How to Use Google My Business for Your Small Business

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Do you want to stand out from your local competition on Google? Google My Business is a free tool set up by the search engine giant to help businesses take control and ownership of their brand and location. If you haven't started using it already, you're running the risk of customers receiving incorrect information or not being able to find your business. Google My Business allows you to get noticed by genuine potential customers, manage your reputation and generate more business. Get started and set up your profile with these easy steps.

Create your listing

1. Log in to Google and click Manage Now.

2. Start typing the name of your business and if Google already has a listing, click the name.

3. If your business isn’t listed, fill in the details including address and/or delivery area. Pro tip: If you run an online store from your home, you might not want to have your address visible.

4. On the next screen, move the pin to your exact location, if you want customers to find your business. If you offer deliveries, you can determine your delivery method and service area.

5. Select the category your business falls under by typing it in and picking the best fit. Then, choose how you want your customers to contact you by providing a phone number and/or website link. Pro tip: If you don't already have a website, you can get a free one built based on your Google My Business data.

Check your email

If approved, you'll be notified by email. If you're denied, you'll be notified by email and have the ability to suggest an edit to the listing or, in some cases, request an appeal. If you don't receive a response after seven days, look for a claim or verify button on your dashboard and you may still be able to claim the business.

Verify your listing

Once you've filled out your information, Google needs verification that you are who you've claimed to be. This can be confirmed in a variety of ways. Here’s how to complete verification via mobile.

  1. Choose the business that you'd like to verify, then click Verify Now.

  2. To receive the code via an automated phone call, click Verify by Phone.

  3. You will be given a code on the call. Enter it on the website and click Submit.

Optimize your listing

Add key information to your profile like an address, business description, website, hours and phone number. Next, you'll create and add media to your listing. This should include a profile image or logo to allow readers to quickly identify your business, as well as a cover photo to showcase the personality of your business. You can also add a 30-second video clip to highlight your brand even more. Pro tip: they need to be 100 MB or smaller and 720p resolution or higher.

Google My Business is an essential tool for businesses of all shapes and sizes. It's also very straightforward to set up, so why not make it easy for your local customers to find you?

5 Evergreen Content Ideas to Drive Traffic to Your Website

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Does your business need content that consistently drives traffic, shares and links to your site? Find out why evergreen content is one of the most useful and effective content marketing strategies to boost your SEO and website traffic.

1. Interview someone with authority in your niche

Ask a handful of questions to someone that is interesting or authoritative within your niche. The great thing is you don't have to write it yourself, the interviewee creates the content for you. Additionally, the interview doesn't have to be conducted face to face and can be done via Skype or email.

2. Secure guest posts

Invite well-respected bloggers to contribute to your site. This allows for guest writers to get in front of your audience, while you benefit from additional blog content. You could also consider partnering with newer or smaller blogs that could benefit from the exposure and invite them to guest post on your site!

3. Follow the top people on Twitter within your niche

Bring attention to influencers in your industry and other colleagues, friends or accounts you discover that are sharing valuable content. It's a great resource for your followers and it's an even better way to get people to notice you.

4. Create a resource

Create a post, infographic or video that people will find useful. For example, if your website is in the photography industry, why not create an Instagram Photography Cheat Sheet? These are resources that people will find useful while giving you a web asset that will always attract traffic.

5. Host a giveaway

Partner with a business to offer prizes for your readers through competitions or quizzes. As an online marketer, you’ll find that using giveaways as a marketing channel can be an effective way to generate leads and drive traffic to your website and social channels.

Meet the Media Monday: Kristen Wile of Unpretentious Palate

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Today, we’re debuting a new blog series! Meet the Media Monday features a brief Q&A with leading Charlotte journalists as we get to know the faces behind the stories that matter most in the Queen City. We’re kicking things off with Kristen Wile of Unpretentious Palate.

Kristen is one of Charlotte’s leading food journalists, largely due to her time as both Food Editor and Editor of Charlotte magazine along with her current role as Editor and Founder of Unpretentious Palate. We caught up with Kristen over lunch at The Improper Pig to discuss the Charlotte food scene, dogs and everything in between.

How long have you lived in Charlotte? What brought you here?

