Email Etiquette

Let’s get back to the basics. In a world where keyboards have replaced the mighty pen, there’s still a place for email etiquette. Before you shoot off thousands of emails to your contacts or subscriber list, make sure you’re respecting their time, while representing your company with class.

Choose Your Subject Carefully to Avoid the Trash Pile

The subject of your email will make or break it, and determine whether or not someone will even open it, or discard it. Make your subject purposeful and relevant to the content you’re sharing and avoid clever marketing ploys, which will only irritate your reader. Avoid using all caps, all lowercase, and poor grammar. Your subject line makes the first impression.

Practice Professionalism in Your Correspondence

Work emails are supposed to be professional. Avoid sending offensive jokes or irrelevant emails to your colleagues. If you’re using business owned equipment, keep it mind your employer will frown upon the misuse of company time and supplies. Internal emails are a serious issue. If you want to be treated with respect from your coworkers, you must practice professionalism on the job whenever you correspond.

Addressing the Recipient

How do you address an individual you just met? While many people quickly assume a first name is suitable, it’s proper etiquette to wait until your new contact requests a first name basis, for example he might state “You can call me Joe.” In the beginning of all correspondence, email etiquette includes using a formal salutation.

Avoid Misspelling Names

It takes just a second to check your recipient’s name and spelling.

Use the Blind Copy Option When Necessary

If you’re sending a bulk email to recipients who do not know each other, it is common email etiquette to use the blind copy option in the address fields, so that you’re not sharing their name and private email addresses to the rest of your contacts.

Avoid Reply All

Have you ever been caught in a texting chain of messages, none of which matter to you? Reply all is the same thing. Unless you want everyone to read your message, be sure to carefully select the appropriate reply option and don’t send to everyone unless necessary.

Get to the Point

Successful email marketing is targeted and gets right down to business. Don’t waste your reader’s valuable time by beating around the bush to say what needs to be said. Short sentences and short paragraphs are easier to read, and much faster too. The less time a reader has to invest his time reading, the more time he can use making an important buying decision.

Don’t Over-punctuate

Over-punctuating your sentences makes them cumbersome to read. Although you may hope that your reader feels your excitement through multiple exclamation marks, if you choose the proper words and format your sentences correctly, very little punctuation is necessary.

Add Links

The main purpose of your email correspondence might be to gain more business and make a sale. Don’t forget the importance of adding links within the body of your email message. At the end of your message you should provide that call to action and also close your email with the necessary contact information.

Why Email Etiquette Matters

Email etiquette matters because people’s time is valuable. In addition, it can be difficult to allow your humor or intent to correctly flow through words alone. Establishing a set of email etiquette rules for yourself will help guide you in the process of communicating with your partners and colleagues in a positive manner that encourages loyalty.

From the beginning to the end of your email message, proper email etiquette ensures your work ethic and professionalism shine.

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Facebook Live and the End of Television

An anchor sits at a desk on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, talking with guests about the future of Facebook. The cameras pan and switch between shots, broadcasting in an eye-pleasing wide frame.

It would be easy to mistake the broadcast for a CNBC TV show, except for the big piece of cheese sitting on the middle of the desk. This is Cheddar, the first startup betting on Facebook’s embrace of live video as the next big thing.

Cheddar was founded by Jon Steinberg, who previously served as chief operating officer and president of BuzzFeed. It’s a business-focused, video-first media operation that broadcasts live five days a week for up to an hour. It plans to expand to eight hours a day by the end of the year.

Its content will appear on platforms aside from Facebook, but it’s clear Steinberg sees the social network, and particularly its Live platform, as the beginning of the end of TV.

“It’s going to replace live television,” Steinberg said. “I think it’s the opportunity of a lifetime for new entrants.”

Steinberg admits that might be a bit optimistic, but he has a point. It’s tough to find anybody who is willing to bet that Facebook Live definitely won’t be the wave of the future in media — particularly after a week in which CEO Mark Zuckerberg made it a centerpiece of this week’s big developer conference.

Then again, just about anything Facebook wants to do could change the media world.

And the rest of the media world is maybe kinda over it.

Facebook [fill in the blank] could change the entire media industry.

First Facebook pushed publishers to embrace branded pages and social reader apps. Later came an emphasis on visuals. More recently, it was all about Instant Articles and in-feed (but mostly soundless) video.

This month, it’s live video.

Nobody doubts the power of Facebook as a kingmaker. Its audience — and, perhaps more importantly, its willingness to control what that audience is shown — are unmatched. Zuckerberg could wake up one day and decide that interpretive dance was the way of the future, and media companies would have to at least give it a try.

So when he took the stage at Facebook’s F8 conference this week to announce that Live was not only a priority, but now completely open to any live video (hint: make it prettier), it was received with a mixture of cautious optimism and hard-earned weariness. You could almost hear the media companies respond in unison with: Sure, why not.

In conversations with a variety of media executives, the message was relatively uniform: Yes, we are investing in this, but we really hope that there’s a plan.

“Overall I think we’re really looking forward to Facebook articulating the monetization plans just so we as publishers can plan how to invest on the platform,” said Sarah Iooss, senior vice president of business development at Viacom.

Concerns about monetizing Facebook go beyond Live. The allure of Facebook’s massive reach helped boost companies like BuzzFeed — and yes, Mashable — and convince investors that their brands would soon supplant the old guard as the media titans of tomorrow.

That might still be true, but Facebook’s sluggishness to figure out how to help media companies make money in the near term has deflated expectations. In a quote that could be applied to most of the digital media industry, one source told Re/code about BuzzFeed: “They’re driving in the dark at 60 miles an hour, without headlights…but that’s still better than standing still.”

