7 Ways to Create the Online Reputation You Want

Standard

Whether you have your own business or not, managing your online reputation is imperative in today’s highly Internet savvy world. The things you said on social media will haunt you for the rest of your life if you’re not careful. Something you said innocently as a teenager might still be out there and come up if an employer searches for you. Thankfully, you can manage your online reputation if you know what to do.

Blogging What You Want People to Know 

Practicing daily blogging is a good way to keep your name and brand in front of readers and on top of search engine results. A blog post doesn’t have to be long, or in-depth to be effective. You simply need to know why you are writing it, to whom you’re writing it in order to be sure that you choose topics related to your niche of importance to your audience.

Use Article Marketing to Educate Your Market

Article marketing isn’t dead, it’s just changing. It’s still an important way to get the word out about your brand. It’s a good way to educate your market about the need for your products and services in general. For instance, if you sell a specific moisturizer you might write articles about caring for the skin, and what types of ingredients are good and bad for the skin. Let your short bio at the bottom of the articles lead them to your website.

Use Social Media Strategically

Be careful on social media. Use it strategically. If you’re on Facebook sharing away with your friends and relatives be sure to check and double check your privacy settings. You don’t want something innocent there to corrupt your business message. Keep business and your private life as separate as possible. In other words, don’t over share. Share enough, but keep it simple.

SEO Gets You Found

Search engine optimization is more important than ever. You may wonder what it has to do with your online reputation but if no one can find you, you’re not going to have a reputation at all. Keep up to date on new rules as they become available. Each search engine tells you in no uncertain terms how to optimize your pages for best results. Follow what they say and you’ll get better results. You can also use a service like HubSpot’s Marketing Grader to find out how well you’re doing.

Google Alerts for Monitoring

Use Google Alerts to set up a notification to your inbox any time your name, brand, product or any keyword you want is mentioned on the Internet. This is a great way to monitor your business buzz as well as stay ahead of the game when it comes to new products and services. Google Alerts is a great way to keep informed on any topic you choose.

Bury Don’t Erase

When you find information about yourself you’d rather people not have, it’s important to seek to bury the information rather than erase it. It can be very difficult to erase information, especially if it’s true. Even slanderous information can be very expensive to get rid of and won’t always work. The best course of action is to bury the information with great search results, if the information you don’t want people to see is on page four, it’s going to be almost nonexistent anyway.

Be Transparent

This advice might seem counter to the advice above. However, if you ever do something wrong and learn from it in your business, it’s best to be open about it. Write a blog post about what you learned, write a book about it, and you can turn what could have been truly business killing news into something positive. But, remember that being transparent about your business has nothing to do with your personal life. Keep personal and business as separate as possible.

 

_____________________________________

Looking for a someone to  patiently explain social media to help you understand the best ways to use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube?  Send me a message using the contact form below

I look forward to hearing from you!

Lynn Cooper

 

5 Mistakes to Avoid on Social Media if You Value Your Reputation

Standard

Reputation

The Internet has now been around long enough that former teenagers who are in the job market are sometimes seeing the affects that poor choices made in the past can wreak on the present. Teachers, lawyers, politicians are also not immune to the far reaching implications of having made poor choices publically can have on them. As a small business owner, you’re in the same boat. It’s important to use social media carefully to enhance your business reputation.

 

Not Keeping Personal & Business Separate

 

This is getting more difficult as the days of being anonymous on the net are over. Today, everyone is known via Google, and you have to sign in via Google or Facebook or other methods thereby verifying your identity in order to participate in online discussions.  But, it’s important that you keep your personal life and business life as separate as possible. If you use the Internet to market your business, you’re probably going to have to limit your online personal life to a select group of people as well as a select social network such as Facebook.

 

Over sharing on Social Media

 

Everyone doesn’t need to know every detail about your life. Is it really smart to share pictures of yourself in your underwear, even to your husband or boyfriend? You never know when you will get hacked and that private information is out there for the world to see. In addition, while you want to be a real person to your audience they really don’t need to know the intimate details of your menstrual cycle or hormone fluctuations or bathroom habits of your children. Naturally, this depends on your niche, but for the most part, don’t over share, it’s not attractive.

 

Not Being Consistent

 

One way to manage your online reputation is to keep your brand consistent across all accounts. Use similar or the same headshots, use the same logos, and banners, the same colors and the same information about yourself and your business. By inadvertently leaving something out you might accidentally confuse someone or make them think you’re being less than honest. Even if it’s an accident, you don’t know how others will view it. Double check to make sure that everything you say and do backs up who you want to represent yourself as online.

