Archives for September 2012

27Sep

Ep#10: Social Media, Pinterest & Facebook Apps for Small Businesses

Social media marketing, taking advantage of Pinterest and using Facebook Apps to help market your small business, an interview with Scott Linklater from Just Social

Wow, we made it to double figures! In episode 10 I have a great interview with Scott Linklater from Just Social. I talk to Scott about social media marketing for small businesses and drill down on topics such how to use Pinterest and Facebook Apps. Towards the end of the episode Scott takes us through some of Just Social’s new Facebook Apps that they’ve just launched.

Covered in this episode;

  • What is a Facebook app?
  • What is it about social media that makes it a good marketing channel for small businesses?
  • What areas of social media marketing do business owners struggle with the most?
  • How can business owners overcome some of those problems and get the most out of social media?
  • Pinterest has been growing a lot lately. What is it and what can business owners do to take advantage of Pinterest?

Links;

I wasn’t able to line up a featured photo this week. If you are a photographer or you know a photographer who has photos from around Adelaide and SA, I’d love to feature some of your/their work. If you’re interested, get in contact with me via the Feedback page.

If you want each new episode delivered straight to your inbox each week, you can sign up to our mailing list on the right.

See you next week!

[spoiler title=”Click Here for Transcription” open=”0″ style=”1″]

Nick: We’re very lucky this week to have a special guest on the show, Scott Linklater is going to be talking about social media marketing.

Are you there Scott?

Scott: I am indeed.

Nick: Welcome to the show.

Scott: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Nick: No worries and let’s get started by you telling us a little bit about what you do and your business.

Scott: Sure. My background originally was in corporate sales, for round about 15 years and from there, I did something, I took a complete 180 degree turn and I actually started a business, Aboriginal Art Gallery with my mom and we opened that in 2001. I’ve worked out of Adelaide doing all the online side of it, she was in Western Australia and she did the gallery side of it.

A long story short, we built that business up over a period of time through 2001 onwards into one of the biggest aboriginal art galleries in the world and a couple of years ago, I started looking at social media for the gallery and what I found was that there was not a lot of, there were not so many companies out there that was really concentrating on small to medium sized businesses and all the agencies and social media companies were targeting the top end of town and small businesses were really being left out in the dark. I found that there was a real gap in the marketplace and at the same time, I was also looking at diversifying our business, so I started looking at social media more and I identified this gap in the market and right about a year and half ago.

I started a new company called Just Social. We began learning about social media and working with businesses, mainly small to medium sized businesses and teaching them and helping them and providing them with the tools that would enable them to compete with big businesses without spending an absolute fortune because what I found with our business was we were a successful business, yet I couldn’t justify or I could not afford what the prices that they were asking for a lotof the services. So that’s really what happened and around about a year ago, we started developing our own Facebook applications and over the last year, we’ve had a couple of Facebook applications in development. Right now, we’re about to launch them and we also provide just every day services for small businesses, teaching them and helping them with social media.

Nick: Great. We’ll go into the apps that you’re developing towards the end of the interview but just quickly, can you just explain what a Facebook app is?

Scott: Well okay. A Facebook app is basically, it’s like a Facebook page, it’s designed to provide any business or organization with, it enables them to have a unique display, to uniquely display their business on Facebook and yet they may have any number of different features that enable it to attract more people to it. So, for instance, it might be something like a competition app, and would be specifically designed to enable Facebook users who become fans of that business to win a prize or it may be an app that enables them to have a custom page.

So if you’ve got a business, Facebook page pretty much look all the same, you want to differentiate yourself and stand out from the millions of other businesses on there. There are Facebook applications out there that enable you to basically have a mini website within Facebook with all your custom photos and graphics and look and feel of your business and branding that would enable to you stand out from the crowd. You might have an app that enables people to register and join your newsletter, things like that.

Nick: Cool. Well, let’s move on. Let’s start by taking a sort of a 10,000 ft. view of social media marketing. What do you see as, what makes it a good channel for small businesses?

Scott: I think the big one is, most small businesses, they often provide in-depth and personalized services to their clients. That’s what sets them apart. They might not be the cheapest but the service and the little extras that they offer makes them very attractive to a certain segment of the marketplace. Now, social media is all about word of mouth and personal recommendations and reviews and small businesses have a huge opportunity to capitalize on this, as most people will rave to all their friends about service that goes above and beyond and they will happily tell you, hey I know a guy that can do that, I know someone that can do this who you might personally call and they are very open to talking about that.

People in general, with maybe the exception of say, women and fashion, they wouldn’t be as quick to come forward and say right about how they saved 20% on a new hammer drill from one of these large hardware store chains. What they’re more likely to do is to mention very briefly that they saved 20% and then they’ll tell everyone how it took them 20 minutes to get any help and the pimply-faced kid didn’t even know what a hammer drill was and the whole bit but if you take the opposite scenario, when someone goes to their local hardware store and gets personalized service and looked after by an experienced hardware expert who’s been doing it for 20 years, that customer will be a huge advocate for that business and will tell everybody at every opportunity, hey go and see my guy, he’ll sort you out, and price won’t even come into it at all.

Now, the big multi-national companies, they simply can’t do that, and move the volumes that they do for the prices that they’re doing the math. They’re basically taking heat on the fact that their service is never going to be that good. Small businesses, through social media have a massive opportunity to capitalize on this and you know, might be landing a couple of decent punches after ten rounds by being beaten up by the big businesses because, really gives small businesses a chance to claw back because this is what they’re really, really good at.

The biggest issue though is, big businesses is doing social media much more proliferately than small business is as of now. So, the advantage hasn’t been utilized, if you look at the industry overall but within it there are thousands of examples of small businesses doing exactly this individually, we just need to get more of them doing it and doing it effectively and I really see it as a way that they can fight back against the multi-nationals that seem to be taking over everywhere and because what social media is all about is what small businesses are good at. So, it’s a real opportunity for them to claw back some of that, which has been lost in the last decade or 2, through these multi-nationals eating up all the small business out there.

Nick: Right, yeah. That’s really sixth sense. I’ve never heard it described quite like that and that actually makes a lot of sense. In your experience, what areas of social media marketing do these small businesses really struggle with?

Scott: Well there’s a few different ones but the 3 big ones for me, probably number 1, small businesses, they have this mind-set that social media is free. Number 2, they are not consistent enough with their social media marketing efforts and 3, they don’t take it anywhere near as seriously as they should. The bottom line is, social media is like any other marketing area in business, it has a cost. Now, even if there’s sort of direct dollar cost, there’s a time cost and even if you get a whole lot of free activity through social media and it turns out to be very successful, there’s going to be a cost, because you or someone has to service that and that would take time and time is money.

So, the thing is social media, lots of it can be free and lots of the benefits can be free initially but the modern set of local business is that its free and they don’t want to pay for anything, they don’t want to invest any money into it and that’s really the wrong way to look at it. The other thing is, and probably the biggest is consistency. What we have found time and time and time again is that those businesses that are consistent, even on a very small scale will be much more successful than businesses that just do a little bit here and then leave it for a while and then a little bit over there. If it’s not done consistently every single day, what we find is that its drops right away and if becomes ineffective.

The third one just really leads in from the second one, people are not treating it anywhere near as seriously as they should. What we find is a lot of local businesses, they’ll create a Facebook fan page and they’ll open a Twitter account and they put up a cover photo and they tell a few clients about it and they leave it, and it just sits there. They go, oh it really didn’t do much for us but if you took that attitude towards any other part of your business, you’d get exactly the same result, you’d get nothing. And I just don’t think businesses see it necessarily as a main stream marketing opportunity, but if they were able to treat it more seriously, do it consistently and then realize that they need to invest a little bit, then yeah but those would be the 3 ones I think small businesses struggle with the most.

Nick: Great, and do you have some tips for how businesses can overcome those particular problems?

Scott: Yeah. Look, I think the first thing they need to do is they need to allocate a percentage of their marketing budget to social media and to make that commitment for a decent period of time to see if it’s going to work for their business. I reckon minimum of a year to 18 months and what they then need to do is devote some time to learning a little b it about social media.

Look, I understand most small business owners have no time whatsoever. If they don’t have the time to maybe invest some time in learning about it themselves that’s fine. What they need to do, is they need to get one of their employees to do that, to fill that role, and they also need to give that employee adequate time and resources to do it properly or the other option is to outsource it and hire a social media consultant or manager or agency, whatever you want to call it and get them to do it for you and have you concentrate on your core business, what you know and have them concentrate on helping your social media to ramp that up.

