Author Archives: Mike Gingerich

About Mike Gingerich

Author: Mike Gingerich, President of web firm Digital Hill, Co-Founder of TabSite .
Digital and Social Media Marketer, Speaker, and Business Consultant. Part geek, part marketer, total digital junkie! Seeking to add value, make the complex simple, and leave a positive impact.

Follow me on twitter: @mike_gingerich.

Facebook Updates for November 16th

Facebook Updates November 16th

With the holiday season upon us, sales are critical to meet year-end projections. Several of the innovations I mention this week are specifically to help brands make their customer experience journey more fluid and seamless. Let’s take a look.

Facebook

Instagram Polls Moving to Facebook

Facebook is taking another successful Instagram feature and bringing it to Facebook, the 2 question poll feature. These have been a popular feature for Instagram and Facebook hopes to replicate this success.

Bottomline

There are countless uses for polls … new desserts for the menu, new product features, new styles and outfits for retail fashion.

Facebook Messenger Brings Live Chat and Bots to Websites

As customers become more and more multi-device driven the quest to have a single customer chat area that can be used irregardless of the device the customer is on. But even better yet, have a chat that can go from a desktop to a phone in milliseconds. And the chat has to be accessible and usable in a work environment where multiple users can easily access and see what’s happening in the chat. In comes Facebook Messenger with live chats.

Facebook now has a plugin that allows their live chat feature to be used on a website. This has been an option for WordPress websites for quite a while. https://wordpress.org/plugins/fb-messenger-live-chat/ But instead of a 3rd party developer that relies on the Facebook API for Messenger/Chat access Facebook has built the plugin which will seamlessly and effortlessly integrate a site with Messenger/Live Chat. This feature is in beta testing right now.

Bottomline

This is an awesome tool for airlines. Need to change flight time or your flight is postponed? A customer can go from speaking with customer service on their desktop at home to jumping in a car and continuing the conversation on their phone.

I would think that there are many applications this could be used for with retail sales. What industry would you use this for?

Facebook Buys tbh, the Anonymous App for Teens

In an effort to win the hearts of the teen market Facebook has bought the tbh app. This app lets middle and high school students swap compliments by participating in anonymous polls/quizzes. Tbh was launched in September and already has 5 million users.

Bottomline

Right now the app has not be commercialized, but imagine bands and pop stars crowdsourcing song lyrics. Or brands crowdsourcing new product features. This could be big for businesses that focus on the teen market.

Facebook Launches Collaborative Stories for Groups and Events

To boost the use of Facebook Stories Facebook groups and events are now able to contribute to a Facebook story. Now a story can be told from several different story angles. These stories will be found at the top of the newsfeed. Stories can be used as a private hashtag so lots of people can add content but only those involved with the story can see it.

Bottomline

Start a story for a Wedding or other event and let the guests add their own unique perspective. This gives events and attractions an amazing resource for user-generated content.

Facebook Targets Ad to People Based on Store Visits, Purchases and Phone Calls

Retargeting ads rock! They’re a great way for your business to stay in front of people who are interested in your products and services but haven’t purchased yet.

Now brands can create custom audiences from anyone that Facebook has tracked as visiting a brand’s location within 30 days. Facebook’s Offline Conversions API, which is plugged into the store’s point-of-sale system, can send customer info to Facebook which then can be used in a Facebook Ad campaign.

Bottomline

With the customer experience spanning in-store visits, mobile website visits, and desktop website contacts this gives a brand an edge. During this holiday season, people will be looking for the perfect gift, but your brand is more likely to be the perfect choice the more that buyers see you whether in person or via websites and messaging.

Thanks for joining me this week! I’ll be back with more social media network updates next Thursday.

7 Screenshot Tools to Make Your Life Easier

7 Screenshot Tools to Make Your Life Easier-315Need to share still images from a YouTube video or other social media platforms? Want to capture something from a website with a screenshot, quickly make notes on it and upload it? Here are some screenshot tools that will help you capture and edit screenshots quickly and effectively.

1. Picpick

Is a multifunctional tool that takes screenshots, edits the images, picks colors and provides a wide range of graphic designs accessories. It’s very useful for tasks relating to designing.

2. Clip2net

Clip2net is a must-have tool. It allows you to easily and quickly capture images, it stores and can even share screenshots. Use it even when taking Skype calls. It has a simple image editor that lets you include a message on the images.

3. Snipping Tool

Found in Windows, the snipping tool is perfect for many screenshot fanatics. For those who don’t need a high-powered screenshot tool, the snipping tool is ideal for them. Using this app, you can capture a screenshot of individual windows, user-specified areas or the whole screen. It also has the basic editing functions like highlighting and writing on your captured images.

