5 Facebook Tips for Small Businesses

It’s no secret that the Facebook algorithm–more and more designed to ensure that companies don’t get to advertise for free on the platform–has hit small businesses and pages hard.

The problem is, for small businesses, budget for Boosts and paid ads is likely non-existent (which is likely why you turned to Social Media as a way to communicate in the first place). And after playing with numerous “grass roots” workarounds it’s easy to feel like your page has turned from an effective tool to a nuisance.

But go revisit that page, Small Business Owner, and rebuild it. Here are 5 great tips to “beat the system.”

  1. TAGS

You’ve already figured out that your page posts will not reach every single person who “Likes” you. By employing tags, you garner new views from people who have probably never heard of you (yet), or have heard of you, but aren’t one of the lucky ones who organically receive your posts.

Tags can involve people, places, and things already available on Facebook, and depending on a user’s privacy settings, go right to the tagged user’s page. It’s like the stationary version of one of those dancing flipboard guys!

hashtag comedy

  1. PICTURES

We love professional photographers. We really do. But nothing drives a page like Kaitlin–who happens to work for you–and her 40 photos she took with her iPhone of your event, product or service.

People LOVE to see pictures of themselves featured on a Social Media page. And when they see those pop up after attending your event, or interacting with your product, or happily smiling after a completed service, others see them too, which gives your page more views.

Separate albums for separate dates or events are an easy way to direct people to your page. Ask customers to tag themselves or tag their friends to create a fun sense of community.

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  1. VIDEO

If there’s any way you can take video of what your page represents, you should definitely do so. Video is the best way to showcase what your brand allows to people who have never experienced what you have to offer.

Pro tip: when it comes to video, the shorter the length, the better. Anything video recorded should be between 6 seconds and a minute. Anything over a minute has the tendency to be overlooked (and yes, you can see if your visitors actually watched to the end of your video, as shown in the stats pictured below).

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  1. #HASHTAGS

Before you let out the obligatory groan, hashtags are actually being integrated into Facebook more and more. The problem with hashtags is that they are not always used properly (and that’s probably why you gave that obligatory groan).

Make sure your hashtags are short and relevant to your post. #thisisnotanappropriatehashtag. Example: Search the hashtag #nintendo. Any search done on the internet or internally about Nintendo will automatically be grouped into the search results, giving your page’s post more of a chance to get a “hit” (view). The more clever you are with the grouping of your hashtags, the better.

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  1. ENLIST

Before the Internet, there were TV Commercials and newspaper spreads, and then those spread via word of mouth or became a part of the collective pop culture conscious (Cha-Ching, anyone?).

However, people are now entrusting the Internet (and sometimes solely the Internet) to carry their brand message for them. This is where it’s imperative to have a “Gang of Maniacs” (loose term) to be core supporters of your brand online, especially if you’re trying to build a presence on Facebook.

Start with your friends and family, especially if they fit your core demographic and support your mission. Then identify fans that are vocal online supporters. Reach out to a group of 5-10 and specifically ask them, individually, to support and share your Page and its content.

Many times you won’t even need to ask, but you’d be surprised by just how much this “Gang of Maniacs” wants to help and support you and your efforts online. And each time they Like and Share, they create more exposure for your Page, thereby short-circuiting that pesky algorithm.

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No matter which tactics you employ in your overall Facebook marketing, make sure to monitor your analytics and adjust accordingly. Also remember that consistency is absolutely key on the platform, so no matter how you approach content, pick a frequency and stick to it.

5 Content Calendar Tools

If you need me to explain why you need a well-organized content calendar, then you aren’t busy enough. There are countless advantages to using a unified, easy to use, easy to access calendar to organize your team (for instance, ours is making me painfully aware of just how late I am in getting this post written – thanks, calendar!). So let us assume that you know that, and move directly into helping you find one.

Whether you are starting from scratch, or looking to improve upon the mess you are currently working with (Post-It notes on a white board = mess), your options are practically limitless. So let us get you headed in the right direction by introducing you to some of the more popular tools currently available.

wordpress plugins - content calendar toolsWordPress Plugins: Are you using WordPress? Are you looking for an editorial calendar? Wouldn’t it then make sense to try the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin? If you are looking for more advanced features such as automatic postings to social media and advanced team coordination tools, CoSchedule is a much more flexible plugin, though it comes with a monthly fee.

Trello: Boring gridlines and calendar layouts not your thing? Trello gives you a whiteboard interface that is more project management in its approach than editorial calendar (though it offers a “Calendar” view). This can be a life saver if you are trying to coordinate a large team, and the ability to see the status of all pending assignments in one view is incredibly useful. The basic service is free, and a paid Business Class version is also available for those looking for beefier security and administrative tools.

