter and allow them to connect with not only a new customer, but a new spokesperson for your business. From #MotivationalMonday to #FlashbackFriday, use your new hashtagging skills to make both the in-crowd and the out-crowd your new #BFFL.

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How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Believe it or not, the same premise applies to negative review response as it does to positive reviews. How you respond to a negative review impacts not only the reviewer, but all the sets of eyes that come afterward. Seeing a business handle a particularly challenging review online suggests that management is proud of their business, and willing to go the extra mile to maintain their reputation!

Make potential clients see the light with these four steps: apologize, promote, get offline, keep it simple.


How to respond to negative reviews

  1. Apologize and sympathize

    The first step towards fixing a problem is acknowledging that one occurred. Regardless of what happened, a simple apology and sympathy for your customer’s experience goes a long way.

  2. Promote

    So the famous crab cakes weren’t up to par the day this particular customer visited. If they’re what you are known for, why not reiterate that? “Our crab cakes are usually a hit, we’re sorry to hear that they weren’t up to par when you visited!”

  3. Move the conversation offline

    Don’t open a can of worms. Keep the lid on tight by offering the reviewer the chance to reach out via phone, email or both.

  4. Keep it simple

    Avoid specifics and don’t ask questions. Those conversations are much better served in a space away from the prying public.

One last pro tip: leave your business name, location and category out of this. You don’t want your negative reviews showing up in search!


Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? You can use software to pull in your reviews from all over the web so you can respond quickly. And if you don’t have time, seek out our Digital Agency services to do it for you. Not only do we guarantee expertise, we guarantee it in a hurry: we respond to reviews as soon as our software pulls them in!

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Facebook Advertising vs. Boosted Posts

On the surface boosting content on Facebook seems like a pretty straight forward transaction. The more dollars you spend, the more eyes see your message. While that’s certainly true, to get the most value out of your dollar it’s worth knowing the basic nuances of how boosting on Facebook works. Truth be told, Facebook’s Advertiser Help Center rarely provides the answers you’re after on Facebook paid advertising, and true to form, it doesn’t provide a lot of guidance on the differences between boosting posts vs. ads either.

So in this article we’ll cover the differences between the types of sponsored ads on Facebook — a Facebook boost and a Facebook news feed ad—and which we recommend as the best option for your business depending on your needs.


What are Facebook sponsored posts?

Facebook sponsored posts are promoted posts that receive additional paid reach. Simply put, your business has the option of boosting a post or creating an ad: boosting increases the chances your post will be seen by followers (increasing loyalty), while news feed ads target users based on select criteria, external from followers (potential new customers).

Wait, why sponsor ads on Facebook when you can post for free?

The reality is, organic posts don’t go very far in today’s Facebook world. Unless you have a huge network of fans (50K+), achieving favorable outcomes through organic content in a 1.6B user world is futile. Based on Facebook’s current algorithms, organic reach has plummeted over recent years to the point where 50 million businesses are posting 1.5 times per day, reaching an average of 2% of their audience. That is what we call “tough sledding”.

Should we be surprised though? As the world’s largest social network, it was simply clockwork until Facebook turned to a Pay-to-Play model resulting in paid advertising on the social network giant. But before you start shouting big corporate obscenities, it’s still our opinion that Facebook provides the best advertising platform on the web or anywhere else in the business world. It’s just takes a little practice.

Advertising on Facebook requires a solid strategy

Like anything, you will need a strategy when tackling Facebook paid advertising. Depending on what your goals are, our quick advice is to put money on posts that have measurable ROI, like lead capture, promotions, contests and content meant to capture new customers.

Another fundamental rule is to always promote your own content. Even if it’s great material and related to your business, never pay to send traffic to someone else’s website.

Now, with all that said, let’s figure out which Facebook paid advertising delivery method works best…Facebook boosts or Facebook ads.


What are Facebook boosted posts?

Facebook boosted posts are promoted posts that appear higher on news feeds, giving a post a higher chance that friends and followers will see it. While boosted posts can be targeted by location, interest, age and gender, more advanced targeting options is reserved for ads on Facebook. And that’s really the rub with sponsored posts for your business. While it’s easier to create them, you are limited in refining the post to get the most out of your “boost juice” dollars.

What are Facebook news feed ads?

Facebook news feed ads are sponsored ads that appear right on the news feed of readers. Newsfeed ads denoted “sponsored” directly underneath the company’s name on the post you users know that the content could be coming from a source they haven’t “liked” yet.

News feed ads are created in Facebook Ads Manager (or Power Editor). Creating a news feed ad on Facebook is more involved than boosting posts, but, as with most things, more work often leads to more reward.

With news feed ads, you can set a specific objective for your ad that directly aligns to your business goals. You can choose from 12 objectives from three different categories: Awareness, Consideration and Conversion.
Notice how these three categories represent different areas of the sales and marketing funnel:

  • Awareness: for boosting posts, promoting a Facebook page, targeting people near the business’s location and increasing brand awareness
  • Consideration: to send people to a website, getting app installs, increase event attendance or get views on videos and collect business leads
  • Conversion: for increasing website conversions, engagement to an app, or to have an offer claimed

Facebook paid advertising showdown: who is the winner?

So you’ve probably come to the conclusion that Facebook news feed ads have a lot more power behind them and are geared toward ROI—especially seeing how there’s no price difference between the two formats.

Boosted posts do have a place—if your business is looking for a quick and convenient way to create awareness and drive profile traffic, then we say go for it, especially if you want to hit existing fans/customers. It takes all of five minutes to start raking in thousands of impressions for as little as $5.00.

If you are looking to achieve tangible marketing results, like capturing leads and driving revenue, my money is on news feed ads. If you want to really capture leads through Facebook paid advertising however, I suggest using Facebook lead ads.

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How to Respond to Positive Reviews

A good or bad reputation can mean the difference between a business thriving and expanding, or closing their doors for good. In the digital age, a business’s reputation is controlled by consumers using online review platforms like Yelp, Google and Facebook to announce the quality of their business publicly. The good news is that this lets businesses easily monitor and manage their online reputation, a power they can put to good use by responding in a timely manner to the reviews they receive.

While negative reviews often get this most attention, positive reviews are as or more important! It’s important to respond to positive reviews to thank customers for taking the time to review your business and to encourage others to do the same.

With 92% of consumers reading reviews online, businesses can’t afford to sit on the sidelines. An effective response will help ensure that a happy first time customer becomes a regular, and 70% of complaining customers will come back if you resolve the complaint in their favor. The first step is engaging with them.


How to respond to positive reviews

It’s simple. Thank the customer, name drop, promote and tell the customer what to do!

  1. Say thank you and be specific

    No one would let a compliment pass them by in real life. Apply that same principle to a review response! And make sure to reiterate your customer’s compliment. This let’s the customer know that a real person took time out of their day to acknowledge them, and that feels good.

  2. Use the business name and keywords

    Don’t miss out on the opportunity to drive your business up in search results—positive reviews work wonders in search. Referring to your business name, location and category (restaurant, coffee shop, hotel, etc.) helps index that review online.

  3. Market, market, market

    Is your business famous for a certain secret sauce? Are you having a promotion next month? A review response is a great place to get the good word out.

  4. Give your customer a task

    Not as scary as it sounds. Invite them to try something different the next time they visit, or bring a friend!


As you can see, there’s a ton of potential hidden in a positive review response. Instead of one advertisement to rule them all, each review is an opportunity to sell your business!

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