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.

What Businesses Should Know About Facebook Timeline

Facebook Timeline

Facebook has rolled out significant changes and improvements to how users view and interact with businesses with the new Facebook Timeline. With Facebook Timeline, Facebook pages have an entirely new design and businesses can enjoy more control over what content is front and center, and what content is hidden on their page. In this article, you’ll find an overview of brand new Timeline features such as the cover photo, apps, direct messaging, the activity log and more.

Choose a Cover — The most visible change in Facebook Timeline is the cover photo. The Timeline cover displays an 851×315-pixel banner across the top of the fan page, making multimedia a stronger element than ever before. Since the cover image is very large, it’s essential to choose a cover photo that is eye-catching and reflective of your organization. For example, a restaurant may want to display a popular menu item while a retail store may feature a popular product. It’s important to keep in mind that covers are not permitted to display any calls to action, references to pricing, contact information, a Web address or text such as “like this page” or “visit our website.” It’s essential to focus on the image and choose a photo that entices users to scroll down to learn more about your business. For details about cover photo guidelines and restrictions, please click here.

Complete Your About Section — Directly under your cover photo, two key metrics will be visible: your number of likes and the number of “people talking about this.” Under these metrics, you’ll find your About section. This section is where you can include a brief description of your business and contact information. To the right, you’ll see photos, pages that you have liked and any custom landing tabs. As the following paragraph will explain, any custom landing tabs that you have previously installed will be completely reformatted. Facebook has removed the ability to set one of these tabs up as the default image when a user arrives at your page.

Apps — Perhaps the biggest change to this new format is that default landing tabs, or customized tabs that non-fans would see first instead of the wall, are no longer allowed. With Timeline, users will always see the main page first and they will have to click through to view custom apps. In this section, you can add your custom pages, contests, promotions, coupons or media. However, these will not get the same amount of exposure as they did on traditional Facebook pages. Since these tabs will no longer be the first thing users see when they visit your page, they may not be as powerful or engaging.

Direct Messages with Fans — This new feature is a huge advantage for businesses. For the first time, Facebook users can send private messages to the owner, or Admins, of a business page. With the old layout, the only way fans could communicate with business pages was publicly, through the page’s wall. By making it possible to communicate with business owners through private messages, businesses can handle any complaints or personal matters out of the public eye, making this a better experience for both parties.

Share, Star and Hide Stories — One of the major features of Timeline is that businesses have more power than ever to share, “star” and hide stories surrounding their fan page. For example, by “starring” posts, you can choose which updates you want to drive the most traffic to and highlight historical or successful posts by you and your fans. On the other hand, you can hide or delete posts that are embarrassing, out of date or negative. Users can monitor all of these updates in Timeline’s new activity log.

Activity Log — Your activity log will be an organized list of your posts and activity, from the current date back to the very beginning of your page’s history. Through your activity log, you can control what information goes on your Timeline and what information you’d prefer to hide. You can also mark certain posts as spam and hide posts from appearing on your Timeline, but that you’d still like to store in your activity log. For more information about the features of Timeline’s activity log, click here.

How Should I Begin — To switch to Facebook Timeline, visit the Timeline for Pages preview manager, where you can walk yourself through the features discussed in this article. When you’re comfortable with how Timeline works, click the “Publish Now” button at the top of your page to show your new design to the public. If you prefer to wait until March 30th, Timeline will automatically become publicly visible and you will have to adjust your page at this time.

To find out more about Facebook Timeline, visit Facebook’s Timeline: A New Kind of Profile.

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.

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.

How to Monitor Facebook and Twitter Success

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5 Simple Steps to Keeping Track of Your Business’ Facebook and Twitter Progress

By now, most businesses have realized the importance of using the social media giants Facebook and Twitter to better market themselves and connect with their audiences. However, even if your business is actively using these social networks, you may not be getting the most out of your efforts. To truly measure ROI and effectiveness of your social media marketing, it’s essential for businesses to implement a monitoring program. By keeping track of your progress, it will be easier to see what is working for your business in regards to social media, and what needs to be changed.

This article will explain the basics of monitoring key metrics of Facebook fan pages and Twitter profiles.