KW: “I’m originally from upstate New York, went to college in DC and was working there after graduation. My first introduction to Charlotte was when it hosted the DNC in 2012. A few months later, we moved to Charlotte for my husband’s job and didn’t know much about the city at all. Six years later and we are so glad to call Charlotte home.”

What’s your favorite activity in Charlotte?

KW: “Dogwood Bar is our go-to spot for a night out. We have a great time popping in and seeing who we will run into. My husband and I also collect bourbon and wine.”

What attracted you to journalism?

KW: “Like a lot of journalists, I was attracted to the public service aspect and this feeling that you are working for the greater good.“

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What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you/your job?

KW: “Being a food editor sounds super glamorous, and while it is a lot of the time, for every great meal I have, there are three bad ones. It also takes work balancing eating out for the majority of meals while still maintaining healthy habits.”

What are your favorite social media platforms?

KW: “I’m not a huge fan of social media to be honest! Twitter is mostly bad news while Instagram can be fake. If I had to choose, Facebook is the most helpful for me.”

What’s the craziest thing that ever happened to you on the job?

KW: “I was working at The Washington Post and had just moved to the news video team. Saturday was my first shift alone and it was the day that Gabby Giffords was shot. It was a long day of trial by fire, not to mention an adrenaline rush of trying to get video footage to the reporters that were covering this huge breaking news story.”

Want to learn more about Unpretentious Palate and their stories covering food and drink in Charlotte? Follow along on Instagram here.

Instagram Stories Insights: What Metrics You Need to Know

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If you are using an Instagram business profile and want an easy way to track the data behind your Stories, a feature directly in the platform can help! Insights give users the ability to review analytics, optimize story posts, and increase your brand's visibility right in the platform! Find out how to take advantage of this valuable data below. 

View Insights from Your Instagram Stories

It's no secret that Instagram Stories have become an essential tool for brands to add authenticity to their content. With over 500 million people consuming Stories, it’s vital to know what's working and how your audience is reacting to those Stories.

First, tap the Insights icon on the top right of your Instagram business profile. Scroll down to the Stories section and you'll be able to see data for older stories or from ones that have not yet expired. Insights from your Stories will be available for up to 14 days after they're published. Next, we'll dive into each metric you can explore. 

Impressions & Reach

Impressions represent how many times your Story has been seen. Keep in mind that Instagram only counts your entire Story having received one impression even if you have multiple photos or videos added. Reach tells you how many unique users saw your Story on any given day. A good indicator that your Story is performing well is a high impressions-to-reach ratio.

Taps Forward & Taps Back

Taps Forward indicate the number of times someone taps to skip to the next piece of Stories content. This can represent that either your content (video) is too lengthy or the content isn't engaging. Taps Backward indicate the number of times your audience taps to go back to a piece of Stories content. This may be a reflection that your media was engaging enough for someone to view again or maybe they missed a CTA.

Replies

The Replies metric reflects the number of times your audience sends messages through the "Send Message" text box on your Story. These direct messages are associated with your Story and hang out in your direct message inbox, making it a great time to engage with users.

Next Story & Exits

Next Story indicates the number of times a user swipes to skip to the next account's Story, not to be confused with 'taps forward' which skips to the next piece of your content. Exits represent the number of times someone leaves the Stories section entirely to return to their feed. This means a user has decided not to make it all the way through your Story. 


Have questions about setting up a Business Page on Instagram? Shoot us an 
email! We're here to help!

6 Useful Apps For Everyday Productivity

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Need a little help with improving your day-to-day performance? From time tracking to document organization, these resources can help you get—and stay—dialed in all day. Check out our favorite productivity apps that you can install now on your iOS or Android device.

NEWTON 

This app puts all of your email clients in one place. It also lets you track whether an email has been read, which is useful for when you are waiting on a response before taking action.

Key Features:

  • Read Receipts - Receive a read-status for every email you send. Know exactly who read your email with individual mail tracking.

  • Snooze - Set your emails to come back to your inbox at a more convenient time. Snooze emails, not productivity.

  • Undo Send - Pull back that email blunder you just sent. This is especially useful when you’re on mobile and need to reply in a hurry.

SLACK  

It's where work flows. Slack acts as a middle ground between email and instant messaging. You can easily send messages or files to a group or individual in a very organized manner.

