Who should Handle your Company’s Social Media Presence?

It does not matter what you think about it personally – social media presence has become a must for companies, no matter what industry they are in, how large they are or who their customers are. With a bit of savvy social media marketing, a company can attract new customers, help retain them, provide quick customer support and even attract top talent using various social media platforms.

In order to achieve all of this, someone has to be tasked with taking care of your corporate social media accounts and for a certain percentage of companies, this is easier said than done.

So, who should handle your company’s social media accounts?

Hiring Someone

For certain type of companies, hiring a person to handle their social media accounts is perfectly viable. Mid-sized companies can afford such a position and larger corporations can have entire teams dedicated to doing nothing but boosting their social media presence.

The main problem with this approach is that it is simply not affordable for smaller companies that are struggling paying their employees as is. Taking on another person just for social media efforts is probably the last thing they would do with extra money.

Some companies decide to go to an outside agency or a freelance social media marketer. Such agencies and freelancers usually offer certain packages and services that come as part of these packages.

While this can work perfectly well, it can still be pricy and there is always the danger that you might not end up one of their “priority clients” and thus end up with subpar service and results.

Taking on an Intern

One of the more common practices today is for companies to take on an intern who would handle their social media accounts for them.
On paper, this really does sound like a win-win situation. The intern gets the chance to put his or her foot in the door and the company does not spend money or someone else’s time (we’ll get to this later).

Unfortunately, the thing that sounds so good on paper turns out to be less-than-spectacular in the real world, at least in the majority of cases. Often times, the amazing social media skills that this intern is supposed to have cannot translate to corporate accounts in any way imaginable. God forbid you ask them to give you some numbers or tell you how they are doing in terms of KPIs you set or ROI that you expected.

It is also not unheard of to take on an intern and end up with someone who is absolutely disinterested in what they are supposed to be doing. They come up with innumerable excuses for not doing their job and they end up as glorified coffee-fetchers for the rest of the company.

Assigning it to an Existing Employee

This is an especially common solution in companies where no one really knows what they are trying to do with their social media presence. They see everyone doing it, they have a few ideas and they decide to throw something at it, so to say.

The obvious solution is to find the most social media-savvy person in the company and assign them with running a few social media accounts on various channels. Perhaps someone even volunteers, thinking that it is the same as having their own personal Twitter profile.

This is a solution that very rarely works out fine because this person is often not exactly versed in the intricacies of social media marketing. They try their best and they may come up with a few ideas, but once again, no one is tracking results, no one is measuring ROI and it all becomes an afterthought after a month or two.

The worst thing, perhaps, is that this employee starts neglecting their other tasks, since doing social media seems like an easier assignment. They think they’ll come to their actual work later, but they end up wasting time on social media efforts that do nothing.

A Company-Wide Effort

If pulled off the right way, the best approach to social media for companies that cannot afford to hire experts to do this long-term for them is to come up with a company-wide strategy that will be as comprehensive as possible.

For example, the owner or someone who is interested in these kinds of things can spend some time reading up on social media marketing and talking to people who actually do it for a living. Maybe the company can even hire a consultant for a few days, just to clear up the basics. At this stage, it is absolutely crucial that it is decided what the goals are and what the KPIs will be that have to be tracked closely.

The next step is to get the employees together and ask them if there are ways in which they would like to contribute. It is more likely than not that a few hands will go up and from there on it is just a matter of organizing everything so that everyone knows their assignments and schedules. This can be done using Basecamp or a similar Basecamp alternative, for example.

It is important to encourage input from the entire company but still have someone who will be in charge and who will monitor the results that are hopefully leading to a successful social media presence for the company.

How to Protect Your E-Commerce Store from Cyber-Attacks

Today’s consumers are spending more and more of their time and money shopping online. Unfortunately, this also creates greater opportunities for cyber criminals. One recent survey indicates that 52% of organizations that experienced a cyber-attack in 2016 aren’t changing their security in 2017.

Since your e-commerce business depends on customer confidence, it’s essential that you establish strong security measures for keeping your customers and their data safe. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your e-commerce store stays protected from cyber-attacks.


Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)

SSL is a standard security protocol between a client and server. It provides link encryption to all communications. Without encryption technology in place, any information sent over the Internet would be in plain text, and hackers could easily intercept and read it. If you give them the opportunity to acquire user credentials, such as login names and passwords, you will end up exposing yourself to data breaches, identity theft, and malware.

