For the past semester, I have been taking a digital marketing class. Hence, the majority of these posts being about digital marketing. It’s been a semester of learning new things and reminders of older things that I learned from a basic marketing class I took last year. Marketing itself isn’t super easy, and adding the extra dimension of digital can mess with people’s understanding of marketing.
Traditional marketing focused just getting your name out there and was a one-way trip: company to customer through advertising. Usually, marketing was supposedly sell you something. A product, a service, something you could buy and use. Word-of-mouth was also helpful in getting more customers in. But marketing’s specifics have changed recently. Now that marketing has moved online, a new dimension appeared: customer to company.
With the new addition of customer to company, companies now had to be aware customer response to them. Social media especially forced the change, since the point of social media is to connect with others. So now companies not only had to be aware of what they were saying, but how customers were responding.
For people like myself, who’ve grown up in the digital era, this isn’t nearly as tough as for those who grew up with the traditional advertising practices. But that doesn’t guarantee that millennials are fantastic at digital marketing. It just means we’re familiar with the social media side of the Internet. That doesn’t mean we’d know exactly the way to reach customers for an industrial company or a hardware store though.
But the biggest thing I learned from this class isn’t that digital marketing is the next step in marketing. It isn’t that we as millennials are best equipped to become marketers in today’s digital world. It isn’t even that mobile is the newest platform everyone should be focused on. It’s that marketing is constantly evolving. New stuff appears every day and then falls away the next year. It’s hard for even millennials to keep up with the changes. And as these changes keep coming, every marketer needs to be alert.
Tomorrow, there might be a whole new social media platform. In the next decade, the Internet might not exist in the same way or at all. Mobile might disappear. The future of digital marketing isn’t set in stone, so we have to stay alert to the changes in the digital world as time goes on. In the end, it’s up to not just marketers, but other company employees and even customers, to keep an eye on the changing digital world. After all, who knows where the next change will take us?
(Well, that ends a semester of digital marketing posts. It’s been a good past few months, and while I’ll be focusing on non-marketing related content from here on, I’m hoping to make a few posts on social media as time goes on. For now though, it’s onto the next adventure! Until next time, readers!)
In this series, I’ve covered the initial terms of website builders, the features every website needs, and the overall design of a website. Obviously, there were some gaps in the information since it’s hard to cover everything in just four posts. This is why I spoke a lot about doing research on your own when you’re building your website. But there’s one more category to go over: Marketing.
Marketing allows you to make sure your website is seen by others, whether they’re customers, readers, or followers. Even the perfect website isn’t much without visitors. Social media is the best way to market a new website, so that’s what I’ll be focusing on. Some other methods exist, but most of them use social media in some manner. Since it’s different depending on whether you’re creating a personal/individual website or a company website, I’ll be splitting this up into those two sections, though there is some overlap between the two.
Marketing Company Websites on Social Media
For marketing company websites, you need to focus on where your audience is and what they’re expecting. The first thing you can do is include your website URL in your social media profiles, especially LinkedIn. If you haven’t yet, you need to create social media profiles to reach your online customers. LinkedIn is one of the most popular social media platforms for businesses. Creating a LinkedIn, a Facebook page, and a Twitter can greatly increase customer interaction on top of putting a place to market your products, services, and website. These are the main social media platforms, where are large chunk of people are. YouTube is another important main platform, but it’s best to use if you know for sure you’ll be making company videos. You can share the videos you make on the platform to Facebook or Twitter to increase your company’s reach online as well.
If you run a fashion, travel, or crafting company, Pinterest is an excellent platform to post products, blog posts, and photos from your site. Pinterest caters to a specific group of women who enjoy or want to learn about cooking, sewing, crafts, and makeup. Users also pin clothing items and accessories that they want or pictures from places they want to visit. Instagram is another good platform to use if you’re in any of these businesses as well. You can link your website in both social media platforms and post/pin pictures from your site.
Tumblr is an option if you can angle your content for a younger audience. Tumblr is a micro-blogging site where many folks from age 13 to late 20s and older post about what they enjoy and respond to posts by others. Denny’s is one of the few companies to efficiently use the platform. You can share posts and photos from your website and link to it on your profile as well. If you have a younger staff member familiar with tumblr, it’s worth trying to start a tumblr blog. Just know it’s not for everyone.
