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January 8, 2018

Looking for SEO expert services? 5 red flags to watch for.

If you’re looking for SEO expert services, watch out for these red flags

So you’re looking for SEO expert services for your business. Great! You KNOW that SEO (or search engine optimization) is a critical part of your business digital marketing strategy. After all, this is one of the most effective ways to get potential customers to your website without paying for advertising. You WANT people to find your business when they enter relevant search terms in a search engine like Google.​

​Watch out though. SEO is an incredibly technical and complicated subject. SEO firms know this and not all of them are scrupulous. Some of them hide behind the technicality and complexity of SEO to waste lots of your money while not doing much for you. Others might just be lazy or don’t have the time to keep up with the latest SEO developments and won’t be much help either. Read More

July 7, 2017

5 deadly social media profile mistakes you can easily avoid

Avoid these 5 deadly social media profile mistakes

Social media profile mistakes are like the Asian Giant Hornet.

People often underestimate it.

But in Japan, where this monster lives, it kills an average of 40 people a year.

Just like hornet stings, social media profile mistakes can kill your business’ brand & digital reputation if you don’t watch out.

Fortunately, you can easily avoid the most common of these social media profile mistakes.

Take a few minutes and take stock of all your social media profiles (especially the inactive ones). Are you making any of the mistakes in this article? A few minutes to clean things up could really boost your business’ brand, digital reputation, and ultimately your bottom line.

Ready for the mistakes you should be avoiding? Here they are!

Mistake #1 – Not having a profile

This is a mistake that is all too common but really shouldn’t be. Don’t just leave your profile blank!!! This is probably the most common of the social media profile mistakes I see (but shouldn’t).

I don’t care if it’s your personal Instagram page or the Twitter profile that you just use for following your long lost cousins who have a traveling oompah band in Germany. If your social media account references your business in any way whatsoever, or if your mug in the profile is easily associated with your business, don’t leave your profile blank.

First impressions happen fast and last a very long time. For example, these psychological studies demonstrate that people stick to their snap judgments even when shown evidence to the contrary.

A blank profile screams “I don’t care” or “I’m just too busy to do this right.” Is that the (possibly first) impression you want to leave anyone?

A title or headline isn’t a complete profile. It’s just the start. Make sure you include a good profile pic along with that title or headline, and a write-up about your business. On social platforms like Twitter, Instagram, & Snapchat, this write-up will have to be brief. You can elaborate a bit more on LinkedIn. Specific listings of the solutions you provide to your customers, or types of projects you can work on, are appropriate there. When it comes to your Facebook page, fill in absolutely as much as you can on your profile. A completed Facebook page is good not just for attracting fans. It also helps with search engine optimization and visibility within Facebook’s own search algorithm.

Mistake #2 – A bad (or nonexistent) profile pic

Your profile pic is often the first thing people will see when your profile pops up on searches or in follow notifications. For example, lots of people use the search pane in the native Instagram app to look for interesting people or posts. The results of searches here will just show three things: The profile pic, the username, & the actual name. Guess what grabs the most attention from people on this very visually driven platform?

Yeah, your profile pic.

In fact, people are inherently visual and form first impressions in split seconds when they see faces. So spend some time and maybe even some money to get that profile pic right.

Don’t crop yourself out of a family pic or just take a random selfie while sitting at your computer. You know what I’m talking about. If I had a dollar for every profile pic that has an unattached arm over a shoulder, or a few strands of hair from the person who’s face was inartfully cropped out…

People will judge your profile pic. Then they will subconsciously extend that judgment to your business.

So spend the time (and even money) on a good profile pic. Try to find a photographer who has experience doing profile pics and has a studio where you can get some done. This will be some of the best money you’ve ever spent on your digital marketing efforts.

Or, if you have to take the DIY route, look for a good step-by-step, well-shared article by someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Mistake #3 – Writing in 3rd person

Social media is supposed to be conversational. As soon as you start talking about yourself or your business in 3rd person, you start sounding a bit arrogant. Or, at least you sound stilted, removed, and not very personable. Writing in 3rd person is an easily avoidable social media profile mistake.