Facebook has provided some light at the end of that dark tunnel. Media executives who spoke to us on background said their own interactions with Facebook had indicated that Live would indeed have a payoff.

Facebook declined a request for an interview, but it noted in a statement that the company will “be working closely with these partners to learn from them how we can build the best Facebook Live experience and explore with them potential monetization models.”

One source at Facebook who agreed to speak on the condition on anonymity said the goal was to quickly monetize Live, with its willingness to pay some producers, including Mashable, BuzzFeed and the New York Times, an indication of Facebook’s priorities.

Facebook won’t pay media companies forever, but it’s a small taste of what could be on the way.

Penny for your live stream?

To be clear: Every major media organization you can think of has already done a Facebook Live video, and most of them are planning to do a lot more.

What will they look like? To start, most TV companies seem to want to avoid doing TV.

“We are not doing CNN TV on Facebook,” said Andrew Morse, general manager of CNN Digital Worldwide. “I think it’s an interesting opportunity, but I don’t look at it as an opportunity to do broadcast television.”

Fine, it’s not TV, but it’s pretty close. Fusion launched a broadcast-quality program on Facebook, “The Chris Gethard Show.” E! has announced a daily talk show. And CNN has a handful of shows in the pipeline.

As for what’s been popular online, the first truly viral hit came from BuzzFeed with its already infamous watermelon video. The stream received more than a 750,000 concurrent viewers and now has more than 10 million total views.

Ya gotta believe…

For all the frustration over Facebook once against moving the goal posts, there are some indications that this is the real deal.

“Facebook’s roots are a social network, but it aspires to be a full-blown media and communications company.”
For one, Zuckerberg himself is said to have placed the highest priority on the project, having reportedly been “obsessed” with building it out.

The eventual goals of Facebook also fit nicely with live video. Jessica Liu, a senior analyst at Forrester, noted that the broader ambitions of Facebook are well served by live video.

“Facebook’s roots are a social network, but it aspires to be a full-blown media and communications company,” Liu said.

“Currently, they have the community, publishers, and ad content. If they want to challenge the TV industry, they would need to successfully incorporate original programming, network programming, and major live events… and marry that programming with their user community.”

That community is key to making the Facebook Live experience better than regular TV.

“This would create a unique live viewing plus live social commentary experience that the broader TV industry can’t deliver,” Liu said.

Right now, Live is just video that shows up in your news feed, but some see the potential for more.

Jigar Mehta, vice president of digital operations for Fusion, noted that Facebook has developed a habit of spinning off successful product.

“Right now it’s starting off in the feed, but I could see a future where it’s driving another experience kind of the way Messenger is driving another experience,” Mehta said.

As for Steinberg and Cheddar, he said watching Facebook Live develop has been like seeing a highway built in front of him as Cheddar was on the production line.

With Facebook Live, he sees a focusing of the tremendous power that the social network has to level the playing field. He’s already attracting thousands of concurrent viewers, hundreds of comments and plenty of prominent guests who are eager and willing to appear on his not-quite-TV show. And it’s just week one.

This is only the start of how Facebook is going to change TV and how people consume live video — as long as it still wants to.

“Nobody’s going to have a cable box, and you’re going to watch on-demand programming and that’s going to be Cheddar,” he said. “Why wouldn’t it be?”



Red Flag Tips for Avoiding Shady SEO Providers

There’s shady people all over the world. That doesn’t mean you necessarily want to do business with them. While it’s normal for businesses to operate with the bottom dollar in mind, some will go to great extents to protect themselves at your expense. Don’t get taken advantage of while you wander into the world of digital marketing.

We stole (*not shady) the following tips from Search Engine Land’s Greg Gifford. These are the 10 red flags you should look out for. We’d make a list ourselves but that looks sorta shady and all. (And let’s face it- Greg seems like a pretty cool guy.)

Greg Gifford’s Red Flag Tips for Avoiding Shady SEO Providers

Maybe I should have used an image of me jumping on a soapbox, because I’m about to preach.
Spring conference season is in full swing, and I’ve had my mind blown several times already — not from amazing presentations (although there were several), but from conversations with business owners and newbies in the marketing world.

Case in point: At an automotive conference, I talked to a dealer who had deleted his dealership’s Facebook and Twitter accounts on the advice of his SEO provider. He said they told him it wasn’t good for him to have an open forum where customers could say whatever they wanted about his business. I pointed out that the customers would still be out there, even if his dealership wasn’t… and he agreed! He said he thought that sounded weird, but he shrugged and figured his SEO guy knew what he was doing.

I’ve talked to far too many business owners this spring who feel like they’re getting fleeced by their SEO providers. I’ve talked to far too many marketers who have just started off in the field who don’t know how to judge the value of the work their employer provides. Those conversations are scary, and they’re happening far too often.
I thought I’d take a look at some red flags and warning signs with this week’s article here. While I’m stepping up on my soap box to preach, I’m also taking a step back and looking at the SEO industry without any preconceived notions.

(Note: Yes, most of us are legitimate SEOs and marketers who know what we’re doing and do everything we can to help our clients. This post isn’t meant for y’all — sorry. This post is for the business owners and the noobs in the industry.)

Following are 10 red flags which signal that you may be dealing with a shady SEO provider….

