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Why your website needs WordPress.

As a web development firm, we constantly need to be researching, testing and evaluating new technologies and how these can transform into solutions.

These days we have to worry about blockchain, #fakenews, security intrusions and so much more, but many of these items still don’t impact the majority of small businesses.

One of the items that our team spends the most time on are reviewing different CMS (Content Management Systems) that could be deployed to serve the typical small business. When we say the typical small business, generally these are companies with 50 or less employees, with websites that are not tied to complicated database/intranet type functions, or which are used to power apps. Really these are websites that generally serve as the forward facing part of the organization’s web presence.

Now, while these sites may not do anything terribly fancy from a technical standpoint, they are visually appealing, play nice on a variety of devices, and form a core part of the overall marketing strategy.

With so many option likes Wix, Weebly, point and click builders, and even Google’s machine built websites, not to mention the future possibility of AI building your company’s web presence, why would you anyone jump into using something like WordPress? Whether you are using an out of date website, looking to launch your first site, or are just doing some initial research, here are a few points to consider:

1. Reliability

The last thing any small business owner or manager needs to hear from a customer is that “Your website is down” or “The contact form on your site doesn’t work”. WordPress isn’t perfect, but it powers nearly ONE-QUARTER of the Internet’s web pages. With approximately 1.3 Billion pages in existence, WordPress helps the majority of the Internet to just work. If it’s good enough for high volume sites like The New Yorker, it will probably do just fine for you.

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2. Features

WordPress began as a blogging platform, but is now used to do some really cool, really crazy things. Personally, our firm built v1 of a business planning app in WordPress, uses it to power Realms of Adventure LARP (a great Live Action RPG), and to drive SocEnt Magazine – a news site for social enterpreneurs & social enterprise. This is achieved through the use of plugins (of which many exist), or where needed, by writing custom code. Either way, for the typical small business, there is very little that WordPress can’t do.

3. Design

Nobody wants a website that is difficult to use, creates a poor user experience, or is just plain ugly. If you’re hearing the dreaded “Your site looks like it’s from the 90’s and won’t work on my iPhone” don’t panic – WordPress has thousands of themes to choose from, and customization is always possible.

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Overall, your website needs to be something that your company is proud of. If this isn’t the case, contact us to get started on the great website that you and your customers deserve.

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Is your website dated?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]As we discussed in our last post, a stand alone website is a must. So, if you already have one then you are on your way to keeping your business online and ahead of your competitors. With all the other things you have to do in running your business on a daily basis, your website and social media marketing may end up being neglected. Websites can get costly, so how can you determine when it needs an update? Here are three helpful hints:

1. Your website relies on Adobe (formerly Macromedia) Flash

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In the 2000s, Macromedia Flash dominated the web landscape, and was the tool of choice for delivering video, audio, and in browser games. It allowed for some great menu animations, effects, and just all around eye candy that HTML could not deliver at the time. Fast forward to 2014, and Flash (now an Adobe product) is on its last legs. HTML5, CSS and Javascript have been extended so far that they can now provide much of what Flash was able to. HTML5 is leaner, runs on multiple devices, and all around performs better. Just remember, if you rely too much on Flash, you will be cutting out iPhone and iPad users, as Apple does not support Flash on its products – and we all now that is a huge part of the market.

2. Your content is getting difficult to manage (WordPress anyone?)

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Many great sites are built only in HTML, or frameworks like codeIgnitor. If you have an older site that is just a collection of a bunch of HTML files, managing it is probably a nightmare. One of the best trends that the 2010s gave website owners are Content Management Systems (CMSs). Do you have a website with tons of pages, blog posts, images, product listings or other items that have just become too many and too difficult to manage? Great solutions like WordPress (which powers this very site) make it easy to add or update pages, blog posts, and other types of content. Not only that, but if you want to give your site a new look, just find the right theme and you are good to go. Need to add more functions like contact forms, newsletter, or social media integration? WordPress has tons of plugins that can add new features instantly. For any small business without complex technology needs, a solution like WordPress is a must.