Key Features: 

  • Communicate with your team and organize your conversations by topics, projects, or anything else that matters to your work.

  • Message or call any person or group within your team.

  • Share and edit documents and collaborate with the right people all in Slack.

Improving Focus

BE FOCUSED

This app is a timer that uses the Pomodoro technique, where you work for a set period of time and then take a short break. The Pro version comes with time tracking and reporting for clients.

Key Features:

  • Manage your tasks in intervals.

  • Track your progress throughout the day, week, or custom period.

  • Allows for fast and easy goal tracking.

POCKET

The Pocket app allows you to save all of the articles you want to read at a later time. It will even read the articles out loud to you. Pocket is great for the commute to and from work.

Key Features:

  • Boasts unlimited storage.

  • Use tags to quickly get organized.

  • Listen to your articles with Text-to-Speech.

  • Save with one click using Pocket’s desktop browser extensions for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox.

For Everyday Life

TRUECALLER

Once telemarketers get a hold of your cell number, you feel doomed every time the phone rings. Truecaller saves you the annoyance by blocking telemarketer calls. It claims to block over 2 million spam numbers.

Key Features:

  • Automatically identify spam and fraud calls before you pick up.

  • Filter junk SMS automatically.

  • Enter any number to lookup name and other contact info.

CALM MEDITATION

Meditation can do wonders for your mental clarity and productivity. Calm makes meditating easier by offering dozens of guided sessions on their app.

Key Features:

  • 80+ Sleep Stories: adult bedtime stories guaranteed to lull you to sleep.

  • 7 day and 21 programs for both beginner and advanced users.

  • Brand new Daily Calm every day: a new 10-minute program added daily to help ease you into the day or unwind with before bed.

5 Twitter Chats Marketers Should Follow

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A Twitter Chat is an organized Twitter conversation around one unique hashtag. Generally, the pre-arranged chat is moderated and focused on a particular topic. It's a great way to build a community, create exposure for your brand, and stay up-to-date with various trends in your industry. Check out which Twitter Chats we think are useful for marketers and content creators alike.

1. #ContentChat

#ContentChat is a Twitter chat discussion that encourages content marketers and creators to share their experiences and relevant insights with each other. The weekly chat is hosted by Erika Heald Mondays at 1 p.m. EST.

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2. #SocialROI

Manage Flitter hosts a Twitter chat series every Tuesday at 5 p.m. EST with topics ranging from Search Engine Optimization, content marketing, and social tips and tricks.

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3. #HootChat

Twitter users can follow along with Hootsuite's #HootChat every Thursday at 3 p.m. EST. This discussion group is hosted by different experts every week, sharing valuable insights to help boost your social media strategy. This chat is one of the more popular groups, generating thousands of mentions when live.

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4. #EcomChat

This Twitter Chat focuses on e-commerce and digital marketing best practices. Hosted by experienced digital professionals, James Gyrd and Dan Barker, Twitter users can connect with this group every Monday at 8 a.m. EST. People of all levels and interests are welcome, whether contributing or simply listening.

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5. #LinkedInChat

Every Tuesday night at 8 p.m. EST, Con Patrick Sweeney moderates a Twitter chat on topics around LinkedIn. This discussion is open to anyone who has questions about LinkedIn, complaints about LinkedIn, and best practices for networking. 

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Have you participated in a Twitter chat? How did it help? Let us know in the comments below!

4 Key Elements of Event Marketing

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Event marketing is becoming an increasingly popular component of PR campaigns. Live events enable in-person interaction and feedback between businesses and customers who, in turn, can try out potential products first hand and post about their experience in real-time via social media.

PR teams are increasingly being called upon to help in all aspects of event marketing, from initial planning and invitation distribution to providing on-site support and building online hype. Cover your bases ahead of your next event by knocking these four key elements out of the park. The result will be a successful event that your brand can build upon.

Traditional PR

Writing a press release for an upcoming event and publishing it on a news wire seems basic, but it does the job of spreading the word. Reaching out to relevant reporters and inviting them to cover the event is also important, as well as adding events to local online calendars, event round-ups, and daily newsletters.

