Creating and Optimizing Content

Creating and Optimizing Content

Content is King. This is probably an overused cliche, but nevertheless, it’s true. When you are talking about website content and social media content, it’s even truer. Content can come in a wide variety of formats to include text, blogs, videos, podcasts, infographics, and live broadcasts just to name a few. Anything you share on a company site or social media platform is considered content. From the perspective of your target market or existing client base, any form of media they see is content. That’s why it’s crazy important to create the most vivid and strategic content you can deliver. Content affects your brand which is your reputation. So, only the best content should be allowed.

When it comes to creating great content, you owe to yourself to use the best tools available. Here are a few resources I use daily to create content. Not everything requires a monetary investment on your part either. A lot of fantastic tools are free, believe it or not. Most software has both free and paid versions. So, make use of what you can and pay for things when it brings the benefit you need for your business. There’s no need to waste money to tools you may not need as much as others.

The software I use the most is probably Canva. This elite graphics design tool makes designing crisp and brilliant visuals so simple to do. It carries tons of templates, some free and some not. I do pay for this software. One of the main reasons I do is for the resizing aspect of already created images. You can take graphics you’ve already made for Facebook for instance and resize it into the perfect size for Twitter, Pinterest, or even a magazine layout. With Canva you can design ebooks, flyers, marketing materials, wallpapers, and sorts of social media images.

Most content consists of both text and imaging. There are loads of great image resources available online to get the best quality photos for your content. Unsplash and Pixabay are my favorite free image sites for sure. There are a zillion different results available with a quick and easy search bar that keys on words.

Keep in mind, when I mention text content, I am referring to the actual wording used. Image and graphics are extremely important, but the wording in a lot of cases is too. Think about what you are trying to “say”. What message are you wanting to get out to your audience? Effective marketing in print or online is only as good as its delivery. If you want to showcase a new product, for example, you need to share the “benefit” of what you are selling and “entice” people to buy it. Think about beer commercials for a second. A lot of these ads feature something just about everyone loves, that being football. In that type of visual scene, they also make sure the packaging is vividly cool and the product is “ice cold”. It’s all about presentation. Content needs to have substance and pop off the screen.

Imagine with me you just wrote a short blog series on how to build the perfect kitchen table. The blog is beautifully written and Yoast says it’s highly rated for “readability” and “SEO”. What’s SEO? I’ll clarify that in just a moment. So, you have this fantastic blog series. How are you going to market it? There are many ways to market it and all of them involve some kind of content. Videos need great editing, perhaps music, the best scenery, and catchy speech. An infographic needs heavy design emphasis regarding fonts used, color schemes, and imaging. A social media post must be an attention grabber visually. Which post below would be more appealing to you if you were scrolling facebook?

We sell apples at our store
photo Kasman on Pixabay

Want to taste the juiciest red delicious apples? photo by Roksolana Zasiadko on Unsplash

Now, let’s talk about SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization and basically, it means getting more traffic for your site on search engine results pages. Any company that wants to grow has the ultimate goal of being at the top of page one on Google search. When a prospective client is looking for a product, most people type it directly into the Google search bar. Optimizing your site is one way to help achieve that goal one day. How do you optimize your site exactly? There are many things you want to do to improve SEO. 

 

Here is a list of Ten Things your business should do

  • Come up with the best FOCUS KEYWORD you can for any content displayed
  • Utilize INTERNAL LINKS back to site pages or content posts
  • By all means, check your GRAMMAR
  • Make use of DESCRIPTORS like tags, alt text, captions, description, and excerpts
  • Reference EXTERNAL LINKS as long as they aren’t competitors
  • Maximize the SPEED of your site’s loading time
  • Get GOOGLE VERIFIED and pay attention to GOOGLE ANALYTICS
  • Include WIDELY SEARCHED PHRASES in your site content
  • NEVER TRY TO TRICK Google with hidden text or links as you will get caught
  • Improve the DESIGN, READABILITY, and CONTENT to get people to spend more time there

 

To some business owners, this may be a little complicated if you don’t have a website manager or web design company in place. If you can’t program your site, virtualRVA would be happy to help. In any case, take special consideration to how your site is built and what content is displayed. If not, both revenue and growth may be lacking for the future.

