How Small Businesses Are Using Hashtags on Facebook

I’m not sure whether I’m more excited or wary about Facebook hashtags, but I do think it’s a game-changer. I took a look at how small businesses are using hashtags on Facebook, and what we can learn from them.

Don’t: overuse them.

Facebook post with a bunch of similar hashtags: #smallbiz, #smallbusiness, #business

We’ve seen this on Twitter all this while, and now it’s on Facebook: overuse of the hashtag. Don’t use a bunch of synonyms in your hashtags — just use one or two hashtags that might be most relevant.

Continue reading How Small Businesses Are Using Hashtags on Facebook

5 Advantages of Being A Small Business

It’s Small Business Week in the U.S., a good time to write about my pet theory: being small is an advantage. Big businesses have big resources, what do small businesses have?

Small businesses are closer to the customer.

Hummingbird and flower
Small can be both beautiful and effective

If you’re a small-business owner or marketer, you know your best customers by name. You know why they are good customers — which goes beyond being just regular to being easy to work with, or maybe they give you constructive feedback. If you’re a B2B business, you know their business challenges. If you’re a bakery, you know Donna loves cheesecake and is allergic to walnuts.

Why is this an advantage? Because it makes it so much easier to tailor your marketing and sales to them. To tell Donna she might want to try the new mango cheesecake just in and that you’re baking a fresh set of nut-free brownies. Big businesses have to get sophisticated CRM systems to keep track of that stuff…  but small businesses can do it more organically and easily.

Continue reading 5 Advantages of Being A Small Business

Using Markitty: Website Performance Table Compares Monthly Visits, Unique Visits, Page Views, Visit Duration, and Bounce Rate

Your Website Performance table on Markitty is a quick snapshot of your website over the current month and the previous three months. It gives you a quick look at how your website data is trending, answering questions such as:

  • Are visits increasing but unique visitors decreasing? (Do you need to reach out to more new visitors? Are your visitors becoming more loyal?)
  • Are visits decreasing but page views going up? (Are your visitors more engaged with your website?)
  • Is average visit duration increasing over time? (It should!)
  • Is your bounce rate going down?

Markitty's Website Performance table with columns Month, Visits, Unique Visits, Page Views, Visit Duration, Bounce Rate

Continue reading Using Markitty: Website Performance Table Compares Monthly Visits, Unique Visits, Page Views, Visit Duration, and Bounce Rate

Monday Marketing Mash-Up: Social Media News You Should Know

Social media changes: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter
They’re all beginning to look the same

Looks like all social media sites are making tons of changes. Here are some recent changes that affect small businesses.

Facebook has removed a number of features, including sponsored stories — which is great, because we’re all tired of those sponsored “your friend likes this page” updates. But I’m sad that they’re killing questions (though why not call them polls, Facebook)?

Here’s the announcement by Facebook and a nice explanatory post on HubSpot. What does this mean for businesses? Now you can’t waste money promoting what someone did on/to your page or content.

The other big Facebook change is the introduction of hashtags: this could really change the game for Facebook, by making search and discovery much easier. Marketers, start optimizing your Facebook posts!

Twitter’s adding analytics. This is really cool, but no idea when this will be rolled out to all users. For businesses, this is will help to see what tweets are working and whether you’re just wasting your time (even if you’re not using Markitty).

Twitter has started 2-step log-in verification, and so has LinkedIn.

Speaking of LinkedIn, you can now share media files in your updates, so start sharing those photos and presentations. LinkedIn also previously added the ability to add visual content to your profile (or page). 

With these updates and having added the ability to tag people, LinkedIn’s begun to look eerily like Facebook and Google Plus. And Facebook’s trying to be more like Twitter, earlier with timelines and now hashtags. Which begs the question: if they’re all the same, should we bother trying to be present on all of them or just focus on one? Or maybe automated cross-posting is the answer (please, no).

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Facebook Hashtags: Tips for Marketers and Small Businesses

facebook announces hashtagsThe big argument for using Twitter for marketing has been that you can see what others are talking about, even if they are not in your network. Facebook is out to change that.

