Thursday, March 10, 2016

Why Social Media is Important to Your Business

These days, it isn’t enough to have a website for your business: Facebook and Twitter have become a staple in marketing, and it’s time to start capitalizing on it. If your company still doesn’t have a Twitter account or a Facebook page - or if you have accounts that aren't updated daily - it’s time to get with the program and bring yourself up to speed. Here are five reasons social media marketing should be a priority.

1. More people will buy from you.
Not surprisingly, when you stay relevant and active, your customer base is more likely to buy from you. Social media marketing keeps your company or business relevant and interesting to potential buyers, and gives you the opportunity to constantly give them incentives to buy. 

2. Learn about your customers and connect with your audience.
All good businesses know their audience, and, with social media, getting to know your audience is incredibly easy. With analytics on sites like Facebook and Pinterest, you can understand your customer behaviors. This lets you market to your audience better and understand what your customer base wants. 

3. Social media marketing is a (fairly) level playing field. 
Unlike most other traditional ad campaigns, all companies start off on pretty equal footing when it comes to social media marketing. The most successful online businesses are the ones with the most clever, attention-grabbing tactics and the most useful content. 

4. Improve customer service
Social media gives you instant access to feedback from your customers; this insight is incredibly important, as it can help everything from new product growth to customer retention. If there’s a problem with any aspect of your business, you need to know about as soon as possible. With the feedback you get in the process of social media marketing, you’ll know about issues almost as soon as they happen – and you can resolve them right away.

5. An affordable way to market your business.
A fantastic aspect about social media is that it requires very little to do; if you have a computer and internet, you can market on social media. Meaning that in terms of monetary investment, you can do a lot with just a little bit of budget. For small businesses getting started in marketing, social media is an easy and affordable option. But what if you don't have the time to make daily posts on your social media channels? That's where social and Internet marketing companies like come in! We work with you and your budget to create a comprehensive social media marketing plan, post across social media channels for you, and report results.

Simply put, social media marketing is part of doing business. People expect businesses to have Facebook and Twitter accounts, and they expect to be able to use them to get in touch with company representatives. If you don't have social networking profiles set up for your company, you look less legitimate. If your business isn’t already active on social networking sites, now is the time to start. Do you need a social media plan for your business? Contact for a free, no-obligation quote, and we can set you up with a great social media plan that works with your brand or business and your budget!

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

File This Under: How A Web Pro Protects You

When you design and develop web sites, it's inevitable that you're going to set up domain names; it's part of the job. MX records, FTP logins, DNS... all sound scary to the lay person, but to those of us in the industry, they're no big deal. Another thing that's no big deal to us any more: frauds and scam attempts.

This past weekend, I registered a domain for one of my newest clients, The American Legion, Post #217 of Cusick, WA. and put their site online in advance of the long weekend. This morning, I received the following note:

Attention: Important Notice , DOMAIN SERVICE NOTICE
Domain Name:
Response Requested By
9 - Sept. - 2015


 As a courtesy to domain name holders, we are sending you this notification for your business Domain name search engine registration. This letter is to inform you that it's time to send in your registration.
Failure to complete your Domain name search engine registration by the expiration date may result in cancellation of this offer making it difficult for your customers to locate you on the web.
Privatization allows the consumer a choice when registering. Search engine registration includes domain name search engine submission. Do not discard, this notice is not an invoice it is a courtesy reminder to register your domain name search engine listing so your customers can locate you on the web.
This Notice for: will expire at 11:59PM EST, 9 - Sept. - 2015 Act now!

Select Package:

Payment by Credit/Debit Card

Select the term using the link above by 9 - Sept. - 2015
On the surface, this thing's got all the hallmarks of a legitimate warning letter: got my name and the domain I bought accurate, comes from a domain-based email address, uses a bunch of business speak... but a little deeper reading, and you start to see the cracks. Most of the biz-speak doesn't mean anything: "Privatization allows the consumer a choice when registering." What? The registrars ARE private companies, so what does this even mean? The threats of people not being able to find the new site... to someone else, that might be a little unnerving.

To someone less familiar with domain names and how they work and what you have to do to make them work, this could sound like a scary notice and you might write them back. For me, it's just spam, but I worry about what if some of my clients who manage their own domains got one of these letters? Would these scammers get credit/debit information? After doing a little research, I see that these people have been at this for a while, changing tactics based on blog posts and critiques like this one (for instance, not emailing from a Hotmail account), and searching for the domains in the email headershow that they're purporting to be Internet marketers... but if they do things like this, they're actually scammers.

Web design professionals know that these kinds of scams have been going on for a long time and have no bearing on how your site will perform in search engines. What does have a bearing on how people find your site?