1. Know What to Look For — Monitoring several social media channels can be time-consuming, especially when you don’t know what you’re looking for. It’s important to keep the following questions in mind when analyzing social media metrics and data:

  • What are people saying about my business, brand or products on social media? Look out for both positive and negative comments and respond to each accordingly.

  • How many users are seeing my social media content? To determine your organization’s reach on social media sites, it’s important to keep track of how many fans, followers or connections you have.

  • How effective is my social media content? Out of your follower base, how many of these people are really engaging with your content? Keep track of how often users are interacting with your posts and how many users are repeatedly communicating with your page.

  • How is the activity level on my profiles? To promote interaction, always encourage your fans and followers to share their opinions, answer questions and discuss topics and ideas. As comments come in, it’s important to respond to both positive and negative replies in a timely and professional manner.

2. Use “Insights” to Monitor Your Facebook Fan Page — While it’s important to keep track of how many Facebook fans your business has, this isn’t where your monitoring should end. Analyzing the “View Insights” tab on your Facebook fan page is an essential tool to measuring your business’ success on Facebook. This tool will provide you with information on new likes, lifetime likes, monthly active users, post views, post feedback, weekly total reach and more. The newest metric, “People Talking About This,” represents all user-initiated activity related to your page. This counts unique wall posts, comments, likes, shares, check-ins, etc. It’s important to analyze this metric over time to be able to judge the effectiveness and reach of your business page.

3. Use HootSuite’s Social Analytics — HootSuite is a popular program that allows you to monitor keywords, manage multiple social media profiles and analyze custom analytics such as follower/fan growth, brand sentiment and more. With HootSuite’s Social Analytics feature, you can track Twitter brand mentions, measure your follower growth on Twitter, examine Facebook “likes” and demographics and more. While HootSuite is a free program, there is a paid premium service for users who need to manage more than five social media profiles, or need more detailed analytics reports.

4. Use Social Mention to Measure Progress — The program Social Mention offers valuable influence-tracking features for your business. It allows you to easily track and measure what people are saying about your company, products or any other topic in real time. Social Mention also measures the following essential social media metrics:

  • Strength — Strength is the likelihood that your brand is being discussed in social media networks.

  • Sentiment — Your sentiment is the ratio of positive social media mentions to those that are negative.

  • Passion — Passion refers to the likelihood that individuals who are talking about your brand or product will continue to do so.

  • Reach — Reach refers to your business’ range of influence or the number of unique authors referencing your brand, divided by the total number of mentions.

Users are able to monitor their growth in these areas through daily social media alerts and Social Mention’s search and analysis service.

5. Keep Track of Your Progress — To determine the long-term effectiveness of your business’ social media marketing, it’s essential to measure your progress along the way. We recommend having a neat, organized spreadsheet to update key metrics such as your number of Facebook likes, followers-to-following ratio on Twitter, number of comments and interactions and other key statistics available to you on Facebook Insights, HootSuite and Social Mention.

For more information about how to monitor Facebook and Twitter, 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.

Advertise with CBS Local Pages

While an average of 66% of Americans use the Internet to find local businesses, your organization could benefit from advertising online with CBS Local Pages. CBS delivers an online outlet for local businesses to create a strong presence online via the websites, search engines and mobile devices to drive awareness, interest and engagement in your organization. CBS Local Pages include business information, a message to your customers, reviews, photos, coupons, offers, maps, directions and more. Also, these pages are also very simple to build, track and update over time.

Thanks to CBS’ partnership with CityGrid, your business can reach 300+ unique sites and apps in their network, reaching over 140 million people each month. Plus, CBS Local Pages are fully optimized for search engine optimization. Depending on what industry your organization belongs to, CBS Local Pages will ensure that your listing reaches the right audience. For example, restaurants could have their information distributed to popular websites such as Urban Spoon and MenuPages.com.

If your business is interested in advertising on CBS Local Pages or would like detailed pricing information, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com.

How Photo Sharing Sites Can Help Your Business

Photo Sharing Websites

Photo sharing websites have taken the Web by storm by offering a new medium for individuals and businesses alike to share multimedia and develop their brand. When used properly, photo sharing can bring a human face and creativity to your organization. These sites also provide essential links back to your website or blog, building traffic and enhancing your search engine optimization. Best of all, photo sharing sites are completely free and don’t require a huge time commitment.