1. Low quality, duplicated content

I talked to a dealership that suspected their content was just phoned in by their provider. Their blog was packed with “Honda Civic AC Repair in (city), (state)” posts — and there was a version for every car in their lineup. In total, we’re talking 15 or 16 posts, all exactly the same. The only thing different was the model of the car.
And it gets better! They had taken those 15 posts and used them all again, for around 20 different cities — 300 blog posts, all exactly the same, just with a few keywords substituted in each one.

Obviously, this was bad news. If you suspect you’re getting cruddy recycled content, copy a sentence from a post and search for it in Google inside of double quotes so you only see exact matches. If you’re like this dealer and see more than 42,000 exact matches, you know you’re in bad shape.

2. Lazy, outdated tactics

I had a fun conversation at SMX West with a few attorneys. One of them was telling me that their new SEO provider sent their website guy a list of requests (They had never asked for access to WordPress, which is a bad sign all on its own). The requested title tag was nearly 30 words long, and they had at least 35 cities listed in the META KEYWORDS.

They had also requested that all but the first sentence of the home page be hidden behind a “read more” link.
If you’re reading Search Engine Land, then you’ve got access to a wealth of information about SEO best practices. If something seems shady or outdated, some simple checks online with trusted sources can help you confirm or deny your suspicions.

3. All you get is blog posts
If your provider’s entire SEO strategy is simply providing blog posts, that’s obviously bad news bears for your business. Clearly, there’s so much more to making your website a relevant resource than sharing a bunch of blog posts. Blogs are an important element, but they’re just one piece of a much larger pie.

4. Artificially lowered bounce rate
Sure, your bounce rate can be a good engagement signal, but it shouldn’t be your “be all, end all” metric. Far too many business owners obsess over their bounce rate when there are much more legitimate metrics for SEO success.

At the last SMX West before he went on hiatus, Matt Cutts said something in an open Q&A that’s stuck with me ever since. When someone asked about their bounce rate, he told them that if their call to action was a phone call, they wanted a high bounce rate. If they were driving users to make a call, then a high bounce rate could mean that users were converting and then leaving.

If your SEO provider promises a drastically lower bounce rate, you should ask them what they’re doing. Many times, they’re simply adding a script that pings Google Analytics every four or five seconds that a user is on a page. BOOM! The bounce rate is magically lowered — but not because the content is engaging or because customer behavior has changed.

5. A la carte SEO services

If you’re hiring an SEO provider, you’re doing so because you believe that their expertise will help your business get more visibility online. If they show you a menu of possible services, with everything broken out into individual elements, that’s not a good sign.

You’re hiring them because they’re the expert — they shouldn’t expect that you know exactly what your business needs to gain more visibility in searches. It’s perfectly okay if they have several different packages, but if you’re expected to choose individual components to create your own package, that’s not a good business decision.

6. Guaranteed ranking
I’m not going to dwell on this one, because it’s 2016, and you’ve read this about 327 times before. But hey, if you’re brand new to SEO, here’s the truth:

Nobody can guarantee rankings.

So if your provider is doing it, run away.

7. “Cheap” SEO
SEO can’t be automated — it takes people sitting there, doing the work. That’s not cheap. SEO takes manual work, and it takes time. If you’re paying less than $750 to $1,000 a month for SEO, that’s another bad sign.

8. Setup fees for SEO
If your provider is charging a “setup fee,” ask them why, and what’s included. Setup fees are rare — but sometimes, since there’s more research on the front end of an SEO project, providers try to saddle new clients with a setup fee.

It’s likely that they’re just asking for extra money because they can. If they’re charging a setup feeand your first month’s service fee, they’re not doing any extra work that first month, compared to what they do the following months.

9. No access to Google Analytics
If your provider sets up Google Analytics for your site but refuses to give you access, you need to run away as fast as you can. There’s zero reason why your provider should deny you access to the analytics for your own website. Yes, this sounds crazy to most of us, but it happens all the time.

On the flip side of the coin, if you start working with a new provider that doesn’t ask for access to your Google Analytics, you should run just as fast. Without access to your analytics, they have no idea what’s going on with your website — so how can they be optimizing for better traffic?

10. No monthly reporting

Your provider should absolutely be providing a monthly SEO report. I talked to several providers at a recent automotive conference who were using a large, well-known provider who only produced quarterly reports. Since that was the only provider they’ve ever used, they didn’t know any better.

I’ve also had a lot of people tell me that their SEO reports only show keyword rankings. In today’s world of localization and personalization, keyword ranking reports are worthless as an SEO success metric. Your reports should always show organic traffic and lead trends over time.

So, those are the most egregious offenses that I’ve run into over the past year or so…. but I’d love to hear from all of you. If you’ve got a great story, please share it on social so we can both laugh AND use the examples to help people avoid the shady providers.

Do you need to fire your current website developer or SEO provider? Contact gotcha! Mobile Solutions today and hire the real deal.


2016 Web Design Trends

The following 2016 web design trends will keep you informed of what to expect in the ever-changing tech industry.

Author credit: Amber Leigh Turner

Design trends often span several years (even decades for some types of design), but Web design is a quickly moving and changing industry where trends come and go quite often.

We’re still working with some of those trends now: responsive web design, flat design, performance and speed, and perfecting the user experience. However, what are some of the new and emerging trends we can expect to see in 2016?

Let’s look through some of the trends we can expect to see more of this year.

Navigation and Menus:As a Web designer myself, I’ve noticed we just can’t seem to get the navigation or menu of a website down. We keep playing with it, experimenting, and doing different things to get it to work well and be useful.

We do things such as put it in a new and unexpected place, hide it behind a hamburger icon (a trend I mentioned for 2015), or just throw it up there because we know it is needed but it doesn’t look very good.

