Category Archives for "WordPress"

Your Ultimate Guide to Productivity Tools
Dec 02

The Ultimate Guide to Productivity Tools for Small Business

By Maria Peagler


Your Ultimate Guide to Productivity Tools

Ever wish you could clone yourself to get more done?

We’re all striving to accomplish more with less resources in the 21st century, and that’s especially true if you’re a solopreneur or small brand. I’ve made it my mission to keep my business (and my training) as simple and elegant as possible. That makes it easier for me to develop and advance a thriving business while also being a wife to an entrepreneur and involved mom to two teenage sons.

My secret?

Awesome tools. And a hack I’ll show you in a moment (saving me HOURS of time each week and thousands of dollars I don’t have to spend on labor that I can invest in my business).

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a tool junkie (you know — those people who are ALWAYS touting the latest app they’ve downloaded and can’t wait to tell you about it). I don’t have time for that.

Instead, I invest in the best tools that make it possible to run an agile business I love and allow me to enjoy a full life outside of work.

So today I’m sharing with you my favorite tools I use on a DAILY basis and WHY I think they’re the best at what they offer.

Google Apps for Business

The paid version of Gmail, Google Drive, Docs and more. This is a huge switch for me, as I made a lucrative career from being a technical writer of books on Microsoft and other Windows’ products. Five years ago I purchased a Mac (because it just works, period) and didn’t want to pay for the Office Suite, so I started using Google Docs instead.

Google’s suite of products is nowhere near as robust as the Office suite, so if you need deep features like long documents and tables of contents in your word processor, stick with Word. But for what I do, which is mostly tables, presentations, and simple PDFs, Google Docs works great.

I’ve become an enormous fan of using Google Sheets for applications far beyond financials — planning, dashboards, and libraries of data I keep in a spreadsheet. It’s so simple to create a worksheet with multiple sheets and keep track of goals, reports, and content libraries within one file.

But why the paid version?

In May of this year, my email address was blacklisted as a spammer due to my hosting company sharing my virtual private server (VPS) with another company that was identified as sending SPAM email. The only way to fix the situation was to enroll in Google Apps for Business and use the paid version of their Gmail. That way, I would never again have to worry about my email being listed as SPAM.

The best part of using Google Apps for Business? Google support. Yes, really! Once you are a paying client, Google provides the BEST support I’ve ever encountered.

Related resources: How to Combine Social Media and Email Marketing to Capture Leads You’re Missing

WordPress.org

Not surprising, since I teach a class on how to create your website using WordPress, but my love of this platform goes far beyond just being able to create a simple website with it.

When I started Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, I researched the most popular learning management systems (LMS) at the time, which were Moodle and Blackboard. I found them to be bloated, cumbersome, and better suited for enterprise organizations and institutions.

I also tried BuddyPress, which has a social network feature built into it, but found it to be unstable and not as well-supported as WordPress.

So why do I love WordPress so much? It allows me to:

  • create a simple website I can modify without being a developer
  • add a blog to my website that has the same look and feel as my website
  • create an online training site by adapting WordPress posts, pages, categories and shortcodes into an agile learning system I can change as my needs evolve
  • find answers to common WordPress problems because it has a global network of users who have encountered the same issues
  • easily hire developers and designers who have worked on WordPress and have deep experience with it
  • easily train interns and new hires on how we use WordPress because they likely already have experience with it
WordPress 101 Learn how to build your own blog/website — no coding required
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Wishlist Member WordPress Plugin

Wishlist Member (WLM) is a WordPress plugin allowing me to make my paid classes private. It’s categorized as a membership site plugin, but you can do much more with it than that.

WLM was not the first solution I tried (BuddyPress, S2Member, WPDev Member), but it’s the ONLY one that worked consistently, was stable, and well-supported.

They also have a companion membership program called Wishlist Insider I belonged to for a year to learn how others used it, network with WLM users, and get up-to-speed quickly to get the type of online training site I wanted.

Newer membership site plugins are available now, but I plan to stick with WLM. They offer a one-time price (vs. monthly for the newer plugins) and I don’t want to have to learn a new system and transition my members to it. I’ve found a solution that works for me and allows me to stay agile and robust in my offering.

Trello Project Management

Trello is an online project management system I absolutely love (and its cute dog mascot Taco).

I’ve tried BaseCamp, Asana, and even developed a class on Harvard Project Manager years ago. Most project management tools are needlessly complex and dull to use. The beauty of Trello is in its simplicity: it has a Pinterest-like interface, using cards, and you can organize your projects in any way that suits your business and working style.

It has few restrictions on how you setup your projects: that freedom allows you to make your Trello system truly your own.  You use Organizations, Boards, Lists, and Cards to create your projects and invite team members. You can add links, images, video, and text formatting to your projects to make them multimedia-rich.

We use Trello for our in-house training and orientation, our editorial calendar, ongoing projects, social media services clients, and website development projects. I can assign dates to projects, communicate with and tag team members about projects and see a calendar view of our editorial calendar to see what’s coming up next.

Aweber Email Marketing

The first thing I did in my business, before I ever had a website, was invest in email marketing software. I started out using iContact, but have since transitioned to Aweber for the segmentation features (I can send automatic emails to my audience depending upon what their interests are).

I had used ConstantContact for clients and didn’t like its user interface, and wasn’t interested in free so never tried MailChimp. I wanted a tool I could use immediately and start seeing ROI.  I loved iContact’s simplicity and great support, and appreciate Aweber’s terrific support as well.

Aweber has a steeper learning curve than other email marketing applications, but that’s the trade-off for more features, and I’m happy to pay it.

I use Aweber for sending out our weekly newsletter and sending automatic follow-up emails to people taking our free social media strategy class. I love the reporting I get: I can immediately identify what topics are most popular, what people are clicking on and what they open.

Snagit and Voila Screen Capture Tools

I use screen capture tools daily in developing and updating our training classes, building our Swipe File to show members examples of brands doing social media well, providing customer support, communicating with my team members, when we have technical challenges and are communicating with support teams, and far more.

When it comes to training, a picture really is worth a thousand words, and members love seeing an informative image rather than have to sit through a video.

I used TechSmith’s Snagit for years and found it to be the best screen capture tool available. However, when I upgraded to Mavericks operating system and to the latest version of Snagit, it slowed my computer to a crawl. So I transitioned to Voila, a Mac-based screen capture tool. It doesn’t have as many annotation and editing features as Snagit, but it takes advantage of the Mac operating system, allowing me to drag and drop images into almost any application.

 

Swipe File "Steal" these tactics from successful brands for your own business
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Evernote

For a long time I just didn’t get why so many people were fanatical about Evernote. Sure, it was a great note-taking app and you could do a lot more with it, but I hadn’t really investigated all of its features.

I became hooked for personal reasons: I was researching a family trip we were taking to Washington D.C., and saved our hotel, tour reservations, itineraries and more to Evernote, and it was available on my smartphone while we were traveling. I could research a museum and capture a screen listing its hours/directions, and that screen capture would be available on my phone.

I now use Evernote for my business: writing my daily To-Do list, saving articles I want to refer to later, outlining large projects, and so much more.

The Productivity Hack That Saves Me Hours Each Week

The best part of using these applications? They can work together in automating much of my business. I can set up tasks to be automated, saving me time, and my virtual assistant can work on far more productive projects.

This hack allows me to practically clone myself for far greater productivity.

Some of the tasks I automate:

  • Dictating the foundation for a blog post into my smartphone and saving it to Evernote
  • Creating a content library by building a list of our blog posts and their URLs in a Google spreadsheet
  • Automatically uploading a video to YouTube, which in turn creates a blog post draft in WordPress
  • Creating a spreadsheet of my latest Twitter followers, their bios and follower counts
  • and much, much more

I set up these tasks just once, and they run automatically as necessary. My virtual assistant doesn’t have to spend her time on these items, so I can have her generating important reports and focusing on customer service (tasks that require the human touch to really do well).

How do I automate these tasks? Stay tuned: tomorrow’s post will give you the details!

 

Nov 20

How to Avoid Freebie Seekers in the Sharing Economy

By Maria Peagler

How to Avoid Freebie Seekers in the

I’ve got some tough love for you today . . .

Do you give away too much in your business?

We’re in a “sharing economy” aren’t we? You’re supposed to give away content to get traffic to your website, to get engagement on your posts, and to ultimately generate revenue, right?

After all, Seth Godin says that’s what creates a “tribe.”

Here’s the tough love part: are you Seth Godin?

Didn’t think so.  Neither am I.

So for the rest of us, how do you turn the expectation of “free” into a sale without turning people off? That’s what you’re going to learn in this post, plus a terrific example of how one of the major car brands does this better than all the rest.

Identify Free vs. Paid in Your Business

In my own business, I give away a free social media strategy class: it’s shorter than my paid classes, doesn’t have as much multi-media content, but it gives people a “taste” of the quality and scope of what being a Socialmediaonlineclasses.com member is like.

how to avoid freebie seekers

Visitors see Pricing right away, plus they can optin for a free class, both on Home Page

For some people though, that’s not enough.

They want to see more video — “I want to see what your videos are like.”

I point them to my YouTube channel. I DON’T give them access to paid content.

Period.

Did they complain?

Yes, some did.

Did I add more video to my free class?

No, I didn’t. I don’t want members who are constantly complaining and never satisfied, so those who don’t like the free class have weeded themselves out of the potential member pool.

They did me a HUGE favor by self-identifying themselves as NOT potential members.

Set Expectations Early That You’ll Be Selling

Every visitor touchpoint I offer includes marketing to set the expectation that Socialmediaonlineclasses.com is a paid service.

I make it abundantly clear by displaying Pricing & Plans prominently in the website main menu. From their first visit, people realize I offer a premium training experience they need to purchase to receive.

