Is Your Website Part of Your Sales Funnel?

If you answered no, then it is absolutely essential that you do some research on the subject and get it implemented as soon as possible.


Because, having a website made without a sales funnel clearly defined is like starting a business without a strategy to create revenue, or it would be like building a retail shop without any consideration to making actual sales or increasing revenue.

But before we begin, let’s make sure we are all on the same page on what a sales funnel is, as it applies to the WEB, and internet marketing.


What is a sales funnel for the web?  

A sales funnel is a strategy to make your website generate revenue. That is it in its simplicity. No further complication is required.

A strategy on the web to make sales and get revenue would have various component parts. The ‘sale’ or the ‘purchase’ is the very last part of this. There are a few steps before that, which result in a sale. If we can understand what they are, then we have a ‘formula’ for sales, which you can then follow to get more sales.

Many marketers and sales people have their own style of funnel with different ‘tiers’ and descriptive words, with their own twist on it.

We’re going to keep it is as simple as possible and strip away the complexity.

When we do this we see that the ‘sales cycle’ involves just these types people, or three stages of people:

  • Prospects
  • Leads
  • Customers

The Prospect is someone who has become aware of your products, services of company. This would be a website visitor, or someone who has viewed your ads, or someone who has heard of you. He may or may not be interested, but he has had some contact your brand.

You get prospects by paying for ads, doing social media posts, getting your website high in the search results, so people can find you when they search, and visit your site. Anything that gets the word out about your company and products. This is promotion.

The Lead is someone who has become aware of your company/brand enough that he is interested and has given his contact information and you now have him on file.

You get leads by offering free or very discounted products/services (or buying lists of names and phone numbers), and in return you get the person’s contact information, and then they can be contacted by you in the future and enlightened about your flag ship products and services.

The Customer is someone who has become aware of your company/brand by search, or ads, or referral, and then bought a product. He may or may not have had the intermediary step of becoming a lead first. He may have gone straight in and bought your product.

You get customers by getting LOTs of prospects and lots of leads. It is as mechanical as that.

Customers can be RE SOLD with additional products and services. So the funnel truly does not end with a simple purchase. You can sell again and again. Additionally, existing customers are MUCH EASIER to sell to, thus require less effort in making the sale. If you are not actively re-selling to your existing customer base you are missing out on this goldmine!


Using the Funnel

Just by reading the above you can see that right away you can take each component of the sales funnel (prospects, leads, customers), work towards increasing them, and by doing this you can effectively increase your revenue.

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5 Things you must be doing in 2017

Are you 100% of what you should be doing for internet marketing and promotion in 2017?

We’re going to go over a few things that you definitely should be doing so that you don’t get left behind and miss out on effective and even free promotion.

1: Using Instagram to promote your services

Whether you do lawn maintenance or hardscaping, your company’s services can be easily promoted on Instagram. It is free and effective.

What you need:

  1. A smart phone
  2. Creativity
  3. A project/work worth photographing

You can spread the word of your work far and wide with Instagram, but the distance it travels, and the amount of exposure you get is directly related to how good your photo is. And that doesn’t simply mean the quality of the photo. In order to spread wide and far, and get lots of attention, the contents of the photo must either be:

  • funny
  • unique/rare
  • very beautiful
  • surprising/shocking

In addition to being very high quality, you must also make liberal use of hashtags, as that is one way for your post to gain further reach and be seen by people following those hashtags. Of course only put relevant hashtags.

2. Start Doing Native Advertising

It has been said time and time again: Web users ignore ads. While this isn’t entirely true as ads do result in sales, ads on the web definitely don’t have the impact they used to. And it is this dwindling effectiveness which is having marketers look for new solutions, and they have one. It is called Native Ads.

What is it? Marketers greatly complicate the definition. It is simply this: you make a piece of good content (such as an article) and you place this piece of content on someone else’s site, a site which gets lots of traffic (such as a local news site). Your piece of content also clearly states that it was written by you and your company, and usually provides a link to your site. This allows you to promote your company on other website, and allows you to establish yourself as a knowledgeable thought leader. Of course you will have to pay the website to feature your article.

