Facebook Changes the Rules – Again – and Takes My Beef With It

4106332271_517207aeecFacebook has almost entirely negated my biggest beef with them. As you may have seen already, Facebook has changed their contest rules. Anyone who knows me or has read my blog long enough knows my biggest social media pet peeve was people & businesses who ran contests on Facebook that were against the rules and my beef with Facebook was their policing of them.

Well, now I step down off my soapbox… sort of.

According to the new Facebook contest rules, you can now –

  • Collect entries by having users post on the Page or comment/like a Page post
  • Collect entries by having users message the Page
  • Utilize likes as a voting mechanism

So, that “Like and Comment to Win” contest you see on every other clothing or monogram boutique post is now Facebook legal.

HOWEVER you cannot require someone to share a post on their personal timeline to be entered to win. So see, I don’t have to step down entirely because I know there will a number of businesses that skip that line in the rules and require people to share graphics.

Now, this change can and will be beneficial for non-profits and smaller businesses with little to no budget for social media. They will see their likes increase. They may see increased engagement… but then again they may not. Most people enter a contest to win, not to be an active fan of that page.  How many pages have you liked in order to enter a contest and then never engaged with that page again?  5? 10?  I’ll be the first to admit I’ve done it.

Even though businesses can now do these contests from their wall, that doesn’t guarantee increased engagements and sales. They will still have to continue to provide quality, industry-related content to keep the fans engaged.

You will never see me run a contest on my Facebook wall.  I will still continue to use a third-party application like EasyPromo Apps or Heyo. Other than the fact they shoulder the weight of handling the contest (and the legal jargon required by Facebook), they just look much more professional than a graphic posted on a Facebook wall.

Several friends chimed in with their takes on this and I suggest you check out their posts – we all have great, valid points on this matter and with all of us living, working and breathing social media we can see this from many vantage points…

Back To Basics: Why The Facebook Contest Change Might Not Be All That Awesome!” by the Social Solutions Collective

7 Reasons I Won’t Run a Facebook Contest on My Wall” by B Squared Media

New Facebook Contest Changes Save Time and Money” by Heyo

What do you think?  Is this good? bad? about time?

Now I’m off to spend a few hours updating all my blog posts where I talk about Facebook contests…

Lead Generation: Increase Your Social Media Reach

01 (219)I always think of the philosophical debate about the tree in the forest when I write about why brands should increase their social media reach. You know the debate: whether a tree falling in the forest makes a sound if no one is there to hear it.  As a brand or business, you may be producing the best content ever. But how effective are your words and messages going to be for lead generation when they fail to reach your target market?  

Many businesses produce online content such as blog posts, infographics, images or videos for the implicit purpose of lead generation. When more people share your words and messages, it becomes more likely for someone in your target market to view them. One of the first steps you should consider taking to increase lead generation for your business is to increase your social media reach.

Read More

Lead Generation: Best Practices for Your Small Business

Photo Credit: HubSpot

Photo Credit: HubSpot

In her recent article, Mandy Edwards brings up excellent information about why businesses need leads, as well as ways to use social media for lead generation. I am going to piggyback and share a few recommendations for best practices. Marketers and small business owners understand the need for generating qualified leads in order to keep their businesses afloat. Businesses accomplish lead generation in a variety of ways, but it is important to remember there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.

Businesses generate leads through two forms of marketing: (1) inbound marketing or (2) outbound/direct marketing. For inbound marketing, your business uses online activities such as blogging and posting on social media to attract leads to your company’s website. For outbound, or direct, marketing, you use more traditional marketing techniques such as phone calls, direct mailers or in-person networking to bring leads to your business. Businesses also use a combination of both, known as integrated marketing, in some cases. One way is not better than the other; the type of marketing you implement depends on your target market and your business’ available resources (i.e., financial and personnel).

