Filter: Social Media

Unscrambling Bandwidth

Unscrambling The Bandwidth Puzzle

We often hear- “You can never have enough bandwidth.” But how much truth is there to that? Our internet usage patterns have changed drastically since the late ’90s, when Yahoo messenger was the hottest communication channel, and email a nice novelty and not a necessity yet. Consumers now have come to expect a rich multimedia web experience with streaming video, music and social media updates. Residential users are heavy bandwidth users too. Thanks to Netflix, YouTube, iTunes, Pandora and online gaming services from Playstation to Xbox. Today bandwidth needs for business is complex too, with more juice required for cloud-based services, VoIP telephone systems, video conferencing, Google Apps, Office 365 for email and collaboration platforms. Let’s try to make sense of what all this means for businesses.

How Does Bandwidth and Data Transfer Affect Internet Browsing?

Almost every action a user takes online involves downloading some amount of data. The bandwidth and data transfer rate mostly affect the speed at which we browse websites or download files for personal or office use. For instance, your bandwidth would directly affect speed when you download images, songs, videos, movies or access any file across the Internet. The larger the bandwidth, the faster a given file can transfer across the network at any given time. Internet users with more bandwidth also find that web pages load faster and there are no lags when video streaming.

How Does Bandwidth Affect Your Website?

It is also especially important for website owners to understand bandwidth allocations in their hosting accounts. Failure to find the right bandwidth offer can result in an underperforming slow website and additional charges.  Websites and apps require different bandwidths depending on how complicated their design is and how content-rich they are. When someone arrives on your site, all of the assets that are required to display the requested webpage in a person’s browser are downloaded from the server to their computer, which takes up bandwidth allocation. Even if anyone downloads or sends emails through your hosted domain then the size of those emails counts towards your bandwidth usage too.  For example, if your website contains a 1MB picture, which 3,000 visitors view, it uses 3,000MB (3GB) of bandwidth.

As your site begins to attract more visitors, the traffic between the web server and local computer slows down the loading time of your site for visitors, regardless of their internet connection speed. Your hosting company cycles through each user request and transfers a small portion of the data at a time, as visitors are forced to line up in a queue. And if there is a huge spurt in visitors at the same time, you may well find that your site is unavailable because the server has transferred the maximum amount of data for the allowed bandwidth.

Bandwidth And Web Hosting

When picking a web host to run your website, you should look for the best server resources available to keep your site online and consider factors such as bandwidth, data transfer, and disk space. Imagine you’re moving goods from your warehouse across a highway using trucks for delivery to customers. Bandwidth can be likened to the number of lanes on the highway and the volume of goods your trucks transfer across that highway would be data transfer rate. And disk space could be compared to the space your goods take up in the warehouse. With high bandwidth, your site will cope better because more people can visit your site at the same time and fully enjoy the optimum web experience you created for them. So, understanding traffic patterns is extremely important when choosing a bandwidth option.

Most web hosting companies offer a variety of bandwidth options for their tiers of hosting packages from 1 G to 100 G, with some even offering unlimited bandwidth. Lunarpages can provide the maximum bandwidth you need within its cheapest hosting account too. It is also easy to upgrade should you need to.

For businesses that have “bandwidth-heavy” content such as video, online apps, large images, audio files and those with a lot of traffic, a dedicated server with about 1TB of monthly bandwidth allotment should be enough to handle the data moving in and out of the network. Feel free to discuss with us about which web hosting option would be best for your bandwidth needs.

reputation management

Cost of Online Reputation Management

Do you know what people are saying about you online?  Traditional marketing has always known the value of word of mouth marketing.  Today the internet, well, more specifically search engines, has made knowing what people are saying about you even more important than traditional word of mouth marketing.  Why?  Because 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.  So, if your reputation isn’t managed well it could be very costly.  And, did you know that what people say about you online impacts your search results?  Let’s learn some more.

Case in Point

A few years ago, American Airlines had a costly run in with a guitar.  In fact, it cost the airline $180 million and a 10% loss in their stock prices.  When a passenger witnessed the airline mishandling his guitar, which resulted in the instrument being seriously damaged, and the airline refused to pay for the damages, the passenger — musician David Caroll — wrote a song, United Breaks Guitars. The YouTube video was a huge hit with more than 15 million views and the major contributor to the airlines dip in stock prices.

Granted, this one incident didn’t bring American Airlines to destruction, but it is a good example of how, when a company has a bad reputation, business is simply more difficult to conduct, the cost of doing business increases and it’s far more difficult to retain customers and employees, shareholders, and other important stakeholders, than it is in good times.

