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    coronavirus impact marketing, retail, technology
    The Impact of Coronavirus on Marketing, Advertising, Retail and Tech

    According to most recent data from Worldometer, the coronavirus has impacted over 1 million individuals worldwide — 240,000 of which are located right here in the United States. Unfortunately, according to many experts, we have yet to even near the peak.

    COVID-19’s impact has devastated individuals and families as well as the workforce, businesses, industries and the global economy as a whole. The marketing and technology industries in particular are currently reeling from the after-effects of the pandemic.

    However, the cold hard truth of the matter is that we as individuals, businesses and the world in general must continue to press on. If you’re interested in learning more about the impact of COVID-19 on marketing and tech as well as what you can do to ensure your business shines in the midst of the chaos, then this article is just for you.

     

    How Advertisers Are Responding to the Coronavirus Crisis ...

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    The Effects of Coronavirus on Marketing, Advertising & Retail

    The unfortunate truth is that the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the marketing, advertising and retail industries has been devastating. In China alone, retail sales have dropped by more than 20% due to the pandemic, which has additionally caused the unemployment rate to spike to over

    6% in February. According to the Washington Post, in the United States alone over

    10 million individuals have applied for unemployment benefits in the wake of the economy’s collapse.

    As a result, everything from retail sales to organic traffic and conversions have declined significantly.

    However, there’s one industry in particular which has been booming. While brick-and-mortar retail sales have plummeted due to social distancing measures and closures, online sales have been increasing, with many shopping and grocery apps seeing a significant uptick in downloads. Many companies are quickly learning that a renewed focus on the customer is the key to sustainability in these trying times.

    Is Your Organization Customer Centric? - Smarter With Gartner

    Source

    A renewed focus on customer-centricity

    Marketers and advertisers will do well to take this information into account when redesigning their strategies in the midst of the pandemic. For many, an overarching theme has come to light: A renewed focus on customer-centricity. Many companies are quickly learning that a strong focus on long-term retention rates is the key to success.

    Research has shown that it costs a whopping 5x more to bring on a new customer than it does to simply keep an existing one. The truth of the matter is that there is very little business to win during this time period. Companies must redirect themselves away from a focus on acquisition and towards a renewed focus on retention, building long-lasting relationships and increasing the lifetime values of their customer base.

    Increased sensitivity

    Remaining sensitive to your customers’ needs during this time period is going to be crucial to your success and ability to thrive in the future. It’s going to be difficult to turn a profit now more than ever as unemployment rates soar. Don’t waste your resources trying to implement new and fancy marketing strategies which can come off as callous. Pause and take a moment to reflect. Many families have lost loved ones, many parents don’t know how they are going to continue to pay bills or put food in the mouths of their children.

    As a company, it would be irresponsible and insensitive not to acknowledge these trying times your customers are facing. Strategies must be adjusted and perspectives must be shifted to take into account context. Now more than ever you are walking a very fine line and as a result, marketing with sensitivity is going to be imperative. Instead of focusing on acquisition, focus on improving the customer experience throughout the entire sales pipeline, both on and offline. Instead of mirroring the sense of panic and dread that your consumers are feeling, become the embodiment of support that they need.

    Providing reassurance

    Acknowledging the pandemic and assuring your customers that you remain steady in your ways is also imperative. As a company, you want to provide reassurance to your customers by showing them that you’re here for them and that you are dedicated to providing the same level of service to them that they have become accustomed to in the past. Your customers need to know that they can count on you during hard times. When you demonstrate this with your actions, you are effectively instilling trust and forging stronger relationships with your customer base. The public is paying attention to business practices now more than ever. Show them that you measure up.

    The Impact of Coronavirus on Tech

    The vast majority of all industries, including technology are seeing a marked slump in sales due ot the outbreak. As unemployment rates rise, consumers are now more than ever wary of spending their dollars given the uncertainty surrounding the timeline of the pandemic. Travel booking website

    Expedia is one of the many companies out there who have been hit particulaly hard by the pandemic. They recently declined to provide a full-year financial outlook to investors because of COVID-19’s disruption of the travel industry and recenltly slashed over 12% of their workforce. Mass supply shortages, missed partnership opportunities and delays in services have now become commonplace.

    Supply chains

    Perhaps the most immediate business impact of this pandemic has been the major disruption of supply chains all across the globe. Hardware companies in particular have been hit quite hard given that so much of their manufacturing is done in China. According to the business research firm Dun & Bradstreet, a whopping 51,000 companies studied have at least one or more suppliers based in regions of China which have been impacted by the spread of the virus. 

    Apple in particular came out publicly stating that there would be a reduction in supply of iPhones. This comes as no surprise as Apple relies heavily on factories in Shenzhen and recently had to come to terms with Foxconn, their primary manufacturer, shutting down most of its production in China.  Unfortunately, this has resulted in quite the hit to Apple, which is forecasted to see a reduction of as much as 10% in their iPhone shipments through Q1.

    Tech giant Microsoft  also relies heavily on  customers who install their Windows software onto their devices. They are expected to take quite the hit as personal computers account for approximately one-third of their revenue.

    Amazon on the other hand has found themselves scrambling to make sure that they don’t run out of popular products which are manufactured in China. However, many customers are being hit with messages about supply shortages and delivery delays for many popular items due to the pandemic. Prime Day falls on July 6th of this year.

    Partnerships

    The spread of the coronavirus has prompted the establishment of numerous social-distancing mandates by governments across the globe. One result has been countless missed partnership opportunities which otherwise would have been made possible through the attendance of some of the most important tech conferences across the world.

    Most notably perhaps is the cancellation of MWC Barcelona, a global telecommunications trade show held annually in Spain. While the RSA security conference still took place, it suffered the absence of notable attendees such as IBM, AT&T and Verizon.

    Facebook also was forced to cancel their annual Global Marketing Summit as well as their F8  conference, where they showcase new products and plans for future software to developers.

    Other companies are switching it up a bit in an attempt to keep the party going. Google shifted their Google Cloud Next event to online and IBM decided to livestream their developer’s conference. According to recent data by Recode, the cancellation of major tech events has cost the economy a whopping $1 billion.

    ZOOM Chart

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    The unexpected

    While many companies are still reeling from the fallout of COVID-19, there are a select few who have continued to thrive. Netflix’s year-over-year subscription growth in both the United States and Canada is expected to more than double what was previously estimated.

    As the public continues to abide by social distancing mandates, ecommerce and grocery apps have begun to experience record numbers in terms of daily downloads. On March 15th, Instacart saw a whopping 218% increase when compared to download activity that happened in just the previous month alone. The company claimed that their sales had improved a massive tenfold during the first week of March as compared to the previous week. Walmart’s grocery app also saw a 160% increase in app downloads and Target experienced a 98% month-to-month growth. Steam, a global PC gaming platform as noted to have attracted a whopping “20.3 million concurring users on Sunday March 15th”. This number set an all-time record for the amount of users online at any given time according to SteamDB.

    But perhaps the most notable company to have come out swinging during this time period is teleconferencing software company Zoom. Shares have skyrocketed over the past few weeks as more and more individuals are forced to continue their work from home. On an interesting note, the SEC recently had to step in when it was noted that many investors were purchasing the wrong Zoom stock.

    All-in-all, the tech industry has been dealt quite a tough hand during these hard times. However, many companies in the sectors of gaming, ecommerce and home entertainment have been hit with substantial growth and continue to thrive in the midst of economic uncertainty.

     

    Final Thoughts

    There’s no denying the fact that the current outlook on the economic landscape is grim, to say the least. Supply shortages are running rampant, companies are going under, lay-offs and unemployment have skyrocketed, and social distancing mandates have impacted us in more ways than we can count.

    However, there is a silver lining. In the midst of the chaos comes a heightened sense of awareness for consumers and their needs. Companies are quickly beginning to shift their focuses in these trying times in order to make a positive, palpable impact on their customer base, showing millions of consumers worldwide that they are more to them than just a dollar sign.  Now is the time to reframe our perspectives, to view this as an opportunity to think out of the box and re-dedicate ourselves to a stronger focus on customer-centricity. Take the time to show your customers that you are here for them during these hard times, and they will cherish their relationship with you for years to come.

    How has COVID-19 impacted you and your business? Share your story. We’d love to hear from you.

     

    _________________________________________________________________
    Sources:

    https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/19/even-in-the-age-of-covid-19-you-need-to-stay-focused-on-the-customer/

    https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/embrace-proactive-customer-experience-in-the-midst-of-covid-19/

    https://www.invespcro.com/blog/customer-acquisition-retention/

    https://www.businessinsider.com/five-ways-coronavirus-will-affect-the-connectivity-tech-industry-2020

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/28/technology/coronavirus-disrupts-industry.html

    https://www.natlawreview.com/article/managing-commercial-impact-coronavirus-implications-technology-industry

    https://www.fool.com/investing/2020/03/27/the-sec-really-wants-investors-to-stop-buying-the.aspx

    https://econsultancy.com/stats-roundup-coronavirus-impact-on-marketing-ecommerce-advertising/

    https://neilpatel.com/blog/coronavirus/

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/02/jobless-march-coronavirus/

     

     

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    improving search engine rank
    SERPs 101: How to Improve Your Search Engine Ranking

    Did you know that a whopping 90% of the population never scrolls past the first page of Google? When was the last time you’ve taken a moment to check where your website shows up when you type in your business name or important keywords related to your company? If you just so happen to be like countless other businesses out there, then chances are your website might not pop up within the first 10 spots. Heck, it might not even pop up on the first page at all.  The good news is – you have the power to change this. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can effectively monitor and improve your search engine ranking, then this article is just for you.

    What are SERPs?

    “SERPs” is simply an acronym which is widely used to abbreviate the term  search engine results pages. SERPs are the pages which pop up when you type an inquiry into a search engine such as Google.  There are countless pages which are often returned upon the input of an inquiry — far too many to go through. This is because Google alone indexes trillions of website pages. So, what Google does, is it prioritizes these results for you based on their likelihood of providing you an accurate and robust answer and then displays them to you in hierarchical order.

