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How To Manage Your Business Reputation Online

Five things Emma Sadleir thinks you should know about building a reputable brand in the digital age.

Hanfred Rauch

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With the sun catching her iconic golden hair at a Waterfront hotel overlooking the Atlantic, Emma Sadleir looks every bit the part of a glamorous lawyer on an American TV show. She launches into a discussion about South Africa’s liberal approach to social media law – and what a fascinating case study we were for the rest of the world during the Oscar Pistorius trial, for which she was a correspondent for both the BBC and Carte Blanche.

Interestingly, though, Emma has used her “Barbie-of-media-law” image consciously to educate South Africans – especially children – about the consequences of their online actions. “Our only frame of reference is what happens on Suits and Ally McBeal – and it’s not even vaguely similar, so I found the media circus that erupted around the Oscar Pistorius trial was incredibly effective as an educational tool,” she says, adding, “I think all courts should be televised.”

When it comes to managing your reputation, Emma says, “I’ve always liked what Warren Buffet said, that it takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it,” pausing for effect. “Nowadays, it takes five seconds,” referring to the speed at which digital media operates. “The whole world’s trying to work out the rules at the same time, so the laws are fairly global – except for America – they do their own thing with the first amendment.”

Related: Manage your Brand’s Reputation Online

So, what advice does Emma have for businesses on building a good reputation?

1. Social media won’t go away

From listed corporations and large media companies to schools across South Africa, a great number of businesses have approached Emma for advice on their social media policies. “Too many companies don’t think that they should be dealing with social media,” she says, “but I believe that all companies should have a social media policy.”

She uses an example: “Say you’re working at the front desk of a hotel and a celebrity checks in and you post: ‘Whoop-whoop, guess who’s staying at the hotel!’ – that can have a big impact on the company.”

“Because it’s all so new, it’s about getting people to understand,” says Emma, “People just don’t know what the repercussions are. The law is there – it’s just about educating your employees to mitigate your risk.”

2. If you won’t put it on a billboard, don’t put it online

Not many people realise the responsibility that comes with having a public voice. “It used to be that today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s fish wrapping,” Emma says. “That’s not the case anymore. The internet is a very permanent place.”

“The screenshot really is the devil,” she says. “If you’re chatting to someone on WhatsApp, talking about how horrible your boss is – they post it online – you’re screwed. One rogue tweet affects the whole company.”

Emma cites the pandemonium that erupted on Twitter over Justine Sacco’s racist remark – that she could not contract Aids because she was white. Between the time Sacco posted the tweet at Heathrow and flew to Cape Town, #hasjustinelandedyet went viral across the globe, her company, IAC, had issued a formal apology and she lost her job. Social media posts such as these can have devastating effects on brands.

To Emma, privacy is your most precious commodity in the digital age. “If you don’t want it to exist, don’t let it.”

Related: How To Advance Your Reputation Globally

3. Everybody’s a celebrity

Having a voice means you have to manage your reputation. Using a fairly typical example, Emma says: “Before you meet someone, you Google them – see what comes up. In the same way, when you apply for a job, they’re going to check you out online.”

While celebrity culture might still seem like the refuge of the trivial, Emma believes we have a lot to learn from celebrities about reputation management. “It’s really about being conscious that we’ve all become celebrities and about starting to treat yourself like a celebrity – as well as your friends, your colleagues and your family. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s the reality of it.”

Whether as a business or in a personal capacity, Emma suggests adopting a default mindset of, “If people take pictures of you, it’s going to be published.” But, she adds, “The way privacy laws are set up in South Africa is that the more you look after your privacy, the more privacy you will have.”

4. There’s no better publicity than a happy workforce

The plus side of living in a digital world is that it has forced organisations to reconsider the way they do business. “Cognisant of the risk of social media, a lot of companies have adopted a policy of, ‘No one’s allowed to talk about us on social media’, but really, there’s no better publicity than a happy workforce,” Emma says. She suggests that companies should rather improve their business culture than try to stop their employees from talking about them.

“If all of a company’s people talk about what a cool company it is to work for – you can’t buy that,” she says, “so I think, trusting your employees and empowering them to use social media tools effectively is the best recipe for success.” She goes on to say, “But I appreciate that it can be very difficult.”

5. Every business is different

“The marketing people will tell you that you’ve got to be where your clients are – that all companies should be on social media,” says Emma, “But I don’t think that’s always necessary. What businesses need to understand is that they’re on social media even if they don’t want to be.”

She explains: “Their employees are on social media, their clients are – but what I don’t agree with is that a lot of these marketing companies insisted that all business should have a Facebook page, for instance. I don’t think it’s always helpful,” Emma says. “I think sometimes it just creates a platform for complaints.”

