As I shared with entrepreneur attendees of a recent webinar I gave with a colleague on “ensuring your website is your workhorse,” search engine optimization (SEO) is not a one and done activity. SEO should be viewed as an activity that continues as long as your business or organization does. That said, there are steps you can take to stockpile some SEO work, while knowing that you can’t fully stockpile SEO because of needing to respond to yet-unknown industry, life, world, and personal events that may impact your organization and the products, services, and solutions you offer. Think about the onset of the 2020 pandemic. None of us really saw that coming, right? And, we had to pivot and put out new information, and/or add or tweak products and services to better serve our customers in a new world/business landscape.
How You Can Stockpile SEO
Google continues to reward websites who provide fresh/current “helpful content.” This was reinforced by their August 2023 algorithm update that indicated having “helpful content” was a key factor “the king of search engines” would continue to take into consideration when deciding which websites to serve high up in search results for relevant terms.
By creating an editorial calendar that documents future blog post topics for the next quarter, or more, and then, actually writing the posts and creating or identify images for use along with the posts, you can certainly get ahead of the SEO game — by doing all you can to have content that your target audience will value queued up for several or many months. The aforementioned is particularly true if your content management system (CMS)/website platform allows you to schedule posts to be published at a future date.
Why You Can’t Completely Stockpile SEO
As expressed in our blog post intro., there will always be unforeseen circumstances that arise that will cause you to want or need to put out new unanticipated content, or to add or change product, service, and solution offerings. Here’s an example: a blog post I wrote with a colleague about how to best employ social media during the pandemic. Could I have foreseen a need for this post months in advance, and therefore, created and scheduled this, i.e., stockpiled it? No. I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the severity and length of COVID’s impact on organizations and businesses many months in advance.
In sum, you can and should take time to create an editorial calendar detailing future blog post topics and publish dates, and you can and should write those in advance; plus, use CMS capabilities to schedule them to publish on your website at the right time. But, there will always be times when you’ll need to respond immediately to unexpected events that occur — either ones that may pose a challenge to you and your customers, or provide an opportunity for you and your customers that you’ll want to capitalize on quickly.
Need Help Building OutA Blog Post Editorial Calendar?
Not sure where to begin to figure out topics for future blog posts that will provide meaningful, beneficial information to prospective and existing clients?
Recently, as the owner of a digital marketing agency with an SEO (search engine optimization) specialty who is always looking to improve on the SEO services we offer our clients, I signed up for a subscription to “Answer The Public.” I had learned about the tool via a free webinar offered by Neil Patel, a digital marketing expert I greatly admire and follow on LinkedIn, and one of Neil’s colleagues. The aforementioned tool allows you to see what questions individuals are asking related to the products, services, and solutions to problems that your organization offers, and to see how frequently, for a particular geography, individuals are searching Google for answers to those questions.
I’ve already used the tool numerous times with various clients to inform FAQs (frequently asked questions) on their websites, as well as topics for future blog posts. And, of course, I plan to use the tool to inform future blog posts for Results C & R too.
The data available via “Answer The Public” is so in keeping with the blog post we wrote last year about the algorithm change Google shared about placing greater emphasis on “helpful content” when determining which organizations’ websites to serve up high in search results for relevant queries.
When thinking about what to write about “Answer The Public,” the song below came to mind because isn’t that what helpful content, and answering the questions people want answered, all about? Giving people what they want and need?
Reach Out To Talk About Your Marketing Challenges and Opportunities and How Our SEO Services Might Address Them
I always love a great marketing and communications brainstorm, so reach out today to talk about your awareness-, sales-, and service-engagement- challenges. I’ll always give you an honest evaluation of whether I believe your organization would benefit from pull marketing tactics (like organic and paid SEO), push marketing tactics (like social media advertising), or both. Use my calendar app to schedule a complimentary discussion at a day and time that’s convenient for you, or e-mail me at email@example.com.
A former manager of mine used to say I was a great “bird dogger.” Believe me, it took some painful lessons to realize that just because I assumed co-workers were moving time-sensitive/critical-path work forward, it didn’t mean they were. Sometimes, particularly when you are just starting out in the corporate work world, you need to get “bitten” a few times, to acquire and employ new skills.
