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Still Don’t Have an Online Profile? Here’s Why It’s a Must for Your Business

Any business that does not yet have an online profile is perhaps not aware of the many benefits that come with it and an accompanying social media strategy. Just look at established companies—the likes of Amazon, Google, Dell, and Microsoft are using their online presence to grow and are experiencing immense success.

These companies were early adopters of the internet and established their brand profile online. They also leverage social media to its maximum, continually sharing interactive and engaging content with their customers. With these big businesses as real life examples, it goes without saying that having an online profile for a business, especially small and medium-sized enterprises or SMEs, is a step into the right direction.

But just in case you need more convincing, read on!

What is an Online Profile?

An online profile is not a single item or piece and is not in only one place, but rather is an amalgamation of pieces that together represent a business’ brand on the internet. The components that comprise an online profile are unique for each enterprise. Some businesses have only a domain and a basic non-interactive website; maybe even just single page on a shared domain. This is the minimal online profile and is likely not particularly effective in terms of marketing online. Others have built a strong presence not only through a dedicated website but also by leaving a digital footprint on social media and other online platforms.

What are the Components of an Effective Online Profile?

An effective online profile will, at the very minimum, include a complete website, with the business profile, contact information, and ideally engaging online content the company wants to share with its customers. Next the SME will want to dip their toe into the interactive social media space using the current popular platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumbler, etc.). It is wise to participate in a few of these at least, linking them where possible to have a better chance of gaining more followers and interactions.

Developing professional, high quality online content like short videos (leveraging free and paid video sites), the SME can share their content in a manner that engages. Adding further components completes the strategy, with marketing tools like email, newsletters, and a regular blog allowing the SME to tell an ongoing “story” of their business and to help drive views and clicks. With a more complete online profile containing these components, a business can more effectively represent its brand and products/services online.

5 Solid Benefits for an SME of Having an Online Profile

Many businesses are familiar with online profiles but don’t yet see how having one can be a useful tool. The competition online and offline is fierce in nearly every field. According to recent studies there are now 2.1 million small businesses in Australia alone. An online profile is another tool an SME should carry in its competitive tool belt. Below are five reasons why:

Increased sales

An online store is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and requires no additional personnel to man (aside from developers on standby, unless live persons are regularly needed for a live chat with customers). This relates more to those in retail; it’s always better to have more options in terms of marketing and selling your products.

Exposure to new global markets and customers

It is now as convenient to buy a product from a large established company in the U.S. as it is to purchase from an SME online in Sydney. Many people prefer the SME for service reasons. Don’t miss that chance to build new client relationships. Having an online profile makes you more visible and easier for potential clients—even those overseas—to know more about your business and your offerings.

More effective and rapid communication with clients

Having an online profile via digital platforms gives you the speed and convenience of electronic communications and feedback, which in turn bolsters the service (and after-service) capability of your business, allowing it to respond more rapidly to clients. And we all know that happy clients are great for business, especially in terms of promotions.

Increased brand awareness

With an effective online profile, an SME will enjoy the ability to reach more clients than by word-of-mouth in the physical world. More awareness equals more brand power, which ultimately translates into more loyal customers and more sales.

A chance to compete with the big guns online

The internet levels the playing field considerably for all businesses. Online, an SME’s website, social media profile, and other components of their online profile has the same opportunity as the largest companies in the world to get the attention of a potential buyer and close that sale. As long as the online profile is executed and managed effectively, it will be able to bring in the same kind of advantages more established companies are currently getting via the internet.

Many Australian SMEs are Already Succeeding with their Online Profiles

All an interested digital marketer looking for proof needs to do is browse the web and he or she will find a plethora of real-world examples of small companies that have made a large impact using their online profile.

One nice example of an Australian SME that enjoyed the benefits of having an online profile is the company Shoes of Prey. A quick read reveals that 10 million pairs of shoes were sold on their website. It is clear from reviewing their website that the business has been working diligently on their online profile, leveraging social media and online tools like Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, email, online feedback, and more.

Shoes of Prey’s success tells us that the benefits of having a strong online profile are not reserved for the big companies. Diligence, patience, proper management, and the strategic use of digital tools combined with enthusiasm for what the internet can offer ensures not only having an online profile but having one that’s effective as well.

Convinced now that having a legit online profile is beneficial for your business? If you need help to get started or to strengthen your current online profile, don’t hesitate to contact us. Curate Bee’s hardworking bees will help you use the internet to create a truly awesome and effective online presence for your business.

