We promised more information on the importance and joys of adding Facebook Stories to your workflow, and so we are going to deliver!
Hello again, sweet Summerville! Welcome back. We hope you and yours are staying safe and healthy. Keep washing those hands and practicing social distancing! If you have the chance, we also encourage you to support local businesses as much as you can right now. So many of the staples we love that are Summerville through and through need your love and support. Get carry out, pick up some coffee, and visit your favorite local artist's websites or Etsy pages! Every little bit helps right now, and we encourage you to pay it forward. If you'd like some recommendations about some of our favorite local businesses, please don't hesitate to reach out to us! We have been enjoying our fair share of our favorite Summerville things thanks to delivery and pickup!
Now, let's jump back into some work. Our last blog kicked off our blog series discussing the importance of Facebook Stories. We just had so much to share - we couldn't limit it to just one post! Even though we are all smartly practicing social distancing, one of the many ways we can all stay connected is social media. We can stay close and remain in contact with as many people as our hearts desire thanks to social media. This is why it is so important. You can remind your audience that you're still here, you still care about how they're doing and that you and your company will still be here when all of this is finally over
YOUR CUSTOMERS; THEIR NEEDS
We've touched on the topic of customer experience and service multiple times throughout our blogs in the last few months. The importance placed upon it needs to become one of your top priorities. Good customer service is one of the top digital trends for 2020. How to listen and connect with your clients needs to evolve and grow over time. We love being heard, and we all love when our opinion is valued and listened to. Stories, videos, and going live on Facebook gives your client an in-person opportunity to give and voice their opinions. It opens up the floor to more of your followers to join in on the conversation and to agree and disagree with their peer's needs or opinions in a safe and productive environment. Take what your followers say to heart. If they aren't opinions or needs that you feel are in your companies best interest, that's ok. But acknowledging them means a lot to your customers. You can create images and stories to hype up announcements, new products, sales, and exciting events they can all attend - either online or hopefully soon, in person. When you go live on Facebook, you can see the comments your follows are making in real-time and you can physically respond to them. What an instant connection! You can answer questions, solve issues, express gratitude, and connect with your audience in real-time. This frees up time that you would be spending answering these questions and concerns via email or phone call, allowing you to get back to work.
Being consistent is an excellent tool in branding and leading a successful company. Being consistent creates a subconscious connection between you and your clients and a sense of safety and trust that they can depend on. But, that doesn't mean that everything you post has to be the same. This can draw more of your follows to check out other platforms that you run your social media on, and is another tool you can use to get your customers excited. For example, you might only make announcements about new products, deals, and giveaways on your Facebook stories. But, you hint on all of your social media platforms that to view and learn about these announcements you have to view it on Facebook stories. This can then bring your Instagram or other platform's audience to your Facebook page and vice versa. This is a great way to cross-promote your social media platforms and to keep up traffic to all of your pages. Also, different audiences prefer different types of social media platforms. When creating any story, tailor them to the platform and the audience that prefers it. Not only are you speaking to your audience through your Facebook videos, but you are also speaking to a very specific group and demographic.
IT'S ALL IN THE TIMING
Just like Instagram, Facebook Stories live right at the top of your followers' Facebook feeds. They are the first thing that pops up once the app is loaded on their phone or computers. Staying at the top of their page and in their minds' eyes is very important and effective for your business. This is very similar to putting in the much needed time for SEO and getting your company in the top few results in Google searches. This is why you need real and in the moment, not perfect, videos. The more honest they are and the more you draw in your audience, your stories will remain in a consistent spot in their feeds.
Are you getting excited about the potential Facebook stories can bring to you and your company? We hope so. Even if you're still a bit skeptical, now is a great time to try out the many features Facebook stories can give you. Have fun, be bold, and be honest. Your audience, customers, and fans love and support you for a reason. Let that reason shine through your posts! Don't let your audience forget about you, and don't forget about them. We hope you're doing well, Summerville. We miss seeing you and look forward to enjoying our town together very soon. Stay safe, stay smart, and stay home!
