Facebook Page Branding Lessons

Facebook is one of the most powerful social media marketing tools for your brand. This powerful social network attracts countless new users each month and allows companies to connect with their customers in unprecedented ways.

However, while it’s important to build a brand presence on Facebook, there’s room for error if your efforts aren’t correctly coordinated. As such, here are four Facebook page branding lessons to help you learn the ins and outs of this important social media image building process. By following them, you can create a streamlined appearance and impress your page’s visitors.

Use an Appropriate Profile Picture
Your brand’s profile picture is the mainstay of your Facebook page. This is the first element visitors will notice when navigating to your page, and will likely determine whether they’ll dig further into the page’s content or jump ship. It’s unfortunate, but many companies fail to recognize the importance of their profile picture and fail to utilize the power it holds.

Play around with a few images to determine which one best compliments the other elements on the brand’s page. Considering having several appropriate images on hand and cycling through usage, to provide fresh new brand content on occasion. Doritos and Travelocity offer great profile picture examples.

Here are a few best practices for profile picture selection:

Use an appropriate branding image. A picture that could give your brand a bad reputation or confuse visitors should be avoided.
Only use high quality images for Facebook profile pictures. A pixilated image will create an unprofessional tone and detract from your company’s high standards.
Ensure the profile picture is consistent with your other corporate social media marketing efforts.
Edit the Page’s Thumbnail
The profile picture and your page’s thumbnail are an intricately paired duo. Some page managers overlook the thumbnail, passing it off as a minor detail. However, this image is what will appear each time comments are posted to other pages and it your fans’ home page news feeds. As such, it deserves as much attention as the other page elements.

While you can’t change the profile picture without also altering the thumbnail, you do have some power when it comes to altering the thumbnail’s appearance. After selecting a profile picture, you can enter the thumbnail editing mode to reposition it appropriately. For example, if your profile picture is an image of the brand’s logo, the thumbnail can be repositioned to attractively display a portion of that logo.

Here are some additional thumbnail best practices:

If you can’t find an attractive position for the thumbnail image, swap out the profile picture and start over.
Ensure visitors can recognize what’s being displayed in the thumbnail rather than leaving it positioned on an unrecognizable portion of the profile picture.
The most important thing to remember here that your page thumbnail should be readable no matter how tiny it is. !Remember that your page thumbnail is your most powerful branding weapon.

A good example to make here is this page from Rather Be Shopping (an online coupon service that aggregates and organizes online and printable coupons as well as free shipping deals to over 1000 national retailers.). The page logo is very clear when put next to the wall threads:

Facebook branding

The page thumbnail is still distinct even when placed on the page widget (on the home page):

Rather Be Shopping

Behold the Power of the Photostrip
photostrip images

Your Facebook page’s photostrip is a powerful tool that can be utilized in many different ways. Since the photostrip images are randomized with each page load, many users upload images of letters and other elements to create funky plays on words.

Another option is to seamlessly tie in the photostrip images with the page’s profile picture to show a little more about what your brand can offer. Vital Design and JetBlue provide great examples of photostrip usage.

Here are some things to remember about the photostrip:

Photostrip images are randomized so don’t use images that must remain in a particular sequence.
Ensure all photostrip images are high quality and don’t appear pixelated within the photostrip space.
Use graphics consistent with the brand’s image or that tell a short story about what your company can offer.
Choose Your Likes with Care
As a company it’s important to display your partnerships with other organizations as well as promote other ventures you own. The Featured Likes portion of your brand’s Facebook page is the perfect location to display these important associations.

While you can like as many Facebook pages as you wish, you’re only allowed to feature five of them in the Featured Likes section. As such, choose your featured associations with care while determining how each like can benefit your brand.

Here are a few best practices for the likes feature:

Only like those pages with which you want to be associated. Liking another organization that has recently gotten into some hot water is a sure way to stir-up some unwanted publicity.
Select the best of your likes for the featured likes section and rotate them regularly.
Facebook is a powerful social media tool you can use to increase your company’s online presence. Now more than ever, this social network offers the tools you need to create a streamlined brand page that will impress your visitors and, in turn, increase your popularity online. The most important element of creating a successful Facebook company page is to properly utilize all tools available to you and update your information regularly.

The 5 C’s of Successful Business Blogs

In a previous post, I discussed blogging basics and why having a business blog is an absolute must. However, in order for your blog to be successful, YOU must possess a certain qualities which I call the 5 C’s of successful business bloggers.

Confidence, Creativity, Consistency, Curiosity and Clarity are basic business success foundations that would apply to businesses of all types, sizes and budgets and certainly blogging is no exception.

Before I get into that, some savvy bloggers make a living through their blogs. In other words, they don’t use their blogs as a branding tool for their businesses. Instead, their blogs are their businesses. This only proves that when done intelligently, blogging can be a very effective on its own or as a business branding tool.