We struggle to figure out exactly the best way to showcase this important piece of content to make it usable no matter the screen it’s being viewed on. We continue to experiment in ways to figure out what works best. For example, Shellshock above is experimenting with both the hamburger icon menu reveal with a card inspired layout for their navigation.

Expect to see more experimentation as we work through trying to figure out how to do navigations and menus well.

Scrolling: Have we reached the point where scrolling increases readership, but we want less scrolling? Possibly. For 2016, I anticipate some sites going with minimal scrolling while others embracing the long scroll.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both: long scrolling feels natural and is easier than clicking but it spaces out content and makes it harder to scan to find info while shorter scroll gets to the point quickly but it may be so quick that causes bounce rates to increase.

Above, Uppercase has opted to go with a no-scroll site. What you see in the screenshot is what their site currently loads. All of what you need is right there without needing to scroll further.

It will be interesting to see the scrolling battle play out in 2016 and which one comes out on top. Currently, there are more long scrolling sites than shorter scrolling sites, but only time will tell which is truly the best way to consume content.

Module design: Have we reached the point where scrolling increases readership, but we want less scrolling? Possibly. For 2016, I anticipate some sites going with minimal scrolling while others embracing the long scroll.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both: long scrolling feels natural and is easier than clicking but it spaces out content and makes it harder to scan to find info while shorter scroll gets to the point quickly but it may be so quick that causes bounce rates to increase.

Above, Uppercase has opted to go with a no-scroll site. What you see in the screenshot is what their site currently loads. All of what you need is right there without needing to scroll further.

It will be interesting to see the scrolling battle play out in 2016 and which one comes out on top. Currently, there are more long scrolling sites than shorter scrolling sites, but only time will tell which is truly the best way to consume content.

Flat design: With responsive design pretty much taken over the Web, expect a flat design to continue to be a dominate design aesthetic throughout 2016. Not only will there be websites that launch with flat designs, those sites that’ve already embraced the flat design trend will look to make things even flatter.

Take for example Google’s logo. The company changed its logo to make it flatter (losing the bevels) and changed the font. It found that a cleaner sans-serif font for its logo helped cut the size of the logo file used on sites by more than half. Google also found that it was easier to read on smaller devices.

This includes updates to logos (like Google), icons, images, and other elements that maybe didn’t get fully flattened the first first time. You can thank the drive and determination to get our websites to load faster and snappier, weigh less, and get content to viewers more effectively.

Material design: Google released its Material design language back in June 2014 but the adoption has been a bit slow. However, designers now have a better understanding of the Material design and I anticipate they will start opting to use it more in their designs as documentation and examples become more widespread.

The material design focuses on tactile but dynamic elements that remind us of paper and ink. Shadows that are realistic, items that overlap do so with regards to reality, interactions stay inside of the material and don’t impact other material around it.

Since we’ve seemed to have reached peak flat design, designers are opting for the next thing, and Google offers that up in their Material design language. I anticipate many more sites to follow this same material design aesthetic in 2016.

Ditch stock elements: We’re starting to see more and more websites ditching the use of stock elements such as stock photography and icon sets over something that feels much more designed and personal to the site itself.

Some websites are opting for using their own photography for use on their home pages or blog posts instead of picking a stock photo. Other websites are ditching stock photography for videos, infographics, or even GIFs to help convey their message. For example, Flatiron Health has opted for their own photography in areas of their website to help be more inviting and personable and less corporate.

Icon sets are another stock element that’s being dropped in favor of something more custom. There are thousands of sets out there, so it’s easy just to pick one and run with it, but for designers, they’re noticing that little extra touch to create custom icons can help set a site apart from others.

Full screen forms: Much like I talked about a year ago with responsive Web design practices being carried throughout an entire website instead of just the mobile versions, this trend also has come from the wide-spread adaptation of responsive website design.

More sites and apps are going with the full-screen forms and input screens (such as signups and logins) instead of it existing in only one small part of the site. Click on “login” and or “contact” and you may be greeted with a full-screen overlay with the form needed instead of being sent to a different page. A great example of this is Eighty East’s contact form. When clicking “contact” you get a full-screen contact form.

As mentioned above, this trend comes from responsive design best practices for several reasons: keeps another screen from being loaded, gives more screen space for easier touch by fingers on touch screens, and encourages users to complete the form (for those forms that present one input at a time).

Animations: As Web design is flattening out, websites are starting to look more and more alike. One way designers have been trying to help make their sites stand apart from the crowd is through the use of rich, clever but subtle animations throughout.

Designers are opting for changing the everyday animations we’ve all grown accustomed to but still serve a purpose. For example, Slack’s own loading screen takes that boring circle loading animation and ditches it for a custom loading animation featuring Slack’s own logo. It still serves the purpose of letting the user know it’s working, but in a clever and rich way.

Better function: Users are caring more about how a site functions than looks
Having a nice design site is great and all, but it really doesn’t matter all that much if your site doesn’t function well. Users are becoming more keenly aware of when something doesn’t work properly on a website.

It’s becoming more common for users to leave a website because they’ve encountered something that isn’t working well for them. Imagine how bad this could be for an e-commerce site?

Designers want their sites to look good, so it’s important that they can make the site function properly as well. Give the people what they want: function and design.

Designing in browser: Some Web designers currently design only in the browser. There are benefits to this: cuts development time down, allows you to see the limitations and reactions of the actual browser with regards to the design, and is more natural than designing in a program that has nothing to do with the Web.

