Blog - Page 19 of 21 - Small business consultant

8 Business mission & vision statement & core values

In the previous posts, I spoke about defining your ideal client and your core business values. These are your defining ‘who’s, who are you working for and who you are. They are also key start and end points in your business, where you are working from and to.

You need to get these definitions out of a book, off of the wall and into your actions. My years of Quality Assurance, project management, staff management and public sector experience all drew one key aspect from my Psychology degree, which is that values drive behaviour. So when I took over a dysfunctional team, I sat down with the members and discussed their values and drivers. From there I was able to align them with the functions (outputs) of the unit. An amazing thing happened, when the staff could see their roles aligned with their values, their performance improved exponentially, complaints decreased, and morale (and attendance) improved. All because I listened to the core values of my staff and matched them to their jobs and the function of the team. Now, imagine what you can do with your business, when you align your values, mission, and vision! Imagine what you can achieve, how easy it will be to bring in staff, how you will grow.

Leaders of tribes - Write to Right

Does your business have a mission statement? Do you know why you are spending your time in it?

If you don’t have one then this is where you need to start. These questions set the foundations of how others see your business. Here are some simple prompts to help you write your mission:

Who– who are you, are you a multi-national, family company, or sole trader? Who are your customers? Are they families, singles, seniors, small business, multi-nationals?

What– What is it that you do? What do you sell?

Why- Why do customers use your business? What is the benefit to them?

Where– Where can they find you? Are you a bricks & mortar, online, franchise?

Do you have a vision statement? Do you know where you want your business to be in one year, three years, five years?

This is where you have to be SMARTER. Make sure your vision is:

Specific– No wishy-washy motherhood statements. Say exactly where you want to be, put a dollar figure to it.

Measureable- If it can’t be measured then you can look back and see if you have achieved it. It also means that it’s likely to be a motherhood statement and you are less likely to hold yourself to account.

Achievable- The goal has to be appropriate, able to be attained in the given timeframe.

Reportable- You have to make yourself accountable for the goal and the only way to do that is to make it reportable. That could be in your end of year financial report, quarterly reports, cash flow reports, stakeholder reports, reportable to a mentor or a friend.

Time-sensitive- The goal has to have a deadline. Don’t make it a moveable goal or you are less likely to set tasks to achieve it.

Evaluated- Is it reasonable, achievable, how does it compare to others in your industry?

Reviewed-
How often will it be reviewed so you know if you are on track?

Now we move on to aligning the previous work you have done.

Where do your mission and visions cross? Are there any common words or themes? Where does you ideal customer meet with your mission? With your vision? List the adjectives, or find relevant adjectives, to describe these intersections. These intersections are powerful points. Remember, when you align values, missions, and visions magic happensTweet this

So when you have these magical sweet spots, you need to leverage them. These are the words which need to drive your interactions. There’s a word of warning, they must be for your client. If you start writing about the business it becomes about you. You don’t need to sell, or convince, to you. Unless your ideal client is a competitor, don’t write about your industry either. Your customer doesn’t want to know why your industry does xyz, they have a need and want you to meet it. It’s why they are at your website/Facebook/Google+ .

Go back and look at the list and where it meets your ideal client. What words help to meet their needs? What benefits are they looking for? Remember you wrote out their preferences, look to these for inspiration on how they want to be sold to and what needs you need to meet. Now, what are the benefits of your product or service and how do you meet your idea customer’s needs?

So now you have the adjectives to help describe your product or service and you have the benefits you need to include when you write those descriptions. Make the most of these powerful sales tools to drive your business to your ideal customer. Remember, they are your goal, your target market and anyone else that you catch along the way is fantastic.

 

 

10 Define your business core values

Core values - Write to Right

My last blog post was all about getting to know your ideal client. When you understand the ‘who’ it gives you something to aim for, but with what are you aiming?

Do you know why you are spending your time in it? What drives you and your business? What are your goals or ambitions? What is your purpose? (Deep, I know!)