When visitors opt-in to the free Social Media Strategy class, the first screen they see is a one-time offer for 25% discount off of Annual Membership.  I make it clear they’re still getting the free class and details are on their way to their Inbox. In the meantime, they get an exclusive offer no other visitors see.

how to avoid freebie seekers

Free class subscribers get a special offer after they optin

In an autoresponder series using Aweber, those same subscribers get a daily email from me for six days, telling them how to get the most out of their free class. At the end of each email, is a reminder that they have X number of days to take advantage of the discount for Annual Membership.

how to avoid freebie seekers3

I train my visitors to expect a marketing pitch from me in almost every email

Our blog posts offer deep content on social media marketing that get shared globally, and in each post are links to recommended classes, webinars, and infographics readers can receive as a member to learn even more about that particular topic.

how to avoid freebie seekers4

In this blog post, I have five recommended resource pitches embedded in my educational content

I’m not overly-aggressive, but almost every message visitors get from me will have some sort of an offer included it.

The first priority here is the best-quality social media training, whether in paid classes or on our public blog. However, included in that training is our marketing pitch.

 

Make It Clear Why People Should Pay for What You Offer

There’s so much available for free on the web that you need to make it stupidly simple WHY your brand is better than the free content available elsewhere.

Sure, you can find free social media articles all over the web. But how easy is it to find the training you need, on the topic you need, from a source you trust, that’s up-to-date?

Profitable business owners don’t waste time spending hours searching for a free solution on the web.  They’re willing to pay for the right solution, right now.

I share my class outlines so people know exactly what they’ll be learning; I show the infographics they’ll get; I list the member webinars available; and I reassure visitors that we update our content continuously, so they learn what works NOW, not what worked six months ago.

Your most loyal customers will become your brand advocates, telling others why they shouldn’t waste their time on “free,” but choose your brand instead, as SMOC member Pat Roa Perez did here on a blog post she penned for Shewrites:

How to avoid freebie seekers

Member Pat Roa Perez became a brand advocate and shared why she paid for Socialmediaonlineclasses.com

Are you making it clear to your potential clients WHY they should pay for your offering? How is yours better than free?

Over-Deliver Once Visitors Become a Client

Have you ever felt like once you made a purchase, the honeymoon was over?

Before you bought, the brand was chasing after you like a puppy, showering you with sloppy kisses.

Once you purchased, however, that puppy started chasing someone else and totally forgot about you.

What you experience is called “buyer’s remorse,” and it’s the brand’s fault for not welcoming you with a positive experience.

Once your visitors become a client, you need to WOW them with an awesome customer service culture.

  • Reassure them they’ve made the right purchase.
  • Communicate exactly what will happen now, how they can use your brand’s offering, and how they can get get help if they need it.
  • If you offer a guarantee, explain to them how it works and how they can use it.

This process is called onboarding, and it’s critical to reduce refunds. Read more about how we onboard new members in this blog post.

I purchased a Subaru this year, and they offer roadside assistance as a courtesy to their car owners. “Great,” I thought, “I’ll need to add that telephone number to my smartphone so I have it handy.”

Guess what? Subaru put the roadside assistance number directly on the driver’s side window, where you can see it WHEN you need it:

Subaru reassures car owners with their roadside assistance # right on the window

I’ve had roadside assistance with the last three cars I’ve owned, but never did the auto brand make it so EASY to actually use their service. In fact, most of them made it downright difficult to find that number.

Subaru makes tiny gestures that win over their customer’s hearts. Yes, their cars are reliable. But they also offer a culture reinforcing their tagline “Love. It What Makes a Subaru.”

Summary

You are competing with FREE everyday when you have an online business (or low-cost competitors with a brick-and-mortar presence). Ensure you’re educating your potential clients as to WHY your offering is better than free or low-cost.  Don’t be afraid to include marketing messages when you deliver your best stuff.

What has been your experience with offering free content in your social media marketing? Share your experience in the comments below:

Nov 11

7 Surprising Secrets I’ve Learned from Beauty Vloggers

By Maria Peagler

7 Surprising Secrets I’ve Learned from Beauty Vloggers.

Beauty vloggers are not professional marketers, but they are CRUSHING traditional branding & promotion with their own style. Find out how they do it.

7 surprising secrets i learned from beauty bloggers

I have a confession to make  . . .

I LOVE watching YouTube beauty and hair videos.

In fact, over the past year I’ve been consuming a lot of beauty vlogger content: I drastically changed my hairstyle from blow-drying everyday to going naturally curly, and I needed a lot of help in maintaining my new hairstyle.

So where did I turn?

YouTube, of course.

And after watching hundreds of hair videos, following beauty vloggers on multiple social networks, and seeing how they work individually and together — I WAS BLOWN AWAY.

Most of these ladies (and gentlemen) don’t have traditional marketing or technology backgrounds, but they are ROCKING their social media presence. I’ve observed them carefully, identified their secrets, and am sharing them so you can adapt them for your own marketing.

1. Beauty Vloggers are Prolific Content Generators

The YouTube beauty vloggers I watch are all generating new videos at least once per week, sometimes more often. Their #1 secret to their success is creating a generous amount of content.  Here are some examples:

Goss Makeup Artist is a UK-based vlogger who records videos from his home makeup studio. Nothing fancy, but look at the number of videos he has on his channel — over 700, and he’s earned 1.8 million subscribers:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

Sarah Stevens (married now, not sure of her married name) started making videos as a high school student, continued on through college (filming from her dorm room), and now continues as she’s married, living and teaching English in Qatar. Again, she has a huge amount of content: over 200 videos and 14K subscribers:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

Angie (doesn’t give her last name) has a beauty channel for menopausal women, and again, has over 200 videos and 46K subscribers. She crushes the idea that you have to be young to be beauty vlogger:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

Louise Glitter, another UK-based vlogger, offers a plus-sized beauty channel that draws a loyal audience of 1.7 million subscribers! Notice she also has a video collection over 250+:

what i learned from beauty vloggersJenell Stewart is a black vlogger who focuses on natural hair styles and products for women with curly hair. She has over 500 videos and 105K subscribers:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

Notice how diverse these channels are? They come from men, women, young, middle-aged, all colors, sizes and nationalities. The one secret they all have in common is creating A LOT OF CONTENT.

 

2. Beauty Vloggers Share Their Editorial Schedule

What day is your favorite television show on?

You knew immediately, didn’t you?

The second secret of these beauty vloggers is they adhere to a publishing schedule and share it with their audience. They schedule their own “shows,” just as network and cable television do.

Goss Makeup Artist displays his schedule directly on his YouTube banner:

scrn_2014-11-10_12-54-21_PM copy

Are you letting your audience know when they can expect new content from you? Are you consistent enough to publish a schedule at all?

3. Beauty Vloggers Follow Content Themes

One of the trends I noticed early on in my video watching phase is that vloggers often follow established themes in their videos:

  • Reviews – reviews of products both provided by brands asking for the review and those they’ve purchased on their own.  Most vloggers were 100% transparent when they had been approached by a beauty brand and gave their candid review, sometimes being “I wouldn’t use this again.”
  • Empties – reviews of multiple products they’ve used up and saved for this video.
  • Hauls – sharing products purchased during a shopping trip. Not a review video, but a highlight of products they’ll be using and probably reviewing in the future.
  • Get Ready with Me – a how-to video of the vlogger showing their beauty or hair routine. Normally the video shows the vlogger getting ready and they add the narration afterward, so they’re not talking directly to you in the video.
  • Collabs – collaboration videos with a vlogger colleague.  These usually take two forms: either both appear in the video together, or they each do their own version of the video and link to the other person’s in the video description.
  • How-to’s – the tried and true how-to video, done in the vlogger’s own style.

Beauty vloggers’ third secret is they follow similar content trends, making it easier for them to pick up viewers from other beauty channels.  Their videos are similar, but still different enough, to interest viewers who want to learn and watch other vloggers in the same space.

What content themes appear in your industry? Have you watched enough video to know these trends? If not, take some time to watch channels with large viewerships and identify their content themes.

4. Beauty Vloggers Optimize Their Social Media Profiles

The fourth secret of these savvy vloggers is the one I was the most impressed with: they take advantage of every opportunity to share their other social networks and their most popular content. They use their popularity on one channel to build their audience for their others.

Sarah Stevens has Facebook, twitter, Instagram and blog accounts in addition to her YouTube channel, and she points to them not just once, but twice on her banner area: once with hyperlinks, and once with icons under her title:

scrn_2014-11-10_12-55-20_PM

 

Sarah also optimizes each of her videos with links to her other social networks, how to subscribe to her YouTube channel, and her most popular videos. Shown below are the links she shares from the video people see first — her channel introduction video:

scrn_2014-11-10_01-51-13_PM

 

You can do the same whether you have a YouTube channel or not. Almost every social network offers the ability to link to your other social networks. You can do this in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Slideshare, and Google+.  You can also point to your most popular content in multiple ways on your blog.

Give people the EZ button so they can follow you, consume your content, and find your best stuff.

 

5. Beauty Vloggers Understand the Power of Images

Their fifth secret is one that showcases the power of images.  Yes, their main content is a video, but vloggers know the first glimpse anyone will ever see of their video is the thumbnail.

Here, Sprinkle of Glitter showcases her videos with thumbnails that usually have her looking directly at you and display a clear title:

sprinkles of glitter optimizes her video thumbnails

 

 

6. Beauty Vloggers Collaborate to Increase Their Visibility

I found it surprising how small the beauty vlogging world was. Each vlogger specializes in their own niche and often collaborates (called a “collab” video) with someone else in their niche to increase their visibility.

Rather than seeing each other as competition, they help one another reach a larger audience. That’s their sixth secret: they rely on colleagues to build their audience.

Here, Louise collaborates with another vlogger Karen, and links to Karen’s video and channels from her own:

sprinkle of glitter collab video

 

7. Beauty Bloggers Have True Relationships with Their Audience

Many of the beauty vloggers I’ve profiled here get their video ideas from their viewers — and give them credit for it, naming them in the video.

They often receive hundreds of comments, and respond to them individually. They have true conversations with their fans, answering questions, responding to suggestions, and even asking their audience for feedback and their own experiences.

Of course, being so visible means you’ll open yourself up to some “haters,” but these vloggers didn’t let that stop them.  In fact, they didn’t respond to haters at all.  And often their audience defended them against snarky commenters.

That’s the seventh and final secret: while many social media experts tout “relationship marketing,” these vloggers establish deep and loyal fan bases that buy the products they recommend, watch every video they share, and anxiously await their next one.

