Vibrantly Social Blog

Vibrantly Social is a insider's guide to using best practices in the dynamic field of internet marketing. The tips, strategies and tactics found here will help propel your business into the vibrant stratosphere!


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How Digital Marketing Definitely Gives Your Small Business a Competitive Edge

Digital marketing is critical for your small business.

 

Digital marketing can be overwhelming – and it’s constantly changing. But if you don’t join in, you’ll be left behind and your competitors will gain the advantage.

 

Social media is the top marketing channel used by small businesses. According to a study conducted by BIA Kelsey, more than three-quarters (77.6%) of small and mid-sized businesses use social media as their primary marketing strategy. But, less than one-third (32%) seriously invest in digital marketing – giving your business an opportunity right now.

 

When it comes to digital marketing, one thing I hear small businesses often wonder about is how can they compete with large companies who have big budgets and lots of staff.

 

The answer in one word. Strategy.

 

Small and mid-sized businesses have to be strategic about how they approach digital marketing. In this 15-part series about digital marketing strategy, we are going to deconstruct digital marketing strategy and give you some pointers how you can develop your own competitive digital marketing strategy.

 

Digital marketing strategy and planning is not an overnight activity. It requires a serious investment in time, effort and creativity. And, once you have your competitive strategy developed, you will be in a position to leverage that strategy to invest in marketing your business to achieve the highest ROI possible.

 

Here are the 15 steps to a competitive digital marketing strategy - and how you can compete in today's marketplace using online marketing strategies. 

 

1. Goal-setting

When it comes to marketing your small business, there are lots of strategies and tactics that can be used. The more complicated your marketing, the more it will cost. In order to keep your investment low and get the best ROI, you need to focus on your goals and outcomes. What is the number 1 thing you are trying to achieve? Are you trying to increase brand awareness? Drive traffic to your site? Generate leads? Generate sales? All of the above? Start by getting crystal clear on the result you’re looking for.

 

2. Social media research & listening

One of the most powerful ways social media can benefit your business – and give you a competitive edge, even over big business – is to use it to research and “listen” to your customers. Used right, it can help you hear and act on opportunities that will delight your customers better or help you identify a competitive niche. It can also help you recognize and address issues with your online reputation. How well is your business using the power of the internet to research and listen to your target audience?

 

3. How much money should you spend on digital marketing?

There are many factors to consider when determining your digital marketing budget. In order to make an informed decision, you need to know your customer lifetime value (CLV) and customer acquisition cost (CAC.)

 

4. Do you have an irresistible offer?

The internet is a noisy, busy place. There are tons of distractions and competition for the attention of your customers. Your offer has to be so attractive that it stops your potential customers dead in their tracks and makes them want to learn more. Is your offer irresistible?

 

5. Can your business fulfill on your offer or upsell?

Here’s the thing. Marketing is an essential part of doing business. But you have to be careful because if you invest (and you have someone who knows how to do it right), you WILL bring in new business. Is your business ready to handle an influx of customers? Do you have a plan in case your business scales quickly? Just make sure you are ready!

 

6. Are you clear about who you’re marketing to?

You have to know who your ideal customers are. You have to know their deepest desires, what obstacles they are encountering, and how your offer is the perfect solution for them.

 

7. Do you have a compelling message?

When it comes to marketing, messaging – and how you communicate that message – is EVERYTHING. Your message is how you communicate your unique position in the marketplace. If your message isn’t clear and confident, people won’t “get it” and respond.

 

8. Online presence assessment

You have to start from where you are. What digital marketing assets do you have in place already? What is the quality of your online presence? Do you have a sales funnel in place? How well is it working?

 

9. Website assessment

Your website is your key online property. You can drive traffic to it all day and all night, but if it isn’t able to convert that traffic into leads and /or sales, it isn’t working for you. How do you know if your website is ready for you to drive traffic to it? What are the do’s and don’t’s of an effective website?

 

10. Do you have a sales funnel?

Have you built an online sales funnel? What does your customers’ buying journey through your sales funnel look like? Do you have all of the pieces of a successful marketing funnel set up and functioning?

 

11. Do you have a content marketing strategy? (Lead magnets, graphics, photographs, epublications, educational content, blogging, email marketing, video marketing, Infographics, etc.)

Consumers no longer will tolerate being “sold to.” So, as marketers, we have had to change our tactics. Interactive technologies (think mobile devices), evolving media consumption and a growing demographic diversity have made content marketing essential for most businesses. How well is your business performing when it comes to content and media on your website, social media, blog, etc?

 

12. Are you using social media for your advantage?

Are you marketing on the right social media channels? How do you know? How many should you be focusing on? What’s right for your business? Are you harnessing the power of social media marketing for you business?

 

13. Are your online advertising strategies cost effective? (Facebook ads, Google Adwords, advertising on other social platforms)

More and more, online marketing is becoming a “pay to play” world. Are you ready to jump in and make use of digital advertising opportunities? How much should you spend? How can you keep your online marketing costs down while still achieving your goals?

