Companies who have waited to get started with social media still have an opportunity to get started with website updates, social media interaction, blogs, and other digital marketing tactics.
Whether you’re the owner of a small company, or running a corporation, if bringing your digital marketing in-house isn’t an option, working with an agency is an optimum solution.
The problem is that there are plenty of agencies out there who are ready to take advantage of people who don’t understand social media, web analytics, website design and development, and SEO. These agencies can charge customers unfair prices and may not deliver on their claims because they assume their clients won’t know any better. Clients sign up for a contract and are able to say, “We’re online” but aren’t seeing ROI, and aren’t incorporating their digital marketing into their overall marketing mix. Clients probably have no idea what their website is or isn’t capable of, what level of engagement they have with customers, or if the SEO research the agency is doing is working.
Here are 8 questions to ask before hiring an outside agency
- Does the agency have an updated, modern website? If the agency’s site looks old, is difficult to navigate, and not attractive, chances are your website won’t be either.
- Does the agency have examples of their work on their site? (Portfolio) This gives you an idea of their aesthetic, types of clients they work with, and their creative capabilities.
- Do they have clients you can call for a reference/recommendation?
- Does the agency offer a free consultation? This gives you and the agency time to see if the relationship is a good fit, bounce ideas, and get a feel for how the agency works.
- How often do they send analytics, and how often will they schedule meetings to review the analytics? (a monthly meeting is ideal for a meeting)
- Do analytics cost extra? If they do, I don’t recommend hiring that agency. Analytics show the progress and successes of your and the agency’s work. Agencies should WANT to show you the progress of campaigns.
- If the agency will be doing SEO for you, make sure you get notifications of which keywords they’re testing and the progress of that testing. (Again, this should not cost extra.)
- Will the agency or will you be updating the website? This is something to discuss with the agency to figure out the best solution for your company’s needs. If the website will be updated daily, someone in-house should be able to update it.
One of the last things to consider is the length of the contract. I’ve talked to many companies who got “a great deal” by signing up for a 3-year contract. What ended up happening is they forgot about their website, didn’t work with the agency (and the agency didn’t call them to discuss updates) so the agency got a lot of money for not a lot of work. A 1-year contract is the longest I’d recommend because that is enough time for the agency to test out campaigns, build up engagement, and to see if this is a relationship you want for long-term.
What other questions do you recommend asking an agency? Are there questions you wish you would have asked before working with an agency? Let me know in the comments section, or call Branding Personality at 1.888.747.3263.
As I was doing my daily reading this morning, I came across this article. It resonated quite well with me. Here at Branding Personality, we consult many clients that come to us with exactly these problems. ‘5 Common Social Media Mistakes Brands Commit‘ originally appeared on PR Daily. Digital marketing has come a long way in the last few years, evolving from a nice addition to your marketing strategy to a necessity for most businesses.
Thankfully, most small- and medium-size businesses (SMEs) avoid creating a social media presence just for the sake of being online, but there are other traps they fall into instead. Here are the most common problems. (more…)
I just read an article on Forbes about how to become a super achiever for your business. All ten points that the author, Jenna Goudreau, made focused on personal attitude, smart thinking, and doing the right things.
As I was reading her advice, I realized that all of it also translates into social media success. If you apply the advice on how to be a super-achiever personally to social media, your potential of becoming a social media super-achiever is just as great. Apply it to your business, and you will probably see the results you’ve always wanted to see. (more…)
The New Year has quickly become one full of personalization. With the increased usage of social networks, infographics, video, mobile, and other engaging content, people are becoming accustomed to things being tailored just for them. You now get the banner ads that are most relevant to you, the search engine results you want to see, and now video services like YouTube and Hulu even let you chose with advertisement fits you best. The one thing that has remained largely the same is the homepage; however companies and users alike are starting to realize that even this aspect of a website can be altered. So why not go for it?
What Is a Personalized Homepage?
A personalized homepage has two different meanings: Someone visits a website and sees a different homepage than someone else, or someone signs onto a browser and sees a homepage. Homepage is different than landing page (although landing pages can also be personalized) because you don’t always land on a homepage when you click on a link or an ad. You can land on a homepage, but regardless, it really just refers to the general page you would see if you type in the URL or open a browser.
A personalized homepage generally means that visitors will either:
A. Answer one or two brief questions and then be taken to a screen that is right for them,
B The information will changed based on past clicks of the user (in the case of YouTube), or
C Users will be able to use a tool in order to organize the homepage they want to see.
When it comes to companies creating personalized homepages, the different homepages are split up based upon where people are in the buying cycle. Note: Not every company needs to have a personalized homepage. These work best for companies who have a diverse audience of serious visitors.
iGoogle and the Benefits of a Personalized Homepage
Until now, it was the tool iGoogle that companies used to create a personalized homepage; however Google announced this past July that the service would be ending in November of this year. Their reasoning? Google doesn’t think a tool like this is needed because there are so many new apps for Chrome and mobile devices. However, the benefits still seem quite clear to many users as well as other services (discussed in the next section). A few of these benefits include:
- Speed. It’s a faster way to get the information you really want because it lets you read at a glance when you don’t have much.