 

Social Proof Brings More Business

Social Proof Brings More Business

It really is all about who you know or who knows you for that matter. In business, the people that you know should and can be the added push you need to grow your business. They call knowing certain individuals in business being “connected”. And, having those connections will without a doubt drastically increase your chances of success. You see, sometimes it takes more than hard work to get an edge on the competition. It takes a lot of building and fostering relationships with other entrepreneurs and business owners. In marketing, we call this Social Proof.

Social Proof is a sort of peer pressure. It’s all psychological. Basically, it’s a way to socially influence the behaviors of consumers completely through the actions of others. Let’s say, for example, you have produced and marketed some wireless headphones that have some technology superior to other companies, but you can’t seem to get sales. If you find a way to provide some social proof that consumers need to buy them, your sales will exponentially increase. Hmmm? So, what do you do? Well, let’s say you get a major music artist to try them out. And then they fall in love with them. At that point, you are getting social proof. With their permission, you can have them do a video testimony of how they enjoy those headphones. This credence will no doubt have consumers saying, “I need to buy those”.

Entrepreneurs, who are paid event speakers, gain a ton of social proof when business owners, media outlets, and other entrepreneurs give them KUDOS on how they’ve helped them out. Appearances on tv shows and news outlet features give them credibility especially when they use those big names on their websites. For example, check out Gary Vee’s site which shows what media giants he has been featured on.

Keep in mind, you don’t have to be on Fox News or appear in the Wall Street Journal to get social proof. Any business owner can gain some level of credibility no matter what scale it’s on. If you have clients that love your work, have them do a video testimony to expound on how extremely talented you are. Have other business owners share your social media content. Do a guest blog for another company and have it posted on their website and other media platforms.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The bottom line to getting social proof is to be the best at what you do for all your clients all the time. Once you have clients loving your business or your products, you then will begin to see referrals coming your way. After you get the social proof, you absolutely have to use that positivity to its fullest potential. I mean, work it seriously. Brag like crazy in a humble way. Put the written content or videos on every platform your business utilizes. People that don’t know you or your business will come to trust you as they hear the testimonies of other satisfied clients.

Read this example of a client testimony my wife received recently about her and our company.

With the internet completely changing how business is done these days, it’s undeniably critical to take advantage of its advertising capabilities. There is a huge increase of people starting their own businesses right now in the U.S. alone, let alone the rest of the world. A great amount of these startups are online businesses. This is why you must leverage every ounce of client satisfaction and social proof you can to be successful.

 

Why Using Quality Photos is Essential

Why Using Quality Photos is Essential

tropical sunset with palm trees

They say that image is everything. In business, that is a very true statement. When it comes to marketing and advertising products, it’s even more important. In a lot of cases, you have a limited opportunity to catch the eye of a prospective buyer. People are inundated by marketing across all media outlets because of the rapid growth of technology. What people see is what they perceive reality to be. Therefore, businesses are challenged to send the right messages by using quality photos in order to reach their target market.

When you think about social media marketing, there is a smaller window of opportunity in a Facebook or Twitter feed to grab someone’s attention. The new enemy of business is the finger that scrolls too fast. Will they see your product launch promotion? Will they notice the value in what you are selling? Maybe. Maybe not. All you can do is take care of what is within your control as a business owner. Creating and displaying high definition and high-quality imaging definitely is within your control.

Use the best photography equipment

As with anything else, the level of quality of a photo or digital image is in direct correlation to the quality of the device you use to create that image. Lately, it seems tech users throw around the term Megapixel a lot when discussing quality photos. A Megapixel (MP) is one million pixels of which each point in a photo is a pixel. The iPhone 7 Plus, for example, has 12MP which consists of 12 million pixels. One would think that having more is usually better, right? Not necessarily. The biggest determinant of quality is again the device you are using. Does the iPhone 7 Plus shoot good pictures? Of course. However, quality comes from the lens and the sensor being used.

Here are 4 important factors affecting image quality

Lens – What separates a good lens from a bad lens depends on glass quality, manufacturing process, and grade of coatings used. The innovation used in Nikon’s Aspherical Lens helps to drastically reduce distortion and lens aberration. A coating placed on a lens helps to minimize reflection of light issues. Basically, you get what you pay for. Quality isn’t always cheap, but it’s critical.

