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The following is a guest post by Devin Morrissey. Devin writes in his garage and examines car parts in his office.  He aspires to be an eternal student, writing wherever the web takes him.

WordPress is the platform that more sites on the web are built on than any other, and for good reason. The platform is versatile, powerful, and user-friendly. Contrary to popular WordPress myths, it is about more than just blogging; it involves customer relationship management and even e-commerce.

Visual page builders and simple post editors mean that the most seasoned designer or the earliest beginner can set up, design, and maintain a site with little effort. Initially, the setup is free, but custom themes and important plugins will cost the user something.

In our interconnected world, cybersecurity is a vital part of keeping information out of the wrong hands. Simply because it is so popular, WordPress also can be a frequent target for hackers. One reason is that many users do not understand how to use the powerful security tools that come with WordPress. Often a site is poorly maintained but has valuable information inside — information hackers can use to steal identities or simply take control of the site. Some use WordPress sites as practice to hone their hacking skills.

It is important that you, the site owner, take action to make sure your website is secure. How do you protect your sites from hackers and keep your data and that of your customers safe? Here are seven important tips.

1. Update and Limit Themes

When you login to your WordPress dashboard, you will see a tab for plugins. If there is a red number by it, it means your themes need to be updated. While often neglected, this is an important part of site maintenance. Most of these updates have something to do with security or bug fixes, things you want to take care of anyway.

However, it is also important that you delete themes you are not using. These can be a path for hackers to get into your site security. If you are only using a single theme, like the popular Divi Builder or even a custom theme built by your web designer, delete the others from your list.

2. Update and Limit Plugins

Updating and limiting plugins is also important to the speed of your site. Be careful here though. Some plugins are designed for security, and you will want to leave those active. However, too many security plugins used at the same time can conflict with each other, causing issues rather than preventing them.

Delete plugins you are not using. Research and use the best security plugins for you — ones that will not conflict with each other, but don’t use more than one to accomplish the same task. When you have a little red number next to your plugins menu item, update them. The updates are like those for themes and are important.

3. Understand and Set File and Directory Permissions

This is another common problem for site owners. File and directory permissions are set in your cPanel, and if you don’t understand them, get help from your web developer. There are codes for each file and directory that determine who can access them. 777 permissions are the most common for directories but the least secure. Use 750 or 755 for directories, 640 or 644 for files, and 600 for your wp-config.php file.

This method will help keep hackers out of the backdoor of your site.

4. Change Passwords Often

This should be a given about any password but is especially true about your WordPress site, especially your primary administrator account. First, don’t use the username “admin” anywhere on your site. If you write content for your site, use an author profile with lower levels of permission so a hacker cannot easily find your primary username.

Use a password generator when possible if you are changing passwords. LastPass, iCloud Keychain, and other password management systems are all available browser extensions depending on the browser you use or your operating system. Set an alert to change these at least once a quarter, if not more often.

5. Add Two-Step Authentication

Two-step authentication is a good thing to add for many of your passwords where possible. This includes things like your social media, your banking website, and more. WordPress has this option too. How does two-step authentication help?

Essentially it makes a user who is logging in have not only access to your password but to a device you own, like your phone, tablet, or computer. For instance, when you log in, a text code is sent to you that you must enter. Without it, you cannot get into your site. It is a great way to defeat all but the most determined hackers.

6. Enable Firewalls

Many people find firewalls to be annoying when surfing the web, as often you will have to whitelist sites and go through other inconveniences, but security is not always about convenience. Having your firewall enabled on your computer, especially the machine where you primarily run your site, is an essential part of security and another layer a hacker will have to get through before they have access to your information.

Always, always, always keep your firewall enabled, and never turn it off at the request of anyone or any site. It’s dangerous and a good way to put yourself in digital harm’s way.

7. Limit Login Attempts and Get Alerts

Ah, one of the primary ways to keep many hackers out of your site: limit login attempts. This means if they are trying to guess your password — even using a program that tries several passwords in a row — after only a few attempts, the account they are trying to access will be locked temporarily, and none of their continued attempts will work even if they accidentally get the password right.

You can also set up your site to alert you when an attack is happening. The alert, usually via email, will tell you what user name they are attempting to use, how many attempts they have made in a certain amount of time, and even the IP address the attacks are coming from. That IP address will be blocked from making future attempts.

Bonus: You’re Hacked: Now What?

Despite all of the best practices, almost any site can be hacked, but if you act quickly when it happens, you can help limit the damage. Here are some quick steps:

  • Change your password.
  • Contact your host, or IT if you are self-hosting, to make sure they know about the attack and prevent it from spreading to other sites or elsewhere on the host.
  • Contact your web developer. Have them go through the code on your site to make sure nothing malicious is left behind.

Another pro tip: Be sure your site is backed up so that you can recover all your data at least before the last backup. Catastrophe is rare, but it does happen, and a backup can really save the day.

Your website is the backbone of your business, and it is probably designed on a WordPress platform. To make sure it is secure, follow these steps, and do a security checkup often. Keep things up to date, and be sure to understand and follow good security protocols. Your site will be secure, and so will the data you store there.

The post WordPress Security: 7 Tips to Keep Your WordPress Site Secure appeared first on The Social Ms.

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Why is the Pinterest search of so much importance for marketing success and blog traffic when Pinterest is a social media platform?

For many bloggers Pinterest has been the answer to all their traffic problems and the on traffic source that brought success. On the other hand, Pinterest still seems to be one of the most underutilized (social) platforms in the marketing hemisphere. Some huge marketing influencers are not even on Pinterest, or have more or less given up on gaining much from it.

And that is despite the fact that Pinterest has over 250 Mio. active users per month.

Why is that so?

Because Pinterest is not so much of a social platform – there are basically no conversations or engagement happening on Pinterest –  and much more of a search engine. Over 2 billion searches are performed on Pinterest every month!

