Google AdWords

Google AdWords: Using the Keyword Planner
This post will focus on Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner, which combines the original Keyword Tool with important metrics such as estimated traffic, global monthly searches and estimated CPC (cost per click). This is one of the most resourceful ways to research and plan your content strategy and build keywords that drive relevant traffic to your product’s page.

Getting Started with AdWords
Start by creating an AdWords account with an existing email address (if you don’t have an account with Gmail, you will have to create one). Click on this link and you’ll be prompted to log into your Gmail to start the process; it’s quick and should only take a few minutes. Once your account is live, get familiar with some of the literature on the main page. AdWords has a series of videos, ranging from How to Choose the Right Keywords to How to Use the Keyword Tool. If you’re launching an AdWord’s Campaign or simply researching keywords, these videos will help you maximize your commercial impact using AdWords. For a breakdown of all the things you can do with the Keyword Planner, please click here.

How to use the Keyword Planner
You will find the Keyword Planner under the Tools and Analysis tab (note: Adwords is phasing out its Keyword Tool and switching to the Keyword Planner which has all the same features plus additional metrics).




Click on the Keyword Planner and you will see three options:
1. Search for keywords and ad group ideas
2. Enter or upload keywords to see how they perform
3. Multiply keyword lists

The first option allows you to generate keywords based on your product type, landing page or product category. In the example below, I searched under product or service for “grills” and as you can see, there are a number of results that range from high competition keywords to low competition words. It’s usually best to choose keywords that fall somewhere in between high and low competition. Ad Group Ideas lists a series of keywords followed by their average monthly searches, competition and average CPC. If you click on Keyword Ideas, AdWords provides a list of alternative keywords and their base metrics.


For Targeting, you can limit your results to a location or language or generate local results and monthly volume. There is also a negative keyword. For example, you can create a negative keyword such as “propane grill” to prevent your page from coming up in a search for “propane grills.”

Using Top Sellers to Generate Keywords
A simple way to generate powerful keywords is to take a competitor’s top selling products page and enter the URL into the landing page field. This will show all the keywords associated with that product page. In the example below, I entered the product page for J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Taking keywords from a top selling page will add value to your content strategy.


Enter or Upload Keywords
The Enter or Upload Keywords option is nearly identical to the Search for Keywords option, but instead of entering product type, landing page or product category, you can enter a series of keywords, see how they perform and view similar keywords and metrics.

Multiply Keyword Lists
You can use this tool to combine two lists of keywords to create word phrases and combinations. The example below shows how this tool works to combine two lists of keywords for men’s apparel. Click here for more information on the Multiply Keywords tool.

List 1  List 2   Results
men’s  jacket   men’s jacket
men’s  clothes  men’s clothes
men’s  coat    men’s coat

Google AdWords is a powerful tool that can improve the commercial reach of your product page. With important metrics including, number of global monthly searches, keyword ideas and estimated cost per click in addition to the landing page search, AdWords helps define your content strategy.

As always, we welcome your input and look forward to the conversation; click here to leave a comment. For an overview on the purpose of this blog, take a look at the initial post here.

This article was written by:
Kyle Roble, Sage Tree Senior Content Writer


Pinterest Analytics

Earlier this year Pinterest announced a new feature marketers have been waiting for since the launch of Pinterest business pages last November, Pinterest Analytics! In order to take advantage of these analytics, business pages must switch to the “new look” of Pinterest and verify their website.


ZWalls Business Page on Pinterest

The analytics will then be available by clicking on the company name at the top of the screen and selecting “Analytics” from the drop down men


ZWalls Business Page on Pinterest

 Measuring Your Pinterest Results
The analytics Pinterest provides are a great way to measure your Pinterest results. With the analytics, business pages will get an insight on the impressions of their pins and the reach each pin gets within the Pinterest community.

To understand how pinners engage with their content the analytics provide four comparison charts, “Pins and Pinners,” “Repins and Repinners,” “Impressions and Reach” and “Clicks and Visitors.”

