Jordan Lowry

About Jordan Lowry

Jordan is a Digital Marketing Analyst in SEO, PPC and Social Media. He recently graduated from UNC-Greensboro with a strong business background running a start-up.
13 02, 2018

The New Search Console: What You Need to Know

By | 2018-02-12T08:33:43+00:00 February 13th, 2018|Categories: SEO|Tags: , |

Google has released a beta version of a new Search Console experience to a limited number of users. Keeping up to date with new features is imperative for those who wish to adequately monitor indexing status and optimize the visibility of their websites.

The OLD Search Console

Google Search Console offers invaluable insight into how people are finding their websites. Search Console allows webmasters the opportunity to monitor and resolve technical website issues.

On average, Google changes its algorithm at least once a day. Granted, most of these updates are small and are geared towards weeding out spam and low quality content. However, recent updates have been more geared towards, featured snippets, job listings, chrome HTTPS warnings and more.

Due to the frequency of industry updates, Search Console needed a significant overhaul.

Get to Know the NEW Search Console

A short time ago, Google started a gradual roll out of the new version of Search Console. Scratch that. It isn’t just a new version. Search Console has been completely rebuilt from the ground up. This time ‘round, the report is purposefully focused on making it easier for users to identify and fix possible issues.

The most significant differences include Search Performance, Index Coverage, AMP Status, and (for those who post job listings on their site) a Job Posting report. Let’s briefly discuss each and the ways in which they can directly impact you and your website.

The New Search Console’s Index Coverage

The Index Coverage Report provides detailed information on who well Google is indexing the pages on your site.  Page status is reported in any of these four categories; “valid”, “error”, “warning”, and “informational/excluded”.  Here’s the best part. Google has done their best to present errors in a transparent way. Simply click on any URL listed with an error and you’ll be given links to the appropriate diagnostic tools to remedy the issue. And, the user can download or export the information should it require a deeper look.

Search Performance Report Gives You More

Similar to the previous Search Analytics report, the Search Performance report in the new Search Console shows you how often your site appears in search. But, now you get 16 months of data. Get info on clicks, click through rate, and average position.

New AMP Status report in Google Console

This too, is a report designed to help the webmaster identify and fix issues that relate to AMP pages. This report not only identifies URLs with issues, it’s a one-stop repair shop. It tells the user what’s wrong and lets you fix it.

BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE! You can test it, too. One can only assume that Google will be placing more and more weight behind AMP pages. They’re actively encouraging website owners to address AMP issues by making it extremely easy to do so.

More Emphasis on Job Postings

In the summer of 2017, Google launched Google for Jobs as well as new mark-up specifically for job postings. It’s fair to say that they see gold in them there hills. The emphasis on job postings continues with the Job Postings report. Not only can one check to verify that job postings are indexed correctly, but data is available on your job listing results, too.

In Conclusion

Google has continued to work towards their goal of producing the best user experience – period. Thanks to Google’s updates to Search Console, webmasters can stay on top of these changes to align their online strategy with Google’s core values.

 

12 01, 2017

Questions to Ask Your SEO Partner

By | 2017-07-20T09:21:37+00:00 January 12th, 2017|Categories: Digital Marketing, SEO|

Unfortunately, there are some companies in the SEO trade that are damaging the reputation of the entire industry. Over time some local businesses and medium-sized companies avoid paying for SEO management services for fear of being ripped off. Or, they have been led to believe from past experiences that SEO isn’t effective. This is unfortunate because when done right, SEO can be a great equalizer throughout a variety of industries.

There’s no way of knowing if even larger SEO companies will fulfill their SEO guarantees. However, here are some questions you can ask to probe the legitimacy of your current SEO partner.

Let’s Get Started

Ask your current SEO partner if they outsource work or if they have a dedicated internal team. The last thing you want to deal with is an SEO company outsourcing work to other countries with poor SEO tactics. Unfortunately, not every Country where SEO is popular follows best practices. For example, freelancers in other Countries may auto-generate articles, buy links or spam websites.

Paid Backlinks

It should go without saying but buying links is not a viable strategy. Nor is publishing auto-generated articles a feasible content creation strategy.

