If you haven’t heard of Instagram, you are missing out on a social media gem that boasts over 100 million active users. That’s a hefty number and, as a result, big brands are increasingly joining Instagram’s ranks–sharing photos and videos and increasing engagement with existing and potential customers the world over.

ms-increase-engagementHere are some of the international players that have put Instagram to work for them.


This heavy-hitter in the world of sports apparel and equipment knows the value of social media when it comes to marketing a brand–and it has identified Instagram as a requisite social media marketing tool. Nike also knows that humans love to create and share their creations with others. Here’s how they used Instagram to cash in on our inner Picassos and earn a massive following. Read more…

There are a lot of different methods out there for driving down your costs of advertising on Facebook and to increase the efficiency of your page and your overall marketing campaign. From beginner guides to expert expositions, there’s information out there for all stripes. For the marketer on Facebook already privy to ad formats and how the system works, you can skip the rookie camp and look for something with more meat on the bones.

For instance, you can skip over the tips dealing with how to draw people to your page and instead focus on how to get more of those visitors to actually engage with your brand.

If you’re looking to increase your sales, it’s all about increasing your engagement. The tips listed below should help you to post more engaging material. Read more…

An "action" sign for starting the recording of video. Includes social media icons like YouTube, Vimeo, etc.Social media marketing is a must-have facet in any business nowadays; it helps your company stay connected with its audience, create a wider networking circle, and keeps you relevant. By implementing a web video into your social media platform, you will be able to stand out amongst your competitors and more easily connect with your audience. This process doesn’t always come easily though, and many times people will miss the mark with their video. Here are the top five mistakes people make when video content:

Video is Too Long

One very important thing to remember about social media is that it is constantly being updated. People want the newest information as quickly as possible and social media platforms cater to that mindset. To create successful videos on social media – you have to keep it concise and interesting. Yes, you may have a lot of information you want to convey to your audience but be sure to not pack it all into one video. Cut it up into short, easily digested snippets where your audience can be in and out in less the four minutes.

No Plan of Action

Producing videos for social media is a great idea. Producing videos for social media without any plan of action is a bad one. You have to be sure that your video fits into you social media marketing plan. Be sure to have a well thought-out concept, an appealing script, and a smart planning process to be sure that what you produce is entertaining, enjoyable, and of professional quality. Read more…

A lot has recently been said about the Penguin update that took place a few months ago. It impacted a lot of companies and many links were penalized for bad SEO practices. In turn a lot have people have been screaming foul at any SEO attempts for fear of a big Google backlash on their site. They have also been preaching a lot about the importance of content, and they’re right on that end. The fact is that SEO is not all of a sudden some dirty term we need to shy from. In fact it still plays a big role in a lot of company’s efforts, but there does need to be a balance. Finding a balance in great content generation matched with SEO efforts can still yield good results. More importantly results that Google won’t penalize. Read more…

a picture of a debit card with social icons on itThe term ‘social shopping’ gets thrown around a lot and it’s used to mean everything from having reviews on your site to consulting friends on Facebook before you buy. To me, the essence of social shopping is the ability to consult with others before you purchase, whether that person is a sales clerk, an anonymous reviewer, or your best friend. Research suggests that greeting a customer can increase sales by up to 25%, so getting personal engagement on purchases just makes a lot of business sense. Here are some ways to increase social shopping on your own site:

Add better reviews: If you sell products and don’t have reviews, add them now. Even bad reviews can increase conversions by 67%. The latest trend is with video reviews. Companies like VideoGenie let customers add a 20 second product review, and sites like ShoeDazzle swear by them. Read more…

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

The Importance Of Social Search

Social Search can be approached from two angles; both equally important for businesses. There’s micro-searching — this includes using social media to connect and engage with people based on keyword, location, and niche. And then there’s macro social search… essentially, how it’s affecting search engines like Google. In this article I will give you three areas of mirco social searching to focus on, how best ot use them, and give an overview of where I think social search optimization is going.

Micro Searching

Micro searching is a great way of connecting and reaching out across social media to increase your audience. These searches include different twists on the classic search and each of which will be explained individually.

Geo- Targeting: Being able to locate people and updates which have been sent within an “X mile radius” really does mean you can restrict your searches to only the most relevant distances and topics for you. Fantastic if you are holding an event in a town and want to get locals involved or if you have a product that you need local people to buy or use. MarketMeSuite is social media dashboard which lets you have all of your social network accounts in one place. And, most importantly, lets you target your tweet searches to location and using specific words using a feature called “Reply Campaigns”. You can target within 1000 miles of a specific location. All you have to do is type in either the city, county, zip code, postal code to get location of your choice. The keyword selection also means you can target the words that you feel will be most used in your niche topic. Read more…

I recently tested a few tactics to determine the most effective methods of generating SEO juice using Twitter. Here are the top seven, in no particular order.

