YouTube’s Popularity Can Help Your Business

YouTube is a video sharing and hosting platform owned by Google. Users can upload content to their own YouTube pages and share the videos on other social media platforms. Oftentimes, YouTube is used for tutorial and how-to videos, company overviews and event videos, music and gaming videos, and clips from popular TV shows. Some videos go “viral” which means they are viewed by millions of people from all over the world and are shared on other media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

In 2006, Google acquired YouTube for 1.65 billion dollars. Since then, YouTube’s worth and exposure has grown exponentially. What started out as a site for posting funny home videos, is now a site where Google splits its revenue with content creators to produce high quality content. Due to these advancements, according to the YouTube Global Internal Data in 2016, the number of advertisers on YouTube increased by threefold over the last two years.

How to Utilize YouTube to Grow Your Business

Video advertising is a great way to showcase all your business has to offer. Viewers can get a genuine visual of who your company is and the area in which it specializes. You can use videos to highlight specific products your company sells and how they work. Or if you’re a service-based company, you can create videos discussing your services and how they help your customers.

Did you know that during TV’s prime time, more 18-49-year-olds are watching YouTube in the United States than they are watching prime time shows? This was determined by a Google-commissioned Nielsen study in 2016. Another result from the study declares people 18 and over spend more time watching YouTube than traditional television. That suggests an ad on YouTube has the potential to be more effective than traditional TV and broadcast advertising.

How to Setup a YouTube Ad

Setup a YouTube account

To get started, you are going to need to have a YouTube account for your company. It is necessary that you have a video pre-made and uploaded to YouTube before you advertise it on the site.

Create a High-Quality Commercial Video

If you don’t have a video, it’s recommended you hire a professional to create one for your company. While YouTube provides you with tips on how to make a good quality video on your smartphone, often the most effective way to have people watch your ad is to ensure it is high quality by using high-tech equipment and a professional editor.

Choose Who Should See Your Ad

If your company sells makeup products, you probably want your ads to be presented to users who consistently watch makeup tutorials. You can also select a geographic location to display your ad to people in a specific region.

Set Your Budget

From small businesses to large corporations, YouTube has advertising options for companies of all sizes and budgets. Sometimes, YouTube even has special offers for advertising services.

With YouTube’s continuously growing audience and Google as its backbone, video advertising on YouTube is beneficial to companies in any U.S. region, of any size, and of any purpose or service. YouTube’s wide range of content provides businesses with opportunities most suitable to their products and services.

So, what are you waiting for? To learn more about advertising your business, please email us at johnzaher@theprmg.com or call 1-855-776-4123.

“The Times” Is Changing: Study Shows Increasing Role of Social Media in News Delivery

Social Media Is Shifting News SourcesWhere do you get your news? If this question were asked forty or even twenty years ago, the most common responses would have included radio, television and good old-fashioned newspapers. But the Pew Research Center and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently released a study on news and social media, and the findings reveal a significant demographic shift over the past few years.

Shifting News Sources

The big statistic revealed from this study is that 44% of American adults get news via Facebook. Yes, 44% of all adult Americans stay informed via the world’s most popular social networking platform. This number represents two thirds of all adult Facebook users, up from 47% of Facebook users in 2013.

Some other figures from this study are worth mentioning as well. The total percentage of American adults who get their news from any social media network (including Reddit, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumblr, and more) is 62%, and almost two thirds of those usually get it from just one social media network. For journalists and marketers alike, this represents a paradigm shift. While news consumers of a previous generation might have read the day’s headlines in the morning paper, heard additional news on the radio during their commute to work and returned home to catch the six-o’clock news on TV, today’s consumers are increasingly likely to get their updates from just one source—most often Facebook. Today, information and advertising are still delivered via a screen, but more and more the screen is located on consumers’ desks or in their hands rather than in their living rooms.

Shifting Attitudes

Another important statistic: Among Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube users who get their news online, about 60% report that they merely see headlines while they’re doing other things online; only 40% specifically search the web for it. The internet has made it easier than ever before for information and advertising to reach consumers wherever they are, even if they don’t intentionally seek it out.

It is impossible to predict whether social platforms will ever completely crowd out the “traditional” media of newspapers, radio, and TV. But in regard to marketing and public relations, organizations can gain valuable information about consumers’ shifting news sources from last month’s report. A thoughtful, relationship-driven approach to advertising is essential to navigating the complex avenues of social media successfully.

If you have questions about how best to promote your organization across social media, The Public Relations and Marketing Group, LLC (PRMG) is happy to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us at (631) 207-1057 or at johnzaher@theprmg.com.

