It’s not uncommon to find yourself stumped by the questions your social media manager may be asking during the onboarding process. Some of these things you may have never even entertained the thought of, so why not prepare yourself in advance?
What struggles do you have with social media?
You should be asked this question. While your social media manager (SMM) may already be able to see a few struggles, it’s good to be prepared for this question as some struggles are not so obvious.
What are your specific goals? Do you have a number goal in mind?
Having goals in mind will help your SMM be the best at their job, and it eliminates a guessing game. What are some business objectives you have? The most common business objective is of course to increase sales, but you may want to increase brand awareness, or website traffic. Your SMM will be able to take your business objectives and turn them into social media KPIs.
What platforms do you have already? Which work best?
We do our research when you inquire for our services, and probably know which platforms you already have. Making sure we are all on the same page right from the start is best practice. This includes coming prepared with login credentials for your SMM.
What content has the best engagement?
Not everyone pays attention to the numbers, we get it. It will help the start-up process move a little faster if you already know what content has the best engagement and to remain consistent with content that already works. That being said, we are the professionals. Your content may be doing well on the number side but may be harming your overall goals.
For example, sharing content that is highly popular, but doesn’t align with your brands voice, may get you great numbers but does nothing for actual business objectives. Just think, if you share a trending meme you may get attention, but that could be all. The attention you get could be from people way outside your audience demographic. Therefore they don’t care about your business and wont go past hitting the like button. Trust your SMM; we look past the vanity metrics and see what will help you in the long run and create a strong online presence.
What is your target audience?
As a business owner you know your audience better than anyone, it helps to give the details to your SMM such as your audience’s location, age, interests, lifestyle, etc. During the first month your SMM will spend time researching and learning your audience so they also become familiar with your audience and having a base understanding will speed the process along.
What is your brand’s voice? Does it have a specific opinion?
A major part of having an online presence is to establish your brands identity. Maybe you’re a fun, charismatic company that wants to take the stress out of a stressful business niche. This question can sometimes stump onboarding social media clients, as not every business knows what their brand’s voice is, especially if they have no online presence. Your SMM will work with you to find your businesses voice and tone, as these two things turn your business into a brand. The key here is to stay consistent across all platforms.
Who are some of your competitors? What makes you better?
I’m sure as a business owner you’re aware of your competitors, and what makes your business better than the rest. This is a huge factor in creating a social media strategy. Informing your SMM of your competitors will give your business an advantage. You know the saying, “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” Well, your competitors aren’t necessarily your enemies, but it’s good to keep a close eye on what works for them, and what doesn’t. Your competition may not be practicing social listening . . . but you are! Their audience could be asking questions, and getting no response. When people feel heard and valued, they are more likely to trust your brand.
If you find yourself lacking the answers to some of these questions, I encourage you to put some time aside and find the answers even if you aren’t looking to hire a SMM. This is a great way to improve your social media strategy yourself and learn even more about your business. We are always open to answer any questions you may have for us, give us a call.
I’m going to spoil this whole blog by telling you the three reasons you should build your own eCommerce website in this very first sentence: eBay, Etsy, and Amazon. That’s it, there you have it, that’s why you should build your own eCommerce website.
I know what you’re thinking: “Deborah, you’ve gone completely bananas. I couldn’t possibly independently compete with those three!”
Well I hate to break it to you folks, but I went completely bananas years ago. You should know that by now. But that’s completely aside from the point and unrelated to anything I’m saying here. Just let me continue, and stop mentally interrupting me, OK? Thanks.
Even when you list your products on those sites, you are still competing with all of them. But let’s take a closer look.
Of these big three sellers, Amazon.com was founded in 1994. Who even remembers having the internet in 1994? My family had an Apple computer back then, but eventually switched to a PC. I think we got dial-up in 1995:
. . . and then that sweet sound of connection. It wasn’t long before I discovered Amazon.com. It used to be all books, all the time, and soon after, I could also get CDs and DVDs, and better yet, I could soon buy them used from other sellers! I’ll admit, I have Amazon Prime membership in both the USA and Canada. As a buyer, Amazon is pretty great.
But what about as a seller?
Amazon is complicated. Their fees are high. You’ve got a huge amount of competition, including people who buy and bulk, which isn’t great if you’re a smaller business. Not only that, but you are also in direct competition with Amazon itself.
