5 Quick Tips to Grow Your Followers on Social Media

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Growing your presence on social media can be tricky, especially if you are just starting out. Here are some tips on how you can make minimal changes to your social media platform, and quickly receive an increased number of followers. Continue reading “5 Quick Tips to Grow Your Followers on Social Media”

Twitter Ads

Twitter-Ads

As the world’s most popular micro-blogging website, Twitter has become an increasingly important tool for businesses to promote their products and services through word-of-mouth marketing and generate buzz about their brand. While businesses have used tweets, links, and hashtags since Twitter’s inception to engage with existing and potential customers, Twitter recently expanded businesses’ ability to advertise through Twitter Ads.  Previously, Twitter Ads was limited to a select group of large companies and those who were invited to participate, but with a new self-service system, any business or individual can use this feature to promote tweets or accounts and increase followers.

For those not familiar with Twitter, here’s a brief overview. Twitter is a micro-blogging site that allows its users to communicate by posting short updates known as “tweets” to their profiles and “following” each other’s tweets on their newsfeeds. Every Twitter user has a unique username, known as a Twitter Handle, which is prominently displayed on the user’s profile page and next to every tweet the user posts. Tweets are limited to 140 characters and often include links to other websites, articles, blog posts, or hashtags. Hashtags (symbolized by the # sign) allow users to search for tweets with specific subjects or phrases, such as #JobInterview or #SmallBiz. You can learn more about Twitter from PRMG’s previous post.

Before Twitter Ads, businesses focused on engaging with consumers by tweeting frequently, using popular hashtags, and sharing blogs and other links about their products, services, or industry. With these tools, businesses could build rapport with their followers, strengthen their online presence, and connect their websites and blogs to a social media forum. However, it was often harder to attract new customers, as businesses could not specifically target those they wanted to reach. Twitter updates could also be very time-consuming, and full engagement with followers could distract from other social media and marketing strategies. In addition, including too many links on a Twitter profile would seem like spam and deter Twitter users from following the business. Twitter Ads solves many of these problems and can improve the effectiveness of social media marketing.

Twitter Ads comes in two forms: Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts.  With both Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts, businesses target a specific audience in order to drive traffic to their profile. Businesses choose a location—city, state, or country—to focus on, and then narrow to their target audience by filtering through specific genders, interests, and other criteria. For example, a music store can target people who like to play instruments and a golf club can target men who live in a suburban area. As a result, a business’s Twitter activity will reach those who are most likely to engage with the product or service.

After finding a target audience, the two Promoted approaches start to differ. Promoted Tweets work the same way as regular tweets, and they allow businesses to broaden their reach and inform the intended audience about special offers, press releases, and other information relevant to the business or industry. The Promoted Tweet targets the chosen audience and stays at the top of the Twitter users’ newsfeeds when they log in, whether or not the users are currently following the company. A Promoted Tweet is often better for a short-term approach, such as attracting business immediately for a one-day sale or special event, though it can also increase followers. Promoted Tweets can also be used to generate traffic to a blog post or article on another website. On the other hand, Promoted Accounts can be more beneficial for a long-term approach that focuses on building a stronger customer base or increasing brand awareness. Promoted Accounts use an algorithm to track potential followers with similar characteristics of current followers and appear on a side bar of a Twitter user’s profile in the “Who to Follow” recommendation section. Overall, Promoted Accounts are better for building and maintaining relationships. Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts can be used separately or in conjunction.

Because Twitter Ads is now self-service, businesses set a daily spending limit and can stop, start, or resume advertising at any time. This new system that Twitter uses is very similar to the Pay-Per-Click system used by Facebook Advertising and Google AdWords. Twitter only charges when a Twitter user clicks the link to follow the Promoted Account or engages with the Promoted Tweet through a retweet, follow, favorite, reply, or link. As a result, the business remains in complete control of its advertising budget and strategy.

Furthermore, with both Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts, businesses can track the success of their advertising with Analytics that show the increase in the number of followers or clicks-per-link, as well as how their budget has been spent. The Analytics feature separates increased traffic and activity that occur organically from traffic and activity that result from concentrated marketing efforts, demonstrating the effectiveness of the campaign.

As Twitter continues to gain in prominence, consider your goals for social media marketing. Do you want to expand your customer base by targeting a specific market? Do you want to further engage already-existing customers or spread the word about a new product or service? Twitter Ads may be worth the time and investment.

If you are interested in Twitter Ads or have any questions about your social media strategy, contact 1-855-PRMG-123 or info@theprmg.com .