I think that’s what people really need to do. The big thing is businesses need to make a decision, either one way or another to either do social media properly or don’t worry about doing it at all because one of the things I certainly know is, if it’s done half-assed, it’s going to cost you more in time, money and frustration than you’ll ever get back and it can actually hurt your business image. So, if you don’t want to do it properly, then honestly, I think businesses should not do it at all and when I say do it properly, and give it a decent go, that doesn’t mean spending $10,000 a year and 30 hours a week. It might be $1,000 a year and 2 hours a week, obviously depending on the size of your business but whatever it is, they need to commit to doing that and doing it consistently, say for a year to 18 months to get results.

Nick: Yeah, I think the note about consistency is something that I see as well that people, often business owners when they first get started, they’re really into it and they might update it regularly and then they sort of quickly drowse off after they lose that initial enthusiasm that they had at the beginning.

Scott: Yeah. And then, so you might know of a business offline and you go and look to find them online and say for instance you come across their Facebook page and you go there and you notice exactly that, that last year for a few months the page was updated quite regularly and now it hasn’t been updated for 6 months and there’s 3 posts from customers on there saying, asking questions that have gone unanswered. And now suddenly the good reputation that company had with you has gone sour over like immediately and suddenly, you’re questioning this company and it’s unlikely you’re going to do business with them.

So in that case, it would have been better that they found nothing at all, and then maybe thought, oh okay they don’t have Facebook page, I’ll go to their website or I’ll give them a phone call or whatever it is. So that’s how it can actually hurt a business because that’s happened to me many times and it’s actually turned me off the business because I felt well, if they can’t answer a few questions from their customers, what’s going to happen to me if I become a client of theirs?

Nick: Yeah definitely. Let’s take a bit of a turn in the interview and talk specifically about Pinterest. Now, this is a new sort of social network that’s been going a lot lately. Can you just tell us briefly what Pinterest is and then a little bit about how business owners can use Pinterest?

Scott: Sure, it’s a really interesting company because it’s the fastest social media company from zero to 10 million users ever. It’s grown faster than Facebook did, and what’s really interesting about that was it did that while they were, basically invitation only. So the only way a user could get on was to send the company an email and ask to be added as a user or if an existing user sent them an invitation. It’s incredible that they were able to grow it at that pace, when they had something that usually would slow down the growth of the company dramatically. So, it was just amazing to us to see how quickly they grew.

Basically, Pinterest is a pin board style social photo sharing website, a little bit like an online pin board or an online scrap book. You know years ago, girls would get magazines and they would cut out wedding dresses out of all these super magazines, put them in a scrap book and have 30 or 40 wedding dresses that they liked or take the guy equivalent would be they would have a stack of 50 magazines about cars or motorbikes and if they wanted to show one of their friends, they would end up flipping through 30 magazines. The girls are a little bit more organized but basically, it’s the online version of that. So, stuff that you’re interested in, putting that all together on one page, one personal page that is your page or you know, things that you’re interested in, events, hobbies, stuff like that. What can happen is, users can browse other people’s pin boards for inspiration and then when they see pictures that they like, they can, what’s called re-pin that image to their own collection or their own group of photos. So, users organize their personal page in just say different themed forms of things that they’re interested in.

Say for instance, you might have 6 boards, the first one Places I Want to Visit, you might have one called Cool Gadgets, you might have another one called Funny Quotes. You might have another one Everything Fashion, Cars I’d Like to Own, Stuff I Want, this is an example, then you browse through Pinterest and all the pictures and when you see things you like, you add them to the board so they’re organized by topic.

Now, how small businesses can utilize this to increase their client base or their revenue is, okay let’s take an example. Say you’re a local electronics store, you could upload a picture of the world’s biggest plasma TV and users who follow you might see that picture and they pin it to one of their boards called Gadgets, and then other users who follow them, not people who follow you, but users who follow your users, they’ll also see it and they might re-pin it to their boards and so on and so on, so, there’s this viral effect.

Now, the cool thing is no matter how many times it gets re-pinned, you are always acknowledged as the person who uploaded the picture originally and what happens is if someone clicks on the image, when it’s on anyone’s board, it’s redirected to anywhere that the person that uploaded the picture wants, your website. So somewhat, 10 people removed from you might find a picture, click on it, and then they might end up at your website, just like everything, it’s all a numbers game. So, what it does is that it drives traffic back to your website and the more interesting and the more value that the image holds to people interested in that, the more people that will end up seeing the image and the more people that will end up clicking through to your website.

Pinterest, it’s one of those things, it can work for nearly any type of business, it’s just you need to get your thinking cap on and get a little bit innovative because at first, a lot of people are like, argh, I don’t think this is right for our business. Take an example, say your local butcher, how can Pinterest help my business? Well, you could upload a picture of an amazing gourmet barbeque that just makes your mouth water at the thought of cooking that up and putting on for you and your friends. You could upload a recipe for the best lamb chops you’ll ever eat and people absolutely will pin that to their boards and their friends will re-pin it and every time someone clicks on that image, it goes through to your little website about your business.

Now, if those are people in your local area and a lot of the people on your first and second levels will be, well, that’s potentially more business for you. You could put up like an info-graphic, which is basically just a big image using lots of little images within it and stats and graphs and so forth. One particular subject you could make an info-graphic on how to keep your barbeque clean without spending an hour scrubbing it after every barbeque. Hundreds of people would find that information interesting or you could maybe put something up a little bit quirky, a little bit funny, like a scene from the Simpsons where they’re talking you don’t win friends with salads, anything like that. You just got to really think outside the box and you’ll find that there are so many things you can do. Travel agents upload images of exotic locations that people want to visit. Real Estate agents could upload pictures of houses like we have more than $20 M, or they could do a board of the worst backyards you’ve ever seen and what will happen is, this will take off virally and it will spread your brand name around to a lot more people. The more people that are exposed to your business, no matter where you are, the more business you’ll end up getting.

Nick: Great. Should people be creating their own images or taking their own photographs or does it matter if it’s someone else’s image that they can use or …

Scott: Look, absolutely, obviously you can create your own images. So, it’s an interesting topic because it’s a really gray area at the moment with Pinterest. As far as using other people’s images, now, you shouldn’t just go to Google Image search, grab someone’s image and pin it up, upload it as if it is your own image, that’s definitely a breach of copyright but images that are already out there on the internet, if you re-pin them, you’re not taking the credit for creating the image or if the image is free or if you bought the image then you’ve got no problem. But it is certainly an area at the moment, there is this gray area that people aren’t too sure about, will probably get sorted within the next year or 2, but at the moment, I don’t think there’s any problem re-pinning images because it will give credit, or it should give credit to the person or company that originally produced the image and there’s certainly no problem doing that at this stage.

You’ll hear about it if there is because it will be a big thing but hopefully the copyright people or these large companies are usually very particular of their copyright. Hopefully, they don’t get too silly on this because what you got to understand is that, its actually good business to have these things spread around. You know, if someone pins a picture of a hotel in the Maldives with these beautiful villas that go out over these glass water, it’s only helping the Maldives, it’s only helping their business, it’s only promoting that company no matter who pins it. But yeah sure, it’s a gray area at the moment, but all I can say is, be mindful of copyright, but at the same stage, as long as you give credit, you’re okay to re-pin other people’s photos.

Nick: Great, and it’s interesting because I’m noticing sort of a trend within the other social networks, particularly Facebook, you’re seeing a lot of people posting images on Facebook and on other social networks as well, so perhaps it create a trend towards more images with all media. Would you agree with that?

Scott: 100% and that’s the reason why Facebook just spent a billion dollars on buying a company called Instagram that had 68 employees and has never made one cent of money, is because images are becoming more and more popular. On our Facebook fan page that we have, that we own and that we look after for clients, some with 30,000 or more people, we noticed that images, if we post an update that contains an image, it works anywhere from 3 to 20 times more effectively than if we posted a link or we posted a video and certainly a lot more than if we didn’t post anything. Images are where it’s all at, like I would certainly encourage anybody that’s doing any kind of social media to always include images because people are very visual and your engagement rates are a heck of a lot higher.

Nick: Great. Well let’s take a swing back towards Facebook now and we’re talking about the Facebook apps that you’ve got coming out soon. They’re still coming aren’t they?

