Will Followers Be Content with Content in 2015?

As I had my morning coffee browsing others’ posts and cruising articles, I was struck by a sense of content productivity obsession. This is what we have taught ourselves must be done for successful marketing of our businesses.

But is it really true?

  • Yes, Google is constantly on the hunt for fresh content.
  • Yes, social media users are forever curating material to catch followers’ eyes.
  • Yes, business owners scramble daily for improved SEO.

But, are we truly capturing our target audience? Or instead perhaps overwhelming or, worse yet, losing them?

I can’t help but believe that quality will always rank over quantity. And, I am seeing more evidence that those who post less frequently with better and more relevant content to their desired target are winning.

Think. Are you posting content for the sake of content… or are you providing the right content for your efforts to be worthy of your audience’s precious time?

2015 – Let’s be more judicious in our marketing efforts. Agreed?

Google Plus – Hot or Not for Small Business?

Google Plus Hot or Not

More frequently, small business owners ask why I am a Google Plus proponent. They ask “…of everyone I ask – no one is on Google+ so why should I bother with it?”

I have previously blogged about this, but it bears repeating. Google Plus is GOLDEN for SMBs!

Don’t take too much stock in articles written by Google+ crapehangers. The majority naysayers are non-participants and/or superficially informed – or just copycat blogging.

If you are a small business owner, it is more important for you to consider the BENEFITS of using Google Plus rather than concern yourself with its popularity.

Get over the social media stereotype

Take note of the lack of pu$h for boo$ting or promoting your po$ts on Google Plus. Why? Because Google Plus wants your content, not your money. By having Google+, Google has a social media platform providing data they can’t get glean from website content.They want pure, unadulterated, and accessible source content.

Google Plus will grow.

Consider the beauty of a platform that showcases and integrates your content so well you WANT to participate. The more you use Google Plus, the more you’ll also want to use many Google apps and tools because of the convenience created by the integration.

As a business, remaining active on Facebook is essential because it is like the old yellow pages. In pre-social media days, your business had to be listed in the yellow pages or you “didn’t exist.”  And as long as Facebook is still the go-to for users looking up a business, you must remain there.

Google Plus and YouTube

Have you noticed how anxious Facebook now is to get you to upload your video shares directly to Facebook? They have promised a 30% higher visibility if you do. They realize that VIDEO is the new mode for social media – especially for business. Who currently OWNS video? YouTube. Who owns YouTube? Google. What is the #2 Search Engine in the world? YouTube. What’s the easiest way to share, repurpose, embed your videos? YouTube.

So, help me with this. You should want to upload directly to Facebook for the chance at a 30% boost in visibility in a follower limited Facebook news feed (which you could pay pennies to boost anyway)? In exchange, it will cost you dearly in search capability. And what about your YouTube Channel and subscribers, not to mention the limitations on repurposing that video!

And Google+ has made it exceptionally easy to repurpose YouTube videos on their platform. The more you use Google, the more content and use information they have to improve their search engine algorithms. Therefore, they want to keep you and make you happy.

Take advantage of this opportunity

  • Claim your business on Google Local Business and complete your Google+ Profile!
  • Add a cover photo reflecting your business personality and logo.
  • Complete your About Page
  • Upload photos of your storefront, your business in action, your products, your events, your staff, etc.,

And hey, while you’re there, why not take a shot at engaging with some of those supposedly non-existent G+ users? ;)

“What are You Doing?”…Facebook No Longer Cares

Facebook doesn't care what you are up to anymore

We’ve been doing it wrong?

Apparently we didn’t know we were doing Social Media wrong because Facebook has decided we need even more filtering of our news feed.

And all this time we thought Social Media was… hmm, how do you call it? Social???

But according to Facebook’s latest algorithm changes in process… social is supposed to be about what’s popular.

That’s right, the latest changes in Facebook algorithms to bleed out in the near future will pretty much make it close to impossible to hold sincere engagement with others if you want them to actually see your posts.  So Facebook is redefining social to mean fake “engagement based on trending topics” because THEY deem trending topics to be more what EVERYONE wants to see.