Google+ Opens its Doors to Businesses

Google+

After months of anticipation, Google has finally launched Google Plus Page for Business. Up until last week, Google+ has focused on connecting individual people. However, as of Monday, November 7, Google+ Pages are available worldwide for businesses, global brands, sports teams and celebrities. It is now easier than ever for businesses to connect with their audiences, encourage visitors to recommend their organization with a simple “+1” and send quick and customized updates to targeted groups of people. Also, since people search for local businesses using Google more than any other search engine, the launch of Google+ Pages will give business pages precedence and higher authority in Google search results.

This article will show you how to create a successful Google+ Page for your business. It will also explain how businesses can use features such as Circles, Hangouts, the +1 button, Direct Connect and how you can measure your Google+ performance.

Create a Google+ Page — To create a Google+ page for your business, organization or brand, click here. To complete your page, upload a profile picture and include a description of your organization, your hours, website and contact information. After you’ve completed your business page, be sure to notify other users by clicking “Spread the Word” to share your new page with the public and individual Circles on Google+. You can also share the link to your page on your other social media profiles and include the Google+ icon on your business’ website, blog and email signature.

Businesses can use these pages to share news, photos, videos and links with their audiences. Through the social interaction and networking capabilities available on Google+, businesses can also nourish relationships with customers, clients, potential customers, business connections and much more.

Circles — Google+ makes it simple to sort followers into groups called “Circles.” To add a person into one of these groups, simply drag them into a Circle. When you post text, photos, videos and links to your Google+ stream, you can select which circles to share the information with. Businesses may want to create unique Circles for customers in certain geographic areas, of different ages, industries, languages and more. Using this feature, businesses can then send relevant, customized messages to small, targeted audiences. For example, a restaurant may want to send a coupon on their children’s menu only to mothers in Nassau County. A bar can send a special offer to their “College Students” Circle to send this group a special offer for beer and wings. The Circles feature helps to address a major shortcoming of Facebook fan pages by providing a way for businesses to improve their reach, classification and targeting capabilities through social media.

One restriction to keep in mind is that, unlike with personal Google+ pages, business pages cannot add people to Circles until the page is added first or the user has mentioned the business in a post. Also, Business Pages cannot +1 other pages, nor can they +1 content on the Web.

Hangouts — This unique feature allows Google+ users to engage in live, face-to-face chats with multiple people at the same time. This is an excellent outlet for businesses to directly communicate with their audiences. This kind of personal interaction has never been possible on Facebook or Twitter. To begin, simply click “Start a Hangout” when you log in to your business page. Using your live webcam, you can start a video chat with those in your circles and send notifications to those who may be interested in joining your chat.

+1 Button —To click +1 on a business page, article, blog post, photo or any other form of content is to give it your stamp of approval. You can get the code to include the +1 button on your own website and blog here. Including the +1 button on your Web pages is so important because, according to Hubspot, websites using Google’s +1 button get three-and-a-half times more Google+ visits. Businesses should treat this button in the same manner as Facebook’s “Like” icon by encouraging people to +1 their page and also add it to their circles.

Direct Connect — Direct Connect is Google+’s newest feature. By going to Google and searching for “+” followed by the page you are interested in, you will be automatically directed to the business’ Google+ page. For example, if you search for “+Pepsi,” Direct Connect will allow you to quickly navigate to Pepsi’s Google+ Page. Another benefit for businesses is that, when users are directed to pages, they will also be prompted with the question, “Add this page to your circles?” This feature makes it easier than ever to connect with businesses through social networking.

Once you add the Google+ code to your website, you will be eligible to be included in Google Direct Connect. For now, Direct Connect only works with a limited number of pages, such as Pepsi and YouTube, but the service will eventually become available to all businesses.

Measure Your Performance — Google+ offers several tactics to measure how well your business page is performing. Several of these monitoring tools are the Google+ Search, Ripples and Social Analytics:

  • Google+ Search — Businesses should use the search bar on Google+ to search keywords, names, businesses and brands. This can help businesses monitor what is being said about their organization or industry on Google+, help resolve customer service issues and connect with customers and potential customers.
  • Ripples — The Ripples feature on Google+ lets you see who is sharing and resharing your content. For example, businesses can monitor who has shared their posts and connect with these users.
  • Social Analytics — Analytics measures +1s and how engagement on your site changes. You can also see demographic information about the users who have +1ed your site.

The exciting news is that Google+ is still adapting, with more changes soon to come. To learn more about Google+, read our article, “Google+’s Advanced Technology Addresses Facebook’s Shortcomings.” For more information, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com.