 

14. Do you have a consistent email marketing (and autoresponder) strategy?

Email marketing is the #1 way to generate leads and sales using digital marketing campaigns. Do you have an autoresponder set up on your website and social platforms to capture email addresses and build your subscriber list? Do you have a drip campaign that engages and excites your potential customers? How effective is your ongoing email campaign?

 

15. Are you taking advantage of the evaluative data capabilities of digitization?

 

Understanding your customers, their behaviors, the effectiveness of your marketing and how well your strategy is working are all compelling reasons to track, measure and analyze your metrics. Marketing is an art – and a science. Gathering and analyzing data for your company will make all the difference in the success of your online marketing efforts.

 

Want to learn more about how Vibrant Digital VA can help you determine the best digital marketing strategy for your business? Learn more here

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How to Write Intriguing Blog Posts People Will Absolutely Want to Read



Writing a blog post that your target audience will want to read is challenging. As a matter of fact, 80% of web content is never read. (Copyblogger, 2014.) It takes time and effort to write a blog post; it is discouraging to think that no one will ever benefit from the enlightening information and perspective you have worked so diligently to provide your audience.


Note: I've uploaded this post as a FREE handout - go to the end of this article for the download.

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58 Business Niches That Need Social Media Managers

FREE DOWNLOAD (.PDF)

 

New social media managers often ask me what businesses need the most social media marketing help. So I asked my Social Media SMMgrs Pro colleagues for help - and here's what we came up with!

 

While these may be the top categories of businesses that came up in our conversations, honestly, ANY service-oriented business is at the top of the list.

 

To be honest, we can't think of very many businesses that don't need a strong online presence.

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10 Ways Internet Marketing Will Help Grow Your Business

Internet marketing is the future of marketing; a future defined and led by risk-takers.

You have the opportunity to be at the forefront of the transformation.

 

Here are 10 ways that internet marketing can have a positive impact on your business and will help your business grow.

1. Increase brand awareness and recognition of your company.

2. Help you get your business found by potential customers

3. Gain and keep the attention of your potential customers

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How to Write a Professional Bio

A bio is a short, concise statement that quickly communicates who you are and what you do. Upload your bio to your website and other social media networking sites as needed.

 

A bio is used to let people know who you are and why they should listen to you.  It is different from a biography, which is a long version (i.e. a book) about you.  A bio is becoming more important as its use on the internet increases.  Make sure your bio sells you and brings out your personal brand. 

 

You will need to post a bio on your website or guest post blog, when publishing an article or giving a presentation.  Other uses include job applications or general networking.  A bio is a short, concise statement that quickly communicates who you are and what you do.


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How to Respond to a Negative Online Review

If you’re like most businesses, a negative review can seem devastating. You want customers to have a perfect experience at your establishment, every time. Take a deep breath and relax – there are strategies for handling online reviews and recovering customer loyalty in a way that can actually benefit your store in the long run.


Here are some strategies for handling negative online reviews:

 

1. Ensure you have a system for monitoring all of your social media and communication channels (email, mail, web, social media, mobile & QR codes.) Make sure you keep abreast of what is being posted about your restaurant online. A timely response shows the reviewer – and prospective clients who read the review and your response – that you are sincerely interested in your customers and are actively involved in your business. A prompt response also prevents the negativity from lingering and raising questions in the minds of your prospective customers.

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Be Vibrant with Vine

Chances are, if you spend any time on social networks, you've heard of Vine. Vine is the 6 second looped video sharing app that has taken the world by storm. The app allows you to film short sequences and loops them together for a total of 6 seconds.

 

The concept of vine is to film very short, separate instances of images. The app will guide you as you film 1 to 2 second sequences. Vine will then put those shots together to form your "vine", which you can upload directly to Twitter.

 

The good folks over at Ghergich & Co. have teamed up with SurePayroll to create a very helpful infographic that will help you maximize your impact on Vine.

 

With over 8,330 vines shared each minute, five vines tweeted every second and over 40 million users, Vine is a social site prime for your content and message. 

 

Feel free to download and share this infographic!

 

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Why Does My Business Need an Online Presence?

 

One of the most common questions businesses pose is "why should I be investing in my presence online? This is an important question that needs to be addressed.


1. Customers prefer companies with a strong online presence.

First of all, you need an online presence because your customers prefer businesses that have a positive online presence, and the more vibrant the online communities, the better. Customers will compare your website, social networks, testimonials and reviews, and other elements of your online presence with your competitors and usually choose the company they "like" the best.


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How to Prepare for Client leads




In response to repeated requests for "how do you land social media clients?" I've decided to share my "secrets."


 

Recently I landed 3 new clients in 2 days. I received the leads from Galena Jenkins Ojiem's "Your Daily Vitamin" Job Alerts, which I highly recommend. Another great source of leads that I depend on is Thumbtack.com. Of course, nothing replaces consistent networking through local networking groups, joining professional organizations that serve people who are your potential clients, and maintaining a presence on social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.


But once you've found (or generated) a potential lead, what do you do next? It's best to be ready to respond to whatever information the client is requesting or seems relevant to the job posting. Here are the materials I keep updated and close at hand.