Trying to apply the usual (social media marketing) methods on Pinterest will most likely result in utter frustration and the results will in no way justify the effort put into the platform.

And that is when the Pinterest search comes into the game.

Understanding how Pinterest works and how you can promote content, products and services on Pinterest means you have to understand how Pinterest search works, how Pinterest search influences all visibility of pins on Pinterest and how you can can perform Pinterest SEO to rank your pins in Pinterest search.

The various places on Pinterest your pin can show up

…and how these are influenced by Pinterest search and Pinterest SEO

1. The feed

This is the most common place that people visit on Pinterest. It is the place where from your experience on other social networks you expect the content from the people you follow to show up mixed up with some ad content.

On Pinterest that is a little different.

Your feed is compiled by a fairly complex algorithm called the Pinterest Smart Feed. The aim is to bring you the content you are interested in based on various factors like:

  • topics you pin about
  • topics you clicked/viewed/pinned in the past
  • content from the people you follow
  • related content to content you pin, you click, you interact with
  • boards and people you follow and their popularity on Pinterest and their interests

From this, Pinterest chooses which pins to show in your feed. More popular pins are more likely to show up often in other peoples’ feeds. Who people follow is only a small factor in the complex Pinterest feed algorithm.

It is highly likely that Pinterest shows you pins in your feed they think are relevant to you no matter if you follow the pinner or not.

The influence of Pinterest search and Pinterest SEO on the smart feed is more indirect: You want Pinterest to understand what your pin is about and what it is closely related to. Your pin has a huge chance to show in someone’s pin if it ranks in a search for a related keyword.

Example: If someone is interest in “dogs” (often clicks on content labeled with keywords and hashtags like #dogs) and Pinterest is looking for content to show in their feed, you want Pinterest to “know” which of your pins are related to “dogs” and from all the pins that are somehow related to dogs, you want your own pin to rank high because then it is going to show up in the feed of people interested in “dogs.”

2. The follower feed

Pinterest has a special feed where only content from the people you follow is shown. This feed is more likely to show pins that have recently been pinned by the people you follow. But there is still an algorithm at work that decides which of the many pins the people you follow recently pinned is shown in this feed.

For this feed, the popularity (number of followers and the number of repins you get) of your account and your pins is much more important than search. But… the popularity of pins is again influenced by Pinterest search rankings.

3. Pinterest search results

Now, here is where the power lies hidden. If you rank for popular searches on Pinterest you not only get traffic from searches performed directly on Pinterest.

You can also get some traffic indirectly from Google search. Because Pinterest search results will rank fairly high for some searches on Google as well.

So, how can you rank in the search on Pinterest? And how can you find keywords that you want to rank for?

Pinterest SEO

Contrary to Google SEO for Pinterest SEO you do not have to build links. Instead what counts are repins and pins of a given pin image. A pin with a ton of repins that uses the right keywords will rank high in the search results on Pinterest for this keyword.

So ranking on Pinterest comes down to two factors:

  • keywords
  • repins/pins

To find the best keywords is totally up to you. The easiest way to find good (longtail) keywords for Pinterest is to use the Pinterest search bar.

When you searched for a keyword on Pinterest, Pinterest gives you a couple of related keyword extensions and longtail keywords that people search for on Pinterest. Between the search bar and the search results, you can choose from other popular searches on Pinterest.

You should use the keywords you want your pins to rank for in various places on Pinterest:

  • the image name
  • the image or pin description – also consider using related hashtags
  • boards you pin to (boardnames and board descriptions)

For your cornerstone keywords, you should consider also using the keywords in your profile bio. Plus, you should even consider using some relevant keywords in your account name.

4. Pinterest hashtag results

For a while hashtags were not relevant on Pinterest. Since October 2017 they are back on. Since then you can get a list of results for every hashtag you can imagine.

The results in the hashtag “feed” are most recent on top. That means a “new” pin with a certain hashtag will show up higher in the hashtag feed than an older pin that was pinned a while ago. People can search for hashtags or simply click on the hashtag to get to the feed.

5. Boards

Your pin shows up on all boards that you pinned it to – and on the boards other people pinned it to.

Your pin can also show in the feed of people following the board.

The board name and the description of the board also ads to the Pinterest search results. The more on-topic the boards are that your pin was pinned to the more relevant to this topic this pin looks to Pinterest.

Since people can not only search for pins on Pinterest but they can also search for Pinterest boards, you need to make sure that your boards have a clear focus to give the boards a chance to rank for relevant keywords.

What you can do to rank your pins higher in Pinterest Search

…and the feeds that show pins at least partially based on the search results.

As said before there is no such thing as links for Pinterest SEO and search rankings. Instead, Pinterest uses the popularity of a pin:

  • how often is a pin pinned
  • how many repins did a pin get
  • how “famous” are the accounts pinning a pin

For you that means that to rank high in Pinterest search the number of repins and pins you got for a pin is far more important than the number of followers you have. Instead of focusing on getting more followers/fans as people are used to from Twitter or Facebook, on Pinterest you should focus on getting repins for your pins.

There are several ways to get more repins – even when you still have very few followers:

  • Group boards: Group boards are boards that allow a group of people to pin to this board. These group boards come with a number of followers that is independent of your own followers. You have to apply with the group owner to become a contributor. You should choose on topic group boards that are active and have a fair number of followers. Here is how to get the most out of your group board efforts.
  • Tailwind tribes: Tailwind is a Pinterest Scheduling tool. In addition to the scheduling features, Tailwind also offers tribes. Tribes are a kind of group where people “trade” pins for pins. If you pin some pins from the tribe you are allowed to add some pins from your own website for other members of the tribe to see – and pin in exchange for a chance to add their own pins to the tribe. – Choose your tribes with care, stay on topic and join active tribes. If a tribe does not give you any repins, you need to reconsider your pins or the tribes you join.