Social media can be overwhelming. Each platform is starting to offer more to each of their applications. Sometimes those bells and whistles they keep adding on can add to your frustration. Thankfully, if you just take a moment to understand why these little additives are so important to you and your company, you can stay ahead of the times and right in front of your followers with no difficulty.
2020 has been an interesting year, to say the least. To keep you distracted from the news and the hours of scrolling we have all been doing this past week, we wanted to keep on chugging with business as (mostly) normal. We want to give you something to think about while you're working remotely from home or while you're focusing on the next step of what to do. So let's get right into it, and talk about one of our favorite social media platforms; Instagram!
Instagram can be a place of joy, frustration, confusion, and an amazing advertising tool. We've talked about the importance of staying on top of digital marketing trends and how they can truly benefit you and your company if you stay on top of them. One of the biggest trends happening on Instagram right now is the use of the story option. You can add pictures or videos to your story, and it's an interesting and unique tool that more and more companies are starting to take advantage of. Companies are posting pictures and videos of things at the moment and connecting to their followers in ways they never have before. What's exciting about them is that they give your audience and your followers a real behind the scenes look into the heart of your company. Stories give your followers a sense of humanity because they can see the people at the heartbeat of the company and product they care about so much. It's comforting and endearing. In a world drowned out by social media and that is taking away our human connection from one another, this incredible tool and trend are turning us into beings that crave this insight and are pushing us to be apart of it all. In this two-part blog post, we are going to be discussing why using Instagram stories can be very helpful to your online business, and why you should be using them in your Instagram account.
Ready, Set, Engage!
Are you still skeptical about using stories on Instagram? Does it make you a little uncomfortable to think about as an option for your social media, or you see no point in it? Well, the first huge benefit of this particular tool, is that it will give you page top-notch engagement, and allow that engagement to be consistent. Stories aren't something that lasts forever on your profile, they only stick around for 24 hours and then disappear. You can decide to keep them on your Instagram page as a Permanent Highlights if you so choose to (which, if it's great content - then we encourage you to place it into your permanent highlights. The key is to reuse content!) they'll be around as long as you want them to. You can use Instagram Stories to get your followers excited about your product and to stay in contact with you. It's a great storytelling tool, and a great way to add excitement to what's happening right now. You can build up the excitement for every story by mentioning in your Instagram profile that if you watch these videos or look at pictures, your followers might receive special deals, get exclusive looks at new products, and be the first customers to hear new information. Automatically, your followers get excited about being a part of this "in crowd" and will keep them coming back for more. They will check in on your actual profile more often to see when the next video will appear, and while they're visiting they will get to know you and your brand better. Even though not everyone will get a chance to see these Instagram stories, everyone who will see them will get excited.
No Point in Perfect
The great thing about going posting in your stories is that every video or picture you post to it never has to be perfect. They still need to follow proper business etiquette, but if the video quality isn't the best, if the lighting isn't perfect, or the weather didn't turn out that day to do an outside shoot, that's ok! These imperfect moments shows real humanity to the whole situation and in your company. You are just like your followers, posting videos and content that comes from the heart and is going with the flow of life. Do you know how refreshing that is in comparison to perfectly cut little videos that took hours and cost tons of money to make? You can find those everywhere! But where is the heart in those?
These videos and pictures can also be seen and will be seen as real-time moments and action shots. Plus, if this is fun or important information and it doesn't look quality perfect, that's also ok. It's the heart of the content that matters and what your customers, followers, and viewers will remember. The message will still be delivered without messing up the flow of your profile, too. Your Instagram profile can be kept picture perfect and on-brand with the consistent and professional flow you've built, all while still using the stories to show off your brand in a more personal style.
