30 Steps To Business Success on Google Plus

GooglePlus-550x375Google+ isn’t Facebook. It isn’t Twitter either. You should not join Google Plus to replace any other social media platform. But if you are not happy with any of the sites you are currently on, or even if you are, you should definitely give Google+ a go. Why?

Google+ is a completely different experience. It’s a different way of relating to your business world as well as personal network. Speaking of personal, it is entirely possible that you looked into Google+ but weren’t impressed. You think it feels a bit like a ghost town but this is not true.

Google+ is not the answer if you want to spy on your ex boyfriend or dig up dirt on your old college mates. But if you want to discover new people based on your interests, passions and common interests, if you are looking for kindred spirits then this is the perfect platform for you. This allows for both personal as well as business growth.

Intrigued? Allow me to explain.

Set up your Google+ business page

Here’s what you need to do to leverage the power of Google+

#1 Claim a custom URL. Now you don’t have to have a long ugly URL, you can use a custom URL (plus.google.com/+username) so you can brand yourself and it is easy for people to find you on the web.

#2 Claim Authorship. Although there are some changes happening with the Google Authorship, it is still worth getting it done as it enhances your visibility in search results and gives you more authority. First you need to include a link to your Google+ profile in your author bio of the blog post (with a ?rel=author tag attached to the end of it). Then add a link to this blog to the contributor section in your Google+ profile.

#3 Invest in professional photos. With the bigger cover photo option, you can use this to your advantage. Get professional photos done or ask a graphic designer to create a cool banner for you. You can use anything from physical product images, customers and clients images, to any major upcoming event. The possibilities are endless.

#4 Optimize your profile for search A personal profile is different from a business page and you should optimize both. Complete your about page basics for both. Your tagline shows up in the search so pay attention to it. Make it clear, concise and add relevant keywords.

#5 Cross promote your profile and page. Use your business profile to share personal content and vice versa (when appropriate).

#6 Add a badge to your website. Link your Google+ profile to your website by adding a badge on the sidebar. When you do this, an active follow widget also shows up next to your listing in the search results thus making it even easier to follow you on Google+.

#7 Segment your audience. Unlike any other social media platform, you can segment your audience and place them in different circles.

#8 Curate your circles strategically. Circles are a great way to manage different interest groups. Create your own circles around themes and use keywords to identify new people to add to them. Circles are invaluable for maintaining current relationships but a great tool for discovering new ones. You can create new circles for people you would love to connect with so you can remain in the know about them without having to run searches every time.

#9 Interact with others as your business page. Just like you can act as your business page on Facebook, you can do the same on Google+. Interact with other pages as your page and use them to connect and +1. To switch to your business page, simply click the dropdown arrow next to your picture on the top right on your Google+ screen and you will see your page listed for selection.

#10 Be personable. Don’t become a robot or a faceless corporate identity. Show off your personality, act like a human and you will encourage more people to circle you.

Build awesome relationships with Google+

Looking to connect with more people on Google+? Here are some ways to get more followers for your Google+ business page.

#11 Share content with your personal Google+ profile. Share excellent content on your business page then switch to your personal profile and share your content again. Anything you choose to share or +1 can show up in your follower’s stream. This gives you a great opportunity to get in front of more people.

#12 Use hashtags. Hashtags (#business, for example) are a great way to tag and track conversations so add 2-3 hashtags to your posts and they will appear when people search for these specific hashtags. Most people overlook them on Google+ so do that and you will stand out but don’t go overboard. Anymore than 3, and you will end up looking like a spammer.

#13 Discover new engagers. Create new circles to keep track of people who clearly engage with your content such as leave a comment or +1. There are also other people who are sharing your content but not necessarily mentioning you. Use Google Ripples to find those interactions so you don’t miss the new connections.

#14 Be helpful. Make relationship marketing your number one goal on Google+. This means you should engage with other people and help them out. It is fine to promote yourself but if this is all you do, you will have trouble creating meaningful relationships. Shift your think from it’s all about me to it’s all about them.

#15 Participate in hangouts and communities. Join communities and hangouts on topics you are interested in and you are bound to find interesting, like minded people to connect with.

#16 Host hangouts. Hangouts on air are a great alternative to webinars as they are free. And if you are new to online broadcasting world, this is a great starter option. Using video you can present to 10 people at a time but you can stream this video using YouTube to an unlimited number of people. You can use hangouts to conduct interviews, present live webinars with screen sharing, do panel interviews, private talks and more.

#17 Create a community. If you can’t find a community on your topic, create it. When you start one, you will naturally attract some spam but don’t worry too much about it. Google+ has an excellent spam management system and will hold it for moderation before making it public. You can create a private community if you wish or you can make it public but approve any requests to join.