Getting back to the bird dogging. At our Boston-area digital marketing agency and SEO company, we believe that any and all marketing agencies and marketing consultants should serve as both strategic partners and accountability partners. Read on to learn why it’s so critical to sales, marketing, and SEO success, and to assess whether or not your marketing agency or consultant serves as both types of partners.
Why Your Marketing Agency Must Be A Strategic Partner
Whether you’re a small business owner with no marketing staff and you’ve outsourced your marketing strategy and/or your hands-on marketing work to a marketing agency or consultant, or you’re a mid-sized business that has a small in-house marketing team, it’s likely you and your team are far too busy to stay on top of cutting-edge marketing tactics and tools. Particularly as pertains to digital marketing, available opportunities/tactics change constantly, and there are such a large number of broad digital marketing categories (as indicated on our digital marketing services website page), that it would be impossible for you and your team to be experts in all available digital marketing topics, like SEO, social media advertising, Google Ads, etc.
I’ve mentioned this numerous times in blog posts and on Results C & R’s website pages, but when I launched my digital marketing agency and SEO company in 2014, I launched it with this tagline and philosophy: “Maximizing Results Through Research-Supported Marketing.” I always say I will never encourage an existing or prospective client to begin or continue with a marketing tactic that doesn’t make sense for them, based on secondary or primary data. That’s why I regularly ask prospective clients to let me look at their Google Analytics data before they engage me for work, and that’s why, for many of my clients, I track their digital marketing KPIs on a monthly basis and review results with them. Then, we talk about implications and what tactics we’ll put in place/what steps we’ll take to try to move the sales, inquiries, engagement, etc. (conversions) needle by the next time we meet. Often, it’s tiny steps, but steps we think make sense even if they only lead to slow progress as far as conversions go. Progress is progress, right?
Ask Yourself The Following To Determine If Your Marketing Agency Is A Strategic Partner:
Does your marketing agency document the above results/analysis and meet with you and your team regularly to review implications?
Does your marketing agency try to learn on your dime — therefore, are they charging you for the time they spend on educating themselves on a new marketing tactic, tool, or opportunity? They shouldn’t.
Does your marketing agency let you know if there is something you aren’t doing right and/or could be handling better on the marketing front, regardless of whether they are doing work for you related to it?
Does your marketing agency let you know when they don’t think a particular marketing tactic/opportunity is the right fit for your organization?
Does your marketing agency only recommend services they themselves offer, or will they recommend services/opportunities from which you’d benefit, even if it means they need to collaborate with/pull in another expert or strategic partner or refer you to somebody else?
Is your marketing agency regularly recommending new possible marketing opportunities to you?
Related to the above bullet, do you get the sense that your marketing agency wants to use you as a “guinea pig” to try out the latest-fad marketing activity or tool, even if it might not be the right fit for your organization? If so, that’s certainly not a win-win situation!
Why Your Marketing Agency Needs To Be Your Accountability Partner
So, here’s the questions you should ask to determine whether or not your marketing agency or consultant is a true accountability partner and the real tie-in to bird dogging reference at the beginning of this post.
If your marketing agency needs you to review something or provide information to move their work for you forward, do they reach out regularly for status updates and to remind you to ensure critical deadlines are met?
Does your marketing agency send you an e-mail after a meeting documenting what work you or your team are responsible for completing before your next meeting?
When your marketing agency senses that you are unable (for a variety of reasons) to review documents, provide information to inform their work for you, or complete hands-on work yourself, do they reach out and offer to help or to talk you thru what’s needed via a phone or Zoom call? Do, they do the aforementioned on a timely basis so that time-sensitive deadlines and deliverables are met?
I was talking with fellow marketing consultants this week and shared this famous line from the movie Jerry Maguire related to effective client-agency relationships, i.e., working collaboratively to move work forward, both successfully and efficiently: “Help Me, Help You.”
Does Your Marketing Agency Act Like Part Of Your Team?
Ultimately to determine if your existing marketing agency or marketing consultant or a prospective one is the right fit, in addition to the strategic-partner and accountability-partner questions above, you should ask yourself, does my agency treat me with respect and like a partner. Do I feel like my agency is as committed or even more committed than I am to my organization’s success? Does may agency feel like part of our team, and in some ways like family? Meaning, they’d do anything for you to help you succeed and only want the best for you?
