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Tips for Creating an Effective Video Blog

There has been a lot of discussion about the need for video in a successful marketing campaign. It’s true that you can have a successful marketing campaign without using video. But video can reach people in a way other advertising methods cannot. Video gives you a chance to communicate with a large number of current and potential customers in an essentially face-to-face way for free! What savvy business owner wouldn’t take advantage of that kind of opportunity?

Many people shy away from the idea of video because they think they need a lot of expensive equipment or a professional production crew. While those things will certainly help with the quality of your video, you can shoot a serviceable clip without spending a lot of money!

The Equipment

Oddly, it’s not the video quality that’s most important. It’s actually the quality of the audio. People can tolerate a low-quality video, but if they can’t hear you, they won’t pay attention, no matter how good your content may be.

To get good audio, your best bet is to buy a simple external microphone. Why? The in-camera microphones are usually fine, but they only record the person holding the camera clearly. The person being filmed in the video can be hard to hear, or you could pick up breathing noises from the person taping you.

Your webcam may also be a good choice if you don’t need to move around to make your video. Make sure there are no noises in your house, like an air conditioner or television in the background.

When choosing which camera to use, look for one that lets you plug in the external microphone we discussed above. Also, check to see if you’re going to need special software to convert your video to a standard format (such as .avi, .mp4, or .mov) to use in your editing software or on your website. Other than those considerations, any camera will do nicely.

One thing people have trouble with is proper lighting. You can buy lights if you want. You will only need three – one for the front of the subject, one for the side and one for the back. There are lighting tutorials on the Internet if you go this route. The easiest option is to try and take advantage of natural sunlight. Sunlight coming from the side is best. Light from behind will cause the subject to appear as a silhouette, and sunlight in front of the subject will cause reflections (or squinting if you’re filming a person).

Content without a Camera

No camera? Try a tutorial made of screen captures with an overlaid audio track.  It’s easy to make a screen capture. Pull up the page or document you want to capture and press the PrintScreen button on your keyboard (it’s near the F12 key). Once you’ve taken a “picture” open your photo editing software (Photoshop is good). Then create a new document and hit Ctrl v to paste the image. Save the file as a jpg, size it for the web (resolution of 72-90 under image size) and you have a screen capture!  Just make sure you have the right to use any images you capture. Later, in editing, you can combine your screen captures with your audio to complete the video.

Learn Basic Editing

Free, easy-to-use video editing software for beginners is not difficult to find. Many computers actually come with a video editor installed. Look for Microsoft Movie Maker for Windows, iMovie for Mac, Screenr (on Twitter) or Smart YouTube. If you need a tutorial on any of these programs, just search the Internet. There are also help tabs in most programs.

Show it Off!

It’s just not good enough to create a video and post it to your blog. It will only have a good response if it gets viewed, and it will only get viewed if you take some time to distribute it. In addition to your blog, post your video on your website, Facebook and Youtube. For more on video distribution options, please see our article How to Integrate Video into Your Social Media Marketing.

As you can see, creating a video and uploading it to your blog is a relatively easy process. Experiment with it, and soon you’ll be shooting quality videos, really reaching out to your target market, and your efforts will result in increased sales!

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10 Tips for Enhancing your Facebook Fan Page

Is your Facebook Fan page getting you the results you envisioned? Some people believe that creating a business page and adding the occasional post will be enough to attract visitors. If you’re doing this, you are really missing out on the true potential of Facebook to increase sales and improve your business. (Just starting out with Facebook? Check out our Facebook 101 article.)

To make the most of Facebook’s incredible marketing opportunities, you should be frequently revisiting your Facebook business page to see how it can be improved. Here are some tips on creating great content, and also some technical tips that will get you more traffic.

Content Tips

Tip 1:  Be the Expert

If you own a business, you are already an expert in your field. What information do you have that customers may find interesting? For example, say you own a pet-sitting business. Have you read any interesting articles on ways to relieve stress in pets? Can you create a list of items every pet sitter needs, such as a vet phone number and authorization to charge their account? Even sharing some funny pet sitting experiences (and how you professionally handled them, of course) can entertain and educate at the same time. Don’t make the mistake of undervaluing your expertise and what you have to offer.