Asking Emma about the future of social media, she goes quiet. A few moments later, she says, “Honesty is crucial…social media as a recruitment tool is a game changer…” She sits up. “Actually, I have no idea where we’re going. If you had told me six weeks ago that we’d all be playing Pokémon Go and that it would increase Nintendo’s shared market value by $9 Billion, I would have laughed at you.”

She feels, however, that people are reaching a saturation point – that social media addiction has become an active contributor to depression and that people are going to realise that real-world experiences are more valuable than virtual ones. “I always say, as far as the book of social media is concerned, we’re still reading the table of contents.”

nlighten-logoEmma Sadleir will be speaking at nlighten’s business leadership event, Exec Think Tank, on 11 August 2016 at Equinox, Alice Lane, Sandton. To find out more about the event, visit http://bit.ly/1ZbeAkT or contact Nicola on 021 794 7533 or email nicola@nlighten.co.za.

Hanfred Rauch is the Communications Executive at nlighten: Enhancing customer experience. Read more of Hanfred's articles here: www.hanfredrauch.com

Online Marketing

5 Steps To Grow Your YouTube Channel In 2019

As you make your strategic plans for 2019, look no further than YouTube.

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With over 1.9 billion active users per month – nearly the size of Facebook – YouTube is one of the most visited websites online and second only to parent company Google among the most searched websites today.

On the surface, one might look at YouTube as a place to watch music videos, stream video games online and tune in to one’s favourite vlogger.

However, YouTube is an untapped goldmine for small businesses and creators to make money – and it’s easy.

Whether you’re a real estate agent, photographer, website developer or a local coffee shop, maintaining an active presence on YouTube can help you gain precious website visits and drive leads as a result of the videos that you post. As an added benefit, your YouTube videos are discoverable via Google search also.

Because Google owns YouTube, you have a higher likelihood of being discovered through a video that you upload to YouTube related to your topic or subject matter expertise than a traditional Google search which crawls the entire internet.

For example, a quick search on YouTube for “Social Media Keynote” will pull up many videos from Gary Vaynerchuk and myself which dominate the first page of search results.

As a public speaker, YouTube has been critical in growing my business over the last year, which is why I have invested in having my keynote presentations recorded and uploaded to YouTube. Besides having excellent SEO ranking, YouTube also offers me a resource to host my video content as a digital portfolio so whenever a potential conference organiser reaches out to inquire about the services that I provide I can point them directly to my YouTube channel.

As you make your strategic plans for 2019, look no further than YouTube where 35-plus and 55-plus age groups are the fastest growing demographic.

From sports to music to business news, YouTube is the new cable television. Below are five tips for beginners on how to grow on YouTube when you’re just starting.

Related: 10 YouTube Channels Every Entrepreneur Should Follow

1. Have a purpose

As shown in the video above, I began my channel in 2014 and have created over 500 videos to date despite only recently hitting the coveted 10,000 subscriber milestone. YouTube growth is slower than other social networks. Therefore, you should have a clear objective or purpose for why you want to create video content.

In 2014, while working a full-time job, I started my channel to vlog my life, which to be candid isn’t all that exciting, and gave up after not seeing a significant number of views. It wasn’t until I began to record social media how-to, tutorial style videos like the ones you see today that my purpose became clear. So, what’s your purpose for being on YouTube?

2. Optimise video titles and descriptions

Think of YouTube as a video library meets the Google search engine. To get video views and subsequent subscriptions on your channel, you should research what else exists in the same genre or category. My process for creating videos on YouTube involves writing out the titles of topics that I am passionate about teaching and then researching both Google and YouTube to see what currently exists and what the top-ranking titles are.

Also, your description will contain critical keywords and phrases to help your video become discovered in search and also in Google’s algorithm. For example, if you’re creating a video on website optimisation titled “5 Ways to Rank High on Google!” you will also want to add in your description “Discover how to rank high in Google search,” “How do you rank high in Google search results?” and “Watch to learn how to rank high in Google search results with these easy tips.” The more times that you use a combination of phrases with keywords in your description the higher chance you have of your video being found.

3. Use TubeBuddy and VidIQ for tags

Similar to descriptions, you will want to ensure that your videos have keywords as tags to improve discoverability. Two tools which I use and recommend are TubeBuddy and VidIQ. Both tools offer a free and premium version and can be downloaded as a Google Chrome plug-in. With TubeBuddy and VidIQ you can get recommendations on what tags to insert into your videos as well as see how your videos rank in search results for set tags.