These questions set the foundations of how others see your business. Here are some simple prompts to help you:

Who– who are you, are you a multi-national, family company, or sole trader? Who are your customers? Are they families, singles, seniors, small business, multi-nationals?
What– What is it that you do? What do you sell?
Why- Why do customers use your business? What is the benefit to them?
Where– Where can they find you? Are you a bricks & mortar, online, franchise?

I would like businesses to dig a little deeper. Big business does it, government departments do it; why don’t small businesses? Small business has the advantage of size and that they often are their culture and that their culture is a large part of who the business is. But what is culture? What underpins it culture is values. It is the values which we hold, individually and collectively, that help define who we are and how we portray ourselves to others. With the integration of social media into business, the injection of our personality through our values is key to developing lasting and valuable relationships with our clients. Tweet this

What are your core values?

Professionally, personally, collectively as a business – what are your core values? What are the fundamental underlying traits, behaviours, and values that you hold? I have included ‘personally’ as so many business owners instil parts of their own personality into their business.

Why should your business define its core values:

  • Point of difference with your competitors
  • Alignment of staff
  • Communicate what is important
  • Influence behaviour
  • Inspire action
  • Contribute to success
  • Shape your culture

I have written on how the culture & values impact on staff behaviours in my Masters of Management, should you wish to read further on the topic please email me directly.

Customers ask how to define their core values. There are a number of ways. Personally, I looked at the one thing I would love to do even if I never got paid to do it; then I looked at what it was about that thing which drove me. For me, it comes down to quality (read my latest post on this) and giving business owners the skills to get the most out of their business and to get themselves to the next level.

At its essence you are looking for what you and your business stand for, what ultimately drives what you do and what it is you actually do.Tweet this

Here is a video, which I have found, that will help you on the journey to finding your core values.

I’ve also found the following video on how large corporations use their core values. I particularly like the point made by Tony Hsieh that their company used the values to ‘hire and fire’. From my research, I know that (certainly in the public service) the alignment of core business and employee values is a key driver in customer satisfaction.Tweet this I believe that the private sector is no different. This is, in part, reiterated by the second statement by Jim Collins in the following video. (I also find the clip from Steve Jobs quite inspiring.)

Now over to you, comment below with your core values (business or personal). Don’t be shy and don’t worry if you only have one. Now think about how you will use this value and transmit this value to your customers.

 

Define your ideal client avatar

Know your client - Write to RightA while ago I wrote about finding your online voice. While all of it is important, there is one step that I am finding businesses either struggle with or skip altogether – defining their ideal client.

Now, I grew up with the adage:

You can please some of the people some of the time, you can’t please all the people all of the time. So why do we as business owners try?Tweet this

I know in my handmade business that I am not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. I don’t want to be. So why does my service business (Write to Right) have to be any different. Well, fortunately I don’t believe it and in fact, before I started the business I worked with a leading marketing professional to define many aspects of my business.

Why did I define these aspects of my business? Well, I knew that I would need to market Write to Right differently to my handmade business. That being the case, I took a corporate approach and went to a consultant. The first thing we didn’t do was sit down and discuss how she was going to revolutionise my business, nor did we work out strategies for different media. The first thing was working out who my ideal client was.

This pushed my buttons as I hadn’t even considered defining my ideal client, and to be honest I was happy to provide my services to anyone. I hadn’t realised that the fundamentals I had learnt in the handmade sphere translated to business services. The thing I have realised since is that I am not alone. Most of the businesses that I have worked with do not know who they are marketing to. They haven’t gotten to know their ideal client.

Don’t worry, defining your ideal client does not mean you can’t work with anyone who falls outside the definition. Defining your ideal client allows you to develop so many strategies to help your business, to grow your business, and to save you stress. Yes, it’s another ‘thing’ you should do and need to do, but I promise that it will save you time (and help to make money) in the long run.

Defining ideal client - write to right

Current research indicates that it takes between seven and ten ‘touches’ before a customer will purchase from a business. A touch can be them seeing your business name, speaking to you, reading a social media post, or seeing you in person. If you are consistent with how you speak to your customers, then these touches are easier. By having an idea of who your ideal client is, it is easier for you to formulate these interactions.

