Digital Marketing Tools For Your Small Business

As a small business, your employees may be juggling a lot of “hats” at once. Your salesperson may also be in charge of marketing, customer service, along with some administrative tasks! It can be easy to forget marketing when you’re concerned with immediate results for your bottom line.

But marketing is integral to the overall success of your business. It builds customer loyalty, which leads to higher retention rates and referrals. This is different from sales, because you’ve already convinced them to “buy in” to your product – now you want to “buy in” to your company’s brand.

The digital marketing process can be streamlined by the use of online tools that don’t have to break the bank. Some of them on this list are even FREE! Here are some digital marketing tools for your small business:

  1. Social Media Management Platforms

When you’re a brand dedicated to creating a consistent social media presence, you know posting around the same time every day is helpful. But if you do this in real-time, it’s going to interrupt your focus on other tasks. This is where social media management tools come in.

Hootsuite is a great starter for entrepreneurs. The free plan allows you to control 3 different social media profiles from universal dashboard. You can schedule posts ahead of time to run across the different platforms. This allows you  a lot of flexibility – you could schedule all your posts for a week in one day! Another option is Buffer – while the free plan is limited, the cheapest plan has a lot of features.

  1. Online Photo Editors

Photoshop is expensive. And the truth is, if you are only wanting to make simple edits and graphics, you probably don’t need it! There are lots of free alternatives out there that you can use within your browser.

A good option for beginners is Canva. It has canvasses that are sized for optimal viewing on Facebook, Twitter, instagram, etc. so that you don’t have to worry about making something that won’t fit. The program also has free templates, fonts, and graphic elements. There are some free stock photos, and a large library of photos that are only $1.

  1. Analytic Tools

If you have website, you SHOULD be using Google Analytics. It will help you get a better insight into to which pages are performing well, your ROI from promotions, read time, bounce, rate, etc. Did you know you can create a custom dashboard within Google Analytics? This allows you to focus on which pieces of data are the most relevant to you.

  1. Blog Managers

Content marketing is a great way to create value for a potential consumer. One of the most common forms of content marketing is blogging. No matter what industry you’re in – if you are an expert in it, you can offer insight to readers.

But if you don’t know a lot about design or Web development, it might seem like an overwhelming task. One of the staples in the blog hosting industry is WordPress. It offers free templates so you can stop worrying about design and focus on design. It also has paid self-hosting options and more advanced templates. If you are an avid Google user and prefer to streamline your systems as much as possible – you might consider Blogger.

You can’t market well without spending both time and money. But there’s a difference between throwing lots of money at “fancy and flashy” marketing trends, and investing in smart marketing tools that will propel your business forward. If you’re a new business, don’t be afraid to try out a variety of options and find what works best for you!

Best Social Media Practices For Your Franchise

Social media has transformed the way we do business. For example – word of mouth referrals have always been powerful. But it’s faster and easier to do so now when you can instantly post an opinion about a brand to your Facebook feed. And customers don’t make a referral decision based solely on experiences in brick and mortar stores. In fact 71% of customers are likely to recommend a company after having a positive experience on social media.

 

And this is only one of the MANY ways that social media has revolutionized sales and business. Whether your business is about to launch a profile, or want to improve on your current one – a great starting point is to study best practices. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel! Here are some social media best practices for your franchise:

  1. Choose The Right Social Network

Logically you’re going to reach the most people by being on EVERY social media site, right? Well maybe…but it’s more complicated than that. But content is not universal. Narrowing your focus gives you more time to curate posts that will be successful on THAT PLATFORM specifically. Just look at the differences between Twitter and Instagram. Instagram is an image-driven platform, while Twitter is focused on what’s relevant RIGHT NOW and communicating short, easy to digest messages.

If you are unsure which social network to focus on, just look at your franchise’s specific demographics. You want to be where they are.

  1. Take Part in “Social Listening”

Being interactive on social media isn’t just about posting content. It’s also about consuming content to better understand your customer. Listen when users tweet about your brand and point out issues. Instead of ignoring it as someone just ranting on the internet, ask yourself if there is some merit behind their criticism- especially if it’s a complain that you keep seeing again and again. You also have a chance to directly respond and ask follow-up questions, making them feeling heard and possibly even swaying their opinion

  1. Focus on Engaging

Of course you want more customers from being active on social media. But when that’s your number one focus – consumers can tell. They’re already being sold to by countless internet ads. If they’ve come to your social media page, they want to find some insight about your brand. They’re looking at the value you can offer them and how you treat customers. Social media is NOT the same as a sales call. 