How to Engage Journalists Using Social Media

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A recent survey conducted last month by Text 100 Global Public Relations discovered that a significant number of journalists use social media and blogs on a regular basis when researching a business, brand or organization for an article. A total of 72 full-time journalists working in print, online and broadcast media were surveyed and the results found that, on average, journalists look at 2.6 social media channels for every story they research. Given these statistics, and the rapid rate at which social networking is growing, public relations professionals can use social media channels to engage with journalists and reach out to them in an outlet where they’re known to be active.

This article will explain the best methods public relations professionals can use to engage journalists through social media.

Maintain Social Media Profiles — Since reporters may look at several social media channels when conducting research, it’s important that your organization has a positive presence on all of them. By creating professional, thorough and favorable profiles for your business online, journalists will be able to discover the information that you want to be highlighted. For example, use social media channels to display media coverage, upcoming events, company news and anything else that you would like the public to be aware of.

For information on how to get your business active on social media, please see our article, “Getting Started with Social Media.”

Focus on Twitter — An important finding in this study was that Twitter is the best social media channel for public relations pitches and media relations. The survey found that journalists are far more likely to welcome contact on Twitter rather than LinkedInGoogle+or even Facebook. Public relations professionals can use Twitter to connect with reporters by seeking out their profiles and “following” them. Twitter is a great way to stay in touch with journalists and pitch stories, business news and upcoming events. Of the journalists surveyed in this study, 53% found that a company’s Twitter profile was instrumental in their research when writing an article.

For an overview of how businesses can use Twitter, please see our articles, “Secrets to Twitter Marketing” and “Twitter Unveils Brand-New Design and Special Features for Businesses.”

Create a Blog — Blogs are also an increasingly important venue to attract media attention. According to this survey, 63% of journalists found a company’s blog to be extremely useful in their research. By creating and maintaining an active blog, your business can establish itself as an industry leader and nourish an interactive hub of information about your organization. Businesses should provide useful information and quality content that relates to your organization and industry as a whole. For more information on how important blogging is for brands and businesses, read our article, “Should My Business Have a Blog?

It is also important to keep in mind that while social media is becoming increasingly important, journalists still value press releases and phone conversations. While the media is increasingly turning to social media and online outlets for information, they still rely heavily on these more traditional methods of contact when covering a story. These social media techniques should be used to supplement press releases, media advisories and other traditional communications outlets.

For more information about engaging with journalists using social media, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.

How to Choose the Right Keywords

5 Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Business’ Keyword Strategy

When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), keywords are extremely important. Keywords are the words or short phrases that Internet users type into a search engine when looking for a website, business, service or product. In regards to SEO, search engines use keywords when analyzing and prioritizing websites. By including strong keywords in the content of your website, the meta tags, ALT tags, your domain name and each individual page name, your search engine rankings will dramatically improve. Apart from SEO purposes, keywords should also be used in blog entries and your Web advertising campaigns. This article will explain how to choose keywords that will boost your business’ online visibility and bring you higher conversion rates.

  1. Know Your Target Audience — Before determining which keywords to use, you must know exactly what your target audience is most interested in. Your keywords should consist of words or phrases that potential customers are most likely to use when searching for your business, service or website. Ask yourself: what would my potential customers most likely enter into a search engine? Once you are familiar with your audience’s needs and mindset, you can begin compiling a list of potential keywords.
  2. Brainstorm — Come up with a list of potential words and phrases that your target audience might use to find your business online. The goal is to show up as high as possible in search engine results when people search using these keywords. Generate a list of words or short phrases that relate to what your website is trying to promote, sell or offer to your target audience. Try to stay away from very popular keywords because the more competition there is for a keyword, the harder it is to rank high for it. You can narrow your keyword phrases by adding a location or town. Also, rather than repeating the same keyword over and over again in your Web copy, it’s best to use the keyword’s synonyms. This way, your content will be more interesting for readers and Google won’t mark you as a keyword abuser.
  3. Use Keyword Tools — There are plenty of tools on the Web that will help you determine the monthly activity or popularity of potential keywords. For example, try using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. This useful tool can help you get keyword ideas for your overall list and, more specifically, for your Web advertising campaigns. Through this keyword tool, you can find keywords based on your website’s content and also identify negative keywords. Here are several other keyword tools available on the Web:
  4. Keep an Eye on Your Competition — By taking a look at your competitors’ meta tags, you can see which keywords they are using and get an idea of which words and phrases are most common in your industry. By using programs such as Web CEO, you can measure how well you, and your competitors, come up in search engines and, essentially, how easily potential customers are able to find your website. You can also try entering one of your desired keywords into a popular search engine to see which websites show up the highest for this word. While you are aiming for keywords that your target audience is most likely to use, you also want keywords that don’t have as much competition. If you can find a balance of strong keywords and less competition, you will have a better conversion rate.
  5. Adapt When Necessary — Over time, keep track of words and search phrases to determine which keywords you should keep and which you should remove. If you find that some of these words are no longer relevant, opt for different ones and monitor what works and what doesn’t.