Let’s discuss the 5 C’s in depth….

1. Confidence

Unless you have an unshakable belief in your business success potential, you wouldn’t be in business today. This sense of confidence in the value that you offer your customers should shine through your blog content.
But please don’t get me wrong here: I am not suggesting that you bore your readers to tears with your sales pitch! On the contrary, your confidence in your business and the quality of your service will be reflected by ensuring that your content is always informative, compelling and unique.
Evergreen content that’s interesting to read 5 years from now usually works best, since it will continue to drive traffic to your blog over a long period of time.
If you feel you are unable to write quality content, then there’s also a different solution available. Ever heard of Ghost Blogging?

The bottom line is: If you want to have a successful blog, be confident and invest in it!

2. Creativity

You need to be creative and diversify the topics you discuss in your blog and the way you present them to your readers. This way, your readers will be hooked to your blog because they will be educated and entertained. Don’t talk endlessly about your business, but provide them with unique content that’s relevant to your business and products, but which is also interesting to your readers. For instance; It’s better to publish an article on how to assemble your products, than it is to write an article about the vision of your company. Nobody cares unless you’re Apple.

When it comes to creative blog topics, there are very popular categories that are known to grab readers’ attention such as How-to articles, breaking news, controversial issues, tips and tricks, trends, products reviews and so on.

Also make sure to leverage various forms of digital content to satisfy different tastes. In addition to the traditional text posts, add some audio and video to the mix. For example, you can create interesting video interviews, publish them on YouTube, and embed them to your blog for maximum visibility. Also, you can create podcasts (audios) in your blog. (If this part seemed unclear to you, I will be discussing it in details in future posts. Also, feel free to share any questions you have in your comment and I will respond to you promptly).

The bottom line is: Diversify your blog content to satisfy all tastes.

3. Consistency

In the previous sections, we discussed the importance of delivering quality and diverse content. But if you do that every blue moon, you will be violating the basic ingredient of a successful blog.

Your blog must be updated on regular basis and it’s best to be consistent and systematic with regards to your content. For example, Monday is the “tips and tricks” post day while Tuesday is when you publish a controversial topic and so on.

This way, your reader will get accustomed to your blogging habits and will know when to expect what they visit your blog.
The bottom line is: Consistently deliver quality and diverse content

4. Curiosity

“The only constant thing is change”. We live in a restless age and staying up to date with the latest trends in your business is crucial to your business success.

Having a blog will motivate you to grow bigger ears and eyes and always hunt for new information to share with your readers. If you are not publishing evergreen content, that it must always be fresh and new. If your readers felt that you are offering them outdated information, they will be drawn away completely.
In order to ensure that you wouldn’t overlook this critical point, create a category for “hot trends” and make sure to publish post there at least once a week.

Of course, if you are writing “evergreen” articles that will still be interesting 5 years from now, you may slightly ignore this item.

The bottom line is: Curiosity kills the cat but gives life to your blog! Keep digging for fresh and interesting information.

5. Clarity

Some bloggers go overboard in designing their blogs, scattering all kinds of flashy and distracting images that turn their blogs into virtual mazes! That’s a major turn off to blog visitors.

As much as I encourage a creative blog design that reflects your brand and corporate identity, the design should clean and clear.
Actions speak louder than words! Check most well-known blog and you will find them neat and easy to navigate through.
The bottom line is: Your blog design should be neat, clear and clean (as well as creative and unique)

Finally, I will play a nice game with you. Think of any blog that you love and read on regular basis. Now, go to this blog and give it a score from 1 to 10 on each of the 5 C’s . Chances are high it will score more than 5 in each of them! This will be a great learning experience for you as well that you can use in your own blog later on.

Get in the habit of evaluating your blog as well as other blogs for the 5 C’s and you will master them in no time.

Enjoy blogging!

Business Blogging Basics for Beginners and Skeptics

If you are serious about taking your online visibility to the next level and feel like a “blogging newbie” or a “blogging skeptic”, this article is for you…

First Things First! What’s a blog and why should I care?

A blog is a special kind of a website that allows publishing all types of digital content such as text, images, audio, video and so on. So far, a blog is no different than an ordinary website but here comes the fun part: blog visitors are given the chance to interact with the blog owner and each other by commenting on blog pages (posts).

The interactive nature of blogs gives them great appeal over static websites. That’s why; you, as a business owner, should leverage blogging for optimal business results.

It goes without saying that all of your blog visitors will be interested in your business area and a substantial number of them would fall into your niche market. (In future posts, I will detail how you can identify “hot” prospects amongst your blog readers and turn them into customers)

And the good news is: creating a basic blog from A to Z and posting content on it doesn’t require any technical background. In fact, it takes less than 5 minutes to have a blog up and running using popular blogging sites such as WordPress and BlogSpot.

I am sold: Business Blogging Rocks! How can I do it Right?

