Why Every Smart Startup and Business Should Act More Like a Digital Media Empire [In the Making]

Citizen Kane 1941 by Orson Welles

Sometimes I feel as though I sound like a broken record.

But I’m on a mission, so forgive me if you’ve heard this all before, but it’s worth repeating.

According to a recent study conducted at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, blogging is on the decline as social media tools [like Facebook] are on the rise among Inc. 500 companies.

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How Google+ changes (almost) everything for businesses (part 1)

I’ve been exploring Google’s new Google+ social networking service over the last week or so, and my initial conclusion is that it’s going to have huge implications for the ways businesses, and especially SMBs, market themselves on the Web.

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Paid Advertising: How It Helps Generate Earned Media

A few months ago, I wrote about the basics of PPC advertising (Pay-Per-Click).  Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about how “paid” media can help generate “earned” media (advertising that is shared among friends and beyond).

To clarify, when I refer to PPC advertising, I’m simply referring to any platform that allows you to advertise on a pay-per-click or cost-per-click basis (example: Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, and LinkedIn Ads).

Why Do It?

Ultimately, our clients want to generate leads, inquires, and sales from the PPC campaigns we run on their behalf.  However, there are also other valid reasons to do PPC advertising, which may not achieve an immediate ‘hot lead’ or ‘sale’, but may do so down the road.

For example, if it makes sense for your business to have a Facebook Page you might want to consider using Facebook Ads to generate initial awareness and demand by driving people to your Facebook Page.

Running a Facebook Ad campaign, might help you get the first 1,000 people to “like” your Page.  From that point, you still have to keep them engaged, but in time, you may earn their trust and convert them into advocates, clients, or buyers.

In addition, a relatively small investment in Facebook Ads could generate a huge ROI considering the very same people who first “liked” your Page from clicking your ad also create an organic viral effect.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words:

photo credit: Facebook

Overtime, once you’ve “earned” their trust, the same people who originally came to you via your paid Facebook Ad campaign (and who referred others) might eventually turn into a lead, inquiry, or sale.

About the Author

Mitch Fanning is VP of Fruition Interactive. He’s spent 11 plus years working with businesses of all sizes, from global brands to some of Canada’s fastest growing web start-ups ranked in the PROFIT 100.

Leveraging LinkedIn for business (#mesh11)

I’m at Mesh 2011, “Canada’s Web Conference” at The Allstream Centre in Toronto on Wednesday and Thursday May 25 and 26. I’ll be posting updates periodically over the course of the conference.

In this session, Leona Hobbs from SMG talks best practices for using LinkedIn for business. Here are the key take-aways:

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Social Media For eCommerce Sites

In an effort to educate clients and strategic partners, I’ve started a series of blog posts dedicated to answering “frequently asked questions” we receive about interactive strategy, web design and development, search marketing, and social media.

Questions like “what is search engine marketing?”

In this post I’m addressing another common question which came from a call I received last week.  During the conversation, at one point, the caller said (not in so many words):

“I just don’t get social media.  I mean, I don’t use it, but I know there must be something to it…Can I actually generate orders for my e-commerce site using social media?  If I can, I’ll use it (social media).  If not, then I’m just not interested in it.”

Fair enough.  However, after a bit more Q&A, it was clear the real underlying issue was his e-commerce website wasn’t generating [and converting] enough traffic into orders.

Besides optimizing his search marketing initiatives, we discussed the possibility of integrating Facebook social plugins into his website to increase his referral traffic (for starters).

Many people often overlook this option, but using social plugins makes it very easy for visitors to spread the word about your business and/or product through their already “well-established” networks on Facebook.

Facebook Social Plugins

Social plugins are simple tools that can be dropped into any website, which when deployed can drive deeper engagement on websites using Facebook Likes, Recommendations, and Logins.  Facebook has even showcased some case studies that demonstrate spectacular increases in referral traffic using these social plugins.

The following are my top three Facebook Social Plugins, in order of importance and priority, for any e-commerce site looking to increase referral traffic and ultimately sales from this channel.

The Facebook Like button

The Like button lets users share pages from your site back to their Facebook profile with one click.  Implementing it on your product pages allows your visitors to tag the page with a “Like” which then shows up on their Facebook wall and their friend’s news stream. If you don’t yet have the Facebook Like button implemented on your product pages, this should be a priority.  Just like you optimize your site for SEO, you need to let visitors “Like” your key landing pages.

Facebook Recommendations

The Recommendations plugin gives users personalized suggestions for pages on your site when they might like.  You can test it for your website here.  It works even if you haven’t yet implemented the Facebook Like button because its based on what your Fans are already sharing on Facebook.

Facebook Login

The Login Button shows profile pictures of the user’s friends who have already signed up for your site, in addition to a Login button. While e-commerce websites have not been quick to adopt Login, it’s such a good fit.  Why?  Site visitors are more likely to log in with their existing Facebook account on an e-commerce site than create a new account.

Obviously, there’s a lot more to successful social media and Web marketing than the above, but it’s a good start, can be implemented quite easily, and has the potential to improve your bottom-line.

P.S. If you found these tips useful, check out our free guide, 9 Ways to Turbo Charge Your Online Marketing.

About the Author

Mitch Fanning is VP of Strategy & Business Development for Fruition Interactive. Mitch has spent 11 years working with businesses of all sizes, from global brands to some of Canada’s fastest growing web start-ups ranked in the PROFIT 100.

Photo credit: SocialCommerceToday

Toronto “Arts Czar” shows us how *not* to do engagement

A concern we hear a lot from marketers and business people is about how to deal with critical voices in social media — people who’ve had a bad customer service experience with you, have had problems with your product, people who are just huffy that you exist.

Arguing on teh internet

And the stock social media guru response to those concerns is that businesses should engage with those critical voices and use them as occasions to win converts.

We couldn’t agree more.

But there is a right way to engage with critics and a wrong way.

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What You Can Learn From the “Cake Boss”

Cake Boss is a show about Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey.  The show, which premiered on TLC in 2009, stars Buddy Valastro, the shop’s owner — and his family — and depicts their everyday lives running the bakery.

Due to the popularity of the show, business for Carlo’s Bake Shop — as well as tourism to the Hoboken area — has skyrocketed.  Anyone who lives in the Hoboken, New Jersey area instinctively knows that if they need a wedding or specialty cake, Carlo’s Bake Shop is the place to go.

So what does a reality television show have to do with your business?

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