For more information on keywords, please read our article, “On-Page Optimization and Keywords.” You can also contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.

10 Ways to Generate Leads Online

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The Internet offers countless opportunities for building your professional network and generating leads for your business. Especially for those on a tight budget, it’s important to focus on making the most of lead generation tools and techniques that are readily available on the Web. This article will provide you with ten simple ways you can generate leads online for your business.

  1. Send Out Monthly E-newsletters — Email marketing is hugely effective when it comes to converting leads into customers over time. To maximize your email marketing efforts, it’s essential to keep in touch with your audience using an e-newsletter. Your e-newsletter should contain valuable, timely and relevant content that is intended to keep your audience interested in your organization and what services or products you offer. For more information on writing and distributing e-newsletters, please see our article, “Why Your Business Needs an E-newsletter.”
  1. Offer Free Content in Exchange for Contact Information — By offering valuable content such as guidebooks, e-books and other free downloads on your website and in your advertising, people will be more likely to give up their contact information. Even if it’s just a name and email address, this information is essential to generating leads and future customers or clients. Over time, engaging these leads with credible, valuable content can lead to long-term buying relationships.
  1. Host Webinars — Webinars are online seminars offered by a company to replace an in-person business conference, lecture or presentation. When people want to attend your webinar, they’ll have to enter their name, email address and other contact information, if necessary. This is excellent for businesses because, for every webinar participant, you’ll gain a new lead and a potential customer. The stronger your presentation is, and the better you promote your upcoming webinar, the more leads you will generate.
  1. Advertise Using Pay-Per-Clicks — Pay-per-click advertising is an excellent way to generate qualified leads. Pay-per-click advertising outlets, such as Google AdWords, allow businesses to market to people who are already actively searching for their products or services. Users who click on your ad will be delivered to a custom landing page where they can enter their contact information in exchange for the content or service that was advertised. For more information on pay-per-click advertising, please see our articles, “Interest-Based Advertising,” “A Beginner’s Guide to Google AdWords,” and “An In-Depth Look into Google AdWords.”
  1. Create Effective Landing Pages — A landing page is a single Web page that appears in response to a reader clicking on an advertisement. Landing pages are often linked from social media ads, email ad campaigns or pay-per-click ad campaigns. Landing pages should include brief descriptions of the downloadable content and services your business offers, as well as an image of the content and a short form for contact information. A well-designed landing page is essential for generating qualified leads for your business. Marketers can even measure the effectiveness of a landing page by analyzing the activity generated by the linked URL, such as click-through and conversion rates. For more information on creating effective landing pages, please see our article, “Five Steps to Generating New Business through Web Advertising, Landing Pages and Emails.”
  1. Submit Your Website to Web Directories — Web directories provide valuable backlinks that will improve your business’ visibility and search engine optimization. By listing your business in accurate categories, people who are already looking for information regarding your industry or service will be directed to your website, making them more qualified and targeted leads. For more information on free Web directories and other submission sites that offer backlinks, please see our article, “Why You Should Take Advantage of Free Submission Websites.”
  1. Distribute Press Releases Online — Every time you distribute your press release online, that site will provide backlinks to your main website. This will further direct interested readers directly to your business. Keep in mind that, for SEO purposes, it is vital to distribute press releases that are optimized for your target keywords. For more information on press releases, please see our article, “5 Tips for Writing Effective Press Releases.”
  1. Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile — When used properly, LinkedIn can be a great tool for business networking, developing professional relationships and generating strong leads. For B2B companies, LinkedIn is the ultimate social networking site. The first step is to make sure that your profile is as close to 100% complete as possible. Next, it’s important to boost your visibility and credibility on LinkedIn by contributing to group discussions on the “Discussions” and “Answers” boards. For more information on LinkedIn, please see our article, “Making the Right Connections with LinkedIn.”
  1. Share Documents, Slideshows and Presentations — By sharing your presentations or slideshows on the Web, you can not only boost the credibility and popularity of your business online, but you will secure valuable backlinks to your website. Websites such as Scribd and SlideShare not only rank high with major search engines, but they provide backlinks to lead readers directly to your main website.
  1. Maintain an Active Blog — According to a study done by KBK Communications, B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads than those who do not. Blogging is essential to any successful marketing and communications strategy, especially in regards to lead generation. Include a clear section for readers to subscribe to your blog via email or an RSS feed. For more information on blogging, please see our article, “Should My Business Have a Blog?

For more information, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.