Speaking of competing products, several major brands have refused to sell on Amazon because they don’t police the grey market well enough. One brand even preferred to sell exclusively on Walmart instead. Not to dis Walmart or anything (loyal shopper here), but I kinda think that says something.
Ah yes, the wild west of online sales. Or so it seemed to be back in those first few years. eBay was founded only a year after Amazon, in 1995. It started simple enough. The first sale was a broken laser pointer to a fellow who collected broken laser pointers, who would’ve thought? Initially, listing an item was free, but the founder’s internet services bill got too high, so he had to start charging a listing free, which people found pretty reasonable.
(As an aside, my first year of high school, my school’s principal, Tom Sawyer (yes, that legit was his name, no relation to the real fictional Tom Sawyer, though), was an expert at calling auctions. You know, that really fast-talking thing. Everybody in town would get him to do live auctions. Pretty amazing. eBay should have hired him for . . . something.)
Thousands of people have found success on eBay, but more and more, people have become increasingly frustrated. In the words of one former seller, “eBay sacrifices its sellers to its buyers”. I know that “the customer is always right” is a good general policy, but eBay appears to take this a bit too far. According to this same seller, “eBay ‘insures’ purchases by resolving all disputes in favor of the buyer, and then forcing the seller to cover the costs. Paypal helps them by seizing the seller’s funds.”
So eBay runs on a guilty-until-proven-innocent-system where the seller can almost never prove themselves innocent. It also leaves the seller open to buyer fraud.
eBay can limit your sales very arbitrarily, despite your good record (and bringing in lots of income to eBay itself). An ill-intentioned person can give a seller a bad review, a postal strike causing a delay in shipment, or any other little fluke can lead them to limit how much a seller is allowed to sell. One seller whose whole business. You are subject to eBay’s whims. You may feel like your own boss, but you are at the mercy of buyers and eBay’s poor customer service.
Etsy, the newest to the market. Launched in 2005 on the east coast, it’s the indie girl’s heaven for vintage, handmade, and craft supplies. Yes, I’ve purchased all of the above on there. Etsy has been great for sellers of these things, but in recent years, Etsy’s policies have changed for the negative.
Etsy is no longer friendly to small business, you are literally competing with huge shops in China. It’s sad really — you see someone has designed something creative and lovely, and within a few months, other people are copying that design and it’s all being shipped from China. Sure, maybe it was handmade, but do you really think the worker got fair pay for the work they did?
Not only that, but because of Etsy opening up their policy to this type of business, small business owners have faced lower sales volumes and increased competition due to the sheer volume of shop owners on the site, and it’s not exactly easy to differentiate your own shop from all the rest. You get a name and you get a logo. That’s about it. It’s very difficult to truly build your own brand.
On top of this, Etsy has their own weird SEO algorithms that work completely differently from most ordinary search engines, and at the same time, Etsy items don’t rank well in Google searches. And then there are the fees. They can arbitrarily hike the fees whenever they please, cutting into the profit margin of small businesses as well.
At the end of the day, is it really worth all this trouble?
Who are you really working for?
All three of these platforms make it somewhat easy to list your products in an online shop, but is it really worth it? How does it really benefit you as a business? Perhaps early on it might have been easy for people to search and find your products, but now they’re so over-saturated that it’s difficult for people to find you. You can’t truly build your own brand.
At the end of the day, with having to follow someone else’s ever-changing policies, very little control over how operations are run, and the inability to truly build your own brand while paying someone else fees, it sure sounds a lot like you’re doing a lot of work for someone else. You may have more flexibility than a typical job, but you’ve still got someone bossing you around.
But what else can a small business do?
Gosh, I’m sure glad you asked! The truth is, building your own eCommerce website isn’t that complicated. There are lots of options out there, though our two favourites are WooCommerce and Shopify. The great thing about your own site is you are in charge. You decide what your website will look like, your branding, everything. Nobody will tell you what kind of payments you will take, you get to decide that. You get to decide what shipping options you will offer, and where you will ship.
I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m pretty stubborn and don’t like being told what to do. I’m also a bit of a control freak, so being able to control every aspect of my business (or delegate to people whom I trust) is right up my alley. Both of these platforms offer countless tools to make it easy to do.
How will people find me if I’m not on one of these big sites?
