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CONNECTED CULTURE Blog by Jerry Allocca

Now, more than ever, we're all connected. What does it mean to be part of the Connected Culture? Share your thoughts and ideas here!
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How a Digital Marketing Agency Can Save You from Job Burnout

Find out if it’s time to hire a digital marketing agency to achieve your organization’s marketing goals and drive your digital marketing success in 2017If you’re of a certain age, you probably remember how marketing departments operated prior to the digital age. Sure, there were deadlines and goals to meet, but projects typically ran at a manageable pace. In stark contrast, marketing professionals today are dealing with fast-moving business elements that range from content development and branding to public relations, SEO and a growing list of digital channels. Skill sets must now also include knowledge of mobile technology, real-time data analysis and even programming. Both the number of projects and job requirements to complete them have expanded dramatically, and this evolution has been rapid.

The result is overworked and understaffed marketing departments. In a study of more than 500 marketing professionals, from Workfront, a supplier of project management software, 72 percent reported tension in the office due to an increased workload, and 1 out of 4 say they’re either “overly stressed” or “stressed to the max.” With marketing playing a more vital role in the success of a business than ever before, the increasing stress and pressure placed on marketers is a cause for concern that every organization should take seriously.

What Can Be Done?
Are you a marketing director who is struggling to keep up with an overwhelming list of projects and daily tasks? It may be tempting to forego digital marketing altogether. However, today’s customers are online, and staying competitive means, like it or not, embracing digital marketing.

What about new time-saving technology? While solutions that automate processes, such as CRM and project management software can be beneficial, they don’t make up for the dramatic increase in workload due to the expansion of digital marketing.

Some organizations try to fill the lack of staff by hiring temporary workers or interns. This is a quick fix but certainly not a solution. It’s highly unlikely you’ll be lucky enough to find someone who is qualified to independently manage complex projects that require industry and company knowledge, as well as technical skill and expertise.

It’s Time to Call in the Experts
Continuing to struggle with an overload of work is a setup for failure. If you’re burning the candle at both ends and consistently finding that not everything can get done successfully, it’s time to ask for help. And, the best source for help is a digital agency that can partner with you to support your goals and drive your success. With a skilled agency on your side, you don’t just get another pair of hands to help, you get a dedicated team with broad expertise and deep experience to tackle the projects you need tackled and to even provide ideas and guidance on how to achieve even greater levels of success.

Let us help you shine in 2017 by being your digital marketing agency. Contact the experts at Connected Culture today.

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Facebook IQ + Facebook Insights: Powerful Digital Marketing Tools

Better Facebook Marketing Through InsightsSuccessfully generating a return on investment from Facebook marketing has become more difficult than ever. With more than 1.7 billion users and a growing number of advertisers all vying to capture market share, creating a successful campaign is no easy task.

Facebook IQ
An often-overlooked source of insights that can help you better understand what makes Facebook users tick is Facebook IQ. This blog-like site from Facebook publishes regular content that uses Facebook insights and data analysis and opinions from top researchers, sociologists, anthropologists, scientists and others to enable marketers to better understand their target audiences. Categorized by topic, articles offer valuable information for those who are planning Facebook campaigns. As well, the Industry Research section of the site provides beneficial articles specifically about Facebook marketing on topics such as media planning, testing campaigns, optimizing audience buying and reaching full campaign potential.

Facebook Insights
Facebook Insights is also a fundamental resource for anyone who is considering ad spend on Facebook. This has long been used by those who understand the importance of data when making marketing decisions. And, the tools have become easier to use over the years, offering clear data sets with easy-to-navigate, customizable graphs.

