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Make Your Small Business Shine Online

Small business online marketing

“New Years Resolution” isn’t just some term touted by over-enthusiastic avocado lovers. Take this year as an opportunity to make your brand shine online.

As we venture boldly into a new year, it’s highly likely that you’ve made a number of ambitious business goals. And so you should - be bold! Digital marketing warrants constant improvement so if it’s not already up there as something for you to enhance, it should be.

Size no longer matters when it comes to digital. The smallest of small companies can boost their business by investing time into their online presence. Not doing so will likely harm business - it’s a digital world we’re living in and consumers have digital expectations.

It doesn't take much to give your brand a quick online health check-up. Follow these simple steps and you'll have a firm foundation to make 2017 your year to shine online.

1. Optimise your social media pages

How does your brand look online? Are your social media pages populated by bruised and battered old logos and irrelevant advertising, or do you have one consistent look and feel across board? Start by optimising your pages and ensuring that users get who you are and what you are about at first glance. Utilise your header and profile photo to showcase who you are and start creating a personality.

There are a number of useful free online tools that can help you optimise your social media pages. We’ve collected a list of the most powerful social media management tools for small businesses - check it out here.

2. Optimise your website

Facebook would have us believe that you don’t need a website anymore. But you do. By golly, you do. For the past few years Zuckerberg has done little to hide the fact that he wants to limit the amount of time users have to spend on the internet off of Facebook. But the truth is that websites are more important now than they have ever been. They are the shop fronts of the digital age.

Having your own website with your own blog lets you take advantage of authentic and original content marketing which builds up your social media marketing strategy. The two are basically best friends.

3. Integrate your social media and content marketing

Once you have optimised your pages and your website you can get to creating a consistent full-scale digital marketing strategy that suits you. Think of the two like this; your social pages are where real people come to hear about your brand and decide whether they want to advocate it. It should be used to share advice, resources and deals that would benefit them. Your website is your shop front. Create content that benefits your customers on there and share it on your social pages.

There have always been a number of different goals and things that can be achieved through social media marketing, such as brand awareness, audience growth or increased website traffic. But now we are seeing it used in new and exciting ways, with innovative check-in deals and advocacy benefits strategies being utilised in the hospitality industry.

If you’re struggling to create a strategy that reflects your own goals then drop us a message - we’d love to help. But one way sure-fire way to build your brand is an integrated content marketing and social media strategy.

4. Create and share better content

How do you use your blog to your benefit? Use it to benefit your customers. Quality articles not only entice new customers, they remind current ones why they bought into your brand in the first place and work to make them advocates.

Content marketing in 2017 is expected to see significant development and content creators are getting much, much better. Great news for users, but it means small businesses have to work a lot harder.

So that you know you are investing in the right thing, we’ve put together a how-to guide on creating the right content for your audience in 2017 - check it out here. We’ve also listed the top 12 online tools for content marketers.

5. Craft an online voice

Your online voice needs to be unique and totally human. We cannot stress enough the importance of sounding human on social media. It was made for humans by humans. Shouting about your brand doesn’t work anymore - to get results you need to engage with real people at a human level and get them to trust your brand so that your network will grow organically.

Regardless of your, your pages simply won’t grow if you don’t make people want to engage with you. Millennials are completely aware of what’s advertising and what isn’t, and they are less likely to trust a brand that doesn’t feel authentic. This article will help you build an online voice for your brand.

6. Learn how to listen and respond

One of our biggest (and favourite) pieces of expert social media advice from last year was for business to shut up and listen. Listening and responding goes beyond community management (but if you need help with that, check out this article), its about ensuring you provide what they ask for and give yourself the best chances of success.

Social media marketing doesn’t stop at your posting strategy - it’s about customer service too. Make sure you top off your posting strategy of colossal epicness with a great response rate for queries.

Great digital marketing isn’t just for the big wigs. Make 2017 your year to shine online. And if you need any help along the way, drop us a line.

