Hootsuite: A Brief Overview of an Amazing Social Media Tool

August 19, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                        return to JayVee Media Link LLC

“What exactly is Hootsuite?”  That is a question I have been fielding lately, particularly from new coaching clients.  Here is an introductory look at the social media tool.

Hootsuite owlHootsuite is a tool that simplifies a user’s social media experience by allowing virtually all duties across a multitude of platforms to be enacted within one easy to use dashboard. When a person signs up for the service he/she configures that dashboard by securely adding user names and passwords for any or all of the following platforms he/she uses: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, FourSquare, YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr.  A WordPress blog site can also be added.  After configuration, one user name and password allows the client access to all his/her social media accounts, eliminating the need for continuously signing in and out of them individually.

Hootsuite dashboard screen shot

Hootsuite allows users to monitor activity on their social media platforms, and to post to them. Posts may be shared immediately, or they can be scheduled for release at a future time and/or date.  They can be easily edited and even deleted from the scheduled streams.

Another great feature of Hootsuite is its built in URL shortening service.  When sharing links to Twitter we can’t afford to have our 140 character maximum be taken up by long URLs. Furthermore, they are unsightly even on platforms that allow unlimited characters for posting.  We need only paste our long form links into Hootsuite’s status box, click “Shrink,” and a much more manageable version is generated and inserted into our posts.  As an added bonus, Hootsuite tracks the short links it creates. This puts the analytics for what we share right at our fingertips.

Hootsuite link shortener feature screen shot

Two features that help keep Hootsuite close by for easy use are its mobile app for our smart phones, and its Hootlet plug-in for our desktop/laptop browsers.  Both are straightforward, fully functional and very easy to use.

Hootsuite mobile app and Hootlet browser plug in screen shots

Hootsuite offers three levels of service.  Its basic level is free for use by one client, who can add up to five social media accounts.  Its Pro level allows the integration of up to 50 social media platforms, and one “team member” to assist in management duties.  The entry Pro level costs $8.99/month, but add-ons are available if a user needs to handle more for expansion of his/her social media business presence.  The final level is Enterprise, which is for big businesses with large staffs and much to oversee.

As users grow their social media presences they may find useful the more advanced features Hootsuite offers.  They may, for example, wish to configure platform streams to allow for monitoring of specific groups or keywords, including mentions of their companies.  Undoubtedly they will also want to take advantage of the tool’s integrated analytics for research and reporting.

Have you tried Hootsuite yet?  What is your impression?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

Building Blog Visibility – 6 Tips

August 5, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                     return to JayVee Media Link LLC

bullhorn overflowing with blog postsYour blog post is done and ready to ride the internet wave.  You used a great title; seeded your keywords judiciously; included a couple of compelling graphics; hit your message concisely.  You release it…and it is promptly swallowed up by the mind numbing horde of other blog posts released at the same moment.  How do you cut through the noise to get your content found?

The first thing to understand is that unless we are already established blog creators, even well optimized content will not necessarily get found right away.  Like so much else in the world of social media, ranking takes time to build.  It takes time physically for the search engine bots to find, crawl and index our sites and web pages.  And it takes time to build a trust factor between those search platforms and the websites they are working to rank.  Unfortunately, these factors are out of our control.

What we can do

We can work to facilitate those search bots’ discovery of our content and websites.  Here are six steps we should take:

1. Write consistently, even if it means delivering only one post per week.

2. Make sure the information shared is of the highest possible value for our target audiences, and presented in a professional manner.

3. Use keywords, but use them judiciously.  “Stuffing” our posts with them will result in rankings penalties.

4. Work hard to come up with blog titles that virtually scream to be clicked.  Titles should never be afterthoughts; they are the gateways to our wonderful content.  The more clicks our titles generate, the more search engines will take notice!  For excellent tips on creating killer titles, see Anne Reuss’ wonderful post “You Can’t Afford Not to Write Bewitching Headlines.”

5. Share widely, across all social media platforms. And include sharing buttons with blog posts so readers can easily share them as well.

6. Google authorship screen shotSet up Google authorship for our posts.  This creates a link between our blog posts and our Google Plus profiles, and adds our thumbnail profile pictures to the meta descriptions of our posts when they show up on Google search.  Rob Henry shared easily understandable directions for the procedure in his excellent post “How to Set Up Google Authorship.”

I’ll note here that promoting our posts is also a good way to gain visibility for them.  But it should be understood that doing so lends a temporary bump which ends with the termination of the promotion.  So even if we plan on promoting we must still do the SEO work to build overall longevity for our posts and websites.  Staying power is the goal, after all!

What additional tips can you add to help boost our blogs’ visibility?  Please share your ideas in the comments Google botsection below!

Google Carousel – How to Hop Onboard!

