1. The Social Media Zombie Apocalypse: A Survivor’s Guide

    The zombie – a soulless, shuffling ghoul, now famous for chasing a man in a cowboy hat through rural Georgia. I bring up zombies not just because I’m a horror film geek, but because that is precisely what your social media account becomes when you let it linger and die.

    Social Media ZombiesSocial media is not easy to maintain — it takes thought, consistency and a steady finger on the pulse of trending current events. For this reason, people often find themselves in too deep with two or three (or five) social media accounts too many, subsequently lifting their hands in defeat. Though having a social media presence is important, it’s also vital to not bite off more than you can chew. Surrendering is OK, but only if you deactivate your forfeited social media account before throwing in the towel and pretending your experimentation with hypothetical social media newcomer Facebookstigram+(™) was all just a bad, bad dream.

    Countless times, I’ve seen personal and business pages go by the wayside, their owners attempting to wish these pages into the ether that is the mysterious and wonderful Internet. That doesn’t happen of course — these accounts decay and die, only to return as the social media undead, often lurking in the shadows, hungry to steal away customers, clients, and friends that have the misfortune of coming across them.

    How do these “zombies” attack your personal and business social media footprint?

    The biggest pro and con of the Internet is that everyone has a soapbox. Anyone with a cell phone and Internet connection can now share ideas, information and opinions with, quite literally, the world. But with the reality of an interconnected world, we’re also inundated with noise more than ever. Anything you put out as either a professional, business or personal representation of yourself on the web should be current, accurate and active. If a customer accidentally clicks on an old, unused Facebook page, they may get an incorrect address or phone number, reach out for help where you’re not listening, or simply take the lack of activity on your page as a sign of slow business. By deactivating old and unused social media pages, you remove the possibility of this confusion, taking back control of your company or personal branding.

    Attack of the Spambots

    The most dangerous thing about not deactivating an unused social media account is the simple fact that you are no longer listening to conversations potentially being made in your name. One example that I’ve seen far too often is when a spambot takes over an under-used Twitter account, accosting all followers with offers for designer shoes and mail-order miracle pills. If the owner of this account no longer checks their Twitter on a daily basis, they’d have no idea that possibly hundreds or thousands of followers are readying torches and pitchforks in annoyance.

    Don’t Give Customers the Cold Shoulder

    Besides the possibility of hacking, simply coming off as ignoring your fan base is extremely bad form in the forum of social media. The phrase, “social media is a conversation” is clichĂ© for a reason. Your social media page equates to something of a digital whiteboard — you have to expect people to write on it. Surely, some comments will be about how much they enjoyed your last blog post or how creamy your broccoli cheddar soup is. However, you better believe that people will also come to sound off about negative experiences in equal or greater measure. Believe it or not, it’s OK to get a negative comment or review, as long as you’re there to respond to it. It’s PR 101 to never ignore the negativity but, unfortunately, your zombie social media account may become a hub for ignoring clients, customers and friends without you even knowing it.

    Abandoned Store

    *crickets*

    Breathe easy though, friends. This zombie outbreak is highly survivable. There is a cure, and it’s the “deactivate account” button.

    Image Credits:

    “Zombies” by Flickr User Mark Lobo

    Kmart Closing by Flickr User Nicholas Eckhart

    Zombie! by Flickr User Daniel Hollister

  2. The Power of Your Brand!

    When Simplicity Isn’t So Simple

    It can be tempting, but don’t be deceived by the simplicity of many well-known brands. There is an art form and process behind branding, and without these processes it can become dangerously easy for a company to be misrepresented.

    The power of branding should never be undervalued or underrated. Effective brands are built from the inside out and are a true reflection of what a business is and what it stands for. In this era of digital marketing, the focus of branding may be about simplicity, but the simplistic nature of branding should not be construed as a “simple” over-night process.

    Give your brand the attention it deserves!

