Month: January 2019

Build Brand Credibility on Social Media

Brand

If you are a Wordpress site or business owner, you want to be that brand people rave about to their friends, remember first when they need your product and patronize no matter how other brands convince them to do otherwise. You want to be that brand consumers trust so much they wouldn’t mind spending more knowing that they’ll get their money’s worth. You want to be that brand so credible stores would fight for your product to be on their shelves. But the question is: how will you make that happen?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the power that social media has to the consumers of today. 90% of marketers said social media has increased business exposure and 75% said it drove more traffic to their website, which is no surprise considering that there are 3.196 billion social media users around the world in 2018. That’s almost half of the world’s population. To get started with your social media efforts in building brand credibility, here are a few takeaways that you could use:

Before you go viral for the wrong reasons, fix any business glitches first

If you want to go viral on social media, it has to be for the right reasons. So before someone digs up your flaws and tarnish your credibility online, make sure to fix any glitches within your business first. Be like Erik Gordon, so they say, where he used consistency to defend himself against accusations thrown at him and continue to be successful in his career as an investor, philanthropist, and film and television producer. You will make mistakes at some point, whether in your personal life or business, but being transparent about it and finding the right solutions to address those problems is a good way to establish your credibility before you start your social media marketing efforts.

If you haven’t done it yet, start a website or blog

Blogging Image

A blog or website is not only a great starting point for you to build credibility, but it is also an incredible platform to show the more human side of your business. But setting up one just wouldn’t do the job. You also need to create consistent, refreshing content that people will love enough to share on social media platforms, articles that are useful for your audience and compelling enough to push them to take action. A lot of entrepreneurs still write their own blog posts because it gives them the opportunity to connect with their consumers, which is a great way to build that trust in them.

Be the brand that offers value and nothing but

Blendtec

Blendtec, an appliance manufacturer selling blenders went from being nobody to becoming a global brand by using YouTube videos featuring its products blending everything from CDs to an iPhone 4. Their videos became so viral that Steve Jobs even made a guest appearance when they blended the iPhone 4.

Now, this is a classic example of social media marketing done right. In a sea of useless promotional videos, you need to be that brand that offers value to your consumers by showing them exactly what your product can do. This gives you the opportunity to build a relationship with consumers before making a sale, which is very important for retention.

Practice a habit of consistency in all your social media platforms

According to research, 51% of social media users unfollow brands that post irritating promotional content or those who don’t post anything at all. Now the key to a successful social media marketing campaign is consistency. Consumers nowadays look to social media for product information to help them make purchasing decisions, so it’s the perfect opportunity to put your brand forward by providing consistent content on your social media platforms.

Brand

Finally, always make your social media campaigns about your consumers and not about you. Simply put, give them what they want to hear. For instance, if you’re selling a gadget for the elderly, you can’t expect them to want to hear you talking about all the technical features of your product because really, all they want to know is how they can use your product and how it will benefit them. Also, it’s a good strategy to come up with several problems and show your audience how your product can help address them.

Building brand credibility doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that takes time because if you want your relationship with consumers to last, you can’t force them to like your product immediately. It has to come from a sense of trust that will eventually give them more confidence to your brand that they’ll be more than happy to share it with others.   

Filed under: Marketing, Strategy, Trends, WordpressTagged with: ,

Finding SEO Opportunities From Log Files

logs_main

Log Files For SEO Purposes

I use web crawlers regularly. While they are very useful, they only imitate search engine crawlers’ behavior, which means you aren’t always getting the full picture.

The only tool that can give you a real overview of how search engines crawl your site are log files. Despite this, many people are still obsessed with crawl budget — the number of URLs Googlebot can and wants to crawl.

Log file analysis may discover URLs on your site that you had no idea about but that search engines are crawling anyway — a major waste of Google server resources (Google Webmaster Blog):

“Wasting server resources on pages like these will drain crawl activity from pages that do actually have value, which may cause a significant delay in discovering great content on a site.”

While it’s a fascinating topic, the fact is that most sites don’t need to worry that much about crawl budget —an observation shared by John Mueller (Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google) quite a few times already.

There’s still a huge value in analyzing logs produced from those crawls, though. It will show what pages Google is crawling and if anything needs to be fixed.

When you know exactly what your log files are telling you, you’ll gain valuable insights about how Google crawls and views your site, which means you can optimize for this data to increase traffic. And the bigger the site, the greater the impact fixing these issues will have.

organic-traffic-revenue-yoy-96806.jpg

What are server logs?

A log file is a recording of everything that goes in and out of a server. Think of it as a ledger of requests made by crawlers and real users. You can see exactly what resources Google is crawling on your site.

You can also see what errors need your attention such as duplicate content and other aspects which may impact your search appearance.

Analyzing logs is not rocket science — the logic is the same as when working with tables in Excel or Google Sheets. The hardest part is getting access to them — exporting and filtering that data.

Looking at a log file for the first time may also feel somewhat daunting because when you open one, you see something like this:

log-file-415345.jpg

Calm down and take a closer look at a single line:

66.249.65.107 - - [08/Dec/2017:04:54:20 -0400] "GET /contact/ HTTP/1.1" 200 11179 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)" 

You’ll quickly recognize that:

  • 66.249.65.107 is the IP address (who)
  • [08/Dec/2017:04:54:20 -0400] is the Timestamp (when)
  • GET is the Method
  • /contact/ is the Requested URL (what)
  • 200 is the Status Code (result)
  • 11179 is the Bytes Transferred (size)
  • “-” is the Referrer URL (source) — it’s empty because this request was made by a crawler
  • Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html) is the User Agent (signature) — this is user agent of Googlebot (Desktop)

Once you know what each line is composed of, it’s not so scary. It’s just a lot of information. But that’s where the next step comes in handy.

Tools you can use

There are many tools you can choose from that will help you analyze your log files. I won’t give you a full run-down of available ones, but it’s important to know the difference between static and real-time tools.

  • Static — This only analyzes a static file. You can’t extend the time frame. Want to analyze another period? You need to request a new log file. My favourite tool for analyzing static log files is Power BI.
  • Real-time — Gives you direct access to logs. I really like open source ELK Stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana). It takes a moderate effort to implement it but once the stack is ready, it allows me changing the time frame based on my needs without needing to contact our developers.

Start analyzing

Don’t just dive into logs with a hope to find something — start asking questions. If you don’t formulate your questions at the beginning, you will end up in a rabbit hole with no direction and no real insights.

Here are a few samples of questions I use at the start of my analysis:

  • Which search engines crawl my website?
  • Which URLs are crawled most often?
  • Which content types are crawled most often?
  • Which status codes are returned?

If you see that Google is crawling non-existing pages (404), you can start asking which of those requested URLs return 404 status code.

Order the list by the number of requests, evaluate the ones with the highest number to find the pages with the highest priority (the more requests, the higher priority), and consider whether to redirect that URL or do any other action.

 

url-number-of-requests-69062.jpg

If you use a CDN or cache server, you need to get that data as well to get the full picture.

Segment your data

Grouping data into segments provides aggregate numbers that give you the big picture. This makes it easier to spot trends you might have missed by looking only at individual URLs. You can locate problematic sections and drill down if needed.

There are various ways to group URLs:

  • Group by content type (single product pages vs. category pages)
  • Group by language (English pages vs. French pages)
  • Group by storefront (Canadian store vs. US store)
  • Group by file format (JS vs. images vs. CSS)

Don’t forget to slice your data by user-agent. Looking at Google Desktop, Google Smartphone, and Bing all together won’t surface any useful insights.

Monitor behavior changes over time

Your site changes over time, which means so will crawlers’ behavior. Googlebot often decreases or increases the crawl rate based on factors such as a page’s speed, internal link structure, and the existence of crawl traps.

It’s a good idea to check in with your log files throughout the year or when executing website changes. I look at logs almost on a weekly basis when releasing significant changes for large websites.