1. Choose a good Twitter handle
Choose a Twitter handle that is relevant to your company and is easy to remember. Your handle (also known as your User name) becomes part of your Twitter URL e.g. http://www.twitter.com/B_West. This creates a static URL for future search indexing. Of course the challenge is to find an available handle that matches your company or brand while keeping it as
short as possible so its easy to tweet and retweet.

2. Account names are important too
You will also want to optimize your Twitter account name to best reflect your company or brand. Your account name is what appears in your profile, next to your icon/image. This can be different than your Twitter handle. You will want to choose an account name that promotes your company or brand. Bonus tip: check your website’s natural search stats to see which variation of your brand name generates the most search activity.

3. Promote your Twitter account
Once your account is set-up the first thing you’ll want to do is build your list of followers and the link reputation of your Twitter account. An effective way to do this is to display your Twitter URL on your website
along with the Twitter icon encouraging users to “follow” you on Twitter. It’s also useful to put your Twitter link on the global footer of your website and in your email signature. Read more…

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

Developing a Marketing Budget for 2005

“You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.” (Edwin Louis Cole)

What does the timing of Columbus Day (US), Thanksgiving Weekend (Canada), baseball playoffs, and corn roasts typically signify? For many of us it is the beginning of a process to focus and formulate our company’s priorities for the New Year. Specifically, businesses that operate on a calendar fiscal year start about this time to prepare their new budget. Ideally we take extra time to analyze the current expenses and revenues. We dust off our microscope and try to objectively evaluate how each account has performed. How do they fit in with our short and long-term goals? What would you do differently? Read more…

“Thank you so much for your willingness to help and for your time supporting the beginners”. (Michael from Australia) Over the last few weeks I have received several emails like this – from interesting people with inquiring minds all over the world. They have a broad range of experience, from beginners to advanced in their knowledge base of search engine placement and optimization. Each are seeking, in as layman terms as possible, answers to many basic and fundamental questions. To wit:

Q. Is it really important for visibility to have my own domain name?

A. Absolutely. To maximize impact, consider a domain name including your specific keyword(s). As well, you should develop a keyword-enriched title for the page.

Q. Please shed some light regarding keyword phrases?

A. Keyword phrases are particular combinations of relevant or unique words that users search on. What is the wording you want to promote? Focus on this. For example, a few unique and descriptive keywords for StepForth Placement would be: search engine placement, seo services, sep, sem, S.E.O., search,engine, optimization, StepForth, ranking, optimisation, optimize, top10, website,marketing, etc.

Q. For my site would it not be better to have three instead of four pages by combining two pages in order to increase the size of the small Home Page?

A. It all depends. Certainly you want the Home page to offer sufficient enriched keyword text. The text used in this section should be descriptive of your business, its products, and your potential customers. In addition, for each page, remember to use unique and descriptive titles, Keyword and Description META Tags. Also, consider creating text-based navigation map and Site Map at the bottom of each page.

Q. I can understand the importance of links to my site, however, why should I offer my link to other services that my potential clients may go to.

A. It is good practice to develop a link page on your site. To increase site relevance, popularity, and visibility, link your site to complimentary business, service, or information sites. As a rule, obtain meaningful reciprocal links with related and relevant associations, on-line publications, manufacturers, suppliers, etc. Search engines would consider this link as a vote of confidence that the target web site is about your keywords or keyphrase and thus your site would have a better chance of achieving a top placement under that phrase.

Q. I have a limited budget. What can I do to get the best return for a minimal investment?

A. Everyone has a different concept on what is ‘a best return’ and ‘a minimal investment’. How fast do you need it and how much work needs to be done? And who is going to do the work? Generally speaking, you get what you pay for. Our small company package starts at $2000. To many business owners this is viewed as a small price to pay for marketing their business. Many companies setup an annual budget for web design yet remarkably they neglect to set aside funds for necessary search engine placement, optimization and maintenance.

Sometimes there is a relatively quick fix. If you have a advertising or promotion line in your financial statement appropriate some the funds from there. Many SEO companies can offer flexible payment plans, spreading out the payments. See your finance department for advice. Depending on your fiscal year-end he/she may suggest monies could be used from the current fiscal year with the balance paid from the next annual budget. Another route many of our technically minded clients lean toward is our $150 per hour consultancy fee.

If you depend on a successful Christmas/Chanukah selling campaign the only way the reap the benefits of marketing your site now may be to just bite the bullet and set aside the necessary financial resources. Or wait until next season’s campaign.

Q. Should I put into my Meta Tag “Keywords” my selected keyword phrase, which may be exactly the same phrase a user might type into a search engine box? Also, should they be in the same order in the text body AND as in the SE user’s box

A. For an excellent explanation of Meta Tags, please read “10 Minute Search Engine Optimization”, by Ross Dunn, StepForth CEO. The link is http://news.stepforth.com/2003-news/ten-minute-optimization.shtml