    The Critical Elements of a Brand

    The best brands appear effortless, but in reality, each one is made up of a few critical elements. While some can exist separately, the appropriate combination allows them to work together to create a unified and solid presence that becomes synonymous with a company.

    • Brand Position
      What your company does and your unique value(s), key differentiators over the competition.
    • Brand Promise
      The key consistent promise you make to your customers.
    • Brand Personality
      The traits you want to be known for.
    • Brand Story
      The historical perspective of your company creating value and credibility.
    • Brand Associations
      The physical elements of your brand: name, logo, color palettes, taglines, fonts, photography/illustration, etc.

    It’s important to remember that regardless of what your logo looks like, brand consistency is the key to long-term success.

    The Value of Consistency

    Consistency is vital to your brand’s success. When, how, why, and where you use a brand isn’t limited to one medium or outlet, and the awareness it generates can become irrelevant, damaging, and dangerous if the brand is represented incorrectly. In this digital renaissance, once you produce content and broadcast it online there’s no way to get it back. Whether the brand is represented in a blog, SlideShare presentation, or email signature, it must be incorporated consistently.

    To alleviate the concern and dangerous pitfalls of brand misrepresentation, consider creating a Brand Steward within your organization. It’s this team member’s role to monitor the use of the company’s brand and hold everyone implementing it accountable. This reinforces the ever-present idea that the company has an image to maintain (literally and figuratively); an image that must be consistently and accurately conveyed to all audiences.

    When Brands Go Wrong

    Burger King Fries King Campaign

    Take Burger King, for example. In October 2013, Burger King changed its name to Fries King in several markets as a social media stunt to raise awareness of their new “Satisfries” product. The result? Mass confusion. While this brand-switch definitely got people’s attention, it did not garner the most appreciative response from the targeted audience (increased sales). Burger King did not put much thought into how this faux name change fit in with their overall strategy as a brand, and instead confused the public and lost money. Hence the value and importance of not just having a Brand Steward in place, but also taking the time to develop a process and strategy behind each and every brand creation and alteration.

    Establish a Brand Standards Guide

    A brand standards guide is exactly what it sounds like. It provides the rules and guidelines that every team member needs to adhere to in order to ensure that the integrity and message of the brand isn’t compromised. It not only makes the Brand Steward’s job easier, it also helps team members know exactly how the brand should be used. Generally, it includes approved messaging, typography, color palettes, design elements, and logo files, among many other things that differ from company to company.

    Color Palette Example

    Imagine you don’t have theses guidelines in place (if you don’t, this won’t be that hard of an exercise). Every team member at some point in time will need to present your brand to existing and potential customers in some way, shape, or form. Without this document, they can stretch, pixelate, and change the color of your logo. They may create presentations that look like they came from a completely different company altogether. This is certainly not helping you create a memorable brand experience for your customers. A brand standards guide lets everyone know what is appropriate to use and what should be left at the door when it comes to representing your company.

    The Art and Science of Effective Branding

    Effective branding isn’t merely a matter of getting a company’s name out there or receiving recognition for a logo. It’s also about the science of incorporating, promoting, and consistently using the brand effectively to bring about desired results.

    Share a Coke Campaign

    Take the time to develop a brand that will mean something to targeted audiences. Just look at The Coca-Cola Company. The most recent “Share a Coke” initiative involved modifying their brand and logo in the sense that it basically disappeared. Consumers’ names were placed on bottles in lieu of the company name – and the majority of the public loved it. So much so that Coca-Cola is number three on the most valuable global brands for the second year in a row. We’re not saying this approach will work for everyone (it certainly didn’t for Burger King), but it goes to show that when a company consistently does it right for over 120 years, people remember it and create their own stories associated with it.

    How can companies go about creating and implementing an effective branding strategy? It starts with determining a committed, consistent, and resonating message. What appears simple on the outside in reality takes a lot of strategy, brainpower, and teamwork.

    Is your company’s branding effective?