It’s pretty common for Web designers to know how to code at least the front end of websites (HTML/CSS/JS), so designing in the browser makes sense to them. With the trend of Web design moving out of Photoshop, Illustrator, and Sketch and into the browser more, I anticipate many other Web designers starting to work on their HTML and CSS chops.

What are some design trends you anticipate for 2016?


Why Fresh Content Matters

Many web page owners wonder what the purpose of fresh content is. Fresh can mean a few different things, from a new way of thinking, to something just produced. “Fresh content” is really a combination of both. Here’s a look at what creating fresh website content can do to help drive traffic, and why it’s a bigger deal than you think.

How Often You Should Create Content?

Figuring out how frequently you should post on social media or post fresh content is the first step in setting your blogging and social efforts up for success. At bare minimum you should strive to publish a blog once per month, and post on social media several times per week. This will keep your audience updated on your brand happenings and also keep them interested in the future of your company. This helps to build brand loyalty and will hopefully increase your amount of mobile shoppers.

Don’t expect your content marketing strategy to have instant results. If you do, you’re just setting yourself up for failure, because most marketing strategies take a significant amount of time to reap any reward. There really is no such thing as an overnight success with blogging and having a social media presence. If you are diligent and continuous in your efforts and reformulate your posts as necessary you should eventually see a rise in both page views and web prominence, and your site will (as an ultimate goal) be considered an authority on your topic. Google results will favor your website, and your website traffic and lead generation will flow. It’s all about the content and keeping the cycle going.

What Should You Write About?

Finding topics to write about can be a task all in itself. It helps to have an editorial process in place so that you have some basic guidelines to begin your content production. In addition to the area of interest you should first establish the type of content you’ll be writing, and a goal word count for each piece. This will help you figure out how many contributors you might need on board, as well as how you might filter certain topics so that you have enough information to write a relevant piece.

Research on your industry can help you figure out what to write about when you begin blogging. You should also study and look at other websites and see what they are publishing. If there’s something happening going on in your industry, writing a blog is a newsworthy way to approach it. New employees, new products, recognition, awards, events, etc. are all easy topics you can tie into a monthly editorial calendar.

Should You Recycle Content?

Recycling or repurposing content is the practice of sharing and posting content over and over again. If you have an article that is evergreen, meaning not likely to ever change in relevance or importance, recycling your content on social media is an ideal way to increase site traffic, without expending more writing efforts in creating fresh content. Play around to find an ideal balance between evergreen content and topics that are trendy and of the moment. When you mix both timeless and fresh content together you create web content that is valuable, resourceful, and just a little different.

Why Content Matters

Fresh content matters because Google is constantly seeking new content in all of its search updates. It doesn’t matter if it’s Panda or any other Google update, if your website isn’t constantly producing website content there will be nothing new for the search engines to crawl. This means you will eventually lose your place in search result rankings and that will affect your visitors, hence your website traffic. How many pages do you scroll through after searching a topic? Most people click the results that appear on the first page.

Writing web content is essential if you want to keep a place in the vastly, ever-changing digital world.
Do you need help developing a digital marketing or web content strategy? Contact the SEO experts at gotcha! Mobile Solutions today.

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Marketing Tips for the New Facebook Emojis

Need a few marketing tips for the new Facebook emojis? While the simplistic icons seem rather harmless, you can say a lot and hear a lot about your brand, just by interacting with these digital expressions.

Understanding your customers is key if you want to run a successful business. Businesses that have a social presence have the ability to tune in to their customers and also gain valuable insights on what products or services might soon be in demand.

Facebook is a popular tool for businesses that want to interact with their repeat or potential customers on a social channel, all while sharing pictures, stories and events that are of interest to the brand. Giving customers an intimate peek into your company can help encourage loyal shoppers.

While Facebook’s simple “Like” or “Share” buttons did the deed, the company decided it was time for much needed change.

According to USA Today, acknowledging that “like” isn’t the right sentiment for every occasion, the giant social network is offering new options. Reactions, five emoting emojis, started rolling out to Facebook’s nearly 1.6 billion users around the globe Wednesday. Whether or not you’re thrilled with the idea or not, the new Facebook enojis are here to stay. Here’s how you might use the emojis to your business advantage while interacting on the social media network.

How to Use the Facebook Emojis for Your Business

Now that you know how important emojis are, you can utilize them effectively for promotion. Your reputation is built not just on your goods, but also in your delivery and service. Your customers can learn much more about your company simply by seeing its engagement on social media channels. The next time you’re so inclined to leave a thumbs up, why not consider using one of these emojis on Facebook for your business?

Like--A perennial, the like button remains the easiest way to show your appreciation for a comment or a post. If you want to keep things simple and casual the thumbs up icon will remain available.

Love-Sometimes like just isn’t enough. Show your customer appreciation by loving their posts from time to time, especially during special events or after a positive business review.

Haha- Goodbye lol, hello emoji. Because who really laughed out loud all those times anyway? The humor emoji is perfect for lighthearted and spirited interaction with your audience.

Yay- Good news deserves to be shared. Whether it’s a simple post celebrating a new product launch, a success, or the beginning of a Friday, the yay button sends an encouraging and uplifting message to your Facebook followers.

Wow- How about that? Wow is a standing ovation for a job well done, impressive feats, and it’s a holy moly. No matter the reason for the inspirational emoji, it makes people feel good. So give them a wow.

Sad- Sadness is an emotion most creatures can relate to and depending on the circumstances, pulling on the heart strings is a surefire way to connect to your audience. If you’re posting videos, images or stories that are filled with experiencing this basic human emotion, what better way than to relate to your customers than using the new Facebook sad emoji in your comments or posts?