“Our goal with News Feed is to show everyone the right content at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important to them.”

“One way we show timely content higher up in News Feed is to show people stories about things that are trending as soon as they occur, so you can immediately know what your friends or favorite pages are saying about the stories of the day. “

What this really means is they want to be able to ensure those using ads to promote posts will have better success. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. They do have to make money to support Facebook operations, and those doing ad-spends do deserve results. What bothers me is Facebook’s BS’ing process for the users.

High School all over again

Remember the down side of high school years? If you weren’t wearing the latest fashions, listening to the top 40 radio stations, seeing the right movies and tv shows, liking the right members of the opposite sex, and just plain popular, you were pretty much invisible, right? Well guess what? It’s baa-aaaaccckkk – courtesy of Facebook who for years has been asking Facebook page users “what have you been up to?” and Facebook profiles users “what’s on your mind?” But now, they are saying to us that “Nobody Cares” unless it’s trending!

Come on, Facebook, do your stockholders a favor and be up front about being a business and not just an online social hangout.

Hmmmmmmmm. So how does this new algorithm work now?

Ok, so let’s see now. According to the newest tools that assist in competing with these new algorithms (i.e., robots browsing for fake engagement), you are to:

  • Check what’s trending
  • Somehow attach your messaging to be congruent with a trending topic.
  • And better still, pick a quote meme to hang your tag to.

In other words, completely lose your personal or professional identity and follow the pack.

And your rankings will soar!

Hahahaha. Oh, wait a minute, they are serious?!

Facebook says I was wrong now

Geez, I am so sorry that i have been blogging for years about the necessity of sincerity of engagement to be successful in social media. And I am sorry to have led you astray sharing article upon article and discussions of audience barometers based on sincerity of engagement.

And my seminars on how Social Media is NOT just all about Justin Bieber and pop trending topics? All moot.

Oh, Facebook won’t say it out loud, but if they are creating algorithms to search for posts that discuss primarily trending topics means if you don’t include said topics in your posts, well…you’re screwed. Sorry folks, nobody cares what you are doing anymore, unless you are spending all your time on trending topics.

Looks like you doubting Thomases were right. Facebook is for mindless chatter after all.

Google Plus is looking better every day.

3 Reasons Facebook is for Playground Friends and Google Plus is for Grownups

I know, I know, the title is a bit of an insult … bear with me.

As I migrate to Google+, and as I learn that my Facebook friends don’t care to follow suit, I am beginning to understand why.

  1. Facebook has been in use for 10 years, Google+ for 3 years. Facebook has a huge learning curve lead over G+. This is a world of busy people and the saturation point of learning yet another app or program is nigh. Ergo, popular reluctance to venture into Google Plus, i.e., “Please don’t give me any more homework!”
  2. Google+ requires a Google Account. Although most Facebook users may have acquired a Gmail account and address, they may rarely use it. The majority of my own contact list reveals most of my contacts use company email addresses since many log on during their workday. Therefore, the less contact one has with their Google account in general, the less likely one may be to even notice Google Plus. Facebook users may also assume all their social needs are met on Facebook.
  3. Perhaps the strongest point relates to whether or not one is actively participating in social media for business. If one uses social media exclusively for personal use, there is little interest for another platform. Despite the fact that social media users deserve a better User Experience (UX) than Facebook (such as IS provided on Google Plus), most users commonly prefer a bird in the hand rather than two in the bush. But, SMB owners who ARE active on Social Media for their small businesses are far more likely to seek the superior benefits of Google+; especially for the SEO benefits to their search rankings.

But, alas, many SMB owners are often laggards in social media. And if they do participate, it is mostly via hire. Google Plus asks for genuine content from source. Fluff is not effective. Google Pus provides a superior platform for sincere engagement. Facebook falls shy.

Ergo, the analogy – Friends vs Grownups

Business Users desiring a respectful ROI from a social media platform search for maturity in a platform (both personally and professionally). Business growth does not occur randomly.