July 1, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                         return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Google Carousel – a feature that gives an awesome advantage to getting found among competitors in local search – has been rolled out to desktops in the U.S.  Are you ready to take a ride?  Here’s what you need to know:

What IS Google Carousel?

Originally a feature for tablets, Google’s Carousel activates on desktops when users effect searches for local businesses.  It is a series of thumbnail pictures placed horizontally across the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) in a filmstrip-type format.  The photos are of businesses that meet the inputted search criteria.  They contain additional information as well:  addresses, number of Google reviews, and sometimes price ranges for goods/services.  The “filmstrip” may be advanced by clicking an arrow at its right end.

Google carousel

Clicking on one of the thumbnail photos brings up more detailed information on the business portrayed there:  additional photos and location details, contact info, hours of operation, website URLs, Google reviews, more links and other information come into view at the top of the SERP page, right under the thumbnail strip.

Google Carousel expanded view

How do we get onboard?

Google’s Carousel helps companies that can’t make the coveted first few spots on the regular vertical result listings to be visible right at the top of the SERPs, which is an obvious benefit.  It allows them to be seen in an eye catching way, with pertinent details right there for the taking.  From where does Google get all this information about the businesses?  It pulls the details from those companies’ Google Plus profiles and local listings – a critical reason to fully optimize and use those Google Plus profiles, as well as provide eye-catching pictures and complete details for local listings.

Since Google applies search algorithms when selecting the companies to showcase in its Carousel, it makes sense to provide the platform with as much visual and textual information as possible.  This includes cross listings on other directory sites such as Yelp, as well as the number of Google followers and reviewers companies have.  The more they show, the better their chances are of winning one of those coveted spots.

One post script: with this initial desktop rollout, Google Carousel deploys for local searches of restaurants, bars and hotels.  But the feature will soon expand to other industries.  So get your company’s Google Plus profile and local listing fully filled out and optimized.  You need to be ready for when the Carousel includes local search for your business niche!

Are you using Google Plus profiles for your business?  How complete is the information you supplied for them and for your local listings?  Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below!

Google logo with carousels for Os

Google+: 6 Reasons To Be There Now!

June 3, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli            return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Google Plus has been the topic of much debate – and more than a little derision – until recently.  It was labeled a Facebook knock-off with the unfair advantage of having Google as its parent.  A large number of social media aficionados turned their noses up at the platform, predicting that it would never amount to anything significant.  It’s not often so many knowledgeable people would be wrong, but these days it looks as though that is exactly the case.  Boasting over 343 million users, the once maligned social media platform has grown to become the second largest on the internet. As it has evolved, a number of features have won the minds and hearts of many former naysayers:

1. Ranking

Google Plus profile page links boxYES, Google indexes its G+ platform’s posts for search ranking!  Instead of deriding that fact, more and more people are coming to embrace it.  Why not use the advantage it offers, considering how competitive the rankings game is?  Users maximize benefits through judicious use of niche keywords in their posts, and by including links to their websites, blog pages and other social media sites in the link section of their profile descriptions.

2. Post diversity

Google Plus hashtagged and tagged postGoogle Plus is likely the only major social media platform that supports every kind of post with no limitations.  Text, pictures, videos, even full blog posts are supported. As a nice bonus, we have the ability to format our posted text with bold, italic and strikethrough features.  Plus, downloadable files like pdfs and word documents can be shared directly on the platform. Posts on G+ are also very easy to target using hashtags and tagging.  For convenience, tagged people in our posts may respond via email.

3. Hangouts

No other social media platform offers a feature like Hangouts.  These on-air video chats allow wide ranging discussion among up to nine participants, complete with capabilities for slideshow presentations, screen sharing, and other collaborative activities via access to Google Drive.  They can be recorded for later posting, too.  The business possibilities offered by Hangouts are virtually limitless!

4. Communities

Google Plus’ Communities are fairly new, having been introduced last December.  Like groups or forums on other platforms, they allow easy connection and information sharing among people who have a common interest, business, etc.  We can join existing communities or create new ones.  Such involvement allows us direct lines of information about our particular interests, as well as an opportunity to share what we know with others who may not otherwise see our posts.

5. Business pages

Google Plus JayVee Media Link business page

Google Plus is one of the most business friendly of the popular social media platforms.  In addition to post diversity and huge cover pictures, we have the flexibility of opening up to 50 different business pages per gmail address.  This is great if we wish to feature different products or services, or even just to showcase different facets of our companies.

6. New design

Google Plus’ new interface is much more user friendly than it has ever been before.  Features are more easily accessible, post streams are cleaner (users can choose single or double column streams), and the revamped size for our cover pictures – 2120 pixels, or 16” by 9”- allows more room for unlimited visual representation than is offered on any other platform.