Tip 2:  Have a Contest

Contests are hard to resist. The idea of getting something for nothing is a great way to attract people to your page. Once there, make the contest easy to understand and enter. People will not spend a lot of time on this, so don’t risk making them frustrated! Keep it simple.

Some companies have links from Facebook to their websites where entrants can fill out information and then enter, or require people to “Like” their page before entering. If this seems too difficult from a technical standpoint, don’t worry. You can simply announce that the first 20 people to send you a message via Facebook email with their address will be entered to win an item (don’t skimp on the item to be won, or few people will bother to enter). Or you could have a photo contest that viewers vote on. Use your imagination and keep it within your skills and time constraints. Whatever you do, though, make sure the rules and deadlines are clear and easy to find. Angry people will not become customers!

Tip 3:  Take Advantage of YouTube

YouTube is one of the most popular websites on the Internet. It’s also a great place to post content for your Facebook page. When a YouTube video is embedded on your Facebook Fan page, it can be viewed on your Facebook Page and, more importantly, it can be shared with others with just a click of a button. (To learn more on how to use YouTube for video marketing, please see our article, The Secrets of YouTube Marketing.)

Tip 4:  Post Updates
People are more likely to do business with you if they know you and like you. Customers want to feel like they’re dealing with a person as well as a professional company. Facebook is the ideal place to combine both. Post updates about your business, but also relevant personal information. In the pet-sitting business example mentioned above, you could announce that you have hired an experienced pet sitter to join your company, give some background on that person’s qualifications, and maybe post a picture of the two of you with some of your pet clients!  It shows your business is growing, that you care about whom you hire, and that you want to keep your present and future clients informed because you care about them, too.

Tip 5:  Try Reviews

One of the easiest ways to create content is to review something that’s already out there. Reviews of new products, a book or article you read or a documentary you saw are all great ideas and will generate interest in your target market group. Maybe you tried out a new kind of cat toy and wanted to let consumers know the pros and cons. Or perhaps you saw a dog training video and want to share it with everyone. Remember to stay positive, even if you have a negative review. For example, If a product falls short of your expectations, be clear as to why, rather than just slamming it. You don’t want to present yourself as a negative person or difficult business owner.

Technical Tips

Tip 6:  Tag Your Photos

Did you know that you can tag a photo with a Facebook user’s name? You can either tag the photo directly, or tag a comment by adding @username in the comment text. This will notify the user that they have been tagged, and they will be able to click over to your content. They will probably also share that content with friends and family!  BEWARE: do this appropriately. Randomly tagging people who have nothing to do with your content is SPAM. What’s appropriate? If you had a charity car wash for a pet rescue group and you took photos, tagging the people in the photo, or thanking (and tagging) them in a comment is an example of appropriate use of this tool.

Tip 7:  Use the Business Info Page Wisely

When you set up your Facebook business page, you should have noticed a space to describe the business. Make full use of this! It’s free advertising. Write an engaging, concise description with an idea towards your marketing message. Put in your website, Twitter account, phone and email if appropriate, and any other way users can contact you or view content from you. This section can be found on the left hand side of most pages under the Info section.

Tip 8: Use Keywords

Facebook limits the places where you can place a large amount of text. This makes keyword SEO difficult. However, in the About section (under the Info section) you have 250 characters in which to describe your business. Make sure this is loaded with your top keyword phrases. It’s a small thing, but it could help drive traffic to your page.

Tip 9: Consider a Custom iFrame

What’s an iFrame? Basically, it’s something that allows you to embed an HTML document into another HTML document (a web page inside a web page). This means you can import a website page into your Facebook Fan page!

You can use an existing HTML page from your website, or create a new page using HTML editing software such as Dreamweaver. There is also a WordPress plugin called Facebook Tab Manager that is popular with WordPress users. There are numerous tutorials to help you add the new content to your Facebook page. It may seem complicated at first, but don’t shy away from this! It creates an amazing opportunity to integrate your Facebook page with your website and expand your marketing options.

Tip 10: Get an Easy URL

You may have noticed that when you create a Facebook page the URL (the www address in the browser’s address bar) is a long string of text and numbers. This makes marketing troublesome. To overcome this, you need a simple URL that you can share with customers. Luckily, if more than 25 people “Like” your page, you can go to www.facebook.com/yourbusiness to get a more user-friendly URL that will make it easier for customers to find you.