OK, that’s the easy answer, but not the only one. Look at it this way: you’re not just selling stuff, you’re building a brand. Do you have a Facebook page? Instagram? Most of these eCommerce platforms have integrations with both Facebook and Instagram (WooCommerce: Facebook, Instagram; Shopify: online sales channels).
Back to Google though — this year they announced a new feature they are making available on their shopping search results. Currently their Google Shopping search results are all sponsored products, but this spring, in the US, they opened it up so that people could list their products for free (there would still be sponsored listings, a bit like regular search results).
This isn’t available in Canada yet, but one article suggests it will be quite soon for Canada, and another says that it will be global before the end of the year. I find this pretty exciting, as it’s another SEO opportunity for our eCommerce clients. It appears that already there are integrations for WooCommerce and Shopify.
OK, but what about the cost?
I’ll admit, there’s a bigger up-front cost with building a site yourself.
I take that back. Shopify isn’t all that bad, although they have monthly fees, because it is hosted, although the monthly fees might add up, but it comes with everything all-in-one full-meal-deal if that’s what you like. You can pay to have someone set it all up for you, have it match your branding and whatnot, or you can set it up yourself and you’ll probably get by either way. It’s a great option for someone who wants a store. Some pretty big brands use Shopify, including Hasbro, The Economist, Heinz, Crabtree & Evelyn, and Penguin Books.
WooCommerce is my favourite though. It’s a great option if you want a full website, more than just a shop. From what I understand the API is easier to work with, so if you like doing your own coding . . . stuff (sorry, I stick to html and css, disturbingly so), it’s a better option. I like that you can use their official plugins or third party plugins to make it do whatever you darned-well please. Many-a-time a client has asked “but can you make it do this?” and I’ve said “of course we can!” then gone to one of our developers and said “so . . . they asked me if we can make it do this” to be told “weird but . . . I guess so?”
As for cost, WooCommerce itself is free, though if you purchase it with a theme, it sometimes comes with other paid upgrades. There are paid and free plugins you can get for WooCommerce. Your main cost will be building the website, and then the monthly or annual fee of hosting it varies from provider to provider.
I may or may not be the Yes Girl, much to the chagrin of our CEO. (Sorry Kelly.)
Let’s do it!
So now that I’ve given you all the reasons why you really ought to have your own website instead of working for someone else, why don’t you give us a call, send us an email, or contact us through social media and let us help you get your business online! We can offer advice on what platform is best for you, or we can do all the work for you. Whatever level of service you need, we’re here for you.
Things sure happen quickly, don’t they? Right now in Alberta “mass gatherings” can’t have more than 50 people attending it, unless it’s for an essential service. Lots of companies, especially tech companies like ours, are having their staff work remotely. No one has any idea how long this will last either. Two weeks? Two months? Longer? With that in mind, it’s time to dive into the options you have for marketing when more and more things are cancelled and shut down.
Depending on the form of advertising you’ll see different results. As people drive less and self-quarantine more physical and radio ads will have less impact since the most common place to listen to the radio is in the car and obviously someone who’s staying at home isn’t going to see your billboard. But if a form of advertising is likely to be seen by those trapped at home, then it will definitely still be as effective as normal, or even more effective in some cases. If you provide something that people are still likely to search for, Google Ads are a good idea. So a restaurant that does delivery? Definitely a good choice. But there are other searches that are less likely to have great results. I need some car repairs done. But at least until I’m done quarantining myself I’m not going to bother Googling my options. In short, if you provide something people need, putting your extra marketing budget into advertisements can be a smart choice. Otherwise there’s probably a better option for where you can put that extra cash.
What better time to build a social media following then a time when pretty much everyone is stuck at home? especially when over 50% of people using social media to check the news. Putting in the effort to boost your social media following now means that you’re likely to see results immediately. Even better, as you increase your following you’ll see more increases both short term and long term as your social media presence snowballs. And unlike advertising, you aren’t just putting yourself in front of someone who you hope wants to make a purchase right then and there. So if you provide a service that people aren’t really looking for, but you’re engaging with potential customers on social media, they’re more likely to see you on social media when they *are* looking for your services later on.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization is always important, but it’s also the only option on this list that doesn’t have short term effects (normally). That means that for a lot of businesses it has to take an unfortunate back seat to the other forms of marketing. You want a return on your dollar now and not in several months. So a time when you suddenly have more money to play around with in your marketing budget is a great time to finally tackle your SEO. And the lack of short term results isn’t as important when the short term benefits for marketing are down across the board as people self-quarantine more and more. In other words, while the downsides to putting your money in SEO are still there, they aren’t as noticeable right now whereas the benefits are still as strong as ever.