Duplicate Content

Consider This ……

The web is 25-30% duplicated content according to Matt Cutts. It’s no wonder search engines prefer unique content that provides value.

Bottom Line: You want to work with an SEO agency that does their work in house and holds their team accountable.

Next, link building can be a great SEO strategy when done appropriately. However, if done in a manner that causes Google and other search engines to raise their eyebrows there will be problems or penalties. If you engage in any sort of link building with your SEO agency ask them what their approach or strategy is. Even if it is passive link building where they reclaim links and monitor your brand. It is smart to have a rough idea of the type of link acquisition strategies they may be employing.

If you hear any of these terms thrown around then it is time to switch SEO partners:

  • Link Exchange
  • Blog Networks
  • Widget Backlinks
  • Advertorials
  • Buying Links – Paid Links
  • Article Directories
  • Hidden Backlinks
  • Auto-Generated Backlinks

 

Bottom Line: Link building can be a good strategy when done correctly. Ask your potential SEO partner what their approach is and see if they mention any of the terms above.

Finally, ask your current SEO partner what their content creation strategy is. What you want to find out is are they writing unique content or regurgitating keyword stuffed content.

Also, when it comes to targeting keywords in content pieces be aware of diminishing returns. There is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to using keywords within your content. Add a few keywords and you start gaining rank. Add some more and it doesn’t really make any improvements. If you keep adding keywords then you start to see some declines in rank. I am not saying you shouldn’t have keywords within your content but it is important to add variations and use related keywords.

Bottom Line: You want your SEO partner to go easy on the keywords while providing relevant content.

Side Note – You also don’t want them creating a bunch of pages that are only targeting one keyword either. Instead, it should be a good mix of related terms.

Hopefully, this will help you when researching SEO companies or deciding if it is time to switch vendors.  If you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out or get a Free SEO audit to see how you currently stack up.

Happy Rankings!

24 10, 2016

How to Zero In On The Consumer Purchase Funnel

By | 2016-11-18T14:47:45+00:00 October 24th, 2016|Categories: SEO|

Search Engine Optimization is tricky and to make it harder consumers are constantly in various stages of the buying process. Fortunately, we can craft content to appeal to searchers at various stages of the customer buying cycle. By digging into the consumer journey and considering searcher intent within the funnel we can tailor our content accordingly.

Consumer Purchase Funnel

Awareness

In this stage of the customer buying funnel, searchers have identified a need they would like fulfilled. They are also not aware of your company or its services and products. The goal here is to create Top of Funnel Content to target specific pain points utilizing PPC and SEO. The content needs to be informational and highlight a problem or pain point.

For example, let’s say you run an e-commerce site and you sell hardware typically used in home repair. You could create:

  • Detailed informative blog posts
  • Case Studies
  • eGuides & eBooks

For example, you could create editorial content like ‘How a Renovation can Increase a Home’s Value’. It is important to conduct some exploratory research initially. This can be accomplished by visiting forums and listening to what your community is saying. Epicbeat Epictions and Buzzsumo can be a robust tool when it comes to targeting the right funnel channel. These tools give unique, insight into the types of content your target market is consuming. At this stage, you can gain insight into different types of informational content is performing well in your niche.

This type of content is best suited for your blog section of your site. You can also use this as an opportunity to create link worthy content or clickbait content if you are so inclined.

Familiarity

During this stage, you will still be creating top of funnel content. Searchers are aware they have a pain point but do not know how to satisfy it. This content is still largely informative in nature. Think blog posts, case studies, infographics etc. The goal here is to show searchers how to solve their particular problem and create an additional touch point with your brand. In the end, your goal is to inspire the searcher to take action. Make searchers aware of your brand.

You can uncover insights in the familiarity stage by:

  • Forums – “they are a treasure trove of data”
  • Keyword Research – Keyword planner tool
  • Social Media
  • Google Alerts
  • Specialized Content Research Tools

Let’s say you have an e-commerce company that sells furniture and you are implementing a customer buying cycle. You could build out some content on “Hardware needed for a bathroom renovation”. In our fictitious example, you address a specific problem and a group of people who are experiencing this issue.

Our next step would be to motivate them to take action. At this point, you have a few options. You can ask them to subscribe, leave a comment, or send an inquiry.