Algorithms of My Heart
Instagram has been seeing a lot of big changes in the last year or so. Now that Facebook owns Instagram, we are very confident that there will still be many more changes to come. One of the biggest changes we've seen is how posts are displayed and what determines the order that they are displayed in. They used to be shown in the order of when they were posted. Now, they are shown in order based on what the built-in algorithm believes you will enjoy the most. This is based on your interests, what you look at regularly on your Instagram page, and what you have created as your personal demographic. If your company doesn't fit into this algorithm, then your posts and account could go unseen for some time, or maybe not even at all. The great thing about using stories or going live in this situation is that they are posted in real-time and are posted in the order that the users post them in. Your followers will have a better opportunity to see you pop up on their feed without getting lost in the shuffle if you use Instagram stories. The more you post in your stories, and the more they're clicked on, the more often your posts will be seen in your follower's feed. This will help click you into their algorithms, and help to become a permanent part of what they see every time they open the app.
That's all for now! What do you think about Instagram stories so far? Are you already using them and this blog post made you appreciate them a little more? Are you getting excited to try out an Instagram story for the very first time? Or are you still a little confused about what it all means? Keep all of this in mind until our next blog, and please feel free to reach out and ask any questions you might about this topic. We are here to start that conversation with you. Until then, stay safe, healthy, and smart. We love you, Summerville!
Marketing trends feel like they're changing constantly. Sometimes faster than most companies and individuals feel like they can keep up with. Believe us when we say that we can relate to that. But don't get discouraged! This is a new year, and with that comes new and exciting marketing trends that will last the whole year, and help you grow stronger and better than ever before!
It's a new year, which means new things to keep up on! Business doesn't stop for anyone, and we understand that better than most. A new year is an exciting time, but you have to keep up with it or it'll leave you in the dust. With the dawning of 2020 comes the dawning of new social media trends, digital marketing trends, and business trends that are a step or five beyond what we saw in 2019. It might be overwhelming to think about it that way, but at the end of the day - you should be excited! It's time to take new tricks of the trade and see what works best for you and your unique company. Everything in the business world grows and changes, just like we do! It's important to keep up with these changes, just as it is to keep up a strong marketing campaign, a strong social media fingerprint, and not let your social media get pushed into the background. You and your company were made to stand out. You need to keep up with the trends and the times so you're not left behind, or spending time or money on things that just don't work anymore.
There will always be new trends, it's the way of life. But what you do need to be doing is researching what trends are popular, what's working, and what is going to stick around longer than a fad might. A trend will be effective to many groups of people and will influence your business as a whole. A fad will only be popular and affect certain people, and that is something you want to avoid. To get you back on the right paths of trends and leaning away from second long fads, we are going to be sharing and discussing some of the digital marketing trends you're going to be seeing in 2020 and for some years to come!
We hope you are just as excited as we are about these trends. These are just three of the most popular that you will be seeing. Remember to continue your research and to keep learning. The more you can learn, connect to your audience, and understand who you're targeting, you'll be more ahead of the game than you'd expect. Time to hop on board, everyone! Thanks for joining us for another exciting blog. Until next time, stay caffeinated and loving Summerville!
Gaining online traffic to your website can be a little tricky, but the more you understand the different types of traffic and how to get them to your website, the more you can build your business online and off. Take the time to continue learning about the different types of traffic and how it can help you and your company!
February is here! We mentioned how much we love love, and we wanted to continue that with you. In our last blog we started the conversation about what online traffic to your website is and the different types there are out there. Remember, many different types of traffic can visit your website, but we are focusing on the four most popular. In our last blog, we talked about direct and referral traffic. In this blog, we are going to be finishing out with talking about organic and social traffic. These two are some of the most tangible and easiest forms of traffic you can implement into your company and very easy to add to your online advertisement goals.
TRAFFIC TYPE THREE: Organic Traffic!