Marketing Personal/Individual Websites on Social Media
For personal websites, especially blogs, marketing on social media is a little easier. Obviously using a Twitter and Facebook help the most, considering the large number of people on those sites. Once again, if you focus a lot on images, food, fashion, DIY projects, or travel, Pinterest and Instagram are two excellent platforms for sharing your website content. Tumblr also works a lot better for bloggers and individual websites than business, so getting a tumblr can help market your website. If you’re into vlogging, YouTube is another good platform to try. Sharing videos from YouTube to your other social media can boost your online presence as well.
Another thing to do with social media is find groups and communities to connect with other bloggers or individuals in your industry. This can help you gain followers and credibility as an individual online. Many groups exist on Facebook for this exact purpose, and following those people on other social media like Twitter and Instagram can help you build connections in your industry.
Social Media Tips for Both Website Types
No matter what type of website you’ve created, you need to remember to share/pin/post product images, blog posts, photos, and other text from your website. Posts linking back to your website will help get your website name out there on top of your content. Plus, it’s an added bit of free advertising when others share your content as well.
Another tip is, after setting up your social media, to get the business versions. I did this with my Twitter and Pinterest, and it’s been very insightful to what performs well on my profiles. I’m looking into changing my Instagram into a business account as well, and Facebook pages are made for business interactions and data. Facebook pages can be used by either companies or individuals looking to promote themselves without cutting into their personal profile. That way it doesn’t look preachy to post a bunch blog posts, especially if you don’t use your personal profile often.
And thus ends the last part of me “How to Build a Website for Beginners” blog series. I know I haven’t been very specific in most of what I’ve written, but that’s because there’s far too much information to include in just four posts, even ten posts. This is why I constantly stressed doing outside research on the type of website you’re building. Look up websites within your industry of choice. What are they doing with their website design? How are they marketing their page? Is there something they’ve done successfully that you can try?
In the end, there are many subjective or complicated answers to these and other questions. While I can’t definitely answer them for you, I can at least try to point you in the right direction. And that’s what the purpose of this series is. To point you, the website owner, to where you need to look next. Wherever that next step is, I wish you luck. And remember to keep trying no matter the struggle. Thank you, readers. Until next time!
Social media is the backbone of digital marketing. It has become the most integral part of marketing companies, products, even people groups. With many different social media platforms to chose from, companies have a wide range of content they can produce to reach a wide range of people. Of these platforms however, there is none more brutal and more honest than Twitter.
Twitter is a micro-blogging platform that allows users to post 140 character tweets. The content is up to the user, as long as it’s under or exactly 140 characters. The restriction creates some very interesting results, forcing users to be quite witty with their words. Memes especially start on Twitter, with users photoshopping photos with funny text and posting them with a short, extra caption. With a wide variety of users, there’s many chances to meet new customers. At the same time, companies have to be careful of how they interact with Twitter users and how they handle press, especially after creating a Twitter account.
Twitter is easy to market on if you can be witty and smart about what to post. But it can also provide very humbling experiences. Twitter’s community is notorious for mocking and destroying companies who make bad PR and marketing moves, particularly on Twitter. Because the site focuses on in the moment news, and things become viral very quickly, a bad marketing decision can make the news fast. If your company makes a bad move, by either newsjacking inappropriately, making a bad joke, using a hashtag incorrectly on Twitter, Twitter can quickly use the opportunity to bash and make fun of your company.
While most companies try to avoid these circumstances because of the bad rep they get, these can also be good marketing experiences. Yes, your company will be portrayed negatively, but within this is a second chance. A chance to show that you can own up to the mistake and come back from it. If you look at most of the companies that have made gaffs on Twitter, they’re still alive and kicking.
Even if you make a mistake on Twitter, it doesn’t mean the end of your company on social media. Again, most companies who end up making small mistakes on Twitter continue to exist on the platform. Mistakes are only detrimental if you respond badly to being called out. There’s many ways to come away from a social media mess up and remain okay. Get back up, laugh with everyone, admit the mistake, apologize when necessary, or (if it’s small enough) ignore it and move on. If you’re worried about the mark on your reputation, think about it from the customer’s viewpoint. They see it as you messing up and losing their trust. Admitting there was a mistake lets the customer know you as a company want to improve. You can ignore the mistake if it’s small, though. If it’s extremely inappropriate, then it should be addressed and apologized for.