#18 Take the time to connect with a key influencer. Want to connect with the thought leaders and the influencers in your industry? Get in line. You are not alone. But don’t worry, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Add value to these people before you ever ask for anything. Comment on their updates, share them, mention them (+username) and generally be of service. Get yourself noticed and your relationship will become mutually beneficial and will go a long way. You can use a private message, a chat message or a private hangout to take your relationship to the next level.

#19 Reach out to one new person every day. Building your network on Google+ takes time but do it consistently and your efforts will pay off.

#20 Ask for follows. Don’t appear desperate but make a strong call to action.
Market your business

Google+ is invaluable when it comes to marketing your business and getting your products and services in front of new audiences. Here are some tips to supercharge your marketing efforts.

#21 Make your Google+ profile findable. You can easily do this by adding a badge for both your personal and business profile on your website. This allows for people to connect with you on Google+.

#22 Use +post ads from Google. Give yourself massive visibility with +post ads from Google. You can pay to promote your Google+ plus content and get them in front of third party websites in the form of advertisement. You can handle them through Google Adwords account. You can promote any form of content: blog posts, video, images, hangouts etc. People who are logged in to Google can interact with your ad. They can share it, +1 it or comment in it right in your ad. Combine +post ads with Facebook ads to get even better results.

#23 Optimize your content. You want to use great visuals and post high quality stuff especially if you want to promote it using ads. Format your posts using bullets, bold, italics and numbered lists. Use captivating headlines and strong calls to action. Use rich media within your content to maximize the reach and engagement of each piece. Integrate YouTube videos directly on Google+. Use animated GIFs and cinema-graphs (images that move). Use audio, video, infographics and Google+ stories.

#24 Use Google helpouts to generate leads. This is a service rolled by Google where people can seek assistance from others via video. You can set yourself as a true expert and build your credibility by helping people through helpouts. If you need to hire people, you can ask them to demonstrate their expertise on a helpout. For tutors and trainers, it is a great tool to add to their arsenal. You have complete control over how much you charge for your live video or if you want to teach for free. Get in the game early by delivering helpouts. You will start getting reviews and get rewarded for early participation by getting indexed for better placements.

#25 Integrate it with YouTube. If you have a YouTube channel, integrate it with Google+ and you will reach a wider audience. Any comments on your video being viewed on Google+ will show up as comments on YouTube.

#26 Use hangouts on air. Use this free broadcasting service for delivering webinars without having to use the clunky software that often comes with a high price tag.

#27 Embed posts on your blog. Increase the life of your content by embedding it on your blog. Not only will you get more out of it, when people who are logged into Google accounts comment or +1 it, it will count as if it was done on your Google+ rather than your website.

#28 Create video with pictures. Videos are usually more engaging than any other forms of media. Using Google+’s Awesome Auto feature you can convert your photos into video. You can download the Google+ app on your smart phone, take photos and upload to Googe+ and it will turn it into video for you.

#29 Use images without having to resize or crop them. Google+ won’t automatically do it for you or ask you to it. If your brand is highly visual or if you take pride in your professional, high quality images, you can flaunt them on Google+ with minimal modifications.

#30 Track in-depth analysis. At the end of the day don’t forget to track your social media marketing efforts. There are a number of tools you can use to do this for example SumAll, CircleCount, or Steady Demand’s Brand Page Audit tool.

Final thoughts

Google+ isn’t just a social network. It is part of Google and you should take advantage of this fact to reach even bigger audiences.

Do not try to replace your website with Google+ but use it as a complimentary platform to meet your business goals. Keep your website as the hub of all activity but invest time and effort sharing content on Google+. Not only are you building a strong social media presence, you can get better results on Google search when you use Google+ strategically.

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How to Create an Explosive Brand Image that Will Grow With Your Business

What does your brand image say about your business?

How to Create an Explosive Brand Image that Will Grow With Your Business

In today’s crowded business environment it’s no longer enough to market your business, you need to be actively “branding” as well. The question is, what is branding, and why is it so important?

Creating a brand for your business is a long, focused process and it doesn’t stop when your brand is recognizable. In fact, the best brands with the most longevity are constantly changing and evolving to suit the needs of the market. Building a brand imagethat will grow with your business is challenging, to say the least, but it can be done with a little creativity and a lot of pre-planning.

Below are several absolutely crucial steps in creating a brand that will last the life of your company, and maybe even longer (if you do it right!)

Start With an Umbrella

That is, a branding umbrella. The hardest and most critical part of branding are the first few weeks and months when you really decide what your brand’s going to be. Here’s where it’s important to think extremely “big picture” and create a brand that you could see representing the company if you grew from a single brick-and-mortar location to a network of global outposts. In essence, you want to create a brand image your company can grow into.

The logo is an important part of branding as is your company name itself. You should put thought into a tagline (do you need a tagline?) and into the color scheme you’ll use. Choose visual representations that are relatively easy to reproduce, read, and recognize and are more professional than they think you need to be. A few years down the road, your business will thank you.

