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3 Easy Ways to Master Your Facebook Presence

The latest stats on Facebook are staggering: more than 500 million active members and 500,000 interactive applications. The site says members are spending over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.

For business owners, it’s clear you need some type of presence on the world’s number one social networking site.  However, once you sign up, what’s the next step?

First, you should create a Facebook “like” page (formerly called “fan” pages). It’s fairly simple. Just create your page, edit your information, and push it live.  The real challenge with your page is to get people joining, and coming back for more.  I’ve had an Amber Mac Like Page for many months, but it wasn’t until this year that I truly understood how to make the most of my presence there.

Early this spring I sat down with a friend on Facebook’s strategy team.  I asked him to spend an hour with me to demystify the page experience, and give me some insider tips for Facebook success.  I learned a lot within these sixty minutes that changed the way that I approach my own Facebook Page. Here’s a summary what other businesses need to start doing now.

1.  Fill the wall.

Many companies spend time prettying up their pages, diving into the Info, Photos, and Notes tabs, but the truth is that very few people actually venture out to spend time on your page and within these tabs.  In fact, approximately 90 percent of people communicating with your Facebook page are doing so from their own personal news feeds.  In other words, only 10 percent of people are leaving the comfort of their Facebook home pages to check out your presence.

Since most users are interacting with you via your updates, focus your Facebook strategy on writing compelling messages on your Wall.  Facebook pushes these status notes to your users’ feeds (unlike other tab updates, which simply sit in one place).  Ideally, you want to write something that encourages your friends to comment, like, or share your messages.  This is how your Facebook page will become more popular.

2. Use rich media.

While writing compelling messages is key to getting your feed into the hearts and minds of your online community, a picture is worth a thousand clicks.  You don’t need to post a professional picture every time, but regularly attaching cellphone photos to your messages and trying to make your posts more visual is a must.  Aside from photos, videos are also heating up on Facebook.  The site is now one of the top five video viewing destinations online, so make it a habit of attaching YouTube videos to your messages to get more traction.

3.  Get inside Insights.

Facebook page owners can get free analytics with Insights, a tool that sits within your account. This information is an important part of your Facebook success since it will help you to understand who is using your page which includes demographic info such as gender and age (allowing you to post appropriate messages).

Within this area you can also get details on how much people are interacting with your content in order to learn what type of content is getting the most clicks.  One note: many users have found that they first need to authenticate their Facebook page before accessing Insights.

In addition to these three recommendations, ensure that you update your Facebook page with at least one new piece of content every weekday.  While you want to make sure that you keep pushing out interesting updates, don’t forget the Cardinal Rules of online success: Share information from your community and not just information about what you are doing.  In other words, visit the online profiles of your Facebook friends and make sure to “like,” comment on, and spread interesting posts from them.  Social media is, after all, a two-way street.

Source: Open Forum

5 Site Metrics Every Small Business Should Track

Many site small business owners’ eyes glaze over when people start talking about analytics, click through rates, and abandonment funnels. Really, there’s a lot of jargon that goes with measuring a site with analytics.

Small business owners should be paying attention to their site analytics because the data provides useful insights into their site traffic, which ultimately leads to more sales. If you’re not paying attention to your site analytics, your business is leaving money on the table.

The problem with most analytic packages is that they’re large and confusing, providing tons of data without much instruction. Fortunately, there are only a few really important metrics that small businesses owners should track to get the best results. It’s like the 80/20 principle: these are the 20 percent of metrics that provide 80 percent of the most value to small business owners.

The Tools

First off, you’ll need to install tracking software. It’s usually only a matter of installing a bit of javascript in the footer of your site’s design. If you don’t know how to do it, your designer should be able to very quickly.

There are tons of stat programs out there, but Google Analytics gives me almost everything that I need to track. It’s robust and free, so it’s the perfect analytics program for small businesses.

Setting Up Goals

After you’ve set up Google Analytics on your site, you’ll also need to set up a few goals. Goals are the foundation for most of the metrics you’ll track. You can define goals for when a visitor completes a sale, or signs up for your newsletter, or anything else. (Here are some great examples of goals you can create.)

So for now, start tracking your single most important goal, like completed sales or newsletter subscriptions. Once you get the hang of how Analytics works, you can add other important goals. (Here’s how to set up a goal in Analytics.)

The Metrics You Need to Track

Now that you’ve got your goal set up, you’ll start gathering data on your site. Here are the most important metrics that you’ll want to track for your small business website:

1. Conversions

Conversions are the biggest thing that you’ll want to track. Conversions are the number of sales divided by the number of visitors that come to your site. Many site owners are clueless as to their site conversion rates, and if you don’t know this basic bit of information, you won’t have a baseline to improve your site with.

