Facebook has become a staple for both personal interests and business matters and is on point to reach 1 billion users by August—that’s 1/7 of the world’s population. Twitter, the other social media giant, has greater than 140 million active users.
Because there are so many users, and because we spend so much time on it (average of nearly 8 hours per month, per user for Facebook alone), social media has become a great channel for asking/giving help.
For years now, non-profits and charities have used social media to run campaigns, ask for donations/sponsorship, gain awareness and promote their causes, but just recently, people have started to take advantage of social media’s reach to distribute SOS messages.
In the past few years, there have been several instances where people have used social media to communicate with rescue crews or loved ones when they couldn’t get to a phone, or if phone lines were inaccessible. Missing person reports and important alerts and emergency response messages are also being delivered regularly through sites like Facebook and Twitter, simply because no other channel can reach so many people in such a short amount of time. The social space is the most saturated marketplace for dispersing and receiving messages and the public is finally starting to take advantage of this shift.
Below are a few local/national crisis’ with which people have used social media to let loved ones know they were okay, or to ask for medical assistance.
-In the Aftermath of the horrific tornado in Joplin, MO in May of 2011, the city’s newspaper, The Joplin Globe created a Facebook page that would help tornado survivors to locate missing family members, or to let loved ones know of their safety and location. For more information please click here.
-After and during the Mumbai Terrorist attacks, hospitals and volunteers were actively tweeting contact numbers, emergency response services, and requests for blood donors in nearby hospitals. Twitter users were also engaging in citizen journalism where they were reporting and uploading pictures as the events took place, and as a forum for getting in touch with displaced or missing family and friends.
Mashable did a survey asking people how likely they would be to use social media as a way to communicate their safety to loved ones…here are the results:
28% said they definitely would
21% said they probably would
22% said they may/may not
13% said they probably would not
16% said they definitely would not
Would you use social media to let your loved ones know your safety? Would you answer a tweet or Facebook post that asked for medical assistance? Please leave your comments below!
Though many believe content marketing to be a fairly new phenomenon, in actuality, the concept has been around for hundreds of years starting with the first bag of chocolate chips that gave its consumers a great recipe for baking chocolate chip cookies.
According to Susan Gunelius, author of Content Marketing for Dummies, content marketing is “the practice of developing awareness, recall, purchases and loyalty through the use of content published on or offline.”
Okay, that’s nice but how is this going to help my business to increase sales and awareness?
The fact of the matter is that content marketing is a KEY component to increasing your sales and your brand’s awareness.
1.Content Marketing shows your clients and potential clients that you are an authority for your subject matter. Giving unique and valuable information to your following, asking for nothing in return, is a great way to build trust and gain loyal brand ambassadors.
2.Content Marketing helps to drive traffic to your website. In creating more content in connection to your brand, you will increase your chances of showing up in a Google/Yahoo search. Well-written content also gets shared and linked to, and backlinks are one of the best ways with which to climb up the search rank ladder.
3.Content Marketing helps to build your marketing lists—a great technique in content marketing is to create fabulous content (which should always be your intent), and to ask your readers to enter their email addresses to receive your content for free. Both sides will mutually benefit from this scenario; your brand will have more email addresses to send sales collateral, newsletters and promotions, and your following will obtain valuable information free of charge.
4.Content Marketing strengthens your relationships with existing and potential clients and helps you to become a greater influence within your target market.
In the last few years, big brands like Coca-Cola and Amazon have spent nearly 26% of their marketing budget on content marketing—will you hop on the content marketing train, or are you already a frequent user? Leave your thoughts in the comment box below!
1. It can drive more traffic to your Web sites
If consumers identify certain descriptive words or slogans that represent your brand, it makes your company much more visible within the online marketplace. The more ways that people can describe and identify your brand, the more search results will be found in sites like Google and Bing. A great example of this is McDonalds. The following keywords/phrases would easily find the company on search engines:
• I’m Lovin’ It
• Golden Arches
• Big Mac
• Ronald McDonald
• Put a Smile On
• Happy Meal
2. It gives your company more credibility
Plain and simple, people go with what they know. If faced with a decision between two different products with similar price points, people will most probably always go with the better-known brand. Consumers have a very strong influence on one another and if a company has built their brand around a specific product or service, people will talk (good or bad). The more positive chatter, the greater chance your company has at becoming a credible organization and one within which consumers will become loyal to. There is a phenomenon called brand religion that explains this behavior. This means that the value of a company’s brand becomes so high that consumers will remain loyal to it even if it costs much more or its stock has depleted.