Deals on Products
Finally, depending on what you provide now might be the time to offer some deals. A great example would be some of the phone companies in the US. I’ve heard of several that are either increasing the data they’re giving to all their customers for free or even in some cases temporarily giving customers unlimited data plans. Now obviously, being larger companies they can afford things like this. Don’t run yourself and your business into the ground trying to look like a hero but it’s still important to recognize the effect that offering help in times of crisis can have. Obviously, there’s the fact that it will certainly be easier to sleep at night. That doesn’t really impact your business though. What does impact you is the goodwill you create among your customers. If you provide a service they need or one they really want right now, they’re well aware that even if you raised your prices they’d still probably buy it. So when you offer a deal instead, while the cynical types like me will recognize it for the smart strategic choice that it is, most people will look at how it’s a gesture of goodwill.
Online Trade Shows?
Alright, this isn’t something that exists, as far as I can tell, but it’s an idea that I had. And since it’s just an idea I haven’t fully fleshed it out yet so bear with me. With conventions and conferences being cancelled, many of them are turning to online formats. So what if there could be an online version of a trade show? Perhaps a Facebook group, though that seems too disorganized to me. Maybe an online forum? Or maybe a website with information on all the various companies taking part with some sort of online version of a trade show booth. Like I said, this is more of something that I’m mulling over. I might even go into more detail on it next week (I make no promises though), but it’s still something to consider.
That’s all for now. Hopefully these five options (well, four options and an idea in the back of my mind) will help you decide on a marketing strategy that your business can pursue in these chaotic times. If you’re not sure what option would be best for you, or if you’d like a hand implementing your strategy, get in touch with us. We’d love to help you out so that we can all make it out of these difficult times safely.
The coronavirus has been pretty big in the news. If you’re like me you’re probably already groaning about reading yet another article about it. But I realized that there is a very important thing that businesses need to consider, regarding this pandemic. We all know that if there’s a quarantine businesses will obviously lose sales as people stay home and only purchase necessities. But before we even reach that point, something else will be affected first.
If you’re a local business, your marketing plan might be about to change. Currently, conferences, trade shows, etc. all across the world are being cancelled. In addition to working for Panda Rose, I also do some contracting in the healthcare informatics industry and a big tradeshow coming up in Florida was cancelled the day before it was scheduled to begin. The NBA has canceled games. Ironically there was even a conference on the coronavirus that was cancelled because of the coronavirus. The coronavirus is now officially a pandemic and it’s gradually spreading across the world, along with the panic and toilet paper shortages. As it spreads, local and international events are all being cancelled in an important effort to slow down the speed of infection so that our hospitals aren’t overwhelmed.
What does this mean for you? If you or a conference your business was attending are in an affected area, it means you suddenly have more money available in your marketing budget. If you aren’t in an affected area though, it doesn’t mean you won’t be affected. It just means you’ve got a bit more time to plan for when that happens. But in both cases, you need to know what your options are.
This brings us to my main focus today. Marketing is about putting yourself in front of your audience. That’s why tradeshows can be so effective. You are physically in front of them interacting with them. But when people are being encouraged to practice social distancing and it becomes impossible to be physically in front of your audience, what can you do? Not too long ago, your options were radio and television ads. That was it. And even then, if your audience didn’t want to stop self-quarantining they weren’t going to go in to your store anyway. But the internet has created a much different world. You can show up on people’s computers through their searches on search engines and on social media, both of which are much more personal than a tv spot.
Ultimately, your main options are
Ads in various formats like radio, tv, Google, and YouTube
Focusing on social media
Optimizing your Search Engine Optimization
Some combination of the above
Next week, I’m going to do a deep dive into the pros and cons and associated costs associated with all your options if the tradeshows and conventions you planned to attend get cancelled. I’ll also give you some tips that your marketing department can implement to improve your online presence that won’t cost a cent, but for now I want you just to start thinking about it. I’m not telling you to cancel all public appearances and hide in your house for two months, but you should start thinking about contingency plans in case your marketing strategy needs to make a sudden u-turn.
One of the most confusing parts of working with a digital marketing company is understanding what in the world they’re telling you. It ends up sounding like they’re telling you to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.
