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Profile Pages: Online Branding and Building Authority

Profile Pages: “Online Branding and Building Authority”

What is the difference between online branding and building authority? Some would consider it the same thing, but in reality it can be two completely different processes. Online branding is a way to get more exposure for your brand on all levels of online marketing, especially search and social.

Building authority takes online branding to the next level by making each online presence for a brand authoritative. It goes beyond just about creating a blog or social media account. The following are ways you can build your online brand as well as your authority.

Everyone wants to be an authority.  READ: How to be an authority (Know Your Why First)
https://markethive.com/group/marketingdept/blog/how-to-be-an-authority

Start a Blog with Awesome Content

Blogs are beneficial for brands for three reasons. First of all, blogs help you rank well in search engines – Google loves fresh, unique content on websites that are constantly updated. If you’re looking to meet this goal, be sure to use Markethive’s blog platform and build a blog team in a Markethive group to assist in greater content and curation.

RE: WordPress Markethive’s technology super charges WordPress campaigns.

Next, blogs provide for great content to share on social media networks. It’s hard to get traction if your just sharing product and sales pages. But if you’re sharing informative blog posts about your industry, you’re likely to get a lot of traffic and social shares.

Markethive provides plugins and widgets and tech that allows visitors to subscribe to your blog from their Social Networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, thereby allowing your new Markethive posts to publish to their news feed automatically.

Finally, great blogs can help your brand build authority in your niche. This is where you go above and beyond cookie cutter posts that talk about your product to creating awesome content in the form of:

  •     Tutorials
  •     Infographics
  •     Videos
  •     Industry Interviews

Awesome content will show fans of your industry that you know your stuff and therefore are the brand to go with for their business needs. A great example of this is the blog you are reading right now – Markethive has Inbound Marketing technologies, the go to Social Network and infographics  that have been tweeted and liked over 10,000 times and posts that have been viewed on Facebook, LinkedIn and Stumbleupon over 100,000 times.

There are two great fears that brands have when it comes to blogging. One is that they won’t have anything to blog about, and this is a complete myth. Everyone can find something to blog about. You just have to expand your definition of the target audience. Imagine you had a body shop. You probably won’t get a lot of attention if you’re writing about paint booths and sanding tools all the time, but you will if you think about broader topics that would interest the people likely to visit an auto body shop. You can blog about the latest coolest Hot Rods at the coming Hot Rod Nationals show or the latest NASCAR winner to grab fans of those programs. Or you can blog about environmental issues and the Prious to grab environmentalists. Just think bigger!

The other fear is that they will be giving away “trade secrets” and lose their business. This one is especially common within industries like SEO, where a brand might feel like giving out ten steps to link building will give their customers the info they need to just do it themselves. But this just isn’t true. I have found that most of the time, if you give a complex, in-depth tutorial, a potential customer will see that your brand has the knowledge to do the service, but they won’t have the time or resources to do it for themselves. Hence, they’ll go with you because they feel confident that your brand has the expertise demonstrated in the content provided on the blog.

The key with your brand’s blog is to make sure that it is apparent who is behind the content. Whether you have your blog on your domain (yourbrand.com/blog), as a subdomain (blog.yourbrand.com), or as a separate site (yourbrandblog.com), be sure that it is matched to your brand. Check out Markethive’s site, blog, and subscribers profile pages, logged in dashboard and display variances on hand held devices. All are unique yet all are well branded and follow a conventional identity protocol (all on separate domains and different devices) as an example of great branding.

Guest Blog for Others (This is a major component in Markethive)

When it comes to blogging, you don’t want to keep the good stuff all to yourself. Guest blogging (join a Markethive Group to share content is that easy) is a great way to build your online brand presence and authority. The basic goal is to find a (GROUP) blog whose audience will be interested in your brand, and create a great piece of content for that blog.

Notice I said great piece of content. I would go so far as to say that the content you create for another (GROUP) site’s blog should be even better than the content you create for your own site. You want the content you create for another blog (GROUP) to rock. You want that content to generate additional social shares, comments, and traffic for the blog owner.

