Are you using hashtags the way you should?

It is almost a fact that if you are a social media user you have used a hashtag in any of your posts. Whether you’ve used them to increase your search results or simply as a way to joke with your followers, the “#” symbol in a post is no stranger to you. But, do we really understand how it works and what it is really for? That may be a whole other story.

The modern use of hashtags in social media began and became popular on Twitter, as a way to group many tweets with a similar topic. This is specially useful if you want to know what people think or say about a brand, a political statement, an entertainment event, or even a natural disaster. Of course people often use them randomly, some use it as the punchline of a joke, and some can even become a meme.

So which platforms support the use of hashtags?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Google+
  • Tumblr
  • Pinterest
  • Youtube
  • Kickstarter
  • Vine

Businesses can benefit from the search of hashtags. For example, someone looking for kitchen decoration ideas in Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest could search for “#KitchenDeco” and find posts made by businesses who provide interior design services, carpenters, natural stone provider’s, kitchen supplies stores, etc.

So what’s the secret for a successful use of hashtags in social media that could actually translate into sales? Here are a few tips.

Educate yourself
Most social media platforms have their own guides on the use of hashtags, where you can find the most popular and relevant for a specific topic. This can increase the engagement of your posts.

Be Specific
Coming back to the example of someone looking for kitchen decoration ideas, if that someone’s preference is leaning towards a granite countertop, it would be more easy for them to find what they’re looking for if they type “#GraniteCountertop” than just “#Countertop”. This means your business posts need to have simple but specific hashtags that can make it an easier find for possible clients.

Keep it Simple
Keep in mind that hashtags like “#SuperBeautifulHairStylesToRockTheSummer may look fun but are not as effective as a simple #SummerHairStyles, for the simple fact that it’s easier for someone to type the exact same words you used if there are no more than three words per hashtag. The same way, a post with more hashtags than words is not only ineffective but it’s also hard to read and understand. Remember that you must add some content that enriches the wider conversation that makes your post interesting and engaging.

Make your own hashtags
Now that you know these tips, you should definitively create your own hashtags for your business. Your hashtag doesn’t necessarily need to have the name of your brand but it does need to represent it, it needs to reflect your brand’s personality. And most importantly: always remember to use it.

Track your results
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Youtube all have analytic tools integrated to help you track the results of your posts and engagement of your followers. Taking a look at this information will help you to create more content that is more accurate and interesting for the demographic characteristics of your followers. There are other paid services that offer the same data.

Hashtags are an excellent strategy to increase your views and interaction with potential clients. It’s an excellent and economical way to make your brand stay in the mind of the consumers. Go use it!

Facebook Images: A Useful Guide

Ever wondered why your cover photo on Facebook keeps looking pixelated? Are you tired that the pictures you post always end up cropped in the wrong place? You may find this guide very useful, especially if you manage a public Facebook page for your business or personal interests. A pixelated image is always a no-no in the public eye of social media, remember: first impressions matter!

Below you will find a lifesaver graphic with the proper sizes of Facebook’s 2016 layout. After there is a brief description for each item we discuss.

1. Cover Photo
The display size of your cover photo is 828 x 315 px, you may upload a bigger or smaller image but Facebook will always resize it to fit the 828 px horizontal measure. Also, keep in mind that the displayed height of the image is 315 px, and Facebook lets you select the part you want to display in case you have an image taller than 315 px, which is especially useful in case you want to display text. However, not all images are displayed with the right quality, so in order to prevent your cover photo from appearing pixelated, it is strongly recommended that you upload your image with the actual display size (828 x 315 px), make sure your resolution is 72 dpi, and PNG format.

2. Profile Picture
You can upload an image of any size. However, since Facebook’s layout will always display your profile picture in a square format, save yourself the need to select which part of your picture you want to display and crop it. The best size is 336 x 336 px. PNG format is also preferable over JPG as it keeps better quality but you can now go crazy and use an animated GIF instead. Let your creativity go wild! Remember that Facebook will display your profile picture in your main page in a 168 x168 px size and in 32 x 32 px in your timeline posts.

3. Shared Link Thumbnail
The full sized thumbnail for shared links will always be 470 x 246 px, which is particularly useful to know if you want to customize your post or you manually added a link to your post after uploading an image. However, Facebook will not always display a full sized thumbnail and sometimes will use other scales of 155 px for landscape oriented pictures or 114 px height for portrait oriented pictures. What makes Facebook decide what to display? There is no specific criterion, but it likely has to do with whether the page you’re linking has the OpenGraph image property defined or even the size and orientation.

4. Photo on Timeline
Any image you upload, no matter the size will be displayed at a maximum scale of 470 px height (portrait oriented pictures) or 470 px wide (landscape oriented pictures). So, if you want to use the maximum space allowed, be sure it’s at a squared proportion of least 470 x 470 px. Remember, PNG format is still the best.

If you upload multiple pictures, Facebook will give you various options for the main post thumbnail. You may pick one main image that will be displayed in a bigger size than the others or you can also pick an option that will display all images in the same size.