Kicking Your Content Marketing into 2017

Content Marketing 2017

Content marketing has long played a crucial role in the best digital marketing strategies. Quality content not only entices new customers, it reminds current ones why they bought into your brand in the first place and works to make them advocates.

It certainly warrants some serious investment in 2017 - but you need to be sure you’re going the right way about it.

Quality content is not just a magic buzzword in digital marketing. It is the indispensable aspect of any successful campaign. As we venture boldly into a new year, it’s highly likely that you’ve made a number of ambitious business goals. And so you should - be bold! Digital marketing warrants constant improvement so if it’s not already up there for you, it should be.

Content is that priceless product that you need your digital customers to buy into. There is now such a wide array of digital marketplaces and social networks. This can something of a double-edged sword. While it might mean that companies have access to a variety of different options to reach their audience, the amount of them vying for attention is substantially more than it used to be. Competition is hot on any channel. To get anything out of it you need to stand out.

Kicking your content marketing into 2017

The content creators are getting better. Much better. That is great news for users but something of a complication for casual marketers who can’t be casual anymore. In order to compete in 2017 you need to be sure that your efforts stand up and that you aren’t wasting your time. Your investment needs to be the right investment.

Quality content marketing is crucial to success in 2017. Follow these steps and start doing yours the right way.

1. Revisit who your audience are

All content needs to serve a purpose. Everything which serves a purpose has an audience. Any content marketer worth their salt understands that content that isn’t targeted to a particular audience is next to worthless. As we move into this new year, take a moment to revisit exactly who your audience are. Already done that? Go deeper.

Specificity is key. Effective content is perpetual; by narrowing down to a specific segment of your wider audience you give it the best chance of being considered quality and evergreen. Catch-all content efforts neither work for search engine optimisation purposes or for social media promotion. Learn who your audience are and narrow in on every single facet of their interests. Niche it up!

2. Reflect your niche in your headline

If there is one thing that we all need to improve on this year it’s headlines. These few words are all you have to get users to stop scrolling and click on your content. They require just as much investment as the content itself. But that doesn’t mean you should over-promise. On the contrary, exaggerated headlines are nothing more than clickbait and will simply harm your brand in the long run.

Be sure that your headline identifies your niche audience and outlines the benefits that clicking will bring. Most content writers will start off writing witty or cutesy headlines because they sound clever, but soon enough they realise that above all being obvious is what matters. With a few bold power words thrown in for good measure.

3. Create better header graphics

You want users to start sharing your content. You want their peers to see that content, click and curate it themselves. So what you need is something visually stimulating. It really doesn’t take much to add a tiny aspect of graphic design to content creation. Header graphics shouldn’t be an afterthought, they should compliment your content. There’s nothing wrong with CC0 stock images - so long as you personalise them for your own purposes.

Your header graphic is an opportunity to reiterate the benefits of your article using different keywords to the headline. While these might not be readable by search engines, that certainly doesn't make them devoid of reason. They are an extra opportunity to entice clicks.

4. Get some consistency with your articles

Ideally you want a repeat audience who have certain expectations for your content. How can we expect that when one day we post a 1200 word analytical report and the next a 230 word company announcement that has little importance to your audience? Make 2017 your year for consistency. That doesn't just mean posting similar length articles, it means crafting your a structure or style of delivery unique to your feed.

Contributing guest posts to external sites often means you have to structure your posts by their rules. Just because they get a lot of hits doesn’t mean that their structure is some secret formula. On the contrary, some of these are downright awful to write and even worst to read. On your own blog and even some third party sites/professional networks, you have the freedom to create something more readable, skimmable and welcome to the reader’s eye.

5. It’s not enough to be useful - be unique.

It’s crucial for your content to be usable, that’s for certain. But if you really want to stand out from the crowd, you need to have a personality. This is something that should emanate all the way through your digital marketing strategy. Your online voice should be unique, fun and totally human. Content marketing is where your voice is forged.

6. Promote, optimise and distribute with all your might

The final step is crucial - promotion. If you want your content to be successful, you need to get it in front of that niche audience. Leave no stone unturned in doing so. Ensure every single one of your posts are optimised for search engines by using Yoast or a similar plugin. Include your article in your email marketing or newsletter. Continually promote them on social networking.