1. Relevant text and keywords
2. Easy-to-spider site design
3. High-quality in-bound links
4. Constantly updating with new content

Want to have a professional looking out for you on the web? Give a call today for your free, no-obligation quote.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Why Hire A Professional for Internet Marketing?

I get this question a LOT, surprisingly. If I talk to someone about what I do and they express interest, eventually, the question pops up: why should I hire you to do something I can do myself? I can actually think of a lot of reasons why most all businesses with an online presence should hire a professional marketer to handle their web site and social network marketing, but here are the top 5 reasons off the top of my head:

1. Effective Internet marketing is not a "set-it-and-forget-it" proposition. Most web sites need to be updated at the very least on a monthly basis. This includes fresh textual and graphic content, blog posts, product listings, and more. And more than just making an announcement, in today's over-saturated media environment, your messages have to stand out. Hiring a professional means that your message gets contained in the most appropriate medium possible, including images, videos, sound bites, text, articles, white papers, and more. As an example, imagine your store is having a sale. Which Facebook post do you think will garner the most attention (and, subsequently, sales):

The More You Spend The More You Save, This Black Friday!


2. Most business owners are busy running their business. Since effective Internet marketing means making posts to all your social media channels at least once per week per channel, having the time to have an effective social marketing campaign can be tough. Hiring a professional Internet marketer means that posts are being made every day across all the media channels you're a member of, and you only have to deal with the decisions once per month at an hour-long planning meeting (sometimes shorter!) on the phone, via email, or in-person.

3. Having an effective Internet marketing plan that is getting done means an increase on your bottom line. I have seen my clients more than double sales once I implemented a social media and Internet marketing plan for them. Having a marketing plan that doesn't get implemented or isn't consistent doesn't do you or your customers any good.

4. "I have employees for that," is an excuse I hear a lot, and that may be true; however, in practice, it may be counter-intuitive. A professional Internet marketer will ensure that your messages have a consistent voice, which just is not possible when Internet marketing is done by committee or piecemeal whenever an employee has the time to update your Twitter feed. When a businesses' messages aren't consistent - either in frequency or in tone or both - it's easier for customers to tune you out.

5. A consistent message structure and tone builds trust. Your brand/store/service loyalty among new and existing customers will increase, even when there is competition for their buying dollars.

The bottom line is, whenever I get asked "why should I hire you to do something I can do myself," I answer, "But are you? Can you? Can you afford not to?" Today's marketplace means that people are turning more and more to the Internet to research businesses before they go, even for something as simple as a phone number or address. Could a visitor to the area find you? Would they like what they saw if they perused your Facebook page? Would they see a busy, informative page with new posts every day or would they see months (or years) outdated posts that show that you don't take them seriously? And it is more than making the occasional post on Facebook: it's getting your business seen by the right people who are looking for your products.

Next time: Ways small businesses are shooting themselves in the foot  on the Internet.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Double Standard of Facebook Advertising

One of CMDS' clients is The Vapor Depot, an electronic cigarette retailer with local brick-and-mortar establishments and a web site where they also sell their products. CMDS has been doing social marketing and other tasks for The Vapor Depot for nearly two years now; in that time, they have seen a huge growth in social reach.

But it could be so much better, were it not for a ridiculous set of rules on Facebook that prohibits The Vapor Depot from purchasing advertising. Because the store sells "tobacco products" (electronic cigarettes contain zero tobacco or tobacco byproducts), we're not allowed to buy sidebar or news feed advertising. We have come to accept this, even though, quite frankly, it's ridiculous, especially when I personally see Facebook advertisements for electronic cigarette products DAILY in my news feed and sidebar. (This gets even more ridiculous in a moment.)

But what's really damaging our potential is that Facebook throttles the reach of Page posts in order to get Page Admins to buy Facebook advertising. You read that right: not only can The Vapor Depot not purchase any advertising, but the reach of their posts are limited amongst the audience (fans) that they already have in order to try to get The Vapor Depot to buy advertising - that will CERTAINLY get rejected.

So we thought, well, Facebook won't reject ads that are specifically supposed to go to the audience we have already built (through a TON of work because we're not allowed to advertise). So, I tried to promote a post for a commercial CMDS made for The Vapor Depot... but ONLY to people who already "liked" The Vapor Depot's Facebook page, figuring, "why would Facebook turn down free money to serve a post to people who already like the page?"

But they did. I took a screenshot of the message I received (less than 2 minutes after "Boosting" the ad):

The rejection text reads:

"Your post wasn't boosted because it violates Facebook's ad guidelines by including profanity, or language that refers to a person's age, gender, name, race, physical condition, or sexual orientation. The post is still published, but it is not running as an ad."