Spend some time with your Facebook Fan page and educate yourself on the things you can do. Try things out and see what kind of response you get. It’s a rare opportunity to actually experiment in marketing without it costing you anything! Don’t have a Facebook Fan page yet? No problem. We can create one for you. Click here for more information.

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The Secrets of YouTube Marketing

youtube marketingWhen most people think of YouTube, they think of videos. In truth, however, YouTube is a valuable social media site. This is because it’s easy to use, easy to share, and encourages comments. YouTube videos can also be embedded in other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and can be sent via email or included in blogs. And you don’t need any special software to view a YouTube video – just click and enjoy.

The social benefit of this is obvious, but is YouTube a good tool for business marketing? Absolutely. According to YouTube’s website, they have, “hundreds of millions of users from around the world.” It also operates in 24 countries and in over 30 languages. Also, YouTube searches are second only to Google searches. Doesn’t it make sense to devote as much time to YouTube as you devote to other search engine ranking?

Of course, as with other marketing strategies, you want to approach YouTube in the most effective way. Below are 10 great YouTube marketing secrets – five for creating great content, and five for getting that content noticed.

Five Secrets to Creating Great YouTube Marketing Content

Make it fun and interesting. Remember, YouTube is social and entertaining. You want to create content that is funny or amazing. Content that people will share with friends. Think of how-to videos, product demonstrations, manufacturing videos, interviews, people wearing your product and having fun, or people enjoying your service. Is there a new and interesting way you can show viewers why what you do is so great?

Keep it short. Anything longer than 5 minutes, no matter how interesting, will not keep most viewers’ attention. If you have a longer piece you wish to show, break it into smaller videos.

Be real. You don’t have to worry about gimmicks, special effects, or professional filming. Be genuine. If you’re enthusiastic about your business, that will come through in your video. Viewers will notice, and be turned off, if you try too hard.

Do your research. This is one of the key secrets to creating great YouTube content. Look at what other companies are doing. Look at what your target market viewers are watching. What do you find interesting? You will quickly see what works, and what doesn’t.

Encourage participation. One of the best ways to generate excitement about your content and get others to share it is to have a contest. For example, encourage viewers to make their own video using your product, and have other viewers vote for the winner. Challenge the viewers to figure out a mystery or solve a riddle. Remember to keep it relevant to your product or service.

Five Secrets to Getting Your YouTube Marketing Content Seen

Tags, tags, tags. Tagging your videos is essential. You optimize your website with the proper keywords so the search engines can find them; apply the same principles to your video tags. Think about how someone would do a search in your area of expertise. Check out what tags other similar videos use.

Spread the word. Don’t expect to upload a video and get a million views. Just as with any other marketing strategy, you’ll have to get your information out there via multiple channels. Post your videos on your Facebook business page, blogs, and your website. Encourage your friends, family, and customers to share your video. Mention you’re on YouTube in your print advertising.

Keep it fresh. One big mistake businesses make on YouTube is to give up! Just because your first few videos don’t get many views doesn’t mean you should stop. It takes time to build a presence and get your name out there. Fresh content shows you’re actively interested and present as well, which tells potential customers that you take your business seriously.

Leave comments. Again, participation is the key to social media. Adding your comments to relevant videos is a way to get people to take notice of your interest and/or expertise in your field. Often people will read a comment and click through to see what you have to offer. Keep the comments positive. Nasty comments might get interest initially, but will hurt your business in the long run.

Mind your thumbnails. A thumbnail is a small, still picture that shows a frame from your video. With YouTube, that thumbnail is created by capturing a still somewhere in the middle of your video. You want to make that thumbnail as appealing to potential viewers as possible – they will click (or not click) on a video depending on how attractive that thumbnail is to them. YouTube lets you choose between three possible thumbnails for each video. If none of them look good, consider editing your video until you get something appealing as a thumbnail shot.

With time, trial-and-error, and research, you will begin to see what works for you. The important thing is to be realistic in your expectations. While we often hear of videos “exploding” or becoming viral, this is a rare thing. YouTube is a way to get visual content in front of potential customers – if you can think of a fun way to visually promote your product or service, you could find a very powerful marketing tool at your fingertips (for free, I might add). It’s certainly worth a try!

