When Instagram was released in 2010, the photo and video-sharing app rapidly took off with teens and young 20-somethings. Initially, it was seen as a platform for teens to share selfies. By the time it was acquired by Facebook less than two years later, it had 100 million active users worldwide and was valued at $1 billion. It has only continued to grow since then and now boasts over 400 million active, monthly users. It has one of the largest and most engaged audiences of any social media network with the average user spending 21 minutes a day using the app. With the majority of its users in the coveted millennial age group and an even split between male and female users, it’s a marketing platform you can’t afford to overlook. Here are some tips for setting your business up on Instagram and hitting the ground running: Create Your Strategy: if this is your first social media account, you’ll have to start from scratch; if you have others, you can adapt those strategies to your Instagram account. Make sure you have a clear goal, whether that be brand awareness, website clicks or whatever you want it to be, and center all your posts around that. Make sure all your posts are consistent to your brand’s feel, your message and the rest of your social media accounts. Learn from Example: Instagram provides “case studies” of about 80 companies who have been extremely successful on the app. Find some that are similar to your business and look at what they did to become so successful. Sign Up: there is no separate sign up for businesses on Instagram like there is on Pinterest or Facebook, but they do have an Instagram for Business page that explains how to get the most out of your account, so make sure to read it. Use your company name as your account name and your company logo as your profile picture. If you use other names or pictures, it could be really confusing for customers who are used to seeing that name and logo associated with your business. Let People Know: let people know you’re now on Instagram. Put a button on your home page, share a link from your other social media accounts and write a blog post about it (side note: if you don’t have a blog, you should. And there’s no time like the present to start). Find People to Follow: spend some time searching and finding customers, competitors, suppliers and other industry leaders to follow. Also make sure to follow accounts of other prominent members of your community—like popular sports teams, schools or local news outlets—they provide great posts to share and if you interact with these accounts, people might recognize your name and follow you as well. Once you find people to follow, make sure to engage! Like their photos, comment on them and generally be active. Social media interaction is a two-way street; you want your followers to be active with you, so you need to be active with them, too. Start Posting: when you’re starting out and getting adjusted to the platform, it might be helpful to have a posting schedule to make sure you don’t forget about it. Check and see what times of day are good to post and stick to it. Whether it’s every day at noon or once at 10 a.m. and once at 5 p.m., do some research and create a schedule for you and your employees. Make sure your images are high-quality, cleanly-edited photos or videos and tag your location and any people who appear in the photo (if they’re customers, make sure to ask permission first). Instagram also allows you to use a variety of filters on your photos, but unless your business has a creative, edge vibe, try to ease into these. As you use the account more and see what your customers like and respond to, you’ll start to see what works better for your particular audience and you can tailor your posts to that. Write Captions: believe it or not, one of the most important parts of a good Instagram post is a great caption. Yes, Instagram is a visual platform and your image has to be interesting enough to make the user stop scrolling. But often it’s the caption, not the image, that leads to a conversion for a business. A great caption is difficult to write but the rule of thumb is it should be two sentences or less, include a brief description and call to action, and direct customers to where they can purchase or order. Hashtags are also very important on Instagram so make sure to find hashtags that are relevant to your customers and your industry and jump on them. In the meantime, you can always call the experts at Skynet Solutions for all of your social media and marketing needs. We have an expert team that can build you a social media strategy that will work on any platform or any combination of platforms that you choose for your business. Whether you’re targeting specific customers or just want to spread the word about your new business, we can handle it. We also have a talented development team who can build you anything from an e-Commerce website to custom software. With our diverse range of skills and experience, we are sure to have the tools you need to make 2016 your business’s best year yet. To get in touch with us, you can fill out the online contact form on our website. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn for more information about our services, updates from our blog and marketing tips and tricks.