Goal conversions allow you to effectively see lots of great things such as  what page on your site makes the most sales, the referring site that led to the sale (ie. Google, Twitter, etc.) and where people leave the “sales funnel” and stop the purchasing process (more on that later).

These are important insights for your site. If you can improve your conversion rate, you can make more sales, which is the reason you have a website for you business in the first place, right?

2. Referrers

A referrer is simply who’s sending traffic to your site. Is it Twitter? Is it advertising? Is it some other website? Knowing your traffic referrers also allows you to see if you’re getting an outside spike of traffic from an unexpected source.

Knowing the main source of your site’s traffic allows you to focus your energies on different content strategies to attract the right type of traffic.

Another great feature of tracking your referrers is the ability to gauge of the effectiveness of advertising. If you’re spending money on advertising on another site, you can see if it’s actually sending any traffic or converting sales (with your above goals).

3. Bounce rate

Bounce rates show the percentage of people who leave your site by only visiting a single web page. High bounce rates mean something is wrong with your site, and steps should be taken to fix it. It could be that visitors aren’t getting engaged, or your design might be too cluttered and confusing. Bounce rates are a great indicator of the effectiveness of your site.

Here’s a guide on how to improve website bounce rates.

4. Goal path and goal abandonment funnel

The Reverse Goal Path is a way to see the path that your visitor took to complete a goal. This gives information on the pages that generate the most sales.

Similarly, the Goal Abandonment Funnel shows where the user left the “funnel” in a started goal. This metric allows you to see which pages gave the user reason to not finish the goal, like make a sale.

Both these metrics are very useful for getting an idea of what motivates and repels your visitors when they’re at your site.

5. Search keywords

Search keywords are the keywords that search engines refer to your site. Search engine visitors are some of the most motivated traffic, as they’re looking for very specific things. This means they’re typically more likely to buy things than the average visitor. Knowing what keywords send your site traffic allow you to:  a) figure out what you rank for those keywords and b) determine SEO and other marketing steps to improve those rankings.

Other Tools to Use

Quantcast – A tool that shows site demographics and other visitor data

Google Website Optimizer – Perform A/B or multi-variate testing to optimize areas of your website for visitors

Crazy Egg – Give heatmap data, showing where visitors click on your site and other interesting data.

Source: Open Forum

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25 Ways to Engage Contacts in Social Media

What is it? What is it good for? Engagement.

One of the primary selling points of social media is the concept of engaging a potential customer or partner in your product or service. So how do you accomplish engagement on a personal level?

25 Ways to Engage a Potential Customer Using Social Media

1. Start a blog. This seems like an obvious one. This should be one of the first things you think about doing when contemplating using social media as a marketing tool. There should always be a hub where your contacts can interact. The so called “hub.” WordPress is a great tool to start blogging. Get on it!

2. Join Foursquare and Use it during the business day. Foursquare is a service that allows you to update your location to the people following you on a regular basis. I do not recommend using this tool after business hours (could turn a little creepy) but it can help your contacts get an idea of what you do on a daily basis. Even if you are just sitting in your office for most of the day.

3. Join LinkedIN and recommend your partners. Most of us are already using LinkedIN (if you are not click thislink for great information on LinkedIN). When you start to recommend the people you love working with it will help spread the goodwill that your business partners deserve. What happens you spread goodwill? Ever heard of pay-it-forward?

4 and 5. Start an RSS Reader and Find 5 Blogs to Follow. It is important that you use an RSS Reader to help with the organization of the blogs you read. For more information on starting and maintaining an RSS Feed check out this link. By using a Technorati or Google BlogSearch you can find 5 blogs that are industry “blog leaders” in your dedicated profession. By following and commenting on the blogs you will start to engage other readers.

6. Place a Poll on Your Blog or Website. There are plenty of tools available for polling on your website or blog. Wp-polls is a great resource if you are connected with wordpress. Ask a question to your audience. How can I make my content better? What are you wanting to read or learn about? This will help in engaging your more loyal readers and followers. Formstack also gives you the ability to create forms and polls for easy content access and building.

7. Ask a Loyal Reader  to Guest Post. There is value in having your loyal readers do a guest post for your blog. They will feed your link to their subscribers and it also gives them a pride in ownership of your blog. This allows for the strengthening of a relationship in the long run.

8. Identify Your Strategy. This should have been number one because it is the more important thing you could be doing before online marketing. If you do not have a strategy in place to lead the charge into social media you will be at a lost when it becomes overwhelming. A strategy allows you to measure success points in your social media journey. This only helps when it comes to YOU engaging THEM.