While there are many ways companies can make right what they’ve done wrong, there are many more ways companies can further mess it up. Namely, refusing to admit a mistake was made or making a similar mistake later on. These can really make a company look bad because it looks like they don’t care. The customers see a company that messed up and lost their trust. And then flat out said nothing was wrong and perhaps made the same mistake later on that year. This brings down reputation far more than admitting the mistake and learning from it.
In the end, you have to be careful of how you handle marketing gaffs on Twitter. Mistakes aren’t super common on Twitter, but they can still happen. When they do, you have to weigh out how you’ll react. Will you decide to admit the mistake and apologize or laugh it off with the others? Or will you refuse to admit the mistake and risk making it again? The choice can decide your company’s reputation on Twitter. Choose wisely.
The last two parts have covered the basic lingo of website building and the basic features every website needs and some that might be wanted. While these two topics contain elements of subjectivity, depending upon what site you’re creating, this post covers a more objective topic: Design. Design is crucial for making your site look legitimate. Now if you’re basing your website off of another site that is well-designed, chances are your site will also be well-designed. But what makes a well-designed site?
Design can be tricky to maneuver for someone unfamiliar with the terms and function of details. Some important terms to keep in mind are fonts, headings, ad placement, and sidebars. These terms refer to specific details tied to your website and how it looks. These are necessary parts of a website, and if they aren’t used correctly, can make a website look unappealing. Each element impacts a website differently but still holds the same weight. There’s a lot to cover, so bear with me.
Fonts are the backbone of the site’s content. Fonts refer to the style the text is written in on the site. There are many different types you can use, but they generally fall into two categories: Serif and Sans Serif. Serif fonts are often used in books and as titles, and are characterized by extra details in the letters. Times New Roman, Georgia, and Garamond fall under this category. Sans Serif fonts are popular online fonts that are characterized by minimal and simple details. Arial, Helvetica, and Calibri belong to this category.
Of these, it’s generally best to use Sans Serif fonts, especially Helvetica if you can get access to it. Serif fonts are best for headers and heading text, though it can be used for blogs depending on its style. Using extremely fancy script fonts should be kept to a minimum unless it serves the purpose of a super header, like the title on my website. Even then, script fonts don’t belong on every site, especially if you’re making a site for an industrial company.
One rule stands for sure: Never. Use. Comic Sans. That font had it’s time, and that time has long past. The font is universally seen as unprofessional and childish and has no place on a website.
Headings as a feature is a little more forgiving. You can use more elaborate fonts for them, especially as titles for pages or the homepage. For post headings, you want something in a similar font to the main body text that is larger and slightly flourished. Title headings can be a little more elaborate, sometimes in script depending on the website. Normally, an elaborate or strong serif font works best, like Times New Roman or Perpetua or Garamond. For more industrial-type websites, a Sans Serif font like Helvetica or Arial works for headers.
In terms of content, headings should short and sweet. Using long and drawn out headers can bore readers and and contributes to poor performance on the website. Instead, use short and straight-to-the-point phrases, but don’t be deceptive. If a heading needs to be a little long, than that’s okay. Just don’t make a habit of it. Headings are sign posts after all. No one wants to read sign posts as long as a dictionary entry.
Sidebars are the parts of a web page on either both or one side of the page. Usually these contain ads, recent blog posts, blog categories, blog tags, page links, short bits of information about the website or website author, or links to specific pages. The exact content depends on the type of website you’re creating, blog or business or informational. However, there are a few things necessary for sidebars.
While most website themes and builders, especially if you use WordPress, will allow you to choose which side the sidebar is on, many website creators choose to have the sidebar on the right side of the page. I have it like that, and most of the websites I’ve visited (besides maybe some academic websites) have sidebars only on the right side. Some academic and business sites will have sidebars on both sides, but the typical choice is the right side.
Another thing to realize is that if you don’t include a sidebar on a page, you’ll need to find a way to turn sidebars off for that page. Most WordPress themes have an option to switch sidebars on and off. For Wix and Weebly, you can simply opt out of adding sidebars. If you’re using WordPress, and leave the sidebars empty, the website will have empty space where the sidebar is supposed to be. This can look unappealing to visitors, so you need to either use the sidebar or turn if off/don’t add it where it’s not needed.