  • Facebook groups: There are also entrepreneurial Facebook groups where you are allowed to add your pins and ask people to repin them – in exchange for some repins from you whenever someone else shares a pin that is relevant to your audience.

You can also repin your own content and keep it alive on Pinterest. And that is what most people are afraid of.

It is ok to pin your content more than once!

You can easily repin it to all your other boards it may fit. And you can pin the pins again after a while – just make sure that your pin activity does not just include pinning one boring pin over and over again. Have a healthy mix of various pins.

Follow the tips from this article and your pins will become more popular in Pinterest search and your traffic will increase tremendously!

The post How to Use Pinterest Search to Boost your Blog and Traffic appeared first on The Social Ms.

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The following is a guest post by Devin Morrissey. Devin writes in his garage and examines car parts in his office.  He aspires to be an eternal student, writing wherever the web takes him.

Effective customer service is one of your most valuable assets. Ensuring that customers return to you even after experiencing a problem is essential to customer retention and attrition. However, it can take a lot of time and effort. Fortunately, technology has given us the opportunity to optimize customer service with little effort on our part.

Optimized customer service includes chatbots, live chat, helpful information in various types of media, and user-friendly site design.

Agents can be available when customers first need them and before a problem balloons; brands can answer questions before they’re asked (like by emailing support documentation after a purchase), and customers can use self-service automation or solutions to handle tasks on their own.

A large part of optimized customer service is self-service. Fast Company, “35% [of customers] prefer to ask questions over the phone; 48% choose the self-service option.” Self-service options are also available when your support agents are not, allowing customers to problem solve whenever they want, even if it’s outside your business hours.

Here’s how to optimize customer service to reduce the need for direct service.

1. Meet customers where they already are: on social media

Angry customers turn to social media to air their grievances, but if you’re present and see the complaint early enough, you can attempt to solve the problem before it impacts your business. Since this is the first place of contact for many customers, handling the issue on the social media site itself means that it won’t escalate to another channel, where you’ll just need to address the problem again.

Facebook is particularly great for customer support because customers can see your normal response time so they know what to expect. When you’re not manning Facebook chat, you can set up a bot so customers don’t go ignored.

2. Add live chat to your website

Utilizing social media chat doesn’t mean that there isn’t a benefit to having live chat on your website, too.

Live chat software keeps track of customer data, including chat history, which means that agents will always be up-to-speed when working with a customer. By digging into purchase history, live chat software can also direct the agent to offer cross-sells or upsells. For the customer, these personalized recommendations tap into what they most want or need.

Again, by delivering what the customer wants before they even know they want it, optimized service limits the need for direct service.

Chatbots also have their place in live chat. While you may assume that a chatbot means the customer will be talking to a robot the entire time, bots can actually help live agents serve customers better. When an agent doesn’t know the answer to a question, they can ask the bot to find the answer in the knowledge base. This could mean that the customer won’t be transferred to another department since the original agent will be able to solve their problem.

3. Verify customer data before moving forward

Services like Fill Any PDF offer ways to verify customer information before your company takes the next step, like filling an order. The customer fills out an electronic document, but before they can submit the form, the software checks that the mandatory fields are filled in. It also checks that formatting is correct, like for credit card numbers or dates.

Once the form is filled out completely, the software will ensure that it doesn’t contain duplicate data that already exists in your database. By making sure that necessary fields are filled in and merging duplicate customers, your company won’t have to follow up with a customer to find out the missing information.

4. Build a rich knowledge base

A rich knowledge base goes beyond a traditional FAQ section. Solutions to both common and advanced problems are answered step by step in all sorts of mediums to appeal to different learners. For example, some customers may prefer text-only directions, while others need audio or video instructions. You can also include infographics, photos, and other visuals to better illustrate actions.

The knowledge base should be easy to search. If a customer can’t find what they’re looking for right away, they’re going to contact a live agent, even if the answer can be found through self-service. Also, the knowledge base will often be used by agents themselves, and simple, smart search means they’ll be able to handle the communication with the customer faster.

A spin-off of the knowledge base is the online community. Some companies have forums where customers can chat with one another. Not only can customers offer solutions for common problems, but the company can keep an eye on recurring issues and concerns customers are facing.

5. Automate common tasks

Automation makes it easy for common, simple tasks to be carried out without the help of a live agent. Customers can find and pay their bill; track a shipment; start a return or ask for a refund; request a replacement for a credit card or product manual, or register their product to activate the warranty.

Usually, the same automated self-service steps the customer takes is also what a live agent would take. If a customer needs help getting started, the agent can start the process and then the customer can finish it. For example, an agent can start the request to replace a credit card, then have the customer receive an email with the next steps or to verify their information.

Optimized customer service reduces the need for direct customer service by limiting the number of incoming calls, emails and other types of communications from customers, and it also cuts down on how long a live agent spends with each customer. This means that live agents are free to handle more complex issues or cater to VIP customers.

The post 5 Ways to Optimize Customer Service to Reduce the Need for Direct Service appeared first on The Social Ms.

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The following is a guest post by David Oragui. David is a product marketing manager at SkedSocial – one tool to plan and automatically post your spicy visuals on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

If you work in social marketing, then I am sure you already know who valuable your Instagram account can be. However, after initially setting it up, you might find that your follower numbers are stagnating. But, with these five Instagram growth hacks, you can get it moving again with a constant stream of new followers!

Networking And The Value Of Shoutouts

Let’s be honest, you probably already know the value of networking. However, almost every technique for generating more followers on Instagram relies on you having a network of people willing to tag you in posts, give you shoutouts and generally help you out. So, this is a sensible place to start this list.