  3. 3 Digital Marketing Tips from YouTube’s Biggest Stars

    Ah, YouTube — that venerable bastion of cat videos and fail compilations. A place where you can learn how to play Oasis’ hit song “Wonderwall” (on ukulele, no less!) and watch Neil DeGrasse Tyson discuss supermassive black holes. Readers, we are truly living in the future. Come to think of it, the fact that you are even reading this instead of simply watching a clip of me saying these words is becoming a bit of a rarity in its own right. Put down your pitchforks and torches though — I’m not here to announce the end of the written word. I just think that advertisers can learn a lot about branding and digital marketing from YouTube’s biggest success stories, especially with media consumption steadily moving from the living room to the laptop.

    Who Is Felix Kjellberg?

    If YouTube was a country, Felix Kjellberg would be king and court jester. The young, Swedish YouTuber is beloved by millions worldwide for his commentary on video games and goofball humor, but don’t let the levity of his content fool you. Felix, known on his channel as “PewDiePie,” is clearly a shrewd businessman and master of self-marketing. In fact, the 25 year-old has become, arguably, the biggest name on YouTube, grossing millions of dollars a year with over 34 million subscribers. But what can a twenty-something millionaire Swede and his fellow successful YouTubers teach us about digital marketing? Quite a bit, actually.

    Felix Kjellberg YouTube Video

    1. Know Your Audience

    Knowing your audience may be the single most important step to creating effective content and building a fan base in anything you produce. Felix’s channel is not for everyone, and it doesn’t have to be. Content is crafted specifically for his teen and young adult fan base, dominating the demographic. If you want to effectively craft copy or create content for your business, you can’t go in with a scattershot approach and expect to find much success. If you don’t know who your audience is, chances are they won’t know who you are either. Direction is key to crafting an effective digital marketing plan and your business’s creative roadmap is highly influenced by who your targeted audience is.

    2. Listen To Your Fans and Critics Alike

    Anyone who’s been on the Internet for more than, oh let’s say five minutes, knows it can Everyone's a Criticbe a cruel and highly-critical venue. Much like any producer of creative content, even the most successful YouTubers face criticism — both constructive and not. Though it’s far easier to throw out the fair critics with the malicious, an experienced creative knows that sometimes criticism is the only road to growth. In the case of YouTubers, many look at analytics such as downvotes and views when assessing how successful their work is. On a more visceral level (and perhaps more applicable to other businesses), many simply head to the comments section to dissect exactly what their fans thoughts are on any given piece of content.

    Social media, for better or worse, is a fantastic litmus test for most businesses and can offer your company many of the aforementioned “comments section” feedback and analytics. Many make the critical mistake of simply ignoring their brand’s detractors. Since social media is, by and large, meant to be a conversational channel, wishing a negative comment away through inaction or (gasp) deleting said comment will only highlight an unwillingness to accept criticism or lack of sympathy, whether that criticism is founded or not. It’s also important to reach out to those with positive things to say, commenting with thanks in order to let them know your brand is listening.

    3. Don’t Be Afraid of Change

    If a YouTuber’s fans don’t like the content, the video has received less views, or the audience makes suggestions for improvement, a change must happen to keep the channel afloat and growing in popularity. You must be willing to change strategy if your current plan is proving ineffective. These principles are no different for your brand’s digital marketing plan. If you see that certain approaches are garnering less engagement than you would like, try a different approach. Change it up, try different channels of marketing, reach your audience in different ways. Just because one thing didn’t work doesn’t mean they all won’t.

    Take It From the YouTubers…

    A commonality among some top YouTubers is their fan base cultivation. They are often able to preserve their community through knowing and nurturing their audience, crafting a strategy with them in mind, all while taking constructive criticism in the hopes of producing a better product or service. These are all factors to consider in your business’s advertising efforts — yes, even if you’re not in the business of filming yourself playing video games on the Internet.

    Statler and Waldorf image courtesy of Brett Kiger

  4. Celebrating 20 Years of Web Design and Digital Marketing

    When the clock struck midnight on December 31st, 2014 and we rolled into 2015, Findsome & Winmore entered its 20th anniversary year. As our agency reached that milestone, we wanted to pause and reflect a bit on the past and what it means for our future.