3. Your website just doesn’t work on a smartphone or tablet

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Every day, more and more web searches happen via mobile devices. If your site cannot accommodate smartphone and tablet users, you have just lost a significant part of the market. If a user cannot view your website on a mobile device, their next search is likely going to take them to a competitor.
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Think that you might be in trouble? Don’t sweat, a website upgrade can be painless. Google always has a collection of great insights, and if you are stuck, get in touch and let us put together a solution for you.[/vc_column_text]

How do I use twitter to promote my business?

How do I use twitter to promote my business?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]How do I use twitter to grow my business?

Everyday, the number of smartphone users is increasing, along with the number of social media users. Businesses that do not master effective use of tools such as facebook, twitter, and Google+ will be left behind. Consumers now use a variety of resources to carry out research before purchases, or simply to view opinions on products and services. Not sure if twitter is right for you? Chances are pretty good that it is right for at least 1 of your competitors.

So, where do you create an advantage for your business? By understanding what twitter means to your marketing efforts and then using it effectively. Here are 3 simple things for getting started:

1. Build your followers
Start by importing your existing contacts, if you have a facebook account, post on your wall letting your friends know that you are on twitter now. Once your twitter account is live, look for interesting and like minded people to follow. Be sure to use the #MyFirstTweet hashtag, and every Friday keep an eye out for #ff – Follow Friday. By using this, you are putting it out there that you are looking for new followers – just remember that there will be other new users, so be sure to reciprocate.

2. Research hashtags
Hashtags help other users to find your content, and also allows twitter to index the popularity of content. Hashtags have become so popular, that facebook and Google+ now pick them up and use them for metrics. Just remember, don’t over do it, and don’t send out tweets full of nothing but hashtags. This leads me to the next point…

3. Be short and to the point
twitter is a great way to grab the attention of a wide group of people for a short amount of time. This is mainly possible because everything from your tweets, to your profile and Direct Messages (these are private messages to your followers) is limited to 140 characters. You will need to remember to be efficient (so attach pictures to help tell the story and send a clear message!) and get your point across. You can always use twitter to send someone to another site, like your facebook page, so that you can tell a more complete story. Imagine that you are writing headlines – you just need to grab someone’s attention.

Here is an example:

Be sure to join us for our next monthly meeting. It will be held at Bob’s Pizzeria at 8AM. This is a great chance to network with fellow business owners! yourlinkhere.com

This is way too long. To send the same message in 140 characters, try something like:

June 18 at 8AM – Biz Centre meeting @bobspizzeria – networking and fun! #smallbusiness yourlinkhere.com

Same message, and about 30 characters left. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time. Practice makes perfect.

And remember, if you really get stuck, just get in touch for a free Social Media consultation.

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Why you can’t afford to ignore Google+ for your business

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Everyone loves facebook, twitter, and other cool social media like Tumblr, Instagram or Pinterest. And of course, most of us have LinkedIn to advance our careers and to make professional contacts. Now, if you aren’t promoting your business on any of these, then that is your first mistake. But the second mistake that most business make is ignoring the world’s second largest social network: Google+.

What, second largest social network? What about twitter, instagram and LinkedIn? Sure they are big, but virtually anyone that has a Google account (think GMail and or YouTube) also has a Google+ account. That right there is enough to beat out popular sites like twitter. Now, you may hear that while many people do not really use Google+, you should consider the fact that engagement is quite high. Let me give you an example:

My twitter requires a significant amount of attention to keep up – there I just way too much going on. Many people are vying for my attention, and honestly, some just tweet too much. Keeping on top of it all is quite challenging. On Google+, I see fewer posts, and while my followers and people that I follow may be less, I find more (and usually better comments), and feel that it is easier to grab someone’s attention. While twitter can be awesome for making something cool go viral, twitter feels like it has a very short memory. The competition can be staggeringly high. You certainly need twitter to be part of your strategy, but if and facebook cannot be your only focus.

Perhaps the best reason for using Google+ is that it is Google. They are the largest and most dominant search engine in the world, so being on their social network is certainly a good way to be in favour with them. If you blog, be sure to setup Google+ authorship – this will add your Google+ profile pic to Google search results from your blog, which increases the likelihood of a user clicking on your page. All of this just from adding a little bit to your social media routine!