This article will provide you with an overview of the most popular photo sharing websites:PinterestInstagram and Flickr.

Pinterest — With new social media sites popping up left and right, Pinterest has already distinguished itself as a photo sharing powerhouse. It’s already one of the 10 most visited social networking sites, according to a study by Experian Hitwise, with more Web traffic than Tumblr and Google+! Pinterest is a virtual pinboard that allows users to organize, share and store all of their favorite photos, called “pins,” from the Web. For example, someone may create a board for “Recipes,” “Ideas for the Home” or “Favorite Products.” Users can “follow” others to keep up-to-date with their boards, discover new things and connect with others who have similar interests. They can also “re-pin” someone else’s pin that they want to add to their own boards (similar to Twitter’s “re-tweet” button). With millions of new pins added every week, this social networking site is connecting users from all over the world. Here are several tips for using Pinterest to promote your business:

  • Don’t Overly Promote Yourself — One thing to keep in mind is that you should not excessively promote yourself on Pinterest. While it’s fine to post a photo of a product or project that you’re proud of, businesses should avoid pure self-promotion. An important part of Pinterest is that it can humanize your business, which is essential to connecting with your audience on a more personal level. Consider creating boards for other content on the Web that you like and want to share with your followers, rather than only your own material. For example, the social media organization Mashable uses Pinterest to categorize “What We’re Loving on the Web.” Instead of including only their own material and self-promotion, they have boards for “Web Humor,” “Infographics” and “Tech and Gadgets.”

  • What Should I Pin? — Depending on your industry or organization, there are a variety of photos that would be appropriate for a business to add to Pinterest. See below for examples:

    • Restaurants — Since food is very popular on Pinterest, restaurants would benefit from posting photos of the meals they offer and recipes.

    • Retailers — Retail stores can post photos of new products, fashion and other services.

    • Non-profit Organizations — Depending on their field, non-profits could post “behind-the-scenes” photos from the work they do, inspiring pictures or quotes, photos from events and more.

  • Include Links — When posting a pin, always include a link back to the original page. This way, when users click on the photo, they can be taken to your website, wherever the photo was derived from or wherever you’d like to take them.

  • How Do I Begin? — To start using Pinterest, create a profile here.

Instagram — Instagram is a real-time photo sharing application, available in the App store. Unfortunately, Instagram is only available on the Apple iPhone or iPod touch for now. While it is not available on desktops just yet, the company does intend to extend Instagram to a website. When you upload a photo to Instagram, you can choose a filter to transform the look and feel of the shot. These filters can instantly convert your mobile photo into a creative, artsy or professional-looking snapshot. For example, you can use filters such as “Toaster,” “Inkwell” and “1977” to customize the look of your photo. When used effectively, Instagram could become a powerful way of attracting, engaging and nourishing a follower base. Here are several tips for how businesses can incorporate Instagram into their social media strategy:

  • Link Instagram to Your Other Social Media Profiles — The benefits of Instagram are that it is incredibly fast and simple and integrates with other social media platforms. Businesses can easily link Instagram to FacebookTwitterFlickrand FourSquare profiles to incorporate multimedia on a regular basis.

  • Be Creative — As with any photo sharing site, keep in mind that it’s about being interesting and fun, not about pushing products down your audience’s throat. Instagram is unique from other photo sharing sites because of its use of custom photo filters. For example, take a look at how Starbucks has uploaded creative shots of their products using the photo filters here.

  • What Should I Upload to Instagram? — As with any photo sharing site, it depends on your business and what industry you belong to. For example, if you’re a non-profit organization, you can see how non-profits are using Instagram here. Generally, any business can use Instagram to upload and customize photos from special events, new products and “behind-the-scenes” photos of your business’ work, services or daily activities.

  • How Do I Begin? — To begin, download the Instagram App here and create your profile.

