Being “Liked” online really matters

Google & Bing search used to be relatively simple, the more people who link to content, the further it will be pushed towards the top of search results. With the rise in social media however people are discovering content not via internet search but through
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Search engines are now evolving to catch up. If you do not yet have a social media strategy, start building followings on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and ensure that every page of content can be “Liked” to a person’s social media circle with a Facebook & Twitter share button and Google’s +1 logo. Keep an eye on search results to see if Google’s +1 logo is starting to appear on your links. If not, step up social media to encourage more sharing and “Liking” of content.

Building relationships in social media requires resources, both time and bodies. You need to have a dedicated person or team that fields the responsibility of communicating on a one on one level with your audience. Social media requires trust! that means, be real – be who you are and let employees be who they are, representatives of your brand.

Whether it’s through newsletters, blogs or even forum posts get out there and communicate! By communicating “early” you have the opportunity to head off those “storms” that can arise, but not only that, you can also get a jump-start on topics that are hot in your industry and respond to them a lot earlier than your competition. Don’t just post links to your blog posts, or press releases on Twitter. Get involved with your community. If people are looking for assistance, point them in the right direction, even if it’s not to your site, that’ll gain you much more respect.

Social media offers a unique opportunity for you to get real reactions, learn about real issues or problems as well as successes straight from your customers’ perspectives. It’s amazing the things you can learn just by listening to what your customers or your audience is saying.

In the most basic sense, SEO is about content

Great content improves your site’s ability to rank well (i.e. GET more quality visitors) and more effectively engage potential customers.

Here are 10 tips to help you make the most of your SEO efforts:

  • Know your target market. Think of the many ways potential clients may be searching for your products or services.
  • Focus on website design. Make sure your website has clear Calls to Action and navigation that will encourage visitors to explore, learn and connect with your business.
  • Be realistic about keywords. You may want to rank for a keyword phrase, but your website may not be ready to dominate the major search engines for that term or phrase. You can improve your ranking with search engines if you have a keyword in your domain.
  • Write content lots of content. Extra pages can support your most
    important keywords and inspire many other search terms as you develop your website.
  • Favor text headers. (like the headlines on your Web pages). The right combination of keywords in a page header can help with rankings.
  • Add your blog as a directory. A blog can support keyword themes and build up your core content. A blog also opens up new opportunities for inbound links. Your blog should be on your domain, and not a disconnected entity.
  • Write compelling Meta descriptions. (these are brief and concise summary of your page’s content) Meta descriptions have lost their influence on rankings, but they still appear within search engine ranking results. Make sure yours include Calls to Action, company attributes and keywords that echo the keywords used to find your website.
  • Get more links. Add your website to free and paid directories. Write articles and add your company name and link, when possible, to your bio. Issue news releases about the expertise you showcase on your website.
  • Monitor your website analytics (Google is free). Ongoing traffic analysis is a critical part of any SEO effort. You need to understand what keywords are driving traffic and converting that traffic into leads or new customers.
  • Watch your rankings. Sometimes a keyword ranks well on more than one page. Pay close attention so you can determine what page is best positioned to help you achieve higher rankings.

Future potential – QR Codes

QR codes similar to barcodes can be used for ads or promotions. QR codes offer several possibilities to marketers. If you have a traditional media advert the QR code can send the customer to a website that you can keep live and up to date, regardless of when the advert was published. The code also allows you to communicate plenty of information, without paying for more ad space, by linking the ad to the information on you own site. You can target customers more individually by giving different options when they reach the website. You can also encourage uptake of the QR code with a special promotion – customers need a reason to bother to scan the tag – and you can offer location or time based offers. QR codes are most effective in areas where people are searching for information.

Brand new brand thinking

We live and work in a world overflowing with brands and selling messages. People expect all sorts of items to be presented to them in easily recognisable and identifiable packages. When you launch a new brand identity, you need to exploit every means of communication available to indicate to your community the change it represents, and to win their hearts and minds. Summing up everything that your business stands for in a consistent and recognisable brand is a valuable way of helping to achieve this.

When people think of brands, they often think of logos, jingles, or adverts

These are definitely all outward expressions of brands. But for branding to be successful, these components need to come from a consistent set of beliefs and values. These may be already imprinted on your mind but if not, think about what you want the business to achieve (vision). What beliefs and standards will guide all of your actions (values). What makes you different and special (key differentiators) and in what manner you are going to deliver them all (personality). By making a note of these thoughts, you are creating a plan that will help you, and/or a design and branding agency, to really understand how your business should be communicated through design and writing.

Building your brand’s identity

A brand is so much more than a logo; your logo will be just one part of the many aspects of the brand expression. The expression of your brand will be both visual and verbal, what it looks like, and the kind of words it uses. Visual expressions include the logo, photography, illustrations and fonts. Verbal expressions include your key messages, strapline and written communications (web, prospectus, leaflets). Either way all of these elements of your businesses language and design should work together to present a consistent, unified set of messages to your community about what you stand for. Your visual branding will need to be:

  • Consistent – the same colour palettes, typefaces and design elements should be applied across everything in the same way.
  • Flexible – your designs will have to work over objects of many different sizes, and made of many different materials. They will include everything from pens and mugs, through to badges and signage. They will also need to work well in black and white.
  • Maintained – going forward, you will need to think about who is going to act as your brand’s ambassadors, so that none of its messaging is diluted with the introduction, for example, of colours, designs, typefaces and imagery that are off-brand.

Involving stakeholders

Too many opinions delay the rebranding process and diffuse the focus needed to achieve ROI. Keep those with critical approval authority to an efficient shortlist, and assemble the smallest, most essential project team possible. Include a mix of levels – not just the directors. If however you wish to seek to involve members of the community and staff in the rebrand. There are many different ways to canvas opinion. You, or your design agency, could appoint an external research agency to hold focus groups. These can be helpful, as the views of specific sectors of the community can be sought all in a one-hour session. You could also set up a drop-in surgery. Or you could set up an online research tool, where people can log in and make their views known. Of course, the more people who are involved, the more potential there is for decisions to take longer to reach.

Live the brand

Every time you make contact with an organisation, you form an impression of them. If you get great customer service, you think highly of the business you got it from. Branding has been described as a set of behaviours, which means it’s more about the customer experience. It’s important that you map out your customer journey from the point of first contact to the last. A professionally designed logo and exquisite language will count for nothing if your behaviour and that of your staff is not also deeply rooted in the company’s vision and values. More than anything, it is the behaviour of staff that will impact on your reputation, and build perceptions of your brand. For a brand to be truly successful and undiluted, it needs to be applied consistently and policed for rogue pieces of design and formatting. Managing the consistency of application of the brand should become everyone’s responsibility, and anyone using parts of it should be well acquainted with the brand guidelines!

Market to employees like customers

  • Educate employees about the new brand, and its implications on the company and their work
  • Get leadership on board with key messages that inspire employees to embrace and own the new brand
  • Use engaging events to celebrate a launch
  • Appoint brand ambassadors that manage the application of the new brand within each department
  • View every communication with your employees as an opportunity to embed your brand values in everything employees read and hear.