3. Helps your company to develop a recognizable identity
One piece of effective branding is that you have created an identity that can be recognized by the masses. Do you recognize all of the logos on the rest stop sign when driving on the highway? If yes, it means that that brand has done a good job in developing a recognizable brand identity. If you have made the products or services of your brand to represent something specific, your consumers will expect that consistency for all of your products/services. For example, Coach is a highly recognizable brand, and their products are identified as a high-end and good-quality alternative.
4. Makes your consumers view you in a certain way, and affects their behaviors
Being a recognized brand also comes with a lot of responsibility. People start to expect certain things from your brand, and they can turn on you just as easily if you disappoint them. An example of this would be finding out that a company that positioned themselves as a very environmentally responsible organization that prided themselves in using all green and natural products, was using artificial growth hormones on their animals, and emitting chemicals into the atmosphere. If your consumers viewed you as the way you marketed yourself (green and all natural), and you indulge in behaviors that prove otherwise, your consumers will most probably switch to a different brand no matter how loyal they had been to you previously. A strong brand also allows the transfer of the brand to new products, meaning your consumer will assume that because your brand has created the product, it will be as good as their other products that they love so much.
5. Distinguishes your company from competitors
This simply means that your entire brand make-up including products, designs, logo, and overall mission is unique to other companies in your field. Making sure to stand-out is important, especially in such a saturated market. A great example of a company that has made their brand distinguishable from their competitors is Apple. Not only do they develop high-tech and highly functional unique products, but they are the people that other brands mimic. Their products are so unique from their “competitors” that it almost seems as though they aren’t competing. Apple and HP are both computer companies, but Apple products are so different from other computer products that they almost can’t be lumped in the same category.
The age old advice that our parents and grandparents have drilled into our heads, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” is nice in theory, but as hard as we try not to, the book’s cover will always be judged first.
Web design is a great example of this theory. Aesthetically pleasing and well-formatted design is judged to be more professional and more credible as a business that people would feel comfortable collaborating with.
Answer me this:
Would you rather do business with this company?
or this one?
Good businesses outcomes go hand-and-hand with well-designed websites and collateral. It’s so important to represent your business online and on paper in a way that you would present yourself in person to a prospective client or employee. You wouldn’t (hopefully) show up to a job interview in sweatpants and a t-shirt—exactly like you shouldn’t skimp out on the appearance of your Website because that is often the first way in which prospective clients will be introduced to your brand.
Good design helps business solve complex situations with creative solutions. To create value, remain competitive and gain customer trust and loyalty, web design is integral. Good Web design can represent your company in a multitude of ways. Say you’re a construction company that specializes in architectural exploration. Your Web site can mirror that idea by replicating the innovative and modern design style that you create in your buildings.
Creating a Website in a way that represents your company is critical in establishing your brand as a competitor and as a reputable contender in your field. Communicating this frame of mind through your Website through visual language is a great way to get the public to understand that you value your brand, and aim to portray that through each medium.
Good design is a crucial asset to your brand that is most effective when applied early in corporate business plans, not as the cherry on the sundae.
Who are your Competitors? – discovering who your competitors are (as if you didn’t already know) is very important to ensure that you are offering the best product in your industry. Being able to identify your competitors can help you to find out more about what they are doing better or worse than your brand, and also can help you to listen to what their customers are saying about them.
Who are the Customers of Your Competition? – again this is important so that you can listen to their conversation about your competitor’s brand and see what they do/do not like about that company, and rework your product/service accordingly.
What are the Customers of Your Competition Unhappy About? – are you repeating the same mistake that your competitor is doing? Well by monitoring what your competitor’s clients are complaining about can help your brand to not mimic whatever made these consumers unhappy. You can also take that one step further by advertising the anti-“whatever they didn’t like about competitor’s product/service.” For example if they are complaining about the slow and poor customer service, advertise your GREAT customer service and provide incentives to these people to switch over to your brand.
What Has Your Competition Been Successful With and What Have They Failed At? – as illustrated above, the opposite can also occur. Your competitor is has just created a great product that is very user-friendly and reliable. Your consumers have been complaining about the complicity of your product, and for that reason, your clients are switching over. In monitoring what your competition is doing well, you can do your best to replicate (in a lawful manner), and perhaps even surpass the user-experience of your product/service.
When Did Your Competition Start Gaining/Losing Followers/Customers? (spotting trends) – this is a very important aspect of competitive intelligence to consider especially because in looking at time periods, you can then track it back to an event or experience that could have caused the gain or loss. For example, your competition started losing customers/followers around the same time that its well-respected and mature CEO retired—people may have lost faith and trust in the company enough so that they felt they didn’t want to give them the business anymore (this is your chance to swoop in, and ensure them that your brand will take care of them in the way that your competitor’s brand used to).
