Archive for the ‘SMM’ Category

Fake Likes On Facebook

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Why Facebook Hates And Fights Fake Likes

Facebook is launching a campaign to rid its service of fake, or “low-quality”  likes. There are spammy businesses out there that prey on Facebook page admins with offers to get them thousands of likes to their pages.  In a blog post, Facebook site integrity engineer Matt Jones wrote that “The spammers behind fake likes have one goal — to make money off of Page owners without delivering any value in return.” He said that “They make their profit by promising and generating likes to Facebook Page administrators who typically don’t understand that fake likes won’t help them achieve their business goals.”

It’s not hard to locate these spammers. A Google search for “buy Facebook likes” yielded plenty of offers, including one company that posted an entire menu of options, including “10K Likes for $480.” For $1,200 you can buy like 50K likes.

Jones wrote that the company has a “strong incentive to aggressively go after the bad actors behind fake likes because businesses and people who use our platform want real connections and results, not fakes.” He said that businesses that buy these fake likes won’t achieve real results and “could end up doing less business on Facebook if the people they’re connected to aren’t real.” He added, “Since these fraudulent operations are financially motivated businesses, we focus our energy on making this abuse less profitable for the spammers.”

Likes are great, but only if they're real, says Facebook

Likes are great, but only if they’re real, says Facebook

Facebook has both automated and manual systems in place to try to catch these types of fake likes, “including blocking accounts and removing fake likes all at once.” The company has also sued spammers in the past and has obtained “nearly $2 billion in legal judgments,” so far. A judgment doesn’t necessarily mean that Facebook has been able to collect from the offending businesses that it’s gone after.

Others weigh-in

Having 10,000 fans in India is great, but they’re not going to buy anything or visit you if you’re a furniture store in Sydney, Australia.

Not just Facebook

Social media spam affects other services as well. It was just as easy for me find web pages selling “TwitterTWTR -8.84% retweets” such as 10,000 retweets for $45 or 50,000 for $150. There are also spammy services that sell YouTube views and Instagram followers as well as LinkedInLNKD -3.84% connections. In addition, there are companies that sell text-links to try to trick Google into upping the page rank of sites that are linked from other sites. A few years ago Google started punishing websites with these bogus links by reducing their own page rank, but — as a web site administrator — I still get plenty of offers from businesses wanting to pay me to place these links on my page.

Culture obsesses over popularity

We increasing live in a world where businesses, celebrities, journalists and just regular people, are judged by the number of followers, friends or likes they have accumulated. But sheer numbers of followers or likes don’t tell the real story. Even if they were obtained without paying for them, numbers don’t necessarily translate into genuine interactions whether that’s financial transactions, genuine retweets, clicks or just plain interest.

The reality is that there is a big difference between people who are genuinely interested in what you have to say, versus those you have simply “collected” by whatever means are at your disposal.



7 (Seven) Ways Market Research Can Feed Into Business Activities

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Most commonly, market research is viewed as a method to improve advertising and marketing initiatives and to develop products that are friendlier to specific markets. However, the true range of uses for market intelligence is much larger than most businesses think. The results of surveys and opinion polls can also be used to inform various company departments to support their diverse activities.

Moreover, advances in technology have brought about sophisticated do-it-yourself (DIY) research products, which means that businesses have more control over the costs, reach, and timing of research solutions. Those DIY offerings also deliver the advantage of instantaneous results that can be monitored in real time, offering a competitive edge when time is critically important.

The distinctive characteristics of DIY market research solutions give businesses an impressive ability to influence operations across multiple departments, especially in the following seven areas.

1. Language and Tone of Communications
In the many ways companies engage with their consumers, language plays a crucial role. Market intelligence can be especially useful in shaping the tone and content of marketing collateral and company communications to appeal to specific groups of consumers without being irrelevant or offensive.

Research can also help organizations working in highly sensitive capacities, such as hospices or charities for terminal illnesses. For example, gathering opinions from a panel of leukemia survivors can help the marketing department of a leukemia awareness organization to focus on the issues most important to patients and to employ appropriately sensitive, supportive, and inspiring language in its communications.