  1. Be Consistent

Brands often choose one person to run their social media because this encourages consistency. Social media is the face of your brand. Let’s say your demographic is “hip and trendy.” So you post something with emojis and cheat speak to try to reach your consumer. But your NEXT post is long-winded, all text, with 4+ syllable words. See how this would confuse a user? You want to find a voice consumers can easily recognize.

  1. Humanize Your Brand

Social media is your chance to be stand out and form a relationship with your consumer. By responding to questions and complaints, you aren’t just a faceless company selling to the masses. Instead you’re creating personal experiences that build trust and credibility. It’s not just about responding – if you copy the same message over and over to every comment, you’re not truly interacting. But if you take the time to individually reply to feedback, your customers WILL take notice.

 

Success on social media is all about utilizing your magic formula. What does your franchise offer that no other brand does? Once you’ve answered that, you can figure out how to communicate it through content. Create a good social media experience, and you’ll attract loyal customers who refer you time and time again.

10 Ways Business Owners Can Make the Most of Seasonal Marketing

As a business owner, marketing is a must if you want to successfully differentiate yourself from competitors, to engage with existing customers, and to turn would-be shoppers into paying patrons. And one of the most effective ways to get your message out is to take advantage of seasonal marketing opportunities. If you can think up some logical tie-in between your products or services and a season or notable occasion, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition. What follows is a look at 10 ways business owners can make the most of seasonal marketing — hint: everything comes back to social media and the power of this platform to build brands.

 

  1. Mother’s Day: How can seasonal marketing help you on Mother’s Day? How about a social media game in which you post a picture of a jar filled with rose petals? Ask your followers to guess how many petals are contained in the jar. Reward the winner either with a price or with a discount for your products or services.

 

  1. Power of Association: Don’t underestimate the power of association. Take Independence Day and its connection with the colors red, white, and blue, for instance. Figure out how to connect your products or services to the day with some clever ad copy, incorporate the color scheme — red, white, and blue — into your promotion, and share pictures with your followers across various social media accounts.

 

  1. Christmas Sale: This one might seem obvious, but it’s definitely worth pursuing. Many people already see the holiday season as a time to spend, so why not offer some special promotions to take advantage of this trend? You can use social media — Twitter hashtag? — to drum up interest in any sales connected with the holiday season.

 

  1. Google Ad Extensions: Google Ad extensions tied into a holiday or season are sure to pick up traction. If you sell books or sporting gear, for instance, insert ad extensions connected to the holiday you choose to leverage as a marketing opportunity. You can use an advertising tag line such as “Blowout Black Friday Sales” on your Google ads in order to bolster the odds of people clicking on the links.

 

  1. Hold a Live Event: What is your target demographic and what sort of live events are they most likely to find interesting? Are Easter, Halloween, or even the start of the summer season suitable given your offering and any logical tie-ins? If so, schedule a fun event and reach out to your social media followers to encourage them to come out. Give them incentives to come as well such as door prizes or discounts.

 

  1. Seasonal Images: Have you noticed how Google often changes up its logo in honor of certain statutory holidays or other important occasions? Well, you can do the same. Determine which holidays present a logical synergy with your offerings and get creative. You can inform your social media followers of the changes or even hold a contest where you invite them to submit their ideas for holiday-specific versions of your logo.

 

  1. Website: Consider adding a web page on your site to specifically highlight the products or services you offer that connect with the holiday in question.

 

  1. Thought Leader: Joining social media groups and contributing effectively — commenting and responding to questions — can help you to establish yourself as a thought leader. After you establish yourself as someone who is knowledgeable in your industry, you’ll be able to skillfully include marketing material in even generic content. If you’re a regular contributor, it won’t come off as cheesy if you do a bit of name-dropping on occasion.

 

  1. Customer Hashtag: Encourage your customers to send in their tips. For instance, you could set up a hashtag on Twitter and tell your customers to submit their best seasonal tips, say, for Christmas gifts under $25. You can even run a contest where you select some of the best recommendations and send the recipients prizes.

