All posts by CustomerSupport

Be Authentic… Be, Be Authentic!

be-authenticLike a mantra at a high school football game — this is what small business owners should be repeating over and over to themselves. Chant it out loud, write it on a post-it note, or add it to your inspiration board — whatever you do, Be Authentic!

What do I mean? Authenticity means finding your voice and staying true. Align your brand to your voice. Stop selling — and start being you. Clients will notice. Your bottom line will too.

According to ecommerce insiders, “Building your brand is all about showcasing who you are and what you believe in i.e. being authentic. This quality is something that consumers naturally gravitate towards. Sure, there are people who will only buy the cheapest option available but there’s also a large number of customers who are looking for something more than just a product. They want a relationship with a company they like”.

Here are some tips to help you be more authentic in your business: Continue reading

Video Hosting for Small Business

filmHands down, your marketing should include video. According to SEJ, “people watch more than 500 years’ worth of YouTube videos on Facebook every day, and they share about 700 videos on Twitter each minute”.
If you’ve ever clicked on a video of a dog riding a skateboard, you understand what I am about to say — video promotes engagement and “likability” or share-ability of anything we want to market. That is why it is so essential that small businesses start to incorporate video into their marketing mix if they haven’t already. It’s just that simple. The only question you’ll have to ask yourself is: which video hosting site should you use?

YouTube and Vimeo are both the metaphorical “King of the Hill” when it comes to marketing and small business. But, they are very different animals. Let’s take a look at why, and how you can maximize your brand using one, or both.

YouTube

According to the YouTube Press Page, “more than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month, over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube, and 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute”.

That’s kind of a big deal.

Not only is YouTube the second-largest search engine after Google, but it also has a massive reach across social networking sites. Clearly good for large audience numbers, it is no wonder that YouTube is the world’s most popular video sharing platform. But, there are many factors that attribute to YouTube’s recipe for success.

  • YouTube is free, both to upload and to watch videos. If you aren’t already on YouTube, SproutSocial created this guide to creating a YouTube account that walks you through the process step-by step.
  • It is very easy to share YouTube videos to social media sites and other outlets. This “sharability” just makes sense in the world we live in. What’s more, sharability is crucial to brand awareness.
  • YouTube is owned by Google – a relationship that, with a little help, many claim will boost Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. That’s a definite perk.
  • Easy-peasy advertising. In three short steps, YouTube walks you through how to place an ad. They also customize your options to allow you to target your audience based on gender, age, interest and location.

If you visit the YouTube Statistics page, you’ll learn even more impressive stats, but the bottom line is that YouTube clearly has the reach that business owners want at a price tag that can’t be beat.

So, if YouTube is so amazing, the question begs — why isn’t everyone using it? Let’s take a look at the popular video hosting site, Vimeo, to answer that.

Vimeo

While Vimeo gets considerably less viewer traffic than video giant YouTube, it has become incredibly popular with peeps looking to export quality video in a boutique environment. According to Sprout Social, “This idea is related to the notion that Vimeo has more quality content. Since the site is much more niche than YouTube, there is a good chance that only serious video creators and watchers are frequenting the site on a regular basis. People viewing and commenting on your videos are a lot more likely to give you constructive feedback.”

Here’s why:

  • No Video Advertisements. Vimeo doesn’t place advertisements on any videos that they host. This alone is most likely the biggest perk to choosing Vimeo over YouTube. When your audience tunes in — there is a much smaller chance of them sub sequentially tuning-out due to pop up banners and advertisements.
  • Quality Peers. Because Vimeo is more of a niche community, it is home to more professionally made and better-looking videos. Want to judge it for yourself? Vimeo offers a Staff Picks page that allows you to explore videos that they feel stand out in the crowd — and they are definitely worth a watch. This able community lends credibility to your video and really just helps your brand to look more professional and polished.
  • More Tight-Knit Community. If you are looking for a video hosting site that lends itself to constructive criticism, Vimeo may just be the place for you. On Vimeo, members comment on each others videos regularly. According to Sprout Social, “This site is more close knit than YouTube, so building a community of thought leaders should be one of your highest priorities. This also means you should make sure to respond to those who comment one your videos.”
  • YouTube restricts users to turn privacy either on or off. Meaning, it is completely private or available to the public. On Vimeo, users can customize their privacy. Vimeo allows you to hide your videos from folks browsing Vimeo, password protect them, or restrict your videos to be viewed/embedded on specific websites that you dictate. This gives you lots of flexibility to offer products for pay that are delivered in part by video.