Or in the words of the great John Cleese, “The scransoms above your head are now ready to flange. Please unfasten your safety belts and press the emergency photoscamps on the back of the seats behind you.”
To that end, I’ve compiled a short list of 13 of the most common digital marketing words. Hopefully it helps you make sense about what the marketing experts are telling you.
Backlink – A link from someone else’s website to yours. If it’s a reputable website this link will increase your search result rankings.
Bounce Rate – the percentage of people viewing your website who leave after only seeing one page.
Conversion – Someone who performs an action as a result of viewing your website or ad. Such as signing up for a mailing list, taking a survey, buying a product, etc.
CTR – Click-through rate. The percentage of people who see your site somewhere (usually search engines) that actually click through to your website.
Follow/No Follow – Whether or not search engines will follow a backlink to your website, boosting your rankings.
Keyword – a word or phrase that internet users search for on search engines. The more specific the term, the more valuable it is since people searching for something specific are more likely to click through to relevant sites.
Remarketing – Advertising that targets people who have already interacted with your website.
Schema – A way of telling search engines what all the content on your website is. Such as the title, author, and/or ratings and reviews of your website or products.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization. In other words, ensuring that Google and other search sites
SERPS – search engine results pages. Where the results for a search show up. Ranking higher on a SERP means that you show further up on the results page.
Sitemap – a file that lists all of the urls for a site. Search engines can read these to find urls they wouldn’t otherwise know about.
Tags – Tags can refer to two different things. In blogging it refers primarily to relevant words or phrases to your article so that people interested in those things can find similar blog posts. In SEO it refers to things like the title of your page, metadescriptions, headings, alt-text, no-follow tags, etc. Don’t worry if you don’t know what those are. Part 2 of this series will have a lot of the most common tags in it.
Web Directory – a website that provides lists of other websites. Most directories require manual submissions of entries and usually include more details like contact information. They are the easiest way to build up backlinks.
If there are any terms you’ve heard before and you have no idea what they mean, let me know and I can include them in a part 2.
Most have a good understanding about what common social media platforms offer. Some think the more the better (target as many people on all corners of social media and you’ll reach more potential customers), but with social media this isn’t necessarily the case. The best way to approach social media is to find channels that are the most beneficial to your businesses unique needs. Each platform attracts different age, gender and even industry demographics. Depending on your target audience you want to be present on the platforms your audience is using most often.
This is the best platform to start on for any business, it has the widest range of age demographics, and currently has 2.38 billion active monthly users. This is a great platform to make connections and build community. You can easily share important aspects of your business, and find potential customers. On this platform you want to post videos and curated content. Although if your business is targeting a younger audience, ages 13-17 this age group spends less time on Facebook than 18 and up.
Instagram has quickly become a massive platform, with 1 billion active monthly users. This platform is great for product based businesses, as it is highly visual and just recently released the shopping feature making it even easier for customers to buy your products. Instagram is focused on creativity and building community. If your target demographic is under 35 this is a platform you cannot skip. 63% of users are between the ages of 18 to 34, and to make it even better its virtually an even split between male and female users. On this platform you want to post good quality aesthetically pleasing images and stories, use this platform to become more personal with your customers.
Twitter is the go-to platform for being updated on the latest news and trends, it is fairly fast paced so posting often is key. This is another great platform for sharing interesting information, or contributing to a conversation about your industry. Studies show that tweeting content with visuals does significantly better than without, although other studies show posting your traditional “one liner” tweet is just as good (we’ll leave it up to you to decide for your business on this one.) This platform also tends to have a younger audience 38% user are 18-29. But with that said, still a high number of users age 30-49 are active on Twitter making up for 26% of adult users. Both male and females are active on Twitter so if your business targets one or the other, or both this is a great platform to gain exposure on.
LinkedIn is one of the best platforms for professionals. This channel is best used for business-to-business brands aiming to make interactions with the decision makers of a business. Gender demographics are well balanced here as neither male or females are more active on this platform. Businesses are looking for certain industries or job titles rather than ages or genders. This is a great place to post job openings, update other business owners and professionals on company changes and share professional content. 34% of users between the ages of 18 to 29 and 33% of users between the ages of 30 to 49 are active on LinkedIn.