There are many tools and videos online to help you define your ideal client. I have found these two videos to be simple and informative. Watch them in the order I have posted below and use the questions in the second video (they are more in depth) to help you define your ‘who’, and the instructions in the first for the ‘why’.

 

 

I’d love to know how you go defining your ideal client, so leave me a comment below. Did you find the videos helpful? Was the exercise enlightening? Or, do you already know your ideal client and can share how you use this knowledge?

 

Quality, heart-centred online business

Quality websites - Write to RightIn my last blog post, I wrote about how I kept my online presence whilst I was on holidays. Now, during those four weeks I not only had a marvelous time, I received a shot of clarity. See, I thought I knew what was at the heart of Write to Right, seems there is something in the Parisian air and I now know what is at the centre of the business.

I have a burning desire to help business owners make their online presence the best it can possibly be. My focus is on quality. While I have been teaching you the skills and sharing my insights in running an online business, what I wanted to do was to help you make the most out of what is inside you, what drives your business. I want to help you get that out to your customers.

I was talking to a prospective client, who was looking for a content author (something I can, but prefer not to do), and I spoke to them on how I like to focus on getting the most out of a business’ existing online resources and how they will benefit. I explained that although I write all of my own content, I don’t write for others as my experience is that business owners are best placed to write their own content. (Read my blog post on why you don’t need a copywriter) I also explained how, though web designers/builders are great for building your site – they will only put in to it what they receive from their customer (you).

Now, while I am a firm believer (now) in getting something up live and rejuvenating it, I also am a firm believer in the need to make it the best it can be at that time. Some would say that it’s advocating for polishing the proverbial dog dung, but some customer’s prefer theirs shiny and isn’t it better to show your customers what you sell on a polished turd than not letting them know at all?

I’ve read a lot recently about quality being an entry requirement to the marketplace, I’m also seeing more on how marketing is changing from a push to a pull. I don’t think they are mutually exclusive. As a consumer, I am turning away from the hard sell and I am also becoming wary of the soft sell. As a business owner, I (and others) am developing the ‘social’ part of my social media presence. (Read how you can be more social in my blog)

I believe that consumers are looking for genuine interaction when purchasing and I firmly believe that businesses find genuineness easier when they come from a place of quality.

Why? Quality, and delivering what you say, engenders trust and customers will only perceive genuineness when they trust the message and the method. (Tweet this)

Take some time to watch this TED talk from Joseph Pine. While this talk is now a decade old, I believe that we are still in the transition phase and that when businesses realise that customers are after more than just a product or service they open up another level of their business’ earning capacity.

Social media is ingrained in current culture. In fact, Facebook has an average of 1.35 billion people using the platform every month (Tweet this). While businesses might believe that they can afford not to be on a social media platform, I’m not one to ignore the potential of reaching 1.35 billion people every month. Incidentally, I am also aware that there are a number of consumers who shun social media, and as a result I maintain a website presence. The benefit of both is an increased potential client base.

I want your business to make the most of the opportunities afforded it. I want you to shine above your competitors. I want you to extend the quality you invest into your products and services to your online presence. I see benefit in moving to the experiential model and believe that a lot of this lies in your online communication.

I believe that ensuring the quality of your business’ online presence is what lies at the heart of my business. There is science behind this. Google has quality indicators in its search algorithm, customers will not buy from websites that contain spelling and grammatical errors. (read more about why I think this is important) I want to take this science, meld it with my Management and Psychology qualifications and balance it with my years of website experience to offer you ways to have the best online presence possible for your business.

So that’s the ‘why’, what about the ‘how’? Read through my blog posts, sign up to the newsletter, like my Facebook page. These are all ways in which you can find out how you can DIY a better online presence. If you are time poor check out the services I offer to do it for you.

Where to from here now that you have read, signed up and liked? I want you to watch the following TED talk by Seth Godin on Tribes. I want you to think on what is at the core of your business and how you will lead your tribe in a new direction. Think about what influence you can make in the next 24 hours and take your tribe on a new journey. Better still, when you take them on the journey, let us all join you by sharing it in the comments below.