 Analytic-graphsMarketing Land article on Pinterest analytics

Pinterest defines these metrics as the following:

▪   Pins: the daily average number of things pinned from your website between Date 1 and Date 2

▪   Pinners: the daily average number of unique people who pinned from your website between Date 1 and Date 2

▪   Repins: the daily average number of times pins from your website were repinned on Pinterest between Date 1 – Date 2

▪   Repinners: the daily average number of unique people who repinned your pins on Pinterest between x and y Date 1 – Date 2

▪   Impressions: the daily average number of times your pins appeared in feed, search or boards on the web, iOS and Android between Date 1 – Date 2

▪   Reach: the daily average number of unique people who saw your pins on Pinterest between Date 1 – Date 2

▪   Clicks: the daily average number of clicks to your website from Pinterest between Date 1 – Date 2

▪   Visitors: the daily average number of unique people who visit your website from Pinterest between Date 1 – Date 2

+/- %: Percent increase or decrease from your current date range to the previous date range

The large numbers on the left column of each graph represents the averages during the selected time period. The time periods of the graphs have default date ranges for the past 7, 14 or 30 days. These dates can be customized to a date range of your choice. The graphs can also be customized to show one line instead of two.

Other insights the analytics provide are the ability to see who is pinning your content. On the toolbar of the analytics page you will find: Most Recent Pins, Most Repinned and Most Clicked. These features allow you to see how people interact with your pins. Any individual pin can also be clicked for additional insights.

Analytics-tool-bar ZWalls Business Page on Pinterest

Exporting Results
All the data Pinterest provides can be easy exported in a .csv file by clicking on the export button located on the top right of the toolbar.

As with any platform, continually evaluating and measuring your content is key.  By doing this you will be able to see who your target audience is and test content to see what works and what may need to be changed.

As always, we welcome your input and look forward to the conversation; click here to leave a comment. For an overview on the purpose of this blog, take a look at the initial post here.

This article was written by:
Jami Johnson, Sage Tree Trade Marketing Associate


Pinterest Business Accounts

Have you decided that Pinterest is right for your company after reading our post on Pinterest for Business, but need an extra hand to get started? We’re here to help with this second entry from our Pinterest Series. Follow our step-by-step guide that will teach you everything you need to get pinning.

What is a Pinterest Business Account?

Pinterest Business pages don’t look any different than personal pages, but they have been designed with companies like yours in mind and are made to help you succeed as a business on the site. Pinterest understands that its platform is successful from a marketing standpoint and has been working to figure out how to provide these types of benefits most effectively. In this article we are going to discuss:

  • How to Sign Up
  • Verifying your Company’s Page
  • Benefits of creating a Business Account

Home Page

Example: ZWalls Pinterest Business Page

According to Pinterest:

“Thousands of businesses have become a part of our community, giving great ideas, content, and inspiration to people on Pinterest. Whether it’s Anthropologie sharing awesome clothes, Whole Foods sharing tasty recipes, the Smithsonian sharing fascinating collections, or Amazon making products easy to pin, many of us have been inspired on Pinterest by businesses.”

Pinterest Business Accounts feature the ability to create boards, promote your brand, and connect with other influencers on the website. The goal is to increase traffic to your company site and help you increase sales.

Creating your Business Account
Here’s a preview of what the sign up page looks like. Fill in all of the requested information and accept the Business Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Joining is as simple as that!

Sign Up 1Sign Up 2

Verified Company Pages
Similar to Twitter’s verified accounts, making your company’s Pinterest page “official” can help ward off fake accounts and help you to establish control of your business’ online presence.

Verified Accoount

You can tell a page is verified by the checkmark next to the website URL as shown above

Site Stats

One reason to create a business account is that doing so gives you access to important site stats and data. Pinterest Analytics is a fairly new feature that can only be accessed with a business account. Stay tuned for our next post that will explain why this feature is so important.

Pinterest Analytics

Content-Rich Boards

Creating a Pinterest Business Account gives your company a new platform to show off its product line in a way that’s never been done before. Organize the products at hand by theme, category – however you please. The possibilities are endless. Keep in mind that Pinterest isn’t just a place to show off your stuff, but really, what you stand for as a company and as a brand.

On Pinterest you are encouraged to create your own Pinterest culture by sharing relevant posts made by other users. For example, is your company kid-related? Try pinning helpful parenting tips, tasty recipes and cute crafts to share with children.

Contests and Engagement
Pinterest, just like other social media platforms, provides you with the ability to directly interact with your fans and target audience. Increasing fan engagement helps establish a loyal customer base. Doing this on Pinterest, can help you save significant money that would have previously been spent on traditional marketing.

Holding contests via Pinterest are excellent ways to build up this engagement. For example, have users re-pin a product or create a board in order to enter the contest or be eligible for a promotion.

Coming soon are posts that will help you further understand the benefits of Pinterest for your business, including how to use the Pinterest Analytics feature, how to pin, creating boards and more!

