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myComms Best Practices

How does Google+ Communities work?

Google+ CommunitiesOne of the best features of Google+ is the communities. It allows you to become part of the conversation and at the same time you can even promote your brand a little. But be careful not to become a spammer or you will be booted out faster that you can say Google!

But I am getting ahead of myself … Lets first have a look at how Google+ Communities work.

Google+ Communities is exactly what the name implies – a place where you can become part of something and interact with like-minded people. It brings people with the same interests together.

Basically it is Google’s version of Facebook Groups. It is a social network that covers any topic from photography to medicine. Anyone can start a Community and it can be run by a business, an individual or a group of people. Which means that you can act as yourself or in a business capacity – you can start a discussion or participate in any topic of your choosing.

Members of a community can interact with you or your business by sharing content, +1 or commenting on posts.

This in turn will create greater visibility for your content or product and you can have a direct connection with your audience. By monitoring comments and feedback you will also be able to alter the conversation around your brand if need be.

You can also post to communities privately or public. Private means that only the people in community will be able to see your posts, whereby posting public will make it available for everyone to see.

Joining a community

  1. Open Google+
  2. In the top-left corner, click the drop-down menu (small arrow next to home), then click on Communities
  3. In the top-right corner you will see the search box with the text: “Search for communities
  4. Click inside the search box and type in what you’d like to search for; press Enter
  5. A page will load with your search results
  6. To open the community’s page you are interested in, click on the name of the community
  7. You will be taken to that community and can read more about that specific community
  8. If you find a community that you’d like to join, click Join community in the right hand corner

Congratulations you are now part of a community and can start posting or commenting.

Creating your own community

  1. Open Google+.
  2. In the top-left corner, click the drop-down menu (small arrow next to home), then click on Communities
  3. In the top right-hand corner (next to the search box), click Create community.
  4. Choose whether you want your community to be public or private.Public – Your community will be open to the worldPrivate – Only invited members can join the community and see posts.Important Tip: You can’t change this later, so be sure of your choice!If you click Private, you’ll also have to choose whether or not people can search for your community.If you click Public, you’ll also have to choose whether or not people need to ask for permission to join the community.
  5. Type a name (make your name universal i.e. instead of using your company name, rather use an industry related term). Click on Create community.

Important Tip: If your community has 500 members or more, you can’t change the name, so think this through.

Note: Instructions are for a computer and might differ slightly if you are on a mobile device.

 

A Beginners Guide – Getting started with Google+

Follow these simple steps to Getting Started with Google+

  1. Create a Google+ Page

Firstly to create a Google+ Page for your business you need a personal Google+ profile. This is not too difficult to do. Once you have a Gmail email account you can just claim your page.

Create Google+ Page

Once that is done, you can start your business page here.  Remember to choose the business type that correctly represents your type of business.

Google+ choose your business type

  1. Verify your page, and claim your vanity URL (for example plus.google.com/mybusinessname/)

After you have selected what type of business page you want to create Google will ask you to locate your business on Google Maps.

Verify your business on Google+

Next Google will ask you to verify your business. You will be sent a unique code to the address you listed. Once you receive this code through the post you can complete the process.

If you do not verify your business you will still be able to use the page, but for search results it is best to verify.

  1. Complete your profile

Fill in all the profile information. Make sure to fill out your about page as completely as possible. Include an interesting bio that accurately describes your business. Next add your logo and cover photo. Choose images that correctly describes your brand so that people will recognize you straight away. This is also important so it doesn’t create brand confusion.

Useful Tip: Google recommends that your Cover Photo size is 1080 x 608 pixels and 270 x 270 pixels for your Logo.

  1. Add the Google+ badge or button to drive followers

The Google+ Buttons is a customizable widget that helps you connect your site to your Google+ Page. The buttons allows visitors to +1 you, add you to their circles, share content directly from your website and recommends your content to Google.

Google+ Buttons are added by adding script to your website. The script can be found on the Google Developers Page.

You can use the following Google+ buttons:

  • +1 Button
  • Follow Button
  • Hangout button
  1. Start Connecting

As with other social networks once you are on Google+ it is important to post regularly.

Posts can by shared publicly or only with your circles.

When you follow people you add them to your circles. Circles can be explained as being much like email lists in that it allows you to organize people you want to communicate with and helps you send targeted communication. Apart from the default circles (Following, Friends, Family) you can add more circles and name them accordingly.

If you don’t want to use circles your posts will be shared publicly. This will be fine if you want to get started right away, but keep on working on those circles for optimal strategic communication.