    Looking back, so much has changed in the technology and marketing landscape. When we started the firm, there was no such thing as Google. Twitter was certainly not around. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was probably in the fifth grade. There were no mobile phones or text messages. But we ventured out into the fledgling digital world anyway. Our first major project was launching the first website for Rollins College in 1995 and it still represents something important to us.

    Rollins College First Website

    Matt Certo pictured with the first Rollins College website in 1995.

    As a result of all of these changes, our business is completely different. Anyone who’s studied much about business knows that organizations that don’t change don’t survive. And while change isn’t particularly easy, not embracing it can be fatal.

    So what’s different about our agency? Most fundamentally, we changed from being simply a website builder (although we still do a ton of that work) into a full service digital marketing agency. In addition to web design, we handle an array of services for clients like search engine marketing, social media marketing, public relations, and brand development. Our goal is to help clients harness all of these technologies to find and win new customers. To drive the point home, we even changed our name from WebSolvers to Findsome & Winmore. Because we still favor old school marketing concepts like research, strategy, and brand, we crafted the position of The Classic Digital Marketing Agency.

    So as we enter the next twenty-year stretch of our agency, we sincerely want to thank our clients, families and friends who have supported us on the journey. In those two decades, we’ve completed thousands of projects for several hundred clients. We’ve had hundreds of talented people who have been part of our ever-growing team and been able to donate time, talent and financial support to dozens of community nonprofit organizations. Philanthropy has been an important part of our company culture since the beginning. For all of these things, we sincerely thank those who have supported us thus far and invite you all to come along with us for the next twenty. We can’t wait to see what the future will bring.

    Happy 20th!

    Image Courtesy of Rollins College Archives

  5. 5 Fun Facts To Up Your Super Bowl Game

    Super Bowl Facts

    Football lover or not, the Super Bowl caters to all. I’m still in the process of understanding the beloved American game, but what I don’t need any help with grasping is the commercials (inject humor and/or a dog and I’m sold), the food (I’m a huge fan of chips and dip and think that any bowl that contains these two items is a super bowl, indeed), and the amazing stats tied to the Super Bowl (staggering, really).

    With that being said, below is what I consider need-to-know stats and facts when it comes to the Super Bowl.

    Average audience of last year’s Super Bowl: 111.5 Million

    It’s one of the most-watched events in the world and draws more than 80 million viewers every year since 1990. Want to be seen and hopefully remembered? Maybe you should consider advertising – both traditional and/or digital around this great event. You don’t need a huge budget to be a part of it–try tapping into social media to piggyback on the action.

    The rate for a 30-second spot during this year’s game: 4.5 Million (Insert gasp here.)

    The cost for a spot in the very first Super Bowl was a steal at $42,000; then again it was 1967 and a chocolate bar cost about a nickel at that time . No wonder this year Newcastle is opting to share the wealth with brands like Match.com, Jockey, YP.com, Boost Mobile, Charisma Bedding, Beanitos, Rotel, Brawny, Sharper Image, Dixie, and Krave Jerky, just to name a few. Seriously. Newcastle’s 2015 TV spot showcases a whopping total of 37 brands. According to Newcastle, ”It’s the most exciting, most jam-packed, most fiscally responsible big game ad ever.” I have to agree with the Brown Ale on that statement.

    The Super Bowl will be broadcasted in 34 different languages.

    English being the only one I understand, but still, that’s the ability for Super Bowl advertising to reach potentially everyone from Albania to Thailand. Can I get a cheers/prost/kanpai/salud to that?

    Miss the Bowl? No worries – NBC and Tumblr’s got your back.

    NBC is planning on posting all Super Bowl TV commercials to Tumblr moments after they air. This is just another genius way of gaining additional ad exposure. That should soften the blow of spending $4.5 million on a :30 second spot. Right?