For all the above listed features, Google Plus is the social media place to be today.  Not having a presence on the platform is a serious liability considering all the vital tools and features available to those who establish a presence there.

Which is your favorite Google Plus feature?  One listed here, or another?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Social Media Marketing? Go Where Your Clients Are!

February 25, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                    return to JayVee Media Link LLC

profile stick figures networking on laptopsFacebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google Plus.  And SO MANY others.  In the social media marketing realm there is a place and a purpose for each platform.  Of course, it would be counterproductive to try keeping up with ALL of them.  Each one requires a proper time investment.  But a strong marketing strategy will employ several, integrating them into a good, productive campaign.

After carefully selecting the best social media platforms to suit our business needs, it is not uncommon for us to gravitate toward the one or two whose style(s) we favor. That may well lead to us spending a greater share of our time on the one(s) we prefer.  But in order to court success for our clients – as well as for ourselves – we need to step outside of our own preferences and ask: Which platform are the majority of our clients and prospects using?  We owe it to them as well as to ourselves to become comfortable and fluent on the one THEY favor, and to invest a larger share of our time and energy posting and engaging with them THERE.

b to c stick figures shaking hands from laptopsAre our businesses primarily B2B?  Chances are the profile that holds the most potential for us is LinkedIn.  B2C? Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter may likely fit the bill.  Do our businesses lend themselves to visual displays and promotions?  Pinterest and/or You Tube may be the best places to court and interact with current/potential clients.  These are merely generalizations, of course.  The best platforms for us need to be determined through careful analysis of our specific businesses.

To recap:  Planning a successful strategy means determining which of the social media platforms will work best to service the general needs of our growing businesses.  Smart planning will result in setting up and using the few most likely to deliver the best results for our important business metrics.  After that, the largest segment of our time needs to be spent engaging on the one or two platforms that are most heavily populated by the people who are more likely to want or need the product/service we provide.  It is our duty to become familiar and comfortable with those channels in particular, so we may nurture the most potentially fruitful connections and hence obtain the best return from our invested time.

Which platform do you feel is most heavily populated by the best prospects for your business?  How will you use that social media channel to engage with them?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

customer stick figure asking question

Do You Speak Twitter or Facebook?

February 4, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                    return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Social media is an important channel for marketing goods and services, more now than ever before.  But using the “tools” of this channel for business requires knowledge and understanding of each platform and how to best employ it.  Too many would-be online marketers do not grasp the “pull” nature of social media marketing.  Equally importantly, they fail to comprehend the nuances of each platform they wish to use.

Twitter surfing on computer mouseOne concept I’d like to address in this post is the fact that each social media platform has its own “voice.”  Each one serves a different overall purpose, and hence each is different in the way users engage.  Let’s look at the two most popular channels:  Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is a great platform for making connections.  Communication is vital, but it is necessarily concise since tweets are encapsulated by that 140 character limit.  Because everything is so “quick hit,” the action moves very swiftly on Twitter.  There are forums where good discussions take place, such as hashtagged conversations.  But these conversations move very quickly because of the brevity of the verbal exchanges.

Facebook figure with megaphoneFacebook, on the other hand, is really good for solidifying connections and building relationships.  It is the tool by which we engage more in depth with our fans and our peers; we service our clients, ask and answer more detailed questions, and really allow our brands’ human side to show.  Because of this activity, Facebook posts tend to be longer and more descriptive.  The pace seems almost leisurely by comparison.

Other social media platforms have their own personalities and functions too.  LinkedIn maintains a more professional demeanor.  Though not entirely, it is primarily a business to business platform. The interaction there is more formal than we see on Facebook or Twitter.  Google+ is somewhere in the middle:  less formal than LinkedIn, but not as casual as Facebook or Twitter.  Google+ is also good for B2B, though it’s not as dedicated to that arena as LinkedIn.

When marketers juggle multiple social media platforms, cross posting is considered a great time saver.  There are some limited situations where the practice may work, but it should never be abused.  Twitter folk often dislike seeing posts from Facebook.  The whole style of posting to Facebook doesn’t fit in a Twitter environment.  Conversely, Facebook users don’t take to tweets showing up on timelines – ESPECIALLY when they contain hashtags!  Posts on most other platforms aren’t compatible with the style of verbal exchange on LinkedIn.  Ultimately, it is important to realize that cross posting may save some time on the front end, but it may cost us fans and followers in the long run.  The best approach is to become familiar with each platform’s unique voice, and learn to use each appropriately when sharing our value.

Which social media platform “lingo” do YOU speak best?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!three platforms with megaphones

Google Plus Getting Better and Better

October 1, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                    return to JayVee Media Link LLC 

flexing body builder with Google Plus headIf Facebook isn’t looking over its shoulder it certainly should.  Google Plus is steadily gaining on the behemoth platform.  With all the quality features it offers, G+ just may catch and surpass Facebook one day soon.