 

1 Hints to maintain business social media while on holiday

Keep working while you play Write to RightEver wonder how you will keep your social media followers engaged whilst on holiday, while ill, during peak periods, or even when you need some time away from your devices? My family and I have just returned from a four-week overseas holiday (I feel refreshed and with a clearer direction for both of my businesses) and I maintained my Facebook post reach of 90%, engagement rate of 10% and increased my number of followers.

Even though I did have my smartphone with me, wifi connectivity was unreliable and patchy. The other issue that I had was being between 9 and 12 hours behind my regular time zone, meaning that ‘on the fly’ posting to my main follower base was not an option. I wanted a relaxing holiday, so in the four weeks leading up to my holiday I scheduled 70+ Facebook posts and four MailChimp newsletters. I did post occasionally to Instagram and used some time to increase my Twitter following.

 So how did I achieve this?

As I said earlier, I used the four weeks leading up to the break to schedule my content. I do not use a social media scheduler to post across multiple platforms, it doesn’t suit me or my business (in fact I have just read an email from Crush Social outlining why my approach is correct). In the past I have used the calendar on my phone to keep track of which day I am up to with my scheduling. This time I had a social media calendar.

 Social media calendars

There are a number of free and paid social media calendars on the internet. I have looked at a number of them and was lucky enough to receive one from Kellie O’Brien Media. It is a month-to-a-page calendar (affiliate link), BUT (and it’s a big one) the thing that stands out for me is the hints and the special dates. It is the special dates which helped me to determine posts when I had run out of my popular content (I will post later on this topic). The special dates include things like awareness weeks (or days), holidays, and sporting events. While Kellie has used Australian dates, a lot of these awareness events are international and it is these special dates that sets her calendar apart from the others available. (Note: while Kellie did provide me with the calendar, it was done so for user testing, my affiliate link was provided after)

Productivity is never an accident Write to Right

 Pinterest

I am an avid Pinner. I admit to having more than your average number of boards and a few secret ones too. While I do pin content from the internet to Pinterest, I most often repin. The key to Pinterest is to understand your ideal client & pin that. Tweet this  According to hubby, I spend too much time on there, but I see it as all valuable research time (ok, sometimes it’s like a rabbit hole).

If you are not on Pinterest, I would suggest having a look. Many businesses, including my own, use it to promote their own products. While I do not find it a good sales vehicle, it is handy for brand awareness. I would suggest starting with the ‘Popular’ pins and over time Pinterest will learn your tastes and customise your feed to suit. Follow the boards of your favourite Pinners or just follow them entirely (some people I follow entirely and others I select certain boards). The thing I like about Pinterest, is that in the main, you will be linked back to the original source. This is great for sharing the content directly and makes attribution simple.

Facebook Scheduling

I regularly schedule Facebook posts and have for a while now. I don’t like being flustered and pushed into posting content on the fly. I regularly check my Insights and I post when my followers are online (a great way to help engagement). Scheduling posts allows me to post when they are on, but I might not be.

I have found this recent video by The Stacey Harris on how to schedule a Facebook post.

MailChimp scheduling

If you have subscribed to Write to Right’s newsletter, you would have received my scheduled newsletters. (You haven’t? Head over and sign up now and receive a free set of my top social media hints) I use MailChimp as my email platform, there are dozens out there, but MailChimp is a well-known provider and integrates with my website.

Email lists are a fantastic way to reach your customers in a more personalised and direct mannerTweet this It’s also a fabulous way to offer digests of your social media content, deliver special offers and generally remind people that you are still there (let’s face it, not everyone spends as much time as I do on Facebook). So my email subscribers didn’t miss out, I scheduled my regular newsletter. Ok, so it didn’t contain new content (there’s nothing wrong with recycling and I will discuss this in another post), but it did help me to stay in front of mind whilst I was away. I found this great video from Chris Durnan, who details how to schedule a MailChimp campaign.

 

These are the main tools I used to keep my businesses running whilst I was away for four weeks. While they work for my businesses, they might not be right for yours. If you have any other tools or hints you would like to share, please leave a comment below. If you would like to learn more about writing for social media, please read my other blog posts.