Summary

I must admit I completely underestimated beauty vloggers: I started out simply wanting to learn how to style a new haircut. What I ultimately observed, however, was much more than that.

Beauty vloggers demonstrate you don’t need to be a professional marketer to grow your brand. What it does take is passion, consistency, honesty with your audience, listening to them, talking to them, and making it easy for them to find you.

What beauty vloggers do you follow? What have you learned from them about beauty and marketing? Share in the comments below:

80/20 of social media marketing
Nov 04

How to Identify the 80/20 of Your Social Media Marketing: Where is Your Most Profitable 20%?

By Maria Peagler

80/20 of social media marketing

You’re going to thank me for this . . . .

I’m going to show you how to exponentially multiply your visibility, leads, revenue and profit in your business using the Pareto principle: that 20% of your effort that leads to 80% of your results.

As a small business owner, you need to be ruthless with how you spend your time. The marketing efforts that aren’t not paying off — ditch them. In a moment, I’m going to show you how to identify which marketing efforts are paying off and how to do more of them to grow your business.

Forget coaches who tell you how to get more time in your day and expensive consulting for someone to tell you how to grow the revenue in your business.

Today I’m going to show you how to do all of that yourself.

1. Identify Your Marketing Goals

Can you articulate the goals for your marketing? According to a recent survey of SMOC members, their top three business goals are:

  1. Grow their business
  2. Get more sales
  3. Develop a personal brand

Awesome! Now, exactly what is your plan for doing that?

If you’re not sure HOW to achieve these goals, take a look at my three-part series on setting SMART Goals/Creating an Action Plan/Measuring Your Results. It walks you through every step of that process so you can turn your goals into actionable tasks you can measure to identify your progress.

First, you learn how to set SMART social media marketing goals for your business:

How to Set SMART Marketing Goals

Second, you learn how to turn those goals into actionable tasks you can accomplish:

How to turn your marketing goals into an executable action plan

Third, you learn how to measure the results of your goals & action plan. This is the critical part of the process most people skip.  Don’t miss this post:

How to measure the results of your marketing - simply & easily

If you can’t articulate what your goal is, your customers don’t know what you’re asking of them. Tie your marketing to your business goals using the three-part series (it’s one of our most popular blog posts).

2. Identify What’s Working Now

If you’re already doing social media marketing, do you know which of your marketing efforts is is generating the most business? Being able to look at all of your marketing efforts, from social media to content generation to advertising, is neither simple nor easy. But it’s essential for you to prune the campaigns not paying off and double-down on those that are generating the most revenue.

If you don’t already have Google Analytics (GA) installed on your website, then do it now (or hire someone who can). Read this post on using Google Analytics with WordPress — it walks you through how to install it on your website, plus the most important reports for identifying what’s working now:

Google Analytics for WordPress

 

It’s easy to be overwhelmed with the amount of data GA throws at you. Don’t let that happen to you.  Read this post for the most important year-end metrics to measure using GA:

3 Year End Metrics to Measure

Also, you need to be able to read Facebook Insights and identify who your most profitable fans are. This post identifies how to use Insights to drill down to find where your results are in Facebook:


Facebook Insights Explained

 

Facebook Insights Lesson How to measure what matters in Facebook
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3. Automate Social Media Tasks Not Requiring Engagement

Social media marketing is an effective marketing tool, but it can be a huge time drain if you’re not savvy about how you spend your time.  Not every administrative task requires your attention.  Instead, identify what you can automate or delegate to a staff member.

The tasks I like to automate:

  • posting to Pinterest – because it requires little engagement and we use the Pinvolve.co app to automate this process
  • posting to multiple social networks — use Hootsuite to post once and have it go to all your social accounts
  • creating a library of content — we create a content library by adding each social media post URL to a Google Spreadsheet file.  We automate this task using IFTTT.com.
  • repurposing content – my assistant creates our Weekly Top posts from the most recent lessons, blog posts, and forum Q&A here at SMOC
  • automating blog post creation — be careful with this one. The only time I automate a blog post is when I upload a video to YouTube: I created a recipe in IFTT.com that creates a blog post draft automatically that contains the video.  We then edit the blog post, add an awesome title, a transcript and time stamps.  I do have social media services clients, however, for whom we’ve created an entire blog post automation process: these clients are working multiple jobs or on the road 50 weeks out of the year. Their staffs are overworked already and dread writing blog posts.  So we created a process where they can automatically create blog posts generated by tasks they were doing already.
  • create content in 10 minutes – yes, this is an authentic tactic I use. Not all the time, but when I’m pressed for time, this workflow saves the day.  In fact, I created the framework for this blog post using my 10-minute tactic.

Summary

No matter where you are in your marketing journey — beginner to advanced — identifying the 80/20 of your social media marketing is critical  to streamline your efforts, be more efficient, and grow your brand.

I’ve shared how to identify your 80/20 goals, create an action plan, measure your results using both GA and Facebook Insights, as well as how to automate tasks that don’t require your individual attention.

Which is your favorite tactic? What did you find was the 80/20 of your social media marketing? Tell me in the comments below:

 

visual storytelling infographic
Oct 29

Visual Storytelling for Brands

By Maria Peagler

 visual storytelling maria peagler

Editor’s note: We’re continuing our Visual Storytelling theme this week with a look at how brands can market using visual content, along with examples of those doing this well.  You can listen to my interview (or read the transcript) of my interview with Ekaterina Walter, co-author of The Power of Visual Storytelling here.

The human attention span has dwindled to eight seconds — less than that of a goldfish — according to a 2002 BBC article. With so many competing websites, social networks and entertainment on the internet, how can brands make their message stand out, be remembered and generate results?

Visual content: our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text. Done well, your story told in a visual way, sticks with readers far better than just words on a page or screen.

What is Visual Storytelling and How Does it Benefit My Business?

Visual storytelling encompasses far more than just using visuals in your marketing: it’s about telling your brand’s story — what your purpose is & what you stand for — in a visual way.  I like to think of it as Start With Why meets The Back of the Napkin meets Made to Stick.

Marketing your brand visually makes your message sticky: your audience remembers it, engages with it, and is far more likely to actually consume it.  Here are visual content statistics:

  • Web posts with visuals are 180% more likely to get engagement
  • Visitors spend 100% more time on web pages with video
  • Press releases incorporating video get 45% more traffic
  • Web posts including infographics get 12% more traffic

If you’d like more traffic from highly engaged visitors who are more likely to buy from you, visual content is a highly effective approach.

What Visual Content is Best for Your Brand?

The type of visual content you should use depends on several factors, including what’s easiest for your team (or you) to create, as well as your audience demographics and where they hang out online.  While Vine is a great place to find 18-20 year-olds, it won’t be effective for reaching baby boomers. Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest are better suited for that audience.

Identify your audience, discover where they are online (and offline), and target them according to your business goals.

Tell Your Story Using Simple Images

A brand who does this well is is Northern Valley Auto Body in Englewood, NJ, as shown here on their Facebook page.  They take before & after photos of the cars they repair, as well as in-process pics.  Not only is it fascinating to see how they work, the story their images tell is one of trust and transparency: the usually off-limits to clients body shop has completely opened their doors and invited you to watch their process:

visual storytelling case study

Photos of in-process restorations instills a sense of trust in their brand.

Notice the simplicity of this visual story: photos taken in the garage with a smartphone and uploaded to a Facebook album. No filters, no captions, nothing but photos of their work. This didn’t take a graphic design team, but one person who stopped long enough to document the brand’s work.

Educate & Entertain Using Video Tutorials

Missouri Star Quilt Company opened their doors during the height of the U.S. recession, and their odds were so slim of making it they were covered by Wall Street Journal reporter Meg Cox (a quilter herself). How founder, Jenny Doan, not only survived the recession but became the largest employer in her small town is all due to her free quilting tutorials on YouTube.

missouri star quilt company tutorials

Missouri Star Quilt Company grew their brand to the largest employer in their town using YouTube video tutorials

Jenny’s videos are simple, brief, but show her personality and simple ways to make a quilt from pre-cuts: fabric pieces already cut into shapes ready for quilters to sew together. Not only do her videos market the shop’s inventory of pre-cut fabrics, they also help reduce her labor costs, as pre-cuts don’t require an employee to cut a piece of fabric for every customer, as do bolts of fabric.

Jenny’s early videos were rough, with poor lighting and showing her sitting at a sewing machine. But, viewers weren’t concerned with the production quality: they loved Missouri Quilt Company’s videos, and some of their most popular videos are their oldest, garnering over a million views.

Reach Business Clients Using Presentations

Marketing Experiments is a well-known brand in the marketing industry that uses presentations and videos to reach their target audience. They offer hour-long “clinics” where they share the results of their case studies, research, and do live optimizations of brands who need their advice. They offer the clinics live, but also upload the replay to YouTube, and the shorter slide deck to Slideshare:

visual storytelling case study

Marketing Experiments offers their “marketing clinics” on video as well as slide deck presentations

visual storytelling case study

Marketing Experiments uploads their presentations to Slideshare for those who don’t want to watch the entire video

 

Speak Your Audience’s Language with Infographics, GIFs, Memes

Here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com we use infographics to offer quick guides to social networks:

2014 Edition of Facebook Marketing Infographic

2014 Edition of Facebook Marketing Infographic

Dr. Pepper uses GIFs, Hubspot has an entire Pinterest board dedicated to marketing memes, the White House creates Vine videos, and brands aplenty are on Instagram. So no matter who your audience is, you can reach them using some form of visual content.

Create Your Visual Roadmap

To get the most from your visual content marketing, establish your roadmap: your brand’s strategy and execution plan, by answering these questions:

  • what does your brand stand for (and how does it differ from your competition)?
  • what is your brand’s purpose?
  • what are your business goals for your marketing?
  • what are your customer’s pain points?
  • what marketing efforts are working now?

Your answers shape your business’ unique visual roadmap, making your brand unforgettable to your audience, and resonating with them in a way no plain text ever will.

What type of visual storytelling is your business doing and what have been your results? Share your story in the comments below.