So what do you post?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Share information about your business
  • Post links to blog posts you have written
  • Post News or upcoming events
  • Use Graphic/Visual Content – photos, images, infographics, videos
  • Share interesting information, posts or links from other blogs or sites related to yours

I will be going in depth about Google+ posting in a coming article, so be on the look-out for that.

Should I use Google+ for my business?

Google+ for BusinessThe subject of Google+ for Business has been much debated over the past few years. Should I use Google+ for my business? Is it worth the time and effort? The short answer is YES.

Why do I say YES to Google+ for my business?

  1. User Base

Google+ has been around for 3 years now and despite a lot of criticism that it won’t take off the opposite has been proven true. With over 300 million active users it definitely is a platform that should form part of your online marketing strategy.

  1. What does Google+ offer?

One of the most attractive features of Google+ is that unlike other social media platforms messages to your customers can be more targeted with features like hangouts, communities and circles.

With Google+ Communities you can easily interact with potential clients. Being part of the conversation is a great way to connect with customers and grow your client base. It also allows you to learn more about what clients want and establish where there is a gap in the market or a specific need.

With Google+ Circles you can add customers to different circles in order to send them targeted messages. This ensures that no effort gets wasted.

Google+ Hangouts is another opportunity to become part of the conversation. Here you can connect with like-minded people, share ideas or even show off your skills.

  1. Google+ isn’t Facebook nor Twitter

Facebook and Twitter are excellent social media platforms and should not be disregarded. But Google+ should definitely be added to the mix. Here you don’t have a 140 character limit and you have a much wider audience than just your friends. It’s not better (by no means), just different.

Read more about how to use Facebook Effectively

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

When looking at search engines, Google is the undisputed leader at the top of the list. With Google+ being one of Google’s products it is no wonder that businesses that have well established Google+ profiles’ content gets ranked higher than those not on Google+. Let’s face it – wouldn’t you rather promote your own content than someone else’s?

It is however important to note that although Google+ can be very valuable for your SEO efforts you should not focus on it at the expense of adding quality content to your website.

Read more about SEO here.

In conclusion

Although I wouldn’t recommend Google+ as a stand-alone solution to your online marketing or social media needs, it definitely should form part of your social media strategy.

I will be exploring how to effectively use Google+ a bit further, so look out for those articles.

Tips – How to write a good Newsletter

writing newslettersWriting Newsletters is a communication tool still used effectively by a lot of companies. To write a good newsletter is however a bit more complex that just stringing up a few sentences – even if you are a grammatical genius.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when writing your newsletter:

 

  1. Who is your audience?

Before you do anything else it is important to consider your audience. Who are you writing for? Will they want read your newsletters? What would they want to read about?

Gather information on demographics and topics that would interest them. This will determine the shape of your newsletter. Very important – Content must be relevant to your audience.

 

  1. Create your template

As part of your template you should include different sections. Some of these sections can repeat with every issue, some of them should be unique. Having sections that repeats in upcoming newsletters creates familiarity with the person reading the newsletter and they will know what to expect and where to look for a certain element or section.

Examples of sections that can repeat are Intro, Welcome Message, What’s New, a standard footer, etcetera.

 

  1. Content – Choose your topics

After you have done all your homework on your audience and their demographics and set up your template, you can continue with writing the content for your first newsletter.

Choose topics that are interesting and relevant. For example, if your audience are woman over 30 you probably shouldn’t write to them about ‘pimping my ride’ nor would an article on ‘shaving your beard’ be received with enthusiasm. Focus on what would be interesting to them.

 

  1. Use images

To make sure your newsletter gets read you should make it visually engaging. If there is just a lot of text people will bin it on sight.

Use quality pictures relevant to your content. Scatter them throughout your newsletter to brake the flow of the text a bit. Images should not just be stock standard, but should tell people about your company. If you feel images are a bit boring, try a different perspective or look for a different take on things. Just be careful not to use copyrighted material.

You can also use different fonts, text or colour to highlight certain aspects of your newsletter. This is important for the people that are strapped for time and are only scanning your text – highlighted items will catch their attention.

Don’t use more than 3 fonts though, as you don’t want your newsletter to look like your pre-schooler drew it (you might like it, but others won’t).

 

  1. Quality is Key

Make sure that not only your writing is of good quality, but that every element (including the images) of your newsletter is top notch. Your newsletter is a window into your company and you want it to be a good one! Few things create such a bad impression as a low quality, badly compiled newsletter.