Google+’s Advanced Technology Addresses Facebook’s Shortcomings

Google recently launched Google+, a new social media giant that has taken the Internet by storm. Although it is still in its field-testing phase and by invitation only, Google+ has reached 10 million users in just 16 days, from June 28 to July 14. This remarkable feat took Twitter a total of 780 days and Facebook 852 days to accomplish. According to the latest official estimate on July 18, Google+ now has over 18 million users.

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Google+ improves upon the features of existing social media outlets. Like Facebook, you can create a profile, complete with personal information and photo albums, comment on other users’ content and share posts. Like Twitter, anyone can follow you and you may follow any user by adding them to your “circles,” no matter who they may be. For example, you may choose to add Google+’s founder, Larry Page, to your circle and you will not need his approval to do so.

Although there is no functionality for business pages or advertisements at the moment, we would encourage you to seek invitations from those you already know on Google+ and create personal profiles. Google+ also automatically imports your Gmail contacts so it is simple to find people you know. The company plans to add a business feature within the next couple of months. Google+ is rapidly evolving, with more features soon to come.

This article will provide you with an overview of Google+ features such as the +1 button, Circles, Hangouts, Sparks and its unique mobile and privacy capabilities.

+1 Button — This button is very similar to the Facebook “like” button. To click +1 on a blog post, article, photo or any other content is to give it your stamp of approval. You can get the code to put the +1 button on your own website and blog here.

Circles — On Google+, you can group your contacts into circles. For example, you may have a separate circle for friends, co-workers, business contacts, family and so on. You can create as many circles as you like. To add a person into one of these groups, simply drag them into a circle. Your contacts can be added to multiple circles as well. When you post text, photos, videos, links and location to your Google+ stream, you can select which circles to share the information with. For example, you may want to share a photo only with your friends, or you may share an interesting industry-related article with your business contacts. The Circles feature helps to address one of the shortcomings of Facebook which will help fuel the popularity of Google+.

Hangouts — This unique feature allows users to engage in live, face-to-face chats involving multiple people at a time. You can notify friends of who you’re hanging out with and they can choose to drop into your chat.

Sparks — Sparks delivers popular content from across the Internet on any topic you choose, in over 40 languages. Add your interests to Sparks and the tool will provide you with the videos and articles that would be of the most interest to you.

Google+ Mobile — Cell phones have become the ideal outlet for sharing information with our contacts. They are always by our side, always connected to the Internet and simple to use. Even in its beginning stages, Google+ has superior mobile capabilities. Now available on Android Market, the mobile Web and the App Store, Google+ allows users to announce their location, upload multimedia and join in “Huddles.”

Location — With Google+, you may choose to add your location to every post. Like FourSquare, this is a good tool for letting your friends know what you’re up to and recommending places for them to visit.

Upload Multimedia — Google+ has made sharing videos and photos from your phone to the Web effortless. Using Google+’s mobile feature, your photos and videos are uploaded automatically from your phone to a private album on Google+ that you can then moderate. After they are uploaded, all you have to do is decide who to share them with.

Huddles — Huddles is a unique group messaging feature that allows multiple people to chat in one place. Think of it as a texting conversation involving as many of your friends as you like.

Privacy — For those who are concerned about their privacy on social media websites, Google+ is a breath of fresh air. Google+ allows you to share any information on your profile selectively. For example, you can choose to show your occupation to business contacts but not your relationship status. If you only want your friends to be able to see your phone number, simply set up this information in your “Friends” circle only. A tip is to create a circle specifically for people who you don’t personally know and set restrictions on what they can and cannot view on your profile.

Why Quality Content Reigns Supreme

Developing and Deploying a Comprehensive Content Plan is the Foundation for a Successful Marketing Strategy

It has never been more important to create and implement a comprehensive strategy to develop and deploy valuable content as a foundation for your marketing efforts. The quality of your content is what influences your audience’s decision on whether or not to invest their time into viewing your website, articles or advertisements. Thought-provoking text, coupled with visually stimulating multimedia, have the power to inform, attract and persuade readers. Content affects every facet of marketing, from lead generation to portraying your organization as an expert. View your content as one of your most valuable resources. Producing valuable content on a regular basis shows your organization’s knowledge, authority and expertise in your industry.

It is essential to cater content to your clients, not your own ego. When people visit you online, they are not looking for commercials. Instead, they are looking for information to help them make a decision or to inform them about a topic which they are unfamiliar with. Show them that you are a thought leader in your field, don’t just tell them. Content should be useful, interesting and valuable to your targeted audience. Excellent content, published on a variety of platforms, is an essential component of any effective marketing strategy.

This article outlines the importance of content, knowing your audience and their needs, how to build a content library, how to schedule content, where to share content and a case study of The Public Relations and Marketing Group’s content strategy.