1 6 big ways blogging benefits business – part 2

big ways your business benefits from bloggingLast week I let you in on the first half of why you should be blogging, how your business benefits from blogging, and a little bit on how you can go about it. This week I round out the series with three very ‘feel good’ reasons to get blogging.

  1. Research

Blogs are fantastic ways to find out more about your customers. You can uncover more about their demographic, their needs, or their preferences.

Start with your ideal customer (find out how to determine this in the online voice post) and start chatting to them. Ask some questions. I am fortunate enough to fall into the category of being my own ideal client, so I often discuss things which I feel are relevant to either my personal or business life. (Great when I have writer’s block)

Ask questions. Engaging in conversation is a great way for you to reveal your personality, develop relationships and learn. There’s no such thing as a stupid question, you never know who else is thinking the exact same. Ask a series of questions and pose answers or solutions. These solutions can prompt further discussions and learning.

Post a number of related topics over a number of posts to discover where your customer interest lies. Posts with more interaction could indicate more interest, allowing you to hone your subject matter. Running a series is a great way to promote a newsletter, RSS, or other subscription service you might have. Never neglect the opportunity to increase your subscriptions (sign up for mine over here and receive a free ebook).

  1. Social media content

Blogs provide fabulous content to share on all of your social media profiles.

They don’t just fill a hole, they provide a vehicle to drive content to your website (helpful if your sales are run through your site). When answering questions on a blog, try to incorporate your product, this allows for internal linking (read how it benefits your site), education, and drives sales. By linking to your blog post from social media you can receive numerous benefits.

If you use catchy pictures on your blog, these can provide useful and shareable content for your social media profiles. Having shareable content is a great way to increase marketing and social reach. Word of advice: when creating shareable content ensure your business name, logo, or website address are on the image; nothing worse than having great viral content and not profiting. (tweet this)

Pay attention to the following items in your blog post as they will be used by Facebook to generate supporting content for your link:
Blog title: this is used by Facebook as your title
First 20+ words: the first 20+ words are used to generate teaser content in the link, and
Meta-description: if you use a meta-description, Facebook will use this in the place of the first 20+ words.
As a WordPress User I have installed Yoast SEO, in their program you have the ability to customise the title and description used by a number of social media platforms, including Facebook. This can be useful if you want to undertake split testing or if you prefer not to show your Social Media followers a description filled with SEO keywords.

  1. Relationship building

Building relationships is my favourite reason, outside of education, to blog. When I blog I impart a little piece of my own personality. It might be the language I use or my experiences, but there is a little piece of me in every post. I think that doing this is important as it means that when you meet me, you already have a sense of who I am. If I have already shown you a little of myself, then we are on the road to developing a working relationship.

I have previously mentioned that many experts believe that it takes five touches before a customer will purchase. Blogging allows businesses to make another touch with a customer. Reaching out to them, where they are keeps you in mind. Even if they are not quite ready to purchase, a post gets you one step closer and can help keep you in front of mind.

If you blog to answer customer questions, or you answer their comments on your blog, you are showing them that you are listening. No one likes to be ignored, so listening and responding to customer needs is an important part of building relationships.

Why do you blog? What do you enjoy about blogging? Is there something you would like blogged about by Write to Right. Leave a comment below.

6 ways you benefit from business blogging

write to right - business blog benefitsBusinesses will either start with a website and move to social media, or will move in the opposite direction. The next logical step is to move into business blogging. Some businesses start a blog with a clear purpose, others aren’t quite certain. While there are many posts online with content suggestions, I believe that it is equally important to know how your blog can benefit your business. With an overall benefit at front of mind, then businesses are in a stronger position to develop a blog. Here are some of the high-level reasons you should have a blog.

  1. Search Engine ranking

Search Engines will give your website a higher ranking if it is regularly updated. A great way to ensure this is by writing a regular blog post. Don’t worry, you don’t have to write a daily blog – in fact my other business only posts one blog a month and it’s on page 2 of Google (without any paid promotion).

