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5
May

Arkside Becomes Social Media Partner with Sprout Social

Early last year, we began a search for our official social media partner. Due to the varied nature of our client list, the sheer number of profiles we managed on a daily basis, and our commitment to cross-media integration, we needed a robust platform that could grow with us and be responsive enough to handle our requests and recommendations. After testing six different platform, including industry leaders Buffer and Hootsuite, Sprout Social was our ultimate choice. Together we have grown over the last year and we are both taking our next great leaps together.

Arkside Marketing is now a Founding Member of the Sprout Social Agency Partner Program!

“But what does that mean for me?” Good question. We’re very excited about the answer!

The Sprout platform has already enabled us to offer incredible results for our clients. Their content curation and posting abilities are strong compliments to our unique, cutting-edge social media strategies. When it comes to social, we strive to be a social media partner. Our clients routinely outperform industry standards for engagement every month. Now we will be working more closely than ever with Sprout and creating new opportunities. These are just some of the tools at our disposal for the benefit of our clients:

  • Direct API access to key social media networks Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+.
  • Sprout’s Viralpost audience engagement analyzer
  • In-platform image editing
  • Employee advocacy support (“brandvocates”)
  • Competitor tracking
  • Keyword monitoring
  • RSS feed integration
  • Post click tracking
  • Google Analytics integration
  • The latest social media industry news, tips, and strategy
  • Case studies and whitepapers
  • Mobile & desktop curation, scheduling, posting, and monitoring
  • Enhanced customer support
  • Access to an exclusive community of social media professionals

From Day 1, Arkside has always believed in treating our media vendors like partners. We treasure our relationships because the media is a partner in the success of our clients. That approach has paid tremendous dividends. This week is another shining example. Sprout has worked with more than 17,000 clients over the last seven years including UPS, Bentley, Hyatt, and Stanford University. They have won more than 25 awards since their founding. We are honored to be chosen in a small group representing less than 0.004% of their client roster to help launch their new Agency Partner Program.

Why Arkside as Your Social Media Partner?

There are thousands of individuals and agencies to choose from that offer social media management. As Founding Members of the Sprout Social Agency Partner Program, we collaborate with their amazing team which elevates our abilities to drive new brand awareness and revenue to your business. We offer expertise in organic and paid social media campaigns. Beyond social, we can analyze, optimize, and integrate other media such as radio, billboards, and Google into your media mix for the best possible ROI on your marketing investment.

For organizations that have an in-house marketing team, we work with seamless collaboration to ensure success. They are a vital element of content development. Our CEO and Digital Coordinator can train your existing staff (once or at regular intervals) on the latest social media best practices, internal process development, crisis management, and employee empowerment.

If you looking for a social media partner to see the best results from social media, contact us today. The consultation is free. We can even perform a confidential audit of your existing vendor to identify potential areas of improvement. Give us a call and let’s explore your possibilities!

4
Jan

WW – Corporate Policy without Common Sense

Dealing with the large social media entities and giants of the online world can be a lot like the famous Office Space TPS reports scene. In the scene, Peter Gibbons is talked to about his TPS reports by two people, a phone call, and even his friends have heard that he has been having “problems” with his TPS reports. He simply forgot about the new cover sheet policy. With each new person who talks to him about the TPS reports, they promise to send him a copy of the memo. Everyone he encounters, with the exception of his friends, doesn’t care that he has already spoken to someone else regarding the policy and the TPS reports, but knows that it is their duty to discuss the policy with him and everyone is required to live by the policies set forth by management. This is an example of corporate policy without common sense.

When Social Media Becomes Anti-Social

This is the case when trying to get help from some of the giants of the online world, if you can even manage to get help. Recently, we encountered a technical problem setting up a LinkedIn Company Page for a client. In this case, another company in Canada had long ago setup a Page using the same name as our client. The Canadian company has since shut it’s doors. Not even their website existed anymore. We discovered this and brought it to LinkedIn for assistance in creating the Page for our client. LinkedIn refuses to allow us to move forward because the company names are too similar, even though the Canadian company no longer exists. They will not remove the other company’s Page. We have gone back and forth with LinkedIn over the issue but they refuse to deviate from their procedures by using common sense.