Excel and Google Docs: Both are convenient and simple ways to set up your own content calendar. If you want some help getting started, the internet is riddled with templates for you to pick from. Literally riddled. You can’t swing a cat meme without hitting one. Just pick one that closely matches your workflow, make a few tweaks, and off you go.

Need more bells on your whistles? Fine, let’s wheel out the big guns.

ContentDJ: Part content calendar and part content curator, ContentDJ totes itself as “The only editorial calendar built for the social media age”. It has everything you need to find, assign, post and track content to your website and social media platforms. The depth of this tool, and the price tag that comes with it, will be overkill for many. But if finding share-worthy content and having extensive, detailed tracking of all social media engagement are critical pieces of your business, this will give you everything you need.

Kapost: If you want to completely tie your content in with the rest of your marketing efforts, you’ll want to give Kapost a try. It has everything you’d expect from a high-end content tool: automatic publishing, extensive project management, advanced tracking, etc. But it really shines in integrating your content into your overall marketing strategy. You can attach content pieces to specific campaigns or prospective clients for easy tracking. A searchable library of all content you publish anywhere is available to everyone in your organization. Leads generated from each piece of content are tracked, tying what you publish directly to your sales pipeline. It’s a bit much if you are just managing a website and a few blogs, but larger companies will really benefit from the powerful and diverse tools offered here.

Do you currently use one of these tools? Tell us about your experiences in the comments!

A Thank You to the TKG Team

thank youAt The Karcher Group, we take pride in delivering the highest quality work to our clients every day. It’s not always an easy task to accomplish, but if everything was easy, we wouldn’t be busy, right?

I believe our success in delivering this level of quality (and in making it look easy!) really boils down to one important ingredient: Teamwork.

Teamwork isn’t just something we talk about at TKG; it’s something we consider and adjust for with every project we take on.

The staff at TKG is split up into multiple teams, big and small, in order to accomplish daily tasks. Together, as one large team, we all have the same goal of meeting and exceeding our client’s expectations. Each team member has specific responsibilities as a part of a smaller, specialized team, but no one works in a vacuum. We all share in successes and failures (no one is perfect) as a larger team.

A strong team will have a deep bench, and that is what we have built at TKG. I believe it is vital to our team structure. Redundancy can be a luxury for a small business our size, but our structure allows us to accomplish big things. What we have built enables us to achieve our goals while becoming a trusted partner to our clients.

We strive to be involved at the decision-making level to be able to help our clients make the right choices for their business. We find that our clients truly appreciate this approach, and we strive for it more and more every day. Again, we believe it is successful because it is backed by a strong team with a deep bench.

Having said all this, my intention here was not to try to convince anyone that TKG invented the concept of teamwork. My intention is to give my team – and in fact the whole team here at The Karcher Group – a word of thanks for all their hard work. We will always have room to grow and find ways to improve, but we have built a quality team here that does fantastic work. And this is my opportunity to publicly acknowledge that hard work, and say thanks.

Image Credit

This entry was posted in At TKG.

Are We Thankful? Absolutely.

thankfulIt’s hard to decide where to begin when it comes to the things we are thankful for. There are so many things that I even considered a spreadsheet to keep track. But here’s an attempt at offering an idea of the many things we have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving:

Our Country:
There’s a lot to worry and complain about in our world today. There’s also no doubt that there is no other country in the world that has spread freedom and opportunity like the USA has. To a very large degree, we have those who serve in our military to thank for that. We often take for granted our ability to do things like get to our jobs safely. Their impact is huge and we are grateful.

Our Families:
I realize it’s a bit cliché to mention family in this context. However if you know anyone at TKG, you know we mean it.

Opportunities We’ve Been Given:
Of course our jobs are a result of the opportunities we have been given. We have many friends, clients and organizations in the community to be thankful for. We’ve been blessed with many years of opportunity to grow, learn, do good work and earn a living because of them.

Our Team:
We aren’t perfect. We are constantly working to become better at every level in our company. I am personally thankful for a team that is working so very hard make that happen.

Of course this isn’t everything we have to be thankful for. These are just a few of the things that when we step back for a moment, we are very thankful God has done for TKG.

Image Credit

This entry was posted in At TKG.