Consideration

At this point, searchers are further down the funnel. They are familiar with your brand and are looking for a solution to their problem. They know they need a solution and roughly what they are looking for. In this part of the funnel, you want to optimize middle of the funnel content. This is the part of the funnel people typically optimize for and forget the other sections of the funnel. Don’t be one of these people. Optimize for each stage of the customer buying process for search engine optimization bliss.

Typically this type of content may take the form of product/service related category pages.

You can uncover insights in this stage by:

  • Keyword Research – Keyword Planner Tool
  • Google Search Console
  • Google Analytics – Site Search Analytics

For example, continuing with our previous example let’s say you want to target this funnel. Depending upon the industries you cater to you could produce content for each category page. You could target:

  • ‘Decorative Kitchen Hardware’
  • ‘Cabinetry Hardware’
  • ‘Ambient Lighting Solutions’

In these category pages, you can inspire confidence in your services and explain how you can help solve the searcher’s problem. This is also a great time to get searchers to take action. Consider building out micro-conversions at this point. Such as, “download our buyer’s guide”, “Sign up to receive special offers”, “register for our workshop”.

Purchase

In this stage, you will target searchers in the bottom of the funnel. Consumers are aware of your product or service and are looking for confidence building material. This is a good time for user generated content, testimonial pages and consumer reviews.

consumer reviews

Customer reviews and testimonials have an immense impact on organic traffic and conversion rates. According to a survey by BrightLocal, “88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations”. Essentially, you can spread word of mouth on your product level pages and generate content around it.

Of course, you also want to motivate searchers to perform an action at this stage of the funnel. We want to drive purchases of course. The buy button or ‘shop’ option needs to be prominent.

buy button

Loyalty

In this stage of the funnel, we are targeting the bottom of the funnel searchers. The goal of this funnel is customer retention. The tools in your arsenal to achieve this goal is our email subscription pages, sales related pages and any community-related forums that you can implement on your site. Wayfair is a good example of a company implementing a sales page stuff full of clearance items in a user-friendly way.

wayfair sale page

Also, you can also build a community forum page where customers can ask product related questions and gather advice for specific problems and issues.

The customer buying cycle represents a framework for visualizing the searcher’s journey with your brand over time. By properly tailoring content around each stage in the buyer’s journey, you can foster growth and sales over time. By creating tailored content you will be able to target customer wherever they are in your funnel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 06, 2016

Power Up Online Visibility to Your University with SEO

By | 2017-10-09T09:41:04+00:00 June 17th, 2016|Categories: Higher Education|Tags: , , , , |

Universities and Colleges are beginning to realize the true value of SEO for Higher Education. Unfortunately, the SEO landscape is volatile and ever changing. However, there are some best practices which have been fairly consistent over the last couple of years. We believe that these best practices will continue to be relevant throughout 2016 and work to improve online visibility.

Keyword Research and Targeting Specific URLs 

Higher education institutions should embrace keyword research and use it to build relevant pages. These pages should be built around their core programs they offer. To get started first conduct keyword research which will drive content creation. You can start with a free keyword research tool from SEObook. This tool pulls data from Google and Bing’s databases. Simply input the term you want to get information on. This tool returns data on monthly search volumes along with related terms.

Keyword Research for Higher Ed

Next, you want to build an appropriate page around a theme of closely related keywords. These keywords should relate to educational programs your University offers.

For example, upon conducting some research I came across a few Universities who had important content within PDFs. Rather than a dedicated landing page, one University had downloadable PDFs of their courses.

landing page example

 

An alternative would be to build a landing page around this content and include some sort of conversion point. In case you do not know what a micro conversion is it is a small step on the path of a visitor towards your website’s primary goal.

Avoid Duplicate Content

Google admits that 25-30% of the internet is duplicated content. However, we can still take measures to avoid this. To get an idea if your site has duplicate content simply use Siteliner to run a quick diagnostic.

Identify duplicate contentI can see this college has around 10% duplicated content but, the free version this tool will only look at 250 pages. A way to fix this is to write unique copy on key pages and block unnecessary pages from being crawled by search engines with a robots.txt file. The robots.txt is a nifty text file you can create to instruct search engine robots on where and where not to crawl your site.