I hope and believe that clients or prospective clients asking themselves any of the many questions outlined above arrive at answers that make them confident that the Results C & R team is both a strategic and an accountability partner and that we have our clients’ best interests are at the heart of everything we do!
Refer to it as you will — and we are seeing a lot of reference variability, such as GA4 and G4 — but Google Analytics’ new property version will soon be here to stay and pushing aside the Universal Analytics (UA) version (a version which all of us digital marketers and data geeks are very familiar with and have grown to love over the years.)
Since as a Boston SEO Company and Boston Digital Marketing agency, we ask each and every one of our clients to provide us with access to their Google Analytics data — so that we can help them determine what marketing activities are and aren’t working for them and what their general “website health” looks like — we are sorry to see the UA version of Google Analytics go. We’ve been using it 20 years, both in corporate and consulting roles, to assess the aforementioned.
Per Google’s own declaration, UA versions of Google Analytics will stop recording hits come July 1, 2023, which means the last day an organization can use Google Analytics to effectively track website visitor behavior with a UA property version is June 30, 2023. That said, our digital marketing agency is already hard at work learning the “ins and outs” of GA4, and working with our clients to make the switch late 2022 or early 2023 to this new Google Analytics property version.
We just completed several online classes offered by Google to learn about the many benefits of GA4 Analytics and how GA4 differrs from UA Analytics. While it’s fresh in our minds, we’re sharing our immediate reactions. We decided not to outline pro’s and con’s because general use, and our own use, of GA4 is too new and what we might consider a “pro” someone might consider a “con,” and vice versa.
G4 simultaneously tracks both mobile app and website data
G4 can often track a user across devices and platforms (UA was only able to track based on device ID) — this means if an individual originally visits your website using their phone, but later visits your site using their desktop, laptop, or other device, your organization will be able to track that individual as one user (currently in UA Analytics that same individual would likely be tracked as several users) and follow their user journey. Important note: You’ll likely see your “unique user” volume drop when you switch from UA to GA4 Analytics for the reasons outlined above and below.
So how does Google accomplish the above? By looking at three distinct identifiers or identity spaces:
User ID (this is an ID that an organization provided to a customer or prospective customer or other website visitor as part of their need or ability to login to the organization’s website)
Google signal (available when people are signed into a Google account, such as a Gmail e-mail account and have consented to sharing that info.)
Device ID (this info. comes from a user’s browser or app instance ID)
Key Differences Between GA4 Analytics and UA Analytics
GA4’s tracking emphasis is on user events vs. sessions (note that session info. is still available in GA4)
Many standard user events (activities that a user completes on a website, such as downloading a document) are automatically tracked in GA4 vs. UA Analytics. This means organizations will be far less dependent on using Google Tag Manager to set up event tracking, something we believe most organizations will welcome. We know we found using the aforementioned tool very cumbersome.
A smaller number of standard/pre-defined reports are available within GA4, but an extensive set of tools known as “Explorations” allow data geeks to slice ‘n dice data to their heart’s content. We’ve always found the best way to learn a new tool is to set it up and start playing around with it. We’ve found if you do some digging around in GA4, you’ll figure out where and how to access info. that you analyzed regularly in UA Analytics.
Interestingly enough, the Google-provided training we took highlighted the same items we highlighted above as benefits or differences in this grid that was shared in the training.
Note: This post was updated on July 15, 2022 to also incorporate favorite marketing podcasts, and also on November 25, 2022 to incorporate key places to obtain information on the new G4 Google Analytics property type (vs. UA/Universal Google Analytics property type).
Anyone who provides digital marketing services, like our digital marketing agency, or has a role at a organization where they are responsible for the planning, execution, monitoring, and reporting on of digital marketing tactics, knows that the landscape keeps changing. New social media platforms get introduced. The interfaces or management tools you use to execute activities or monitor results change regularly. It can all have your head spinning.
To help you “keep calm and carry on,” we thought we’d share a list of some of the organizations whose websites we go to when we are in need of answers and help or whose e-newsletters we read to stay on top of all things digital marketing and e-commerce. Since Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are two of our Greater-Boston-Area digital marketing agency’s specialties — we love any digital marketing work that is technical or analytical — you’ll see a number of websites that focus on those topics below. Note: use the scroll bar underneath the table below to see right-most columns.