The Top 5 Coupon Sites You Need To Be Releasing Codes On

holiday couponsThe holiday season is right around the corner. The Sunday paper is getting thick with ad circulars, email inboxes are filling up with holiday promotions, and let’s not forget about the looming deals of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

According to research released by Internet Retailer, it is projected that a record 44% of U.S. holiday shoppers will be making online purchases in 2014—an astonishing 13% increase from last year! And we can be certain that those shoppers are going to be looking for the best deal in town.

Admittedly, before I make any kind of online purchase, I do a quick Google search for an available coupon code. I mean, who doesn’t? If you have an eCommerce business and you are offering coupon codes (and believe us – you SHOULD be offering coupon codes), here is a list of the top sites we recommend!

  1. RetailMeNot – RetailMeNot receives more traffic than any other coupon site. They boast more than 500,000 coupons from 50,000 online retailers. Creating an account is easy and submitting a coupon code takes just a few minutes. You can upload your brand’s logo to help users recognize your deals easily.
  2. Coupons.com – Coupons.com typically ranks just under RetailMeNot when you do a search for coupon codes. Users have the ability to search coupon codes for online shopping but they also have a section for coupons that you can clip and print to take to local retailers. Sign up was a bit hard to find (they call it their affiliate program) but once do get there, sign up takes just a few minutes.
  3. The Mommy Insider – This is a blog-based coupon platform which means that tons of mommy bloggers, who are already out scouring the web for the best deals, might have already stumbled across your coupon code and submitted it themselves. Submitting a coupon to the site is easy and allows you to upload brand logos and product images.
  4. PromotionCode.org – Although this isn’t the prettiest site, it has a good reputation and submitting a coupon is easy (and doesn’t require you to create an account). You just plug in your website and the name of your coupon and you are done.
  5. YOUR Website – It’s true, try adding a page to your website that offers customers 10% off or free shipping using a code that can be found through organic search. Start by creating a landing page specific to your deal, write some catchy copy using your already existing product keywords, and give your audience the coupon code. Your website’s existing rank with Google and a brand-specific search could have your coupon code landing page ranking high on the list.

Don’t be afraid to offer coupon codes to your shoppers, if someone is shopping for the best deal in town, shouldn’t it be YOUR deal?

Is Your Website Ready for the New Year? 5 Things You Need to Update

2015All year long you’ve been working on online marketing efforts, putting time and money into your website. We are sure 2014 has been one of your best years ever.

As you head into 2015 and plan to make this next year even better, there are a few items to focus on to meet your new business goals. So we polled our experts and looked back through our archives this year to bring you the top 5 things to think about for your website in 2015

  1. Responsive Design

If your website is not easily accessed from or adaptable to any mobile device, or if you’ve been using mobile workarounds, or if you hear the term “responsive design” and say “huh?” then it’s absolutely time for a change.

(Seriously. We cannot emphasize this one enough.)

With more and more customers approaching access to the Web fluidly from any device, it’s more important than ever that your information and products be accessible and viewable on any screen.

Not only is the user experience of responsive design important, but there are SEO and business benefits as well. In fact, Google recommends responsive design for your website.

Want to learn more? Our TKGeniuses have covered responsive design in depth over the last year. Take a look:

An Introduction to Responsive Design

How TKG Integrates Responsive Design

How Responsive Design Impacts Online Marketing

Responsive Design Tips

SEO Benefits to Responsive Design

  1. Updated Online Marketing Tactics

No matter how good your online marketing strategy is currently working for you, it’s always wise to review your efforts and update them if necessary.

For example, you might place an emphasis on customer service in your business and have your 800 number prominently displayed in your utility navigation on your website. But have you thought about capturing customers sooner with the added convenience of live chat?

Or what about the use of opt-in SMS messaging for coupons or reminders? Sending some of your online ad budget toward Clickbank or Commission Junction? Custom landing pages for specific articles or capture opportunities (e.g. grabbing customers from a trade show)? YouTube, Facebook or Twitter ads? Sponsored Pins on Pinterest? Instagram contests?

If you have an idea, a niche audience or an upcoming campaign, consider tactics that may not have once been a part of your regular online marketing strategy.

Just to get you started, here are a few articles from TKGenius:

Why Manufacturers Should Consider E-Commerce

The New Shift in Online Marketing Trends

3 Reasons Pinterest is Good for Business

Long Tail Ads on YouTube

Keeping Track with Tag Assistant

  1. Clean Up

OK, when was the last time you audited your product listings and made sure every photo was up to date, compelling and showed your product accurately? How about the last time you went through your descriptions and updated them? Or–gasp–are you still listing products you no longer carry?

What about your forms? Are you still using tiny boxes with hard to read fields, or requiring information that makes it hard for customers to fill them out easily?

