MILO and Me (2)

Welcome back! I’m glad you want to hear more about these “nutty” people at MILO Digital. Although, if I’m going to talk about them, I have to explain how they all operate. MILO Digital is a team composed of very hardworking individuals. We work together in order to function as a well-oiled machine. Although, I’d rather use the metaphor of a family. We bicker about day to day problems, but we also support one another. This work dynamic here is what every company should strive towards. I know this probably sounds like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, so I’ll explain exactly what puts MILO ahead of the curve.

The communication within our organization is very open and honest. My very first day at MILO, I experienced this through our standing meeting. Our team stood around in a circle for 10 minutes taking turns talking, informing everyone of what was on our plates and how we were struggling. This is done every day here. Never have I worked at a company that has taken the time to do this. The benefits of a standing meeting are immeasurable. When “they” say communication is key, they weren’t wrong. The meetings are also a way to ask for help. One important thing I’ve learned here is that it’s okay to ask for help. It’s encouraged. You need to work hard, but you also need to be able to rely on your team.

What I found so refreshing at MILO is the honesty. Our boss Billy treats us as equals. Instead of running the company from behind closed doors, he is very open about what is going on in the business. He feels that we have the right to know about any changes or issues that arise because we are a team. Instead of just managing us, his leadership style allows us to grow within the company. My first week at MILO I talked with Billy multiple times about how my experience was thus far and what I hoped to get out of my internship. He wants me to learn as much as I possibly can. Before I started here, I assumed I would be doing simple intern tasks. However, after less than a month of working at MILO, I was already responsible for social media posting on two accounts. This brings me to my next topic: trial by fire.

Since my start at MILO, there have been several instances where I have learned by experience. Trial by fire (aka, the MILO way) has been a recurring instance with my experience here. One example of this is when I was asked by Billy if I wanted to run a new client meeting. I obviously assumed he was joking and so I said, “Ummmmm no,” to which Billy replied, “Okay you can run it.” Being that the meeting was the next day, I had a mini freak out. My co-workers helped me prepare as much as they could to lead me on the road to success. Finally when the day came, I found out that the potential new client was Billy. So it was just his way of giving me a taste of what running a meeting would be like with the buffer of it being my boss I was pitching to. He gave my team and me feedback as we ran the meeting, which was a very useful learning tool.

Another great piece of advice I received from my coworker Dmitri the other day is that “it’s okay to make mistakes, as long as you’re trying your best.” This came from me voicing my concern about a post I was writing copy for. I was asking him his opinion and I told him that I just didn’t want to mess anything up. This advice really hit home for me because I’ve been very cautious with the things I do in my life. Living with this fear of making a mistake has prevented me from taking risks that could have ultimately paid off. However, all that matters, in the end, is that you gave a hundred percent in everything that you’ve done. That is something you can be proud of when all else fails.

-Ashley

MILO and Me

Welcome to the very first installment of MILO and Me! My name is Ashley. Here you can follow me on my journey as I step into the digital marketing world for the very first time as a Social Media Manager. This is what I have experienced and learned at MILO Digital.

It all started in May of 2017. Being a poor, recently unemployed college student, I set out to find a job. My previous employers included retail chains and miscellaneous occupations here and there that I dragged my feet going to each day. I was done with investing my time into a path I no longer wanted to follow. I was ready to begin the road toward my future.

I am currently studying Media Arts at Wayne State University while minoring in Public Relations. I started off majoring in Journalism, but after I made the switch to Media Arts, I knew this is what I was meant to do with my life. The day that Billy Strawter, the founder of MILO Digital, walked into my Organizational Communications class speaking of an internship opportunity for the summer at his Digital Marketing company, I could not believe that this was the shot I had been waiting for.