 

Not Researching Yourself

 

You can use a variety of tools for monitoring your online reputation such as Google Alerts, Reputation.com, and others will help you manage your online presence so that you are the one dictating what people know rather than others dictating it for you. You can find out what’s being said about your brand, your name, and your products or even similar products and services so that you can stay ahead of the buzz and even create the buzz.

 

Not Updating Privacy Settings

Most social media accounts offer some privacy options. A great way to manage your privacy on

Facebook is to set up a closed and private group for your friends and family that you trust so that nothing can be searched or discovered that is personal or embarrassing. Facebook also offers other privacy options like the ability to approve images you’re tagged in. Use these options to get the most out of social media and protect yourself and your business from misunderstandings.

 

Every day there is something in the news about someone who said something taken out of context or said in jest that gets someone into a lot of trouble to where they lose jobs, clients, and even an entire business. Don’t become a statistic.

 

Why Instagram trumps Vine

Standard

In the world of technology, in order to stay relevant and profitable, your brand has to adapt. Today, social media giant Facebook unveiled a highly anticipated video feature on Instagram, a strategic move to satisfy audiences who are seeking innovative mobile technology. It’s a much needed defense tactic against rivals such as Twitter’s mobile application Vine, which has amassed a large following for its six-second videos, and Snapchatwhich enables videos and photographs to “self-destruct.”

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive at Facebook, believes that mobile is the best way for his company to remain profitable. In Facebook’s 2012 annual report, the company stated: “We believe that mobile usage of Facebook is critical to user growth and engagement over the long term, and accordingly are prioritizing mobile product development.” The Menlo Park, California-based company has tripled the Instagram workforce since the photo-sharing platform was acquired last year, and during the launch event Zuckerberg hinted, “We’re really just getting started with this product.”

The recent announcement is evidence that Instagram’s video application trumps Vine’s current offerings, allowing users to record and share 15-second videos with the option of selecting custom covers and one of 13 signature filters, as well as boasts image stabilization. But unlike Vine videos, Instagram videos do not continuously loop.

Brands have learned that uploading videos online is a powerful way to deliver advertising. Consumers watch videos for two reasons: First entertainment, and secondly information.  With projections that streaming video will harness more than 70% of online traffic in the next few years, it’s clear that video consumption won’t dwindle.

If you’re looking to try your hand at creating an online video, here why Instagram video trumps Vine:

It’s user-friendly

The selling point of Instagram is its ease of use. The app takes seconds to learn and is so simple to use.

It’s reach and integration is unrivaled

Instragram let’s users share video on Facebook and Twitter, as well as embed videos on a blog or website. These capabilities offer brands the opportunity to extend their reach to a larger audience and integrate marketing efforts over several platforms. This far outweighs Vine’s appeal since Instagram currently has over 100 million users. The product update is likely to send the user count up.

Less restrictions

While Vine only gave users six seconds of video, Instagram video boasts 15 seconds of recording right out the gate—and the videos don’t loop. In addition, Vine was only available for iPhone users until earlier this month while Instagram launched its video option immediately on both platforms. Trust, socially savvy customers won’t forget those details.

If you have yet to secure your brand identity on Instagram, now is the time to do so. Craft a strategic plan for utilizing the technology and start shooting.

5 Social Media Networks to Watch

Standard

Few social services have enjoyed as much success as sites like Facebook and YouTube.  However, there are thousands of social media sites in existence and their popularity truly depends on the country.

Socially Ahead’s S. Lynn Cooper has curated a list of five social networks to watch. Like Instagram, many incorporate visual images with the goal of connecting people beyond the digital realm. Other services remind us of LinkedIn, bringing users together through professional networking. Regardless of which ones spark your interest, let’s explore which ones will become the future of social media.

hootsuite-conversations-640

Conversations

HootSuite has launched Conversations, a tool that brings social networking into the workplace.  Forget e-mail chains, members can collaborate in real-time by posting on message boards similar to Facebook.  The great thing is this tool is not limited to the immediate team; in fact, others can be invited to join the conversation. Need to pull in legal or marketing, one click and they are brought into the dialogue.

Vine

When you hear the word vine, most would think of something that grows from a tree. Not anymore! If you have yet to hear about this mobile application, then it’s time we get you up to speed. Powered by Twitter, Vine is a video-sharing app that allows users to create six second videos using their smartphone. You can upload them and share the videos on other social networks like Twitter and Facebook. If you have a product-based business and a sprinkle of creativity, Vine can become an excellent content marketing vehicle for your brand.