As you create GROUP posts for others, be sure to save the links to those guest posts for future reference. As you approach new GROUPs that you would like to guest post upon, you will want to include those links as examples of your successful guest posts in other Markethive GROUPS. If you can convince the GROUP owner that your post will be a perfect fit for their audience and will drive significant traffic and response, the GROUP blog owner will have a hard time resisting.

My main tips for GROUP blogging for your brand include:

1. Find the best GROUPs to guest post on.

When it comes to blogs you want to get a guest post on, your goal is to find those whose audience would be interested in your brand. The blog should get a significant amount of traffic and social shares as well – there’s no reason to post on a blog that has no visitors just because it has high PageRank or any other criteria – you want to get some brand exposure out of this! Use the Markethive GROUPs directory to start your search for blogs in your niche or industry.

2. Find the GROUPs blogging policy.

If you see that a GROUP allows guest bloggers or outside contributors, the GROUP should have some page or post posted that describes their post policy. If they do have a policy page or post, then be sure to note any and all criteria.

3. Start building a relationship with the GROUP owner first. (Markethive Groups is excellent for this)

Now that you’ve found the blog you want to pitch an idea to, don’t just jump in and pitch them yet. Start by getting to know the GROUP owner first by following their Markethive blog posts, their Twitter and their Facebook fan page. Comment on some of their latest posts – make those comments valuable to enhance discussion and demonstrate your writing skills and expertise in the industry. CoPromote their posts using Broadcasting tools and widgets. Do this for at least a week or two before pitching content to them.

4. Research and pitch great topic ideas. (Join others in our live Markethive Work Shops)

Don’t create the content first and then try to find it a home. Once you’ve found the right blogs and started engaging with the blogs themselves, you’ll get a feel for the type of content they publish.

To get an even better idea of what content is successful for each blog, subscribe to them in your Markethive back office blog platform. Then you will be able to see the site’s latest traffic scores. The higher score, the more comments, tweets, Facebook likes, and other social shares the post received. Use these high-scoring posts as an indicator as to what content does well on each blog.

Now you can message via the Markethive message system or request to join their group saying that you have recently enjoyed reading their blog (as evidenced by your commenting & social sharing) and would like to contribute to their site as a GROUP member. After reading their guidelines, you would like to see if they would be interested in the following topics. Then add three to four great post ideas that you believe will fit their audience to choose from. And of course, if you’ve done guest posts elsewhere, include some of your best links. If not, just include some great links from your own brand’s blog.

5. Create Awesome Content.

Once you get approval from a GROUP, your next job is to create an awesome piece of content. Make sure it fits the theme of that blogging GROUP and that it has the overall feel / tone of the GROUP blog you are submitting to. Also be sure to add in relevant links throughout your blog post – not to your own properties, but internal links to the blog itself. This shows the blog owner you’re really giving it 100% for them and their audience and not just trying to promote yourself.

The self-promotion piece should come at the end with your guest bio. Check out other author bios on the blogs and create yours to match. This is where you can say you are John Smith, an industry enthusiast from ABC Company.

Again, be sure to consider the blog’s guidelines and previous guest author bios when deciding to add one or more links back to your brand. The blog owner ultimately reserves the right to edit it as they feel is necessary.

6. Support your GROUP post once it goes live.

It’s not over yet. After that guest post goes live, you should give it your unconditional love in the form of social sharing with your brand’s audience on Twitter, Facebook, etc. as well as coming by to respond to comments. That kind of response on your guest post will further boost your brand’s reputation as a great guest blogger as well as a confident authority in your niche.

Don’t Forget Blog Commenting

Blog commenting is a great branding and authority building exercise you can do on any blog in your niche. I would suggest subscribing to the top blogs in your industry in Google Reader, and each time there is a new post, be sure to read it thoroughly and add a valuable comment. Remember this isn’t about link building – this is about building your brand’s presence online as an authority in your industry.

Get a Disqus account as well as it is a sort of social network of people that comment.

You can use the blog’s previous comments as a guide as to how you should format yours. Some blogs require you to only use your real name, while others are a little more lenient in using your name – your company. I would suggest linking your comments to your blog as people are more willing to click through to a brand’s blog than their main website.

