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Win a Professional Blog Post for Your Business

By now you know the value of having a blog for your business, but you may not have the time to write one or any idea of what to write about. That’s where we come in. iQuarius Media is offering an ongoing competition to win a custom, professionally written blog post. We’ll take into consideration your target market, the voice of your brand and the keywords specific to your niche to craft a post perfect for your business.  All that is required of you is an entry via the iQuarius Facebook page!

Here’s a rundown of what is included if you win:

  • Phone intake interview
  • Up to 500 word blog
  • Customized image
  • Google Authorship attribution where available
  • On-page SEO best practices for blog posts

On the 5th of every month, we will select a winner from the previous months entries and notify them by email. Within two weeks of our initial phone interview, the blog post will be delivered to your inbox. If you would like your business to be in the running, enter here.

Facebook Updates News Feed: No Boring Posts Allowed

headstoneAny update from Facebook is usually met with resistance from users, and the recent announcement that they’re changing the way they sort the News Feed is no different.

The switch from Facebook’s usual algorithm, EdgeRank, to new ranking methods, Story Bumping and Last Actor, has people asking why they can’t just choose what they see from their friends. The reality is that the average user has 1,500 possible stories a day filtered through their News Feed. More than anyone could hope — or want — to read. Facebook is constantly evolving it’s algorithms to make sure that the 20% of posts you do see are the ones you’re most interested in seeing.

Story Bumping changes the way you view the stories on your News Feed. Each story is given a score, which, Mashable reports, are determined “using a number of factors, such as the relationship you have with the user who posted it, the number of comments, the number of shares, and the number of likes that the story has accumulated”. With Story Bumping, stories with a higher score that you may not have seen yet are found near the top of your newsfeed with newer stories. This way the posts that are relevant and of interest to you are not buried underneath more recently posted but less interesting stories.

This is good news for users, as it’s far more likely that you wont miss the updates you care about. Facebook reported there has been a 57-70% increase in stories read since the updates were introduced.

The other development is Last Actor. This feature takes into account the last 50 interactions you had on Facebook and ranks your News Feed accordingly. So if you commented on your friends post in the morning, your friend may receive a higher score and you’ll see more of their posts later in the day. This works for brands, too. If someone engages frequently with a page, it’s more likely that they’ll see that page’s content. This makes your News Feed highly curated towards your own interests.

Anyone worried about not having their posts seen needs only follow one golden rule: don’t be boring. Interesting posts guarantee interaction, and interaction is what gets your posts seen by more people.

Follow iQuarius on Facebook and our social media manager, Chris, on Twitter for more relevant updates.

Photo credit (without text): Graham Allard

5 Ways a Temporary Website Gets Your Startup Started

Temporary Websites

Say you’ve come up with the perfect idea, but you want to wait until it’s absolutely perfect before you reveal it to the world – should you wait on building a website, too?

Now is actually the perfect time to create a temporary website.

In the beginning stages of your startup, you may want to limit the amount of money you pour into a not yet perfected idea. But you have to begin to think of your website as a constantly iterating piece of marketing collateral that can serve your business goals well.

A temporary website allows you to advance your startup in a number of ways, not least of which is exposing it to potential consumers, without having to commit to building a full site.

Some of the benefits include:

1. Host relevant Business information 

When you’re first trying to market your idea, the best practice is to have a one-stop place to direct people hoping to do a feature on you. A temporary website will allow you to host a press kit, founders bios, logo download, contact info and spec sheets etc.

2. Proof of Concept

If you want to test the demand for, or interest in, a particular marketing message – or even your product concept – a single web page with your offer and an email opt-in can provide you with an informal list of potential customers demonstrating demand for order fulfillment.

You can use this opt-in for people to name their price. Give them a single blank field to tell you what they’d pay for it. It then becomes something akin to a social letter of intent.