Do you always remember to update your copyright year on your website? What about your profiles on Social Media? Do they currently reflect your current brand message?

Auditing your site can take time, but is well worth the effort. Here are even more helpful articles from our experts:

Unique Content for Product Descriptions

Product Descriptions that Convert

3 Types of Content to Include In Your Product Descriptions

  1. Messaging

What message is your website REALLY conveying? Is it consistent with your overall brand message?

It’s easy for brands to overlook their messaging online. Cluttered homepages, mis-matched logos across Social profiles, and landing pages that are all text actually detract from your overall message.

We’ve often found that many businesses are really good with their print messaging, but, for whatever reason, this messaging gets lost online. Part of the problem is due to feeling like everything needs to fit on one screen, instead of strategically using content, images, SEO or other tactics to funnel a visitor exactly where you want them.

Making your product or service offering the center of attention and erring on the side of minimalism in your design is actually a better way to convey your message. It’s also easy to employ the use of sidebar stickies or custom slider photos or videos to convey your message. And don’t forget the use of your blog or Social Media to reinforce your message regularly.

And of course:

3 Clever Messaging Tweaks to Grow Your Business

Avoiding Outdated Web Design

Revisiting Website Strategy

Using Video

Improve Conversions with Funneling

  1. Content

Unless you’ve been ignoring the online marketing sphere for, oh, the last eight years or so, you’ve probably heard the term “content” or “content marketing” at some point. But as both consumers, marketers and Google are getting more savvy, regularly publishing compelling content that truly reflects your brand and your message is more important than ever.

So does your content truly show your brand’s personality? Is it communicating your message and promotions clearly? Is it relatable and easy to understand? Does it work in harmony on all your channels? Does it include all types of content, especially multi-media?

Here are just a few articles (of the many) to help you create your best year ever in content:

21 Tips to Make Your Content Marketing More Effective

5 Ways to Use Content to Increase Engagement

What To Do With Past Content

How to Market Your Content Off-Site

3 Inspiring Creative Content Marketing Campaigns

We want 2015 to be your best year online yet. Use these last few weeks of 2014 to comb through and evaluate your website and make tweaks (or major changes!) if needed.

5 Ways to Take Your Instagram Account to the Next Level

So you’re using Instagram for your business. Good idea! Instagram, like Pinterest, is doing wonderful things visually for businesses and brands.

But to really stand out from the crowd, it’s not enough to simply snap a photo, slap a filter on it and hope for the best. In fact, this approach has the potential to harm your brand more than help it. Remember, you’re competing for “double taps” (Likes) along with professional photographers, celebrities, and brands that aren’t afraid to go to extremes.

So here are 5 ways to take your Instagram account to the next level.

  1. Include your account in your content calendar

To make the biggest impact with Instagram, always incorporate your images as a part of your regular content calendar. While one-off, spontaneous photos are always an option with the platform, having at least a general idea of the kind of content you want to post will help direct and guide your photographers throughout a week or month.

Take, for example, Saturday Night Live’s Instagram account. During the week, they take photos of the general arc of the show: first big pitch meetings, then writers working hard on sketches, then costumes and sets in progress, then celebrity rehearsal sightings. Come Saturday night, it’s all behind the scenes photos of performers running backstage, changing costumes, or joking around between sketches. All day Sunday they post follow up photos of big moments backstage, after party candids, or what performers do on their day off.

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Your business may not have a similar weekly arc, but you likely have certain sales cycles, big events or other promotional efforts that you can align content around.

  1. Use the advanced editing tools

Anyone can take any old photo and choose a filter, but to truly make photos outstanding, it behooves you to use the advanced editing tools first before using filters.

To use these tools, simply click the wrench after taking or choosing your photo from your library. Many of the adjustments available here can either fix minor flaws (low light), enhance detail, or make colors pop.

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  1. Use other apps to add a different dimension to your product or brand

If you want to add something outside the Instagram “norm” to your photos, you’ll need to edit or enhance through other apps. Aviary, Camera+, Afterlight and Snapseed bring even more advanced editing options to the table. PicStitch, WordSwag, FontCandy and Party! Party! are fun apps to bring photos together, add text or easily create .gifs. You’ll need to edit or deck out photos in these apps first, then send to Instagram.

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  1. Use video to tease other content or showcase products or services beyond stills

Instagram offers the use of up to 15 seconds of video on the platform. Some of the best uses of video are often when teasing or promoting other content (giving a short clip of a story to promote an upcoming podcast) or showcasing something that just can’t be shown in a still photo (acro yoga or hand-balancing to promote an upcoming class). Video is a powerful tool on Instagram; think carefully through how you can use video to enhance what you’re already doing with photos.