 

  1. Create Seasonal Brand: If you want to take advantage of seasonal marketing opportunities, you should consider creating a special brand image that is specific to the season you’re targeting. It will be instantly noticeable by your customers since it will be different from your traditional brand image.

You can definitely make the most of seasonal marketing with some hard work and a good strategy. Consider the recommendations above and see how they can help you grow your business.

 

The Importance of SEO for App Discoverability

In this day and age, being noticed on the internet is more important than ever.  However, as people start using their smartphones more often, the ability to be noticed on a mobile device has taken precedence over desktops and laptops.  Therefore, search engine optimization – or SEO – for apps has become vital.  As you will see, changing your strategy to become noticed by people on-the-go can be done with some simple tweaks.

What Is SEO?

Before we can begin to discuss how to use SEO for apps, we need to define what it means.  As moz.com discusses, “Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.”  By using certain techniques, you will be able to raise your website on the the results lists when people search for certain terms.

It consists of several parts – three of which will be discussed here.  Quality pertains to your specific product or service.  You don’t want people going to Apple computers when you are an apple farmer.  Right?  Being more specific gives more quality content.

Quantity is just what it sounds like.  When you have built up and audience of the people you want to focus on, creating more traffic to your site and app will definitely help.

Lastly, there is your organic audience.  While ads can create a significant portion of the search engine results pages – or SERPS – organic defines traffic that you don’t have to pay for. 

SEO Isn’t Just For Websites Anymore

However, it is no longer good enough to create results for just any old website.  You have to remember that people use the internet on their phones.  As a result, tweaking your SEO for apps is more important than ever.  After all, if people can’t find your app, it won’t be noticed, and all the work spent developing will be for naught.

With over 1 million apps available, how will yours get noticed?  Thanks to search engines like Google, there are new ways to discover an app organically with posted suggestions for relevant search queries.  As a result, organic searches will now yield better results comparable to website search results allowing more users to download those apps. 

Diversify your SEO Strategy

So, how is this done?  Let’s discuss the basics.  As Search Engine Watch discusses, “Most big engine mobile apps source results from their web index – hence, applying mobile SEO best practices is essential to visibility in both web and apps.”  Therefore, it is important to remember some things.  “Using a single URL strategy is best.  But a subdomain or subdirectory can help provided you adhere to these tips.”

  • Crawler access allows all crawlers access to desktops and mobile websites to understand page structure and consolidate signals
  • Being mindful of page load speed helps because mobile users often have slower connections
  • User experience is important. You want to make sure that people can find everything and interact with your app.
  • Remember to optimize page elements and content to keywords
  • Use code that doesn’t need Flash or Javascript. Otherwise, you could create unnecessary obstacles 

Enhance Your App

One great tool that you can use is a software development kit – or SDK.  It is a development tool that create apps for a certain platform.  Doing so allows your app to support certain services.  Several companies offer SDKs to allow for such support.

One such software, known as Enhance, allows app owners to implement any SDK on their apps.  It’s simple to use, as well.  Best of all, it’s free.

All you have to do is select the service you want to implement, and upload your compiled app file.  Then Enhance patches, and injects, the services into your app.  Now, all you have to do is download, and publish, your Enhanced app.  It’s that simple.

Features include toggle SDKs, DIY ads, crash reporting, advertising tools, and income reporting.  You can even install third-party services that your development tools don’t support.  With just a few steps, your app is better than ever.

Conclusion

 Search engine optimization has been an important website tool for several years.  However, the same level importance is now placed on those who create apps.  But, the information presented should help explain what people need to do to rise up on the SERPS.  Plus, tools like Enhance make apps easier to use.  This information should allow you to create an app that will be noticed in no time.

 

 

Leveraging Technology: Long Distance Gifts Ideas

Celebrating birthdays and holidays for long-distance friends and relatives poses challenges regarding gift giving. While sending a check or gift card seems like the logical solution, they tend to hold an impersonal sentiment.

Still, wrapping a present or shipping a special gift often leaves the giver worrying about the safety of the item…and the exact arrival. Even with expedited shipping, sometimes accidents happen and parcels end up in across the ocean.

But sending gifts to loved ones living far in celebration of a holiday or a special occasion includes other options than just a check and gift card. Worrying about shipping also shouldn’t be halting more personalized presents.