Your Online Branding & Authority Building Strategy Using Blogs

What is your brand’s strategy when it comes to building your brand’s authority using blogs? Be sure to share what you find brings your brand the best results in the comments!

Create a Consistent Brand Image for Each Profile

Have you ever visited a company’s social profile, and you were not sure that it belonged to the company? One of the most important parts of branding is keeping a consistent image across all of your online properties so that no matter what path a person takes from one property to the next, they will always know it is your brand. For example, someone might:

Find your fan page through a friend’s activity stream and then follow it to your blog, then website

See a tweet from someone they are following, visit your Twitter profile, and then continue onto your website.

Start at your website, then go to check out your social profiles to see if your company is engaging with fans. Engaging is fuel and grows awareness, authority and respect. Comment, recommend. Just drive by liking and endorsing does no one any good and makes you look like a tire kicking couch potato.

Just like you wouldn’t want pages on your website to be different themes, you will want your social profiles to do the same. Markethive also leads the way in doing it right as well:

MARKETHIVE

Markethive probably does the best with branding between their website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube accounts as shown above. All five are branded with the honey comb logo, color theme and climbers ascending Mt. Everest in representation of the entrepreneurial social community of entrepreneurs helping each other achieve their agendas, so you can feel the consistency moving from one property to the next.

BMW

The above shows BMW’s branding between their website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube profiles. Each online property uses the same color scheme and is currently focused on automotive technology. The logos are all consistent, and the auto focused in the pages is different perspectives, the coloring and themes are consistent as well

BOLTHOUSE

Bolthouse’s (organic farm fresh juices) branding between their website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube profiles as shown above uses the same color scheme, logo, and focus on their primary product, carrots and selections of juices. Excellent example of branding and consistency!

Help People Find Your Profiles

I do a lot of competitive analysis in my line of work, and one of the most frustrating things I have to do is search for a brand’s social profiles. Don’t hide your social media presence – flaunt them! Be sure to:

  • Put Social Icons on Your Website – Let visitors to your website know that you are engaging with your audience on social media as well by adding social icons to your website design. The most common places to place them include the header / menu bar, sidebar, and footer. They don’t have to be large and in charge – BMW’s are none existent on their main page and Bolthouse are right up top left of center where they should be and get the job done..
     
  • Put Social Links in Your Communications – Do you send emails regularly? Add social links to your email signature. Do you send newsletters? Add social icons to them.
     
  • Make Your Profiles Search Friendly – If I Google your brand name + Twitter, I should get your Twitter handle in the search results. To make this happen, be sure that the name of your social profile (and the username if possible) matches your brand name. You might be tempted to keyword optimize your profiles instead of optimizing them for your brand name – this is something you need to resist. You can learn more about social media SEO on how to optimize for both effectively for search engines.

Another frustration is the direct sales industry.

Even though the size of this industry is huge by any comparison with a market measured in the trillions, even the top 100 fail miserable branding with social media. Do not be like them, rather show them a good example with your efforts. After several days of research I was able to find one such company that at least had the top 5 Social Medias registered with a similar array (not the same name) of usernames.  The super majorities only have a token Facebook page, even less with Youtube and Twitter and nearly nonexistent with a Google+ and for that almost none of them are engaged.

BEACHBODY

Team Beach Body with a yearly market of 250 million, struggles with social media but has managed to set up the top 5 social medias, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Linkedin and Google+, albeit, the account usernames vary, and across the media branding is seriously lacking. It becomes painfully clear this industry needs Markethive or at least their distributors seriously do.

Get Engaged with Your Followers, Fans, and Subscribers

You probably know that it is important to maintain an active account by posting lots of updates, and that it is best to do something other than blasting advertisements non-stop about your brand. So the question is, what should you be doing to stay active in your social networks? Get engaged with your audience, of course. Here are the top networks to get socially engaged in for your brand.

Twitter Engagement

If you’re goal is to build a strong presence on Twitter and demonstrate your brand’s authority in your industry, you need get involved with your following. Some ways to do so include:

Monitoring Brand Mentions – If you use Twitter itself, just do a search for your brand and save the search for future reference. If you use a Twitter management tool like HootSuite, create a keyword search column that will constantly update you with brand mentions. Anytime someone says something about your brand, whether it is good or bad, you should be responding to it if at all possible. This may mean adding some extra team members to your social media GROUP as a response staff. But over time, if people see that you are always on top of any discussion of your brand, you will gain trust and receive lots of great word of mouth marketing. People will tell their followers what a great response they’ve received from you and likely recommend you based on their satisfaction level.

