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Why Startups Need to Apply the Holy Trinity of Digital Marketing

In every new venture, entrepreneurs are faced with a handful of uphill challenges such as breaking out to a larger market, becoming a relevant player in their respective industries, and driving business results under a tight budget. Startups need for their brand to stand out and grow in a competitive market. Startup companies with limited resources opt to bank their marketing strategies with digital marketing rather than traditional marketing. Digital marketing allows businesses to grow their consumer base without having to spend a large fortune. The strategy also allows a simpler way to measure what works best for business ventures with specific goals. The wonders of technology makes viewing of results in real time intuitive.

Startups on a shoestring budget need to be smart and efficient with their marketing strategies by heeding to the holy trinity of digital marketing: content marketing, SEO, and social media.

Being the Best Answer on the Internet with Content Marketing

88% of B2B marketers use content marketing as part of their marketing strategy. Content covers every area of the Internet landscape. “How-to” blogs, infographics, memes, GIFs, and other elements have become the fuel in the content strategy machine of businesses. Content marketing helps startups generate more traffic and leads, and build brand awareness. Publishing relevant content regularly and communicating your brand message through storytelling build trust. Gaining the trust of your audience is one of the major keys to building a relationship with your market.

Being Accessible on the Internet with SEO

Two words that explains SEO the best: optimization and authority. An optimized website can help businesses be visible in search engines and direct organic traffic to their website. You wouldn’t want to let visitors be turned off by non-optimized layout for mobile, slow loading times, and broken links. Authority is about letting search engines know your business has the best content for their users. Treat SEO as an ongoing investment, not a short term project. Have an SEO specialist to check your website and make recommendations according to Google’s algorithm changes. Not ranking for queries on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) is as bad as not having your content to exist at all.

Building a Voice with Social Media

In a survey conducted by Forrester Consulting, 41% of the users who engage with brands on social media discover and respond to paid ads on social networks. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter enables brands to interact with potential and actual customers. Your business doesn’t have to be present in every platform, but ensure that your brand is worthy to be followed or to be part of. Social media is one way of nurturing your relationship with your community and potential customers through conversations and interactions. In times when a company website is no longer enough, it is vital to develop your brand’s image through engaging social content.

Brand Social Media Management Strategies

What is it about social media that makes brands pay so close attention to it? Why are brands focusing their marketing efforts in identifying, planning, and implementing different social media strategies? Social media is a deep well of brand growth opportunities. Social media gives brands a voice to engage with and influence their customers. Social media assists in driving leads and closing sales. Social media makes or breaks a brand.

Social media management is much more than just creating a post, attaching a photo, and posting it on your Facebook business page. To generate awareness, engagement, and, ideally, sales, content strategy must be in line with the business’ social media goals before posting on multiple social platforms. Posting content randomly and frequently without a goal should not be the way marketers do social media marketing.  Look beyond Facebook and maximize your reach with Twitter, G+, and other popular social channels. 

Facebook, Twitter and G+ Aren’t Created Equal

What works for one social media channel may not work for another. Each platform has its own guidelines and restrictions, its own marketing tools and tips. Marketers are asked to put a lot of effort in acquiring an extensive knowledge in identifying and targeting audiences of, running ads in, and optimizing content for a specific channel to come up with a sound digital marketing strategy. Each platform is different from the other so it is up to digital marketing companies to figure out how these differences can work to their advantage.

Facebook

Marketers can create and maintain multiple Facebook business pages. They can design and publish different types of content – text, links, photos, videos – although image posts tend to do better than text-based posts. Facebook’s News Feed algorithm favor visually appealing and mobile friendly image posts, which get the highest amount of engagement. Facebook’s paid advertising tools include audience targeting, calls to action, and streamlined ad buying.

Twitter

Twitter was designed for the mobile audience so it lets marketers reach the audience through engaging tweets (limited to 140 characters) and rich media content. Brands can build their personality in Twitter where they can converse with their followers in real time and follow their audience back. Marketers can target more users through Twitter’s paid product offering, Promoted Tweets.  

Pinterest

Pinterest allows marketers to create and curate content by “pinning” original photos and infographics and “repinning” content from other users. Brands showcase their product offerings and drive traffic to their website by attaching a link on the pins. Companies in the business of art, fashion, and beauty, industries that appeal to their market with a constant stream of visuals, have become prevalent on the site.    