Angry- Did you experience a bad business review? Understanding why your customers felt compelled to dish things out over the internet can tell you a lot about your business. If customers feel you’re on top of your customer service game they’re more likely to express their dissatisfaction in person, before taking things to social media. But it still happens. Sometimes people don’t want apologies, refunds, or to offer a business a second chance. They simply want to share their experience as a fair warning to future customers. While it may be tempting to leave an angry icon in reply to a criticism or bad review posted on your Facebook business page, it’s really not best practices.

How Emojis Can Help You Understand Your Audience

During Facebook’s testing of Reactions emoji, Facebook will treat them just like a Like when it comes to ranking posts in the News Feed algorithm.

“Our goal is to show you the stories that matter most to you in News Feed,” Facebook product manager Chris Tosswill wrote in a News Feed FYI post. “Initially, just as we do when someone likes a post, if someone uses a Reaction, we will infer they want to see more of that type of post. We will spend time learning from this initial rollout and iterate based on findings in the future.”

Evaluating customer emojis will help you understand which social posts grab their attention. This means when you see a love, you might just want to keep doing whatever you’re doing.

Why the Change

Wondering why Facebook decided to get so emotional? “Not every moment you want to share is happy,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. “Sometimes you want to share something sad or frustrating. Our community has been asking for a dislike button for years, but not because people want to tell friends they don’t like their posts. People want to express empathy and make it comfortable to share a wider range of emotions.”

“We have been very intentional about really understanding what people are trying to communicate on Facebook right now and how can we make that easier,” said Tom Alison, engineering director of News Feed.

For years, Facebook resisted giving users an alternative to the “like” button, namely a “dislike” button. But the lobbying only intensified as more people used Facebook on mobile devices and clamored for quicker and easier ways to comment.

Interacting with your customers couldn’t get any easier. Now that Facebook emojis are officially unveiled, you should soon begin to see different sorts of activity on your pages. Use these new tools as a way to approach new customers while encouraging repeat traffic, and see what Facebook can do for your business.

What do you think? Like? Dislike? (Nevermind) Or LOVE?


9 Reasons Why You Should Love Local Businesses

The following list of why you should love local businesses serves as a reminder that the little shop down the street, might need a little TLC. You don’t know what you got till it’s gone. Remember that. So instead of filling up your coffee cup with a Mocha-Lava-Java-Hot-Cuppa-Love at the big “S” this Valentines Day weekend, stop and smell the beans at a little charming coffee shop, and show your love!

9 Reasons Why You Should Love Local Businesses

There are many different reasons you should love your local businesses. Admit it, you’ve been shopping online, waiting for the UPS man, and heading out to Target on the weekends. Shame on you. Go buy a kite from the local toy store and instead, go outside to play. These are all the reasons a local business can brighten your day:

1. Accessible- Wrong size? Not a problem. While the modern convenience of ordering online has its perks, purchases such as clothing often find themselves in the return pile thanks to poor craftsmanship, quality, or a bad fit. Returning purchases adds not only to the original cost of the purchase when considering shipping expense, shoppers lose time as well. Local businesses are accessible throughout the week during their normal business hours. Poor quality or unwanted merchandise can usually be returned in person for an immediate exchange or refund. Spending your money at an accessible business is often a safer bet than dealing with online retailers.
2. Trust- Local businesses don’t have the luxury of conversing with customers over the computer, out of sight and out of mind. Instead local businesses have to stay involved with their customers to encourage repeat business. They have to go above and beyond the normal call of duty to please each and every customer. Most small businesses rely heavily on their reputation and a bad business deal is never desired. Local businesses work hard to earn the trust of their customers and are more likely to appreciate loyal shoppers.
3. Reliability- What you see is what you get when it comes to most local businesses. Unlike large corporations that might stake false claims or over promise and under deliver, a small local business tends to operate in a reliable manner. If they want to keep their doors open and their customer base returning, reliability is key for any business.
4. Build community- Small businesses help to build local communities. Imagine that small little town that was practically asleep before the local coffee shop opened its doors and woke the streets up. Local establishments provide a place for community members, neighbors and friends to gather and meet. Becoming the local hangout doesn’t mean you have to offer the best product or even the most competitive pricing, often it is just a matter of becoming that favorite place for people to go. If you patronize a company that helps build community, you’re showing your appreciation for the efforts and expenses that business incurs to provide your town a place to call home.
5. In the family- Many people support local businesses because they know the owners like family. Or perhaps they ARE family. Generational businesses are popular within small communities because they have been around for a very long time. Pairing that will all the other qualities that make a good business, such as reliability, trust, and accessibility, established businesses also offer a nostalgic connection to friends and family members.
6. Customer service- How often have you heard a bad review regarding customer service from a well-established local business? Not often. Even when issues arise regarding quality or expectations, most professional and trustworthy local business owners know they can’t tell off their patrons without consequence. Customer service is key in building rapport within your community and that means service is usually served up with a smile.
7. Competitive- Local businesses know they have to fight for their dollar. This means they’ll often be much more competitive amongst one another, as well as with online competitors. If they can’t match prices a local business might offer a different perk such as a better selection, or even a more reasonable return policy. If it can be done most local businesses will offer a perk for going local, and for coming back. Find out if your favorite business offers any shopper rewards and be sure to sign up for emails or download mobile apps that keep you connected with store specials and promotional events.
8. You’re loyal- Many people love their local businesses simply because they’re loyal. It wouldn’t matter if the largest and best bookstore opened up around the corner, a loyal shopper knows that the dusty shelves of their favorite used book store is still abundant in worth. From the well-trained sales staff to the family-oriented special in-store events, local shops have that special charm that make them more inviting. What can your business do to create atmosphere?
9. Unique- Some things you just can’t find online. This is especially true when you’re dealing with a unique local business that stocks and sells exactly what you’re looking for. Shopping locally provides the opportunity to build relationships with business owners, who can then work harder to earn your repeat business by stocking the things that you love. Take the time to get to know your local merchants and help keep their doors open by asking for what you want, and then going to get it!

