Archive for the ‘B2B Focus’ Category

How is Your Brand Adapting to the Latest Facebook “Fake News” Changes?

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Did you notice a change this month in how your posts look on Facebook? If you typically adjust the copy and images on web links when you post to Facebook, and are noticing those options are no longer there, then you’ve been caught in the crossfire of Facebook’s war on fake news.

How it Used to Work
When you posted a link to your website on Facebook, you had an option to change the photos and text for the post if you didn’t like what popped up. Unfortunately people abused this feature leading to all sorts of misleading images and “click-bait” style headlines being attached to news articles and other content,. That is what we now know as Fake News.

How it Works Now
Now Facebook auto-generates the headline and copy from the web page or article, without the option to manually change them. However, that doesn’t mean your content strategy is dead. There are steps you can take to get current and work within Facebook’s new system.

What You Can Do
Facebook pulls the information for the posts you create much the same way that Google does when your site shows up in search results. And just like you can optimize your site for search engines, you can optimize the appearance of your links on social media.

There is code that can be added to the back end of your web site to tell Facebook (and other social platforms) which copy and image to use. This code can be preset for the entire website (for example, to pull the top image, or to pull the logo). Or it can be customized on each page, by specifying which image you would like used from a particular page or post (it could be the top image, one from a gallery or one further down the page).

The same kinds of options exist for the copy. You may want to pull in the page title or the headline or the subhead or the first paragraph. Or maybe you want to be able to specify it from page to page.

You have the control to do this, but it isn’t something that you will do through Facebook, it’s something that you will do by updating the code on your website.

Facebook is Just the Start
Facebook led the charge against fake news and they know its affecting legitimate businesses.

“By removing the ability to customize link metadata (i.e. headline, description, image) from all link sharing entry points on Facebook, we are eliminating a channel that has been abused to post false news. We also understand that many publishers have workflows that rely on overwriting link preview metadata to customize how their content appears to audiences on Facebook. We’re committed to a solution that supports them.”
-Facebook Developer Blog

But it’s only a matter of time until other social media platforms like LinkedIn or even Pinterest start putting in these types of restrictions to fight against the spread of fake news. So now’s the time to adjust your strategy . Don’t get caught with bad images and copy on your social links.

Not Sure if This Will Affect Your Business?

  • Do you promote content from your site such as blog posts, news articles or key pages?
  • Do you use paid social advertising to direct traffic to your website?
  • Do you have events that you share or promote via social media?
  • Do you have a social media strategy, or plan to build one in the future?
  • Do you use PR services that promote your company in the news?
  • Do you or any key members of your business write guest Op-Eds, blogs or other pieces of content for other sites?
  • Do other people or businesses regularly link to your website on social media?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then your business is going to be affected by these changes.

Need Help?
Whether you’re building a new website, or just managing your current one, you should always have a knowledgeable web partner. Firms which aren’t used to providing technical website updates might not know how to make the back end changes that you’ll need to stay up to date with this changing landscape, or how to give the level of control you need from page to page.

If you need any help with your website or social media marketing, please contact us for more information.

What Makes an Ideal Client?

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We recently did a check in and reset with one of our oldest clients. We wanted to make sure that we were being the best creative partner that we could be, and our amazing client responded by saying that they wanted to be the best customer as well. We valued the discussion that came out so much that we decided it was worth a blog post.

Passion

One of our core values is passion. We hire people who love what they do and who want to work on projects they are passionate about. We love to work with clients who are equally passionate about what they do. We want to see passion for the business, passion for the processes and passion about the results!

Clear Goals

We love it when our clients have clear goals for themselves, their business and for us. In the absence of goals, we are just making things look pretty. Marketing should be driven by clear goals and metrics, and we believe it is our responsibility to coach our clients through this process. Don’t we all want to be able to say these dollars have been well spent?

Deadlines

We have learned that deadlines keep everyone on task. When there is a deadline, we all stay on time, on budget and focused on the goals. When too much time passes, a project inevitably evolves, leading to change orders and rework (which can be costly and annoying for everyone involved). A client that can not only set deadlines, but meet them for their own deliverables as well, is an ideal customer.

Decent Budgets

We are not a freelance shop, and we don’t work with unpaid interns, so our pricing is directly related to our labor. I’m not going to say that we can’t get excited about some quick and dirty projects, but we are all passionate about what we do, so we sure do love to have the budget to be able to shine.

