Jennifer Lewis voyaged into entrepreneurship with her own food business, and now helps other food businesses become successful. Her site, smallfoodbiz.com, has lots of resources and advice for artisan food entrepreneurs. She tells us about the specific challenges of running a small food business, her favorite social media platform, and more.
My questions are in bold.
How is starting a food business different from other forms of entrepreneurship? What peculiar challenges does a small food business-owner face?
People tend to come into the food world because they’re driven by passion for the items they make but they can face an uphill battle getting their products to market because of the numerous regulations that are specific to the food industry. This can be anything from health code permits to labeling regulations. It’s a complex world and one that’s very different from other types of entrepreneurial ventures.
One thing most marketers and business-owners want to know is how their marketing is doing over time. Most of us have a pretty good idea of how many Facebook likes we have today, but forget how many we had last month or the month before.
Here’s where Markitty takes your data from Facebook Insights and gives it to you in a more useful form: apart from showing you your total page likes every day for the last three weeks, we also show your likes per month for the last three months. So you can see your fan base growing over time.
Managing your brand’s presence on so many different social channels can be a pain, and one of the annoying aspects of it is getting the right cover photos for each one. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ — all have different guidelines for what the cover photo size should be.
Here is a list of official and unofficial references that will give you cover and profile picture specification for all social networks:
The cover photo of your Facebook page is very important: not only is it featured on your page, it is also prominently displayed in the user’s newsfeed when your page is recommended (paid or otherwise) by Facebook. Facebook’s official guidelines give very little detail but this page covers all you need to know.
Have you got your Twitter Analytics yet? I’m pleased we finally get some stats on Twitter (but you still need to create an ad account, even if you don’t run the ads). But it seems like too little way too late, especially with all the tools that provide Twitter stats already.
If you have already created a Twitter ads account, go to analytics.twitter.com. Click on Analytics on the top menu.
You get three pages: Timeline activity, Followers, and Websites.
First, you get this graph that shows your mentions, follows, and unfollows. That’s great, except… the graph is frustratingly difficult to read and make sense of.
Think you don’t have enough time for Twitter? If you have 15 minutes in the day, you can do this.
Day 1: Sign up and create your profile
Choose a username that is as close to your name or your business name as possible and is easy to remember. For example, we didn’t get “markitty,” so we got “markittyapp”.
Make your profile description interesting and snappy. Don’t just copy your boilerplate company description. Make it clear what your business is about or what you stand for; people should be able to look at this and figure out what you tweet about and whether to follow you.
Specific marketing tips and insights on the product, general marketing advice on the blog. Managed by @Unmana and @NileshBhojani.
Done? That’s it for today.
It’s bad news.
The day many SEO professionals hoped would never come, but feared eventually would, apparently has arrived today. It appears that Google has cut off keyword data altogether.
Nearly two years after making one of the biggest changes to secure search that resulted in a steady rise in “(not provided)” data, Google has switched all searches over to encrypted searches using HTTPS. This means no more keyword data will be passed to site owners.
What does this mean? Search Engine Land explains:
When searches are encrypted, search terms that are normally passed along to publishers after someone clicks on their links at Google get withheld. In Google Analytics, the actual term is replaced with a “Not Provided” notation.
Why does this matter? Search terms are a great measure of user intent, and we won’t have that anymore. We’ll still see how many visits we’re getting through Google search, but not what those visitors were searching for. So it’s going to be difficult, to put it mildly, to optimize your pages for search if you don’t know what terms you’re ranking for. We’ll all be left shooting in the dark.
So what do we do? Ruud Hein explains five ways to get around this, including keyword data from other search engines and using Google Webmaster Tools.
Edited to add this excellent post that went up after I published this: Neil Patel explains how this move by Google might actually make you a better marketer. He also provides some great tips for managing the change.
Ultimately, none of these other tools will make up for the visibility we’re losing with this change, but we’ve got to work with what we have. The silver lining I see is maybe we’ll stop obsessing over keyword rankings and search results and algorithm changes and focus instead on delivering the best content for our audience.
We have put together our most useful Twitter tips in The Beginner’s Guide to Using Twitter for Business. This includes:
- Important Twitter features you should know
- Who you should follow
- Tools and tips to easily find relevant people on Twitter
- How to use Twitter for business in 15 minutes a day: a step-by-step guide that tells you how to get started and keep going, in just 15 minutes every day
- Twitter mistakes you should avoid
- Tools and apps you can use to get more out of Twitter
Get all of this for free!
A colleague asked me last week about advice for promotional products companies on blogging. Let’s look at how promotional products businesses use their blogs.
A Google search on [promotional products blog] gets us this. Good job, Inkhead! Especially as two of the other top search results are from ASI (a promo products industry association whose page with links to industry blogs shows up) and an industry magazine.
I do another quick search for recently updated blogs and we’re good to go.
If you have spent much time on the internet lately, especially on social media, you’re aware that the noise is increasing. It’s more and more difficult to find relevant messages because of all the content that is created. (And I know, we’re part of the problem.)