Scott: Absolutely. It’s actually a big day today. Later tonight, we will be putting our newest app on one of my own pages for its first testing, so that will be its first beta test and hopefully, within the next 2-3 weeks, it’ll go into full beta release, which means it will be open to people in the public to be able to use but we’ve developed a couple of Facebook apps over the last year. One is a Facebook fan page builder, it makes custom pages, so basically makes, means anyone whether you’ve got any web design experience or not, you don’t need to know any HTML coding, you can create a custom mini website within Facebook for your business and that’s a great app but it’s not that exciting because a lot of them are already out there but our other app, which is called fans2page.

That’s the one that we’re mostly excited about. It’s a brand new concept that we’re releasing. It’s never been done before by any company in the world and we’re really hoping that it’s going to make a big splash. Basically to explain it, I’ll explain it like this. What we found was, when people become a fan of a fan page on Facebook, when they like that page, when someone become a fan, after they go to that page initially, 96% of people will never actually go back to that Facebook fan page, even if they’re really engaged with that page. What ends up happening is they just end up conversing with the page and asking questions and reading information in their news feed, the same place where they look at stuff their friends send them but, they don’t actually ever click back and go back to the fan page.

Now, this was a little bit disheartening to me when I found this out because we’ve got this other application that build these custom pages and it makes it a little bit hard to be excited about it if 94% of people are never going to see the pages that it created. So, what we thought was, how can we get fans to go back to these companies and businesses fan pages? Because the thing is it’s really hard to promote as a business to people on Facebook on their newsfeed. You know the pictures are very small, there’s way too many distractions, they’ve got people saying, hi let’s do this, they’ve got people going, you know check this photo out, check this out and people are on Facebook really to socialize and not there to be marketed to, and they don’t like being marketed to.

So, when companies send out status updates to their fans, saying hey we’ve got this offer, that offer, whatever, fans will ignore it or get annoyed by it or just completely don’t even see it, become blind to it and we thought, well that makes it really difficult for small businesses to promote to their fans. What can we do? How can we get them to get the fans to go back to their fan page, see their custom fan page and give their business a genuine opportunity to say to their fans, hey, this is what I do and this is what we’ve got to offer you. So, what we came up with was, basically it’s like a never ending competition, and what the fans2page app does it this, is you’ve got a fan page and you put the fans page app on it, and say you’ve got 500 fans, every day, it randomly goes through your list of fans and it selects one person to be a winner that day and it puts their photo up on a page that’s attached to your fan page.

Now, what you do is you offer a prize. The example we’re using in our video that’s about to be released, is a shop that sells ties, like knit ties, silk ties, men’s ties, bow ties that kind of thing. So say for instance you put up a prize to your fans and you say, I’ll be giving away this beautiful silk tie to anybody that visits, everyday there’s going to be a potential new winner and what happens is that to win the prize, the fan has to visit the page within 24 hours. So, they click and they go through to the fan page and they’ll see a box and it will show a picture of one of the fans. Now, if that’s them, then they win the prize but if they don’t go to that page within 24 hours, a message is sent out saying, oh bad luck, unfortunately so and so did not get to the page and they’ve missed out on their prize.

Now, what we’ve found is that people love stuff for free and they love prizes and because it’s so easy to find out whether or not you’re the winner, it takes literally 20 seconds to do so, what we found is that most people will click through just to check because they don’t want to risk the chance that they’re not going to miss the prize. So, they click through and they go, I’m just going to have a quick look see if I’m the winner for the day and if they’re not the winner, it’ll show someone else’s picture and say sorry you’re not the winner but what it will also show is right above that picture will be a large paged graphic with anything that business wants. It could be their latest sale, it could be information on clearance sale coming up, whatever it happens to be.

So, say for instance, someone goes to see whether they’ve won the silk tie and then above it is a large graphic like you see on a website or in a magazine saying Tomorrow Only, 70% Off All Scarves and Ties, and that person goes, you know what I really need a new scarf, Winter’s coming up, 70% off is fantastic. I’m going to jump on this and grab it. That person clicks a link, goes through to your website, and buys the scarf. Now, that person would never have known about the sale or would never have bought in that case but because they were they were there and because they were there checking something else and they saw it. Number one, they won’t feel like they’ve been sold to, they think that they’ve just come across this sale and found it, and so it’s a great way for businesses to promote in a way that gives them half a chance that they might sell something to all of their fans nearly every day and at the same time, it won’t annoy their fans, it won’t make them angry or upset, it won’t interrupt them and it will be done in a very friendly manner. So, the better the prize that a business puts up, the more people that would end up clicking through to check whether they’re the winner, and the better the offer when that is presented when they check to see if they’re a winner, the more people that will buy. So, it gives businesses complete control over how much they want to sell. If they offer up some decent prizes, they will get a lot of people going through and click through to their pages.

If they have products and services that are good quality and are great value for money, a good percentage of those people, if that’s what they’re looking for at that time, will buy their products and we’re just really excited about how it’s going to enable businesses to take their Facebook presence and monetize it because there’s a lot of people out there that have got a good Facebook page and lots of fans and they don’t know how to take that and make money and this is just going to make it very, very simple for them to do so.

If someone wins the prize, the next day, it selects another person randomly and away it goes again, if someone doesn’t, it still selects someone new after 24 hours but it notifies everybody that basically, that this person unfortunately missed out on their prize. So it reinforces to the fans, hey, check, because it could be you and it works very much along the same lines of – I don’t know if you’ve seen the Today Show, the breakfast show. They do something called Wake Up with Today, and basically, all the people who are fans or are registered with Today are on a list, and every morning they ring a person and if that person answers the phone, I wake up with Today, they win $10,000 and if they don’t, they miss out. So, what you have is, you have this situation where these people are glued to the show to make sure, to see if potentially they could be a winner.

It’s the same principle, it works really on the fear of loss. People don’t like missing out on prizes and we think that it’s going to have a massive effect on Facebook return on investment.

Nick: Great, that sounds like a really exciting development with your business and certainly a creative way of solving that problem that you mentioned about how people how people don’t really come back to the fan pages.

Well I think that brings us to the end of our interview today. Thanks very much for coming on the show and telling us all these great tips and sharing the news about your new apps with us.

Scott: Thank you very much for having me. I think this program is an awesome idea and I think you’re doing a fantastic job and yeah, I think that it’s really good that anybody out there who’s prepared to concentrate on local businesses and small businesses are doing a really good service because, small businesses, we make up the majority of all business done around the world and there’s a lot of power in small business and they are a powerful group if we include them together. I just think it’s a really good idea and congratulations on a great show.

Nick: Great, and thanks very much and where can people go to find out more about you and your business?

Scott: There’s a couple of places. Justsocial.com is our main website, it’s j u s t s o c i a l, justsocial.com and our new app has got its own website at fans2page.com so that’s fans then the number 2 page dotcom. So, either one of those websites, and from there, all our social media links are on there for Facebook, and Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube channels etc., etc.

Nick: Great and now my listeners can find those links. We’ll put them on our website as well. Thanks again for coming on the show and have a great rest of the day.

Scott: Thanks Nick, really appreciate it. Cheers!

Nick: Cheers!

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20Sep

Ep#9: Google+ in the Search Results

What is Google+, why you should use it, how it effects the search results in an interview with Tony McCreath

Episode 9 features the second part of a four part series where I speak to Tony McCreath from Web Site Advantage about various search engine related topics. In part 1 (Episode 7) we talked about Panda and Penguin, two of Google’s recent algorithm updates and in this episode we talk about Google+ and how it effects the search results.

In this episode;

  • What is Google+ (G+)?
  • Why should business owners care about G+?
  • How does G+ compare with facebook and twitter?
  • How does G+ manifest in/effect the organic search results?
  • What can people do to take advantage of this?
  • What is Google+ Local? How is it effecting local search?

Links;

This week’s featured photo is 30 second exposure of the main street of Gawler taken by Allen Shubin. Enjoy!

Gawler Allen Shubin

 

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Nick: Welcome to Episode 9 of the Web Marketing Adelaide Podcast. I hope everyone’s had a great week since Episode 8 last week. This week, we’ve got the second part of a 4 part series where I talked with Tony McCreath from Website Advantage. Tony is an SEO expert from Adelaide and in Part 1, we talked about the Panda and Penguin updates, which are 2 of Google’s recent algorithm updates.