Related Resources

Visual Social Media Webinar*

Your First Business Video Webinar*

Facebook Image Sizes Cheat Sheet

Google+ Image Sizes Cheat Sheet*

Instagram Marketing Infographic

Instagram for Business Case Studies

How to Build a DIY Stock Photo Library for Social Media

VIDEO TUTORIAL: How to Build a Stock Photo Library Using Canva

Your First Business Video Checklist

Our Most Popular Infographics from 2014

Our Most Popular Infographics from 2012

* denotes members-only content

The Learn Startup Approach to Education in America
Sep 10

The Lean Startup Approach to Education & Employment in America

By Maria Peagler

The Learn Startup Approach to Education in America

Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor under the Clinton administration, posted a commentary on his tumblr blog last week about American college graduates being over-educated and under-employed:

“Too often in modern America, we equate “equal opportunity” with an opportunity to get a four-year liberal arts degree. It should mean an opportunity to learn what’s necessary to get a good job.”

Reich then continues to recommend two-year degrees at vocational schools as a common-sense approach to securing a top job that opens the door the middle class in America, without the huge debt.

The Lean Startup Approach to Education

America is widely heralded as the global hotbed of innovation using the Lean Startup method pioneered by Eric Reis: almost every major social media platform originated here, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and more.

But where is the lean startup approach to education?  If the minimum viable product (MVP) is necessary for a lean approach to business, shouldn’t a minimum viable education (MVE) be the wise approach to a career, especially in an employment landscape littered with college grads saddled with college loan debt?

How relevant will your four-year degree be in ten years, when your job no longer exists? Middle-aged journalists who once had flourishing careers at The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal are out of work because their industry was disrupted by digital alternatives.

Isn’t a better approach to get the MVE for your first career, and then pivot your education as your career and your industry evolve?

Don’t get me wrong:  I’m a lifelong learner, and I got a four-year degree when it was AFFORDABLE.  I paid my entire way through college, getting Pell Grants, student loans, and juggling three jobs.

My family lived below the poverty line, and I was able to get a degree from one of the top journalism colleges in the country. But I didn’t graduate with a burden of enormous college loan debt.

Since then, I have NEVER once considered going back to a university to further my education.  Why?

Because there are so many better alternatives to learning that are quicker, more up-to-date, and less expensive.

Minimum Viable Education Resources

While public and private universities in American have raised tuition every year far above the inflation rate, a more sane approach to education has been burgeoning:  online learning.

Lynda.com, Skillshare, TeamTreehouse, and yes, here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, you can get a great education in the digital sector.  Here’s a rundown of what each offers:

Learn Software Applications with Lynda.com

Pros: Classes on almost every major software application, including current and previous releases.  Lynda’s classes are a wonderful fit for creative professionals, as they offer courses on photography, animation, and other creative careers.  They’re also best for apps  that have new releases, like Windows 11 or Photoshop CC 2014, as they debut a new class with each new release.

Cons:  For social media platforms, Lynda’s classes are unable to keep up with the constant pace of changes.  They also do not offer a forum or access to instructors when you have questions.

Learn Creative Business Skills with Skillshare.com

Pros:  Classes on business, design, fashion, photography, film music, and technology.  I’ve taken Skillshare classes, and they’re a “light” approach to online learning, with an average of three lessons for each class.  They offer a multi-media curriculum and often curate their content from other sources.

Cons:  Available of instructors to offer feedback to students is inconsistent: some are great, others never show up. But the low price-point of their classes makes it worth it to try out and see what you’ll learn.  Some instructors are not great teachers, but are great practitioners, so you often need to be patient through long videos that could be shorter.

Learn Web Development with TeamTreehouse.com

Pros: Classes on web development that include Sass, Ruby on Rails, Javascript, WordPress, Android app development, PHP, HTML, business skills and more. They offer a great variety of classes, an online forum with monthly challenges, all for a low price point.

Cons: I was pleasantly surprised by TeamTreehouse.  Their founder comes from an affiliate marketing and vitamin business background, and like so many others in the last five years, entered the online training arena when it became possible using lean startup technologies.  While I have not taken a class from Treehouse (their shortened name), an SMOC intern has, and she was quite pleased with the learning platform.  They offer a free trial, which I would definitely take and see if you can get feedback or help when working on a coding project.

Learn Social Media with Socialmediaonlineclasses.com

Pros: Classes on every major social network and search engine optimization, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Slideshare, WordPress, YouTube, and more.  Offers a forum for questions, 1:1 coaching with its founder, as well as additional resources like infographics, bonus webinars, and case studies, all for a low price point.

Cons:  Students get a certificate of completion when they finish all lessons in a class; no testing or exams are necessary. Certification is from Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, not a third-party such as the American Council on Education (ACE), as that would triple the cost of classes here. Don’t offer classes on smaller social networks like Tumblr, Reddit, Delicious, or Digg.

Get a Digital Education for Less Than One Year’s Tuition at a University

You could take classes from every provider I’ve listed here for less than one year’s tuition at a public university.  You’d have a well-rounded  education from the recognized providers in photography, animation, Photoshop, Adobe Creative Suite, logo design, music production, web and app development and social media.

Each provider offers a free trial so you can take a class and see if it’s a good fit.  When’s the last time a university offered that?

You could have an impressive collection of skills for your resume, but how would you get the experience every employer wants?

Become an intern, an apprentice for a professional you admire, or volunteer your time for a non-profit who can sorely use your skills.  You get practical experience for your portfolio and build important professional relationships that will help you find a well-paying job in your new industry.

So yes, Robert Reich, there is a better way.  All made here in America, available for a global audience.

 

Sep 02

How to Get More Sales from Your Website: Live Webinar + Recording + MP3 Audio

By Maria Peagler

bonus webinar website sales

Free webinar Thurs, Sept 18 @1pm EDT/5pm GMT.  Join Maria Peagler for this brief live webinar:

  • Learn how to get more sales from the website you already have
  • Thurs Sept 18, 1pm EDT, 5pm GMT
  • 30-Minute Webinar + On-Demand recording + MP3 Audio + Checklist
  • $297.00 value FREE for Members (Membership is $57 per month, cancel easily anytime.)

Get Webinar FREE with SMOC Membership

Already a member?  Your webinar access codes will arrive in your Inbox a few days before the webinar.

“If you build it, they will come.”

While that may have worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, it’s not going to work for you & your website.

Sound familiar?

If you’ve got a website but it’s not generating sales, then don’t miss this webinar!  Maria Peagler will reveal “tweaks” you can make to your website to get people to the right page, buying, and coming back for more! In this 30-minute webinar, you’ll learn:

  • why your current website isn’t working to make sales
  • the top 3 things to do to your website TODAY to start generating income
  • where to find trusted talent to help with your website if you’re not a coder

Plus, plenty of time for Q&A, so come with questions, so sign up today!

Get Your $297.00 Webinar ticket FREE When You Join SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com Today  (FREE for college students)

Purchase your Webinar ticket for $297.00 now, or get it free when you join as a Member today for $57 per month. Cancel easily anytime.

SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com is a continuous service, including instant access to over 200 online lessons valued at $1,997.00 plus $397.00 worth of new Bonus Webinars & infographics each month, billed to your payment card every 30 days at the lowest rate then in effect, currently just $57.

In total, you’ll get instant access to $2,297.00 (and growing!) worth of practical Members-Only training to grow your business using social media. SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com Membership helps you:

#1. Get Access to One Billion Customers in 10 Minutes

Learn how to identify the social networks best for your unique business, then build a profile that turns more visitors into paying customers. SMOC brings you ‘what works’  training that cuts through the noise & crushes social media overwhelm.

Members  instantly access how-to videos, screen shots, checklists, infographics, and case studies — tools which can be put to work on your website & social networking right away.

#2. Get More Fans in Less Time

Discover how to get fans & connections without spending all day in social media.  You really can post to all of your social networks in as little as 15 minutes a day, and you’ll learn how to generate content & posts that get your business noticed, attract fans, and turn them into paying customers.

Members immediately get their hands on how-to checklists (like 13 Ways to Get More Facebook Fans), videos that teach you how to do search engine optimization yourself, and real-life examples of successful small businesses who’ve achieved great success.

#3. Customize Your Learning Track

Online training is often a one-sized fits all plan, but not for SMOC Members.  You’ll get a customized social media assessment that details the optimum social networks for your unique career path & industry, and you can use it as your guide for what classes you’ll need (Members are often surprised at the results).   Plus, Members can instantly access:

  • hands-on video tutorials
  • monthly social media makeovers (for your website or any social network)
  • bonus webinars that dive deep into profitable tactics
  • infographics to print as your cheat sheets
  • a private community forum
  • 1:1 private coaching

#4. SMOC networking plus exclusive Q&A Webinars & Workshops

Members get instant access to a private online community of peers eager to connect and discuss what’s worked and what hasn’t for them.  Each week, members also get one-on-one Q&A time with Maria during Virtual Office Hours.

Plus, your Membership includes a complimentary pass to SMOC’s monthly Bonus Webinar or virtual workshop focused on a hot social media business topic — ranging from one & done posting to getting listed on search results — with plenty of time for extended Q&As . The webinar alone is a value of $297.00 per month.

As a member you’ll get immediate access to all the materials on the site plus that month’s Bonus Webinar. After that, you’ll be billed the lowest available monthly fee (currently just $57) via convenient automated billing. It’s risk-free and guaranteed, you can easily cancel at any time.

So why not join today and see how SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com can help your business grow!

Get Webinar FREE with SMOC Membership

Apr 28

The State of Social Media for Small Business [INFOGRAPHIC]

By Maria Peagler

We posed questions to Socialmediaonlineclasses.com members (almost 300 of them!) to take the pulse of social media for small business in 2014.  Some results were expected, while others were shocking.  All are shown in the infographic below.  (Following the infographic is a brief explanation of the finding for each question) state of social media for small business

Share this Image On Your Site

Majority of Small Business Owners Do Have a Website

website

Most small business owner do have their own website, which is big jump from 2011, when less than 50% did (according to the SBA).  That means more entrepreneurs sare making the transition from traditional marketing to digital.  It’s also a positive step in owning your space online: social networks may change, but you own your website and your domain, and can control its look, feel, and what you share on it.