Color is usually dependent on the color scheme of the company you’re working for, but in general there are several colors you want to avoid. Neon and bright colors especially don’t show up well on computer screens, unless they’re either part of a gradient color or placed against a black background. Also, colors of similar hues can be used, but not side-side-by-side. If one color is placed against another that looks very similar, it’s hard to distinguish between them, especially is one is text and one is background.
It’s preferable to use either a light background and dark text or a dark background and light text for websites. Adding gray tones to colors can also make them easy on visitors’ eyes and looks better in general. It’s also preferable to only have two or three, maybe four, main colors for the website. Having more than four can clutter a website’s screen, and the colors will often clash with one another. The extra colors will also take people’s attention away from where it should be on the page.
The last one might be one of the most important parts of website design. If you’ve created a website as a means of revenue, then you’d most likely use ads as one way to earn money. This an incredibly popular way of earning money online, usually on blogs, news sites, and pretty much any type of website made to earn money. There are two things to note with this section: ad types and ad placement.
Ads can be created for all sorts of organizations and businesses from banks to groceries to video games to technology to appliances to hardware stores. You name it, there’s most likely an ad out there for it. When choosing ads, you want to make sure they match the audience your blog attracts. So if your website is for an industrial company or a blog on food and recipes, video game and technology ads might not be the best choice. You also want to make sure the advertisements are coming from legitimate sources. Many fraudulent people will create fake ads to scam people or download viruses.
Ad placement is also crucial, especially if a fake ad makes it onto your site through the ad source. Poor ad placement is detrimental to a website’s design. Poor ad placement intrudes on in-page content and makes ads huge. This makes it hard for visitors to read content and makes it easy to click on ads with a finger slip on mouse or touchscreen. Instead, put ads on the sidebars, where they don’t disrupt visitors’ view of the page, and don’t make them pop-ups. For mobile, you can place small ones at the top and bottom of the page content. Above all, make sure ads take up no more than about a sixth of the width of the page.
Website performance depends a lot on the design and presentation of the front page. Many visitors come through the shiny gates of the front page, so making sure it’s presentable a good way to make sure they stay to visit for a while. That doesn’t mean the rest of the website can be left in disrepair. Make sure colors and fonts are consistent through out the entire site. Make sure sidebars perform properly or don’t existent. Make sure headings don’t take up too much of the page and are clear so readers know where they are. And make sure ads won’t sneak up on anyone through pop-ups or from within the page content.
Design is incredibly important for a website’s performance. Without it, a website can be brushed off as cheap and behind the times or simply ugly. Keeping an eye on the above sections and following the above guidelines can help your website look appealing and well-designed. And that’s it for Part 3 of “How to Build a Website for Beginners”. Next post in this series will cover the final step: marketing your website. Until next time, readers!
When it comes to marketing, there are many social media platforms to use. Twitter offers a place for quick, in the moment, posts. LinkedIn offers a place for professional or industry specific posts. Instagram offers a place for visual posts. YouTube offers a place for video posts or vlogs. Snapchat is a more private instant photo and video-sharing platform. And Facebook offers a place for… all of the above? Most social media platforms have a niche type of posts, but Facebook is different. There is no particular niche. Just whatever the user decides to post.
Facebook is one of the older social media platforms, with YouTube being the oldest of the ones mentioned. Originally, it had been created specifically for text posts. Pictures and videos could be added, but that wasn’t the sole point. Eventually, photos became more prominent on the site, since it was an easy way for users to show what they were up to with friends and family. More recently, Facebook added live video-streaming to their features, as well as making it easier for users to upload videos.
For the average user, these features are fun and can be used interchangeably for an all-around experience. But what about for marketers managing Facebook pages? There is no set function for Facebook pages besides to keep customers up-to-date on the company. Which is the primary function of all businesses accounts across social media For the larger companies who have marketing teams geared towards social media, this isn’t as big an issue. But for smaller companies who have a few individuals or perhaps only one person dedicated to doing all the marketing or social media, it can be a lot harder.