At this point in time it’s a no-brainer to put some paid promotion behind your articles on social media. Promoting posts of your content often results in the growth of a quality, engaged audience of advocates. This audience is likely to come back to read your consistently good articles, remembering your services and products for when they have need of them.

If you’re looking to invest in content marketing this year, our services might be right up your street. Interested in finding out more? Reach out to us here!

Snapchat Introduces Enhanced Goal-based Bidding for Ads

Snapchat goal-based bidding ads

Snapchat have begun giving advertisers a greater variety of options for how they bid on ads via its API. The new upgrade is called goal-based bidding and makes use of machine learning technology in order to allow users to make ads more relevant to their own goals.

In a move that shows they are serious about competing in the world of social media advertising, Snapchat have begun making use of a new machine learning technique that determines which users are most likely to engage with ads on the app. The new feature, reported by AdAge, is called goal-based bidding and allows advertisers more control when buying ads.

Through it advertisers will be able to set campaign goals beyond ad views by bidding on engagement. According to a spokesperson for Snapchat, advertisers can determine how much they value a swipe on their ad and the network will automatically optimise delivery to a “subset of the advertiser’s target audience that has a propensity to swipe.”

Although the upgrade is a minor one in the grand scheme of things, is nevertheless looks to be something of a key signifier for the app’s ambitions when it comes to paid investment by marketers. No doubt it also comes in response to the news that average ad views on Snapchat currently only stand at fewer than 3 seconds. This is certainly a cause for concern if they are truly looking to stand up against Facebook who have been on something of an offensive against them throughout this year.

Goal-based bidding will be available to advertisers that buy through the still nascent ads API. Snapchat also look set to offer a wider variety of “goals” to users beyond swipes, in-line with campaign objectives. These are likely to be similar to what we see on other major social networks, for example app-installs and e-commerce conversions.

Video Editing Apps for Better Social Media Content

Best Video Editing Apps

Getting more video content on your social media pages is a sure-fire way to increase engagement with your brand’s posts. Now social media marketers have access to a great selection of video editing apps and content creation tools that are making the process of creating compelling video content even easier.

It’s pretty clear now, as it has been for some time, that at the centre of any successful social media strategy is a diverse content calendar. Back at the end of 2015 many social media marketers were predicting that Live video would take the top spot in terms of what feature would see the most development and interest throughout 2016.

Predictions were certainly right in that case - no other features have seen quite the same amount of investment as Live throughout this year. However, as the novelty of  Live capabilities has worn off, what has stayed true is the strength of video in general.

Video is an ideal format for content and can be something of an asset for dramatically improving big metrics such as click-throughs and conversion rates. According to studies, users who watch video are 64% more likely to buy a product online than those who don’t. So not only is video the perfect addition to help diversify your posting schedule, it can also be particularly beneficial to social media marketing results.

The reason video works

Social media users desire greater variety in the content mix they see on social networking. Video is a form of content that promises variety from click to click. For users, it requires less investment than text-heavy posts and offers more promise than image-based posts. However, as a result it requires a larger investment on the marketers behalf. Good video editing apps make all the difference here.

Whether you are looking to create entertaining, humourous video content, behind the scenes footage, expert advice clips or product-focussed presentations, there are a number of video editing apps that could help. Here are some of our favourites.

Splice

Splice, the basic video editor by GoPro, is a personal favourite of ours. It harnesses an uncluttered workspace to allow simple and effective video editing. Alongside benefitting from the ability to use it on the go, users get access to a library of high quality free audio back tracks and sound effects. It allows you to edit and splice together a variety of clips, add rudimentary filters and text overlays. The one downside is not being able to alter audio levels throughout a clip - but  being able to export at 1080p for free gets a huge thumbs up from us.

iMovie

iMovie has come preloaded on some iPhones and Apple devices, otherwise it costs £3.99 to download. If you have used the desktop version it should feel inherently similar. It allows you to easily splice together different clips, add titles and sounds, otherwise if you are cool with slightly vanilla video content then you could make use of the templates. It does feel a touch underdeveloped, but as a base video editing app it has its merits.