Monitoring Industry Conversation – One of the best parts of Twitter is that you can jump into any conversation, anytime. So if you are a company providing Inbound Marketing services and technologies like Markethive, you can monitor anyone who talks about Inbound Marketing, SEO, linking, Entrepreneurial interests, and other related topics and just answer simple questions that anyone asks about those topics demonstrating your expertise.

Curate the Best Content – Even if you are the best content creator in your industry, people often like to see a second opinion. Find out who other authorities are in your industry and share their opinion on industry topics with your following. You will gain more relevant followers simply for sharing the best news.

Facebook Fan Page Engagement

There are several different ways you can engage with your fans using your fan page that will keep your current fans active and bring new fans to your brand. These include:

Updating Your Fan Page on Facebook – It’s tempting to use HootSuite and other automated programs to update your fan page. But it’s becoming more and more obvious that if you want your updates to show up in fan’s news feeds that the updates must be organic, or originating from your fan page itself. So take the extra time to disable all of your autofeeds and start updating your fan page manually on Facebook. And when people start engaging with your posts or posting directly on your wall, be sure to respond to them. If they know they’re getting response, they’re more likely to return. No one likes a one-way broadcast.

Try Out Different Types of Updates – Don’t just post links or ask questions. Spice it up – add some video updates and photos. Different types of people like different types of content – be sure to try to cater to everyone by mixing your content up!

Thanks to the last major update to Facebook fan pages, you are able to use Facebook as your fan page. This means you can like pages as your fan page instead of your personal profile and then comment on them as your fan page. If you can find pages that are not direct competitors but whose audience will be interested in your brand, you will want to get active on them. For example, social media consultants should be living on Social Media Examiner’s fan page to connect with other individuals and businesses looking for social media help.

LinkedIn Engagement

If your brand isn’t on LinkedIn, you are missing out. LinkedIn allows you to add a company page where you can post your products, services, job openings, and even send status updates to your company followers including your latest blog posts. But some of the best branding and authority building activities for this network lie in the activity of the professional profiles including:

Participating in Groups – There are lots of great, active groups on LinkedIn in a wide variety of industries. Find the groups that have your potential client base within them and start getting active in discussions and posting useful content. Just be sure not to do anything that the group moderator would consider as spamming!

Answering Questions – The next best area to build a great professional reputation and strong authority in your industry is in LinkedIn Answers. There are questions asked every day in topics ranging from administration to technology. The people who answer the most questions are also featured on the answers’ home page as the week’s top experts!

Gaining Recommendations – Last, but not least, is recommendations. You can get recommendations on both the company pages and the professional profiles of your employees. Imagine if someone is browsing your company’s page and sees that the top employees have a ton of recommendations. It will show that you have a lot of experts in the industry which will make potential clients even more confident in your brand!

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Having a CRM system doesn’t mean you no longer have to pick up the phone!

 

  In many types of businesses a salesman is required to close sales. This is not only true for big ticket items like cars and airplanes, but a myriad of different types of businesses too numerous to be named.

Even for most of the items on your grocery store shelves, a salesman probably was involved to get the supermarket manager or chain, interested enough to provide shelf space for that particular product at some point in time. Even though new automation marketing may provide prospect data and up to the minute d detailed information on how your prospects interact on your website, this information alone will usually not close the sale.

 

This is quite obvious basic information, of course, but no company with a CRM system (Customer Relationship Management) software should be unclear that the CRM software is merely a tool to provide additional data for the salesperson, and to help find the prospects who are ready, willing, and able to buy at the current time.

 

Face to face visits, (when possible), phone calls, Skype calls, webinar events, presentations, etc. are where sales are made. Everything else is just background to the actual sale. Sometimes the amount of data can be a little distracting, but keeping all eyes on the prize should prevent this.