I fall into this second category. For the past year or so, I’d been using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to promote myself as a writer and personality. Well, I’ve been trying to anyways. Twitter, I’ve found to be the easiest. You write a quick blurb about the day or a random thought and send it out. Easy-peasy. Instagram, you take a picture of what you’re doing, caption it with something insightful or funny, and send it out. Simple and straightforward. But that’s not the case for Facebook. Sure, you can share all your posts from other social media to Facebook, but you can do the same with Twitter, too. So what’s Facebook’s catch? How do you effectively use a social media platform where you can post whatever you want?
One way you could approach it is focusing on text posts like articles and blurbs. Another approach is focusing on photos and videos, especially live videos. The best approach does seem to be mixing text and photos, and maybe a few videos. For companies, this is pretty straightforward. You share posts from your website, new products, and press releases while posting pictures and videos or new products and things that happen within the company.
For personalities though, it isn’t as intuitive, especially when my current audience was only family members and a few sparse friends. Was I supposed to share blog posts on my website? Was I supposed to post pictures of my everyday life? But that’s what I had used my personal account for. Videos maybe? But that’s what I was using YouTube for. So what was my Facebook page for besides sharing blog posts? There was some type of barrier between Facebook pages and my own posting style. And this barrier was, and still is, having a large impact on how I was using Facebook pages. Or not using it.
In the end, I have decided that since I knew I hadn’t been using Facebook pages to the best I could, I would keep with it. Facebook isn’t the most intuitive platform, but that doesn’t mean I should give up on it. Marketing is about taking risks and figuring out what works. I still haven’t figured out how my Facebook page will work, what types of posts to, well, post, or how to attract other friends to visit and like my page. But I’m willing to stick with it until I’m able to discover my niche on Facebook and how to market on it properly. And at the end of the day, that’s what matters.
With the holiday season upon us, the need to promote one’s business or product is important. Among all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, companies need to be aware of where their customers are shopping. So how does a company do this in the digital realm?
There are a variety of techniques marketers can use to promote their companies. There are some obvious techniques, but they are still effective and worth using. Just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s unusable. At the same time, some techniques might need to be tweaked to fit the new marketing tools and strategies. So what still works? Obviously, there’s the advertisements on TV and plastered throughout the Internet. But what are ways companies can really use digital marketing during the holiday season? Turns out, there are quite a few.
1: The Giveaway
One of the most well known marketing techniques, for holidays and the rest of the year, is giveaways. Many companies will provide a contest or sweepstakes to win a gift set of products, particularly jewelry, clothes, or makeup. Others who sell entertainment or services might create a giveaway for a discounted or free account/service/package deal from themselves or a different company they’ve partnered with.
2: Video Series
Another way to market during the holidays is doing a video series. This particularly applies to digital service companies providing lectures, books, or other ways of learning to customers. The video series can be used to highlight the holiday season or announce free or discounted lectures or books. Sometimes companies selling products will create a video series specifically for marketing their products during the holidays.
3: Online Discounts
This one is pretty obvious. Many times, companies will offer holiday sales on products or services. This is the most common practice, which isn’t surprising. One of the most persuasive things for customers is getting what they want for cheaper than the original price. Sales are the most popular form of marketing during the holiday. But adding the incentive of online purchases can also boost prices, considering many people now shop online rather than in stores. So online sales often boost the overall sales for a company.
Some companies market by asking followers to share a post or encouraging new fans to follow their page to get a discount or enter into a giveaway. Some companies simply promote following their pages to continue getting discount codes and notifications when sales occur. It’s an easy way for current customers to keep up with the company, and combined with holiday sales and discounts, can provide an extra marketing boost.
Stepping up marketing strategy during the holidays can really give companies a boost in sales, followers, and performance later in the year. The digital marketing realm offers a lot of other opportunities beyond the traditional means. While not all company can use every the strategies above, just using one can still give companies a boost, especially around the holidays. The holidays are among of the busiest shopping times of the year. With so many current and potential customers shopping and looking at stores in the digital, marketing to these customers is especially important.
Just like Google, YouTube is constantly updating their algorithms to get their customers the best experience. Or what they think is the best experience. Most YouTube viewers are there for a specific set of videos or YouTubers, occasionally changing their viewing habits. In the past, this wasn’t a big deal, as most viewers continued to be subscribed to and watch the older channels they had previously liked. However, YouTube’s new algorithm is changing that.