In a different area, Google can also be frustrating. It is now extremely difficult to get any assistance from Google, but this hasn’t always been the case. Google used to have a great feature where we could live chat with tech support if necessary. They have recently eliminated this feature for many of their services, so now phone or email are the main methods of getting assistance. A phone call sounds convenient, right? It would be if the operators spoke understandable English. When operators are difficult to understand or they are constrained by following certain problem resolution procedures without applying any common sense, the solution remains out of rech.

Moving at the Speed of Analog

This over-reliance on procedure can also slow down things that should be easy and prompt. Want to take advantage of Google’s holiday hour feature? Submit your hours and wait three days for approval and publishing. Want to remove a couple pictures from Bing Places for Business (previously known as Bing Local)? Make your changes and wait up to 14 days. Any time you want to make a simple change to your Google or Bing listing for your business there is a waiting period. Now thankfully Google’s isn’t as long as Bing’s, but in the world of fast moving data, any waiting period is inhibiting marketers and business owners from successfully promoting their business. Now, I’m not one to praise Yelp, but this is something they have done right. If you want to make a change to your Yelp listing, like inputting your holiday hours, those changes take effect immediately: no waiting period, no hoops to jump through. Just a simple click of a button. While there should be some changes that need to go through Google and Bing for verification, not all changes should which is why certain policies should be changed.

We all have Google My Business accounts to manage our Google listings and the Bing equivalent for those listings. We stewards of our brands control the dashboard; we know what is going on with our brands better than anyone else and would give our non-dominant arm to make sure that nothing happens to mar our brand’s reputation. At the end of the day that is what matters and how dare Google and Bing take that control away from us and decide if our holiday hours or a simple removal of a photo is good enough for our brand. That is up to us to decide.

The Role of Policies and Procedures

Policies and procedures are great to have. They help determine a path to take in certain situations. However, policies and procedures are not things that determine the fate of every outcome. There are some instances that need to go against policies and procedures and involve common sense. The examples described above illustrate when common sense should be applied to existing policies. Customer service agents on the front lines of support need to be empowered to use common sense when appropriate. Policies and procedures have a time and a place but that time and place should not impact the marketing capabilities of those trying to do right by their brand. A corporate policy without common sense benefits no one.

23
Dec

Decline in Facebook Page Organic Reach

It isn’t a rumor, nor is it a conspiracy. Facebook organic reach has been slashed. Facebook has admitted to changing its algorithm so businesses (or anyone else with a Page) are forced to pay if they want their posts to be seen. While most businesses saw a decline to about 15-20% organic reach last year, many are now reaching only 2%. In the case of the Arkside Marketing Facebook Page, we are seeing 5-8% consistently.

Facebook has become the bridge troll with a pay-to-play model.

General Motors Called Facebook’s Bluff

The origin of this change reaches back about a year and a half. Facebook had one billion users and was the place to be. Many Fortune 500 companies were clamoring to get on the bandwagon but still hadn’t figured out how. Even at the end of 2012, only 66% of the F500 were on Facebook, let alone using it effectively.

But in May 2012, General Motors’ firebrand CMO, Joel Ewanick, made the decision to fire their social media agency of record and stop all advertising on Facebook. Quick way to save $10 million. The stated reasoning was that they didn’t see any substantial return on their investment so they would stop advertising and continue with their organic Facebook Page fan base of a few million followers.

Even with Facebook making it impossible for brands to reach 100% of their followers, most were still seeing what you posted. Why advertise? Faceb0ok was cannibalizing itself. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

Not only did they just eliminate themselves as a top Facebook advertiser (and revenue source), but they did this the week Facebook had their IPO. Ouch.

We believe Joel was right.

Ewanick and General Motors exposed the flaw in Facebook’s plan. Spending wasn’t necessary because people were organically finding, Liking, and sharing brand content.

Facebook had to fix the giant hole in the ship. Now you have to pay to get on board.