We hope the below makes your life as a digital marketer easier and welcome ideas for organizations we should add. We expect to continue to update this list as we discover more digital marketing experts to learn from. We’re all in this together as the digisphere continues to evolve! Note: use the scroll bar underneath the table below to see right-most columns.
After writing several blog posts in recent years about one of my favorites hobbies — walking — I was torn about whether it should be a walking or a digital marketing topic that would be the focus of the first blog post of the new year. But, then, it hit me (while I was out walking, of course) why not combine the two topics? So here goes…
Depending on how your business, organization, or you personally fared in 2021, maybe the new year/2022 doesn’t require some kind of grand gesture or large overhaul related to new beginnings and resolutions. Hey, if it ain’t broken, why fix it, right? Maybe, it’s just a matter of making some small tweaks to last year’s marketing strategy and/or the particular tactics that are part of it, or to your personal habits and mindset, so you can optimize results even further in the new year.
That’s why, while I plan to keep up with my “no excuses” winter walking plan this year, I made a small adjustment to it in the beginning of 2022. Sure, in the blog post that I linked to in my previous sentence, I sang the praises of last year’s coat related to being “prepared for opportunity.” But, I realized this winter, I needed to do something slightly different. The coat I bought and wore last year was just too heavy for my back, which started troubling me in fall 2021 (life happens). Plus, the length of last year’s coat-purchase (down to my ankles) limits the length of my stride. So, I went to Macy’s last week to capitalize on post-Christmas sales, and bought a very reasonably-priced coat that’s a bit shorter and a bit less heavy –because life circumstances, business, and marketplaces constantly change and we need to adjust to them, even if only slightly.
We’d welcome the opportunity to chat with you about what your business/organization could or should do slightly or significantly differently in 2022, based on the following and other possible or anticipated changes pertaining to:
the competitiveness or other attributes of your marketplace, such as pricing and inflation
consumer or business buying behavior or interests
technology used by consumers or businesses to gather information about products, services, and solutions, i.e., consumer and business technology preferences
marketing technologies and opportunities to reach target audiences
So, please let us know how we can help and don’t be afraid to make some very small or some very large tweaks to personal habits or business processes, tactics, strategy, etc. if warranted for a more prosperous, less stressful, more productive, and/or healthier new year!
If you’re a fellow walking fanatic, enjoy our other walking blog posts:
A JOINT BLOG POST BY GAIL SNOW MORASKI AND RYAN BRUDER
Our first blog post in this two-part series focused on capitalizing on “spring cleaning” inclinations to tune-up your website and your social media presence. The purpose of this second post is to remind readers who run any kind of online ads — whether they be Google Ads (also known as search ads/search marketing), social media ads, or banner ads purchased directly from another external website — to revisit them and give them a thorough look-over if you haven’t done so in a while.
Since SEM (search engine marketing) is one of our digital marketing agency’s specialties, the focus of this piece will be on Google Ads, but many of reminders can be applied to other forms of online advertising.
Optimizing Your Google Ads (Paid SEO/SEM) To Improve Performance And Maximize Budget
Often clients will engage our SEO company to analyze either current or past Google Ads campaigns to see what they could or should be doing differently or better. Or, to assume management of existing Google Ads campaigns. Because we are data geeks, we love getting under the hood of a Google Ads account — whether it be a paid account used by a for-profit organization, or a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant account that provides qualifiying non-profit organizations with $120,000 in free annual Google search advertising.
Elements of campaigns and associated ad groups within a Google Ads account that we review related to the above engagements that you should too, as part of spring cleaning your Google Ads, include:
KEYWORDS — what terms have you indicated to Google are ones for which you want your ads shown and are these all still appropriate? Are there keywords you should remove? Are there keywords you should add?
SEARCH TERMS — related to the above keyword element, what search terms (actual phrases that ad clickers put into Google’s search engine) have your ads actually been presented to searchers for, and are they the right ones? The “search terms report,” accessed via the keywords section of a Google Ads ad group, allows you to see the exact terms for which your ads are being shown. Are the terms appropriate? Should some of these terms be made “negative” keywords, i.e., terms for which you don’t want your ads to be shown?