- Motivation. When it comes to iGoogle, you’re the one doing the customization. I could help you stay motivated at work or give you a reason to read the news if you create something that really works for you.
- Organization. Having something set to your schedule can help you stay organized.
- Priorities. You get to prioritize. If social sharing is at the top of your list, having those buttons at the top will help make it easy. Really, it’s all about efficieny.
A TechCrunch thread probably proves that personalized homepages are useful the best. For example, one reader commented, “WTF google? My igoogle homepage has a sentimental value. You destroy it and your killing a part of me that’s been in a lovely relationship since 2005. Reconsider igoogle NOW!” I think that says it all.
How to Get Started with a Personalized Homepage
Creating a personalized homepage for your company website involves using some type of tool or service, much like iGoogle. A few of the newest options available include:
- Gravity. This company was created by former MySpace executives and aimed to use information about users social activity (status updates, tweets, etc.) and clicks to create an interest graph for users. The graph will change in real time and tailor content to that individual user.
- Backstitch. This is a tool recommended by TechCrunch that seems to be gaining a bit of speed as we enter into the New Year. The unique thing about this tool is that it’s the users who create their personalized pages.
- Netvibes. This tool makes it easy to decide what you want to see on your homepage—the weather, news, different searches, etc. It is, however, more used for business needs than individual, which separates it from Backstitch.
While Google might be right in the sense that personalized homepages could someday become a thing of the past, it seems to me that they are only growing as we enter 2013. Apps are great, but people want more, and personalized homepages can do that.
Have you ever gone to a company website and gotten a personalized homepage? Has your company ever tried creating different personalized homepages? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo Credit: thegirlscave.com
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from algorithm updates. She writes for HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO consulting firm that offers Ecommerce SEO services to a wide range of companies across the country.
At Branding Personality, one of the most often asked questions we hear is “How can I get more fans and followers?” I was thinking about this as I read an awesome blog post by Bryan Kramer “Social: The Best Cocktail Party Ever.”
If you go to a party, sulk in a corner, grab your food and head back to your corner, what value do you bring to the party? Conversely, if you go to the party, say hi to a few people, but never share information or conversation, what did you truly give? (Why are you at this party anyway?) (more…)
Personal Branding: Look Out Your Reputation Precedes You!
One of the biggest mistakes small businesses can make is thinking their brand is unimportant if they’re only selling products. This is far from the truth, because businesses require people to sell the actual product, and those people need to instill confidence in the customer. These individuals must be trustworthy and have a good reputation. (more…)
Facebook announced changes to the News Feed today. The updates center around the increasingly photo-driven social world, and the popularity of visuals. Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that the way the world shares information has changed from text-based interaction to visual communication, and that the new updates will revolve around the need to de-clutter the News Feed.
The updated News Feed design was created around three principles that will help create a more visually pleasing experience.
#1 Richer Stories
As Facebook’s Director of Design, Julie Zhou, noted, the News Feed experience really comes down to stories. The update to the News Feed will enlarge photos and will place them front and center in order to immerse users directly into the visual stories shared by their friends, family, and public figures they have chosen to follow.
Facebook wants to give users a richer, simpler and more beautiful News Feed so people can find out what’s going on in the social world around them without having to dig too deeply. As a result, the new design will give more space on the News Feed to photos, article shares and check-ins.
Additionally, when friends share a photo, video or article, their face will appear alongside the shared content so you can scroll over their profile to see what exactly they are saying about the content, and what kind of comments have spawned off of their reaction to what’s being shared.
#2 Choice of Feed
With the new update, Facebook users will now have more power over the type of content that occupies their News Feed. Instead of skimming the surface of conversation, the update positions Facebook more as a traditional newspaper, with sections, like sports, photos, music, etc., that users can choose to get content from.
With the all friends feed, you can view stories and status updates from your entire friends list. If you want to trim your News Feed down, you can choose the close friends feed in order to see content from those near and dear to you. The music feed lets you see content from the musicians you like, like concert showtimes and recent album releases. The photos feed will show users photos and photos only. And the following feed will show you content from all the pages and public figures you have chosen to give a “like” to.
However, this ability to choose the type of feed you want might pose problems for advertisers and company pages. Unless fans specifically choose the following feed, fan engagement could drop off significantly for businesses, which would require company pages to use promoted posts or spend more money on Facebook advertising.
#3 Consistency Between Interfaces
Facebook is striving to give users more consistency and material similarity across all devices- smartphones, tablets and desktops. With the update, Facebook will be more easily navigable, the News Feed will look and feel the same across all devices, and there will be a mobile-inspired web design for PC and desktop users.
Overall, the News Feed changes place a premium on visuals. Brands and companies must understand this in order to keep pace with the engagement wave that will undoubtedly change as the update continues to roll out. Text-based content will see a drastic decrease in engagement levels, so it will be advantageous to center content calendars and marketing campaigns around eye-popping visuals.
Facebook indicated that they will give the update to a small audience at first, beginning today, and will expand outwards as they continue to get feedback and fix any bugs that may occur.