 

1. Update your resume. Here's an example (mine) which could be fancier. If you need help preparing a resume, there are lots of resources on the web. The one strong piece of advice I have is to tailor your job title to the job you want. In this example, I used "Social Media and Content Strategy Manager." Honestly, I have about 20 different versions of this resume that I can pick and choose from, depending on the needs of the client.

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Social Media Tool Review: Unroll.Me


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Business Success Includes Restoration

Relax at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge
Relaxation & Connection

 

Like many Pacific Northwesterners, my family of origin were pioneers that travelled the Oregon Trail. My family has relics and journals that memorialize the treacherous journey. They settled in the Oregon Territory and became judges, teachers, builders and farmers. The one thing my family members all had in common - they worked extremely hard. And, when it was time, they enjoyed the "fruits of their labors."


Although it is a Biblical reference, I find it a fitting principle to apply to business. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to do just that - spend the day out having fun and taking care of myself. After several weeks of a "grindstone" work schedule, I was way past due for some rest and relaxation.

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What Does a Social Media Coach Offer?

Tsunami of Social Media Marketing
Tsunami of Social Media

Social media combines three things I love - marketing, technology and, best of all, being social. I've been using social media for business since the late 1990's (yes, back when forums and instant messaging were brand new) and I've learned through experimenting and sharing with others as we explored the new horizons of marketing on the internet.

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WordPress Security

WordPress Computer Hacker
WordPress Hacker

 

WordPress was attacked last week by an internet "superbot." Several hosting providers such as CloudFare and Host Gator discovered the attacks, which targeted at least 90,000 IP addresses.

"One of the concerns of an attack like this is that the is using a relatively weak botnet of home PCs in order to build a much larger botnet of beefy servers in preparation for a future attack."

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-04-admin-password-wordpress.html#jCp
"One of the concerns of an attack like this is that the is using a relatively weak botnet of home PCs in order to build a much larger botnet of beefy servers in preparation for a future attack."

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-04-admin-password-wordpress.html#jCp

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How to Grow Your Social Reach

Social Networking Growth through Social Reach
The Social Web

Expanding your social reach may seem a daunting task. There are so many details when it comes to social networking - blogs, website content, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube - the list goes on and on. How do you generate leads using social media besides just publishing more links to your landing pages?

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Every Day is Earth Day

Blue Heron Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge
Blue Heron that lives on the bank facing my houseboat

Every day is Earth Day for me. Living in a houseboat on a wildlife refuge has it's glory moments - and some nusiances (i.e. midges.)

 

But one thing is for sure - I always feel close to nature here. Living right on the water I notice the the way the water constantly changes in color, speed, density, temperature and direction. And how much garbage it transports. 

 

So how are we doing when it comes to protecting the environment?

 

Here's a wonderful article written by environmental experts. Please take a moment to inform yourself - and then do something to help make things better. 

 

Whatever Happened To... Earth Day?

 

In what ways are you more aware or do you participate in helping to care for the environment than you were in the past? Are you a "green business?" Would you like more information on becoming green certified?

 

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

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How to Gain Trust and Credibility Online

How to Gain Trust and Credibility Online
Kathleen Gage, Power UP for Profits

"Gaining trust and establishing your credibility takes time, commitment and effort. Truth be told, most people (and yes, I mean most) may try the following ideas for a while, but get sidetracked with the next bright shiny object, discouraged with how long it can take, and wonder why they don’t have success faster than they are experiencing so they give up" says Kathleen Gage, Power UP for Profits.

I recently participated in a lively discussion on her website titled "I've had it with people trying to get something for nothing." In the discussion, people ranted about how tired they are of:

1. Being "duped" by "snake oil" marketers who promise something that they don't deliver

2. Potential or existing customers wanting an "easy" solution to making lots of money or getting marketing services for FREE

3. Potential or existing customers wanting marketing services to "guarantee" their success without having to do much work or spend money.

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What Does Good Blog Writing Look Like?

 

Blog writing is a specialized type of writing. Quality writing is of the essence because top-notch writing can translate into higher revenues.

A good blogger will:

  • Create relevant, unique content that informs the reader and promotes the company services and/or products in a way that is not offensive to the audience.
  • Produce content that is enticing and engaging to visitors, encouraging them to stay on the website and browse.  The longer a visitor stays on the website, the better the chance they will eventually become clients or customers.
  • Produce content that is smart in the use of keywords and is focused on search engine optimization (SEO.)  This means the content must use relevant keywords and phrases that are most likely to be used for search by internet users.  Using relevant keywords in a genuine way is the best way to ensure the website is indexed and highly ranked by search engine web crawlers.

Blog posts should focus on core competencies; your business will benefit from specialized knowledge of professional copywriters and editors.

 

A strong blog will include:

  • brand positioning
  • message consulting
  • social media sharing
  • SEO consulting
  • developmental and copy editing
  • proofreading
  • fact checking
  • attractive layout and design.