    Why search engine rankings are crucial to success

    Google’s search engine algorithm essentially attributes a SERP score to every page on your website. Your SERP score, or search engine ranking, is directly related to the effectiveness of your search engine optimization (SEO) tactics, your marketing campaigns, as well as the length of time that your website/brand has had to establish trust with Google’s algorithm. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that it’s extremely difficult to outrank major brands and companies for the simple fact that they have significantly deeper pockets than you. But, this doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. You still have a chance at ranking high for keywords, especially niche keywords and getting on the first page of Google. All it takes is some hard work and commitment.

    Are you aware of Google Algorithm Latest Updates? - Home

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    How to improve your SERP ranking

    Fortunately, there are numerous steps you can take to help improve your SERP rankings.  However, in order to be effective, you’ll need to stay dedicated and focused. By crafting effective marketing and SEO campaigns and staying patient, you can work to begin to improving your SERP ranking one day at a time.

    1. Marketing

    Crafting effective and compelling marketing campaigns is a crucial step when it comes to improving your SERP score. The more mentions, hashtags, articles your brand has, the stronger it becomes in the eyes of Google’s algorithm. To be honest with you — it’s pretty much a popularity contest. And to be blunt — the major corporations are always going to win. This is because they have countless resources they can pool into their marketing strategies, whereas the average business is often limited by their budget. But, this doesn’t mean that you can’t create viral content, work on increasing your popularity on social media or work hard to get influencers to tout your brand/services! 

    Fortunately for you, there are numerous tools available which can aid in your efforts to craft more effective digital marketing campaigns. Much of it begins with performing diligent research and finding the right keywords, topics and trends to touch upon. Most recently, influencer marketing has become an extremely popular way to get your brand out there and repped by popular figures within the social media space. So, take the time to tap into some influencer marketing agencies to see how they can help you increase brand awareness and establish an authority presence in the digital space!

    2. SEO

    SEO is another critical component to improving your search engine ranking. Is your website optimized to the fullest? Are you leveraging niche and long-tail keywords as a way to combat against the monopoly that many large corporations have over SEO? We’re not just talking on-page SEO — technical SEO is just as important.

    Lucky for you, there are also numerous tools available on the market to aid you in these efforts as well. Whether you use a plug-in such as YoastSEO or tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner, Backlinko or Ahrefs, you can rest assured that you’re in good hands. If you find that you just don’t happen to be the savviest when it comes to this, don’t be afraid to reach out to an expert and ask for help. Companies such as ours specialize in aiding businesses such as yours in increasing their search engine rankings effectively and efficiently.

    3. Being Patient

    The truth of the matter is that increasing your search engine rankings doesn’t happen overnight. So, naturally you’re going to want to be wary of any services which promote instant or unreasonably fast results. You simply can’t rush the algorithm. You can help it along by doing your best to implement strong and effective tactics, but overnight success is few and far between. Be patient. It takes a while to establish your brand/website as trustworthy in the eyes of Google’s algorithm. But the good news is that the longer you stay dedicated, the more you’ll continue to build up your trust.

    Example Search Rankings Report

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    Monitoring your search engine ranking

    When it comes to establishing your presence on search engine results pages, you’ll need to do more than just implement tactics in order to improve your ranking. This is because rankings are far from static and constantly changing as information continues to be indexed by Google’s algorithm every second of every day. This is why consistently monitoring your ranking is so essential. When you monitor your rank, you gain access to valuable information which can help to fuel your strategies and tactics for improvement.

    For instance, let’s say that you decide to implement a keyword strategy. You pretty much will be left mostly in the dark with regards to how effective it is or isn’t without monitoring. However, when you do implement a process for monitoring, you are able to see how effective your strategies are and how your website is performing in response to their implementation. Fortunately, there are numerous tools on the market such as SEMRush, MozPro and Ahrefs which can help provide you with in-depth analytics and tools which can be leveraged in order to help you monitor and track your rank.

    Monitoring your competitor’s SERPs

    Monitoring your search engine rankings is crucial in determining your status and driving your strategies. However, it’s not just your own website that you should be concerned about. Who are your biggest competitors? We’re not talking big name companies and corporations. We mean the companies within your niche which are performing slightly better than you. If you don’t know the answer to this, then you’ll have to dig in your heals and do a little research first. Once you know the names of a handful of companies as such, you’ll need to start monitoring their status, performance and progress as well. When you begin monitoring your competitors’ rankings, you gain access to valuable information which can help fuel your strategies for improvement.

    For instance, let’s say you find that your competitors are ranking high for a certain number of keywords. This is great information to know, because it helps inform you on which keywords you should use in your strategy. Or perhaps, you’ve noticed that their ranking is fluctuating a bit or has taken a nosedive after the implementation of a strategy. This can help you be aware of things not to do so that your website doesn’t have the same fate. On the other hand, if they’re performing well, then gaining access to analytics on their performance can help you effectively mirror some of the positive tactics they’ve implemented. Remember: consistently monitoring your competition is every bit just as important as monitoring your own performance because it can help provide further insight into the steps you need to take in order to stay one step ahead.

    Conclusion

    Your SERP score is arguably one of the single most important things to focus on if you’re looking to improve your online presence and grow your business. If you’re looking to increase your search engine ranking, then you’ll need to focus on a combination of effective marketing, SEO and monitoring/tracking strategies in order to do so.  Fortunately, there are numerous tools available on the market in order to help you achieve your goals. Use this article as a guide to keep yourself on track and to get off in the right direction when it comes to improving your website’s SERP score. And remember – nothing is going to happen overnight. Beware of any products or services which promote unrealistic results. This takes a tortoise versus a hare mentality. Improving your search engine rankings takes time, dedication and consistent effort. However, the benefits are extremely worthwhile.

     

    Which tools do you use to monitor and/or improve your SERP score? Let us know your experience with them in the comment section below! We’d love to hear from you!

    _______________________________________________________________________
    Sources:

    Lesson #28: How important is it to be on the first page of SERPs?

    https://searchengineland.com/googles-search-indexes-hits-130-trillion-pages-documents-263378

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/thesba/2014/10/30/seo-basics-for-small-business-owners/#19e1ba124812

    How to Monitor Search Engine Rankings

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    top four project management platforms
    4 of the Best Project Management Platforms to Use in 2020

    Exceptional project management skills are fundamentally critical to the success of every business regardless of background, size or industry. However, the truth of the matter is that a great majority of companies struggle significantly with this very thing. Did you know that according to 4PM, most organizations have a project failure rate of a whopping 70%? In fact, recent research from Harvard Business Review found that the average project goes over budget by a whopping 27%. However, the truth of the matter is that projects fail for several reasons including everything from poor planning, to weak goal statistics and projections as well as improper management and organization. Fortunately, there are numerous project management platforms on the market which can aid you in your efforts to stay on track. If you’re interested in learning about the top four project management platforms on the market to use in 2020, then this article is just for you.

    Asana project management platform

    Source

    1. Asana

    Summary

    Asana is an immensely popular project management platform — and for good reason. It’s interface is straightforward, simple, user-friendly and it does a great job when it comes to facilitating collaboration and teamwork. It also really assists with accountability and gives users plenty of options when it comes to breaking down projects into tasks and keeping track of them with due dates and calendars. However, it struggles when it comes to exporting features and has very limited functions in the mobile application. Email notifications can also get a little insane so you’re definitely going to want to customize the frequency from the get-go. It also could do a better job at highlighting things such as notes, attachments and discussions in the subtasks as these can be hard to notice if you prefer working from the main board. All-in-all it’s a great platform with excellent ratings.

    Pricing

    Asana offers four pricing plans and gives users the option to choose from both monthly and annual pricing. Their Basic option is intended for individuals and teams just getting started with project management and is completely free of charge. The second option is their Premium plan ($10.99/month billed annually or $13.49/month billed monthly). This is intended for teams that are more established and interested in creating project plans “with confidence”. Their Business plan comes complete with additional features such as the ability to create portfolios, advanced integrations a custom rule builder and more. The plan costs $24.99/month billed annually or $30.49/month billed monthly. Finally, their Enterprise plan is geared towards large-scale businesses and includes numerous upgraded features in addition to those provided in the business plan. Companies interested must contact their sales department in order to receive a quote.

     

    Trello project management platform
    Source

    2. Trello

    Summary

    Trello is a great project management platform mostly in part because it’s super easy to use and get started with. It offers extensive customization when it comes to creating workflows and additionally offers impeccably fast real-time updates. Creating and assigning tasks is super simple and straightforward and it additionally offers integrations with numerous apps including Google Docs, which can be extremely helpful. It could however use some work when it comes to email integrations and keyboard shortcuts are relatively limited. Perhaps the most significant con is the fact that cards/tasks are limited to just one board/project. However, all-in-all it’s a wonderful project management platform which consistently receives solid reviews and is perfect for those just starting out.

    Pricing

    Trello offers a convenient three-tiered pricing plan which has the option of being billed on a monthly or annual basis for companies interested in making the switch. Similar to Asana, they too offer a basic Free plan intended for individuals and small businesses in order to help them get started with the basics. Their Business Class plan offers an expanded set of features catered to more established SMBs and will run you $12.50/month if billed monthly and $9.99/month when billed annually. They also offer an Enterprise plan which can accommodate as many as 5,000 users depending on which option you choose. It also offers an expanded set of features such as organization wide permissions, public board management, attachment restrictions, power-up administration and more.

     

    Bitrix24 project management platform
    Source

    3. Bitrix24

    Summary

    Bitrix24 is a robust, all-inclusive project management platform that really just so happens to ironically be the underdog of the list in terms of general public awareness of the brand. The platform is great at breaking down projects and makes creating various tasks, subtasks, checklists and deadlines super simple and straightforward. The interface is also quite intuitive and user-friendly so it’s relatively easy to get started regardless of whether or not you’ve worked with it before.

    The streamlined CRM is extremely rich in features offering things like a high degree of customization, high-quality video conferencing, the ability to segment customers and leads based on location, activities or needs, an excellent mobile application and numerous integrations. Furthermore, the pricing is extremely competitive when compared to other comparable platforms on the market. Perhaps one of the most noticeable cons is the fact that it is so chock-full of features and tools that it can clutter the workspace and make navigation a bit complicated. However, this can be customized to an extent. All-in-all it’s a solid, simple to use, robust platform that is unfortunately quite underrated.