Installing an SSL certificate ensures that all transmitted information is useless to hackers. Strong SSL authentication takes place through unique alphanumeric keys so that any third-party spyware is unable to imitate user credentials. Only the intended recipient can decrypt and read messages.

Extended Validation Secure Sockets Layer (EV SSL) offers an even safer solution. EV SSL adds an “HTTPS” prefix to your URL, and a green background and a padlock symbol to the address bar of the user’s browser. Consequently, visitors can instantly recognize that your e-commerce site has an SSL protection in place.

AVS and CVV

Using Address Verification System and Card Verification Value will minimize the chances of online fraud. Incorporating these measures into your site protects you, your customers, and the credit or debit card issuer against fraudulent charges.

AVS enables your e-commerce store to verify customer billing information against the data the card issuer has on file. The issuer’s system will return the appropriate code if the data matches, matches only in part, or is completely inaccurate. You can adapt your own store to accept or decline purchases according to the customer’s AVS code.

You are probably familiar with the CVV number. This is a three or four-digit number on the back of debit and credit cards which only the card holder knows. This is a version of a built-in PIN number that works with One Time Password technology to create a secure means of card verification.

Requesting CVV numbers during checkout is now a standard process for most online stores, as it ensures that only those transactions that are approved by the card holder take place.

Strong Passwords and Non-Saved Data

You can add an extra level of protection by setting up options that require all customers to set up strong passwords for their accounts. This usually involves providing passwords of a certain length, and including capital and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters that are much more difficult for anyone to guess. Strong passwords dramatically reduce the chance of becoming a victim of identity theft.

According to PCI (Payment Card Industry) guidelines, the retail business is responsible for protecting customer information. Websites that are known to collect sensitive user data are more likely to be hacked. However, there is no good reason to store extensive records on user transactions.

To limit the accessibility to customer records, make it a habit to periodically purge old transaction records. Limit your stored data to current transactions or exchanges that are still in process. PCI standards also recommend that you do not save customer payment data on personal servers.

If customers are expected to enter their payment information for every transaction, there’s no point in saving it. Doing so only increases the chances of it being stolen. A single data breach can forfeit customer trust and become an enormous setback to your online brand.

Updates and Firewalls

Most e-commerce solutions have operations running in the background, such as plug-ins, templates, and app extensions. It’s important that your site remains compliant with the latest patches and updates released by the e-commerce platform developers. The outdated software may have vulnerabilities that are already known to hackers.

Don’t overlook the fact that there are a variety of e-commerce options available. Try to find the one that meets your needs and budget. However, pay close attention to built-in security features and the frequency of updates.

For greater security, make it a habit to promptly install any available updates and patches to the programs and utilities you use. Often, these updates are issued as fixes to counter the latest hacking techniques.

Strong firewalls are also important for your store’s security. Firewalls can identify malware like viruses or Trojan Horse threats, and also send alerts when such dangers are detected. Ensuring that firewalls are properly configured and regularly updated will also increase your site’s level of protection.

Final Thoughts

E-commerce is a thriving industry that’s only likely to expand further. In order to grow your online store, however, you need to implement measures that encourage customer confidence. This means utilizing SSL to create trust, putting secure payment processing methods in place, and protecting any stored information with strong passwords. Also, don’t forget that all your software needs to be up to date to serve its purpose and protect your store and customers from cyber-attacks.

About the Author

Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.

EMDs as an Effective SEO Tactic

In 2012, Google released the EMD algorithm update. The EMD Update stands for “Exact Match Domain” and is essentially a web filter Google launched to prevent poor quality sites from ranking, well merely, because they use words that match search terms in their domains. So if you were trying to rank for the keyword, sell my car, you would name your domain and business sellmycar.dot (relevant TLD )

History

When SEO’s and marketers first discovered that they were able to rank on the top of search results when using highly searched keywords as domain or brand names, it caused an epidemic. This, of course, led to an uproar amongst established brands, who had invested millions into establishing their online presence over the years. Traditional industry leaders were now outranked by overnight competitors, affiliates and microsites. As a result, a great deal of organic traffic and leads were lost, and affiliates made a killing selling these leads back to advertisers.

Some brands quickly adapted, and setup legitimate business and websites, using the same tactics. Since most of them had bigger budgets, they were able to hire SEO agencies and experts to optimise their websites back to the top of search results.

How It Works

Step One:

Find the most valuable keywords within the relevant industry.

Step Two:

Find out which of these high traffic keywords are registered as domains. For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume that this domain is still available.

Step Three:

Implement a keyword strategy revolving the keyword “buy a car” – you will need to use the keyword as much as possible. This includes using it in the copy, H1’s, Metadata and internal linking structure.