After applying for the position and going through the interviewing process, I was brought on board at MILO Digital as a Social Media Intern for the summer. I was so nervous I wasn’t going to get the job because I had no previous experience in this field professionally, but the wonderful people at MILO saw potential in me that I could not see in myself. After meeting the MILO team for the first time, I could tell they were different. They were kind but tough. I needed that. Working for this company is so distinct from any other job I have had because these people are a little nutty, but that’s what makes them so fun to be around. The MILO dynamic has definitely seeped into my everyday life, and it’s taught me how to work hard, but not take myself so seriously.

The stipulations of this internship included a trial month period, after which the prospect of extending it to the rest of the summer would be discussed. My future, however, was decided by Billy after a week.

Now here I am, eight months later, and I have learned more than I thought I ever would about Media Arts, Social Media Management, Digital Marketing, and just being a part of a team oriented environment. The people here have no idea how much they’ve helped me grow into a professional, confident, and creative person. I will be forever indebted to them. Join me every other week to read what I have learned at MILO to receive some insight into our fun yet hard working dynamic. I will discuss the challenges I’ve faced, the lessons I’ve learned, and how I am growing in my career.

This is only the beginning. See you soon!

-Ashley

Pinterest Promoted Posts for Business

What comes to mind when you think about Pinterest?  Brides pinning wedding dresses.  Parents- to- be pinning organic baby food recipes. Moms pinning how to have the most organized dream home while maintaining a full-time job.  And then feeling like a failure because that is unattainable.

Pinterest has come a long way, baby.

Did you know that Pinterest for business is on the rise, and can bring more referral traffic than Twitter, and more leads than Google+ and LinkedIn combined?

Pinterest is a creative way to promote your business and reach a market that is already interested in what your business offers.

Pinterest Promoted Posts

Pinterest recently announced that they would be experimenting with “Pinterest promoted pins”.  These pins are tastefully placed in areas that users explore, and have special “promoted” labels that indicate which business is being spotlighted, and how the users can find out more.

Pinterest has committed to making these promoted pins transparent, relevant, and tasteful, with no flashy banners or pop-up ads.  Pinterest has always been open to feedback from its users, and these promoted pins are no exception;  they are constantly changing to meet the needs of their users.

So, now what?

  • Use the tools.  Pinterest’s analytics help you track what’s happening and who you are reaching.
  • Add the “Pin It” button to your products so people can share your stuff.
  • “Rich Pins” are ways to add extra information about your products to give consumers more information about what you have to offer.
  • Understand the brand guidelines of Pinterest, and use the logo and badges to let people know that you are active on Pinterest.
  • Research what your clients are pinning, and be sure to follow other relevant businesses.  Be social!

See what Pinterest can do for your business, and as they say, things could get Pinteresting!

AWRF Social Media Presentation 2013

AWRF Social Media Presentation 2013

When social media first arrived on the scene companies were scrambling trying to figure out how to take advantage of this new medium. While others were asking the question, “why should I bother? Especially when all people do is share pictures of what they had for dinner or their kids back to school pictures.”

What we forget is that social media is really nothing new. It’s something we’ve done since the days of AOL, America Online. Don’t you remember the 500 hour free cds and usernames like Kitty 902010? It’s really just a fancy way of describing how we communicate on the internet.

We know that Social Media isn’t going away. It’s the #1 activity on the web and when we pull out our cell phones, 91% of us are using them for social media related activities.

Here is a great example of the larger role mobile plays in our day to day lives. This is a picture of St. Peters Square in 2005. Nothing really to write home about. Fast forward to 2013 and you’ll notice nearly every person has a mobile device to capture the moment. But they aren’t just capturing the moment for their personal collection. They are sharing the moment in real-time on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. It’s what we call the real-time web.

So as business owners how do we take advantage of social media? With all that we have going on where do we start?

It begins with your website. Think of your website as your hub. Everything that you do should revolve around getting traffic back to your website. Facebook is not your website. Your activities on social media are the spokes that drive traffic back to your site.

Now if it’s been a little while since you’ve updated your website it may be time for a makeover. Sure we get busy, but we need to think of our website as our business card on the web. It’s the first impression we give when someone is researching our company. And with keeping mobile in mind it’s even more important that we take a mobile first stance to our design. What we like to call responsive. Responsive design allows your website to resize to fit whatever device someone may be using whether it be an iPhone, tablet, or desktop computer.