    Pricing

    Bitrix24 also offers a three-tiered pricing plan, but unlike it’s competitors, it gives individuals and organizations the ability to customize a bit within each tier. Their Free plan is ideal for businesses just starting out and offers all of the basic essentials as well as 5GB of online storage. They also have a group of Special Plans, which range anywhere from $19.00/month t0 $55/month. These plans offer an expanded set of features,  anywhere from 10GB to 50GB of online storage and can accommodate as many as 24 users. Their third tier is comprised of their Business Plans. These of course are catered towards more estabilshed SMBs and offer advanced business tools, the option to have unlimited users, online storage space and more. These plans range from $79.00/month to $159/month depending on your particular needs.

     

    pipedrive project management platform
    Source

    4. Pipedrive

    Summary

    Pipedrive is an excellent, lightweight project management platform, especially when it comes to managing leads and improving sales. It’s also super easy to use and has quite a small learning curve when it comes to getting started. Users will be happy to see that it visually displays pipelines and is great at reporting sales efficiency, especially when it comes to moving leads through various stages of a pipeline. They also offer amazing support and numerous customization options. However, the platform has fairly limited reporting capabilities, could do better when it comes to automation and is lacking when it comes to API integrations in comparison to other comparable platforms on the market. It’s also known for being a “beginner”CRM — something that may not be an issue with individuals or small businesses but can quickly become problematic as companies and needs start to grow.

    Pricing

    Pipedrive offers a four-tiered pricing plan with the ability to be billed either monthly or annually. Their Essential plan starts at $12.50/month and is intended to help individuals and small businesses organize activities and pipelines more efficiently. Their Advanced plan includes an expanded set of features including the ability to track and automate tasks and comes in at $24.90/month. Pipedrive’s Professional plan is intended to help more businesses become more effective at organizing and automating tasks, collaborating, communicating and growing revenue. This plan costs $49.90/month. Finally, they offer an Enterprise plan catered to large, established organizations which offers all of the previous sets of features a well as the ability to get custom onboarding and CRM support. This plan costs $99.00/month.

    Conclusion

    Solid project management skills are essential when it comes to ensuring that your business thrives and attains long-term success. Fortunately, project management platforms help make this easy. In the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic sweeping the world, we find that more and more companies are beginning to have to rely on remote operations in order to stay in the game. If you’re interested in stepping it up when it comes to project management, then use this article as a guide to help set you off with proper footing. The right project management platforms can make all of the difference.

     

    What are some project management platforms you’ve used in the past? Are there any you’re a fan of that aren’t included on the list? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!

    _________________________________________________________________
    Sources:

    https://hbr.org/2011/09/why-your-it-project-may-be-riskier-than-you-think
    https://4pm.com/2019/05/26/project-failure/
    https://www.asana.com
    https://www.trello.com
    https://www.bitrix24.com
    https://www.pipedrive.com

     

     

     

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    voice search optimization
    Everything You Need to Know About Voice Search in 2020

    Over the past few years there has been a marked rise in the growth of voice recognition software and it’s easy to understand why. Many of us lead demanding, busy, on-the-go lifestyles and as a result, convenience has quickly become of paramount importance to the average consumer. According to a recent PWC report an astounding 71% of individuals surveyed said they would rather use their voice assistant in order to conduct a query as opposed to physically having to type it into their device. Voice search isn’t something of the future – it’s here – loud and clear. ComScore infamously predicted that 50% of all searches will be voice by 2020. We may not be there just yet, but that doesn’t mean we’re not close. If you’re interested in learning more about voice search and the various simple steps you can take in order to prepare your website for 2020, then this article is just for you.

    Timeline of mainstream voice assistants

    Source

    A brief history of voice search

    Voice recognition software has been around since the 1960’s so it isn’t exactly new, but mass mainstream adoption and commercialization voice assistants is. Google first rolled out Google Voice Search in 2010. The system required users to call into a telephone number at which point they were prompted to speak their search query and wait for results to populate on their mobile device. Needless to say, it didn’t catch on all too quickly.

    In October of 2011 Apple introduced Siri as the first digital virtual assistant with their iPhone 4s and Google rapidly followed suit by introducing Google Now in May 2012. Microsoft and Amazon quickly threw their hats in the ring with Cortana and Alexa in 2014 and Google released Google Assistant in 2016. Now we’ve got Samsung’s Bixby and IBM’s Watson as well. Today, voice recognition software is encoded in everything from mobile phones to laptops to watches and personal home devices. Practically everyone wants a virtual assistant. Which leads us to our next section.

     

    Have you used voice search to find information for a local business in the last 12 months? | BrightLocal Voice Search for Local Business Study

    Source

    The growing demand for voice search optimization

    Today, voice recognition software is encoded in everything from mobile phones to laptops to watches and personal home devices. Practically everyone uses voice search and as a result, the industry is a-booming. According to eMarketer, voice commerce sales peaked to an astounding $2.1 billion last year alone. Juniper Research further estimates that there will be a whopping 8 billion digital voice assistants on the market in use by 2023.

    When it comes to voice search, Amazon leads in the voice-enabled speaker device market but Google still dominates the search engine market with a share of 92.71%. So, needless to say, when they start to make updates in order to further accommodate voice search, everyone takes notice. Their 2013 Hummingbird update changed search in profound ways by emphasizing natural language processing and taking into consideration things such as context and user intent. As a result, the focus became less on keywords and more on conversation and meaning.

    This algorithm update coupled with the widespread popularity of smart devices using voice recognition software means that companies now more than ever need to be prepared to optimize their websites and content accordingly.

    voice query length.png

    Source

    5 Ways You Can Start Optimizing for Voice Search Today

    According to recent data from Location World, approximately 2 in 5 adults use voice search at least once daily — and it they use it for more than just finding out information. According to recent data from Amazon, the use of Alexa for shopping more than tripled in 2018 from the previous year (NOTE: at VisioneerIT, we offer voice search technology which can help you sell your products using Alexa voice).  It’s important to note that there’s a significant difference between typed and spoken queries and as a result, voice search optimized websites will have a much greater advantage in 2020. If you’re looking to nab position zero, then we have 5 steps which you can use to get you started off on the right foot.

     

    1. Use natural language

    Let’s say you’re looking for some great grub in your area for the evening. If you head to your go-to search engine, your query ‘might look something like “best restaurants near me”. However, if you’re like the many individuals who use a voice assistant on your mobile device, your query is most likely to sound more along the lines of “what are the best restaurants near me?”. Our point here is that voice search queries tend to be longer than your average typed query. Not only that, they also tend to be conducted in a conversational tone. This is the exact opposite of what is expected when it comes to typed queries. Instead of ruthelessly optimizing for keywords, focus instead on what you need to do in order to optimize for semantic search. Use conversational keywords and phrases that are common when speaking and phrase these long-tail keywords in the same manner in which they are usually spoken. It’s not only ideal for voice search, long-tail keywords are furthermore a great strategy to use for traditional SEO.

    2. Question phrases

    When someone is conducting a typed query on a search engine, the goal is generally to get the main idea across as succinctly as possible. You’re not exactly trying to write a novel. If you’re looking for a black 1981 Pontiac Firebird you might type something like “1981 black Pontiac firebird for sale”. It’s not exactly a beaming example of English grammar. However, when using voice search, users tend to frame queries in the form of questions such as “Where can I find a 1981 black Pontiac firebird for sale?”. Keep this in mind when it comes to optimizing for voice search. It’s important to consider user intent as well as to think of ways to include potential questions your audience may have in your content, headers or subtitles. Not exactly sure where to start? There are numerous resources online which can help you identify the various questions your target audience may have surrounding your topic. Answer the Public is an immensely popular tool as such.

    3. Aim for featured snippet quality

    You may not exactly know what a featured snippet is by just hearing the name but you’ve definitely seen one. These little guys are the pieces of content that have been awarded the ever so coveted spot of position zero. They are above-the-fold snippets of useful information pulled from only the most worth of articles and featured in the spot before the rest of your search engine results. According to SearchEngineWatch, you can pretty much be certain that if the search results which get pulled up for your query include a featured snippet, your voice assistant is going to pull its answer from it. So, if you’re looking to rank highly in voice search results, you’re going to want to focus on making sure that you are delivering high quality content that Google would display in a featured snippet.

    4. Structured data/schema markup

    Structured data is a system where names are paired with a value in order to help search engines when it comes to indexing and categorizing website content. A while back Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yandex got together and came up with Schema.org (aka Schema) as a way to help people provide the information that their search engines need in order to provide the best search results possible. Schema is “a semantic vocabulary of tags” (aka microdata) that you can manually add to your HTML code in order to make it easier for search engines to read, interpret and represent your webpage. It often results in rich snippets of information being displayed (i.e. star ratings) underneath the title of your webpage. This tactic has been proven to not only increase click-through rate but to also drive traffic and provide a competitive advantage to websites which use them. While you will need to know a thing or two about code, you don’t necessarily have to be an expert in order to implement it. You can easily generate your own code for your webpages by using Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.

    5. Improve your local SEO

    Voice search tends to be more mobile and locally focused. In fact, one 2018 study conducted by BrightLocal found that a whopping 58% of individuals use their voice search in order to find local businesses. It also found that consumers are most likely to use voice searches in order to find additional information about businesses that they are already familiar with. This really comes as no surprise as people tend to use their voice search when they’re already on-the-go or planning on going somewhere. In fact, the phrase “near me” is extremely popular when it comes to voice searches. Most of these search bots use business listings in order to find the requested information. The quickest and most simple way to do this is to head on over to Google My Business and register your company. Fill out as much information as possible and make sure to keep it accurate and up to date.

    Conclusion

    Gartner predicted that by the year 2020, approximately 30% of all searches will be screenless. We still have 11 months to find out if that prediction pans out, but the truth of the matter is that you can’t afford to not be prepared. Optimizing your website for voice search is no longer an option – it’s a necessity. Use this article as a useful guide to help you get caught up on all things voice search related and to help strengthen your website so that you have an added edge over the competition in 2020.