So, I wrote them a reply:

"The rejection said that the ad discriminated against someone? It doesn't. It's pretty clear that the ad was rejected because we're selling electronic cigarette products. But here's the thing: we know we can't advertise the products on Facebook (for whatever reason - ignorance is my guess) even though others are (I have seen ads on Facebook for electronic cigarette supplies in my own feed, and they're getting more frequent), but even though we're not allowed to advertise (which we're willing to do; we are willing to give you money), our posts are also being limited among people who already like our page. That's not fair. We should either get to advertise normally or all of our fans should get to see all of our posts, especially when it is clear that there is a double standard going on and other e-cig retailers are getting their ads through your system through duplicity. We're being honest here, and are willing to even pay to reach our own subscribers, and you won't let us? Seriously? Maybe I should let some other people know about the double (and triple) standards with Facebook advertising so that they can save their money, too."

And then I went to take a screenshot of the rejection screen as Facebook requested, and I got that shot above.

Look over there on the far right hand sidebar, at the very bottom.

Do you see it?

IT'S AN AD FOR ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE E-LIQUID! .... on a page that is rejecting a post of video for a cute commercial that was only supposed to be seen by people who already subscribe to the page.

So, I guess, actually, Facebook has a TRIPLE standard: fly-by-night businesses who deliberately skirt Facebook's advertising rules can place ads for electronic cigarette products, but people who play by the rules cannot even get their posts seen by their entire audience, even when they're prohibited from advertising at all.

The answer to all of this is REALLY SIMPLE, Facebook:
If you are going to selectively prohibit businesses from advertising (seemingly at random considering the advertising I personally saw on my ad rejection page), at least turn off the audience throttling for them. It is not fair. Either let us pay to grow our audience or let is get it organically, but for the love of pixels, don't get so greedy that you lose your base. People are already looking for the next big thing; don't get stupid greedy. Be smart.

I got what is CLEARLY an automated reply to my message this morning. It reads:

"Thanks for writing in. I'm here to help. Your ad was rejected because it violates the content policies of the Ad Guidelines. Ads may not promote tobacco or tobacco-related products, including E-cigarettes, cigars, rolling papers, bongs and hookahs. I understand your concern and appreciate your feedback but unfortunately, we cannot make an exception to this rule.

 Learn more about prohibited content here:

Please consider this the end of our correspondence about your ad.
Thanks for your understanding,
Facebook Ads Team
How condescending is that? Zero acknowledgement that I have evidence of the double standard. Zero apologies, zero working resolutions to the problem. I'd be flabbergasted, but I'm really not. The bottom line is this:

If you happen to sell "prohibited" products, you're going to have to work your butt off to get people to see your posts.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Social (Media) Blunders

Don't make these preventable social marketing mistakes!
Over on Facebook, users get to "like" pages of companies, products, groups, bands, books, etc that they enjoy in real life. Which is all fine and dandy, except that, for quite a lot of these companies, etc, their posts come off as "spammy," and people start "hiding" the posts, or they skip over them. What's the point in doing social marketing if you're just going to annoy your readers into ignoring you?

So, how do you avoid coming off as "spammy"?

Well, for starters, don't post personal stuff. That means when someone ticks you off, don't post about it. Your social marketing should be professional. I remember when I was subscribed to the Facebook feed of a music publisher out of Texas. She had contacted me about licensing some of my songs, so I "liked" her page. For the next two months, I was subjected to 20 to 30 posts per day about her gripes with her ex, her problems at school, her issues with men in general, and her bragging constantly about how great she was... all the while, I was waiting for her to do something about my music she had asked to license. She rarely talked about music or her music publishing company except to complain about how the industry was unfair to her. It got annoying. I tired of reading about her personal issues and problems - laced with expletives for good measure - so I unsubscribed. (To this day, she has never contacted me about the music she was interested in.)

Secondly, don't overpost. While you want to keep your business and products on the minds of your followers and friends, there is a limit on how much people can take... and how much they're going to read. Usually, I recommend a MAXIMUM of 15 Facebook updates per day, but, usually, less. You want what you say to be deemed as "important," so posting random things 10 times per day while mixing in your "important" stuff - new products, links to news articles relevant to your business, new videos, etc - means that, more than likely, your "important" stuff is going to get "lost in the shuffle," so to speak, and you've lost an important marketing opportunity.

Thirdly, when you sit down at your computer to post updates and Tweets, start by making a list of all the things you want to post that day - doesn't need to be detailed; just a short list of what you want your customers to know about - and then organize them in order of importance. Delete or cross out anything that isn't particularly important, or save it for a slow news day.

Don't Update Bomb. You need to post updates and Tweets and other new content fairly consistently, every day, every other day, or at least 2 to 3 times per week. When you ignore your social networks and don't post anything for weeks or months, you end up DELUGING your audience with too much info all at once. When your audience doesn't hear from you for months and then you start posting ALL your updates in a few day span or over the course of week, people stop paying attention to you, like ignoring a shouting protester while waiting for the bus. It means that all your posting was, essentially, for nothing. but there's a solution: Create a schedule for posting and stick to it. It's perfectly okay to miss a few days in a row, but try to update at least once per week.