2. Media Buying and Placement
Market intelligence can be used to discover the best arenas in which to disseminate messaging and launch marketing campaigns. Insights into the minds and media habits of consumers can help create a strategy using the most appropriate venues for marketing, public relations, social media, search engine optimization, and other campaigns.

Also, when businesses move into unfamiliar territories, market research can play a vital role in determining the best approach. Surveys could be conducted to learn more about the consumers in this new market. Do they use social media sites or news sites more often? Do traditional print publications still outperform those online? Is one social network more popular than another? The results of such reports could then assist in choosing the best strategy for media buys, article placement, social media content, and so on.

3. Crisis Management
Being able to access immediate results and observe reactions can be critical to proper crisis-response activities. Whether a business is coming to terms with a sudden drop in public opinion, grappling with an event that hurts consumer confidence, facing something that causes a publicity catastrophe, or responding to a natural disaster, the advanced capabilities of DIY research solutions allow for swift deployment of online surveys, improving a company’s image while providing information vital to the formation of the most appropriate response.

Although such application of market insight might not be commonly employed, they can be as valuable as the traditional uses for market research (such as others in this list of seven uses) and should definitely be taken into account.

4. Advertising Campaigns
Market research has traditionally been used to help agencies craft targeted messages in their advertising programs to ensure they are appealing to the right demographics.

Although the subjective nature of advertorial response is hard to measure, surveys and opinion panels have long been used effectively to pinpoint the specific aspects of a product or campaign that will resonate most with consumers.

5. Product Development
Another traditional use for research panels and target audience surveys, product development can be greatly enhanced via market investigation and input from key demographics.

Learning what the consumer believes, needs, and wants can help to create tailored products that satisfy demand. Conversely, maintaining a conversation with current users of a certain product via a managed research panel can help a company become aware of any issues that need improvement or product aspects that should not be altered during product upgrades.

For example, a car manufacturer wishing to update a popular model could deploy surveys to current fans of the car to gauge their opinions on various aspects. Perhaps most people think the car is visually appealing but they are frustrated by the way it handles. Those results could feed into the development process to ensure that the new model will perform well without alienating anyone.

6. Brand Perceptions
Brand outreach, too, has often drawn upon market research to inform strategies. Businesses can conduct investigations into the marketplace to determine which aspects of their brands are being properly communicated. In this way, they can avoid wasting time and money emphasizing brand characteristics that are already common knowledge.

On the other hand, examining a target audience’s opinions of a brand can reveal areas for improvement. For example, a luxury brand might discover that consumers affiliate its products with convenience rather than indulgence, highlighting an area of current brand messaging that possibly needs altering.

7. Service Improvements
Surveys have often been use to gauge whether consumers are satisfied with a company’s services. Now, technologies moreover enable companies to create their own consumer communities, forming a direct and constant source of feedback.

For example, a business could post information and a link on its website for consumers to join its research community. Those who sign up and participate in such a forum can form a valuable source of information for monitoring service performance. Moreover, owning a research panel can extend other customer service areas to enhance overall response to consumer needs.

Creative Ways to Use Twitter for Business

Monday, August 20th, 2012

These tips are designed to help you better organize and structure your Twitter strategy to get noticed.

1. Create a Conversation List. Who you follow defines your Twitter experience. A conversation list helps to organize people based on why you started following them in the first place. Make private lists of who inspires you in business, who inspires you in life, who has great tips for crowdsourced innovation. You can keep your lists private or go public with them.

2. Update your profile picture. This little square associates your business with an image in the minds of followers, so be mindful of its look, and follow these sub-rules:
• Make sure your logo fits the square. Obviously cropped or distorted ones look unprofessional. For PC users, the free tool Irfanview enables you to crop and resize photos in a snap. Mac users should try EasyCrop or GraphicConverter (our personal favorite)—both paid services, but relatively inexpensive. Free browser-based tools like Pic Resize will also let you crop or resize online.
• Ensure your logo is readable. Don’t use the space if the words in your logo can’t be read.
• Consider using a headshot. It’s easier to connect with faces than with logos. Or you can make like Uber Paris and use both a face and a logo in a creative way that matches your company’s spirit!
• If you use a photo, focus on the face. There isn’t room in a Twitter photo for whole-body shots on the beach.
• No animals or kids! We’re trying to connect with you, not your favorite things.