If you’re a regular reader of our marketing blog, you’ll have noticed that a few months back our blogs suddenly got a lot longer. That wasn’t an accident. Our marketing team had been doing some research into ideal content lengths for different types of online content and found out that we were a little under where we needed to be to be able to get in the top organic Google search results. So we redesigned our blogging strategy and the blogging strategies of many of our clients. Conventional wisdom had us writing blogs that were around 300 or 350 words long—short, easily-digestible, quick reads on various topics that were relevant to customers. We thought that this length, which could be read in about five minutes, was the right length. Then we did a little research. The best length for a blog post is actually double or triple what we had been writing. For a blog post to turn up in the top, organic Google or Bing search results, it needs to have between 700 and 1,000 words. Are your blog posts in that range? If not, that could be one reason why you’re not seeing the results you want from blogging. Since we started posting longer blogs, we’ve seen a lot more traffic on our site and our blogs are showing up higher in Google search. Inspired by this, we looked into how long the content should be on webpages and found out that we were coming up a little short there, too. Well, more than a little. Chances are you are as well. Check your website and approximate how much content is on each of your pages—100 words, 500 words, 1,000 words? Guess how much content you should have on each webpage for those pages to show up in the top, organic Google and Bing search results? Between 2,000 and 2,500 words. Your immediate reaction to that statistic might be to go post a bunch of random content on your website to increase the word count, but please, please resist that urge. Part of why Google likes content-rich sites is because people like content rich sites. And people show Google that they like content rich sites by linking to them—on social media, in other blogs, all over the place. So if you have a webpage that has 2,300 words of content, but 2,000 of those words are meaningless gibberish, then no one will link to your site and Google won’t prioritize it, even though it’s the right length. Same thing goes with blog posts. There’s no use in slapping up an 800-word blog post if 450 of the words are meaningless nonsense. Nobody will read it or link to it, Google will be able to tell that it’s not quality content and they won’t prioritize it in search rankings. Being high in Google search rankings is important. It is the most used search engine in the United States and in the world with 1.17 billion users. Those 1.17 billion users log over 3.5 billion searches each day. This might seem a little overwhelming (because it is) but the important thing to get out of it is this: most of your customers and potential customers are using Google search to find things—especially local goods and services. The higher your website and blog posts rank in Google search results, the more likely that customers searching for your or searching for a business with your expertise will be able to find you. When someone searches “dog groomer in Oklahoma City” they aren’t going to look through 75 pages of search results. They’re going to click on one of the top links that comes up. So if you want to be one of the top results to come up when someone searches “your business” in “your city,” it’s time to start prioritizing both the quality and the quantity of your content. If you need any help keeping up with your blogging requirements or updating your content, call the content creation experts at Skynet Solutions. We can write interesting, fresh content for any industry or business, as well as handling your social media and other marketing needs. Whether you’re targeting specific customers or just want to get the word out about your new business, we can handle it. We also have a talented development team who can build you anything from a basic website to custom software. With our diverse range of skills and experience, we are sure to have the tools you need to make 2016 your business’s best year yet. You can fill out our online contact form on our website. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+and LinkedIn!
Right now you’re probably asking yourself, “do I have a Google My Business listing?” Or even more likely, you’re asking yourself, “what is a Google My Business listing?” If you know the answers to both those questions, kudos. But for those who don’t, we’ll explain. The answer to the first question is probably yes, even if you have no idea what a Google My Business page is. Essentially, it is one business page that allows you to manage how all the information about your business appears on Google. That includes Google Maps, Google+ and good, old-fashioned Google search. Customers looking for your business will be able to find everything from pictures and reviews to hours and driving directions to your business on your Google My Business page. If you’ve ever created a Gmail or Google+ account for your business, chances are you have a Google My Business account. And customers are seeing it when they search for your business or search for local businesses like yours. This is a great, free resource for local business owners to make sure their customers have easy access to all their relevant business information. Sounds good, right? Two small problems here. One, if you didn’t even know you have a Google My Business account, you’re not managing it. That means the information on your page is probably out of date and may not be correct anymore. Two, Google is shutting down Google My Business pages that have not been verified. So even if you do have best, most frequently updated page out there, if it’s not verified it could be gone with little to no warning. They are also going to “unverify” pages that are inactive. And then they will delete the unverified pages. Google says this is part of their effort to provide their uses with only the highest