In time, a well-written, compelling blog will become an important asset for your business as you build your archives. It is important that you invest wisely so that your blog is re-visited over and over, building customers over time. This is one feature of your online presence that you do not want to skimp on.

 

For more information about Vibrant's blogging services, visit here.

 

Do you have a blog? Are you maximizing the benefit of your blog for your business? What questions about blog writing do you have?

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Vibrant Website Redesign Underway

Vibrant Internet Marketing Website Redesign

 

 

It took us a long time to get here (we've been so busy with client services) but we've finally launched our new website redesign. Inspired by the beautiful sites of our clients, we've known for some time that ours just wasn't cutting it.

 

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Social Media Trends for 2013

Social Media Trends

 

Everyone’s talking about it – the internet has forever changed the way we advertise and interact with customers and each other. In order to maintain your business in the future, you WILL need to have and sustain an attractive, user-friendly, easy-to-understand online presence.

 

As technology changes and internet use increases, certain trends emerge. Here are the trends that we are starting to see in 2013:

New Emphasis on Social Search

The algorithms that are used by Google and other major search engines have changed. They have incorporated social media into their design. With the advent of Social Graph Search, Facebook will likely provide significantly different search results. Google uses pages and link popularity primarily, but Facebook Graph Search relies on virtual representations of real world objects – people, places and things. It uses Facebook Likes in its algorithm design. Here is more information about the differences between Google Search and Facebook Social Search.

 

Visual Images Now Drive Online Traffic

Humans are, for the most part, visual creatures. This is demonstrated by the phenomenal popularity of sites like Flickr, Pinterest and Instagram, where you can find and share images you like. And now new platforms are getting in on the action. Here’s one that helps people visit / host visitors. Airbnb.

 

For businesses, this means you need to make it easy for visitors to edit and share images. Make sure you are using high resolution images and use tags to help people find what they’re looking for. For more ways to incorporate a visual strategy into your social media mix, check out this article from WindMillNetworking.

 

Content is Still King

You might have heard that content is king when it comes to internet marketing. And this is SO true. There is so much “noise” on the internet that you have to be relevant, easy to understand and entertaining for people to want to read your material. Contact me if you would like help in this area – online marketing content is my specialty! Here’s more about Vibrant’s writing services. Visit my free downloads to see writing samples.

 

Social Devices

Devices that will help us use the internet to stay connected will continue to sell well in the future. Tablet and iPad sales were a bright spot in holiday sales during December 2012, and this trend will continue. Make sure your website is mobile and Apple compatible (not sure if yours is or need help with this? Contact us!) and continue to provide relevant, dynamic content that is usable for new devices (i.e. Kindle books for Amazon Kindle users.)

 

Most trends come and go, but the trends highlighted here promise to be trends that will continue for a long, long time in the future. It’s important for business owners to be aware of these trends and integrate them into your online marketing strategy.

 

Are you seeing any of these trends in your industry? What other internet-related trends are you experiencing?

 

 

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Share a Tea Bag in Your Marketing Kit

Marketing Kit Teabag Cover

 

 

Who doesn't love a cup of hot tea, especially during the cold of winter? I love this offline marketing idea and just had to share it with you!

 

Americans love tea - check out this wiki on American Tea Culture. 

 

I'm planning to use Peppermint for this activity because I've never met anyone who didn't like Peppermint tea!

I learned about this idea from Lynsey Jones, Party Plan Divas (check out her awesome site - I'm a total fan!) The idea is to design and print tea bag wrappers to cover teabags and pass out for marketing purposes.

 

Here's the template for you to download. Change the logos and contact information to your own. Don't forget to add your website and QR code to the cover.

 

Purchase boxes of individually wrapped tea bags and fold the printed, cut-out covers over the tea bags. Use a piece of tape or a sticker to close it up. Once covered, you can hand them out in your community as a low-cost promotion.

 

Lynsey suggests passing them out assisted living facilities (you never know who will be visiting), senior communities, child care centers (to be given to the parents and teachers), school teachers lounges, employee break rooms, etc. Consider your target audiences and get creative on where and when to pass out!

 

The best part of this nifty idea - the cost! The cost per teabag is approximately 3 cents for the printed color wrapper and 3 - 5 cents for the tea bag.

 

This is a hard-to-beat and totally cool marketing tip!

 

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What Should a Company Brand Have in Common with Fine Wine?

Friends Enjoying Branding is Fine Wine

 

 

The experience of savoring fine wine, especially with those whose company you relish, is one of life’s great pleasures. So too, finding a brand that you truly love can be a satisfying experience. Comparing a company brand with fine wine is a way to grasp the complexity, essence and style of a well-designed brand.

We are constantly bombarded with advertisements for various brands, and the internet has provided companies with even more ways of influencing potential customers. For a business, this means the competition for customers has multiplied, making it even more important than ever for your brand to stand out and attract potential consumers.


Smooth

Just like a fine wine, a pleasing brand is smooth – easy on the eyes, with no harsh or bitter impressions. When you encounter a quality brand, you instinctively recognize the professionalism and personality behind the brand.

