Author: Brittany Pelegrino

Creating an Effective Facebook Business Page

Creating a Facebook business page is fairly straight forward – simply create a page, add a logo and fill in some information about your company. But how do you turn it into an effective tool that represents your brand, engages visitors and generates more leads? With these 4 easy tips, you can turn your business page from ordinary to extraordinary.

#1. Welcome Page

For starters, it is a great idea to create a custom tab for your business page that welcomes visitors, gives them more information about your company and encourages them to ‘like’ your page. Creating a custom welcome page or landing page for your visitors or fans is really easy. To help you out, we created a step-by-step tutorial,  Creating a Facebook Landing Page that explains how to build a custom page using the Wildfire app.

#2. Photo Strip

Another way to brand your page is to customize the photo strip at the top of your business profile page. Since an image is worth a thousand words and this photo strip is in prime real estate on your page, it is a great way to communicate more about your brand. If you need some help getting started, check out our tutorial, Branding Your Facebook Business Page. On our Facebook page, we decided to display pictures of our team to give all of our fans and visitors an inside look into the people behind our brand.

#3. Applications and Custom-Built Tabs

Once you have added all of your branding and photographs, it’s time to create a richer and more engaging experience for your visitors. This can be done by adding applications and custom-built tabs that allow you to place other types of content on your page. There are many applications and plug-ins you can use to create custom apps or canvases to display on your Facebook page. When you create your own app or canvas, you are in total control of customization on the page. On our Facebook page, we created a custom tab that automatically displays our latest blog posts. It’s a great way to share content and also encourage visitors to check out our website. Plus it is features our branding and no third party links or credits.

#4. Engage!

The whole reason for establishing a presence on any social media site is to engage with people who are interested in your company or products. You want to start conversations and generate buzz worthy content to make your Facebook page and brand more personal. It is important to respond to comments, both negative and positive, about your brand. Engaging with your visitors is the most important step in this whole process to keep your Facebook page fresh. After all, there is a reason they call it “Social Media”.

Fun Fact: Did you know that your business page can ‘like’ other business pages? This is really important for all companies, but especially business-to-business companies. If you are an administrator on your business page, you can use Facebook as your business to like other companies. Once you have a liked a company on Facebook through your business page, you can tag that company in posts and write on their wall. This is a great way to engage with your clients or interact with other businesses you have met. Now that is a fun fact!

 

4 Tips for Writing Effective Web Content

Lets face it people are busy. When they go to the web looking for answers they want to grab information quickly. Most people will spend a very short amount of time on a webpage and typically only read a few words or paragraph before deciding if the content is worth their time. So how do you make it easier for people visiting your website to find the information they need and keep coming back to you for more? By writing great content!

Writing effective content for the web may seem like a daunting task but it is actually a lot easier if you know how to write for the web. It is a very different writing style but trust me, you can do it! A book that helped me tremendously early on in my career was Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works, by Janice Redish. This has become a go-to resource for me when it comes to writing content for the web.

In the spirit of this great book, I have created this list of 4 tips you need to know to write effective web content.

Give People What They Need

When writing content for your website, think about what is important to your visitors. What questions are they trying to answer when they come to your site? You market yourself best when you give users the information they are looking for and get rid of all the extra content that does not answer their questions. Sticking to facts and relevant information is crucial when deciding what to talk about on your website.

Lead with the Punch Line

Web content is written in a much different style than a typical narrative where you tell a story to build a reader up to your climax. Your web content needs to lead with your climax or essential message and then give supporting information and background details. This is the most IMPORTANT tip for writing content for the web. Web users do not have time to read a story. They want to get your main message in the first paragraph or in the first few sentences. If they have to work to understand your main point, they will lose interest and turn to another web source for answers.

Break Apart Walls of Words

Visitors on your site will be less inclined to read information if it is one big block of text. To increase the readability of your content keep your paragraphs short, use bulleted lists and break up main points with headings. I am doing this right now in this article. Notice how I have broken up the content by emphasizing the 4 tips with individual headers and smaller paragraphs? That was done intentionally so that this article would be easier to read.

Cut, Cut, Cut!

Always remember when writing for the web that less is more. Keep your writing concise and try to get your message across in the shortest and clearest way possible. A great way to keep your writing in check is to have someone proofread your work so they can get rid of extra information. Another great trick is saving your work and revisiting it after a break. After you have finished an article read it out loud to find errors and pick out information that is the most useful to your reader.

Writing great content for the web helps to create engaging websites and pleasant user experience. You want visitors to view your site as a valuable resource and as something that they will keep coming back to for more information. Utilize these 4 tips on your website to create web content that works.

Take Your Website to the Next Level with Customized Slide Show Galleries

Your website is the first place most people look when they want to learn more about your business. How can you make sure your site stands out so that visitors will stay a while? A great way to engage your audience is through the use of slideshows and image galleries. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth 1,000 words”.