Design

A simple tool like Canva is perfect for designing an eye-popping invitation or event poster, ensuring that it captures your business’ brand elements and voice. Designing can also include advising on the overall flow and vibe of the event. If there’s food, should it be a buffet or passed hors d'oeuvres? Are talking points needed for a speech? You should be in full event planner mode and consider any logistical details needed on-site in advance of the event.

Social Media

Posting across social media channels ahead of an event as well as live posting to your accounts not only shares details but lets attendees know what hashtag to use and which social media handle to tag during the event. Creating a Facebook event page is also a way to gauge interest and expected attendance if there isn’t a formal RSVP process. The event page can also serve as a sounding board for potential guests to reach out with questions.

Influencer Marketing

Oftentimes influencers themselves can be guests of an event. Even if they are, partnering with a relevant influencer to promote an event is a great option. It increases awareness of your brand to a highly-focused niche audience that you already know will be interested in your business.

Ready to plan and execute the next big event for your business? Let us help! Contact the Social Ape Marketing team today to get started.

4 Tools For Building Facebook Messenger Bots

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So, what exactly are messenger chatbots? Chatbots are a simple form of artificial intelligence that you can interact with via a messenger app. But don't let that intimidate you! With the right tools, chatbots are super easy to create and are a powerful way to generate more leads and sales online.

Facebook Messenger Platform

Did you know 64% of people are messaging more through Facebook Messenger than they did two years ago? Well, now you can start building your own bot directly through the platform’s landing page. The Messenger Platform allows businesses to deliver automated customer support, e-commerce guidance, content, and interactive experiences. This feature gives bots the ability to make contextual content suggestions based on the conversation. The option appears in Messenger once user has interacted with the bot.

Chatfuel

Chatfuel is a do-it-yourself solution that gives anyone the ability to build a full-featured chatbot for Facebook Messenger in a matter of minutes. Using a simple drag-and-drop interface you can start experimenting with your own bot and become an expert at it within a very short time. 

You can use Chatfuel to create any conversational experience in Facebook Messenger. Think of personalized content delivery, marketing, e-commerce, and trivia! 

To give you some ideas, take a look through this list for examples of chatbot experiences built on Chatfuel (it’s best to use a mobile phone with Facebook Messenger application to try them out).

ManyChat

Manychat allows you to instantly chat with your target audience in real-time. Automatically send messages, videos, audio files, links, content, and replies to collect relevant information so you can provide excellent customer service and close sales faster. Check out their handy guide on messenger marketing and automation with ManyChat chatbots.

OnSequel

This tool helps you build chatbots for apps like Messenger and Telegram, and it's quite easy to learn. Because you don't even need any coding knowledge, it’s quite easy to learn. Answer a few questions and a bot will generated automatically. Choose from easy-to-use templates for sharing blog content, Facebook Stories, interactive games, and quizzes.

How to Crush Your Next Influencer Marketing Campaign

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Influencer marketing is quickly becoming one of the most popular and effective methods for brands to reach a large, highly-focused audience and increase awareness about their products and services. As additional data is published on the success of these kinds of partnerships, more executives are putting marketing spend towards creative collaborations with influencers.

To take an influencer marketing campaign from A to Z and to do it well, follow these four steps to keep your eyes on the prize.

Set Clear Campaign Goals

What does this particular project aim to do? Is your brand focused on using this campaign to build awareness of your product or service, or are you set on driving website or foot traffic? Consider revenue. Is this your number one goal? Ultimately, your endgame will affect several key factors as you map out your next steps — budget, partners, marketing materials, etc.

Target the Right Partners

When harnessed properly, influencer collaborations can allow you to get in front of a highly-focused niche audience. Take it back to Marketing 101. Who is your ideal customer? What is their demographic? What other brands are they buying? Start there. If you’re focused on driving the sale of outdoor power tools, chances are you don’t want to waste time reaching out to foodies or fashionistas. Focus on identifying the movers and shakers in DIY, home renovation, and woodworking.

Be Clear in Your Ask

Upon beginning outreach to potential partners, take time to craft clear, concise messaging that makes it totally black and white when it comes to what you’re looking for. How can this engagement be mutually beneficial for both your company or brand and the influencer? How will you achieve it? What are your expectations as far as photography, content, and timing? If your messaging is muddled, there can be a lot of time wasted in unnecessary back-and-forth. Be efficient.