 

Consistent

Consistency, consistency, consistency. All of your marketing needs to remain consistent, including your online and offline marketing strategies. When your brand is inconsistent, it will confuse and lower the impression of your brand, just like inconsistent wine offerings.

 

Appeals to a Certain Consumer

Not all wine appeals to every wine-connoisseur and neither do all brands appeal to all people. Even so, a good brand can be appreciated by everyone. For example, who doesn’t love Coca Cola advertising and branding, even if they don’t drink Coke? In the world of wine, Sutter Home (their White Zinfandel is a favorite of mine) is a winery brand that is favorably recognized worldwide.

 

Presentation

When it comes to wine, presentation is of ultimate importance. That said, a great glass of wine can be enjoyed as much in a plastic cup on a picnic as an elaborate presentation in a fine restaurant. The context of the presentation is important, however, so pay attention to how, when, where and to whom you represent your brand.

 

Old Standbys Stand Out

People prefer brands they know and trust. It takes time and consistency (see above!) to build a brand that people come back to time and again. Seek the services of a professional or do your research to create and sustain a brand that stands the test of time.

 

Pay Attention to the Competition

Competition can enhance your brand. Pay attention to the branding and marketing strategies of other businesses in your industry, and learn from their success as well as mistakes.

 

Uniqueness is Distinct

Top brands recognize that they have to stand out and distinguish their company from others in their industry. There are many ways to do this. One of the reasons I appreciate Sutter Home is because they continue to innovate with a series of environmentally-friendly packaging to enhance their brand position as being “sustainable” and “eco-friendly.”

 

Recommendations are Valued

Everyone appreciates recommendations from people they trust. In today’s highly competitive online marketing universe, building brand advocates is an essential part of having a successful brand. There are lots of innovative ways to do this. Cultivating and educating brand advocates (also known as brand ambassadors or brand agents) is really a new twist on the oldest-known branding strategy – word-of-mouth marketing.

 

Expertise is Cultivated

People clamor to try wine that has be recommended by prominent wine critics. So too, people will listen to your advice once you have established credibility in your industry. How do you become an expert? Here is an article to get you started. “Marketing Strategies to Make You a Celebrity.

 

Improves Over Time

Advertising strategies from past decades appear archaic and old-fashioned. Every brand has to continually stay up with present day practices. Gallo Family Vineyards, a prominent winery, continues to add product lines, celebrity representatives (Sugarbabes singer Heidi Range signed up to be the face of an extensive consumer marketing campaign. She even dyed her hair blonde red in order to promote the new wine.) The brand continues to nurture its partnership with Surfers Against Sewage, a widely recognized environmental charity that works to improve the cleanliness of oceans and rivers.

 

Budget Considerations

Brand marketing campaigns can be costly, but don’t let budget constraints limit your dreams of building a great brand. Investing in a reasonably-priced marketing professional can save you money over time by helping you focus on what truly matters and limiting expensive mistakes. There are lots of resources available – take the time to educate yourself. This is one area where it pays to “do it right the first time.”

 

You don’t have to spend an exorbitant amount of money to have a fine brand. Most companies can benefit from the help and advice of a seasoned marketer. Look for marketers who have fine-tuned their approaches to focus on long-term, sustainable, high-integrity social web investments instead of options that provide immediate superficial returns, with little or no reward of customer loyalty. The fruit of your labors will be worth it in the end!

 

What are your favorite brands? Why do you love them?

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Why Social Media is Revolutionizing Marketing

World of Faces Social Media

Social media marketing is a revolutionary marketing trend that is shifting advertising funds away from traditional marketing avenues such as print, television and radio to social media and other digital outlets.


When you consider that the last major technology invention to revolutionize marketing was the telephone in the 1940’s and 50’s, it is truly mind-boggling to realize the impact social media marketing has – and will continue to have - in our global economy.

 

Social media marketing allows companies to convey information and share resources directly to their target audience via social media networks. This new marketing paradigm builds and promotes brands in a powerful, demonstrable and efficient manner. Social media marketing offers businesses a way to gain access to the people who are most willing and able to connect their product or service to the others who are most likely to be interested.


Social Media Marketing is Social

Humans have a natural need to be social, and this social nature is spilling over into the digital realm. Anthropologists have recognized this as an innate condition to all of us. Social media marketing depends on the inherent desire for its users to be social.  We want to interact with each other, we want to tell stories, and we want to have information available INSTANTLY. The ability to offer businesses and consumers a way to communicate with each other that is interesting, engaging and more relevant than most traditional marketing methods as well as provides information RIGHT NOW is an essential element of its potential.


Social Media Marketing is Considered “Real-Time” Technology

Social media marketing allows a company to grasp at what their core customers are thinking as they think it (called “real-time” technology.)  It provides the opportunity to collect data regarding their target market, but it also gives them the power to communicate with their audience directly. Businesses are able to position their brand online and to gain a large following actually interested in hearing about their products or services.


Social media positions businesses to present who they are, similar to conventional marketing strategies, but also to gain immediate feedback, provide customer service and make adjustments in real-time.