By analyzing server logs twice a year, at the very least, you’ll surface changes in crawler’s behavior.

Watch for spoofing

Spambots and scrapers don’t like being blocked, so they may fake their identity — they leverage Googlebot’s user agent to avoid spam filters.

To verify if a web crawler accessing your server really is Googlebot, you can run a reverse DNS lookup and then a forward DNS lookup. More on this topic can be found in Google Webmaster Help Center.

Merge logs with other data sources

While it’s no necessary to connect to other data sources, doing so will unlock another level of insight and context that regular log analysis might not be able to give you. An ability to easily connect multiple datasets and extract insights from them is the main reason why Power BI is my tool of choice, but you can use any tool that you’re familiar with (e.g. Tableau).

 

power-bi-relationships-73973.jpg

Blend server logs with multiple other sources such as Google Analytics data, keyword ranking, sitemaps, crawl data, and start asking questions like:

  • What pages are not included in the sitemap.xml but are crawled extensively?
  • What pages are included in the Sitemap.xml file but are not crawled?
  • Are revenue-driving pages crawled often?
  • Is the majority of crawled pages indexable?

You may be surprised by the insights you’ll uncover that can help strengthen your SEO strategy. For instance, discovering that almost 70 percent of Googlebot requests are for pages that are not indexable is an insight you can act on.

 

power-bi-indexability-99667.jpg

You can see more examples of blending log files with other data sources in my post about advanced log analysis.

Use logs to debug Google Analytics

Don’t think of server logs as just another SEO tool. Logs are also an invaluable source of information that can help pinpoint technical errors before they become a larger problem.

Last year, Google Analytics reported a drop in organic traffic for a companies branded search queries. But the keyword tracking tool, STAT Search Analytics, and other tools showed no movement that would have warranted the drop. So, what was going on?

Server logs helped us understand the situation: There was no real drop in traffic. It was our newly deployed WAF (Web Application Firewall) that was overriding the referrer, which caused some organic traffic to be incorrectly classified as direct traffic in Google Analytics.

Using log files in conjunction with keyword tracking in STAT helped us uncover the whole story and diagnose this issue quickly.

Putting it all together

Log analysis is a must-do, especially once you start working with large websites.

My advice is to start with segmenting data and monitoring changes over time. Once you feel ready, explore the possibilities of blending logs with your crawl data or Google Analytics. That’s where great insights are hidden.
If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on Wordpress Redirects!

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Filed under: Marketing, Strategy, WordpressTagged with: , ,

5 Easy Steps to Creating a Sitemap For a Website

What is a sitemap?

When it comes to getting your website ranked, you need to take advantage of as many SEO hacks as possible. Creating a sitemap is one technique that will definitely help improve your SEO strategy.

Some of you may be more familiar with this than others. I’ll give you a quick crash course on the basics of sitemaps before I show you how to build a website sitemap on your own.

Simply put, a sitemap, or XML sitemap, is a list of different pages on a website. XML is short for “extensible markup language,” which is a way to display information on a site.

I’ve consulted with so many website owners who are intimidated by this concept because sitemaps are considered a technical component of SEO. But in all reality, you don’t need to be a tech wizard or have a tech background to create a sitemap. As you’ll learn shortly, it’s really not that difficult.

Why do you need a sitemap?

Search engines like Google are committed to displaying the most relevant results to people for any given search query. In order do this effectively, they use site crawlers to read, organize, and index information on the Internet.

XML sitemaps make it easier for search engine crawlers to read the content on your site and index the pages accordingly. As a result, this increases your chances of boosting the SEO ranking of your website.

Your sitemap will tell search engines the location of a page on your website, when it was updated, the updating frequency, and the importance of the page as it’s related to other pages on your site. Without a proper sitemap, Google bots might think that your site has duplicate content, which will actually hurt your SEO ranking.

If you’re ready for your website to get indexed faster by search engines, just follow these five easy steps to create a sitemap.

Step 1: Review the structure of your pages

The first thing you need to do is look at the existing content on your website and see how everything is structured.

Look at a sitemap template and figure out how your pages would be displayed on the table.

website sitemap template

This is a very basic example that’s easy to follow.

It all starts from the homepage. Then you have to ask yourself where your homepage links to. You likely already have this figured out based on the menu options on your site.

But when it comes to SEO, not all pages are created equal. You have to keep the depth of your website in mind when you’re doing this. Recognize that the pages further away from your site’s homepage will be harder to rank for.

According to Search Engine Journal, you should aim to create a sitemap that has a shallow depth, meaning it only takes three clicks to navigate to any page on your website. That’s much better for SEO purposes.

So you need to create a hierarchy of pages based on importance and how you want them to be indexed. Prioritize your content into tiers that follow a logical hierarchy. Here’s an example to show you what I’m talking about.

page hierarchy

As you can see, the About page links to Our Team as well as Mission & Values. Then the Our Team page links to Management and Contact Us.

The About Us page is the most important, which is why it’s part of the top-level navigation. It wouldn’t make sense to have the management page be prioritized at the same level as Products, Pricing, and Blogs, which is why it falls under third-level content.

Similarly, if the Basic pricing package was positioned above the Compare Packages page, it would throw the logical structure out of whack.

So use these visual sitemap templates to determine the organization of your pages. Some of you may already have a structure that makes sense but just needs some slight tweaking.

Remember, you want to try to set it up so every page can be reached in three clicks.

Step 2: Code your URLs

Now that you’ve gone through and identified the importance of each page and matched that importance in your site structure, it’s time to code those URLs.

The way to do this is by formatting each URL with XML tags. If you have any experience with HTML coding, this will be a breeze for you. As I said earlier, the “ML” in XML stands for markup language, which is the same for HTML.

Even if this is new to you, it’s not that tough to figure it out. Start by getting a text editor where you can create an XML file.

Visual Studio Code is a great option for you to consider, it runs on Linux, Windows or Mac and its FREE!

Vscode

 

Then add the corresponding code for each URL. Here, given its a Wordpress site, its a master xml file which lists the urls of the sub sitemaps, which are arranged in various categories.

  • location
  • last modified

Here are some examples of how the code will look for each one with different types.

  • http://www.examplesite.com/page1
  • 2019-1-10
  • weekly
  • 2

Take your time and make sure you go through this properly. The text editor makes your life much easier when it comes to adding this code, but it still requires you to be sharp.

Step 3: Validate the code

Any time you code manually, human error is possible. But, for your sitemap to function properly, you can’t have any mistakes in the coding.

Fortunately, there are tools that will help validate your code to ensure the syntax is correct. There’s software available online that can help you do this. Just run a quick Google search for sitemap validation, and you’ll find something.

I like to use the XML Sitemap Validator tool.

xml sitemap generator

This will point out any errors in your code.

For example, if you forget to add an end tag or something like that, it can quickly be identified and fixed.

Step 4: Add your sitemap to the root and robots.txt

Locate the root folder of your website and add the sitemap file to this folder.

Doing this will actually add the page to your site as well. This is not a problem at all. As a matter of fact, lots of websites have this. Just type in a website and add “/sitemap/” to the URL and see what pops up.

Here’s an example from the Apple website.

apple sitemap

Notice the structure and logical hierarchy of each section. This relates back to what we discussed in the first step.

Now, this can be taken one step further. You can even look at the code on different websites by adding “/sitemap.xml” to the URL.

Here’s what that looks like on the HubSpot website.

hubspot sitemap

In addition to adding the sitemap file to your root folder, you’ll also want to add it to the robots.txt file. You’ll find this in the roots folder as well.

Basically, this to give instructions for any crawlers indexing your website.

There are a couple of different uses for the robots.txt folder. You can set this up to show search engines URLs that you don’t want them to index when they’re crawling on your site.

Let’s go back to Apple and see what their robots.txt page looks like.

robots.txt

As you can see, they have “disallow” for several pages on their site. So crawlers ignore these.

apple sitemap files

However, Apple also includes their sitemap files on here as well.