    44% of people who eat chicken wings during the Super Bowl prefer bleu cheese dressing to ranch.

    I am a part of that 44%. Nothing goes better with chicken wings than some bleu cheese and beer. Maybe it’ll be a Newcastle this year? Well done Newcastle. Now I’m seriously considering you as my beer of choice for the big game due to your entertaining ad. What can I say? I’m a sucker for good entertainment.

    Bonus Fact: Budweiser Always Wins

    This one is really a matter of opinion. Mine to be exact. But Budweiser is targeting all with not only this year’s Super Bowl commercial, but every commercial they make that involves a dog, a horse and a man. Come on – dogs, horses and pulling on my heartstrings in one commercial? SOLD! Here’s a sneak peek of the commercial they plan on airing this Sunday, February 1st.

  6. Should I Consider Email In My Marketing Plan?

    It’s been over four decades since email was first created. Through the years, it’s evolved into being the King within a marketer’s deck of cards. Before we get into the nitty gritty of why email is so essential to your marketing plan, it’s best to explain how it has impacted us from past to present.

    History of Email Marketing

    Email Marketing From Past To Present

    Presently, it’s evolved in being the top dog in ANY marketing plan. Here are a few reasons why:

    • You can create a database of those you want to connect with by collecting their email address and contact information. This, in turn, can be new clients, new relationships, and new business.
    • You can target the audience that you specifically want to reach. This is DIRECT EXPOSURE of your company and your brand, right in the inbox of your next customer. They open this email and see YOU, think of YOU, and possibly want to work with YOU.
    • You can send custom-designed e-blasts or newsletters that are appealing and tie directly into your brand. These blasts can vary anywhere from announcements, tips & tricks, marketing a new product, information about your business, or Holiday greetings to event information. This can be anything that you think your target audience would want to read about, find value from, and ultimately, learn about you.
    • Without an email marketing platform (we use emma), if you’re sending 100 emails all at once (or even 10 emails with 10 recipients each) your account will more than likely be blocked. This can look like a spamming effort to your provider. When you have an email marketing platform, you can send over 25,000 messages directly to your audiences’ inboxes.
    • Using an email marketing platform, you also have the ability to view who is opening your email, how many people (and who) clicked through your blast, if they are opening your message on a mobile device or desktop computer, and even what email platform is being used to view your message (i.e., Yahoo, Outlook, Mac Mail, Gmail, etc.). This helps you to determine what to deliver by being able to view the behavior of what your audience is interacting with.

    As you can see, Email Marketing provides an unlimited amount of resources, flexibility, and an overall front seat to your customers. So what’s holding you back? You’ve got the cards in your hands, now it’s just time to add the King.

  7. Conquer LinkedIn In Just 10 Minutes A Day

    You’re a businessperson. Your phone probably rings 10 times before 9:30 AM, and you can’t even bear to look at your e-mail lest another crisis arrive signed with a frantic, “Best.” I understand — you’ve got a full to-do list. The last thing you need to do is get involved with social media, even though your marketing team is practically begging you to (that’s one of the unanswered emails in your inbox, isn’t it?)

    Social media can seem overwhelming at times and it may constantly fall to the darkest corner of your priority list. But guess what? It’s not going away anytime soon. Social media sites such as LinkedIn have become the way to increase your personal and professional online presence, create new business opportunities, and stay up to date on the “need to know” in your industry. Don’t let yourself fall behind the pack simply because you think you don’t have time.

    In a good day, you have maybe 15 minutes to hop up from your desk to grab a snack, a glass of water, or take a brisk walk before your legs fall off from sitting for too long. The good news is it only takes up to 10 minutes a day to create a following on LinkedIn!

    Is This Really Necessary?

    Short answer: Yes.

    Why do you need to be on LinkedIn? Because your peers are. Because more and more every day, it’s where connections are being made, deals are being closed, and opportunities are arising. And its use is evolving all the time.