Combining the Power of Multimedia with the Power of WordPress

WordPress provides excellent support for slideshows and image galleries, as well as all sorts of other multimedia. It’s one of the many reasons that we love and use it for all of our projects. (If you’re curious about the other reasons, check out 7 Reasons to Consider WordPress for Your Next Website.) With hundreds of WordPress slideshow plugins to choose from, the biggest challenge is finding the right one to meet your needs. After reviewing and testing dozens of plugins, we are now using Slider Pro for the majority of our projects.

Flexible, Customizable and Easy to Update

Slider Pro offers a ton of options for customizing your slideshows to match your branding and website. You can easily set the size of both the main images and the thumbnails. There are numerous options for navigation style (thumbnails or buttons) and position (horizontal or vertical). It also provides all sorts of transition effects. In addition, you can create your own custom “skins” to change the look and feel of the buttons, borders and more.

The examples below show just a few of the possibilities.

Rainforest Slide Show


City Slide Show

Durham Slide Show

Interior Slide Show

Creating Eye-Catching Trade Show Booths with Fabric Graphics

Thanks to new innovative materials and improved printing technology, fabric graphics are now taking center stage in trade show and exhibit design.

With the introduction of Silicone Edge Graphic (SEG) technology, fabric is being used to create seamless back walls, kiosk, light boxes and custom artwork. These high-resolution fabric graphics are finished with a silicone strip that is sewn directly to the edge of the graphic so that it can be inserted into a frame with a recessed grove.

Combining High Quality & Durability

With neatly finished corners and sew lines that are hidden within the extrusion system, SEG graphics create a high quality, custom look. Graphics are held taunt in the frame, making them indistinguishable from hard panel graphics when viewed at a distance. They offer the advantage of being lightweight, easy-to-ship (since they can be folded up), and less prone to damage (the surfaces of hard panel graphics can easily get scratched and the edges can get banged up).

Vivid, Eye-Popping Colors

Thanks to advances in dye-sublimation printing, it’s possible to produce vibrant, saturated, eye-popping graphics. To ensure your graphics always look great, you can spot clean them by wiping it with a damp cloth or send them out for a full cleaning.

Seamless, Larger-than-Life Graphics

One of the biggest advantages of silicon edge graphics is the ability to cover extremely large surfaces with a single graphic. We have installed wall murals that were 8 feet tall by 70 feet long. You can even wrap these graphics around corners for a totally seamless look.

Change Your Look As Often As You Like

Silicone edge graphics can quickly be changed out thanks to pre-installed tabs that allow you to remove the graphic from the frame. With the ease of interchangeability, you could create a completely new and unique look for each day of your event.

Go Green in Style

For companies looking to go green, there is a growing list of fabric options that are created from recycled materials. In addition to creating an environmentally friendly booth, you’ll reduce transportation and storage space.

Still not sure if silicon edge graphics are right for you? Check out this video for a more in depth look at the graphic system.

[jwplayer config=”YouTube” mediaid=”2895″]

 

What is All The Fuss?

The web has been buzzing since the arrival of beta version Google+ and more than ever this week since Google has allowed everyone to make accounts on this new social media platform. I finally took the plunge last week and opened my own Google+ account to check out some of its features and uncover what makes this social network different from the rest.

The goal behind Google+ is to make sharing online more like sharing in real life. It gives you the ability to connect with people on the web like you would connect with them in person. With features like Hang Out and Huddle, Google mirrors real life online. Here are five pretty awesome Google+ features:

Share the Right Stuff with the Right People

Google+ redefines privacy on social networks by allowing you to create and group people into circles. You can create new circles or modify existing circles so that all of your friends end up in the right group. When you have content to share, you can select which groups to send that content to and Google+ will only allow people (or circles) that you selected to see it. I like to think of this as selectively sharing data. Now you can target select groups with certain content or personal information or pictures. The best part is no one can see what you named your circles or what circles they are in so have fun and get creative with your circle names.

If you are looking to find people to add to your circles, findpeopleonplus.com is a great resource to use to start connecting with people today.

Face-to-Face-to-Face

On Google+ you have the option to “Hang Out” which literally means you hangout with people face-to-face-to-face via your webcam. Hang Out combines webcam conferencing with the ease of hanging out. Once you log into your Google+ it is really easy to create a hangout that people can drop into and begin chatting. The only downfall is the hang out is limited to 10 people. This feature is great for your brand because you can hangout and people can actually talk to you face-to-face when they have problems, concerns or questions regarding your company or product.

Targeted Information

Google has also included an interesting feature called Sparks into the Google+ interface. Sparks automatically shifts through articles and videos to target the information you really want to read. You can simply type in a keyword and Sparks will bring up relevant articles about that topic. This is a great tool to use to keep up on industry related news.

