Category Archives: Blog

4 Easy Tips for Your Small Business’s Social Media Success

Social media offers the unique opportunities for small businesses to connect to their fans like never before. Fans flock to social media to connect with friends and family as well as brands. Getting started on social media can be intimidating; however, we have 4 tips that will get your social media strategy up and running. 1. Know Your Market As with any other form of marketing, traditional or otherwise it is necessary to know and understand who exactly you are marketing too. Social networks each have their own personalities and attract certain demographics more than others. Learning where your audience is will allow you to focus on your efforts on the social networks that will give you the best return on your time investment. 2. Use Your Tools There are many tools that can make managing your social media accounts easier.  They can save you time and give you more abilities to focus your marketing efforts. Pre-planning posts and updates will help keep your social media accounts active, while you are running your business. Scheduled posts also allow you to target prime times to target your audience even if it’s after your business hours. 3. Have a Plan It’s as important as knowing your market, you will want to have a plan for your social media usage. What are your goals? Do you want to drive foot traffic to your door or visitors to your site? Do you want to increase brand exposure? Or do you want to publicize your brand new product? A plan with achievable goals will help you keep on track and redirect your attentions to where you want them to be. You should also plan for the unexpected like social media crisis, hacked accounts, and angry customers. 4. Be Your Brand Your business is unique. It has its own voice and personality. Use this to your advantage on social media! Boring and bland won’t cut it. Show your customers and fans your real brand, be that fun & quirky or stylish and sophisticated. Show it off and use it to your advantage. Develop a voice that’s true to your business and branding, and your fans will respond. There’s no room for faking it on social media, your fans will be able to sense it. Your small business can benefit from social media. Follow these 4 tips and your business will be headed for a great start on social media. Setting up the foundation before you start will help you reach success and avoid costly mistakes. Do you have any other tips to share for small businesses just starting out on social media? Or stories of things you wish you had done differently when you were just starting out? Share them with us in the comments.
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Website Creation Services vs Web Design Firms: Which One Is Best For Your Business Website?

Website creation has undergone a change in recent times. We aren’t talking about any design trends or technology changes but the arrival of an array of services that allow you to create a website without any coding knowledge. They are usually priced at a lower price point and can give good results, so are web designers and design firms obsolete? Should you bother hiring a web designer or design firm to create your next business website? Yes, you should. There’s an inherent problem when it comes to web design service providers or any hosted platform: you don’t control it. It is controlled by the service. Your site and what you can do with it is limited. This might seem convenient now, but in the future it may very well be a cause of much frustration. Moving platforms because you have outgrown one is a very time consuming and frustrating process. Hosted platforms also may limit how your site may function. For example blogging might be great for business, but if your platform isn’t great for blogging it can hinder your efforts. What about SEO? Is your site optimized for SEO? If not you could be missing out on traffic, customers and exposure. There’s another issue in many website creation tools: templates. Is your business really the same as every other business out there? No, we didn’t think so! You are unique and your site should reflect that. Does a premade template really fully express your brand? Or will visitors to your site think get the feeling déjà vu when they visit your site because your competitor has the exact same one? Your brand shouldn’t have to conform to a template because it’s “good enough”. On the other hand, a good design firm will walk you through the site design process giving you a site that is built from the ground up to meet your needs.  You can have complete control over your site from the design to the function. You also get the benefit of having a team of professional designers and developers building your site. They can give you insight into not only the design and function of your site, but insights into how users will use your site as well. These professionals will also be able to ensure that your site meets today’s standards in design, code, technologies used and function. From SEO to mobile friendly design they will be able to help you ensure your site can meet the demands of today’s users and search engines. Don’t overlook web design firms in your quest for a new business website. Website creation platforms might seem like a great alternative, but they aren’t for everyone. Only a web design firm can help you develop the perfect custom solution that will help propel your business forward. Not sure where to start? We offer web design services and would be happy to help give you the site your business needs to go to the next level. Get in touch today to…
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7 Tips to Use Instagram for Your Business

Is your business on Instagram? If not you might be missing on a great opportunity to connect with your customers and promote your brand. Harnessesing the power of visual media Instagram can help build and grow your social following. You can get the most out of Instagram with these 7 tips: 1. Promote Your Other Campaigns on Instagram Use your Instagram account to support and enhance any campaigns you may already have. Create supporting visuals and videos; use the same hashtags you might already use on Twitter and Facebook. 2. Encourage Your Customers to Share Their Images Are your customers sharing images of your products on Instagram? Take advantage of that! Encourage them to use a hashtag to unite those images. Interact with your customers and show off their images on your other social accounts. Your customers will love the interaction from you and you will get a vast array of social proof showing off your brand. 3. Show the Human Side of Your Business Show off your employees and staff, give a glimpse into the behind the scenes life that your customers never get to see. Show them your company’s human side. Your customers will connect with you more and you will develop a stronger following. 4. Use Quality Images Your images don’t all have to be ready to premiere in the latest art gallery opening, however, they should be something you are proud to show off. Take the time to select the best images to show on Instagram. 5. Use Hashtags Unlike other social networks where 3 hashtags is plenty, Instagram loves hashtags! Using many hashtags on Instagram is a great way to expand your images and videos reach. You can use a much higher number of hashtags than you would on any other social networks. However, other hashtag etiquette still applies, so use appropriate ones! 6. Have a Great Profile It almost goes without saying but, make sure your profile is up to task. You know the drill: fill out all the info, have a great user icon, and eye catching images. Remember #4? Those images will show up on your profile, so make sure they are something you want users to see when they see your profile. 7. Cross Promote on Facebook and Other Social Media Networks Instagram allows you to share your content on other social sharing sites, if you have them connected. Sharing your Instagram images and videos on Facebook and other social networks allows you to reach another audience, and more customers. You can use Instagram to promote your business. Using these 7 tips will help your business Instagram account get off to a successful start. Do you have any other tips for using Instagram for your business? Share them with us in the comments!
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5 Questions to Ask to Build a Successful Email Marketing List