Not everyone you ask will tell you to add your sitemaps to the robots.txt file. So I’ll let you decide that for yourself.

With that said, I’m definitely a firm believer in following the best practices of successful websites and businesses. If a giant like Apple uses this, it can’t be too bad of an idea for you to consider.

Step 5: Submit your sitemap

Now that your sitemap has been created and added to your site files, it’s time to submit them to search engines.

In order to do this, you need to go through Google Search Console. Some of you may already have this set up. If not, you can get started very easily.

Once you’re on the search console dashboard, navigate to Crawl > Sitemaps.

Google search console

Next, click on Add/Test Sitemap on the top right corner of the screen.

This is a chance for you to test your sitemap again for any errors before you continue. Obviously, you’ll want to fix any mistakes found. Once your sitemap is free of errors, click submit and that’s it. Google will handle everything else from here. Now crawlers will index your site with ease, which will boost your SEO ranking.

Alternative options

While these five steps are pretty simple and straightforward, some of you might be a little uncomfortable manually changing the code on your website. That’s perfectly understandable. Fortunately for you, there are plenty of other solutions that can create a sitemap for you, without having to edit the code yourself.

I’ll go through some of the top options for you to consider.

Yoast plugin

If you have a WordPress website, you can install the Yoast plugin to create a sitemap for your website.

Yoast gives you the option to turn your sitemap on and off with a simple toggle switch. You can find all of your XML sitemap options from the SEO tab via WordPress once the plugin has been installed.

Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog is desktop software that offers a wide range of SEO tools. It’s free to use and generate a sitemap as long as the website has fewer than 500 pages. For those of you with larger websites, you’ll need to upgrade the paid version.

Screaming Frog allows you to make all of the coding changes that we talked about earlier, but without actually changing the code yourself. Instead, you follow a prompt that’s much more user-friendly, and written in plain English. Then the code for the sitemap file will be changed automatically. Here’s a screenshot to show you what I mean.

screaming frog configuration

Just navigate through the tabs, change your settings, and the sitemap file will be adjusted accordingly.

Slickplan

I really like Slickplan because of the visual sitemap builder feature. You’ll have the opportunity to use a sitemap template, similar to the ones we looked at earlier.

From here, you can drag and drop different pages into the template to organize the structure of your website. Once you’re done, and you’re happy with the way your visual sitemap looks, you can export it as an XML file.

Slickplan is paid software, but they offer a free trial. It’s at least worth trying if you’re on the fence about purchasing a plan.

Conclusion

If you’re ready to take your SEO strategy to the next level, you need to create a sitemap for your website.

There is no reason to be intimidated by this anymore. As you can see from this guide, it’s easy to create a sitemap in just five steps.

  1. Review your pages
  2. Code the URLs
  3. Validate your code
  4. Add the sitemap to the root and robots.txt
  5. Submit the sitemap

That’s it!

For those of you who are still on the fence about manually changing code on your website, there are other options for you to consider. The Internet is full of sitemap resources, but the Yoast plugin, Screaming Frog, and Slickplan are all great choices to start. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on JetOctopus Web Crawler!

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Filed under: Strategy, WordpressTagged with: ,

SEO Blunders Bloggers Often Make

The digital marketing landscape has gone through several paradigm shifts, especially in the last few decades.  But then, it has never ever undermined the importance of SEO as its core marketing strategy. As you know, SEO and business blogs work hand in glove. Blog posts that use on-page SEO tactics lead to better search engine rankings and traffic to your site. However, there are few SEO blunders that could come in the way of your search engine rankings and traffic.

If you are a newbie blogger, it pays to go through this list of blunders, because, as they say, precaution is better than cure. For veteran bloggers, it doesn’t harm to re-look and reinforce your tactics once again.                    

Overloading with Keywords

This mistake is commonplace.  Besides, destroying your search engine rankings, a blog piece that makes the keywords do all the heavy lifting offers a poor reading experience.  The key is to take advantage of one or two long-tail keywords and center your blog on them. Long-tail keywords are known to satisfy the informational needs of your audience; thereby encouraging them to read your entire post.       

Omitting Internal and External Links

Useful Links

 

External Links, in a way, vouches for your content’s credibility. So, if you blog covers a topic that has already been covered in another site, you should ideally link back to that particular page. On the other hand, internal linking keeps the reader on your site and helps search engines to effortlessly discover authoritative pages of your site. Internal links, ideally should not only link to the pillar page of your website but also direct the readers to relevant blog content.

Content Duplicity

If you are trying to set up duplicate pages by tweaking similar keywords, be assured, this is not going to benefit your SEO any which ways. For instance “best mobile app Development Company in the U.S,” and top mobile app developers in the U.S. mean one and the same thing. So, creating different pages for both these keywords could, in all probability, lead to a search engine penalty.         

So, the best way out is to delve deep into one particular keyword and make all efforts to strengthen the post.

Overloading with Images and Graphics

While bloggers’ job is to generate high-quality posts, there are several who focus on the design aspects of the blog more than anything else. Sure, design attracts readers to your site. But then, the design shouldn’t be the be-all-end-all for your blog. So, avoid loading your blogs with too many images and graphics. If you are thinking twice about doing away with them, then be assured, search engine bots would also think twice before crawling your pages.

Substandard Copy with loads of jargon

 

Jargon

This fact gets oft-repeated: write for readers, not for spiders. Not to mention, keep your content jargon-free, even if you are writing a technical document. Simply put, even a 7th grader should be able to read your content.  

Generally speaking, blog content is more about informing users and offering actionable tips to the reader.    

So, in a way, content marketing is not just a marketing tactic, it’s also a branding exercise at the same time. It lends you a voice as an author and cements your authority in your niche.  

So, make sure you come with meaningful prose that’s easily scannable and whose purpose is crystal-clear.  Wherever possible, break long chunks of paragraphs with GIFs and videos. Also, add visuals after every 400 words, if possible. This will prevent information overload.       

Also, edit the content. You could leverage tools such as Grammarly and Hemingway App to come up with crisp, clean copies. Seek the help of top content marketing companies to get excellent high-quality posts written in no time.      

Writing Short Content

Short And Snappy Content Marketing

 

I have seen many blogs publishing short posts. No doubt, churning short posts takes lesser time, but then, it could cost your readers. Readers are looking to learn something from your posts. They are looking for actionable content. They are looking for value. So, if you creating a post that comprises just 300 words just think, what sort of value it delivers. Besides that, your post won’t rank in search engines.  So write long-form content as much as possible. Add to your content’s length by digging deeper and researching on same and similar topics.

Using Automated Title tags

The title tag is inordinately crucial from a search engine standpoint.  Newbie bloggers are known to come up with long titles – trying to describe the blog in too many words. This is not right from an SEO perspective. The title tags should be short, no more than 60 characters. More importantly, you need to focus on optimizing it.     

Use Google Adwords to check the popularity of the keyword used in the title tag before optimizing it.  A properly optimized title tag enjoys better placement in search engines and even more visitors. To vet your existing title tags and more, you could consult top digital marketing agencies.   

Summary

There you go! 7 Seven SEO blunders bloggers often make. Though the above mistakes are common, they still need repeating, because these mistakes are still rampant. Optimizing your blog content for SEO may appear tedious and time-consuming, but then it’s important if you want to reach your target audience and wants to stand apart from your competitors. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on Creating a Sitemap!  

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Filed under: eCommerce, Strategy, WordpressTagged with: ,

6 Steps To Becoming A Social Business

social-media

Becoming a social business doesn’t happen overnight. After all, just launching a new Facebook page or a new Twitter account doesn’t mean that your business is social. Being a truly social business means that social media is part of your company’s culture and corporate DNA. It means that both front-line employees and top executives are using social media as part of every new initiative or strategy

Back in 2013, the Altimeter Group outlined the six stages of social business maturity that would result in the final transformation of a company into a social business. That study (“The Evolution of Social Business”) was more than theoretical conjecture – it was based on survey results from nearly 700 social media professionals and executives.