 

  1. Proof read

I can’t stress this enough. Proof read, proof read and proof read again! Mistakes can cost you readers and clients. There are just no excuses for spelling mistakes or a misplaced header. It is also a good idea to have someone else in the company take a look at it as well. Different people spot different mistakes.

After you have proof read it, proof read it again!

 

  1. Feedback

Lastly it is a good idea to include an email address for people to send feedback to, or even include a few questions in the form of a survey. Feedback is a very important measuring tool. Without it you won’t know what your readers think.

Then take that feedback and implement it in your next newsletter. Listening to readers suggests that your company is a company that cares, it creates loyalty and trust. Not only will your readers appreciate it, but you will also end up with a better newsletter. A newsletter providing the info that the readers want and need, a newsletter that will be read.

WordPress vs Wix

WordPress vs Wix

Wordpress vs WixWhen building a new website it is often difficult to choose between all the options available. I would like to do a comparison between WordPress and Wix for you.

Both Wix and WordPress are online content systems with site builder tools.

About Wix

Wix has been around since 2006 and has over 55 million users in 190 countries. Wix works on a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) website builder which means that you can drag and drop content, images, photos, buttons, etc directly onto the page to build your website. The way it displays there is how it will look when published.

Pros

  • WYSIWIG
  • Supports HTML5
  • Instant mobile site
  • Library of stock images to make use of
  • 100s of instant templates
  • Easy to use
  • Around the clock free Wix support

Cons

  • If you want to move to a different CMS you cannot take the site with you
  • Cost of $8.25 – $10.95 depending on the plan you take

 

About WordPress

WordPress was released in 2003 and is one of the largest site building platforms out there. With more than 74 million sites based on wordpress and developers to match there is no end to the possibilities.

Pros

  • Large variety of themes and plugins – possibilities are endless
  • Easy to change templates
  • Fully customizable
  • Can move to another company and keep your website
  • No Cost except for certain plugins (Cost can become high if a developer is required)

Cons

  • Steep learning curve
  • Lengthy setup
  • Lots of how-to blogs but no support

 

Conclusion

When building your own website the choice is a personal one. It all depends on what you need from your website and what your capabilities as a web developer and designer are.

For those of you that are a bit more tech savvy, the fully customizable CMS of wordpress will blow your mind. If you want a quick solution and don’t have time for the steep learning curve of WordPress then Wix is the way to go.

5 Ways to engage customers on Facebook

5 ways to engage customers on facebook

We have talked about Facebook and the value it adds to your business before. Now it is time to engage your customers. Here are my top 5 ways on how to engage customers on Facebook.

  1. Post often

This is a simple one – your customers can’t engage if there is nothing to engage with. So once again content is key. Keep in mind that content needs to be new and fresh. Try to post at least once a day. It is also a good idea to use a call to action so that customers know what is expected of them.

  1. Use questions

One sure way to get your customers to engage is to involve them in the post. By asking a question you easily get them to interact. This in turn creates activity on your page and also boosts popularity.

  1. Images and videos creates more likes and shares

Your content needs to be of such a standard that it firstly draws attention and secondly makes people want to share it. What draws your attention more? A sentence that is text format only, or a colorful image. I think the answer is obvious.

  1. Offer promotions

In today’s economy it is all about the money, so use it! Everybody loves a bargain and you have to give it to them. This can be done in two ways. One – advertise your brand! Tell them about your specials. Two – get them to interact by offering a discount coupon or something free for liking or sharing your Facebook page.

You can also use specific promotional codes so that you can track which post brought you the clients.

  1. Competitions

Competitions are a great way to market your brand. Asking people to like or comment in order to win something is easy for them and great for you. Your followers will grow and so will your brand. This is also a great way of marketing a certain product.

There are however a few rules that has to be followed when launching a competition on Facebook. You should always adhere to these rules as to ensure that your page does not get removed by Facebook.

In short you CAN:

  • Ask people to like a post to enter
  • Ask people to comment on a post to enter
  • Ask people to private message the page to enter
  • Ask people to post on your page to enter

You CAN NOT:

  • Ask people to share to enter
  • Ask people to invite to enter
  • Ask people to tag themselves in content to enter

Business Page rules can be found here https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php. They did however make it a bit easier for launching promotions etc. with the following amendments https://www.facebook.com/business/news/page-promotions-terms.

Lastly remember that whatever you post it should be interesting and most important of all posts should be shareable. Use a variety of different posts and content to keep your customers engaged and interested. Good luck and happy posting!