There are many ways of doing this. The most traditional way would be to: find a local news publication, which has its articles online. You write an article for them, discussing a topic of interest and importance. You pay them, and you get traffic and exposure.

3. Live chat on your website

Ask yourself this: how many people visit your site and slip through the cracks and never end up calling you, or filling out a contact form? For most websites this is a considerably high percentage, 95% or more. What if you could reach out to that remaining 95%? Well you can.

By having a ‘live chat’ window on all pages of your website, you are making it far easier for your visitors to reach out to you with questions. This allows you to make a great first impression and establish a good relationship with your consumer base. Since we are in the Relationship Era of marketing this is crucial. It will help you differentiate yourself in the mind of the consumer, by having excellent customer care.

There are many companies that offer this service. Some are free and some have a nominal fee of say $15 a month.

4. Content Marketing

Anyone who has taken the time to study up and get educated on the topic of marketing knows that ‘content is king’. It has been true for decades, and has proven to continue to be true, even in this year of 2017. And with the current amount of business competition it is more true than ever!

For landscapers content marketing doesn’t mean writing some bland articles about gardening or driveway paving.

Here are some ideas:

  1. A PDF consisting of all your most frequently asked questions
  2. DIY guides for your simpler or more advanced services (in PDF)
  3. DIY video guides
  4. An encyclopedia of local and native trees, shrubs, plants, flowers
  5. Guides for gardening/landscaping by season (one for each season)
  6. A guide on how to have an environmentally friendly landscape (low impact on the surrounding environment)
  7. A guide on energy conservation for your outdoor living area
  8. A catalog with a spectrum of low budget suggestions for landscaping & hardscaping, complete with good ideas and photos

5. Facebook Ads and Retargeting

Posting pictures of your recent landscaping projects on Facebook is fine, but it’s not going to get you any increase in revenue. You’d need to have tens of thousands of fans/followers to reach the number of people necessary to get sales from such posts.

So what should you do with your Facebook? Simply this: Ads and Retargeting.

If you are advertising and not doing retargeting then you are losing money. It is utterly essential and greatly increases your ROI.

We have a whole article on that here, so you can learn how you can implement it.

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4 Reasons why you should ONLY use Clear Imaging to create your business websites

There are a lot of DIY website platforms on the market: Wix, WordPress, Weebly, Squarespace, Jimdo, etc.

They enable people without any programming experience to create functional websites, for personal or business use. Many offer advanced features like photo gallery slide shows, e-commerce and payment processing, etc. etc.

Although there are many benefits to such platforms they are not for everyone and do have some downsides.

Let’s look over the cons and why you should have Clear Imaging do your websites for you.


Reason 1 – Other sites may be invisible to Google

We’re assuming you want your website to be able to be found by Google, and thus placed in Google’s search result pages. In order for this to occur your website’s source code has to be visible to Google. In some of today’s modern website building  platforms the source code is actually invisible, and when Google visits your site to index it, it just sees empty pages with no text. Thus, such sites would have no search engine ranking to speak of.

All sites made by Clear Imaging are not only fully visible to Google but are built inherently with Search Engine Optimization best practices.


Reason 2 – You don’t have to learn anything

All of today’s website building platforms involve SOME form of orientation and learning. You may not have to be a programmer to setup one of their sites but you do have to be willing to sit down and confront the platform’s interface, documentation, watch video tutorials, and work at it by yourself until you have a product you’re pleased with.

When you get a website with Clear Imaging not only do we build the entire thing for you, you also get unlimited free updates. We can take care of all further maintenance, you don’t have to learn anything.


Reason 3 – Your site might not look the way you want it to

Your site’s design is limited to the templates which the platform has. Some may be too basic and leave you unsatisfied. Since your website is your customer’s first impression of your business you want it to be just right, and you certainly don’t want to comprise and have your first impression be anything less than excellent.