4. FastStone Capture

This app is lightweight and very responsive. It has a small interface, but in that tiny area, it is a screenshot capturing workhorse. The FastStone tool can take screenshots of regions, multi-level menus, and multiple windows. It can be configured to automatically send the screenshots by email, upload them to an FTP server or embed the images on power point presentation. It’s also a flexible tool as it includes a basic screencasting tool which supports audio input. You can also take bulk screenshots using the app because it can be automated to take images through the preset option settings. It also has a color picker for color sampling.

5. Jing

Jing is the sister of Snagit, another screenshot capturing tool. They are both products of the TechSmith software company. It’s the best pick for most screenshot fans as it permits them to take and share screenshots quickly. Set your Jing app to upload your screenshot images and video screen capture to your YouTube account or Flickr automatically. It takes a matter of seconds. Jing has basic annotation capabilities, but what makes it enjoyable is its quick image sharing capabilities.

6. Skitch

The Skitch app is tied to Skitch.com, the screenshot hosting site. This tool captures your screen, annotates, adds graphics to it and then share online or save it on your desktop. If you’re not interested in sharing on Skitch.com, use your own FTP, Flickr, or Mac Account to share. The tool is user-friendly given that almost all editing options are placed around your screen capture.

7. Snagit

Snagit is the most effective Print Screen Capture around. Use it to capture still images and grab frames from a video. It allows you to capture regions or an entire screen. Snagit also has an inbuilt editor for adding the basic effects and annotating your screenshots. The app’s screenshot organizer also arranges the images according to the date and alphabetical order making it easier to identify pictures when searching.

I’m sure you’ll find something to your liking in all of these. Is there another screenshot tool you use that you love? Let us know in the comments below.

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Attracting the Right Audience with your Social Media Marketing Funnel – Part 2

As noted last episode, attracting the right audience is critically important for businesses to maximize the use of social media for growing leads online.  This is often the area where the biggest mistakes by businesses are made!

In today’s “Part II” we do a quick recap and then go further on this topic to give you actionable tips to implement in your Attraction phase of the digital marketing funnel.

Attracting the right audience on social media

It’s all about being strategic with your social marketing!  Are you?  Use this episode as a checklist to find out.  Ready to dive in?

Listen Now:

Subscribe:  Halftime Mike on iTunes  | Android users via RSS  | Listen on Stitcher.

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Video Podcast: Attracting the Right Audience with your Social Media Marketing Part II

Attracting the Right Audience Part II

Back to the key basics… As shown in the image below the Digital marketing funnel has 6 components:

  1. Attraction – Getting in front of your ideal audience and attracting them to you
  2. Engagement – Engaging this ideal audience to know/like/trust you more
  3. Capture – Move them from fan/follower to a lead you can nurture via email/text/Groups
  4. Nurture – Add value, educate, and nurture the know/like/trust relationship
  5. Convert – Time specific conversion offer
  6. Measure – Measure your metrics in each area above and make adjustments to improve as needed.

We are focusing now on the “Attraction” component.  Last week we talked about ways to get in front of the right audience which demands that you have a clear picture of who your ideal audience is, the “buyer persona”.  This is critical to know the demographics and key characteristics of your ideal business you need to reach such as:

  • gender
  • age range
  • education
  • interests
  • job title

Attraction content is the key.  This is content that appears either on social media or on your website blog.  Your blog is a foundational tool to produce resource, rich content that you can then share on social media.

Then things like Facebook Ads let’s you target a ad to your idea audience persona so your message is reaching your exact target audience.

Let’s dive in deeper now…

Frequency of Content Posting

Consistently publishing high-quality content will help your site rank well on search engine result pages. It will also yield more content you can share on social media later on.

But how frequently should you post to achieve this consistency?

There’s no hard-and-fast rule, but for small to medium sized businesses, aim for at least one blog post with a minimum of 600 words per week as the best route. That’s about four posts a month. It’s enough to let Google and people know your site always has fresh content.  If that is too much, aim for at least 2x a month!

But to develop a strong social media presence, you have to post more often that once a week!

If your workload permits, aim to release 1-2 posts per day on your key platforms. This can be done if you plan your content a few weeks to a month ahead, with all the titles, outlines, and schedules already laid out. This calendar will help manage your time, so you don’t waste a lot of it trying to come up with a topic whenever you have to write a blog post.

Let’s go back to Permalatt. The company was able to grow their monthly website traffic by publishing informative articles and other materials on the website blog Resource Center. But their work didn’t end there because having great content on their site wasn’t enough. What they needed to do was draw visitors with the power of social media. They developed a routine which they still use today for social media posting.

Social Media Posting Plan

Whenever Permalatt releases a new blog post, they share a link on social media. For each platform, they customize a post and share it multiple times. The key here is that Permalatt takes into consideration the different and unique ways the platforms work when designing and scheduling network posts.