Going back to the “Social Media Keynote” search example, the reason why my videos rank high in search is that I have optimised the tags using TubeBuddy and also have the tags as phrases in the descriptions of my videos. The same methodology can be applied for any video or genre.

4. Teach your audience with how-to tutorials

I work with a lot of real estate agents and often advise them to start a YouTube channel dedicated to all of the things people can do in their city or town versus the traditional approach of sharing listings and home tours.

The same is true for most industries and professions. What are you able to teach that people are running a Google or YouTube search for (e.g., “How to do … “)? There are two reasons why people go on YouTube: to be entertained or educated.

Related: 3 Ways To Make Money On YouTube Without Adsense

5. Outsource what you cannot do alone

The most common objections that I hear from business professionals who want to dive into YouTube to create but don’t are access to equipment, lack of expertise for editing and time. In the beginning, a lot of my YouTube content was recorded with a handheld camera that I would carry around with me and prop up using a table tripod for how-to videos. I learned how to use iMovie and edited 200-plus videos – albeit not the best quality edits, but I taught myself a new skillset. Eventually, I began to outsource recording and editing to save myself time so that I wouldn’t be “in the weeds.”

Today, you can hire a videographer on TaskRabbit or Thumbtack for anywhere from $150 to $300 for the day. If you run a small business and need content, consider hiring someone who can shoot and edit and bring that person in every week. During your shooting sessions, have her record enough material for at least three or four YouTube videos which can then be turned into short-form, 60-second videos for Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Following this formula, you would have over 200 YouTube videos in a year if you’re starting from zero and looking at or less than $10,000 of an investment to ensure that whenever someone runs a search for your industry, service or subject matter you are the person who appears and not your competition.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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How To Know Whether Your Social Media Strategy Is Working?

Most business owners and marketers by now know that social media provides a huge opportunity for growing a business.

Jandre de Beer

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In a previous article I broke down how our online marketing agency Version Eight went from 0 to R1m in sales in 6 months with the help of digital marketing.

It’s a fact that the strategies provided in the above article might not necessarily work for everyone, however, another fact is that social media gives us the ability to build an audience, high quality traffic to our website, engagement with potential customers and lastly, but most importantly, it allows us to drive more sales.

The sad thing is that only 43% of marketers measure their digital marketing return on investment (ROI), and the main reason for this is because it can get quite tricky to measure the success of a strategy if you are not sure what to look for.

Similar to billboards and radio ads, social media is not a linear marketing channel. Yes, you can set up the necessary tracking scripts to show money in vs money out if your business revolves online, however, it’s a bit more complicated than that if your business has a physical footprint.

So, How Do You Measure the Success of Your Social Media Strategy?

1. Fan and Followers Growth

Because social media is not a linear line, we do have to include some “vanity” metrics into our reporting.

The main reason for this is because before someone becomes a customer, they first have to discover your brand and understand what you are all about.

Believe it or not, it’s never a bad idea to build your own audience on a channel like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook or YouTube.

Yes, organic reach on these platforms are declining, but there is still a huge amount of value in building an audience.

For one, it helps you lower your cost per mile over time. On Facebook, small to medium sized pages can still get up to 10% reach.

This means if you have a 1000 followers on your business page, posting something will get approx. 100 people to see it free of charge, given if the quality of the post is good enough of course.

On Instagram some business pages are reporting a 30% reach!

So, the first thing that you should actively be tracking is your fan growth. Not necessarily your overall growth, but most importantly you’re your total amount of new fans per week.

Also make sure you are measuring the difference between organic and paid growth, as this will give you an indication on whether your paid strategy is actually working.

For those looking for some advanced tips and tricks to grow your Instagram business account, make sure to read our article on How to Grow Your Instagram Account for Free.

Related: 10 Laws Of Social Media Marketing

2. Engagement

After discovering your business, the next step would be to get these prospects to engage. By measuring your overall engagement rate you will get a clear indication on whether you are building a quality audience.

An average engagement rate on a platform like Instagram would be around 2-5%. This means that if you have 10k followers on Instagram, approx. 200-500 of them should be engaging with your content.

On Facebook the engagement rate will be a lot less, but it’s essential to measure your engagement rate so that you can get an idea on whether your audience is engaged with your brand or not.

If they are, then it becomes a lot easier to turn them into new and long-term customers.

3. Traffic to Your Website

Using Google Analytics (GA) you can track how whether people are actually taking the time to learn more about your business.

GA can help you dissect between organic, referral, email, social media traffic. Ideally you want to see an increase in social media traffic if you are spending money on social media.

Also, ensure to measure the bounce rate and time on site of your social media traffic as this is usually a strong indicator on whether you are reaching the right people on these networks.