This type of traffic comes from an online search. An online user isn't specifically typing in your companies name, because they don't know who you are yet. But they are searching for a specific product or service and want a recommendation for something. They type in something that relates to your business, and if you use this type of traffic properly, your company will pop up in the top three website options for them to choose from. The best way to increase this type of traffic is through SEO - (S)earch (E)ngine (O)ptimization. This will place your business at the top of a Google search, so, likely, your website will automatically be picked first by the online user. SEO labels you as being the authority and pro on the topic you're being searched under and helps increase your Google and Online ranking. It is very easy to track this kind of traffic, and the more work you put into it the higher the return you will receive. The big factor in putting work into this and making Google recognize you as an authority is having high-quality content. You need a beautiful and well-designed webpage and Social Media pages, a very safe hosting site, and written blogs posted to your website at least twice a month (AKA what we provide to our clients!). Being very present and active on your Social Media Pages will also help dramatically with this type of traffic too.
TRAFFIC TYPE FOUR: Social Traffic!
This kind of traffic is cultivated by people visiting your website by finding you on a social media platform. They are so interested and intrigued by your brand, that it causes them to visit your website through a link you've provided in a call to action or posted on your social media pages. The more followers you gain on your social media platforms, the more of this type of traffic you can gain. What helps is posting at least once a day on your platforms, being on-brand and consistent when you post, and staying connected with your followers. You need to interact, communicate, and respond to any posts and messages. It can't be a one way street of communication to be successful in this type of traffic. Don't be selfish in this form of traffic. Don't just post to gain followers and traffic. Your goal should be to create a vibrant community that you're proud to be apart of and that your brand is proud to be a part of. This is what social media was created for. If you see that a certain type of social media platform is working better than others for your company, adjust your time and budget accordingly. Post on all platforms, but be realistic in what is bringing traffic to your website and what is not. This reflects the demographics and age range of who is visiting your website, which is ok! Just be aware of these factors.
You not only need to be aware of each of these forms of traffic and understand how they work, but you also need to know how they help and how to achieve them. You need to track the success of each form of traffic that is coming to your website as well. Google My Business does track these numbers for you and you can find them in your information account under the Acquisition Tab. After you open this tab, you can find it in the Overview section. This gathered data can help you see what types of traffic you're consistently doing well with and the ones you're not doing well with. If there is a type of traffic you want more than others, then it's time to switch up your plan on how you are marketing yourself to gain the traffic you want. Have better offline marketing for the direct traffic or perfect your social media platforms to gain Social Traffic There is a trick to each of these types of traffic, and depending on what works best for you and your company, is what you need to put your focus on!
We hope these past two blogs have helped you understand a little bit more about online traffic and the importance it can bring to your website and company. Understand that each of these types of traffic is important and necessary to grow your businesses. You need to add goals of gaining traffic to your website to your goals of online marketing, and you need to understand your audience and the demographic you are wanting to target. Once you can harness these ideas and understand what type of traffic works best for you, then you'll be unstoppable.
Keep working hard, driving forward with your goals, and staying caffeinated!
Small businesses, be warned! Two of the most important tools in your online marketing toolbox sound very similar but they are two VERY DIFFERENT tools. It's time to break down their differences and pick the right choice for you and your company.
Happy New Year Everyone! We hope you had a wonderful holiday with your loved ones, and you're just as excited as we are to jump into 2020! One of the biggest things we were focusing on before the holidays set in was the challenges, changes, and inconsistencies of online marketing across many social media platforms. If you spend as much time as we do studying and working with advertising on places like Facebook and Instagram, you are very familiar with the fact that it changes constantly. It's hard to keep up with each change and how it affects your advertisements daily. These advertisement tools can determine your business growth and popularity online, so if you don't understand the changes in trends or are unfamiliar with the tools available to you, you could be in serious trouble. One of the biggest things we have been digging into is Geofencing and Geotargeting. This behind the scenes marketing tool can make or break an advertisement campaign without even trying. The names look so familiar, they much basically be the same thing right? Wrong! Although they are connected, you need to understand their main differences. When you understand the differences, you will be able to choose which option is best for your company. The best choice will help you gain more customers, followers, and supporters. First off, let's get down to the definitions.