PowerDirector

In many ways PowerDirector could be looked at as an Android equivalent of iMovie, taking on many of it’s features and even making use of an inherently similar layout. The one drawback is that it makes use of watermarks unless you pay a small one-off cost - which kind of renders the free version useless as a marketing tool.

Pinnacle Studio Pro

Simply put, the Pinnacle Studio Pro app is much like a power-user’s version of iMovie or PowerDirector - and for that reason it comes at a relatively hefty price (£9.99). Pinnacle has been around for quite a while now with desktop software dating back to the 90s. It gives users a greater amount of control over audio and visual edits, speed, pan-and-zoom, picture-in-picture and textual overlays amongst other features.

Christmas Social Media Tools to Help Keep You Sane Until New Year

Christmas Social Media Tools

Just because Christmas is a great opportunity for marketing doesn't make it an easy time for social media managers. On the contrary, it’s all too easy to get so wrapped-up (if you’ll pardon the pun) in the preparation that you overlook vital parts of your strategy. These Christmas social media tools could help give you some much needed assistance.

A lot of the time mistakes in social media marketing strategies don’t come as a result of poor planning, they occur within the execution of the strategy itself. Whether they manifest as formatting errors or come in the shape of missed deadlines or overlooked posts, avoidable strategy issues can spell the difference between success and failure. And the most frustrating thing? They are almost always totally avoidable.

Things always get a lot busier around Christmas. Having a meticulously organised plan is integral to getting the results you desire. But they can only take effect if you stick to them. When things get busy success is all about adaptability and proper time management.

These Christmas social media tools will help you keep on track and ensure you don’t totally lose it before the new year comes around.

Buffer

Buffer is one of the best examples of social media management software and is the top choice of many industry professionals. It allows you to organise and manage profiles across various social networks, create custom posting schedules, design and share content, view rich reports and analytics and better understand the strengths (and weaknesses) of your strategy.

As far Christmas social media tools go, Buffer is great as it allows you to streamline your posting process and better manage your time. It also offers an app which means you can make use of your time on the go too. The free version has limited features - make use of the free trial over Christmas to see how much it helps you before you invest.

Everypost

Any social media marketer who makes use of Everypost will be able to see that it was designed with simplicity in mind. It allows you to connect all of your social media accounts across different networks including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest. It has a simple interface that empowers you to build unique visual content from a variety of sources.

Everypost allows social media managers to rework their business flow to save themselves time and energy. It offers a free version with limited features with four other pricing plans depending on your business needs. Give it a go over Christmas to see how much it improves your workflow.

Later

Later is a simple app that allows you to schedule and manage your Instagram marketing. Instagram is fast becoming an integral part of social media marketing strategies - so as far as Christmas social media tools go, Later is a really useful tool. It is has been made to allow you to organise and schedule your visual content, so it could be great for ecommerce and product-focused users, and businesses who engage with visual content.

Hootsuite & TweetDeck

Worthy mention for the two staples of social media scheduling. Hootsuite is one of the best known pieces of social media marketing software around allowing you to link, manage, post, schedule and analyse. In reality, it requires you invest in a paid plan to get the most out of it. Tweetdeck is the staple post scheduler for Twitter. As Christmas social media tools that allow you to save time and streamline your posting strategy, they are both no-brainers.

The First Ever Facebook Live 360 Broadcast

Facebook Live 360 Broadcast National Geographic

Facebook have announced the introduction of Facebook Live 360 degree video, with the first published 360 Live stream scheduled to be broadcast on the National Geographic Facebook page at 20:00 Greenwich Mean Time.

Yesterday, in a post on Facebook Media Centre, the launch of Live 360 was announced by product manager Supratik Lahiri and software engineer Chetan Gupta. The announcement brings the social networking giant into the running for what is likely to be the next big thing in social media development. YouTube recently rolled out 4K 360 live broadcasting - so it's unsurprising to see Facebook aren’t far behind.