Effect on the Facebook Page for Business

Post-IPO, Facebook has been under immense public pressure (especially from our own Founder who has had issues with the platform). They have been busy addressing their failure on mobile devices and an unfriendly ad platform. Organic results were odd also. For many years, it has been frustrating for businesses on Facebook because they are treated badly. Even when a customer says they “Like” a business, Facebook doesn’t see that as permission to show your content. In their belief, just because a customer says they “Like” something, that doesn’t really mean they want to see anything from it.

In high school, guys wanted “no” to mean “yes”.
On Facebook, “yes” actually means “no”.

Now, “yes” actually means “no way in hell”. So what is a business to do? According to Facebook, a business is to pay for ads.
“Your brand can fully benefit from having fans when most of your ads show social context, which increases advertising effectiveness and efficiency“.

Perhaps the most offensive and glaring admission is this:
“We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.

If someone tells you they like something and you block them from seeing it, how does that equal a meaningful experience?

Social Media Sharing Options

1) Save Money and Reach Fewer People
There are many social media agencies and managers that we have spoken to whom have told us they will be focusing less of their time (and their client’s money) on Facebook Pages. In their view, the task of reaching a fan base is so time consuming and expensive that better results can be found on other social media or even traditional media.

2) Spend Money and Reach More People
Other social media agencies and managers have said they will pay, if necessary. Facebook wants to command paid media and may be a force that is too large to ignore. For those companies with substantial followings in the thousands or hundreds of thousands, a marketing investment may be a wise decision.

At Arkside Marketing, we have  saying, “advertising is an investment. If it is only an expense, you are doing it wrong.”

3) Leave Facebook
Yes, we’re serious. For some businesses, the Facebook Page organic reach may have provided a nice bump in social interaction, but their new model decreases the return that could possibly be achieved. Could that time be better spent on other social platforms such as Twitter or the SEO-friendly Google+?

In the spirit of full disclosure, we have not recommended that any of our clients abandon Facebook. Each of them can continue to successfully reach their audience, but to a smaller degree. We also plan to continue our own Facebook presence, but will reduce our advertising to large announcements.

Facebook In The Future

Although we agree with his decision, we blame Joel Ewanick for this. Ultimately, it would have occurred anyway. Facebook had to realize their shortcoming. But now that it is here, what will your business choose? The pay-to-play model is here to stay, mainly because it doesn’t seriously infringe on Facebook’s main product: its users.

Contact Us

If you would like an objective evaluation of your social media presence and strategy, contact our office.

16
Sep

Google SEO Has Social Media as 7 of Top 10 Factors

It was recently reported by Searchmetrics that Google is strongly prioritizing social media activities in their ranking algorithm. This knowledge should have profound implications in the SEO strategy of your company and how you include social media in your overall online plans. The SEO strategy you have built with your Arkside consultants incorporates this information already and we encourage you to utilize these best practices in your social media efforts.

Social Media Factors for Google SEO

Seven of the top 10 factors in a website’s rank involve social media. They are:

1) Google +1
2) Facebook Shares
4) Facebook Total
5) Facebook Comments
6) Facebook Likes
7) Pinterest
8) Tweets

The importance of social media elements has been a growing trend in Google’s SEO algorithm and 2013 seems to reinforce that notion. Although backlinks continue to remain vital, there are other factors which have decreased in importance such as keywords links and domains. It is interesting to note that Google is specifically including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, while ignoring LinkedIn which is a hub of deep knowledge on nearly every possible industry. We’ll have to see how or if this evolves over time. When sharing your content on social media, remember that people don’t want to see you talk about yourself all day. For every 7-10 social media posts you make, one should be about you.