Step 1

The transformation starts with a planning stage. This could mean running a few pilot projects or other proof-of-concept projects. It also means listening to customers and other stakeholders to see what they are thinking about. And it also means reviewing resources to see what’s available to be invested into social media projects.

Step 2

After that important first step, a company must begin to build its social media presence on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. This requires thinking about how to use those platforms strategically, in order to meet core business objectives. For example, if your company prides itself on best-in-class customer service, you’d probably want to make Twitter a core component of your social strategy.

Step 3

Then, it’s time to think about building engagement with customers, forming communities, and finding your super-fans across social media. In short, your company needs to become part of a larger social media ecosystem. You are starting to build feedback loops, in which you are constantly refining what you post on social media, and how you connect with customers, fans and partners.

Step 4

Those first three steps are what most people commonly associate with becoming a social business. But as the Altimeter Group pointed out, you’re still only halfway to becoming a truly social business. You also need to formalize the role of social media within your organization. Who is the primary “executive sponsor” of social within your organization? For some companies, it might be the CEO. For others, it might be the CMO or CTO. Obviously, if there’s buy-in from the CEO, there’s a good chance the company really can become a social business.

Step 5

The next step is integrating social media strategy with the overall strategy of the company. If your company has different departments, units or affiliates, they all need to understand the role of social. And the right reporting relationships have to be set up such that the right C-level executives can see, for example, the impact of a recent social media campaign on a new product launch.

Step 6

The last step is perhaps the most exciting step – it’s when social has been so ingrained into everything that your company does that it’s possible to talk about a “social culture.” Your HR department is now using social media to recruit new employees. Your marketing department has a social media component for every new splashy campaign. Your customer service department has embraced social media as a way to boost overall customer satisfaction.

At that point in time, your company has truly become a social business. It’s not just that you are implementing new social strategies, it’s also that everyone in the business has a social-first mentality. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on Buying Instagram Followers!

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Filed under: eCommerce, Marketing, WordpressTagged with: ,

Social Media Tips for Wordpress Site Owners

Top-9-Benefits-of-Social-Media-for-Your-Business-760x400

Social media can be a boon for Wordpress website owners. It helps you to expand your reach by connecting with new audiences and prospective customers, and provides a platform on which you can advertise your products or services.

One study shows that consumers are 71% more likely to buy a product or service after a positive social media experience, while the number of social media users in 2018 reached a massive 3.196 billion. This was 13% higher than the year previously.

In fact, so powerful is social media that some businesses use it exclusively to advertise and generate sales.

However, like any marketing channel, it’s crucial to target your customer segment and communicate with them in the right way. Failure to do this will result in your efforts landing on deaf ears, which is a huge waste of time and money.

So, take a look at these top 6 tips on how to create an effective and sustainable social media strategy for your small business.

Identify your target audience and make a plan

Before you post a single word, work out who you want to connect with on social media and for what reason. For example:

    1. Prospective customers for lead generation and sales.
    2. Existing customers for relationship building and customer service.
    3. Stakeholders and investors for future backing.
    4. All of the above.

Of course, you can engage with more than one group simultaneously on a single social media channel. But it’s important to narrow down your audience in order to recognise their needs, and understand how your service can solve their problems. Sometimes it’s beneficial to first understand who you are NOT targeting — such as a certain age group, geographical area, or business type — so that you can hone your content to make it more relevant to your readers. That way, you’re more likely to gain traction with your followers and encourage ‘likes’ and shares, which will spread your brand to a wider audience.

Monitor your followers

Social media is all about attracting followers so you can communicate with an engaged community of people. However, while the initial aim is to build lots of followers to increase your reach, you should monitor your followers and be ready to clear out ‘spam’ accounts.

Any time you publicly share information, there is a risk of attracting the wrong people. This is of particular concern for small businesses who don’t have the resources in place to monitor and handle privacy concerns. This article explains some of the social media mistakes that can lead to privacy issues, and you can help prevent these by taking some basic steps.

Firstly, protect your home and personal information by using a registered business address. If you work from home, you can use a virtual office as your company office. This provides a business address with mailing services and on-site workspace, which provides a corporate environment for your company without the cost of a full-time office.

You can then use your virtual office for all your public social media and marketing accounts. For instance, register a web domain name under your virtual address, your social media accounts, your company letterhead and business cards, website ‘contact’ page, and more. It will add a layer of protection and separate your business from your home life.

Research your competitors

Getting started on social media can be daunting. One of the best ways to speed up the learning process is to follow what your competitors are doing. Make sure it’s a well-followed social media account with plenty of recent positive activity, and draw inspiration (but don’t copy!) from the type of content they post. You can also look at successful social media profiles of businesses from other industries to see how they engage with their followers.

At the same time, don’t be afraid to check out some of the poorer efforts to see what NOT to do. You’ll soon figure it out — if you find yourself skimming messages with no inclination to click or share, they’re not hitting the right notes. Learn from their mistakes.

Choose specific social media platforms

Social Media Trends Flipsnack

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is to sign up to multiple social media platforms. Our advice is to start with ONE social media platform with a view to add a second, and later a third, once you have found your stride.

So which one to choose? You might have an idea that Facebook or Instagram is better for lifestyle products, while Twitter and LinkedIn suits B2B service businesses. Even if you’re familiar with social media for business, don’t make assumptions — research as much as you can before taking the leap. This report from Hubspot is a great place to start, as it provides detailed demographics information for all of the major social networks and will help you gauge where your audience spends their time online.

Create a content calendar

So once you’ve established who you’re targeting and which social platform provides the best way to reach them, it’s time to start posting. Start by creating a content calendar detailing which type of content you will post, and when.

A golden rule of social media marketing is: don’t ‘sell’ too much. Try to avoid posting bland product listings and special offers. Aim for the 80:20 rule: 80% of your social media content should be informative, educational, or entertaining. The remaining 20% can promote your brand or highlight products for sale.

That means you need good, useful content that’s not overly promotional. This can include your own blog posts and editorial content, but you can also look to external sources for helpful information. Keep a lookout for articles, free guides and how-to information that you can share on your social media profile. Add a short comment explaining why the post is worth reading and how it can help.

TIP: Always tag the original company or author in your post, as they are more likely to acknowledge your tweet and return the favor by sharing it on their own profile. That effectively broadcasts your brand to a whole new audience.

Post regularly and build your audience

Social media is all about consistency. Post regularly, ideally at the specific times when your audience is most active. When is the best time to post? That depends on your target audience. Check out this detailed guide from Sprout Social for solid information on the best publishing times for each major network and industry.

To help keep things running smoothly, you can schedule posts to go live by using a tool like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck — this ensures that your posts will continue to appear even when you’re out of the office.

One thing to remember about social media is that it’s not all about ‘me, me, me’. It’s SOCIAL media — think of it as a two-way conversation and rather than simply publishing a steady stream of one-way messages, aim to communicate with your followers and respond to their posts in the same way that you aim to garner responses from them.

Above all, your social media activity should always add value. Whether it’s a useful step-by-step guide, a special offer to help your customers save money, or a lighthearted Friday afternoon post to raise some laughs, always aim to provide relevant, engaging content that resonates with your audience. You can use a tool like Crowdfire to get a lot of things done, its free at basic level, which is pretty efficient. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on Social Media Management!

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Finding Lucrative Niches on Social Media

Few small businesses offer products or services that carry a widespread, universal appeal. Instead, they tailor their marketing and advertising efforts toward specific niches and customer profiles. Though many entrepreneurs view social-media marketing as an opportunity to rapidly expand their consumer base, it’s often a better idea for businesses to focus on finding lucrative niches. Indeed, the key to success with digital marketing lies in finding, engaging, and converting digital leads into sales. To that end, today we’ll focus on the first aspect of this three-pronged approach and discuss how businesses can locate profitable opportunities on social media.