More Business-to-Consumer Brands Use Social Media

b2c It’s no surprise that more business-to-consumer brands (B2C) use social media, as far more social networks exist for those channels.  Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are definitely stronger in the B2C market, while LinkedIn, Twitter, and Slideshare are focused more on the B2B space. Google, Google+, and YouTube cross both spectrums.

Are Your Clients Mostly Women?

pinterest The response to this question was surprising:  women are more active on social networks, and Pinterest is primarily a social network for women.  But a clear 63% of Socialmediaonlineclasses.com members said that women were not the majority of their clients.  Greater than half of small brands reach out to both men and women in their marketing.

Everyone Watches YouTube

youtube YouTube remains the biggest missed opportunity for small business, as over 98% of Socialmediaonlineclasses.com members have watched a video there, but fewer than 10% actually use video marketing.   Brands can learn to record and produce video quickly with smartphones, webcams, and even use YouTube’s built-in editing features to get started marketing their business with video.

Search Engine Rank is Essential

google Ranking highly in search engine results is critical to small brands for growing their business, as a clear 87% responded it was important. However, SEO services remain out of reach to small business budgets, with the average SEO project costing $4,000 (according to moz.com).  Entrepreneurs can improve their own SEO rankings by focusing on their domain names, content marketing, and earning high quality links to their websites.

Few Brands Give Presentations, Workshops, or Lectures

slideshare Only 36% of small business owners give presentations, workshops or lectures.  Educational marketing offer a tremendous opportunity for brands to reach a wider audience, provide “infotainment,” and build their client list.

Both B2B and B2C brands can benefit:  Fun Finds and Designs, a retail consignment store in Canton, GA, gives monthly how-to workshops in their store.  Here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com we repurpose many of our infographics and webinars into excerpts on Slideshare.com – both are great marketing tools.

Small Business Needs Influencer Outreachtwitter

A little more than half — 57% — of small brands said they need to get the attention of influencers in their industry.  Twitter is an excellent, low-maintenance way to do influencer outreach, yet many entrepreneurs still see Twitter as a celebrity social network.

While the definition of an influencer will vary from one industry to another, you’re quite likely to find those key players on Twitter engaging in multiple conversations daily.  Brands should be on Twitter, focusing on their industry influencers, and engaging in those conversations.

Tip: a great way to group conversations by industry in both Twitter and Hootsuite is to use a list.  You can have separate lists for the media, vendors, potential joint venture (JV) partners, and more.

Biggest Challenge Facing Small Brands: How to Start with Social Media?

challenges

The top challenge facing small brands is this: they’re overwhelmed, with 48% responding they don’t where to start.  Almost every brand assumes they need Facebook: in reality, only those B2C businesses or those using Facebook regularly will benefit.

Few brands have a clear strategy, and usually don’t know the questions to ask to develop one.  (Register for the free Social Media Strategy class on the Socialmediaonlineclasses.com Home page to build your own strategy.)

A close second is being faced with far too many social networks, and not knowing which one holds the best potential for their business.  Too many brands feel the need to be everywhere, and end up burned out and frustrated over a watered-down presence not generating results.

The third challenge facing small brands is not seeing a return on their investment (ROI).  Not surprisingly, if brands are unsure where to start or which online platform will perform best for them, their ROI will suffer.  It’s critical to develop a strategy, identify your highest potential social network (take the quiz from our Home page), and measure results over time.

Action Steps: How to Capitalize on These Results

What can you take away from these results to improve your own marketing?

  • If you don’t already have a website, you need to get one
  • No matter who your audience is, there’s a social network for you
  • Every business should start video marketing in 2014. You’ll see improved search engine rank and increased traffic to your website.
  • Educational marketing offers major opportunities to build your brand
  • Search Engine Optimization is important, and small brands can do basic SEO themselves
  • Influencer outreach can be simple & low-maintenance on Twitter
  • Develop and clarify your marketing strategy and your highest potential social network
Mar 27

The Ultimate Guide to Social Media for Local Business [INFOGRAPHIC]

By Maria Peagler

ALL NEW FOR 2015!

Click to download the infographic

<< Click on the infographic to download your own full-size version.

How do you decide where to spend your time marketing your local business?

So many social networks and marketing options can be overwhelming. How can you ensure you’re focusing on tactics yielding the most return on investment (ROI) for your local business?

Rely on the Social Media for Local Business infographic.  It reveals the eight most powerful social marketing platforms for local businesses; use it as a menu to pick and choose the ones the suit your brand.

Browse the explanations of each tactic, why it’s important, and what it can do for you. Remember to share this infographic with your own network, using the social buttons at the top & bottom of this post.

Google+

local google+

1. Get a local business page

Getting found on search engines is crucial for any local business, and the #1 step you can take to appear on page one of Google search results for your area is to get a Google+ local business page. It six weeks for Google to verify your address, but once they do, you get a free listing worth thousands in advertising.

ultimate guide to local business Socialmediaonlineclasses 1

The simplest way to get a local business page on Google is to use Google+

2. Add photos of your business’ exterior

Give people a snapshot of what your brick & mortar location looks like. While a professional image would be great, one you take yourself will do nicely.

3.  Add photos of your business’ interior

Do you invest a lot of time making your store an inviting place to stop in and browse? Show it off with photos of the interior, including your products, inventory, and what makes your business unique.

4.  Offer the ability to add reviews

People trust reviews from real consumers and businesses, so allow the public to review your brand. Don’t worry about negative reviews: studies show they actually increase overall review credibility. Just ensure they don’t outweigh the positive ones.

5.  Post hours of operation

Add your location’s hours and Google will let people know if you’re open at the EXACT moment they’re searching. Google is relieving your staff workload by avoiding that phone call of “are you open today?”

6.  Includes a map and directions

Google+ provides a map to your location, making it easy for visitors to get directions from Google Maps both on desktop and mobile.  Again, a phone call saved asking “how do I get to your office?”

7.  Add local area code and telephone number

Adding your local telephone number makes it easy for customers to get in touch with you and call your store by pressing just one “Call” button. Even better?  Adding your local area code also boosts your local search engine rankings.

8.  Use local hashtags

People do a lot of searching on Google+, and using hashtags relevant to your area will help you get found more often. A local insurance office would do well to use the hashtags such as #insurance, #atlanta, and #allstate (substitute your brand name here).

YouTube

local youtube

9. Record a brief intro video

YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, so you’ve got to show up there with a video. Record a brief video introducing your business, what you do, and your location. Think of it as your own YouTube commercial.

10. Video title should include your city, business type, name of business

It may sound dull and uninspired, but including your city, type of business, and your business name is the best way to get found on YouTube.  So the title: Layton Utah Ford Dealership | Ed Kenley Ford ensures that people know your video is the one they’re looking for:

youtube for local business

Notice the location and type of business in the YouTube video title?

11. Website hyperlink is first item in description

What’s the next thing you want viewers to do after watching the video? Visit your website? Then put the website hyperlink as the first element in the video description.  That ensures viewers will see it even if they don’t click on See More to view the full description.  Want viewers to call you? Then use your telephone number as the first item in the description.

12.  Use city and zip code as tags

Tags are categories you can use to further describe your video, and they help YouTube determine which are the most relevant videos to your search.  By using your city name and local zip code as tags, you’re telling YouTube to serve up your video as local results when people are searching for videos in your area.

13.  Keep video short, less than three minutes

Make your video easy on you to record AND easy on viewers to watch by keeping it short, under three minutes.  Remember, television commercials are 30 seconds: watch them closely to see what they include and emulate the ones you like.

14.  Give viewers a virtual tour

You’ve likely invested heavily in your office or store’s interior, so show it off to viewers.  Give them an idea of what it will look and feel like when they visit your location. Be sure to point out what differentiates your brand from others in the area.

15.  Invite viewers to visit

Lastly, extend an invitation to viewers to visit your location, and offer something special to them when they do. Give away a freebie when people tell you they saw your video on YouTube.

16.  Mine Analytics for a gold mine of viewer data

YouTube offers excellent analytics about how many people watched your videos, for how long, and how they found them.  If people are watching only the first 10 seconds, take another look at your video. What’s your most popular video? Your least?

Facebook

local facebook

17. Select local business as your business page category

Facebook offers local businesses valuable features on their pages not available to others, including a map, your hours, and reviews.  All these items make it simple for people to find out about your brand directly within Facebook.

facebook local business page

Facebook’s local business pages display your hours, customer reviews, and a map to your location

18. Local business pages offer a map

When you add your physical address to your local business page, Facebook displays a map to your location.  This is particularly helpful to mobile users, who can click on the map and get directions from their current location.

19.  Local business pages offer reviews

Reviews from real consumers are one of the best ways to boost your brand’s credibility.  Yes, you risk getting a negative review or two, but studies show those bad apples actually increase the authenticity of all the reviews.  No need for people to go to Yelp — you’re letting your best customers say how much they love you and why!

20.  Are you open today?

Facebook actually saves your staff from endless calls about “are you open today” and “how late are you open” with real-time status: Open 11:00 – 3:00 or Closed Today. Helpful for both your team and consumers.

21.  Use local hashtags in posts

Hashtags are a great way to get found in Facebook GraphSearch, and local hashtags give you an intimate connection with your community.  The more you use hashtags, the greater the opportunity for people to find your business on Facebook. G. Michael Salon, the #1 hair salon in Indianapolis, uses up to 13 hashtags on a single post.

22.  Motivate fans to tag your business

Tagging allows a fan to mention your business in a post or a photo, resulting in it appearing on your NewsFeed.  Can you say “free public relations?” Give fans a reason to tag your business: motivate them with a freebie or an opportunity for an experience no one else gets.

23.  Check-ins from fans appear in their NewsFeeds

When your fans visit your location and check-in, their status appears in their NewsFeed along with a link to your business page.  Another fantastic opportunity for free publicity. Capitalize on your local status and encourage fan check-ins with photo opportunities, cool displays, or other unique experiences.