Flickr — Flickr allows users to submit photos and videos and organize them using tags and “sets,” where other members can browse and interact with each other. Businesses can use Flickr to store and share graphics, photos and videos that are relevant to their business or industry in some way. It’s also not frowned upon to add a personal touch to your business’ Flickr profile by adding a separate set for favorite photos or videos that haven’t been created by your organization. Using Flickr is another great way to incorporate multimedia into your Web, social media and overall marketing strategy. Here are several tips for incorporating Flickr into your business’ social media marketing strategy:

  • Interact with the Flickr Community — To boost their popularity on the site and increase their level of engagement, businesses can interact with other Flickr users. Comment on other photos you like, add special photos to your “favorites” list and encourage comments. At the minimum, be sure to reply to any and all comments left on your company’s photos.

  • Join Flickr Groups — Flickr Groups are a great way to interact with your target audiences. Businesses can submit photos and videos to these groups, depending on their posting rules and whether the group is public or private. To begin, search for relevant groups and submit requests to join.

  • How Do I Begin? — To sign up for Flickr, you’ll need a Yahoo ID. To sign up for Yahoo, click here. Once you have your ID, create a Flickr profile by clicking here and begin posting photos and videos that relate to your business or industry.

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.

Should My Business Have a Blog?

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Maintaining an active blog can establish your organization as a leader in your industry, change your website from an online brochure to an interactive hub of information and give your customers a way to engage with you. Because blogs are less formal than a company website, and more interactive, they provide a forum for businesses to provide useful information, rather than just company promotion, and build their reputation and credibility among customers.

This article will provide you with the benefits of blogging, advice on how to begin blogging and five essential blogging tips for your business.

Benefits of Blogging — Successful blogs can demonstrate your expertise and leadership in your industry, attract the attention of your audience and secure leads for your business. Creating and maintaining a blog for your business will dramatically improve your content creation, boost your reputation and improve your search engine optimization (SEO).

  • Content Creation — It has never been more important for businesses to generate quality content on a regular basis. The quality of your content is what influences your audience’s decision on whether or not to invest their time into reading your website or blog, and ultimately whether to trust your company and give it their business. Blogs are the perfect venues to distribute and store your content. Your blog should house informative, thought-provoking content that is related to your industry or the problem that your business solves for your audience. Very often, a blog will become your content hub of information. To learn more about the importance of content creation, please read our article, “Why Quality Content Reigns Supreme.”

  • Build Your Reputation — While your business’ website should focus on the products or services your business offers, your blog should demonstrate your organization’s knowledge and expertise in this area. By providing your audience with valuable content and helpful articles, your business will gain credibility and trust among existing and potential customers.

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Benefits — Blogging can dramatically improve your search engine rankings. Search engines place heavy emphasis on new, current and quality content, so blogs are given high authority.

How to Begin Blogging — Before you jump into the blogosphere, it’s important to spend some time researching and browsing through other blogs in your industry. Once you’re comfortable with how blogs work, you should first establish a clear objective and target audience. Ask yourself the following questions: Is my target audience likely to engage in blogs? What content would my audience find most valuable? What type of information, and multimedia, is my audience looking for? To be able to answer these questions, it’s important to be able to put yourself into the mindset of your current or potential customers.

When you’re ready to begin, we recommend incorporating your blog into your main website, instead of giving it its own URL. Especially to those who are new to Web marketing, this is the easiest way to begin. Another factor to consider, when choosing whether or not to incorporate your blog, is that many people don’t have the time to develop content for and market more than one website. Incorporating your blog into your business’ main site will provide it with fresh content, as well as search engine optimization benefits.

The most successful blogs are updated weekly, at least, with fresh and interesting content related to their industry. You may choose to blog about news in your business area, company updates, helpful and “how-to” articles and other content that may be valuable to your audience. Remember to include relevant tags with each entry so that your posts can be easily categorized and found on the Web.

5 Essential Blogging Tips — To make sure your business’ blog is as successful as it can be, follow these five essential tips:

  • Incorporate Multimedia — It’s essential to add some form of multimedia to each blog entry to make your content interesting and visually appealing. By adding a photo, graphic or video to your post, you’ll appeal to a greater audience, since everyone takes in information differently. Some people are visual learners and will be far more receptive to your blog if it incorporates more than just text.

