Our Blog

Check out our insights into the world of media and marketing, along with project spotlights, featured blogs from our client pages and other musings on how to optimize brand recognition in today’s technologically-driven environment.

4 Easy Ideas for Interactive Virtual Promos

Need we say it again? Times have changed in 2020. Society is finding new ways to operate in nearly every capacity in an effort to curb a viral spread. Obviously, one of the most significant ways things have changed involves a shift to carrying out more and more tasks virtually. A client of ours who hosts an annual trunk show came to us this past week announcing that the in-person trunk show had been cancelled this year. However, the client still wanted to offer some sort of promotion that customers could participate in from afar. This got us thinking about ideas for interactive virtual promos.

Taking things virtual

Though (depending on your area), businesses may be open for in-person shopping and appointments, many brands are still making the tough calls to protect the safety of their clientele by putting annual promotional events on hold for now. For example, our client typically hosts an annual “trunk show tailgate” at the start of every football season to showcase offers and discounts on various brands they carry.

If you’re wanting to offer a more socially-distanced option for your yearly sale or event, here are a few ideas for interactive virtual promos.

Host a live sale  

An easy and fun way to hold an interactive virtual promo is to host an event or sale on Facebook Live or Instagram. Designate a set amount of time (one hour, for example), during which you can show off products for people to buy directly from the sale by commenting “sold” right there in the comments. Facebook Live is inherently a great way to promote interaction, because the person talking on camera can verbally respond to comments viewers make in real time.

Make it a game

Going back to our trunk show example, our client has several brands of eyewear that they routinely showcase during their annual event. Taking it virtual, we suggested a trivia game throughout the span of a week or even a day. Each social post could highlight a different brand from the trunk show, with a trivia question posed about that brand or product. The first person to answer correctly in the comments wins a prize or discount.

Going back to the first on our list of ideas for interactive virtual promos, you could also host a game on Facebook Live. Ask trivia questions out loud for people to answer, or have a “wheel of discounts” to spin on behalf of participating social media followers.

Refer a friend virtually

Instead of having someone bring a friend into your store to shop a sale, incentivize the customer to share your great discounts with someone virtually. Set up a “refer a friend” promo, in which both parties receive an online discount code to use as a thank you for the referral. Advertise the program on social media, and send participants to a landing page to enter their information.

Use email to your advantage

Email is an effective way to reach your existing customers virtually, while providing a means to branch out to others who may not know you yet. Aside from sending email blasts with special offers for people already following you, capture new leads by asking people to sign up for your email list. Doing so could grant them an entry in something like the live giveaway mentioned above, or could garner them a special discount, for example.

Summary

Interactive virtual promos are an alternative to the sales events you are used to having at your brick-and-mortar location, but with more people staying home—they could work to your advantage!

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

4 Reasons for a Random Increase in Blog Traffic

Blog writing serves a variety of purposes. A means of pushing fresh content out onto your digital platforms. A source of keywords to help attract people to your site. A cathartic outlet for all of those burning issues that occupy your mind (OK, maybe less so the latter in the marketing sense). Sometimes when tracking blog traffic for our clients, we’ll notice a seemingly arbitrary surge of viewers on a particular blog—and we’re not talking one that just hit the presses, but one that’s months or even years old. It’s great news, but why does it happen? The reasons for a random increase in blog traffic may be difficult to pinpoint with 100 percent certainty, but there are some general concepts that likely hold true.

What do you mean by blog traffic?

By blog traffic, we are talking about the number of web users who visited a particular blog title on your page. Other metrics that we consider for a given time period are:

  • Entrances (how many times someone entered your site through that page)
  • Bounce rate (the percentage of single-page sessions in which there was no interaction with the page)
  • Exit percentage (how often the users exit from that page/set of pages when they view that page)
  • Search queries (that were used to find your site)
  • Which pages appeared in search results (and how many times they were clicked on)
  • And more!

The purpose of these analytics is to confirm what’s working and call attention to what’s not. This is in an effort to curate content that drives more traffic to website pages.

Reasons for a random increase in blog traffic

Inquiring minds want to know—why would an old blog suddenly get so much attention? Here are our thoughts.

One of your links was shared…and re-shared

This may be the most obvious reason as to why you suddenly see a spike in traffic on a blog that has been out there for a while. Wherever a link to your blog existed online, someone out there found it and shared it. And then that person shared it to someone else who shared it…you get the picture. Think of it as a process similar to “going viral” (albeit on a smaller scale). This could have originated from you re-sharing a blog link to your business’ social media email list, for example. Or, others could have done the same on their own social pages. Either way, it could account for a random increase in blog traffic.

