New Hootsuite Tool Creates Your Facebook Ads for You

hootsuite ads

Hootsuite, the popular platform for scheduling and managing social media messaging, debuted a new online ad tool today May 19 designed to maximize your Facebook presence.

Hootsuite Ads, as it’s called, results from a partnership between San Francisco-based Hootsuite and Facebook. The program enables you to promote your most important Facebook posts in the form of automatically formulated advertising from your Hootsuite dashboard.

“Small business owners don’t have time to create and manage their advertising,” Hootsuite’s VP of New Product Growth, Greg Gunn, told Small Business Trends in a recent interview. “We optimize your most popular Facebook content based on your goals.”

Hootsuite Ads is described as the first tool available to automate and simplify the social media advertising process. Users choose their primary business objective for each ad. Based on previous postings, the tool then automatically formulates ad content as a “sponsored post” and offers targeting suggestions. All this happens in Hootsuite’s dashboard.

For small business owners, Facebook advertising efforts generally are driven by one of four key factors, Gunn noted.

“You want to drive more brand awareness, get more followers or better engage your followers, or you want to drive traffic [to a website outside Facebook],” Gunn explained.

“We analyze all your organic posts and automatically tell you which content will give you the biggest bang for your buck. You can see what is working and what is not,” he said.

Here’s how the new tool suggests finished ads for you to place on Facebook. First, it scans all your previous Facebook posts and ranks and classifies them based on your goal. Hootsuite also informs you how long a Facebook ad should run. Once the ad is posted, the Hootsuite tool posts clear results.

The Hootsuite tool is available for free, though users must pay Facebook to post the sponsored content on the social media site. Facebook offers advertising programs at a wide range of prices.

In formulating the product, Hootsuite consulted with many small business owners.

“I personally spoke to 50 small businesses,” Gunn said, adding that the company also surveyed “hundreds” more.

The results were clear. “Social media is really important” as an advertising channel, Gunn said.

Ease-of-use was the key concept around which the product was designed, he noted.

“Small businesses want to ensure they are creating high-quality ads,” Gunn said. He added many don’t have the time or skills to produce these effectively. Gunn described the very concept of writing ad copy as “anxiety” provoking for small businesses.

Of the more than 10 million users Hootsuite boasts, only 25 percent are active Facebook advertisers, he said.

For the bulk of its base that does not advertise on Facebook, Hootsuite has rolled out its new product to serve as an enticement by taking the complexity out of the process, Gunn said.

Hootsuite plans to expand its offering of include automated social media advertising in the near future, according to Gunn.

Image: Hootsuite

This article, “New Hootsuite Tool Creates Your Facebook Ads for You” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Blogger

How Investing in Broadband Can Improve Your Business’s Bottom Line

Sponsored Post

investing in broadband business bottom line

You might think you have high speed Internet, and your provider may boast about how fast it is. But is it fast enough to be called “broadband?” Maybe not, and that slow connection can hurt your business.

This year the FTC redefined broadband as a minimum of 3 Mbps upload speed. That 25/3 standard replaces the previous 4/1 standard, in order to reflect today’s heavier data transfers. This means current DSL plans may no longer be called broadband.

Of course broadband is more expensive, so you might be tempted to save money with a slower service. But paying a little more can actually save money and add to the bottom line. In fact, there are a number of ways truly high speed Internet improves business.

1. Speed Boosts Efficiency

Research related to Internet speed usually looks only at how website loading times affect sales. For example, it was recently determined that Amazon might lose 1.6 billion in sales from a one-second delay in loading time of pages.

But the other side of that equation is the cost in time and money. According to a 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center, a whopping 94 percent of jobholders are Internet users. And of those, the majority (54 percent) say the Internet is important to doing their jobs — more important even than their phones.

We’ve all spent time waiting for pages to load, and time is money. If you or your employees spend half of each day online doing research, accessing systems or dealing with customers and vendors, that amounts to 4 hours per day. If 5 percent of that time is wasted due to slowness, over a year’s time that’s 50 hours per employee. If 10 percent is wasted, it’s 100 hours per year per employee. Add it up and it could be many thousands of dollars lost.

You might also spend time watching as files take forever to upload or download. There is little in the way of productive work you can squeeze in during these annoying waits. All that inefficiency has a cost, and the simplest solution is a faster internet connection.