    LinkedIn is for Professionals

    LinkedIn isn’t like Twitter or Facebook. You don’t have to whip out a clever quip in 140 characters or less. LinkedIn posts don’t lose relevancy in the blink of an eye. You don’t have to impress your followers with photos of all the influential and awe-inspiring people you’re meeting on a daily basis. LinkedIn is a place filled with people just like you. Businesspeople and professionals log on to share information about their companies, their professional lives, their industry knowledge — basically all of the things that you’re already thinking of 24 hours a day. So why not?

    Let’s Get Efficient

    If you haven’t already, download the LinkedIn app on your smartphone or tablet. Go ahead, I’ll wait….

    You know those times when you’re standing in line at Chipotle, sitting on mute on a conference call, or stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the interstate? These are all times when you are inevitably on your handheld device anyway, so log onto LinkedIn for 10 minutes and engage! Pulse (LinkedIn’s recommended news channel that automatically appears on your homepage) will do all the searching for you. It shows you articles that it knows you’ll be interested in.

    Tap an article, skim through it, and if you like it, share it! Let the author know that it was an insightful read or that it related to a problem that you just had the other day. Trust me, authors love your comments (No, really. We do. Wink.) and they’ll never be annoyed at hearing how their article impacted your day or even if you disagree with every point they’re making and think they’re full of bologna. The point is to start a conversation, even if you only have 10 minutes to do so.

    You Can Contribute Too

    Let’s kick it up just one more notch before you go back to all of your responsibilities.

    How to add a post on LinkedIn

    Got a blog post or article that you’ve written? LinkedIn has these handy “posts” where you can dust off that old content and repurpose it in a great way. Simply hover over the text box where you would normally post an update and click the pencil icon. Here, you can copy and paste content from a previous piece that you have published (just make sure to give credit and link back to the original source). Now, you’re not just commenting on others’ hard work, but adding to the pot as well!

    Now, businessmen and women just like you waiting in line for a delicious burrito can take 10 minutes, skim your article, and let you know what they thought about it. You may even make some new connections out of the deal.

    Just 10 Minutes a Day

    You probably read this article during today’s downtime, so I totally understand if you start tomorrow. But the next time you find yourself waiting around, pull up the LinkedIn app for just 10 minutes. Engage with content. Post your own! Add it into your daily routine. You’ll find that creating an active presence on LinkedIn isn’t nearly as time consuming (or pointless!) as you thought it was.

  8. The Top 5 2014 List Posts to Ring in the New Year

    It’s my favorite time of year: List time.

    Best of, worst of, top-selling, funniest, weirdest, most viral – I love those compact, summarizing, quick-hit catalogues of cool.

    When I was little, I read The Guinness Book of World Records cover to cover. It was my favorite Christmas gift. As an adult, I’m a grocery store, housework honey-do, holiday shopping, bucket list kind of person, so when you put anything on a list, I will probably read it. I especially can’t wait for those annual who-said-what, who-watched-who and what-sucked-most list posts because they’re a mind-blowing reminder of how fast 365 days actually pass by (the Olympics were a few months ago? Really?).

    List Posts = Efficiency

    How to Enjoy List Posts

    On social media and blogs, list posts are the most read social posts. There is so much content out there that searching for quick answers to your questions can be overwhelming. Because of this, simple, digestible bullet points are rewarded. When sifting through millions of Google results or clicking through to find out the 4 Steps to Creating a Marketing Strategy, people are more likely to take a look at this concise dose of facts than a vague title that…well…sounds loooong. Sad, but true. And when it comes to list posts, laziness is good. It is a promise of efficiency.

    So, my lazy and nostalgic friends, I give you my 5 Favorite “Best of 2014 Lists” List (listception!).