Virtual Huddle

Gone are the days when you have to flip through your contacts or manually create groups on your phone to mass text. On Google+ Mobile you have the option to huddle, which lets you text groups of people or individually selected friends one mass message. Up to 50 people can chat in one huddle at a time and it is really simple to add people in by groups or individually to start a conversation in real-time. However, this feature is limited to the mobile version of Google+ only.

Improve Search Engine Rankings

You have worked really hard developing content for your website but you feel like no one is reading it. Google allows you share content that you have developed through your Google+ account. Google puts a higher ranking on content that has more shares or +1’s and all of this can be done directly in your Google+ account. Not only are you establishing your self as an industry leader through your content but you are also increasing your search engine rankings.

Earlier this week Google+ ended its beta mode version and opened their doors to everyone. Although businesses do not have the ability to setup pages or accounts, it is still a good idea to get involved on Google+ and become a mouthpiece for your company. You can learn how to use the tools, connect with other people within your profession and share your content today. Once the doors are open to your business to create a page, you will already be a Google+ pro.

New Spin On a Lead Retrieval System

Looking to add that “wow” factor to your next trade show booth? Leading Reach is a relatively new technology that helps companies generate more leads while adding a little spice to their booths.

Leading Reach, developed by Sparksight and offered by SmartSource Rentals, is an easy-to-use digital advertising system that provides real-time visibility increasing the effectiveness of your digital marketing at trade shows and conferences. Sounds a lot like a lead retrieval system, only better!

Lets take a look at this new product:

It All Begins With an Upload

Did you know that 60%-85% of all printed trade show material gets thrown out before it is read? Not only is your content not making it off the exhibit floor, you are generating a lot of waste. Leading Reach eliminates the use of printed material by allowing attendees to send your content to their email. You simply upload your material into their cloud-based content management system. In addition to print content, you can add all sorts of digital media including videos, presentations and more.

Steal the Show with Your Wow Factor

So how do attendees interact with your content? The creators of Leading Reach have partnered with SmartSource to integrate the latest touch screen technology with their software. You have the option to choose large touch screen monitors, multiple smaller touch screens, handheld touch screens or a combination of all three throughout your booth. An attendee visiting your booth simply types their contact information or swipes their badge to start interacting with your content library. Once the person finds what they are looking for, they can email the content to themselves so it is waiting for them when they arrive back at the office.

In the End, You Get Sale Ready Leads

As people interact with your content, Leading Reach tracks what content is actually connecting with your customers. All of this data is collected in real time so other members of your sales team who are not at the show receive sale ready leads as they are happening. After content has been sent to a potential customer’s computer, the software tracks if that person has opened the email, how many times they looked at your content and when was the last time they viewed it.

Here are Some Key Features:

  • Manage your print and multimedia content online
  • Manage and monitor video loops, surveys, interactive presentations or other media
  • Allow attendees to request the specific content they want
  • User-friendly, touch screen interface allows attendees to quickly navigate through content
  • Leads become visible in real-time from the trade show floor and can be delivered to Sales with the push of a button
  • Lead Ranking System tracks which content is being accessed the most often.
  • Less time organizing content for customers, and more time engaging with them directly

What I love about this product is the ability for a company to change material quickly even while they are at a show. Nothing is worse than being out on the trade show floor and handing out material that is already out-of-date. If someone within the sales team wants to update a document or post a new video, they can do it quickly and get new information on the exhibit floor in no time.

Exhibiting is all about generating leads and engaging with prospects. Leading Reach provides a great way to bring the conversation online so that you can keep it going long after the event.

More WordPress Sites We Love

WordPress is a very powerful CMS (Content Management System). What we love about WordPress is its flexibility. It separates content from design and makes it really easy to update these two different components of a site separately.

Recently, I stumbled across four beautiful WordPress sites that I had to share. All of these sites are proof that you can create unique, eye-catching sites with WordPress.

ArtDog

ArtDog Gallery is based in South East London and is an international gallery that represents artist from London, UK and New England, USA. This site utilizes a beautiful gallery style layout on their homepage. As you expand or shrink your browser, the images jump from their spots and realign in different arrangements, which creates a living and interactive homepage. The interior pages of the site are very clean and beautifully display various pieces of art.

Eating in Sydney

Eating in Sydney, is a guide to restaurants, bars and cafes from across Sydney and beyond. This site is interactive and informative, providing visitors with reviews, ratings, and photos on all things food in Sydney. What I particularly love about this site is the fixed image in the background that pokes through and around the various boxes of content. The bright, colorful and useful ribbon navigation in the top of right of the screen is also another unique and beautiful element of the site.

Middle Mojo

Middle Mojo is a place to talk about creativity and aging. Founder Joan Anderman started the site when she wanted to find out what happens to creative artists over time and explore what happens when older people become creative. The homepage on this site is what caught my attention. The bright colors, square layout and hand drawn navigation draw you into the site.