Rich Becker muses over where automation will take social media:
The platform shift from conversation to broadcast is a symptom of what marketers measure.
They measure actions (tweets, retweets, link clicks), which discourages dialogue. It discourages it because conversations are not valued on the action scale. It discourages it because the more organic conversations take place, the more marketers have to drown them out with frequency. And it discourages it because scalable actions require automation, which means the marketer isn’t participating.
Facebook Insights offers a wealth of data about your Facebook page. How do you use that information to improve your marketing on Facebook? One way to do this is by scheduling posts for the most effective times.
Scheduling Your Posts for When Your Fans Are Online
The Posts tab on your Facebook Insights has a section called When Your Fans Are Online. This tells you how many of your fans are on Facebook on each day of the week and different times of the day. Use this to time your posts for when most of your fans are active.
One objection I had heard from business-owners or CEOs about participating in social media was, what if someone writes bad things about us?
If they would write bad things about you… they probably are anyway.
You don’t own social media. A disgruntled ex-employee, an unhappy customer, is likely to be venting on Facebook and Twitter anyway.
If you’re also on social media, at least you get a chance to present your side of the story. As I say in my guest post on the Entrepreneur in Heels blog:
Likes and retweets are all very well, but what you really want is conversions: someone signing up to your newsletter, filling up your lead form, or buying your product. This week, let’s work on improving conversions.
First, are you tracking conversions on your website? You can do this easily by setting up goals in Google Analytics.
Neil Patel offers copywriting tips that will increase your conversions. The first few are great copywriting tips for any piece of writing: focus on benefits (i.e., the reader, not you), format your text, use images, and so on. But there are some less obvious tips in there too.
The Leaky Bathtub offers an easy way to get your prospects to take action: treat them like dogs. What does this mean? Tell your prospects what you want them to do, not what you want them to not do.
Search Engine Land explains how to optimize all your pages, not just your “landing pages.”
The Visual Website Optimizer blog explains five conversion best practices.
Now let’s get to work! Use some of these tips to improve your website’s conversions and get more money pouring in.
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We wanted to say hi :)
Virendra, Nilesh, and I explain why we started Markitty, how we work together, and what our respective roles are. Hope this helps you know us better!
Want to try out Markitty? Sign up here.
The People tab on your Facebook Insights shows you the age, gender, language and city as well as country of your fans, of people you’ve reached, and people who have engaged with your page. Does this data match your expectations? In other words, have you succeeded in reaching your target customers?
Targeting Your Facebook Posts to a Segment of Your Fans
Did you know Facebook has a targeting option when you create a new post?
Markitty’s Links You Shared table answers the question: which of the links you’re sharing on social media are getting you the best results?
As I wrote earlier, the table shows the performance of links you’ve shared on Facebook and Twitter. It includes the number of posts (in which you’ve shared that one link), impressions, likes, and stories for Facebook, and tweets, retweets, and favorites for Twitter.
Now we have expanded the Links You Shared table to include referrals from social media, Twitter, and Facebook. So if you shared a blog post link on Facebook or Twitter, you can not only see Facebook and Twitter stats for that link, you also get website referrals (from Facebook, Twitter, and all social media).
How many views does your About Us page get?
For us, it’s in the top ten, if you include blog pages. If you don’t, it’s consistently in the top two, with the home page. That’s a pretty important page. And most businesses spend a lot of time and effort getting the home page right and don’t bother to optimize the About Us page.
When was the last time you updated your About Us page?
I rewrote our About Us page last week, to make it more user-centric and less self-indulgent. What we had earlier told our story: who the team is, how we built Markitty. But why should you care about that?
Facebook has been recently making efforts to serve its business users, by dramatically improving Page Insights and adding other new features. Now it has started a Facebook for Business site with more resources for page owners and advertisers.
From the announcement:
Whether you’re just getting started or looking to amplify existing efforts, Facebook for Business can help you understand your options and choose the appropriate strategies. In the Getting Started section, you’ll find tips for meeting specific business goals, like increasing online sales or launching a new product. The Solutions section organizes our advertising tools and strategies by both product and industry.
This seems to be more geared towards advertisers rather than people looking for organic growth, but if you are spending on advertising, the extra resources to help you make more effective use of your money don’t hurt!
Photo comments, embedded posts, more text in your page’s cover photo… there’s so much you can do with the recent changes Facebook made.
Use photo comments to increase fans’ engagement with your page and to crowdsource content
Facebook introduced photo comments, first for people and now for pages. You can now add a photo to your comment just like you can add one to your status. This is a great opportunity for businesses: you can ask your fans to submit photos through Facebook comments! For example, you can ask them to submit pictures of them of using your products or eating at your restaurant, and say you’ll use the best photo as your cover for a week.
Facebook recently overhauled its Page Insights: i.e., the stats page owners get for their page. Let’s take a look at what’s great and what’s not.
Facebook’s clearly made an effort to cater to its business users (or page owners) with the new Insights. Instead of being the difficult-to-understand, difficult-to-navigate mess the old Insights was, the new Insights (and the nice tour of it) talk directly to the user and actually offer insights.