  • Facebook is a growing disappointment for brand awareness potential.
  • Facebook is exponentially squashing organic business post visibility.
  • Facebook users generally prefer comic relief from their stressful days, i.e., silly pet pictures and funny videos. (“Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”*)

As a result, a business owner now thinks twice about investing valuable ad dollars for increased visibility on a platform (Facebook) which primarily attracts fans seeking pedestrian relief rather than thoughtful content.

Google Plus, on the other hand, has historically attracted those who seek more from their social media platform. Hobbyists, business owners, IT “geeks,” sports enthusiasts, amateur philosophers, science fans, photographers (G+ has amazing image quality), and more.

This means, a Google Plus audience seeks useful and thought-provoking content, or, valuable information that enhances interests and activities. One does not have to be cute or funny to get attention from G+ users. G+ users are actually embarrassed to comment with only a “great post” comment. On Google Plus, complete sentences and finished thoughts are the rule. Sure, G+ users love humor, too, but it is not required as it often is on Facebook. Google Plus has no character limit and images will show exactly as intended.

So what does this mean for the SMB owner who is considering G+ for business?

Users visit their G+ account less frequently than Facebook users because Google Plus content is more about quality, not quantity. You aren’t expected to post daily or multiple times daily as on Facebook. No one forgets you if you only post once a week or once a month. Scarcity is acceptable – as long as your posts are worth a user’s time. This means if you can keep the topic on interest on Google Plus, there is no need to entertain. Lack of frequency will not discount impact.

So, what is the future of social media platforms?

Personally, I believe Facebook is sounding its own death knell through its recent “Monkey See, Monkey Do” approach for monetization. They are more worried about their stockholders than their users (and in a bass-ackwards way). Google+ will surely surpass expectations as its growth is currently exponential. People tire of sameness and don’t appreciate Facebook’s disregard for personal and business UX.

How else is Monkey See Monkey Do Screwing up Facebook?

  • They see Twitter as a popular go-to news source, so decide to add top news stories in feeds.
  • They see the attractiveness of Google+ YouTube videos auto-play, so they are promoting a “post your video straight to Facebook” campaign.
  • They see the growth of Instant Video and Messaging and create Facebook Messenger. And, of course, Messenger will soon have its own avenues for monetization.

Messenger is a lame attempt at best (imho) to duplicate the many uses of G+ Hangouts and HOAs (G+ hangouts on air) as Android use becomes more dominant. Facebook should have stuck to promoting Instagram.

The familiarity and convenience factor for which users hang on to Facebook is being slowly diluted by Facebook itself.

Stupid.

Yes, Facebook, alienate your brand and personal users by screwing with everything users like about Facebook because you have lost sight of your mission and are scrambling for profits. A shortsighted method for continued success to be sure.

If you are already on Google Plus, we invite you to join Small Business Smart Marketing Talk Google Community.

*Seinfeld: “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” http://youtu.be/Oj3VphK9AMk

I’m Over Facebook – They Just Don’t Give a Damn About Our UX

The ONLY reason I haven’t deleted Facebook gets a thumbs downmy Facebook accounts – personal and biz – is to stay in touch with the many friends and followers I value who simply aren’t anywhere else on Social Media. (Secretly I wish they’d leave Facebook so I could, too.)

But, I am no longer wasting my time there trying to cultivate more followers.

I have been on Social Media since 2008 and have spent as much time analyzing its use as I have using it.

It all boils down to the WHY of using a social media platform. I think I speak for many in this simple breakdown . . .

For Personal UX, we want:

  • accessibility
  • social experience
  • and the ability to consistently view who and what we choose to follow

For Small Business UX, we want:

  • Visibility
  • Visibility
  • Visibility.

Shall we all agree we are no longer experiencing the above on Facebook? All together now, say YES.

Where can we honestly have the Social UX promised? Facebook is becoming like Network TV – monetization is their sole driver. Foolishly, they are forgetting they need loyal fans to keep that s— up.