OK, so now you are ready to get started with Google+ – now what? First, make your personal Google+ profile (which is easy if you have GMail or Google Apps for your domain). Then, create a Google+ page for your brand or business. Once you have these easy steps out of the way, then make sure to personalize your profile. Find a new profile pic and header image. From there, start with engaging content. Google+ recognizes hashtags, so you use your facebook and twitter postings on it to start reaching your audience. Remember, the important thing is to build a habit of posting consistently – soon the rest will follow!

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Do I need a responsive website?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]On April 21st, 2015, Google updated its dreaded search rank algorithms. This means that it’s criteria for determining which websites are shown at the top of rankings was drastically altered. What does this mobilegeddon mean for small business owners? It means that if your website is not responsive – i.e. does not display well and clearly on smartphones and tablets, then you are in big, big trouble for three key reasons.
[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”30px”][qodef_blockquote text=”If your web presence is not responsive, then you are already on Google’s naughty list.”][vc_empty_space height=”30px”][vc_column_text]1. The web is going has gone mobile.

Each day there are more mobile users. The web is no longer a tool limited to computers, and it won’t take long until mobile devices are the predominant way to access information online. Smartphones are easier to use than PCs, cheaper, and growing at astonishing rates in emerging markets. In short, mobile is not just some fad that will go away.

2. We love our phones.

Sure, some of you reading this may decide that you hate being perma-connected, but for the most part we love carrying around Google Maps, checking facebook on the go, sending the occassional E-Mail (even though to the younger generation it seems archaic), sending texts if we need to, and some of us even use smartphones to make phonecalls (yes, I was born before the 1980s). With all of this convenience and functionality, it’s no wonder that smartphones are not going away.

3. Google will punish has started to punish you if you are not mobile friendly.

Like it or not, and whether your visitors use mobile devices or not (which they most than likely all do), this has already happened. If your web presence is not responsive, then you are on Google’s naughty list, just waiting for one of your competitors to overtake you. This is not a good place to be, but can be overcome.

Not sure how responsive your site is? Still have questions or need help? Contact us for a free consultation.

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Do I need a Social Media plan?


“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Do I need a social media plan?
Social Media has created a marketing revolution. As little as 10 years ago, digital marketing depended on early viral content, E-Mail marketing and advertising that bridged print and the web. It was a completely different world, and fortunately, we now have great tools like twitter, facebook, Google+, instagram, and more. These tools allow even the smallest of businesses, and NGO/non-profit organizations with limited resources to reach a global audience. So, just open your accounts, tweet when you have time, and the dollars will roll in, right?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Like any marketing or business activity, Social Media requires a well thought out, strategic, and consistent approach. If you’ve asked yourself do I need a Social Media plan? then at least you are on the right path. Here are 3 things to keep in mind when formulating your plan:

1. Not all social media are created equal.

What do you really want to achieve with your social media campaign? Of course we all want to sell something – it could be Comic books, the feel-good that donating to a good cause provides, or the latest gadget. But remember, each social media does something a little bit different, so try and think of your goals (which should lead to increased sales when done properly) as the following:

i) Engage and create more local followers: try facebook. facebook is an excellent way to engage local customers through targeted content and ads. You won’t be restricted to 140 characters, so you can tell your story in greater detail. Just remember to view your post on a smartphone. If it doesn’t fit on one screen, it’s probably too long.

ii) Reach a wider audience within a narrow window: try twitter. twitter is very much in the now. One day you get retweeted by Hulk Hogan, and the next you are in obscurity. Make everyone of your 140 characters count, always add a picture, and don’t overdo hashtags.

iii) Keep the sleeping giant happy: have a presence on Google+. Google is the undisputed global search leader and is always creating exciting new things. Google fundamentally understands the Internet, and will not allow itself to fall behind in the social media game. Google+ helps with your SEO, and in many ways blends the best of facebook and twitter together. Sure, everyone’s top of mind social media is facebook, but consider the potentially higher engagement of Google+. If I have 700 facebook friends and 100 Google+ friends, there is a far better chance that I will read your Google+ content.