2. Speed Alleviates Stress

One estimate (PDF) from the World Health Organization suggests that stress costs American businesses $300 billion annually. Why add to your own or your employees’ stress level with a tediously slow Internet connection?

For that matter, why add to your customers’ stress? The last thing a customer wants when he calls your company is to sit there frustrated, waiting for a resolution to his problem, while you explain that your computer is slow today.

3. Broadband Supports Multiple Users

When you have multiple users your Internet speed can slow down, because the total bandwidth is shared between them all. This is especially noticeable if you use wireless, and with any connection that’s slower to begin with.

The Federal Communications Commission has established minimum guidelines for download speeds per user and device. For example, each user requires a minimum of between 0.5 and 1 Megabits per second, or Mbps, of download speed for browsing a Web page. Email requires another 0.5 Mbps per user. Video conferencing requires a minimum of 1 Mbps per user. Other activities require more.

For each concurrent user, and each concurrent device and activity, demands on your connection quickly add up. If your business is trying to get work done with multiple users doing multiple activities and running multiple devices at the same time, a slow speed of say 10 or 15 mbps won’t be nearly enough.

Keep in mind, the FCC Guidelines are just minimums. As the FCC notes, “Additional speed may enhance performance.”

The solution is simple: Get a faster plan.

As SpeedGuide explains, “If you share a high-speed broadband Internet connection you will very rarely notice additional computers.”

4. Fast Internet Makes Using the Cloud Easier

Many business and tech writers have touted the business benefits of using the cloud. But cloud computing means constant uploading and downloading, and that can take time, especially if you have a slow internet connection.

In fact, a white paper from Integra says, “45% of organizations cite bandwidth requirements as a barrier to cloud adoption.” By now you know the solution to that problem.

5. Broadband Means Faster Uploads

You usually hear about download speed when Internet plans are discussed or advertised. But it also matters how fast you can upload your files, photos, and other data for all the same reasons mentioned so far (efficiency, less stress, ability to handle more users, easier use of cloud computing).

Until this year a service could be called broadband with just 1 Mbps upload speed, but that can be pretty slow. Now the standard is a minimum of 3 Mbps per second upload, and most business plans are substantially more than that.

6. High Speed Reduces Costs

The efficiency gained from high speed internet can reduce expenses by more than the added cost, but there’s other more direct savings possible.

Consider Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), a technology that lets you make phone calls using the internet, for much less than analog lines. Grant Thornton Inc. saved $800,000 the first year it used a VoIP setup. The company has 2,800 employees nationwide, so the savings may be more modest for your own business.

And then there is the catch… You guessed it; VoIP generally requires a broadband connection.

You might also save money by moving some employees to home offices. Granted, you won’t duplicate Aetna’s $78 million annual savings from using home workers, but you might avoid the need to move into bigger, more expensive space as your company grows. Of course, you’ll need a broadband connection for employees to use a remote access system.

7. Broadband Makes for Better Collaboration

A better internet connection makes for faster sharing of large files between employees. In fact, it can also make for easier and better collaboration between your company and customers or vendors, especially when using sharing platforms like Google Documents.

Broadband enables you to use more electronic technologies in general. And that translates into revenue growth. According to testimony by Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary for Communications, Lawrence Strickling, before the House Small Business Committee, “A SNG study of 600 North Carolina businesses demonstrated a direct correlation between revenue growth and the use of broadband technologies (what SNG terms “e-solutions”).” Companies adopting broadband-enabled technologies experienced between 27 and 31 percent revenue increases.

Is It Time to Upgrade?

Okay, you might agree that high speed internet could improve your business in at least one or two of these ways, and maybe all of them, but what’s the cost? It’s minimal compared to the potential benefits.

Some small business owners use a personal broadband connection rather than one designated as a business plan. You can get a 50Mbps plan for well under $100 per month.

Benefits of higher bandwidths for small businesses are substantial. How can your business benefit from one or more of our recommendations?

Internet Image via Shutterstock

This article, “How Investing in Broadband Can Improve Your Business’s Bottom Line” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Blogger

Concatenate: The Ultimate Excel Function for Managing PPC Campaigns

One particular feature on Microsoft Excel can make PPC campaigns more manageable by allowing users to create structured group names, change ad copy in bulk, and build URL tags.

from Blogger

Millennial Home Buyers to Spur Retail Growth

Millennial Home Buyers

If you’re a retailer looking for this year’s hot market, look no further than Millennial home buyers.