That’s a very critical question that could make or break your business blogging results. You must strive for constantly delivering great content that’s compelling, unique and in line with your brand.

If you are planning to copycat others or deliver mediocre content, I would say don’t bother creating a blog in the first place! In fact, it might do more harm than good in this case. Put in some long hours and write the content yourself. If you are in need of articles but you have no time to write them, you can always buy unique content from other other writers.

Now you might ask me: What if I don’t know how to create a “killer” blog? Take advantage of sites such as AllTop.com. This site lists the best of the best in the ever-growing world of blogs. Simply choose a topic that’s relevant to your business and you will get a list of the top blogs in that field. Check it out for a healthy dose of inspiration. But again, do NOT mimic others blindly! Authenticity and uniqueness are essential ingredients for business blogging success.

There’s an added bonus to checking out the blogs of “big players” in your industry: to a great extent, they will spare a lot of effort of researching what your blog readers (target market) are hungry for. If you what to know what’s cookin, see what popular bloggers are writing about today.

So Far So Good! How exactly can a blog benefit my business?

Here are just a few business blogging rewards:

Brand recognition
Viral marketing
Lead Generation
Market Research
And more….
The nature/content of your blog posts should be tailored to one of the above objectives, depending on your current business goals. I am sure you would want to achieve all these goals but it really helps to focus on one of them and give it priority until you get the desired results and on to the next one and so on. Needless to say, these goals are interrelated and could affect each other. So, focusing on one of them will improve the rest.

How does all of that translate into blogging jargon? Stay tuned for upcoming posts in which I will highlight proven business blogging techniques that you can easily implement for optimal results. To Your success

Launching an Online Business: 7 Steps How to Promote it for Free

If you have been looking for a way to create another stream of income, building an online business is a good choice. Generally, overhead costs are low and it provides the perfect opportunity to reach millions of potential customers. This fact alone has led to the creation of many websites and online businesses which means the competition can be fierce and you are going to have to get creative if you want to drive traffic to your site. Of course, times being what they are the best promotional efforts are those you can achieve free of charge, and here are seven steps to achieving that goal.

1. Optimize

There are all kinds of ways you can promote your online business but ranking well in the search engines is paramount. If you do not show up in Google searches, you can forget any amount of significant traffic. Now, you should know up front that the precise manner in which search engines rank your website and others is a closely guarded secret, however there are a few things known simply from trial and error. Here are a few terms you should know to get you started.

Search Engine Optimization – Making your site as appealing to the search engines as possible. This is a process of writing content and structuring your site in order to get the most favorable ranking possible. Includes the use of keywords, metatags, backlinks, links and more.
Keyword research – A popular word or phrase that people use to find information on the internet. For your website, it should be a phrase highly searched relating to your product or service.
Backlinks – Do follow links on another site pointing back to yours. These will affect your page rank in Google and other search engines.
Social Media – a rising form of free website promotion it entails using popular social forums such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and others to promote a website to a larger audience.

2. Content

If you want to push, your site to the top of the search engines content is king! The days of using thousands of keywords sprinkled in with useless information are over, thank goodness. Content can be written articles or blurbs on your site that provide users with credible and useful information. The rule of thumb is to write for humans with the search engines in mind.

3. Social Media

Tweet it, post it to FaceBook or MySpace and watch your traffic increase! Social media has become the best marketing tool available, people come to these sites to connect with old friends and make new ones so there is always some activity going on! Create a business account and begin sharing information and specials with your online “friends”. Potential customers can learn a little about your business and benefit from exclusive online only offers.

4. Newsletter

This may be time consuming but a newsletter remains one of the best tools at your disposal for free website promotion. Supply an easy opt in button on your site, perhaps you can provide something free in exchange for customers signing up for your newsletter. Then on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, send out a quick overview of what is new in your industry, special deals, quick tips or anything your customer base would find interesting.

5. Get Help

Now that you know a little more about free website promotion, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. If you are concerned about your ability to do any of the above you should know, there are services out there that can help you. Here are a few options:

Link Builders – you can find plenty of individuals and businesses online who provide this service.

Content creation – this is big business online at the moment. You pay someone to ghost write your content.

SEO firms – Companies that provide all phases of search engine optimization.
As you can imagine the above options can get quite expensive, and rightfully so, through these efforts you stand to make a great deal of money. However many new businesses simply cannot bear the brunt of this expense. Thankfully, there are sites like Work For Favor. Here you can request all kinds of SEO for your website in exchange for your time and energy on other projects. No money is required at all!

Be Patient

The millions of eBooks that claim anyone can attract a large social media fanbase in a matter of days are offering false promises in return for a sale. While their methods might attract bots or people who are trying to build their own group of followers, these techniques will not reach your target market.

Nothing but time and engaging material will earn a group of followers for your company that could turn into actual customers. Be patient, build your content, answer questions, and your followers will show up.