What’s New in Facebook
If there’s one constant in Facebook, it’s that it’s always evolving and being updated. In fact, there have been some recent changes that marketers should be aware of. These include:

  1. Updated Layout – Facebook recently announced an official update to its business page layout. The changes include different positioning of images, more prominent call-to-action buttons and improved navigation.
  2. The End to the 20% Text Rule – Facebook recently eliminated this rule that rejected ads with more than 20% text. Now, marketers can have as much text as they want in their Facebook ads.
  3. New Video Metrics – Those that publish videos on Facebook will appreciate new metrics that can offer greater insights into their visibility. These include audience demographics by age, gender and geographic locations.
  4. Custom Audiences – Marketers can now create audiences of people who are most active on their websites. This is available to Facebook advertisers creating audiences from the Facebook Ads Manager or Power Editor.

Want guidance in your Facebook marketing campaigns? Contact the experts at Connected Culture.

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Should You Be Advertising on Snapchat?

SnapchatIt may be difficult to believe that a social media site that eliminates photos and videos in a matter of seconds is all the rage with teens and young adults. It may be even more unfathomable that the same site turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook. However, if you’re familiar with Snapchat, you already know that its rapid adoption has been nothing short of unbelievable.

Today, Snapchat is one of the most popular social sharing sites on the Internet, and its popularity continues to grow. To generate revenue, Snapchat introduced advertising on its site back in 2014. However, unlike Facebook and Google that display ads based on information they’ve gathered from users, Snapchat doesn’t target ads or place them in personal communication. Rather, the company offers multiple options for advertising to enable businesses of all sizes the opportunity to reach new audiences on the site.

Snap Ads
The top-of-the-line advertising opportunity on Snapchat is “Snap Ads.” This is a mobile video ad that enables users to swipe to get more information. Swiping reveals extended content, such as an app or mobile website. The swipe-up rate for Snap Ads is five times higher than the average click-through rate on comparable platforms, according to Snapchat.

Sponsored Geofilters
For those with smaller budgets, Snapchat’s “Sponsored Geofilters” may be an option for reaching the site’s coveted demographic. Geofilters are snippets of art that appear on images in the location(s) of your choice. You can set up a campaign that targets a specific location or a major event and get your name on snaps being sent on a specific day. According to Snapchat, a single Geofilter typically reaches 40 to 60 percent of those who use Snapchat daily.

Sponsored Lenses
With “Sponsored Lenses” you get the opportunity to create interactive ads. When you consider that the average Snapchatter plays with a sponsored lens for 20 seconds, you can begin to see the advantage of these ads and how they can help support a larger digital marketing campaign.

With both advantages and limitations, it’s unlikely that Snapchat will be the sole advertising medium for a typical digital marketer. However, it can be a wise addition to an otherwise strong marketing plan that is focused on attracting a young audience such as college students.

Question:

Have you advertised on Snapchat or are you considering it?

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5 Strategies for Maximizing Your Digital Marketing Dollars

digital marketingWe’re well into the second quarter of 2016, and you probably have a good idea what has and hasn’t worked so far this year when it comes to your digital marketing dollars. If you aren’t getting quite the results you expected, or you want to hit even higher goals that you projected for the year, the following ideas may help you make the most from your digital marketing budget.

  1. Strengthen Your Website
    Some marketing professionals make the common mistake of launching aggressive digital marketing campaigns without first ensuring that their website is functional and robust. Your website should have an XML sitemap, correct page titles, simple-to-use navigation, a strong call to action, quality search engine optimization (SEO), conversion tracking through Google Analytics and mobile responsiveness. Without taking care of these necessities first, dollars spent on other digital marketing efforts will not be as effective as they could be.
  2. Don’t Focus Solely on Customer Acquisition
    Another common mistake is putting all of your marketing dollars into acquiring new customers. Nurturing relationships with existing customers can sometimes be more financially beneficial. The key is to evaluate the potential of both potential and current customers to determine which one can generate greater profit. This is where you should put the largest percentage of your marketing budget.
  3. Identify the Best Social Media Channels
    An industrial manufacturer is unlikely to generate interest on Pinterest. Likewise, a non-profit won’t attract much interest on an industrial blog or forum. Carefully consider where your potential and current customers are consuming content. These are the channels that you should be focusing your efforts. The latest and greatest social media channel may or may not be right for what you’re trying to achieve and who you’re trying to reach.
  4. Extend Your Budget with Remarketing Efforts
    Remarketing is a strategy that involves continuing to market to website visitors once they’ve left your website. With this strategy, a visitor will continue to gain exposure to your branding and advertising on third-party websites for up to 90 days. This is not only cost-effective, it offers a higher conversion rate than many other forms of online advertising. Remarketing can happen on Google, as well as Facebook and YouTube.
  5. Stay Current
    Digital marketing continues to grow and change in a multitude of ways. With a single Google update or the launch of a new social media channel, you may have a new opportunity to reach potential customers. Also stay up-to-date on your KPIs. From organic keyword ranking and social media stats to cost per conversion and competitive insights, you need to always be up to speed on your efforts and those of your competitors.