Mandy and I are both members of a fabulous group of professionals and bloggers called Social Solutions Collective; SSC is a multi-author social business solutions resource and news site. My niche within the group covers lead generation, lead nurturing and lead conversion. I regularly read and research pertinent content and data in order to stay on top of the current trends in lead generation.

The following are two sources I trust to provide the most accurate and current best practices for your small business and its lead generation requirements. Here is what they have to say in regards to best practices for lead generation.

Eloqua

Eloqua suggests that lead generation begins very early in the buying cycle now. Many potential clients begin researching products or solutions online well before they are ready to purchase them. These buyers then begin seeking out organizations that offer what they need for the price they want to pay – but only when they are ready. The best practice Eloqua recommends is to provide potential and current leads with timely and relevant content over time – either online or off. Doing so assists your business with not only lead generation, but also lead nurturing.

Marketo

Like Eloqua, Marketo believes the lead generation phase begins before, then extends beyond, a lead’s initial discovery of your business. Unlike Eloqua however, Marketo keeps its focus on inbound lead generation for businesses. The best practice advice Marketo offers revolves primarily around blogging, social media and your organization’s website. Marketo recommends that you become as creative as possible when creating content for your blog, social media platforms and business’ website. Doing so helps your business “cut through the noise” to become the top-of-mind choice for potential leads when they are ready to purchase.

Do you agree with these best practices for lead generation? I would love to hear what works best for you and your business when it comes to generating leads.

Why College Students Should Blog

Bryant Park, late Apr 2009 - 21In today’s opinionated society, almost everyone feels entitled to give their ‘two cents’ on various discussion topics.  For college students, many resort to expressing their feelings or opinions on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter.  What most college students don’t realize is the power and advantages of student blogging.  Blogging is a prevailing way for college students to develop a voice, learn new skills, make connections, and above all, demonstrate your knowledge.

  1. Develop a Voice
    For most students, finding what you are passionate about can be difficult at first when presented with several different options in college such as majors, clubs, organizations, and of the like.  If you find an interest in a certain field, or in several fields, blogging about it can be a way of talking it out with yourself and sharing it for others to partake in and/or give feedback. Blogging about an interest will encourage further study of that field and as you learn more, you may come to realize a new passion in life.  Overall, blogging is an excellent way for students in college to develop a voice about a topic they truly develop an interest in. 
  2. Learn New Skills
    Blogging in itself is a skill that entails many different qualities, especially for college students.  It enables them to become a better writer, develop more tech-savvy knowledge, aid in marketing services, and have more networking experience.  These are all valuable aspects that only add to an arsenal of abilities which can make students more qualified as a future employee.
  3. Make Connections
    Blogging is a great supplement for college students to show off their capabilities and expertise.  A blog can even be used as an online business card that showcases your work, if so desired.  Because of this, it would be best to network your blog rather than your Facebook or Twitter account.  Networking your blog looks more professional and lets others have an inside look on your opinions and topics that matter most to you. 
  4. Demonstrate Your Knowledge
    In a world where origination is such a necessary component of success, hiring individuals who have the ability to think about situations in unique ways is an increasing style.  For college students, blogging is where you can explore issues within a desired field, take stances on views, and step outside of the comfort zone to view a situation from altering angles.  Employers are thirsty for young minds that will be able to develop new ideas.  Blogging is one of the most successful ways in demonstrating your knowledge and showcasing your communication and grammar skills for future employers.

As a college student myself, I’ve grasped the understanding of the necessity for finding my voice, expressing myself, and becoming passionate about what I do.  Blogging is an excellent, easy, and most often times, free way to do so.  I strongly urge every college student to consider adding a blog to the to-do list.  If you’re serious about gaining contacts in your field, marketing yourself, and learning more about your industry, a blog is the perfect place to start.

Ways to Generate Leads Using Social Media

Lead generation is important in any business. Without those leads (or referrals as they are sometimes called) you would have nowhere to start. Leads (referrals) can come from friends and family or a business organization or online. You may have a portion of your clients that found you on their own but at some point every business will have to go after clients, either through advertising, social listening or your traditional sales call.

