How To Design And Use Your Facebook Business Timeline

SuperHero Marketing Facebook TimelineFacebook is constantly changing. Just when we get used to something it seems it changes. Many business owners were caught off guard when Facebook recently changed the business pages to a different layout called timeline. This happens when you do not own the platform your using for promotion. In a later post I will cover how and why not to put your eggs in one basket. For now let’s talk about how to optimize the design of our Facebook Business pages.
The most obvious change in the layout is the large banner cover that goes across the top.

Below are some things to remember when designing your banner.

  1. It needs to be consistent with all of your other branding.
  2. The dimensions for the cover are 851 px by 315px.
  3. Unless you are a major national or international brand it needs to clearly state what you do.
  4. Any text incorporated in the design needs to be legible. Carefully consider fonts and colors when designing the banner.
  5. It should have a professional appearance.  It should not look like you just put a bunch of clip art together. It is  a good idea to have a professional designer create the banner for you if you are creatively challenged.
  6. In the profile picture spot you can do something creative that goes with the cover or just place your logo. If you do something creative rather than placing the logo there you should place the logo somewhere in the cover photo. Just remember your business profile picture is what is seen in feeds so make sure if it’s not your logo that your audience will still know it’s your business.  the dimensions for the profile picture is 180px x 180px.
  7. Here is what you cannot do with your cover photo per Facebook’s terms of service –
    • Price or purchase information
    • Contact information
    • References to Facebook features or actions – No more like this page in the graphic.
    • Calls-to-action

They really want to make it difficult for Small Businesses. Contact Info and calls to action would be really helpful in your marketing efforts. Facebook is really starting to cater more and more to the big guys who can afford to go the branding only route. Although Big Brands such as JCPenny and GM are both stopping various marketing  efforts on Facebook. JCPenny has shut down their Facebook store and GM has stopped spending on Facebook Ads. Neither one was seeing the results they expected. Facebook is still evolving and still working on figuring out how to mix social and business to the greatest benefit to both the business and Facebook user. But enough of my rant.

Now let’s get into the other elements of the Timeline. One of the biggest disappointments for me is the inability to have a custom landing page. With landing pages it was much easier to use Facebook to convert viewers into leads and customers.  The layout allows you to place apps under the cover banner.  Photos are automatically featured in the first spot, but  you can rearrange the other apps to your liking and can have a total of 12 apps. Only four will fit in the top row. Pick the four apps that have the most value for your business. For instance if your business does a lot of videos and events. Those apps should take precedent over other ones.  You can change some of the app’s thumbnail images to better match your brand. To edit any of the settings or move the apps click on the pencil icon in the top right corner of the app’s thumbnail. If you are just getting your page established it is a good idea to move the likes thumbnail onto the second hidden line.

As for the layout of your  posts. Your most recent post is always first. However, you  have the ability to feature a post by pinning it to the top. You should always do this with your best content. Did you have a blog post or video that received a ton of  comments or views – pin it to the top. Videos and images always get more interaction than text alone.  With that in mind when posting your blog posts or blog posts from others you should pick the best possible thumbnail image.  You can also make certain post more visible by making them wider. Facebook refers to these as milestones – you could use this to promote important events in your company.  You should take into account that with videos and images that you enlarge in this way that it is possible that they become pixelated (fuzzy for you non-techies) if they are enlarged past their original size.

Another new feature is the ability to enable messages for your business page. Think of it like allowing Facebook users to email your business within Facebook.  I love this feature.

So know you have the fundamentals of designing your Facebook Business Timeline. We will cover optimizing your posts and interactions in the next blog post. I will leave you with some links to some well put together Facebook Business Timelines. These may give you some ideas.

Skittles – http://www.facebook.com/skittles

SoLatina – http://www.facebook.com/SoLatinaGroup

Ford Mustang – http://www.facebook.com/fordmustang

Harley Davidson – https://www.facebook.com/harley-davidson

Marvel – https://www.facebook.com/Marvel

and of course – Check us out https://www.facebook.com/SuperHeroMarketing  and remember to like us while your there.

How to Set up an HD Video Studio for Less Than $400

Table of contents for Web Videos for Small Business

  1. Great Videos Ideas for Your Company Website
  2. How To Shoot a SUPER Video For Your Website
  3. Search Engine Optimizing Videos For Local Search
  4. How to Set up an HD Video Studio for Less Than $400

Video equipment to shoot web videos for small businessSo by giving you content ideas, how to shoot web videos, and how to search engine optimize and distribute your videos we have taken most of the roadblocks out of the way. The one thing we have not covered is the perceived high cost of shooting video. You may be surprised that video equipment has gotten much more affordable than it has been in the past.

Below is a list of everything you will need to shoot professional web videos complete with cost.

Camera

Kodak Zi8 HD Pocket Video Camera $170

An excellent camera at a great price.