RECOMMENDATIONS — as shown in the printscreen at the bottom of this elements list, Google makes regular recommendations — via a recommendations report — regarding steps you can take to “optimize” your campaign, and therefore, improve click-thru rate, and reduce your cost-per-click. Types of recommendations we see Google regularly make include: removing redundant keywords (keywords that are very similar in nature) from ad groups, adding certain types of ad extensions (such as structured snippets or call-outs), adding conversion-tracking, and using responsive search ads, along with standard text ads you already have in place. Not just as part of your spring cleaning, but each and every type you log into your Google Ads account to check on campaign performance, you should review the various recommendations, and apply the ones that you think make sense for your account.
SETTINGS — settings are assigned at the campaign level and allow for you to target specific geographies and set daily budgets, as well as other specifics about your campaign. At a minimum, as part of your sprng review, you should revisit your daily budget and the geography to see if they are still appropriate to the products, services, or solutions you are promoting via your ads.
AD CONTENT AND LANDING PAGES — if you haven’t checked your Google Ads campaigns in a while, you may even be running ads that land ad clickers on pages that promote either events that have already passed, such as a fundaising one, or products and services that are seasonal in nature and no longer apppropriate ones to be promoting due to the time of year. As you conduct your spring review, be sure that the products, services, and solutions are still the right ones for your organization to be promoting, regardless of whether you are paying for ad clicks, or getting them free via your Google Nonprofit Ad Grant. Also, revisit what makes for an effective landing page, and consider making any appropriate tweaks to current ad landing pages.
COST-PER-CLICK — as part of your review, give great thought to the cost-per-click associated with each of your active vs. paused ad groups. Does the profit you’d make from an actual sale to an ad clicker warrant the cost-per-click — therefore, what is the acquisition cost (this may be include other factors beyond the ad cost-per-click) associated with obtaining a new customer and does it make good sense from a profitability standpoint?
CLICKS — this is likely stating the obvious, but if your ads aren’t generating a decent volume of clicks, therefore, visits to your website, does it make sense to continue to run certain campaigns, or certain ad groups within campaigns?
Google Ads Manager Dashboard
We know that Google Ads advertising, and other forms of online advertising, can be complex and confusing. If you are concerned that your campaigns aren’t set up right to maximize clicks, conversions (ad clickers taking desired actions on your website), and your advertising budget, reach out to us for a complimentary discussion or for us to undertake online advertising spring cleaning on your behalf.
A JOINT BLOG POST BY GAIL SNOW MORASKI AND RYAN BRUDER
As you do related to your personal life and home, it’s important to do a deep cleaning and decluttering of your organization’s online presence once in a while. So, why not tackle it while you’re already in spring cleaning mode? We’ve outlined, by digital marketing vehicle, various marketing elements you should revisit — and may need to address — as part of your spring tune-up!
SSL Certificate – We’ve discussed this in many of our SEO blog posts, such as this oldie but goodie, but if you’re still using an http:// vs. https:// address, and therefore, don’t have a security certificate associated with your website, you are hurting yourself from both a marketing and SEO standpoint. Chrome or other browsers may remind visitors your site isn’t secure — making prospective visitors afraid to visit. Plus, Google is less likely to serve an organization’s site up high in search results for relevant terms if the organization’s site isn’t secure.
Social Media Icons – Be sure that you house icons on your site (normally this is done in the footer or at the top of a website page) with associated links to each of the platforms on which you have a social media presence. If you no longer maintain a social media presence on certain sites, remove the icon from your site. Driving website visitors to an inactive social media profile won’t serve you well from a marketing standpoint.
Broken Links – As with the SSL certificate, broken links are irritating to both website visitors and Google. Google will ding you from an SEO standpoint, and visitors will wonder about the quality of products and services they’ll receive from you, if it appears you aren’t giving attention to and taking care of your website.
Blog Posts – If you maintain a blog section/page on your site, haven’t blogged in a while, and don’t plan to do so in the next few months, consider hiding that section of the site. As with broken links, maintaining a blog section that you don’t keep current can make website visitors think less favorably about your organization.
Outdated Event/Fundraising Info. – Ditto what we said about broken links and blog posts. Having outdated community events and fundraising events on your website just speaks to negligence, and not making & taking the time to keep your site current.
