You might be wondering if marketing through Facebook is even worth it after reading stories like this one. But don’t let the failures of a few big brands kill your marketing plans. Facebook is far from dead.
Yes, it’s true, people flock to Facebook to hang out with their friends, not to buy stuff. But that doesn’t mean they won’t click a link and make a purchase. Usually, they do so because a friend recommended something.
The hard sell doesn’t work on Facebook. If that’s your method, then you should try again.
One product that Facebook is rolling out soon will transform your brand page into a more visually appealing marketing tool. It’s called Timelines for Brands. If you think this is going to be the magic pill that takes your Facebook marketing to the next level, think again.
Your brand’s timeline will be a useful tool, but how you use it will determine your success or not. If anything, your page visitors will be able to see at a glance what offerings you have this week – coupons, contests, and other items.
A word of caution: Don’t rely on Facebook alone to save your business. Use the tools it offers, but promote your business elsewhere. Use search engine marketing, e-mail marketing, paid marketing models, videos, iPhone apps, etc. In a word, diversify. The more you do in more places, the more likely you are to connect with your audience and close sales. Besides, your Facebook page (or timeline) is free. If you make one sale, then you’ve made a profit.
Are you keeping an eye on Pinterest? We are.
In the last month, it seems, this new social media site – which is heavily graphic, by the way – has increased its visitor count from 10 million to 17 million. That’s pretty impressive for a website that is still in private beta.
The only way you can get an account at Pinterest right now is to get an invite. You can request one on the site or have a friend invite you. Once approved, then you can have a Pinterest account.
So what is Pinterest?
It’s a social media website that let’s you “pin” content to your pinboard. And most of the content being pinned is very graphic. Not in a bad sense. I simply mean that if you visit the Pinterest home page, you’ll see a lot of photos. That’s a good thing.
Of course, what good is “pinning” information if you can’t organize it? Therein lies the beauty of Pinterest. You can pin anything you like and organize it according to your interests.
According to Pinterest guidelines, you can pin your own content, but you can’t use Pinterest simply for self-promotion. If you do it properly, that’s easy to do. Add content from sites other than your own. And you can have a branded account at Pinterest as well. Mashable has one.
Notice how Mashable’s page is branded with the Mashable name. The URL is pinterest.com/mashable/. Wouldn’t you like to have such an URL with your own brand name attached? How search engine optimised do you think that would be?
If you use Pinterest well, you can use it to organize information and resourceful web pages around your niche without ever linking to your own content. And you’ll still have a brandable web page that links back to your website in your profile. Add a pinboard to your web portfolio today.
Is Facebook a good place for local business branding? Should you use it for that purpose?
There are plenty of businesses using Facebook for national and international branding. But can you use it for local branding, especially in Ayrshire?
You may think your Ayrshire business will get lost in the Facebook shuffle, but there are ways you can market and brand your company using Facebook. You can do it through your personal profile as well as through your business pages. Here are a few tips to help you with local Facebook branding.
- Start a page. Make it a locally focused page. Facebook pages are indexed at the search engines so if you start a page with a local focus, then you can make it work for you. Even in Ayrshire, Scotland.
- Post frequent status updates on your wall. You don’t have to plug your business in every update. Instead, talk about what is important to you – your kids, your hobbies, the latest news.
- Like your friends’ posts and comment on their status updates. Facebook is about building relationships.
When you search for friends, try to find friends who are local. Promote your Facebook pages off line through your store and to your local community. If you are a local Ayrshire business, you should be a local Ayrshire business on Facebook too.
Advertisers have traditionally purchased ad space for more than one reason. Whether advertising in print, branding through outdoor advertising, or using online ad services such as pay per click, advertising can be purchased for branding purposes or to achieve a positive return on investment. Sometimes, advertising can achieve both, but often advertisers find they can achieve one or the other. So which is more important?
To answer that question, you have to set your own goals. Branding has its own benefits. ROI can often be a short-term gain for a long-term loss. Large corporations like Pizza Hut, Burger King, and Dr Pepper know this. That’s why they spend so much money every year trying to plant their brands into the minds of consumers.
Top-of-mind awareness is a benefit that can be achieved through branding. You might have to take a short term loss to get there. But in the long term, it can mean survival for your brand.
Online marketing generally uses the same thought processes regarding ROI and branding as off line marketing uses. You can use PPC, banner ads, and other online marketing channels to plant your brand into the minds of consumers or you can focus on ROI. Set your goals, know your price points, and be aggressive.
Mashable recently reported that Google will be rebranding two of its web properties in the near future. Those properties are Picasa and Blogger.
Supposedly, Blogger will be called Google Blogs and Picasa will be called Google Photos. I can understand changing the name of Picasa to Google Photos, but I’m not sure about changing Blogger to Google Blogs. What will be the benefit to customers?
As reported, the services themselves aren’t in for a change. That means that only the names will change. And it’s not just to protect the innocent.
This brings up the question for me, when it branding important? And when is rebranding important?
In a word, everything you do online is branding. Everything. From web design to iPhone apps development, it all involves some level of branding. It’s important, then, to think about the long range effects of your branding strategy. How will your brand look five or ten years from now?
Things change. We understand that. Even website designs change. Sometimes, those changes take place out of necessity as when a new technology has to be incorporated into the design framework. At other times, companies may just outgrow themselves. Those things are unforeseen.
However, it is important to think ahead when you first start building your online brand and consider how you want your brand to be perceived into the future. Do it now and it will be easier to make the changes you need to make later when circumstances dictate it.