    Are you interested in leveraging voice search to help increase sales? At VisioneerIT, we offer voice search technology which can help you sell your products using Alexa voice. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can increase customer loyalty and improve your sales, contact us today at www.visioneerit.com.

     

    _______________________________________________________________________

    Sources:

    https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2018/04/10/voice-search-statistics-2018

    https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/just-say-it-future-search-voice-personal-digital-assistants/1392459

    https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Alexa-Say-What-Voice-Enabled-Speaker-Usage-Grow-Nearly-130-This-Year/1015812?mc_cid=da020f88d1&mc_eid=31cb543a39

    https://www.branded3.com/blog/locationworld-2016/

    https://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2018/11/08/how-prepare-your-content-voice-search

    https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2019/01/11/voice-search-optimization-guide-2019/

    https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/03/14/google-voice-search

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    9 simple ways to improve website security
    9 Simple Ways to Improve Website Security

    A recent study conducted by University of Maryland’s Clark School found that hacker attacks on computers with internet access happen on average once every 39 seconds and affect one in three Americans each year. You may feel that your business may not be at risk for a cyber-attack, but the truth of the matter is that a whopping 64% of companies have experienced attacks as such and 95% of breaches are due to human error.

    Here at VisioneerIT, we offer website security with all of our website hosting plans to help provide you with peace of mind that your company, its clients and website are secure. However, it’s still important to remain diligent when it comes to protecting yourself against threats. If you’re interested in learning about the various steps you can take to secure your company and its customers, then this article will provide you with 9 simple ways you can work towards enhancing the security of your website as soon as today.

    1. Conduct regular and routine software updates

    With the multitude of responsibilities you have as a business owner it can be quite easy to forget something as seemingly trivial as keeping track of when your software needs to be updated. However, this seemingly insignificant task can have a massive impact on your website’s security as well as the security of your business and its patrons. Believe it or not, according to BulletProof’s 2019 report, 22% of the “high and critical-risk” security issues which  were reported were the result of outdated and/or unpatched software. Hackers aggressively target security flaws in website software and as a result, it’s essential to ensure that every software product which you use remains up to date.

    2. Customize your admin path

    According to recent data from IBM, the average cost of a data breach is a whopping $3.9 million. No company can afford this level of distress to their finances or corporate reputation. Fortunately, something as simple as customizing your admin path can help provide you with an added barrier of protection against harmful attacks. This is because that many attacks are implemented using automated techniques which look for standard configurations on sites. Brute force attacks are often implemented on username and password combinations and something as simple as changing your path from “website.com/admin” to “website.com/fksewr” (something randomized) can make it a lot more difficult for these individuals to find your admin page and initiate an attack. If you choose a plan with VisioneerIT, you can rest assured that our hosting plans’ websites are not accessible from the “wp-admin” path.

     

    Image result for stats cybersecurity

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    3. Keep only essential files, plug-ins or apps

    According to a global survey conducted by Accenture, security breaches have increase by a massive 67% in the past five years alone. Something as simple as doing a quick inventory of the various applications you use can make all of the difference. We know, it can be pretty easy to go wild when it comes to the various  plug-ins and apps which you utilize for your website. They’re simple, they make life easy and there’s a multitude of options for practically every concern on the planet. However, these same applications can leave you vulnerable to attacks as they also provide hackers with possible points of entry. Keep inventory of the ones you use. Make sure they’re up to date and delete any non-essential files, applications or plug-ins which you no longer have any use for.

    4. Use strong passwords and update them routinely

    You’ve heard it time and time again. Everyone pretty much understands how important it is to use strong passwords, but the truth of the matter is that many of us still rely on passwords we’ve used forever which often contain personal information such as birthdays, the names of children we’ve had or other information which can easily be retrieved by searching public domains and social media accounts. How often do you update your passwords? According to TechRepublic, 93% of companies do in fact have password rules, but less than 25% of these companies actually require something as simple and effective as mandatory password changes. Hackers use highly sophisticated software which uses brute force to crack through passwords. In order to protect against attacks as such, passwords should be regularly updated and complex. This means at the very least they should be at least 10 characters long and include a combination of upper and lowercase letters, special characters and numbers.

     

    Image result for stats website security

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    5. Backup your data

    According to the National Archives & Records Administration in Washington, DC, an astounding 93% of businesses who lost their data for 10 days or more had to file bankruptcy within one year of the event. Furthermore, 50% of these businesses were found to have filed bankruptcy immediately. If you’re not regularly backing up your files, then you’re essentially playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette. While many web host providers such as us provide their own daily backups, it is still absolutely essential for you to maintain backups of your own files as well on a regular basis in the event your valuable data becomes lost or inaccessible. Lucky for you, there are a multitude of extensions and plug-ins which can help to automate this process so that it doesn’t have to be done  manually.

    6. Manage website users and their access to sensitive files

    According to a global study by Varonis, 41% of businesses allow all of their employees to access more than 1,000 sensitive files. Sensitive files are those which are deemed to contain critical information such as credit card numbers, personal information or health records. Do you know every single individual who has access to sensitive information, even if just the login information to your website? If you don’t, then you should. Actively manage the various users and take steps to assign appropriate permissions to them based on their role in your company.  In the event you find you may need to grant an individual escalate permissions, be sure to remember to reduce those once the task is completed.

    7. SSL Encryptions

    According to recent statistics by the Hosting Tribunal, approximately 21% of the top 100,000 websites still don’t implement HTTPS and approximately 32.6% of websites have inadequate security. We’ve all heard of SSL encryptions but many of us don’t know exactly what they entail. SSL stands for “secure sockets layer”. Perhaps you’ve noticed that some websites begin with “http” and others begin with “https”. Well, that little “s” is actually an indicator that the website you’re visiting uses SSL encryptions. Whenever you visit a site, fill out a form and click “submit”, the information which you’ve entered is subject to being intercepted by an attacker. However, SSL encryption ensures that there is an encrypted link between the website’s server and the web browser. It renders the information entered meaningless to any person potentially attempting to intercept it and thus provides valuable protection for critical information such as passwords, logins, bank accounts and credit card numbers. Security is of paramount importance to us at VisioneerIT — which is why all of our websites come with free SSL certificates.

    Image result for stats cybersecurity

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    8. Implement regular monitoring and testing

    According to a recent SCORE report, a whopping 43% of cyber attacks target small to medium sized businesses. Think your company is too small to be on the radar? Think again. Hackers love to target these business because they often don’t have the level of resources available to implement proper security measures that are available to larger companies. If hiring a security expert simply isn’t a financially feasible option for you, then it is absolutely critical that you take steps to implement ongoing monitoring of your website and its activity. Purchase the appropriate software to do so or install a reputable plug-in or application which implements  consistent monitoring and testing of your files and website activity in order to keep abreast of potential changes and/or abnormalities. Scans to consider are daily malware detection, file change detection (included with our website hosting plans), PAN scanning, security event log monitoring, vulnerability scanning, and penetration testing.

    9. Choose a reputable hosting company

    Believe it or not, according to Acunetix’s Web Application Vulnerability Report for 2019, 46% of websites have what are deemed as “high cyber security vulnerabilities”. Even more interesting is the fact that this same report also found that a whopping 87% of websites have what are considered “medium security vulnerabilities”. With VisioneerIT, we offer website security with all of our website hosting plans which include malware and firewall protection. However, this isn’t the case with all providers. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a cyber security expert in order to take steps to properly ensure the security of your company and its clientele. Something as simple as taking the time to vet your web hosting provider can make all of the difference. Also take into consideration the various forms of technical support they offer as well as its availability and the methods of contact which can be used. You want a provider which provides ongoing support who can be there in the event an issue should arise and respond efficiently. 

    Conclusion

    Cybersecurity attacks are rapidly on the rise. According to Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2018 End-of-Year Data Breach Report, the instance of web attacks jumped 126% from 2017 alone. You don’t have to be a cybersecurity expert in order to take control of your website’s security. These 9 simple steps can be implemented by just about anyone regardless of their technical expertise in the field. Use this article as a guide to get you started on the path towards more enhanced website security for 2020.

    When it comes to website security, how does your website hosting provider stack up? Here at VisioneerIT we offer website security as an added feature to our website hosting package in order to give you the peace of mind that your business and its customers are safe. To learn more visit www.visioneerit.com

     

    _______________________________________________________________________

    Sources:

    https://www.commonplaces.com/blog/8-simple-ways-to-improve-your-website-security/

    https://www.foregenix.com/blog/11-steps-to-improve-your-website-security

    https://www.techradar.com/how-to/how-to-evaluate-and-improve-your-websites-security

    https://www.fundera.com/resources/small-business-cyber-security-statistics

    https://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/87787-hackers-attack-every-39-seconds

    https://www.idtheftcenter.org/2018-end-of-year-data-breach-report/

    https://cybersecurityventures.com/cybercrime-diary-whos-hacked-list-of-q3-2018-data-breaches-and-cyberattacks/

    https://www.cybintsolutions.com/cyber-security-facts-stats/

    https://www.thesslstore.com/blog/80-eye-opening-cyber-security-statistics-for-2019/

    https://www.varonis.com/blog/cybersecurity-statistics/

    https://pages.riskbasedsecurity.com/2018-ye-breach-quickview-report

    https://info.wombatsecurity.com/hubfs/2018%20State%20of%20the%20Phish/Wombat-StateofPhish2018.pdf?submissionGuid=2ecea77c-aa0d-404a-b0f4-030732e60a3a

    https://info.varonis.com/hubfs/2018%20Varonis%20Global%20Data%20Risk%20Report.pdf

    https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/4595665/Acunetix_web_application_vulnerability_report_2019.pdf

    https://www.techrepublic.com/article/93-of-companies-have-password-rules-but-it-may-not-protect-them-from-data-breaches/

    https://www.ibm.com/security/data-breach

    https://hostingtribunal.com/blog/ssl-stats/#gref

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    the ultimate guide to ccpa compliance in 2020
    The Ultimate Guide to CCPA Compliance in 2020

    The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is largely considered a landmark legislative piece set in place in order to afford greater protections to consumers and their privacy rights in the United States. Enacted in 2018, the CCPA officially took effect as of January 1st of this year. If you’re a business owner who is interested in learning more about the CCPA, as well as the responsibilities required of you and the  rights afforded to your consumers, then this article will serve as a great guide to get you in-the-know and compliant for 2020.

    consumer rights

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    Consumer Rights

    Right to request disclosure

    The CCPA affords consumers the right to request that a business disclose both the “categories and specific pieces” of personal information that the business has collected as well as the categories of sources from which the information is collected. It also affords consumers the right to request the business/commercial purpose for collecting or selling personal information as well as the right to request that the business also disclose the categories of third parties with whom which the business shares this personal information.