As always, we welcome your input and look forward to the conversation; click here to leave a comment. For an overview on the purpose of this blog, take a look at the initial post here.

This article was written by:
Bethany Richard,  Sage Tree Trade Marketing Associate


Best Practices for Style and Grammar for eCommerce

This post builds on the content series and lays out a few simple tricks to grow your online sales with content that builds brand trust and drives traffic. Let’s begin with the steak and potatoes of online selling, also known as style and grammar.

Future Tense
Avoid future tense when possible. Future tense has its place as a literary device but adds unnecessary words and leaves readers feeling disowned and uninterested. Read the example below and note the contrast between present and future tense.

Future tense: Filet mignon will satisfy your insatiable palate and is going to delight your friends with rich flavors.
Present tense: Filet mignon satisfies your insatiable palate and delights your friends with rich flavors.

Ultimately it’s a stylistic choice but look at how many additional words are used (in the above example) to convey the same message. You have to remember, online consumers are more inclined to scan for content, so why not make your copy accessible to begin with?

There is no separate inflection in the English language for future tense, and it’s usually expressed using the auxiliary “will” or “shall.” Ask yourself, which would you rather own, a furnace that heats your home on cold winter days or a furnace that will enable you to heat your home?

Future tense is wordy, spatially distant and spoils the shopping experience. Your goal is to bring consumers into a proverbial third moment of truth, in which they experience, interact and emote with products. Writing for eCommerce is a far cry from writing Ulysses or Macbeth and it comes down to a hard science. In general, third person, present tense is the best practice for writing descriptions and as discussed earlier, active voice is the clearest and most direct voice in the English language. See below for further explanation.

Points of View
Third person (the best choice for eCommerce): Uses “she,” “he” or “it”
Second person (the reader is the subject of the action): Uses the pronouns “you” and “your” to specify perspective
First person: Uses the subjective “I” or plural “we” to recount personal experience

Examples of English Verb Tenses
Present tense (the best choice for eCommerce): Andrew sweeps the barn.
Future tense: Andrew will sweep the barn.
Past tense: Andrew swept the barn.

Economy of Words: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs” – Stephen King

Language is one of the oldest distribution systems in history and regardless of historical placement, it serves one purpose—to move information from one point to another. Beginning with Gutenberg’s press and burgeoning in the 1990s, mass media continues to change the communicative process and makes language quicker and more pervasive.

With all this surface level change, writers lose sight of language’s primary function—to distribute meaning over distances. Think of writing content as expediting information to consumers and your aim is efficiency and readability. Drop the gimmicks and word clutter and concentrate on delivering informative copy. Even veteran writers eliminate 30-percent of their content as they draft documents. Writers often overuse adjectives to the point of repeating information two or three times. “Most adjectives are … unnecessary. Like adverbs, they are sprinkled into sentences by writers who don’t stop to think that the concept is already in the noun” (William Zinsser).

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is the function of each word in your sentence?
  2. If you removed any one word from your sentence would it retain its meaning?
  3. Is your choice of tense adding words without adding meaning?
  4. Are you writing in passive voice and is it fattening up your paragraphs?
  5. Whom are you writing for? (in this case you’re writing for restless, click crazy consumers)
  6. Are you using adverbs for no reason other than to fill space? Adverbs are words that end in “ly”
  7. Are you using adjectives that are unneeded (luminescent glow stick emit bright rays of light)? The adjective in the bracketed example is redundant and repeats information.

Here are two sentences that can be stripped down to expedite and make meaning more accessible. Note, I’ve highlighted words that obstruct meaning or are redundant.

Bad Sentence: Scientists in Tokyo have made a discovery that dog paws use a network of blood vessels to effectively transfer heat between digits to adjust to freezing cold surfaces including, snow, ice and wet pavement.

Good Sentence: Scientists in Tokyo discovered that dog paws use a network of blood vessels to transfer heat between digits to adjust to freezing surfaces including snow and ice.

Bad Sentence: Just simply push one single button and the logs will automatically ignite without manually starting a fire and they will illuminate your family room with warmth and natural light.

Good Sentence: Push one button and the logs automatically ignite, illuminating your family room with warm, natural light.

Five Common Grammar Mistakes
Here are a few amateur hour mistakes that even professional writers make

Compliment versus complement
Compliment: A polite expression of praise or admiration.
Complement: Add to something in a way that enhances or improves it.