Facebook today announced its much awaited feature: Hashtags.

“Starting today, hashtags will be clickable on Facebook. Similar to other services like Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest, hashtags on Facebook allow you to add context to a post or indicate that it is part of a larger discussion.”

Continue reading Facebook Hashtags: Tips for Marketers and Small Businesses

Common Marketing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

I wrote on YourStory about marketing mistakes I find myself making repeatedly and see most often in others as well.

Here are some ways to avoid making such mistakes:

  1. Study the data. Be careful you don’t misinterpret it, but make sure you’re looking at it and can figure out what it means. 
  2. Ask your customers. Make sure you’re talking to them and know what they really think, and not just what you think they think. But of course, they need to be the right customers.
  3. Talk to people who’ll ask you the hard questions: be it a partner, advisor, or a friend.
  4. Don’t lose sight of your vision. Don’t change something just because someone suggested it: see if it fits into your vision of your business.
  5. Measure your productivity. Are you spending time on the right things?
  6. Question yourself constantly. Why are you doing [something]? Are you making the right assumptions? Is there a better way of doing this?

Tell me: what are the mistakes you try hard not to make?

Using Markitty: What Type of Facebook Post Works Best for You?

Update: Facebook Insights also shows you your post types now, but Markitty still gives you more detail.

Photos, videos, links, text, questions… which should you post on Facebook? Research tells you that photos do better on Facebook than other types of posts, but is this true for your page? What post types get you the most impressions, shares, and clicks?

Markitty’s new Average Performance by Post Type table compares all your post types this month so you can see what’s worked best for you. (Don’t forget to click on Previous Month to see what happened then.)

Average Performance by Post Type table on Markitty
Here’s a screenshot of the table

Only have one or two post types in the table? Try experimenting with a few different post types and see what works for you!

Continue reading Using Markitty: What Type of Facebook Post Works Best for You?

Monday Marketing Mash-up: All You Need to Know for Business Blogging

I recently realized I’ve written a lot about blogging. Here are a few of my posts that might be useful to readers of this blog.

Why You Should Blog

This post compares blogging to other social media channels and tells you whether it’s right for you. Here’s what I think is most important:

Blog posts last better than most other social media posts: your older posts will continue to get you visits long after your tweets and Facebook posts have faded into oblivion.

Starting Your Blog

If you’re just starting out, this post explains six tips that I’ve found useful, including being regular and frequent, using relevant keywords, and improving usability on your blog.

Finding Blog Topics

Continue reading Monday Marketing Mash-up: All You Need to Know for Business Blogging

How to Pick Your Target Customer Segment

Over on Search Engine People, I explain how to pick a target customer segment that’s right for you. I answer questions like:

  • How do you start with a basic customer profile?
  • How should your target customer segment affect your marketing?
  • How do you learn enough about your audience to target your marketing better?

This post was inspired by several questions at recent workshops I’ve conducted, and I know this is a common challenge that all businesses have to deal with.

Read the post here, and tell me how you like it!

The Most Important Marketing Metrics for Small Businesses

In our interview series, we asked marketers and entrepreneurs we admire about their marketing practices. One question I asked most people was about metrics: what metrics do they measure or think are most important for small businesses should measure?

Website Metrics

If your website is also your product (content sites like Ask A Manager and YourStory, product startups like AppSurfer, e-commerce sites), website metrics are of paramount importance.

The AppSurfer team tracks website metrics regularly, especially engagement-related metrics: pages per visit, bounce rate, etc.

We met Jubin Mehta of YourStory recently, and he told us that YourStory focuses on the number of unique visitors — not total visits or page views, but the number of readers.

Continue reading The Most Important Marketing Metrics for Small Businesses

Using Markitty: Daily Tips and Insights on Your “Today” Page

The daily recommendations are the most important part of Markitty. Your Markitty home page tells you exactly what you should be doing today.

We just redesigned the page to make this more obvious (and pretty). The Home page is now the Today page: as in, your things to do today.