Why is Content So Important

SEO — A high search engine ranking will drive more traffic to your website. Strong, fresh content is quickly picked up by the major search engines and pushed to the top of the search results. Publishing excellent content as consistently as possible is key to enhancing SEO.

Position as a Leader —To position your organization as a leader in your industry, it is important to produce fresh and unique content in a variety of outlets. For example, write articles about topics in your field and provide your own insight and suggestions. You may also comment on industry news, events or controversies.

Media Relations — If your business is producing quality content on a regular basis, media outlets will also begin to distinguish you as an expert in the field. This results in more positive publicity and media coverage for your organization. For example, if they should ever need advice or an interview on a related topic, your organization will come to mind first.

Know Your Audience and Their Needs

When you are creating content, determine who you are targeting. Some articles may be very general and intended to reach a broad audience while others may target specific groups. For example, you may write a general “Marketing Tips” article that is meant for any organization, or you may be writing suggestions specifically for restaurant owners. Once you have determined what is of interest to your audience, you can better cater your content to meet their needs.

Build a Content Library

Blog — Use your blog as your online content hub. Excellent content related to your industry and organization should be published weekly, at the very least. You may also add photos to your blog posts and embed related videos to incorporate a multimedia element.

Website — Your website should be complete with well-written, interesting and informative content. This is the most important element in influencing people whether or not to stay and return to a site. If your content is strong, readers will be more likely to visit your other Web pages and respond to any calls to action on your site, such as signing up for an e-newsletter or connecting with your organization via social media. Your goal with website content should be for people to become repeat visitors, link to your site and bookmark it.

Off-line — Even in this digital world, it is important to have an off-line library of content. From brochures to print newsletters, your organization should also have an off-line database of content to share with clients, potential customers and bring to meetings and presentations. A good library of information and strong content is vital to your organization’s marketing success.

Reinvent Your Content — Maintaining a client library on and off-line will make it that much easier for you to reinvent and recreate content. While you will always need to develop new content, reusing your existing material will make it that much easier to consistently produce content. You can also reformat your content to be published in different outlets. For example, you publish an article and then create a PowerPoint and video relating to the same material. Not only do you want to write what’s of interest, but also what will be easiest for you to devote the time to. Building upon already existing articles will be less time-consuming and ensure that your content is current. For example, if you wrote an article on Facebook advertising when the service was first created, the content needs an overview of newer features and tools for it to be accurate.

Schedule Your Content

It is important to determine what content you can create on an ongoing basis so you don’t encounter a shortage. You should be able to produce ongoing content that relates to your organization and builds upon its credibility. Whether you can produce weekly articles, monthly e-newsletters or daily tweets, it is crucial to always engage your audience with a fresh supply of content.

On the other hand, if you have a lot to say, don’t say it all at once. Having your content spread out gives your audience the opportunity to take in one thing at a time instead of being bombarded with multiple posts. Programs like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite allow you to schedule your tweets to keep your profile consistently updated. Likewise, you can schedule blog posts as well. Ideally, your blog should be updated at least twice a week.

Share Your Content

Social Media — Excellent content is easily and quickly spread on social media sites. If people read an article that is of interest to them, they may post the link on their Facebook wall to share with friends or tweet a small blurb about why their followers should check it out. Because of the 140-character limit on Twitter, we advise that you use a free service such as Bit.ly to shorten your URLs. This leaves more space for text and a call to action for your followers.

Article Directories — There are thousands of article directories that will enhance your Web visibility by publishing your content and offering backlinks to your website. These free directories, such as Bpubs, Articlesnatch, Articlecube and GetYourContent, sort articles in relevant categories so interested readers can easily browse through the database and find the information they are searching for. For example, if your law firm published an article, it would be published in the legal section of these directories.

Bookmarking Sites — Social bookmarking sites allow readers to favorite an article or website and share it with others. The top three social bookmarking sites are Digg, Delicious and StumbleUpon. A tip is to include these icons and links in your blog so readers can easily share and bookmark posts. On WordPress, there is the option of adding social bookmarking, as well as social media icons, under the title of every post.

PRMG’s Case Study

At The Public Relations and Marketing Group, we regularly publish content on multiple platforms. Our blog and website serve as our content hubs. The focal point of our content strategy is our weekly e-newsletter. In our e-newsletter, we include a featured article, an advertising spotlight, and an overview of “What’s Happening at PRMG.” The “What’s Happening at PRMG” section includes public relations and marketing successes on behalf of our clients. These successes provide our audience with case studies of what we can do for their organization. Advertising spotlights are also easy to produce consistently. These spotlights are sent to us from media outlets, which we summarize and include as our suggestions for our audience. Our advertising spotlights provide valuable information and opportunities to those who may be interested. As successes and advertising spotlights occur, they are posted on Facebook and Twitter. This basically just leaves the featured article, which takes up roughly 4-6 hours of our time. However, we find that this article is helpful in educating our audience and positioning our organization as a thought leader. Any time we publish fresh content, we notify our audience through our social media sites, post it on our blog and see how we can add it to our website or microsites. We also utilize LinkedIn, article directories and social bookmarking sites to share our articles and favorite websites with a broader audience.