It’s versus its
Apostrophe “s” is used to show possession in the English language but in some cases the apostrophe takes the place of omitted letters in contractions. Never use an apostrophe to show possession when using the word its. Do not use an apostrophe after a possessive pronoun such as my, mine, our, ours, his, hers, its, their, or theirs.

Run-on sentences
A run-on sentence occurs when two independent clauses (a tricky term for simple sentences) are separated by a comma without a conjunction. Example: This cabinet is made of dark mahogany the hardware is finished in satin nickel. Avoid cramming information into sentences or bullets by combining independent clauses without conjunctions.

Starting a sentence with a conjunction
Starting your sentences with and or but is bad grammar. Don’t do it!

Affect versus effect (oh, I’m guilty of this one myself sometimes)
The easiest way to determine whether you should use “affect” or “effect” is to determine whether you are using it as a verb or a noun. Generally, “affect” is used in a verb phrase and “effect” is used as a noun.  

Example: Side effects include swelling feet, sweaty palms and headaches.
Example: Poor grammar will affect your overall Amazon rankings.

As always, we welcome your input and look forward to the conversation; click here to leave a comment. For an overview on the purpose of this blog, take a look at the initial post here.


This article was written by:
Kyle Roble, Senior Content Writer



The Importance of SEO

Companies will invest tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars on the development of a new website but if that website is not properly optimized for search engine crawlers to find the site then the investment will be obsolete. SEO is crucial for any online/ecommerce business as well as interactive sites because:

  • SEO will help to make the content of your web pages more relevant for readers to understand your product or services. Google clearly states in their webmaster guidelines,“Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.” The more relevant your content is the easier it will be for search engines and your customers to find.
  • It will make your web pages more attractive and appealing to your potential customers.  Consumers want to visit a website that is rich in content and can provide them with an informed-experience. You will improve your overall SEO and will increase your page rankings by creating blog posts, developing quality links to other websites, posting on relatable articles and adding value with your social media.
  • You will want to make it easy for search engines indexing software to read your site and index it appropriately. It is important for your website to include rich content, have quality links, and utilize text keywords that can be found in the behind-the-scenes meta tags. All of these aspects will help your website be easily crawled and properly indexed.

What exactly is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website, often because the site obtains a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine.

Let’s look at an example. A search for “Water Filters” is shown below. You will notice that when searching for Water Filters, Google finds more than 46,700,000 webpages that contain the keyword specifically or a variation of it. Only the top 10 web pages are shown within the first page of the search results.  Having your website located on the first page of any search engine is going to be your optimal goal. To obtain this kind of position you must optimize your website effectively with the right type of keywords that will best fit your company, your mission and of course your product and/or services. Knowing this before you dive into writing your website content is essential to overall success and allows you to obtain the high-ranking results you are striving to produce.

jenAs you can see in the image above, there are lots of competitors for those top search result spots.Every day website owners are competing to get their site into the top slot. Once you reach your goal of being in the top or on the first page, it will be imperative that you remain competitive with your site to obtain and remain a high-ranking status on all search engines pages. Once you have gained the position you have been striving for, it will be crucial to continue to add value to your current SEO strategies.  This can be done through blog posts, staying on trend with your keywords, utilizing social media or possibly revamping your on-page content from time to time.

Think of it this way, a successful business must remain competitive in all of their day-to-day activities to ensure a healthy and profitable business. Utilizing this same ideology into your SEO best practices will help to ensure that you are achieving the goals you have set forth on your SEO campaign. Statistics show that 90% of internet users will not go beyond the third page when doing a keyword search.When your website ranks higher in a natural organic search the lasting impact is inevitable. You will see immediate results in your web traffic and an increase in leads as well as sales. Having your website rank high on search results will also have a lasting impact on your brand recognition.

As shown in the graphic below, over 63% of internet traffic comes from search engines and 80% of those will find your website through organic listings. This is why it is important that SEO is elevated and emphasized to be an important element of your website and marketing.




As always, we welcome your input and look forward to the conversation; click here to leave a comment. For an overview on the purpose of this blog, take a look at the initial post here.

This article was written by:
Jen Bardon, Sage Tree Account Executive


Pinterest for Business

If you think your business has a visual aspect that could be appealing to consumers, you might want to consider joining Pinterest. This post will help you decide if this addictive social platform is the right fit for your company.