Let Consumers Find You

One of the best ways to create an online marketing strategy –– particularly with an emphasis on social media –– is to create a content network. Traditionally, marketers have viewed social media as an initial “touchpoint” between businesses and consumers. And while that can certainly be the case, professionals can also direct leads to their social-media profiles from their own web pages. By creating a diverse, rich, and compelling array of content and posting pieces to social-media outlets like LinkedIn, for instance, companies can create their own “niches” and attract interested leads from a variety of sources.  Using Social Media tool like Crowdfire they can “spread the love” as it were, to potential followers and clients and build a wider audience. On the subject of Linkedin, Crowdfire also does an excellent job of posting their YouTube videos to Linkedin (and other channels), a function missing from the current YouTube creation process.

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Conduct Competitor Analyses

New business owners may be reluctant to admit it, but their competitors can make sound marketing decisions. In fact, you can almost guarantee that your most successful rivals already execute dynamic social-media tactics and understand how and where they should engage with consumers. Fortunately, there’s nothing stopping you from analyzing how your competitors approach social media. By examining their rivals’ efforts, business owners can determine which niches are the most saturated and which are largely ignored. From there, a company can decide to attempt to outshine their competition or explore untapped opportunities — either of which could lead to the discovery of a new niche platform or demographic.

Explore the Web

Ecommerce Niche

No single social-media platform enjoys a monopoly. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, (etc.) all offer users different experiences, and, as such, attract different kinds of users. Businesses that want to carve out their own niche need to be willing to explore the far reaches of the internet to uncover social-media sites that cater to their target demographic, field, or industry.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of whether you’re trying to promote an RMS POS system or a new line of microwave ovens, there are ways to ensure qualified leads find your business online. At the end of the day, it’s more beneficial for marketers to prioritize generating sales than garnering followers. Gaining popularity on social media isn’t a bad thing, of course, but tangible sales matter more than likes, shares, or follows. Keep that in mind at all times, and you’ll be sure to form a social-media plan that works for your company! If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on Geo Targeting for Social Media!

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The Connection Between Geo-targeting & Social Media

Geo Targeting

Geotargeting, Social Media & Digital Advertising

The internet has made the world a smaller place thanks in part to the influence of social media. After all, search engines and social-media platforms enable individuals from around the globe to connect to friends, family, entertainers, and, yes, businesses at a moment’s notice. Still, not every small business has the ability to deliver their product or service to remote locations. And rather than garnering traffic from all corners of the globe, they’d prefer to focus on consumers in specific markets. While marketers often speak about geo-targeting in regard to digital advertising, progressive professionals can apply a myriad of tactics to ensure they connect with consumers in preferred geographic locales.

To be brief, geo-targeting within digital advertising platforms like Google Ads is a relatively simple process. Marketers can select which cities, counties, regions, or countries they want to target with their ads. In addition, they can also adjust the settings of a given ad to exclude searchers from outside of selected areas. For instance, a Chicago office design firm might include a few nearby suburbs like Naperville or Evanston within their ads, but exclude the rest of Illinois. In this way, businesses can keep their ad spend under budget and increase their conversion rates.

Geo-targeting & SEO

In regard to SEO, the best geo-targeting practices tend to relate to maintenance and upkeep. Optimizing meta descriptions to feature a location is one easy way to bolster the chances of location-specific search queries including your site. Lastly, though it’s a small detail, it’s crucial that all of your address information is correct on business listings.

Geo-targeted Content & Social-Media Tactics

It is possible for marketers to tailor their content marketing techniques and their social-media strategy to focus on a specific, city, state, or region. It’s just more difficult than adjusting the settings on a digital ad. However, there are a few ways you can direct your content toward targeted markets. One method is to create blog posts, videos, or podcasts that relate to a location by name. Beyond that, businesses can build pages that address an issue unique to a target market. As such, a masonry business in Seattle could launch a web page devoted to protecting brick exteriors from water damage.

In terms of social media marketing, there’s nothing wrong with using a city’s unique culture or heritage to bolster your own brand. Plus, businesses can go the extra mile and collaborate with local organizations or charities and promote those activities across their social-media accounts.

One final point: businesses with multiple locations may want to consider registering multiple accounts for their different offices (as companies like HomeGrounds do). At the very least, utilizing unique hashtags and other identifiers on social media can help you stay connected with your consumers in your target markets. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on Social Media Management! 

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Website Fonts That Compliment

Fonts for Web & Wordpress Design

In website design, people often overlook minor details, like typography.

I know what some of you might be thinking. How important can a website’s font really be?

Believe it or not, something as simple as choosing the right font can have a major impact on conversion. Plus, website fonts affect the overall appearance of your site.

Now it’s unlikely that you’ve been on a website and thought, “Wow, this font is great!”

It doesn’t smack you in the face & it just isn’t something that our minds are trained to look for and I’m not expecting you to find a font that’s going to “wow” your website visitors. But, I can guarantee that you’ve been on websites that have fonts that were generic, unappealing, difficult to read, or felt out of place. You obviously don’t want people to have that impression of your website.

Why your website font matters

Here’s something to consider: different website fonts can change the reader’s perception of a particular topic.

Errol Morris conducted a survey in an article published in The New York Times in 2012. He included a passage from a book that claimed we live in an ear of unprecedented safety, and followed the passage up with two questions:

  1. Is the claim true? (yes or no)
  2. How confident are you with the answer? (slightly, moderately, very)

As it turns out, Morris didn’t care about anyone’s opinion. He just wanted to know if the font could influence their answers. Forty thousand people unknowingly participated in this experiment. While everyone read the same passage; they did not all see it in the same typography.

Check out these results.

Weighted Agreement

This graph shows all of the respondents who agreed to the first question. Morris took their levels of confidence in the second question and assigned a weighted value to each response.

In doing so, it’s clear that there was a difference between how confident people were in agreeing with the claims being made based on the font they were presented in. Now let’s look and see the results of respondents who disagreed with the passage.

Weighted Disagreement

Compare the two graphs. Do you notice any similarities?

As you can see, the Baskerville font was ranked highest for weighted agreement and lowest for weighted disagreement. Comic Sans font ranked lowest for weighted agreement, and ranked high for weighted disagreement.

Based on this data, Morris was able to conclude that fonts can influence the way people perceive information. Basically, the typeface can actually affect the credibility of your website.

In short — yes, website fonts matter.

The best Google Font pairings for 2019

You don’t want to have the same font everywhere on your site; that’s too boring. Mix it up! But make sure you pick fonts that go well together. I created this guide to help you do just that.

There are plenty of platforms for finding free fonts, but Google Fonts is my favorite. I identified the top Google Fonts pairings for 2019. So check out my list, and pick out a combination that works best for your website.

Open Sans and Roboto

Open Sans and Roboto Font

The header of this screenshot is Open Sans semi-bold. The paragraph below it is Roboto regular. I think the semi-bold header just ads a bit more punch than the regular weight of Open Sans, but it’s fine if you go with that option as well.

The reason why these fonts work so well together is because they are both crisp and extremely legible.

You’ve got lots of different options here to consider for your website design. This combination could be used to convey the value proposition on your homepage. Use the Open Sans header as a point of emphasis, and then elaborate on the subject using Roboto.

These fonts work well together if you swap them as well. You could use Roboto as the header, and Open Sans for the paragraph. In this case, I’d recommend going with Roboto medium, and Open Sans regular.

Playfair Display and Montserrat

Playfair Display and Montserrat Font

This font combination works best for shorter text on your website. I wouldn’t necessarily use it on a blog post or something like that.

However, this pairing is perfect for a product title and product description, especially for ecommerce shops in the fashion industry. The lighter weight font, like Montserrat light, gives the text a certain level of elegance that fits with a luxury brand persona.