Specify Who You’re Branding To

The next step (which sometimes begins before the initial branding phase is completed) is deciding who your brand is speaking to. Obviously you want your brand to be as global as possible but you’re always going to be more widely accepted in some spheres than others. For example, if your brand has a witty tagline and an all-lowercase logo you’re likely going to appeal more to a younger, hipper demographic. Consider the brands you like and those that seem to have headway in the markets you’re aiming for.

It’s important at this step to consider not only your current customers, but the customers that you think you’ll want to go after in the future. Maybe you’re not planning on marketing specifically to women now, but if you decide to in the future, is your brand female-friendly? Think of these things before they become an issue.

Clearly Define Your Brand Voice

Every brand has a voice. The brand “voice” of Taco Bell, for example, is irreverent, humorous, and decidedly unserious. The New York Times brand, however, is staunch, professional, and trustworthy. Consider the ways you want your brand to be perceived by clients and the general market then figure out how you’re going to portray those attributes through your brand voice. Maybe you want your brand to feel welcoming, casual, and warm. Descriptive words like these will help you figure out the fine nuances of your brand itself.

Brand voice comes in when you actually start presenting your brand to the public. Every single time your brand meets and interacts with people it’s speaking the brand “voice,” from a Facebook status update to a sponsorship of a local 5K. Your brand voice should always match the core ideals you and the marketing team decided the brand stood for early on to avoid muddying the waters.

Decide Where Your Brand Lives

Now’s the time for marketing to really ramp up. Your brand isn’t an island – it’s only going to create buzz or make impressions if it’s out there, doing things. So, what can a brand do? It can head numerous social media accounts, star in commercials, be featured in radio ads, or be represented by people handing out samples at a fair. Deciding which places it’s most beneficial for your brand to have a presence in is the hard part.

Where your brand lives has a lot to do with where your target market hangs out. For example, if your brand is aimed at young moms, Pinterest, daytime TV commercial spots, and coupons are great places to be. Media buying and advertising are, of course, functions of the marketing department but these activities do not happen independently from the function of branding! To maintain a focused, clear brand it’s crucial that all elements of your marketing and branding campaigns be in sync.

Always, Always Stay “On Brand”

One of the worst things you can do to your brand if you want to create something that’s got staying power is to send mixed messages to the public. The strongest, most identifiable brands never, ever waver from their brand voice even if it means facing potential blow-back from doing so. For example, Chick-fil-a recently went through a very public turmoil when the brand’s anti-gay marriage views were shoved into the spotlight. Though the brand took knocks from those who were opposed to the message, its core audience appreciated and applauded the brand staying true to its traditional voice.

One way to ensure the brand stays on target is to only allow a few key people to be involved in brand messaging. This includes everything from creating ad campaigns to talking to customers on social media. The more focused and intertwined you can make your companies marketing and public relations efforts, the stronger the brand image is going to be, for better or for worse.

Continually Take the Pulse of the Brand

As discussed, your brand does not function in a vacuum. It’s true that sometimes it’s “hard to see the forest for the trees.” It’s absolutely essential to consistently check up on the progress of your brand and to find out what your target market as well as the general public think of your brand as a whole. Never, ever assume you know how your brand’s being perceived. It’s impossible to be objective about your branding efforts when you’re so entrenched.

Focus groups (proctored by a neutral party) are a great way to get a feeling for what people think about your brand. It’s also smart to hand out in-store surveys or to ask online visitors to tell you how you’re doing. In general, any feedback is worth having, even if it’s not what you want to hear. Learning something new about the way your brand’s being viewed is how you make changes to the brand that keep it strong.

Reevaluate Every Few Years

Some brands have been around for decades, even centuries, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t changed at all. In fact, all brands periodically make changes, some visible, some not so much, that attempt to shore up the brand’s loyal fan base while bringing in a large contingent of new followers. Look back 30 years, for example, at the Apple brand’s constant reinvention. Not only has the brand’s logo changed, the brand itself has taken on different characteristics to appeal to different groups.

Don’t be afraid of change. The good brands are always the most flexible and the more you stay on top of how your brand’s messaging is being received the easier it is to make small tweaks rather than earth-shattering changes. Never make changes to the brand image or the brand voice without first doing a lot of research about what’s going on now and what’s likely going to happen in the future in your industry.

Branding is half art, half science, and it’s become inextricably linked with a solid marketing campaign. Branding isn’t something you have, it’s something you do, time and time again. In fact, branding never stops as long as the doors are open!

Depending on the size of your business, it’s always a decent idea to bring in some outside help when needed. Branding consultants are available all over the country and there are plenty of branding firms that will take over the entire process for you. A word of caution, however, is to make sure plenty of the in-house team is also involved in the branding process to ensure the brand never gets too far from the actuality of the company.