An example of recent redesign is the AWRF.org website. We wanted to put the social icons at the top for a couple of reasons. Number one was to share with people where they can find and two to let the search engines know what social media sites are connected to us. This way when someone searches out your company Google can return the social media sites as relevant results.

We also added an image that would quickly give a visitor an idea of what the website was about. You have roughly five seconds when someone visits your website to before they give up and leave.

Finally we made sure to have a clear call to action telling the visitor what we wanted them to do. All of these items were above the fold. Meaning when you visit from a desktop you can see all three items.

Now that we have our website in order we need a way to measure our efforts. It doesn’t make sense to put in all the work without understanding the return. One of my favorite tools is Google Analytics. Mostly because it’s free but also because it gives you great insights to how people are visiting your website and if the content you are sharing is working.

You can see how many people have visited your website. What country, state or city they came from. The amount of time they’ve spent on your site. All of this data will help you to understand how people are using your website. Don’t trust my word on going mobile, let the data guide you.

So we have our website in order and a way to measure our efforts. How do we choose a social network? It starts with connecting the dots with our traditional marketing goals. Who are the people we are trying to reach? Where do they spend their time? With over 200 social networks it can be overwhelming. Don’t forget forums they are great for niche communities and discovering conversations that can’t be found on more traditional networks.

Let’s talk a bit about blogging. Blogs are great way to easily update your static websites. For those who are a bit leary about the pressure to update often because of the name blog can name it something like news.

What are some of the things you can talk about? Stories of employees volunteering or doing good in the community. An employee spotlight. Share your company milestones. Customer stories and testimonials are great options. What about your frequently asked questions. Certainly you have customers that reach out with same questions over and over. Make them short blog posts. Blogs are a gift that keep on giving. Long after you’ve written a post you’ll reap the rewards of that content.

I’ve listed a few blogging platforms although my favorite is WordPress. It’s simple to update. If you can use Microsoft Word, you can use WordPress. Talk with the guys in your IT department about implementation.

As business owners you certainly wear lots of hats. Finding time to manage social media and digital marketing may be one hat too many. Where do you find the time? It’s a team effort. Look for subject matter experts within your organization that can contribute on a regular basis. Find employees that are active on social media. But make sure you put a social media policy in place to guide them on what is acceptable. What works for their personal Facebook account isn’t always what’s best for a corporate account. And be sure to make it a habit. Check your accounts first thing in the morning. Get in a routine.

Now that you have some pieces in place it is extremely important to listen. If you’re going to be involved you need to participate. This means knowing when a question has been posted about your company. Don’t let it sit for 2 or 3 days. Answer the question. You’ll know it’s out there if you take the time to listen and monitor your accounts.

I’ve listed a few tools to help manage your social media efforts. All of them are cloud based tools to allow you to manage from multiple devices from any location with internet access. Be sure to check out Bit.ly. It allows you to take a really long URL and make it tiny. You also have the ability to track where clicks are coming from and where your links are being shared.

Be sure to reach out if you have any questions. There are a couple more slides with additional tools and an example of how search engines return social media channels in search results.

Why Your Website Isn’t Getting Visitors (and what you can do about it)

You have a fabulous idea for an online business. You’ve done your due diligence by researching the need, target market, and even had the “talk”. You know, the “if only 10 people buy per day, that’s like and extra $2 grand a month” talk.

If only it were that easy.

Build It and They Will Come

Unless blessed already large, built in customer base, launching a website will generally get you crickets (nada). Simply putting up a website these days is not enough. If you want to increase your exposure, you’ve got some work to do.