Your keywords are working

This might be the item on today’s list to get the most excited about. Someone (or multiple someone’s) could have stumbled across one of the blogs in your archive by finding it organically in search results. This would mean that the keywords you identified when writing your blog related to someone’s Google search. Hooray for effective SEO! An increase in traffic could mean multiple people are finding the blog via Google search, or this could be the predecessor to our first point—if theoretically the link to the blog was shared (and re-shared) after it was found.

The blog’s content is seasonal/relevant

Recently, we noticed a random increase in blog traffic on a client’s blog from two years ago that focused on haunted places in the area. Could it be because the so-called “spooky season” is on its way? We can only speculate, but sometimes a jump in blog visitors could be due to the fact that your blog topic is seasonal or relevant to the time of year and whichever holidays or events are going on at said time. Again, all of these points connect in a way—because it’s likely that someone was searching for “haunted places in X city” (point number two) and then shared and re-shared (point number one).

You published new content

Ideally when maintaining a blog, you add new content to it on a somewhat “regular” basis. We always applaud consistency when it comes to blog posting! We also like the idea that once someone is on your blog page, he or she will want to stay awhile. Hence the concept of this last point. Someone clicked the link to your latest blog, then stayed to browse your past blog topics. This could be the impetus to everything we’ve already mentioned—a gateway for people finding your existing blog content.

Summary

A random increase in blog traffic is a great thing! Questioning and identifying its origins can give you validation behind the blogging practices you already have in place—and motivation to continue to refine those going forward.

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

FAQ: Do High Follow Counts on Facebook Unlock Hidden Features?

Remember when you played video games, and reaching a certain level or beating that one boss gave you special powers or abilities? It was a rewarding concept. The higher you go in the game, the more “rewards” you earn. When it comes to social media marketing, often brands obsess over increasing the like and follow counts on their pages. But what does having high follower counts really mean? Is it like video games, where you are granted more power the higher you go? Here, we’ll answer that question in regard to high follow counts on Facebook.

The short answer

If you’re imagining that getting say, 1,000 page follows on Facebook will be like reaching a level in a video game, after which a hidden gem appears on the screen for you—sorry. As far as we know, there are no tangible “prizes” or hidden features that you get from high follow counts on Facebook. The most you may get in the way of immediate gratification is a “Congratulations for reaching 1,000 Page Likes!” from the platform itself.

The good news—there are benefits of having high follow counts on Facebook, but they may just not be as obvious on the surface. More on that in a minute.

10,000 followers on Instagram

Unlike Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook) does have built-in bonuses for pages that garner at least 10,000 followers on their pages. This is the instant, tangible gratification we talked about above.

The most notable for business page purposes is that getting to 10,000 likes on Instagram unlocks a “swipe up to link” feature on Instagram stories. It allows users to swipe up on a page’s story post to directly access the business’ website, blog, email sign up list (or wherever the business chooses to link to).

The benefits of having high follow counts on Facebook

Switching gears back to Facebook—don’t be discouraged by the lack of a promised reward. The rewards do exist—you just have to know what to look for!

More people seeing your content

Higher follow counts means your content has a better chance of being seen by more Facebook users (a result of Facebook’s mysterious algorithm). This translates to higher exposure for your products and/or services.

Higher chance for post engagement

More eyeballs on your Facebook content means there’s a better chance that people will engage with said content. Engagement can mean post reactions, positive reviews, or comments or direct messages inquiring about your product or service. These engagements in turn make your content visible to a larger audience.

Increased credibility

When people see a high follow count on a page, herd mentality often sets in. “If that many people are following a page, maybe I should be too!” Pages with strong followings automatically appear more credible to the everyday social media user.

Gain more from insights

The more activity you have happening on your page, the bigger the benefit you will get from using Facebook’s Insights tool. Facebook Insights allows you to track a significant number and type of statistics related to consumer interaction on your business page. This information can in turn aid you in crafting effective marketing campaigns and strategies.

A word of caution

Don’t misinterpret. While we did just name several benefits to having a high number of followers on your business’ Facebook page, that doesn’t mean you should go crazy trying to collect page likes in illegitimate ways. In other words, don’t buy likes! Buying likes will hurt you more than it will help you, as pages that get caught doing so can be actively penalized. Also, non-quality followers won’t get you very far. It’s true that 50 human, organically-attracted followers are better than 1,000 robot and/or spam ones.

Summary

High like counts on Facebook do not earn you extra lives or the power of invisibility, but they can make a difference when it comes to your page engagement. Just remember to always prioritize quality over quantity, as page likes alone are not a measure of success.

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

Scheduling Your Social Content: How Far Ahead Should I Plan?