The trick to effective Instagram networking is being generous. If people reach out to you for shares and shoutouts, give it to them! They may not have many followers yet, but this kind of ‘pay it forward’ mentality is win-win. Not only will others be happy to give you a shoutout in return, but you will also get a good reputation amongst influencers in your sphere. This will open doors in the long run and will make convincing other people to share your content easier. After all, we’re all in this together right, so help a fellow social marketer out!

The takeaway message here is: Do not underestimate the power of share for share and regramming. Although they are simple and can be frustrating, they are the foundation on which grander growth hacks are based.

Use Everything At Your Disposal

There was a time when just having pretty pictures was enough. Not any more. Instagram has evolved, with the inclusion of stories and Instagram Live, so you need to evolve too. Make use of stories to keep your audience in the loop.

Live can also be a great way to attract new followers, as live videos that are popular are shared right there on Insta’s Explore tab. A powerful tool here can be doing a live video with another person in your space, as this gives you a way to reach out to a bunch of new people with content they’ll be interested in. This sort of cross-promotional approach is incredibly powerful because a successful shared live broadcast gives you exposure to a huge number of potential followers. Make sure you get it right with this guide to Instagram live, and watch your follower numbers skyrocket.

Influencer Account Swaps

If you know anything at all about social marketing, then you’ll already know the value of influencers and influencer marketing. This is a technique that draws on that in a fun way and opens you up to whole new potential audiences. It’s a simple idea, basically, you swap control of your account with an influencer in your niche – so you hand the reins of your profile over to them, and they hand over their profile to you. Obviously, you don’t give up control for good, just for a day or two.

This is a great way to get your message out to an entirely new follower base, a follower base that is likely to be interested in your content. So, not only is it great exposure, but you can also expect a high follow rate because your content is going to be relevant. Also, by handing over the control to someone else, you inject some much-needed variety into your own content, which your follower base will certainly thank you for.

A great tactic here is to do a ‘day in the life’ style post, were both you and the influencer tell each other’s audience a little about yourselves through a first-hand view of a typical day. Alternatively, if you have longer than a day, maybe setting up for a Q&A style Instagram live stream is a great way to make a connection with a new audience. If you’re going down this road, make sure you give plenty of advanced warning so people know the Q&A is coming.

This method will be most successful if you and the influencer you’re looking to swap with have a similar number of followers, or you have more. As such, this might not be the best technique if you have a low number of followers unless you can offer the influencer something else besides exposure – maybe some freebies or even cold hard cash!

Niche Hashtags

If you’re starting out, chasing big game is not necessarily the way to go. While it might seem counter-intuitive, you are much better off steering clear of the most popular hashtags if you don’t have the follower numbers.

Much like Google searches, people rarely dive too deeply into search results from a particular hashtag, choosing instead to look at the most popular content. This means that as a smaller account, you’ll be swamped out if you go for the big hashtags.

However, there’s a whole world of more niche hashtags that you’ll be able to get top ranking for. Now, of course, these are going to have a much smaller audience, however, people searching for more niche hashtags are also more likely to be interested in the content.

So, they’re more likely to enjoy your content and follow you compared with those people you’ll find through generic hashtags.

The Thunderclap Technique

The dramatically named thunderclap strategy is designed to maximize impact. Essentially, it is a coordinated shoutout across multiple accounts and platforms.

If you have a particularly great piece of content, or perhaps are launching something new o have a big announcement to make, you can set up to announce it thunderclap style. This means reaching out to as many influencers and friends as possible (did I mention how important networking is?!) and getting them to run the same announcement as you. Then, you coordinate so that all these shoutouts happen at the same time, across all these accounts. This should give you a huge reach for whatever it is you are launching or announcing, and across a diverse follower base. Even if you only pick up a fraction of these as new followers, this should still lead to a significant jump in numbers for you.

This technique is even more effective if you announce a giveaway or competition because this will increase audience engagement. And if your competition involves tagging a friend, or reposting, you can be looking at a pretty massive snowball effect…

Conclusion

So that’s it – five little-known growth hacks for Instagram. While each of these hacks is incredibly powerful on their own, for really dramatic results consider using these tactics in tandem. What you will find is followers get you new followers, so as your follower numbers increase, these tricks become more and more effective! Good luck and happy ‘gramming!

The post 5 Lesser Known Instagram Growth Hacks appeared first on The Social Ms.

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Do you sometimes wonder why some people start one venture after the other and all seem to instantly turn into success? The simple answer may be that these people have a network they can rely on.

And while some people already have those valuable contacts that make starting, running and marketing a new business so much easier, you can easily build your own network in various ways. And I am not just talking about people you have met in person and befriended. Even lose contact that you “met” via social media can be a valuable part of building your blog or business.

How you can do that will be the topic for another article. Today’s post is all about the benefits that a functioning network of valuable people can give you.

Here are 8 important reasons why you should include networking into your marketing strategy.

1. Talk to like-minded people who share your worries, challenges, and problems

Being an entrepreneur or blogger can be quite lonesome – especially when you are running solo. Even when you are working in a team you might lack an opponent you can talk to about highly specialized tasks.
Have you ever tried to explain the profession of a blogger to your parents? I did. And I failed. Even some of my friends don’t understand that blogging thing. Usually, it is much easier to tell people that you are a consultant or coach – but that does not really cover it.

A coffee with another blogger, a discussion with like-minded people in a Facebook group, even an email exchange with fellow bloggers – it is all part of “networking” and it will help you build a network of people who know what you do and who will share in your fears and challenges. And even help you solve some of your problems.

2. Get valuable tips

The blogging community is a helpful one. If you need advice there are many places you can find it.
But! Keep in mind that there needs to be an equilibrium of giving and taking. Be part of the community and willingly give tips where you can – don’t just suck up what you can get without paying back in kind.
Even if you do not need anything right now: If you pay forward with your own knowledge and help others with their questions the community will recognize this and be more than willing to help you out whenever you need them.

