Is your website mobile responsive today? It's a MAJOR factor in the search ranking result for your site with Google.
Last week, I visited RedSneakers, an upscale SEO and website marketing firm in Fort Myers, Florida. I sat down to chat with the boss, Ed Moore. I asked him what he thinks about apps. He replies quickly "We have a website, we don't think we need one." I tried to hide my horrified expression behind my coffee cup.
This is from an SEO guy.
The functions of an app haven't been made clear to the public yet. Why not? That's what I'm trying to figure out.
The App Story
Apps have been around prior to 2008 – but that was the year that we, the plebes, were introduced to that very short and ominous sounding word: app. GooglePlay and Apple's App Store opened for business that year. I even attempted to make my own in 2010. It wasn't very successful, but I did the best I could with what I had. Don't judge.
Apps have come a long way since then. TUNE's "Global Mobile 2016" report  estimated there was 180 billion app downloads in 2015. Furthermore, the App Store just enjoyed its busiest day ever on New Years Day 2017.
Obviously many folks know these juicy little widgets exist, but what about the mainstream? Nope, not yet.
Let's get back to Ed at RedSneakers. He is still believing that an app is a mini, mobile website. I laid my phone on his desk and tapped on our company's app: SocialMe (we're a boutique social media management and training company). I continued tapping. I showed him the Entrepreneur.com newsfeed that displays real-time social media articles and blogs (and entertains me in the wee hours of the morning).
Then I tapped on our Calendar (Google Calendar link) so he could see the meeting I had scheduled with him. I mentioned that his clients could see his scheduled MeetUps, events, and even the slots he had free for them to book an appointment.
Next, I tapped on our SocialClub, where our clients can add themselves to our map. Here is where it gets fun, I get their name, email, or phone number and location. Data collecting, baby! I tapped the SocialMe Poll button. Our fans can choose what features of apps they like the most with a fun, interactive chart showing where they fit in. We all like to fit in, don't we?
Push notifications are the cherries on top of the marketing sundae, though. I have never seen a website (yet) that shoots alerts of sales, messages and updates into my hands, by text, on my phone. We can alert our entire fan base of a special LinkedIn seminar that we are holding tomorrow!
Next, I showed him our SocialMe team superimposed over a grand NYC skyline. We look like hipster, high-fashion models. Hey, it's all about the image.
Then I feigned boredom while I showed him the normal Insta, FB and Twitter icons and easy GPS directions to our place.
Interaction & Engagement
When I looked up I instantly realized that I showed him something that he did not know existed: INTERACTION and ENGAGEMENT. People today are spending over 5 hours per day looking at their phones, making it harder and harder to slow down their speeding on the information highway. If there isn't an element that makes your clients feel connected to you and your brand, they aren't going to care about you. As Mary Kay, the Grand-Dame of make-up and uber successful entrepreneur said, "people won't care about you if you don't care about them." It's no surprise that the Mary Kay brand has multiple, sophisticated apps currently on the market.
Engagement is the biggest difference in mobile websites vs. mobile apps. Today, people have a ridiculously low attention span – if interaction isn't immediate, your customer has likely moved on in search of the next CandyCrush. Experts say that people are even sick of typing website addresses in search bars. Tapping on the app icon is going to be de-riguer in the future.
It’s only fitting we start off our 2017 Social Media Trends series with the King of 2016: Live Video.
Live Video managed to go from being slightly relevant on Periscope in 2015, to the dominant marketing force of 2016. How did Live Video explode into such a driving sales force and why are social media marketing platforms so high on it?
Let’s start from the beginning. YouTube changed the game for content marketers and videographers back in 2004 when it provided a free channel for posting and sharing videos. As YouTube grew in popularity, new social media platforms started to pop up and include some kind of video posting capability. People love watching a video instead of reading an article; so naturally, video became more and more popular, accessible on all major social media marketing platforms by 2015.