Some of us in the world are planners by nature, while others prefer to see where the wind takes them. In life, there’s something to be said for both sides of the coin; however, in the realm of social media, we’re all about planning in advance. It is our opinion that the benefits of scheduling your social content ahead of time heavily outweigh the slight inconveniences of doing so that can sometimes arise.

The benefits of scheduling your social content in advance

Ensure accuracy and quality

The main reason for scheduling your social content in advance is the same reason you plan any important work or project ahead of time. Scrambling to get something done at the last minute can lead to errors and compromised work quality. The same rings true for your brand’s social media content.

Stay consistent

Consistent posting is key, and scheduling ahead means less of a chance that you’ll skip a day in your rotation. Set time aside periodically to schedule batches of content at once so you are not stressing about it every day. There is certainly a time and place for posting “in real time,” and we encourage our clients to do so. However, if all else fails and you can’t get a “real time” post out one day, you know you have your set calendar of already-scheduled content to fall back on.

Acknowledge important dates

Planning and scheduling a social calendar in advance also helps to certify that you don’t forget important dates, like federal holidays, relevant hashtag holidays, community events and so on. For example, if you’re a coffee shop, and #NationalCoffeeDay is coming up, that’s an easy one to go ahead and plan out a post for. Planning something like this in advance could also set you up to offer special deals or featured menu items on that day—which is not something as easy to do last minute.

Give yourself peace of mind

As a business owner or manager, you’re busy! Having a pre-set social media schedule helps to ease some stress and allows you more time to focus on other aspects of your business.

Where scheduling in advance doesn’t work

Keep in mind that last-minute content needs can and will arise. That being said, don’t think you can set up two weeks’ worth of content and then go off the grid until it’s time to schedule again. You should consistently be anticipating last-minute content ideas and changes—whether it is a critical piece of information that you need to pass along to your customers, a holiday you forgot or a deal or discount that corporate decides to add (or discontinue). Some of these things are beyond your control, and that’s OK! You can’t know everything ahead of time.

We also referenced “real time” posting. Live streaming an event at your business. Taking a picture of the line of customers outside on a given day. Unpacking a new shipment. These are all great examples of “real time posting” that we encourage.

Words of caution

Scheduling your social content ahead of time offers peace of mind. However, when you schedule content ahead of time, make it a point to check periodically that it will still be relevant by the time the post date comes around. For example, if you have a post set to go out in two weeks featuring a specific product, and that product sells out, then you need to be keyed into your calendar to adjust the post accordingly—or replace it with something else.

How far out should I schedule?

At minimum, we recommend having your social content scheduled out a week in advance. Two weeks is great, and even a month’s worth of scheduling ahead is common. For fixed dates on the calendar like holidays, you can start planning your posts at any point in time throughout the calendar year, and then fill in the rest as you go.

Summary

Scheduling your social content in advance is the ideal way to ensure quality control over what you are posting. Your business’ social media is one of your most significant ways of connecting with your customers, so streamlining the process of creating and scheduling social media posts is critical to digital success.

Don’t have time to schedule in advance? That’s where we can help!

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

Curating Digital Content: Where Do Content Ideas Come From?

One of the most difficult parts about posting content to your social media pages on a consistent basis is coming up with ideas. Sure, a great idea may strike you here and there, but when it comes down to filling out a monthly calendar of social posts, the creative well can often run dry. When curating digital content for our clients, we have a few go-to strategies to make sure we are keeping things fresh, relevant and interesting.

Consult the calendar

First and foremost, check the calendar each month. Major holidays, national weeks, hashtag holidays (i.e. #NationalSandwichDay, #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay) are low-hanging fruit in terms of content inspiration. Basing your content off of certain dates on the calendar is also productive in that it automatically connects you to a larger national or even global trend.

Relate to what’s going on locally

Along with the broader concept of the calendar, it’s good to relate to what’s going on locally when curating digital content. Is there a farmer’s market this weekend? Remind people, and ask who’s going. New park under construction? Take a picture and ask who’s excited about it opening. These local touches really help your followers relate to your brand and remind them that you are an important part of their community.

Take followers behind the scenes

The best thing you can do on social media for marketing purposes is talk about your business. We are thrilled when we get the opportunity to help our clients post a staff spotlight, a “did you know” segment about the business and its products, or even about an employee night out at the bowling alley. This type of content humanizes your business page and helps make a connection between a brand and its followers.

Announce news, updates and recent developments

Along the same lines, we always think about what’s new that we can talk about on behalf of our clients. New staff member? New product? New storefront? Or even just a new picture you hung on the wall. If it’s new, it’s content-level quality!