    Right to delete

    A consumer has the right to request that a business delete personal information which they have collected from the consumer.

    Right to opt-out

    A consumer furthermore has the right to instruct a business which sells personal information about them to stop selling said information. This is referred to as the right to opt-out.

    Right to non-discrimination

    The CCPA additionally affords consumers the right to non-discrimination. This means that a business may in no way discriminate against a consumer due to the fact that they have exercised any of the rights afforded to them by the act. Examples of discrimination include denying goods/services, charging different rates for goods/services, providing a different level or quality of goods/services to the consumer or even simply suggesting that the consumer will receive a different price, level or quality of goods/services.

    Consumer remedies

    The CCPA furthermore provides consumer with a number of remedies in the event their personal information become subject to “unauthorized access, exfiltration, theft or disclosure” as the result of a business’ negligence. In the case of such event, the consumer has the right to:

    1) Damages no less than $100.00 and no greater than $750.00 per consumer per incident OR actual damages (whichever amount is deemed greater)

    2) Injunctive or declaratory relief

    3) any other form of relief deemed appropriate by the court

    These remedies are only available if the consumer provides the business with 30 days’ written notice in which they identify the specific provisions which they feel have been violated before pursuing any action against the company.

    In the event the business has the option to and is able to cure the violation within 30 days’ time and provide the consumer with written notice of such, no legal action against the company may be taken.

    Source

    CCPA Business Responsibilities and Compliance

    Definition of a business

    The definition of a business as defined by the CCPA includes businesses which:

    1) Have an annual gross revenue of more than $25 million

    2) Receive, purchase, sell or share for commercial purposes the information of 50,000 or more consumers, households or devices.

    3) Receive at least 50% of their annual revenue from selling the personal information of consumers

    OR

    4) Control or are controlled by a business as such and share common branding with said business

    Providing notice to consumers

    Collection or sale of personal information

    The CCPA mandates that businesses must provide notice to consumers at or before the time of the collection of personal information that they intend to collect said personal information and how they intend to use it. Furthermore, if a business sells personal information to third parties, they must additionally provide “explicit” notice to consumers that their information may be sold and that the consumer has the right to opt-out of the sale of their personal information. Children under the age of 16 years must provide opt-in consent and a parent or guardian must provide consent for any children under the age of 13 years.

    Financial incentives

    Businesses must also disclose any financial incentives which may be applicable for the collection, sale or deletion of a consumer’s personal information. They must furthermore provide the consumer with the manner in which they calculate the value of their personal information and how the financial incentive is permitted under the CCPA. Financial incentives may take the form of monetary compensation or discounted goods or services in terms of quality or price. However, these financial incentives must be directly related to the value of the personal information which is provided to the business.

    In the event a consumer gives opt-in consent to enter into a financial incentive program with the business, the business must clearly describe the terms of the program and the fact that it may be revoked by the consumer at will. The CCPA furthermore specifies that businesses may not use financial incentive programs which are deemed “unjust, unreasonable, coercive or usurious” in nature.

    Providing reasonable access to consumers for submitting requests

    The CCPA further mandates that businesses must provide “reasonable access’ to consumers for the purpose of submitting any requests to the business with regards to the collection and use of their personal information. A business must make available to consumers at least two or more designated methods for submitting requests which include at minimum, a toll-free number. In the event a business operates solely online and has a “direct relationship” with the consumer, it may instead only be required to provide an email address for submitting such requests.

    Website compliance

    In the event the business has a website, the website must be made available to consumers for the submission of requests regarding their personal information. There are also specific guidelines associated with this task. For instance, the business must provide a “clear and conspicuous link” on their homepage titled “Do Not Sell My Personal information” which directs the consumer to opt-out of the sale of their personal information. A business may also not require a consumer to create an account with them in order to direct the business not to sell their information.

    The business must also ensure that any and all individuals who are held responsible for handling consumer inquiries are informed of all of the requirements associated with doing so and how to direct consumers to exercise their rights according to the act.

    Furthermore, if the business has an online privacy policy, they are required to update the information on it at least every 12 months. The privacy policy must include a description of the consumer’s rights and a list of categories of personal information which the business has collected about the consumers in the previous 12  months. At VisioneerIT, we make compliance simple by offering a convenient website plug-in which automatically updates your customer policies whenever the laws change.

    Responding to consumer requests

    Identity verification

    The CCPA mandates that businesses must verify the identity of consumers making requests to them regarding the collection and use of their personal information. However, a business may not require that a consumer create an account with them in order to make a verifiable consumer request. If a business is unable to verify the request, they are able to deny the request, but are required to comply to “the greatest extent” that they can.

    Requests to delete information

    In the event that a business receives a verifiable request from a consumer to delete their personal information, the business must comply and also notify any potential service providers to delete the consumer’s personal information from their records as well.

    Opt-out requests

    Businesses receiving opt-out requests from consumers must comply by refraining from selling their personal information. Businesses must also respect the consumer’s decision for a period of no less than 12 months before making another request that the consumer authorizes the sale of their personal information. Consumers may authorize other individuals to opt-out on their behalf and businesses must respect the requests made from said authorized individuals. Businesses must also treat any user-enabled privacy settings which signal a consumer’s decision to opt-out as a valid opt-out request.

    Delivery of requested information

    The CCPA also has various guidelines associated with the delivery of and response to requests from consumers. For instance, business disclosures must cover the 12-month period preceding their receipt of the verified consumer request and must be made in writing.

    Disclosure and delivery of the requested information to the consumer must also be made available free of charge via the consumer’s account with the business, by mail, or electronically within 45 days from the date of the consumer’s request. In the event the disclosure of said information is sent electronically, it must be sent in a “readily useable format” which allows the consumer to easily transmit the information to another entity “without hindrance” (i.e. PDF file).

    The CCPA also dictates that businesses are not required to provide personal information to a consumer more than twice in a 12-month period. Furthermore, a business may request an extension for the delivery of the information in the event one is necessary as long as the consumer is notified of the extension within the initial 45-day period.

    Businesses are also entitled to charge an administrative fee for requests deemed “manifestly unfounded or excessive” or refuse to act on such requests altogether as long as the consumer is notified for the reason of refusal. However, businesses which take such action should keep in mind that they will have to bear the burden of having to demonstrate (potentially to the courts) that a consumer request was in fact “manifestly unfounded or excessive”.

    Record-keeping

    The CCPA further mandates that businesses must maintain records of consumer requests and the business’ response to these request for a period of 24 months in order to remain compliant. If a business collects, purchases or sells information on more than 4 million consumers, they are subject to additional record-keeping and training obligations.

    Compliance violations

    Businesses are deemed to be in violation of the CCPA if they fail to cure any violations within 30 days after they are notified of non-compliance. In the event the case of such event, businesses will be subject to an injunction and liable for civil penalties of a maximum of $2,500.00 for each violation. If found violations were intentional, businesses can be subject to as much as $7,500.00 in penalties for each intentional violation.

    Conclusion

    As of January 2020, the CCPA has officially gone into effect. As a result, businesses of all backgrounds and sizes are now liable for remaining compliant under this groundbreaking piece of legislation. If you’re interested in learning more about the specifics of the CCPA, a copy of the code can be found on the California Legislative Information website. Getting compliant and staying compliant takes due diligence, time and commitment. Use this article as a guideline to stay ahead of the game and set your business up for success in 2020.

    At VisioneerIT we provide automated access to compliance free of charge to all businesses hosting their websites on our platform. Our convenient  plug-in has the ability to automatically update customer policies whenever there are changes in the laws. If you’re interested in learning more, visit our website at www.visioneerit.com.

     

    _______________________________________________________________________Sources:

    https://oag.ca.gov/privacy/ccpa

    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=CIV&division=3.&title=1.81.5.&part=4.&chapter=&article=

    https://oag.ca.gov/system/files/attachments/press_releases/CCPA%20Fact%20Sheet%20%2800000002%29.pdf

    https://termageddon.com/ccpa-compliance-affects-marketing/

    https://www.cmdsonline.com/blog/the-looking-glass/website-compliance-ccpa/

     

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    interns
    6 Tactics to Create a Killer Internship Program

    Believe it or not, the spring internship season is almost upon us and many companies are already well into the process of selecting their newest recruits. Internships provide valuable opportunities for companies to give back to their communities and foster development in young and eager professionals with the hopes that they may eventually be recruited into valuable, long-term employees. So, the question begs to be asked, How does your internship program stack up? If you’re interested in learning how you can create a killer internship program that will have young professionals from all over breaking down the doors to work for your company, look no further than these next few lines.

    Image result for relocation assistance

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    1. Offer relocation assistance

    Don’t let your cognitive biases prevent you from considering this worthwhile tactic. Offering relocation assistance for interns is becoming an increasingly popular tactic used by businesses. In fact,  according to a recent NACE survey, 54% of respondents cited that they offered relocation assistance to their interns in some way, shape or form such as through housing stipends or moving allowances.

    The truth of the matter is that college students are more than willing to relocate in order to gain the opportunity to work under a valuable internship program. This is especially the case given they have a blanket of security knowing that their work has a defined period of time and that they will be able to simply move back to their campus at the end of summer without worry.