3. Build an Email List of Beta Testers & for Product Announcements

Having an email opt-in page on your temporary website allows you to collect the emails of those interested in being part of alpha and beta tests, and of early adopters who want to know when your site will go live.. This way you have a number of invested people on which to test your product, and built in fans for when you’re ready to reveal your improvements.

You want to be in control of the conversation surrounding your product or idea. Start by building anticipation so that when you’re ready to reveal, you already have an audience interested in what you have to say.

4. Gain Social Proof for your Domain

Getting social shares, likes, and +1’s for your website content helps you to gain social proof and SEO authority. The more shares your content gets, the more established value you have the web. Having a temporary website allows you to get a headstart on establishing SEO authority for your permanent website.

5. Holds your demonstratable product for investors to view after your pitch

You want to leave a lasting impression on potential investors. While you can captivate them in a demonstration, they don’t know your product as well as you do. A temporary website allows them to access all the relevant information for your product. You have the option to create a non-public URL that hosts your pitch deck or demonstratable product and share that link with only those you wish to see it.

If you want to capitalize on all these benefits, iQuarius media specializes in creating temporary sites with a quick turnaround time. Contact us today to get your startup started. 

Photo Credit: hulieoh

How Much Should SEO Services Cost?

SEO

While many companies understand the importance of hiring professionals to do their SEO, they often don’t understand the extent of the expertise, time and resources required to get the hoped for results.

The reality is that you seek out an SEO agency because they have the skill set and time to perform comprehensive SEO services — a combination you’re unlikely to find in one of your own employees. Those services cost money.

Search Engine Watch reports that most businesses pay between $2,500 and $5,000 for a monthly retainer and that seeking out rock bottom prices means you neglect to look for the best level of service. If a deal is too good to be true, it most likely is.

At iQuarius Media, we recommend using a monthly retainer model for your SEO services. SEO takes time. While we can make headway in the first 3-6 months, the most significant ranking results are achieved in the 6-12 month range.

We often describe keyword ranking like the art of plate spinning. Each plate represents a keyword and takes roughly the same amount of effort, man hours and hard costs to keep spinning.  The more keywords you have, the more hands you need employing all those other elements in order to successfully rank.

Search Engine Watch agrees that monthly retainers are the best way to go and they advise against employing companies that charge less than $750 monthly. Again, you want the best possible service — that requires paying for the time that must be dedicated to ensuring that your company ranks.

For a full understand of the possibly payment models, typical SEO costs and things you should be wary of, read the full Search Engine Watch article here.

Let iQuarius talk to the search engines for you, we know their language. Contact Greg to discuss your SEO services today 407-362-6503

Photo Credit: liferoiblog

Is Bing the New Google?

The short answer is not yet.  But that doesn’t mean Bing is out of the running completely. While Bing’s share of core searches, 17.4 percent, isn’t in the same league as Google, who dominates with a 66.7 percent share, it is steadily rising. When compared to Yahoo’s consistently decreasing 11.9 percent share, Bing is becoming what Yahoo no longer is: a search engine that is a viable alternative to Google.

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The problem for Bing has never been stealing audiences from Yahoo; instead, they have to figure out how to get users of Google to make the switch. Earlier this year, Microsoft attempted to sway users with Bing it On, which demonstrated Bing’s effectiveness in comparison to Google (and ultimately it’s similarity, too). While the company claims that people prefer Bing over Google for top web searches, the core search shares show that most people are still choosing Google over Bing.

How Will Bing Sway Google Users?

Two new developments may be the key to attracting more Google users to Bing. First, Siri is now using Bing as it’s default search engine. While Apple is not committing fully to Bing Google is still the default search engine for Safari –  the switch does allow more users to be exposed to Bing. Although, they will be exposed unknowingly. There is no branding when you do searches on Siri, and this may be a way for Apple to ease into using Bing without causing user upset. Most likely, Apple is trying to avoid a repeat of the Apple Maps fiasco. Still, the integration of Bing and Siri is a good exposure for Bing. 