If you’re not sure if branding is really necessary just ask Coca Cola, Hershey, and Google. Companies simply can’t exist without a brand; whether you like it or not, your business is going to have one. The trick is defining your brand for your businessbefore someone else does.

What does your brand image say about your business?

Join the discussion by leaving a comment below and please spread the word by sharing this post with your friends.

6 Reasons Businesses Need Video

video-marketing-the-kool-sourceYou can’t budge on twitter these days without someone telling you how vital video is for your business. Pages and pages have been posted about how video can increase traffic to your website and benefit SEO. However I think it’s important we don’t lose sight of the more basic and immediate benefits that video brings to the brand/customer relationship.

So let’s cut to the chase and look at the real reasons why we love consuming information in this way. Here’s my 6 key reasons why we engage so much more effectively with film and therefore why every business needs quality video content online.

It’s nice! : Watching video (rather than reading pages and pages of copy) is essentially an enjoyable experience and one which can bring people and brands together. By being one part of this positive experience your brand gains instant “feelgood” factor from the other party (ie The viewer).

It’s instant and easy communication: Video is very easily accessed whether the viewer is on a computer or mobile. Gone are the days of waiting 2 hours for 30 seconds of postage stamp sized video to stream to your computer! Online video is now slick, quickly accessed and presented in stunning HD. This is something that is all too often overlooked.

It’s social: Video is effortlessly shared and people love to use social media platforms to discuss and comment on great films.

It’s involving: Copy is fine but it simply doesn’t have the explosive power that combined sound and image can deliver. Film allows us to show and tell at the same time creating a richer, more emotional experience.

It works: A well produced video can instantly change or re-enforce customers perception of your brand. It can change perception from stuffy and traditional to hi tech and forward thinking in a second. This alone makes it an incredibly powerful tool.

People don’t forget a great film so video is a great way to make a strong first impression. Your customers will instantly make a subconscious judgment about you when they experience your film and this should make you stand out from your competitors.

 

By focusing on these fundamental benefits you will produce film and video that informs and entertains the viewer and ultimately will help drive new customers towards your brand.

Social Media Marketing

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Just What Is This Social Media Marketing All About?

Hopefully you are asking yourself,

“What is Social Media, Why do I need It and Can it really help my business grow?”

Let’s start out by me asking you a few questions on Social Media.

Ever wish you were a fly on the wall when it comes to your customers and prospective customers?

What if …you could address a complaint in real time, resolve it and not only renew your customers faith in you, but enhance your reputation with thousands of viewers?

What if …you could reach out to thousands of prospective customers in a single text message and convert a slow day into a banner one?

What if … the power of word of mouth advertising was an instant chain reaction creating buzz about your company?

What if…you received a glowing review, recommendation, referral or testimonial that thousands of consumer saw instantly?

What if…you could target an ad to a consumer who needs exactly what you sell at a fraction of the cost of regular advertising?

Who are the Social Media Consumers?

We, are social consumers and savvy. We no longer trust an advertisement as gospel but trust our friends advice, recommendations and experiences about your business, service or product. We expect you to be available where we communicate, online, Facebook, mobile text, smart phones, twitter and more. We’ve gone beyond 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0 web marketing. We want instant gratification and instant response. We move in real time, why aren’t you here? Your competitor is.

Social Media Marketing is Word of Mouth Advertising on Steroids.

Social Media Marketing is becoming the most effective way to reach consumers to increase your market share. I could spew out stats about the millions of consumers who purchase and research before they buy online via the internet and smart phones. The numbers are a staggering magnitude too large to make real meaning out of but I will mention a few. YouTube is the second largest search engine to Google, there are over a billion users on Facebook and there were a total of 200 million Smartphone mobile devices distributed in the final quarter of 2013.

You need your business where your customers eyes are, and they are no longer on the yellow pages, newspaper, radio and local television channels.

Using a social media marketing manager to help create and generate buzz is a great way to begin to engage customers. Just having a website isn’t enough anymore and what did work to get you seen online no longer is as effective. Social media marketing helps you increase market share and reach consumers you may not ordinarily. It will drive traffic to your business, provide you with happy, repeat customers and keep the customers you have. How? When Social Media is done right, your customers are engaged. The personality of your company shines through and you build a like minded tribe of loyal followers. When using a social media marketing manager, a strategy should be developed that fits your goals and incremental growth. Use of video distribution, Facebook fanpages along with other popular social sites, mobile marketing capability, a website that displays correctly on mobile phones all need to be incorporated in todays advertising strategies and your Social Media Manager should have the ability to provide these services for you. Social Media by Proxy is offering a no cost 1 hour consultation to determine your company’s goals and what Social media programs are best to attain them.

Contact us today and let’s start building relationships through social media!