Email marketing is still a powerful way to connect with potential leads and customers. To stand out in a sea of emails, your emails must provide value and offer something that people will actually want to open. To achieve this, you’ll need to plan your email strategy. Here are 5 important questions you should ask yourself to help plan your email marketing plan. 1. “What value will my email bring to my target audience?” Or “Why would they want to sign up for my email list?” Unfortunately offering updates won’t cut it. Inbox space is a valuable commodity and no one wants yet another email they won’t read cluttering it up. So what will you offer people? Exclusive industry insight? Tips to crush the competition? Special deals or exclusive courses? 2. “What do I want to get out of my email list? What is my email list’s goal?” Will your email list generate leads or will it entice previous customers to purchase from you again? Different goals will call for different content and different approaches. Additionally, your goals should be something you can track. Track your goals and use the information you gain to improve your email list to meet and exceed your goals. 3. “What technology will my email list use?” This is important as it will help you decide on an email list service provider as well as the design and function of your emails. Email will be read on a variety of devices, from laptops to tablets to mobile devices of varying screen sizes. Make sure your emails are responsive so your email recipients can read them easily! 4. “What schedule will my email list keep?” Will your email be monthly? Weekly? Daily? Plan your email schedule so that your recipients will be able to anticipate when their emails will arrive. It will also help keep you on task. Don’t let your email list fade. Post consistently, on whatever schedule fits your needs best. 5. “Is my email content good?” No one will read your emails if they aren’t good. Your subject, images, calls to action, and copy used must be engaging. Always remember question #1. If you are not providing value to your email recipients they won’t be your email recipients for long. Give them high quality and useful content. Over time you will gather data on what is working in your emails and what isn’t. Refer to this data and use it to advantage. Focus on what is good, discard what does not. Email marketing can be a very effective method to increase sales, traffic and lead generation no matter what type of business you have. Planning ahead will help your email list be successful and avoid many of the common email list building pitfalls you may encounter. Do you have any other tips to set up a successful email marketing list? Share them with us in the comments.
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Infographic: 7 Statistics That Can Raise Your Facebook Page Engagement Rate

Do you want to expand your Facebook Page’s reach? Of course you do! Facebook isn’t just going to grant you tons of reach for free! What to do? For starters take a look at this infographic featuring some statistics you can use to ensure your posts have the best chances of reach as many people as possible. There are 7 factors that can help your Page reach more people: Use Images. Be concise. Use emoticons. Post on Thursdays and Fridays. Ask questions. Run contests. Give Coupons/Discounts. Do you use these post types? If not then your low reach might not be entirely due to Facebook’s algorithms. Your content must be good, and in accordance with the best practices Facebook suggests as well as those discovered by yourself and other marketers through their own experiences and testings.  Statistics and guidelines such as the ones presented below are a valuable tool that can allow you to implement best practices to improve your Page’s performance without the hassle of testing.  To get even more insight into how your Page can be improved you will need to test your posts and learn about your audience. In the end, your audience and the interactions you have will them are what makes your Page a success. Using these factors will help your Page’s posts go further. However, it’s important to remember that every Page’s audience is different. Posting on Thursday and Friday might be more engaging, but knowing the best times for your own audience will also help you get an increase in reach. Use these statistics as a starting point but don’t be afraid to branch off from them if you find they don’t suit your needs or your audience demands something different. Do you have any other tips to improve your Facebook Page’s reach? Share them with us in the comments!
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Avoid Sabotaging Your Site’s SEO with These 3 Outdated Practices