By the way, what I mean by writing in 3rd person is something like: “XYZ company was founded in 2005 and is the premier seller of coffee in downtown Mytown.”

The alternative, using 1st and 2nd person, would be something more like this. “We love coffee and have searched the world for the best brews to serve you. Since 2005 we’ve been brightening days with a bit of caffeine and lots of great service. We’d love to brighten yours!”

People relate better with peple. When it comes to brands, they relate better to brands with personality. Even the commonly held notion that credentials are highly important when it comes to first impressions (which might lead to writing third person) has been disproved by research. See our earlier blog post: Your credentials don’t matter. This does for more insight into why your customers value warmth, trust, and relatability with first impressions.

Write your profile like you’re having a conversation with your audience. That’s how you create a human-sounding brand that your customers can engage with.

Mistake #4 – Not tailoring the profile to the platform

Have you ever gone to an event and forgotten to ask about the dress code? Maybe you showed up to a business casual work social in something way too casual. Or, even worse, showed up dressed to the nines to an even where everyone is in T-shirt and shorts.

Well, each social media platform also has its etiquette and not understanding it can be as embarrassing as a dress code faux pas. Don’t just write a profile once and then cut and paste them on all of your profiles. Using a generic profile (and ignoring etiquette) is a social media profile mistake you can easily avoid.

Here are just a few examples if platform-specific etiquette. Some quick internet research will give you even more insight.

  • Use abbreviations (recognizable ones) and hashtags in your Twitter profile. Your space is really limited here.
  • Don’t use hashtags in your Instagram profile or you’ll look like you just cut and pasted your Twitter profile. Don’t do that by the way.
  • Use appropriate emoticons in your Instagram profile.
  • Provide more than just a short, Twitter-length description in your Facebook page “about” and “story” sections. Your Facebook fans expect more than that.
  • In your LinkedIn profile, make sure to explain and give examples of exactly what your business can do for people, especially if you provide services. Your connections are great referral sources but they can’t refer you any business unless they know exactly what you do.

Mistake #5 – Not taking advantage of the URL link

One of your main goals in social media marketing should be to lead prospects back to your business website. While having followers on social media is great, nothing beats getting those people to visit your website instead. Not having a URL link to get people back to your website is a huge social media profile mistake.

Social media is rented property (and you can have your account suspended or shut down anytime for breaking the rules there). Your website is owned property where you make the rules.

If e-commerce is part of your business (or you ever want it to be) then you need people to visit your site in order to sell to them.

Newsletters (or whatever you want to call them) are one of the best ways to build customer loyalty. Of course, the best way to build your mailing list is through your website.

You’ve gotta get people to your website. So use that URL link to do it.

Leaving the URL link blank defeats half (if not more) of the entire purpose of using social media marketing in the first place!

Ideally, this URL link should point to a customized landing page (here’s the landing page we use for social here at Communication Hackers) but at the very least it should point somewhere interesting on your site. This could be your blog page or your homepage.

Mistake #6 (bonus) – Writing to highlight yourself

Here’s where a social media profile for your personal use is MUCH different than one for your business.

When you have a social media profile for personal use the profile is all about you: likes, dislikes, hobbies, location, status, etc etc. That’s expected.

When your social media is for business, the rules of the game are different.

How often do you read business social media profiles that are just a generic self-description?

Or, in the instances when a business does write in more detail, it’s details that are important to them, not their customers.

The fact is, people really don’t care about you or your business. Sorry. They’re too busy for that.

Instead, what people do care about is what your business can do for them. So that’s what you should focus on.

Show your readers you understand them. Identify an urgent problem they have. Then show how you solve it in a unique and effective way.

Say you own an HVAC business. Don’t just put a generic description of your business (“we provide full service HVAC services in the greater ____ area and service all major brands”) or put details that your audience doesn’t care about (“we are the largest HVAC service company in the ____ city and have been keeping HVACs working since 1950”). The reaction from your readers will be “yawn” if they even stop to read your profile!