Words Mean Things: 5 Tips to Avoid Spelling Errors

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By Hank Russell

It is said that people judge you by the words you use — whether they be spoken or written. How you write is an indicator of the quality of your work and your communication skills. Spelling errors in your document may show that you are unfit for a potential job (if they appear on your résumé), you are not an effective communicator (if they appear in a presentation) or you do not have a grasp of the written word (if they appear in your article).

Using the wrong word or not spelling it correctly prevents you from getting across the message you want to send to your clients or associates. (To learn more about this, please see “Proofreading — The First in a Series of Three Articles“). In the case of the former, your message takes on a new (and unintended) meaning. For the latter, the only message you will convey is how lousy a speller you are. Here are some tips to prevent these errors from appearing in your document:

Watch out for words with double letters.
Take extra special care when using these words. You should know whether to use one “l” or two in parallel and how many “c”s or “r”s there are in occurrence. Although spell check might do the trick, it is better to do the job yourself and look it up in a dictionary for the proper spelling. If you let a misspelling go through, it may result in another double-letter word: embarrassment.

Know which word you want to use and make sure it’s the right one.
Do you know the difference between compliment and complement? What about there, their and they’re? Then there is the difference among insure, ensure and assure, and advice and advise. These words — known as homonyms — sound alike, so it is easy to misuse them. Unlike a patently misspelled word, spell check will not identify the mistake if the wrong word was spelled right. If you are unsure about which word to use, use a dictionary or thesaurus and check the definition to make sure it is the right one.

Watch where you place the apostrophe.
The apostrophe is probably the most misused punctuation mark in the English language. Like using the wrong word, misplacing an apostrophe alters the meaning of a word and the sentence. Probably the most common mistake is the use of the word it’s when the writer means its. It’s is a contraction of the phrase it is, whereas its is a possessive. Also remember that there is no apostrophe at the end of its (another spelling error that is also commonly made).

Avoid spelling words phonetically.
In the age of texting, people write words phonetically rather than correctly for the sake of brevity and due to the restrictions on character count; for example, they will write “ur” instead of “your” or “l8r” rather than “later.” Such communication is fine with family and friends, but it will not work with business associates. It is easy to write skool instead of school, dum instead of dumb or criticly instead of critically. Many words have letters that sound differently or, when joined by another letter, make the same sound; other letters are silent and are not pronounced. Once again, if you are unsure how a word is spelled, look it up.

Do not write in the Queen’s English.
Unless you are writing for a Canadian or British audience, avoid writing in the Queen’s English — that is, writing theatre rather than theater, centre instead of center or manoeuvre instead of maneuver. However, there are exceptions: when the spelling is used in a proper name such as Rockville Centre or NYCB Theatre at Westbury. Otherwise, it will not meet domestic standards. Think locally, write locally.

As always, be sure to proofread your document before sending it to print or to a client or business associate. Here are some resources you can use to help improve your spelling:

• The Associated Press Style Manual (www.ap.org)
• Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary (www.merriam-webster.com)
• The Bedford Handbook Seventh Edition (bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/bedhandbook7enew/Player/Pages/Frameset.aspx)
• Thesaurus.com (www.thesaurus.com)

If you would like further information, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or info@theprmg.com .

Why You Should Take Advantage of Free Submission Websites

Submitting websites, articles, press releases and upcoming events is a great way to attract publicity for your organization and enhance your search engine rankings. To position yourself as an expert, it is crucial to have high-quality content in as many Web locations as possible so your audience will have no trouble finding you. Maintaining a strong presence on submission websites will build quality backlinks and increase your organization’s Web exposure and authority. Best of all, the majority of these Web services are completely free of charge.

It is essential to make free submission websites a part of your organization’s online marketing strategy. This article will give you an overview of services such as Web directories, article databases, press release directories, event calendars and our own case study.

Web Directories — Listing your organization’s website and blog on free Web directories is a quick way to build your link popularity. When people are browsing through categories that are of interest to them, your organization will show up and they’ll be directed to your website. For example, if someone is looking for a veterinarian, they can simply click on the “Pets” or “Veterinary Services” category of a Web directory and be presented with relevant websites. When submitting your links, make sure to fill out all relevant information and categorize your sites correctly. Websites that are not submitted into the correct category will be removed by administrators.