Continuously sustaining successful digital marketing campaigns isn’t easy. It requires both expertise and daily effort. Do you need help maximizing your marketing dollars? Contact the team at Connected Culture today.

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The Best of the Best Blog Posts of 2015

We’ve posted a wide variety of posts in 2015 to help you increase your digital marketing success. While each post offers valuable takeaways, the following have proven to be the most beneficial according to our readers because of their useful tips, ideas and best practices.

Are you ready to experience significant results in your digital marketing efforts in 2016? We encourage you to read the list below of our top blog posts for 2015. And, why keep this valuable content to yourself? In the spirit of the holidays, go ahead and share this list with a few colleagues, too!

Traditional SEO: Going Old School Pays Off
With all the talk in 2015 about content, many began to wonder if there was still a place for SEO in a successful digital marketing campaign. Yet, the reality is that SEO is still alive and well and being utilized effectively by savvy marketers who want to increase their site’s rankings.
Read more about the benefits of traditional SEO

SEO Cheat Sheet
Did we convince you that SEO is still beneficial? Good! To serve as a basic guide to help you with your SEO efforts, we created a handy cheat sheet for you to hang on to and use as needed. This is a good post to bookmark or print and tuck into your desk drawer for easy access.
Get the Cheat Sheet.

Build Your Online Fingerprint: How to Create a Unique Social Media Presence
With countless businesses building their presence on social media, it can be a challenge to differentiate yourself from the others. This blog post offers some very helpful ideas on how to create a unique online fingerprint that will make you stand out in an increasingly crowded digital environment.
Start Building Your Online Fingerprint.

Content Marketing Hack: How to Repurpose Your Content Effectively
Most likely you upped your content marketing game in 2015. You may even have an amazing stockpile of blog posts, case studies, newsletters, articles and other content that is no longer being used. One of the benefits of producing quality content, is that it can be repurposed to extend its reach and effectiveness.
Learn a few creative hacks to repurpose your content.

5 Facebook Post Ideas to Keep Your Page Fresh
Yes, it can be difficult coming up with new ideas for Facebook posts. We’ve all seen the pages of those companies that bore their online audiences by simply promoting the same products and services over and over. The good news is that there are some simple ways to create posts that will encourage your existing community to engage with your brand and will generate interest from others.
Read these 5 post ideas and attract more people to your Facebook page in 2016.

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Infographics 101

pencil-190586_1280When it comes to content, visuals are growing more and more vital in the world of marketing and social media. After all, the general public tends to be drawn to images – they are colorful, bold, and make accompanying content easier to understand. But how can one effectively incorporate graphics and information without one overpowering the other? That’s where infographics come in!

Infographics can be defined by the artistic visualization of information and they are popping up more and more frequently on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Pinterest. Additionally, they are commonly seen on business websites as a method of displaying information or services. While infographics certainly are helpful, they aren’t necessary for every little bit of content. Infographics tend to be most effective when conveying:

  1. Lots of information
  2. Difficult to understand information
  3. Opposing ideas or thoughts

When beginning to incorporate infographics into your content strategy, there are a number of free or inexpensive services that can help in the creative process. These kinds of services will create the graphics for you after you input the information, allowing you to edit the display as needed. Charts, graphs, and simple graphics are often included, allowing statistics and information to truly take form in the minds of the viewer.