quality, most reliable content available. And since a majority of customers rely on Google as their search engine of choice, you want to make sure you perform as well on Google as you possibly can. One of the best ways to keep your Google My Business page active and with a fresh supply of content is to keep on top of managing your Google+ page. Google+ might not seem like the most appealing social media platform to dedicate your time to—we know it’s not as fun as Instagram or Pinterest and that not as many people use it as Twitter or Facebook—it is important. It increases your rankings in Google search, which is still by far the most popular search engine in the world. Your customers are going to be searching for you with Google—and prospective customers are more likely to stumble across you in a Google search than any other way. You need to make sure you can be found quickly and easily and that all the information that comes up is completely accurate. Nothing frustrates a customer more than finding out the hard way that the address or hours listed on a business’ page are incorrect. Or even worse, not being able to find information online about a business they want to use. We discuss all of this and much more at the GYBO events we host with our partners at REI Oklahoma. We’ve been travelling all around Oklahoma hosting these events to help local business owners like you better understand things like map listings, search rankings, analytics and how all of these can affect your business. We’ll also discuss how to ensure your Google My Business listing is verified and doesn’t get deleted. We are hosting more of these GYBO events in the coming months, so keep an eye out for more information! You can check the events section of REI Oklahoma’s websitefor dates, times, locations and registration information, as well as other event information like topics covered and important statistics about why your business should be online. In the meantime, you can always call the experts at Skynet Solutions for help with your business listing, website development, marketing or anything else you need to help make your business succeed. With our diverse range of skills and experience, we are sure to have the tools you need to make 2016 your business’s best year yet. You can fill out our online contact formon our website. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+and LinkedIn!
When it comes to marketing, Pinterest really has it all. While many people write it off as a virtual corkboard only used by teenage girls, the statistics prove it’s a social media heavyweight. Did you know one-third of all the existing Pinterest accounts belong to men? And unlike on other platforms, promoted pins actually perform just as well as, and often better than, organic pins. And pins with prices attached aren’t a turn off at all. In fact, they get 36 percent more likes than pins without prices. It really is a marketing paradise. So here’s how you get started: Strategize: like with any other social media platform—or any marketing strategy—you don’t want to go in shooting blindly. You need to design a comprehensive strategy, set tangible goals and figure out your target demographic. Side note: reading this blog post does not count as designing a comprehensive strategy, sorry. If you have other social media platforms, you have already done this before and can adapt it to fit your Pinterest account. When creating a strategy, take into account the product or service you are selling, the people you want to sell to and how you want them to come to you (do you want them to end up in your brick and mortar store, or do you only need them to go so far as your website). Sign up: you can sign specifically as a business and get special business tools only available to business accounts. You can also check out their “success stories” tab and look at the accounts of businesses that have been really successful on Pinterest. See what they’re doing and adapt it to fit your strategy—with social media, the best way to learn is often by example. Find people to follow: competitors, customers, suppliers, industry leaders…all these are great accounts to follow. And they apply no matter what industry you’re in—you definitely have competitors, customers, suppliers and industry leaders no matter your field. Also, make sure to follow some fun, funny stuff. Everybody likes a good cat meme now and then. So make sure to follow funny boards—even if they don’t relate to your business—and repin their pins from time-to-time. Trust us, your customers will love it. Create your first boards: you can make them about anything you want. Your boards can be funny or inspirational. They can feature your products, creative ways to use your products or tutorials. You can create boards about things that you are passionate about or about other things your business is involved with. Do you and your employees take time to volunteer at the humane society? Make a puppy board. Remember, this is a marketing tool, but it is also an opportunity to let customers interact with you and get to know you and your company. Use your Pinterest not only as a sales tool but as a way to humanize your brand. Start pinning and repining: there are lots of ways to make Pinterest easier on yourself. You can purchase promoted pins (similar to promoted Facebook posts or tweets) that will show up in pinners feeds even if they don’t follow you. They use a tailored algorithm to make sure your promoted pins show up in the feeds of customers who would be interested in your product. You can also install the pin it browser tool, which lets you pin things directly from a webpage, without having to save links and images and find them later. Also, make sure to install a “pin-it” tab on your website to let all your customers know you are now on Pinterest and enable them to pin material from your site to their boards. Make sure to repin—interacting with your customers and followers makes them more likely to continue to interact with you and use your business in the future. Start selling: as a side note—if you are a retail business, you