Getting Started with Reputation Management

Negative publicity on the Internet can cost your business in both revenue and customers. While blogs and social media have transformed the way businesses communicate with the public, it’s also easier than ever for people to post negative, false or scandalous claims about businesses in a public media outlet. By simply posting damaging comments on review sites, blogs and social media sites, people can tarnish your business’ public image and reputation. Implementing an online reputation management strategy is crucial for any organization’s success in today’s business world. Managing your online reputation requires a multi-faceted and integrated approach including monitoring your online reputation, engaging your audience, and by publishing content to help develop your organization’s Web presence. Lastly, in certain necessary circumstances, take legal action.

Monitor

It is essential for businesses to monitor what is being said about them online. In order to succeed in enhancing your company’s online reputation, you must be a good listener. Listen to and address your friends, followers and fans’ comments and concerns. Interaction, communication and awareness are keys to creating a positive image for your business. Your company must implement a listening platform so that you may quickly spot and address any complaints or damaging comments.

Helpful Tools

One helpful tool is Google Alerts. Set up Google Alerts for your business to keep track of keywords, such as your business name or products, and receive updates whenever they are mentioned online. This service will allow you to monitor everything that is being said about these keywords online. Another useful tool is the Twitter search engine. Search and use hashtags (#), followed by the name of your organization, products or services. Twitter will then compile everything that has been said about this subject for you to browse through. The advanced Twitter search engine will provide you with auto updates of key terms. There are also a variety of social media monitoring programs. Another program, Icerocket, allows you to monitor Twitter, blogs, the Web, news, images and more, while offering the ability to bookmark your search results for later reference. Other social media alert tools include Addict-o-matic, Boardtracker, Twazzup, socialmention, Tweetdeck and Radian6. All of these tools report alerts when your keywords are found on social media sites and other online platforms.

Once the negative content is found, some defaming pages can be removed by contacting Web administrators. However, the goal is to prevent negative content from ever appearing, and when it does, to push it to the later pages of search engine results by deploying an integrated and proactive strategy. It is also essential to implement some form of damage control and prevention before the issue gets out of hand. Having good customer relations and engaging your audience is essential in this area.

Engage

Always encourage customer communication and feedback. Reach out to your audience and respond to any criticism in a professional and compassionate manner. Your audience will appreciate superior customer service and the effort you made to address their concern. Don’t limit yourself to responding only to negative feedback. The goal is to reposition your business on the Web as a more customer-oriented organization.

Negative Feedback — Index all negative reviews in one document. Try to match reviewers with past clients and send them all personalized emails or notes at home, addressing each individual concern and specific case. Apologize, if necessary, and offer them a great deal to get them to give your business another shot. If the matter has been resolved, invite reviewers to withdraw their negative review if their next experience has proven to be better than the last. If they cannot withdraw the comment, then invite them to post again. With the high presence of anonymity online, it isn’t always possible to track down the culprits behind damaging material. For reviewers who cannot be identified, respond with an “owner’s reply” online, addressing their concern and promising to do better next time.

Positive Feedback — Responding to praise and gratitude is just as important as addressing negative publicity. Always thank customers for positive comments and reviews. Facilitate positive postings in forms, emails and comment sections by thanking your audience for their time and encouraging feedback so that you may improve their experience.

Improve Customer Relations — Promote your business as a client-friendly organization, with their best interests in mind. Cater your content to what would be most valuable for your target audience. Write educational articles and post helpful videos. Another tip is to create and maintain a blog with a weekly question from a customer, responding in helpful and compassionate terms. This will demonstrate that your business is open to conversation.

Publish

Develop Your Web Presence — Carefully consider all content before you publish it online. When you post on a social media site, or anywhere else online, you are speaking on your business’ behalf. Despite its casual feel, take social networking seriously. All content should be positive, accurate and put you and your organization in a good light. It is important to generate more positive publicity for your business so that the major search engines focus on this to create and maintain a positive online image. By creating lots of favorable online content, published on several online platforms, you will not only nourish your favorable reputation online, but also improve your search engine presence. You want your social media pages, blog, website and any positive media coverage to appear on the first two pages of Google when someone searches for your business. This will help to push negative publicity, if it cannot be removed, to the back and out of sight. Another tip is to create microsites to publish positive content and increase your organization’s Web presence. Microsites tend to rank high when people search for your company, allowing you to have greater visibility in search engine results.