When promoted on social media, infographics tend to do very well. To increase the effectiveness of your infographic, it is important to consider a few stylistic elements. Creating an interesting and catchy title is the first vital step. You should also pay attention to font choice and amount of text that is incorporated. Too much text will take away from the simplicity of an infographic and too “frilly” of a font will lead to illegibility. Simplicity is key!  Providing sources is imperative, just as it would be for any other kind of content. Most frequently, sources are found in one easy-to-read spot at the bottom of the infographic.

Linkage is also possible through infographics, providing additional ways to boost your search engine optimization, in a stylistically pleasing way. This can result in more visitors to your website and an overall higher search engine rank.

As you embark on creating your next big marketing campaign, consider incorporating an infographic.

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Building an Online Community: The Basics

Building An Online CommunitySo you want to build a community online? An online community is the perfect way to broaden the reach of your brand. By engaging with your community, you’ll be enticing buyers, engaging with existing fans of your brand, and extending your reach to new customers. In short, an online community is both a source of revenue, an advertising platform, and a way to spread the word about you and your products or services to new customers.

If you’re ready to begin, here are a few basic tips to keep in mind that will help you get started.

  1. Quality – whether it’s on-site content, blog posts, videos, podcasts, or other forms of media, it doesn’t matter. People will be drawn to excellent content and return continually for more of it. Quality then is both a hook and a reason for people to come back.
  1. Originality – ask yourself: why should people come to my community for this content instead of going somewhere else? It’s important for you to have something unique about your brand.
  1. Consistency – International brands earn their reputation by delivering their specialty on a regular basis. This schedule of interactions helps foster community. If you disappear, so will your followers.
  1. Sharing – For your community to grow, you’ll need people to find your content/products/brand and share it with others. Sharing is easiest on social media. Make your content as easy to share as possible and make it appealing so people will want to see and share it with their friends.
  1. Communication – A community isn’t about broadcasting to an audience. It’s about establishing connections. Engage your community. Take time to acknowledge those who interact with you and those who have helped you along the way. If you only promote yourself, you’ll never attract a following. Post links to topics your community will find interesting. Ask questions. Make re-visiting your site and social media channels worthwhile.

Every online community is different and you’ll have to experiment with yours for maximum benefit, but by following the 5 basics above, you’ll be building a great foundation.

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5 Facebook Post Ideas to Keep Your Page Fresh

Facebook Post IdeasSocial media is not used or barely used by many companies that could benefit from a social presence. Facebook is the most popular social media platform and the one most businesses either want to, or should, explore.

If you already have a Facebook page, or you’ve just created one, the next step is attracting people to your brand. The best way to keep people AWAY from your page is to constantly post nothing other than product information or sales without personality. You also will drive people away by flooding their newsfeeds with a barrage of posts each day. So post wisely and provide as much value as possible with each post. With that in mind, here are 10 ideas to improve your social media marketing on Facebook:

  1. Share current information. People want to see what’s going on in your world. If you’re making public appearances, conducting special events, or interacting with your community in a hands-on way, let your online following know!
  2. Engage with your audience. Respond to posts and messages. This helps foster a community spirit, shows people you respect them, and also helps to ensure that posts with a lot of engagement will appear on fans’ newsfeeds.
  3. Link to blog posts. Grab a fact or an enticing headline-like phrase to serve as a teaser so people are tempted to click and learn more.
  4. Incorporate other social channels into your strategy. Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram are incredibly popular.
  5. Don’t automate posts between platforms. Keep your posts original, even if they are linking to your other social media sites.

Of course, these tips are only the beginning. We can help you turn your Facebook page into an online community and resource for your business. Learn more from our social media experts today.

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Grow Your Facebook Likes with These 3 Tips!