List of free Web directories:
www.dmoz.org
www.geniusfind.com
www.busybits.com
www.hotfrog.com
www.somuch.com
www.skoobe.biz
www.gimpsy.com
www.exactseek.com
www.clickey.com
www.canlinks.com
www.zeezo.com
www.surfsafely.com

Article Databases — To get maximum exposure for your articles, always submit them to free article databases. Well-written, thought-provoking articles will demonstrate your area of expertise in your industry and portray your organization as a thought leader. When publishing articles online, be sure to adhere to the site’s restrictions or they will not approve your article and you will not have permission to post additional articles. For example, you must categorize each article correctly, adhere to the word limit and follow each site’s unique HTML and link guidelines. Along with posting articles to these databases, it is also a good idea to post them on relevant LinkedIn Groups.

List of free article databases:
www.bpubs.com
www.articlesnatch.com
www.dinosauric.com
www.GetYourContent.com
www.articlecube.com
www.articlesbase.com
www.ezinearticles.com
www.isnare.com
www.articlealley.com
www.articledashboard.com
www.businessknowhow.com
www.buzzle.com

Press Release Directories — Distributing your press releases to a variety of online outlets will help attract website traffic and create buzz about your organization. Press releases, media advisories and media availabilities should be published online each time they are created. When creating press releases for online distribution, it is important to use keyword-rich language used by your audience and include as many relevant links as possible. These links can lead to further information, a specific offer or a landing page on your website. Another tip is to add a photo with your press release if the option is available.

List of free press release directories:
www.openPR.com
www.prLog.com
www.pressmethod.com
www.pr-usa.net
www.PR.com
www.PR9.net
www.pressabout.com
www.PRUrgent.com

Event Calendars — When promoting upcoming events, it is essential to advertise with online event calendars to reach your audience. In this technology-driven society, many people turn to these event calendars when looking for things to do. These calendars are also highly targeted since you can submit your event to certain categories. For example, if you are holding a fundraiser for your non-profit organization, you can ensure that your event will appear in the “non-profit” and “fundraiser” categories. If you’re hosting a book signing, you may categorize your event in “Books.”

List of free event calendars:
www.lipulse.com/calendar (regional)
www.nymetroparents.com (regional)
long-island.newsday.com (regional)
event.gstv.com
www.zvents.com
www.eventful.com

PRMG’s Case Study — At The Public Relations and Marketing Group, we utilize these free posting techniques for our own organization and on behalf of our clients. All of our clients’ websites and blogs have been added to Web directories to generate inbound links and boost search engine rankings. If one of our clients writes an article, we promote it by submitting the article for publication on free article databases. Each time we create a press release on behalf of a client, we send out the release through email distribution lists and publish it on a variety of free press release directory sites. We do the same with media availabilities and media advisories. If one of our clients is promoting an upcoming event, we will add it to popular online event calendars. All of these techniques are cost-effective means of enhancing off-page search engine optimization.

Advertising with Groupon

Groupon is the original group discount outlet that uses grassroots collective purchasing power in an effort to secure 50-90% off deals for its membership. Members subscribe to receive exclusive deals each day from local retailers and service providers. If enough members show interest in the deal, it becomes available for all members to purchase during that day, only.

What this means for advertisers is that they have the opportunity to offer what amounts to a bulk discount to the members of their local or regional Groupon. The advertiser offers a product or service for at least 50% off of face value and splits the proceeds with Groupon after the deal has closed. The advertiser receives approximately 25% of the value of the item offered. Because of this elimination of almost any profit margin, a Groupon deal is an example of what is known as a “loss leader.” You may lose out on that initial visit, but the hope is that they will return many times to purchase your wares at full or sale price. By getting your company on Groupon, you are exposing your brand to hundreds of thousands of potential new customers.

In the last year, a lot of other newspapers and websites have begun running their own group coupon programs. To hold its position as the industry leader, Goupon’s offers have begun tending toward what they’re calling “full experience packages.” This means that, while a year ago, you may have seen a cheap deal on community theatre tickets, this time around, they’ll likely offer a package that includes snacks, beverages, and a one-on-one with the actors, at a significantly higher (though still incredibly reduced) rate.

Due to Groupon’s exclusivity and noted reputation, more advertisers want to offer a deal, than there are days available to do so. This results in a lot of offers, and indeed even entire companies, being rejected by Groupon’s sales force. A December 2010 article in the Wall Street Journal quotes CEO Andrew Mason saying, “[Groupon has] to pass on seven out of eight merchants that contact [them].” Our agency would be happy to speak with Groupon on your behalf to negotiate an attractive deal.

If you’re company is interested in using Groupon, please contact us at (631) 207-1057.

Advertise with Able Newspaper Fall Issues

Although we’re still in the midst of the sizzling summer, Able Newspaper is gearing up for their upcoming fall issues. Able is a newspaper that features news that pertains to people with disabilities, including a calendar of events, columns written by various experts and a variety of informative articles. The newspaper is mailed to a specific population that includes disabled individuals, their families, involved professionals, volunteers and other interested parties. It is also distributed to key locations that are frequented by this population. Able is offering advertising plans for those looking to promote their programs, products or services and reach this targeted audience.