When and How Often Does Your Competition Engage With Customers? – engaging is such an important aspect in gaining a loyal and faithful brand following. If your clients know that you value their input, and respond to their questions/concerns/comments quickly and effectively, they will be more apt to return again for further product purchases/services.
Where Does Your Competition Put Most of Their Marketing Efforts? (what media types) – knowing this information is helpful when gathering competitive intelligence because we can start to understand their business strategies and plans. If we know they are putting most of their marketing efforts into their website, then we know that perhaps they are lacking in the social media marketing area, and we can zero in and capitalize on this hole. It’s also good to know where the unsaturated areas of your market lie in the online marketplace, so that you can take advantage of the lack of usage in this area and be one of the first to set up stake with little to no competition.
Where Do Most Customers Share Their Opinions About Your Competition? (what media types) – this is a great place to camp out because obviously if the majority of the competition’s clients are gathering and sharing thoughts in one specific area, then you will get the most insight in that specific area. Gaining customer insight is crucial to the success of your company for your own brand and for your competitor’s brand because there is always room for improvement, and customers will tell you which areas are lacking.
Why Are Customers Choosing Your Competition Over Your Brand? (what do customers value) – again listening to what customers are looking for in a product or service will help you to mold into the company that your customers dream of. Look to see what your competitor’s customers like about their brand and cross-reference it to that of your own…do you have similar programs, or are they lacking in comparison to your competition?
Why is Your Competition Making Certain Business Decisions? – Predictive Analytics allow you to be better prepared for future changes in the competitive landscape .
1. Your Site Looks Unprofessional
Your Website visitors are going to decide whether or not your brand is reputable and trustworthy within seconds of viewing your home page. Web designers have the experience and the understanding of what your customers will be looking for upon arrival. Aesthetics and creating a user-friendly interface are issues that they are experts in, so if your site isn’t getting the traffic that you’d hoped, consider rethinking the look and feel of your site and consulting with a professional for their opinion.
2. Your Site Isn’t Interactive and Engaging
It is important to spell out everything for your viewers. Web designers will work to simplify information so that your clients can find the “about us” section or the “contact us” section as quickly and easily as possible. Is there an appropriate ratio of visuals to words? People want to know the quick background and major concepts of your work—if they want to read a book, they will go to the bookstore.
3. Your Navigation Links are Long and Complicated
Navigation links should be short, descriptive, and specific. Where the link directs you when you click on it should be completely in sync with the navigation link verbage. Web designers will be able to show you the standard practices of building a functional website, with effective inbound/outbound navigation links.
4. The Information on Your Site is Dated
If your website is still promoting events that happened last month, how are your viewers supposed to trust the rest of the information displayed on your site? Web designers can create a website that can be easily updated by you or themselves. Creating a fairly uncomplicated interface for their client is something that designers are very good at—a lot of people don’t want to spend the extra money to have their site maintained by an outside source (which is fine), so it is important to get an experienced designer to walk you through the steps to maintain the backside of your site.
5. The Pictures on Your Site Aren’t Optimized
If your website is full of large pictures that take forever to download looking pixelated and/or warped once they do, don’t expect your viewers to stick around. Web designers know exactly how to optimize images on your website, helping it to operate smoother and faster.
6. Your Text is Hard to Read
Computer screen reading is hard enough on the eyes; don’t make it any harder by writing large amounts of text. You should always keep your writing short and sweet for maximum readability and blocks of text should never be more than 12-15 words long, and 3 to 5 lines long. Web designers will help you to get the most out of your text, finding the most effective balance between content and design.
7. If Your Site is Hosted on a Free Site
Free hosting puts other businesses’ ad banners on top of your site…do you really want to be advertising for another company on your own site? Hosting on a free site also dramatically slows the loading time on your site, frustrating your readers and discouraging them from staying.
8. If Your Site Can’t be Found Through Search Engines
No site, no business. Web designers will work with the web coder to make sure your site is search engine optimized and has the appropriate keywords to ensure that you will be as close to the top of a Google, or other search engine search, as possible.
9. If You Don’t Have Navigation Links at the Top and Bottom of Your Site
People don’t like to be bothered to scroll down to the bottom of your home page to find the “about us” or the “contact us” links. It is the web designer’s job to make it easier for your viewers to get to the desired area of your site.
10. Your Text Goes On…and On…and On…
The body text on your site should be easy for your users to read. A web designer can create balance between space, text and images, so that your viewer will see and read only the most important information to give them a basis for conversation when they call in for your product or services.