For example, Twitter’s news feed algorithm still emphasizes recent tweets. To have higher visibility on the platform, you should frequently tweet to make sure you always have a fresh post. Make each tweet different even for the same blog post, so your timeline doesn’t look like a series of repeated messages. Also, don’t forget to add a catchy image so your tweets don’t get overlooked. Use one of the photos from your blog post, which should have one to three images. Photos not only get more glances, but they optimize blog posts for social media as well.

As the biggest social media network, Facebook should be the top priority for most businesses. Make sure to use an image that displays well on the platform, e.g., 1200 x 628 pixels. Fortunately, the same size works fine for Twitter and LinkedIn. But for Instagram, a square image works best.  For Pinterest, vertical images are ideal, much like what a typical infographic looks like. If you do want to make an infographic, use a graphic design app like Canva. You’ll be surprised at how such an app and others like it can make the task simple and easy.

Next, you need to have a plan. Here is an example that looks a lot like what Permalatt uses, except they don’t post on Instagram or Snapchat. Permalatt is aware their target audience isn’t heavy users of those platforms, so they don’t bother. Instead, the people they want to attract are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Google+ is there as well, for SEO purposes.

It’s all about knowing where your target audience hangs out – from there you can figure out how often you should post and what approach you should take.

When you’re running several social media profiles, it can be hard to keep track of where traffic comes from. Use a unique Google Custom URL Parameters for each platform. It makes tracking on Google Analytics more convenient because everything is properly labeled. You’ll also easily learn which platform drives the most traffic.

If you’re using a social media scheduling tool like Hootsuite or SocialChamp, you’ll be happy to know you can get analytics from them. That’s one less burden off your shoulders.

So now we’re at the end of the lesson, it’s time to review your game plan. Is a monthly content strategy plan working for you? How does a content calendar help you organize your ideas?

What areas do you need to improve based on the sample social sharing plan? You won’t get the all the answers right the first time around, but in time, you’ll get the hang of it. It’s a trial-and-error process at the start, but you’ll make fewer mistakes as you learn the ropes.

Online Digital Marketing Funnel

 

ACTION ITEMS:

  1. LISTEN TO THE PODCAST!  This is just a sample of the goods I deliver to help you get on track, think through your key online changes and what you need to do this year to succeed.
  2. Identify your “one thing.”  What’s the next single thing you need to take action on that you learned today?   Share below!

Other Resources:

  • My complete guide to Facebook and social media lead generation  online!  Game Plan Book >>

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If you enjoyed this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast, please “go over to iTunes,  leave a rating, write a review and subscribe!

Thank you so much for your support!

Why the Halftime theme Mike? 

I’m an Indiana Hoosier native where basketball is the top sport. Every team heads to the locker room at halftime to evaluate the first half and create an updated plan for the second half. That plan includes adjustments based on reviewing what worked and what didn’t. The “halftime” is a key review point where the game stops, the team pulls away to huddle in the locker room away from the fans, and they come out prepared and ready to succeed in the second half.

That’s what this podcast is all about, taking the time to pull away for a bit to evaluate, learn, and set some strategies for your business to succeed in the second half. Join me by subscribing and let me be your “business halftime” to help you find great success going forward!

Subscribe: Halftime Mike on iTunes | Android users via RSS | Listen on Stitcher.

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Need help planning your Social Media and Online Marketing?

Grab my helpful checklist that includes strategy for social media lead generation. Click image!

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What is Rerun App and How Do You Use It?

What is Rerun App and How Do You Use It-315Rerun is a unique billing and invoicing software for small and mid-sized businesses in the United States and Canada. With it you can customize payment streams, plan recurring billings, monitor account activity and generate financial reports with filter options. In addition, you can customize payment channels through streams, clients, product or projections. Use Rerun to automate client emails and get control over failed transactions and other exceptions.

Sign up for one of the following Rerun Live accounts:

  • A Rerun account and a payment processing account by Rerun’s sister software, Forte. This account allows you to process credit cards and other bank transactions. However, it does not include monthly fees or early cancellation penalties.
  • A Rerun account that can be integrated with a Stripe account. Stripe is the credit card payment processing system that allows you to monitor transactions in real time.

Here is how to use Rerun account for better financial control.

1. Accept Payments from Customers

With Rerun, you can accept credit cards from customers or transactions via banks for goods or services. Alternatively, create customized payment streams that match your brand and the products in your catalog. This will enhance your efficiency and make it easy to manage your venture.

2. Manage communication with Customers

Emails allow you to send out invoices and create long-lasting relationships with your clients and suppliers. Rerun lets you brand and customize emails with free templates. It provides a robust automation system that sends an email based on an event projected to occur. For instance, a transaction that went awry, or a simple “Thank-You” note.

3. Excellent Third Party Integration

Rerun is developed for efficiency. To be as efficient as possible with the software you currently use it integrates easily with third-party application software.

Account integration: The information in your Rerun account lives beyond Rerun. You can link the account to customers, tax codes, QuickBooks, Account Edge, and Xero. Remember to process payments from Rerun to your internal accounting system. This prevents rekeying information.