The second development is the incorporation of Bing into Windows 8.1. The new capability means that Windows 8.1 users can simultaneously search their hard drive and the web. The key for Bing was keeping results relevant. NBC news reports that over time the system applies dynamic ranking to your results, based on your prior clicks, just like when you search the Web. Another revolutionary aspect of Bing’s approach are the “Hero” pages. When you search certain people, places, or things you get a side-scrolling page of local files, streaming media, news and background information.

The integration of Bing directly into Windows makes the line between what’s on your computer and what’s on the Internet harder to define. Time will have to tell if this is a development that significantly closes the gap between Bing and Google, but the exposure certainly can’t hurt.

What search engine do you use most often? Do you use one outside of the “Big 3″ (Google, Bing, Yahoo!)? Chime in on our Facebook page or @mention us on Twitter.

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How to Post a Video on Pinterest

When you hear Pinterest, the first thing that comes to mind is often pictures. But the content sharing service lends itself to all visual mediums and there are thousands of videos on Pinterest, too. With over 25 million users, brands recognize that engaging content can lead to purchases — especially as 81% of U.S. consumers trust information from Pinterest.

While  you can share your video to Pinterest immediately after uploading it on Youtube, what happens if you created your Pinterest board some time after you uploaded your video?

Here’s a step by step guide to solving that problem:

 1. Log into Pinterest, click the add button, and then scroll down to “Add from a website.”

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2. Next you will need to copy the url of the video you want to use from YouTube and paste it into the “add a pin from a website” box that shows up.

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3. Pick your video thumbnail and the board you want to add your video

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 4. Fill out your description using hashtags and pin it! 

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As you can see, the steps are relatively simple. For a free review of your social media efforts to date and a plan on how we can assist you in your online social media management, Contact us today.

 

 

3 Ways Brands are Using Vine for Father's Day

Vine logo

Brands are becoming increasingly more active on the new social media app Vine and for good reason. Unruly Media, a video technology company, recently found that branded vines are shared 4x as often as other branded Internet videos. Branded vines were also 4% of the top 100 shared vines. This is almost unheard of as most viral videos are not connected to brands. The platform allows users to create six-second looping videos. The apps brevity, like Twitter,  encourages brands to get creative while appealing to consumers rapidly shrinking attention span.

With Father’s Day around the corner, many brands are using Vine as a marketing tool. Here are three ways we’ve seen brands use Vine effectively:

1. Promote Products

Vines 6-second format changes the way advertisers approach video marketing. With limited time, companies have to spotlight their products in an interesting way and get their message across fast. Moonpig, a greeting card company that allows users to create unique cards online, created a vine to promote their Father’s Day cups:

— Moonpig (@MoonpigUK) June 11, 2013

Cold Stone Creamery took product promotion a step further and explicitly suggested their icecream over traditional choices:

2. Give Insight into Products

Instead of presenting a finished product, Vine allows brands to show the process of creation. Cloak and Dapper, a gentleman’s clothing store, used this method to spotlight individual products in a gift box:

3. Host Competitions

Hosting competitions is nothing new to marketers, but Vine does add a new spin on traditional methods. Vine is a fast way to drive engagement around their brands when used well. Remington Park, a racetrack and casino based in Oklahoma, are hosting a competition with an incentive big enough to convince people to visit them on Father’s day:

There is nothing like the power of video for communication, and the Internet is a more effective vehicle for delivery than any other outlet available. iQuarius Media is an expert in every step of creating videos that deliver. To discuss how our  Web Video Production and Delivery team can help you, contact Shea Glenny at shea@iquariusmedia.com.

Does Your Business Need a Blog?

brands, blogging, small business

The answer is an unequivocal, YES! Blogging is the foundation to holistic content marketing campaigns and it provides a channel for developing thought leadership. Instead of being another faceless brand, you can distinguish your business by lending it your credibility and defining yourself as an authority in your industry. Our social-media driven culture is also placing new demands on brands. Customers expect higher levels of engagement with businesses because of the access that the online world provides them. If your website is static, you aren’t set apart from your competition and you’re not convincing potential clients that you are the best possible company to purchase from/work with.