Adoption, Engagement and Conversion

Social media management strategies is essential in advancing a company’s marketing campaign. Brands must be engaging via social media but the function of social media management is not limited to a conversation between brand and audience. An effective social media strategy converts their target audience into actual customers purchasing the product or service offered by the brand.

Dealing With A Social Media Backlash

Think before you speak. It is a piece of advice that has been given to everyone, everywhere at least once in his or her life. Years ago, saying something offensive (intended or otherwise) to someone was generally kept within a private circle even if there was backlash. Perhaps it was heard through the grapevine, but the whole world didn’t know about it.

Now the whole world can know about it. Taking a screenshot of a text message or filming a moment is simple; sharing with the world is just easy. In May, a text message conversation between a comedian and a woman who rejected him for a date was released on Twitter, and social media took it and ran, flooding Twitter and Facebook with requests that venues ban him and, of course, frenzied insults. Similarly, earlier in the year, a young doctor was filmed berating a driver; the resulting backlash was so severe that she eventually made national television appearances to apologize.

For these types of indiscretions, in which a person is obviously in the wrong, having said or done something reprehensible, it seems that there is no apology that satisfies the online masses. For others, such as those who have posted or done something offensive unintentionally, the outcome is the same. Google searches for these and other publicly-shamed individuals, names still result in news reports about the incident, and it seems that they are there to stay.

Steps to Survival

The connectedness of the Internet has brought about great things. People rally together to raise funds for those down on their luck; a good deed is recognized and rewarded. When the opposite happens, it turns into a social media witch hunt, a relentless crusade to ensure the offender suffers for what he or she has done.

This type of behavior is not limited to individuals. Businesses can be the target of social media witch hunts as well, and it can be just as damaging. While all stories are different, there are a few things that can be done to avoid creating a bigger media storm.

1. Avoid the knee-jerk reaction.

Once the tweets, posts and messages start flooding in, you may want to reply to each and every message to explain or apologize and delete any trace of the crisis. However, it’s best to take a moment before you start typing up replies or deleting messages. The line between it’s too soon and it’s too late is very fine, however. Sometimes a late reply is just as bad, and so it’s imperative to keep a close eye on social chatter and have a plan in place.

The Internet has made it virtually impossible to delete anything for good. It can be a waste of time to track down every copy of a photo or video.

2. Offer a sincere public apology.

It’s important to acknowledge the mistake or wrongdoing. Don’t try to excuse away the behavior (I was tired!), as that is often see as justification instead. Writing a public apology is an art form, with various studies and books published about the subject. In the Harvard Business Review (http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/5313.html), for example, public leadership professor Barbara Kellerman says that an apology should serve a “moral purpose”. A full apology, she says, features a few key points: acknowledgment of the offense, acceptance of responsibility, expression of regret, and a promise not to repeat the offense.

This one, carefully constructed apology can be shared across all your social media platforms, with the hop that it gets shared just as much as the offending content that necessitated it.

3. Right the wrongs.

You may not be able to take back what was said or done, but it is clear that steps should be made to ensure it never happens again. This can take a number of forms, depending on your business or the issue: an offhand comment made by an employee at a retail shop, for example, could result in a company-wide training program.

4. And then keep quiet.

If the comments seem to be rushing in faster than you can read them, it’s often better to just be patient and remove yourself from social media for a while after you’ve issued your apology. Although comments may always crop up about the incident, time truly does help. Eventually, the vitriol dies down and you can get back to business.

5. Set up a plan.

For businesses, a fully trained social media team should have a plan in place in case of a crisis. A team will know what to do when a rogue tweet is posted or an executive is caught on camera saying something inappropriate. For individuals, it’s important to follow that aforementioned age-old advice. Think before you speak and post.

Getting Started With Video Marketing

Online video has made huge strides in the past couple years, and it is slated to make even bigger ones in the next few. Video will account for 80 percent of consumer Internet traffic by 2020; on mobile alone, 75 percent of the worlds data traffic will be dominated by mobile video by the same year, according to Cisco€™s Visual Networking Index.

It is clear that consumers want video, what kind of video, where and when are the questions marketers have asked. Some publishers, like BuzzFeed, seem to have mastered the art of online video: BuzzFeeds Tasty channel, which first launched on Facebook, has garnered millions upon millions of views since its launch in July 2015.

Not all publishers can follow the same winning formula but there are key pointers marketers can take from BuzzFeed and other successful video publishers, with their billions of views and millions of subscribers. Though it can seem daunting to create video, it is worth the investment, after all, over half of respondents in a CopyPress video marketing survey indicated that video had the best ROI.