3. Rethink your visual branding. Create a custom graphic for your Twitter background to freshen things. Here are examples of Twitter backgrounds, and instructions for creating one.

4. Use Twitter to solve business challenges. Offer Twitter specials, reward retweeters, organize Tweetups in order to rally troops around your brand and motivate them to listen when you throw serious questions out there about your product or service. Better yet, put the product in their hands at the Tweetup!

The Point: Don’t tweet into a void. Organize your Twitter presence with greater purpose, and you’ll find a panoply of ways to make it work for you.

Pinterest Lessons for Better Web Design

Monday, August 6th, 2012

We’ve talked plenty about Pinterest’s potential to spread the gospel of your awesomeness, but what about the lessons its success can teach us about creating fashionably cutting-edge Web design?

Here’s a big one: According to Babar Suleman, writing at The Daily Egg, “Pinterest’s meteoric rise to social media ubiquity is powered by its blend of great visual design and highly intuitive user interface.” Bingo.

Below, some tactics out of Pinterest’s playbook to help you create a kicky Web page that grabs—and holds— user attention.

Post in simple blocks. Images on Pinterest appear as note-sized blocks that operate like mini webpages, featuring comments boxes, “Like” and “Repin” buttons. “The masonry layout eliminates visual gaps between images of different sizes and proportions, and thus effectively utilizes available space,” Suleman notes.

Be photo-centric. Pinterest de-emphasizes text because imagery is easier to digest quickly. The community is wed by shared visuals which, in a way, serve as conversations. Suleman also notes that Pinterest offers solutions for ecommerce businesses: “You can use your pinboard as an online store—complete with gorgeously organized product images and price tags.” These are all looks you can recreate on your own site.

Make it flow. Ever hit the bottom of the Pinterest homepage? No? That’s because Pinterest uses “infinite scrolling” to continue displaying content as you descend. It’s the “window shopping experience that never ends,” says Suleman. “A user is far more likely to spend more time viewing and engaging with the content than if they had to click to view the ‘next page’ and wait for it to load.” Try it out: Make your content flow on a given page.

Fight the reverse-chronology trend. It’s natural to be interested in what’s most recent, but Pinterest demonstrates that isn’t the only way we can sort content online. It organizes content by interests and Pinboards, arranged as users please, less of a “what’s new” philosophy than a “what’s interesting” one—giving content a longer shelf-life. Use this strategy to tailor content to users by their interests, no matter when it was published.

Even if you don’t use Pinterest, you can reap its richesse by optimizing your own site along these lines. For more tips, read Suleman’s full article on Pinterest design inspiration.

The Point: There’s a method to this pin-madness. And Pinterest’s secrets to success can be yours, too! So what’re you waiting for?

Pinterest App Helps Small Merchants Attract Pinners

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

A new app from Lexity, Lexity Pinterest Report, enables merchants to understand how their products or services show up on Pinterest and potentially profit from the information.

“Pinterest is driving more traffic to our merchants than Facebook or Google ads in many cases,” said Lexity CEO Amit Kumar. “Many niche, small-business merchants have very compelling, unique products, so they tend to get picked up on Pinterest by people looking for cool things. We give you a view across all references to your product across Pinterest.”

According to comScore, Pinterest was the 61st most-visited U.S. web property in June, with 20.5 million unique visitors.

Pinterest itself is expected to open APIs to third parties soon; in the meantime, Lexity wrote its own algorithms and applies them to other Pinterest data sources that Kumar would not reveal.

The three-year-old company focuses on small businesses, connecting with online stores through their e-commerce platforms to automatically generate relevant keywords, track the most-pinned products, identify relevant trending products, identify top competitors, and score the reputations of Pinterest users in regard to relevant information.

For example, according to Kumar, the app can tell a store that sells lingerie, “You should keep an eye on ‘pajamas.'”

Lexity Pinterest Report can differentiate between a pinner who has tons of followers but no interest in lingerie from one whose every petticoat pin gets attention – and suggest that the merchant should snuggle up to the latter.