Get a Grip on Local Visibility 

local search visibility

 

Colleges are not immune from the types of competition businesses face online. As you can see competition is fierce. There are a lot of different options for any prospective student deciding on where to further their education. Local visibility or local SEO has risen in prominence over the last several years. But how can Higher Educational Institutions benefit?

Google has begun to provide more individualized search features. These personalized features are based on a person’s geographic location and search history. You can take advantage of this by:

Local Citation Corrections – Your first job is to make sure your college’s address is easily found on key pages. Then you need to ensure it is listed correctly throughout the web.

local citation reviews

 

Local Content – Once your Higher Ed’s citations are handled it’s time to produce local content. It’s important this content resonates with your audience. Maybe you build a page dedicated to ‘College Life’ and talk about activities around your college’s campus.

Don’t Block Important Resources

Blocking content that is important to searchers within search engines is detrimental. A common way to block important information is with a robots.txt file.

A robots.txt file is a simple file which holds pretty significant power. This file controls how search engines initially crawl a website when they first visit. However as you can imagine it can be pretty easy to block important resources you would otherwise want indexed. To check this simply type your domain name “example.com/robots.txt”. Remember replace “example.com” with your Universities domain name.

robots.txt sample

 

A good rule of thumb is to not block key pages from search engines with a robots.txt file. For example, you would not want to block important categories such as, Admissions, Academics, or Athletics sections.

Keep in mind, if you use Google Site Search as your internal site search, blocking a section with the robots.txt file will also prevent it from showing up properly in your internal search as well.

Higher Educational institutions may not take digital marketing or search engine optimization into consideration. However, no website is immune from the grasps of Google.

Take advantage of digital marketing and SEO to get in front of more prospective students. By conducting keyword research, avoiding duplicate content issues, and gaining more local visibility you can reach a wider more targeted audience.

9 02, 2016

How to Identify Stolen Content and Take Action!

By | 2017-06-16T12:46:34+00:00 February 9th, 2016|Categories: SEO|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Imagine that you and your staff have spent countless hours creating engaging content for your website, only to discover that much of it has been stolen and repurposed by others – without your consent.

The appearance of duplicate content could adversely affect your website search rankings, making it more difficult for prospective students, alumni and the community to find you. And as we all know, good content rules. So, why let others break them (the rules, that is)?

At Beacon, we’ve seen what unethical practices such as copy scraping can do. Having personally experienced the theft of our content fairly recently, I thought I’d share the steps I took to alert Google to this offense and protect our company from the negative fallout that can follow.

Here are six easy steps for getting back at the thieves who steal copy.

Step 1 – Verify that your suspicions are correct.

Perform a quick Google search to determine where your copy is showing up across the internet. You can randomly select copy from a webpage (copy and paste a few sentences in a Google search box) to run a query. The search results will indicate if your copy appears on another site on the web other than your own.

For example, here are the results from my search.

Scraped Content

The search results will provide you with a list of webpages where that content appears (including your own, of course). As you can see in this example, there is another website using content I wrote without my consent (see the red arrow above).

Step 2– Investigate the extent of the theft

Stolen ContentScraped Content

When investigating the extent of plagiarism, check to see if your content was been copied verbatim. Also, you’ll want to check if this is an isolated event or if the website in question has copied multiple pieces of content. In our example above, you will notice multiple instances of stolen content. It’s time to take action.

Step 3 – Reach out to the website’s administrator

Reach out to the webmaster of the website that stole the copy. If the webmaster’s email contact isn’t readily displayed, check the about or policy sections of their website. The webmaster’s address is often hidden within these pages.

Once you’ve found an email address, notify him that you are aware of the offending activity and request that he remove the stolen content within a defined period of time. A week to ten days is more than enough.

Should the webmaster voluntarily remove the stolen content, your job is done. Have a latte. However, most nefarious webmasters will ignore such warnings and hide behind a perceived veil of anonymity.

Now, the fun begins.

Step 4 – Contact the hosting provider

It’s time to perform a who-is-lookup. This online tool provides you with the webmaster’s identity and more importantly, their website hosting provider. Armed with this new information, I reached out to the hosting provider and let them know that a website they host had blatantly infringed on my intellectual copyrights. I respectfully requested that they take down the website in question.