This week we’re talking about Google Plus, which is Google’s social network. I just read actually today on [inaudible 00:00:50] that they’ve reached 400 million users with a 100 million active users. So it’s actually becoming quite a large social network out there, certainly something you should pay attention to.

So this episode, we’ll get into the bits and pieces on how to get onto Google Plus and why it’s a great idea for your business.

Once again, Tony’s website is www.websiteadvantage.com.au. If you want to go check out some more stuff about him and he’s got some great articles and tools up there on the website, where you can learn about search engine optimization and the stuff that he does. So let’s go the interview now.

Welcome back to Web Marketing Adelaide. I’m your host, Nick Morris and I’m here again with Tony McCreath. Tony, welcome back to the show.

Tony: Thanks very much.

Nick: Great, good to be back. Google Plus in the search results is the topic for this week’s talk. So, let’s just get straight into it and what is Google Plus?

Tony: Google Plus is Google’s attempt at social networking like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. It’s kind of match of them feature wise but it’s big benefit, but it’s actually part of your Google account system, so if you ever logged into anything to do with Google, you will be on Google Plus. So, it’s more than social, it also becomes part of your search.

Nick: Right, and they’re unifying all of their existing properties like YouTube and Blogger and the various properties, all into Google Plus.

Tony: So for example, if you’ve got a YouTube account, you’ve got a Google Plus account. You are all integrated, so things you do on YouTube becomes part of your social network with Google in the big eco-system they have.

Nick: Right [Inaudible 00:02:50] been to really get a hold on reviews really easily and really quickly today on social network?

Tony: Yeah and in fact, it’s more than YouTube. Things like web developers have all got accounts and need to do things and they are automatically pulled into the Google Plus. For a while, they actually forced you to have a Google Plus account, and now they’ve backed off a bit. And they even actually like to remove it, but this is Google’s aim. They’re going to get you on it whatever direction you come from.

Nick: Right, and why should business owners be concerned about Google Plus?

Tony: It’s early days for the businesses, like any business, you might as well promote it in any form that you can, so there’s no harm in putting yourself on there and it’s going to grow. Google is the biggest thing and Google Plus is part of Google, so there are more and more people coming on it.

On a side line thing, it’s such, if you’ve got a reason to be, medium large business to actually do your business with your employees on it. There’s a thing called Google Apps and so you can run your email account, you can have meetings all via the Google Plus system. So, there’s a kind of internal management thing, or even working with your clients, it can be a good system for that.

Nick: And one of their most popular features of Google Plus Hangout of course, which …

Tony: Yeah, which also it being a bit more active and that can be a great way to do, I’ve mentioned earlier, training sessions, meeting with your employees if you’re international. Google is actually themselves making, they’re quite active on the Hangout, so you can actually chat with Googler’s, people who actually do the algorithms and work on Google Plus and next Friday, which depending on the date when this comes out, probably last Friday, I’m actually going on one and asking a few questions directly to Googler’s. So, it’s a great opportunity to interact with people.

Nick: Yep. Just a, if anyone doesn’t know, the Google Plus Hangout is a video chat platform and you can have a group chat with up to 9 people…

Tony: All on one video show. You can all chat, you can share screens and a recent feature is it can actually be recorded live so people can actually watch you live doing it, and then afterwards, they can watch you on YouTube. So, it’s a great way to actually get something public out there. So it’s a great tool for business.

Nick: Yeah, more on the business side at the moment. In fact, the whole Google Plus seems to be more for businesses, working with businesses, seems to work better. It’s not really from social because why leave Facebook with your friends? Right, yeah. So, I think I found the same. I think I found that it’s a good way of following different topics you might be interested in. I know, I’m interested in skepticism for instance, there’s a product community there and there’s quite a big photography community on Google Plus, as well I’ve noticed.

Tony: I don’t know about skepticism. Yeah, a good thing about Google Plus is what they call circle, and segregate your interests. I actually have different circles, one I call Essential, one I call Okay and one I call Really Bad and basically I monitor the essential people, the Okay one’s I’ll scan through, and the Really Bad ones, sorry mate.

Nick: I hope I’m not in that one. Alright, well with business owners using Google Plus, would it be a similar sort of strategy to say Facebook and Twitter or are there differences?

Tony: It can be, you have a business page and you can talk on it. The dynamics are slightly different and there are a lot of things you can do on Google Plus that you can’t on … In fact, Facebook is starting to steal Google Plus features now. Yeah, events, so it’s obviously got some good features there that Facebook think it’s good. So, it can be a good one for setting up your business and doing things like that.

Nick: And how does Google Plus affect or manifest in the search results?

Tony: Well, this is something very unique that Google has, because they basically own the biggest search engine in the world, so they can actually integrate their social network with the search network. In the past they’ve tried it with Facebook and Twitter but disagreements means, they have a very low profile in Google search results now, whereas with the Google Plus, when you’re searching, Google knows who you are. They know your Google Plus accounts, they know who your friends are, they know what you interact with. So, Google can actually alter your search results based on what your friends like.

So, for example, you often see, because we’re friends, or circles with each other, you often see a result in Google that has my little mug shot in it, saying I plus on this and not only do you see that it was endorsed by me, it also gets pushed up higher in the search result. So, that’s a key way it’s actually starting to influence how your results are being presented to you.

Another related one is the Authorship marker. Now, you need a Google Plus account, to become an author and once you’ve done that, you can get your mug shot in the search results. It’s part of the rich snippets system. So, that’s another way that your Google Plus influences how your own system website looks in search results. There’s a lot of power there.

Nick: Yep, and just the authorship marker, that’s where you can get your photo appear next to your website in the search results, and that can encourage people to click through a bit more, sort of stands out a bit more . Is that the idea?

Tony: Yeah, it makes you stand out and depending on how good your photo is, make sure you look better not worse. I’ve seen a few articles on people saying it actually had a negative effect.

Nick: So, if you’re good looking, or if you have a good looking staff member in your business …

Tony: And technically it has to be a mug shot, it has to be a head shot, but it does make you stand out. This integration is going to get more, for example, it shows how popular you are on Google Plus as well as your picture. People have the chance to click into your profile and then find out what else you do, so it becomes a new avenue rather than just than just going to your website, because people will find your Google Plus page and learn more about you. So, it’s quite an influential one.

Nick: Great, and what are some tips you can give to business owners who are just wanting to get started with Google Plus. What can they start to do?

Tony: They’re probably already on in, they don’t realize it. If you have a Gmail account, or YouTube, all these things, create an account and go through and create your personal profile. Now, a lot of people may not want their personal profile to represent them in the business, so what you want to do then is create a Google page for your business and the good thing about that is, apart from you managing it, your personal profile is completely anonymous. There’s no official link to it for other people.

Yes, you should create a business page and have that represent your business, pictures, videos. Another good move is you can link your business page with your website. Get you website developer to put the link in and what this means is Google will know that that website is officially your business website and your social plus one and all that is linked. So, if someone says they like your business page on Google, that also gets credited to your website and vice versa, if they plus one your website and it also helps Google understand and verify who you really are.

So, that’s a good move to do, set up that association, as I think the term they use is a publisher. So, the Google Plus page can be the publisher of your website.

Nick: Yeah, that kind of trends nicely into Google Plus Local. Previously, we’ve had Google Local, the Place pages, and now it’s sort of changed into Google Plus as well. Can you just explain that?

Tony: Before it was called Google Places. It was also called Google for business or something but probably, what people are more familiar with is Google Places, and this is when you get search results that include a map and the little red markers. These are people who’ve registered their business with Google under their Google Places system. So, you can actually go in there and claim or register your business and fill in all the details.

Now, with Google Plus, they have got Google Local, which is moving this Places thing into Google local, and it all is in part of a social network. At this time, your Google business page is separate to your Places page but you can actually request them to be merged. So, at the moment, Google Places is what is dominant on search results, your business page doesn’t do much.

Places lets people do reviews and see your details, whereas your business page lets people interact in a chat. Recently, I actually requested mine get merged. I wouldn’t recommend it yet because it’s a very new feature and a couple of days ago, I got an email and mine are merged as if they’re one entity. So, my business page on Google is my Places page and vice versa. So, it has reviews and interaction, very new features and I’m going to see how it pans out.

But that’s the direction, it’s all going to become this Google Local. Your business page will be your one stop place to define your business to Google and it will start showing in search results.

Nick: Great, well thanks for all those tips on Google Plus Tony and I guess we’ll talk to you again in a few weeks. Thanks for coming on the show.

Tony: Cheers.