You will also need to build some links to your domain, using that exact match anchor text. One of the advantages of using a keyword as your business name or domain name, is you can argue that you are naturally using your brand name when Google threatens to penalise your website, for spamming web results. Whether or not they will believe you is another story.

What Does Google Say About EMD’s in 2017?

As former Google Head of Spam stated below, this was only a small scale update. Their focus was predominantly set on “low-quality” and reducing their visibility in search results.

When a fresh EMD Update happens, sites that have improved their content may regain good rankings. New sites with poor content or those previously missed by EMD, may get caught.

So What’s The Verdict ?

It appears as if Google are not entirely focused on eradicating search results associated with exact match domains. They are merely trying to reduce low-quality content, which spammers use as a tactic to secure traffic to their websites.

Using an EMD is like using performance enhancing drugs – you might get there faster but you still need to put in the hard work. And if you are involved in a recognized sport, you will be held accountable if one of the drugs you are taking is on the banned list. Google does achieve its due diligence with EMDs from time to time, and I have personally seen thousands of businesses disappear from search results over the years. The true question here is, how much of a risk is it to you?

George Ian Wyngaardt

SEO Manager at CarZar.co.za

5 Key Content Marketing Tips Every Business Should Follow

Content marketing has become so important that it is now considered central to SEO. Despite its importance, many businesses never use it to its full potential or never use it at all to reach their target audience. What makes content marketing stand out from most other forms of marketing strategies is that it helps generate organic traffic. The traffic is highly targeted and has an exceptionally high conversion rate. Whether it is for marketing or selling your products, you should follow these 5 content marketing tips to improve your business.

1. Create a Blog for Your Business

Blogging is one of the most important content marketing tips for businesses. Blogging can become one of your leading drivers of new leads. It can be even more effective than the cold calls that your sales executives make every day. It is unlike many other traditional marketing strategies because it can also help in nurturing and converting your leads.

However, blogging is not as easy as you may think. It is both time-consuming and requires some evaluation from time to time to make improvements. You will have to dedicate tens of hours every week to create and post new content, track results, and make adjustments.

2. Integrate Content Marketing into your Business Culture

The more high-quality content you have, the higher the amount of traction your business can generate from it. Besides the traditional content marketing strategies, getting your employees involved in content development can help return massive dividends.

 

Most of your employees are already creating a wide range of content related to your business, every day. For example:

  • Many of your employees are answering customer queries every day
  • Many spend all day comparing products
  • Many are talking about price
  • Many employees are solving your customer problems

Your employees have a better opinion about different topics in your industry. what if they started becoming content contributors on your blog, social media, forums and elsewhere? Imagine the amount of information they can put online and the value they can bring to it.

Integrate content marketing into your business culture by providing a platform and adding a concept to your organization.

3. Create an Editorial Calendar

Adding goals and planning your content creation can help you succeed with your content marketing strategy. Your business has goals and so should your marketing strategies. If you want to succeed with content marketing for business avoid posting blog posts and social media updates only when you have some new idea. Don’t leave your marketing to chance, create an editorial calendar.

The editorial calendar should let you plan the content on not just monthly basis, but also on annual basis. It should clearly mention what and when you will be writing and posting. There should be a calendar for your blog and for other off-page and on-page content.

4. Create Video Content

Content means much more than textual content. It also includes video. Every type and size of business will have something to show to their potential customers and existing clients.

Every video you create should have a purpose or a part in your overall content marketing strategy. There is no need for professional-grade video production. You can create simple but engaging videos about your products or services and share on social media and YouTube.

It could be product demonstration, how-to-use guides or anything that answers your potential customer’s needs.

5. Include Calls to Action in Content

When you create content for your business, it has a purpose. It has an ultimate goal, which may be to inform, sell, have something downloaded or sign-up for something. Whatever the goal, make sure to include call to action (CTA) in your content. The CTA should encourage the reader or viewer to move to the next step.

If you are selling something, a good content marketing strategy will be to take your visitors to the next step without screaming “buy” or “purchase.” There are many advantages of creating content that is less promotional and more informational.

Instead of adding calls to action to sales, the CTAs should be to get them to take the next step in the buying process.

So follow these 5 tips when developing the content marketing strategy for your business. When done well, it can be the most effective way to reach your target audience without having to spend a fortune.

Author Bio:

Adam is an online marketing consultant and web designing specialist with over a decade of experience in Calgary and Greater Alberta Area. He recommends that content marketing should become an integral part of every business due to its power to drive high-quality organic traffic.