Top 3 reasons why you NEED responsive web design

As someone who grew up using the internet when its greatest social network advances were IRC Boards and ICQ, it still shocks me to see the instant access we have to the Internet, previously known as the World Wide Web, today. A denizen myself, I solemnly swear by the necessity of responsive web design as an essential and indispensable tool for any successful webpage to succeed in today’s arena of clicks and views, tablets and smartphones whether it’s business oriented or not.

With such a drastic rise in mobile usage, incorporating smartphones, tablets and other gadgets, increases the necessity of having responsive web design. Responsive web design (RWD) permits a website’s layout to adapt and change as the size of the screen used to view the website changes and allows for easier programming as it saves your team the trouble of keeping multiple sites consistent and up to date.

1) Recommended by Google

Google holds 67 percent of the search engine market share so, when Google recommends responsive web design as its suggested configuration for mobile use and even calls it a best practice, you can trust the source. Another reason why Google recommends responsive web design is because content that is nested on only one website and one URL is much easier to share through e-mail, social media, message apps, etc. It is also much simpler to interact with and link the content that lives only on one website and one URL.

But most important of all, as of April 2015 Google began rewarding sites built responsibly by boosting their search engine rankings. This means that Google is effectively penalizing websites that don’t use RWD.

2) Comfortable mobile browsing

The rise of social media has come with a significant increase in mobile internet browsing. Mobile browsing can be very visually uncomfortable and also interactively for a user, if the web site they are visiting does not incorporate responsive web design. If a user has to pinch inwards to zoom in, pinch outwards to zoom out, drag an oversized page through a screen just to be able to access information, shop or socialize, you can bet that your non-responsive design webpage will get less visitors, and the ones that you do get will not be quite as satisfied as they probably are with a competitor that does incorporate responsive web design.

3) Cost effective

Given the considerable amount of different gadgets and hardware devices, from smartphones, tablets, to videogame consoles, that integrate web browsers nowadays, responsive website design is the most cost effective way to ensure that your website reaches all users with the same layout without having to pay for design and layout for a different page according to the device you want it to be seen on. Responsive web design solves all your layout and design needs at once and you don’t have to worry about taking on the extra cost of making a different layout and design for your website according to the device it will be viewed on: it can be viewed on any device!

Comfort, aesthetics, cost-effectiveness, SEO bonuses, and an easier experience for your clients and users, and much more is what you can achieve by choosing responsive web design. The choice is yours —my recommendation is that you go for it!

Is e-commerce what your business needs?

In my last blog entry we talked about the importance of having a website, which can bring enormous advantages to your business. But what about e-commerce? Is it a good thing to implement in your business or are there any other aspects to consider? There are so many advantages that e-commerce can provide you, but maybe not all these apply to your business. First of all you need to have a very clear view of the know-hows of your business, so you can accurately analyze whether this option is for your or not. Here is a list of 5 advantages and 5 disadvantages of e-commerce that may help you decide.

ADVANTAGES

1. Convenience
The same way a website can prove how convenient is online selling, e-commerce can give your clients the opportunity to engage on business without having to get up from their couch. All they need is a computer, tablet or smartphone and an internet connection to make an online purchase. A store that works 24/7.

2. Widen your market
You will expand your market, not only you will reach your local consumers more effectively, but you can actually reach anyone, any time, any where in the world with the proper Search Engine Optimization tools.

3. Money savings
Since e-commerce doesn’t require a lot of personnel, you can save a lot of money that otherwise would have been destined for salaries, benefits, or taxes. You can also save money thanks to online advertising and marketing. Take advantage of social media and targeted advertising to reach the market you want. Another way to save money is that you don’t necessarily require a physical location.

4. Personalized Experience
Clients can compare among similar products and make the decision that they think it’s the best for them. This offers them a more personalized experience since the use of cookies will automatically provide your potential client with all the options available according to their browses. Also, it offers them the possibility to track their order, access to personalized rewards, and customer service.

5. Broaden your brand
e-commerce can offer you the possibility to sell products that you can’t offer in store for whatever reason. This way you can attract new customers and diversify your sales.

 

DISADVANTAGES

1. Delays
Unless you offer local express delivery, or the goods you offer are digital, your clients will have to wait days or even a week or two to get what they bought according to their location and the shipping service they payed for. Some people still prefer to drive to an actual store and see the product for themselves, buy it and then take it home with them.

2. Distrust
Many users, especially the elders, don’t trust online retail as there are risks of fraud or identity theft if the necessary precautions to ensure a safe web experience are skipped.

3. Lack of human interaction
This is especially a problem if your business offers services that require interaction between the two parts involved, such as legal advice. You may offer a one-on-one chat service but some details and flexibility may be lost without an actual human interaction. This can also lead to point 2.

4. Product inconvenience
Are your products perishable? Do they represent a transportation problem that you can’t handle? Then maybe e-commerce is not the best option for you but it will still be great to have a website and social media profiles to strengthen your costumer service and maintain a good online presence. Some supermarkets offer local online delivery, which can be a great option if your goods are perishable but it would be limited only to your local area.