Content is Still King for On-Site Google SEO

Also of note in the report are the on-site elements Google is looking for. It is no surprise that “content is still king” and Google wants websites to create unique content that is valuable to the intended audience. As a contrary example, the Arkside Marketing blog is filled with information about the company, areas of marketing, best practices, and client profiles. If we suddenly began blogging about fishing or the latest updates to IRS tax code, Google might devalue our site for being grossly off-topic. Ensure your website has fresh, unique, and quality content in order to build your authority on your topic(s). These are the on-site factors examined by Google:

  1. Number of internal links
  2. HTML length
  3. Keywords in body
  4. Keywords in external links
  5. Text character length
  6. Internal link is self-referential
  7. Keyword in internal link
  8. Number of external links
  9. Image count
  10. Keyword in H2

Backlinks Required, But Remain Cautious

Missing from the first list in this blog post is #3 – Number of backlinks. Google still considers this to be a critical metric of your authority on a particular subject. If you have good content, Google assumes people will like it, link to it, and share it publicly via their own site or social media channels.  This does not mean you should implement any “black hat” SEO techniques and create blog farms filled with backlinks to your site. White hat techniques are still the unarguably best way to achieve Google SEO success.

Summary

While Google hasn’t made many dramatic shifts in their ranking priority from last year to this year, social media has climbed in importance and must remain a key factor in your online strategies. Use social media to promote the high-quality, unique content on your site and encourage people to distribute that content via backlinks and social media sharing. This is how you will achieve digital success.

8
Jun

4 Simple Tips for Integrating Social Media

Businesses large and small can encounter difficulties when integrating social media into their traditional advertising strategy. The opportunities to reach an audience are more diverse with social media due to the variety of sites, not to mention the methods they use to connect users together. The following tips will help you integrate social media with your traditional media such as print, radio, and television.

Maintain Marketing Responsibility

The same person responsible for your current traditional marketing should also be responsible for social media. They don’t have to do the work, but they should be accountable. You need someone to coordinate the brand, message, and schedule between all of your media properties. This will help maintain cohesion in your marketing.

Cross Pollinate Your Advertising

Show your customers that you are the same company on social media that you are in traditional media. For example, place the Facebook logo in your magazine ad with a call-to-action such as “Like Us On Facebook for Exclusive Coupons!”. Social and traditional media should be used to assist each other. Share your TV commercial on Twitter and other social media the same day it hits the airwaves. Make sure it is loaded on your website or YouTube channel so you can track interactions. Let people know what TV channels they can find it on. We brought a new level of cross pollination to our client, Precision Instrumentation, by including their YouTube channel on all of their product packaging. The channel offers a collection of how-to and self-help videos so their clients don’t have to call a support line for small, quick fixes.

Integrating Social Media on Your Website

Make sure to incorporate whatever features are appropriate: a “Like” or “+1” button, Facebook or Twitter feed, Share buttons, etc. Integrating social media into your website can give you four direct benefits. First, some social media elements such as Like or +1 buttons give you a search engine optimization (SEO) enhancement. Second, it can add dynamic content that keeps your website visitor updated on the latest news from your company or about your product without having to read a blog or press release. Third, your website visitors now have a direct and convenient link to your social media and can connect with you organically (thereby growing your contact potential in the future). Finally, with a Like, +1, or other Share button, you are enabling and encouraging your visitors to share your content with their friends and family. This is equivalent to handing them a bullhorn and providing a script about how amazing you are.

Promote Your Social Media Channels

You may use a newsletter or “email blast” to communicate with your customer database on a regular basis. (If not, please contact us NOW so we can help you get started on this vital marketing component!) But whatever you use to stay in touch, make sure to promote your new social media channels. Tell them to Like you on Facebook, Follow you on Twitter, Follow you on Instagram, Circle you on Google+, or whatever it may be they need to do on a particular social media channel. “If you build it, they will come” only works for strip clubs and open bank vaults. You not only have to tell people where to find you, but what to do when they get there. Make it easy by integrating social media.

Summary

Social media is an important opportunity to reach new customers, stay connected with current customers, and showcase yourself. It also allows public promotion and discourse so that your customers can help sell your product or service. Integrating social media correctly with your traditional media will bring new growth to your bottom line with minimal investment. Truly great potential for ROI!

 

If you would like to schedule a consultation or ask a question about social media integration, please call or email us today. We always promise a response within 24 hours.