Posted on May 22, 2016 by
On Friday, I spoke at Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s Small Business 101 seminar at the Oracle Conference Center in nearby Redwood City. I felt tremendously honored to be invited by the Congresswoman and thrilled to impart some wisdom I’ve gained as a small business owner and expertise I’ve honed in the field of digital marketing and business reputation management.
Believe it or not, 99% of all California companies are small businesses. Furthermore, these businesses employ just shy of 50% of the state’s workforce. Not an insignificant part of our population! The seminar provided an opportunity for both current small business owners and those considering small business ownership to learn how to grow a successful business and also to connect with local resources and experts. The seminar included remarks from Congresswoman Speier and Small Business Administration District Director Mark Quinn and presented strategies to help navigate some common business obstacles. Featured panelists discussed alternative sources of capital, building a business through networking and marketing and the ever-changing and always-important topic of cybersecurity and data protection.
The first panel, “Beyond Banks: Alternative Sources of Capital” featured experts on both conventional and non-traditional funding sources. Representatives from the San Mateo Small Business Development Center, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Opportunity Fund, Nav and GoFundMe shared their expertise. Devin McAlpine, Director of Micro Funding at Opportunity Fund, explained that they do not use just a person or company’s credit score in funding decisions, and most Opportunity Fund funding occurs in just a few days. Tim Graczewski, Nav Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, spoke about the Nav credit bureau that provides credit scores for businesses using reports from DNB, Experian and more. Most business owners in the room didn’t know they had a separate credit score for their business. Finally, Kevin Madsen, Business Development at GoFundMe, explained how the GoFundMe platform expanded from mostly personal fundraising opportunities to small business opportunities – a very cool service.
I spoke on the second panel, “Building Your Network.” Participants engaged with me in a fantastic discussion on the topic of business reputation management. We started with a show of hands of who has googled themselves and their businesses; practically none of the attendees googled themselves, their products or their brands in the past three weeks – or ever. We then discussed the importance of knowing what’s written about your business online, including on forums and in Yelp and other reviews. No shortage of opportunities exist for customers, clients and prospects to voice opinions and read reviews – good, bad or ugly. I shared that, upon understanding the online reviews, I believe in two critical rules:
As the adage goes, perception is reality. When a customer posts a complaint, then their perception is real. Since online reviews are pervasive, a successful business critically considers all reviews and looks deep inside to fix the root of the public perception of the business; ignore the perception at one’s peril.
Wil Hart, of Smart Simple Marketing and a Constant Contact Authorized Local Expert and Trainer, also joined me on the Building Your Network panel. I found his statistic that a $1 investment in email drives a $44 return in revenue fascinating. Impressive, no?
The third and final panel of the day, “Cybersecurity and Data Protection”, featured Joel de la Garza, Box Security Officer, and Aaron Hanson, Symantec Product Marketing Lead. Their presentations proved amazing. They reminded us we all need to install security software on our computers AND mobiles TODAY. As well, they recommended the best three things you can do to protect yourself – and your small business – online, including:
I look forward to delving more into the topic of business reputation management in a future blog post. For now, though, I hope you enjoyed this brief recap of the fantastic Small Business 101 Seminar. I sincerely thank Congresswoman Speier and her wonderful staff for the invitation, the warm reception, the thoughtful panelists and the opportunity to help other small businesses in this community grow, succeed and thrive.
Posted on May 9, 2016 by
We often encourage clients to add blogging to their marketing mix. This sometimes seems a daunting suggestion to an ever-growing to-do list with time and resource constraints. Blogging, however, provides tremendous business benefits, more than just what appears at face value.
A multitude of compelling answers to the “why blog?” question exist. Among others, a few key reasons to blog include the ability to:
This final point, that blogging helps improve site rank in search engine results, requires some explanation. Logically, if a site comes up higher on a search engine results page (SERP), it will be noticed more often. But, understanding how a blog enhances search rankings requires some decoding.
Here’s a quick primer on three ways in which blogging can contribute to improvements in site ranking.
Keywords and SEO: I often tell clients that, from an SEO perspective, one will always run out of pages before they run out of keywords to optimize. Keywords indicate to a search engine the purpose of a page. Blogging provides a relatively easy way to build pages with different keywords and terms that are relevant to a business and help drive interested, specific traffic to a site.