24.  Local businesses appear in GraphSearch first

If I’m looking for an insurance agency in my city, Facebook GraphSearch serves up those I’m fans with first, then  local matches.  Grow a targeted, local fan base and you’ll see improved search results.  Also check your Insights to see where new fans are coming from.

Slideshare

local slideshare

25. Gives local business a huge SEO boost

Few business owners understand the impact Slideshare can have on your search engine rankings.  After all, it’s where you share PowerPoints, right? Yes, but Slideshare transcribes the text of your slides, search engines (Google, Bing, & Yahoo) read that text, and if they like what they see, your search engine rankings improve.

slideshare for local business

Slideshare offers local businesses a HUGE SEO boost IF you use it correctly

26. Presentation title should include your city, business type, name of business

Similar to #10 for YouTube, including your city, type of business, and your business name is the best way to get found on Slideshare and in Google search.  So the title: Layton Utah Ford Dealership | Ed Kenley Ford ensures that people know your business is the one they’re looking for.

27.  Use SEO keywords in title text

Your SEO keywords are those search terms people use in Google to find what they’re looking for.  Someone from Atlanta searching would likely search for “Georgia Ford Dealerships” if they want that cool new Shelby Mustang. If those keywords are in your presentation title, your business has a much greater chance of appearing before searchers on Google and in Slideshare.

28.  Slideshare transcribes slide text for SEO

A perk of uploading a presentation to Slideshare is that it transcribes the slide text for you.  Search engines LOVE that. Aim for a balance of text on your slide that is enough to help you rank in search, but not so much you crowd the slide.

29.  Add a location slide with a photo

Help people visualize where your business is located by dedicated one slide to how to find you.  Give your address, nearby landmarks, and a nice photo of your building.

30.  Differentiate your business

What’s unique about your business? Hair salons are plentiful in most cities, but not all have Redken-trained colorists and carry Aveda products. A small one-person barber shop is an entirely different experience than a full-service barber who offers hot shaves, mustache trims, and a large collection of American Crew styling products.  You know what your customers want:  tell them you offer it in your presentation.

31.  Use a variety of images

Please don’t resort to the snooze-fest that is the text-only slide, or Death-by-PowerPoint. Make your slide presentation visually engaging by using a variety of relevant images, great slide design, and easily read fonts.

32.  Few local businesses use Slideshare

If you’re a local business reading this blog post, you’re in the minority.  Most small brands don’t use Slideshare, so simply uploading a presentation there puts you in the place of most potential. Try it – and let me know how it works for you.

Review Sites

local review sites

33. Yelp is important for local restaurants

If you own a restaurant, people are already reviewing it on Yelp. It’s become the go-to source for finding a great place to eat in any town. Especially critical if you’re located in a tourist town. A Yelp listing offer your address, telephone, hours, a map, photos of dishes you offer, and reviews.

34. Kudzu is great for local service businesses

Kudzu offers reviews for automotive, legal, health, financial and residential construction service businesses in major cities in the U.S. However, reviews are a small part of a large, detailed description and list of services you can display on Kudzu for free. Kudzu should be high on your list if you’re in a service-based business.

35.  TripAdvisor is a must for travel businesses

TripAdvisor is the first place travelers look when they’re planning a visit to a major city around the world. I personally booked a bicycle tour in Paris from reviews on TripAdvisor, and during the tour, the business owner told me TripAdvisor is a major source of new business for them. They key to credible reviews on TripAdvisor:  photos.

Blue Bike Tours has a thriving business - TripAdvisor is their #1 source of new customers

Blue Bike Tours has a thriving business – TripAdvisor is their #1 source of new customers

36.  Review sites can be an ongoing source of new customers

While many local business owners fear negative or fake reviews on these sites, it makes sense to embrace these websites and make full use of the wealth of free resources they offer you. Instead of waiting for your clients to come to your website, go to where they are: the review sites.  From there you can link to your website, offer inviting photos, and make your listing so inviting they can’t wait to visit.

37. Ask clients to use photos when they review your business

Much has been published about fake reviews (and people even sued over them); the best way to add credibility to any review is to add a relevant photo to it.  A photo of a clean body shop in an auto dealership can say far more than the review content, plus it shows the reviewer was really at your location. Ask your best clients for reviews and encourage them to snap a photo with their smartphone.

38.  Pay attention to review content

Make it a habit to read the reviews of your business and those of your competition.  While it’s impossible to please everyone, you’re likely to see a trend in what people rave about and what needs improvement. When reviewers complain about your competitors, identify how you can capitalize on their weaknesses or suggest a collaboration: you offer what they can’t, and vice-versa.  I know of a local quilt shop owner who formed a friendship with the local Wal-Mart manager, and they agreed to refer customers to each other when shoppers couldn’t find what they needed.

39.  Increases SEO results for your website

Review sites get massive traffic everyday, so a link on Yelp, Kudzu, TripAdvisor or other credible review site will help your website rank higher in search engines.  Don’t stop with just one review site: if your industry has multiple review sites consumers use, create listings on each.

40.  Add menus, photos, and details to your listings

Give visitors a multi-sensory experience when they look at your review site listing: can they see your restaurant’s inviting decor? Can they taste your tiramisu? Smell the Columbian coffee? Give viewers as much detail as possible in the form of photos, descriptions of products/services, directions, and other relevant information.

Instagram

local instagram2

41. Follow local Instagrammers

Who are the local Instagram influencers in your area? Search for your local hashtag, ask at your next chamber of commerce meeting, and start following those colleagues.  Also identify who the influential Instagram consumers are in your area and follow them as well.

42. Use a variety of images

Mix up the image types you share: staff photos, new products, inspirational quotes, your team at local charity events, before & after transformation photos, in-process photos and more. Keep your image feed interesting:  too much of the same type of image gets repetitive.

43.  Offer behind-the-scenes pictures

Some of the most fascinating images come from places consumers can never go: your kitchen, your body shop, stockroom, etc. Example? A local auto body shop shares fascinating before & after images of wrecked vehicles and the step-by-step process. I’d take my car there!

44.  Before & after transformation images are popular

Want to show off the impact your brand can have? Share before & after images of your clients! Great for hair salons, med spas, auto body shops, remodeling contractors, insurance agencies (before/after a home fire or other disaster) or any brand that has a visual impact.

45.  Share product photos with advice on how to use them

One of my favorite consignment stores posts photos of the new inventory they get weekly. I’d love to get a few of their tips on how to style or use the pieces they get.  Their vision of how to use their products is priceless beyond the piece itself.

An insurance company could share tips on what to do after hail damage to a car. Getting ideas for your brand now?

46.  Add location to images

Sharing those fascinating images is the first step to gaining followers.  Adding your location to those images makes it easy for those followers to find you when they’re ready to visit.

47.  Use local hashtags

Hashtags are crucial to getting found on Instagram, so what are the ones for your area? Indianapolis uses #indy, atlanta is known as #atl.  How about your town?

48. Use city, business type, business name, zip code and area code

If this image is the first time a follower has seen your brand, don’t make them guess at your details. Use hashtags to identify what you do: #atl, #barber, #barkerjackson, #30305, and #770 tells locals everything they need to know about your business at a glance.

 

Pinterest

local pinterest

49. Use place pins to offer a map to your location

Pinterest now offers “place pins,” which allow you to enter your address and it displays a map of your location. Great for both desktop and mobile users, no one has to guess where you are.

50. Add city and zip code in your board/pin titles and descriptions

Pinterest offers strong SEO results both internally and in Google, so using your city and zip code will help people find their local results.  Do you need them in both the pin and board descriptions? Yes. Why? Boards show up more often in Google, while inside Pinterest you’ll easily find both boards and pins.

51.  Pinterest provides your brand with an easy SEO boost

Not an internet geek? Awesome! You don’t have to be, nor do you have to pay an SEO consultant $5,000 to “optimize” your site.  Just add relevant local details to your boards and pins, and it will definitely help people to find you – both inside Pinterest and in Google search.

52.  Create local theme boards

The sky is the limit here: create “themed” boards around an experience: Date Night board could include dinner at your restaurant with live music. Spa Day board could be your hair salon “makeover” package with cut, color, facial and mani/pedi. Service-based businesses can do this too:  Insurance agencies can do boards around the dream cars, homes, and vehicles they insure. Financial services firms can showcase Saving for College or Retirement boards.

53.  Follow local pinners

Pinterest allows you to easily integrate your Facebook friends into your account, so you can connect with them. This is a great way to find local pinners.  Also search by hashtag to find pinners in your area.

54.  Offer contests to encourage visibility

While Pinterest may not be the first social network to come to mind for contests, brands like Amazon Fashion, LandsEnd, and Lily Pulitzer rock their contests, generating huge follower interest. How? Ask pinners to create boards with their brand favorites, and use the contest hashtag in the board description.

55.  Create a staff board

You’ve invested in a top-notch staff, so let pinners get to know them. Feature a staff board with a pin for each staff member, and a short bio. Want more? Include links to each staff members product recommendations and advice, as described in #56.

56.  Offer staff “picks” and advice

Let each staff member curate their own boards with their favorite products, advice, local hangouts and styles. It’s a great way to let local pinners get to know the faces behind your brand, what their strengths are, and who they identify with.

Mobile Marketing

local mobile

57. A mobile website is CRUCIAL for local businesses

People no longer rely on the Yellow Pages, and they use Siri and Android apps to find the closest business to them. Yesterday I was car shopping and asked Siri “where’s the closest BMW auto dealership?” I immediately looked at the most relevant results (my son was driving!). If your website is responsive or has a mobile version, you’ll get far better click-through rates and more people coming into your location.

58. Make your website responsive

A responsive website is one that automatically detects what device visitors are coming from and optimizes its display for the best viewing experience. Talk to your web developer about the simplest and most elegant way accomplish this: it’s an investment, but one that you need to do sooner than later.

59.  WordPress plugins provide a simple responsive solution

If you have a WordPress website, several plugins turn your website into a mobile version when visitors come from a smartphone or tablet.  These plugins are a smart solution for testing the response you get when you offer an optimized viewing experience for mobile users.  WP Touch and WP Mobile Detector are both highly rated and simple to install.