Optimize Content — Using the right keywords is essential to having your site found on Google and the other major search engines. The typical Google search consists of three words so you must choose your keywords wisely. They must be relevant, important, generate sufficient search volume and reach your target audience. Further, always maintain and update your website(s), blog and social media accounts with fresh content to ensure that they rank high in search engines when someone searches for your business. However, in your goal of optimizing positive content and pushing negative content out of sight, you cannot manipulate the search engine’s system. Violating Google’s guidelines may result in a negative adjustment of your website’s presence on Google, or even the removal of your site from Google’s index. There is no issue in using positive content to overcome negative content, but it must be done within Google’s guidelines. This area can become tricky and a professional reputation management service will guide your organization through the process.

Social Media — Social media is all about enabling conversations. While you cannot control conversations, you can influence them. Create and maintain accounts on popular social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. Actively engage your audience through social media. For example, publish a tweet asking customers if they need help or assistance with anything and when they respond, address their problems accordingly. Upload a valuable how-to video to YouTube to demonstrate to your audience that you have their best interests in mind.

Earned Media — Continue to gain earned media through the development of positive news media stories about your organizations. Send press releases, articles and photos to media sources and participate in community events that may garner positive media coverage for your organization. News outlets generally have a high degree of authority online and rank high with the major search engines.

Free Postings — As press releases and articles are generated for media distribution, your blog or newsletters, post the content on appropriate local and national websites that accept press release and article submissions. Thousands of article directories will publish your content for free, enhancing your online visibility. When you publish an article on one of these directories, that directory will give you a link back to your website, driving traffic there. Some free posting sites include:
www.PRLog.com
www.getyourcontent.com
www.articlesnatch.com
www.joinandpost.com
www.articlecube.com
www.businessknowhow.com
www.bpubs.com
www.articlesbase.com
www.buzzle.com
www.ezinearticles.com
www.isnare.com
www.articlealley.com
www.articledashboard.com

Legal

In appropriate circumstances, businesses should consider legal options to help address damaging content online. For libelous and defaming comments made about your company online, you may want to take legal measures, including filing a lawsuit for defamation, tortuous interference with business relations and even criminal cyber-bullying or harassment.

Secrets to Twitter Marketing

Twitter has quickly become the most powerful microblogging tool on the Web and has gained a reputation for breaking news and providing information to millions of users worldwide. Businesses have discovered the immense exposure and resources that Twitter has to offer. Companies utilize Twitter to promote their brand, interact with their targeted audience, track what people are saying about them, promote their organization’s content and create buzz around upcoming events. Business-to-customer and business-to-business interaction are crucial to any organization’s success and Twitter makes both quick and easy. Here are some things you need to know about Twitter:

What is Twitter? — Short posts called “tweets” serve as effective vehicles of communicating what is happening in your organization to others. These updates of 140 characters or less make Twitter compatible with mobile phones and text messaging. While you only have only 140 characters to communicate your message, you can include a link to full articles, websites and more. One important thing to keep in mind about Twitter is that people don’t care about what you’re doing, but rather what you’re thinking, reading or how you can help them. Through your tweets, notify followers of company and industry news, interesting articles or other business highlights.

Twitter Terms — Like many social media sites, Twitter has its own language. Before you create an account, it is best to be familiar with this vocabulary. To “follow” someone is to subscribe to their updates. Likewise, a “follower” is a person who receives your updates. Your “Twitter Handle” is your username. On Twitter, usernames should be as close to your real name, or business name, as possible. Otherwise, your audience will have difficulty finding you. The hashtag (#) is a tool to compile all conversations surrounding an event or theme in one place. You may also use hashtags to indicate a category or something that other people may be tweeting about. For example, after your main content, add #attorney or #italianrestaurant. To send a public message to an individual person, begin your tweet with @USERNAME. For example, your customer’s username is “ChefJoe.” To publicly address him on Twitter, you would tweet, “@ChefJoe Thank you for stopping in our restaurant today! We look forward to seeing you again.” This message will be then sent to all of your followers, as well as ChefJoe, even if he is not a follower. If you want to send a private message to a Twitter user, use the private message option. You can private message any Twitter follower. You may also choose to quickly share what other users are tweeting. If you spot another user’s tweet that you would like to share with your followers, you may choose to “re-tweet” it. Re-tweet, or RT, is to repeat what someone else has already tweeted, allowing your own network to see their post as well.