Sensor – This is typically the most expensive part of any camera. This is the device that captures the light and converts it into an image. The sensor removes the need for film. This is where ‘bigger is better’ stands out strongly. Larger sensors have the ability to capture more light and therefore create photos with an increased dynamic range with less noise.

picture of photographer taking a picture

Photographer – Taking a brilliant and dazzling photo isn’t as easy as one would think. Even with the production of better cell phones and DSLR cameras, that alone doesn’t lead to great imaging. What does matter is who is taking the photo. What skills and experience do they have? Are they familiar with how light affects photos in general? Use images taken by only those with the keen eye and talent for shooting.

Light Conditions – Understanding just how light affects a photograph cannot be overemphasized. What things do you have to look for as far as good lighting?

  • Where is the Sun shining up above?
  • What time of day are you taking the shot?
  • Is it cloudy or is the sky completely blue and bright?
  • Is there a great amount of shade?
  • Are you indoors or is it at night?

I think you get the point. Many variables directly influence when you should take that photo and if it will turn out good or not. Take a nice Flash with you if you will be in low-light areas or indoors. Haze and moisture affect the brightness of a photo too so keep an eye on humidity levels and the weather changes. Need a few tips on lighting, check out this video.

photo session setup with lighting

Now, let’s switch to what a lot of businesses are doing these days. That is using stock images from sites like Pixabay, Picjumbo, and Gratisography can be a fantastic way to find high-quality images for web use. Keep in mind, you want to know the copyright ramifications and if a particular image requires attribution or is free for commercial use. Take a look at the image closely and check any requirements before posting on your website or social media platform.

Take a look at the overall color scheme of the website when you decide which images to throw up. This will ensure everything flows and doesn’t look cluttered or out of place. Also, use the right size when uploading it on your site so that it loads fast when someone pulls up your page. You can check upload speeds online to make sure your website isn’t slowed by a photo.

Click here Call To Action button

The bottom line is that you want to attract the viewer and keep their interest. Using the best images on social media posts, email campaigns, and CTA’s can also drive website traffic and improve conversion rates. The most highly shared Facebook posts and retweets on Twitter are a lot of times a direct result of the imaging behind the posts.

Let me just make a side statement though. A lot of businesses starting out may not be able to purchase the greatest camera on the market. That’s okay. I am one of those. Rock what you’ve got. Bad grammar but a wise statement none the less. Create the best images you can with whatever tools you have.

So, take a look at the photos currently on your website and think about these aspects of quality imaging.

 

Creating A Crisp & Clean SM Profile

Creating A Crisp & Clean SM Profile

Creating a social media profile sounds simple enough. Yet truthfully, although it may be easy and quick to set up, making sure you do it right is absolutely critical. There are many components that make up a social media profile. Of course, each platform is different and unique. Facebook for example, likely considered the most popular and hottest social media platform, has a decent amount of room available and categories with which to fully detail your business page. We will delve into a few of the different platforms but I really want to break down the essentials of what every business should have.

Where do we begin? Start with the basics which include business name, profile picture, and cover image. Utilize the branded logo of your company as the profile picture unless you are the face of the company. A lot of sole business owners, coaches, and entrepreneurs use their favorite photo of themselves, but you may opt for the company logo instead. As for the cover page, the photo or image should indicate clearly what this page is about. If you are a hair stylist, you probably don’t want to use a photo of construction workers building a house. Make the cover image accentuate the purpose of the page and the business behind it. Check out how the UFC uses it’s cover page to promote upcoming events.

The most important info that needs to be on a social media profile besides contact information is the bio or about section. Use as many available characters allowed. Here are the character limits for some popular social media sites:

Facebook

  • 155 characters for Short Description
  • 255 characters for About

Twitter

  • 160 characters for Bio

Instagram

  • 150 characters for Description

LinkedIn

  • 120 characters for Professional Bio

When you create and describe what your page is about, you will need to make the best use of the space allowed. Making the description interesting and full of important information is vital. Please don’t waste space either. Make it stand out so that people will want to follow it and understand exactly what it’s about.

Honestly, it’s all about how crisp and clean the social media profile is. No typos are allowed. Great grammar is suggested. The contact and other business information need to be up-to-date too. Remember, everything you put online about your business affects your reputation as a company.

Depending on the type of business page category you select may open up other profile fields such as company overview, history, and products to name a few.

Looking for suggestions on what a company page should look like? Check out these below:

  • Tervis – the tumbler drinkware creator
  • Red Bull – Energy beverage maker
  • Dyson – makes some killer vacuum cleaners
  • Canva – graphic design tool
  • IBM – computing

A profile page isn’t a one and done concept. Periodic changes and maintenance must be kept up with in order to maintain a current social media profile. Just like anything else, each business must be about innovation and staying fluidly flexible. If you already have profiles out there on Instagram, and Twitter, it’s time to analyze them and make any needed changes right away.