Why is Pinterest Relevant?
This social media site has shown incredible promise since its launch in 2009 and has been noted as the fastest independent website to ever break through the 10-million unique visitor mark, according to comScore. In January 2012, comScore reported that the site had acquired 11.7-million U.S. visitors. A little over a year later, February 2013, Reuters and comScore both reported that Pinterest now has 48.7 million users.

According to TechCrunch,

“Users are spending so much time sharing their favorite images that now only Facebook and Tumblr have more social media time on site than Pinterest.”

TechCrunch also reports that 18 to 34-year-old upper income level American women are the site’s driving force. What that means is that if this is your target audience, Pinterest is an ideal means of social connection. Reaching men on Pinterest is not out of the question though. Brandignity says that as of March 2013, the site’s male audience has grown from 20% to 28%.

How Does it Work?
Think of Pinterest as an inspiration bank of sorts- a community of users sharing pictures or “pins.”  Pins are organized by theme collections on what the site refers to as “pinboards.”  Pinboards are ultimately your photo albums. You can upload your own pins onto your boards manually or share them from websites. You also have the ability to share photos posted by other users by “re-pining.” We will explain this process more in depth in our next post.

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 8.14.27 AM

ZWalls Business Page on Pinterest

Business Pages
Pinterest has also developed special pages for businesses on the site that allows you to promote your company online and serve as a virtual storefront. By creating a business page, not only will you be able to verify your account with your website, but you’ll also have access to Pinterest Analytics, so you can measure your results.

Benefits of Using Pinterest

  1. Provides a platform to show off your products
    Pinterest provides a unique medium to show your products in a way that’s more interesting and creative compared to a standard website. On Pinterest, it’s more about being engaging and interesting than strictly business. You’ll have the opportunity to shake things up and add some life to the products at hand.
  2.  Establish a brand identity
    The images you choose to pin on your company’s page should reflect more than just products. What is the lifestyle you imagine your target audience living that relates to your products? What will they relate to? Pinterest is all about inspiration and dreaming. This allows you to create a voice behind your brand that really tells people what it is your business stands for.
  3.  Increased interaction with your target audience and existing customers
    Be friendly on Pinterest. Remember, this is a social network! If you see a pin that you like and that’s relative your company’s pins, “like” it or “repin” it. You can also comment on users’ pins and start conversations to develop a positive reputation. By doing this, you will begin to develop regular interactions with your current AND potential customers that gives them a sense of trust.

In the coming weeks, we will be continuing this post with articles that will further explain the process of Pinterest. Come back and visit eTailVelocity soon for more information so you can start thinking and pinning for your business.

As always, we welcome your input and look forward to the conversation; click here to leave a comment. For an overview on the purpose of this blog, take a look at the initial post here.

This article was written by:
Bethany Richard, Sage Tree Trade Marketing Associate


Macro Trends on the Shelf and on the Web: One Seamless Experience

Amazon Reported to Open Retail Store
As traditional brick and mortars move resources and capital into the profitable world of online commerce, Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is reportedly launching a physical store front in its hometown of Seattle, Washington. This isn’t exactly a paradigm shift in how Amazon operates its 61 billion dollar a year business, but rather an extension of Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’s philosophy to err on the side of action. The idea of action without regret has lead Amazon into industries including tablets, streaming media and book publishing and also to some notable failures such as Amazon Auction, which couldn’t compete against its market rival eBay.

With its aggressive price check app, low cost of operation and penchant for finding new ways to “charge less,” Amazon uses its business model as leverage against the big box stores. This strategy has been so effective at rupturing in-store sales that competitors are now offering price matches on identical merchandise and refusing to stock the Amazon Kindle. Some retail analysts speculate that Amazon’s move to open its first physical store is premised on the belief that having a brick and mortar presence drives online sales and offers a venue to showroom inventory. Cowen & Co. Analyst Jim Friedland states, “The primary goal of the test is to determine if a physical retail presence can accelerate sales of Kindle devices and follow-on consumption of digital content at an attractive return on invested capital.” The irony literally stings. While the big box retailers are clamoring for their share of the online sales, Amazon is toying with the idea of expanding into traditional retail. This is one of many reversals in which traditional retail and online commerce are virtually intertwined.