Get started — Before jumping right in, make sure that you have a feel for how Twitter works. Browse through your competitors’ Twitter profiles and learn how to improve upon their approaches. Once you understand how to use Twitter and are familiar with what each term means, develop a strategy. Determine what you will be using the outlet for and what you would like to communicate to your audience. Once you have a plan in mind, create a primary account based on your name and then another for your business. You may choose to use your personal account to act as a liaison to the public for your company, share your personality and develop more personal relationships with your company’s network. Make sure to fill in all relevant information for your accounts – company website, blog, LinkedIn profile, etc. After you complete your profiles, seek out users that are relevant and share common interests. A tip is to start with your personal contacts and then build followers by promoting your new page. Once you follow someone, their tweets will show up on your newsfeed. Ideally, you want to be followed more than you follow others. While you are building a strong follower base, it is essential to begin tweeting.

Interact — Twitter offers more than a mere one-sided conversation. Although Twitter can be used as an effective public relations channel to share links, press releases and direct followers back to your company’s website, do not make this its sole purpose. Avoid having too many self-promotional tweets. Instead, interact with your audience. Interaction and communication shows your customers that you are interested in what they have to say. Businesses can re-tweet other users’ posts or links that they might find interesting and would like to share with their audience. Address any negative comments, give valuable feedback and help customers solve their problems by tweeting at someone or sending a direct message. Post questions to your audience such as “How can we improve this product?” or “What else would you like to see from our company?” Listen to customer feedback and adapt to their needs.

Link your Twitter and Facebook Fan Page — Linking your fan page and Twitter profile will save you time and effort by sharing status updates, photos or events on both social media outlets simultaneously. To have your fan page updates automatically linked to Twitter, download the Twitter application on Facebook, found here. Every time you publish on your Facebook fan page, the updates will be immediately tweeted. You may also update your Facebook status from Twitter using Selective Tweets, found here. Through Selective Tweets, you can choose which tweets you would like to share on Facebook by simply ending a tweet with #fb whenever you would like to post it as your status. This is a good way to integrate your social media sites and build your Web presence.

Download TweetDeck — Download TweetDeck. You can use this tool to manage your Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Google Buzz, Foursquare and LinkedIn accounts, all in one convenient place. One benefit of TweetDeck is that it allows you to converse more easily on Twitter. TweetDeck shows you everything you want to see at once, in organized columns — @replies, direct messages, friends, favorites and even customized columns.

Use Twitter Favorites — The Twitter Favorites feature is an excellent marketing tool for businesses. To the left of each tweet in your news stream, there is a star icon. By clicking this star, the tweet will be added to your Favorites tab. As a business, you should favorite all positive tweets or praise your organization has received. These testimonials are a valuable resource in improving your business’ public image. You may send your customers the link to your Favorites page (http://twitter.com/USERNAME/favorites) to display the positive feedback you have received.

Use Twitter Search Engines — Consistently monitor your business through the Twitter search engines, as well as through other monitoring software. This allows you to see what people are saying about you, your organization, products, services and competitors. Once you have spotted relevant tweets, address any praise or complaints by either tweeting at the user or sending them a direct message. Twitter Advanced Search is also a helpful monitoring tool. Once you set up your search, you can save the query as an RSS feed for you to easily monitor updates. You may want to keep track of a trending news story, monitor conversations surrounding your keywords or follow mentions of your business. TweetDeck is also a helpful tool to help you quickly search for what you want and filter out what you don’t.

Watch What You Tweet — Never tweet anything that you wouldn’t want the whole world to see. Despite its casual feel, social networking should be taken seriously. Employees have lost their jobs for posting inappropriate content or photos on social media websites. Once you post something online, it is fair game for the public and damaging content can tarnish your company’s reputation. Remember, when you post on a social media site, you are speaking on your business’ behalf. All content should be positive, accurate and put both you and your organization in a good light.

Measure your progress — Measure your success using free Twitter monitoring websites. For example, TwitterGrader grades your profile based upon your number of followers, power of followers, updates, follower/following ratio and more. Similar sites include TwitterScore, TweetEffect, TwitChamp and Twitterholic. Grade your own profile on these sites and compare your score with that of your competitors’. These programs will provide you with valuable information about where you rank in comparison, where you are successful and what areas need improvement.

Promote Your Twitter Profile — Make it easy for your audience to find your business. The Twitter icon and link should be present on your business’ website, blog, email signature, business cards and in any correspondence with your clients.

Stay active — Constant activity is essential to Twitter. Tweet as much as possible – at least every day. If you don’t devote time to maintaining your business’ Twitter account, there is no point in creating one at all. As with all social media outlets, a fresh stream of strong content is vital to their success. You can update your Twitter feed from any Web browser, mobile phone or instant messaging service. Ideally, businesses should be tweeting at least several times a day. It is also important to have a wide range of tweets, re-tweets and direct conversations with other users.

Visit The Public Relations and Marketing Group’s website for examples of social media performed on behalf of its clients.