Step 5 – File a DMCA request

If the hosting provider fails to respond, then it’s time to file a dirty DMCA request. Only take this step once you have exhausted the other options. Also, keep in mind that you need to have the authority to act on behalf of your organization prior to filing this request.

You have the option of drafting your own DMCA takedown request or downloading this DMCA Take Down Notice Template to customize and send to the offending website owner. After you have sent the DMCA notice, give the website a week to ten days to respond. If you don’t hear back within the time you designate in your notice, it’s time to elevate the complaint to Google and get some sort of resolution.

Step 6 – Request Google remove the stolen content

Log into Google Search Console: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/dmca-notice. This will take you to the copyright removal section within Google (see below). Simply follow the instructions and be sure to describe the nature of the work being copied and include URLs where the copyrighted work can be viewed. Also, include the link to the infringing material.

Scraping Site

The DMCA request tends to work pretty quickly so you want to keep an eye on how many pages are currently indexed and compare it over the next few days or weeks. You can double check this by running another search query containing a snippet of your stolen copy. If you were successful in your attempt at protecting your content, you will see that Google has removed pages from its search engine that were infringing upon your copyrights once they complete their investigation.

Monitoring tip: If you would like to check the progress of your request, perform a site search if the offending site and make a note of the number of pages Google has indexed (see below). Compare this number to future searches and you may find the Google now indexes fewer of the website’s pages than before your request. This is a sign that Google may be taking action.

stolen content before after

You’ll know you’ve reached a final resolution when you run a search query and see the following highlighted message displayed:

stolen content example

Good luck and happy hunting!

19 11, 2015

How to Craft a Social Media Content Strategy

By | 2016-11-18T12:09:54+00:00 November 19th, 2015|Categories: Social Media|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

 

It is true that social media can be beneficial to a business, but it can also cause a migraine at the same time. If not implemented properly it can damage your business’ reputation or become a waste of time. Here are some important steps to keep in mind when developing a social media content strategy. This will help keep your content relevant and work to amplify your postings. Some steps to include are brainstorming, research, and determining which platforms to use.

Brainstorming 

First, let’s start off with brainstorming potential content ideas. These will help build shareable content. In this stage it is important to think broadly about your industry. It is necessary to think about how you can branch out to reach a wider audience. It is a good idea to not have a narrow view of your business when brainstorming content topics at first. Once you build out a variety of topics and ideas you can always go back and decide what fits your brand image. Try to think of all the components that work together to make up your business. For example, let’s say I own a skateboard shop. I might produce content about skateboard maintenance or the benefits of skateboarding. This tactic will help you build a diverse social media content strategy.

Here is a visual representation of my thought process when brainstorming content:

Content Map

 

Research 

Once you have spent time brainstorming, then it’s time to move on to the next phase, research. We want to learn what types of content are performing well in our industry.

In continuing on with our skateboarding example, let’s say I am done brainstorming. Now I have some topics I want to build out content around. It’s time to dive into some content research so I have a better idea of what performs well. This will vary by industry and whether you’re a B2B or B2C business.

When conducting my research, I use several tools to learn what is performing well. For this, I am going to start with a neat and free tool called Epicbeat, which I think is an appropriate name for a social media tool. Epicbeat will help you discover popular content, influencers, and industry insights.

First, I want to enter in the term I will be researching.

Social Media Content StrategyThen, I am directed to a dashboard that gives a quick view of several key factors. These factors will help me find content to re-share and give me greater insight into what I need to create.

Social Media Research Which Platforms? 

The few things I want to get insight into are which platforms are popular and what types of content perform best. Then, I want to know when I should be posting to my platforms.

Social Media Content ResearchRight away I see that Facebook is the most popular channel followed by Vine and Instagram. I also get some other metrics such as average shares per post and a few other engagement metrics which is great. This tells me the type of engagement I can expect from each social platform. I also want to look for what type of content is most popular within this industry.

Now from my research, I know I should focus on Facebook and maybe Instagram as well. This will help get my social media content strategy off to a great start. After reviewing the engagement metrics, I know where I need to be to have an impact. Keep in mind, it is important to start a social media campaign small and scale up. In most cases, it is better to have one or two social profiles than five that you rarely engage with users on.