Pinterest is a platform that is often overlooked as it used to be a community of home makers sharing recipes and DIY projects. While this is still true, the user base is more female dominant on this platform, 50% of new accounts are being made by males. Pinterest should be seen as a search engine more than a social media platform as 2 billion searches are made every month. It’s a great site to direct traffic to your website and gain exposure for blog post, and products. The content on this platform is highly product based, as users on Pinterest are usually searching for a product.
There are so many more platforms you can choose to be active on but these are the biggest ones you want to focus on as they are highly popular. Social media is a great way to reach more people and build rapport with customers. It’s a way to show off your aspects of your business that may otherwise be looked over.
Tip: remember to be social on the accounts you have, respond/leave comments, and share things you find interesting. Whatever your company culture may be let your content also express this same energy to your viewers. Your account can be whatever you want it to be, not just what everyone else in your industry is doing!
Today when people are searching for your business they are mainly going to their phones or computers to find you. Google is the biggest search engine out there, and if you aren’t on board, people may be missing you. Starting a Google My Business account or optimizing your existing one is vitally important for your business and how it appears in searches.
Setting Up a Google My Business Account
If you haven’t set up a Google My Business (GMB) account yet, you’ve got one mission for today…set up a GMB account! No seriously, it may seem like just another place to add your business to but this one is important and here’s why. When people are searching for a product or service they jump onto Google. For example, searching “office supplies” pulls up the Google accounts of places that offer these supplies. This image is what your GMB account will show up like. You will see the rating of your business, location, some images and much more as you go in further. If you have a good GMB account, this may even show up before your website listing. The initial set up is straight forward, but it’s the actions you take in each of those steps and after your account is set up that makes or breaks your account.
Images Are Everything
When you have the option to add pictures of your business, always, always do it. You don’t want to resort to stock images because Google will find them and remove them. Take this chance to show off your business, inside and out. Take multiple pictures of the front and inside of your building. People feel comfortable when they can see different aspects of your business. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer either. Take clear, well lit images of the first place you see when you walk in, the staff and definitely your products. Don’t make people feel like they are going on a blind date when they are coming to you. If a business adds stock images as their product photos or avoids images of their building, I usually question why their products weren’t deemed “good enough” to make it to the front page. Or what the building looks like so I wont drive past, or wonder if I’m at the right address. Including these images shows you are proud of your work and prepared. Add pictures of the people working there, recognizing a face when walking into a business, even if it’s just from a picture, helps puts people at ease and builds trust.
Take advantages Of Features
Just recently, Google made it available to get a short name for your business. Creating a short name makes it easier for people to send links to others to leave a review. When adding a logo to your profile be sure corners aren’t being cut off and it is a good quality image, a square usually works best. Choose a header that represents your business well and be creative when writing your business description. Please don’t copy and paste directly from your website, make your description unique.
Be active on your Google My Business account, post every week about new features or products. Bring to life aspects of your business that go unnoticed. Posts will expire so keep your account updated for the best reach. Regularly check your categories because they are often updated and new categories are added that you may want to be found under.
Reviews aren’t as scary as they seem. We have an entire blog post about how to manage bad reviews. So when it comes to Google reviews, don’t be afraid to ask customers to leave a review after their visit. It’s a great way to hear about their experience and gain exposure! Although in the event that a bad review pops up, don’t take it personally. Be professional, address the issue, create a solution, if it hasn’t been solved already, and apologize for their experience. Keeping emotions out of it is the best way to professionally solve a problem. Since you can’t control the actions of others, it starts with you. Don’t become aggressive or invalidate their experience. Accept it and always apologize, then respond to them in a positive way. This is important. Always respond to reviews, good or bad, in a positive manner. Recognize that some bad reviews are good. Many people want to look at bad reviews just like they want to look at good reviews. They take note of how you responded and what your solution was to the problem.
Creating a Google My Business account increases the amount of people you reach. It helps give more information about who you are and what you do. It encourages people to find you in other areas, like Facebook or maps. You don’t want to skip on an opportunity for people to see your business and to gain more customers.
A few months back we had a local business friend inquire about growing her Instagram. This business owner is well known in the local community and even award winning in her industry. She sent me a message along the lines of “Any suggestions what I am doing wrong here? I can’t seem to grow my following on Instagram even though I have these awards and am known in the community.”
This is something I hear often. “Why can’t I seem to grow my online following?”