    1. The most popular “word” in 2014 was not a word at all; it was an emoji. A heart-shaped one, to be exact. This “word” barely edged out Ebola, which makes it a little less upsetting that our most popular word wasn’t even a word.
    2. The best advertisements of the year featured people acting “like a girl,” Bill Gates dumping ice water on his head, and Matthew McConaughey acting weird normal.
    3. Of course we were appalled every day on social media about something “important” so why not make an Outrage List? Take for instance, on July 2 we found out that Facebook was doing mood experiments on us without our knowledge and on October 21 we were abuzz by Renee Zellweger’s new eyes! Yes. We. Were.
    4. The Top Ten Viral Videos of the year include a couple of my favorites, such as Emma Stone’s lip sync battle with Jimmy Fallon and President Obama on “Between Two Ferns,” but how did I miss the video with the Lion King cast on the New York subway? Wow!
    5. 2014 was the year many people tried to “break the internet” and the Masters of Photoshop were very bored…I mean…busy.

    What lists are you reading to ring in the new year?

    P.S.: I still can’t believe Pharrell’s hat was 2014. It seems like that was so 2013!

  9. SEO: 2014 in Review and New Year’s Resolutions

    If there’s one constant in the world of SEO, it’s that there is no constant. Between algorithm updates, best-practice tips, and users modifying how they search for information, you can always count on something changing.

    This past year may not have brought as many huge upheavals in search engine optimization practices as in years before, but there were still some pretty significant SEO changes from 2014 that are worth noting.

    SEO Changes in 2014

    This list isn’t exhaustive by any means, but I’ve included some of the highlights and biggest SEO changes 2014 brought. I would say let’s put the past behind us and start prepping for 2015, but in order to effectively do that we need to know what changed this past year!

    search strategy

    • Guest blogging: Just say, “No.” That’s not to say you can’t ever utilize guest blogging, but make sure you’re following best practices. Over time it has become more of a spammy practice, and it’s not nearly as reputable or effective as it used to be. As Matt Cutts shares, “A trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behavior remains.”
    • Google’s 100% secure search: Have you seen that “Not Provided” keyword section in your Google Analytics, yet? You’ll be hard-pressed not to; more than 80% of Google traffic is lumped into this section now.
    • Google+ Authorship demise: Google Authorship, what was once a promoted and driving force in G+ land, went away. The authorships program originally lost author photos, and then Google did away with it altogether.
    • Mobile emphasis: Have you thought about responsive web design, yet? You should, if for no other reason than Google emphasizing its importance. When users are scrolling through SERPs on a smartphone, a new “mobile friendly” tag now appears next to websites that are responsive.
    • Panda 4.0: Beware poor content! If you want to have a site that’s user friendly, then make it user-friendly – this includes the copy on the site.
    • Pigeon: Local search got a refresh with this algorithm, which focuses on distance and location ranking parameters. It aims to deliver a relevant experience for those searching for local results.
    • Penguin 3.0: Designed to target sites that are spammy, this update was a major release for sites that had been penalized in the past. It provided the opportunity to submit a reconsideration request and maybe get on Google’s good side again.

    Make SEO Resolutions for 2015

    2015 SEO trends

    Now that we’re caught up to speed on some of the biggest SEO changes that happened this year, let’s start prepping for 2015.

    • Remember the intent of the searcher: Thanks to the Hummingbird algorithm, phrases and keywords in SEO don’t hold as much weight. Google looks at actual search intent. When crafting content, bear in mind that your audience probably isn’t simply looking for “flowers” around Valentine’s Day. They’re most likely searching for results using phrases like: “Valentine’s Day bouquets,” “fast delivery for Valentine’s flowers,” “Valentine’s Day flower specials,” etc…
    • Check your site’s structure: Think of a house. Even if all the cosmetics are in place and there’s new paint on the walls, if the structure is rotting and the foundation has cracks in it, at some point you’re going to have major issues. The same remains true with a site’s URL and coding structure. Take the time to make sure the coding is clean and the URL structure is streamlined and organized.
    • Quality, not quantity: It doesn’t matter if you have 1,000 back links if only 5 of them are reputable, trust-worthy, and viewed as an authority in your field and industry. However, if you only have 250 back links and 200 of them are authoritative and trust-worthy, your site is much better off.
    • Responsive Design: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – having a responsive website is becoming more and more important. You have to think about the entire user experience now, not just how a site looks and performs on a desktop. Google has already penalized sites that provide a bad mobile experience.