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13Sep

Ep#8: Five Tips for Starting a Business

Five great tips for starting a business with an interview with Karen Gunton from Build a Little Biz

This week I’ve got a fantastic interview with Karen Gunton from Build a Little Biz. Karen gives us her 5 top tips for starting a business, particularly useful for someone starting a home based business but there’s some really useful information in here for anyone starting a business.

Covered in this episode;

  1. Finding the right idea – something that combines your interests/skills/expertise with what people actually need/want
  2. Doing your research – into biz models, profitability, a point of difference in the marketplace etc.
  3. Building the framework of your biz – your products, your customers, your brand etc.
  4. Giving yourself a timeframe – ‘portfolio building’ stage
  5. Starting right now with a simple marketing strategy

Links;

This week’s featured photo is the last in the series from The Wandering Videographer. This is just a small piece of a great panorama, click on the photo for the full photo.

Panorama Sunset by The Wandering Videographer

[spoiler title=”Transcription” open=”0″ style=”1″]

You’re listening to the Web Marketing Adelaide Podcast. We give you the tips and strategies to help you utilize the web to get more traffic, leads and sales for your business. Now here’s your host, Nick Morris.

 

Nick: Welcome to Episode 8 of the Web Marketing Adelaide Podcast. This week, we’re speaking with Karen Gunton from Build a Little Biz about Tips for Getting a Business Started. Are you there Karen?

 

Karen: Yes, I’m here. It’s great to be here talking with you.

 

Nick: Great. Let’s just get started by you telling us a little bit about yourself, your business, and what you do.

 

Karen: Sure. I guess it’s a bit of a long story. You can probably tell from my accent that I’m Canadian and I’m living here in Australia in Adelaide. We moved here about just over six years ago. Before I moved here from Canada, I was a science teacher. Once we moved here, I didn’t really want to go back to teaching. I liked being a mom at home, but I found that I missed having my own thing. I missed talking with people and planning out things to teach the students and learning – I missed both teaching and learning. But I didn’t really want to go back to work. I sort of just fell into this idea of turning my hobby of photography into a business. It was not planned. I didn’t have a clue to what I was doing. People just started asking me how much do you charge. I quickly had to decide if I was going to start charging money for doing family photographs and children’s photographs, or if I was going to keep it a hobby. I decided to give it a go, and quickly realised that if I was going to make a real go of it and actually run a profitable business, I needed to learn a lot more about business than I knew already.

 

That was around the time that Build a Little Biz started, because I found that as I was learning about how to run a business, I was getting asked a lot of questions by other mums who were at home and wanting to start their own business. It was the same idea, they had a hobby that they were trying to turn into a business. So I started blogging about what I was learning as I went and I rebranded and re-launched my photography business. It was really successful. It went really well. I was attracting the right people and making a great profit, and working the hours that I wanted. I had the freedom to run my own business from home the way I wanted. It was fabulous, but I quickly found that Build a Little Biz was taking up almost as much as time as my photography business was, so recently I have made the decision to focus just on Build a Little Biz and working with other business builders and helping them. I’m teaching them and doing some creative design stuff for them. That’s where my focus is right now, but it’s been a long journey of six years of running my own business that got me in here. It’s kind of exciting.

 

Nick: Great. I can certainly say to the listeners to go and check out your website. There are lots of great articles on there. You’re blogging regularly, and you also have other contributors to the blog as well?

 

Karen: That’s correct. Yes, I quickly discovered that while I was great at teaching some concepts because I can really put things into a way that resonate with people and made it click for people, there’s still a lot that I do not have the expertise to answer questions on. What I’ve done is I’ve got about ten regular contributors who write for Build a Little Biz. They answer questions that come in from readers and fans, as well as, my own questions. Sometimes, I’ll email them and say, “Oh my Gosh! I have a question about PR and I really need you to help with this.” So I’m really lucky because I’ve got a great team of people from all around the world that are writing for Build a Little Biz, answering questions, and helping us all with all those different aspects. There’s so much that you can do and that you can learn about in order to grow and build a successful business. There’s a lot out there. I like the fact that I’m creating a place where everything’s kind of in one handy spot. People know that when they email me a question, somebody will answer it, or if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find somebody who will. I’ve kind of built myself a reputation as being extremely helpful. I’m a pretty good librarian to help people find the resources that they need.

 

Nick: Great. If people want to go check out your website, its buildalittlebiz.com right?

 

Karen: Yes, that’s right.

 

Nick: And it’s biz, B-I-Z.

 

Karen: It is. Yes.

 

Nick: Let’s launch into the topic for this week. We’re going to talk about tips on getting your business started. You’ve got five tips so I’ll let you get started.

 

Karen: Alright. Well, I think that number one tip I have is about finding the right idea. The thing that I find most of the people I talk to fall into one of two categories. One is that they have some hobby, interests, skills, expertise, or talent; something that they do and think they can turn it into a business. Or sometimes, they have friends or family who say, “Oh my Gosh! You should totally sell that. You can make money.” So they have this product idea or service idea and now they’re trying to figure out how to make their business a go.

 

The other category is people who like the idea of having their own business and perhaps they’re working in a full time job that they don’t really want to continue on for too long. Or perhaps there are mums – a lot of them are mums – at home who are in a maternity leave or that sort of thing and they’d like to find a way to have a business from home without getting back to work. But they need an idea. Either or, I think the thing that we tend to do is think, “Okay, what can I do? What can I sell?” We look at our interest, talent, expertise, and all those things. That’s really great but the other side of the coin is that you need to find something not only that you think is a great idea or that your mum thinks is a good idea or your best friend, but something that other people actually want.

 

A lot of people start with their product and then they think, “Okay. Well, now I’ve got to find people to buy it.” That makes it a bit harder. Whereas you have an idea that you already know people want, need, long for, and crave, that makes it a lot easier to sell because it’s easier to sell something to someone who already wants it. You know exactly who you need to go talk to about what you do. It makes it feel a lot easier. It makes it a little bit more fun. I always tell people, whether they’ve already got their product or service idea or whether they’re trying to think of one, to find that sweet spot that combines something that you can do and are willing to do with something that people actually want. It’s important to go outside of your circle of close friends who are telling you to go for it and actually see what that sweet spot is. I always get people to brainstorm and really just put down everything they can think of that combines their own expertise, talent and skills with what other people might need or want. Look for some audience for your product or service.

 

Nick: I think that’s great advice because that’s certainly selling to people often seem to miss – at least people I’ve talked to – is that their idea needs to actually have an audience before that can be viable. Often, I heard of struggles trying to find your “starving crowd.”

 

Karen: Yes. That’s a really good way of putting it. The thing I think is people think, “Okay. Well, I can make this thing. Everybody will buy it like, it’s great! My thing is great. My service is great. My product is great. Anybody could buy it: any mum, any dad, or any grandparent.” They have this broad idea of who would be interested in it. But that makes it hard as well, because they think that they have a specific audience, but it’s not really. It’s hard to attract the right person to come and buy your thing if you’re not attracting anybody at all because you’re very busy trying to please everybody. I think it’s a bit tricky for people to hone in on who the people are that will actually need and desire what they want. There are a lot of ways, I think, you can go about it. You can look at what are some gaps in the market place. You can look at what other people are doing and see if you can do it in a new and innovative way. You can look at people who are kind of being ignored; the other part of the pie as they say that, nobody is really targeting.  You can look at and see what problems people have around you that need solving and see what sorts of skills and expertise you can contribute to solving that problem. But I think if you have a really clear idea on how you can help one single other person in a specific way, then that’s a pretty good starting point.

 

Nick: Let’s move on to the next tip. So that’s “doing your research.” What’s this tip all about?

 

Karen: Yes, that kind of leads from the first one. Again, I’ve talked to so many people who get like, “Okay, I’ve got this product or service and I’ll start a Facebook page and I’ll start selling it.” But they haven’t really done their research. I would say you should put as much research into your idea, especially, at the beginning as you would into actually doing the job. If you’re a person who wants to start a business on the side when you’re not at your regular nine to 5 job and you plan on working two evenings a week and both days on a weekend, those are hours that you should put in right now into researching it. Doing your research into what business models exist out there already. How are other people selling this product or service, are they online, are they doing it in person, are they going to markets, are they setting up bricks and mortar stores? What kinds of business models are out there right now that you can learn from? Not only can you see how you can do it in a way that serves your own interest and also the needs of your people, but you can learn a lot from what other people who are doing.