Slack Integration: The Slack App integrates with your account to send important notifications to your Slack network of preference.

4. Manage Invalid Credit Cards Easily

There is nothing quite as disappointing as a failed payment and not being able to get current information from your clients. Rerun eliminates this hassle by setting up a Customer Center, customized and secure, with editing options that help customers change credit information or select an entirely different payment policy.

5. Create a Customizable Check-Out Process

Checkout is the latest upgrade in Rerun. Create a hosted, fully customizable checkout process that makes accepting recurring payments easy. When a visitor checks out, Rerun automatically adds them to your payment streams.

Benefits of Rerun

Rerun creates transparency. The app stores all data. Quickly find info if a client has an issue or has a question about a transaction. Data also includes full action on lead generation to payment reception.

Rerun is simply a lifesaver for many businesses. It has tremendously changed how people do payment collection. The software automates the entire billing system and lets you receive money online and on time.

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What is Toggl.com Time Tracking and What Can You Use It For?

What is Toggl.com Time Tracking and What Can You Use It For-315-2Payroll is always challenging. After all, you’re dealing with someone’s bread and butter. While the switch from paper timesheets and excel spreadsheets to digital time tracking has certainly made things easier, there’s a way to take things further and streamline the process even further online.

Introducing Toggl.com

Toggl offers an upgrade to the usual time tracking software. With a simple to navigate website and lots of resources and support, Toggl manages your time quickly and easily. Toggl’s time tracking software offers the following benefits to your business:

Removes the Guesswork

How much time did your employees spend on that last project? Time tracking software not only tells you the amount of time being spent, it tells you where you’re spending that time. Are you spending hours checking your emails when you could get more done on other tasks? You may not think you are, but with time tracking, however, you get an accurate reflection of how you spend your time.

Accountability

Maybe you aren’t as productive as you think you should be. Having an accurate record of the activities in your organization pushes you to confront where you may be lacking. For example, recording the time spent doing tasks motivates you to stay on task. If you are constantly distracted or multitasking, you’ll see where you could shave down the time wasted.

Business Tools

With Toggl, you get more than software. Toggl.com has a wealth of resources geared toward business users.

  • Press Release Templates
  • Overtime Calculator
  • Information on Development Tools

Reporting

Increased accountability also ties into more stringent reporting. Toggl allows you to see and organize your data for a better understanding of the way time is used in your organization as well as how you can boost efficiency.

Know What to Charge

Are you charging your clients appropriately? To receive fair compensation for your work, you must have accurate records. If you are charging hourly, Toggl can track and calculate your billable hours. You can then multiply the billable hours by your rate for an accurate charge.

Blog – Toggl’s blog is an excellent source of information, news, and suggestions on using the software. As a bonus, there are many helpful blog posts on additional business-related topics.

Linux and Mac

If you aren’t using Windows, Toggl is available for the Linux and Mac operating systems, making it available on all major operating systems.

Mobile Availability

Toggl is free on iPhone and Android with a solid app that helps you on-the-go on your smartphone.

With Toggl, you can take back control over your time. Try it out.

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Attracting the Right Audience with your Social Media Marketing Funnel

Attracting the right audience is critically important for businesses to maximize the use of social media for growing leads online.  It’s also one of the most missed and misunderstood aspects of digital marketing.

Wanting to know how to maximize your use of social medial for growing leads through attracting the right audience? That’s what today’s podcast is all about….

Attracting the right audience on social media

It’s all about a strategic attraction plan using both free and paid social media to attract the right audience

Ready to dive into the plan?

Listen Now:

Subscribe:  Halftime Mike on iTunes  | Android users via RSS  | Listen on Stitcher.

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Video Podcast: Attracting the Right Audience with your Social Media Marketing

Digital Marketing with Social Media: Attracting the Right Audience

Attracting the right audience is critical in business marketing.  In basketball, the point guard of the team with the ball looks for ways to break through the opposing team’s defense to setup a teammate in the offense to score.  There’s a connection in this illustration I’d like to explain…

The same principle works in social media marketing. You need to look for ways to get through the noise and other content to reach your target market. This means trying out some strategies to see which attract your desired audience and generate the most engagement and leads.

Since attraction is at the top of the digital marketing funnel, your focus should be on reaching people potentially interested in your products or services. These people will resemble your customers.  It’s not about selling at this point, but about finding and connecting with the right people through content. You offer something of value and deliver a good experience, making it easier for people to find you. It’s about leaving a good first impression that starts a relationship.

NOTE AND PREREQUISITE….
But before you dive into social media, work on your website content first. For the funnel to work, you need high-quality, resource-rich content to drive relevant traffic.

Your Website Content as an Attraction Tool

The content on your website serves as the foundation on which your social media marketing strategy should be built. So it has to be strong. No matter how great your social media posts are, if the content they link to is disappointing, people won’t bother clicking anymore.