  • Add Sharing Icons — Including social media and social bookmarking icons on your blog is a great way to enable sharing. With sharing icons present next to each blog post, readers can easily share the entry with their friends or on their own social media profiles. It’s important to include the following sharing icons: Facebook’s “Like” button, Twitter, the Google+ “+1” button, StumbleUponDiggDelicious and the option to email the blog entry to a friend. Please follow each hyperlink for more information and to learn how to enable each of these sharing features on your blog. When done properly, this will definitely boost your blog’s traffic.

  • Include Hyperlinks — Wherever possible, it’s important to include hyperlinks that lead to more specific information. For example, find keywords in your blog posts and link them to another article you may have written on the topic or a section of your company’s website that offers more information on this topic or services you may offer.

  • Encourage Feedback — You want your blog to be as interactive as possible. It’s important to include a call to action in your blog posts and it could be something as simple as, “What are your thoughts? Share your opinion in the comment section below!” You should also include your contact information at the end of a blog post, should they have any questions or require more information. Remember to regularly scan your comments to remove any spam and reply to any questions, comments or concerns in a timely and helpful manner.

  • Promote on Social Media — With the powerful sharing capabilities of social media sites, your business’ social media profiles are perfect venues for promoting your blog. Whenever you update your blog, make sure to notify your Facebook fans, Twitterfollowers and Google+ circles. After you write your blog entry, use these sharing icons to “tweet,” share on your Facebook fan page, add to your social bookmarking profiles and more. In your social media updates, include a “teaser,” such as a portion of your blog entry, with the title, and encourage people to follow the link to read the rest of your post.

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.

An In-Depth Look into Google AdWords

Google Adwords

Google AdWords is so unique and beloved by marketers because it gives businesses the ability to advertise to an audience that is already interested in the products or services they offer. Using Google AdWords, you are put in complete control of how much you want to spend, when you want your ads to appear and where you want them to appear. Through its various components and special features, Google AdWords allows you to better target potential customers and clients without wasting money in the process.

Google is made up of two components: The Search Network and The Display Network. This article will provide you with an overview of these two networks, the different types of ads available through AdWords and an overview of AdWords Express.

What is Google AdWords? — For a more beginner-friendly analysis of Google AdWords, read our article, “A Beginner’s Guide to Google AdWords.” In this article, we discussed the basics of one of Google’s most effective, simple and budget-friendly forms of Web advertising available today: Google AdWords. Through Google AdWords, you can create pay-per-click (PPC) ads that can target users based on their location and keywords that you can select through bidding for certain search phrases. You can also incorporate “Ad Extensions” to help users easily find out more about your business and its offerings. Ad extensions expand text ads with one or more lines that provide additional information such as an address, phone number, page links and product images. When users click on your ad, they will be directed either to your website or a landing page. For tips on creating successful landing pages, you can download our free guide, “Five Steps to Generating New Business through Web Advertising, Landing Pages and Emails.”

To begin using Google AdWords, you must first decide to use either the Search Network or Display Network. The next step is to decide on a format for your ad, depending on which network you choose.

Search Network — The Search Network on Google AdWords provides an excellent way to reach your target audience on their personal computers, tablets, mobile phones and any other electronic devices used to find information. The Search Network allows users to advertise within the Google search engine or with search partners who allow advertising on their websites. For example, AOL.com and Ask.com are two of Google’s popular search partners. Advertising on Google’s Search Network allows you to target users depending on what keywords they use in their search queries. Your ad will appear in the “sponsored links” section, above the main search results, or on the right side of the screen when someone searches on Google using one of your desired keywords. If you are unsure of what keywords will work best with your ad, you can try using the Google Keyword Tool. By entering one keyword or phrase into this tool, you can see what related word searches your ad will show up on. One thing to keep in mind is that, unlike on the Display Network, you can only run text ads on the Search Network.