Top 10 SEO Tips – 2015

Top 10 SEO Tips 2015The one important thing to remember about SEO (also known as search engine optimization or organic search) is that it changes constantly. Therefore my article is labelled Top 10 SEO Tips 2015. As Google and other search engines get smarter they keep on changing their algorithms in order to weed out the bad websites that are using schemes to rank their websites higher. Google also strives to give the user the best possible search results – as it should be. Therefore it is important that you keep up to date with the newest developments and keep your site optimized and current.

Once again it is also worth mentioning that there is no quick fix and search engine optimization takes a lot of hard work and dedication. But I promise you if you follow these few simple tips you will see results.

  1. Create quality content.

Content is key and it is the one thing that search engines are ALWAYS looking for. Keyword-stuffing however is something of the past and your content needs to be created for humans and not search engines (see how clever those little algorithms are getting?).

Optimize your site by creating pages around a keyword or rather a search phrase. Keywords should appear in important on-page elements like the page title, heading, image alt text, and naturally throughout the page content.

  1. Make sure of your URL Structure.

One of the first things that Google spiders will do is to crawl your website’s URL.   You should make sure that all your URLs are aligned with your page’s content, topics and keywords. By doing this your URLs will help the search engines categorise your website.

  1. Title tags

Make sure all your pages have title tags. Title tags should be unique and keyword focused.

  1. Meta descriptions

A description is that little snippet about your page that pops up under your title when searching in Google. It is important here to once again include your keyword phrase. It should be a short summary not more than 156 characters and should grab the searcher’s attention. They must WANT to click on your listing.

  1. Images and Galleries

Google can read but it can’t “see”. Therefore you have to make it see. Sounds difficult? It is quite simple. For each and every image you load onto your site you should also add an alt tag, title and description. The same rules apply as for the titles and descriptions for your on-page optimization – your title should clearly say what your image is and the description should describe it. Kind of obvious right?

  1. Go Mobile.

According to statistics and various studies, mobile browsing is fast surpassing desktop browsing. Therefore it is very important (for your business as well as for Google) to go mobile. Google has even announced that having your site optimized for mobile use will score you a lot of points. The easiest way to do this? Develop a responsive website!

  1. Increase your site speed

Site speed continues to be a ranking factor for search engines. Nobody likes to wait for a site to load. And as technology develops users are getting more and more accustomed to fast load times. Once again this is not only important for Google, but also important for your users/clients/customers. If you don’t want to lose potential clients make sure that page loads fast.

A few simple things you should check if your site is not loading fast enough is image and video size, embedded media and chunky coding

  1. Be Social.

Social media platforms are one of the best marketing channels available to you. It will introduce people to your brand. You can use it to create traffic to your website. And it shows up in search engines! What’s not to like?

Social media should not only be part of your SEO plan but should form part of your online marketing strategy too.

  1. Keep your site updated

This is a simple one … we talked about content and how content is key. Old content however is not key – constantly update your site and add new information, articles images, whatever you want. Just make sure you keep on adding quality content and keep your information up to date. Nothing worse that someone trying to reach you but the number or email address is not working.

  1. Grow natural inbound links

As a ranking factor Google still looks at quality links to your site. Why? Well the more people say that you are cool, the cooler you should be, right?

Links should come from quality websites so keep on monitoring them.

Measure, Measure, measure!

In conclusion to my TOP 10 SEO Tips for 2015 I want to talk about measurement. There are many tools available to you for measurement. The simplest and most easily available of these are Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, and Facebook Insights.

Keep on measuring your efforts to see if they are working. You need to know if you are on the right track and if your efforts are bearing fruit. If it is working keep on going, if not it might be time for a change. My motto: If you can’t measure it why do it?

What is SEO?

I often get a blank stare when I talk about SEO.  And although it is getting more and more popular there are still a few questions on exactly what it really is.

What is SEO

SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization, also known as organic search.  It is the process of improving your website and making it more search engine friendly so that it receives more visits from search engines like Google, Yahoo! Or Bing.  Simply put it is the answer to the question:  How do I rank higher in Google when users search for keywords that best relate to my business?

I always say that ranking in search engines is like a popularity contest – the cooler you are the higher you rank.

What does this mean for you?  It means that your website needs to be optimized in such a way that Google thinks you are cooler that anyone else and therefore ranks you first.  There are many aspects to SEO, from the words on your page (content) up to how your pages are structured.  Not only do you want people to get information from your page, but you also want Google to understand what your website is about.  If Google understands your website, it will be able to rank your website.

Unfortunately there are no short-cuts or easy ways to do this.  Search engines work with complex algorithms and it takes a lot of work to convince them that you are better than the rest and deserve one of the top spots.