You have put a lot of work into developing your site’s SEO profile. Don’t sabotage these efforts with these common, but out dated practices. It may be tempting, but one misstep can land your site on the search engine’s bad side and lead to a long road of recovering from search penalties. 1. Keyword Stuffed Links The search engines don’t want to see links to your site that are perfectly manicured. They want links to reflect how real people actually work. That includes links to your site that are not your keywords or even keywords at all, like this, or that or here. This applies to not only the content on your site, but comments you leave, forum signatures and any other place you leave your links. One link only to your site, usually in the comment’s url field, is all that you need to do. Any more than that is frowned upon by search engines, not to mention your comment will probably get flagged as spam automatically by the site you are commenting on. 2. No rel=nofollow If you aren’t sure how to use rel=nofollow appropriately check out our guide on the subject for more details. Basically any time you either a) don’t want to pass any of your “link juice” on to another site or b) post an affiliate or advertiser link you’ll want to use a rel=nofollow. 3. Bad Content Let’s be honest, there’s a ton of content out there. Some of it is great, some of it isn’t. In order to stand out your content has to be great. There’s no room for mediocre content or worse, keyword heavy content that has no value at all. Visitors don’t like content that reads like it was written by a robot, and neither does search engines. The search engines want to help people find the answers they are looking for, if your content doesn’t do that it’s not going to be found. Keep your site’s content fresh, topical and original. This also applies to guest posts – ones you may do as well as ones you might have on your site. Guest posts should always be original, and relevant. Avoid these common mistakes and your site’s SEO won’t suffer from your good intentions. Always try to provide the best experience for your users and visitors and you will always be on the right path no matter what algorithm changes come and go. Do you see any other common SEO mistakes that sites make which end up hurting them more than helping? Share them with us in the comments.
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How to Find the Right Image Editor For You

There are many different choices when it comes to image editors. From the powerful to the simple there’s something for everyone. Which one is for you? Read on to see what type of image editor will best suit your needs and budget. You do are a graphic/UI/UX designer or digital artist: Paid: Adobe Photoshop Free: GIMP Both Photoshop and GIMP offer powerful image editing and image manipulation abilities and tools. GIMP is free and open source while Photoshop is available from Adobe via a Cloud Subscription. They both provide the flexibility to create nearly any kind of graphic, mockup or edit any image. You are a professional photographer: Adobe Lightroom Photoshop Lightroom is great for batch editing photographs and offers a variety of effects and image enhancements and fixes. Photoshop of course is very powerful and offers the ability for nearly limitless image adjustments. While either one is great for photographers using them together can cut down on image editing times while providing excellent results. You are a digital artist or illustrator: Adobe Photoshop Paint Shop Pro Open Canvas These programs offer versatile effects, settings and abilities. They also offer graphics tablet integration and support allowing for a more natural workflow and the brush strokes you can only get from a pen. You are a blogger or social media manager: Canva Picmonkey Canva and Picmonkey are great online apps that offer freemium services. Both are simple editors that make creating memorable graphics for social media and blogs quick and easy. Canva offers many different premade templates to work from as well as the freedom to create your own from scratch. SVG/Vector Graphics Paid: Adobe Illustrator Free: Inkscape Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard when it comes to creating vector graphics. It’s powerful enough to create logos, digital artwork, mockups, infographics and more. Not to be out done the free and open source Inkscape offers many of the same abilities and tools as Illustrator at a very affordable price point. Animation & 3D Work Paid: Adobe Flash Paid: Maya Free: Blender While the days of Flash websites might be over the program isn’t obsolete yet! Flash can allow you to create interactive games and videos, and animations. For those digital artists in the 3D modeling field there’s the powerful Maya and its open source counterpart Blender. Both offer an array of tools and abilities to help you create the most realistic 3D models you can design. Choosing the right tool for the job will not only help you get the job done quickly and efficiently but it can save you money in the long run. Not everyone needs the power of industry leading software like Photoshop or Maya. Sometimes simpler free or freemium apps like Picmonkey or Canva are just what you need. What image editor do you use most? Share it with us in the comments!
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Heartbleed: What You Need to Know to Keep Your Info Safe

By now you have probably heard about the security vulnerability Heartbleed. It has impacted some of the most used sites on the internet, and chances are you have accounts on sites that have been impacted in some way. Here is the information you need to know to keep your accounts safe and mitigate any impact from Heartbleed. 1. Wait until a fix has been applied to affected sites. If you don’t wait, changing your password will have no impact. Hackers could still access your new password, unless the fix has been applied. Once sites have updated to fix the vulnerability then it is time to update your password. 2. Use unique passwords. Yes, this is something that is said after every security threat, but it’s a great technique to keep your data safe. Hackers know most people use the same email and password combinations, so if they know those it makes hacking your other accounts that much easier. Using unique passwords doesn’t have to be hard, a secure password app like Last Pass will help generate secure passwords and remember them for you. 3. Keep an eye on your accounts. Watch your accounts for any strange activities. You may also want to disassociate any other devices or logins from your accounts to assure that they are actually your real logins and not ones that have been compromised. What Sites Were Compromised? Here are several resources that will allow you to find out which sites were compromised by Heartbleed and if they have secured the vulnerability yet or not. The Heartbleed Hit List Heartbleed Site Search Tool LastPast Heartbleed Tool McAfee Heartbleed Tool Staying safe online is a constant struggle. Heartbleed is only the latest in a seemingly never ending series of online threats. Do you have any other tips to mitigate the impacts of Heartbleed or any other resources to share? Let us know in the comments!  More Resources to Help Keep You Safe Online: 4 Steps to Take After Your Account Gets Hacked 5 Tips to Keep Your Data Safe Online 6 Tips to Protect Your Personal Information on Social Media Networks
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