9. Focus. Really Focus on Your About Page. What is the second most read page on a blog? The about page. People want to know who they are communicating with. The last thing you need to do (and I am also guilty of this on my personal blog KyleLacy.com) is to create a boring about page. Spice it up. Add some details that will create the best about page you could possibly want! Also.. enable comments on your about page. Allow people to comment on yours likes and dislikes.

10. Use Twitter on a Daily Basis. Now this might be a little overwhelming to the young at heart in social media but Twitter is fast becoming the ideal means of online communication. For a detailed explaination of Twitter check outDiTii.com’s video.

11. Add Your Social Media Information to Your Business Card. I have written a ton about this in previous posts. If you want to truly engage with the people you meet offline… add your social media sites to your business card. I have my LinkedIN, Twitter, and Blog URLs on my business card.

12. Be open to collaboration. You may have run your small-to-mid sized business for years by yourself but social media is built on the art of collaboration. People will be giving their opinions on a daily basis and it is in your best interest to take those opinions with stride. Collaborate and join in on discussions surrounding ideas related to your industry and your life. Collaborate. Learn. Listen.

13. Start a Facebook Page and Add in Your Family Life. Facebook is an extremely personal tool that can be used to connect with individuals on an emotional basis using pictures. You have to be open in sharing some of your family life with the outside world. There is a reason why PR companies have used the idea of “family man” to save many tarnished CEOs. Add pictures of your family, your dog, your vacation. People will connect. (New to Facebook. Check out this link on getting started as a company).

14. Pick 4 Social Sites and Maximize. You will become anti-social if you become overwhelmed with the multitude of different social media sites in which you are a member. We teach a 4-touchpoint theory of choosing four social media sites to spend your time. With a limited amount of time you will find that 4 sites benefits you in two main ways:

1. You will have more brain “bandwidth” to communicate on a deeper level.

2. The same people will pretty much be on all the sites you choose. (I say this loosely)

15. When someone comments on your blog email them a thank you. I learned this from the famous Gary Vaynerchuk. If someone is joining into the conversation on your blog and adding content make sure you thank them for your support. The people who show a vested interest are key to growing your readership. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t have time to email people the moment they comment. It sometimes takes me weeks before I send a follow up email.

16. Write About Personal Experience. We talk a lot about this. Write about the way you see life. Write about the way you experience your business on a daily basis. TAlk about how you are helping people. Talk about how you are solving the problems on a daily basis. Use Twitter. Use Facebook. Tell stories on your blog. People engage in stories. They connect with stories.

17. Try to Keep Yourself Within 450 Words or Less on Your Blog. It is important to keep blog posts concise and to the point. If you have trouble writing this will help you in the long run. As you can tell by the post you are currently reading, it is not essential that you keep it to 450 words. If you have advice and knowledge to send out to the masses.. . please do so. If you keep blog posts short it helps to keep readers and that is the goal.

18. Remember Quality vs Quantity. Quality is always better than Quantity. I have always said that 100 extremely engage readers are infinitely better than 4000 quasi engaged readers. Quality allows you to truly form relationships with the people you are dealing with on a daily basis. You can build your base anyway you like but make sure you always come back to quality over quantity.

19. Monitor the Conversation around Your Brand both Personal and Professional. For more on this read:25 Tools and Tips to Following Your Brand Online. Why is it important to follow your brand online? You need to be involved in all the conversations surrounding your product, service, or YOU.

20. DO NOT HARD SELL! I am going to repeat this again: Do Not Hard Sell. This means you are not sharing about sales and detail after detail about your company. It means you are concentrating on listening to the people who are investing in your writing and social media prescence. Nobody cares about your 50% sale. They care about who will be greeting them at the door of your store or place of business. Personality rules and if you want to act like a used-car sales man… go work at one.

21. Handwritten Notes Go Places. If you have an individual refer you business through the online environment.. we encourage people to use the old method and handwrite a note to that person. You would be surprised how far a handwritten note will get you!

22. Setup Columns in Tweetdeck or Hootsuite for Use in Twitter. In order to follow the conversation surrounding your industry, clients, competitors, and your business… the tools provided through Tweetdeck and Hootsuite allow you to manage and organize tweets based on keywords or search functionality. Follow up to 3 columns and get involved in the conversation!

23. Use Rapportive to Connect with Your Email Database. Rapportive is a service that gives you the ability to connect with different contacts in your Gmail Inbox. A profile picture will appear to the side of the email and give you different information facts about the sender of the email. For more information on Rapportive read the LifeHacker post on the tool.

24. Try to Answer All Comments on Your Blog. It can be a daunting task. I felt guilty typing out this step because I am extremely bad at replying to comments. In all reality, the people you care about most…. should be the people who comment on your blog.

25. Use Rapleaf to Produce Segmentation Reporting for Your Email Database. Rapleaf is a reporting company who helps you better understand who your customers are and their social personalities. This service can give you some SWEET data on user engagement and cross platform marketing.