Facebook currently boasts 900 million users, though that number is often called into question with the numerous fake profiles that are known to exist.  Google Plus now has a membership that tops 400 million.  Users are increasingly drawn to the newer platform’s cleaner interface, more user and business friendly features, and the power of its progenitor, Google itself.  Though Facebook is working hard to improve its search function, it remains light years behind Google…and Google improves its search with newer, better features on a regular basis.  Users of Google Plus also benefit from increased visibility afforded them by the platform’s powerhouse parent.

Facebook had a huge head start over Google Plus.  And like G+, it constantly attempts to improve upon its good features. Yet in many important areas it often must play catch up with its younger rival.  In addition to its hands-down edge in search capacities, G+ boasts a few popular features that Facebook lacks.   Biggest among these is likely Google Hangouts, a live streaming group video chat that is a favorite among both personal and business users. And the newer platform is rapidly making up for its lack of any important features Facebook offers, as evidenced by its newest acquisition, sophisticated photo sharing site NIK.

Google and Google Plus have just rolled out yet another new feature that is guaranteed to be a hit with those of us who use the platform for business:  Google for Entrepreneurs.  Its hook:  “You have an idea.  Make it happen.”  Users are encouraged to employ the feature to discover local programs and online resources to launch and scale their businesses.  Here, courtesy of a reposting by our colleague, Sherry Nouraini, is a sampling of Google for Entrepreneurs’ offerings and links:

. Programs: google.com/entrepreneurs/initiatives
. Events: google.com/entrepreneurs/events
. Resources: google.com/entrepreneurs/resources

Website: google.com/entrepreneurs
YouTube: youtube.com/Google4Entrepreneurs
Google+: +Google for Entrepreneurs
More: googleblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/celebrating-spirit-of-entrepreneurship.html
Twitter hashtag:   #googleforentrepreneurs

Is Google Plus exciting YOU?  How are you using its features to help your business?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

Google Plus vs Pinterest

May 28, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                   return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Let’s move our focus away from social media heavy hitter platforms like Twitter and Facebook for today, and instead draw our attention to the two most promising rising stars in the field:  Google Plus and Pinterest.  Both appear to be in fierce competition for the spotlight; which will be the victor?  The answer:  BOTH!  While on paper Pinterest seems to have the edge, which one wins depends on a number of variables.  Let’s take a closer look:

Google Plus in this corner…

fighter with Google Plus tattoo

With 20 million users within the first three weeks of its launch and the expectation that that number will reach 400 million by the end of this year, Google Plus is shaping up to be a major social media influencer.  It is continuously adding and improving business friendly features, such as live streaming Google Hangouts, which can be used as free webinars, and new photo editing and mobile photo sharing services. And remember that Google indexes its social media platform for higher search rankings.  Sites that incorporate it get up to 3.5 times more traffic than those that don’t.  40% of marketers consider Google Plus a prominent component in their social media strategy tool boxes.

…and Pinterest in THIS corner

On the other side of the equation, Pinterest boasted 10.5 million users as of February, 2012.  Since January, the number of users has increased by 145%.  80% of pins are repinned, demonstrating the potential for business to go viral with thefighter with Pinterest tattoo platform’s help.  Its lead conversion rate is 15%.  Pinterest is now the third most popular social media platform (behind Twitter and Facebook), as it refers more traffic for some websites than Google Plus, Linked In and Twitter.  Recent studies have also demonstrated Pinterest’s value in generating much sought after quality back links, and hence creating “buzz” and higher visibility.

The Main Event

The preference of Google Plus over Pinterest or vice versa ultimately comes down to issues like the field of business and the type of people in that business’ targeted marketing campaign.  Let’s look at some specifics.  Approximately 63% of Google Plus users are male; the dominant occupations on the platform are college students and software developers. So think technical. With its system of displaying pictures, as well as the aforementioned addition of mobile photo sharing and picture editing services, Google Plus is also capturing the niche for professional photographers and photography enthusiasts. 

Conversely, up to now almost 80% of Pinterest users have been female.  But that is a demographic that is shifting toward more gender equality, as an increase in male membership is being noted.  The platform appears to be excellent for businesses that are trending – especially when those businesses can promote themselves with strong visual images.  Some examples of companies that are doing very well with Pinterest in their marketing tool boxes are Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart, Whole Foods and the Travel Channel.

Decision Time

Both platforms obviously have excellent value and wonderful potential.  In the end, the “victor” between Google Plus and Pinterest for me in business will be determined by the specific needs and niche of each of my clients.  Who knows?  Both may even be in order!  For me personally, it’s really hard to say!   But I think I would lean more toward Google Plus.  How about YOU?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

two fighters facing off with G+ and P tattoos