Unlike YouTube, Facebook's attempts appear to more user-friendly. While all users are currently able to stream in 360 on YouTube to do so requires special encoder software. Facebook look set to make 360 live broadcasting easily accessible to normal profiles from a mobile device without the need of access to external software. The function will be rolled out to Facebook’s Live API next year before being rolled out to pages and users over time.

As yet users are currently unable to view Live 360 videos through VR headsets, however replays can be viewed through them. According to Techcrunch there is currently no support for 4K resolution - but this is something that Facebook is considering.

The first Facebook Live 360 broadcast

According to Facebook the first Live 360 broadcast will come direct from the Mars Desert Research Station facility in Utah on the National Geographic Facebook page at 12pm PT (20:00 GMT). This is how Facebook describes the feature and the aims of the stream:

“We’re excited to combine these two formats with Live 360 video. Live 360 transports people into new experiences - right as they happen… People around the world will be able to discover and explore this video on Facebook.”

Facebook Adds Snapchat-esque Geo-filters

Facebook Snapchat Style Update

Facebook has continued its tirade into casual plagiarism by releasing another feature reminiscent of Snapchat’s lenses and filters. Facebook’s new Camera Effects Platform will allow users to add what they are calling "frames" - custom image geo-filters.

Facebook have been on something of a feature poaching tirade in recent months, and for the large part Snapchat have been the victims. Most recently these have come in the guise of an updated in-app camera offering Snapchat-esque filters, Snapchat-esque filters in Facebook Live and even an attempt to buy the Asian Snapchat clone Snow. Although the offer was rejected, it was yet another example of Facebook taking on Snapchat and shows just how serious they are.

Facebook’s Camera Effects Platform has one thing that separates it from Snapchat’s filters. Whereas those of the latter are pre-approved by the network, those of Facebook are community created and submitted by people and pages for approval.

The process seems simple enough - you create a geo-filter that surrounds the subject of a photo and has some connection with an event or location, Facebook approves it and others in the area can use it too. Although Facebook have made use of photo frames for users’ profile pictures since 2015, this is the first time they have allowed users to create their own.

According to information acquired by TechCrunch, Camera Effects Platform will initially be open to users in Mexico, Colombia, Taiwan, the UK, and Ireland, as “they’re where the profile frames have been used the most to date.”

How do I create a frame?

Custom photo frames for Facebook could prove popular with local businesses, especially bars, restaurants and venues during events who make use of user-generated content as part of their marketing strategy.  If you want to create one and make sure it get’s approved by Facebook, check out this handy online guide. Full details on guidelines for frames will soon be available on Facebook’s help centre.

The Office Christmas Party, Social Media and Not Getting Fired

Social Media Christmas Party

“What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.”
                                                                                                                      - Phyllis Diller

The office Christmas party is notorious for horror stories. It’s no wonder - your colleagues are the people you spend the most amount of time around. Add alcohol, carbs and the inevitable Secret Santa into the mix and you’ve got yourself a very, very volatile cocktail.

You don’t have to look far before you uncover some tales of Christmas party terror. Now the stress of the occasion has been heightened with the addition of our pal social media…

Christmas parties are an incredibly important part of the year for a great deal of workplaces. They are a great source of reward for many of your colleagues. They can help bring your team together and promote a sense of community within the workplace. But for certain personalities these can also be a considerably stressful experience - and it’s not always the person you expect.

The last thing you want to do is wake up with an awful hangover to discover that you said something untoward to your Managing Director, shouted at Jeff from accounts because you “just can’t stand that haircut any longer”, before making a pass at your HR Manager. But sadly - it happens.

There are plenty of articles out there that can help you make sure you don’t do something silly at the party itself. A good model to follow is moderation. Now we are in an age of social media, there’s another thing that you should keep in mind before - and after - the party, to make sure you don't inadvertently end up losing your job...