But before I get into the tips for how to grow your Instagram, let’s first take a look at what your goals are. When I sit down with a new or potential social media management client, I always ask what the goals are for the social media. Is the goal for more sales online? Is the goal for brand awareness? Do you have a specific followers count number in mind? Who is your customer you are speaking to online?
Armed with some of these answers we can create a game plan.
Personalize your brand
People are not inclined to follow accounts and companies that are all about the sales push. If you can connect with the people following your account through your personalization ,they are far more likely to follow AND to engage with you online.
A couple examples of personalizing your brand could be featuring people who work for your company. Share information about your staff, their interests and their jobs/experiences. At Panda Rose we do a weekly Feature Friday of one of our staff members and they are always a big hit. People like to know who is behind the work.
If you are a single person show or really small operation, you can offer some insight into your life. What do you like to do with some of your spare time outside of the office/work site? Do you have a family? Are you a foodie? Getting a bit more personal helps people connect with you and feel as if they are not always being sold on something.
Have clean/clear pictures
The occasional quote or meme can be fun, but too much of a good thing is well…. too much. Keep the photos you are uploading clean and clear. This doesn’t mean they have to all be done by a professional, but avoid posting pictures that are blurry, too dark and/or poor quality. You can take fun courses online about photography if you really are wanting to get into it, but honestly there are a lot of bloggers and Instagrammers online that also use their phones for snapping pictures.
I can’t stress this one enough. It’s called social media, not “put pictures up and don’t talk to anyone to get famous media”. Some quick tips for engaging online with others:
Comment on other peoples photos that you follow and that follow you. Talk to the people who are already enagaging with you! This helps build a community around your page/brand.
Search hashtags that are relevant to your industry/business. Are you a wedding cake baker in Edmonton? Search for #yegweddings and find and follow other industry people or couples getting married. Engage with them and be seen, but again also creating that community.
Ask questions on your posts/stories. When you ask questions, people love to give you their opinions. They want to share in their experience with you and give suggestions and tips of their own. This helps with community building, relationship building, shows you are listening and at the same time gives you an in depth insight into your customer. What do they like? What do they want? What are their interests?
Your online presence has bearing when it comes to getting a loan for your business.
According to Statistics Canada from 2016, 51.3% of small businesses request funds to help with their business. Over half of those people are requesting the money from financial institutions such as banks. Many business owners are looking to purchase equipment to speed up processes, hire employees, get into larger spaces and purchase high volume of items. Whatever the reasoning your business is looking to expand, you may need a loan in order to boost your business to take it to the next level.
“51.3% of small businesses request funds to help with their business.”
Last week we were lucky to have Tom Yeo from Scotiabank in Spruce Grove stop by to chat about the importance of your online presence when banks are considering you for a loan. When looking at getting a loan from the bank for business, there are a lot of factors at play, but as Tom explains, they always look online at your businesses website. Whether you sell online items or not, they look up your website.
So what exactly are they looking for when they look up your business online?
Tom says the first thing he does is look at the company website. He looks at the About Us section to see if it is up to date, relevant and if there even is one at all. He is looking to see that there is contact information and that its up to date. He wants to know that your company is going to have business for the next 2, 5, or even 10 years. Tom says then as he’s looking at the website he is looking to see “that it’s professionally done. That then shows that the company takes pride in what it’s doing and is actually invested in it’s image that’s out there.”
“shows that the company takes pride in what it’s doing and is actually invested in it’s image”
Your business’ online image is important for a lot of reasons. It’s important for potential loaners, investors, clients and even employees.
Tom goes on to say that “there was a company I recently decided not to do business with, because when I looked up their company online, what came up was employee reviews and they were all negative.” Now we all know that in business, we can’t make everyone happy. We also know that sometimes there are people out there that make a point to try to ruin a reputation of a company. When I asked Tom if there was any bearing in responses from the company on reviews he replied that it’s important to “manage you entire presence” and that replying to reviews has a “huge impact if done in a professional response.”
There is a bit of a process when beginning to look at funding options for your business, and managing your online presence is one of them. Look for:
Reviews. Search your company online and find reviews. Respond to any concerns left by employees or clients. We even suggest responding to the people who left you wonderful reviews! It’s great for SEO and building community around your brand.
Your website information is up to date an relevant. Make sure your contact information is correct and that your products and services are up to date as well.
Your website looks professional.