And Instagram is just an ego extension of Facebook. Foursquare is a chore and results shy. Tumblr and StumbleUpon and other discovery engines will soon funnel down to those that provide the best SmartPhone UX whoever that will be… Maybe FlipBoard?

The tide in Social Media is turning into a SmartPhone technology tsunami which is the catalyst for the change in texture of Social Media.

Where am I going?

Google+ and all associated Google products (YouTube, Drive, Photos,….)

The word is Google+ will oust Facebook in usage by May 2016, i.e., Spring-Summer 2016. No one believes this (that is, of those who haven’t tried G+ yet), but I would bet on it. Amazing freaking platform. I feel like I have just scratched the surface.

And where else am I staying?

LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest

While I am a little worried about LI and Twitter (they are experiencing some growing pains), I believe they will sustain powerfully and successfully. And Pinterest? Still far more powerful than it is given credit. I like to see the forest for the trees and look to the future in making these assessments. Yes, these are my professional and personal opinions – take ’em or leave ’em, but pay attention.

Notice I am not recommending you go or stay anywhere. If any platform is producing results for you, it would be folly to leave. But, if you are a small business, pay close attention to your future insights.

  • are you new likes producing engagement?
  • are you having to boost and promote more frequently due to poor reach that is becoming poorer…?
  • are you noticing you have to be more mainstream in your posts to keep/gain visibility? (in other words, George Takei style posting?)

I’d love to see what you are up to on Google+. Leave your G+ URL in the comments and I’ll follow. My personal profile is https://plus.google.com/+HaniaWhitfield/ and my page is https://plus.google.com/+Smbsmartmarketing2010/

I have also just started a Google+ community for small business owners to post questions and comments on small business marketing. No commitments, no fees, just helping and sharing as peers.

Ask to join http://bit.ly/SMBSmartMarketingTalk .

See ya there!

SMBs: Stop Ignoring Google Plus!

Google Plus Logo CollageGoogle+ is DEFINITELY gaining ground.

If you haven’t taken the time to explore the beauty, versatility, and content quality of Google+, you simply don’t know what you are missing and you are paying too much attention to old information.

IMHO, G+ is the perfect blend of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram rolled into one.

That’s not to say they will fade away, but much of what is missing in those singular platforms is all rolled into one at G+. Add the bonus of increased rankings with usage and you have a win-win.
Start playing with it… there are plenty of YouTube Videos that can get you acquainted. (Hello- YouTube is a Google product…!)

Google Plus Just as Popular as Twitter in U.S., Study Says  And has more visitors than Instagram, Pinterest 

Update: You are invited to our brand new Google+ Community for small business owners and managers: http://bit.ly/SMBSmartMarketingTalk

SMBs, Coach Your Staff Daily for Success

City Market Tourist Info, Savannah, GADo you communicate daily with your staff?

Ever notice how the more successful restaurants have daily meetings with staff before they start their shift?

  • menu changes
  • staff issues
  • maintenance problems
  • staff division of duties and tables

It is critical in the restaurant business for the best possible diner experience to enable a profitable outcome. Management reviews these items BEFORE staff interacts with customers.

So why don’t ALL small businesses follow this practice?

Recently, at a tourist info kiosk in Savannah, Georgia, I overheard the person coming on shift complaining to the leaving shift person: “And again, why do I know nothing about this?”  Lack of communication is always the main complaint in the workplace in a multi-shift business environment. Why? Take a look at the image of this lone kiosk worker – many small businesses have staff that work alone or come on to a shift after management goes home. All too often, changes or necessary updates go unnoticed or unaware. This causes mistakes, unhappy customers, profit loss, and more.

A “Get up to Speed” daily staff session is critical for your success. Weekly meetings are not practical in a multi-shift business. Find the means that works best to communicate regularly. Email, bulletin boards, communications notebook, dry erase board, voice mails, a Facebook Group page, Google Hangout …whatever it takes!

Yes, it takes time and preparation on you or your manager’s part, but would you rather spend that valuable time fixing problems caused by a lack of communication?