Your Social Media
About/Bio – You should revisit the About/Bio or other section of a social media profile that provides general/overview information about your organization to make sure it’s accurate and current. We’ve often seen organizations leave old phone numbers, URLs, or physical address info. up in these About/Bio type sections of their social media profiles. And, if you don’t have a link to your website included in the About/Bio section, you should add one — on any social media platform that allows for it — as a call-to-action (CTA) to visit your website.
Hashtags – As part of spring cleaning the above-mentioned sections of your social media profiles, make sure they include hashtags for which you’d like your profiles to be found. It may just be a matter of putting a hashtag in front of certain words that are already in the About/Bio section of your social media profile.
Following – Check to see who you’ve followed in the past, and determine which individuals and organizations it still makes sense to follow, based on how your organization has evolved. Since social media platforms limit the # of organizations you can follow, you might free your organization up to follow some new and more-relevant individuals and organizations by discontinuing following irrelevant ones.
Branding Elements – Be sure that all your profiles are using your updated branding elements, such as an updated logo and other images.
Pinned Post – Check to see if any posts that you’ve “pinned” (so that they appear first when anyone views your profile) still make sense to be a pinned post. As with broken website links and outdated event info., leaving outdated pinned posts up speaks to your organization not minding its shop closely enough.
Story Opportunities – Make this spring the time you give some thought to whether, and how, you should be taking advantage of “story” capabilities. A feature that many social media profiles have available are “stories”, or a snapshot that is featured on a user’s social media home page/newsfeed (and your profile) that disappears after 24 hours. With this tool, you can post a picture or video that contains messaging that you deem super important, so your followers will see it up-front/highlighted all day. This is a great tool to use if you are running a promotion or have a big announcement of some sort to make, such as the roll-out of a new product line or service. What we love about this related to Instagram is that, within the stories capability, there is a feature where you can include a link to a website page. Employing this opportunity will help drive additional traffic to your site — something that standard Instagram posts can’t do since you can’t include a hyperlink to your site in them.
Abandoned Social Media Presences – If your organization made the decision to no longer be active on a social media platform on which you previously had a presence, remove the profile, if possible. If you can’t, add a post that indicates you are no longer posting to that particular platform, but asking profile visitors to “please join us on x,y,z social media platform(s),” and provide links to your profile on those social media platforms.
Your Google My Business/Google Maps Profile
Outdated Posts – Google My Business (GMB) allows you to post COVID updates, event info., offers and more. It’s a great service, but you need to make sure that you remove or change any outdated information as part of spring and ongoing cleaning efforts!
Capitalizing on All Categories, Such as Women in Business – GMB allows you to identify your organization as one that is woman-led, veteran-led, or Black-owned. If your organization identifies as one of these, be sure to complete this info. in the Info. section of the GMB dashboard. As you’ll see, we did this with our own GMB profile to capitalize on the fact that we are a woman-owned/woman-led business.
Locations – If you have more than one storefront/physical location that customers and prospective customers can visit, consider taking ownership and managing a GMB account for each of your locations to make sure you don’t miss out on any local search opportunities, therefore, prospective clients searching on “x,y,z near me.”
Info. From The Business – The “info. from the business” statement (that you can enter via the Info. section of the GMB dashboard) provides 750 characters to tell prospective customers what your organization is all about. If you’re not already taking advantage of this large space to promote your business, your services and products, and the solutions to problems you offer, be sure to complete this statement.
Need additional information or help related to any of the above? We are ALWAYS here to help, so please reach out.
Running a business these days is no joke. The global pandemic has put many small businesses into a tailspin. No one’s seen anything like this before and everyone’s talking about “pivoting,” but what does that actually mean? What does a pivot look like for you?
You’re great at running and marketing your business. You’ve got the branding, social media, and your new client funnel down to a science. You’re turning a profit and you can’t believe how far you’ve come since the first days of starting out, but this COVID-19 deal is uncharted territory.
You’re not alone. Sales for many businesses have dropped this month due to the distraction provided by the pandemic, but particularly, due to its associated social distancing practices. Yes, the latter are a matter of national health, but man, are they a pain for conducting in-person sales activities. And, our current world scenario has made all forms of sales and outreach activities far more difficult and far less effective, whether they be in-person, phone, or e-communications ones. That’s why we recommend that your pivot be one that includes relationship building.