Recently I was asked by our BNI (Business Networking International) Director to list out some ways that people could use social media for referrals. As I created the list I realized that are numerous ways one could use social media for lead generation. I know I am not inventing the wheel here, but these are common ways people are using social media to generate leads.

  • Use social media to create that relationship and build trust & loyalty. Post content that shows you are an authority in your industry and you really do know what you are talking about. After time, you will have people approach you to hire you for your services. I recognize this is a long-term plan, but it’s highly effective.
  • Use Twitter’s advanced search to search phrases that relate to your industry, really listening to what the general public is searching for.
    • Example: You are an insurance agent. You go to Twitter and search “my rates are too high” or “I am so mad at my insurance agency”.  You can search worldwide or locally. Reach out to those who are complaining with a simple “Hey! I saw you are unhappy with your rates. If I can ever be of help, just let me know.” You do NOT want to start off with a sales pitch, just broach the topic gently.
  • Have a LinkedIn profile that is completed to 100% and connect with those you are in your target market. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS create a personalized connection message.  Do not use the generic, standard message.  You are trying to reach out and connect, so personalize it.
  • Take advantage of LinkedIn groups – join those that are industry-relevant or those that target your target audience. Be careful not to spam or give a hard sell to these groups.  Most have rules against it.
  • Be active on social media.  The more you are out there, the more people will see you and request information for your services. If you choose not be active (and I’m sure why you would) how will people find you?
  • Take advantage of Facebook ads.  Facebook ads give you the ability to target the specific person you want to reach. Using their Power Editor can give you even more targeting options.
  • Have an opt-in on your website and promote it through social media. For those unfamiliar with opt-in, they are something of value that people will give you their email address for.
    • Example: You are in pest control. You have a place on your website for people to get a copy of a white paper you have called “10 Simple Ways to Keep Your Home Bug-Free”. People would give you their email address and in return, they would receive this piece. You then have their email address to contact with new customer specials, on-going offers and general information.
    • Opt-ins can be promoted with a Facebook ad directing them to sign-up on a custom tab on your Facebook page, a sponsored tweet with the link, or just a simple post on your various social media profiles.

There are many, many ways to generate leads using social media so these 7 are not the end-all. Let me ask you, how do you generate leads via social media?

 

Why Do You Blog?

What no one ever tells you about bloggingBlogging can be a fun adventure for any online marketer or business.  There is a lot that goes into building a blog, but have you stopped to wonder who’s going to actually read it? With the amount of time you invest in blogging you need to keep your target audience in mind. I did a little bit of research as to certain demographics on bloggers and readers.

About the bloggers (according to Pingdom)…

  • The blogging population is mostly between the ages of 25 and 35.
  • The average reader is 41 years old.
  • 55% of bloggers are male.

When you blog, who/what do you target? From my experience of reading a variety of them, I realized that most people do not write on gender-specific topics. Most are for targeted niches, such as sports, art, social media, business, etc.

About the readers (according to Magnet Social Media)…

  • 23% of the total time spent on the internet is devoted to social media sites and blogging.
  • 77% of Internet users read blogs.
  • 81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs.

Blogging is a very important part of a company’s marketing strategy. According to Hubspot, 82 percent of marketers who blog daily acquired a customer from it, as opposed to 57 percent of those who only post monthly. Both are pretty remarkable stats but a 25 percent increase in the possibility of gaining another customer is crucial. Anything that is going to gain the interest of a new customer is well worth your time.

Blogging does take effort and is something that should not be entered into lightly.  You must have a plan.  Like with any other part of your marketing plan, there must be intent behind it.

Let me ask you, why do you blog?

Google AdWords for Small Business

Online ads have become big business for small business owners who have either just launched websites or who want to see more traffic on their existing sites. They want their target markets to find them quickly and easily. This is where Google AdWords can help small businesses create effective ads to reach their customers online.