Grow Facebook LikesMore and more businesses are taking to Facebook to increase their social media presence. It’s a tactic that has worked well for many companies, but many stumble through Facebook without knowing how to use the service to their advantage. If you’re new to Facebook or looking to ramp up a stagnant social media campaign, follow these easy tips to grow your Facebook presence today:

Be a good Facebook Citizen
Post unique content as well, share content from other sites that your community will enjoy, and call attention when your followers post positive information, photos, or reviews about your business. Additionally, respond in a positive fashion to negative posts. Work to not only be a promotion machine, but a community centered around your brand that users turn to for information they want.

Raise Awareness with a Contest
For a relatively small investment, you can promote products or services in a way that generates interest—not only among your fans but among their friends as well. This is a fun way to present your brand and drive interaction with your social media and website as well.

Advertise on Facebook
If you haven’t explored advertising on Facebook, you’re simply missing an important opportunity. You can target specific audiences for your ads that allow you to reach customers directly. You can make the most of any advertising budget and employ a variety of techniques to reach an impressive number of potential buyers.

Facebook isn’t a duty—it’s an opportunity. Make the most of your Facebook presence today.

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How to Sell Digital Marketing to Your Boss

connected-culture-blog-listeningWhile you’re probably already convinced that your organization needs to increase its digital marketing efforts this year to stay relevant and grow, you may find that you have to convince others that the additional investment in time and money to do so will offer sufficient ROI.

How can you best present the benefits of digital marketing to your boss and other decision-makers? We’ve provided five essential tips for getting them enthusiastically on board:

1. Create a Comprehensive Plan

Jumping into digital marketing without a plan is akin to starting a long journey without a map. To best share with others what you’re planning to do, it’s essential to breakdown digital marketing into key components. These include:

  • Website and landing pages
  • Blog
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media
  • SEO
  • Analysis and Reporting

You’ll also want to define your target audience and map out a strategy for how each component can be integrated into the plan. Use visual tools such as charts, spreadsheets, and calendars to help explain the plan and to keep you on track once you get the green light to get started.

2. Have a Realistic Budget

Digital marketing isn’t free advertising. It takes time and money to manage all of the elements of your plan. To prevent unrealistic expectations on the part of others, you’ll want to allocate accurate amounts for everything from website maintenance and Facebook ads to hiring an outside SEO agency and content writers.

Very few organizations can execute a comprehensive digital marketing plan solely in-house. So, it’s important to clearly determine what you can successfully tackle and what needs to be outsourced to create a viable budget.

3. Create Specific Goals

One of the most common objections heard when it comes to digital marketing is that it doesn’t actually offer any “real” value. This is why it’s so important to establish goals for your plan early on. A well-thought out and executed plan will help in business development and support other marketing and sales efforts. Therefore, goals should be aligned with overall company strategic goals. They should also be specific enough to be clearly measured.

4. Detail the Potential ROI

Showing potential ROI is vital in getting others excited about digital marketing. This means explaining its measurable value. Of course, it’s ideal if you can prove a direct financial return. However, it’s more likely that your digital marketing efforts will contribute to more leads that can eventually be converted into more sales. This doesn’t devalue the importance of digital marketing. Rather, it’s simply necessary to connect the dots carefully when trying to get the buy-in from others.

In may be beneficial to compare the ROI of your digital marketing plan to other marketing efforts such as print collateral, advertising, and telemarketing. When you look closely at the costs for each, you may find that digital marketing offers the highest ROI.

5. Give Examples

It’s a good idea to show what your competitors are doing when it comes to digital marketing. Find several good examples of organizations within your industry that are getting it right. Be able to explain what they’re doing and why it’s working for them. These examples may be the most compelling aspect of your pitch.

Getting buy-in for increasing digital marketing efforts requires a detailed plan that can be effectively communicated and executed. With expectations clearly set and a strategy for measuring results, you’ll have the ability to show real ROI that will turn doubters into enthusiastic believers in the value of digital marketing.

Question:

What can you add to this list?

 

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