Be careful what you post online

For the Facebook savvy, this can seem like a fairly obvious tip. But with more and more people realising the potential that not overdoing your privacy settings can have on your job prospects, it’s a good idea to remind yourself. Here are a few pointers to help make sure you still have a job in the morning:

1. Double-check people are cool with you posting
We know how positive posting pictures of your office occasions can be on brand awareness and PR so we think you should definitely be doing it - but your bosses and people you work with may be less keen. So double-check they are cool with it before you get going.

2. Post positive...
Regardless of how harrowing your party is, somebody went to the trouble of organising it for you. Show your appreciation to these people by being positive about it. If it's obvious that people in charge have really gone the extra mile, rave about it.

3. Don’t focus on the booze...
There’s a likelihood that there will be alcohol at the party, there will certainly be other things you could rave about. The food for example. Or the novelty pencil sharpener that you got given as your Secret Santa present.

4. It’s not just you that could be hurt…
If you have a video of sweaty colleagues dancing inappropriately they may encourage you to post it right there. But would they the morning after? Or when their line Manager brings it up in their next appraisal? It can be good to keep those sort of decisions until the morning after.

The office Christmas party can be incredible for social media engagement - so long as you think about what you post! So keep these tips in mind, be sensible and have a fantastic time. The most merriest of merry Christmases to you and your colleagues!

Giraffe Social Media Twelve Days of Trendmas

Giraffe Social Media Twelve Days of Trendmas

It’s Christmastime and you would certainly know it if you stepped foot in Giraffe Social Media HQ. The garden has turned into a grotto, the music is 85% Christmas music and there seems to be an abundance of cookies around the place. So we couldn’t help but celebrate the only way we know how - through social media. Read on to find out more...

Social media is often a joy to behold around the festive period. Throughout the years we’ve been treated to some Christmas crackers directly through social networking. Recently even the John Lewis advert, while still a TV medium, has spread primarily through Facebook and Twitter.

Social media’s capacity to facilitate a developing global conversation makes it the perfect candidate for such an exciting period. Many businesses take advantage of these channels to promote deals, others to raise awareness of a cause, others just as an excuse to be silly.

Naturally, we have opted for the latter.

Giraffe Social Media Twelve Days of Trendmas

Over our last twelve days working in the office before Christmas Day, we will be re-living some of the biggest and best social media trends of the past decade. We’ll be re-making glorious memes, re-creating viral music videos and re-visiting some of our favourite social media trends.

Each day from the 12th through to the 23rd of December we will post a new trend on our Facebook page. Be sure to follow us so that you don’t miss any! Join the conversation using #12DaysofTrendmas.

Have the merriest of Christmases!

Facebook Express Wifi Launched in India

Facebook Express Wifi launched in India

Facebook’s Internet.org has launched a new service in India in a bid to connect those in currently under-served areas. Express Wifi works alongside local businesses to offer affordable access to the internet.

This isn’t the first attempt Zuckerberg has made at trying to take advantage of parts of the global population that are still offline. Facebook’s Free Basics program, born from Internet.org and originally launched in February, was effectively banned not long afterwards. Much to Mark’s dismay, regulating authorities and indeed a large proportion of protesters, were not best pleased by the restrictive nature of the app.

Free Basics would have been a wholly free-to-use (surprising, no?) internet service provided by Facebook, intended to give access to under-served areas. However, because of its nature it only allowed access to a limited number of websites. It was therefore deemed to put too much power in the hands of the social network and be opposed to principles of net neutrality.

While we remain impartial, we can certainly understand the standpoint of India’s Telecoms Regulation. Free Basics essentially took advantage of certain areas by splitting internet users into those with access and those with access to only what Facebook considers worthy. And it's not unlike Facebook to try and remould the internet around themselves - most of their updates have been intended to limit the amount of time users are forced to spend off of the network, and they certainly don’t make it easy for their competitors.

Facebook Express Wifi

Unlike Free Basics, Express Wifi offers data packs that aren’t restricted. Because Facebook don’t get their way by choosing what users can and can’t view, it does come at a price - albeit a small price. Although we don’t know for certain what this is, the whole point is affordable access for those who currently have none, working with local ISPs, operators and retailers.

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