Social Media Marketing Builds Brand Advocates

Word of mouth marketing is the most powerful form of marketing known on the planet. Social media is making it easier for people to share their experiences, thoughts and opinions about their favorite (or unfavorite) brands.  This presents an important shift in marketing – your brand is no longer in the total control of the company – your “brand advocates” have a role in presenting your company to their followers.


Social networks connect highly engaged users within a social sphere in which they have influence and in which they are active participants. With this kind of leverage, it is easy to see why many companies are making major investments toward building social media competency and strategic marketing execution.  Social media marketing makes sense.

 

Businesses Should Consider Investing in Social Media Marketing

The use of social media in the marketplace is still a new phenomenon in terms of marketing trend and the long-term impact still remains to be seen.  There is enough evidence, however, to demonstrate that social media marketing, when executed using key strategies, is a highly effective form of marketing that will only become more entrenched and will claim a larger share of marketing dollars in the future.


Do you think social media marketing is relevant for your business? Why or why not?

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Missing in Action

Woman Thinking
Thinking About YOU, Dear Reader

 

Yes, I know. I’ve been absent from this blog for a while. Yes, I know, I encourage all of you to post regularly. Yes, I know, not blogging is missing out on an important marketing opportunity.

 

All I can tell you is that my creativity has been going into work for my clients. You are my inspiration and watching you succeed is my joy!

 

I’m going to try to post here once a week from here on out, though. So watch for upcoming GREAT material.

 

For now, feel free to view my new ebook “Introduction to Social Media Marketing for Business” or my free downloads. There’s something there for anyone interested in marketing their business using the internet and social media as a tool.

 

Happy 2013 everyone! See you online…

 

Vibrantly,

Vena

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Are You a Ghost Business?

Ghostbusters Image
Don't Be a Business No One Can Find

It is undeniable, the internet has changed the world of business.  The advent of the smartphone and its wide adoption has been a part of the information revolution.  People - customers - no longer use the phone book as the main source of locating products and services. They turn to the internet to find and learn about local businesses.  If your business is not present, it can't be found.

 

A business without a strong online presence is a ghost business because it isn't visible to online search and it's future may be in jeopardy.

 

What constitutes a "strong online presence?" 

 

In order to maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace, every business needs...

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10 Daily Habits for Social Media Marketing Success

Social Media Marketing Made Easy
Social Media Marketing Made Easy

Once you've made the effort to reduce the petty annoyances that were once cluttering the landscape of your worklife, it's time to build a strong foundation for your social media marketing program.

 

The place to start is, of course, with a social media audit and marketing plan

 

Once you have developed your road map you can start your implementation phase.

 

There are ten basic activities that, if implemented daily, will build momentum for your online presence. Select three fifteen-minute time segments that you can spend online. Ideal time-segments are 1) early morning, 2) before lunch and 3) evenings.  Evenings are the most popular Facebook time.

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How To Increase "Likes" on Your Facebook Page

Facebook Like Icon
"Likes" on Facebook

The Facebook "Like" is an important strategy for promoting web content via your Facebook Business Page.  A Facebook "Like" is today's equivalent to signing up for a "listserve."  When a customer "Likes" your Page, they are agreeing to receive content via their news feed and giving you permission to send them future updates. A "Like" will show the user their connected friends who "Like" your Page also, thus encouraging social networking. Facebook "Likes" give a Page owner the opportunity to increase engagement, target referrals and invite recurring traffic to their page.

 

The Facebook Like function is essential for a business website.  A Like button is a convenience for consumers who can "Like" your Page right from your website; it also promotes trusted referrals via social networking.  There is a current debate about the value of a Facebook

Like as compared to a Twitter Tweet.  Most internet marketers would agree a Facebook Like is usually considered to have greater business value as the Facebook user base and Like adoption rate increases.  Facebook users who utilize a Like button visit 5.3x more web URLs to engage with content and, on average, have 2.4x more Friends.  A Facebook Like button on a website gives content creators access to these more socially engaged customers and their networks.

 

In order to increase Facebook Likes for your business Page you need to drive traffic to your Page.  Once traffic is occuring, it's time to convert visitors to fans by gleaning Likes.  Here are suggestions on how to convert viewers to "Likers."

 

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The Right Attitude for Social Media Marketing

There is a concept in the practice of zen that can be very helpful when applied to one's practice of social media marketing.  This concept is called the "beginner's mind." 

 

A beginner's mind is to approach life - and social media marketing - with an open mind, an empty mind, with the attitude that one has much to learn. When we believe we are an "expert" we think of ourselves as an "achiever" and we become over-confident.  As a result, we experience a closed mind.

 

In social media, as in life, there is always much to learn, always new understanding.  Social media marketing is a dynamic, new and exciting way in which businesses can interact with their stakeholders - clients, potential clients, brand advocates, suppliers, staff, investors, distributors, affiliates and anyone one else with a stake in the business.

When we approach social media marketing with an open mind, as if we are a blank slate, we maintain a willingness to learn and grow; we allow our stakeholders, teachers and others show us how to participate in this new way of doing business with a new perspective.