Still not convinced? Here are some of the best reasons why your business needs a blog:

Blogs help raise your Internet visibility

Search engines prefer blogs over the millions upon millions of static websites out there because the content is updated regularly. As you have probably heard many times before: content is king.  You want to be featured on the first page of a Google search? A consistently updated and bustling blog is the best way to land there. Creating regular content on topics relevant to your industry increases the chance of a potential customer landing on your website.

Say you’re a landscaper in Florida, creating a post about the top five ways to spend days or evenings in your garden not only advertises your services but helps those not specifically searching for a landscaper to find your company.

Blogs establish your authority

With the introduction of Google Authorship, establishing yourself (and your brand) as an authority in your industry has become obligatory. You want to be recognized as a trendsetter and thought leader among your competition, but you also want to show consumers why they should do business with you. Knowledgeable, original content proves your legitimacy while inspiring confidence in potential clients. This applies to all industries, as potential clients are more likely to do business with someone who has already established their authority.

For example, if you’re a dentist, regular posts on good dental hygiene will be valuable to potential patients and lead them to believe that your knowledgeable advice leads to knowledgeable care. People directly associate your content with your abilities; you want to be in control of your image.

Blogs reflect the culture of your company & values of your brand

Gone are the days where you can just claim to offer great customer service and exceptional products. Consumers want to know specifics and they want your unique approach to business. Blogging is the perfect opportunity to infuse your personality into your company. By providing your opinions on relevant topics of interest in your industry, consumers get an understanding of the person (or people) behind your brand. This works on multiple levels.

For one, it helps consumers relate to and understand your brand. Blogging can also be a great starting point for building the reputation of your brand. For example, if you’re a consultant and you have multiple articles offering free advice, you send the message that you are generous with your  expertise. Doing so also suggests that you possess such a wealth of information that there is plenty more of that same expert advice for clients who contract your services.

Blogs allow for interaction with consumers

If a potential consumer is visiting your website, you want to do everything you can to improve engagement. Static websites guarantee short visits whereas regularly updated blogs give visitors a reason to stick around. Chances are they’ll comment on a post, you comment back and before you know it they’re scheduling an appointment or placing an order.

Starbucks is an excellent example of increasing user engagement through blogging. While their posts are only tangentially related to coffee, Starbucks allows users to submit ideas for new drinks, food items, packages, and even store designs. They then blog about the ideas and encourage users to comment and rate the different items. This is a brilliant approach to blogging as it increases consumer engagement and creates original user-generated content.

While blogging doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking, it does require some planning and commitment. The key is to post consistently. Ideally, you should post relevant content for your target audience 2-3 times a week. Not only does this keep your content fresh (and therefore more likely to appear on search engines) but also encourages a consistent following.

For more advice on successful social media marketing strategies, iQuarius Media is an expert on helping  your brand’s online presence grow. Contact our Content Marketing Strategist, Ryan Mickley, to discuss your blog and content marketing strategy: ryan@iquariusmedia.com or 407.362.6503 ext. 112.

Image Source: Lucy Catherine Photography

Top Ways Brands are Utilizing Social Media

Top Ways Brands are Utilizing Social Media

If you want your business to be successful, increasing engagement with fans through social media is crucial. These articles on the updates to Instagram along with insight into how other brands are doing social media right provide the perfect foundation for increasing your brand’s online influence.

Instagram’s New Tagging Feature is Huge for Brands

Instagram has introduced a feature Facebook users are familiar with: the ability to tag photos. With “Photo’s of You” users have the ability to tag photos with any other instagram user, business or product. This is big for brands as they can curate the photos tagged with their name, showcase the best photos on their stream, and tag their photos to show on other users stream. Entrepreneur.com believes that “this adds a new level of consumer reach — the feature aims to compel users to interact directly with the brands and businesses they follow.” Brands will also be able to post the same photo in a number of relevant streams, multiplying their reach with a single tag and attract fans from a wider audience.