Checkout Lines Going Mobile
Mobile checkouts are yet another push to add elements of eCommerce to brick and mortar stores. The not-so-farfetched idea that traditional checkouts will be usurped by mobile apps is already happening as companies like JC Penney replace checkout lines with merchandise tracking systems. JC Penney will offer mobile checkout in all 1,100 of its stores by the end of 2013 and is adding roaming salesmen equipped with iPod Touches and self-checkouts. JC Penney’s CEO Ron Johnson, who at one time was Vice President of Retail Operations at Apple, envisions a cash-register free store that will cut half a billion in annual spending. Many brick and mortars such as Nordstrom and Sam’s Club already use mobile checkouts for exactly that reason and believe their point-of-sale systems will be primarily mobile in the upcoming years.


Source: NPD Display Search Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report

The move to mobile is made possible by the sheer number of mobile device owners and the numbers are hard to ignore. For the firsttime ever, tablet shipments are projected to beat notebook shipments by 37 million units. In 2011, smartphone sales increased 62.7%, outselling traditional PCs by 73 million units. With many users making the switch to mobile devices, retailers are looking for ways to make their point-of-sale systems mobile.

Mobile technology gives users access to the zero moment of truth at any given moment in time, whether at home, in a car or out shopping. Today’s smartphone users are more apt to drive local and service industries since smartphones are often used for product research, consumer reviews and coupons. Companies like Groupon are structured around the idea that smartphones have a geographical relevance that encourages local spending. Over 88% of American adults own mobile phones, which means your average consumer has the power of price comparison, mobile checkout and couponing in their jean pocket. The in-store experience is now an event where shoppers ping back and forth between in-store and online media to get the best deals, read consumer reviews and even purchase goods. As mobile technology leaves its digital footprint on the big boxes, it’s hard to ignore the collusion between online and in-store sales.

Walmart’s Lockers and Crowd-Sourcing
Following in Amazon’s footsteps, Walmart is adding lockers to a dozen stores for a no-fee pick-up option. Customers who choose this option, can visit one of the select stores and retrieve their online purchase with a combination code. Neil Ashe, Chief Executive of Walmart Global eCommerce says, “We’ve dramatically accelerated customer acquisition online.” Walmart is also considering the possibility of fulfilling orders with “crowd-sourcing” also known as “shared-economy.” This type of fulfillment is premised on the idea that Walmart will pay a customer to deliver online orders based on their geographic location. By adding elements of eCommerce in its traditional retail stores, Walmart is poised to gain ground in the world of eCommerce and compete with Amazon for online sales.

What all this Means?
We’re looking at a new way of doing business where eCommerce and traditional retail are so interwoven they’ve become one seamless experience. The zero moment of truth is entirely ubiquitous as mobile devices take ground on traditional PCs and while brick and mortars find new ways to deliver an online experience in-store, huge online startups like Amazon are thinking about physical stores. The lines once drawn between traditional retail and eCommerce are rapidly vanishing. Now more than ever, you need to think about your online channel and how it influences every aspect of your business, on the shelf or on the web.

As always, we welcome your input and look forward to the conversation; click here to leave a comment. For an overview on the purpose of this blog, take a look at the initial post here.

This article was written by:
Kyle Roble, Senior Content Writer


The Pros and Cons of Social Media


Businesses know that social media provides free, interactive communication between the company and its public, but with that comes the possibility of risk. One way to avoid some of this risk is to be as transparent as possible with your fans.

According to Social Media Explorer,

“Trust is the foundation of all relationships and relationships are what fuel business growth and long term success. Transparency across digital channels is a great way for organizations to start connecting with their audiences and slowly building trust.”

Whether you’ve already started your social media journey or you’re in the works of developing a plan, keep the following advantages and disadvantages of social media in mind:


1. Create Relationships: Social media is a simple way to build up your brand’s identity, and by doing so, it creates a sense of trust with consumers. With this trust and familiarity comes the greater likelihood of a purchase occurring.

2. Free Business Promotion and Low Cost Advertising: Social media platforms provide excellent forums for companies to openly discuss their business, demonstrating their industry expertise.

Advertising can be conducted via social media for little cost.  Social media gives your business the ability to reach targeted consumers that make the most sense for the product or service at hand.

3. Build Credibility: Consistent, engaging material posted on your social media accounts leads to a feeling of trust and credibility for your audience, which, in return, can lead to more business.

4. Easy Communication: Social media provides you with quick access to free communication with both your current and potential customers. With the click of a button, you have the ability to reach your entire fan base and more when announcing sales, events, new products or offerings, promotions, etc.

5. User-Generated Content: Businesses love a good review; social media opens the door for are countless miniature reviews. Positive comments, feedback, likes, photographs, etc. offer genuine endorsements that act as “word-of-mouth” for the new era.