When showering out-of-town loved ones with gifts in honor of a momentous occasion or for the holidays, embrace technology with these ideas for personalized treasures from companies that take on the shipping worries for you:

  1. Customized Photo Albums

Many companies (including Apple) allow users to upload photos and create a handmade personalized photo album. Each page of the album can be customized; choose your own captions, cover page and other personalized details. The result is a gift that showcases some of the best memories between you and your loved ones. Out of town grandparents will especially treasure albums featuring their grandkids…be sure to feature those special events that they might have missed.

  1. Home Movies on DVD

Take highlights of your favorite home movies and put them together on one greatest hits compilation. Some companies also specialize in helping you convert old 8-millimeter films onto DVD, which means you can preserve those old home movies from decades past. Send DVDs of cherished movies to relatives for a memory-filled gift.

  1. Gifts of the Month

Not sure what to send? Sign a loved one up for monthly presents! Almost every food and beverage item offers an ‘of the month’ club. Choose wine, choose, teas, coffees, candies and more. Each month, your friend or relative will receive a different offering. The mystery is so much fun! The best part? You don’t have to worry about shipping anything…the companies do it all!

  1. Floral Flair

Almost everyone loves receiving flowers. This is an easy and beautiful gift that shows you care. Choose fun blooms like Gerbera daisies for happy occasions like birthdays and graduations. Roses offer luxury and love. And flowers are the traditional gift for Mother’s Day; in fact, the National Retail Federation estimated that in 2016 Americans were projected to spend “$2.4 billion on flowers.”

 

  1. Online Shopping

Is it even necessary to go to a bricks and mortar store anymore? Not really! According to the site Big Commerce, “51% of Americans prefer to shop online.” Online shopping is the ideal way to pick out the perfect gift and have it shipped on time.  Shopping online allows you to find anything and everything…and almost every popular boutique and Big Box retailer has online options.

Stop sending checks and gift cards and opt for a more personal gift instead to honor long-distance loved ones. Thanks to technology, there are so many gift options available. And, sometimes, you can snag free shipping on purchases via online deals! Check out personalized DVD and photo albums that can be created online and peruse the limitless virtual mall that is the internet. You will find that perfect present, because, it is out there! So get shopping!

Four Ways that Technology is Changing Beauty

It’s no secret that technology has revolutionised the ways we communicate and accomplish our day-to-day responsibilities. We are able to hold the proof in our hands with a Smartphone or tap a tablet’s screen to witness the new influx of tech. However, many of us fail to notice the role technology plays in the world of beauty and cosmetic products. Yes, the world of lipstick and curling irons is being changed by an influx of modern technology in some pretty amazing ways.

Four Powerful Ways Tech is Changing Beauty

The following list is a compilation of four ways that tech is making over the beauty world:

App-tastic! It is estimated that 87 percent of us will be logged on and shopping online by the year 2020. In response, many cosmetic and beauty companies are embracing computer and social media technology as a viable way to bring the makeup counter to us. These technologies are changing the way brands are reaching out to their customers, offering us another dimension to exploring looks or products.

These apps and sites are allowing us to virtually try make-up before we buy, while introducing new beauty products to digital consumers. Many of these apps allow a user to watch tutorials on how to apply product with professional makeup artists and offer us tools that combines skin and facial technology with an uploaded photo so we can “try out” various shades of lipstick and false eyelashes with a swipe of a finger.

Color changing cosmetics. Do you remember the mood rings we used to buy at the local pharmacy counter? They were typically oval in shape with a dark color changing stone. Supposedly, they were able to indicate our moods by changing color. They were entertaining and always a fun conversation topic, but seldom did they work. Fast forward a few decades, and with a nod to our favorite childhood jewelry, we have make-up that changes color when applied.

These color changing cosmetics are a fun way to embrace tech into our daily routines and see a green lipstick turn a beautiful hue of red. These modern pigments rely a lot on our body chemistry, mainly our pH balances and body temperature. When the makeup comes into contact with moisture, it changes the solubility and pH which causes the color to change. The key to this reaction is the moisture, so as long as the chemicals stay dry and are mixed into oil or wax based products like lip balms they won’t turn colors until applied. This enables the products to remain clear or be dyed fun colors, like green, to make the experience more enjoyable.