In 2014, Snapchat changed the video marketing game by creating a platform that caters to quick, funny, and highly engaging video clips that were filmed “live” with no editing. Though it wasn’t real-time, it was the next best thing – and people LOVED it.
Fast-forward to now, and every platform can’t get their hands on Live Video fast enough. Facebook incorporated Live Video as part of their algorithm changes to favor high-quality content over chronological posting. If you get on Facebook and start a Facebook Live recording, they actually fetch followers for you. And if that’s not enough, they send all of your friends a notification – right to their mobile devices – when you go live. It’s a marketers dream.
Instagram wanted to be part of the revolution, too, and this year rolled out an Instagram Stories feature for enabling brands to post 24-hour shelf-life videos of maximum 10 seconds – JUST like Snapchat.
The Future of Live Video
As 2016 comes to a close, Live Video hasn’t even hit its peak, setting the stage for Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and maybe even the peripheral platforms like LinkedIn and Pinterest, to incorporate a Live Video component. With all of the digital noise out there today, Live Video is the best way for a brand to break through it and showcase personality, accessibility, and entertainment to followers.
Haven’t used Facebook Live for your business platform yet? You better reevaluate for 2017.
If you think mobile marketing apps are just reserved for big name brands and platforms like Spotify, Facebook, Yelp, and the Wall Street Journal, you are sadly mistaken. Over the last few years, apps have become the number one way mobile users navigate their phones.
A staggering 90% of mobile user’s time is spent inside an app when on their phones.
Even more profound (or alarming depending on how you look at it), nearly 75% of Americans check their phones every single hour they’re awake. The discussion has shifted from, “what is an app and why would I ever need one?” to “how quickly and efficiently can I have a fully-functioning app in the app stores?”
Apps are for everyone, every brand, and every business. Many small businesses are already ahead of the game, and see the marketing value for directly connecting with mobile users. But, not everyone is sold yet, so we’re here to provide you with 3 eye-opening reasons why your business needs it own mobile app now.
1. Be visible at all times
How many times per day do you sit down at a laptop and peruse the Internet? Not many. How many times do you have a quick second or two to glance at an app on your phone and catch up on social media notifications and sport’s scores? A lot. Apps can be checked in between meetings, on subways, while eating out, and the list goes on. Apps are all about convenience for consumers, and developing an app for your company will give it permanent mobile visibility.
2. Develop a direct marketing channel
Apps can serve many functions – from games, information, news feeds, reviews, to discounts and seasonal deal downloads. One of the biggest benefits of having a mobile app is that all the information you want customers to know is right there in their pockets. Set up push notifications, showcase your coupons and discounts, and reward app users for following your brand.
3. Build brand name recognition
The more consumers are faced (whether its willing or not) with your brand, logo, and platform, the harder it’s going to be for them to forget it. A mobile app will greatly contribute to your platform’s mobile awareness, and make it easier for individuals to invest in your brand and follow its every update (people WANT to know you and your brand).
And the list goes on. You’re probably thinking – ok, that sounds great and all, but where on earth do I get started making an app? App development is on the rise, and we’re proud to have added it to our SocialMe services!
Say it isn’t so. Vine, the 6-second video loop app that peaked at international popularity in late 2014, this week announced they will be shutting down their once highly active app in upcoming months.
The micro-video platform that saw social media darlings and creative videographers manage to film hysterical masterpieces in 6-seconds or less, will still keep their Internet platform up for Vine users who wish to watch (and mourn) their favorite video clips. Users will no longer be able to record and post in the app, however.
Twitter purchased Vine in 2012 during their early startup stage before it even launched in a $30 million deal. Shortly thereafter, the app hit the Internet by storm, and today, thousands of millionaire social media influencers owe their start to the hilarious platform.
Foreshadowing Vine’s death
Vine simply wasn’t able to survive the rollout of Snapchat and Instagram’s platform alteration to adopt video sharing. Vine, once the supreme video-posting platform back in 2013, quickly faded from relevance when Snapchat hit the scene and provided users with a more personal, real-time platform for sharing their daily activities. Instagram quickly followed Snapchat’s example, and enabled users in 2014 to share video in addition to photos. This past year, they boldly copied Snapchat, and added an Instagram Stories feature for real-time video posting.