Lastly, by using UTM links you can actually measure what social channels are driving the most traffic. The reason I would advise using a tracking link is because GA isn’t usually that accurate when it comes to differentiating between Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, etc.

By using a tracking link you will just be gathering more accurate data.

4. Repeat Visitors

Again similar to a billboard and radio ad, it’s about putting your brand in front of people all the time. This is why tracking repeat visitors, as well as where they are coming from is so important.

If someone has visited your site for a second, or third time in a period of a month, then it’s a good chance that he or she might convert into a customer once pay day arrives or once you launch that promo you’ve been thinking about.

Related: The Seven Rules Of Social Media

5. And Finally, Sales

If you’re an online business, then it’s a lot easier to measure your ROI from channels like Facebook and Instagram, as by having a Facebook Pixel installed on your website you will be able to track how many purchases have come from your social media ads.

This will give you a clear indication of money in vs money out.

However, if you are a physical store it might be a bit more tricky. Facebook launch offline conversions a few years ago and has been approving on the functionality of the feature.

By using Facebook offline event tracking you can request your customer to provide his or her email address and if you import that into Facebook it can identify whether or not that customer has seen one of your social media ads.

Now, that doesn’t always mean the person became a customer because of your advertising, but at least it’s a metric that can help you sleep better at night knowing your ad potentially had impact on an in-store sale.

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Online Marketing

WordPress Vs The World: Building A Website In 2019

Building a website on your own can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With CMS platforms like WordPress available for free, anyone can design their own website.

Steven Slotow

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Just How Did WordPress Capture 60% Of The Web?

To the everyday person, WordPress may be well-known as an online platform where anybody can set up a quick site and create a personal blog about their hobby. However, for many, many businesses worldwide, this leading Content Management System (CMS) is actually the foundation of their entire web presence and the back-end editor of their website and landing pages.

WordPress emerged about 15 years ago, amidst the rapid growth of the World Wide Web, and has quickly become a solid favourite of website builders, both amateur and pro. But why? WordPress’s popularity has, in a large part, been thanks to its strong and active community of followers and users. WordPress is user-shaped with hundreds of developers worldwide contributing continuously by imagining, building and supporting thousands of themes and plugins for the CMS platform that keep it constantly evolving into a better version of itself.

Related: How To Create The Best Small Business Website: 5 Easy And Effective Steps

Just How Popular Is WordPress And Why?

According to web survey organisation W3Tech, WordPress runs a little over 32% of all websites on the Internet. That’s nearly a third of the entire web! Once narrowed down to only sites that are run using a CMS, the numbers translate to WordPress having nearly 60% of the pie. Aside from nurturing a growing community of user-generated plugins and themes, what else contributed to WordPress’s success?

Who doesn’t like a freebie?

The answer is “nobody”, and that’s why WordPress’s most crucial drawing card is that it’s accessible for free. It’s easy to download and offers an open source code, so you can make changes to tailor your website in the ways that you need.

Usability

WordPress is accessible and easy-to-use, with a wealth of features to choose from. You don’t need to be a professional coder or web developer to design a website with WordPress. In many ways, WordPress has cut out the middleman and provided an opportunity for any and everybody to try their hands at web design.

Innovative Plugins & Themes

The ability to mix and match features and looks is among the key components of WordPress’s consistent growth. With plugins, you can customise your website’s features with additional software. With the various themes that are added daily, you get to choose a style for your website that goes with your business look.

Related: 5 Mistakes To Avoid When Building A Website For Your Business

When its not WordPress, it’s…

WordPress may own 60% of CMS-based websites, but who is ruling the rest of the coop? There are a variety of other CMS options to consider for building a website, and often these options are catered specifically to the type of website you’re looking to build. There’s:

  • Wix – an incredibly simple and user-friendly website building platform that’s probably best known for “not having as much to offer as WordPress”. This might sound like a negative, but for many first-timers building a website, this is actually a much better alternative to what can sometimes be a bit of a complicated WordPress back-end.
  • Shopify – toting itself as the preferred CMS option for anyone wanting to build an online store, Shopify is purposeful, directed and won’t disappoint. The platform is secure and reliable and opens itself up quite well to a multitude of marketing techniques to drive business to the store.
  • Weebly – works well for small-scale entrepreneurs, helping them to build websites and even facilitate e-commerce. It’s a simple drag-and-drop platform that is inexpensive and intuitive. However, it lacks the community support of other platforms like WordPress.

So get experimenting and pick a platform. Once you’ve found what works for you, website building on your own is really about experimentation, trial and error and some late nights in the glow of a laptop screen.

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