Pop over to our blog post 5 Website Mistakes That Are Hurting Your Business for more tips!
About Tom: Tom Yeo is originally from the UK and moved to Canada a few years ago. He has been in the banking industry for approximately 10 years in a variety of roles including personal banking, business banking and investments.
Is your company being seen online? Hello? Are You There?
“Hello, it’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet?” Okay maybe the Adele “Hello” song is a bit over done, but the sentiment really is there. People no longer pull out the phone book and flip to a section to search for local company. People are pulling out their phones while waiting in line or hanging out on the couch to search for services and businesses.
93% of online experiences begin with a search engine and 46% of all searches on Google have local intent (Google, 2018).
This means that people are generally searching online for your business or (businesses like yours) and what it has to offer. We covered a while back Why A Good Website Is Important, but really we also have to bring people to said website. We use a number of things in order to do this from Social Media Marketing and online Ads, to SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Generally we here at Panda Rose like to think that SEO is important and things like paid ads should be supplementary to SEO tactics. This is also the sentiment from Forbes:
Compared to the costs associated with other forms of online marketing such as PPC advertising, social media marketing, or purchasing leads for an email marketing program, SEO provides fairly good ROI. While PPC may drive more revenue and social media may be more important for your image, your organic SEO in many ways remains a bedrock of your online presence.
As we went through in our blog post What Even Is SEO search engine optimization is about working toward getting your business to the top of the list in search engines. If people are taking to search engines to find what they are looking for, we want them to find YOUR business. Potential clients and customers are specifically looking for exactly what you offer, help them find it, instead of one of your competitors.
Panda Rose Consulting Joins Clutch’s Research of SEO & PPC Agencies in Canada
Every business values exposure. When companies are looking to expand their customer base, it’s very important that they find a marketing firm that can understand the intricacies of their business and target the right audience. Our clients trust that our expertise in digital marketing can help their business grow and they trust that we’ll always deliver on time. On our Clutch profile, which was created earlier this year, you can see what sets us apart as one of the best companies for your SEO, PPC, and general digital marketing needs.
Clutch is a Washington, DC-based B2B research and reviews firm. They look to connect business buyers with the best service providers worldwide, using a thorough research methodology based on client feedback in the form of unbiased and accurate reviews. To collect reviews, Clutch actually calls our former clients and interviews them about their experiences working with the Panda Rose team. We have our first review on our Clutch profile, and already the feedback we’ve received from our wonderful client Krista Rumberg has been more than we expected. Check it out:
Because of our commitment to our clients and our expertise in SEO, Clutch named us as one of the top SEO companies in Canada. We’ve also been recognized as a top-performing firm on Clutch’s sister sites, The Manifest and Visual Objects.
The Manifest’s content includes lists of top performing companies, articles on trends within the tech industry, and helpful guides for business owners. We are included on their list of the top 50 social media marketing companies in Canada.
Visual Objects is Clutch’s newly launched site that acts as a central hub to view the portfolios of creative firms. Visual Objects features firms from a variety of industries including app development, web design, and branding. You can find Panda Rose listed on their list of the top digital marketing agencies in 2019. We’re happy to be one of the first firms featured on Visual Objects and we’re excited to see how the site evolves.
With the new year underway, we’re extremely appreciative of our clients for taking the time to speak with Clutch and reflect on their experiences working with us. To get honest and verified feedback through a third-party source is a great opportunity for Panda Rose and we look forward to seeing how much more we can grow our presence on each site until we’re considered the very best digital marketing agency in Canada!
You’ve got a website for your company. You are “online”, that should be good enough right? I mean, you don’t sell anything on your website, how important could it be to invest in a good website?
The world is digital and as we shared in our blog post “5 Website Mistakes That Are Hurting Your Business” 47% of users leave a website if its loading time is more than 3 seconds. Couple that information with studies showing that between 70-80% of people research a company online BEFORE visiting a small business or making a purchase with them. A killer website is far more important than we give it credit for. Crucial even.
studies showing that between 70-80% of people research a company online BEFORE visiting a small business or making a purchase with them
Join Kelly Rose from Panda Rose Consulting Inc for a Business Breakfast as he talks about the importance of your business needing a solid website at the Stony Plain Chamber Of Commerce. This is an opportunity to ask Kelly some questions about your company’s website and how it can perform better, while getting the chance to also do a bit of networking with local business owners.