Vine simply couldn’t compete, and the platform shared a death post this past Thursday, October 27: “Thank you for taking a chance on this app back in the day.”
Vine’s sad death came just hours after Twitter posted its lackluster third quarter earnings as it laid off 9 percent of its work force.
Were you a passionate Viner? It’s ok – a new Vine-styled video app could be on the horizon, poised to knock Snapchat and Instagram off their thrones.
As of Wednesday, Instagram has finally added a photo zoom feature to their massively popular social media platform. After 5 long years of refusing to incorporate any kind of photo-viewing features, the pic posting giant is now enabling users to zoom in on tiny parts of posted photos.
By using the same standard smartphone zoom maneuver with a pinch of two fingers, you can now immerse yourself in those glutinous food pictures and bikini pics you secretly scroll through every night.
With the arrival of zoom, it’s still unclear why the platform waited 5 whole years to give users this kind of visual insight.
As the company stated today, “Over the past six months, you’ve seen many exciting changes come to Instagram, from a new icon to longer videos and even a new way to share everyday moments with Instagram Stories. And as things change, we’re still focused on improving the core parts of Instagram.”
The zoom feature was made available for iPhone users this week, but Android users will have to wait a few more weeks before they can feast their eyes on discreet picture details.
As for everyone else, take care not to accidentally like your ex’s photo while you zoom in on their latest selfie.
Twitter gets left in the dust when it comes to social media marketing. Most people are willing to give Facebook, and now Instagram, a shot with the launch of their brand. But, if you ask most people if their company is on Twitter, they’ll tell you no, or not yet. Why that answer? People are afraid of Twitter. Simply stated: they don’t get it.
For those of you reading this who are on Twitter, you’re probably wondering: what’s not to get? Twitter has a complex stigma attached to it, and sends social media amateurs running in the opposite direction.
Twitter is not a difficult platform to use. It focuses on the effectiveness and information relation of a 140-character sentence or phrase. Photos and videos can be added, and the platform revolves around the use of hashtags. That’s it!
Put your business on Twitter. Here are 5 KEY benefits of maintaining a lively Twitter profile:
- One-on-one customer service: Savvy consumers take to Twitter today to engage in customer service praise, complaints, and questioning. Twitter is the place for a person to Tweet at a business about their experience. On Twitter, you can directly reply back to consumers, and showcase their responses directly on your profile. Oftentimes, companies (if a consumer complains) offer them a deal or return right on Twitter. If consumers know they can reach you this directly, they’ll be more apt to buy from you.
Community tagging: You can geo-tag any one of your Tweets on Twitter. The location attachment helps businesses solidify their presence in a given community. The more you tag your community, the easier it will be for local consumers to find your business and check out your website.
Keyword searches: Since Twitter is the land of the hashtag, it’s incredibly easy to research keywords related to your business, and see what people are saying about your service or product. This kind of feedback is invaluable for updating your branding image.
Lax communication: The brevity of Tweets keeps Twitter a low-pressure and informal place to interact with consumers. Since Tweets are so tiny, many businesses Tweet 8-10 times per day. The relaxed style makes one-on-one consumer communication seamless.
Spying on competitors: Through keyword searching, it’s easy to spy on competitors on Twitter. Let’s say you’re in the Spa Industry. If you search “Spa,” every person using that word has Tweets pop up, and you can see exactly what they’re doing or saying to attract customers.
Convinced your business needs Twitter, but don’t know how to navigate it? That’s what we’re here for! Twitter is one of our platform passions, and with over 1,300 followers and counting, we know the recipe for success.
After being in business for close to 6 months now, this is probably the most puzzling question we ask ourselves at SocialMe. Clearly, without this conundrum, we wouldn’t have a successful business. However, there are certain elements to social media that will forever make it a feared marketing item with a variety of businesses.