Octavo Designs

Octavo Designs is a graphic design firm located in Frederick, Maryland. Not only was I blown away by the beautiful graphics and vintage colors used throughout their website but I also liked their horizontal scrolling design. With most websites designed to scroll vertically, it is nice to find one that breaks the norm and makes you want to keep scrolling to see more. They also added navigation on the left to bring you quickly to the information you are looking for without scrolling.

Which CMS is Right for You?

If you are thinking about creating a new website or redesigning an existing one, it is important to choose a platform that will suit your needs for the long term. Choosing a good content management system (CMS) for your site will provide flexibility and allow you to regularly update your site with ease.

With so many open-source CMS options available, which one do you choose?  For a quick comparison, DeviousMedia has designed a very useful infographic that compares three of the most popular open source platforms: WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal.

For many applications, WordPress is the ideal solution. Here are some key facts from the infographic:

  1. WordPress is used by some of the major websites including Time, Wall Street Journal, MTV Newsroom and Ford.
  2. With over 14,000 plug-ins, WordPress has nearly double the amount of plug-ins than Joomla! and Drupal.
  3. There are close to 1,400 theme options, which makes it easy for users to change the look and feel of their website.
  4. Out of the top million websites, 14.3% runs WordPress; only 2.7% run Joomla! and 1.6% run Drupal.
  5. It costs less to setup and maintain a WordPress site.
  6. There are over 30 million global monthly Google searches for WordPress.
  7. WordPress has a very powerful out-of-box SEO strength. Our favorite is the All-in-One-SEO Pack.
  8. WordPress is easy to install, use and maintain.

Which open-source backend platform suits your needs?

Click the image to enlarge it.

 

Do’s and Don’ts of Business Blogging

You might be wondering if a business blog is right for you. Maybe you started blogging and got discouraged because you were not getting very many followers or maybe you simply don’t know where to begin.

Blogging is very important for all businesses in our technology driven society. A blog allows you to engage better with your customers, improve your search engine rankings and position yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Studies have shown that people generally trust blog articles more than press releases. Starting to rethink a business blog?

Tackling a business blog can feel like a huge undertaking, forcing you into uncharted territory. If your company is considering blogging for the first time, here are a few things to consider:

DO

  • Write Lots of Content: Content is key when it comes to any successful blog. Create epic content. Create stuff people want to read. Create unique, engaging and original blog posts. By delivering valuable and informative content, you are showing your customers that you are an expert in your field.
  • Write Catchy Headlines: Catchy headlines and titles entice people to read. The more interesting and appealing your title is, the more people will be willing to click on it to read.
  • Have a Visually Appealing Site: Although content is king on any blog, it is also important to give some attention to the look of your site. You want to choose colors, fonts and graphics that relate to your brand and provide a good user experience for your visitors.
  • Interact with the Blogging Community: Once you have a blog, it is important to start interacting with the blogging community. Reading and commenting on other blogs gives you the opportunity to start conversations with people within your niche. Get involved with both large and small blogs.
  • Use Social Media: Using Twitter and Facebook accounts as tools to continue conversations off of your blog.
  • Make Your Blog Easily Accessible: Create a link on your website so that visitors can easily find your blog. Post links on your Facebook and Twitter accounts so that readers have another outlet to get to your blog. You want people to find your content easily and quickly in order to join in on the conversation.

DON’T

  • Only Post Content: Having great articles on your site is the most important component of a successful blog. However, you should also think about adding other ways for people to engage with your company. Whether you use surveys, videos, photographs, podcasts or any other type of multimedia, it is important to give you users some variety.
  • Speak At Your Readers: Speak to your readers. You don’t want your readers to feel like they are being talked down to or get the feeling that you are superior to them. You want to start a conversation, so write your post as if you were sitting down and catching up with an old pal.
  • Shy Away from Humor: Using humor is a great way to draw an audience in and keep them reading. People like to smile and laugh, so why not make your blog something they will enjoy?
  • Give up: You are not going to get hundreds of hits or multiple comments on your first blog post. You might not even get one person to read that first post (without you directing them to it from another source such as LinkedIn, Twitter or an email). Do not get discouraged! Gaining traffic and frequent visitors to your site is going to take time. Be consistent and blog on a regular basis and visitors will ultimately come.

Utilizing these tips can help make your business blog a success. So, what are you waiting for? Start blogging today!

WordPress Sites We Love

The Toledo Museum of Art website is just one of the many sites built using WordPress and it is beautiful. We particularly love the unusual square navigation, vivid colors and unique social media icons that surround the content. The web designers did an excellent job at making this site visually appealing without sacrificing functionality. This site is truly a testament to the creativity designers can unleash in WordPress.