Educate and offer advice

No matter what business vertical you’re a part of, we want to paint you as an expert in your field when curating digital content. That means using your digital content as a teaching tool for your followers. Give helpful tips, offer suggestions or even do a video tutorial illustrating how to complete a certain task. The idea is to portray yourself as a resource that your followers can benefit from—and that they keep coming back to for information.

Browse social for ideas

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well, the world is your oyster on social media. OK enough of the clichés…what we’re trying to say is, there’s no harm in using other posts you see on social media as inspiration for your own! We advise against straight out plagiarizing a design; however, there’s certainly nothing wrong with using others’ content as a springboard for ideas.

Don’t discount your “shower thoughts”

We all have them. You know, those times when you’re in the shower, and genius strikes! Don’t discount your “shower thoughts” if you have a random idea for a social post during your daily hygiene routine—or any time of day. For our clients, we keep an ongoing list to which we are constantly adding ideas for blogs and social posts. You never know when a great idea might come along.

Summary

Curating digital content may seem daunting, but following these guidelines for content creation inspiration can help guide you in filling up your social media calendar. Don’t want to mess with it? That’s what we’re here for!

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

How Social Media Has Changed During a Pandemic

It’s been almost five months since restaurants and shops started shuttering their doors, face masks became the newest fashion accessory and hand sanitizer elevated to elite status, no longer an item that’s just casually passed on the shelves in Walmart. We’ve been living in a pandemic, and a world affected by a pandemic is a world unlike most of us have ever witnessed before. Like everything else, social media has changed during a pandemic—and it remains to be seen which changes are temporary and which will become the new norm.

Keeping gatherings and getaways under wraps

With social distancing having become a must, we’re seeing fewer and fewer posts about trips, events, gathering and so on. On the one hand, part of this is likely due to the fact that social media users are doing fewer of these types of activities. On the other hand, part of this is likely due to the fact that people are not posting about these activities despite doing them, out of fear of shame from their peers. Either way, people are keeping more of the personal to themselves.

Making it about the mask

When we are posting, especially about being in close proximity to someone outside of our households, we’re making sure to mask up for the camera (and hopefully they stay on off camera). Now that we’ve added “mask” to the list of things to check for before leaving the house (phone, wallet, keys, mask), they’re everywhere—social media included.

Our team has even noticed an increasing abundance of mask photos on stock photography platforms like Shutterstock. Five months ago, mask stock photos might have been few and far between.

Vying for the virtual

Activities have been canceled—and it stinks. However, humans’ inherent need to have something to do—and something to look forward to—has led to the proliferation of virtual events. Virtual work meetings, virtual cocktail hours—even virtual 5Ks and cooking classes—we’re seeing these being advertised all over social media.

Ever-evolving business updates

Your favorite restaurant re-opened for dine-in—hooray! Five days later, an employee tests positive for COVID-19, and you’re back to ordering your second-favorite for take-out. With the pandemic situation changing by the hour, businesses especially are using social media to keep their followers abreast of sudden changes to their operations. In fact, in the current climate, a business’ social media page is often the most accurate and up-to-date source of information—even over a website.

Commercial commitment to COVID defense

Another way social media has changed during a pandemic—seeing more and more businesses include health and wellness as part of their marketing strategies. What do people want right now? To feel protected and safe from the threat of disease. Thus, it’s a no-brainer that brands are going to want to show patrons just how they are working and operating to ensure their protection and safety. Social media has been a critical platform during this pandemic for businesses to attempt a restoration of trust to keep customers coming in, whether virtually or in-person.

Combative vs. staying connected

Social media has always been a springboard for conversation, some of which inevitably turns combative. After all, people feel 10 feet tall when hiding behind a computer screen. Amid a pandemic, this hasn’t changed. In fact, it’s only heightened. If we can’t talk to each other in person, then social media will have to do for now. However, the choice to use the tool aggressively, vs. the motion to appreciate social media for its ability to keep us all connected during the unprecedented time we’re living, in is certainly a personal one.

Summary

Only five months in, we’ve already watched how social media has changed during a pandemic. With our situation shifting at the drop of a hat, it’s slated to continue to evolve to not only meet the needs of a socially distant society, but to fulfill our innate desire to feel connected to our fellow human beings.

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

Keeping Design Consistent: The Importance of Style Guides

Maintaining consistency in your brand’s design instills a sense of comfort in your clientele. It makes you recognizable and trusted—both of which are critical qualities to generating and maintaining a following. One way to make sure that your design stays on brand is by cultivating a brand style guide (sometimes called a “branding guide”). The importance of style guides in marketing is not something that should go ignored! Let’s break down why that is the case.