 

A beginner's mind causes us to break out of old habits, old ways of doing things.  A beginner's mind opens us to concepts, thoughts, ideas and possibilities we couldn't imagine otherwise.  When we have the attitude of a beginner's mind, we approach each day as if it is our first day learning new ways of interacting with others and the environment in which we find ourselves.  Having a beginner's mind means we observe before charging ahead, ask questions when we aren't sure, and listen more than we talk.

 

Social media enlightenment is an ongoing learning process.  Over time, you will appreciate your "beginner's mind."

 

What have you done lately to break out of your old tried-and-true methods of marketing / working? 

 

Leave me a comment below - I'd love to hear how you applied your "beginner's mind" and what happened!

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How to Drive Traffic to Your Facebook Page

You’ve gotten your new Facebook (FB) Business Page set up. You have designed a cover (851 x 315 pixels) and a profile thumbnail (180 x 180 pixels) and uploaded them. You’ve set up Permissions, Settings and an Info page. You have a few “Like’s” from your friends and family but aren’t really getting much response from your fans.

 

You’re ready to build your Facebook fan audience and (hopefully) convert some of your fans to customers. How do you get started getting your target customer groups to find and “Like” your FB Business Page, thus becoming Facebook Fans?

 

Here are some of the strategies (and secrets) the social media marketing professionals use to build FB Business Page audiences.

How to Drive Traffic to Your FB Business Page

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Power UP by Taking Care of Petty Annoyances

Woman Overwhelmed
Overwhelmed?

 

 

Everyone has them.  Most people have between 60 and 100 of them.  Petty annoyances; those burrs that get under our skin and wear us down more than we realize.  It's the little things that we know need to be taken care of and bug us every day that are the worst annoyances.  Like the hum of a washing machine in the background, you don't realize how loud it really is until you turn it off.  Lots of petty annoyances drain our energy everyday.

 

 

Common petty annoyances that people tend to put up with:

  • An overflowing inbox
  • Figuring out past-due taxes
  • A tear in a favorite piece of clothing
  • A missing button
  • Scuffed shoes.

Some people tolerate their own bad habits:

  • biting their nails
  • disorganized filing systems
  • letting yourself get distracted online.

Here are some of my online petty annoyances:

  • A dozen or so email subscriptions from which I need to unsubscribe
  • "Friends" on Facebook that aren't really friends that keep trying to sell me things I don't want
  • Finishing touches on my website.

Offline annoyances that slow me down:

  • Forgetting to keep my phone and MP3 player charged
  • Not changing my water filter often enough
  • Forgetting to drink enough water.

 

What is the price of not taking care of petty annoyances?

 

Everything that you are tolerating drains your energy, makes you irritable and wears you down.  It's difficult to be successful when you are tolerating things that add to all of the other responsibilities you incur when you own a business. If you want to be a successful business owner, take the time to eliminate as many petty annoyances as you can.

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Stay On Your Toes - Happy April Fool's Day!

April Fool's Day Clown
April Fool's Day
Happy April
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Online Maps for Business

Microsoft Streets & Trips Map
Microsoft Streets & Trips Map

Smartphone usage is on the rise.  Half of mobile phone subscribers (49.7%) use smartphones, up 36% from last year. (USATodayTech) Of these, 87%  report that they access the internet or email on their device on a daily basis. (PewInternet) I know I do. 

 

This  represents a HUGE opportunity for businesses of all kinds, especially for local businesses.

 

Your business can only be found if it is registered with search engine mapping systems such as Google Maps, Yahoo! Places, MapQuest and Bing Maps.  A surprising number of businesses haven't yet figured out the importance - the NECESSITY! - of being found on internet maps.

 

The first priority for businesses to be found via online maps is to be registered on Google Maps.  Here's the link to get started... Google Places.

 

Getting registered is a fairly straightforward process.  You will need to complete a profile, upload your logo and write a short description of your business.  Google will send you a postcard with a PIN and you will need to login to  verify that your business actually is in the location you are claiming.  After you have confirmed your business location Google will publish your business on Google Maps.

 

Once you have started the registration process with Google Maps, be sure to get listed with Yahoo! Maps and Bing MapQuest.  Here are the links to get you started:  Yahoo! Local, MapQuest and Bing Business Portal. This tutorial guide offers a step-by-step instructions on how to claim or set up a location for your business in Facebook Places. And finally, the Yellow Pages.

 

Should you decide that you would rather have someone else take care of these details for you, Vibrant Internet Marketing will be happy to take care of your online mapping registrations.  Click here for more information.

 

Whether you decide to get your business listed with online mapping systems or prefer to have technical assistance through Vibrant, it is essential that your business is enabled to be found by the growing number of mobile and smartphone users who are your potential customers.

 

Learn more about local listings:  Yahoo! Local Listings

 

The images below link to the get-started page for each directory.  Hope you find this mini-guide helpful!

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How to Power Up Your Internet Marketing

There are two basic approaches to getting what you want in life. Whether you are seeking love, money or attracting clients to your business the principles remain the same.