Have a plan that involves regularly posting current content that’s rich in resources for your audience. Static websites that don’t update are out because they can’t maintain high ranks in search engine results. Google will give low priority to sites that don’t add new content. But aside from that, people aren’t interested in stale resources. They’ll leave and never come back.

Don’t let this happen to you when the road to success is simple….

  1. Create high-quality content on your website/blog and share it on social media as a photos or videos with links to the content.
  2. Amplify some of this content to your ideal audience on Facebook and Instagram with Facebook Ads.  You can target by Interests, income, industry, etc to reach that ideal audience.
  3. People will be curious enough to click the link to the post on your website and see what else is on there.
  4. If they like what they find, chances are they’ll opt into one of the soft lead capture options on your website. (More on that key step later)
  5. If you have other interesting content on your website, link to it in your email marketing nurture campaigns, so that people will return to visit.
  6. The more time they spend on your website, the greater the chances they’ll share your content on their own social media pages. (Make it easy to share with social media sharing buttons!)

That’s how organic popularity grows and trust is built.

Online Digital Marketing Funnel

Much of the weight is carried by good content. But what exactly is good content?

Your website has several sections on it, and one of those sections should be a blog or news area. Whatever you call it, this section should be full of resources that your target audience finds useful. It shouldn’t be a promotional area for your products or services – that’s a separate section on your site. But for the resource center, make sure to deliver content people want, like a FAQs, how-to guides, tip lists, etc.  This is for people seeking answers and

An Actual Business Case Example

Vinyl lattice – a product that serves as enhancement for vinyl fencing or as standalone decoration – caters to such a niche market that it’s not easy to sell. People don’t know what it is, let alone that they need it. This is a challenge for Permalatt Products, a producer of vinyl lattice.  They wanted to reach out to their target audience through digital marketing.

Their site already contains product information and online shopping option. But there’s nothing to attract search engines or to arouse people’s curiosity. Thus, the company addressed this deficiency by creating a blog section and naming it “Resource Center.”

Topics were identified based on the usual questions their sales teams receive and the key points highlighted in their presentations. Permalatt also chose to feature some of design projects made by their customers. The overall goal was to become the top resource for everything related to vinyl lattice.

Every Tuesday, Permalatt publishes a fresh and informative post related to vinyl lattice. The company mixes up the content for variety. Some posts are case studies, others are guides and project suggestions. The company doesn’t do a hard sell on vinyl lattice. Instead, they provide solutions and answer questions.

attract the right audience on permalatt

Permalatt Resource Center blog post

The content doesn’t serve Permalatt per se, but their customers (both current and potential). The company starts out with helpful content offered for free in an effort to draw in their market. Once the crowd is formed and interest is piqued, Permalatt comes in with their selling strategy. But by that stage, people are already so engaged that they don’t mind — they even welcome it!

That’s how you attract through content.  Like with deep sea fishing, chum the online waters with free and useful content to lure the crowd. Then, unleash the baited hooks once people start clamoring for more.

ACTION ITEMS:

  1. LISTEN TO THE PODCAST!  This is just a sample of the goods I deliver to help you get on track, think through your key online changes and what you need to do this year to succeed.
  2. Identify your “one thing.”  What’s the next single thing you need to take action on that you learned today?   Share below!

Other Resources:

  • My complete guide to Facebook and social media lead generation  online!  Game Plan Book >>

Help Spread the Word!

Please let your Twitter followers know about this podcast.
Simply click here now to post a tweet >>.

If you enjoyed this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast, please “go over to iTunes,  leave a rating, write a review and subscribe!

Thank you so much for your support!

Why the Halftime theme Mike? 

I’m an Indiana Hoosier native where basketball is the top sport. Every team heads to the locker room at halftime to evaluate the first half and create an updated plan for the second half. That plan includes adjustments based on reviewing what worked and what didn’t. The “halftime” is a key review point where the game stops, the team pulls away to huddle in the locker room away from the fans, and they come out prepared and ready to succeed in the second half.

That’s what this podcast is all about, taking the time to pull away for a bit to evaluate, learn, and set some strategies for your business to succeed in the second half. Join me by subscribing and let me be your “business halftime” to help you find great success going forward!

Subscribe: Halftime Mike on iTunes | Android users via RSS | Listen on Stitcher.

Download this Episode:
Catch all the episodes of Halftime Mike by signing up for inbox delivery below!

Need help planning your Social Media and Online Marketing?

Grab my helpful checklist that includes strategy for social media lead generation. Click image!

web and social media marketing checklist planner

Chrome vs Edge vs Firefox: Which is the Best Browser

Chrome vs Edge vs Firefox_ Which is the Best Browser-315Ask 3 experts, and you’ll get 3 different answers as to which Internet browser is best. Chrome, Edge, and Firefox all have their loyal devotees, and the truth is none of them are bad. The big 3 browsers all offer different feature sets and it’s good to be aware of the differences.