Blogs are fantastic vehicles for your SEO keywords. Pepper your blog posts with a variety of one keyword or a smattering of a variety of them. The fantastic thing is that you can test either approach for attracting customers. A word of warning, don’t bog your blog down in keywords; the Google Algorithm is wise to these tactics and will penalise you with a low search result.

I previously mentioned how internal links can benefit your site. By linking between blog posts and/or products you drive the search engine deeper into your website, opening up more pages and improved chances to return a positive search result.

  1. Education

Blog are a great way to educate your customers. Tell them your favourite ways to use your service or product. Talk to them about the feedback you have received. Let them know what the most popular item is. People love to know that they aren’t alone in using your products and to learn how others benefit; you might just solve a need with something they already own.

You can use them to demonstrate functions, benefits, or points of difference. In a competitive environment, points of difference can make a sale. It may just be you sharing little hints, but these are points of difference when others in your marketplace simply sell. With an increase in online sales and increasing imports, service is making a return and customers will often value this more than price. Many customers look for value for money; if you offer an additional service you increase the value of your item.

Make sure you remember to put your customer first, don’t make it a massive sales pitch. When writing a blog, ensure you are outlining ‘what’s in it for them’. Many blogs, and books, are written from the industry’s perspective and what will help the person selling the item or service. If your aim is to educate, you need to put your customer first, it’s about what they want to know, know what you need them to know. How will X make things easier, cheaper, more cost effective, or quicker? Time is a big issue for most people, if you can show them a time benefit, you are on a winner.

  1. List building

Don’t underestimate the power of getting directly in to your customer’s inbox. I often have a Pavlov like reaction to the ping of a fresh email landing in my inbox, and I can guarantee that I am not alone.

People generally scroll through social media, just as they scroll through email. You won’t always have them opening your emails, but if they do you won’t have to compete with sidebar ads and associated distractions. Emails can be flagged for follow up, they can be filed and easily retrieved, and emails offer the opportunity to personalise.

Emails offer the opportunity of a back-up plan. They give you a way to distribute information if social media falls or your website crashes. You can inform them of outages, changes, and promotions (who doesn’t love a sale alert by email).

Email lists allow you to target customers who WANT to receive your information. They openly agreed to receiving your message, so they are open to it. They have given you a little personal detail; they have opened a door into their private world and invited you in. It’s a more personal connection, which helps you to build a more direct relationship. It’s these relationships which lead to sales.

By asking customers to subscribe, by email, to your blog you open up a direct line of communication. Email lists are a powerful, direct marketing tool which your customer opens up to you. (tweet it) Don’t waste it and don’t overlook the power of adding it to your marketing strategy.

Write to Right also provides proofreading and editing for blog posts. Please consider our services as part of your ongoing web profile. Our proofreading schedule is available on the site.

Blogging is just one way to improve your search engine ranking, find out other ways to get your website to page one on Google by filling in the following form.

Increase your Google ranking[lab_subscriber_download_form download_id=1]

How Facebook does NOT influence sales

Meeting your client needs online - write to rightResearch just out of the US indicates that Facebook users are being turned off by hard sell in their Newsfeed. In fact, 95% of people say that social media has little to no effect on their buying behaviour. 94% say they use social media to catch up on what friends and family are up to. Only 29% say they use social media to follow trends or find product reviews. I think these statistics go some way to explaining why businesses have seen a decrease in direct sales on Facebook.

Now I know that we all have different audiences, and this research is broad, but I still believe that as social beings on social media, businesses can benefit from being social. (And this is what is recommended in the report) Now that DOES NOT mean not selling in your posts, it means not being SALES-Y.

The research recommends engaging Millenials, I believe you need to engage your ideal customer. If you have gone through your audience on your Facebook page, you will know the gender, age group, and location of the majority of your customers. If you are targeting your ideal customer, they should fall into this main group of Facebook likers. Use this data to drive your interactions. Imagine your ideal customer’s needs, problems, daily lives, or ask questions; then use this to develop content for them.