Pinterest has emerged as a key social media tool for merchants of all sizes. In April, Amazon and eBay both added Pinterest buttons to product pages, letting users share product images and page links to Pinterest directly. Experian’s recent 2012 Digital Marketer report found that Pinterest, now the third most popular social networking site in the U.S., could help foster “meaningful connections” between retailers and consumers.

Pinterest Report supports 20 e-commerce platforms and is priced at $5 a month to appeal to Lexity’s core customer base of companies spending less than $10,000 per month on marketing.
The company will soon release a pro version with a higher price tag that includes more sophisticated analytics.

5 More Must-Haves For Every Small Business Website

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Every small business needs to have a website. But business owners aren’t exactly sure what should go on their website. A website needs to be an asset to your company. It needs to make money, rather than cost money. With that in mind, we put together a checklist of five must=haves for every small business website. We’re back with another essential checklist. Here are five more must-haves for a small business website.
Small business owners need to include all of these to make sure they’re getting the best value from their website.

1. Blog
This is a half way house between your website and a newsletter to your customers. A blog gives you the opportunity to add personality to your website and start an open conversation with your website visitors. It adds a human element to a company site, and gives you the opportunity to showcase your knowledge, products and industry. And because visiting a blog is anonymous, many more will read your blog than will sign up for a newsletter. Not only that, most blogging platforms allow visitors to comment and add to the author post. This means that having a blog allows web visitors to see that there are other people spending time on your website and interacting with your business. We all prefer to eat in a busy restaurant than an empty one!
The other real advantage of a blog is that it allows you to add fresh, relevant content to your website, which is one thing that Google really likes to see. If Google likes it, then the chances are you will be boosted up the Search Engine Results page for searches relevant to your products.

2. Customer Reviews and Testimonials
What’s the most convincing way to sell your products? By having other customers recommend them. Its one thing for you to go on and on about how great you, your company and your services are. But at the end of the day, any website visitor is going to take all that with a grain of salt. Of course you’d say that you were great! But if other customers give recommendations or reviews of your product and service, then that adds real weight to what you are saying. Of course, you’re hardly likely to publish reviews and testimonials that show you in a bad light. But if it is a genuine comment from a real person–and that person doesn’t mind you publishing their contact details, so that other web visitors can check they’re real–then that comment can go a long way to reassure people that buying from you is a good decision.

3. Email to a Friend
This is one of the oldest and most basic website features, and one that is sadly overlooked these days. As mentioned above, the most effective way to convince someone to buy from you is to have someone else recommend your products. An email to a friend feature on your website does exactly that –it allows a website visitor to send details of your products to someone they know, which is, of course, an implicit endorsement. Include an “email to a friend” link with each product you sell, and you will really see the benefits of the personal recommendations.

4. Social Bookmarking
Have you ever wondered what that strip of icons on web articles actually does? The icons are often accompanied with a message like “share this,” or “add this.” The icons all represent–and link to–social book marking services. Social bookmarks are a public web page where you place all the links to all your favourite websites. They’re a way of you creating a simple web page and saying to everyone “I recommend these websites.” When you place social bookmarking links on your website, you allow your website visitors to quickly add your website to their list of social bookmarks. It is yet another way of them endorsing your product.
The other added benefit is that when people link to your website using a social bookmarking service, it can also help boost you up the Search Engine Results Page for searches that are relevant to your product or service.

5. Twitter & Twitter Feed
In short, Twitter is a micro-blogging platform that allows you to send and receive short messages. I’m not here to discuss the ins and outs of Twitter, but it can effectively achieve lots of different things. First of all, it allows you to communicate and have a conversation with your customers or visitors to your website. Second, it allows other people to sit in on these conversations, and find out what you’re saying. Both these help add a human element to your website–turning a computer screen into a real person again. And as stated before, its so much harder for a web visitor to walk away from a real person than their computer screen. It means they will be much more likely to get in touch.

How Reputation Can Affect Your Findability

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Someone once wrote, “A good reputation is more valuable than money.” That bit of wisdom has been proven time and again. From small restaurants to big car companies, nothing can affect a business’s bottom line faster than a reputation gone sour. But many entrepreneurs forget that reputation can also play a big role in a business’s “Findability.”