 

Basic Principles of How to Achieve Success (in life, love, business and marketing) 

 

Principle 1. Set goals and pursue them.

Principle 2. Attract your goal to you.

 

These are the basic equations. Most of us are trained to use the first method but it doesn't always work to try to force things to happen.  The more we try to will things to happen the more frustrated and stressed we become.

 

The second "Law of Attraction" has had a recent renaissance with books like "The Secret" and "Money and the Law of Attraction." No matter what your opinion is about the principle of attraction, by using a systematic approach to both goal setting and attracting your goals you can power up your internet marketing program.  Social media marketing is based on the principle of attracting others to you using a systematic formula. 

 

The basic formula for powering up your internet marketing campaign is this:

 

1. Remove the energy drains that sap you and your internet marketing of its vitality, and

2. Power up activities that increase the vibrancy of your internet marketing - and your business.

 

That's it!

 

Ok, I know it's not that simple.  That's why I'm going to give you more details in the coming days...

 

Here's what we will be examining...

 

How to eliminate those energy drains, such as

 

  • petty annoyances
  • uncompleted tasks
  • bad habits
  • needy client relationships
  • the "shoulds"

And then, once we have eliminated those little things that can affect your marketing in a big way, we will look at energy boosters for your internet marketing.

 

  • 10 helpful social media marketing habits
  • Strong boundaries to protect your reputation
  • Addressing issues
  • Setting standards for your internet marketing program
  • Optimistic challenges
  • Your ideal marketing strategy

and much, much more.

 

A vibrant, healthy internet marketing program starts on the inside, with your daily activities and attitudes, so that's where we will start.

 

I hope you will join me - and other internet marketers - as we power up our online presence!

 

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The Wisdom of the Internet

In the Plex Googe Book Cover
In the Plex Book Cover

"These days people seek knowledge, not wisdom.  Knowledge is of the past, wisdom is of the future."

~Vernon Cooper

 

The wise part of ourselves seeks wisdom.  It is in our nature to seek wisdom and yet, just by the action of seeking wisdom we are wise. The wisdom is in the attitude, the willingness, the humbleness of admitting there is more for us to learn.

 

I am currently listening to the audio book "In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes our Lives" by Wired editor Steven Levy. 

 

The book chronicles how Larry Page and Sergey Brin revolutionized the internet with their brilliant approach to algorithms, and how they built Google from the ground up.  One of the themes of the book relates to the company's guiding principle "Don't Be Evil" and the conflict that ensues when determining the future of Google Search in the Chinese communist world.

The Google founders, as well as the company itself, are complex; oxymorons abound in their policies and personal lives.  Nevertheless, it is clear to me that the wise part of these internet leaders seeks wisdom and believes their contribution to the world - Google search - will enlighten human minds in ways none of us can even imagine.

 

I concur.  Clearly, the internet is changing everything about our lives in ways none of us could have ever anticipated.  While the internet itself is driven by machines, it is the imagination - the wisdom - of the human spirit that truly leads the changes.

 

Social media marketing is changing the way customers locate, select, engage with and refer brands to others.  Are you participating in the revolution of the internet?  Is your business fully on board with the changes?  Is the wise part of you seeking the wisdom that is available to you to improve your business using internet marketing?

 

How has the internet impacted the way you look for goods and services?  How are you using the internet to interface with the brands you like? Are you engaging with your customers fully using the power of the internet?

 

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Social Media Marketing Is About Relationships

Social Media Heart Image
Social Media Relationships

Social media marketing is about relationships. The journey of becoming and being a social media marketer is unique for each marketer and yet depends on others. It involves seeking, constructing, and reconstructing meanings about our individuality as human beings and how this is expressed in our work and lives as marketers. This process calls on us to know our personal and professional identities. It is about developing our personal and professional identities, which we know are both real and true for us.

 

To be a social media marketer, then, is about building authentic connections with oneself, both as a marketer and as a person — that is, nurturing what we call intra-connectedness. But it also involves developing authentic inter-connectedness with others, with the world around us, and with our personal place and presence in time.

 

 

 

Vibrantly yours,

Vena

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Effective Social Media Marketing for Your Business

Have you considered using social media to help take your business to the next level in sales, revenue and growth? Social media marketing is the latest evolution of internet communication. Incorporating links, texts, photos, videos and other media, social media sites allow people to connect more easily than ever before and share content in new ways. The ever-evolving social media channels include social networks, blogs, photo-sharing sites, status-based communications, professional networking and social bookmarking.

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Social Media for the Holidays

Starbucks' Red Cup Christmas Promotion
Starbucks' Red Cup Christmas Promotion

 

 

The holiday season is all about friends and family connecting and reuniting with each other.  Social media marketing can help your business be a part of people's holiday traditions and memories.  Many successful businesses recognize the rich opportunity for connecting with their fanbase during the holidays. Here are some tips to help your business get into the holiday spirit.

 

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What You Should Know Before You Start a Social Media Program

Questions?
Questions?

 

 

Here are some things to consider before you start a social media campaign that will maximize your results. Afterall, isn't increasing your bottomline the end objective?

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