60.  Design emails for mobile reading

Most of us check our email on our mobile phones at least part of the time, so make your email newsletters mobile-friendly.  Use a mobile-friendly theme or just simple text in one column.  It’s not fancy, but it’s easily read and looks more like the emails readers get from friends and family (they don’t feel like they’re being sold to).

61.  Look at your website and emails on a tablet and smartphone

Great! You’ve got a mobile version of your website and your email newsletter! Have you looked at them yourself — as a consumer? Sure, you’re developer says they look great, but how readable are they to you? Ask staff members and friends to view them from their devices and different browsers to see how they look across the board.

62.  Use a large font size for easier mobile view

One simple tweak you can make to both your website and your email newsletters is to use a larger font size. That automatically reduces eye strain, especially on a tiny smartphone screen.

63.  One column layout is easier to read

Studies prove that a one column layout is both easier to scan and read, and gets higher click-through rates. Consider updating your website and your email newsletters to a simple one column layout. At least test a simplified version of each and see how the response rates change.

64.  44% of website traffic is mobile (and growing)

What adult (or teen) do you see without a smartphone in their hands? Mobile visitors are increasingly becoming a majority of traffic to your website, and local businesses likely get far more than 44% from it.  Check your Google Analytics (or ask your developer to) and see how many of your brand’s website traffic comes from mobile.

Where is Your Business Online? Can Your Customers Find It?

Local businesses are increasingly transitioning print, radio, and television advertising budgets to online marketing. Have you?

Identify your staff member who loves social and can represent your brand well, and give them the opportunity to build or improve your online marketing.  Give them this infographic as a “to do list” of tactics, and experiment with a few to see which ones generate the most traffic — both online and in your brick and mortar location.

Dec 23

Top 10 Most Popular Articles of 2013

By

Top 10 Most Popular Articles of 2013 Here at SMOC

Top 10 Most Popular Articles of 2013 Here at SMOC

#1. Facebook Marketing Infographic: 64 Tactics to Promote Your Business to 1 Billion People

The most popular article of all time here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com. 64 Facebook tactics in 8 categories for a possible 4 million unique marketing campaigns . . . http://goo.gl/KBWxUt

#2.  The Ultimate Guide to Profitable LinkedIn Networking (Infographic)

The most shared article in 2013 was this LinkedIn infographic: your go-to reference for what’s changed and how to get results on this B2B social network . . . . http://goo.gl/GezFLE

 #3. Social Media Templates, Presentations & Videos: Get My Best Resources without Leaving the Office

Couldn’t make it to a social media conference this year? No problem. Get these PowerPoint presentations, videos and templates from my own conference talks here . . . . . http://goo.gl/2zAMwv

#4.  Marketing Infographics on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Slideshare & More

My most popular infographics all in one place. Browse through them and download your favorites here . . . . . http://goo.gl/1TjTcQ

#5. Creating a Social Media Action Plan: the First 100 Days of 2013 (relevant for 2014 as well)

How to execute online marketing goals with an action plan. This is the second article in a three-part series including setting SMART goals and measuring your ROI . . . . http://goo.gl/4Kizfv

#6. How to Double Your Facebook Fans Authentically: No Buying Allowed (CASE STUDY)

This case study of an SMOC member who doubled her Facebook fans is even more critical with lower Facebook reach . . . . . http://goo.gl/jNdPUi

#7. WordPress Website Checklist: How to Build a Website with WordPress

Build your own WordPress website in just five steps with this article & accompanying checklist . . . . http://goo.gl/oG3C0c

#8. LinkedIn Sales Checklist: How to Generate Leads from LinkedIn

LinkedIn leads are 3x more likely to convert into a sale than any other social network. Learn how to turn your profile into a lead generation machine here . . . . http://goo.gl/Tcy6xF

#9. The Art of Giving a Recommendation

This surprise entry in the most popular list of 2013 demonstrates how difficult it is to write a solid recommendation for someone. Learn how your recommendations can stand out here . . . . . http://goo.gl/hbWVUF

#10. 3 Ways to Protect Your Online Accounts from Getting Hacked

Who’s been hacked this year? Target, LivingSocial, Facebook, WordPress, Evernote, Microsoft, and NBC. If it happened to these behomoths, it can happen to you too. Protect your accounts with a rock-solid fortress by doing these three simple things . . . . http://goo.gl/AJoEnT

social media strategy template
Sep 05

Social Media Strategy Optimization: Live Webinar + Recording + Slide Deck + Template

By Maria Peagler


social media strategy template

Get your social media strategy template in this FREE webinar

  • Learn how to develop your unique social media strategy
  • Thurs Sept 26th, 1pm ET, 5pm GMT
  • Live Webinar + On-Demand recording + Slide Deck + Template
  • $497.00 value FREE for Members (Membership is $57 per month, cancel easily anytime.)

Get Webinar FREE with SMOC Membership

Already a member?  Your webinar access codes will arrive in your Inbox by Sept. 23rd.

A social media strategy is crucial to getting ROI from your efforts, but do you have one?  Is it working?

If not, or if yours could use a tune-up, attend this brief webinar where Maria will do live optimizations of member’s strategy, and show you how to use a template to develop your own plan.

The template is an online tool, exclusive to Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, that steps you through creating your own strategy.  Upon completion, you’ll have a customized strategy that you can use as your guide in executing social media.

In this brief Webinar, founder Maria Peager will optimize member’s social strategies.  Will you be one of them?
You’ll learn:

  • They #1 factor you must get right to achieve ROI from social media
  • Which social networks are best for your business
  • When are the best times to reach your target audience
  • What kind of posts your audience responds to
  • What topics you should be posting about
  • How often you should be using social media

Plus, plenty of time for Q&A, so come with questions and sign up today!

Get Your $497.00 Webinar ticket FREE When You Join SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com  Today

Purchase your Webinar ticket for $497.00 now, or get it free when you join as a Member today for less than $60 per month. Cancel easily anytime.

SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com is a continuous service, including instant access to over 200 online lessons valued at $1,997.00 plus $597.00 worth of new Bonus Webinars & infographics each month, billed to your payment card every 30 days at the lowest rate then in effect, currently just $57.

In total, you’ll get instant access to $2,597.00 (and growing!) worth of practical Members-Only training to grow your business using social media. SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com Membership helps you:

#1. Focus on Social Networks that Get Results

Learn how to identify the social networks best for your unique business, then build a profile that turns more visitors into paying customers. SMOC brings you ‘what works’  training that cuts through the clutter & crushes social media overwhelm.

Members  instantly access how-to videos, screen shots, checklists, infographics, and case studies — tools which can be put to work on your website & social profiles right away.

#2. Get More Fans in Less Time

Discover how to get fans & connections without spending all day in social media.  You really can post to all of your social networks in as little as 15 minutes a day, and you’ll learn how to generate content & posts that get your business noticed, attract fans, and turn them into paying customers.

Members immediately get their hands on how-to checklists (like 13 Ways to Get More Facebook Fans), videos that teach you how to do search engine optimization yourself, and real-life examples of successful small businesses who’ve achieved great success.

#3. Customize Your Learning Track

Online training is often a one-sized fits all plan, but not for SMOC Members.  You’ll get a customized social media assessment that details the optimum social networks for your unique business & industry, and you can use it as your guide for what classes you’ll need (Members are often surprised at the results).   Plus, Members can instantly access:

  • hands-on video tutorials
  • monthly social media makeovers (for your website or any social network)
  • bonus webinars that dive deep into profitable tactics
  • infographics to print as your cheat sheets
  • a private community forum
  • virtual office hours

#4. SMOC networking plus exclusive Q&A Webinars & Workshops

Members get instant access to a private online community of peers eager to connect and discuss what’s worked and what hasn’t for them.  Each week, members also get one-on-one Q&A time with Maria during Virtual Office Hours.

Plus, your Membership includes a complimentary pass to SMOC’s monthly Bonus Webinar or virtual workshop focused on a hot social media business topic — ranging from one & done posting to getting listed on search results — with plenty of time for extended Q&As . The webinar alone is a value of $497.00 per month.

As a member you’ll get immediate access to all the materials on the site plus that month’s Bonus Webinar. After that, you’ll be billed the lowest available monthly fee (currently just $57) via convenient automated billing. It’s risk-free and guaranteed, you can easily cancel at any time.

So why not join today and see how SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com can help your business grow!

Get Webinar FREE with SMOC Membership

Aug 20

Google Analytics for WordPress: Easily Measure What Matters

By Maria Peagler

google analytics for wordpress tutorial

The final installment in my WordPress Website series demystifies how to use

Google Analytics

for WordPress. First, what is Google Analytics? It’s a measurement tool that analyzes the traffic to your website.

If you’re a statistics geek, you’ll love it and won’t need to read this article. You’ll feel right at home. If you’re not a stats geek, read on to learn how to measure what matters on your WordPress website.

How to Install Google Analytics (no coding necessary)

Before Google Analytics (GA) can measure anything, you need to add some tracking code to your website that looks like this:

UA-2223233-22

While many business owners hire a developer to install this code or get frustrated trying to do it themselves, I’ll save you the hassle of both. The foolproof method of installing GA is to use the Yoast Google Analytics plugin. Install this plugin on your WordPress website, give it your tracking code, and you’re all set. You’ll see statistics about your site within 24 hours.

Now, Google Analytics is a number-lovers dream. But small business owners don’t have time to wade through layers and layers of analytics to figure out what matters most to their businesses. So here are the Top 3 Google Analytics Metrics for Small Business: what they are, why they matter, and how to get them.

80/20 Rule for Google Analytics


These three metrics are the 80/20 rule of Google Analytics: 20% of your business comes from 80% of your effort.

1. Who is my audience?


GA calls this Audience Overview, and it tells you who is coming to your website and how they’re using it:

google analytics visitors report wordpress

Who is visiting my website?

The most important metrics here are:

    • Unique Visitors – how many people visited your website
    • Avg Visit Duration – how long they stayed
    • % New Visits – what percentage were new to your site (a high percentage of New Visits means people aren’t returning)
    • Bounce Rate – what percentage looked at only one page on your site and left (they didn’t find what they were looking for)
    • Unique Visitors – how many people visited your website

A good Bounce Rate for an entire site is around 60% or below. Higher means that people aren’t finding what they needed, so they left immediately. So what do you do with this report? Use it as a baseline for visitor behavior on your website. Watch for peaks and dips, and identify what you did on the site to motivate them.