Lashing out. For years, women have dreamed and fawned over lush, thick eyelashes. We would buy lash curlers, falsies, and even rush to buy the newest plumping mascara on the market to make our doe eyed dreams a reality. In fact, an average woman will spend about $3,770 on mascara in their lifetime! We love our lashes, but many of us struggle with short or thin lashes.

That is where the technology comes to the rescue. Today we have special mascaras and prescription medicines that can help us rejuvenate, grow longer, darker, and thicker lashes. This advancement is actually a byproduct of a glaucoma medication that was found to cause unexpected eyelash growth. Now, if we are willing to pay a little more or get a script from the doctor, we can avoid embarrassing or sticky situations with false lashes.

Hair today, gone tomorrow: smoothing over hair removal. Dealing with unwanted hair has been plaguing women and men for decades. At first, a few little whiskers here and there aren’t much of a problem, but after plucking, waxing, and shaving for a little bit you might become upset and self-conscious. For years, women have tried every conceivable option to keep unwanted hair at bay.

For those of us who struggle with unsightly upper lip shag or granny whiskers, there have been some new techniques to reduce our hair problem. Thankfully, technology has led to the development of laser hair removal. With this treatment method, the pain is minimal. However, it takes several treatments to work and can be costly.

This finds many of us still embracing old-fashioned methods which can leave us feeling razor burned. These techniques range anywhere from shaving, using chemical depilation, plucking, waxing, electrolysis, and more. Unfortunately, many of these options are painful or leave us with red, irritated, burning skin. However, technology hasn’t forgotten our plight and we now have skin conditioners and treatments at our disposal. These products reduce inflammation, bumps, and even ingrown hairs so we can feel comfortable in our own skin.

In what ways have you seen technology change beauty?

The Dashboard for your Google+ Pages

Many users are asking us how to get the CircleCount Dashboard for your Google+ Business Pages.
Since we don’t get access to the Pages API (and we never got any feedback why) we want to explain how you can get the dashboard for your Google+ Pages with a simple workaround.
By following the 9 steps described below you can verify easily on CircleCount that you are a manager of the page.

You can try it out here:
http://www.circlecount.com/mypages/

This dashboard is free for everyone.

The Dashboard PRO is more detailed and faster. Check out the demo here:
http://www.circlecount.com/dashboardpro/?demo=nstration
This is available for your Google+ Business Pages as well.

Instagram Stories & What This Means To Marketers

The meteoric rise of Snapchat changed the social media landscape. The network’s crowning achievement was the well-received Stories function, which turned users into publishers and put a powerful new business tool in the hands of marketers.

Instagram apparently took notice.

On August 2nd, 2016, the photo-centric social channel introduced its own response to Snapchat’s revolutionary Stories feature.

At a glance, it’s little more than a thinly veiled copy.

Like Snapchat Stories, Instagram’s new tool allows users to create chronological narratives using photos, videos, hyperlapse and Boomerang snippets. Like Snapchat, it enables users to watch and respond to other users’ stories. Also like Snapchat, it lets creators use text and drawing tools to add depth and flair to their productions. Called Instagram Stories, the network didn’t even come up with a new name.

But for marketers, Instagram’s newest tool is far more than just a duplicate of Snapchat’s defining feature.

5 Steps to Creating an Instagram Story

Visit Instagram.com, click “Sign Up,” download the mobile app and follow these steps:

  1. Start by clicking the plus sign (+) in the top left.
  2. Tap the round button to take a photo or hold the button for up to 10 seconds for video. Swipe down if you want to upload your own photo or video.
  3. Select an emoji or choose between three different pens to draw on your image. Want a color filter? Swipe right.
  4. Click the checkmark icon to share your story to your profile and your friends’ feeds.
  5. Identify who viewed your story by viewing your photo or video and swiping up.

Instagram Stories: A New Tool for Marketers

Even though Snapchat rose from relative obscurity to more than 100 million users with unbelievable speed, Instagram is still by far the dominant network for millennials. Nearly one-third of American teens still consider Instagram to be their most important social channel. 500 million people log in every month, 300 million every day. Although Instagram Stories is clearly an almost identical copy of Snapchat Stories, it brings the concept to a much larger captive audience.

For marketers, Instagram Stories provides the opportunity to express Snapchat-level creativity without ever leaving the network that young people still love best.

Not only can they use Instagram Stories to reach a younger audience, but marketers and advertisers can use the tool to stir up more engagement with the prized youth demographic. Since Instagram doesn’t allow likes or shares on its Stories, the only option for users to engage is through direct private messages. This gives marketers access to raw, unfiltered feedback directly from the audience they’re targeting.