The best way to choose which one is right for you may come down to the browser you’re most comfortable using. That’s different for each person. Each of the 3 most popular browsers does different things well. Speed, sleek appearance, security and battery drain are also important considerations when choosing a browser.

Google Chrome

For quite a few years, Google Chrome has been the top pick of many users (this author included!). It arrived on the scene with a pared-down appearance, and the ability to use extensions to customize it for your specific needs is powerful!

Because it seems like Google is everywhere on the web, this also gives Chrome an edge. The browser fully integrates with a person’s Google account. Whether you’ve got an iOS or Android phone, there’s a version of Chrome that will sync across all your platforms. Sure, you can do the same thing with Firefox or Edge, but not as easily.

You also don’t have to be an IT specialist to get under the hood and tweak things to your liking. Options and settings are spelled out in plain English, so you know the consequences of the actions you are taking. The browser is very intuitive to operate. Perhaps the highest praise is that you hardly notice you’re using it on the Internet superhighway.

Microsoft Edge

The release of Windows 10 brought a new web browser from Microsoft. Edge replaced Internet Explorer as the default browser, and as expected it completely overhauled the default experience, which was needed!

This time around, Microsoft seems dedicated to making sure its browser gets plenty of attention. At times it felt that Internet Explorer was an afterthought.

The interface is spartan, almost too much so. There is full Cortana integration, but little in the way of extensions to customize your experience.

Microsoft claims that Edge runs 77% more efficiently than Chrome, the next closest competitor. Laptop users will definitely enjoy the extended battery life. Since this comes default on PC’s it’s often used.  While not our top choice, it is better than the old IE 10 and 11 for sure.

Mozilla Firefox

Before Chrome become the popular choice, the top alternative to Internet Explorer was Mozilla Firefox. It was more secure, faster and more customizable than Internet Explorer from the moment it arrived on the scene in 2004. Basically, it was Chrome before there was Chrome, in that it offered a faster web surfing experience, and it was fully customizable via extensions.

At one point in Firefox’s life, usage of the browser climbed to 32%. Firefox was never able to compete speed-wise after Chrome’s release, and with Chrome being just as customizable and offering better mobile integration, Firefox’s numbers fell.

There’s a new version of Firefox on the horizon, that is rumored to close the speed gap. And since it has been around longer than Chrome, some older web apps run better on Firefox. Again, for some users, Firefox may represent the old familiarity of a tried and true browsing experience.

The best way to get a good handle on which one will be right for you is to try them all out. You may need more than 1 as not all browsers render all websites properly.

If you want an opinion, Google Chrome is our choice as the “go-to” browser to use.

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Facebook and Instagram Updates for October 19th

Facebook and Instagram Updates for October 19thInnovation keeps the social network’s new and fresh and changing every day. The cause for the innovation? The quest to make the platform attractive so people stay and spend more time, which makes the platform more profitable. Personally, I’m glad that the platforms innovate so much, or what would I have to talk about?

Facebook Updates

Order Food from Facebook!

You’re already on Facebook and you decide you’re hungry … what to do? Order from your favorite takeout restaurant directly on Facebook! Facebook automatically sorts by location so only the restaurants near you show up. Imagine if you were traveling to a new city how handy this app would be! And the food can be delivered right to the door. Super busy and don’t have time to cook? Order delivery through Facebook. Sick and don’t feel well, order delivery through Facebook.

Bottomline

For restaurants, this may be a game changer.

People love their Facebook and with the low-cost ads getting people to use the app to order will be quick and easy. Facebook wins because now people don’t have to leave the app to get a bite to eat!  One stop shopping for food makes it easy!

Stories Now on Facebook Pages

Now all Facebook pages have access to use Facebook Stories (or will shortly). Just in time for Instagram stories posting to Facebook.  Stories provide another means to share information, connect with your audience, and be top-of-mind.

Bottomline

Stories are a great way to show off a new product or service. A short video of the product or a “flipbook” of product shots and how to use the new product is perfect to raise awareness and knowledge.

Instagram Stories Now Posting on Facebook

For marketers this is incredible! Post once and hit 2 networks. We’re talking about creating your story on Instagram and then choosing to have it pushed to your Facebook Stories as well.

Younger generations are on Instagram, older generations are on Facebook. Now Facebook users can see what Instagram users are doing on their stories.

Bottomline

This is such a time and energy saver! Marketers are always stretching themselves thin on social media. This new capability will give them another resource in their toolbox.

Now Grandma can keep up with her grandkids! Who knows, they may even have something to talk about now and Gma may get more phone calls. 🙂

Instagram Updates

Polls come to Instagram Stories

This is so exciting! Polls have endless applications:

  • Get viewers opinions on colors for your newest product
  • Ask viewers to choose product upgrades
  • Vote on new menu options
  • Choose book covers or new branding with polls

Bottomline

Crowdsource new products and options from the people who buy from you. I have a friend that has been using polls to gather info for her newest ebook. The polls have given her a couple surprises she wasn’t expecting as to what her audience wants to learn.