2. Where is my traffic coming from?


This metric is called Traffic Source in GA terms, and it’s critical to understand where your website visitors are coming from. How do they find out about your website? And what sources drive the most traffic?

google analytics source report wordpress

Where are my visitors coming from?

The four main metrics here are:

    • Traffic Source Pie Chart – what percentage of traffic comes from Search, Referral, and Direct?
    • Search Traffic>Keyword – the terms people use to search for your website
    • Referral Traffic>Source – what websites link to yours and send you traffic
    • Direct Traffic>Landing Page – when people come to your website directly from a bookmark or typing in their browser, what page they arrive on

So what do you do with these metrics? Identify what your main traffic sources are, then focus on attracting more of it. If you’re getting a lot of Search Traffic, then optimize your site for search engines (SEO 101 teaches you how to do this). If one website is sending you a lot of referral traffic, reach out to them more often. If you’re getting a lot of Direct Traffic to one or two Landing Pages, people find those useful to return to them, so create similar pages on your site.

3. What is my most popular content?


This metric is called Pages in GA terms, and it tells you the most popular content you have on your website. It doesn’t have to be a page (even though GA calls them that); it could be a blog post, an infographic, or a video. But this metric will tell you which page of your website gets the most traffic over time:

google analytics pages reports wordpress

What are your top 5 most-visited pages?

The three key metrics here are:

    • Page – the name of your page
    • Page Visits – total number of visits to this page over the time period (day/week/month/year)
    • Bounce Rate – how many people came, viewed, and left after seeing that one page only. Same metric as in #1, but for an individual page.

So what do you do with these metrics? Identify your top five most-visited pages: these are your money pages, that attract traffic to your website.

Identify what content is most popular with your visitors, then develop a plan for creating similar content that your audience finds useful.

If your Bounce Rate is 100%, people aren’t finding what they need on that page. Figure out how to improve that content so visitors stay on it longer.

Tip: For your most popular pages, it’s helpful to understand what traffic sources drive the most visitors to them. You can view this by clicking on Secondary Dimension, then Source. GA displays the top sources of traffic for each page.

Google Analytics 101 for Business


These three metrics are the 80/20 rule of GA: 20% of your business comes from 80% of your efforts. Audience Overview, Traffic Source, and Pages are the 20% of GA you need to pay attention to. Sure, you can get lost in the sea of data GA presents, but I’ve saved you from that. Focus on these key statistics, and you’ll see your business website improve in traffic, return visitors, and sales.

Recommended Resources (About Membership)

Aug 12

Best WordPress Plugins: How to Add Features without Coding

By Maria Peagler


Best WordPress Plugins: How to Add Features without Coding

Live Webinar Aug. 22: WordPress Website in a Hour ($497 value free with membership)

Ever wished you could add an important feature to WordPress like a shopping cart, SEO tools, a contact form, or a spam blocker, but you don’t have the technical skills to do it?

Plugins to the rescue!  They’re  tools ready for you to add to your website, no coding required.

But, how do you know which ones are the best?  And what’s the difference between a widget and a plugin?

Plugins vs. Widgets

Both plugins and widgets allow you to add new features to your WordPress website/blog, but they serve different purposes:

  • Plugins add new features to WordPress that go beyond the default pages, posts & blogs.  The most popular plugins are SPAM blockers, SEO tools, analytics measurement, and  contact forms.
  • Widgets add content and new features to your sidebar.

Plugins turn WordPress from a plain blog into a robust website.  But, you need to know how to select ones you can trust:  plugins are the most-often cited source of problems for WordPress.  So it’s crucial to select the best ones with a solid reputation.

Top 5 Best WordPress Plugins (You Can Trust)

In true David Letterman form, here are my recommended “best” WordPress plugins:

1.  Akismet


Weird name — awesome plugin.  It’s the Ironman of SPAM blocking plugins, and it comes from WordPress itself, so you know you can trust it.  SPAM is the bain of any online site, and combating it can be a real headache.  Akismet identifies SPAM, blocks it automatically, and lets you  delete it in batches.

2.  Formidable Forms


Formidable Forms puts a simple Contact Us form on your site, easily.  It’s not the most popular Forms plugin, but it’s the simplest & the best.  I use it (and paid for the premium version after being impressed with its support).  I have a confession to make:  I have a crush on this plugin. I started out using it for a simple Contact Us form, and have used it to create self-service functions for visitors, including file uploads, member directories, surveys, and much more.  Highly recommended.

3.  WordPress SEO by Yoast


WordPress SEO by Yoast gives Google, Yahoo, Bing & other search engines exactly what they need to list your website when visitors are searching online.  Anything from Yoast you can trust, and you’ll save yourself thousands of dollars in SEO consulting with this plugin.

4.  Google Analytics for WordPress


Google Analytics for WordPress is another trusted plugin by Yoast.  How do you know if you’re blog posts are being read?  Is your blog attracting traffic?  And from where?  Get these answers and more without having to add a single line of code to WordPress using this plugin.  You still need to go to Google Analytics to view your stats, but this plugin makes it super simple to connect GA to WordPress.

5.  WP Touch Mobile


WP Touch Mobile automatically identifies when a visitor is viewing your website from a mobile device and displays it in a mobile version.  How often do you use your smartphone to view content online?  Guess what:  so are your visitors.  Turning your website into a mobile-friendly version (called Responsive in web design terms) can be a huge investment, but doesn’t have to be.  WP Touch Mobile =   Simple. Easy. Done.

Add these plugins to your WordPress site and you’ll transform a plain blogging platform into an expensive-looking & innovative website that you did yourself.  Need details on exactly how to do it?  Check out these recommended resources:

Related Member Resources (About Membership)

WordPress Website in an Hour (Live Webinar — $497 value free for members)

WordPress Website Checklist

WordPress for Business Case Study: a Neglected Blog Makeover to Full Website

Jul 22

Learn How to Build a WordPress Website in One Hour: Live Webinar + Recording + Slide Deck + Infographic

By Maria Peagler


bonus webinar wp 1 hour

  • Learn how to build your own website using WordPress
  • Thurs Aug 22th, 1pm ET, 5pm GMT
  • Live Webinar + On-Demand recording + Slide Deck + Infographic
  • $497.00 value FREE for Members (Membership is $57 per month, cancel easily anytime.)

Get Webinar FREE with SMOC Membership

Already a member?  Your webinar access codes will arrive in your Inbox by Aug. 21st.

WordPress is the #1 tool for building a website, but too many small business owners are held hostage to web developers who overcharge, don’t communicate, and worst of all:  take your money and run.

Think building your own website is beyond your reach?  Think again.

In this brief Webinar, founder Maria Peager will build a live website using WordPress in just one hour, and teach you how to do the same.   Discover:

  • Your step-by-step blueprint for building a professional website
  • Which WordPress themes are best (and the ones to avoid)
  • How to control your website, add content, and images
  • Where to get website graphics affordably
  • The easiest & most reliable way to accept payments for products/services
  • Who to turn to when you need help

Plus, plenty of time for Q&A, so come with questions and sign up today!

Important Note: This webinar will be available to Monthly Members only if you are registered during August.  After August 31, you will need an Annual Membership to access this webinar.

Get Your $497.00 Webinar ticket FREE When You Join SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com  Today

Purchase your Webinar ticket for $497.00 now, or get it free when you join as a Member today for less than $60 per month. Cancel easily anytime.

SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com is a continuous service, including instant access to over 200 online lessons valued at $1,997.00 plus $597.00 worth of new Bonus Webinars & infographics each month, billed to your payment card every 30 days at the lowest rate then in effect, currently just $57.

In total, you’ll get instant access to $2,597.00 (and growing!) worth of practical Members-Only training to grow your business using social media. SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com Membership helps you:

#1. Focus on Social Networks that Get Results

Learn how to identify the social networks best for your unique business, then build a profile that turns more visitors into paying customers. SMOC brings you ‘what works’  training that cuts through the clutter & crushes social media overwhelm.

Members  instantly access how-to videos, screen shots, checklists, infographics, and case studies — tools which can be put to work on your website & social profiles right away.

#2. Get More Fans in Less Time

Discover how to get fans & connections without spending all day in social media.  You really can post to all of your social networks in as little as 15 minutes a day, and you’ll learn how to generate content & posts that get your business noticed, attract fans, and turn them into paying customers.

Members immediately get their hands on how-to checklists (like 13 Ways to Get More Facebook Fans), videos that teach you how to do search engine optimization yourself, and real-life examples of successful small businesses who’ve achieved great success.

#3. Customize Your Learning Track

Online training is often a one-sized fits all plan, but not for SMOC Members.  You’ll get a customized social media assessment that details the optimum social networks for your unique business & industry, and you can use it as your guide for what classes you’ll need (Members are often surprised at the results).   Plus, Members can instantly access:

  • hands-on video tutorials
  • monthly social media makeovers (for your website or any social network)
  • bonus webinars that dive deep into profitable tactics
  • infographics to print as your cheat sheets
  • a private community forum
  • virtual office hours

#4. SMOC networking plus exclusive Q&A Webinars & Workshops

Members get instant access to a private online community of peers eager to connect and discuss what’s worked and what hasn’t for them.  Each week, members also get one-on-one Q&A time with Maria during Virtual Office Hours.

Plus, your Membership includes a complimentary pass to SMOC’s monthly Bonus Webinar or virtual workshop focused on a hot social media business topic — ranging from one & done posting to getting listed on search results — with plenty of time for extended Q&As . The webinar alone is a value of $497.00 per month.

As a member you’ll get immediate access to all the materials on the site plus that month’s Bonus Webinar. After that, you’ll be billed the lowest available monthly fee (currently just $57) via convenient automated billing. It’s risk-free and guaranteed, you can easily cancel at any time.

So why not join today and see how SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com can help your business grow!

Get Webinar FREE with SMOC Membership