Three of the Best Free Social Media Tools Today 

By Steve Hoag

free social media tools

 

There are a bunch of great tools out there for social media that you have to pay for. There are also some awesome tools that won’t cost you a dime. For a lot of SMBs, there isn’t really a ton of wiggle room in the budget for social media tools. For that reason, it’s important to take advantage of all the freebies on the web. For example:

HootSuite

HootSuite is to social media tools as Google is to search engines. It’s the industry leader, hugely popular, and packed with features. It’s also a freemium product, where you get a lot of the features in the free version, but can pay extra if you want more advanced tools. HootSuite allows you to simultaneously post from multiple accounts, schedule posts, create custom searches and reports, and much more! It’s very effective at displaying all of your social media feeds in a concise and intuitive manner. Give it a try today if you haven’t already, it’s not like it’s going to cost you anything.

Bit.ly

You need to use a service like bit.ly if blogging and sharing dynamic content is an important part of your social media presence. This service allows you to shorten URLs, which is great for networks like Twitter. The real benefit though is that it tracks clickthroughs. This will help your marketing team see what types of content are performing the best, at which times, and in what region. It’s an incredible amount of insight for a free tool.

Klout

Klout was the new kid on the block not too long ago, but has since become a mainstay in the social media world. It is the first major effort at creating platform that measures influence across social platforms. And frankly, it’s done a pretty good job! The Klout team is also continuously revising its algorithm so it keeps getting more accurate. There are a bunch of cool features like who your top influencers are, and who you influence the most. If you want to create promotional campaigns Klout has ‘Perks’ which are deals that companies can offer to thought leaders in a certain industry to create buzz about their company. For instance, a $30 gift card to Starbucks in exchange for tweeting about a new coffee drink. Klout is also integrated with other services like HootSuite, quickly cementing its status on social media.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Tuesday, January 28, 2014 6:31:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging enterprise retail marketing SMB social media social media marketing

Why A Custom E-Commerce Store Means More Sales 

By Steve Hoag

custom ecommerce store

The storefront matters. It mattered when the only option was going to a brick and mortar shop, and it still matters today with online storefronts. The shop itself has an effect on the purchasing behavior of a consumer. If you were going to go buy a car, would you go to some back alley garage, or the trusted, local dealership?

Custom branding builds credibility and trust.

People trust people or things that look nicer. That’s why people get stressed out at 3 am when a homeless person is near them, but not when it’s a businessman in a nice suit. A custom e-commerce store allows you to implement things like custom branding. Being able to use your branding instead of a pre-packaged template can have a profound effect on consumers. They will see that you put time and money into the appearance of your store, and that builds credibility. The more credibility you have, the easier it is for the consumer to trust you, and then purchase your product.

A custom storefront means more functionality.

One of the biggest benefits of custom development is creating functionality where it didn’t exist before. Have a custom e-commerce store can be a huge asset if you need additional functionality now, or down the road. Some e-commerce solutions will have missing tools like mobile/social media stores or social check outs. With a custom solution you can circumvent all these issues. You get exactly what you need, with the ability to add whatever you want later on. Having the ability to add great functionality like social media checkouts can make the buying process easier and more efficient for consumers. Streamlining processes with a consumer-centric focus means fewer hoops to jump through for a user, and a lower rate of cart abandonment. And that means more sales.

 

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Thursday, January 16, 2014 6:09:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise retail marketing SMB social media web design web development website

Blogging 101: A Crash Course 

By Steve Hoag

blogging 101

Creating a blog is one of the best ways to generate organic traffic to your website. It’s also useful for branding, becoming a thought leader, and being trusted by consumers. Many people get scared by the idea of having to write consistently, and think that they don’t have enough time or experience to do so. That is just ridiculous! As long as you don’t have a tenuous grasp on English, you can blog! Check out these tips on how to get started:

Figure out whether you need to use a third party blogging site or can implement a blog on your existing website.

This bit is extremely important. Does your existing business website have blogging functionality? If it does, great! You can start writing immediately. If it doesn’t you may need to choose a third party solution like WordPress and link to it from your site. Using a service like WordPress means you will have to set up a smaller second website, but this is fairly easy. They have a ton of templates, and are very affordable. Just make sure your branding matches up and you are good to go!

Create a manageable schedule.                                       

This varies from business to business. You need to figure out what works for YOU. If you can only blog once a week, than do that! Do whatever is comfortable for you. Once you start getting used to blogging you will be able to write more efficiently and produce content at a faster pace.

Make all your content shareable!

The point of blogging is to generate engagement with your customers. Make sure all your content is easily shareable via ‘Share This’ buttons. That way, users can share anything they like with various social media networks.

Share EVERYTHING on social media.

If you don’t have a business social media account yet, get one. Having a social media presence is pretty much mandatory for practically any industry at this point. People won’t know about all this great content you are creating if you don’t share it with your networks! Also, be sure to use a service like bit.ly so you can track click throughs on your articles. It will help a ton with regards to seeing which articles resonate with your target audience, and which don’t.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Friday, January 3, 2014 6:59:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging enterprise retail marketing SEO SMB social media social media marketing web design web trends website

How to Leverage Social Media For Retail Brands 

By Steve Hoag

social media for retail brands

Social media is one of the most powerful marketing platforms today for any brand. As a retailer, you need to leverage social media channels to generate buzz, and increase brand awareness. So how do you go about doing that?

Get active on every social media channel that your target market is active on.

The first step is to know who your target market is. Once you know that you can easily figure out what channels you need to be active on. Are you a small restaurant? Go where the foodies are. Instagram, Facebook, Yelp, Twitter etc. This goes the same for any business. Being active where your target consumers are means you will quickly gain brand exposure. Also, STAY active. Post daily on channels like Twitter or bi-weekly on Facebook. You need to keep your brand top of mind among consumers.

Create a unique online brand persona.

As a retailer, you have a unique advantage over B2B companies by appealing directly to consumers. You can employ much more creative social media strategies since you don’t have to be as strictly professional as B2B marketers. Creating a unique brand persona is critical. What do your customers like? Are they snarky? Then by all means create a snarky persona. Some of the top performing brands have great personalities like Old Spice and Taco Bell. Again, knowing your target customers’ profile is critical to finding which brand persona will work for you.

Encourage brand engagement with a word of mouth strategy.

One of the best ways to market your retail brand online is to use a word of mouth strategy. Social media is all about posting things that go viral. Strategies like offering special deals if you Like/Re-tweet/Share/ brand posts are great at generating buzz. Also, be sure to not just promote selling your products. You can also post other types of engaging content like humorous musings, or pictures/videos of your offerings. As long as your content relates to your customers they will share it. Mix it up, don’t spam your followers, and you will be in great shape.

 

 

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, November 6, 2013 7:09:00 PM Categories: B2C retail marketing SMB social media social media marketing
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