GEOFENCING: Geofencing is when you draw an actual virtual fence with a predetermined chosen radius. This is used to target and connect specific people in a certain area to your advertisement. It is known to be more accurate than geotargeting. It uses GPS to make sure the audience you have targeted is being tracked and followed based on the coordinates of where they are in that exact moment they're online. When this chosen group of people is online, geofencing collects data and studies how long this chosen group of customers stays within the virtual fence and if and when they come back. This tool helps improve the engagement of local customers for your company and it can help attract customers away from your competition. The disadvantage of geofencing is that it can only target audiences based on physical location. Hand-picking demographics and certain groups of people based on anything besides location have nothing to do with who sees your geofencing advertisement.
Who is the best for? If you are interested in advertising to populations of all interests and ages in your local area, then it is a perfect tool for your company.
GEOTARGETING: This tool is very similar to Geofencing at its base. It does draw the same invisible fence, BUT demographics are included in its makeup. You create your virtual fence, and then you pick who exactly (based on age, interest, gender, etc.) will see your ad. One of the main disadvantages is that you have to open up your advertisement geographic to a much larger area. You are being very specific about the type of people you want to see this add within a particular area So, to get as much of a result as you would with geofencing, the location needs to be larger to attract the same number of people in a geofencing situation.
Who is this best for? If you are interested in advertising to a very specific group of people inside a certain demographic or niche, then this is a perfect option for your company.
Spend time studying both options. I have just given you the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to using these tools, and there is a lot to dig into when choosing which to use. Understand how each could affect your company for the better or worse. Spend time understanding the consumers you have and those you're trying to attract. This might be the perfect opportunity to step back and define your company and who you want to serve. If you have the time and the means, experiment with both and see which outcome is best. But make sure to decide on one in the end, stick with it, and plan your advertising campaign accordingly. The work put into this decision could lead to a more dedicated consumer base and a fast conversion rate. All of us social media people love to see those numbers jump high and jump quick!
Here is to an exciting 2020, we can't wait to build a better business world with you one day at a time!
We know it might seem a little early to already be prepping for the holidays, but it's always best to get a head start on planning. From prepping your decorations to your ad campaign, take the time to make this year the best year yet!
Hello everyone! We hope you had a wonderful September, and that you are so excited for October and the fall season to take over. For everyone in the small business world, stepping closer into fall also means starting to prepare for all of your holiday sales, offers, decorations, ads, images, and products. It's A LOT to plan for. Believe me we can relate. We have already started to plan for our fourth quarter, which also happens to be the busiest part of the year. If there is one thing we can recommend right away, it's to start early. That is a huge headache saved, believe me! No matter the size of your small business, you deserve a strong plan and marketing agenda for the holidays. Smart planning for the holidays isn't just for the big box stores or giant corporations. If you employ 1 or 1000, it's time to get started.
We are so excited to share these few tips of the trade with you. Each of these tips can be used for any holiday, but with everything from Halloween to the New Year approaching, we will be focusing on those holidays and each in between. These tips span everything from social media to your digital footprint on Google. You won't want to miss out on these!
Like we mentioned - there is A LOT to think about when it comes to successfully running a business during the holiday season. But we hope these tips help ease some of your stress and kick off the best quarter of the year for you and your small business! We will see you next time!
SSL Certificates. The need to have them has been in debate for some time now - and it looks like Google is going to make the final decision for us all. But what does that mean for the future of your websites and will you be paying for this protection?
Happy July everyone! It's been an exciting month so far for Creative Consulting and we are so excited for the rest of this year to follow suit! There has been an important topic on the back of our minds though - with SEO being our bread and butter, there is one particular topic that has grabbed our attention. The need of an SSL Certificate and what that means for the future of web design, the future of websites SEO, and if you have to pay for this protection or not.