Click here to register for free Blog and other social media marketing info.

 

Creating & Expanding Your Brand

Creating & Expanding Your Brand

Business pages on social media platforms are essentially a showcase of the brand behind the company. The brand is simply the image of what people perceive your business to be. What are you showing for visitors to consume as they scroll your page? The obvious starting point is to craft your company logo effectively and with the best resolution possible. Brand presence is easily seen by the overwhelming success of both Apple and Nike for example. The Apple logo and the Nike Swoosh are globally recognized with no need for words or scripting. Their products are incredible without the branding, but their branding is just as incredible.

To brand your company successfully, there are many things to consider. Yes, you are right. It’s more than a logo and a website. What I am speaking about today is geared towards the social media end of things. I want to carefully lay out some of the most important areas to focus on when it comes to branding.

Provide a Modern and User-Friendly Website

With companies all over the world attempting to grab the attention of online users every second of every day, your brand must stand out. After all, the average attention span of us humans is about 8 seconds. That’s just shy of a goldfish. Now you see. You don’t have much of a chance to get people interested, much less maintain their attention. People want an easy flow visually on the website. You don’t want a lot of clutter and more is not always better. Crammed pages and menus can be stressful to consumers. Because of this, the layout design of your website is so important. It’s much easier these days to get nice templates and layout ideas.

Website tools like WordPress are making it easy to start a cool and effective site. So, if you aren’t a genius web designer or very creative, using an online web creation tool will help you tremendously. Our company, virtualRVA, prefers to use WordPress when building and designing websites for our customers. As far as the graphical look of the website goes, consider thoughtfully what color scheme you choose and make it consistent across the various pages. The vibe and feel of your business logo should determine what color scheme that ends up being.

Create Flawless and Consistent Content

Every advertisement and mention of your products across social media and other marketing campaigns must have a consistent and flawless branding design. The brand has to be a major focal point of all content created. Content as with any company project or initiative must have a strategy behind it. That strategy should show a pattern of consistent and targeted execution to prove effective. Let’s say you come up with a grand idea to advertise a new product coming out. Although you may have some awesome content to deliver, you can’t just unload it all online at the same time like a barrage of gunfire. You have to give careful thought as to the timing of when you share content. The intent is to make the audience want more. Execution is paramount. The content you do put out in the digital space represents your brand. Therefore, make it crisp visually and emotionally engaging.

Communicate VALUE

Consumers can buy things at an innumerable amount of places both online and at physical locations across the globe. It’s highly unlikely that you are a monopoly offering products no one else is selling yet. If you are, that’s fabulous. For the rest of us who do have competitors, your business must stand out through the value it brings to the market. There must be a niche that sets you apart in some form or fashion. What is the value? Value is simply something that brings worth, usefulness, and benefit to someone.

Like, why is your mobile app any different than the zillion others being offered for free already? What about your web design skills helps you to build better and more valuable web pages than the competition? How is the blog you write more interesting than all the other blogs being sent to email addresses already? Within your overall business strategy, it’s important to note the key differences your products have that bring more value to prospective buyers. Once you know what those differences are, you need to market the hell out of them on social media. People must become aware because right now, they don’t know.

Target Audience

Who is your target market? What group of people make up the buyers you feel can most benefit from the value you are bringing? It’s good to know who your audience is and where they are. It’s also good to know where they spend their time online. What age group are you deciding is a right fit for your business? Yes, you can hang a door flyer on every house and business in your local city if you want to. However, being strategic about who you market to and what content you use to advertise is vital to success and profit. Focusing in on your target audience will save you money on social media ads and give you more bang for your buck. I think you get the point.

Brand Promise

What does your brand promise to consumers? A brand promise is a combination of the emotional connection you have built with people and the expectations people have about the value they will get from your brand. Buyers who become ongoing customers develop a belief in the products and services you put out in the marketplace. They likely will stick with you if they get a positive vibe after their initial experience with you. The more companies can build upon that brand promise with consumers, the more likely those consumer buy again and also refer your brand to their family and friends.

 

The brand promise of the Coca-Cola Company is to refresh the world in mind, body, and spirit, and inspire moments of optimism; to create value and make a difference.