The Five Factors of Being Findable. Being “Findable” means a business is visible to consumers where and when they’re ready to buy. There are five key marketing components or factors that help identify how findable a business is to consumers including: Brand, Physical Location, Advertising, Online Presence, and Reputation & Community. The degree at which a local business is engaged in each factor plays an important role in determining their overall visibility. But one of the most dynamic of the five is arguably Reputation & Community.

Reputation & Community. For years, being involved in your local community through sponsorships, memberships and charities was an important part of keeping up your business’s findability, goodwill and brand loyalty. But today there are countless online places consumers can go to generate word of mouth about the companies—big or small—that they have experiences with. Sometimes that word of mouth is complimentary, sometimes it can be outright damaging to business. Either way, that information is out there for existing and potential customers to see and use when deciding whether to buy from you. So it’s important to keep a close eye on what’s being said about your business in order to engage any damaging word of mouth in a timely fashion.

Listening. The most important thing you can do in managing your reputation is to listen. Local businesses that listen to their customers benefit by not only understanding how people feel about them, but they have the opportunity to guide the conversation rather than react to it. But, in order to listen, you have to know where you’re being talked about. Today, that means monitoring social media networks, blogs, review sites and more to see what’s being said about you. That’s where the concept of “reputation management” comes in.

Reputation management. Simply put, reputation management is the process of tracking what is being said about your business. For some, it may help to think of reputation management as a little bit like constant credit monitoring for your business. With credit monitoring, experts always say to check your credit every year, get an updated score, and review your report for unknown blemishes that you may be able to fix. However, with reputation management, checking only once a year for marks against your business is usually too late to undo any damage. Countless prospects may have already seen the detrimental information, believed it—whether it was true or not—and passed you over for a competitor. Reputation management provides an omnipresent electronic ear to the ground so you know what information is being said about your business in today’s instant social media world.

The Big Four of reputation. There are four main areas that local businesses should think about when considering online reputation:
1. Visibility – Regardless of what kind of business you own, it needs to be visible in all the places people might find you online. That includes search engines, directories, industry/professional sites, local sites, and more. Where are you appearing? Are there reviews on any sites you may not be familiar with? Can your customers find your best reviews?
2. Reviews – What are your customers saying about you? Are youresponding to these in the right way? Reviews aren’t just for movies and restaurants anymore. Everything from attorneys to zoos get reviewed by consumers these days and many times those reviews get republished on other sites. So it’s more important than ever to monitor what’s being said about you.
3. Social Media – What is the “buzz” around your business? Can your customers find you on Facebook? Are they mentioning you in their status updates or tweeting about you? Are they checking into your business on Foursquare?
4. Competition – It’s as important to keep an eye on your competition as it is to monitor your own reputation. What are their customers saying? Are you being mentioned in the same comments? How can you learn from that?

You’re not helpless. Almost every business eventually drops the ball at some point. And that disappointed customer may vent their frustrations in ways that will be less than flattering to your business. So while you can’t control what they say and where they say it, you can control how and when you’re able to respond to it.

Reputation management provides businesses the opportunity to address a negative situation and turn it around into a positive one. You’ll look like a caring and responsive business in the eyes of other customers by making your gesture in a public forum. So you could not only win back the customer you might’ve lost, but possibly gain dozens more with your proactive response.


6 Ways to Improve Your Online Presence and Visibility

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

According to Nielsen, roughly 274 million people in the U.S. now have Internet access. In another study by TMP Directional Marketing, 80 percent of US adults under 35 consider the Internet their main source for local information. A third study shows 97 percent of all consumers use online media to shop locally.1 The point is, if your business still isn’t online yet, you’re missing a wealth of new, qualified and highly motivated leads.

Getting found. Considering online is primarily where you’ll find most of today’s local shoppers, having a strong online presence is extremely important for promoting visibility. Even 58 percent of those buying offline will research products and services online before buying. That number rises to 87 percent among college graduates and those earning over $75,000.2 If your visibility is low, so are the chances of consumers finding you when they’re ready to buy. Here are six ways to increase your online presence and increase your visibility.