How to Fix a Bad Online Reputation

Arguably, protecting an organization’s reputation is the most important yet difficult task facing senior management teams and boards of directors today.  First, it’s important to point out that reputation management is a game best played using offense.  When you’re on the defense, when you’re trying to fix a negative online sentiment it’s an uphill battle that takes a lot more work than had you started your vigilance early and when things were calm and clean.  However, if you find your business in a toxic situation, here are some things you can do to keep your reputation on track:

  • Monitor! This is first and foremost. If you don’t know whether or not you have a negative reputation, how can you fix it?  There are a lot of tools as well as agencies such as LocalDirective that offer services to help you monitor your online reputation.  But just like protecting your online identity, monitoring isn’t enough.
  • You need to respond to what is out there and be proactive in acquiring positive reviews, testimonials, and stories from happy customers.
  • Finally, never become complacent. The moment you think you’re safe something will happen.  What I mean is that just because there isn’t negative chatter around your business doesn’t mean that you don’t need a reputation management program.  Be proactive in building your brand as a strong company to do business with.

You know, Benjamin Franklin once said “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation and only one bad one to lose it”.  No other words have ringed so true as this statement.  Especially in today’s digital, share-everything world.

How to Manage Your Online Reputation

Managing your online reputation isn’t just for businesses with a toxic situation.  Your online reputation also plays into other things such as your search results.   I am sure you’ve seen the stars that show up next to a company in Google search results, but did you ever wonder how or why the stars were there?  Most SEO strategists find a strong correlation between reviews and organic search result rankings, particularly in Google. It is widely believed in the industry that the importance of reviews as they relate to search result rankings will only increase over time. Therefore, being able to display your stars will show Google that your customers trust you, that they are happy with what you provide, and that you’re a credible solution.  Here are some things we know about reviews and how they impact local SEO:

  • It’s generally believed that 10 reviews left at Google provides a little bit of a ranking boost
  • Google may be trying to incorporate review sentiment into its ranking algorithms so it would be who of you to get ahead of that and start managing your sentiment today so that when this does happen you’re not playing catch up.
  • On-page SEO remains the top factor that Google considers when ranking local business, but studies show that reviews are rapidly growing in importance.
  • Finally, Google knows a fake review when it sees one and can penalize you for such tactics. In order to rank and to rank with stars, be sure that your reviews legitimate.

 

Get Started Today

While SEO and online reputation management play nicely together, they are not the same thing and should not be used unethically to impact each other. Online reputation management avoids using black hat SEO techniques.  Black hat techniques can ultimately damage your reputation by making it difficult to maintain a positive long term presence on search engine results.

At DirectiveGroup we can help you develop an ethical online reputation while avoiding harmful tactics such as buying fake reviews. Online reputation management done well is designed to establish a long term positive online presence for a business or individual. Let us help you create engaging social media profiles, a positive review presence, and multiple points of positive, high quality content to ensure that you maintain a positive online reputation that lasts.

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at DirectiveGroup, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact them today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.

Engaging vs Selling on Social Platforms

Have your social media platforms transformed into a sales tool for your business?  If you’re not using social media in your digital marketing program, you’re missing out.  A recent study found that when using social media tactics in combination with traditional selling techniques, businesses yield a 10% greater response.  Why?  Perhaps it’s because 78% of buyers feel that what is posted on social media impacts their purchase. That said, no one wants to be hit with a hard sale while checking their Facebook or Twitter feeds.  The secret to success is a balancing act between engagement and asking for the sale.   

Social Selling
Approach this technique carefully so as not to annoy your target market/social followers.  Social selling doesn’t mean that you abandon everything else that you’ve built up in your social program.  It means that you add to and slightly modify what you’re doing.  In order to be successful at social selling you need to continue posting the type of engaging and valuable content that your target market is seeking.  When you have this your market will keep coming back and eventually won’t mind hearing your soft sell (emphasis on “soft”); however it’s a discrete balancing act that if not done correctly could end up turning your audience off to your message.  Engaging content includes:

  • Emotionally relevant information
  • Offers new information to your target market
  • Provides value to your audience
  • Compels a reader to take action

When you provide engaging content it is more likely to be shared.  Keeping it relevant and new will also help you SEO efforts as search engines appreciate fresh content.  When your audience keeps coming back to your social media sites to read your content it helps them start to become brand aware and, eventually, brand loyal.  Once you have been successful at this you can slip in a sales message every 4th or 5th post.  Sales content includes:

  • Promoting a product or service specific to your brand
  • Letting the audience know about your brands accomplishments/achievements
  • Announcements or press releases

Posting Frequency By Platform
Posting frequency is so important when trying to sell on social media.  Etiquette varies from one social media platform to the next.   If you try to implement a one size fits all approach you will fall flat on your face.  Consider each platform as if it were its own unique marketing channel.  You wouldn’t run a print ad at the same frequency that you run a radio campaign so why post on Twitter at the same rate that you’re posting on Instagram?  Here are some social media posting general rules of thumb to follow by channel:

  • Facebook: When considering how often to post on Facebook take a hard look at your followers’ age range, interests, Facebook habits, and so on.  Some businesses are posting just to post.  That’s a bad idea.  Carefully plan out an editorial calendar to make sure you have something of value to post every day.  For Facebook pages with a fan base of between 200-10,000 followers it is recommended to post no more than 15 times per month (3-4 times a week). 
  • LinkedIn: Consistent posting encourages engagement and fosters familiarity. Post at least once per work day.  LinkedIn published some statistics in 2014 that said its internal research showed 20 posts a month tended to be optimal for engaging users, though its high-volume marketers posted a lot more often with good results.
  • Twitter: This platform can often give businesses heartburn when first starting out.  Consistency is important with Twitter so start out small and build up your stamina.  It is recommended to start with at least three tweets per week for consistency’s sake, then ramping up from there.
  • YouTube: If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Video is huge!  It’s no surprise that even YouTube has a rule of thumb for optimal results.  Weekly is a great frequency for uploading YouTube videos. Generally speaking 30 seconds – 2 minutes is usually a sufficient amount of time for videos.
  • Pinterest/Instagram: Try to repin, comment, share, and add new content to your accounts daily. Photo sharing streams moves quickly, so focused bursts will only been seen by a fraction of the people using the service. Dripping out content over time, on a more frequent basis, will result in greater visibility. 

Start Social Selling Today
The benefits to social selling include greater visibility online, increased SEO, more traffic being driven to your website and an increase in brand awareness.  But it can’t be done without a plan.  First put together an editorial calendar to help you plan out your content and resources.   The calendar should include your non-promotional content sprinkled with your promotional content and indicate the frequency at which you will post both. 

So what now?  It’s a lot of work to take on by yourself.  GlobalDirective can help.  The first step to implementing a successful social selling campaign is to understand your target markets habits, interests and pain points.  From there you can build your content to address these things by successfully writing valuable and findable pieces of information that your target market cares about. 

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at GlobalDirective, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact GlobalDirective today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.

Social Media’s Influence on the Buying Process

As a smart business executive, you have surely asked yourself whether social media posts really have enough impact to warrant an investment in that marketing channel.  Should you stop spinning your wheels in trying to impress your prospective customers via social media and come to terms with the fact that Facebook, LinkedIn and the like are essential for engaging with current customers and for impacting retention, but perhaps just not for driving new business?  These are great questions and ones that every business decision-maker should ask.  However, how you answer them could mean the difference between growing your business and simply sustaining it.  Why, you ask? Read on…

Social Media is For Buyers

If you are one of the many who still think social media doesn’t impact consumer purchase decisions, consider that 78% respondents to a Market Force survey stated that posts made by companies they follow on social media impact their purchases.   A recent report from Deloitte shows nearly one in three U.S. consumers are influenced by social media in their purchases.  This report also noted that consumers who use social media during their shopping process are four times more likely to spend more on purchases than those who do not. 

For social media to impact your target market’s buying habits, the message needs to be delivered at the right time during the buying process.  A recent study by Eccolomedia shows that social media content has the most influence at the top of the funnel.  Sixty seven percent of respondents said they find social content most helpful during the pre-sales (when they are unaware of the problem) and initial sales (when they understand the problem) phases of the buying cycle.  Creating messaging that addresses the pain points of your target audience during these stages will help you grab their attention and engage them in your message.

Does Social Media Work for All Industries?

Since we know that shopper buying decisions are influenced by social media, we would say that yes, social media marketing works for all industries.  What varies is success by platform.  For example, a TABS Analytics study uncovered YouTube is very important to 28 % of cosmetic buyers in determining which products to buy.  They also found Instagram to be very important in the purchasing decisions of 31% of Millennials—who are heavy buyers of cosmetics. 

Not surprisingly, the technology industry is also heavily reliant on social media during their buying process.  Fifty-one percent of respondents to Eccolomedia’s study said that when they are shopping for technology, they are more likely to look at Facebook as a reference prior to buying.  The same survey showed that 40% of respondents were likely to consume vendor information posted on LinkedIn. 

The healthcare industry is another example of one whose target audience is turning to the Internet, and specifically social media, for information.  More than 70 percent of internet users sought out health information online, according to a Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project study.   Another study found that 55 percent of users surveyed who used social media for healthcare research did so to get more information about a medical condition. Reviews and rankings of doctors, hospitals, and medicines were the next-most-sought information. 

Putting it All To Good Use

While it may take time to see the results of your efforts, it’s clear that investing in social media to help drive more business is a worthwhile endeavor.   As with all marketing programs, knowing your target market and their media consumption habits will play a huge role in your social media marketing success.  Study their buying habits and learn how to interrupt their buying process so you can grab their attention at the right time.

So what now?  It’s a lot of work to take on by yourself.  GlobalDirective can help.  The first step to successfully using social media to influence your audience will be to do market research to identify when and where your potential customers are spending their digital time.  From there we can help you build a persona and develop a content plan and editorial calendar. 

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Content and Social Media Marketing, at GlobalDirective, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact GlobalDirective today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.