Content ResearchEpicBeat is nice enough to give me the distribution by content type for skateboarding. This gives me a better idea of the types of content to either begin producing or re-sharing. Right away I see that ‘how’ articles are trending with Listicles, and Interviews trailing. If I skipped this step and ran giveaways and produced guides, I would have missed a lot of engagement. This is why research is so crucial so you are not fumbling around in the dark.

I’m at a great starting point now I have my topics I want to build content around. I also have a better idea of which social platforms my target audience are active on. Now I have a better understanding of the content types I will begin curating. I even have an idea of what I can re-share to my platforms to further encourage engagement too.

Tools make research easier, but you should still browse followers to gain more insight. Look for what they are sharing and engaging with, and news they consider important. This will help you plan your social media content strategy in an effective manner. As an added bonus, I like to use Klout to spot trending content pieces and re-share them with my followers. Only use this platform once you have taken the time to research your industry and build out topics. This can be a great way to find relevant news about your industry.

Klout Content ResearchKlout shows content to reflect the best trending pieces related to your industry. Klout also includes a search function as well so you can do further research. This allows me to take topics I built out earlier and search for trending articles. Another feature like EpicBeat is the ability to find influencers within your niche. You can even research influencers within your industry and see content they engage with.

Klout Content Research Once inside the platform, there is no need to go back and forth between Hootsuite to schedule a post. You can schedule all your content within the platform as well and save some time. Remember, research is the cornerstone of a successful social media content strategy. Taking the time to brainstorm will lead to unique ideas that may not have developed otherwise.

As a side note, you can have a great social media content strategy but without goals you can get off track. Setting goals that impact your business is important when starting a social media campaign.

By brainstorming, researching, and evaluating platforms, you can start an effective social media campaign.

Happy sharing!

21 10, 2015

How to Get Started with Social Media and Win Followers

By | 2017-06-16T12:24:20+00:00 October 21st, 2015|Categories: Social Media|Tags: |

How to Get Started with Social Media and Win Followers 

Social Media can be a valuable tool to connect with customers and develop brand awareness along with relationships. Unfortunately, it can at times be a difficult and daunting task that can very easily become overwhelming. Thanks to the ever-growing list of social media platforms, it can be hard to know where to begin your social media campaign. Fortunately, Beacon has you covered with some social media best practices to help you get the most out of your campaigns. To begin a campaign, it is important to start by investing the time to do research into your target market, consistently sharing content, leveraging technology to amplify your content, and setting specific and measurable goals. This way you can be sure to get your social campaign started off on the right foot.

Research is important for your social campaign for a number of reasons.

First, it’s important to know what types of content people are sharing and engaging with within your industry. A good start is to analyze your competitors’ social platforms and see what’s working for them along with what platforms they are active on.

Social Media Platforms

*Courtesy of member clicks

In addition to understanding what social media platforms your competition are active on, it’s important to know what types of content perform well for your industry. A good tool for this is can be found at Buzz sumo.. This tool will allow you to search based on topics or by specific domains to see what types of content perform well and what is being shared. You can also easily share content from this platform directly to your social media accounts.

Social Media Content

Second, once you know which platforms your target audience are active on, it’s time to do some hashtag research so you can amplify your content and posts. No, I’m not talking #about #spamming #posts with #hashtags but using them cautiously to boost your reach on social media. Some social media best practices when it comes to hashtags is to keep it relevant and never spam them. Also, Hashtagify.me has a good tool that suggests relevant hashtags based on the topic you type in their search box. This is a great starting point if you are drawing a blank.

Once you identify potential #hashtags you are interested in using, now you need to understand what sort of reach and impact they will have when trying to amplify your content. You can take the #hashtags that hashtagify.me recommends and put them in Google Trends. Google trends will show you the interest of these topics over time and it should give you a rough estimate of the impact these hashtags can have on amplifying your content.

Google TrendsConsistency is key when stepping into the social media realm.

It is important when deciding to start a social media campaign to keep a consistent brand image across all platforms. Each social media platform you use for your business will have a different layout but make sure items such as your profile image and company bio are consistent. A good point of reference is to design your social media profiles to reflect your company’s website where appropriate. It can get confusing and disorient your audience if your social media profiles are a mashup of random conflicting social bios with pixelated distorted profile images.