Have a website. In today’s world, many would say your business may as well not even exist if it doesn’t have a website. And given how consumers are searching for information these days, it may not exist through the eyes of potential customers if you don’t have one. A website is a basic building block of an online presence and, for many consumers, essentially validates your business. It is the place your business will ultimately be found and chosen. But as many entrepreneurs have discovered, just because you have a website doesn’t mean you’ll get found. A website is an essential tool that should be part of any integrated marketing solution. And since Google reports that 1 in every 3 searches from mobile devices are now local, having a mobile version of your website can only help increase your findability.

Pay for search engine marketing (SEM). This type of marketing improves a business’s online and mobile visibility through paid ad placement. SEM uses a pay-per- click (PPC) or cost-per-click (CPC) model, where businesses select key phrases relevant to their line of work. The business will appear in a search result ad when users search for that key phrase. If they click through to the business’s website using the ad or sponsored link, then the business pays for that lead. SEM offers businesses many benefits including the ability to:
• Maximize online exposure by placing you in the paid search results near the top of the page
• Tailor your ad message and keywords to suit your needs
• Track results with greater precision
• Establish a monthly spending cap
• Pay only to reach consumers who show an interest in your product or service

Use search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is all about figuring out key search phrases customers would use to find your business and incorporating them into your site. The more your website content matches up with the specific searches people do, the more relevant your site will be considered by search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. As a result, your business page will rank higher than others and you’ll appear closer to the top of a search results page. SEO allows you to:

• Improve the rank of your website in the free search results
• Raise your position on the page
• Increase your visibility for free
• Grow the traffic to your site

Add custom videos. A video link found online is 52 percent more likely to be clicked than a standard text link.1 In the U.S., we are the number one video consumers in the world. In fact, Alexa ranks YouTube as the third most visited site on the Internet behind Facebook and Google. Consumers like to be able to see your business, your store or office, your staff, and your products in living color and full motion. Plus, videos are 53 times more likely than text pages to show up on the first page of search results.4 Some of the many other benefits of using video on your site include the ability to:

• Tell your story visually
• Increase chances of your content going viral
• Differentiate your site from competitors
• Get 18 percent more viewer attention than TV commercials

Use online banner advertising. Most Internet users have probably seen plenty of banner advertising while surfing online. Typically, they’re the small, rectangular ads seen across the top, bottom or along the side of a page. If you click on one, it immediately takes you to the advertiser’s website or their landing page. Just a few years ago, banner ads looked to be fading in popularity. But, thanks to technology centered on how they are bought, sold and targeted, banner ads are making a big comeback. Today’s banner ads get exposed to the most relevant target audience by strategically advertising on websites that would appeal to the site’s users.

Targeted banner ads reduce wasted coverage and bring in more qualified leads for less. Some of the other benefits of banner advertising include the ability to:

• Guide prospects along the purchase path
• Provide up to a 27 percent lift in online sales5
• Offer up to a 17 percent lift in offline sales5
• Increase brand awareness
• Easily measure results
• Compete with national brands
• Build credibility with future customers

Reputation management. In the world of reputation management, knowledge is power. You can’t manage what you don’t know about. Reputation management is the process of tracking what is being said about your business. It provides an omnipresent electronic ear to the ground so you know what information is being said about your business and allows you to check for accuracy, share the good stuff, and respond—if needed. Reputation management benefits businesses by:

• Ensuring consumers find only the best version of your business
• Allowing you to keep tabs on what is being said about your business
• Providing the opportunity to address any damaging information in a timely manner
• Listening to social buzz about your business
• Helping to keep an eye on the competition

More visibility, more business. Increasing your online presence is one of the best ways to increase your visibility for customers trying to find you. Local businesses need to develop a coordinated offline and online marketing program to reach across the myriad of ways today’s digitally savvy and mobile buyers search and shop. Test your business’s visibility right now for free. Take a few minutes to get your Findability Score by answering five simple questions about your business.