Instead, focus on your audience and their problems. Maybe it’s convenience and price in this case. Explain to them why you’ve thought long and hard about these exact problems and have a solution. Something like “Whenever your HVAC needs us – 2 PM or 2 AM – we’ll be there with conscientious, competitive service. No high pressure upsells. Financing always available” can show your audience that you’ve been thinking about them instead of just yourself.

There you have it. Six common, deadly, and avoidable social media profile mistakes.

I know I promised five but I thought I’d over-deliver 🙂

What do you think? We’d love to hear from you. Did we miss any social media profile mistakes that you’ve seen? Will you be changing any of your social media profiles? If you’d like some help with your profiles feel free to drop us a line and we’d love to help!

Finally, no matter what, stay away from that Giant Hornet!!


May 31, 2017

Most website content sucks. Here’s how to make sure yours doesn’t.

Most website content sucks.
Here’s how to make sure yours doesn’t.

A tiny goldfish might look at your web content longer than your customers.Most website content sucks

Say what? Yes, studies show that the average reader has a shorter attention span than a standard goldfish.

We typically can focus without distraction for a mere 8 seconds; that’s one second less than Mr. Bubbles.

This means that first impressions of your business’ online presence are more important these days than ever before.

Is your content Hot or Not?

Anyone old enough to remember the #1 superficial dating site of the early 2000’s called Hot or Not? (Later reincarnated as Tinder)

Before any real content about a candidate was revealed, date seekers were simply shown the profile pic of a potential match and enticed to either click the “hot” button or the “not” button.Most website content sucks

That split-second, shallow-minded click would determine if any additional time was spent on the hottie (or nottie).

If the first impression showed them to be a hottie, you could then read their full profile and infer character traits.

This brings us back to customers.

In a busy world, customers (and potential customers) want to see the goods up front.

They want to see if something on your site is worth their time. If it passes what I call the first “sniff test” then they will meander around on your site.

The sniff test is all they need.

Aside from user-accessibility features and site navigation strategies to garner more sustained attention, I know that site visitors are looking for good content.

What makes good content that will pass this sniff test you speak of, Laura?

My method for keeping eyes on your content is two-fold. Both are equally important.

Aesthetic design & appealing content.

Smart academics from Kent State University published this 13-page article in the Elsevier journal Information Processing and Management.

Their research explains how aesthetically-pleasing website design affects perceived credibility.

In short, they found that it is critical to present information in such a way that it does not produce a negative visceral judgment.

This snap judgment can shoo off viewers before they’ve even had a chance to engage the content at a cognitive level.

You have great content, a stellar business model, a life-changing product for customers.

Curious how to suck in an online audience and keep them poking around on your site beyond 8 seconds?

Stay with me.

Sniff test part #1: Is she pretty?

Just like with Hot or Not, your customers land on your site and before they decide if they would ever “do the tango” with your company, they want to see that you meet their basic trust criteria.

Here are a few of the typical design expectations that swarm through visitors’ heads.

Fonts matter. Did you know that fonts can create a first impression as to the personality of your business. For example, this study revealed that users found fonts like Times New Romans and Arial to be more practical, stable, and formal. Script fonts (think Comic Sans) were interpreted as youthful, casual, and modern. If you’re a banking institution with a long proud heritage, your readers are likely expecting a more serious font in your communications. On the other hand, if you are in the bubble tea business, your audience is probably anticipating a more whimsical font on your site and in your social media posts. Be sure to tailor your fonts to match the expectations of your viewers.

Colors matter. The psychology of color in marketing has been a fashionable debate for decades. Forbes neatly summarizes the feelings evoked by various colors in this article. Besides evoking emotion, colors on your site affect readability. Aim for high contrast of colors (think, light font on a dark background) to aid users in the ease of reading your text. Overall, I agree with Help Scout writer Gregory Ciotti that color affects how we view a business/brand and shouldn’t be used haphazardly.