 

The relationship between the salesman and the customer is the most critical one a business has, and all the advertising in the world, cannot substitute for the personal relationship that exists there.

 

Sales and marketing managers also need to make sure that this fundamental level of contact with the customer is taken care of. Tracking calls, visits, and all of these one-to-one connections with prospects is just as critical as the detailed information you receive from a CRM, if not of greater importance. CRM systems, once costly propositions restricted to entrerprise-level companies are now highly affordable, even for the smallest business.

 

For more information, click the link below. click here —-> Affordable Automation for Everyone  

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Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

What are all those connections on LinkedIn for anyway?

A segment of a social network  

A segment of a social network (Photo credit: Wikipedia)[/caption]

The number of your LinkedIn connections is a critical factor in your long-term marketing success on this unique social network. If you connect with someone that has 10k 1st level connections on LinkedIn. That person's 10K 1st level connections automatically become your second level connections. their 2nd level, automatically become your 3rd.

The larger your network, the larger your reach of potential prospects.  Or, to put it another way, large networks command a larger sphere of influence.  With large networks it is apparent that you cannot know everyone in your network personally, but the advantage in my opinion outweighs the benefit of a smaller network of known associates.

As your network grows it will be more attractive for others to connect to you in order to widen their sphere of influence. For example, it is clear that a certain point, you will have to make less effort to find connections.  (It has been reported that this usually happens on LinkedIn when 3,000 or more 1st level connections have been made).

3,000 connections may seem like a big number if you rely only on friends and associates.  If you could add 30 connections per day, however, then it would take you only about three months to accomplish.  Not bad, right?

The larger your network, the more invitations will come to you, instead of having to reach out for every one of your connections. It is healthy for the growth of your network to have a mix of incoming and outgoing connection requests.  If you only send out connection requests and never receive any incoming requests, it may look unbalanced to LinkedIn. You might want to check your profile to see if there is anything that would prevent someone from connecting to you, if you notice this happening.  

Every time you post on Pulse inside of LinkedIn, your post automatically goes out to all of your first level connections.  If you have 10k connections, you have the chance for your content to be seen by over 10,000 people!  You will likely get many more views, likes, and comments with a larger network receiving your posts. LinkedIn is much more likely to promote your content on Pulse, with a greater number of views.  

If LinkedIn does promote your post, it could potentially be seen by tens of thousands of people.  It is not an easy task to get a blog post to command that kind of attention on a typical hosted WordPress blog. It takes quite a bit of time and effort.

One caution here. You will inevitably get more spammy type messages in your inbox. How long does it take to click delete?  If anyone becomes annoying and sends you repeated messages, you always have the option to remove them from your network. In my opinion the rewards far outweigh the risks, so I am busy building a large network on LinkedIn.  See the following links to find out more about the best ways to do this.

MarketHive – Social Network for Entrepreneurs

Goldfinch Digital Marketing – one-stop shopping for all your local marketing needs

Goldfinch Digital Publishing – marketing blog

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Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

I Would Have Written a Shorter Blog Post, but I Didn’t Have the Time

Does this sound familiar to you? Originally the phrase has been attributed to Blaise Pascal in the form, "I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time".

Do you think that the world would have known about Malala if she had not blogged about her ideas and communicated them online? It is a fact that if you want to be successful online, you will have to learn to write.

Writing is not only about blogging. Most digital products have text. Even videos have some sort of script. Presentations, slideshares, webinars, emails, autoresponders, press releases and most forms of squeeze or sales pages, are essentially text. Each of these forms of communication has a different, somewhat specialized form of writing, but learning to blog on a consistent basis can help all of the other forms.

You will often see that some of the best writers in a particular niche are also quite prolific. That is not just coincidence.  It takes time, effort, and consistent practice to become a good writer, and extraordinary effort to become a great one.

You don't have to have a fancy vocabulary, or perfect spelling, (always use a spell checker), but you do have to learn to communicate your ideas in a clear, if not persuasive manner. It is necessary to empathize with your reader, prospect, or customer to hold their attention, and help them to learn something they did not know before.

Blogging in particular, requires good communication skill, but it is more than that. You have to have something to say that is interesting to the reader, and if possible, informative, educational, and even entertaining. This is a tall order, without a doubt, but the good news is that blogging is an acquired skill.