When most people think of YouTube, they think of videos. In truth, however, YouTube is a valuable social media site. This is because it’s easy to use, easy to share, and encourages comments. YouTube videos can also be embedded in other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and can be sent via email or included in blogs. And you don’t need any special software to view a YouTube video – just click and enjoy.The social benefit of this is obvious, but is YouTube a good tool for business marketing? Absolutely. According to YouTube’s website, they have, “hundreds of millions of users from around the world.” It also operates in 24 countries and in over 30 languages. Also, YouTube searches are second only to Google searches. Doesn’t it make sense to devote as much time to YouTube as you devote to other search engine ranking?

Of course, as with other marketing strategies, you want to approach YouTube in the most effective way. Below are 10 great YouTube marketing secrets – five for creating great content, and five for getting that content noticed.

Five Secrets to Creating Great YouTube Marketing Content

Make it fun and interesting. Remember, YouTube is social and entertaining. You want to create content that is funny or amazing. Content that people will share with friends. Think of how-to videos, product demonstrations, manufacturing videos, interviews, people wearing your product and having fun, or people enjoying your service. Is there a new and interesting way you can show viewers why what you do is so great?

Keep it short. Anything longer than 5 minutes, no matter how interesting, will not keep most viewers’ attention. If you have a longer piece you wish to show, break it into smaller videos.

Be real. You don’t have to worry about gimmicks, special effects, or professional filming. Be genuine. If you’re enthusiastic about your business, that will come through in your video. Viewers will notice, and be turned off, if you try too hard.

Do your research. This is one of the key secrets to creating great YouTube content. Look at what other companies are doing. Look at what your target market viewers are watching. What do you find interesting? You will quickly see what works, and what doesn’t.

Encourage participation. One of the best ways to generate excitement about your content and get others to share it is to have a contest. For example, encourage viewers to make their own video using your product, and have other viewers vote for the winner. Challenge the viewers to figure out a mystery or solve a riddle. Remember to keep it relevant to your product or service.

Five Secrets to Getting Your YouTube Marketing Content Seen

Tags, tags, tags. Tagging your videos is essential. You optimize your website with the proper keywords so the search engines can find them; apply the same principles to your video tags. Think about how someone would do a search in your area of expertise. Check out what tags other similar videos use.
Spread the word. Don’t expect to upload a video and get a million views. Just as with any other marketing strategy, you’ll have to get your information out there via multiple channels. Post your videos on your Facebook business page, blogs, and your website. Encourage your friends, family, and customers to share your video. Mention you’re on YouTube in your print advertising.
Keep it fresh. One big mistake businesses make on YouTube is to give up! Just because your first few videos don’t get many views doesn’t mean you should stop. It takes time to build a presence and get your name out there. Fresh content shows you’re actively interested and present as well, which tells potential customers that you take your business seriously.
Leave comments. Again, participation is the key to social media. Adding your comments to relevant videos is a way to get people to take notice of your interest and/or expertise in your field. Often people will read a comment and click through to see what you have to offer. Keep the comments positive. Nasty comments might get interest initially, but will hurt your business in the long run.
Mind your thumbnails. A thumbnail is a small, still picture that shows a frame from your video. With YouTube, that thumbnail is created by capturing a still somewhere in the middle of your video. You want to make that thumbnail as appealing to potential viewers as possible – they will click (or not click) on a video depending on how attractive that thumbnail is to them. YouTube lets you choose between three possible thumbnails for each video. If none of them look good, consider editing your video until you get something appealing as a thumbnail shot.

With time, trial-and-error, and research, you will begin to see what works for you. The important thing is to be realistic in your expectations. While we often hear of videos “exploding” or becoming viral, this is a rare thing. YouTube is a way to get visual content in front of potential customers – if you can think of a fun way to visually promote your product or service, you could find a very powerful marketing tool at your fingertips (for free, I might add). It’s certainly worth a try!