At the end of the day, when you are choosing which platform best represents your brand, it is vital to consider the end-game of your marketing plan. Important items to weigh include:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • Are you looking for conversion or brand awareness?
  • What the types of videos do you produce — and how often?

Need help answering these questions before you decide? Give us a shout! Because we do that too.

Insta-Tips: Instagram and Your Business

10040668044_e41bb1cc85I discovered Instagram way back in December of 2010. A friend of mine started posting pictures to Facebook that were clearly cooler than any “regular” photo I was used to seeing. His photos were as styled and sleek as a Vanity Fair spread. I was Insta-hooked. A photography enthusiast, I immediately did some research and fell in love with the amazing app that made my friend’s photos possible — Instagram.

Just in case you don’t know, Instagram is a social media platform that allows users to share images with other followers. It combines a user-friendly interface with artistic photo filters which users apply at the tap of a finger. Instagram recently added some options that allow users to fine-tune their filter settings, but photography knowledge is not a prerequisite for this fun app.

For now, Instagram is free and is an easy way to get your brand and/or your name out there. You may doubt the exposure it will offer you, but don’t. There were 200 million users as of the end of March 2014.  What’s more, 75 million are daily Instagram users.

As it turns out, when I discovered Instagram in December of 2010, it had just launched in October of that year and immediately spread like wildfire. According to inc.com, “At the end of the first week of the company’s launch, Instagram had been downloaded 100,000 times. Another week passed, and another 100,000 people had downloaded the app. By the middle of December, the community had grown to a million users.”

Clearly, I wasn’t alone in my love of filters and lighting. I began using Instagram in my daily life — and before I knew it, was promoting the easy-to-use app to colleagues and clients alike. Here at Solamar, many of our clients are on Instagram. Our CEO, Chelsea Berler, shares amazing Instagram pics often. Among our clients; Kat Perkins, Mark Groves, and Gabrielle Bernstein have mastered the art of Instagram-ing.

It all begs the question; what sets some Instagram-ers apart from the crowd? To grow your list of followers, and subsequently, your business, here are five Insta-Tips: Continue reading

Make Video Work for Your Website

sol-blog-videoAccording to eMarketer, the category of digital advertising as a whole is up immensely, growing 44% from 2012 to 2013, to an estimated $4.15 billion. That’s a lot of growth!

According to Unbounce.com,  “Approximately 30% of page visitors watch your introductory video and 50% of those viewers watch the video in its entirety”. Another benefit? In that same survey, sites that had an introductory video on their homepage saw a 10% increase in their conversion rates.

Not bad, huh? With stats like these, it is no wonder that video will account for two-thirds of the world’s mobile data traffic by 2016.

If you aren’t using video yet, here are some tips for when you bring video to your website:

Keep your site simple.

Getting carried away is easy — we all want to include as much info as we can on our sites, but remember that when visitors are bombarded with something (be it fancy-schmancy text, a lot of text or even too many graphics) their eyes get tired and they leave your site.

The cure? Video. By including just one simple video on your homepage, you give readers a reason to stay — and you give their eyes a rest!

Chances are, they clicked on your site for a reason — they want to learn more about you and your brand.
This is the perfect opportunity to make yourself known. Consider it an introduction. With a clear and to-the-point title and a simple subtitle, use this space to tell us who you are. You can say so much more in a  video than in a cluttered design. This brings us to our next tip.

Be Real

The idea when you use video on your marketing page is to engage and connect with viewers. Now, this may sound like a task, but it doesn’t have to be.

If you are going to speak directly to the camera yourself, try to imagine you are chatting with a friend. Be positive and warm.

Here at Solamar, many of our clients are incorporating “real” video into their sites — and doing so beautifully.