The deadlines for the fall issues are as follows:
September – August 9
October – September 6
November – October 11
December – November 8

If your company is interested in placing an ad with Able, please contact us at (631) 207-1057.

Top 10 Tips for Marketing in a Recession

Just because we are in the middle of a recession, it doesn’t mean your business has to be in one. In fact, I have never been more optimistic than I am about 2009 and the prospects of growing my business and that of our clients.

At PRMG, we continue to grow our business. Like many businesses, we’ve had a few losses and a few gains, but our clients realize that we provide them with value for our services and continue to provide them with the opportunity to grow in good times and in bad.

First, it is important to take an historical perspective which tells me that things are never as good or as bad as they seem. Yes, retail sales reports for November and December showed a 2% decline, but that means that sales were 98% of what they were the year before and higher than what they were in 2006. A number of retailers had their best years yet. Nationally, unemployment is up about 2% from its average during the past decade of about 5% (economists consider employment full at about a 4% unemployment rate to account for persons leaving jobs for non-economic reasons). In other words, 93% of Americans are employed and our unemployment rate remains 3 percentage points better than what many Western European countries see during good economic times. Locally (Suffolk/Nassau, New York), for November, unemployment stood at 5.2%. With lower costs, including the cost of advertising, labor and greater availability of qualified personnel, recessions are often the best time for businesses to expand. In recessions, new industries and opportunities are created. Effective marketing can help you tap into these new opportunities and expand your business, despite the poor economy.

Here are PRMG’s tips for marketing in a recession:

Focus on your Current Clients. Hold on to your current clients with an iron fist. Increase your client contact and continue to provide value. Put in any extra time you may have into nurturing your client base. Make sure that you are on the bottom of their list to cut back on. Now that you’ve put up a client firewall, you can take advantage of market conditions and expand your business.

Expand Business from Current Clients. Increase the amount of business that you are getting from your current clients. For retailers and restaurants, market to your client database. If you don’t have a client database, it’s never too late to start. Restaurants can use comment cards. Leave e-mail lists at the register. Ask customers to drop off business cards to participate in a raffle. Increase the number of e-newsletters you send them. Provide coupons and value to increase traffic, especially during slow times of the week. Get them in and sell them more. Send printed newsletters to your customers and clients.

Grow by Concentrating on Prospects. To expand your business, concentrate your direct mail and e-mail marketing to current and past prospects. Follow up with phone calls. These are the lowest hanging fruit and provide the best potential return on investment.

Solicit New Business using Low-Cost Methods. Use e-marketing. Develop databases to include e-mails. Send out regular customized e-mails to solicit new business. Track and place follow-up phone calls to prospects.

Gain Earned Media. Write press releases and contact television, radio, print and Internet media regarding your products and services. Submit press releases to web sites. If you can interest the media to write a story about your business, it won’t cost you anything. Especially if you advertise, many weekly newspapers will run editorial stories for you.

Build your Web Traffic. Use search engine optimization techniques to increase web traffic. Start a blog. Post content and links to your site on web sites. Increase one-way links to your site.

Pay for Results. Use pay-per-click and pay-per-phone calls to increase traffic to landing pages on your site. Once on your site, capture contact information by providing a call to action download. With these campaigns, you are ensured that you are only paying for increased traffic and phone calls, and can control your budget to minimize advertising costs.

Get out of the Office or Store. Professionals and service businesses should go door to door. Drop off marketing materials and samples. This is especially good for restaurants. Attend networking events and pay at the door. No need to increase your marketing costs by joining a multitude of groups and associations. Attend what you can and pay the extra amount for non-members.

Create Events to Increase Traffic. Professionals can develop lectures and market them to prospects and others using the techniques above. Restaurants and retailers can hold product demonstrations and again market to current clients and promote to the public using press releases and advertising.

Advertise, Advertise, Advertise! I left this one last, only because it involves the greatest outlay of funds, not because it is the least effective. The opposite is true. There is no better time than during a recession to advertise. Advertising space and inventories are up, leading to rate and production discounts. On television and radio, use broad rotations rather than fixed positions. With greater inventory, you’ll get the times/programs you want anyway, as well as more bonuses and auto-fill as inventory is unsold. Take advantage of gift certificate programs on radio to advertise for free and increase traffic, especially during slow periods. Use specialty publications to hit targets. (See our upcoming report on Advertising in a Recession for more information.)