Search Engine Marketing


Different than Search Engine Optimization (SEO), search engine marketing is the process of buying digital advertising for the sole purpose of driving traffic. Works wonders when you’re just starting out. You can serve relevant targeted ads based on location. For example I could target someone searching for “SEO Services” within 20 miles of Grand Rapids, Michigan. This would show my ad to anyone typing that search into Google, Yahoo, or Bing (if that’s where I advertise). Just be sure  to set a budget.  SEM can get extremely expensive if you dont’ watch it carefully.

 

 

Search Engine Optimization

If you’re going to do Search Engine Marketing, it’s important to know that SEO (search engine optimization) plays a role in the cost of advertising. The more optimized your landing page (the place people land when they click you ad) the lower your overall

cost per click will be. An example: A page on your site sells manly man soap. You decide to serve up ads for anyone searching your competitor. Nothing illegal about it, although this will cost your more on average than if you targeted individuals searching “manly man soap”.

Also make sure that the pages of your website are optimized. Does every page have a title? Keywords? Description? You can check by right clicking the mouse and selecting “view source”  (See image below. It’s missing keywords and description)

Social Media Marketing

Social media has come a long way since the early days. Companies now understand that less is more. You already know your target market, now figure out where they spend their time online. This could be forums, Twitter, Facebook, a blog, all of the above or or a combination of a few.

It’s really easy to get lazy here. Don’t just follow random people. Be intentional. Follow people in your area. In your target market. While it takes time in the beginning. You WILL reap the benefit in the long haul.

Did we miss anything?

 

 

 

 

 

Why Forums Aren’t Dead and How Your Business Can Make the Most of Them

I’m pretty sure the fact that I use forums may date me. But they are a useful tool when it comes to business.

I like to think as forums as on of the original social networks. You could come together with like-minded individuals for some pretty in-depth conversations.

forums plural of fo∙rum (none)  1. A meeting or medium where ideas and view on a particular issue can be exchanged.  2. An internet message board

 

1.  Forums are Niche

Sure there are forums that are wide reaching, but the majority of forums are specific to an industry, topic (photography, motherhood, business), group. Which leads us to:

2.  Get backlinks from relevant websites

Getting back links is good for Search Engine Optimization. One advantage to being a forum member is the ability to create a signature that links back to your website. There may also be a minimum requirement of posts before you can add a signature. Each forum is different. Some have a no-follow rule (tells Google not to follow the link), you’ll need to check the forums terms of service to see how they handle back-links.

 3.  Pick a Good Username

Try to avoid names like PinkyStar8047. Especially if it’s a business forum. Consider using your business or your real name. And be sure to add an avatar. Other users are more likely to interact with you vs. a logo. That being said, a logo is still fine just make sure you take the time to re-size it and that it identifies with your brand.

4.  Introduce Yourself

Most forums have a thread that allows you to introduce yourself to the other members. Take advantage of this as the more active members will generally take the time to welcome you. Let them know what that your goal is to contribute to the community. Don’t try to sell anything here. It will get you banned.

5.  Observe the Natives

Don’t be “that guy”, the one who jumps in to a conversation simply to get several posts so you can add your signature. See how the other members interact with one another to better understand the community you joined. It will help you figure out who the influential members are and allow you to fit in faster.

6.  Give to get

Don’t just be a lurker. The more involved you are the better the community is as a whole. You get to build relationships all while promoting your business. Win/Win.

When you’re ready to make the leap look for forums that are active or overrun with spam. Of note: Try to avoid one hosted by a competitor.  Even if you decide not to do the whole forum marketing thing, forums are worth considering for market research. You can find a wealth of information ranging from customer satisfaction to areas in the marketplace that need to be filled.

 

 

Social Media in Manufacturing

The first step in utilizing social media for manufacturing is determining if social media makes sense for your business.   I’m not entirely convinced that social media marketing makes sense for every business.

At it’s most basic form, social media is simply having a conversation online and can take shape in many different ways. Interestingly, most companies jump on Facebook and Twitter completely missing out on other opportunities. Having a presence on these to social networks doesn’t guarantee success.

Here are some basic steps for developing a social media strategy for manufacturing:

1. Start with the end in mind

What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to reach new customers? Existing? Will you be promoting a new product or service? Choose one. It can be difficult to be all thing to all people.