Marketers can also spur engagement by:

  • Following other users and engaging their stories with private messages.
  • Continually adding content to extend existing stories.
  • Have fun with content by using the text, emoji and finger paint tools.
  • Isolating a specific part of your story and feature it by sharing to your main feed.
  • Posting content from your camera roll shot in the last 24 hours.

Since privacy settings strictly regulate who can and cannot see stories, brands can get a window into their audience by following and viewing their stories. Then, they can direct message them with feedback of their own.

They can use creative tools like the neon pen to spice up otherwise drab content. By allowing marketers to see exactly who has watched their stories, how many people have watched and which sections they’ve watched, Stories can be used as a powerful new metrics analysis tool.

Finally, Instagram stories appear at the top of your feed. When a brand gains a new follower, that brand has a unique opportunity to place itself directly in that follower’s line of sight.

Disappearing Content = More Engagement

Of all the differentiators that set Snapchat apart from the pack when it first arrived, the network’s most unique identifying trait is the concept it pioneered — disappearing content. Yet another Snapchat first that Instagram took for its own is content that self destructs in 24 hours. This feature has always created a sense of urgency among Snapchat users and nudged them into gobbling up content more enthusiastically.

Marketers who migrate to Instagram Stories can now harness this psychology, but the benefits of disappearing content don’t end there. Marketers can give a test run to experimental content on Instagram stories. If it works, they can move it to their regular Instagram account for more permanent viewing.

With the release of Stories, Instagram essentially copied Snapchat’s most innovative, most characteristic and most definitive feature. For marketers, however, Instagram Stories represents an opportunity to apply Snapchat’s interactive and creative feel to Instagram’s massive global audience, established platform and familiar format. Much more than just a carbon copy, Instagram Stories gives marketers a brand new tool for making dull content exciting, testing new campaigns and analyzing the success of new ideas.

Chatbots and their impact on social media

Social media is the quintessential place for brands to interact with their customers. Though if you think it’s a public relations goldmine now, wait until you read about chatbots.

The natural conversation bots are changing the consumer to brand social media interaction for the better. 

Social media’s potential for e commerce is on the rise, and chatbots are the driving force behind the change.

Chatbots 101

Chatbots is the term given to different kinds of Natural Language User Interfaces (NLIs). These “bots” help people accomplish tasks ranging from entertainment to purchasing products. The kicker being, it’s all accomplished using natural conversational text.

The bots function under two main systems. The first is the simple phrase dependent response bot. “If ___, then respond____,” is the basic idea. The other system relies on more sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI).

We’re seeing both of these “bot types” implemented into many different platforms. That “sales rep” chat windows that offers to help on your favorite website; that’s a chatbot. Ever heard of Watson? Another chatbot.

Though today our focus is on chatbot implementation for social media messaging platforms. From Facebook to Kik, chatbots are changing the way people interact with brands on social media.

Users can send brands a message and receive information from product recommendations to store hours; all without talking to another person. This instant access to information in conversational form is revolutionizing social media.

 

Social Media, Brand Interaction, and E-commerce

Social media exists to connect with people and brands that you’ve deemed worth “following.” It’s also a platform for personal expression.

However, we’re seeing social media move away from its exibihistionist roots and towards messaging platforms. In fact, social messaging apps recently exceeded social media apps in monthly active users.

Chatbots are part of the driving force behind this move, and will continue to capitalize on people’s desire for more information. They’re turning social media into a marketplace to sell your brand.

Superior Customer Support

In today’s always connected world people are demanding instant access to information. Our attention spans are decreasing while our desire for gratification increases.

Chatbots are helping to bridge this gap between impatience and fulfillment. They’re turning social media into a platform where brands can conduct on demand customer support.

It’s no surprise that chatbots are taking social media in this direction. More than 33 percent of consumers prefer using social media for support rather than the telephone.

We expect brands to continue adopting chatbots for their social media customer support. As bots develop they’re only gaining more context awareness, which makes them even better at solving problems.

Brand Interaction

Chatbots are still in relative infancy, but we’re already seeing brands recognize their power for social media interaction.