Timely Payment

We are NOT passionate about having to follow up for payment. In fact, we are pretty sure that a fairy dies every time we need to make a collection call. We work our butts off to hit deadlines and be incredibly responsive. The least a client can do to repay the energy and effort is to pay in a timely manner.

Ability to Make Decisions

This requires either direct access to the decision maker or empowerment of the internal team to move projects forward. Nothing is more painful than seeing an annual plan finally get approved six months into the fiscal year!

Direct Communication

We love direct communication, and it really helps when the client’s internal teams operate with a similar culture. Our whole team is trained to welcome feedback with open arms, so it kills us when people tip toe around. We are not sensitive. Go ahead and blurt it out. Ask the questions. Even if you need to tell us you think something is crap. We promise to do the same.

Collaboration

This is another one of our core values. Openness, honesty and transparency are all critical to us. We want to work with clients who respect our opinions, view us as partners and are willing to engage in healthy dialog.

Respect for Our Business

We are running as business here as well. It seems strange that such a point should need to be acknowledged, but it does. We are all out to deliver a product or service we believe in, but we want to pay our employees well and make a good living. Just as our clients work towards a profit margin, we should be entitled to the same.

Open to Creative Exploration

Creativity is more of a process than a destination. It really helps when clients feel comfortable taking creative leaps and allow us to explore different conceptual directions. This creative trust expands naturally as our client relationships evolve, but it helps to start out with a certain amount of it in the beginning.

Realistic Expectations

Every once in a while, someone comes along who expects us to have a bat phone with a designer, copywriter and developer waiting for their incoming calls. We are fortunate to have enough work that we don’t have people sitting idle. We do production schedules a week in advance, but always allot time for urgent client needs. A client who can respect the concept of a first-in, first-out production schedule for non-emergencies is most appreciated.

Say Thank You

Never underestimate the power of a simple thank you. We do great work for a variety of different personalities, and we know when they are happy. But it’s amazing how great a genuine thank you feels. (The very best thank you might come with cookies.)

Interested in learning more about what makes us tick? Visit the about section of our website to learn more about who we are and how we work.

Measure Ad Performance with the Right Metrics

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Metrics_eblastHow do you know if your advertising is working?

Determining the effectiveness of your advertising can be tricky. Advertising reports typically focus on reach and impressions, but do these numbers actually mean anything for your business? Does your advertising address your business goals?

Determine your business goals first

Having a large number of impressions can be great if your goal is to generate awareness. Let’s say, however, that you want to grow your sales. Measuring impressions is like counting how many people walk by your store, whether or not they come in and purchase anything.

In order to measure the effectiveness of your advertising, you have to first define your business goals. Your business goals can span from gaining new customers to upselling existing customers to educating about a cause. Once you have clear goals, then you can find the best tracking method.

Start tracking

No matter your ad spend or method of advertising, you can implement some form of tracking to measure results.

Digital advertising offers infinite methods of tracking, from simple Google Analytics tools to more complex, customizable options. These analytics allow you to see what happens beyond the click – including how long visitors stay on your site, how many pages they view and whether they submit a contact form. You can track these results back to the individual ad or ad platform.

If you are using more traditional advertising methods, consider using tactics such as redeemable coupons or unique tracking phone numbers.

At the very least, keep a post-it note handy and tally up every time someone mentions your ad. Most CRM (customer resource management) software allows you to track sales or customers back to your advertising. This might mean that you have to train your staff to ask every customer how they heard about your company, but this will help you find out which forms of advertising are working.

Compare your results to your expenses

The last piece of this puzzle is the tracking of your expenses. Don’t throw everything into one general advertising budget. Itemize your advertising spend for every activity using a CRM software or by working with your accounting office. You can’t fully evaluate your ad performance if you don’t take your spend into account.

Review your results!

All of this work amounts to nothing if you don’t review the results on a regular basis. Evaluating these numbers monthly, quarterly or annually will help you make more educated decisions on where to invest your advertising dollars. Plan to make changes and optimize your approach with the ads and platforms that are performing best.

Ready to leave impressions behind and start focusing on the metrics that show results?

At Robot Creative, we understand the importance of advertising for results. Our team will help you identify the metrics that make sense for your business. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation today.

Can Anyone Hear You on Facebook Anymore?

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Facebook_eblastFacebook pages for businesses just became websites.

That’s right. Facebook used to be a great way to be seen. Getting large numbers of page likes once meant that anything you posted would be seen. Facebook was great for business.