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Social Networking & Marketing

social networkingSocial media gives your business the power to grow bigger. Many businesses are integrating different social networking tools into their marketing plan to make it more interactive, communicative and informative. Several benefits of integrating these tools exist, a handful are mentioned below…

Branding

Even after adopting the best of designing techniques and SEO standards, a new business will need to take time to reach its target audience, and the growth will be slow. If you integrate Twitter, YouTube or Facebook accounts into your marketing lineup, you can interact more with your target audience. The more time you commit to social networking the more people will interact and recommend your pages to others. This can certainly give a boost to the brand image of your business.

Feedback and Customer Service

The purpose of graphic design and web development is not just to gain the attention of a viewer, but also to make them more involved. To run any business successfully, it is vital to get customers’ feedback and provide good customer service. Integrating social media into your marketing plan can help you to do that seamlessly. Suppose, a customer posts a negative experience about your product or service. With the help of social media, you can immediately reach that person and offer him a solution, before his negative remark can influence other customers.

Lead Generation

If you maintain social networking accounts, you can post promotional offers, discounts and special announcements to your followers. This will attract the attention of your existing customers as well as new, providing a boost to your business.

Goodwill

Social network media is a powerful tool to generate goodwill for your brand and business. Utilizing social media means you are constantly in touch with the interested prospects and increasing your reach. In the process, you are getting new customers, repeat customers and referrals. These tools help you to not just interact with people on a business level, but on a friendly and emotional level. You can engage into direct conversation with your prospects, learn their needs, feedback and grievances all the while offering a proper solution as fast as possible. This increases the positivity of your business and this is what generates goodwill.

It is not just beneficial but a necessity to integrate social network media into your marketing plan. You are not limited to the social networks mentioned in this article, dozens of options are only a search away.

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MailChimp: eMarketing Made Easy

mailchimpOnce your website is up and running, it is time to start considering how to driving traffic towards it.  This can be done in several ways, but email campaigns are the tried and true method.  The question most people have is: how do they start an email campaign? There are many ways in which one can acquire email addresses, but those addresses will likely need to be handed over to a service that focuses on email marketing, such as MailChimp.

The List

There are numerous ways to build and integrate lists into MailChimp.  It is possible to import lists from Salesforce, Highrise, Google Docs, a CSV file, FreshBooks, or Excel. MailChimp even offers generated forms that can make the sign-up process easier.  For those that require extra flexibility, an API is available that allows for tech-savvy website owners to program a custom front-end that people will see, while all of the data is passed directly on to MailChimp.  All of MailChimp’s forms include a double opt-in process which could potentially reduce the number of people in a database, but it does significantly reduce the number of spam emails and that can be important when considering the CAN-SPAM criteria.

At Triple Moons Design we manage all of our email campaigns and newsletters with MailChimp. Take a look at the subscribe box to the right to see how users can get signed up with our email program. MailChimp makes it easy to get a subscribe form integrated into your site.

Using the Data to Create Emails

Once the contact information is imported, it is time to start building the mailing lists.  Mailing lists can be broken down by a number of criteria, should you need several mailing lists. For  example, MailChimp can handle your branding requirements for different products and services all within one account.

Creating the actual emails is simple thanks to the intuitive and powerful user interface of MailChimp.  Several templates are available to inspire or serve as the base for your email campaign.  Custom HTML emails specifically designed to match your existing marketing materials can be created and imported.

Getting Connected

There are several add-ins and plugins available with this email marketing tool.  WordPress, Twitter and Facebook, just to name a few. MailChimp has embraced social networking in a way that few other email marketing websites have.  Tracking details are easily monitored about your email marketing campaigns.

Campaign Management

A summary list of bounced emails, opened emails, click rates, and unopened emails is presented both in terms of percentages as well as raw numbers.  All data can be exported to Excel for any further use one may have.  Google analytics integration offers a nearly complete picture of how individual recipients respond to emails as well as broader view of the list as a whole. This can be vital information for anyone trying to fine tune their marketing campaign.

Pricing

Nothing is free, but with a few limitations, MailChimp is.  A free account can store up to 1,000 subscribers and send no more than 6,000 e-mails per month.  Alternatively, there are monthly plans that start at $15 for an unlimited number of emails per month as well as a pay-as-you-go plan that starts at $9 per 300 emails and only gets more affordable.

February 8th, 2011 Update! MailChimp has now doubled the number of subscribers and sends for free account holders. You can now store 2,000 subscribers and send 12,000 emails each month!

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