Sometime people have got a pretty successful business model. It’s easy to take an idea that exists out there and to turn it into something unique just by making a few tweaks here and there. I say; definitely do research into what exist out there. Another reason for doing that is also, it will help you to see what your point of difference could be in the market place. If you’re doing research into what already exist in your little niche that you want to service, you’ve really got to know what’s out there. You got to know what other people are doing. You need to know who your competitors are, who any complimentary businesses are, what bloggers are talking about this, what online groups and local networks exist. The more research you do, the better you’ll be able to sell your product because you’ll really understand what your point of difference is plus you already have started making connections with people. Again, if you have a whole group of people out there already that you’ve talk to, then that sure it makes it a lot easier to find people to sell your product to.

 

Nick:  Great tips.

 

Karen: Also, there’s just one more thing I’ll just add about that which I think is an important thing. Maybe it’s obvious but also to look into how profitable your business idea is going to be, because some people again start doing what they’re doing and they come up with random pricing that they feel good about or that they think is affordable or that they’d be willing to pay; therefore, other people will be willing to pay. They don’t always look at it with an idea of an end-goal in mind like how much money do you actually need to make from doing your business. Do you want to do it be full time? What kind of a wage do you want? How many hours can you put in? How much is it going to cost to you? Figure out and crunch your numbers. Even if you don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like, get a piece of paper, a pen and a calculator and really think about what kinds of prices will you need to charge to make this profitable and then, what would you have to do to be able to charge those prices. What value will you need to offer? What kind of difference will you need to make? Pricing is like we can have an entire podcast just on pricing which I’m sure you’ll probably have plans to do, but it’s one of the things that I find people struggle with the most – what to charge. The first step really is to sit down, crunch those numbers, and try to figure it out.

 

Nick: Yes, I definitely agree with those tips. Something that I’ve heard mentioned before is that if you start off by pricing yourself too low, it’s really difficult to increase your prices once the market already has an idea and expectation of what you’re charging. So getting in there early and doing the research of your ideal pricing might be a better way of going about it.

 

Karen: Well in that, I think I may mistake that people make sometimes is that they don’t realise that their price is part of their brand. So if they start out and they’re making handmade jewellery and they think, “I’ll charge twenty dollars or whatever for this thing. That’s what I’ll be willing to pay, so that’s what I’ll do.” Then they realise as time goes on that, first of all, they need to charge a lot more to make it worth their while. Second of all, that they need to attract people that are looking for more high-end, exquisite hand-made items and so they need to charge more in order to get into that more luxury niche. They realise this entire brand that they’ve created is all based on twenty dollar earrings and they can’t suddenly turn around and charge a hundred dollars for those earrings. So your price is part of your brand, it sends a strong message and I always say to people, if “affordable” is what you want to sell, that’s just about the hardest thing because affordable is relative. What one person values is totally different to another person. What’s affordable to you is different to me and that can change. I think you have to look at it and you really have to crunch the numbers and you have to think about the brand you want to build and the kind of people that you want to attract to buy what you’re selling and really look at your pricing that way. If you figure it out and then you decide for a little while to charge a little bit less as you’re growing, that’s one thing.  But to start low and undersell yourself, then realise in a year or two years, you need to fix it. That’s difficult.

 

Nick: Right. Well, let’s go on to the next tip and that is building the framework of your biz. What’s this tip all about?

 

Karen: Okay, so again, this leads to what I was saying already. Your framework is what I say your basis for everything else. If you are clear about this, it’s easier to build your business. The thing that I find is that a lot of people start with the products and they’re selling it, and they’re out there, but then when I ask them questions like, “Okay, who exactly are you targeting? Who is your perfect customer?” They don’t really don’t know. Like I said before they get anxious. “Oh, any mum. Any mum around the world!” That’s not very specific. It’s hard to attract every mum and so you end up not attracting any mums. What I often make people do is go backwards and get clear on their framework. By this I mean really getting clear on who exactly you want to attract – your perfect customers – those ones who actually love what you do, need what you do, and will buy anything you’d sell just because they love it so much. That’s one.

Another one is your products. A lot of people, they’re selling jewellery, or photographs, or service like copywriting, or whatever, but they don’t get the real benefits of what they’re selling like that they’re saving people time, or making people feel really good about themselves, or giving people a solution to a deep inner problem that they’re not really expressing. They think, “Oh I want some jewelry” but what they really want is a way to feel especial and feel good about themselves or fit in with all the other mums at school, or whatever it might be. You’re not just selling jewelry. You’re not just selling photographs. You’re not just selling your service. You’re selling something a lot broader and deeper than that. If you can get to the real benefits of what you sell, and if you can really get to the emotions behind what you sell, then that makes it a lot easier to talk to people about it. That’s the second part of your framework.

So you got your customers, your products – what you’re really selling, and you’ve got “you”. That’s the big one people forget. They don’t realise that you are the most unique part of your business. Nobody else can copy your idea exactly if they can’t copy you. If you pop up a store, you start selling photography services and it looks like everyone else’s store, online website and nothing about it stands out, then it’s pretty hard to compete. But if you can put ‘you’ into your business and what makes you special, and what gifts you have – your ‘secret sauce’ is what I sometimes call it. What’s your secret sauce? What is it about you that you can add to your business that really makes it stands out? That also makes doing business more fun because then its really a reflection of your own passion and your own joy and your spark. You know that thing that gets you excited to get out of bed in the morning to work on your business. That is the third part.

Then the fourth part of your framework is just what’s happening in the marketplace. Where do you fit in with your competitors? Who are some other complimentary businesses out there who are doing similar things or things that are attracting the same audience as you? Or perhaps they have complimentary services to your product, or vice versa. You can learn a lot about what they’re doing and you can figure out how you fit in there. You can also figure out how to make yourself different. You can look at what objections exist in the marketplace like if everyone else is saying, “Oh there is no way I would buy that. I’ve heard this and that about it.” Then, if you know that, then you can start addressing those objections in your own brand and attracting all those people who think, “Oh it’s not going to work for me.” You suddenly know how to talk to them because you see what they said about other people. You can learn a lot about what’s happening in your marketplace. Then once you have a really clear idea of those four things, then you can start to put together what your brand is going to be. What message do you want to send about your business? Who do you want to attract? What do you want? What does the voice of your business need to be; the look of your business? Are you going to be low-end, high-end, mid-range, or are you going to be luxury, fast, quality or personal? There are so many different things that you could be with your brand, and messages that you can send with your brand. That is going to be perfect for you if you understand everything else.

 

Nick: Great.

 

Karen: Does that make sense?

 

Nick: Yes, that makes perfect sense.

 

Karen: Yes.

 

Nick: I think, yes some really good tips. Let’s move on to our fourth tip which is “giving yourself a time-frame.”

 

Karen: A lot of people say, “I can’t start right now because I don’t have my website up or I’m not really sure yet about my pricing so I don’t want to get started. Or I haven’t really picked exactly who I want to target.” The best advice I can give is just to get started. You’re not going to learn everything you need to know about how to make your business a success until you actually start talking to people about it. You can do your research, sit online, and look and see what everyone else is doing. But until you start talking to people, I don’t think you really know what they need, what they’re looking for, and how you can help them. So the best thing that thing I would say to people is, “Just start now.” Even if you just want to get on Twitter and start talking about what it is you’re thinking about selling and see what kind of reaction you get. Just do something. What I usually recommend people do is have what I call a “portfolio building stage.” This is what photographers often do. They’ll look at where their business needs to be as far as pricing packages, kinds of prints, and stuff they’re going to offer. But they realised they’re not quite there yet, they have learning to do and they’ve got to build their portfolio, and they better find customers and work with them, and test out their systems.

What we often do in photography is have a portfolio building stage. We allow ourselves a set amount of time and we’ll have goals of what we want to put in to our portfolio. We’ll find people who want to work with us and offer them a really excellent deal for doing that. Then, we get excellent feedback, and we can grow testimonials, figure out our systems – what sucks and what we need to fix. We might find that we hate it and don’t want to do anymore. It’s great because it’s a way to sort of get started without under pricing yourself, and under-valuing yourself and sort of ruining the brand that you want to create right on the get go. I always suggest to people that they should try and find a way to incorporate that into your business plan. So get started right now and then allow yourselves three months, six months, or one month if you’re on a mission to get this going. Then say; this is my portfolio building stage. For this period of time, I’m going to offer these discounts, deals, bonuses, or I’m going to work with anybody who asks or whatever it is, and just take it as a learning stage realising that you can fix things as you go. Anything that you do for your business right now is not a tattoo; it’s doesn’t last forever. You can fix it, you can change it and you can make it work better once you learn better, but you’re only going to do that by starting now. So get started!