Build Better Business with Local SEO

Do you know where locals go when they want to make a purchase? They look at their phones. Whether it’s Googling a business review or checking directions for an establishment, local shoppers let their fingers do the discovering, and nobody cares about the Yellow Pages anymore. If your business if not listed in search results on the internet, local shoppers will not see your establishment’s name, location, contact information, or anything about your brand. Small local businesses need a Local SEO program to ensure business is healthy with an online presence. Do you need help positioning your brand locally? Contact gotcha! Mobile Solutions today.


gotcha! Systems Engineer Bhaskarjyoti Roy Publishes Book

Our very own Systems Engineer, Bhaskarjyoti Roy (we call him Roy), has published his first book on Amazon, entitled “Mastering CentOS 7 Linux Server.” Roy is an expert in the field, and it’s important that he’s also a teacher. Here at gotcha!, we encourage our team members to instruct each other and be part of our internal “Educate Break,” where our resident experts hold classes for the rest of us.

As a special treat I have interviewed Roy about his book and his time here at gotcha! and this is what he had to say:

Chris: So we are all excited about the release of your book “Mastering CentOS 7 Linux Server” on Amazon. Everyone here at gotcha! is proud of you. Can you tell us briefly in laymen’s terms what your book is about?

Roy: This book is about CentOS 7 which is one of the most famous Linux distributions that you will find. It runs most of the web hosting servers worldwide and in other infrastructures as well. After reading through this book you will learn some advanced aspects of Linux/CentOS 7, and can manage several important services on it like web server, email server, DNS, FTP, etc. You will also learn about advanced services such as virtualization and cloud computing.

Chris: What was the inspiration behind the book? Why this topic?

Roy: After working several years on Linux/CentOS, I found there were not enough books written on this topic, which covers and teaches a System Administrator how to setup, configure, and secure services that are very important to run in an organization like website, email, etc. This book includes almost all the topics that a System Administrator needs to learn and work on today.

Chris: Why Linux over .net?

Roy: Linux is open source and there are distributions like CentOS which are free to use. You will always find a cost advantage running Linux in your organization. Over time, I’ve found that there are not many good books which actually cover exactly what you need for implementation. I tried to solve that problem by writing this book, and I emphasized only those topics which are actually important to run your infrastructure on Linux/CentOS 7 .

Chris: What was your biggest challenge going from Systems Engineer to author?

Roy: The initial planning and the content structuring were what I found challenging while writing this book. Because I knew this needed to be structured in such a way that a System Administrator could go through the topics and learn step by step about security, services etc., I had to think like a System Administrator who started his career in Linux and who wanted to know more about the topics that he needs to perform in an organization.

Chris: Will there be more books to follow and, if so, what types of topics?

Roy: Yes, I have plans to write more books in the future, covering more advanced topics like Virtualization, AWS, Cloud Computing, and Configuration Management.

Chris: How do you follow the latest digital trends? Do you have any favorite books or blogs you could share?

Roy: I follow different websites depending on what exactly I am looking for, but there is no specific one. To find the latest trends, I sometimes look into several freelancing sites and job portals to see and understand what companies are looking for in terms of System and Server Administrators. I think this is one way to understand the latest trends. Another way is to follow some providers’ websites to see what they are offering and what’s new.

Chris: What have you learned from your greatest mistake?

Roy: Personally everyone makes mistakes. What I have learned is to be more careful in what I am doing so I don’t make a mistake and and remember from past mistakes not to repeat them. I like to be armoured with solid in-depth knowledge of a subject.

Chris: Why gotcha!? Why not work somewhere else?

Roy: Freedom, support, inspiration and satisfaction. Here at gotcha!, we are encouraged to perform better and learn. We are a family here, not just a team, and we help each other whenever required. It’s crucial that I find a work environment like we have at gotcha! so that I can improve myself day by day, and be satisfied.

Chris: The secret to success is…

Roy: Enjoy the work you are doing. Be sincere, responsible and eager to learn and perform.

Chris: Excellent, and thank you Roy for what you do for our clients, our team, and the Linux community.

We are proud of Roy and our other team experts who strive to not only be great at their jobs but also be great people.

If you have any questions regarding CentOS 7, hosting, server management, or anything else digital, please don’t hesitate to contact gotcha! or one of our preferred distributors.

You can find Roy’s book on Amazon.

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How to Deal with a Bad Yelp Review

If a customer rant has you Googling how to deal with a bad Yelp review, you’re in the right place. Save face with our tips!

5 Tips for Dealing with a Bad Yelp Review

1. Acknowledge it: Your business is not perfect and your customer caught you serving up less than stellar service. Now of course you don’t want this to become your reputation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t own it and move on with a sense of pride and responsibility. Acknowledging your faults and where your business underperformed will help you understand why you were dealt a bad Yelp review in the first place.