Highlights

  • It shoots at both 1080 and 720 HD.
  • External Microphone Input
  • Expandable SD/SDHC card slot (up to 32 GB) – for up to 10 hours of footage.

Microphone

Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone – $25

Tripod

Deluxe 57″ Camera Tripod with Carrying Case For The Kodak Zi8 Video Camera – $15

Lighting Kit

Fancierstudio 2400 Watt Lighting Kit Video Lighting Kit – $160

Total Price: $370

Extras – not necessary but recommended

ePhoto 10×12 GREEN 10×12 Foot Chroma Key Green Screen – $39

Neewer 110CM 43″ 5-in-1 Collapsible Multi-Disc Light Reflector – $17

In all honestly the equipment listed above is not the best stuff on the market. It is however the best video equipment for the price.  This equipment will allow you to shoot HD video that will look great on the web. The camera even comes with software to basic editing of the videos. If you want to get into advanced editing you will need to pony up for professional software like Adobe After Effects and/or Premier and learn how to use it as it is meant for professionals.  If you are a Mac user IMovie can allow you to do some incredible stuff. You can always send your videos to the heroes and let us apply our magic to it with advanced effects and editing. We can also edit the sound in the video. Now that we have eliminated all the excuses – Go shoot some amazing web videos for your business!

 

Search Engine Optimizing Videos For Local Search

Table of contents for Web Videos for Small Business

  1. Great Videos Ideas for Your Company Website
  2. How To Shoot a SUPER Video For Your Website
  3. Search Engine Optimizing Videos For Local Search
  4. How to Set up an HD Video Studio for Less Than $400

Local SEO for videoShowing up in Local Search Rankings is pivotal for small businesses. One way to improve your rankings is using video. Google likes to give different media options in search results when possible. You can find some content ideas for your videos here and a how to shoot video for the web tutorial here.

Now let’s  cover how to get those nicely shot videos ranked locally in Google.  To make it easier to follow I will once again us the wine store example from the earlier post. Read more »

How To Shoot a SUPER Video For Your Website

video-marketing-for-small-business-websiteDid you know that  a local business has a better chance of ranking for relevant search terms using YouTube hosted, highly optimized videos than any other approach? – Blog post coming soon on Local SEO for videos.
Video production for the web has gotten very affordable. I will create another blog post about picking the best equipment at the best value in another blog post and add the link here once I do.

Below are the steps to create a great video for your website.

Let’s use the fictional company – Acme Wine Shop.

The first step is to come up with the concept for the video –  If you would like to look back on our post on content ideas for your videos you can find it here. They have decided to do a short sneak peak video in which they show a wine or two that will be tasted and mention their featured guest – usually a wine maker or distributor for their  weekly wine tasting.

The second step is to come up with a script or just wing it. Really whatever is most comfortable for you or your team. The trick is if you are using a script you do not want to appear as if you are.  It is also best not to have a bland monotone deliverance in your video. It should seem as though you are talking to your audience. The worst thing you can do is let fear of the camera keep you from making videos. You should realize that the first ones will not be the best and that they will get better as you go along.

The third step is to make sure the environment in which you are shooting the video is ready. Does it look cluttered or unorganized? Think of the visual messages you will be presenting to your audience. How is the lighting? You may need to take a quick take just to see how the lighting appears in the video. Be creative – Is there a way – without being obnoxious or distracting – to get your product or someone using your service in the shot? Speaking of distracting, make sure any noise that is present will be okay in the video. Ambient music in a store is probably okay as long as it is at an acceptable volume level.  Although wardrobe and overall appearance are not part of the environment you need to make sure your attire is appropriate for your audience.

The fourth step is to make sure the camera is set up correctly and everything that needs to be in the frame is.

Now you are ready to shoot your video and start attracting more customers. In the next blog post we will discuss low cost equipment and software to get you shooting videos like a pro. Of course you could always hire the heroes to shoot and produce a great video for you.

Great Videos Ideas for Your Company Website

Many business owners would love to add video to their website but are often unsure of what will work best for their business. Below are some ideas for video content that will help your website engage your audience and sell your product or service.

Storytelling – You can tell the story of your brand’s history or a customer experience.  This gets your audience more in touch with your brand. If the story is good your customers may share it with their friends. Below is an example of the story of how Coloft – a coworking space in Santa Monica California got started.

Testimonials – Video testimonials are 10x more powerful than text testimonials. Your prospect will have more trust in your product/service because they can actually see a real person singing your praises. Video can capture things such as tone and facial expressions which you just don’t get with text.  Below is a great example for AdvoCare products.

Product Demos – With a video you can go further in-depth about your product and/or demonstrate how it can help your customer. Check out the product demo below for the Marshmallow Shooter. Doesn’t it make you want to get one for your office? Wouldn’t you love to just do a sneaky Ninja style attack on a coworker? Hey – That could be a great Funny Stuff or Behind the Scenes video.