Plus, answering questions and helping others with help you to brand yourself AND your business in a very positive way.

3. Get guest blogging opportunities

It is getting harder to get your content out on high-value outlets. More and more blogs do not publish any content from people they do not know.

Networking in your niche will help you to get published on other people’s blogs.

While we are still open to guest post submissions from anyone, we do get so many bad requests – even stolen content – that having had contact to us in the past will certainly help you to open the conversation.

And guest blogging is more than a way to build links for SEO. If you are still small and do not have much traffic to your blog, guest blogging will help you tremendously to grow your audience, followers and traffic.

4. Colaborate on content production

Have you ever thought about using one of the more fancy types of content that will help you to grow your audience, traffic and even work for link-building? Do you know what I am thinking about?

I am talking about interviews and expert roundups. These types of content have tremendous marketing power.

But…

Who do you think is going to respond to your request for participation in any such content project?

The famous influencers and bloggers that never have heard from you?

Or the people you met last week for a coffee? The Twitter influencer that you chatted with on Twitter just yesterday? Or the owner of the Facebook group that you are an active part of?

Everything gets so much easier if people even have heard your name before you ask them to do something for you!

5. Get help with distribution

Do you plan a launch? Or a new feature release? Or anything else that can do very well with an extra boost in traffic?

You will probably send this information to your email list.

But what if you could send it to another email list, and another. What if you could instantly activate an army of tweeters to help you spread the word? What if your Facebook friends would just have to take ONE LOOK at your newest update and instantly share it just because they understand how important this is to you?

You do not think it works like that? It does. It is a fact. We have sent information about a launch or new product by a business friend to our email list. Why not if it could be of interest to our subscribers? (No, do not send us your newest product feature. It is not THAT easy. If we do not know you, your chances are going towards zero that we will take action. That is what this article is all about!)

But this kind of marketing magic is not going to happen if you do not know anyone!

So go out there and network!

6. Get introductions

You do not know the right person for a business question? Why not ask your network for introductions? If you are a well-reputed person in your niche they will be more than willing to help you out.

Why?

Because an introduction does not cost them a dime but at the same time it has the power to make two people from their network very happy. That is a win-win situation. Giving was never cheaper.

7. Find Business Partners – and investors

We haven’t always been bloggers. We started out as entrepreneurs and founders o a startup. We had investors.

And there is one thing about investors and potential business partners that you always have to keep in mind: They do not like to buy what they do not know. They are taking a risk with their money. And knowing the person they put their money on reduces their risk.

I have talked to investors in Berlin and they clearly stated: Go out there and meet us at networking events before you pitch your ideas. We are approachable. And if you fail at networking you are likely to fail at business too.

A cold pitch via email may look easier – but it is much harder to succeed with it than with networking!

8. New Customers

This is what many people think that networking is all about. Founders of startups run around networking events trying to sell other founders their products.

But let us face the truth: Most of the time there are much more efficient methods to find new customers than networking events where often the participants are not even from the target group.

But there are some groups of people who will do most of their customer acquisition at networking events. Examples are consultants, coaches, and freelancers.

Never underestimate the power of an active, trusting and growing network. And do not start your networking with the thought “What can that person do for my business” up front on your mind. That is not how networking works.

Networking is about getting to know people. These people may or may not help you or your business. But they will introduce you to new people. And more new people. Be patient. Make friends.

For some of these people, YOU can do something.

Let people know that you exist, who you are and what you can do for them. Then, if you need them, they will be willing to help you out, too!

Extra Tip: Don’t go to networking events that you do not like, just because someone said you should. Network where you feel comfortable and you will come up with much more and much better contacts.

The post 8 Reasons Why Networking Should Be Part Of Your Marketing Strategy appeared first on The Social Ms.

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The best and most accessible sources for free blog traffic develop and even change with time.

Some sources get very crowded like search engines – but are still important for free traffic. Some platforms that used to bring considerable amounts of traffic simply close down – like StumbleUpon did in 2018. Some traffic sources get less accessible without paying for advertising like Facebook. And some traffic sources that were hidden gems used by some of the most important brands seem to be on a straight path to insignificance as for instance Slideshare.

But as some traffic sources lose impact other traffic sources grow and rise in importance. And bloggers are always up front in finding new sources of high value and high converting traffic.

Here are the most important places you should consider for your blog traffic generation in 2019:

1. Guest Blogging

When you are new to the blogging game, you will not have a ton of readers to your own blog. The one way to make yourself known and noticed is to publish guest posts on other people’s blogs.

There are some bloggers that claim that when your own blog audience is still fairly non-existent, you should rather spend your time on publishing to an audience on other people’ s blogs than on your own blog. And that means you should engage in guest blogging.

While it may sound rather extreme to only publish your awesome content on other peoples’ blogs when all you want is to grow your own blog. So you should also publish at least some content on your blog as well.

But there is a lot of truth to the power of guest blogging and will help your own blog in the long run.

Guest blogging is a relevant way to grow your reputation, audience, social media followers and traffic. Also, you will earn credible links back to your website.

All considered you can only win by publishing guest posts on relevant blogs from your niche.

2. Get your blog ready for SEO

It may take a while to make your blog noticed and rank in Google search. It may also be true that your niche is already crowded and many keywords are already taken.

But… SEO should never be neglected or underestimated. Traffic from search engines is still a major source for (free) traffic.

If you do not make your blog ready for SEO in the first place, you do not have any chance of ever getting free traffic from Google search even if you happen to stumble on a keyword that could produce some clicks for free.

3. Build a Twitter audience and use your content

While some social media managers seem to look down on Twitter for marketing purposes, it has been the key to major traffic for many bloggers and social media influencers – including Jeff Bullas and us.