However, Facebook changed its visibility algorithm.  Now, whether your page has 10 likes or 10,000 likes, very few people will ever see any of your posts or updates. Users will not see updates from businesses unless they turn notifications on for them (which is hard for a casual user to find and must be done for each individual page that a user chooses to follow).

If you don’t want your Facebook page to become obsolete, here are a few ways to gain some of your reach back.

Buy your reach.

While posts are out, ads are in. Advertising on Facebook allows you to buy back that reach you lost when Facebook changed its policies. Facebook ads allow you to:

  • Promote your page’s social posts.
  • Target people based on their behaviors, likes and demographics.
  • Advertise to people who are similar to your current followers.
  • Advertise affordably. Throw $50 at it – you’ll be surprised how far that goes.

Find your cheerleaders.

These are your super-fans, the ones who love your business so much that they can’t help but talk about it. They’ve already noticed that your page has disappeared from their newsfeeds and have chosen to receive notifications from your page. Find ways to get them to share your content and to encourage their friends to do the same.

Make them come back.

Give your followers a reason to check your page regularly, whether they turn on their notifications or not.  Post contests, coupons, offers and event details to your Facebook page. Come up with something compelling, useful and beneficial to keep them coming back for more.

Become your business’ ambassador.

Facebook’s algorithm prevents businesses from appearing in newsfeeds, but people’s updates have not disappeared. You and your employees can share your business page, news, press releases and updates from your personal pages. You could even post in groups for more specialized targeting.

Turn it into a customer service hub.

Encourage activity on your Facebook page by turning it into a customer service support center.  Ask for people to check in and leave reviews so you can engage with them. Your reach will grow by getting people to your page to submit reviews.

Use your physical space and other media to drive traffic to your Facebook page.

Direct customers to your Facebook page using in-store advertising and signage, links from your company website or other online advertising. All roads to your Facebook page are good roads to your Facebook page.

Get endorsements.

Your new viewers can come from other pages’ viewers. News outlets, partners, vendors, non-profits and organizations can share their reach with you – all you have to do is have them share your posts or mention you in a post (with a link to your page). If they have super-fans, their fans could easily become yours.

Facebook pages for businesses might not be what they once were, but that doesn’t mean that they are obsolete or useless. They can be quite helpful as a part of your overall marketing strategy. As Facebook evolves and changes, so must our strategies.

Need help with your advertising and marketing strategies?

Learn more about our advertising and marketing services and contact us for a consultation today.

Why We Love WordPress

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welovewordpress_graphicChoosing a content management system (CMS) to help manage, maintain and update a website is one of the most important decisions to make when building a new website. Content management systems exist to make managing a website easier than ever before. However, the wrong CMS can cause difficulties when editing content or updating plugins, be challenging and costly for non-developers to learn, become expensive over time and have limited functionality and community support.

Navigating through these many content management systems can be time consuming and confusing, so we’ve done the research for you. For us, the clear winner is WordPress, and here’s why we love it.

It’s Widely Used

WordPress is currently the most popular website platform in the world, comprising 49.6% of existing websites and 60% of all CMS’ as of January 2015. As the most popular content management system, support and resources are widely available and easy to find. You won’t get locked into a proprietary system or stuck with a website that only a small handful of developers know how to update as you move forward.

It’s User Friendly

Originally designed as a blogging software that even the most novice user could get set up and running easily on their own, WordPress makes managing a website easy for any non-developer with little or no training. WordPress websites provide clients with the ability to do everything from making simple content updates to building advanced page layouts, all in an easily digestible framework. Where some content management systems require either backend development experience or significant training, we find most users can be up and running on WordPress with under an hour of training.

It’s Flexible

Out of the box, WordPress allows us to develop powerful custom designs (WordPress call these “themes”) and advanced page layouts. It’s surprising to find that many content management systems are still limited in their layout possibilities. If there’s a need for additional functionality (galleries, forms, lead capture, custom menus, menus and more), an existing solution can typically be found. When a custom solution is called for, it can easily be worked into the WordPress framework.

It’s Cost Effective

WordPress is free! That’s right, there are no initial costs and no ongoing licensing costs for the platform itself. While we do find that using a specialized WordPress host can help with performance and maintenance of the site, a WordPress website can be hosted on most standard hosting platforms. The widespread usage of WordPress has led to lots of competition from vendors and supporting resources, making it very cost effective to maintain.