Having said that there are a few simple rules you can follow to optimize your site and ensure that you get the desired results.  This is not a quick process though.  Like I said it takes a lot of time and dedication – remember the internet is big and the competition great!

Look out for my post on TOP 10 SEO TIPS to see what you can do to optimize your website …

How to use Facebook effectively

How to use Facebook effectivelyIf you are not sure what to do with your facebook page now that you created it, this article is for you. Just a few simple steps can make all the difference.  If you want to know how to use Facebook effectively we need to start at the beginning …

What are your goals?
Firstly it is very important to establish your goals …what do you want to achieve with your Facebook Page?
Secondly get a clear idea of who your target market is? Who is your audience? Who are you talking to?

As soon as that is clear you can decide on what type of post you should post. Tailored with the right message to the right people. There is no sense in posting anything if you are not clear on why you are doing it in the first place … Example: you are not going to post messages about skateboards if your target market is over 80!!! Firstly the over 80’s are rarely on facebook and secondly why would they be interested in skateboards?

Possible Goals
You want to create brand awareness
You want to engage with your customers
You want to grow your consumer base

Whatever your goal may be, one important aspect remains … you cannot achieve anything if you don’t have people on your Facebook Page! You need people who are active, engaged and interested! The more they engage, the more people will see your posts and the more people will like your page!

How do you do that?
It is simple … Get people to engage with your Page timeline!

It is important to get the people to engage. Why? If they are engaged they are more likely to participate and more likely to share, like and comment. As soon as this happens your posts will spread like wildfire! The more it spreads, the more people you reach!

  • Share updates, questions, photos, links, infographics, text and other content on your Page regularly. Use different types of posts to keep it interesting.
  • Post at least a few times a week so people who like you see your stories in their news feeds and visitors to your Page always see something new.
  • Don’t make it all about ME ME ME. ME gets boring after a while, so post some interesting stuff related to your page as well.
  • Your posts must be shareable! By this I mean it should be good enough for other people to want to share it. If it doesn’t make me look good, why would I want to share it with my friends?
  • Make sure people notice your most important content by pinning posts to the top of your Page or highlighting/starring them so they’re bigger.
  • Respond! Respond! Respond! When people engage with you, make sure to respond so they know you’re listening. By not responding in a timely manner you will lose not only clients/customers but it will do your brand damage. If they know your page is where they can get answers they will keep on coming back.

What about BAD comments?
Always and I mean ALWAYS respond whether it is a bad comment or a great comment. Use bad and great comments as feedback on how to better your business. If someone liked something a lot, maybe more of that. If someone had a bad experience use that info to better your business. In business nothing is more valuable than feedback. We need to know what clients/customers think of us and we need to build on that! Facebook and social other social media means that you don’t have to pay thousands of rands for surveys or focus groups – you can have feedback for free! USE IT!

How to set up your Facebook Page

How to set up your business Facebook PageFacebook Pages are the window of your business. Unlike websites, Facebook Pages are constantly updated with new information, happenings or specials. If used correctly it can be your greatest communication tool.

Your Facebook Page is a platform for you not only to give through important information, but also to receive it.

If used correctly it can be a very effective tool with which to receive feedback – and feedback helps you improve your business!

What to do:

Go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/create/?ref_type=registration_form.
You will have to log in with your own username and password.

Choose the right type of page that you want … Is the page for a small business, an artist or a big company?

From there you just follow the steps and focus on the main elements as listed below.

Tip: the more info you give the easier it will be for users to find your page.

The main elements:

  1. Profile Image

The profile image should be your company logo
Specifications: 180 x 180 pixels

  1. Cover Photo

Use a photo that captures the essence of your brand and showcases your product or service. Images are powerful ways of capturing the audience’s attention, so don’t mess it up and always be honest!
Specifications: 851 x 315 pixels

Cover photos cannot include:

  • Contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section.
  • References to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features.
  • Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”

It is against the rules as set out by the Facebook developers.

  1. About Section

Tell the world who you are. Again here it is very important to be honest! Nothing loses customers faster than portraying a false image! Honesty and transparency are key.

  1. Page info

Fill in all the fields – website address, business hours, etc. Here you want to be as detailed as possible as it makes it easier for people to find your Page. There is also nothing more frustrating than visiting a company’s Page but there is no information on the company!

Make sure that your Facebook Web Address correlates with your Page Name / Business Name.

Start Posting:

You are now ready to go! Look out for my next post on how to use Facebook effectively

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