iv) Tell your story in pictures: instagram or Pinterest. instagram and Pinterest are amazing visual mediums for storytelling. Some of us simply think in pictures instead of words, and when teaching or presenting information, it is are more likely that your audience will retain images over words. While I think that I may be a bit shallow, my designer friends remind me that we simply appreciate good, attractive imagery.

v) Reach another business or groups of professionals: LinkedIn. Hands down, LinkedIn is your B2B social media of choice, and is a great way to engage other professionals given that 81% of LinkedIn user belong to 1 or more groups. If your target audience is another business, or a group of professionals (say, accountants), then you must take time to post to LinkedIn. As a rule of thumb, if you want to reach 60% of your LinkedIn network, you need at least 20 quality posts per month.

2. Set aside time each day for social media, including blogging – and know what you will write about.

Social Media needs to become a habit. You wouldn’t stop selling, just because you are too busy, so don’t stop marketing! Social Media has become a must for any company; if you don’t have some kind of facebook presence, people will ask questions. You need to have a consistent presence to see any kind of payoff. Even if you can start with 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week, you will start to see results. This is one of the key components of your plan, the other is knowing what you will write about. Are you running a special? Looking for newsletter signups? Have a free trial going on? Whatever it is, you need to have some kind of focus for your social media plan. Use monthly or quarterly themes to stay on track, and try and write at least 2, 300 word plus blog posts a month. Remember, your content should always be unique (no copy and pasting!) and be sincere.

Social Media Management - You are too busy, let us help!

3. Set aside the proper resources.

It takes time and/or money to make money. At some point, you will need to buy Google AdWords or social media ads to really expand. Google AdWords can get pricey – for example ios app development – could clear $20 per click. This means that even if you don’t get a sale, someone clicking your add could be very costly. facebook can be a bit cheaper, and LinkedIn can represent a tremendous value. Just be sure to set a reasonable budget and measure your results! You need to know your ROI, and if it is worth investing more or looking at other opportunities.

Does this sound daunting? Don’t think you can make the time to grow your social media presence? Then hire someone. If you are not setting aside the proper time then you are really losing out. If you can’t find someone in your office to help out (or if you are an overburdened solopreneuer) then let us help.
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why having a facebook page isn't enough

Why having a facebook page isn’t enough

why having a facebook page isn't enough
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Facebook is a fantastic communication and marketing tool. Of all the social media out there, it is probably the one best suited for direct sales. Many companies have a facebook page, and the price (free) is certainly right. And as long as non one has claimed your identity, you can even have a nice vanity URL – like facebook.com/LuchaComics. So, why would you need a website? Here’s 3 good reasons (although there are many more) why a facebook page falls flat up against a stand alone page.

1. facebook Isn’t an E-Commerce Platform

facebook does some awesome stuff, and is probably the best social media for actually making a sale within the platform. Having said that, even with new facebook stores, you will run into limitations. If you have actual widgets (be they physical or digital) that you want to sell, even a simple wordpress site can give you so much more, and can be had for very little. You can gain the ability to collect and database leads, build a newsletter list, integrate feeds from other social media platforms such as twitter and Google+. facebook is ever growing, and things can always change, but remember, while a facebook page is a must to increase your exposure, it cannot be your only online presence if you really need to make that sale.

2. facebook can only be customized so much

facebook pages have evolved a great deal, and I do need to give credit where it is do. facebook is constantly adding new features, and there is quite a bit that can be done with some work. Having said that, you simply can’t get in there, change themes, tweak CSS, and really make it your own.

3. Just about everyone else has one

Probably the most important reason – most of your competitors have one. Even worse, let’s say that a prospective client googles you, and finds a domain with your identity, that belongs to a competitor. Apart from losing a prospective sale, it can cause a lot of confusion for customers, fans, or anyone just wanting to learn about you.
[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”30px”][qodef_blockquote text=”Don;t forget, there are other high-engagement social media sites out there, like Pinterest.”][vc_empty_space height=”30px”][vc_column_text]These are just 3 simple reasons why you really need your own website. Not sure where to start or what you need? Just get in touch, and we will get you on your way!
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