What is a style guide?

A brand style guide is essentially a set of rules dictating specifications for anything that has to do with the design of your brand. This can include logos, typography, colors, slogans, imagery and beyond. We’ve seen guides physically put together in various forms, from actual paper documents to Power Point slideshows. The purpose—and the importance of style guides—is all about maintaining consistency in regard to the look of your brand.

The importance of style guides

They keep everyone on the same page.

When you have multiple entities interacting with your brand, you need a go-to reference to keep everyone consistent. This is where style guides come in. If there is ever a doubt as to which shade of a color to use, which version of the logo is accurate, or which font is to be used online vs. in print, the style guide will have the answers. This is especially important in the event that you are soliciting design work from a third party, like an ad agency or a publication, for example.

It makes internal transitions easier.

Say your company’s graphic designer of 10 years leaves the position, and doesn’t stick around to train the next person who’s hired. Nobody else at the company ever learned the ins and outs of your visual branding. What now? The importance of style guides is clear in a situation like this. The style guide acts as a physical teaching tool to make sure anyone who starts working for your brand knows exactly how it is to be portrayed. This is important so that even though there may be a staffing change at your company, to the general public your brand’s appearance remains consistent and uninterrupted.

They include files that are easy to pull when needed.

We get this all the time. A client asks us to design an ad, but either they do not have a logo on file at all, or it is not high quality enough for the ad (in other words, it would print or display blurry). When we ask for a higher-resolution logo, oftentimes it’s nowhere to be found.

Cue the importance of style guides. Style guides can include all of the files that an organization may need for a brand’s design work. This includes your logo in .pdf, .eps, .ai formats (vector), high-res photography for any secondary art associated with your branding and any fonts/colors you may use. A quick reminder, just saving a .jpeg as one of the above listed formats does not make it a vector! Also, don’t toss any files that you can’t open—because they are probably important.

How do I get a style guide for my brand?

Generating a style guide comes down to deciding on the specifics of your brand’s aesthetics and putting them into some sort of coherent format, whether that be a Word document, a slideshow, or even a short video. At McNutt & Partners, we take pride in creating style guides for our clients that they can get mileage out of across a variety of uses.

Summary

Brand style guides help ensure design consistency in an effort to maintain credibility in the eyes of your followers. A style guide is something that every brand should have on hand as business development takes place.

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

Marketing Defined: Using Transition Words for SEO

We always reiterate the fact that consistently-posted, fresh content is one of the major keys to achieving profitable SEO results. This includes your blog posts. While you could just go slap some words on a page and call it a day, paying attention to the details of how your content is structured will actually put you in a better position to yield the outcomes you’re looking for. In blog writing, transition words are one of those details to pay attention to. Using transition words for SEO is a simple way to make the hypothetical search engine gods happy.

What are transition words?

Put simply, transition words are words or phrases that show a connection or relationship between two thoughts. They serve to show relationships like cause and effect, clarification, contrast, example, emphasis, conclusion and more. Examples of transition words include:

  • For example
  • For instance
  • Therefore
  • In other words
  • In addition
  • As a result
  • To clarify
  • Above all
  • Moreover
  • But, however and so

For more transition words examples, click here.

Why are they beneficial for SEO?

Search engines like text that is easy to read and understand. Using transition words for SEO helps in achieving readability, which puts your content in a better position to be found in online searches.

Not only do transition words help search engines better understand your blog text, but they act as breaks, pauses and clarifiers to provide better structure for the human readers of your content.

Using transition words for SEO

Using transition words for SEO is not difficult. It really comes down to knowing what the words are (see our examples and link to more above), and how many you should use in any given amount of text.

Once you have a few of the transition words in your repertoire (or you have a list in front of you), start regularly incorporating them into your blog copy. Don’t just use them to use them, however. Make sure the places you are using them make sense. Let’s use the transition word “therefore” as an example.

You would say:

I am hungry. Therefore, I ordered a cheeseburger.

You wouldn’t say:

I am hungry. Therefore, I threw away my food.

Pretty simple, right? Don’t throw transition words in just for the sake of doing so. Make sure they make sense! This goes back to our writing lessons of elementary school.

In terms of how often to use transition words in your text, we use a WordPress plugin for ourselves and our clients called Yoast SEO. If your copy needs more transition words, Yoast will let you know! When you’ve reached a sufficient number, you get a satisfying green “check” of approval.

Summary

Using transition words for SEO is yet another strategy you can use you give your digital content a better chance of being seen rather than getting lost in the shuffle. Rather not have to worry about transition words yourself? We’d be happy to handle it!

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.