Head terms are the most frequently searched keywords by users. They are short, simple words such as “pajamas”. Long tail terms are much longer and more specific, sometimes forming a question. An example of a long tail term is “men’s pajamas in San Carlos”. Head terms tend to drive greater volume while long tail terms drive less volume but more interested prospects; if one optimizes for a specific long tail item, then the tendency to convert is much higher.
A blog allows a site to optimize against both of these strategies across different pages, thus drawing interest to many facets of a business.
Inbound Links: Timely and relevant content makes people take notice. Use a blog to express interesting and useful information that others will pay attention to and then share or cite with their followers. When others share and cite content, it creates inbound links – hyperlinks back to your site from another website. Inbound links indicate to a search engine that others find the content germane to their interests. As a result, a site with both high quality and a high quantity of inbound links typically ranks higher on SERPs.
Web Crawlers: Finally, an up-to-date and ongoing blog attracts web crawlers. Crawlers browse the web in a methodical, automated manner to gather data on different sites. The most common crawler is a “Googlebot”, which brings data back to Google’s servers. These crawlers check site accessibility, then investigate and index any new pages and content.
Increasingly, crawlers behave like people and evaluate site content from the perspective of a user. The crawler evaluates the user experience based on content age, the nature of the links coming to the site and the freshness of the site. Traditional business websites typically don’t add many new pages or new content over time. Without new content and updated inbound links, a site becomes stale and less important to crawlers.
Continually create content – via articles, white papers and blogging – to entice web crawlers to visit your site often and index the new content. A greater number of indexed pages increases opportunities for a site to show up in search and drive traffic, and a great user experience enhances where on the SERP the site appears.
I encourage you to consider incorporating a blog into your marketing mix. Blogging allows a business to not only demonstrate thought leadership and highlight a point of view, but it also gives search engines a reason to regularly evaluate and rank a site based on the site’s purpose, relevance, freshness and usability.
Posted on April 24, 2016 by
When The Buggles song “Video Killed the Radio Star” launched MTV in 1981, who knew that generation would now be wondering how to use Periscope and the other new video platforms of today. Just as the original song has been remixed and remade over its long history, video has transformed in the last few decades, and most significantly over the last few years. In fact, the last year or so has seen the advent of ground-breaking video applications that allow anyone to create videos or broadcast video from anywhere. Let’s explore some of the most buzzed-about video options of today.
Periscope prevails as the most popular video broadcasting service. Recently celebrating its first birthday, Periscope boasts over 200 million broadcasts created on the platform in the past twelve months and 110 years worth of live video are currently watched on the platform every day. Mind boggling, no? Take those as meaningful statistics indicating that learning how to use Periscope makes sound business sense!
In addition to using Periscope, other options abound for live streaming. Facebook Live launched the end of last year, expanding Facebook’s utility to its over a billion and a half monthly active users. Check out our recent post on how to use Facebook Live for the scoop.
While Google remains mum, rumor has it we should also keep an eye out for Google and YouTube’s under-wraps-but-upcoming livestreaming service, YouTube Connect.
Once the shining gem of the livestreaming business, Meerkat suffered as people became more enamored with learning how to use Periscope and Facebook Live. As Meerkat’s CEO explained in February, Meerkat decided to abandon the livestreaming space as it found the “distribution advantages of Twitter/Periscope and Facebook Live drew more early users to them away from us and we were not able to grow as quickly alongside as we had planned.” As such, Meerkat expects to roll out its new, pivoted business of a video social network in the next few months. Stay tuned!
While live broadcasting dominates as one of the most exciting new video tools, a couple of other popular services that allow users to take and share video deserve a mention.
Snapchat, a favorite of tweens and bane of parents, shows skyrocketing growth already this year as it moves from just disappearing images and videos into a platform embraced by savvy professionals and businesses. Not sure what to make of Snapchat and how much time to invest in understanding a snap from a chat or a story? We love Wired’s Snapchat tutorial as a great starting point.
Finally, as we mentioned in our recent post on Instagram updates, our favorite network for mobile photo and video sharing recently announced expansion of video capabilities. Videos of 15 seconds just don’t do artistic justice, Instagram determined, and it will roll out 60-second videos in the coming months.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of the video landscape, and hopefully impressed upon you the scope and significance of video in today’s world, let’s focus on how to use Periscope and other video platforms from a content and business perspective.
Check out our five ideas for incorporating video into your social media strategy:
Lastly, don’t forget a couple of simple, not-to-be-neglected details before you scope, snap or post:
In the meantime, have fun scoping, snapping, chatting and gramming!← Older posts Newer posts →