Twitter

Twitter Testing 280 Character Tweets

This is certainly a change for them. Their rationale is that hopefully more people will tweet when they have more room to clearly express themselves.

Bottomline

Twitter has been hurting lately for new users and higher earnings. They’re hoping that by adding the additional characters they’ll be able to break into foreign markets that were previously challenged by the 140 character limit.

Whew!  It’s making my head spin at times trying to keep up, it’s important to know what features are available to you and how you might use them in your marketing. It’s an adapt, adapt, adapt world!

Pinterest Marketing: A Case Study

Pinterest Marketing_ A Case Study-315Pinterest made its debut as a photo-sharing website in 2010. It’s an amazing platform to use for marketing, especially when your product or services are visual. Does Pinterest marketing work?  I say it can for the right businesses! Here’s my “go to” Pinterest Marketing steps.

1. Set up a Pinterest business account

Pinterest is free to use. If your intention is to market your business on Pinterest, you should have a business account.  Business accounts have access to tools not available to individuals. Current users who switch to a business account can keep all existing followers and data.

2. Create at least 10 boards with at least 10 pins each

To be successful at marketing on Pinterest or any other platform, you must understand your customers.  On Pinterest, like all digital platforms, you demonstrate your expertise by creating content your audience values.  Create at least 10 boards with at least 10 pins each to start. Feature your own content and curate content from boards with a similar target audience.

3. Create “Pinnable” images for your best content

To best leverage your marketing, use Pinterest to drive traffic to your website, blog, YouTube channel or anyplace else.  Since Pinterest is a visual platform, all content should be presented with an attractive image.  To best take advantage of the images, they should include text that describes the linked content.

4. Create a “Best of Your Blog” board and make it the first board on your page.

One of the best ways to use Pinterest is to drive traffic to your website.  A “Best of Your Site” board can be an effective tool for this purpose.  The beautiful and descriptive images created in the previous step are perfect for this.  For best results, upload these images at the maximum resolution.

5. Identify Group Boards

Gathering a large number of followers takes time.  Rather than waiting, leverage existing Group Boards that already have a large number of followers.  A Pinterest Group Board search engine like  PinGroupie will help you find large group boards by category.  Only join boards where your content is appropriate.

6. Add Pins with New Content

Use Pinterest to highlight new content on your website, videos and other platforms.  All content should be linked with an attractive image and interesting text that clearly explains what your content is about.  This will give you a steady stream of traffic back to your website.

7. Maintenance and Optimization

Pinterest marketing is a long-term game.  Don’t expect success overnight, and not every link will be popular.  For maximum impact, reevaluate your existing content periodically.  Replace the less popular content with new content or refresh the images on older content.  This gives you the best opportunity to attract traffic.

All marketing is about building relationships with your potential customers.  Like other social media platforms, Pinterest can be an effective tool to accomplish this task.

I advised Hackerette.com, a travel blogger, on her Pinterest marketing. This is the strategy I recommended for her to showcase her travels with images of her in different destinations. There’s a personalization and authenticity through this pinning. She built trust and showcased her travel knowledge at the same time.

In her first month using these techniques, her Pinterest visitors were up 46% and sessions were up a whopping 48%.

The third month Pinterest showed a 260% improvement in sending traffic to her website. Pinterest daily pin impressions were up 873% and daily pin viewer average was up 484%. Monthly viewers were up 33% and monthly engaged viewers were up 110%.

One of the things you must keep in mind is to have a strategy to Pinterest traffic to your website before you grow your account. Don’t get overwhelmed by trying to grow your Pinterest account and putting together a new course or product.

Need help with your social media strategy? Contact me … I can help.

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Why You Need a Game Plan for Your Online Marketing

It’s a fact, you need a game plan for your online marketing!

Too many businesses are operating “silos” on the web without any real cohesive connection.  Your website is run by the web developer or the IT team.  Your social media by a social media specialist, and your email marketing (if you are doing it), by yet another marketing person.

With each doing their own thing gaps exist.  The only way to real results online is to have a cohesive Game Plan. 

That’s what today’s podcast is all about…. The need for an a introduction to the Game Plan for your Online Marketing and lead generation.

It’s about your website, social media, blog, and email all working together in a unified way.  

Ready to dive into the plan?

Listen Now:

Subscribe:  Halftime Mike on iTunes  | Android users via RSS  | Listen on Stitcher.

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Video Podcast: Why You Need a Game Plan for Your Online Marketing

Why You Need a Game Plan for Your Online Marketing

When you see youth dribbling a basketball down the court in a youth game, you know they aren’t thinking about a team strategy. They mostly dribble around, some are prone to throw up shots from anywhere at any time, and only pass when the coach says “pass.” They run when their parents yell, “keep on moving,” and they keep moving until somebody blows a whistle. Then they stop.