If you know what you have to do to grow an audience and traffic from Twitter, it can be a very reliable and accessible source for free social media traffic. In fact, Twitter has been our traffic source number one for years and famous bloggers like Jeff Bullas get around 60% of their social media traffic from Twitter.

Image Source: Jeff Bullas

Plus: It works for almost any niche since every niche has an active audience o Twitter. And there is more conversation going on on Twitter than you might think!

Even if you are considering to pay for traffic, you may want to consider Twitter, too.

4. Consider Pinterest

Yes, Pinterest!

If you are looking for free traffic, you should consider Pinterest. On Pinterest, there are some very active niches like travel, food, and lifestyle but other niches also get some major traffic from Pinterest. It is a fact that many bloggers have built their business solely on Pinterest traffic.

There are some advantages to traffic from Pinterest:

  • The traffic is often highly converting.
  • The traffic from Pinterest is fairly independent of the number of your followers.
  • Once you manage to get some traffic from Pinterest, this traffic is usually persistent without much effort from your side.
  • Many people get buying inspiration on Pinterest – even for offline purchases.
5. Facebook Groups

If you have not given up on free traffic from Facebook, check out some groups from your niche. While you have to pay hard money to earn visibility for your fanpage, some groups are still not only active they also get a lot of discussions and engagement on contributions.

Make sure you know the group rules and follow them as far as possible. Often simple promoting of your blog posts is not well received in active groups. Rather join the discussions and start from there.

6. Content for Keywords

Keywords are important in more aspects than just for SEO.

Speaking the right language and using the keywords that your readers expect are important to make them understand what you are writing about – and to keep them on your website and interested.

Keywords play an important role in earning visibility: Google uses keywords to understand who might be interested in the content. But even on platforms like Pinterest a large part of the traffic you could get relies on using the right keywords not only on your website but also in the descriptions of your posts (pins) and even the names of the images.

What else for blog traffic

So what about other traffic sources like advertising and Facebook fanpages? The traffic sources that so many “marketers” are still talking about?

There are some traffic sources that simply won’t work as well or as easy as they used to in the past. And Facebook fanpages are one of them. While Facebook as a traffic source is still relevant, your fanpage may just not the best place to start if you are looking for major traffic – especially if you are new to the game and do not yet have an active and engaged audience.

It is getting harder to gain fans and reach any kind of visibility on Facebook without paying for it.

Which leads to the other traffic source you may want to consider: advertising.

Even if you are starting out, advertising can bring you some quick traffic, true. But when you are new to the game, the chances are also high that you do not have a proven funnel in place. And while you may be able to pay your way to traffic success the big question is if you are able to turn that traffic into some money to pay off the advertising budget that you invested: most of the time the answer is no.

And that is why we usually do not recommend to start out with advertising as a traffic source. Advertising is relevant and can be the answer. Most of the time it will first be a waste of money that you do not have.

There are always other niche traffic sources that you should have on your radar. For some niches, there are highly frequented discussion forums. In some niches, you might have a huge opportunity to tell your stories to magazines and other publications – and should give Press a chance.

Keep an open mind for more traffic opportunities and new platforms on the rise. You do not need to jump on every new traffic train. But if you hear or read about a new magic solution to your traffic questions, figure out if it is a path you want to try out.

The post 6 Places You Can Start Your Blog Traffic Generation Today appeared first on The Social Ms.

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Social Media Marketing: Everybody is afraid of being the small brand on social networks – but the truth is, being small is your biggest competitive advantage. Learn why:

You can subscribe to Marketing in Minutes on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or any other podcast platform.

In this episode of Marketing in Minutes you will learn:

  • Why being a small brand is on social media is a competitive advantage
  • How to make use of that advantage
More Information on Social Media Marketing as a small Brand:

The following articles will give you more information on this topic:

For a complete social media marketing strategy that will work for you, check out The Social Traffic Code.

Episode Transcript

Below is the full transcript of this episode of Marketing in Minutes:

Why being “Small” in Social Media Marketing is an Advantage

Everybody complains that it is impossible to compete with big brands on social media.

But the truth is, that being a small brand on social networks is an advantage. You just have to use it!

Hi, I’m Jonathan Gebauer and you are listening to Marketing in Minutes.

Welcome to Marketing in Minutes by The Social Ms, the podcast that gives you everything you need to know about one marketing topic per episode.

I’m Jonathan Gebauer and today, let’s talk about why being a small and new brand – or even no brand at all – is your competitive advantage in social media marketing.

Before we get into this here is the usual plea for support: If you like this podcast please subscribe, share it with your network and leave a review!

But now, let’s talk about today’s topic!

***

When you’re heading into social media marketing as a small brand – or even without a brand, you usually look at your competitors and think:

“Hell, how am I ever going to compete with them?”

and…

“My content isn’t good enough, my images aren’t good enough, my audience isn’t good enough…”

Well, I’ve got news for you – all of that doesn’t matter!

Why?

Because your biggest advantage is that your brand and audience are so small.

Why a small Audience is Great

Social media was invented to solve the need for social interaction on the internet.

People wanted to interact with each other.

And people didn’t just want to interact with other people, they wanted to interact with brands. That’s how social media marketing started.

The important thing about what I just said is that social media marketing is about mutual interaction – not just about pushing out content to your fans. Interaction is a two-way thing – it’s about building a community.

And that’s far easier with a small audience than a big one.

If you only have 100 fans for your Facebook fanpage, but you know them by name, and you get 80% interaction rates with each of your posts, you can still go viral on Facebook. And even for free.

If you have 200,000 fans, it’s hard to reach even 1 percent of them with any post. And Facebook’s algorithm will see that and penalize you even further.

That’s why big brands have to pay a ton of money to even get a little bit of value out of Facebook.

Facebook is an extreme example of this problem – because the algorithm intensifies it. But the same is true for any social network – social media is always about community building. And communities need personal interaction. You can be a hell of a lot more personal if your audience is small.