5 Important Steps to Win with your Evergreen Content

Digital marketers know that evergreen content keeps bringing readers back to your website. Wikipedia pages are a great example of evergreen content—that which remains fresh or relevant, and doesn’t lose appeal with time.

News articles, blogs on current affairs, and quarterly statistical reports are some examples of content that might be popular for a period of time, but are not evergreen. List based content like FAQs and How-to articles for beginners are some that never go out of style and will constantly bring visitors to your website. Let’s look at 5 important steps to win with your evergreen content:

1. Choose your topic, content, and keywords wisely

Choose the topic of your page or article with care, as it’s one of the first things that will catch the attention of your target audience, especially in the search engine results. Once you’ve come up with your title of choice, you can then follow the tips below to ensure that your content is engaging enough to prompt more people to read and share it:

  • The tone of your writing should be conversational and approachable, and should be aimed at the beginner rather than the expert reader.
  • Go into the topic in detail, and this means the length of the article would probably be on the longer side. This piece references top digital marketers like Brian Dean and Neil Patel, who often put out longer articles on topics of their expertise.
  • Add links to other resources when necessary, to ensure that the reader can use your page as a central point of information on the topic.
  • Keywords should never limit the scope of your writing, but it is essential that they be interspersed well within the article. This helps not just in SEO, but also in keeping the attention of the reader.

2. Updating and highlighting is key

Just because evergreen content is meant to stay relevant doesn’t mean you should let it stagnate with time. There may be some new pointers or trends that would be useful to the readers of your article, and you should make sure to update the article with these whenever possible. More frequent updates on your website would also contribute to your SEO ratings.

For the times when there are no updates to a subject, you can find other ways to keep an article highlighted on your blog or website. One way is to add links or tabs on the main page, so that readers could easily access the evergreen content. An FAQ article is a good example of this, as it can almost always be referenced from every page in the website.

3. Share, but be smart about it!

Sharing on social media is an effective way to improve readership of your evergreen content, but this must be done with a strategy in mind. Facebook and Twitter will bring in readers for a short period of time, but attention on these social sites is ephemeral, and your article will not stay in the attention of audience for long. Pinterest and Google+ are platforms that are much friendlier to evergreen content, according to the Content Marketing Institute. It’s also wise to use interesting/catchy or stunning photos (or both!) to capture the attention of users, especially if you’re planning to share the article on social media. Collections on Google+ can be used to gather your evergreen content into sub-topics to make them more accessible.

4. Stay flexible and connect to your audience

We’ve already mentioned that evergreen content is aimed more at beginners than at experts. What are some other ways to connect with your readers?

  • How-to articles could provide a download or print option, to make it easier for DIY-ers to save or print out a page for reference when necessary.
  • Step-by-step tutorials could include photos and infographics for every step, keeping readers more visually engaged with your content.
  • Mobile now represents 65% of digital media time, and this figure is only going to get higher in the next few years. As such, it is essential to keep your pages mobile-friendly.
  • Include “like” and “share” buttons that are easily visible to the reader. This adds to the possibility of social media engagement which in turns contributes more hits for your content.

5. To date or not to date?

Some writers believe that content that stays relevant does not require a date on the article. This makes sense for how-to articles, tutorials, and FAQs, for example. There are many cases of smartly-written evergreen content—including movie reviews and parenting articles—that are constantly searched due to relevant topics and keywords, and will keep coming up in search results, even with an older date attached to them. It is up to you as a brand or a writer/editor to make the call and choose what works for you. Some content experts advise to leave out the date, and add it later depending on feedback from your readers.

As with most websites, evergreen content will not be the only type of SEO content on your site. You would also need to write currently relevant and trending articles to provide a well-rounded experience to your readers. Evergreen content however, will only increase in importance, and if planned and used well, will remain a constant source of traffic to your pages.

Australian B2Bs: the Social Media Challenge

Last month, a government-funded study entitled Australia’s Social Media Presence in 2012: The Roadmap for 2013, revealed some surprising news: Australian B2B businesses are struggling with their online profiles, electing not to use social media to its full advantage because of a mistaken belief that social media is all about the individual and not the company. The most influential B2B companies in the social media sphere include The Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, Vodafone and BMW, yet the majority of companies are falling behind because they feel that online marketing is mainly a B2C company strategy.