Generating Leads And Sales Thru Relationship Building & Networking
What’s the deal with relationships? They will be what sustains you through this crisis and after it is over. By reaching out to potential clients now, you can be certain that you’ll be one of the first people they come to once the crisis has receded. You can establish yourself as a credible, helpful and friendly resource in your field, and even a “thought leader.”
How To Make The Pivot Toward Relationship Building And Networking
Establish connections online by devoting a half hour to posting and being present on your social media each day. That’s enough time to reply to comments on your posts or to comment on others’ posts. Always make an effort to do this, especially on Facebook and Instagram since that’s part of the algorithm that drives your posts to the top of people’s feeds.
Direct message followers who are your dream clients. Now’s the time to reach out and say “hello” and offer to help or provide information they might find particularly beneficial at this point in time. Most people have more free time lately and are craving connections. If you’re making a practice of extending your olive branch now in a very genuine/authentic and heart-felt way, you’ll be remembered by people for helping make this hard time a little easier for them.
Reach out to people who operate in fields adjacent to yours and who serve the same vertical (target audiences) you’d like to do work for. For instance, if you’re a copywriter, you could connect with someone who does graphic design. In the future, when you meet a client who needs a website re-done, you can provide your client with the copy they need, and then refer them to your colleague who will design their fancy new logo or design their new website. If you help nonprofits with marketing, but there are other firms that don’t compete with you that offer bookkeeping services for nonprofits, then why not try to be referral sources for each other? These referrals can go both ways. People in your identical spaces could be competitors but what if you shifted that perspective? What if you turned them into collaborators or work referral sources? Developing a “referral circle” is an excellent way to broaden and strengthen your network and increase your customer base.
Aside from all the business benefits that come along with establishing and maintaining relationships, having these positive, collaborative, helpful relationships just feels really good right now. In this time of isolation, it’s human and healthy to crave connection with others. Making the pivot toward relationship building in your business will not only make your business stronger, but it may help make you healthier and happier as well.
A Joint Blog Post by Gail Snow Moraski, Results Communications & Research and Nick Bartos, Social Motion
Where to begin? First of all deep breaths, everyone. We are all in this together and we will get through this period of crisis in our country and in our world if we all continue to remember that it is our purpose in life to look out and be there for others the way we are there for ourselves.
Now, on to the mission at hand. We – Nick and I – have been chatting a lot this week about the nature of content to include in social media posts, currently and in the short-term. It’s a very tricky time for organizations. Many for-profit organizations have already experienced or expect to experience a significant loss of income due to customer work being cancelled or delayed, or an abrupt end to a robust product sales pipeline or stream. And, many nonprofit organizations’ financial and human resources are being stretched to a degree for which they aren’t prepared.
Where we landed is this; these are unprecedented times. Yes, there have been pandemics before, but at least in the U.S., there are likely only a handful of individuals who have lived through something similar. And, there’s never been a time in our country’s or world’s history where we’ve been as digitally and electronically advanced, and therefore, where we’re expected to be continuously communicating and providing updates online. Given all the aforementioned, as we’ve been saying to a number of the people, ”there’s no official guidelines or rule book for this.” The best we can offer, therefore, are the opinions of two digital marketing and PR experts in this blog post that we hope can serve as an “unofficial” rule book for your organization related to your social media voice & presence now and in coming weeks.
Social Media Is Meant to Be Active and Interactive, Not Passive
Social media is, and always has been, a tool to connect with your audience fairly intimately. Social media is not a passive form of interaction, and thrives on conversation, emotion, and the sharing of ideas. Whether for-profit or non-profit, organizations should be utilizing social media — in this situation in which we find ourselves — as an opportunity to demonstrate the values your brand encompasses. While it is important to not profit off of, or appear to profit off of this crisis, it is important to express that your brand empathizes with and is a part of your community. Furthermore, your brand likely has a great sense of what your community’s needs and struggles are, and you may be able to offer valuable insights to your audience during this difficult time.