It’s natural to fear the unknown. It’s even more natural to resist change. But, social media has undeniably solidified itself as the most important communication channel, eCommerce marketplace, and news dissemination platform available today. There’s no ignoring Facebook anymore. With 80% of consumers answering they’re more inclined to shop at a store if they locate a credible, authentic Facebook page, it’s time to stop asking why people ignore it, and time to start asking why they fear it.
We have three theories on why so many people want, yet fear social media.
1. Lack of writing and grammar skills
If you think back to Middle School and High School, probably close to 40% of your class struggled with writing. It’s a common skill set many are unable to learn and develop throughout their lifetime. Spelling and grammar are scary to a lot of people. English is a complex language, and our spelling system doesn’t always make sense.
About 1 in 10 Americans are dyslexic and shy away from social media. An even greater amount fear they will be mocked, made fun of, or ruin their business’ legitimacy with misspellings and poor grammar. This is all incredibly true. Businesses need to look smart, professional, and on top of their game. The best way to come across as professional is by showcasing well-versed, succinct social media posts that demonstrate a mastery understanding of the English language.
2. Inability to identify a business brand
Social media forces businesses to identify their central brand and build around it. Businesses that fail to do so end up with 30 Facebook page likes and zero online community engagement. With all of the competition on social media today, businesses have to identify a brand, market the brand, and analyze the consumer reception to the brand. They then need to alter it as needed for drawing in more interested consumers.
This is very hard for many businesses. It forces them to really peel away the layers and pick a core platform for their services and products. Most businesses that have been around for a while 1) don’t want to do this and 2) don’t think they need to. They therefore shy away from social media, and continue with the “same ole” approach.
3. Too technologically challenged to understand social media
This may sound harsh, but it’s true, and we all know a handful of people, typically 50 years of age and older, who just can’t seem to grasp the Digital Era. Now, we are not blaming these business owners whatsoever. Imagine owning a restaurant for six decades and trying to understand Facebook? We probably couldn’t either!
But the truth of the matter is these people just don’t get the Internet, and they’re probably never going to. After six successful decades in business, why fix it if it’s not broken?
Sadly, these establishments will fade into the past if they don’t set aside their unwillingness to adapt. In the meantime, their technological challenges prevent them from even learning what “Tweeter” could do for them.
These are just our theories, and they could be completely wrong. They could, however, be correct, and posit a great start for including the small businesses of our country in the Inbound Marketing age. Here at SocialMe, we want to help them.
A word that has come to carry a lot of meaning with it in the new digital marketing era we live in today, branding is absolutely essential to building a successful and long-lasting business model. Whether you’re a small business, a corporation, or an individual, in order to resonate with consumers, you need to brand your company in a clever, memorable, and intriguing way. People want to feel they know you and your goals before they purchase something –how you brand your business instantly communicates with clients what is most important to you.
Branding is just as important for small businesses as it is for the businesses buying up ad space all over the Internet. The innate human connectedness branding taps into is relevant at all levels of the economy. With social media and instant information at our fingertips today, it is crucial that businesses build smart and unique brands that stick out against the others. If anything, it’s even more important that small businesses utilize this effective approach to marketing as a way to surpass the competition. Creativity, active social media management, blogging, and unwavering customer support are free branding channels all small businesses should be harnessing to get ahead in the game.
You may be saying to yourself “I know branding is important, but my business is doing just fine. I don’t need to worry about it.” We know social media and digital marketing are intimidating to many, but trust us, if you don’t accept this new nature of business, you will fade into irrelevance next to the businesses who are branding themselves far and wide.
The first step to branding your small business is defining your brand. Your brand character should embody and promote your business while engaging your target audience. Identify whom you want to reach and who would want your product. Build a brand that taps into their interests while also harnessing the core of your business goals.