This is how it looks.

Online marketing recommendations and tips

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Monday Marketing Mash-up: Managing a Business While Parenting

Mother and daughterI’m not a parent, but I’m in awe of those of you who manage a business and are parents of young children. So this week, here are some tips from other parents who’ve been there.

Sahil Parikh inspired this list with his Productivity Hacks of a Startup Dad: tips that can be useful to all of us, even those who aren’t parents.

I love that building a routine doesn’t work for him (since I keep trying and failing at establishing a routine myself) and that he doesn’t follow general or world news (another practice I’ve been following for a couple of years that makes me feel ignorant but less stressed out). I don’t use email notifications either, though  I don’t follow any of the rest of his tips (I do want to follow the first one though, but again, routines seem to be beyond me).

On Women’s Web, Monalisa Saxena writes about managing her business while she was pregnant: a nice set of tips that would probably work for any scheduled downtime, whether a long vacation or maternity leave.

Continue reading Monday Marketing Mash-up: Managing a Business While Parenting

Tracking Website Metrics on Google Analytics, Part 3: Language, Location, Mobile

What do you know about your website visitors? Earlier, we looked at site traffic and engagement metrics on Google Analytics, and at how your visitors get to your site. Now let’s look at your visitors and what we can find out about them.

The Audience Overview report is what shows up first when you open Google Analytics. So you can scroll down and click to view the detailed report of language and locations of your visitors, or you can click on the left sidebar on Audience > Demographics > Language (or Location).

Language

Continue reading Tracking Website Metrics on Google Analytics, Part 3: Language, Location, Mobile

6 Free Tools for Creating Product and Promotional Videos

Are videos part of your content marketing? If not, they should be. Be it a quick product demo, a walk through your facility or office, a testimonial from a happy customer,  a training video for some complex feature of your product or an introduction of your team — videos are a great medium for all of this.

But getting professional videos done is so difficult and costly that most of us shy away from it. We recently created a bunch of videos of our product and team, and in the process, discovered that it’s not as difficult as it seems.

There are a number of easy and mostly free tools that you can use to create different kinds of videos quickly. Don’t expect the production quality to be really great, but this will serve the purpose for the most part.

Take a look at the videos we created here, and below is the list of tools we used.

1. Powtoon

Powtoon - Create professional looking animated videos and presentations

Continue reading 6 Free Tools for Creating Product and Promotional Videos

Monday Marketing Mash-up: All About Pricing

Pricing’s something many of us struggle with, and is a really important part of marketing strategy. And it’s something I’ve been thinking about as we move closer to a paid plan for Markitty. So here are a few interesting posts that talk about how you should price your product.

Different kinds of greens in a market
Customers like options they can compare, even if they’re similar

Here’s why research or surveys usually don’t help you much:

Continue reading Monday Marketing Mash-up: All About Pricing

Closing The Loop: Merging Online And Offline Marketing

You probably have a Facebook page for your business if you are a restaurant or an established retail business. How do you promote your page? How do you reach out to the same people online who are already coming to your physical store?

Most businesses rely on their customers (or prospects) to find them online and like their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter. But why not actively close this loop? Let’s look at examples of some businesses in Pune who are doing this.

1. apniChai asking their customers to like them on Facebook

apniChai is on Facebook

Continue reading Closing The Loop: Merging Online And Offline Marketing

Are Facebook Pages Worthless or Are You Doing Social Wrong?

Often, we tell business-owners that just because someone liked your Facebook page doesn’t mean your posts show up in their news feed. Usually, they are shocked to know this. This blogger on Forbes found out the hard way:

Once we started posting on our Facebook page, we were shocked, shocked, to see that not all the users that liked our page were seeing our posts. For example, with over 6,000 likes on our page, a typical post would only be seen by fifty to several hundred people. To reiterate, only 1% to 5% of the people that liked our page saw our posts.

But does this mean Facebook pages are a bad investment for small businesses, as the title of that post says? No.  Continue reading Are Facebook Pages Worthless or Are You Doing Social Wrong?