The first feedback we have received is that this design looks very similar to Google Plus, and the mobile interface looks like Instagram. What do you think of the changes that Facebook has planned?
Yesterday I attended a special Google Fireside Chat at Branding Personality. Google has relationships with over 90,000 agencies but only 1,400 were chosen to host and share this event with clients, colleagues, and partners. (more…)
Now every WordPress site can join the Harlem Shake! Just install this free WordPress plugin, and get your site movin’.
The Harlem Shake viral sensation has played on your computer hundreds of times, the laughter produced from it so loud that your bosses at work come over to scold you for watching YouTube videos on the clock.
But then they see the video, their grimace turns from a frown into an outrageous smile, and their chastising transforms into a burst of laughter louder than yours…and maybe they even do their own rendition of the Harlem Shake, pulling out dance moves not seen since the 80s, the type of moves reserved for living rooms and kitchens and the kind of places void of audiences, and the whole experience creates a work bond you never thought possible.
So in the spirit of wanting all the digital world to dance to the tune of the Harlem Shake and its spontaneous perfection, Branding Personality and company COO, Rutger Hensel, have come up with a WordPress plugin that will give your website electronic shakes and rattles that will make any Harlem Shaker proud.
“Your logo starts shaking before other visual elements follow suit,” says Marieke Hensel, founder and CEO of Branding Personality. “This plug-in presents a fun way to make your website’s visitors laugh, and hopefully share your website and drive more traffic to it.”
By typing in the Konami Code (up arrow, up arrow, down arrow, down arrow, left arrow, right arrow, left arrow, right arrow, b, a) on your keyboard, anyone can make a website that has installed the Harlem Shake Beta plugin shake, rattle and roll. Test it out on the Branding Personality site using Chrome or Firefox, and input the Konami Code once you are on the homepage.
Download the Harlem Shake Beta Plugin, install it on your WordPress site and watch your site dance itself to life.
It is no secret that the Kardashians are famous for simply that, being famous. But how did they rise from a reality TV show to American Royalty in just 7 years? Branding. Not only do they have their own personal clothing, cosmetic, and housewares lines but they also use social media to promote everything else they do.
From Instagram to Keek, the Kardashians have taken over the social media world one tweet at a time. And with Kim’s upcoming child from her beau Kanye West, another branding mogul will be born. It wouldn’t be surprising if the new Kardashian-West got their own twitter account to track how many bottles they’ve consumed in a day.
Don’t be Afraid to be a Diva
Okay, so maybe the pictures of the Kardashians in bikinis and holding $10,000 Hermes handbags are part of what bring them followers. However, they don’t just post about anything and everything. They post about things that are true to who they are and their brand.
Before you post things to your social media accounts, ask these questions:
1. Is this post representing my business well?
2. What popular hashtags are applicable to this post?
3. Am I linking followers back to my company’s website?
Everyone including Kim Kardashian’s cat, Mercy, knows how to use Facebook. Facebook is a great way to link people back to your website. Glam up your Facebook page and fill it with new and exciting information. Unlike other social media outlets, Facebook gives followers the opportunity to really learn about your business and website. Make sure to include valid information in your “about” section and stay on top of Facebook posts.
To gain more Facebook traffic, advertise free giveaways to followers of your Facebook page. Being cheap never got the Kardashian sisters anywhere. They are always using Facebook to offer followers and fans free merchandise. After all, nobody can resist some free swag.
Twitter is the Kardashians favorite social media tool, and rightfully so. With the ability to reach across your fan-base in just seconds, you can send a tweet anywhere. Even when they are across the world, the Kardashians are still tweeting and maintaining a relationship with their Twitter followers.
Delegate a good 10 to 15 minutes to Twitter a day. Maybe even two minutes every hour to send a quick tweet out into the Twitter-sphere. By demonstrating an on going presence people will link back to you.
Worse comes to worse, hashtag #kardashian. That should bring you a few new followers.
With over 6 million followers on Instagram, it is no secret that Kim Kardashian uses Instagram for just about everything. Instagram is a way to connect to fans, the world, and other businesses strictly through the means of photography. Although they Instagram pictures of nothing less than their fabulous lifestyle, the Kardashians are constantly promoting their brands. By snapping quick pics of your businesses leading product, followers can have access to your business and personal life. Much like with Twitter, Instagram utilizes hashtags to attract more users back to your Instagram page. Use at least one hashtag with every picture you post, in order to link people back to you and attract more followers.
Start by taking pictures that are of your niche. Advertise new products, new employees, or screen shots of new posts on your blog.
Keek is the newest addition to the social media family. Kylie and Kendall Jenner were the first in the Kardashian clan to start utilizing Keek. Keek acts similar to Instagram except you can post small videos instead of pictures. Because Keek is newer to the social media world, start getting people excited about this new tool!
Last but not least, always promote your social media pages on your website, business cards, and anywhere in your office. Encourage people to like your Facebook page and follow you on other social media tools.
Theo Schmidt has worked as a software engineer in Los Angeles since graduating from UCLA in 2006 with a degree in computer science. He spent five summers working for an SEO Calgary company, where he developed a love for social media. He enjoys spending time in the outdoors and is an environmental activist.