Did you notice the last part of the last sentence? “develop content for them” The key is that you need to write for your customer. You need to meet their needs, solve their problems.
People are time poor, but they do know what problems they need solved, so tell (sell) them how you solve them. (tweet this)
A list of features is nice, but it’s then up to me to work out if and how they will meet my needs.

Not sure what I mean by listing a benefit rather than a feature? In general, the benefit will contain verbs (help, stop, prevent, reduce) and the features will contain adjectives (bright, short, long, versatile). Don’t stress about making it a shopping list of benefits. I would aim for between three and five benefits (people retain between five and nine facts) per post. I like three. Why? I have a quirk about the number three, time is short (and three is small), and I was taught to present data in groups of three when trying to convince an audience. There is an added benefit to selling benefits; by doing so you are letting your customers know that you listen to their needs, you are interested, and you understand.

By showing your customers that you are listening, you allow a relationship to develop and facilitate conversations (and then conversions). I mentioned at the start that 95% of Facebook users are there for socialising. If you can bring a social aspect to your page, and particularly sales posts, you are meeting your customer’s need to socialise. Some customers are there to research, by answering customer questions on Facebook you will either answer their question and/or demonstrate that you are listening to your customers. I have previously mentioned the belief that it takes five touches before you make a sale. Being sociable will assist in making these touches and move your business closer to a sale.

Here’s an insight, all of these tips are equally applicable to your website. You can use them in your blog, just as I have here, or better still in your product descriptions. Your website is your way of reaching customers where they are, when they need your service/product; give it the best chance of meeting their needs.

Write to Right offers website checks to ensure that your site is in the best possible shape, meeting both your client’s and your business’ needs. Find out more about this quality service on the website. Alternatively, skip the queue and book your site in to gain an early advantage.

17 Facebook changes how it handles website links

Facebook monitoring business web links Write to RightIn the news this week, Facebook has announced two major changes to how it ranks the links pages share.

CHANGES

The first is the practise of ‘click-baiting’. Click-baiting is where a business will share a link to a website, but do not include descriptive or useful information about the linked page in the Facebook post. The example Facebook used was of a gossip magazine, linking to their website; the description did not accurately describe what the readers would find (they used a vague outline) and the associated photo didn’t provide any clues.

Their research has showed, the not so surprising finding, that people find this practise misleading and it was therefore unpopular with users. With this in mind they will be monitoring how long people stay on the linked page and then rank the associated Facebook post accordingly. The longer people stay on the linked page (indicating that it is interesting) the greater the ranking it will receive and more likely it will be to appear in Newsfeeds. Should the link and post be misleading (meaning people quickly follow the link and realise it’s not what they were expecting to see and leave) then the post will not be highly ranked by Facebook and it is unlikely to appear in the Newsfeed.

The second change was how Facebook would rank the way businesses posted links.

Some businesses will paste a link into their post from a website and then allow Facebook to display the associated image and description in the post. This is how I share links and I have previously described how doing this is beneficial to your page.

Other businesses will paste the link into a photo post, where they have uploaded a photo and then add the link into the description.

Facebook has done some research and found that the majority of users will click through when the business shares a link with the associated site information, rather than those who add it as a photo description.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN

For businesses who use click-baiting, you will see a decline in your reach. What I would encourage businesses to do is to be honest, accurate, and sociable. Your Facebook page is there to build a relationship. I mentioned last week that researchers believe it takes five touches to gain a customer, so use your touches wisely. Think about your core beliefs, I discussed this in finding your online voice, and if honesty/integrity/truth are on your list then click-baiting shouldn’t be in your tool box.

I admit, that before reading this Facebook article, I often deleted the link address from my posts as I thought they looked ‘ugly and clunky’. I am now leaving the links in, as a little extra information. I used to use link shortening, my website even has it as an add-on (I also used Bitly), as a way to provide the link for mobile devices (and to make my posts look tidier). I am going to rethink using shot links. If you prefer the look of the shorter links, try editing the link to provide a more meaningful link than the randomly generated list of letters and numbers.

What it means for your website content will ultimately depend on the platform you use. Both of my sites are WordPress, so my products, pages and posts all have: at least one image (I don’t always set them as featured), and a meta-description.