Sharing content with clients and other businesses (potential clients), is not only intelligent, but cost-effective. As the Content Marketing Institute in the US proclaims, “Consumers have simply shut off the traditional world of marketing. They own a DVR to skip television advertising, often ignore magazine advertising, and now have become so adept at online ‘surfing’ that they can take in online information without a care for banners or buttons (making them irrelevant). Smart marketers understand that traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective by the minute, and that there has to be a better way.”

Lessons Gleaned from the US:

In the US, a study published this month revealed that some 87 per cent of US B2Bs who participated in the study utilised social media as part of their strategic weaponry and some 83 per cent also used website content. Additionally, 54 per cent of the most effective content marketers targeted their efforts at a specific profile. The report provides valuable insight into the most effective ways to target social media campaigns.

According to the US survey, the most effective B2B content marketers rely on an average of six social networks to share their content; content marketers who use only three social networks describe their strategy as ineffective. The most popular site is LinkedIn (83 per cent) followed by Twitter (80 per cent), Facebook (80 per cent), YouTube (61 per cent), Pinterest (26 per cent) and SideShare (23 per cent). Other, less popular sites used included Vimeo, Flickr, StumbleUpon, Foursquare, Instagram, Tumblr and Quora.

According to the report, effective social media strategies rest on the following pillars:

* Their content is tailored to the profile of decision makers.

* Content is shared on various social networks – six is the ideal number of sites to use; using any more than this could affect content quality.

* Successful strategies involve the use of a number of different tactics (14 in the case of the most effective strategies, eight in the case of the least effective).

* Successful strategies require resources and talented teams, capable of creating engaging content.

The Overriding Value of Good Content:

Jeff Elder, journalist, social media expert and former Marketing Director of Storify, offers excellent advice on the role of content in successful marketing campaigns: “Unique, original content is the currency of social media. Think of its as money. When you put it in the social stream, it’s exchanged because it has value. Elder identifies the keys of producing good brand content thus: “1. You have to know what a story is. 2. You have to be intimately familiar with the tools of today’s social media – from video equipment to CRMS.” He cites an example of engaging content published by networking equipment company, Cisco: it comprised a video about one of the company’s engineers, who also happened to be training for the triple jump at the Olympics. The video fits Elder’s bill when it comes to making Cisco look good: firstly, while the material can be re-published by other news sources, it stands on its own as a finished product. Secondly, the story is inherently interesting; it is not a means to an end.

Resources for Creating Quality Content:

Creating quality content is arguably much easier for companies like Cisco (which has created an entire newsroom within the company, staffed by trained journalists) than for small and medium B2Bs with smaller marketing budgets. But, as Internet guru, Nicco Mele asserts in his book, The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath, the Internet and ubiquitous connectivity is wresting power from the hands of governments, big corporations, universities and the traditional media in favour of the individual; small B2Bs, like Mele’s ‘Davids’, also have a much greater ability than they did in years past to reinvent business and exert a greater influence on their respective markets.

The first steps in defining a successful strategy lies in information; using both online resources and authoritative books to glean new trends in marketing and sales. A good place to start is with an introductory book like David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly. Once marketers have got the basics down pat, they can move on to practical advice on creating engaging content, such as Dave Kerpen’s Likeable Social Media: how to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (& Other Social Networks). Kerpen’s book is interesting both for social media pros and newcomers to the field, who will benefit from sound advice such as the importance of acquiring good listening skills in social media, the right ways to use different media platforms and the importance of approaching content creation like a child – especially when it comes to thinking out of the box. Good online resources include Jeff Elder’s entertaining blog, www.jeffelder.net (we recommend the posts Lessons from Four Years in Social Media) and How I Grew Followers to my @jeffelder Twitter Account 1000% in Three Months).

Useful Online Tips:

B2Bs will find a host of tips online from seasoned social media marketers, who, surprisingly, seem to coincide on concepts like the value of investing in one’s products and services (excellence in the latter is the best marketing tool any business could have); creating a social media strategy that unites a company’s vision and customer experience to their internal business culture; and hiring content writers (not social media experts per se but people who can actually write) to create compelling content. Finally, identifying key influencers in one’s market is key. We recommend this excellent article published on digitalorganics.com.au, which enlightens business on how to use tools like Ripples, to see which of the people re-sharing their content are most influential, and to identify their competitors’ most important ‘influencers’.

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