can also sell products on Pinterest. Yes, you can redirect customers to your website from your Pinterest profile, but you run the risk of losing a buyer when you do that. If you let people buy your products in app, you will see increased sales. Check your analytics: since you signed up as a business, Pinterest will give you customized analytics reports about your account. Take advantage of this. These analytics reports make it much easier to track your account, new followers, repins and more and see if you’re hitting your goals set out in the first step. In the meantime, you can always call the experts at Skynet Solutions for all of your social media and marketing needs. We have an expert team that can build you a social media strategy that will work on any platform or combination of platforms that you choose. Whether you’re targeting specific customers or just want to get the word out about your new business, we can handle it. We also have a talented development team who can build you anything from a basic website to custom software. With our diverse range of skills and experience, we are sure to have the tools you need to make 2016 your business’s best year yet. To get in touch with us, you can fill out the online contact form on our website. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
As a small business owner and operator, you’re probably one of the busiest people in the entire world. You’re pretty much a one-man band, from handling logistics, customer complaints and payroll to monitoring marketing, paying bills and always trying to stay one step ahead of the competition. We know as well as you do that organization is key to being productive, staying sane and keeping up with your business plan. Thankfully, there are a range of smartphone apps out there designed to help you do just that. Whether you need help with scheduling or a digital accountant keeping track of payroll, we guarantee there’s an app for that. We rounded up some of the best apps for business owners here:
- Skype: despite efforts by competitors, Skype remains the most used videoconferencing app. Even if you have a small, centralized office, the time will come when you need to speak with an employee or coworker who’s not in front of you. And if you have a large business, you travel often for work or many of your employees telecommute, we don’t need to tell you the value of good videoconference software. Skype also lets you send messages, share photos, share your computer screen and much more. It’s extremely affordable, especially if you need to communicate with employees, customers or vendors who are in a different country.
- Rescue Time: if time management is what you need to work on, download this right now. Rescue Time tracks how much time you spend with different website and apps and then shows you how much time you spend doing what online each day. It also suggests ways you could be more productive—like not always having Facebook open or checking your email first thing, not after all your social media accounts. If you upgrade to premium, the app will track your offline activity and block certain website if requested (in case you can’t kick that Facebook during work habit).
- TripIt: this app is great for anyone who has to travel often for their business. TripIt (which works on just about any mobile device or operating system) gathers all your travel plans from different booking websites and puts them into one itinerary. The app will keep track of your hotel confirmation numbers and flight departure times as well as giving you directions and weather updates for your destination so you know how to pack.
- PayPal: you can link credit cards, debit cards and bank accounts to your company PayPal account, making it easy to automatically send and receive money. Whether paying bills or receiving payments from customers, PayPal makes monetary transactions simple for businesses of all sizes. And they have added new features specifically for small business owners to compete with competitors (like Square) including apps with card reader functions.
- ZenPayroll: payroll so easy you don’t even have to think about it. How does that sound? ZenPayroll is completely paperless and automatically calculates and deducts any relevant taxes from employee paychecks. The app not only lets you pay your employees and access payroll information anywhere, anytime, but it also lets them access paystubs and tax documents at any time as well. Payroll and taxes made easy. What could be better than that?
- Evernote: when you’re always on the go, you don’t always have the same device with you. And the last thing you want to be doing is looking though five different devices to find the notes you took at that important client meeting. Take all your notes in Evernote and it will automatically sync between your desktop and all your mobile devices. The service is free, but upgrading to Pro or Premium gives you more storage capacity and the ability to save voice memos, emails and more, and access your info offline.
- Dropbox: one of the most popular cloud storage platforms in the world, Dropbox provides reliable cloud storage accessible anywhere in the world. This is especially helpful if you travel for business or if you have employees who work remotely who need a secure way to share documents and data with the rest of the office. Dropbox works on any device and operating system and offers free trials for businesses.
In the meantime, you can always call the experts at Skynet Solutions for all of your social media, marketing and graphic design needs. When you’re worrying about everything else, the last thing you need to be thinking about is your social media strategy. We can take care of that for you. We also have a talented development team who can build you anything from a basic website to custom software. With our diverse range of skills and experience, we are sure to have the tools you need to make 2016 your business’s best year yet. To get in touch with us, you can fill out the online contact form on our website. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.