1. Set a goal.

A video can build awareness, engage with consumers, nurture sales leads and more, but one video shouldn’t aim to accomplish all those goals at once. When developing a video marketing strategy, don’t just start creating videos at random. Identify what you wish to accomplish from video, and craft video series surrounding those ideas. For example, an e-commerce business selling art supplies may want to push sales by creating a how-to or DIY video series that uses their products. That same business could also attempt to engage with viewers, posting a video series about interesting local art projects.

2. Put it in the right place.

Producing a great video costs time and money, so don’t just throw it on your companies website and cross your fingers. Many companies use YouTube to host video, which makes it easy to create a channel and share on other platforms. Social video, where videos are shared video Facebook, Twitter and Vine, to name just a few, has made Tasty what it is today.

Where you post your video depends on the audience. For all content marketing, B2B companies tend to use LinkedIn (94 percent) the most, followed by Twitter (87 percent) and Facebook (84 percent); B2C companies use Facebook (94 percent) the most, followed by Twitter (82 percent) and YouTube (77 percent), according to the Content Marketing Institute€™s 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends.

Its important to remember that one video may not work on all platforms, so make sure that the video is adapted for each one. Video on Twitter, for example, is limited to a 30-second runtime.

3. Keep a schedule.

Everyone seems to want a hard and fast rule when it comes to the frequency with which a publisher pushes out video content, but its not so simple. One rule, however, is true: keep it consistent. Don’t publish one video each day for a week, and then go silent for a month. Users like fresh and new content, and while it doesn’t have to be almost every day like BuzzFeeds Tasty, users should come to expect a video at a certain time.

4. Keep up with the times.

Online video is constantly changing, so don’t wait for the next new thing to pass before you get acquainted. One of the latest trends is live video, which 39 percent of marketers said they would be increasing use of in Social Media examiners 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. Don’t be afraid to embrace new platforms, but don’t jump in too early if it is still not well understood by your organization.

5. Don’t forget about the SEO.

No business can count on consumers to simply find its content among the billions of choices available. To improve chances of your video being seen and shared, it has to be treated like any other piece of content in terms of SEO. Hosting your video on YouTube is a good start, as it has a built-in user base.

Google itself requires three items in order to index a video: a title, description and thumbnail. The search engine also recommends including video sitemaps and schema.org on-page markup, and says it supports Facebook Share and RDFa on-page markups. It is also recommended that video with spoken audio includes a transcript.

6. Start Recording

Though video usage has exploded, only about 60 percent of marketers say it has been effective, it may be due to the overwhelming number of competing videos, coupled with the overwhelming number of platforms on which video is available that marketers are having trouble. With the right goals, strategy and platform, however, any business can use video to succeed.

Build your Personal Brand on these 5 Platforms

According to Tom Peters, “To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” Personal branding is simply everything we do to market ourselves. How do you want to be perceived? How can you grab attention online? How do you establish yourself?

Here are a few platforms where you can answer all of these questions and more.

1. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site for creating contacts (or connections), browsing job listings and gaining information from industry experts. For the benefit of other professionals and potential employers, you can showcase your work experience, education, and skills and expertise. A lot of thought should be given in filling out the summary section, a blank page for a brief overview and anything else that puts in a positive light.

2. About.me

A brief bio, social network links, and an eye-catching background image – these are the essentials of an About.me profile. About.me makes it easy and convenient to navigate and consolidates other online profiles and sites in a page. Here you can also include bits about your attitude, goals and career highlights unlike in a traditional resume.

3. Facebook

Facebook is a great platform for personal branding with its many features. Start off with a profile photo and a cover photo to show off personality. Fill in your work and education background and list down sites you own in the About section. Update your Facebook status, a reflection of who you are and what you do, and manage the privacy settings to filter who can and can’t read your updates. Aside from serving as a communication stream to friends and family, you can also network with other professionals.

4. Twitter

Twitter is a social networking service that allows its users to post messages of up to 140 characters, better known as “tweets”. Like Facebook, what you tweet and retweet shape the perception of others toward you. Follow other Twitter accounts, and vice versa, and you can uncover career opportunities and learn the latest industry trends.

5. Flavors.me

Flavors.me is your own online business card. It’s a space which unifies all your other social networking profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, and Twitter) and directs others to them. This site allows for custom design making the page personal and unique. Change the background to any image you like (perhaps a large photo of yourself?) and choose from the 222 fonts available for headline and content.

There are other tools you can explore for yourself but this list gets you started.