Unless your site is a humor blog or video channel, don't repost or "share" the randomly "funny" things that come across your feed. Your page is supposed to be professional, unless, like I said, humor is your focus and that's why your audience subscribed to you; for most businesses, that's NOT going to be the case.

In the next installment, we'll look at a social marketing posting schedule that WORKS.

Friday, September 21, 2012

DON'T DO IT!!!!!

Perhaps it's just that I am getting older and crankier, but I doubt it.

I've been seeing this all over the Internet lately, and I have to say:



An example: At Pinterest, there was a post touting "186 DIY Christmas Gifts." Now, what creative, financially conscious, crafty sort of person WOULDN'T want to see that, especially with the attractive candy canes as the "come on" photo accompanying the link? (The canes looked like they'd been dipped in white chocolate and nonpareils and wrapped in a red-and-white stiped box... very appealing, visually speaking.)

Anyway, so I click the link from the Pinterest post to go directly to the blog. On the linked page, the DIY content was broken up into sections of 30 crafts, accompanied by collage-style photographs of more attractive crafts. Okay... where are the details? Where is the content?


Under the collage photos were links that said, "To learn how to do these crafts, click here."

My blood's simmering at this point, but I click. Do you know what I found?!?!?

A page EXACTLY like the last,  including collage photos and links that SUPPOSEDLY led to the instructions for the freaking crafts.

Blood is beginning to boil, but I click. Can you guess what I found?!?!?!

A list of blog posts to which I would have to click to SUPPOSEDLY get to the content.

But you can probably guess what I did instead of clicking.

I closed the damned window, because there is no way that I have time to sift through thousands of blog posts to find the content I came to the blog to find in the first place.

And this, my dear readers, is a classic example of creating content people want and then FREAKING BURYING IT beneath layers and layers and layers of "organization." Don't get me wrong: I am all for organizing your content into something you can manage on the back end... but don't forget that your readers still have to be able to FIND that content.

And, make no mistake: Most people WILL NOT click more than three times to get to your article. And right there, you have lost your audience. And they're probably not coming back.

Another reason people link content in this fashion is to get the most "bang" out of it via page impression advertising. These people aren't interested in whether users actually find their content, read it, click on ads, find the article useful, or even share it with their friends. ALL they care about is the advertiser's pay check when the total reaches $20. That's it... or, at least, that's how I see it.

Because, if these blog designers and social linkers actually gave a good-golly-gosh-darn about the readers, when they linked their content from Pinterest or Facebook or Twitter or wherever, THE LINK WOULD GO TO THE ACTUAL CONTENT... NOT another stupid page listing links to the damned content.

This "at least three clicks to content" mentality is even worse when your site is selling something. Like I said, I understand the need for back-end organization, but you have to stop thinking like you and start thinking like your customers would think. Do you think that your customers are REALLY going to want to click on "Products" and then one subcategory, and then another, and then another, and then ANOTHER before they get to the product page of the item they want to buy.


No, your customers NEED your site to be simply organized so that they can spend their hard-earned purchasing dollars at your site and not your competitor's.

But, honestly, your competitor's site is probably designed with the same tectonic plate structure of subcategorized obsfucation, so it will hardly matter, anyway, when they go buy the Chinese knock-off at Wal*Mart.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


You may have noticed that I have not kept up with this blog for almost a year. The reason for that is a number of changes to my personal and professional lives, some good, some bad. Another reason is that discontinued support of blog posts posted via FTP to a person's web site. I needed some time to think through the options available to me regarding keeping this blog active and accessible. In the end, I decided to host the blog through's service,, so the new url to this blog is (Update your bookmarks!)

But, like all things in life, changes are something that we all have to cope with, at one time or another. Just as I went through some of the most life-changing alterations to my life and world, many people across the globe deal with changes to their lives that touch their businesses, and that includes their web presences. How we react to those changes often defines us and our businesses, if not for ourselves, then for other people, including our customers.

When changes come and we have to adapt our businesses to them, it's important to get perspective on those changes and our reactions to them. Sometimes, the changes are miniscule and customers and clients never notice them. At other times, the changes are huge and require us to be aware of our customers, their wants and needs, and may even involve encouragement, praise, or criticism from our customers. We may even lose a few.

The most important thing to remember is, when changes are thrust upon us, we should look at them not as destructive, negative powers out to destroy us or our businesses, but as opportunities to expand, reach out, be positive, and make positive changes that we may never have had the opportunity to develop without the unexpected change.