2. Where are you customers?

Where do your customers spend their time online? If it isn’t Facebook or Twitter, figure out where the conversations are taking place.

3. Listen

If all you do is promote and share links, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to “network”. After all there is a reason why it’s called “social networking”.   Tools like search.twitter.com, Social Mention, and even Google search can give you real-time insights to what those in your industry are talking about.

4.  Participate

Especially in forums.  Forums are a great way for you to do market research, understand frustrations within your industry, and connect with those USING your product.  There are some excellent forums for the manufacturing industry.  Look for ways to engage.  Think about joining a Twitter chat. #MFGchat is a bi-weekly chat for the manufacturing industry. A great opportunity to have one on one interaction.

5.  Connect

A great way to connect with customers is by just jumping in.  It’s like a big networking event, those who already know each other will be having a conversation and you have to find a pleasant way to jump in, but be careful, online communities don’t take kindly to spam.

6.  Evaluate

Are you seeing results from your involvement in social media?  Know what metrics you should be evaluating.  You’ll be able to figure this out based on Number 1.  Start with the end in mind.  If it’s about making new connections, were you able to convert those online connections into real world meetings?  If you’re trying to grow you newsletter, how many new subscribers came as a result?

If you’re a manufacturing company, how are you implementing social media into your business?

Social Media and the Insurance Agent

Social media for Insurance Agents. A regulated industry with do and don’ts to make your head spin. How does an insurance agent/agency even begin to take advantage of the social media options available? Should insurance agent take part in social media?

Absolutely.

Social media/networking gives you the ability to connect with existing clients and prospective clients in a way that traditional media does not. It creates dialogue.

Social networking goes beyond Facebook and Twitter.  While these are great networks for engagement and we’ll discuss, there are some other areas that offer a great return on your efforts.

1.  Blogging – builds your website content and keeps your website fresh and up to date.

  • Adding a blog to your existing website gives you the opportunity to write relevant content based on your audience.
  • Create a section dedicated entirely to FAQ (frequently asked questions).
  • Once a week address a FAQ on your blog.  If you’ve been in the industry for a while this shouldn’t be hard to do.

2.  Twitter – A great way to connect with other agent and build back links to your website

  • Use Twitter to connect with other insurance agents/agencies.
  • Use Twitter to share content created on your website.
  • Participate in industry specific Twitter chats (held once a week/bi-weekly/monthly).  Twitter Chat Schedule
  • Connect with local Twitter users
  • Answer industry specific questions

3.  Forums – Find a non-insurance related forum and become the part of the community.  Actively participate in discussions.  This takes time as regular forum users are highly protective and treat spam harshly and quickly.

  • Learn what people are talking about related to insurance issues
  • Answer industry specific questions
  • Market research the frustrations related to insurance
  • Creates dialogue with potential clients
  • Builds back-links to your website
  • Sets you apart

4.  Facebook – Facebook is the starting point on the web first thing in the morning for plenty of users.

  • Connect with existing clients.
  • Share content relevant to them.
  • Avoid industry lingo and focus on relevant content that encourages dialogue.
  • Create a simple welcome tab.  Make it the default landing page.
  • Interact with your fans.

5.  YouTube – Video is a great way to connect visually

  • Create short engaging video
  • Think “less commercial” and more “value”.  What usable information can they take away?
  • Be creative – don’t be afraid to bring in an outsider to help
  • Client testimonials, introduction to staff integrated on your website
  • Keyword optimize.

5.  Google Places – The percentage of smart phones continues to rise.  This means local search is becoming increasingly important.

  • Create/Claim your Google Places profile.
  • Integrate your profiles, pictures, and video.
  • Tag your profile based on industry.

These are just a few suggestions to get your started on Social Media with a touch of digital marketing.  Both should be integrated into a traditional marketing strategy, not as a replacement.

How have you integrated social media and digital marketing into your insurance agency?