Calls To Action – Yes you can sell from your video. Some of the most succesful websites walk their prospects through the buying process. A video can be easily incorporated into your sales process. These type of videos work best on landing pages in which the prospect has come to specifically inquiring about a certain product or service. Below is a video for Dropbox which tells you why you should use Dropbox. On the DropBox home page underneath the video is the download Dropbox button.

Behind the Scenes – People love to feel like insiders especially with certain industries. People also do business with people/companies they know, like, and trust. A behind the scenes video can pull back the curtain on your operations. It will allow your prospect to see real people working hard to deliver your service/product. This will go a long way in helping your customers identify with and trust your company.

Behind the scenes at Ladybug Organic Coffee Company

Funny Stuff – Do you have a fun company? Show that side a little more with comical videos. A good example of this are the Zappos videos like the one below. Example Below.

There are many other things you can do with video such as tips and strategies related to your product/service or how your company is involved in the community or with a charity. The NBA does a great job with the NBA Cares campaign. In the comments below add a link to your company’s video or any video you think does a great job on using these ideas.

Picking An Email Marketing Platform

Email Marketing - Mail Chimp, Constant Contact, and Aweber screenshotsThere are many email marketing platforms to choose from. So how do you decide which one is right for your business? In this post I will cover  our top 3 email marketing platforms and pros and cons of each.  I will grade them on their features and benefits using an A to F scale.

 

The first one I will cover is Aweber.

Aweber

Aweber is commonly used by internet marketers and has a great reputation in the industry. It is fairly simple to use. One of the best features of the platform is the scheduling of your  mailing campaigns.  Unlike other platforms which enforce a delay on your first autoresponder emails being sent – Aweber lets you send the email immediately.  For my issues with forcing a delay on the first autoresponder read my review of Mail Chimp below.  Overall I really like Aweber and have used it for years.

Ease of Use – A
Aweber is very easy to use. You can be up and running with a campaign in minutes.

Personalization of emails – B
Aweber allows you to implement many types of personalization. Most commonly used of those is the  ability to put the name field in the subject line or body of the email.  Email open rates increase when emails appear more personalized. An example of this would be  – Jeff did you hear about this? – as the subject line. Without adding the name your email open rate would be substantially less.

Tracking  – B
Aweber provides  a good assortment of tracking reports.

Templates – B
Overall I am not of fan of using templates for your email campaigns. They should either be cohesive with the rest of your marketing ( often hard to do with templates) or plain text which is more personal.  With that being said Aweber provides a good assortment of templates. The best of those would be the ones tailored to include coupons, pdf or audio downloads.

Web Forms – A+
Aweber probably has the easiest web forms to implement into a website. I do not recommend the templates they provide for there forms however. Use the blank form code and just add the fields you need. If you do want to have some style for your forms – Hire a Designer – preferably the one who created your website as they will do the best job at matching it to your website.

Email Campaign Setup and Scheduling – A
It is very  easy to set up a campaign in Aweber. The first email can also be sent immediately when someone signs up. That is important if you are offering something to them in exchange for their email address such as a coupon or free download etc.. You also have the ability to set the time and day of when your emails will be delivered. ( Super Tip: Sending on certain days and times will increase your open rate % – Will do a blog post in the near future with advanced email marketing tips).

Split Testing  – B
You can divide your list into percentages to test copy, subject lines, offers etc.. They also offer subscriber segmentation – see other features below.

Pricing  – B
You can test out Aweber for  a month for $1. The price then goes up to $19 an hour for 500 subscribers or less. As your list size increases so does the monthly fee. They do not charge for the # of emails sent. $19 is not a lot to pay and when your list grows so should your revenue so the increased fee should not be an issue.

Integration with other software – B
The Aweber API is integrated into many other platforms. There are plugins for WordPress and integration with other platforms like facebook and Unbounce.

Other Features – C
Aweber offers as an added feature subscriber segmentation.  It allows you to group your subscribers in order to deliver more targeted and relevant emails. We love this feature. The reason for the C is because it is the only notable extra feature they offer. They also offer facebook and twitter integration and the ability to broadcast your blog posts via email. Most of the email platforms do this so we give no extra brownie points for it.

 

Overall Grade: B
We use this platform and recommend it to many of our clients. It strongest points are ease of use and how easily it can be integrated into your websites.

Constant Contact

Ease of Use – A+
Constant Contact is possibly the most easy to use of all the email marketing platforms.

Personalization of emails – B
The Personalization of the email messages is extremely limited. They offer only  3 choices all related to the name field and can only be added to top of email and not throughout the body or in the subject line.

Tracking  – C
Nothing outstanding in this department only the essential data – opens, bounces, and clicks.