Last year, nearly one-third of home buyers were Millennials, The National Association of Realtors reports. And this year, according to research from real estate website Zillow, Millennials are projected to surpass Generation X as the single largest group of home buyers.

Dr. Stan Humphries, Zillow chief economist, said when announcing the research:

“Younger Americans have been delaying getting married and having children, two key drivers in the decision to buy that first home. As this generation matures, they will become a home-buying force to be reckoned with.”

How do you know if your region is going to be a Millennial home-buying hotbed?

Zillow says markets with strong income growth among those age 23 to 34, significant growth in the number of entry-level homes on the market, and affordable home prices for first-time buyers will see the most growth. Based on those criteria, the company says the best housing markets for first-time buyers this year are Pittsburgh, Hartford, Connecticut, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Atlanta.

Of course, you don’t have to be in one of these cities to benefit from Millennial home buyers.

Any retailer who sells home furnishings, furniture, carpet, flooring, home décor, paint or wallpaper; kitchenware and appliances, or soft goods such as bedding can boost sales by targeting Millennials who are either moving into their first homes, moving up to new homes as they have children, or simply itching to redecorate their rental space as all their friends buy homes.

Furniture Today says, last year, 37 percent of households buying furniture and bedding were Millennials. That makes them the largest generation purchasing these products. How can you successfully market to all these Millennial homebuyers?

Here are some strategies to consider.

Millennials Love to DIY

Doing it themselves is a way to save money and express their personalities for Millennials, who are often dealing with hand-me-down furnishings.

Offering hands-on workshops to show these novice homeowners how to make or modify their home décor, update their homes or maintain their investment is a sure-fire way to appeal to this age group. A tile store could host workshops on how to install a kitchen backsplash or tile a floor. A furniture store could show customers how to paint and distress unfinished furniture.

Don’t forget the power of online video when it comes to DIY, either. How-to videos that show customers how to do something are a great tool to grab Millennials’ attention.

Create your own YouTube channel and host the videos on your website, too. Be sure to mention the products you’re using and how to buy them in your store.

Millennials are Visual

Pinterest and Instagram are hot social media channels for Millennials looking for ideas and inspiration for decorating their new spaces.

Take advantage of marketing and advertising options on both social sites. Don’t just promote your own products, but also share cool decorating and design ideas from around the Internet. These are more likely to get shared and repinned.

Millennials are Social

And that’s not just on social media, but also in real life.

Host social events like special invitation-only sales, live music, product auctions or art shows to draw them into your store. Of course, social media matters too!

Encourage DIY-ers to share their projects on social media using hashtags for your store and on your store’s social media accounts.

Millennials Care About Giving Back

Social responsibility is important to Millennials, so show how your store is committed to giving back.

A furniture store could donate unsold season-end or floor merchandise to Habitat for Humanity, or give customers a small discount if they donate their used furniture to a local homeless shelter when they buy new items.

By trying these tips, you’ll be able to tap into the enormous purchasing power of this new generation of homeowners.

New House Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Millennial Home Buyers to Spur Retail Growth” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Blogger

How to Get People to Remember Your Name

get people to remember your name

Everyone wants to be remembered. When someone says your name, it’s a magic that can solidify any business relationship. Here’s how to get people to remember your name successfully.

1. Repeat Their Name

When you are introduced to someone, repeat their name back to them. This will prevent you from forgetting their name as soon as they say it. For example, when the other person says “Hi, I’m Mary”, repeat “It’s nice to meet you, Mary”. Follow this up by using their name again in the first 30 seconds of the conversation.

This not only helps you remember their name, but it also makes a favorable impression. In general, people love the sound of their name and in the case of an initial meeting, using it shows that you are intentional about learning about them.

2. Tell a Story About Your Name

Stories stick with people more than facts, so instead of simply stating your name, give them a little background on it to make it more interesting, and therefore more memorable.

For example, explain the origin of your name. This is especially effective if it is unusual and people have a hard time pronouncing or spelling it. Another option is to explain how you got your name. The name John isn’t very memorable, but telling a story about your grandfather who was a pilot in WWII makes it a lot more interesting.

3. Use Your Name in Conversation

If you don’t have any good stories to tell, try fitting your name into conversation as much as possible.

You can do this by addressing yourself by name (“so I said to myself, Barry, if you…”) or using your name in dialogue (“so my friend says to me, ‘Barry…’”). With this, the person will benefit from hearing your name multiple times throughout the conversation instead of just once at the beginning. It takes practice to avoid sounding awkward or conceited, but it can be mastered.