For example, a construction company may share information relating to grants, or low-interest loans that help contractors, electricians, and plumbers during this crisis. The construction company may also share the precautions they are taking, or share the standards/procedures they have created to protect their employees. Additionally, the company may reach a broader audience by demonstrating their commitment to the cause — like a photo or video of the masks they are donating to a local hospital. Again, social media is a place to build relationships and offer value – if you can do that, respectfully, during this crisis, you are already ahead.
Social Media Do’s and Don’ts During a Pandemic
In general, speak from the heart, demonstrate empathy and support; think about how you can truly be, and can be seen as, part of the solution. We saw a fellow communications professional post the phrase “innovate, solve, or stop” when speaking about current social media. We think that the first two in this quoted series sum things up pretty well – if you’re going to post or share others’ posts, then offer creative, meaningful, effective solutions to challenges faced by individuals and organizations right now. We’ll speak to the “stop” piece in our “DON’TS” section.
Post or share, comment on, like, retweet posts that:
Express appreciation to/acknowledge those who are working overtime and/or risking their lives during the pandemic, including police officers, firefighters, EMTs, healthcare providers, pharmacy and grocery store employees, gas station employees, home and office cleaners, and anyone else who has to tirelessly continue to work to keep us all safe and well.
Speak to the good work that various national, state, or local nonprofit organizations and agencies are doing to help vulnerable, at-risk populations, and the general public.
Ask for help. If you do ask for help, make it clear what kind of help would be useful. And, whether you are requesting financial donations, tangible goods or volunteer time, be very specific about where those contributions will go, how they will help, who they will support, etc.
Remind others to check on elderly or health-compromised neighbors, or anyone they know who lives alone and who may feel isolated; plus, creative ways to make these individuals feel connected and supported – glass door and window visits, signs you make and show outside their window, texts, e-mail, phone, and video chats, and anything else creative you can dream up
Announce that you are there/here to help and on what fronts
Describe promotional offers or new products or solutions that will be received as heart-felt and legitimate and reinforce a true desire to help, such as a discount on any kind of services that would help a business keep running or get back up and running again
Provide updates about your hours, reduced staff, open or closed locations, etc. that indicate potential impact on customers, i.e., use your posts to manage client expectations
Share ways for your followers to donate to causes in your local community, or industries that you serve, where people may feel most connected
Create an image such as the one below (created by the Girl Scouts) that contains your brand/logo, or create a short video or video snippet along the same lines that shows heart, desire-to-help, or innovation — We are here and glad to help you with this!
Provide helpful information about the pandemic vs. creating fear (for example, sharing scary statistics related to the virus and its impact or frightening videos showing suffering of victims). Helpful info. may include:
Where/how to get help if you think you or a loved one has COVID-19, where to get food or other assistance, e.g., websites, phone #’s, text lines
Federal, state, or local government mandates or recommendations, such as group size limits and social distancing guidelines
Thoughts on or links to others’ thoughts on how to reduce anxiety level during our pandemic
Ideas for crafts for children to make with supplies that are likely on hand in any home
Family games and other bonding experiences, such as reading a book together, watching a movie, baking, or playing card games
Thoughts on or links to others’ thoughts on how to stay healthy during the pandemic, such as a daily walk or eating as healthy as possible (recognizing somehow that everyone might not have easy access to nutrient-dense food)
Reminders to find gratitude and appreciation somewhere, somehow in every day (aka “silver linings”) – whether it be taking advantage of unexpected free time, or additional time with loved ones
Thoughts on how to work efficiently and effectively from home
In general, don’t post, like, share, retweet, or comment on any content that might be offensive or seen as heartless, un-empathetic, or completely oblivious to or out-of-touch with what is going on in our world presently.
Don’t post about:
A new product or service you are offering that might appear as trying to prey on others’ misfortunes/take advantage of them in their darkest moments
Services and products that would seem like an incredible luxury, or irrelevant to or off-limits to many at this point in time. For example, some investment and insurance company advertisements about helping one prepare for retirement just don’t sit well right now. Audiences may be feeling that they won’t be able to retire, or must work much longer than anticipated before they are able to. Restaurant and vacation ads feel out of place as well when we’ve all been asked to “stay put.”
Services and products that encourage individuals to engage in activities that ignore mandates and guidelines set forth by federal, state, and local officials.