WebProNews recently published an article that outlines the four platforms that every savvy marketer today should use to reach the right audience. These include:
- Traditional media
- Digital media
- Your own media
- And social media
Most companies understand three of those. Traditional media, of course, isn’t dead. You should still use it. Digital media is still young, but effective. And social media, well, it has its own manner and it too is effective, especially when used in conjunction with the other two. But what about being your own media? How does that work?
Essentially, what that means is you should think outside of your own business website. Don’t just throw up a website and forget about it. Add some sister sites to it that present your brand as a company that is fully engaged in the conversations of your industry. Don’t merely be a consumer of media services; be an owner of them.
Being an owner does two things for you. It gives you additional revenue channels, but more importantly, it gives your brand a much wider berth. If you own media within your industry, then you will become a leader within your industry that provides a place for others to publish their content and not merely wish they could do more.
Being a media owner is the best marketing tool you can have. Try it!
There are trends and there are trends. The kind of trends you want to catch onto and not let go are the trends that stick around for good. Those don’t come around often, but when they do come around you don’t want to pass them up.
Here are 5 Internet marketing trends that look like they are here to stay awhile:
- Mobile Marketing – Mobile marketing consists of e-commerce, mobile search, mobile media, and iPhone apps. It’s all the rage and it doesn’t look like it will let up any time soon. In fact, it will likely pick up.
- Social Media Marketing – Facebook and Twitter are the popular haunts these days. But if that changes, you can bet social media will stick around. And I think Facebook and Twitter will too.
- Blog Marketing – Blog marketing came on strong in the beginning. Then it took a bit of a dive as the search engines decided to kill inbound links. Now, businesses of all sizes are rediscovering blog marketing for branding purposes.
- Local Search – Local search is more than just making sure you have the right search engine rankings for the right keywords. It’s about making sure you are found for the right targeted area as well. It’s a trend that will only get bigger.
If you are ready to start your Internet marketing campaign, don’t forget about these up-and-coming and ongoing trends. They will likely be the way to market your business for the foreseeable future.
Businesses are developing an online presence at almost record rates these days and many of them are including options for shoppers to buy online. While these businesses are busy developing online marketing strategies, they are often neglecting the more traditional offline strategies. I am going to focus on just one simple example of this in today’s post, yet it is an example that can help to build a brand and to encourage further sales.
Statistics are showing that more and more people are now shopping over the Internet. While customers are searching, selecting, and buying products online, these products are still being sent using traditional delivery services. One thing I have noticed in recent months is the lack of branding on those delivery parcels. So much so, the only place you can find the sender’s details is in one corner of the address label.
Small businesses haven’t forgotten about this small feature. They go to great lengths to produce colourful return address labels that really standout. From the time that parcel leaves their hands to the time it arrives at the customer’s door, people are going to be well aware of where that parcel came from. More importantly, that label will stand out in the customer’s eyes.
Marketers have known for decades that repeated exposure to brands and branding images will, over time, have a sticky effect in people’s memories. While the use of labels may seem to be irrelevant, it is a sign that people are turning away from traditional marketing opportunities. I could add other marketing options that were once popular such as the inclusion of business cards, calendars at the start of the year and gifts of pens and/or notepads. These were all covered in marketing material which helped to develop that brand awareness.
You may have an online presence, and your marketing may be tailored to meet online search and social channels, but do you still use snail mail to deliver a customer’s goods? If so, are you making full use of that fact to further promote your business?
I am surprised at how many businesses take up the opportunity to develop an online presence, yet they fail to follow through by developing their brand. There are many individuals who also forget that to be a mover and shaker online, they need to develop themselves as a brand. Yet branding, while it takes effort, is not really that difficult.
We can learn a lot from offline marketing when it comes to branding. The first essential step is to clearly identify your target market in both demographic and geographic terms. These are the people you should be targeting your marketing at. All too often new businesses use a scatter-gun approach, firing in all directions hoping to get a few hits.
There is an easier way. Once you have identified your target audience (to use another marketing term), determine who online is influencing them – and how. This is important for two reasons – first, you can follow their lead when it comes to marketing to your audience, and secondly, if you can attract their attention, they may well do some of the marketing for you, with their influence behind it.
Finally, we reach the tedious part. One of the fastest ways to develop a brand, particularly a personal brand, is by utilizing social media to its fullest. This includes sites such as niche related forums, where you can slowly develop your own reputation. As your reputation grows, you will find it easier to promote your brand.
Developing a brand online can be easier and far cheaper than trying to do the same thing offline. You don’t need expensive media such as newspapers, radio, or television, although using videos would be a distinct advantage – but these don’t need to be expensive to produce.
I think every experienced Internet user over the years has clicked on a shortened URL, often with more than a little trepidation. Shortened URLs have been used on a regular basis to hide final destinations that are not what was promised – in fact, at times down right dangerous. Internet users are becoming a little more familiar with the use of a shortened URL, especially if they are keen Twitter users.
What about your business? Should you be using shortened URLs rather than a full URL? My first question is always going to be “why”? What is your intention, or what do you hope to gain by using a shortened URL? In most cases, the gain is probably not worth the effort and may, over time, do more damage to your business, and your web site.
If you use a URL shortening service, you have to hope that they stay in business forever if you are using them on your website. In most cases, you can shorten the URL yourself by using shorter page titles, and optimising your website’s structure – in other words, not having very deep directories.
There are other aspects to shortened URLs that you need to address. For example, there are more SEO benefits to using a full URL than there are to a shortened URL. When it comes to users, a shortened URL does nothing for your branding, and is certainly not going to be a memorable URL.
Affiliate marketers often use shortened URLs to mask their affiliate IDs. That is understandable. However, for most online businesses, apart from Twitter, there is no need for a shortened URL. There is little to gain from using them, and perhaps a lot to lose. Are they bad for your business? They probably are!