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  1. Monitor analytics

There’s no point in putting in all the work into any content without determining if it’s actually effective. While you could splurge on a robust tool like Simply Measured, some free tools can give great insights into how photos are performing on the platform. Iconosquare (formerly Statigram), is a free tool that gives insight into follower engagement, spread rate, filter and hashtag impact and account growth. You can use other tools like Klout to cross reference which content seems to be resonating best with your audience, as well.

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Once you are monitoring your Instagram content regularly, adjust your tactical approach as necessary. If fans are responding well to certain filters or hashtags add more into the mix, while phasing out content that has lower likes or engagement.

And of course, never be afraid to try something new and creative by showcasing your brand, product or service from a unique angle. Instagram users are hungry for great content to consume and tell their friends about!

What Happened to the Art of Writing?

Sometimes I feel like it’s lost in all of the talk about content.

Wait, isn’t content supposed to be about writing?

Seems that content is often more about creating buzzwords and catchy titles over great messages and words. Anything to reel in a few good clicks, right?

Surely you know the catchy titles that over-promise while luring you to click and under-deliver once you get there: “10 mind-blowing tips” or “5 things you didn’t know that could hurt you – you’ll never believe #2!” Anything to get the reader to bite, right?

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Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, talked about this phenomenon recently in a session at Content Marketing World.

“Tell true stories well,” she told the group of a few hundred in the audience. “Put the customer at the center.”

Seems simple enough. Why isn’t everyone doing that already? Why are we in a race to produce things that don’t have meaning?

Handley went on to give some tips on how to create content that follows those rules:

  1. Have a goal and follow a writing GPS.
  2. Write with a strong, unforgettable voice.
  3. Write to just ONE person.
  4. See content moments everywhere.
  5. Give customers gifts (who doesn’t love gifts?).

All great and valuable lessons in content creation, right? Certainly tips that anyone producing content should be following and living by in order to produce great content.

But what she said next made me sit up straight in my seat.

“Writing is not grammar; writing is thinking.”

YES! What a perfect way to frame the shift in thinking that needs to happen in content marketing. We need to think beyond just creating content and actually start writing.

Anyone can write words (ehhh, well, most people…). But it’s the thinking that goes behind the words that carry the most value.

Thinking is why we (should) have content departments. Content writers should be there to think through what needs to be written, considering subject, tone, voice and messaging. Secondary to that thinking is getting the perfect words on the page.

“Better writing means better marketing,” Handley said.

All brought together by better thinking.

Building a B2B Online Marketing Strategy that Generates Leads

Lead GenerationIt has been challenging for many B2B companies to make the transition to online marketing. Many B2B businesses still rely on old school methods to generate leads, including cold calls, trade shows and direct mail. While there is still a place for these efforts, it is proven that over 85% of B2B customers search the web before making a purchase.

The reason is very simple. Your buyers are changing their purchasing methods. They no longer want or need to meet with sales teams prior to making a purchase. Rather, they conduct their own buying research online – and it’s faster and more efficient! In fact, 77% of B2B buyers indicate they don’t talk to a salesperson until after they have performed their own independent research – online.

When developing a foundation for your B2B online marketing strategy, consider the following tactics to build and expand your internet marketing efforts:

  • Have a well-designed, well-written website – Your website should make a positive first impression of your company and offerings. And, it should have content that engages and educates your prospects.
  • Know your target audience – Develop a clear vision of who your content is intended to motivate. Don’t try to be all things to all people – be an expert for your niche.
  • Nurture and grow your list – Develop a strategy to capture your website visitors. If a prospect lands on your website, but isn’t ready to buy, it’s important to stay in touch with them. A simple sign-up form on your website can produce great results. Consider giving people an incentive to sign-up so they are willing to give you their contact information. Once they’ve signed up, use an email newsletter to consistently send meaningful content to them.
  • Build new highways to your site – There are many ways for you to drive traffic to your site. First and foremost, make sure your website URL is incorporated in your communications materials, including your email signature, printed and digital marketing materials, company signage, packaging and published articles. An ever-growing highway for driving people to your site is via social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
  • Keep creating content for your site – Most consumers find custom content useful and many believe that companies that create custom content are interested in building a relationship with them. Creating custom content can differentiate your company from competitors, nurture leads, and help prospects make buying decisions.

The above tactics are the foundational pieces for a robust online B2B presence. By implementing these tactics, you can expect to see an increase in the number of qualified leads to your website. And, it should make conversion a lot easier for your sales team. Isn’t that what it’s all about?