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Apr 9 / Marshal Simons

5 Free Options To Instantly Increase Your Visibility Online

By Marshal Simons  for Impakt Digital

I hear the question often – “Marshal, we don’t have a lot of money to spend on marketing, how can we still be visible online?”

There is a simple one-word answer to that question – content. No longer is it enough to be amazing at what you do, you must also be able to write about it.  The Internet is becoming increasingly populated and providing “free” content is the single most important step in inexpensively bringing visibility to your organization.

The following list is just a place to start. If you want to comprehensively take your organization’s visibility to the next level, email me at marshal@impaktdigital.com or chat with us at www.Impaktdigital.com.

1. Claim and completely fill out your Google+ page. – According to the guys over at searchengineland.com Google has about 65-70% market share of searches in the U.S. It’s a safe bet that you want to control the individual profile 70% of people will see about you/your business.

2. Get on Twitter. – I’ve noticed that there is a stigma about twitter – an assumption that it’s just for teenagers or celebrities tweeting about their daily activities. That’s not the case. Many businesses have found the micro-blogging site to be an effective tool for driving traffic to their website. Because of its public nature Twitter is especially useful for reaching new demographics – opposed to Facebook, which does not offer a convenient way to do so without paying.

3.  Keyword enrich your ‘About’ page on Facebook. – Assuming everyone here has a Facebook page, understand the About section is very important. Search engines like Google and Bing mine the About section for keywords. It’s important you fill the first two sentences in that section with keywords that represent you, your product or business.

4. Google Authorship. – Authorship is the Google method to display your information in search results for the content you create. In short – it helps you standout in search. For example, say you write an article about fishing for your blog. Google Authorship, once set up correctly, will make that article a top result with your name, Google+ link, and picture displayed under the article link. For more information I suggest you read Demian Farnworth’s article on Authorship.

5. Thought leadership with Reddit and Quora. – Thought leadership is a great way to increase visibility. To be effective you need to have a plan; Identify key issues, find unmet needs, and contribute to trending topics. If pop-up ads are the fastest aspect of visibility, Thought Leadership is the slowest. With Thought Leadership you are dealing with “real” people and most of the time, other experts in the industry, so you can’t fake it. Thought Leadership results take time but have tremendous results.

Again, if you want to comprehensively take your organization’s visibility to the next level, email me at marshal@impaktdigital.com or chat with us at www.Impaktdigital.com.

Feb 28 / Marshal Simons

10 Things That Happen When Businesses Embrace Online Presence Management

OPM1Technology has changed the way businesses need to interact and present themselves online. This change is something that businesses must understand, invest in, and use to their advantage. The concept of online presence management takes a comprehensive approach to this change and empowers businesses by doing so.

Online presence management, or OPM, is the process of presenting and drawing traffic to a personal or professional brand online. OPM is not marketing in that it is not focused on a tangible product or service. OPM is not advertising in that it is more than communication built to persuade or encourage. Having said that, marketing and advertising do play a role within OPM.

Achieving a strong online presence is possible in every industry, however – due to rapidly evolving technology – it is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve optimal results without the help of a dedicated OPM agency. Because OPM is hugely transformative I frequently find that most organizations are in desperate need of assistance.

Below are the key results a business can expect to experience if when they choose to invest in OPM.

1. Expect to engage deeply with customers. OPM, when paired with an excellent product or service, can convert customers into Brand Advocates. Conversion happens after businesses deliver an extraordinary experience.

2. Expect to create revenue. The likelihood of sales increases when consumers have a social connection with a business. While it is hard to measure the entire effect of a strong online presence, current technology allows businesses to track practically everything. This means seeing real numbers at the end of the day.

3. Expect to do a lot of listening and be able react instantly (<15min). There is a huge amount of real-time conversation happening online. Consider the huge earning potential of reaching a target audience exactly when they need to be reached – and in the exact manner they prefer to be reached.

4. Expect to manage word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing. When a company is consistently involved with their customers they build rapport. And when people like each other – whether in business or friendship – they tend to help each other. This goes back to converting customers into Brand Advocates.

5. Expect to internally break down silos. It’s a fact of life that people get wrapped up in their job and unless a company is proactive, communication silos develop. OPM addresses silos by way of social media and internally facing group communication technology.

6. Expect to manage your community. Interacting with customers and facilitating conversations between them is a big part of OPM.  An online community is a perfect place to identify trends in how people interact, and apply that knowledge to the product.

7. Expect to manage influential people. Technology has given an instant and unregulated voice to nearly everyone. So now businesses must position themselves in a way to effectively identify, manage, and engage with top influencers online.

8. Expect an online crisis. There are only two kinds of businesses: those that have had a crisis, and those that will have one. Fortunately, OPM gives businesses new tools to efficiently manage rapidly spreading online crises.

9. Expect decentralization of your customers. Businesses must aggressively keep up with technology trends. OPM works in a comprehensive manner to reach audiences – wherever they may be.