Another example is Samsung Electronics who has a brand promise that simply says

“Inspire the World, Create the Future”

Brand Persona

What kind of personality does your business have? Are you on the serious side? Are you fun and playful? Do you seem artsy or more conservative and rigid? How your brand is delivered and seen relays what kind of personality it effectively has. This contributes greatly to how you market your business and how your content looks and feels. Whatever brand persona you have and want, make sure it stays consistent and connects well with your target audience. The main thing is to not let your business appear to be a Jekyll and Hyde company. If you don’t know who Jekyll and Hyde are, click here.

Brand Packaging

My wife has said from time to time that the packaging of a product is the reason I actually bought that product. She will laugh and say, “they got you with that package didn’t they?”. It’s true that brilliantly packaged products and services is so important. Creative imaging and use of the business logo makes a world of difference in sales. After all, who wants to buy a box that’s wrapped in newspaper? Product packaging is kind of a crazy phenomenon these days. The design of the bottle or can your beer comes in a lot of times determines which beer you might drink that night. Beer companies are constantly tinkering with the shape of the bottle and the artwork on their packaging. What’s better? Twist-off tops or tops that need a bottle opener? Obviously, the product itself must bring value, but the packaging at times seems to be almost as important.

Brand Communication

Now that you have your brand laid out and a strategy around what your brand personifies, it’s time to think about how you will communicate the brand to your target audience. What will this brand look like across the various social media platforms? What type of content will you use to share this brand consistently in the online space?

As we will discuss in future blogs over the next 10 weeks, brand communication and marketing can be delivered in several different mediums such as video, blogging, infographics, animation, and images to name a few. Mixing up the type of content used is a good idea, so don’t just focus on one of these. Careful thought should be put into each and every piece of content to be delivered. Content must communicate value and make that emotional connection. Consequently, it is better to have more quality content than a higher quantity of content. Brand communication across social media is a way to bring awareness and at the same time create a way for consumers to link to your website or product launch.

We will get into much more detail on these components of branding in the coming weeks as we continue the series on “What Your Business Must Do on Social Media”. Stay tuned and definitely engage with us on Facebook or at our website.

 

 

Social Media: A Must for Your Business

Social Media: A Must for Your Business

Being relevant on Social Media, for a lot of small businesses, used to be a take it or leave it proposition. After all, there are many ways to advertise like television, radio, and print. Like anything new and innovative that involves change, businesses are a bit skeptical most of the time. Does it cost money? Who do you even go to about hiring to advertise for you on the internet? Is it really going to make a difference anyway?

Facebook, arguably the current king of social media, launched back in early 2004. Twitter unleashed the tweets in March of 2006. This is relatively a new phenomenon you would think. Yet, the energy with which social media and the internet have created is increasing rapidly. Not to mention the explosion of the mobile space. Cell phones, tablets, laptops, and watches have nearly replaced the desktop computer. Consumers are on the go, constantly going from place to place in this fast paced environment. This makes it incredibly important for businesses trying to reach new customers to wake up and get online.

Personally speaking, Amazon is crushing the marketplace with their businesses. It seems lately I’m buying so much stuff from there. They have built their brand around marketing and the ease of doing business. You search for an item and poof, it ends up on your Facebook feed as an advertisement. They just bought Whole Foods recently, which is a genius move in my opinion. I’ve already used Amazon for some groceries with their Prime Now option. This program lets you order and has it delivered the same day like ordering a pizza. The wine and beer are even brought chilled. It’s amazing. They are using Social Media as a key component of their advertising budget. There is a lot to learn from this company.

Now, of course, the majority of businesses are online, but their websites may be outdated and in desperate need of a re-design and fresh content. To be honest, some sites I’ve seen have fundamental flaws like typos and links that don’t even work. That needs to be the first thing corrected for sure. Also, it’s even more vital to be mobile ready with your website. Ensuring that the website meshes on computers, cell phones, and tablets is simply a requirement these days.  

 

With all this in mind, social media is at the center of how smart companies and entrepreneurs are reaching out. So, what should a small business do? What are some of the most critical aspects to keep in mind when it comes to marketing on social media?

In the next 10 weeks, virtualRVA will be doing a weekly blog to share what your business must do on Social Media. Each blog will expound in detail about actions you need to take. These actions and strategies will lead to more success and more sales. Want to sign up to receive all the blogs and tips virtualRVA puts out, register your email here.

We are really excited about this blog series and look forward to helping out in any way we can to grow your business.

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