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Why Just Having a Website Isn’t Enough Anymore

Social Media Week




As a small business owner, you’re probably aware by this point that you need a website to succeed and build your business. Sure, there are a few businesses out there who can get by without them, like successful independent restaurants that thrive on word-of-mouth, but these tend to be the exceptions, rather than the rule.

In 2017, 71% of small businesses have a website, and 92% of those without a website say they will have one before 2019. With numbers like those, small businesses can’t expect that just having a website will give them a competitive edge. Now, small business websites need to accomplish more than just being a placeholder—they need to provide value to customers. If you’re looking to up your website game, here’s what successful small business websites are doing to rise above the competition.

Focus on design and speed

A beautiful website that loads quickly will make a good first impression on visitors and will put you ahead of the business owners who last had their websites designed in the 90s. It’s not difficult to create a modern, beautiful website thanks to pre-designed themes on sites like Squarespace and WordPress, and you can always hire someone to help you if you’re not confident in your own skills.

Ensuring every page of your website loads quickly may seem insignificant, but people have very short attention spans, and a few seconds of wait time can turn visitors away. 40% of people will click away from a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load—and 47% expect it to load in 2 seconds or less. Load times matter!

Speak to a specific audience

Knowing who your ideal customers are is key to creating an effective website. Your messaging can’t possibly speak to everyone at once, so you need to know who makes up your target audience before you create (or redesign) your site. Major League Baseball, for example, noticed that they weren’t attracting many young fans, so they began to focus on their website, making it more attractive to younger generations.

They started to offer streaming, making it easier for fans to watch and engage, and ultimately making the second-most viewed sports site in 2015. Knowing and catering to their target audience made the difference for the organization. They may not be a small business, but these principles apply to organizations big and small.


Just as many small businesses are getting used to the idea of having an online presence, many users are shifting from desktops and laptops to mobile devices much of the time. Basekit reports that 91% of small business websites are not optimized for mobile devices, which indicates a huge gap between what users want and what businesses are offering. Small businesses can get a competitive edge by ensuring that they have a responsive design that works just as well on mobile as on a desktop.

Offering new options

Small businesses can give customers even more convenient options by thinking about the future. Offering mobile wallet options for payment in-store is a great way to make payment convenient, but there are even more purchasing options that customers are interested in.

For example, have you ever considered selling used online? If you’re older, that may not sound interesting yet the younger generations have formed what is now called the sharing economy, with 50% purchasing used or second-hand goods online. If you’re looking to get a competitive advantage, you should consider embracing such emerging trends early.

Integrated with marketing efforts

Sure, the sandwich board is an effective marketing tool for bringing in customers walking by your store. But what about customers who might only find you online? They’re not likely to find your site if you don’t do any digital marketing or local SEO (search engine optimization). If no one can find your site, they’re not going to buy from you—and the only way to lead them to your site is by using marketing techniques like social media, email and content marketing. Most people now use the Internet like a giant phone book, so your visibility online is very important.

An ever-changing landscape

If you’ve only just gotten your first website, it may seem frustrating that it won’t be enough on its own to bring in significant new business. The world of digital marketing is an ever-changing landscape that rewards innovation and early adoption. The good news is that there is a lot of information out there, and if you put in a little effort, you can easily rise above the competition and create a successful digital presence for your business.

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas, innovations and insights into how social media and technology are changing business, society and culture around the world.



Why Your Brand Needs A Blog

Social Media Week




Every brand needs a blog. You may think that no one will care about your brand’s new product launch or what goes on behind the scenes, but that is not the case. Consumers want to know the story behind their favorite brands and feel confident that they are making the right choice when they strongly identify with a brand.

A company blog can do all those things and more. Blogging for a brand is also not hard to maintain because most companies do not update their blogs daily.

Enhance Your Brand’s Image

A brand’s blog needs to be relevant to what it sells. Otherwise, it serves no purpose and can dilute a brand’s message. If you are thinking about creating a company blog, you need to figure out what voice you want to use.

Does your brand target working moms? Then, you’re going to want to feature articles on how your products make juggling their careers with raising their family easier. You might even want to provide tips on how moms can make the most of their time. Not everything on your blog has to be selling your product. In fact, you’re going to lose readers if you focus too much on making a sale. Give people a reason to care about your brand by giving them information they find helpful or interesting.

The Disney Parks Blog does an excellent job of enhancing the allure of Disney’s theme parks. It’s written as though it was a Travel Channel documentary narrated by your Disney-loving friends. The blog is equal parts “check out this cool behind the scenes video” and “I can’t wait to try the food at Disney World’s new restaurant.” You don’t have to be a Disney fan to appreciate the thought that went into the Disney Parks brand’s blog.

For those who work in social media, Hootsuite’s blog provides tips on how to better use Facebook, Snapchat, and other platforms. It also covers stories social media professionals find useful and inspirational, such as the post “How One University Used Social Media to Raise $28M in a Single Day.” These are all things relevant to the target audience but don’t push the HootSuite brand.

Readers of the Hootsuite blog will appreciate that the company spends more time educating them about changes in the digital marketing world than explaining the benefits of Hootsuite, which will make these reader’s more likely to want to use Hootsuite for their social media needs.