    Internships serve as a way for young and eager college students to gain valuable experience in the industry of their choosing, but it is also a big step for them in their lives. Helping provide them with a seamless relocation experience can ease pressure, anxiety or concerns they may have about stepping out into the real world in a new environment in order to jumpstart their careers in adulthood. Plus, testing the waters with a temporary relocation boost their confidence in the event that future job opportunities should arise within your company after graduation.

    But it’s not just interns that can benefit from the prospect of relocation assistance. Companies too can reap the rewards of widening their candidate pool by making themselves available to candidates from all over the country.

    Image result for statistics workplace cohesion

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    2. Foster group cohesion

    Humans to a certain degree naturally feel compelled to belong to a group. We need to feel a sense of belonging; a sense of community. We crave cohesion and togetherness and when it comes to the workplace, this is especially the case. Your interns will already feel somewhat isolated being that they are most likely the youngest and most inexperienced individuals working with your company. As a result, take steps to foster a sense of cohesion not just among your interns as a group, but with the entire company and other employees as a whole. Many individuals struggle to get the work-life balance just right and as a result, often times these lines are blurred. Help them find that sense of togetherness and friendship need so that your interns can truly thrive in the workplace.

    The solution to this could be as simple as setting up an onboarding program for new recruits so they have the chance to learn about the company, their positions and their responsibilities together with one another. Or, for instance, you could host a company-wide welcome party for your new recruits to make them feel appreciated. Have a meeting with key persons in your departments and emphasize the desire to create an inclusive and cohesive atmosphere for your interns. Stress the importance of creating a friendly, open and agreeable environment where they are seen as peers rather than company errand-runners and paper pushers. This in turn will provide them with the opportunity to thrive and to truly enjoy the valuable experience they have working with your company.

    Image result for benefits mentorship

    3. Create a mentorship program

    Did you know that according to Entrepreneur.com, a whopping 80% of CEOs have had mentors at some point in their lives? Even more interesting is the fact that according to HR Daily Advisor, 76% of individual with mentor believe that their relationship with these individuals are important to their overall success.

    Don’t take for granted the value of mentorship on your employees, especially your interns. After all, for many of them,  your internship program will be the first step they’re taking into the adult world and the future of their careers. Take the time to provide them with adequate guidance and help along the way by setting up a mentorship program within your company.

    When it comes to assignments, mentors should generally be executives who work within the scope of your intern’s primary interest. However, selection is key when it comes to efficacy. Choose individuals who are enthusiastic about the role and eager to provide advice and guidance to your young recruits. Mentorship isn’t just about teaching young recruits about the ins and outs of their field, but also providing them with a level of wisdom and support about life as well.

    Ideally, mentors should be assigned based on not just skill set, but personality. Do your best to break down any potential communication barriers as well. For instance, you could set up a closed social media group and invite company mentors to interact with interns on a regular basis. The goal isn’t simply to provide them with a professional reference to add to their resume, but a long-lasting relationship which truly makes an impact.

    Image result for meaningful work experience

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    4. Give them a meaningful learning experience

    Internships provide young professionals with the invaluable opportunity of gaining real-world experience within their industry and the ability to jumpstart their professional careers. However, this is only the case if the internship actually provides some sort of value. Keep in mind that you need your interns as much as they need you and as a result, you’ll need to do your part in ensuring your internship program provides your young recruits with a truly meaningful experience.

    Designating your interns as company errand-runners or paper pushers is not the way to go. Your young recruits should be doing much more than making company coffee runs to the local Starbucks or shredding paper. When you force individuals into doing work outside of their skillset, you make them feel undervalued and unappreciated.

    While “grunt work” is a necessary evil in any company, your interns deserve more than thankless menial tasks meant to keep them busy and out of the way. Provide them with rich opportunities and on-the-job experience that they can leverage for their future endeavors. Give them the opportunity to work across several departments and expose them to a myriad of roles. Include them in meetings and strategic discussions so they can understand how the business operates from the inside out. They provide your company with a valuable resource to tap into especially in the form of providing useful outside perspectives.

    If you truly want to create a stellar internship, the key lies in providing your young recruits with meaningful and satisfying work and helping them develop the skill sets necessary for them to succeed in their future careers.

    Image result for benefits networking

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    5. Provide networking opportunities

    It’s essential to keep the right perspective when it comes to your internship program. Think of it less as an avenue to find  your company’s next CEO and more as an opportunity to give back to the community and create a positive brand identity. Let’s face it, when it comes down to it, it’s safe to say that your young recruits most likely don’t have a Rolodex full of industry contacts at their disposal. We all understand the benefits of fostering and maintaining connections in the industry. It’s an essential element to any professional’s ability to thrive and succeed.

    In fact, did you know that an astounding 85 percent  of professionals surveyed in one study cited the they found their current jobs through  networking? What could be more beneficial to a young burgeoning professional than the prospect of making invaluable industry contacts? Provide them with this in some way, shape or form, whether it be through company get-togethers, access to conferences or industry events or through a valuable mentorship program.

    Allowing them to rub elbows with industry professionals can provide an immense impact on their future careers as well as their outlooks, perspectives and ambitions. Furthermore, you’re doing your part by providing them with a truly meaningful internship experience which will help them grow and succeed. In the end, you’re not giving them a leg up in the world, you’re turning them into a grateful and glowing example of an ambassador of your brand.

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    6. Get feedback on your internship program


    When it comes down to it, you can do your best to create an invaluable internship program and experience for your young recruits, but you’ll never truly know how you stack up without feedback. However, don’t just save your feedback questions and surveys at the end of the internship during your exit interview. Take the time to create a process which cultivates feedback throughout the entire internship as well. Doing so will not only aid in your efforts to continually provide an excellent experience for your young recruits but it will also show them that you truly care.

    Conclusion

    When it comes to creating a killer internship program, the key lies in providing a meaningful and impactful experience which will help set your young recruits off on the right foot for their future endeavors. Use this article as a nifty guide to ensure your internship program truly makes a difference and stands out above the rest.

     

    Have you ever held an internship? What was your experience? What are some additional tactics you feel companies could use to create stellar internship programs? Let us know in the comments below!

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    facebook subscription messaging and 2019 updates
    2019 Facebook Messenger Updates You Need to Know

    It’s no secret that Facebook has been taking strides to improve their business features and to continue to position the Messenger app as a “serious channel for business communication”. In fact, at the F8 2019, Zuckerberg notably kicked off his keynote speech saying, “If we would rebuild the Facebook platform today, we would focus it on messaging.” Fast-forward to September 2019 and we find that Zuckerberg has held true to his promise with various updates having been rolled out recently for the Messenger app. Perhaps the most notable of these is subscription messaging.

    If you’re interested in learning more about the subscription messaging update, how you can apply for the service and remain compliant if accepted, as well as other various updates recently announced, then look no further than these next few lines.

    Subscription Messaging

    Facebook is now offering what is considered to be an advanced messaging feature which allows business pages “to send non-promotional content on a recurring basis” via the Messenger application. This service essentially allows you to keep in contact with your customers on a recurring basis as long as the content you are sending is not considered to be promotional in nature. This means that as of July 31st, Facebook business pages which aren’t approved for subscription messaging are no longer able to send chat blasts to their customers unless they do so via the sponsored messages feature.

    So, what exactly are sponsored messages?

    They’re essentially ads.

    That’s right – if you’re not approved for subscription messaging, your chat blasts are going to start costing you a pretty penny. How much, exactly? Sponsored messages will cost around $20.00 – $40.00 per 1,000 impressions. However, the platform recommends that businesses set their bids at $30.00 per 1,000 impressions.

    The 24+1 Rule

    Bear in mind that the 24+1 Rule for Facebook Messenger is still in full effect. For those of you who are unaware, the rule essentially allows businesses to send unlimited updates and messages to users who have opted in for messaging for the first 24 hours. These forms of communication may be either promotional or non-promotional in nature. However, after 24 hours, companies are no longer able to send unlimited promotional updates. Instead, they can only send unlimited non-promotional messages and just one single promotional follow up message.

    Any promotional message must now be initiated through the sponsored messages feature for a fee and if you’re looking to send non-promotional subscription messages, you must receive approval first.

    How do you initiate a request to be considered for subscription messaging?

    Fortunately, there’s no fee associated with applying for the subscription messaging feature. In order to do this, companies must have a page administrator initiate a request for review. The downside is that while the application process is indeed short, the review process is tricky and many times it takes businesses several applications in order to obtain approval.

    In order to initiate the process, you can start by clicking on the Settings tab on the top right corner of your Facebook page next to the “Help” icon. From there you will go to your Messenger Platform.

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    You then go to Advanced Messaging Features and click on Request within the Subscription Messaging box.

    Once this is completed, you will be directed to the application.  You will then be asked to describe how your page intends to use the subscription messaging feature. You have three options:

    1) News

    2) Productivity

    3) Personal Tracking

    You also have the ability to provide them with additional details. An actual person will be reviewing your application, so it helps to personalize what you’re writing and to add as much detail as you can about the information, updates and services that your bot provides.

    PRO TIP: We’ve found through our research that it’s rather difficult to get approved for productivity and personal tracking. As a result, if you choose the “News” option, be sure to provide examples in your application which are actually newsworthy in nature. That means if it sounds like a news site would pick up the story, then you’re good. If not, then don’t include it.

    You will then be asked to provide examples of the blasts that you plan on sending to your customers via your chatbot.

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    PRO TIP: The most common cause for denials is for inappropriate descriptions and examples. Accounts are also often denied based on the 24-hour standard messaging window. The platform may find that based on the examples you’ve provided, your Messenger experience simply doesn’t need subscription.

    Once you complete the application, the platform is then supposed to respond to your request within five business days. However, the truth of the matter is that according to various reports, this is not always the case. In fact, the five business day review period is turning out to be more of a rough estimate than anything else. Users interested in submitting requests should instead realistically expect a response time of a few weeks to a month.

    It’s also worth mentioning that responses to requests are not made via email. Instead, users must head to the Page Settings > Messenger Platform > Advanced Messaging Features page and look for a green check mark next to the Subscription Messaging option in order to identify whether or not they’ve been approved.

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    How to remain compliant with the subscription messaging feature when approved

    If you happen to be one of the lucky ones who gain approval for the subscription messaging feature, it’s important to keep in mind that there are usage guidelines with which you must comply. Failure to do so will result in your account being flagged.