Kids don’t have a strategy.

Youth basketball players are not thinking about a play or how to setup a teammate in a good position to score. They join a team just because it looks like fun. Or they’re tall. Or their parents tell them to.

Their basketball is mostly organized chaos on the court, little bodies moving this way and that, running circles, taking shots. It’s haphazard and random. But they’re kids. Nobody expects much more than haphazard and random. 

Some businesses don’t have an online strategy.  

Some business owners approach marketing online in much the same way kids play basketball. They hear social media sites are a trendy way to grow a business online, so they set up a account and wait for something big to happen.

Businesses sometimes jump into social media because someone tells them too or they see potential. But, without a social media marketing strategy in place that is cohesive and includes their overall online marketing plan, your social media success will be haphazard and random at best….just like those kids on the basketball court.

You Need a Game Plan

Social Media has moved from being a trendy way to share your business, to being a business essential. Smart businesses know how to maximize their social media return on investment (ROI). When they invest the time and effort, social media helps build their brands, build trust, and bring in leads that can convert to new business.

It’s important to see social media as a powerful tool but a tool that must be connected. It can help you reach your business goals now and in the future. If you’re not a believer, perhaps this can sway your thinking just a little.

#1: The Numbers on Social Media

Your customers are on social media!

Traditional target marketing tells you to go where your customers are. Well, they’re on social media, and that’s where you should be. Pew Research Center developed these interesting stats on who uses social media:

  • 75% of USA adult internet users
  • 90% of Millennials and Gen Xers
  • 77% of adults ages 30-49
  • Seniors 65 and older user numbers have tripled since 2010

#2: Time Spent on Social Media

Facebook gives you plenty of opportunities to market your business. Users spend an average of 40 minutes per day on the site. Social media users check their social media timelines an average 17 times a day in the US and 40 times a day in Mexico, Argentina, and Thailand.

#3: Cost-Effective & Targeted

Social media platforms, like Facebook, allow you to establish a free presence. All you need is a person to market your company. Social media is a viable tool because it brings so many fans, friends, and followers together in one space. When you use advertising tools, the possibilities are endless!

I am bullish on Facebook Ads. They work because Facebook keeps track of our friends, interests, pages liked, comments, places we’ve been to, and other demographic data. They use this incredible cache of information to target ad delivery. It’s a powerful, cost-effective tool that can deliver results.

Mike’s Game Plan Differentiator

I don’t just push Facebook or a social media plan; you need a comprehensive digital marketing plan! Your website should actively interact with social media and email marketing, so it all works together.

The difference is critical!  

A Facebook or social media strategy works just for that silo. True online success requires thinking in a comprehensive, strategic way!

Why?

  • Consumers aren’t instant buyers, either on or offline
  • Social media users are often just being social or conducting research, not shopping.
  • You must gradually introduce users to the idea of buying with integrated digital marketing

Cohesive interaction

A basketball team succeeds when the players work together as a team implementing a offensive strategy. Your online marketing strategy works pretty much the same way. For your social media marketing to succeed, your team “players” must work together.

Your “Players”?

  • Your website
  • Content (blog or news resource center on your site)
  • Social media accounts
  • Lead capture tools
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Tools to measure your results.  

If your business has only one or a few of these items, you need to fill in the gaps and connect the dots. You need a package that works together with a unified strategy. That’s what we dive into in the podcasts ahead…a complete plan with specific steps.

Here’s the overview we cover and will drill into in more detail:

Online Digital Marketing Funnel

ACTION ITEMS:

  1. LISTEN TO THE PODCAST!  This is just a sample of the goods I deliver to help you get on track, think through your key online changes and what you need to do this year to succeed.
  2. Identify your “one thing.”  What’s the next single thing you need to take action on that you learned today?   Share below!

Other Resources:

  • My complete guide to Facebook and social media lead generation  online!  Game Plan Book >>

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Thank you so much for your support!

Why the Halftime theme Mike? 

I’m an Indiana Hoosier native where basketball is the top sport. Every team heads to the locker room at halftime to evaluate the first half and create an updated plan for the second half. That plan includes adjustments based on reviewing what worked and what didn’t. The “halftime” is a key review point where the game stops, the team pulls away to huddle in the locker room away from the fans, and they come out prepared and ready to succeed in the second half.

That’s what this podcast is all about, taking the time to pull away for a bit to evaluate, learn, and set some strategies for your business to succeed in the second half. Join me by subscribing and let me be your “business halftime” to help you find great success going forward!

Subscribe: Halftime Mike on iTunes | Android users via RSS | Listen on Stitcher.

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Need help planning your Social Media and Online Marketing?

Grab my helpful checklist that includes strategy for social media lead generation. Click image!

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