Welcome to the New Age: Marketing’s Adaptation to the World Wide Web

Being a part of the “Millennial” generation, I can proudly say that I have experienced both the new and old way of doing things in life. As a proud 90’s kid, I still remember what life was like before the age of the World Wide Web and high end technology at the fingertips of consumers. For me, growing up with hand held electronics was closely associated with the game Simon and beep, bop and boop noises.

Now things have changed and we are closer to living in a world that only science fiction had dreamed about. In this day and age, everything has changed regarding technology. For the most part, it seems that people have a mobile device that allows them to stay communicated to the outside world through videos, social media and pictures. So yes, there has been a great deal of change since the 90’s. The most interesting aspect in all this change is how marketing strategies have changed to keep up with the consumer world.

Back before the social media boom that happened in the last ten years, marketing to consumers seemed to follow a standard formula that worked for the most part. Sales and print advertising were two highly successful methods of reaching consumers and persuading them to consider purchasing a specific product. If not speaking with someone first hand, you would read about a discount in the newspaper, a magazine or even a flyer stuck on your windshield.

Now, a new formula is being used that has changed the game entirely. Marketing has found that the most successful way to reach people is online through websites due to the frequency of how many people use the internet on a daily basis. The difference in methods is that people are being sold to through social media sites. Every day, people at some point will scroll through their News Feed on Facebook and Twitter to see what is new in their world. Coming from a business standpoint, it’s the easiest way to put a small post about a weekend sale, new product or event happening. Even for a brief moment, a follower will glance at this post and that’s what truly matters.

A key aspect to marketing that many companies use to reach consumers is through online engagement. While technically not sales, these are simple interactions with a consumer, and engagement through Facebook and Twitter can improve someone’s view towards a company.

There are several benefits to utilizing this type of marketing strategy from a business standpoint. First, interacting with followers provides the opportunity for real time updates about the company and any programs currently in place. That means the consumer is able to see what is happening right now, as opposed to looking at a newspaper ad that has been in circulation for the past month. The next and most lucrative aspect is cost. Every business is continuously looking for ways to turn a profit and cut down on quarterly spending. Through online interaction, a company is eliminating paying for advertisement design, printing and distributing to the masses. Online engagement comes at the cost of your electric and internet bill (we will let you break those numbers down), or the cost of a social media manager (which is usually significantly less than print advertising). Lastly, the value of interaction and what it does for potential consumers. Online engagement at its core is just a conversation with a hint of sales. Having a real person communicate with a real customer can have endless positive outcomes. Through engagement, a company can communicate with people on a daily basis and simply check-in to see how they are doing. Selling to a customer should be done lightly. The last thing a company wants to do is spam someone’s feed because that will quickly translate into people unfollowing a company.

Engagement is much different than old timey methods of “spray and pray” advertising. This method makes a consumer feel recognized as a person and not a sales target. In sales terms, engagement is a different take on approaching customers. For example, humor can be used in a very successful way to interact and keep a brand fresh in someone’s mind. Netflix has most notably conquered this technique by constantly engaging with customers and even joking with them using witty responses and references. In one particular case, Netflix approached a customer complaint as a make believe Captain of the Netflix ship, and maintained character through the conversation with the customer. As a result the customer was so taken back by the service provided by Netflix, they posted the online conversation to a blog, which later received a fairly large amount of attention from people all over the world. That is a true testament to the lengths of what good online engagement can do for a company.

What this all means is that the world of marketing has changed in a very big way. It has transitioned from a slow moving buggy into a face paced advertising machine that is all about precision marketing to consumers. Yes, print advertising still works, but it’s cold and impersonal. Online marketing through social media has proven time and time again that interacting with people as a company has a much more beneficial outcome not only for business but the overall brand.

Running Contests for Repeat Customers

So you’re looking for a way to reach new fans and potential customers on your Facebook page. Have you considered running a Facebook contest on your business page? For a long time, Facebook only allowed contests to be run through third-party applications. but now they are allowing any business with a Facebook page to run their own contest. Before actually starting your contest, there are a few steps you should go through in order for yours to be successful.