Templates – C
Once again – I am not a fan of templated emails unless it is your own custom template that is tailored to your brand. The “off the rack” templates for Constant Contact look really generic. If you use one you are actually in danger of your business looking less professional.

Web Forms – C
You can customize the forms with different fields.  The design choice customizations are next to non existent. What I really do not like is the default way it is set up is to have a link or “button” or your website that needs to be clicked and then taken to a form. This gives your website visitor one more step to take and effects the conversion %.

Email Campaign Setup and Scheduling – A
It is super easy to set up, schedule and manage campaigns in Constant Contact. Also there is not a delay in sending the first welcome message.

Split Testing – F
Constant Contact does not currently offer split testing. Major Fail!

Pricing – C
Free for a 60 day trial after that it is $15 a month for 500 subscribers or less. The price then goes up incrementally based on the number of subscribers. I  graded this lower based on the the low grades in other categories. Although it is inexpensive it lacks a lot of features of similarly priced platforms.

Integration with other software – A
Constant Contact is integrated with over 150 other apps and services. So they deserve an A in this department.

Other Features – B+
Constant Contact offers added services such as Event Marketing, Services, Local deals, Surveys, and Social Campaigns . These services really can help a business have more than one avenue of online marketing. Similar services can be found ala cart via other companies however it is nice to have them “all under one roof “.

Overall Grade : C
The best feature of Constant Contact is it’s overall ease of use. It is inadequate in too many other areas. Especially lacking split testing which is essential to maximizing your campaigns especially as your list sizes grow. So sign up for it if ease of use is your main concern. If you are serious about tracking and maximizing your email campaigns however this is not the platform you want.

Mail Chimp

Ease of Use – B
When you first log in to Mail Chimp’s dashboard it can seem overwhelming. Luckily, the chimp is there to hold your hand to get you started. In a short time navigating the dashboard becomes easy. They also offer training courses to walk you through everything.

Personalization of emails – B
You can add various merge tags for personalization throughout your  email messages in Mail Chimp including the ever so important subject line.

Tracking – B
In addition to the standard reports opens, bounces, and clicks. Mail Chimp also offers an industry average comparison and campaign reach which incorporates social media to determine potential reach.

Templates – A
I still hold to my stance on templates mentioned earlier however , Mail Chimp has the best “not so cheesy” selection of pre designed templates. They also offer basic templates with only the layout determined and not the graphics. The basic templates let you have a layout without sacrificing brand integrity.

Web Forms – B
The form designer seemed a little cumbersome to me when I tried to move fields around and to delete a field you have to actually type the word DELETE into a box.  The design interface outside of the fore mentioned complaints is easy to use and offers many color themes and it will import the colors from your website which is pretty cool. As a web designer I also find it easy to customize the design of the forms after getting the initial embed code.

Email Campaign Setup and Scheduling –  B –
Mail Chimp’s campaign setup and scheduling process is easy. The one knock (and it’s a big one) is the one day delay  on the first email that goes out when someone signs up to your list. Which really makes it hard to offer sign up incentives such as downloads or coupons.

Split Testing – B – 
Mail Chimp does a good job with split testing you can test subject lines, from names, and date & time of delivery.  I wish they would give you complete control and let you test the body of the email as well. That would enable you to test different offers and calls to action.

Pricing  – A
Mail Chimp is free for the first 2000 subscribers and 12,000 emails a month. That is the best deal out of any of the email marketing platforms. It lets you basically start building your list for free. After 2000 subscribers the price goes up based on number of subscribers.

Integration with other software – A
Mail Chimp has a vast amount of integrations included  in those are most of the popular cms, ecommerce,  and crm platforms.

Other Features – A
Mail Chimp also offers many added features. One of my favorites is Social Pro. Social Pro which incorporates your mailing list with social data, so you can learn more about your subscribers. Find out who’s most connected, then send targeted campaigns to those subscribers with a single click. There is also Delivery Doctor, Geo-Location, and many others. Mail Chimp has the best “extra features” of any of the email marketing platforms.

Overall Grade :  B+
Mail Chimp gets a slight edge over Aweber due to the quality and amount of features, layout templates, and the unbeatable price. If it wasn’t for the limits on the split testing and one day hold on the first welcome message email I would have given them an A.

I give the edge to Mail Chimp when it comes to picking an email marketing platform. At SuperHero Marketing we use Aweber due to there not being a delay on the first email when someone signs up as we provide downloadable pdfs. We do not want our subscribers to have to wait to receive the information once they have subscribed. With that being said we also are using Mail Chimp to send our newsletter because we love all the features of Mail Chimp. If they would get rid of the delay on the initial email we would move everything to them. Aweber is an excellent platform and a great choice as an email marketing platform.  As for Constant Contact, we are not a fan despite the ease of use and  cool extra services they provide, they swing and miss on to many of the core features.