Interestingly enough, if you swap the two and use Montserrat as the header, the persona changes to something that feels futuristic or techy. That combination can work well for some of you who are promoting a game, or even on a landing page to download your mobile gaming app.

Either way, these two fonts work well together. It depends on the theme and overall message that you’re going for on your website.

Lora and Alegreya

Lora and Alegreya Font

Lora bold is strong and legible, which is why it’s perfect for title pages. While the typography is powerful, it’s still friendly and inviting.

Alegreya regular compliments Lora really well, especially when used for captioning images.

While Alegreya is definitely legible, it can be challenging to read for long stretches, which is why it’s better for short text like captions or quick descriptions. I would not recommend experimenting with any other variations of Alegreya. Adding weight or italics to this font loses the legibility.

Now if you swap their positions, Alegreya bold works fine for title and header text. Lora regular is legible, so you could consider using it for longer text. I think this combination would be perfect for something like a customer testimonial or short case study.

Merriweather and Lato

Merriweather and Lato Font

Merriweather light and Lato regular is a very clean and professional combination.

It’s a popular choice because the options are so versatile. Merriweather light is modern, tasteful, and appealing. When it’s followed up with text written in Lato, the pairing feels trustworthy.

I’d recommend using this combination on your homepage. For those of you who have a design that involves scrolling to learn more information, this text combination will work perfectly. I’m picturing a website visitor scrolling down your home screen, seeing an image on the left side of the page and this font combination on the right. When they continue scrolling, the next image will be on the right, and the text will be on the left.

If this sounds like your current design, definitely consider using this combination to add a touch of professionalism to your content.

Amatic SC and Josefin Slab

Amatic SC and Josefin Slab Font

The font combination of Amatic SC bold and Josefin Slab italic is definitely not for everyone. I can’t say that I would recommend it to the majority of websites, but it’s an ideal combination for artsy websites. If you’re a musician, painter, or photographer, these fonts can be used sparingly on your pages.

The key here is to make sure that the text has plenty of space to breathe. I’d recommend using it against white or very light backgrounds. So check out my post on the top trending website color schemes of 2019 as well.

If you sell ceramics or sculptures, this font can be very appealing to your audience and fit nicely with the overall theme of your business.

Just make sure you don’t go overboard. Using too much of this on the screen is unappealing and challenging to read. So pick something else for longer blocks of text, such as your biography or about me pages.

Cinzel and Raleway

Cinzel and Raleway Font

Cinzel is a bold font (no pun intended). It’s all capital letters, which makes it more suitable for short text as opposed to long blog posts or things of that nature.

It’s complemented really by a font that’s a bit more traditional, like Raleway. These two fonts are perfect for websites in the food and drink industry.

You could consider using this to spice up your online menu. Have the menu categories in Cinzel black, the meal titles in Cinzel bold, and the description of the item written in Raleway regular.

If you really want to be unique, you can swap the two and use Raleway for headings and Cinzel for the body text. This could work well for local coffee shops that update their website with daily specials or weekly brews.

PT Sans Narrow and PT Sans

PT Sans Narrow and PT Sans

PT Sans Narrow and PT Sans is a classic combination. This versatile choice will work well for nearly any website in 2019.

Since both fonts are so legible, you can use it for text in short-form, as well as long-form content such as blog posts.

I like these fonts because they are easy to read, but not too generic and boring. PT Sans Narrow and PT Sans are inviting, so consider using them on home screens and landing pages.

How to pick the best website fonts

Now that you’ve seen some of the best Google Fonts combinations of 2019, how can you decide which one is best for your website?

The first thing you need to do is determine what type of content the font will be used for. Decide if the fonts are for your blog, homepage, landing page, product description, or navigation menu.

You’ll also want to consider the type of business you have, as well as the audience you’re targeting. Does the font need to be professional? Or do you have some room to be a bit unique?

The key to pairing two fonts together is contrast. The fonts should be different enough that each is distinguishable, but not so different that the reader is distracted.

You may want to use a few font combinations on your website, but don’t go overboard. Keep it simple. Each page should just have two fonts; three at most. If you want to use more, consider using variations of the fonts already on the page (light, italic, medium, bold, etc.) instead.

Summary

Fonts are important, so it time to get rid of the default. Google Fonts is one of the best resources for free website fonts. The platform has some of the top site fonts that compliment each other.

  • Open Sans and Roboto
  • Playfair Display and Montserrat
  • Lora and Alegreya
  • Merriweather and Lato
  • Amatic SC and Josefin Slab
  • Cinzel and Raleway
  • PT Sans Narrow and PT Sans

And to get an idea how to differentiate between the different types of font check out this Creative Bloq article. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on Website Planning!

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Social MediaTrends

Social media has had a turbulent year to say the least. Many social giants, Facebook in particular, has been criticized for issues ranging from data privacy to manipulative content. This year, Facebook users learned that the social network had compromised their privacy by allowing access to the personal information of millions of people to a political analytics firm. The data privacy issue put into sharp focus the magnitude of power these companies have over user data. Many people for the first time acknowledged the extent at which bad actors can exploit and disrupt government elections, broadcast viral propaganda and spread messages of hate across the globe. As the scandals mounted, both the public and the government were left questioning just how much power social networks (should) have and how much responsibility we all have to each other.

Despite this backlash, social media continues to be a pervasive part of most Americans’ lives. According to a recent report, social media and messaging apps accounts for roughly 1 in every 3 minutes people spend on the internet and Facebook remains the primary platform for most Americans. Approximately two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) report that they are Facebook users, and nearly three-quarters (75%) of those users access Facebook on a daily basis. Among younger generations, video and photo sharing sites are even more popular as an astounding 94 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds regularly use YouTube.

The negative aspects of social media are hard to ignore, but on the flipside, what about the positive impact of social?  Social media networks give users an opportunity to connect with others personally and professionally across the globe, catalogue and share life’s important moments, mobilize and fundraise for important causes and simply be entertained. Businesses have an opportunity to engage and service their customers more efficiently in an increasingly connected and digital world.

So, what does 2020 hold for social media? How will user behaviour change in light of these issues and opportunities? Here are my social media predictions for 2019:


2019: The Rise of Dark Social for Consumers and Brands

Facebook User Trends

Dark social, despite sounding ominous, means sharing content that occurs outside of what can be measured by traditional web analytics. It can also mean an online community where identity takes a backseat to free, anonymous content sharing. In this political and social climate, I predict an emergence of dark social in terms of how people share content and how brands look to monetize what content is shared in private spaces.

People still want to be social online, but they don’t necessarily want these interactions to occur under the gaze of the entire world. Social networks have become a place for people to share carefully crafted snippets of their life with friends, family and strangers who view their public profiles. The historical record that many social networks leave behind has led to widespread self-censorship. People are reluctant to post content for fear that it will be dredged up months or even years later.

In my view, the context gap is one of the driving forces behind the emergence of dark social. The context gap is where identity and permanence take a backseat to content. In their daily lives, people often interact with different groups. The things you might talk about with your family around the dinner table are often a far cry from the conversations you have with friends during a pub crawl. Context collapse is what happens when these different groups collide in one place — usually weddings or social media. If you share something online, everyone you know is able to see it. This often leads to a chilling effect where people find there isn’t much they want to share with everyone. Dark social just may be the answer.

Dark social accomplishes two goals for users: addresses a desire to project a particular image and gives people an opportunity to avoid damaging material in a social sharing economy that is anything but open and transparent.

One of the ways people avoid leaving behind a trail of (potentially) embarrassing uploads is by favoring networks with disappearing content like Snapchat and Instagram stories. The disappearing nature of Snapchat’s content is especially appealing to younger generations, with 78 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds using the platform. On the app, people can share content they find funny, interesting or important without having it associated with them forever.