4. Use the Right Body Language

Memorable people are fully engaged in conversations, both verbally and non-verbally. To be engaged non-verbally, make sure you have positive body language. This consists of an open torso with uncrossed arms, feet facing forward, head and chest up, and shoulders pulled back.

At the beginning and end of the conversation, offer to shake hands (in the U.S.) During the conversation, keep an eye on the other person’s body language to mirror it. If they are animated and using their hands while they speak, don’t stand there like a statue. Make eye contact and smile frequently.

5. Answer Common Questions Uncommonly

When first meeting someone, you will inevitably be asked: “How are you?” and “What do you do?”

Instead of responding to these questions in a typical fashion, come up with answers that will make you memorable. For example, instead of responding to “how are you?” with a short and vague “I’m doing well, how are you?”, use it as an opportunity to tell a story about your day, week, or life in general. Use stories with self-deprecating humor instead of bragging.

6. Ask Better Questions

You will most likely be asked the same “how are you?” and “what do you do?” questions, but that doesn’t mean you should ask them. Assuming the person isn’t making an effort to answer these questions uncommonly as suggested, they will go on autopilot and answer them in very traditional ways.

Spark brain activity by engaging the person with interesting questions. Ask “what has been the highlight of your day today?”, and “What’s your story?” It will force them to think and make you stand out from the rest.

7. Follow Up

Don’t just collect business cards, put them to use! Send an email recapping your conversation. Your email address should feature a picture of you, so they will easily be able to connect a name to a face. The photo should be your profile picture on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

What are you going to do to be more memorable?

Introductions Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “How to Get People to Remember Your Name” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Blogger

Sharing is Caring — Don’t Steal Content From Others

steal content

Today the right video can make your brand famous and you rich thanks to social media. Of course, that video doesn’t have to be yours, and if you don’t let anyone know, that can be a problem.

Take the case of singer and actor Tyrese Gibson, who’s also become a Facebook celebrity with more than 22.7 million subscribers to his page.

Gibson has come under fire recently for using other people’s videos to obtain his incredible Facebook following — and redirecting traffic to other merchandise he has for sale online.

Of course Gibson’s sharing of other people’s content is cool. After all, that’s what social media is supposed to be all about. You build community and gain a following by sharing other people’s content while hopefully adding to the conversation by making comments of your own.

But what’s not cool, and getting some hot under the collar, is that, rather than just sharing others’ content, Gibson uploads the videos he finds. He hosts them on his own page without linking to the source — or even mentioning it.

In fairness, the current Facebook design seems to inadvertently reward, if not overtly encourage this kind of behavior.

Videos uploaded and hosted directly on Facebook play automatically in your newsfeed. However, shared video has to be clicked on. Three guesses which kind of content results in the bigger engagement and thus ends up being shared with the widest audience.

As Chris Plante, senior editor at The Verge and a vocal critic of Gibson’s tactics, explains

“This is how Facebook’s designers would prefer it: keep users on Facebook, rather than send them to external sites. Their choices are subtle, but effective.”

But again, sharing others’ content  isn’t the problem here. It’s when proper attribution isn’t given. And the content is clearly being used for one’s own gain with no thought to who created it.

For example, one of Gibson’s most popular posts (and the seventh most shared video of 2014) features an unnamed man cutting three live shark pups from their dead mother. With no credit given anywhere to the creator of the original video, the text shared by Gibson simply says:

“This is crazy!! Man Helps Dead Shark Give Birth To 3 Babies … Tyrese’s last solo album #BlackRose’ is coming! Like my page -> Tyrese Gibson”

Plante tells his readers:

“Celebrities like Gibson (and presumably their social media teams) that steal content aren’t just exploiting Facebook’s algorithm; they’re exploiting you.”

And presumably they’re also exploiting other content creators who did much of the heavy lifting in making the videos in the first place.

Certainly, other Facebook users who link outward to the sources of the content they share may have fewer followers in some instances. (Plante gives the example of George Takei of the classic 60s TV series Star Trek, also a big social media user but with only 8 million followers.)

But high numbers in the short run may not be worth the bad reputation you and your brand may suffer for stealing the content of others without giving credit.

Copying Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Sharing is Caring — Don’t Steal Content From Others” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Blogger