Engage, Engage, Engage

From start to finish, make it clear to influencers that you’re excited about any and all collaborative efforts. At the end of the day, you absolutely should be! Be genuine and intentional about every piece of communication. Authenticity is key during all stages — outreach, follow up, and even when resharing the user-generated content. Reposting content (per your contractual terms) is encouraged!

Did we miss something? Let us know or reach out if you’re interested in learning more about kickstarting your next influencer campaign. Contact us here.

These 6 Podcasts Have Taught Me A Lot About Business & Marketing

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As podcasts continue to gain popularity within mainstream media, I find myself discovering an abundance of podcasts that are incredibly helpful as a business owner and marketer. Even though these podcasts are valuable and you’re sure to learn something from each episode, they’re also unique and enjoyable to the average listener.

Planet Money

Not into economics? No worries. You’ll still love this podcast. (The episodes are actually radio episodes from NPR’s Planet Money show repurposed as a podcast.) Planet Money breaks down simple economic issues in a way that is understandable and interesting. Most of the stories can easily be applied to business or marketing as well.

My favorite episode is titled “Why the Price of Coke Didn’t Change for 70 Years.” It’s an incredible story (that I assume most people don’t know) about how Coca Cola struggled to increase the price of a glass Coke bottle from 5 cents for seven decades. Listen to it here.

How I Built This

How I Built This is sure to be one of the most popular business podcasts to date. Also an NPR podcast, HIBT is hosted by Guy Raz, who is a phenomenal interviewer. These episodes are about an hour long each and provide insight into the minds of some of the world’s greatest business leaders. Each interview dives into the personal background of each interviewee and tells the story and struggles of companies like Five Guys Burgers, Spanx, AirBnB, and JetBlue.

Once you listen to one, you’ll listen to them all. Trust me. Some of my favorite episodes are Whole Foods, Spanx and Kate Spade.

Marketing School

This podcast series is hosted by two marketing veterans, Neil Patel and Eric Siu. Each day they release a new 6-8-minute episode that touches on a specific marketing topic. Marketing School does a great job of covering varied marketing topics such as SEO, Email Marketing, Podcasting, PR Crises, Blogging, and more. This podcast is great for short drives to and from meetings as the hosts get right to the point and offer valuable information with tried-and-true examples.

Want to learn how to create the perfect Instagram video ad? Listen here. Considering hosting a conference? Learn more here. Ready to make money by podcasting? Listen here.

The Influencer Podcast

This podcast is a tad bit niche, but it serves up great content for those who are interested in learning more about influencer marketing. Julie Solomon interviews folks who are either working with influencers or those who are considered an influencer themselves. I like this podcast because once you listen to an episode, you realize how detailed the world of influencer marketing has become in such a short time. One of my favorite episodes of The Influencer Podcast is an interview with an attorney who now only writes influencer contracts and advises influencers on how to legally structure their business. Cool, right? Listen to that episode here.

**P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about Influencer Marketing, check out our upcoming THRIVE Talks event on March 14! We’ll be chatting with a panel of influencers and those who work with influencers to learn more about influencer marketing in Charlotte. Click here to learn more.

Business Wars

Time to get nerdy! If you’re like me, you’ll love the Business Wars podcast not only for the reminiscence of familiar household company names, but also for the intricate detail into which the hosts of this show dive into the competitive stories of large corporations. Each episode (many of these episodes are part of a larger series) dissects these companies, their history of competition, and why one may be more successful than the other.

For example, this episode of McDonald’s vs Burger King is fascinating.

Recode Media

Even if you’re not a media buff, you may still enjoy the Recode Media podcast. The podcast is a series of interviews with some of the world’s leading media moguls. The questions are often hard-hitting and very insightful. By listening to Recode Media, you’ll learn more about why some media companies are failing, what they’re doing to try to remain relevant, and how the media landscape is evolving.

One of my favorite Recode Media episodes is an interview with Wired’s Editor in Chief, Nick Thompson. The interview was released just as Wired launched their new paywall. Thompson explained why they switched to a paywall, instead of a free site. It’s good stuff. Listen here.

Are there other podcasts that have helped you to learn more about business or marketing? Feel free to send us an email with your favorites!