For brands, marketing on traditional platforms like Facebook, while highly effective at scale, requires brands to flatten people into pre-established buckets. Dark-social spaces, on the other hand, function more as focus groups. They provide an honest, inside view into what tastemakers and potential customers are thinking and sharing.

Dark social is about understanding overall traffic and consumer sentiment. From there, brands can get a bit more granular by applying basic demographic information to these platforms. Knowing this information can help marketers make better sense of the trends and conversations they observe in these spaces. Combine that insight with a smart understanding of what different groups that have gathered tend to discuss, and there’s a new entry point for understanding how to market products and services.

Visual Communications Continues and Evolves

From text posts to infographics, from pictures to the explosion of online video, and back to short, digestible content like gifs and memes, I predict that the visual culture on social media will continue to shape shift. Our ability to communicate through visual language and the creativity we experiment with in this medium will continue to evolve. The next iteration to go mainstream could be AI-driven gifs or once 5G comes into play, the ability to post high definition selfies or stream 4K live video on social. Whatever form this communication takes, it will be designed to interact with audiences at increasingly quick speeds.  

Social Media and the Generational Divide

Facebook

In 2020, it is estimated that there will be around 3+ billion social network users around the globe, up from 2.46 billion in 2017. That 3 billion users is now made up of four generations: Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z.  All four cohorts have different user behavior, social channel preferences and varying tech experience. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snap are all important social experiences offering unique ways for connecting people. Facebook will continue to dominate by sheer number of users, but I predict that people will fragment even further and organize by age group. Younger people in the Gen Z group in particular will engage, not only where their peers are, but on the channels that offer authentic, new ways to express themselves and connect with others online.

Rise of Stress Free Social

With so much of traditional social media tied to identity and personal branding, a “comparison” culture has emerged where people feel the need to measure their lives against what other people are posting.  Compounded by the social media drama of 2019, people are welcoming “stress free social” where authenticity and content is entertaining, interesting and real. Posting authentic content anonymously where its free from judgement or trolling will rise in popularity. As users attention spans continue to shrink, I predict disappearing content like Instagram Stories and Snapchat to sharply increase in popularity.

The events of were dizzying 2019 when it came to social media, but 2019 marks an interesting turning point. We’ll continue to create new social media sharing experiences and probably pay closer attention about how our data is used and take greater responsibility for the content we share. As we continue, “getting back to basics” is the best way to characterize this year. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on Social Media Management

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15 Ways to Increase Your Social Media Presence

It’s just about impossible to run a successful company without setting up social media accounts on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for it.

You’re also making a huge mistake if you’re not taking the time to establish a strong social media presence. It’s not enough to just create social media accounts. You also need to monitor them closely and keep them as active as they can possibly be.

There are some pretty simple ways to give your social media presence a big boost in 2019. By acting strategically, you can connect with your social media followers more and build up your brand in the process.

Let’s take a look at 15 easy ways you can increase your social media presence over the course of the next 12 months.

Create Goals for Your Social Media Presence

What exactly is the point of you creating social media accounts for your brand?

Far too many brands sign up for social media simply because they think it’s something they have to do. But the truth is that you’re better off staying off social media if you don’t have a clear purpose.

Before you begin posting on social media regularly, you should sit down and create a list of goals for your social media presence. Is your goal to:

  • Answer pressing questions from your customers?
  • Make your brand look cooler?
  • Attract more attention to the brand-new website you just launched?

Whatever the case may be, you need to have clear goals for your social media accounts. Otherwise, you’re not going to get any real satisfaction out of running them.

Figure Out Who Is Following You on Social Media

Take a look at some of the people who are following you on social media thus far. Who are they, and what do they want from your company?

It’s very important for you to identify your target audience and, more importantly, to cater to them. If people are following your brand because they want to keep up with your latest product drops, the last thing you want to do is flood your social media feeds with pictures of the cat that keeps everyone company in your office.

You should figure out who is following you on social media now and continue to monitor your followers in the future so that you can deliver the kind of content they want.

Commit to Checking Social Media Early and Often

About five years ago, you could get away with only checking your brand’s social media accounts a few times a week. But now? If you’re not checking them at least a few times every hour, you could be missing out on a big opportunity to increase your social media presence.

Social media addiction has turned into a very real thing, so you want to be careful about how you interact with the various social media sites. But you also want to stay on top of what’s happening on social media and check in on your followers as often as you can.

Establish a Clear Voice for Your Brand

If your brand was a real person, what would it look and sound like?

One of your goals when you’re trying to increase your social media presence should be to establish a clear voice for your brand that speaks to your followers. Your brand’s voice should be unique to your company and should set you apart.

It can take some trial and error to find the right voice for your brand. Don’t be afraid to take some risks when you’re first starting out.

Form Real Relationships With Your Followers

Social

Once you get into the swing of things on social media, you’re going to start receiving messages from your followers. You should make it a point to respond to those messages. You should also provide people with the information they’re looking for.

You do want to be careful about interacting with so-called internet “trolls” that will try to ruin your day. They’ll often say and do things just to try and get a reaction out of you.

But you should make every effort to communicate with your followers and form actual relationships with them. It’ll lead to your followers becoming more loyal to your brand over time.

Find the Best Times of Day to Put Up Social Media Posts

Are you putting up most of your social media posts either very early in the morning or very late at night?

Those times might be convenient for you. But chances are, people aren’t ever going to see posts when they go up at those times.

Instead, try posting in the middle of the day when you’re more likely to attract more attention from followers. A lot of people tend to check in on social media during breaks at work or school and during lunchtime.

You might see a big uptick in social media activity when you post at the right times and you can use a tool like Crowdfire to schedule posts spread out through the day.

Come Up with a Calendar for Social Media Posting

A lot of your social media posts will probably be spontaneous. You’ll think of something interesting to say and post about it on social media without giving it any extra thought.

It’s fine to do this, provided you’re not haphazardly throwing up posts that could potentially put your brand into the wrong light. But at the same time, you should also schedule at least some of your posts ahead of time.

Consider putting together a calendar every month with the different posts that you want to schedule to go up throughout it.

Avoid Trying to Sell Something at Every Turn

Are you having a 25 percent off sale at your main store this weekend?

Cool. Post about it once on social media…and then move on!

The last thing you want to do is turn your social media feeds into a steady stream of advertisements. If you’re constantly trying to sell something to people, they’re going to lose interest in your brand.

Use a Combination of Words, Photos, and Videos

When putting together social media posts, you should mix things up and use everything from words to photos to videos.

Generally speaking, photos and videos usually work best on social media since people don’t have to put too much thought into them. But the real secret to social media success is hitting people over the head with all different types of posts and keeping them on their toes.

Add Social Media Links to Your Brand’s Website

Outside of manning your social media accounts, you should also have a website set up for your brand. You can get a stunning website for your company by relying on Arvig Media website design.

Just make sure you don’t forget to add some social media links on it. It’s an easy way to let people know you’re on social media in the first place.

Use Social Media to Hold Special Contests

In an effort to connect with your followers, you should consider holding special contests on social media every now and then.

Tell everyone to retweet or share a social media post for a chance to be entered into a contest to win free products and/or services. You might be surprised by how crazy some of your followers will go when you offer them free stuff.

Capitalize on Opportunities to Go Viral

Remember that time Beyonce name-dropped Red Lobster on her 2016 album, Lemonade, and it took Red Lobster FOREVER to acknowledge it?

Don’t do that!

There’s a pretty good chance Beyonce isn’t going to get around to name-dropping your brand anytime soon. But if there’s even a small chance that you could potentially go viral with a social media post, take a shot.

Those kinds of opportunities don’t come around very often.

Keep an Eye on the Latest “Trending Topics”

There are always one or two topics holding social media hostage at any given moment. One minute, it might be something the President said, and the next, it might be the latest Game of Thrones teaser.