Control the Narrative

Having a company blog enables you to get ahead of a story and break the story ahead of the media. Once the press reports on your new product launch or a controversy, you’ve lost control of the narrative. If the press widely reports on a negative story, your brand can lose customer goodwill and possibly suffer irreparable damage.

For example, Apple has been struggling to convince iPhone owners that the slow down of older iPhones is to preserve battery performance and not force owners of old phones to buy new ones. The company is now being sued because it did not previously disclose this, which is not helped by the public’s natural distrust of large corporations. Had Apple been upfront, the company would have been able to clarify that all older phones need is a new battery to regain their previous functionality.

Before allegations of consumer fraud were made, Apple should have explained that all batteries lose power over time and that once a battery starts showing signs of its age, the company will be happy to prolong the life of your phone with a $79 replacement battery. However, because that didn’t happen, Apple is doing damage control and temporarily offering iPhone battery replacements for $29, which is like putting a Band-Aid on a wound that needs stitches.

Apple is doing a much better job explaining it’s international tax situation. The company’s not trying to get out of paying taxes. It just wants the tax code to make sense, which is hard to argue with.

Find Out About Your Customers

Posting regularly to your brand’s blog allows you to find out which articles draw the most views. You should also use Google Analytics and/or Facebook Pixel to get information about your blog’s visitors. By using these tools, you can find out audience information, such as location, age breakdown, gender breakdown, and time of day most people visit. This information will enable you to make educated decisions about what demographics to target, how to improve brand awareness, and what products and services to offer.

If you are brave enough to enable comments on your brand’s blog, you’ll be able to gauge what people are saying about your content and how they feel about your brand. While comments can be a useful tool, there is a high likelihood that spammers and trolls will abuse the comment section. Therefore, before comments are allowed it is important to consider whether the feedback gained is worth the time spent monitoring the comments.

A brand blog should be an essential part of your company’s marketing strategy, but it’s necessary to have a plan prior to implementation. A poorly thought out blog will do more damage than good, whereas a well-done blog will expand your brand’s presence and make your brand appear more accessible.

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

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How To Give Your “Boring” Brand A Fun Social Voice

Social Media Week




For some brands, social media marketing comes easy. The companies boast fun products or services, such as yogurt or pet grooming, or share recipes or pictures and become instant social media rock stars. The likes and comments skyrocket; consumers interact with the brand; and, most important of all, people buy yogurt or schedule an appointment for their furry friends.

Your company, though, might not offer such glamorous or entertaining products. Maybe you own a lawn service or sell something as utilitarian as toilet paper or tin foil. You might begin to wonder if social media is off limits because your brand seems so “boring.”

Just because you sell a product that’s perceived as unexciting doesn’t mean your brand voice has to speak in a mind-numbing monotone. With the following five tips, you can develop a vibrant social media voice that attracts new audiences and convinces them to buy from you.

1. Figure out the why

If you want to generate clicks through social media, you should first contemplate why people buy your product or service. Answering the question requires settling into your consumers’ mindset.

Your product convinces some people to make a purchase. Why? What makes it a better choice than your competitors’ products? The answers to those questions will inform you how to converse with people on social media. They’ll also affect your other marketing, advertising, and sales initiatives. As an example, if you manufacture an eco-friendly tin foil, its greenness could be the reason people choose you over another brand.

2. Reflect on your history

Think about why you got into business in the first place. Maybe you wanted to help people care for their lawns. Perhaps you hoped to make a product or service accessible to a different demographic.

Whatever the reason, let it influence how you speak on social media. Use your history, too. Some “boring” brands use #TBT posts, showcasing where they came from and where they are now. Borrow the idea to add a little spark to your social media marketing.

3. Embrace your quirky side

Almost everybody claims a “weird” hobby or obsession. For some, it’s Star Wars or Marvel. Other people fawn over coffee or golf. Think about your brand and its founders. Some of you likely have a unique interest or two.

Now, find where that quirkiness and your business meet. You might not be able to get away with a social media post devoted to Star Wars exclusively, but a Star Wars quote used to promote a product is another story, perhaps one found in a galaxy far, far away.

4. Champion your inner Bill Nye

People like Bill Nye because he makes science understandable. He also conducts live science experiments and applies science to real-world scenarios. But neither of those things completely explains people’s love for him. The explanation rests in who Nye is. He’s a complete nerd, and he showcases the quality every time he takes the screen.

You can do something similar with your brand voice. Find an employee who gets unreasonably excited about your product. Next, put them on camera, asking them to either talk about the product itself or demonstrate how to use the product in real-life situations. Publish the videos on YouTube and other social channels, and watch as consumer interest and engagement tick upward.

5. Talk like a human

The secret to social media success? Talk like a human. Humans enjoy being treated as humans. If you sound like a human rather than a robot, people will listen.

They will also start to see your brand as transparent and authentic, qualities that build rapport and trust. Those characteristics, in turn, persuade people to buy from you rather than a competitor. Developing that reputation doesn’t require complex mathematics or algorithms. All you need is to respond to consumers’ questions, join in online conversations, and talk about others more than yourself.

Social media is never out of reach, not even if you sell a “boring” product. With the advice shared here, you can develop a unique brand voice that raises awareness, builds loyalty, and increases sales.

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

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