 

Nick: Great. I really like the tip of giving yourself a time frame. Something that I often find trouble with is not coming up with ideas but actioning them.

 

Karen: Yes.

 

Nick: Like, always planning in my head but then actually getting something out on the page and getting it started can be quite difficult.

That’s kind of the story of this podcast. I was thinking about it for ages and then all of a sudden, I thought, “Well maybe I should just get it started… and learn as I go”

 

Karen: Just get started, yes.

 

Nick: It’s much better to have something out there than it is to have to wait for like six months, a year, or never because you’re trying to get it perfect before you release it.

 

Karen: The thing is if you are at all like me, you want everything to be just perfect before you put it out there. I think a lot business owners are that way. We’re really hard on ourselves because we’re kind of on our own, we don’t have employees or bosses to lift us up and push us along. So, it’s easy to sort of get stuck in that stage of saying “It’s not as quite ready yet, it’s not quite perfect.” But yes, I think you have to just put it out there. You’ll probably look back in a couple of years, and think, “Oh my God. I learned so much since then. It’s kind of embarrassing what I did back then.” But that’s what leads you to where you’re going to be next. I was thinking the same thing a little while ago and Seth Godin had a great post about what you do for your business – It’s not a tattoo, it’s not permanent, it doesn’t last forever, you can fix it, you can change it, you can adjust it, you can do whatever you have to do. Ever since I read that I’ve thought “You know what? That’s right. It’s not a tattoo. I’m just going to put it out there and because I’m my own boss I can just give myself permission to change it when I need to.”

 

Nick: Great. Yes, I really like that tattoo analogy.

 

Karen: Yes, you’ll be thinking that now. You’ll be thinking, “Oh, I don’t know if I could do this.” And then you’ll hear my voice saying, “It’s not a tattoo Nick. Just do it.”

 

Nick: Perfect.

 

All right, so let’s move on to our last tip which is; ‘starting right now with simple marketing strategy’ which kind of melds into the last discussion…

 

Karen: Yes, exactly.

 

Nick: Tell us a bit more about that.

 

Karen: So, yes, just start right now and you might not know what you’re going to sell, or you might have a product already but you don’t know who you’re going to sell it to or whatever. Like you might have one small piece of your framework built. You might have one bit of your research done, and you might not know anything else yet. But just get started. The simplest combination of things that I suggest to people is;

Number 1: Have some sort of online presence like a blog or a website. You can start this yourself for free like there’s heaps of free options. You can set up a WordPress site on your own. You can look for one of the ready to build sites, or get a blog started, whatever it is. But just start something. Again, it’s not tattoo like in a year you might get someone to design it with something flash and amazing, but just start right now. So you want to have your own little piece of the online world. Even if you want to start a local business or a business that you tend to have it be in person and everything, it’s good to have something online; because that’s the way our society is right now.

Start to have your little piece of the online world with a website or blog. Blogs are great because you can just start talking to people like you can start writing about whatever it is that your passion or expertise is. You know what it is you love about what you do, and start attracting people just purely based on you telling the stories about what it is you do and want to offer this world. They are really flexible, you can do anything you want to do: photos, video and audio, whatever floats your boat, and whatever makes you jump out of bed in the morning because you’re excited to do. Get that online and get going.

Number 2: Then the other thing is just have some part of social media working for you. So whether you’re into Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn or whatever, start talking about what you do and sharing your passion, interest, your expertise, and helping people. Be generous with your skills and expertise, and just start talking to people. Direct the back to your little hub, website, or blog, start getting traffic, and making connections with people, just being out there interacting and just being genuine.

Number 3: Then the third piece, really simply, is just to have a way to capture traffic, interest and fans who tell you that they are interested. I suggest having an email list and starting it right away.  Even if you don’t even know what you’re going to sell yet. If you just know “I love doing this. I somehow want to turn into a business, but I don’t how I’m going to do it yet.” If you start an email list and start collecting emails of people who think what you do is amazing, you’re ideas are amazing, and your passions are amazing, then you have a way of getting in touch with them again. Once that time comes, you start maybe getting fans on Facebook, getting friends and followers on Twitter, or getting people coming over to check out your website. If you have a way of capturing their email address, and keeping in touch with them, that lets you start building a list of people who already love what you do.

When you’re ready to launch your product, service, or you come up with a new idea on something that you haven’t tried yet or whatever, you got all these people who are interested in it. In your portfolio building stage, you can say, “Okay, I want to try this new product. I don’t know how it’s going to work. Do I have any volunteers to be guinea pigs?” When you put it out there, send out that email to people who already like what you do, then, you got people right there who are ready to hear from you. Even if you don’t know what you’re going to email yet to those people, start capturing their email addresses right away because it gives you something to start building even if you don’t know anything else about what you’re doing.

I compare it to the idea of if you were to go to a networking event and hand out business cards, that’s awesome. You could go around and say, “Hello! This is my idea and I’ve got these business cards.” A lot of people start with the business cards. They go order like a thousand business cards with their website on them and their name. Then, you go hand them out but once you hand them out the ball’s in their court. You’re relying on those people to remember to call you, to be interested enough to go find the card and call you, talk to you some more, ask questions or whatever. So you’ve handed out your business cards, you got your website up, and you’re ready but you’re waiting for people to come to you; whereas, if you have an email list of people that have already told you they’re interested in what you’re doing, then you have a way to contact them in a non-icky way. You don’t want to spam them with whatever sale offers you have  but to send genuine emails about how you want to help them, or asking them what their problems are and see if there’s a way you could help them or whatever it is. That puts the ball in your court and gives you some control over keeping in contact with people and staying on people’s radar. Before you go and buy a thousand business cards, you can start for free really right now with a simple website or blog, some presence somewhere on social media where you think your best people are hanging out and a free email list from a place like Mail Chimp or something.

 

Nick: Cool.

 

Nick: Great traffic of tips to finish off those Five Tips on Starting a Business. Thanks very much for coming on the show, Karen. It’s been really great having you.

 

Karen: Thank you for having me. It’s great to chat.

 

Nick: If people want to find out more about you and your business, it’s buildalittlebiz.com, is that right?

 

Karen: That’s right. See you up.

 

Nick: Great. Well, hopefully we might be talk to you again in the future if we have another episode on, perhaps on pricing like you mentioned earlier in the show. Until then.

 

Karen: Yes, we can talk about that for sure.

 

Nick: Great Karen. Until then I hope we have good one.

 

Karen: Thanks Nick.


Nick: Cheers.

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06Sep

Ep#7: Panda & Penguin Panic

Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates in an interview with Tony McCreath from Web Site Advantage.

In episode 7 I chat to Tony McCreath from Website Advantage about two of Google’s biggest algorithm changes in the past 18 months, ‘Panda,’ and ‘Penguin.’ This interview is the first of four about various topics to do with search engines. The remaining interviews will come out over the next few weeks.

Included in this episode;

  • What is an algorithm and what do we mean by ‘algorithm changes’?
  • What does panda target?
  • What should business owners do and not do to stay on the right side of panda?
  • What does penguin target?
  • How can business owners come out on the right side of penguin?
  • What algorithm changes might Google be working on in the future?
  • What is the trend (of changes)?

Links;

  • Tony’s business website www.websiteadvantage.com.au
  • Flying Solo Adelaide Meetups (monthly events announced within that forum)
  • Google Webmaster Guidelines – It is worth a quick read even if you are going to hire someone to manage your website and online marketing. Then you will have an idea if the person you’re hiring is heading down a dodgy path. The quality section will give you clues on what Penguin may be targeting. The menu on the left links to the new Webmaster Academy which is a great way to get started.

We have another great photo from The Wandering Videographer this week.

Taken on Black Hill Conervation park

 

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Nick: Welcome back to theWeb Marketing Adelaide Podcast. This week, I’m talking with Tony McCreath from Website Advantage. Welcome to the show Tony.

Tony: Cheers.

Nick: How are you doing?

Tony: Good, good. I’m in my element here. We’re in a pub.