***

This is the main reason why you should never be afraid to start social media marketing as a small business.

Social media success is not primarily about the quality of your images, not even about the quality of your content. It’s about the interaction with your audience.

You can have the best content in the world, without interaction, it doesn’t matter. And it’s far easier to get great interaction rates from your community when you have a small community.

Outro

This was another episode of Marketing in Minutes. I hope you liked it, and if you did, please share and subscribe and take the time to leave a review!

For more information on social media growth, see the show notes at blog.thesocialms.com/MiM-44 – and check out our book The Social Traffic Code.

Come back for the next episode – I’m Jonathan Gebauer and this was Marketing in Minutes.

That’s it for today, take care, bye!

The post Why being “Small” in Social Media Marketing is an Advantage – Podcast Episode appeared first on The Social Ms.

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SEO in 2019 is changing: Building a brand and taking a multi-channel approach becomes more important and traditional link building becomes less important. Here is what that means.

You can subscribe to Marketing in Minutes on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or any other podcast platform.

In this episode of Marketing in Minutes you will learn:

  • What’s important for SEO in 2019
  • Why SEO is focusing more on branding
  • Why you need to take a multi-channel approach
  • What a multi-channel approach to SEO means for you
More Information on SEO in 2019

More information on SEO can be found in these articles and podcast episodes:

Check out our Step-by-Step Guide to SEO for Bloggers – and start SEO with WordPress today!

Episode Transcript

Below is the full transcript for this episode:

SEO in 2019 – It’s not just links anymore…

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just press a button or pay a couple of hundreds of Dollars and your site would rank well on Google?

Well, that used to be the case – but today it’s not that easy anymore.

SEO is changing – and while the general principle stays the same, and links are still important, today, there is a lot more you have to take into account.

So, how should you do SEO in 2019?

I’m Jonathan Gebauer and this is Marketing in Minutes.

Welcome to Marketing in Minutes by The Social Ms – the podcast that gives you everything you need to know about one marketing topic per episode.

I’m Jonathan Gebauer and today let’s talk about how to do SEO in 2019 – and beyond.

Before we start – if you like this show please subscribe, come back for the next episode, and leave a review on Apple podcasts if you can. It would really help us grow! And if this podcast grows I can spend more time on it and give you better episodes!

But now, let’s talk about SEO in 2019!

I already published some episodes on the general principles behind SEO – and those principles still apply.

Google has not completely redesigned their search algorithms.

But: They have made drastic changes – and these days, you have to approach SEO completely different to what you had to do back in 2010 or back in the year 2000.

So, what’s changed and why?

SEO is a branding game

Back when Google started out, all that was really important were Links and keywords.

And that meant that link building was a numbers game – whoever had the most links ranked highest.

Which lead to a lot of shady link building tactics – and Google reacted by placing higher emphasis on the quality of links.

But that still wasn’t ideal – as long as you have only links as a measure for quality, that system can always be gamed.

Today, links are still built into Google’s search engine algorithm – and they are still important. But Google’s focus seems to have shifted.

Instead of just ranking content, Google now seems to identify the brands behind the content. And ranks bigger brands higher than smaller brands.

SEO has become a branding game.

Which makes sense – Google wants to show us what is relevant to us. And brands are important for that.

Now, before you stop all your link building activities and maybe all your SEO activities, take a second and think about what that means. Because it doesn’t mean that everything changed.

In fact, it’s a logical progression from what has been happening for years. Google is diversifying their algorithm. They are adding more elements and ranking factors, but their primary ranking factor and their primary way of rating websites are still links.

What has really changed is the way they use these links to rank sites. What this means is that there are several types of links – and if you only build one type of links you will have a hard time increasing your search traffic.

But if you take a multi-channel approach to SEO and marketing in general, you will improve your results. This is, in my opinion, the most important thing to know about SEO in 2019.

But what does that mean for SEO – how do you take a multi-channel approach?

A multi-channel approach to SEO

A brand is what other people are saying about you when you’re not in the room. That’s a quote by Jeff Bezos that explains perfectly what a brand is.

The most important aspect of this quote is that you don’t have a brand if no one is talking about you.

The old approach to SEO was to rank high in Google and therefore become known and make people talk about you. But since Google starts to focus on brands on their own, for SEO success you have to make people talk about you while you are doing SEO.

But as I said before – I still believe that Google’s primary way of measuring and determining ranks are still links between websites. They’ve just become a lot better at interpreting the information they already have through measuring the links between sites.

If you think about it, links between websites are crazy important for branding – and if you interpret them correctly you can determine exactly how much people talk about a brand.

When people talk about your website on social platforms, they post links. When other bloggers think your recent post was groundbreaking, they post a link in their next post, when your Youtube video goes viral – hundreds and thousands of links get posted in a short amount of time.

And that’s all information that Google already has! For the change in focus in their ranking algorithms, they only need to interpret that information in more detail.

And that’s where the multi-channel approach comes in. Until recently, successful SEOs usually had one or two ways that gave them guaranteed links. Today, this won’t be enough. If you want to be successful from now on you need to take several marketing approaches at once.

And that will be a combination of multiple marketing and SEO tactics that include the following aspects:

Content creation and keeping content up-to-date – because if your content is current and up-to-date it is more relevant.

Link building that focuses on brand building. That means that building links on static sites or in old content is less important and using tactics like guest blogging is probably more helpful.

Social Marketing – this will build your brand and show Google that people are already talking about you.

These are just examples of what I see becoming more important for SEO in 2019. Bought links become less valuable, smaller site links in new and current content become more important – and getting people to talk about you becomes really important.

This may sound like Google is changing a lot – but the changes aren’t that big at all. It’s important to note that this is just the logical next step from what they’ve been doing all along.