2. Respond- You should always reply to every bad Yelp review. Ignoring it simply implies you don’t care enough, or that you’re too angry or otherwise embarrassed to deal with it (which you are, and that’s also why you’re here). Reach out to the customer and listen to their experience. In any way possible you should try to remedy their concerns, and if necessary- offer them to come back to your business and give it another try.

3. Request a Positive Review- If you’ve reached out to your customer and they’re happy with your response, you’re in a much better position to ask if they’d be willing to write a positive follow-up review based on their new experience. If you’ve handled the situation promptly and professionally they’ll be much more inclined to share their experience with Yelp readers.

4. Establish Customer Loyalty– Now it’s time to move on and keep the customers you have happy. This means you need to establish some sort of customer loyalty strategy. Besides offering quality service and products, your business should also focus on encouraging repeat business. Mobile apps, emails and maintaining an activesocial media presence, are all tools your business can use to encourage loyal customers.

5. Don’t Repeat Mistakes- Last but not least don’t repeat the same mistakes. If you’re constantly reading reviews about your slow or poor service, perhaps it’s time for a meeting and a new game plan? Once you know what you’re doing wrong you can work hard to make things right. Strive to understand your customer and their needs so that you can focus on their expectations (and then exceed them).

You’re Not Alone

Despite what your bad business review discloses, it helps to know you’re not alone. Many businesses have had to deal with the often “unexpected” blow of negative feedback. Since you’re likely already aware that bad feedback spreads like wildfire, you can also make a point to publically share the situation. Social media is a great place to thank your customer for their feedback, and then go ahead and tell the world what the heck you did wrong. People are much more forgiving of people and businesses who make efforts to improve after being blasted.

While it takes time for businesses to get over the sting of a bad business review, patience, acknowledgment, and an unwavering commitment to service will eventually pull you out of the wreckage. (All in one piece.)


How Your Business Can Make the Most Out of Facebook

Facebook activity has increased regularly, to the point where people use it just about every day. At the end of 2015, Facebook had over 1.5 billion monthly users. Amongst smartphone users, the average amount of time spent on Facebook is one out of every five minutes. With so many things to do on Facebook, it’s not a surprise that there are people who spend the whole day just browsing their news feed. After all, it’s free!

As a business owner, it’s important that you know how to properly use Facebook to your own advantage. Because Facebook has a huge number of users, you can easily get your message or product across without spending too much money. For the most part, Facebook is an effective marketing tool for your business. If you already have a Facebook page for your business, it’s time you put it to good use. Here are 10 tips that will help your business make the most out of your time on Facebook:

Separate Your Personal and Business Account

One of the first things you should know about using Facebook for your business is how to separate the things you post on your personal account from your business page. When you post the right things on your Facebook page, you appear professional and serious about your business and what you’re trying to promote. Avoid posting something that you wouldn’t want your suppliers, customers, or co-workers to see on your business account. Apart from looking unprofessional, this can turn off potential customers from following your page.

At the Same Time, Be Friendly

While you shouldn’t post personal information on Facebook, you should practice being friendly with all who send you a friend request. For your business, the goal is to gain as many followers as you can. Just remember that when you’re approving friend requests, they should be from real people and not fake accounts.

Be Careful with Your Tags

A common mistake of business owners on Facebook is that they tend to abuse the tag button. Users don’t like seeing a tagged notification on a post they are not even part of, or have shown no interest in. While it does get their attention, it also puts them off. You should only tag people in your photos or posts if they are interested in the products you are offering.

Do the Opposite with Likes

While it’s important that you don’t go overboard with the tags, liking posts is a different story. When you like a post, Facebook sends a notification to your friend. And the more posts you like, the more curious they will be as to who is giving them a like. At the same time, Facebook’s algorithm works in such a way that when you don’t like a person’s posts, it will stop showing them to you. This is why you should be generous with your likes.

Don’t Ignore Your Comments

One way you can build your brand is to engage in discussion with your friends/followers. And when someone leaves a comment on your post, it means that they took the time to do so. In response to this, you should acknowledge their comment by giving it a like. This builds interaction and lets them know you appreciate their thoughts.

Use a Photo When Posting

According to studies, picture posts tend to get more attention from users compared to text-only posts. This is a great way for you to get your message out to your users, even if you are just sending out a holiday greeting. At the same time, Facebook promotes picture posts more than text-only posts.

Remember to Greet Your Friends

Another way you can increase your followers is to spend some time sending out a Happy Birthday greeting. Think of it as a daily task that you do first thing in the morning. This helps you increase interaction with your followers and let them see you as someone who’s taking the time to know them.

Secure Your Account

Remember that when all of your posts are publicly available, you should also set a setting for the things your friends post on your wall. You can turn on the option of approving tags before they appear on your timeline. This way, you can filter out other people’s posts that are not good for your business page.

Be Interesting with Your Posts

The things you post on Facebook should be informative and interesting. Avoid trying to push your products to your customers as this is a big turn off. Get creative with how you post things on your page. Carefully think about each post you make so you can build your brand and increase your interaction with your followers. This also helps your friends stay interested and looking forward to your next posts.

Post at the Right Time

With Facebook, you have to remember that you should post business-related posts at the right time. The best time to do it is to post things during the late afternoon and early evening on weekdays. On weekends, you can post in the mid-afternoon. Timing your posts can help you ensure that your followers see them. Otherwise, they’ll end up on the bottom of their news feed and they’ll be too tired to scroll all the way down there.

These 10 tips can help make your business’ Facebook page earn more likes, comments and shares. At the same time, you’ll be able to make good use of Facebook to reach your customers without paying for anything.

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