Source: kylelacy.com

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Do It Yourself Online Reputation Management Toolkit

Listening to real time conversations for opportunities, leads, and reputation management is now a standard marketing item on the to-do list.

While there are services such asRadian6Trackur and Jive Software (Filtrbox) that provide this kind of tracking for a fee, there are a number of tools that any do-it-yourselfer can employ to capture much of what’s being said about their brands, people, products, and industries in real time:

1.  Google Alerts

This one is certainly not new, but I still find people who don’t tap into it. Google Alerts allows you to set up as many custom searches as you like and have Google alert you via email or RSS when any mentions of those search terms hits their radar. Not 100 percent foolproof, but very good.

2.  Google Reader
Google Reader is an RSS reader, which means you can use it to subscribe, capture, read and display anything that produces an RSS feed. Most people use it to sort and read blogs, but anything with an RSS feed will show up here, so you can filter a great deal of content, including tags in bookmarking sites such as Delicious. Every customer and competitor blog feed should be in here.

3.  MyReviews Page

Rating and review sites such as Google Places and Yelp have become essential marketing tools. Monitoring reviews is a big part of managing and building reputation on these sites. MyReviewsPage alerts you when a new review shows up on many of the more popular review sites.

4.  Backtype
Backtype primarily focuses on blog comment streams and is a handy way to track this important content source.

5.  Boardreader
Bulletin boards and forums have lost a lot of their buzz due to social networking sites, but many industries still have very strong and active ones. Boardreader is your alert tool for the most popular bulletin board and forum sites.

6.  Social Mention
Social Mention is a real time search engine and important part of the mix because it not only catches things that others miss, it offers a wide variety of content types such as images, video and audio mentions, as well as giving some data about the influence and sentiment of the mentions.

7.  Netvibes
Netvibes isn’t a tracking or listening tool, but it’s a nice way to manage viewing all of the data you collect. Netvibes allows you to create a custom dashboard of RSS feeds and other elements and can be a great way for you to bring all of the content created by the tools above into one handy viewing station.

Source: Open Forum

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5 Social Media Tips for Small Business

A recent study by Employers indicates that over half of small businesses believe in social media as an important marketing tool.  Yet, only 16% of those polled use their social media accounts to communicate directly with customers.  So, what are they actually doing with social media?  The average small business uses it to promote, much in the same way they use ads, direct mail and other forms of traditional marketing.

Social media for business promotion is fine.  But, the real leverage comes through engagement with people who are interested in you.  Your fans and followers are the real catalyst for your success with social media, so keeping in touch with them is critical.

Why?  Social media, much like content marketing, is all about building customer relationships.  In fact, businesses can take their cue from the origins of social media as a primarily “social” tool.  Sites such as Twitter and Facebook were really designed to help people communicate with each other, share resources and stay in touch.  Businesses can do the exact same thing with their customers, using the same sites.

Using social media sites to engage with current and potential customers takes a commitment of time. However, the tools are already built in, so you can simply think of your company account as another way to connect with your target market, just as you would with friends, colleagues and relatives.  Here are 5 tips for building the relationships that lead to sales:

1. Listen- There are a lot of conversations going on out there.  Some of them may be about your company, your industry or other topics that affect you.  Take the time to listen to what is being said before deciding how to respond or add to it.  You’ll learn more about what is important to your target market when you put your ear to the ground.

2. Participate- By becoming part of these conversations, you show that you’re interested in what people have to say.  This is also your opportunity to show how much you know about your topic, which helps to establish your authority.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions, encourage debate and even stir up a little controversy now and then.  It gets people talking and gives you more information you can use to connect with them.

3. Add value- Your comments should always add something of value to the conversation.  If you’re too self-promoting or don’t add any useful information, both you and your company will lose credibility.  Think of your efforts as conversation rather than as a push for sales.

4. Evaluate your goals- At some point, preferably at the beginning but also along the way, you should think about your objectives.  What you trying to achieve with your social media efforts?  Some businesses want to increase brand awareness, others are more interested in what their competitors are up to.  Honing in on your primary goals will save you time and energy in the long run.

5. Look at the big picture- Think of social media as a community rather than a place to sell your products and services.   People on these sites, just like the Internet in general, are not necessarily looking to buy something.  Most of the time, they want information they can use, and they want to connect with the sources of that information.  Make sure your efforts keep this in mind.  Don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re here to talk to people, invite them to join you, offer them your expertise, etc.  Design each individual post to make an overall impression that, over time, reflects your business objectives.

So, if you’re thinking about using social media to promote your business, or already are, remember to put some time into customer engagement!  It’s the best way to get those friends and followers to convert into customers.

Source: Kyle Lacy