Chirpify

What if your followers could purchase your product or services by simply tweeting? Enter Chirpify, a social media network that allows your brand to sell directly to consumers on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. When followers, who must have Chirpify accounts, reply with the word “buy,” they score the item. No need for you to send them to your website for processing, Chirpify does it all for you for a nominal transaction fee.

Medium_large_verge_medium_landscape

Medium

To simplify what Medium is think Twitter and Blogger combined in a simple layout.   Unlike Twitter, which caps you at 140 characters, Medium gives you the flexibility to express your thoughts just the way you like.

Quora

Quora is an information sharing and gathering platform that takes the form of crowd-sourced questions and answers. A combination of other platforms such as LinkedIn Answers and Wikipedia, users can vote the answers they deem the most helpful, allowing the most knowledgeable to obtain status in the network.

5 Surefire Ways to Make Your Website Work for You

Standard

Having a website is essential to a business’s marketing strategy. Almost every business whether business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B), and even non-profits, need an online presence to reach the global marketplace. Surprisingly, many small businesses lack a website that will convert to leads. Regardless if you have a social media presence, operating without a website can hurt your chances at sustainable online success.

Gone are the days where all it took was a URL, flash graphics, and an expensive advertising campaign to boost traffic. The reasoning behind this shift is largely due to a change in consumer behavior. Today’s customer desires to devour information when they want and how they want to, without the involvement of a sales person. Also, prospects don’t want to be advertised to, but instead educated on how your product or service benefits their life.

website-hosting

Create a user-friendly website

Your website’s appearance and ease of navigation are a direct reflection of your brand. That’s why it’s critical you ensure that your website is welcoming and easy to read and use. Before going live, gather a group of trusted individuals to conduct usability testing, or hire a firm.  Carefully review the feedback that you receive and incorporate those pointers into your site.

Incite excitement and response

In order to keep consumers active on your site, you must be able to effectively converse with them using language that is relevant and comfortable. Turn on your imagination and liven it up with powerful keywords and headlines.

Optimize your website

In order for search engines to find your brand, you will need to include your most powerful keywords (in various pages) throughout your website—your copy and headings, combined with photos and graphics. Use distinctive page titles and meta tags, and concentrate on your most important keywords. Make sure it’s easy for search engines and your website’s visitors to navigate through your site and any external links such as your social media channels.

web-design3

Build an email list

Make sure your mailing list sign-up form is featured prominently, and on every page of your website, if possible. Let your visitors know by signing up for your mailing list that they will receive exclusive offers, discounts, freebies and announcements. People like to feel like they have an inside track with a brand.

mailing-list

Convert your traffic

Traffic conversion is a committed process for building relationships and affinity with your target market. When done properly, it provides the opportunity for your brand to achieve its ultimate objective of acquiring and retaining customers. In order to optimize your website, so your prospects will be compelled to learn more about your products and/or services, and feel secure purchasing from you, make your site eye-catching and ensure it contains strong brand messaging.

Why Your Social Media Strategy Isn’t Working—and How to Fix It

Standard

According to Nielsen, 70% of active adult social networkers shop online, which is 12% more likely than the average adult Internet user. With millions of users online, brands continually flock to social media networks to garner consumers yet have been discouraged by the lack of results and questioning the validity of social media marketing. Rather than become disillusioned with social media, because there’s no denying the millions of people buying and conversing online, the question remains: What is the best way to reach them?

We have outlined five reasons your brand’s social media strategy isn’t working, and what you can do to improve it:

Great expectations

Social media is not a cure-all, end-all solution for marketing to one’s target market. If you think that by setting up a profile on a network and constantly spewing marketing messages that you’ll attract thousands, if not millions, of customers immediately, you’re sadly mistaken. It’s, however, an enduring solution in combination with advertising and public relations to increase exposure, promote and eventually garner sales.

Lack of company buy-in

In order for social media to be effective for your organization, everyone has to buy-in, from executives to support staff, or it will not reach its full potential. Your chances of having a successful social media campaign is increased if senior management actively uses it and allows the brand to have multiple voices. The executives of your company are not the only champions; in fact it is feasible to come up with a list of influencers in all departments that can provide content and insight in the form of a social media council.

Undefined goals

With any marketing effort, you must clearly define what your intentions are for using social media. Do you want to get exposure for new product or service? Improve brand recognition? Increase website traffic? Once those intentions have been identified you must question what success looks like.

Untrained staff

To avoid social media crises and potential disasters every company should invest in social media training and guidelines. Do not pawn off social media activities on the “young” professionals. Just because they know how to use the technology does not make them equipped to become the global communications arm of your brand.