  • WAP Mobile Ads — While more and more people use smart phones when searching for information about local businesses or services, Mobile Ads may be the right fit for your business. WAP mobile ads are a format of AdWords ads that appear on WAP mobile websites, and are available as either text or image ads. With Google Mobile Ads, you can connect with your customers on their mobile phones by reaching out to targeted audiences across top websites and apps. When mobile users click on your ad, they will be send to your mobile webpage. One question to ask is whether or not your website is optimized for mobile devices. To see how your site looks on a mobile device, you can use the “GoMoMeter” tool at howtogomo.com. This site will also provide you with recommendations for creating a mobile-friendly experience for your business’ website. To create a WAP mobile ad, simply sign in to your AdWords account, navigate to the “Ads” tab at the ad group level, click the “New ad” link and choose “WAP Mobile Ad.”

Display Network — Using the Google Display Network on Google AdWords, you can reach users from all over the Web and choose from text, image and video formats to communicate your message to highly targeted audiences. The Display Network gives users the opportunity to run their ads on a gigantic network of websites that have Google AdSense enabled. For example, your ad may appear on a blog, online newspaper or a website that is relevant to what products or services your business has to offer. The Display Network offers lower costs, easier ad approval and a variety of formats for your advertisements. With the Display Network, as well as with every Google AdWords campaign, it is essential to keep an eye on your budget to monitor your spending. Another tip is to run one ad campaign on the Display Network and a second campaign on the Search Network. This will help you determine which network is more appropriate and successful for your business.

  • Image Ads — Image ads are graphical ads that are available on Display Network websites. Image ads contain graphics that can be matched to a page’s content to ensure that they are reaching your selected target audience. You can run image ads in both keyword-targeted and placement-targeted campaigns. To learn how to create an image ad, simply sign in to your AdWords account, click the name of the desired campaign, choose the Display Network and begin creating your ad by following the simple instructions here.

  • Video Ads — On the Google Display Network, you can promote your business’ video ads on the websites where your customers are most likely to spend their time. These click-to-play (CTP) Video Ads provide a valuable and engaging experience for viewers without being too intrusive. Video ads should be visually appealing, interesting and no longer than 30 seconds. Google also offers the option to play video ads on YouTube, using the “Promoted Videos” feature. Based on a list of keywords, your video ad will come up when viewers search for, discover and watch videos on YouTube. For example, someone watching a video of a piano tutorial may be presented with an advertisement for your music classes. Advertising on YouTube, the Web’s video-sharing superpower, will help you reach more customers and boost your video’s view count. Best of all, you will only be charged when someone watches your video.

  • TV Ads — Using Google TV Ads, you can target audiences on more than 100 national television channels such as ESPN, TNT and CNN, with the potential of reaching up to 35 million U.S. households. To get started with Google TV Ads, you must already have an AdWords account. Next, you can set your budget to determine how much exposure your ads will receive and what your maximum cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) will be. One thing to keep in mind is that there is no minimum budget requirement on Google TV Ads, but campaign budgets should be set strategically in order for ads to make the greatest impact with your audience. Next, you can target audiences by choosing to advertise on relevant programs, times of day or networks. The final step is to simply upload your ad and launch your campaign. If you already have a television ad, simply upload it with the AdWords tool. If not, you can use the Ad Creation Marketplace to make a new television commercial. After you’ve submitted your ad, Google will check to make sure that it complies with the technical specifications and policies of Google and its TV partners. If your ad has been approved, it will be ready to run on national television. Using the online functionality of Google TV Ads, you can track results, adjust your campaign and measure performance and ROI.

AdWords Express — The easiest way to kick off your Web advertising efforts is to take advantage of AdWords Express. Google’s new tool, AdWords Express, helps businesses promote themselves on Google Search, Google Maps and mobile devices. AdWords Express is the simplest way to advertise on Google. Creating your ad takes only a few minutes and then everything else is managed automatically by Google. After your ad campaign is running, it works just like the traditional AdWords tool. When people search in your area for the products or services that your business provides, your ad will appear above or beside their search results. Because of its simplicity and convenience, AdWords Express is perfect for local businesses that are looking to reach new customers but don’t have the time to manage an advertising campaign.

You may also be interested in tips on creating successful landing pages and emails. To learn more, please download our free guidebook, “Five Steps to Generating New Business Through Web Advertising, Landing Pages and Emails.” For more information about Google Adwords or other marketing tools, 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 and advertising spotlights.

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.