Nick: We’ve just had a Flying Solo Meet-up, a monthly meet-up that it is at the Hackney Hotel. We’ve had quite a turnout this month, we had 12 people. So, if you want to check those out, I’ll have a link in the show notes to the Flying Solo meet up groups. It’s a great place for meeting small business owners.

This week, we’re talking to Tony about SEO topics. I’m going to have several different topics over the next few weeks. This week it’s Panda and Penguin Panic, Tony.

Now, Panda and Penguin are the code names for algorithm changes by Google, is that correct?

Tony: Yeah, they’re the specific algorithms that have been introduced in the last year or so.

Nick: Yep, and let’s just start with what are algorithm changes?

Tony: Well, we should probably start with, what’s an algorithm? That’s an automatic mathematics functions and programs that gather and process data. It’s how Google works, whether the website’s good, bad or ugly and so these latest ones, Panda and Penguin are trying to find the ugly ones. There are many other algorithms that do rank, in fact, just work out how Google displays things. This one, we’re focusing on the ugly stuff.

Nick: Great. And so let’s start with Panda. What does Panda target specifically?

Tony: Panda was introduced about a year ago, it’s a means to target low quality content. So, Google was a bit idle for a while and people started to get on the system by spinning content, doing what we call thin content, which is maybe just a paragraph of gibberish. So, people were doing this a Google decided that they wanted to improve things. So, Panda came out and its job is to try and detect this sort of content that’s no good for users, and what it will do, it punishes on a website as a whole. So if you have a website that has a lot of this thin, horrible content, Google will punish you and the Panda will take you and you will suddenly disappear from ranking. You’ll be put in a kind of sin bin until you clean up your act. So, basically, it’s about low quality content.

Nick: Great. What are some things that business owners can do to make sure that they don’t come out on the wrong side of the Panda algorithm?

Tony: The key thing and what Google is trying to get people to go for is creating great content. If you write stuff that people want to read, so focus on the users and not Google and write stuff that is very useful and informative, entertaining. That’s what Google is trying to reward and anything that’s the opposite of that, they’re trying to punish. So, the key thing is write great stuff, and make sure it’s your own, don’t steal it, because Google works that out and will punish you as well.

Nick: What kind content are we talking about? Kind of like Q and A type of stuff, or stuff directly related to your business or?

Tony: I guess it depends on your business, what sort of content they’re talking about. For some businesses the content is just describing what the business does. You might have only a few pages and that’s fine, just hire a copywriter and make sure it looks right and focus on the users, what do they want to see and read, whereas other businesses might be focusing on writing articles to help their clients and use that. So, make it so that those articles should help people, and after you’ve helped people, they might come to you for business and hat’s the idea.

Nick: Great. So, moving on to Penguin now. What does Penguin target?

Tony: This one, there’s a lot of speculation. This is a very recent one. There’s actually been one update, actually to clarify on Panda and Penguin. They are kind of one-off events. Panda’s been around for a year and there have probably been around 10 different updates with Panda. So, on certain dates, you’re either, you could get put into Panda or taken out of Panda and the same with Penguin. Now, Penguin has only actually had 2 updates, or more correctly, Penguin existed and then 1 update.

So, there’s a lot of speculation about what it does, and nobody really knows because there’s not enough feedback information from it. Just before the first Penguin, Matt Croft from Google mentioned the concept of over-optimization, so this is where a lot of people are getting clues from and this talking about stuffing keywords into your website, doing massive link-building exactly on keywords, websites with a million links, all these sort of things that basically break Google’s Web Master Guidelines.

So generally, the idea is that Penguin is about that. It’s over-optimizing, it’s trying to get into the system, and it’s trying to detect those things and punish you in the same way that Panda does, you get knocked out of the results.

Nick: Right, so just to clarify, in the SEO industry, when we’re talking about trying to sort of figure out what Penguin is about, the reason that we don’t know is because Google isn’t so forthright about telling people what they’re exactly doing with their algorithm?

Tony: Yeah, as far as Penguin, they have not really said much, they’ve not confirmed things, so, basically, there’s a lot of SEO’s doing a lot of, a lot of them are coming to the wrong conclusion. A lot of stuff I read about it, people say, I recovered from Penguin and the only thing Google has said is, you can’t have, it’s not changed, it’s not been updated. You can only recover from Penguin when they update it and as I said, there’s only been 2 updates, only a few articles I’ve seen where they’ve confirmed that recovery was on the right dates, so there’s very little information. The strongest sign is keyword text in and your back links and people linking to you, because if you over create these links to you saying exactly what your business is, Google may punish you because of that.

Nick: Great and what are some things that business owners should be looking at to try and make sure they’re not hit by the Penguin algorithm?

Tony: Because it’s so vague at the moment, probably the best advice is to read the Google Web Master Guidelines and that is what Google wants you do and Penguin is trying to attack people who are breaking those rules. So, learn them and make sure you’re not doing anything against it. In fact, it’s good to read, and because you’ll find good things that you should be doing as well, the legitimate ways to promote your website, like type and tags and stuff that they basically want you to make good websites and great content and you follow that, you should be okay.

Nick: Great. So, that’s the Google Web Master guidelines, I’ll put a link to that in the show notes so people can have a great look at that.

Let’s now move on to the next question. What kind of algorithm change do you think Google might be looking at in the future, if you can speculate?

Tony: Speculation. Google actually says they make 500 changes a year to their algorithms, now most of these are little tweaks and are probably not relevant to you, things like improvements on how they deal with different languages and countries, slight alterations to bits and pieces. In fact, Google’s quite often lists all these changes for you but things like Panda and Penguin all they will say is, it happened, they’re not confirming it and nothing more on that.

So, what we do know is Panda will continue to have updates. It’s a lot more stable now, so we won’t expect bigger tax from Panda to surprise you, whereas Penguin is very new, it’s unstable so we’d expect some changes. In fact, there has been a warning that there is one coming up soon and we should expect that there will be quite a few changes happening there.

On the longer term, the algorithms are going to get enhanced, things like semantic understanding, to understand pages more. So, that’s my projection of what they’re going to do. They’re trying to understand the meaning behind pages and from that, provide better results because if you understand what someone is talking about rather than just the words that they used, you can match that up with what people are asking.

Nick: And that would be the Knowledge Graph coming in to play, wouldn’t it?

Tony: Yeah, which only just got recently got introduced in Australia, and for people who don’t know what that is, to you it’d be something like if you search for a famous person, Google will show on the right-hand side, information about that person, pictures, who they associate with, a little bio, all this is taken from Google’s understanding of that person, rather than just the words that relate to them.

Nick: So, it’s more and more, leaning towards kind of an artificial intelligence, more of a learning machine, as opposed to just associating web pages with keywords.

Tony: I think that Google needs to save the eco-system, anyhow. So, the animals in the eco-system are starting to get a little bit clever and we might be getting monkeys.

Nick: Great. So can we say perhaps that the trend of Google changes is more of an overall view towards trying to serve us better content?

Tony: Yes.

Nick: Is that a sort of like a… ?

Tony: A general knowledge graph is that the, if they can understand what the content is more, they can give us better content and we will like Google more, which means Google gets more money from advertising, which is the ultimate aim always with Google.

Nick: Right and where can people go to find out more about you and your business?

Tony: Well, I have a website, websiteadvantage.com.au. That evolved into, basically as I was learning the trade, I also like to teach. I find that a good way to learn, so the website has got a lot of articles, focusing a lot on helping small businesses help themselves and also helping website developers learn about how they can do SEO. So, that’s built up and the motivation behind a lot of stuff I do is that I had to do it, so afterwards, I wrote about how to do it, to help others learn how to do it in sales.

I also act as a software engineer. I write a lot of tools, some of them I share on the web, some of the smaller ones to help website developers do their SEO work quicker.

Nick: Great, I can definitely recommend Tony’s website to anyone who is interested. I have used some stuff in there and some tools I used as well in my business, it’s very handy.

Tony: So the tools are, as advice for someone, tools are a great way to attract people to your website. You’re actually providing something very useful to people and they come back and tell people about it. They are the most popular pages on my website, so if you’ve get any ideas for tools, I’d add them onto yours.

Nick: Well, thanks very much for talking to us today about Panda and Penguin and we’ll catch up with you again in a future episode.

Tony: Great, nice to talk to you.

Nick: Well, that brings us to the end of episode number 7. If you want to learn any more about any of the topics we’ve discussed in this episode, head to our website www.webmarketingadelaide.com.au. We’re so happy to hear any suggestions or feedback that you have and I’ll see you next week!

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