1. Results Take Time: Social media success won’t happen overnight. You need to be patient with the fact that establishing your presence, building a community and getting your posts down takes time.  It’s important that you don’t get discouraged and remain consistent in order to see a return on investment when it comes to social media.

2. Monitoring: While people enjoy positive user-generated content, social media also opens up the opportunity for negative posts from users. Good or bad, your brand must take the time to monitor engagement and mentions by users. By constantly monitoring your social media, you have the ability to handle undesirable situations in a timely manner to avoid any further trouble.

3. All Things Public: In the beginning of this article, we brought up the importance of transparency when it comes to social media. It’s important to be open and honest with your fans, but you should also be aware of accuracy and precision. Humans make mistakes, but the wrong mistake can lead to an unpleasant outcome. Stay on top of your game.

4. Negative Publicity: Good reviews are great, but bad reviews can cause serious harm. The same goes with negative posts by consumers on your company’s account. Use social media as a direct form of customer service to keep your fans happy and address any issues as soon as possible.

According to Social News Daily, “when it comes to social media customer service, more than 70% of queries went ignored. A third of companies went so far as to delete evidence of a customer interaction, and average waiting time in a medium marked by its urgency was a stunning two days.”

Don’t be one of those companies.

5. Time Consuming: One of the things businesses can benefit from with social media is its addictive nature. People can easily spend (or waste) hours of time browsing through different feeds online. However, when it comes to the business itself handling social media accounts, it can be hard to stay on the right track. Keep focused on what’s important and what can lead to your company’s success.

As always, we welcome your input and look forward to the conversation; click here to leave a comment. For an overview on the purpose of this blog, take a look at the initial post here.

This article was written by:
Bethany Richard, Sage Tree Trade Marketing Associate


Creating a Successful Social Media Plan

Businesses like the idea of social media for a lot of reasons. It provides cost-effective marketing, meets people’s needs for building connections and creating interactions, all the while building brand loyalty—in real time. Why could it be that your current social media efforts are not going quite as planned?

The two most common reasons for social media efforts failing are:

  1. Lack of structure
  2. Lack of commitment

Creating an organized plan will act as a checklist to keep you on track with your social media efforts- covering everything from daily upkeep and weekly tasks to big projects, contests and promotions.

  • Commitment: According to Social Media Examiner, “invest time, energy and resources into [your social media] no matter what. [It] will keep you committed and prepare you to be active and engaged even when you feel like your presence is stagnating.”
  • Determine Goals: Think about realistic goals you’d like to achieve, as well as the steps you’ll need to take in order to get there.  For example, would you like to increase traffic? See more engagement on your site? Determine how you will you go about accomplishing these goals.
  • Do you have an existing fan base?: Are people currently posting videos of your product on YouTube? Are they uploading pins of your product on Pinterest?  Find out if you’re already getting attention somewhere and take advantage of that.
  • Develop a Schedule: Decide how many times you’ll be posting and how often you will be replying to keep up a steady engagement. Everyone wants to create conversations—the important thing is that you find a timely way to always respond.
  • Create an Editorial Calendar:  This will sum up everything you’ll be doing for an entire month. Decide on what kind of content you’ll be posting, how often you’ll be posting it and if there will be a theme for this month.
  • Customization: So you have a nice following on a certain platform now? Mix things up a bit and get creative. Consider creating custom apps on your Facebook page or upload videos to YouTube. Play around with different ideas and see if your spontaneity works for your benefit.
  • Review: According to Social Media Today, after 90-days have passed, it’s important to take the time to evaluate your current results and statistics. “Were your goals met? Did you reach your intended audience?  What worked and what didn’t work?” Adjust what you’re doing to work with these results.

Does this sound like a lot to take in? Check out this clever “cheeseburger visual aid” developed by Social Media Explorer. We think it’s a great way to summarize all of the components that need to be in the details of your plan in order to achieve a successful social media strategy.

content-strategy-burger-600pAs always, we welcome your input and look forward to the conversation; click here to leave a comment. For an overview on the purpose of this blog, take a look at the initial post here.

This article was written by:
Bethany Richard, Sage Tree Trade Marketing Associate



Getting Started with Social Media

While businesses may have at least some form of a social media strategy in place for their company,  many are unsure of where to begin,  what they want to accomplish and if it will be worth their time.

 It’s important to establish some concrete goals for yourself when starting to work with social media. To answer these questions,  we suggest focusing on the following five key areas when starting your company’s social media plan.