10. Expect to speak like a human. Formal conversation gives people the feeling that they are speaking with an instruction guide. And nothing says, “I don’t care” quite like that. In other words, businesses need to become more social.

For more on online presence management check out Belinda Summers’ article here and visit impaktdigital.com

Feb 17 / Marshal Simons

I Started a Business in College and You Should Too

Starting a business is a tough thing to do. New business failure rates vary depending on where the statistics are coming from, but it’s said that generally 50 to 70 percent fail within the first 18 months. Despite that, in 2012 I started Impakt Digital, while attending Wayne State University in Detroit.

The decision to start up was simple. I wanted to begin practicing what I was learning – and  I wanted to get paid for it.  

I’m not saying running a business is for everyone – it’s not. With work and school I work about 75 hours a week and wake up at 4:45 a.m. I’m saying there are clear advantages to being in college and owning a business simultaneously. So if you are thinking about doing it, go for it.

There are a number benefits to this, both in the class room and in the office.

First, some of the time I’m taking classes that I have already done the work for. Write a press release for class? Fantastic, I practically write one a week for clients. A professor gives me a press relationship development assignment? No problem. I just booked an international company on Fox News. Half the time my school work is done before I even step into the classroom on the first day.

I’m graduating with over two years of running a business.

Pro tip: Don’t hide the fact that you are still in school. It doesn’t matter. My past work experience speaks for itself and I am, for the time being, less expensive than every single competitor. Am I a senior PR executive with 25 years of experience? No. If you want that, fine, go pay his/her retainer.

Do not wait to begin your career. Even if you have no interest in running your own business. Do not wait until you are out of school. You don’t need permission or a piece of paper to kick ass.

Follow me on Twitter @MarshalGene or Google +

Feb 17 / Marshal Simons

The Top 7 Reasons Why Your Business Needs To Embrace Social In 2014

By Marshal Simons

Today, the stakes in business are higher than they’ve ever been. You can gain or lose a customer at the stroke of a keyboard. The application of “social” in business is practically limitless. Organizations are using social networks in ways that up until recently, we thought impossible.  Just recently Adidas just rolled out a campaign on Twitter that allows you to purchase items by simply using a hashtag.

Even though this is an exciting time for digital marketers, the fact remains that most people are passively using social networks to entertain themselves – not to buy shoes, find a doctor, or read about a restaurant. A study by the University of Connecticut’s Daniel Hunt and Archana Krishnan claims that for the most part, people weren’t using Facebook to connect. They were using it because they were bored.

– It’s not all bad though –

The study went on to say the majority of people that are bored on social networks are using them in a passive way. (Here’s the good part) We can change the way people use social with our content! We can convert passive users into active users by sharing, and, encouraging the use of actionable content.

Obviously knowing why a large percentage of people are using social networks is advantageous when putting together a social strategy. We know that to successfully reach the largest audience, we must be both entertaining and provide an interactive experience that engages our customers. This turns the tables. If we can become a source of entertainment and interactivity, we can truly reach a large amount of people.

For businesses that doubt the power of social, here are the top 7 reasons why your business needs to be “social.” 

7. Recruiting – I’m not talking about eliminating candidates because of inappropriate social content (although that does happen). I’m referring to attracting the best and the brightest potential employees. Social is not just for customers or potential business partners – strong business social profiles can assist in reaching and influencing a diverse and connected workforce.

6. Brand Awareness – Staying top of mind. The goal here is to be the first organization a person thinks of when prompted with a keyword. i.e. “Shoes” – “Nike.” Obviously that example is on a very large scale but it works locally also. In Detroit you say “BBQ” we say “Slows.” You say “Lawyer” we say “Call Sam.” A friend of mine and leader in innovation in Denver, Blake Cavignac, talks more about top of mind in his article here.

5. Reputation – Stay current or get left in the dust. We are all aware of the fierce competition in today’s marketplace. Social outlets help you control your business reputation – a fact every fortune 500 company knows well.

4. Social SEO – The ‘About’ or ‘Information’ sections of most social media platforms play an important role in driving traffic to your website. Social sites create ‘Backlinks’ which is an important factor in how your website ranks in search engines. Leaving this on the table is a huge waste.

3. Learn about your customers – It’s not always perfect, nevertheless, social businesses have the ability to pull an amazing amount of analytical data about their audience.

2. Social platforms give your business a presence – Online Presence Management is extremely important. Today’s consumers are very likely to first encounter your business online, and even those who get their first impression of your business in person or in print often follow up with a Google search. The information a consumer finds after that search can make or break a business.

1. Customer Service – There is a huge demand for instant customer service with Twitter and Facebook. Customers don’t want to show up in person, wait on hold, email you, or enter some confirmation number – this is, after all, your fault. Providing social customer service could easily be the difference between a customer buying your product or your competition’s product.

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