Especially in terms of efficiency, an online entrepreneur has many hats on this head, so no one can afford to spend excessive amounts of time dedicated to blogging. I have to say that a new social network called MarketHive has taught me a great deal about blogging and blog promotion.

For most entrepreneurs, it is not easy to generate traffic to a blog, especially a new one without resorting to paid traffic methods. At MarketHive there is a rapidly growing base of friendly entrepreneurs that view content, comment, and quickly engage with your blog posts.

I find the number of views is quite remarkable considering the size of the network. Sometimes is not only size of the network that matters it is the level of engagement. One final note: It really is true that practice makes perfect. With the right attitude, practice and using the right tools, anyone can learn to publish a blog post in about 30 minutes like this one.

For additional information on this topic visit Neil Patel's Quick Sprout Blog and the following links:

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Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Are Sales Funnels Really that Critical to Online Success?

update

What is this thing called a sales funnel, and why is everyone going crazy over it? There is always talk on the Internet about sales funnels, but who really understands what a sales funnel is and how to correctly implement one?

Well, perhaps there is a considerable amount of confusion about sales funnels because it is one of the distinguishing factors that separates the successful marketer / business person from the unsuccessful one. Have you ever bought something online or over the telephone from a TV advertisement? 

The kind of funnel that most of these TV ad-men design more closely resembles a black hole. The realize that they probably have one shot and one shot only to sell to a customer calling on an 800 number. After you have made one purchase, you will usually be given a chance to double the order, for only the (inflated) cost of shipping and handling. Then one product after another will be offered in an attempt to squeeze every last dollar out of the call. This is distasteful to the consumer, but this kind of sales funnel is common in that industry. You really do feel like sucker if you let yourself get caught in their "black hole", and buy product after product.

Just ask any typical business person, what do you do with the people who do not buy your products or services?  Most would say, well, nothing.  Well, you probably have what is called a leaky sales funnel.  This is not so easy to set up for a brick and mortar type of business, but every online business should pay attention to their sales funnel. There almost always is a significant impact on your bottom line.

Everyone knows that taking care of customers is a priority.  If any business is to survive, it is a well-established fact that you have to take good care of your customers.

Say what you will about the Internet Marketing Industry, one thing that good Internet Marketing Professionals have going for them is that they understand very well that it is not only the quality of the product you promote, but the specific design of your sales funnel that can often make the difference between a mediocre success and big success. To rephrase, a well-designed sales funnel could be the difference between losing money, merely breaking even, and making a significant profit.

Let's try to clear up some basic confusion about sales funnels using the above graphic. Most businesses think that everyone in America, or everyone in their hometown of business is a prospect. In reality, until someone walks into your store, they are only a potential prospect. In the case of online business, until someone signs up for your email newletter, free product download, webinar, or other offer, there are no prospects, only potential prospects.

Everyone outside of your sales funnel is the audience you are trying to reach.  This nearly limitless pool contains all of the potential prospects for your business. They have not walked into your store. They have not signed up to be contacted by you in any way. You don't know who they are, although you might have some idea where they hang out.  They are only potential prospects because you have no way of contacting them, until they take the first step into your sales funnel.

Once they walk into your store, or provide their email address, then they actually qualify as a prospect.  Now you can contact them and work with them to help them become a customer. Everyone wants to do more than just survive. If you want to thrive, you need to find a way to quickly determine who is ready, willing, and able to buy right now.  That should be the first step.  

I have to give Steve Rosenbaum credit for identifying this as such an important step.  He also talks extensively about leak-proof sales funnels.  This is a guy who really knows the sales process, both online and offline. As you can see from the graphic above you can see there is a step-by-step process until a prospect becomes a customer.

Also, there should be a clear method to allow customers to become what I would call loyal customers, by making repeat purchases. As shown by the arrow on the right side of the funnel, they should easily be able to become repeat customers. It may be because the product is renewable, or relies on a subscription model, or they simply like your product or service enough to purchase additional products or services from you.

There is obviously a great deal more to discuss about funnels, but I think the fundamentals discussed here are important enough to warrant this kind of post.

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Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member