Running a contest just because you can will not provide you the results you are looking for. What is your ultimate goal for the contest? Do you want more engagement on your page, more likes or both? What about adding to your email list or introducing a new product or service you plan on rolling out? When you figure out exactly what you want to accomplish, it will be easier to find the right kind of contest to run. There a numerous types of contests to run and here are a few popular ones.

  • A sweepstakes contest is great way to gather more email addresses. People give their name and email address to enter in a drawing for your product or a gift card. Make sure that the prize is relevant to your business. One downfall of this kind of contest is there is little engagement on your Facebook page, but you can build your email list rapidly.
  • A photo contest allows fans to upload a picture to your Facebook wall. The contest could be held around a holiday, theme or something that pertains to your business. You can either pick a random winner or have people ‘Like’ the photos and the person with the most Likes wins. You can also use video instead of picture of that makes more sense for your business. For example, if you’re a flower shop, you could run a contest around Christmas time and have people upload a picture of their front door wreath. The picture that gets the most likes wins a gift card. By using this type of contest, people will get their friends to like your page and like their photo to help them win.
  • Asking a trivia question is another great way to build some engagement. You can ask a question about your business, industry or even location. The more specific the question, the more likely people will want to answer. You can also choose a random winner or have the first person to answer be the winner. For example, if you are a record store, make a contest to win a new album and ask a trivia question about the band.

One thing to keep in mind is to keep your prizes tied to your business. This can turn Facebook fans into repeat customers. If someone wins one of your products as a prize, hopefully they will love it and buy more! Sure, a Visa gift card might seem like a great prize, but it has nothing to do with your business so after the contest is over people are more likely to stop following you.

Have you entered a company’s contest before? What did you like or dislike about how the company ran it?

The Impact of Social Media on SEO

Social media has billions of users across platforms such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn. And we’ve all heard the saying that “content is king,” so don’t forget about the bloggers. Today, there is a blog for absolutely anything you’re interested in. Everyone and anyone is a critic, expert, photographer, videographer, journalist or authority due to the popularity of social media and mobile apps.

So what does this have to do with your business? Everything. It’s a no-brainer that social media should be part of your business plan, not only because it will impact your sales but also your SEO. While backlinks are still important, social media signals should not be overlooked. In fact, seven of the ten most important SEO factors come from social media! Let’s take a look at how social media, content and SEO all work together to transform your online marketing strategy.

Create quality content that people love. 92% of marketers say content creation is either “somewhat effective” or “very effective” for SEO. When writing a blog, you should consider three things: is this helpful, does this solve a problem and is this relevant? Your content needs to be valuable and shareable in order to engage people, and it needs to be original and high-quality in order for it to rank well with Google.

Engagement increases your rankings. Google+1s increase both your visibility and credibility, and a report from Searchmetrics states that Google+ has the highest impact on SEO ranking. What are other social indicators that help? Facebook shares, Facebook total, Facebook comments, Facebook likes, tweets and Pinterest are all in the top social factors. It isn’t enough to simply be posting on social media, you need to be engaging in order to increase your rankings. Here’s a quick fact for you: tweeting cuts indexation time by 50%!

Build trust. How relevant is your page content to the keyword query of your visitor? Google looks for authority (the number and quality of the links that point at your pages) and relevancy (keywords) when determining search results. A keyword-rich profile is the first step on all of your social media platforms.

Develop relationships. Connecting with your audience helps build your online authority and also creates long-lasting relationships. These relationships can transform into online brand advocates and ambassadors that will help spread the word about your brand to their own communities.

Linked content. When trying to build your brand and authority, having well-known and trusted websites link to you is one of the best ways to gain trust and respect. Think about it as a type of online “celebrity endorsement” vouching for the validity of your business. Keep your content easily shareable by adding social media links on your pages, because you want to make it as easy as possible for people to share your content.

If you’ve been avoiding adding social media to your SEO plan, now is the time to reconsider. Social media is now an integral piece in the SEO puzzle. Social shares, presence and high quality content cannot be ignored any longer. If you need help with your SEO and social media strategy, contact us today!