In fact, they already made their first steps in this direction when they started to focus on what we marketers called organic link profiles. Google is diversifying their approach, and so should you!

Outro

This was another episode of Marketing in Minutes – I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, subscribe, share, and leave a review. We need people to talk about us just as much as you do.

For more information on how to do SEO, check the show notes at blog.thesocialms.com/MiM-43. That’s blog.thesocialms.com/MiM-43.

And if you want to start doing SEO right now – there is also our step-by-step guide – check it out in the show notes.

My name is Jonathan Gebauer and you’ve been listening to Marketing in Minutes.

That’s it for today, take care! Bye.

The post SEO in 2019: A multi-channel approach – Podcast Episode appeared first on The Social Ms.

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“How do you get so many good ideas for content?” – I’ve been asked that question more often than I can count. Here is the answer – I cheat (a bit). And you should too!

You can subscribe to Marketing in Minutes on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or any other podcast platform.

In this episode of Marketing in Minutes you will learn:

  • How to get ideas for content whenever you need them in minutes.
  • How to use the same trick for better social marketing and SEO results.

All in just a few minutes.

More Information on how to get Ideas for Content

Here are a few links that will help you with getting ideas for content:

For more in-depth advice on how to create great blog posts, check out our Guide CREATE AWESOME BLOG POSTS.

Episode Transcript

Below is the full transcript of this episode of Marketing in Minutes:

I’m a Cheat: How I get Ideas for Content (it only takes minutes)

For online marketing success with a blog or any other content platform, you need to create content.

A lot of content. If you write a blog, you need to write multiple posts per week. For success with a Youtube channel, you need to create a lot of videos. For this podcast I’m creating three episodes per week.

So how do I get ideas for all this content? It’s easy – and I’m usually not very creative. In fact, some people would call what I do cheating.

Well, if I’m cheating, you should too.

I’m Jonathan Gebauer and this is Marketing in Minutes.

Welcome back to Marketing in Minutes – the podcast that gives you everything you need to know about one marketing topic per episode in just a couple of minutes.

I’m Jonathan Gebauer and today, let’s talk about how to get enough ideas for new content.

Before we start, here is the usual stuff: If you like this podcast, please subscribe and return for the next episode. And if you really like it a lot, then help me out and leave a review on Apple podcasts.

And now – let’s talk about content ideas!

We really create a lot of content here at The Social Ms. We currently publish one blog post per week and I create three podcast episodes per week. We also sometimes create videos, sometimes publish guest posts, and more.

So, how do we get ideas for all this content?

Well, there is one hack that I use whenever I run out of ideas… and it’s really simple!

How to Steal Content Ideas

Here is how I get content ideas: I steal them.

Now, before you condemn me: Everybody is doing that – and I’m not stealing content, I’m stealing content ideas.

Here is what I do when I need a new idea for content I want to create and I can’t come up with an idea on my own: I fire up a web browser and open a competitors site. Sometimes I go to Neil Patel’s blog, sometimes I open Social Media Examiner, sometimes I open Jeff Bullas blog and so on.

And then I simply scroll down and skim the headlines.

I don’t open those posts – that would be a waste of time at that moment. The idea is to get ideas for a post, not to find a post I can copy. I basically throw post ideas at my brain until I find one that clicks with me.

For instance, I might find a post titled “5 WordPress Plugins that improve the User Experience” – and my mind would click: Hey, I know a lot of WordPress plugins that improve the user experience. I can write a post about that…

It’s really that easy – and it’s totally okay to do that. It’s completely out of the question to always come up with original content ideas. And it doesn’t mean you are stealing anything.

It’s basically like having someone sit down opposite to you and throw ideas for content at you until you are ready to write a post.

And often you will actually come up with completely new ideas from looking at those headlines. The idea is to tickle your brain a bit – nothing more.

That’s how easy it is to get ideas for a massive amount of content. Anyone can get ideas – of course, that doesn’t mean that creating the content will go all by itself – but it really helps to fight this thing called writer’s block that so many bloggers are worried about.

And you can take this tactic one step further. If you want to use this tactic to get better results from your social marketing and SEO activities, here is how you do that:

Value: How to use this tactic for more SEO and Social Marketing results

For this tactic to work, you only need to throw headlines at your brain. It really doesn’t matter where you get those headlines from.

So, if you want to create a blog post that works well on a specific social media platform, instead of going to your competitors blog or website, you could use the tool Buzzsumo to get ideas.

Buzzsumo is basically a search engine for content that gives you the content that has the most social shares around the keyword you entered.

So instead of getting a random list of content ideas in my niche, I can get a list of content ideas that already work well in my niche on the social network I’m optimizing for.

And the same thing works for SEO – instead of simply scrolling through our competitor’s blog, I will open the tool Ubersuggest which you can find on Neil Patel’s website and start with a little bit of keyword research.

For each keyword, Ubersuggest will give details on how easy it will be to rank and a list of current search results. Sadly, I only get links to those there, so I still need to click on it to get the actual title, but it’s still the fastest way to get an idea for a post around a keyword that has a chance to rank.

That’s how easy it is to get ideas for posts – even posts that are ideal for SEO and social marketing.

But what about you? Leave a comment on the show notes and tell me how you get your ideas for your posts, videos, and podcasts. I’d love to know!

Outro

This was another episode of Marketing in Minutes – if you like what I’m doing, please subscribe and share this podcast – and leave a review on Apple podcasts! You would really help me out.

You can get more information on today’s topics in the show notes – you can find them at blog.thesocialms.com/MiM-42 – that’s blog.thesocialms.com/MiM-42.

And don’t forget to let me know what you think about this show!

I’m Jonathan Gebauer and you’ve been listening to Marketing in Minutes.

That’s it for today – take care, bye!

The post I’m a Cheat: How I get Ideas for Content in Minutes – Podcast Episode appeared first on The Social Ms.

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