I became aware of the new change thanks to jacksepticeye who posted a vlog on the changes. He specifically talks about the changes from the perspective of a content creator, but what he says holds true for both creator and consumer. From the consumers side, the new algorithms have changed the recommended videos and channels based on the most recent user activity and trending videos. Best case scenario is a few recommended videos and channels that the consumer actually likes. Worst case scenario is users being unsubscribed from channels they hadn’t watched in several weeks.
But while these changes are important for consumers to know, what about content creators? How have the algorithm changes from even earlier this year impacted YouTubers? It turns out not in a good way.
Content Creators versus the YouTube Algorithm
Jack has posted numerous videos over the past months on the algorithm changes. These videos cover everything from comment changes to changes in views and subscribers. He has expressed his disappointment at the changes to the comment section from when he first began back in 2012. The comment section had gone from all comments he replied to on top to most popular, which made it difficult for him to connect with his audience. A very recent algorithm change caused his views to drop by 30-40% and caused a drop in subscribers as well. And it’s not just him; many users in his industry experienced the exact same drop in views and subscribers. YouTube even unsubscribed him from several of his friends because he didn’t always watch their videos, and the same thing occurred to his friends.
This isn’t the first time the YouTube community has criticized the YouTube algorithm. Searching the term “youtube algorithm” on YouTube brings up many videos bashing or giving tips on how to beat the YouTube algorithms. Many find the algorithm updates choke content creators YouTube was built upon. One blog states that YouTube’s algorithm hurts animators because their algorithm certain elements of animation videos. These are “high dollar content,” meaning they have high production costs, and videos without personalities. The last one makes some sense, given the number of personalities on YouTube. But there are more than just personality users. Businesses and animators are a large chunk of the non-personality driven videos.
What’s Wrong with the Recent Update
Unfortunately, it seems the newest algorithm update is screwing with more people than usual. Many users, watchers and content creators alike, have complained about seeing video suggestions for The Bee movie memes and even porn, when they have never shown interest in such videos. Most likely, this is an accidental consequence of the update, but it’s still important to note.
Other consequences of the update include some YouTubers losing subscribers for posting videos while keeping them for not. This is extremely problematic for smaller and lesser-known channels, and the YouTube community is not happy with this. Even more problematic is the apparent trend to promote virality over originality, which encourages clickbait titles and shady tactics to bring in views and subscribers that won’t stick.
The worst part? YouTube’s algorithm is not public. Changes aren’t often announced to users, making changes only apparent after they’ve been put into place. This can catch many YouTubers off guard when they begin suffering from the changes. And, as said above, it’s already happening. One YouTuber, H3H3 Productions, gave examples of the viral videos YouTube promotes, and another famous YouTuber, PewDiePie, gave examples of the view drops.
What’s a YouTuber to do?
So what can content creators do? The best thing is to stay true to your current model. Continue to create and upload at the same rate, providing the same or better quality content so your subscribers don’t look elsewhere. Being aware of your audience also helps focus where your channel should go and provide the content your subscribers want. Engaging with them also helps build the sense of community YouTube has become know for. But also let your audience be aware of the changes so that they know for themselves to by wary of what’s happening to their subscriptions.
Businesses on YouTube can do the same thing. Stick with what your audience wants from your company but don’t resort to clickbait and shady tactics like faking news and virality. The thing about being truly viral is that it needs to be spontaneous. Asking to go viral or promoting something in order to go viral can be seen as deceptive, especially on YouTube. Instead, focus on engaging your audience meaningfully through responding to comments and having discussions about things pertaining to your business.
Sadly, there isn’t much any one content creator on YouTube can do about the algorithm changes. There’s a chance with all the negative feedback YouTube has received that they may think users are crying wolf. However, this should not deter any YouTubers from defaulting to the new viral videos and clickbait-style titles that are so rampant across the site. YouTube has always thrived off of original content creators. Doing a random viral challenge is still fun and promoting originality if the user puts their spin on it and doesn’t let those types of videos clog their usual content.
Remember, YouTube is a community. And to be a community, content creators must engage meaningfully, not for the likes or views, with their audience. Viral videos aren’t going to build that community for you or anyone. You need to help build it yourself. Let’s just hope YouTube’s executives can see that as well.