    That’s the basic game plan for 2015, though there’s much more that can be done and should be done to help ensure your site is at the top of its game (and SERPs) for the New Year.

  10. The Social Snowball Effect: Why No One Sees Your Facebook Posts

    You may be thinking to yourself, “Why doesn’t anyone care about the content I’m posting to my company Facebook page? I’m not getting any likes. No comments. No one is sharing my stories. What are all of my fans doing out there? Are they ignoring me?”

    Whoa, there. Back up a few steps. Facebook isn’t kicking you to the curb. It’s much more likely that you’re seeing the results of the social media site’s many algorithms that affect what users see in their news feeds.

    Facebook carefully filters the content displayed in each user’s newsfeed – both crafted to its standards and with your fans’ interests and behaviors in mind. But before you angrily close out of this window declaring Facebook the enemy, know that there are ways to increase engagement on your business’ Facebook page, get it in front of more eyes, and create content that your followers want to see.

    Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm

    The Facebook algorithm’s methodology is right alongside the many search engine optimization updates you’ve been hearing about. It’s developed to show users content that they actually want to see. Pay attention to the old sales adage: “Everyone likes to buy, no one likes to be sold.” Users know the difference between being sold to and wanting to purchase and engage because they’re viewing content that is crafted to help or entertain them.

    No one likes to be sold to!

    Directly from Facebook’s FAQs:

    “The stories that show in your News Feed are influenced by your connections and activity on Facebook. This helps you to see more stories that interest you from friends you interact with the most. The number of comments and likes a post receives and what kind of story it is (ex: photo, video, status update) can also make it more likely to appear in your News Feed.”

    Facebook’s algorithm rewards well-performing posts that include dynamic content (photos, videos, articles, links). As more people interact with your post, your reach will continue to grow – just like a snowball!

    The bottom line: Facebook wants you to create good content that is useful to your followers.

    Increase Your Reach Organically

    There are a few things you can do to get your Facebook posts in front of more eyes before pulling out your wallet.

    1. Remind your employees to “Like” your business page.
    2. Encourage employees to engage with content that is posted. Incentivize Likes, shares, and comments with gift cards and random acts of appreciation. The more engagement a post receives, the more likely it is to appear within the feeds of your followers’ Facebook friends.
    3. Take a look at the types of content you are posting. Facebook incentivizes posts with photos, videos, articles, and links. It’s not so keen on text posts or posts that are overly sales-oriented. Just remember: people will want to share your content if you make it shareable.
    4. Engage with your existing followers. Create conversations, ask questions, and respond to comments, reviews, and messages.

    Use Paid Facebook Advertising

    Using paid ads on Facebook is a great way to give your follower count a little boost and increase post engagement at the same time. Remember to properly target your ads — take a look at your existing demographic and target similar people. They are more likely to be interested in what you have to say and will become highly engaged followers who are more likely to see your posts on a regular basis.

    Paid advertising does not have to cost you an arm and a leg. Every month or so, dedicate some extra money to a special campaign you’re running. Or test different types of content to see what performs better with your target demographic. Paid ads are a great way to gain insight on what is working and what you should avoid.

    Facebook Isn’t the Enemy

    Increasing your Facebook engagement is a process that takes time to perfect. Don’t expect to see immense change overnight. You may see small growth at first, but like a snowball rolling down a hill, this growth will only continue to expand over time as long as you continue to post compelling content & encourage engagement with your followers.

    Above all else, create content that your followers want to Like, share, and comment on. Engage them in conversations, make them laugh, inspire them. And sometimes, sneak in a sale, announce a great deal, or ask for a newsletter signup.

    Facebook’s algorithm isn’t the enemy; it’s a tool to create a better experience for your followers!