1. Understand Your AudienceSM1

The first step is always to clearly identify your target audience. You can start by creating a sample overview of your target audience member. Think about their demographics – age range,  income level,  location,  whether or not they have children,  preferred social media platforms,  preferred methods of information consumption,  etc.

Armed with this information,  you can establish a focus for your social media efforts to ensure an impact on your specific target audience. Understanding your audience and how they use social media can also identify which social platforms will work best for your business.



A simple way of figuring out how your target audience is using social media is by finding clever resources that have already been created for you,  such as this chart provided by Econsultancy.

Once you’ve found a graphic that’s right for you,  focus on the most popular social media platform first. Establishing a comfortable footing with your audience’s preferred social media network will help you learn about them and what is most important. From there,  you can take what you’ve discovered and use it to your advantage when working on other platforms.

 2. Develop a Plan of Action

Before you begin posting,  figure out what you want to say. This may sound obvious,  but think about it in depth. Many people start out with a plan of “just respond.”

Identify what responses you are trying to trigger and think about your own social media experience. More than likely,  you gravitate towards brands and individuals that engage with you vs. those who talk at you.

The fundamental question is,  ‘How do you plan on engaging your customers?’ Will you be using eye-catching images,  providing relevant articles or craft ideas for kids? The way you engage and create value for your consumer will change for every business. Find out what makes the most sense for your specific audience.

You can also consider promotions,  contests and events;  these take time to plan in advance to ensure they meet your objectives and don’t negatively impact your brand.  To create a sense of interest and buzz,  you will want to keep them spaced out with specific goals for each.

The last part of the plan of action is to be sure you are covering all the details.  When implementing your plan,  we’ve found it helpful to create checklists.  These help you keep track of everything that will need to go into making your posts ready for publishing.

3. Create a Timeline to Keep in Check

This will be a more specific calendar of your to-do list from #2. Map out everything you want to accomplish and be sure to include the time the planning process will take;  from every post idea you will be publishing,  to your promotions and events.

A thorough timeline helps you keep everything spaced out,  so you won’t bore your audience with repetitive post styles. It also makes it easy to prepare for what’s coming up in future months.

You can use this timeline to determine what platforms you’ll be posting on each day and how many times you will be updating,  such as the example shown below.


4. Keep Track of Your Results

In our experience,  it is important to find ways to measure the success of your social media efforts. Identifying the value to your organization is critical to continuing the work.  It is fairly easy to keep tabs on:

  • Key posts – the amount of “likes” it received,  new followers,  etc.
  • Audience reach
  • The amount of engagement the channel has
  • Followers gained from a contest
  • And most impactful would be showing an increase in sales due to a successful promotion

All of these metrics need to be recorded and organized in ways that make the most sense of the data you’re collecting.

Some simple ways to track results include:

  • Use Excel to create workbooks to organize numbers
  • Create visual aids,  such as charts and graphs
  • Convert information into statistics and percentages to summarize change effectively

There are also plenty of free tools available to you to further track your results. Check out the following to get you started:

  • Google Analytics/ Social Reports- Measure how social traffic is directly impacting your conversations via your Google Analytics platform
  • Klout- Get an “influence score” based on your social media activitynewinsights1
  • TweetReach- Find out who reads your tweets,  what is being shared and the impact of your posts
  • Facebook Insights- Collect all of the analytics data from your Facebook page to track growth and impact
  • SocialMention- Keep track of who is talking about your business,  product or any topic related to your industry

5. Learn from Your Mistakes

Take what you learn from #4 and use it to your advantage. Did a specific post stand out as a dud with little fan interaction or response? If so,  make note of this. You can use this to find ways to tweak what you’ve done in a certain post to create more beneficial results or decide to get rid of the idea entirely.

If something isn’t working,  don’t keep wasting time on the concept. If you find that posts are successful,  take note of that,  too,  but be sure to keep your content varied and interesting.

Social media can be a powerful way to engage with your customers. But,  if you are out to make a measurable impact,  it isn’t as simple as sitting down at the keyboard and responding. These are just some of the basics to consider as you begin to think about the channel– a robust plan will include more steps,  such as creating a social media policy for your employees and developing strategic marketing plans. Check back over the coming months as we spend more time on this topic.

As always,  we welcome your input and look forward to the conversation; click here to leave a comment. For an overview on the purpose of this blog,  take a look at the initial post here.

This article was written by:
Bethany Richard,  Sage Tree Trade Marketing Associate