    First and foremost – the recipient of your message must have already opted in to subscription messaging. You absolutely cannot take advantage of this feature by using it to send content to individuals who have not opted in to subscription messaging from you.

    Second – never send any promotional content to your users through the subscription messaging feature. The platform is pretty much giving you a hard “no” when it comes to this. Keep in mind Facebook uses machine learning to analyze content and as a result, even words such as “free” or including a link  to your website can be considered promotional in nature and cause your account to be flagged.

    Third – subscription messaging is only allowed for three very specific use cases. Any use outside of these three is considered a violation. They are as follows:

    1) News

    2) Productivity

    3) Personal Tracking

    According to platform, news is considered content which  informs individuals about “recent or important events” or provides them with “information in categories such as sports, finance, business, real estate weather, traffic, politics, government, non-profit organizations, religion, celebrities, and entertainment”.

    Productivity on the other hand includes “integrations whose primary purpose is to enable people to manage their personal productivity with tasks such as managing calendar events, receiving reminders, and paying bills.”

    Personal tracking is de fined as integrations which “enable people to receive and monitor information about themselves in categories such as fitness, health, wellness and finance”.

    Fourth – If you find that a user responds to one of your subscription messages, the conversation is then considered standard messaging and as a result, it must “comply with standard messaging policies”.

    What happens if you get denied for the subscription messaging feature?

    If you submit your application and find that you’ve been denied, rest assured that you’re far from alone. As we mentioned earlier, the approval process can be quite tricky. There are pretty much two options you can take from this point:

    1) Modify and resubmit your application for approval.

    2) Try to obtain permission from your customers to contact them on a different channel such as SMS, email or phone.

    If you plan on taking the first option and resubmitting your application, chances are there was an issue with the descriptions or examples you provided. Take a look at our PRO TIPs mentioned in the article to ensure that you’ve done your due diligence in providing the best descriptions and examples possible to ensure approval.

    7 Additional Facebook Messenger Updates

    While this article has primarily focused on the very newsworthy subscription messaging update, that’s not the only feature that’s been making waves in the Facebook community. Take a look at these seven updates which are rolling out this year as well so you can get one step ahead of the game when it comes to crafting your best Facebook Messenger strategy.

    1. Messenger Desktop App
    On the consumer end, Facebook is continuing to seek out ways in which they can further improve their user experience. One of the updates they noted they will be introducing to the public is a standalone desktop application for Messenger.

    2. End-to-end Encryption
    At F8 2019, Zuckerberg announced that the team will be prioritizing the transformation of Facebook into a “privacy-focused social platform”. To achieve this goal, Zuckerberg stated that the platform will be focusing on “six main principles” in order to make the platform more secure. Of the six principles mentioned, encryption was included as one of their priorities with the team seeking to expand end-to-end encryption across their apps including Messenger.

    3. 24-Hour Response Window
    Among the updates includes the implementation of a 24-hour response window for businesses on Facebook. This means that business accounts will now have one full day to respond to incoming messages from users. This change is being implemented as a way to “ensure fast responses and better service”.

    4. Message Tags
    The platform will also be implementing what are called “message tags” for business accounts. These tags enable businesses on Facebook to send personalized tags for “specific use cases”. These tags are se up to help enhance the customer experience even further by including features such as event reminders, post-purchase updates and more.

    5. Automatic Lead Qualification
    The platform is also taking steps to make lead generation more organized, simple and efficient for business users. Their automatic lead qualification process in messenger includes templates which are available in the Ads Manager and the ability to sync these with your company’s CRM tools.

    6. Appointment Booking
    There’s also a new interface within the Messenger app for booking appointments. These can now be done directly in chats and include real-time confirmation as well as the ability to integrate appointments with calendar software.

    7. Conversion Tracking
    Facebook will also be updating their conversion tracking features so that businesses are able to track certain events in Messenger which happen during a conversation.

    Conclusion

    Facebook Messenger is quickly being transformed into a serious channel for businesses and marketers alike to leverage in their efforts to attract more customers and engage with them in more effective and efficient ways than ever before. According to recent reports, Messenger alone has over 1.3 billion users who are sending a whopping 8 billion messages “between businesses and people” every month. Furthermore, one experiment by HubSpot found that content sent through Facebook Messenger had an astounding open rate of 80% as well as a click-through-rate of 13%. These rates are more than twice as high as those for email. So, the question begs to be asked – are you currently taking advantage of the opportunity?

     

    What’s your opinion on the new updates rolling out this year? Do you plan on taking advantage of any of them? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!

     

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    social media reputation management
    Social Media Reputation Management: How VisioneerIT Can Empower Your Brand

    Pretty much everyone understands the importance of reputation on an individual level. Your reputation is a reflection of your character and thus, a good reputation reflects positively on you as a person, how you are perceived by others and how others interact with you. The same exact principles apply to businesses.

    A solid reputation instills trust in the eyes of consumers and trust is the foundation upon which a customer relationship is built. This is especially the case when it comes to your reputation on social media. Now more than ever consumers are looking towards platforms as such to research the brands they are potentially interested in doing business with. Social media is a tool which can be used to help build buzz about your company but the key is ensuring that you’re building the right kind of buzz.

    Did you know that the average consumer mentions brands 90 times per week? What are they seeing and saying about yours? Do you have a social media reputation management strategy in place? If you do, are you leveraging the right tools to ensure you are successful in your efforts?

    If you’re interested in learning more about how you can manage your social media reputation, then you’ve come to the right place. This article will explain the importance of reputation management for brands on social media as well as introduce you to a new service offered by VisioneerIT which can help in your efforts to manage how your brand is perceived on these platforms.

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    Why is social media reputation management important?

    Believe it or not, your reputation on social media is crucial to your overall brand reputation both on and offline. Why? Because your customers are the key stakeholders when it comes to reputation management. They hold the true power and what they see about your brand ultimately impacts not only how they feel about your brand but what they say about your brand.

    Social media has essentially become its own ecosystem and in order to remain impactful in it, you’ll need to keep your eyes and ears opened to how your brand is being perceived. When it comes down to it – everyone talks. Public perception will be formed about your brand whether you decide to have a hand in it or not. By making the decision to manage your company’s online reputation you are effectively empowering your brand by giving yourself the ability to help mold how it is perceived in the eyes of consumers.

    It’s not just about your page, how professional it looks, how many followers you have and how many likes your most recent post received. It’s about engagement. It’s about being actively involved. It’s about what is being said about your company and the interactions you foster with your audience. It’s about tackling social media reputation management at a granular level.

    This includes everything from monitoring social media for brand mentions to moderating ad campaign comments and coming up with effective and timely responses to your audience when they’re looking for engagement.

    But how does a company juggle all of these responsibilities?

    There are countless tools and platforms on the market which can assist you in managing your social media – everything from post scheduling to automation. However, if you’re looking to truly be effective a managing your reputation online, you’ll have to approach social media management from the perspective of reputation management as well.

    This means taking the steps to set up social listening so that you can effectively monitor brand mentions and feedback in general, as well as activity on all of the ad campaigns that you’re currently running. How your customers respond to your campaigns, what they say about your brand and how they interact with it are of paramount importance. Furthermore, how effectively you respond to negative posts and how timely your responses are in general are crucial to your success.

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    Things to consider when choosing a platform to assist with social media reputation management

    Let’s face it, the task of managing your social media reputation isn’t for the faint at heart. It takes the consistent application of time and energy in order to remain effective and even then, one small misstep and all of your hard work can easily go down the drain.  Something as simple as failing to respond in a timely manner to your audiences can be the difference between success and failure. This is why it’s so important to find a robust service which can provide you with the tools you need to succeed at monitoring your reputation on social media.

    When searching for a platform, the most important consideration perhaps is cost. Second to this are the features that the platform offers. You’ll want to ensure that the company you move forward with provides you with the ability to listen to and monitor social media for brand mentions, including unofficial mentions that do not use the “@” symbol or hashtags. These mentions all too often get ignored with many services, however the truth of the matter is that they too provide a treasure trove of information and insight into the minds of your audience and are just as important as official mentions.

    You’ll furthermore want to find a platform that can assist you with inbox management. Once all of those mentions and campaign comments get corralled and thrown your way, most of the time you’re left on your own to manually sort through each one and respond accordingly. This is perhaps the most time-consuming process when it comes to managing your reputation online. It’s also very tricky in the sense that it is a difficult task to automate because each response requires a personalized touch in order to be effective.

    Finally, you’ll want to identify a service that will be able to additionally help you moderate the feedback that you’re receiving. You’ll want a company that can assist with responding to audience feedback, as well as one that can help you manage inappropriate or harassing feedback effectively. Sometimes, the best answer is a diplomatic response. Other times — it’s a diplomatic delete. Be sure that the platform you choose gives you the ability to effectively handle harassing or inappropriate comments that can distract others from your brand’s value and campaign message.

    Ad Comment Management Services

    Let’s face it, managing and monitoring social media feedback can quickly become overwhelming to say the least. Often times it requires a full-time team working around the clock in order to effectively keep up with the task.

    Fortunately, VisioneerIT can help with this. Our company offers a Social Media Ads Comment Management service that can help you gain control of your social media presence, your brand’s reputation and public perception of your company.

    Our Social Media Ads Comment Management service can help empower you during your campaign efforts by offering various features to help automate and optimize the feedback management process.

    1. Facebook and Instagram Ad Comment Moderation

    Nothing is more important than staying true to your brand’s voice. Perhaps the only thing worse than not responding to your audiences is responding in a generic and robotic manner. At VisioneerIT, we realize this and make it our utmost priority. This is why we work together with you to understand your personal approach and build out various responses that are not only effective at addressing your audience’s questions, but also stay in tune with your company’s values and voice. With our services, we can moderate, comment, and hide or delete posts made by other commenters on all of your ads.

    2. Inbox Management

    If you have prior experience with managing social media ads, then you’re most likely already well aware of the fact that managing comments in your inbox can be an extremely time-consuming endeavor. This is where we can help. We can help moderate the comments being received with approved replies. If there is ever a situation where  a question is posed that requires your input, we will notify you directly and work together with you to further build out your portfolio of responses.