5. Technical difficulties
This is especially bad when you have a global presence because in some countries or isolated areas internet bandwidth is not good enough to establish a stable connection. You may also need some special types of web servers, software and take good care that your website and your e-commerce platform is compatible with all types of devices, otherwise you may lose a wide market.

It is very important to know your business so you can take accurate decisions to always improve, always bring the best, and of course, always get more from it.

5 Reasons to Finally Go for a Website

As a millennial and a citizen of the Internet myself, sometimes I am a bit too lazy to go out and buy the things I need at an actual store, I consider browsing the actual book of yellow pages a waste of my precious time, and actually speaking on the phone is a bit awkward too. And I am not alone. It may be a generational issue but my generation represents a huge 25% of the market. So what do we millennials do when laziness, lack of time, or simply practicality strikes but we still are in need of a product or service? We go online. Busy, on-the-rush Xgeners (the ones with the money) are fully aware of the advantages of online transactions, and so are many baby-boomers. So this is a huge portion of people who seek to make business with companies online. So what happens when your business does not have a proper website? You lose money. A lot of money. So if you are still not totally convinced that your small store in a small town or your huge company in many cities across the country or even the world needs a website, here are 5 reasons to make you finally go online.

1. More Sales!
This one is pretty obvious but let’s give the numbers a chance to explain it better than I would.

2. Convenience
Unlike your store or office that needs to close some time during the day, your website will be open and available 24/7, which is highly convenient because it won’t matter where they are or what time of the day or which day of the week it is, your business will always be available for them. This also means you can reach a wider market, a world-wide market.

3. Credibility
First impressions matter. Having an aesthetic, to the point, and information-complete website will instantly make your business look bigger, more professional, and even more successful that it may actually be since it will give the potential costumer the confidence that your company is serious enough to care for the costumer’s online experience, and also a sense of proximity, a sense that they will be heard and their opinions will be considered (which translates into better costumer service). Also, this will keep them well informed about your products or services, which is highly important since it’s proven that 96% of consumers admit making an online research prior engaging in business with a company, and they also think it’s a priority for businesses to invest in a well designed website. This can even result in you getting better chances to get a business loan, since the value of your company will be perceived as higher.

4. Affordable Marketing
How much have you invested in brochures, newspaper or magazine-ads, radio and TV spots, billboards or flyers? How many people have you reached that way? It certainly is effective but you can reach many times more people for about a third of the budget with a proper website. And you will not only be seen, a transaction will actually be considered, since people in search for a product or service online already have a purchase intent, and if your website has a proper search engine optimization, your business could be among the first results they can run into, which will give you many advantages.

5. Competition
As simple as this: your competitors have a website. And though they may be offering lower quality in their product or service, they DO have a website and that will always be an advantage for them over your better qualified on-the-online-shadow business. The squeaky wheel gets the oil!

We can’t escape technology, we can’t escape the way modern business works, and there no doubt that the Internet has become an essential tool for any business, so it better be used, and used smartly in our favor.

 

Why Is Brand Identity So Important?

Let’s remember that time in your teenage years when you were obsessed with letting the world know who you were, and everything that was on your mind. That was your way of creating your own identity, to communicate to the world what you were all about and what they could expect of you. It was important because you needed to get to know yourself to prepare for the challenges that life would bring you. Now let’s move on to your business. Do your clients know what your company is and what it stands for? Do they know what to expect from your products or services? It is highly important that they do, and one of your main assets is your brand identity, as it is perceived as a promise to your client.

We live in a visual society and first impressions matter. For example, it takes up to 10 seconds for people to decide whether or not they will stay in a website, a time that is entirely influenced by what they see and what they can perceive from your brand. It does not matter if your product or service is superior to those of your competitors. If the user does not sense that your website belongs to a reliable, well-structured, professional company, they will keep browsing on Google and you will lose a valuable sale. But how do we achieve a compelling, straightforward, brand identity that will make your clients feel comfortable to choose you?

The first step is thinking of your brand as if it were a person. What kind of person would it be? Describe it. What do they do? What do they believe? What do they offer? What makes them different from competitors? And more importantly, how do you want the to be perceived? Once all these features are discovered, it is time to develop a concept that matches the personality of your brand.

Once you have developed a concept, there are many visual resources such as color and typography that are needed to come up with the appropriate brand identity for your company. But the key to successful brand identity is repetition and consistency. Using a group of visual elements on every stationary, website, ad, or social network gives a sense of a unified image and behavior. Your clients will know exactly what to expect and that will give them a sense of comfort. Let’s keep in mind that your clients will not be the only ones that will experience that sense of security from your brand, your employees will do as well. This will in turn strengthen their team spirit and therefore service will also improve and the better your service, the higher your sales.

A successful brand identity will truly blend all the effort, thoughts, practices, and emotions behind your company and will invite people to discover what you have to offer.