In a recent article for Business 2 Community, Ben Cohen talks about how small businesses should develop solid strategies when using Google AdWords. Cohen says, “Even with a small budget, you can get impressions and clicks on Google with a smart account structure and the right targeting options.” Cohen goes on to explain how small businesses are able to reap the same advertising benefits as their larger B2B counterparts – all from creating and properly using ads through Google AdWords.

A new Google AdWords user probably has a few questions to ask and have answered before they get started. These are a few common questions, along with some answers, to help explain the fundamentals.

What exactly is Google AdWords?

Google describes it as their own online advertising program product. The Google AdWords system suggests keywords, then allows its users to assemble text ads with the keywords they decide upon. People can then target ads to the online markets they prefer and have their ads appear where and when they decide. VirtualNet Marketing, a Google AdWords certified partner, defines the system well by saying, “Google Adwords is the system Google has developed to assist you in marketing your products or services in the Google Search Engine, and its affiliate sites, via the use of a placed text ad that appears when people search for phrases related to your offering, this appears as a “sponsored link.” The product also provides excellent reporting and tracking tools so you immediately know what is working…or not.

How do I gain access to Google AdWords?

Once you sign up for your own Google account, you can immediately access Google AdWords. From there, you have the power to easily create your own online ads through Google AdWords.

How do I set up ads using Google AdWords?

Google provides step-by-step directions for walking you through the Google AdWords process. The directions are helpful and fairly easy to follow. You can possibly set up your ad in a matter of minutes. The process involves deciding on things such as which keywords to use, who you want to target, how long you want your ad to run and how much money you want to spend. Since these intensive details make the process potentially complex and time-consuming, you should be prepared to spend an ample amount of time so you develop an ad which completely meets your needs and expectations.

I put an ad together that really stinks. Am I stuck with it?

Not at all. All you need to do is sign into your Google AdWords account and modify your text. You can also delete, pause and reactivate ads as often as you like.

Do I need to spend a lot of money to use Google AdWords?

You are able to budget as little or as much as you need to run your ad campaign. Keep in mind that when you set up PPC (pay-per-click) ads, you are paying for each time your ad is clicked…even when someone clicks it accidentally. Just like going to a casino, it is wise to start with a budget. Using Google AdWords can seem like gambling; in essence, you are going to place bids on how much your ad is going to be clicked. Know exactly how much you are able to spend and stick to that amount. It is easy to get caught up in the complexities of choosing the proper keywords and such. The product includes keyword planners and performance indicators which help you keep your budget intact, as long as you use them properly.

 

Many small businesses use and have successfully gained clients through creating and managing online ads with Google AdWords. What are your experiences with using it? I would be glad to hear your thoughts about Google AdWords. Email me at jenn@jplussocial.com or tweet me at @jennghanford any time.

Enhanced by Zemanta

7 Ways to Avoid Not Being Circled on Google+

circlesGoogle+ is now the second largest active social media network. I liken it to Facebook but without the drama. Users on Google+ see the content they post get indexed faster by Google and they now can have authorship set up through Google so if someone steals their website content, the thief will get dinged since the original author was already credited by Google.

When using Google+, people circle each other. It’s like adding friends, but you are assigning them to a circle, or list. You can have as many circles as you want and only you see them (unless you choose to share it publicly). Like every other platform, you will have people circle (add) you or circle you back. I’ve blogged about following on Twitter, liking on Facebook and connecting on LinkedIn so it’s only fitting I add Google+. Like I mention in these other posts, I have my reasons for why I will or will not add someone to my social network. Let’s take a look at 8 ways to avoid not being circled on Google+.

1.  Have a profile picture.

This is a no-brainer. Just like every other platform – people want to connect with a person (or brand). Not having a profile picture is almost like not having a valid profile.

2. Make sure the profile picture is professional!

Again, this is a no-brainer. Just in the last week I’ve been added to people’s circles that had the following profile pictures: a shot of their cleavage, a man in a white tank top, a kid with a sippy cup and a random picture of flowers. If you’re picture is not professional-looking then you are not going to be taken seriously.