It’s Mobile and Google Friendly

While many proprietary systems are still struggling with updating their technology to work with the latest responsive frameworks, WordPress is already mobile-ready and search engine friendly. With Google recently updating their search algorithm to rank mobile-ready sites higher than other sites, having a mobile-ready website is of the utmost importance for any company.

Choose Robot for your WordPress website

At Robot Creative, we understand that an established web presence is vital to the future of any business. Our team has extensive experience planning, designing and building WordPress (and non-WordPress!) websites that work with our clients’ goals and marketing initiatives.

We offer a wide range of responsive design options that will help your business stay ahead of changing technologies and ensure the longevity and scalability of your website into the future. If you’re interested in developing a new website with WordPress, or updating your current site to use WordPress, please contact us by sending a project request.

When your brand speaks, what does it say?

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Your brand is like your business’ personality. You may have created it yourself, you may have hired a branding company to develop it, or perhaps it has evolved unintentionally. However it was developed, this is your brand.

If you aren’t managing your brand, it may begin to communicate information you didn’t anticipate or don’t want. These “brand fibs” can take on many forms – some are subtle and some are more obvious. The following are common brand missteps to look for and avoid.

Aren’t you a bit underdressed?
The foundation of a company revolves around its mission statement and business goals – it’s at the core of why you’re in business in the first place. All your branding decisions should be in alignment with these goals. By veering away from who you’ve said you are and what you are about, you’ve just broken your promise to your customer. Let’s say, for example, you are a high-end custom home builder. You’ve done a good job of creating an office and work environment that echoes luxury. Your products and services are superior to your competitors, and your target audience has a high level of education and income. If your branding communicates a less-than-average quality and speaks at a level lower than that of your audience, disconnection occurs. This affects the perceived value of your offering and how much your potential customers are willing to pay for it.

What’s with the shifty behavior?
This is probably the most common mistake made by small businesses. Using and applying your brand to all your marketing materials, business cards, stationery items, website, etc. should be done with consistency. The regular visual and verbal reinforcement of your brand leads to higher recognition and memorability for your company. By changing up brand elements on various mediums, you can dilute your overall brand and lose out on potential customers knowing who you are and what you’re about. For example, if your branding colors are Pantone shades of blue and gray, don’t let John in accounting change his business card to deep purple and yellow because those are the colors of his college alma mater. Even more subtle variances in things, like inconsistent use of font selections, can chip away at the strength a consistent brand can communicate to your audience. This shifty brand behavior also affects the perception of trust from your customers – they’re not sure what to expect if your brand is all over the place.

1997 called and wants its color palette back.
An issue can arise if what you are communicating with your brand is not as applicable as it used to be. Industries are constantly evolving and moving forward and your brand needs to move with it. Let’s say you started your dot com company in the 1990s and haven’t made any updates to your overall branding since. Does your brochure or website have phrases like “Surfing the world wide web” and “The information super highway”? Are there dial-up modems in photos, and a high concentration of beveled buttons with drop-shadows? You get the idea. If you aren’t moving with your industry, your industry (and competition) are leaving you behind.

So is all of this really that big of a deal?

Will I go out of business if I use a different shade of orange on my website than on my brochures or if I use Comic Sans on my letterhead? Maybe not, but in an increasingly competitive market, you will probably lose ground (and business) with your competition that has a similar, clearly branded offering. In addition, some brand missteps will affect customer perception more than others, but continued and cumulative veering from your brand can cause lasting and sometimes permanent damage to your overall company image.

Brand Audits and How They Work

At Robot, one way we evaluate a company’s brand alignment is to perform a brand audit. It’s an exercise we use to inform whether your brand needs some minor tweaking or a complete overhaul.

Our full brand audit package starts with target audience profiling and user perception surveys. The results confirm who you’re selling to and what your current brand is communicating. Along with this information, we review all your marketing materials (both visual and messaging) to determine where there may be alignment issues with your brand. Finally, we provide recommendations on what materials are working for your brand – and which ones are not working and in need of a refresh. More times than not, companies have a solid brand base to work from and just need some guidance or rework on a few pieces of collateral.

Maintaining a consistent brand is hard work. Sometimes it’s very obvious to a company/owner that their brand is not working together or is not quite aligned with the business and mission goals. They’re just not sure how to get back on course or fix it. In other instances, you may not even realize what your brand is communicating with your marketing efforts. Remember, your brand is always talking. Every touchpoint factors into the perception of your company.

If you suspect your brand has alignment conflicts, contact Robot for a brand audit to make sure your brand is saying what you want it to and need it to say!

Learn more about how Robot can help with branding >>

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