How to Craft the Perfect Blog Post for SEO

SEO jargon can be overwhelming. All you need to do is reach your audience, right? You’ve built a beautiful website and you’re blogging regularly, so don’t let all that content go to waste! A few simple points of SEO knowledge can tighten up your content so search engines, and your target market can find you and understand what you’re all about. Follow these five tips to make your blog better for SEO.

1. Think About Your Keywords

In point of fact, it’s important not to get too hung up on keywords. Research reveals that emphasis is shifting to searchers’ intent, not so much the keywords themselves. And it’s important to remember that to a living, breathing audience, keyword-stuffed content is obvious and unreadable. Still, the discreet use of keywords remains an important part of SEO, and it’s one of the topics that bloggers ask about first.

Keywords operate best in the first and last paragraphs, and in the headline. To avoid redundancy, look into Latent Semantics Indexing (LSI). It’s easy to find synonyms that search engines will understand. For example, instead of using the term “horse trailers” over and over, you could note that you specialize in “equestrian vehicles.” Google will get it, and you will broaden your keyword cache, making your filly wagons easier to find.

2. Organic Backlinks Are the Best

Everyone’s abuzz about backlinks, the links on other websites that direct traffic back to you. There are many ways to go about getting these links (not all of them ethical). The best and most foolproof way is to let them happen organically. Google scrutinizes your “link portfolio,” and a collection of unseemly or ill-gotten links can incur you a penalty. This will do the opposite of what you want your SEO efforts to do.

The best thing about organic backlinks is also their biggest problem: they’re effortless. They arise naturally from other bloggers, journalists, and companies who link to your site because they want to share your content. So how do you take a more proactive approach? Here are some do’s and don’ts of garnering backlinks:

DON’T

  • Pay for links
  • Hire a black hat SEO agency or use black hat tactics
  • Leave comments on other blog posts with your link

DO

  • Reach out to other blogs you genuinely connect to and offer to write a guest post
  • Have your company hire a white hat SEO agency
  • Promote your blog by building relationships with relevant people in a genuine way (more on this later)

As with many things, the slow hard road is the best one.

3. Localize Your Content

Remember that you have readers all over the world. And if you don’t yet, it’s an important goal. But a global reach doesn’t get very far if your readers in Patagonia don’t understand your content. There are some valuable localization companies available to help solve this problem. In addition to simply translating your blog, localizing finesses your content into something that looks and sounds natural to the location where your content is appearing. The last thing you want is an awkward Google translation sending the wrong message to thousands of readers overseas!

As a bonus, localizing duplicates your content for every region that you serve, making you more visible to search engines.

4. Collaborate With Other Bloggers and Micro Influencers

This is an expansion on building backlinks, but the goal here is not to gain a link. The goal is to expand your sphere of influence and build meaningful relationships with people in your niche. Write guest posts for other blogger’s sites, comment, follow, and meet for coffee if you’re in the same city! Things will come off some of these relationships. For others, it won’t. Don’t force it. See what clicks.

For more efficient results, zero in on social media micro influencers who post content relevant to your niche. Initiate relationships with them. Consider the difference between reaching out to individual horse lovers, versus reaching out to a well-known rider. A celebrity rider might have thousands of horse loving followers on social media. If they decide to shout you out on Instagram, you’ve reached thousands of horse lovers just by building one relationship.

5. Be Authentic

Content is king. There’s no way to fake authenticity, and authenticity is the hallmark of good content. Keep yours to a high standard that’s easy to read, and easy for search engines to understand. Write clear, structured posts with relevant headings and subheadings. Don’t think so much about SEO that you lose your human audience. Remember, search engines work for people, too–the same people you are trying to reach. Authentic content that means something to people, and not just Google, is more important than any SEO tactics. Without it, the tactics become moot.

The Takeaway

A few simple SEO tactics can go a long way for your blog and your company. But remember that these tactics should work in service of authentic, meaningful content, and never at the expense of it. When you’ve mastered these steps, there are ever-deeper levels of SEO that you can explore. It’s a fascinating field that we are all helping to create and develop in real time, with every passing day and every passing search. But for now, try out these techniques on your blog and watch your traffic rise!

Author Bio

Brian Oaster writes content for translation services company Day Translations from Central America. He has worked all over the world as an arts educator, English teacher, basket exporter, rare book dealer, fortune teller, and as the first mate of a private sailing yacht. Educated in the visual arts and an avid reader of news and literature, his focus is on international arts and culture, world religions and global politics.