Images matter. Perhaps nothing in design can make or break user trust quite like images. Let’s face it, when given the choice between reading walls of text or looking at a picture—we all opt for the picture. In fact, Kissmetrics reveals that on average, captions under images are read 300% more than the body copy itself. A good picture will attract your reader, and once you have their attention they are very likely to read the caption. Whether your visuals are photos, videos, infographics, or whatev—the bottom line is that your readers expect to see them. Give them nothing but words to read, decipher, interpret, and you’ll not only disappoint them, but you will surely lose their trust, their attention, and ultimately their business.

Most website content sucks

People are already hard-wired to look for these features.

Add in Instagram and Pinterest and your audience is more visually driven than ever before.

Is all this hype about form just hype?

The research doesn’t lie. Most website content sucks.

Audiences really do glance around your stuff looking for specific features before they waste additional time.

In fact, 3M (yes, the tape guys) teamed with University of Minnesota researchers to explore how visuals affect persuasiveness.

Not surprisingly, they found that presentations that used visual aids were 43% more persuasive than presentations without.

They also found that we process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.

Here is an example:

Most website content sucks





First impressions are 94% design related. Using eye-tracking software, Missouri University of Science and Technology researchers found that visuals (logo, main image, navigation bar, etc.) played the biggest role in influencing website visitors.

So, let’s just make our content pretty and forget about quality content? Nonsense.

Keep reading to learn sniff test point #2 to ensure you hook readers with quality content.

Sniff test part #2: She’s pretty but is she smart?

Just like the saying about putting lipstick on a pig…modern audiences aren’t fooled long by pretty design alone.

Customers are looking for the complete package.

#a pretty head(line)

So how do we create quality content while being mindful of the repugnant “wall of text”??Most website content sucks

Did you know that 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy…

but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest?

There’s a learnable craft to writing headlines, so don’t worry if you’re not a word nerd like me.

Follow influencer Neil Patel’s formula for: how to write a stunning headline.

#provide answers

Turn window shoppers into paying customers by creating content that answers their questions.

Anticipate their questions.

This is key to making customer converts.

#make it effortless

While you answer their questions, make sure your content is easy to read.

Make it effortless.

Sure, you want to make sure your grammar and syntax would make your high school English teacher proud.

But more importantly, your content needs to be easily understood by newbies to your site.

I believe the best way to achieve this is by using more visuals, less words.

#less words

Less words??!!

Here’s a dirty secret – I have a degree in English composition. I like words.

But in reality, I know that 65% of the population learns visually.

Customers will scan for visuals that are easy to digest before they will engage with sentences, let alone paragraphs.

Since decoding an image is less work than decoding text, even teachers are finding that it is easier to convey complex information & concepts if they use graphic organizers instead of text alone.

Visual aids are also being stressed more and more at the post-secondary school level.

A head university professor of linguistics is even stressing the use of visual aids for technical reports and articles.

He stresses that you should consider using a graphic if:

  • you are using too many words to explain something
  • you are presenting trends or a lot of numerical data
  • you are doing a comparison over many categories.

Does your website copy discuss a complicated process that might better be digested from a visual aid?

Could a pie chart (or some other type of chart) better convey what your 500-word flyer is trying to say?

Since we know that most people are visual learners, we can tailor the way we talk about our products or services using visuals more than dense text.

#crisp clean cotton copy

If you’re writing for the web or social media, there are many books out on the market to help you write better copy for today’s digital audience.

You could even hire a copywriter.

But if you’re like us and more keen to the DIY content creation, try subscribing to a copywriting feed like copyblogger.com for proven hacks to writing better copy.

Shameless plug: be sure to follow all of our free writing tips by subscribing to our newsletter: Minute-Made DIY Digital Marketing Nab more free content-creation hacks on Instagram and Facebook.

So most website content sucks. But yours doesn’t have to.

Try my sniff test tactics out on your own website.

See if it just doesn’t keep them goldfish swimming around a bit longer.

Let me know what you think. Will you be making any changes to your website? Do you think I missed anything? Let me know by commenting below or on Facebook.