Kat Perkins, a contestant on the popular TV show, “The Voice” was able to create a simple, yet captivating homepage through use of video.

Sure, Perkins is skilled in performing for a camera — but don’t be intimidated if you’re not! Even those of us that are less experienced in front of a camera can stand out in our videos. Proof of that is Brook Kreder, Founder of “The Sole Revolution” and an avid runner. On Kreder’s site, she uses testimonial to deliver her message. By letting a client tell her story for her, Kreder not only promotes her brand, but she lends credence to her product.

Another Solamar client, Kimberly Doehnert, is an example that your videos can be casual — yet still deliver a big punch. By taking us inside her gym, Doehnert makes her video relatable… and real. Doehnert also does a great job of keeping her design simple and fuss-free.

Be True to Your Brand

Thankfully, there are plenty of inspiring examples of video in web to show us how to add this peppy design element without sacrificing beautiful design.

When you are bringing video to your page though, always keep your brand in mind.

It is great to be creative, but always stay consistent with your brand voice. Unsure how? Look to Oreo (yep, still making those delicious round cookies) or Nike’s Jordan brand (still good looking and functional).

One look at either site, and you see that both are consistently true to their brand. Oreo was always a simple, child friendly snack – and their videos are too! Jordans have always been considered cool and authentic by athletes. Their video carries this message on.

Want to kick it up a notch? Consider product videos, video contests, or even a fun play on words (remember Kmart?)

At the end of the day, video should be fun, engaging and educational. Need help, or just love the examples we’ve shown you? Give us a shout! We have the expertise and experience you need.

An Interview With US: Get to Know Solamar’s Founder and CEO, Chelsea Berler

chelsea-in-the-parkChelsea Berler founded Solamar Agency in 2006. Today, at the youthful age of 30, Berler has grown her boutique marketing agency into a successful powerhouse of talent.

Dubbed, “The Curious One,” Berler is young, yes, but not too young to have known success, grief, love and loss — and to have turned all of that experience into a thriving career as a hands-on CEO and author.

Berler and Solamar have been featured in Shelby Living, Birmingham Business Journal, B-Metro (as the Face of Birmingham in digital marketing for 2014) as well as in Hoover’s Magazine and on ABC 33/40.

With a book that is flying off the shelves, and a business that continues to grow — we thought this was as good a time as any to sit down with our charming CEO. Continue reading

How to Handle a Social Media Crisis

screamInvariably, many companies will at some point face a sticky situation in social media. By recognizing that social media can still work for you, and not just against you, you can save your company’s reputation. Here are five tips to help you save face.

Step #1: Don’t Let it Snowball

When things go sour in social media, it typically starts as something small. Something as (seemingly) inconsequential as a bad review, or a negative comment is posted. This is the point at which your company should become proactive at diffusing the situation.

As soon as you or one of your team members (yes, your team should be keeping you current on all the social media chatter) notices that a customer has posted a negative comment/review within social media regarding your awesome company – it is time to respond. Continue reading

Make Google+ a Real Plus

google-76685_640Google+, or “Google Plus” is Google’s answer to social networking. Google released this platform in 2011 and within three years, Google+ has made a huge splash. At last count, there are over 1 billion Google+ enabled accounts, with over 300 million monthly active users.

You may think you aren’t among the users yet, but once you peel back the layers of the onion that is Google+, you see that MOST of us are in fact already being counted as users. That’s because Google+ encompasses gmail, +1, and YouTube.

If you use a smartphone to visit a Google website or app, you are also being counted. In a 2013 survey, in just one month, 92% of smartphone users were active on the platform.

Some social media buffs are claiming that Google+ will soon “overtake”the social media giant Facebook in online sharing by 2016.

In fact, according to a survey done by SearchMetrics over the span of a 6 month period, “the number of Facebook shares grew roughly 10% per month while Google+’s +1 growth was growing at 19% per month”.

Ok, so a lot of people are in fact using Google+. But, the question remains; How do you make Google+ work for your business? Here are some tips to help you navigate this new(ish) social media platform. Continue reading