    3. User Bans

    If you’ve ever experienced brand attacks or harassment on social media then you fully understand how detrimental these can potentially be to your brand’s message, reputation or public perception of it. VisioneerIT takes harassment on social media very seriously and this is why we work together with you to manage negative, unpleasant or harassing commentary. In the event a user continues to post commentary as such on any of your ads or social media pages, we have the tools available to ban these individuals so that they are no longer able to distract your audiences from what’s truly important – your message.

    4. Social Listening

    In addition to social media ad comment management, moderation and inbox management, our services also provide you with social listening features so that you can remain proactive and aware of how your brand is being perceived through social media. We collect all public mentions of your brand on both Facebook and Instagram business profiles as well as unofficial mentions on Twitter. Our highly customizable tools also allow for us to set up alerts for certain phrases or keywords which are unique to your brand and mute alerts for those which are irrelevant in order to cut through the clutter. In addition, you’ll gain access to in-depth reports based on the information we have collected.

    Conclusion

    Did you know that according to 2019 research, 58% of executives believe that online reputation management is important and should be addressed, but only 15% actually make the decision to do so? This is quite an interesting statistic given the fact that 41% of companies who have experienced a “negative reputation event” have reported loss of both brand value and revenue. Don’t make the mistake of dragging your feet when it comes to managing your reputation on social media. Stay proactive, stay informed and you’ll find yourself a step ahead of the competition in 2019.

     

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    10 social media monitoring tools to drive engagement
    10 Social Media Monitoring Tools to Drive Engagement

    Virtually everyone understands the importance of a strong social media presence. Everyone wants to be heard, to be seen, to talk, to make an impact — but the truth of the matter is that establishing your presence is only a part of the game.

    If you’re looking to truly succeed on social media, then you’re going to have to become adept at listening. Social listening (also referred to as social media monitoring) can be used to keep track of everything from your brand’s presence, to your competition’s presence, your customers, and even industry trends. It’s essential because not only does it help drive engagement, but it can also provide you with a wealth of information and insights which can be gleaned in order to influence important business decisions.

    Fortunately, there are numerous tools on the market which can assist you in your efforts at social media monitoring. If you’re interested in learning more about the various monitoring tools you can leverage in order to drive engagement, expand your reach, get more in tune with your customers and scope out the competition, then look no further than these next few lines.

     

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    1. Mention

    PLAN OPTIONS:

    • Free ($0/month)
    • Solo ($25/month)
    • Startup ($83/month)
    • Enterprise ($600+/month)

    Mention is an extremely popular social media monitoring tool that is used by numerous companies including Comcast, Microsoft and Alibaba. Their basic plan is free and allows you to monitor keyword-based alerts, boolean alerts and up to 250 brand mentions. It also allows you to publish content directly to your Twitter or Facebook, schedule your posts and integrate the service with Slack. Upgraded plans allow users to track additional mentions (up to 5,000 for non-enterprise clients) and provide users with detailed analytics, insights, reports and more.

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    2. Hootsuite

    PLAN OPTIONS:

    • Professional ($29/month)
    • Team ($129/month)
    • Business ($599/month)
    • Enterprise (Contact for pricing)

    Hootsuite is one of the more notable names on the list due to its sheer popularity. Hootsuite allows you to conveniently manage all of your social media channels in one simple, easy-to-use interface. In addition to monitoring and analytics, the platform also provides you with the ability to schedule, automate and promote your posts via advertising.

    Upgraded plans offer the ability to add additional users and integrate additional social media profiles (up to 35 for the business plan). They also provide you access to everything from custom analytics to exportable reports, social media certifications, increased ad spend limits and 1-on-1 onboarding.

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    3. Brandwatch Analytics

    PLAN OPTIONS:

    • Pro ($800/month)
    • Enterprise M (Contact for pricing)
    • Enterprise Q (Contact for pricing)

    Brandwatch Analytics is another massively popular tool used by thousands of brands which provides companies with access to live and historical data from social media. Users can search the web for various information such as reviews, comments, articles or conversations. They can then use various rules to segment the data they find into categories that are relevant to business. This data can then be analyzed so users can leverage the insights to influence decision making. The platform also allows you to interact in real-time with your audience thanks to their nifty email alerts. While the price tag is quite hefty, their vast array of features and AI-driven tools make it well worth the while.

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    4. Agorapulse

    PLAN OPTIONS:

    • Medium ($89/month)
    • Large ($179/month)
    • X-Large ($269/month)
    • Enterprise ($459/month)

    Agorapulse is another extremely popular tool that can be used to help monitor your social media presence.  While it is primarily regarded as a social media management tool, it offers a variety of features for social listening as well. For instance, their Facebook Page Barometer tool gives you a snapshot of how well fans are engaging on your Facebook page. They also have a Twitter Report card tool that’s great for conducting competitor research.

    Their listening feature collects public mentions on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. On Twitter, the platform additionally collects unofficial mentions, so even brand mentions used without hashtags or the “@” symbol can be collected and analyzed. They furthermore allow you to assign members of your team to various conversations.

    Upgrades allow for the integration of as many as 60 social media profiles and 20 different users. Users additionally gain access to a myriad of publishing, social CRM and reporting features and tools.

     

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    5. Awario

    PLAN OPTIONS:

    • Starter ($29/month)
    • Pro ($89/month)
    • Enterprise ($299/month)

    Awario is another social media monitoring tool which provides real-time social insights, non-stop monitoring and powerful analytics for businesses. Their keyword tracking feature can notably search and track keywords in any language at any location all across the web. They also have a nifty little social selling feature that businesses can use to help with lead generation. This tool finds posts which ask for recommendations of products similar to yours and also those in which individuals complain about your competitors and then boils them all down in one convenient feed of sales opportunities.

    The platform also prioritizes important conversations based on the number of individuals involved in the discussion, offers the ability to conduct boolean searches, provides white-label reports and helps keep your workspace organized with handy folders. Upgrades offer additional topics that can be monitored, additional mentions and stored mentions as well as the ability to add multiple users and more.

     

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    6. IFTTT

    PLAN OPTIONS:

    • FREE ($0/month)

    IFTT, which stands for “If this, then that”, is an extremely popular free tool that is used to create chains of basic conditional statements, also known as applets. However, did you know that this tool can also be used for social media monitoring? The key to this lies in its versatility and ability to integrate numerous platforms and services. Users can create a “trigger” action that sends an email every time their brand name or competitor’s brand name is mentioned on a social media platform. This tool is highly customizable and most importantly — completely free. As a result, the possibilities are practically endless.

     

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    7. Boardreader

    PLAN OPTIONS:

    • Free ($0/month)

    It’s easy to forget that social media doesn’t just encompass the major platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube. It’s important to remember that forums and messaging boards are also vitally important segments in this space that need your attention. This is where Boardreader can help. The tool is extremely straightforward and simple to use and mirrors that of your average search engine. All you do is type in a keyword that you’re interested in monitoring (i.e. your brand name), and the platform will auto-populate all of the instances where this word has been mentioned within the last two years. Users can browse through search results to conduct research or engage with conversations as well. The platform additionally creates charts in various formats so users can see trends and compare terms against one another.

     

    8. VisioneerIT

    PLAN OPTIONS:

    • Contact for pricing

    VisioneerIT’s social media management tool provides businesses with a way to manage multiple social media profiles all in one convenient location. Users can use their Social Marketing tool to generate leads, schedule posts, monitor social media and communicate with their followers in real-time. The tool integrates with Facebook, Instagram Google My Business, Twitter and LinkedIn. Engaging with your followers on platforms such as Twitter is as simple as the click of a button. Furthermore, it’s mobile-friendly. You can use it on any device at any time meaning that you never miss out on a valuable moment to engage with your audience again.

     

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    9. Google Alerts

    PLAN OPTIONS:

    • Free ($0/month)

    Google Alerts is a “content change detection and notification service” that is offered by none other than Google itself. The platform is extremely straightforward and easy to use. All you have to do is type in a keyword that you’re interested in monitoring and Google will send you an email alert for it based on your preferences. Users can customize how often they receive the emails, the sources from which mentions are being pulled, the language, region as well as how many results to include. The service will send an email whenever it identifies a new result that matches the selected search term. It’s a simple, efficient and free way to manage and research everything from your brand’s presence to your competitor’s presence and various trends all over the web.

     

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    10. Buzzsumo

    PLAN OPTIONS:

    • Pro ($99/month)
    • Plus ($179/month)
    • Large ($299/month)
    • Enterprise ($499+/month)

    Buzzsumo is another wildly popular heavy hitter on the list that is used by a multitude of companies of all sizes. Users can enter a keyword or topic such as “content marketing” and gain access to numerous search results paired with engagement data about each. Queries can also be customized and filtered based on date (i.e. Past 24hrs, Past 2 years), country, language, domain, content type and even word count and publisher size and type (i.e. Only B2B publishers). Their Content Analyzer can help you analyze your domain and the domains of your competitors for insights. They also have a Facebook Analyzer tool, a Question Analyzer tool, a Trending Now feature, a Topic Explorer and a Backlinks tool that can help you identify who is linking to your competitors, as well as backlink opportunities for your own site.

    Their monitoring tool allows you to track mentions, the impact of your content and your competition’s content, as well as who is linking to you. Users gain access to real-time alerts, numerous filtering options to cut through the noise, exportable reports and more.

    Conclusion

    Practically everyone is obsessed with the idea of establishing a presence and being heard on social media platforms. However, the true key to success lies in your ability to listen to social media. Social media monitoring is an effective way to drive engagement, spread awareness, scope out your competition, understand industry trends and get more in-tune with your customer base. Use this article as a nifty guide when it comes to choosing the best social media monitoring tool for your business. In virtually no time at all you’ll be able to start leveraging the insights gained to get you on the path to better engagement, a wider reach and a new level of competitiveness for 2019.

    Have you used any of the social media monitoring tools on our list? Have any recommendations for our readers that aren’t included? Let us know in the comments below!

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