The next step in being consistent is regularly developing content and a content schedule. This way your business or company’s social media profile will not fall into the abyss and be forgotten. Mapping out a content schedule has several social media benefits:

Mapping out Time Sensitive Content– Your social media content schedule will anticipate company events, holidays, birthdays, contests and will allow you to be creative with regards to how you develop and curate the content. This will also reduce stress while keeping your engagement rates up.

Involve Others– Scheduling content in advance allows other members of your team to become involved in the content curation as opposed to just one person.

Enforce the 80-10-10 rule– The majority of content you create should be informative (think 80%), interesting and relevant to your audience. 15-10% of your content should be re-tweets, or sharing content curated by other people, that your audience would find interesting. Roughly 10%-5% or so should be about promoting specific products or services your business offers. Remember that your social media platforms are not for actively making sales. The goal is to build relationships first and provide relevant engaging content. If you selfishly promote too much and neglect to share content from others, this can lead to potential customers unfollowing you on your social platforms. For some great tips on how to use social media for small business be sure to read “I Tweet, But No One Buys“.

A wonderful tool to help with consistency and take away some stress associated with social media is Hootsuite. Thankfully, it is free for the first few accounts and lets you schedule all your social media posts out for several weeks or months in advance. You can sync most of your social media accounts all under one roof. Hootsuite also allows you to monitor what others are saying about your brand and provides opportunities to engage with your audience.

HootsuiteFinally, it is important to create an overall objective, specific goals, and set key performance indicators.

This will help you track your success with your social media campaign and make adjustments as necessary along the way. Your overall objective should be qualitative, ambitious and certainly achievable through social media. An example can be “We strive to be the authority on social for *lawn care services*.” Moving forward, we need to set some goals to accomplish our objective. Some examples of strategic social goals to take into consideration are increasing reach, increasing website conversions, increasing retention, establishing credibility within our niche, and increasing web visibility.

These are good starting points, but it is important to dig a little deeper and discover what would positively impact your business and is it possible to accomplish through social media. Some sample goals can include:

Building and fostering a social community– Growing a strong social media following is essential to any successful social campaign, without a community you have nothing. This can be accomplished by sharing relevant and anticipated content with your followers and encouraging engagement across platforms.

Drive conversions with social media– A great reason for using social media marketing is to ultimately assist with conversion efforts. It is not so useful for engaging in selling, but it is best suited to assist customers through your sales funnel.

Build brand awareness– Possibly the most important goal of any social media campaign is to increase awareness of your brand and get consumers talking about your company. Fortunately, it is easy to track, measure and follow up with what people are saying about your brand while making adjustments as you go.

Then moving forward, establish certain key performance indicators or (KPI’s) that you can use to keep you on track with your overall objective. If you are not actively measuring your efforts on social media, it becomes hard to know what sort of impact it is having on your business. This may have your boss and managers wondering if social media is a waste of time. Some sample performance indicators you can use to measure the impact of your campaign can be:

Reach  

This can easily be measured by how many followers your accounts have accumulated. These are the people who are being exposed to your posts and brand. While it is great to gain a large following and have a large community throughout your social media platforms it is important to consider the demographics of your followers as well and if they are part of your target market. More followers doesn’t always = equal success in social media.

Engagement 

Sure, accumulating fans, followers, and a community is wonderful but if they are not actively engaging with your content then you have a problem. Here are some metrics to track and analyze when running a social campaign. For a more in depth look be sure to read a previous blog that goes more into more detail with measuring important social media metrics.

Likes & Favorite’s are the very first level of engagement when it comes to social media. While this is a positive engagement metric it is a very low metric and does not usually mean a person has read through your post or visited your site as a result. However, they are a good indication of a campaign slowly gaining traction.

Shares & Retweet’s allow your social posts to be amplified and reach a larger audience quickly. This is also an excellent indication of what types of content and posts your audience are interested in seeing. You can track shares and retweets and work with your team to curate more content that has a better opportunity of gaining greater traction within your audience.

Remember, when building social media campaigns, research your potential target market, leverage technology, then set ambitious and achievable goals that are measurable.