Next, think about what drives your business. Who comes into your store every day? How old are they? What do they talk to you about? Who visits your website regularly? Who leaves reviews and what do they have to say? Really analyze who is driving your business and supporting you. Build a brand that reaches people like these ones. Bring them into your online community.
Once you identify this group, define a brand that will build long-lasting relationships with them. If they’re already supporting you, they either like your product or your business in general. Build a brand that will keep them around forever. Communicate what’s important to your business, and change what you need to keep them with you even longer.
Then, whatever you do, don’t copy other successful brands. Nothing fades faster in the eyes of consumers than unoriginal copycats. So what if your logo doesn’t look like Coca Cola? Community members and local consumers want to know your original business. They want to see something different and unique, something that catches their eye. Be unapologetically yourself. Your small business has character – they all do. Build on it.
And lastly, the most important part of actually getting your brand out there is the communication. Are you on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn? If you don’t recognize all four of those words, it’s time to hit Google for a couple hours and bring yourself up to speed with social media today. An absolutely critical (and 100% free) marketing tool, social media disseminates your brand to millions of users worldwide. Each platform has its own target audience, so it’s important to be on all of them, otherwise you’ll miss out on age groups possibly in-line with your brand. To promote your brand on social media, start a blog, and write your key words as much as you can to boost your Search Engine Optimization rankings. You want people to traverse your website every day – that’s how they discover your brand in the first place. Both social media and blogs complementary promote one another, driving millions to behold your new, original, and refined brand.
Does all of this seem overwhelming? Most of it is information you already have as a small business. You know your community, you know your clients, and you know your love for doing business at the local level. All you have to do is thoroughly analyze and identify it – and then get over your fear of social media and start posting. Here at SocialMe, we have a passion for social media and blogging. We can make you a free blog on your website instantly. We can write about whatever you want, so long as it incorporates themes synonymous with your brand. And we can post to your social media for you every single day.
So what are you waiting for? Go brand your small business and share your beautiful message with the rest of the world.
Social media is constantly expanding and refining itself into niche markets today. What used to be just Facebook is now dozens of specialized social media platforms catered to specific audiences.
With these new social media platforms come more opportunity to connect with online communities tuned into exactly what your business has to offer. We are constantly researching and mastering these platforms so we know exactly which channels to social media market your business.
We break our management down to the 8 most popular social media platforms today: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Google+, YouTube, Tumblr, and Pinterest.
For starters, every single business should be on Facebook. Over 1 billion people are active on Facebook. If anyone is going to be on social media, their first choice is Facebook.
After Facebook, the platforms get sorted into visual versus non-visual platforms. Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and YouTube fall into the highly visual platforms. If you’re a business that has a lot of eye candy, you need to be on these platforms. The most used visual platform is Instagram. It is incredibly important if you run a hair salon, tattoo studio, pet store, etc. that you have an Instagram to constantly familiarize your audience with photos of your services. The new generation of buyers, people under 21, have stated their preferred social media platform is Instagram over Facebook, many of them starting to not even make Facebooks.
For non-visual, Linkedin, Twitter, and Google+ are the way to go. Twitter is recommended first as it is a perfect place to showcase your business goals, personality, and wit, all in a concise 140 character Tweet. Businesses are highly active messaging and connecting with one another on Twitter.
If you’re more of a serious, recruitment-style business, Linkedin is the official professional social media platform. The perfect platform for talking with other professionals or scouting talent, Linkedin is an easy way to show others you mean business.
Google+, YouTube, Tumblr, and Pinterest all have their niche markets, too, though they are not as prominent as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin. YouTube is perfect for building an online personality through videos; Pinterest is the ultimate eye-candy platform for “pinning” aesthetics that align with your company; Tumblr is a massive blogging-meets-photos platform where the entire world of 14-24 year olds thrive; and Google+ is a less-active Linkedin that links your company to Gmail.
The ultimate goal is to be on all of these platforms eventually to make sure you’re not missing out on any specific markets. But for starters, Facebook is a must, followed by Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin depending the visual nature of your business. SocialMe can help.