For those of you new to an SSL certificate, or a Secure Socket Layer Certificate, is a digital certificate that authenticates the identity of a website and encrypts information sent to the server. It serves as an electronic passport that establishes online credentials when doing business or just surfing on the web. It creates a secure connection from a web server to a browser. If a hacker ever gets their hands on information or a website that is protected by an SSL, all they will see is a cryptographic code that cannot be broken. Even with the aid of a computer. It ensures total safety while browsing the web, as long as the pages your visiting have an SSL! When it is applied to your server correctly the application protocol, the HTTP, will change to HTTPs. The "S" stands for secure. Sometimes, depending on which SSL Certificate and web browser you're using, a small padlock will also appear in the browser bar and it might even turn green when visiting a website that has an SSL Certificate installed too. SSL Certificates have typically been used to secure credit card transactions, data transfer and login information, and protection on social media websites. But thanks to Google, it looks like it might become mainstream for everyone to have an SSL certificate.
Why do you need an SSL for your website? It keeps all data secure between servers, it increases your Google Rankings, it builds and enhances your customer's trust, and it improves conversion rates. Automatically if your website sells products or services and deals with credit card transactions there is no question that you should have one. If your website is not available over HTTPs you may see a loss in traffic, loss in user trust and your SEO ratings will start to go down. But even if you don't sell something on your website - it is something that you should highly consider. Once you've established an SSL for your website, all traffic to the webpage will be secure. But what does that mean for the future of SEO and your interaction with Google? We all know that drives so much importance in the traffic to your webpage, and Google has been an incredible tool for that. With Google Chrome being the most popular web browser in the world, it's no surprise that they're making the call for the need of SSL Certificates. But let's go back to the beginning.
In 2014 Google created a new algorithm update that automatically favored HTTPs over HTTP. So already, those websites that were going unprotected were getting fewer views. This continued into 2018 when they announced that if you were not an HTTPS website a "NOT SECURE" message would appear either in your browser bar or when you came to a page that wasn't protected. By October of that year, the warning went from being grey to red - they were getting serious. This year Google has made a push on how they will treat websites with and without SSL. The new default that you should expect in Google includes encryption and a secure connection that is required. It is no longer just a feature for online banking and shopping sites. When it comes to SEO ranking if two websites sell similar products or are similar in topic - if one has HTTPs and the other does not, the website with HTTPs will automatically receive a higher SEO rating. It is not a default in ranking just yet, but with the direction Google has been going in, it could become a default in SEO rating in no time.
Good news though! Most Webshots today provide SSL by default. There are also plenty of Certificate Authority companies that you can get them for free, like Lets Encrypt. It makes it easy and simple for most web users - and those making their websites. But there are still some roadblocks. Some of our favorite platforms to build our websites in are Wordpress, Weebly, Madesimply, and Wix!
Some offer SSL certificate protection, but they have two different sets of rules. Wix offers SSL for free as part of their platform, all you have to do is make sure that the SSL option is turned on when you first publish your website. If you already have a Wix website created - all you have to do is activate it!
Weebly and MadeSimply are a little different. You can automatically add an SSL certificate to your websites, but the only SSL certificate that works for the domains attached to these websites are the ones that come from their company. You cannot get a free SSL from Lets Encrypt and then add it to your Website that are run by Weebly or MadeSimply. It has to come directly from Weebly and MadeSimply. But, the SSL protection only comes with the paid website options, not the free options. Even if you decide to go with the free options, the free SSL won't work for their websites and will still have the "not secure" warning when anyone visits your pages. So, if you already have a page made on Weebly or MadeSimply - you will have to upgrade to a paid account for this protection. It is frustrating to pay for something else for your webpage. But it will protect your SEO ranking on Google - and your clients. So those few extra dollars a year just might be worth it. The other options might be more costly in the end. You could be facing a loss of clients, business, attacks from hackers, and more.
If you are using a website builder that doesn't give you free SSL security but does allow you to purchase an SSL Certificate, they can range between $5-$15 a year on the cheaper end - and can become more expensive depending on what kind of protection you're looking for. And don't forget - there are plenty of free options too.
So it looks like SSL certificates are here to stay - the transition might be a little frustrating for you and your business, believe me we can relate. But at the end of the day, the protection is worth it.
By: Maddie Casto