1 – Source: Kelsey Group, Mobile Market Research, 2010
2 – Source: Pew Research Center
3 – Source: YuMe and IPG Media Lab, April 2012
4 – Source: GigaOM 2009
5 – Source: comScore 2008

3 Digital Marketing Initiatives That Complement Your SEO Program

Monday, July 16th, 2012

“While SEO will always be a good bet for generating long-term value,” writes John-Henry Scherck at Renegade Search, “it doesn’t necessarily have to be the only aspect of a good digital marketing campaign.”

There’s no reason to sit around waiting for SEO to take effect when you can bolster your burgeoning optimization program with short-term creative initiatives.
Scherck offers a number of actionable suggestions, such as:

Improve your website. All the traffic in the world does no good when your site—which is, in effect, your online salesperson—can’t close the deal. “If your website looks dated, disorganized, and sloppy, first-time visitors may associate those qualities with your actual business,” Scherck notes. Conversely, a well-designed site with logical navigation and valuable content will reflect well on your brand’s capabilities.

Create linkable assets. You probably have link-building campaigns, but outstanding content will also generate natural links—in other words, unsolicited links from people who liked what they saw and wanted to share it with others. By definition, the blog post that inspired this newsletter is a linkable asset.

Hire a public relations expert. The best PR professionals have established relationships with the media who cover your industry—in other words, direct access to editors who can offer the most coveted backlinks. Even better, PR teams tend to create natural-looking backlink profiles.

The Point: Accessorize. It may take some time to see results from your SEO campaign; in the meantime, build on those efforts with complementary digital marketing initiatives.

Avoid Social Media Slip-Ups: Three Tips for Managing Your Online Reputation

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Though most social media failures may not be as spectacular as Kenneth Cole’s error—the clothing company infamously jumped on a hashtag bandwagon in 2011 and things went spectacularly wrong—social media can prove damaging for your reputation if you get it wrong.

In recent months, we’ve seen just how quickly your company’s failure can go viral. Overnight, the once respected health and wellness chain LA Fitness went from hero to zero, thanks to the power of Twitter. The story spread quickly and left some serious stains on the company’s good name. You can spend years building up a solid reputation for your business, but it only takes one rogue tweet to ruin everything.

Social media isn’t just about the potential harm to your brand’s good name, however. Social media is also a great way to monitor what people say about your business.

1. Respond to Brand Mentions

Dashboard applications, such as HootSuite and TweetDeck, are great tools for managing your social media and monitoring your reputation. Those applications let you set up custom fields that alert you every time your brand name is mentioned—whether folks use your Twitter or Facebook handle or not.

That means you can respond to all brand mentions, tweets of your posts, and negative comments. By responding quickly and doing your upmost to resolve the issue, you can preserve your company’s good name.

By responding to positive mentions, you can cement a reputation for excellence. You can prove that customer satisfaction is important to you, and you can show a more human side to your business. That will encourage people to use your services or to buy from you again.

2. Have a Social Media Crisis Plan

Even if you sensibly use social media, you should develop a crisis plan. If the worst does happen, you need to be quick to act to salvage your reputation. Whether the crisis is a rogue tweet or a negative brand mention, you need to know how to act in that situation.

If someone posts something potentially damaging about your company, don’t jump in and react rashly and rudely. Instead, message the person, ask what the issue is, and how you can help resolve it. Often, people don’t expect a reply; they will calm down if the issue is at least partly resolved.

Similarly, make sure you have a course of action to take should you receive some negative PR. Use your social media platforms to restore faith in your brand. But be careful not to actively shift the blame, especially if you are actually in the wrong.

3. Use Social Media Best Practices

To prevent a social media slip-up, you should outline social media best practices for your business. They don’t have to be strict guidelines but a general agreement about what content should (and shouldn’t) be posted. It may be advisable to stick to posting your work, relevant posts from your industry, images you’ve taken yourself, and a few human elements to your company.

Posts can be taken the wrong way over social media, especially as people can’t tell your tone of voice.

Therefore, it is important to remain professional but show a little personality. At least this way, you are more approachable to your clients.

Your online reputation is often the difference between your making a sale or your losing one. The Internet has made it very easy for customers to research what real people are saying about you before they buy.

Clare Evans is a copywriter at Bird and Co.