When creating your social media team, you should seek someone who has a strong capacity for communications and marketing; the tools can be taught to via training programs in- person or online. Showing employees the best practices and way in which your brand should be showcased online can be an exceptionally valuable business tool.

Not enough engagement

If you’re not responding to your fans questions or comments, they’ll seek a brand that will.  Social media has shifted marketing as we know it. It’s no longer a one way street, but a two way street which requires communication and collaboration. You will achieve greater results when you respond in a timely manner, highlight your customers using your product or service and share valuable information with them.

Keep in mind if you are not fully committed to social media then you will not achieve the results you desire online. Once you have a social media strategy with realistic goals and targeted content, the rest is relatively simple.

3 Tools to Maximize Your Social Media Impact

Standard

There are many statistical tools you can use for social media analysis. If you want to maximize your presence without spending inordinate amounts of time, you need to know the best day and time to post content, as well as which kind of posts garner the most engagement from your fans.  To get that vital information, you’ll need to use a reliable social tool.

Here are some highlights which tools you can utilize to make an impact on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Tweriod

Every day millions of people use Twitter to discover and disperse ideas across the web. Now, Twitter has become the daily go-to social media platform for people to connect with businesses and organizations. It’s great because it gives brands the opportunity to connect and assist their customers in real time.

So, if you’re looking for a reliable tool to help you analyze your followers, try a free tool like Tweriod.  Tweriod helps users make the most of Twitter by letting their brand know the best time to tweet. It will analyze up to 1,000 followers, so if you have thousands of followers, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium service.

PageLever

With the ever changing landscape of Facebook, it’s hard to truly know the impact of your posting without feeling like you need to pay for advertisements to reach your audience. If you’ve been using Facebook Insights to try to get an idea on what is happening with your Facebook page, you’re likely seeing some interesting results. Unfortunately, you’re also might be a bit confused by what Insights is telling you.

Welcome PageLever to your analytics mix. PageLever provides a deeper look at your fan pages and focuses on the day-to-day usability of the fans that follow your page. Facebook Insights only focuses on seven points wherein Pagelever can give you over 30.

Statigram

Instagram is a photo-sharing and social networking service that enables users to take photographs, apply filters, and share them on other social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook. Instagram is an excellent source for your brand to curate positive content and encourage customers to share images of them with your product or service.

A great free tool to use is Statigram, which allows you to access Instagram from your computer to view, measure, manage, and promote your Instagram account. The third-party application creates a visually-appealing, shareable profile page that sums up your Instagram history.

4 Ways Colleges Can Take Their Digital Presence to the Next Level

Standard

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 21.6 million students were enrolled in American colleges and universities in 2012. With today’s youth constantly texting, tweeting, Tumblring, posting statuses on Facebook and updating Instagram, among other social networking sites at a rapid pace, schools need to engage with applicants and current students regularly. It’s clear the days of shiny brochures, flashy websites and in-person campus visits are no longer enough to attract high-caliber students.

Colleges and universities should embrace social media as a means to build relationships and create emotional connections with prospective students. Here are some methods academic institutions could take to bring their social media presence from outdated to fresh:

Get Buy-in

In order for social media to work effectively, key players must include students. Coordinate discussions with current students since they are avid users of social media and can provide insight about student activities and what influenced them to attend. Also, consider hiring a consultant to analyze the various methods utilized by faculty members and staff. That’ll help when you’re creating a robust campaign.

Engagement is Essential

So, you’re institution has Facebook, Twitter…now what? Well, if nothing else, a social media coordinator or manager must ensure the university or college is engaging with the current followers, as well as prospective ones.
Students will make a snap judgment about the college if the pages are not updated frequently, or if inquiries are left unanswered.

Make it a habit to check your pages daily and respond to requests within 24 hours. Keep a log of these inquiries and forward information to appropriate departments for follow-up.

Go Viral

Many students cannot afford to visit the campus, so why not create a series of videos featuring current students and faculty? It will allow prospective students to feel as though they stepped foot on campus for a college tour. The video series can address tours, the application process, financial aid, as well as provide sneak peeks into classes in session. Make sure these videos are no more than five minutes in length and don’t be afraid to inject personality in them.

There’s An App for That

Many colleges are taking advantage of the mobile revolution by building applications for Android and iPhones. A report from the Pew Internet Project found that 78% of people ages 12 to 17 have a cellphone, and more than 50% of those phones are smartphones. These statistics show that most young adults are perusing the web via their mobile device. Hence, it makes sense for universities to design an app where students can get information about the school, course offerings, admissions status and financial standing.