I use Yoast for my SEO and a recent addition to the tool is the ability to add a Social Media description. This description, as you can imagine, is what is displayed when you link to that item on a social media platform (like Facebook). Ordinarily Facebook will take the first few lines of your content and add it as a description, with the image, when you upload a link. If you specify a meta-description, it will use this data instead of the first few lines. If you use Yoast’s Social description, it will use this data. This is handy as you can then tailor your descriptions for your audience and/or SEO.

Write to Right offer website health checks, where one of the tasks is to check the meta-descriptions on your pages/products. Now that you have read about how you can use this information to benefit your business and would like to know more about how Write to Right can help, please use the contact form and we can discuss your needs.

14 Comments likes and Facebook Edgerank

Facebook comments beat likes with EdgerankHave you seen the post around Facebook detailing how a woman stopped ‘liking’ posts and it changed her Newsfeed? I’ve recently read it and I wondered how it worked.

I have done a little research (and I do mean a little, you only need to read up about the Facebook algorithm, EdgeRank) to find out how this could work. EdgeRank determines which content goes into your NewsFeed, and it doesn’t discriminate People from Pages (no one is immune). EdgeRank has recently become an unwieldy 1 000-factor beast that includes content quality, content origin (heed the warning Hootsuite users), and completeness of page details. The main determinants of if a post appears in your NewsFeed are still: Affinity, Edge Weight, and Time Decay.

The anti-like/pro-comment movement hinges on two parts: the Affinity score and the Edge Weight.

Affinity Score
The Affinity Score is concerned with how close/related/connected you are to an action. The more you have in common with the person or page undertaking the action, the more likely it will appear in your NewsFeed. So the more friends you have in common, the more you like or comment on their posts, the more you will see.

Edge Weight

Now here’s the thing, likes and comments are not equal. Most people know that, and let’s face it – how much effort does clicking like take compared to typing a comment? This is exactly why EdgeRank rates posts (gives a greater Edge Weight) with comments or shares higher than posts with just likes. Even the lowly emoticon smiley carries more weight than clicking the like button.

Lightbulb! To all the Facebook page owners asking their fans to ‘like’ if they see your post and still not appearing in NewsFeeds – now you know why.

Comments also provide the ability to interact with your customers, engage in conversation, develop your relationship. Even at an extremely shallow level, increase comments and therefore the likelihood that your posts will appear in the NewsFeeds.

I have mentioned previously that customers buy AFTER a relationship is developed, some researchers even say that it takes five ‘touches’ before you will get someone to buy from you. (I want to explore this further in the future) By encouraging a discussion on your posts and page, you are developing a relationship. You are opening up opportunities to educate and possibilities to introduce products.

Comments can also be seen as ‘third party endorsements’. I will pay more attention to a friend’s comment on a page than their like of a post. Why? I trust what they say and I want to know more. I understand how little effort a like takes over a comment, and I appreciate that effort. So when a friend provides a comment or feedback on a business post or page, I take notice. We all know how word-of-mouth works, and its power. So a comment on a post is more powerful than a simple like.

Now here is the issue, how do you get the comments? There are fun ways like ‘what’s your celebrity name?’ or you can ask a question. You can inject a little controversy on to your page. You can ask for advice. I have tried most of these on my other business page and to be honest, some work better than others (Your Easter Bunny name was a great one this year). As I have mentioned previously, it’s all about your customer and the voice you want to portray on your page.

I do know that comments and shares are extremely beneficial to your post reach and it has a flow on effect to the talking about numbers. The best of all is that if you discover the type of content which provokes comments, then you will find that the effect snowballs. The reach of the page I mention was previously around 10% of total likes, it is currently approaching 200% of total likes. Additionally, my talking about rate has increased from a very standard 1% of total likes to 4.5% of total likes. I will add that I have made a number of other changes, that saw an initial increase in talking about, and a subsequent change which increased the reach. Though none of them have has such a profound impact as providing content that engaged my customers and increased comments and shares.

Is there anything about running a website or social media that has you wondering? Let me know in a comment below & I will investigate and address it in future.

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