3. Complete your profile.

I feel like this has to be mentioned with every platform.  Your profile needs to be filled out 100%. People may want to circle other alums from their university and if you don’t list that, how will they find you? Maybe you are starting out and taking on freelancing jobs, if you don’t mention that in your profile, how will they know? Give them as much information as possible so they can get to know you (just make sure it’s relevant to the reason you are using the platform).

4. Write and display your name properly.

I really did not want to list this, but I had to. I see this the most on Google+. Names start with capital letters guys! My name is not mandy edwards, it’s Mandy Edwards. Lack of correct capitalization on your name shows nothing but unprofessionalism and laziness – to me at least. Don’t embarrass your English teacher.

5. Be active and post.

One of the points in using social media is to be active and engage. You do not need to post 4+ times each day, but do post! Whether it’s on your profile or in a community, be active – that is how valuable connections are made.

6. Do not post the same thing in 3 or more communities.

As a Google+ Community Moderator I see people want to join my group and when I go to their profiles they are posting the same thing into 3+ communities. All the time. Every time. Nothing scream spammer more than this. Feel free to post often, but do not copy and paste the same thing into every community.

7. Let people know you are on Google+!

Google+ has these cool badges you can embed on your website to let people know you are there. If they don’t know, how can they find you! Post your link on your other platforms and encourage people to circle you.

So, let me ask you – what do you do to avoid not being circled? If I’ve left off something, share with me below!

While you are at it, feel free to circle me 🙂  ME Marketing Services Google+ Page or my Google+ profile.

 

Ways Social Media Has Changed How We Communicate

As communication and information travel faster and faster, the world seems to get smaller and smaller.  This has great implications for how we communicate, especially with today’s obsession with social media networks.

One of the biggest changes in the way that we interact, due to social media networks, is the sheer number of people that we can interact with.  Before social media, we were extremely limited in our means to interact with others and we were limited largely to the people that we knew in-person.  However, because of social media networks, we are now able to interact with thousands of people all over the world – this is why we see people who have thousands of Facebook friends though they would never have that many if they had to interact with them offline.  Social media networks allow us the opportunity to share opinions with a far wider audience.

Another big change that has occurred is that there is now no filter on the way we speak and our writing techniques.  In the past, unless you spoke to people directly you had no way to get your message across regardless of your freedom of speech.  Now we can use social media to get our messages out to thousands or even millions of people uncensored.

Social media has also changed the way that we interact, mainly the way we have lost some of our social skills.  Some people are completely incapable of carrying on a normal conversation or interacting with people in person because of the dependency of social media.  Social networks are becoming one of the dominant ways we communicate.

As mentioned, it can be argued that social networks have affected our communication by the way we converse and in our writing techniques.  The social web has changed the written word in a couple of crucial ways:

  1. Writing is more summarized: When Twitter and its 140 character limit were introduced, most of us questioned how we could get anything meaningful across in 25 to 30 words.  As we have adapted to Twitter and other social media networks, we have realized that the 140 character limit has actually pushed us to get to the core of what we are conveying.  However, this has allowed for shorted sentences or paragraphs and made way for neglecting correct grammar use.
  2. Abbreviations are more prevalent: People who communicate via social media or text message aren’t necessarily spelling things incorrectly, they are speaking a new language entirely.  “TTYL” is commonly used to let someone know you will talk to them later.  In today’s world, abbreviations are now so common that we do not even have to think twice about what they stand for.  Example: “FB is the best way 2 use sm. U have lots of chances 2 advertise ur biz.”

There is not a right or wrong way to communicate and adapt social language into our lives. However, we are all becoming engulfed in this new world of communication due to technology—and if we haven’t done so already, will be forced to learn this new form of language.

Let me ask you – how do you think social media is affecting our verbal and written communications?

Send this to a friend