7 Tips for Creating a Social Media Policy

Standard

Social media is expanding with millions of people worldwide interacting before, during and after work. While social media is an extraordinary communications’ tool, employers can’t help but wonder what employees are discussing on social media during work hours—and even when they’re off the clock.

It’s important that employees understand the impact they have on your brand, as well as their personal brand, when socializing online. The ramifications can be costly, resulting in job loss, forced resignations and legal action.

It’s up to brands to ensure they’ve implemented a social media policy, so that nothing is left up to interpretation and everything is clearly outlined. Here,  S. Lynn Cooper outlines what you should consider when creating your brand’s social media policy:

What constitutes social media?

While Twitter and LinkedIn may easily be categorized as social media, what about YouTube? What about a personal blog? Your social media policy must have a concrete definition, including the various platforms the guidelines apply to.

Who’s responsible?

The best way to find a social media advocate within the company is to seek out the person or team of people who are most passionate about communicating with customers online. Seek those people out and provide them with the training needed to represent your brand.

Content Ownership

Does your brand have a YouTube page, Twitter account, or Facebook fan page? Your brand needs to confirm that the ownership of these social media accounts belongs to the brand, not the staffer whose current job entails monitoring the company’s online presence.

Privacy rights

Due to the casual nature of social media, it’s easy to give away proprietary information without realizing it. Since each social media platform has its own imperfections, it’s best to instruct employees never to share any confidential or proprietary information via their corporate or personal profiles.

Establish ground rules

You must allow your employees the right to engage on social media, but, of course, you want to protect your brand at the same time.  Since this can be a very touchy subject, consider contacting your legal counsel when formulating your policy.

Provide training

If you expect your employees to utilize social networking tools properly, you must provide training. Keep in mind what they post online is also a reflection of your brand.

Create a checks-and-balance system

A social media policy will not do your brand any justice if you don’t actually monitor the networks where dialogue is taking place.  There are plenty of tools to monitor social media (read “4 Tools to Help You Become a Savvy Social Listener”).

S. Lynn Cooper is a Washington, DC-based digital strategist and communications expert. Cooper is the founder and director of Socially Ahead, a strategic communications agency that specializes in the creation of social and digital strategies and campaign management. Follow her on Twitter at @sociallyahead.

4 Tools to Help You Become a Savvy Social Listener

Standard

Are you listening??

On a typical day, peruse through your social media streams and see how many brands are touting and seeding their content, products and/or services, but not necessarily listening to what their audience wants.

Most brands don’t do nearly as much listening on their networks, primarily because they only view social media as place to promote their offerings. Social media listening is a key element for building relationships, keeping up to date with trends, supporting your community and eavesdropping on your competitors. We will provide you with the top tools to seamlessly snoop (but in a good way):

HootSuite

This social media management tool is quite dynamic. When it comes to listening, you can create streams to monitor your competitor’s feed, particular keywords or hashtags, and identify tastemakers who are talking about your brand.

  • If your brand sells sporting goods, now that NCAA March Madness is upon us, set up a Twitter stream that monitors hashtags such as #NCAA, #MarchMadness or #basketball. Listen to what others are saying not only about the tournament but about sporting equipment, clothing and accessories.

Cyfe

Cyfe is an all-in-one dashboard that helps users monitor and analyze data found across all your online services like Google+, Constant Contact, Salesforce, Facebook, WordPress and Twitter, to name a few, from one location.

  • Utilize the Google Analytics widget to identify what content is pushing the most engagement from your community.

Topsy

This free social media monitoring service locates and measures the most important conversations among hundreds of billions of tweets instantly. With Topsy, you can analyze Twitter usernames, keywords or web domains over various periods of time— day, week, month, or year.

  • Filter tweets by displaying “influential only” (pro version). This option will only display the most influential tweets, and the accounts they were tweeted from, so you can contact these key influencers (if appropriate) to help shape and influence their conversation about your branding. 

Google Alerts

These email updates, which automatically notify users when a specific keyword or phrase is mentioned online, allow you to stay on top of any conversation involving your business, industry or areas of interest.

  • Sift through various alerts pertaining to your industry. They could be used as blog articles, Facebook fan page discussions or helpful resources.

Brands that get to know their clientele, respect and trust their competency, and listen continually to how individuals are utilizing their products or services will have a far greater chance of developing and retaining their customers.

What tools do you use to listen in on social media? Let us know in the comments section