Keep an eye on what people are talking about and, if it makes sense, inject your brand into the conversation. If you say something really smart or funny about a trending topic, your post could end up going viral and giving you the attention you deserve.

Experiment with Social Media Advertising

A few years ago, some social media experts predicted social media advertising was going to take over the social media game. And they were right in a lot of ways.

Many brands have started to invest in Facebook ads, promoted tweets, and other forms of social media advertising. It could be a good option for your brand.

Never Lose Sight of What You’re Trying to Accomplish

It’s easy for some brands to get carried away once they start posting on social media regularly.

While it’s good to establish a social media presence, you also don’t want to overdo it and miss out on hitting your original goals. Your social media accounts should, in some form or fashion, help your bottom line.

If they don’t, it might be time to rethink the way in which you’re using them.

Start Increasing Your Brand’s Social Media Presence Today

There is absolutely no reason for any brand not to have a social media presence in 2019.

If your brand doesn’t have one at the moment, make establishing your brand on social media one of our New Year’s resolutions. You’ll be glad you did once you start to see how much more successful you can be with active social media accounts. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on Social Media Emojis!

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The Hidden Costs of Website Hosting

The price of web hosting and what to expect as you grow

Creating a website is exciting. In many cases, it means you’re starting or expanding your own business.

But in order for your website to be live on the Internet, it needs to be hosted. In short, web hosting provides storage space and access for websites.

So, you know you need it and you know you’ll need to consider the website hosting costs. Like anything else, the costs associated with hosting your website can influence some of your decisions.

Like nearly every other product and service, there isn’t one set for website hosting. There are even some hidden costs associated with site hosting that you need to be aware of.

Allow me to explain.

If you cut corners initially with site hosting costs, it can end up costing you more money down the road. You could run into issues that are more expensive than you might think.

I developed this guide to help educate you on how much website hosting will really cost. We’ll go through different elements that you need to take into consideration.

Types of Web Hosting

There are three main types of website hosting.

  • shared hosting
  • virtual private server (VPS)
  • dedicated hosting

The costs vary based on which type of web hosting you use.

Types of Website Hosting

Shared hosting is the least expensive option. That’s because your site gets stored in a server that hosts other websites too. Dedicated servers are be the top of the line option — one that comes at a premium price. Just as the name implies, your site gets hosted on a single server you have all to yourself. (If you’re a small business, dedicated is likely way more than you need.) VPS hosting falls in between these two options. It’s less expensive than a dedicated server but has additional features and greater flexibility than shared hosting.

Free Website Hosting

What about free website hosting? Is it good? Do I recommend it?

These are questions that I get asked all of the time. For those of you who are interested in this, you check out this guide on the best free web hosting.

While free hosting is definitely an option you can consider, there is an old saying that you should keep in mind: You get what you pay for.

Now, this isn’t necessarily true all of the time. If you buy a $500 designer shirt, is it really that much better than a cheap $5 shirt? Probably not. But when it comes to web hosting, free or cheap isn’t always better.

So why do so many services offer free hosting packages? They are able to make money in other ways.

Some free hosting services make money from the banner ads displayed on your website, or even banners on your own dashboard. Some get paid with ads on forums that they force you to visit and post on in order to receive your free hosting. You’ll see web hosting plans that are offered free but then entice you to switch and upgrade to paid service.

You might even come across a startup company that’s running a web host for the first time, and offering free hosting before they transition and go after paying clients. This is something you’ll want to avoid for sure.

Website Traffic

It’s natural to try and save some money with a free or inexpensive hosting service. But eventually, your site is going to grow. Obviously, this is a good thing.

However, when your site reaches a certain size, the host may begin to throttle your website if you’re on a shared server.

A couple of things can happen from here. None are good news for your website.

It’s possible that website visitors will have trouble accessing your pages and content. They might even see error messages when attempting to connect to your site.

Even if an error message doesn’t appear, the increased load time will cause people to bounce. That’s a major problem. As loading times increase, page abandonment increases as well.

Load Time Adandonment Chart

Slow loading times are extremely costly. 40% of people abandon websites that take more than three seconds to load. 80% of people who leave your site because of slow speed say that they won’t return.

This is extremely costly for your website, so make sure you understand the basic principles that boost your website loading time. Upgrading and paying more for your web hosting can save you thousands of dollars in lead generation, customer acquisition costs, and sales.

Security

Reliable websites need to be secure. Safety always needs to be a top priority for your business.

This is especially true if you’re processing payments. Think about all of the sensitive information that your website has on it. It’s your responsibility to protect your site visitors and customers from cybercriminals and malicious attacks.

Here are just some of the minimum security measures that you need to keep in mind.

  • spam filtering
  • security audits
  • firewall configuring
  • network protocols
  • scans for malware and viruses
  • passwords
  • multi-level authentication
  • user permissions

A popular security option is a secured cloud where you can store all of your documents and manage files. However, all of this costs money.

But if you pay for a reliable web hosting service, you can get all of these features included as part of your subscription. This is much better than having to pay for them individually, or even worse, pay the costs of your website getting compromised or having security problems.

Servers

You need to make sure that your site hosting servers are reliable as well. Read reviews and do your research before you sign up for any hosting service based on attractive pricing alone.

The best servers have updated software, 24/7 monitoring, regular maintenance, and automatic updates.

Earlier we talked about the different types of web hosting. Your server will depend on which option you choose.

It’s worth mentioning that the size of the dedicated hosting market across the world is growing each year.

Dedicated Server Use Chart

Does this mean you need to have a dedicated server? Not necessarily.

Your website will perform better if you do, but depending on the size of your site right now, it’s not completely necessary.

But if you decide to upgrade or change your server at some point in the future, there will be additional costs associated with that transition, including some possible down time on your site.

Operational Costs

I consult with lots of business owners who just want to host their website on their own. They have a technical background and don’t think it will be a problem.

But just because you have the ability to self-host, doesn’t mean that you should. I’m not saying this to discourage you, but I don’t want to see you have to deal with hidden or unexpected costs.

You’ve got a business to run. Hosting your own website shouldn’t take away from your daily business tasks.

If you pay for a web hosting service, you’ll benefit from things like servers, bandwidth, storage, automatic updates, maintenance, and data migrations. Do you really want to have to worry about all of this?

Let a hosting provider do all of the heavy lifting for you. Hosting a site on your own can increase your operational costs. It will take time out of your day, and you may even need to hire more people. This is an inefficient use of your resources.

Instead, I’d recommend just finding the right hosting provider from the beginning. Then you can focus your efforts on running your business and avoid unexpected costs.

Renewal and Setup Fees

When you first purchase web hosting, the price might seem great. But that is likely just your initial cost for signing up.

The promotional rates aren’t usually the final price and probably won’t last forever.

Make sure you read the fine print to see what your renewal costs will be. Whether that’s next month, next year, or three years down the road. In most cases, there is no way around the price jump, but you should be ready for it.

Eventually, you should be expecting to pay full price. This will likely come when you renew.

Some services will also charge you for a setup fee.

Web Hosting Setup Fees

In the example above, the setup fee is free. But this isn’t always be the case.

For those of you who are paying for dedicated servers, the setup cost is definitely justifiable. That’s because your provider may need to physically add hardware components and set up software that you requested.

Conclusion

Hosting is a requirement for every website. There are lots of different options for you to consider.

The costs vary depending on which route you choose. Some options are more expensive than others. You may even decide to look for free website hosting.

Regardless of your decision, there will be some hidden costs that you need to be prepared for. A plan that saves you money up front could cost you extra down the road with your website traffic, operational costs, and security. Be prepared for additional fees associated with renewals and setups as well.

It’s important to make sure that you’re always using a reputable host. WP Engine currently have a special promotion which includes ALL their StudioPress themes FREE, and you can Grab That Here!

If you still have questions about the costs associated with website hosting, you can ask me about it in the comments section, and I’ll be happy to help you out. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this article on
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