Why Victoria’s Secret is Winning at Social Media — While Other Brands Fail

When it comes to social media, Victoria’s Secret is proving quantity is as important as quality. According to Expion, a social media marketing management company, 87% of the top posts on Facebook between January 1st- March 31% were made by Victoria’s secret, Walmart and Burberry. Although Victoria’s Secret’s scantily clad models may have something to do with their popularity, their success is largely due to product focused posts that centered on major holidays. Walmart employed a similar tactic and posted seasonal deals, in addition to humorous photos of animals the internet can’t get enough of. Burberry had the highest engagement out of the top 100 brands, but Victoria’s Secret beat them from the top spot by posting twice as much. The key to social media popularity is regular engagement with fans, so posting has to be both relevant and consistent.

Five Companies that Mastered Social Media’s Branding Potential

Many companies struggle with finding a way to get consumers to connect with their products on social media – there’s only so many ways you can talk about tampons or household appliances after all. But big brands are finding that the easiest way to be successful on social media is to allow the fans to lead the conversation. Fastcodesign.com suggests three steps to online success: Go where the people are, Have a legitimate purpose, and Be real. Consumers look to social media to find the human behind the company and find something outside of product promotion. Pepsi found that connecting to causes that supported their core values was a way to be real while encouraging fans to take action. They made their platform online more about ideas than soda, by “shifting branding focus to funding causes for social good”. This encourages fans to interact online by voting and forms a connection in the consumers mind with doing good and drinking Pepsi.

Image source: Jason A. Howie

How To Optimize Your Facebook Cover Photo

The cover photo on Facebook pages is an excellent opportunity for brands to personalize their pages and advertise their services. Chris, our social media manager, noticed a problem with cover photos recently – namely with the way they’re showing up in the newsfeed. Since Facebook changed the feeds users can see, page cover photos are shown in two instances: as a suggested page via paid advertising and when a friend likes a page. Facebook crops the image in different ways depending on the reason they’re being shown in the newsfeed. Unfortunately, Facebook crops only certain areas, regardless of whether the important stuff is in those areas. So the text or product you picked especially to represent your brand? It’s been cut in half or, worse, not included at all.

For example, here’s how one brand’s, Snow Lizard, cover photo appears on their page:

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And here’s how it looks in the newsfeed as a suggested page:

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The most important part of Snow Lizard’s cover photo, the product, is cut off. Not to mention, the suggested page version of their cover photo doesn’t tell audiences anything about Snow Lizard as a company. So how do you make sure your cover photo will be cropped correctly no matter what?

Fortunately for us (and you!), iQuarius is a full service media agency, so Chris was able to talk to Georgette, our interactive designer, and figure out a solution. The best practice is to create a 851×315 cover photo, as those are the exact dimensions of the space. Of course, Facebook is still going to crop your photo in the newsfeed. You then have to make sure that the most important part of your cover photo is in the “safe area”. The safe space is the area on the cover photo that is always included when your cover photo is cropped.

When done incorrectly, the most important information will not fit into the safe area:

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According to Facebook’s rule, text on a cover photo most only take up 20%. The text on this image is too big and not properly located. The cropped image would feature dismembered bodies and other floating body parts — not the image anyone want’s associated with their brand!

By choosing a better suited, correctly sized image and relocating the text, the important information fits into the safe area:

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If Snow Lizard had implemented these tips, their suggested page would look like this:

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Much better, right?

Exclusive Offer!

A professionally-branded social network will increase your credibility and differentiate you from the competition. Mention this blog post and receive a discount on our Social Identities service. Interested in updating your social profiles? Contact our Content Marketing Strategist, Ryan Mickley, to order your branded social networks today: ryan@iquariusmedia.com or 407.362.6503 ext. 112.

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