For example, Kayak’s Facebook messenger bot can provide travel details and book flights or hotel rooms. Someone absently browsing Facebook could see a cool destination and message Kayak’s chatbot, all in just minutes.

The same goes for other types of brand interaction. See your favorite brand advertised somewhere around town? Get out your phone and Facebook message their chatbot.

The potential for personal brand interaction is only growing as chatbots become more and more prevalent across social media. More interaction means more potential for sales.

Chatbots are bringing social media ever closer to the ultimate consumer to brand experience. Instead of just liking a brand page, you can carry on natural conversation with a brand “representative.”

Improved customer support and brand interaction is shifting social media towards a brand centric ecommerce marketplace.

 

2017 Rules for Social Media For Kids

What do WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, Vine, and Tumblr have in common? They happen to be five of the hottest social apps for kids these days. While social media sites like Facebook and Myspace were the main players a decade or so ago, the landscape has definitely changed.

Social media can offer a lot of benefits such as opportunities for networking with peers, making new friends, keeping in touch with loved ones far and near, and developing communication skills. But there is a dark underbelly to social media, in general, and to the Internet, in particular.

Consider these startling statistics:

  • The largest demographic of Internet porn consumers happen to be kids between the ages of 12 and 17;
  • One in five teenage Internet users report having received undesired sexual solicitation such as requests for personal info or private chats;
  • Nine in 10 children between the ages of eight and 16 have encountered online porn;
  • Law enforcement agencies estimate that any given time there are 50,000+ sexual predators prowling around online;
  • 69% of teenagers often get online communications from people they don’t know — and they don’t inform their parents or caregivers;
  • About 89% of sexual solicitations of children were made via chat room or instant messaging programs; and
  • 20% of kids between the ages of 10 and 17 were on the receiving end of sexual solicitation or were approached on the Internet.

Despite the sobering statistics, banning your kids from social media is not the answer. What you need to do is to ensure that they understand and comply with social media rules that will help to keep them safe in 2017 and beyond.

 

TOO YOUNG FOR FACEBOOK?

While Facebook isn’t necessarily the first site kids turn to when looking to connect with others, it is nonetheless a popular site. But the minimum age for anyone seeking to create an account is 13. You need to inform you kids that it is not okay to sign up under false pretenses.

 

SET PRIVACY SETTINGS PROPERLY

As the parent, you need to take the initiative to set the privacy settings to the most stringent levels on any computer or mobile device that your kids will use to connect to the Internet. This will safeguard your children as well as protect your computers, tablets, and smartphones from viruses.

 

EMPLOY FILTERING SOFTWARE

Be sure to use filtering software — there are plenty of options available — to monitor your children’s online activity. You’ll be able to stay abreast of info such as the sites they visit, the amount of time they spend on the Internet, and even the precise keystrokes they typed.

KEEP COMPUTER IN CENTRAL LOCATION

Until your kids are perhaps old enough to get a job and buy their own computers, you need to keep computers in a central location of your home where there is sufficient foot traffic. You should discourage your children from hiding away in their rooms while on the Internet.

 

AVOID ‘FREEBIE’ SCAMS

Who doesn’t like to win free things? The problem is that criminals often use things like surveys and the like to trick the unsuspecting to give up personal details that they otherwise wouldn’t. Ensure that your children are not only street-proofed but also Internet-proofed so that they don’t fall for scams.

 

SIGN OFF ON PICS

Social media provides an ideal platform for posting pictures, but you need to inform your kids about the need to be wise on what sorts of pics they share. To avoid any problems, let your kids understand that you must sign off on any and every picture that they post or send on social media.  

 

SET USAGE LIMITS

You need to set guidelines for when your kids can use social media and how long they can spend doing it. There should be no instance, for example, where your kids are communicating with people on social media while everyone else is the home is asleep for the night.

 

COMMUNICATE THE DANGERS

You need to education your kids so that they understand the potential dangers of social media — such as the fact that the people they communicate with may not be who they claim to be. You should definitely warn them not to get into discussions with strangers and not to disclose personal information. Also be sure to let them know what steps to take if they are approached by potential predators online.

Teaching children social media skills is really just an extension of the social skills you are already endeavouring to teach them. With the former, you’re really just adapting things for the digital age.

Social media presents plenty of benefits that kids should not be denied. By implementing and enforcing some social media rules, your kids will be able to safely enjoy communicating with those they know via the Internet.