When Clear Imaging makes a website for you, we design the site exactly to your specifications and continue to work with until it is just how you want it.


Reason 4 – Other sites might not be mobile-friendly

We are making all websites fully compatible with desktop and mobile applications, so you don’t need to worry about how your site renders across various devices.

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One wrong way to get email subscribers

Are you currently collecting emails from visitors on your website?

Are you satisfied with how many people ‘sign up to your newsletter’?

We’re going to look at the right way which you should be doing, and the wrong way which you should definitely stop.


The wrong way to get emails

People won’t give you their email address simply because you ask for it. Therefore, it is important to free yourself of the false idea that simply putting up ‘subscribe to our newsletter’ will get you the subscribers you want. There is not enough incentive, pressure or reason for them to give it.

Therefore it is critical that you re-think your entire system and remove this and replace it with something more workable.


Better ways to collect emails

  1. Directing your visitors to fill out contact forms, as opposed to calling in. This way you can harvest their email address and begin a conversation with them via email. By doing this you’re able to give them information, articles, video, etc; something you can’t do over the phone. And you can always follow up with them afterwards.
  2. Offer some very valuable free content in exchange for the email. This does NOT mean ‘our free newsletter’. This has to be something which will enhance their lives and something they really want to have. Be willing to spend some time creating a really valuable product, and then give it away for free.
  3. In your store, at checkout, offer %15 discount for getting their email.
  4. Buying lists. This has some good point and some bad points. One advantage is it gives you a large database which you can contact right now, to get your message out, and convert the recipients into buyers, without having to wait for your email addresses to gradually trickle in organically. The down-side is you might get flagged as spam by many recipients as they are not expecting your unsolicited email.
  5. Create an online contest on your website. People can enter the contest by submitting their name and email. You then get a database of emails out of it. You should make the contest worthwhile however. Be willing to spend a few hundred dollars to give the winner an iPad Mini, etc. When the contest is over, be sure to alert all applicants via email, and then offer everyone a 15% discount of your services as a consolation prize. This way everyone wins and you foster a good relationship.
  6. Feature special offers on your website (coupons, etc.), which require the visitor to send his email in order to receive a coupon.

Add a QR code to all your printed materials, and have it take them to a link where they can sign up to receive coupons and incentives from your company, by providing their email.

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2017 Social Media Battle Plan

As the new year begins it is time to take stock and re-evaluate one’s social media strategy, and pledge to not make the same mistakes as one did in 2016 but instead employ only those actions that actually worked or are empirically effective.

First, let’s establish what doesn’t work.

Posting Once or Twice a Week – you might as well not be posting at all if this is your frequency. You should be posting a minimum of 3 times a day. Worried that you will annoy your user-base? Worry not! Only 5% of them will see your posts anyway, so there is nothing to fear.

Ignoring User Comments – a good social media manager responds to every single message/comment that he receives from his user-base. He doesn’t consider it work or nuisance, as it is this type of engagement (interacting with people) via social media which helps to humanize businesses and establish better relationships. And ‘relationships’ is the byword for marketing in this modern age.

Not Doing Ads & Retargeting on Facebook – you cannot leverage Facebook unless you are doing paid ads and then retargeting. Simply doing organic posts is not enough to get anything done, and will not increase revenue; unless you have a hundred thousand or more fans.

Not Using ‘AddThis’ Social Media Buttons – You need to lose your boring old social media buttons and get hip with AddThis. It is free, has analytics, its customizable, and is the most user-friendly social media button service in existence.

Working on a Multitude of Social Media Platforms – Focus your efforts and focus on a maximum of two different social media platforms. Facebook & Pinterest, or Twitter & Instagram, or Youtube & Facebook. Whatever it is, trim the fat, focus up and just work one or two social media platforms.


What works, and therefore you should be doing:

Posting Non-Business Related Content – If you’ve broken out of the rut of only posting coupons and instead are posting famous quotes and cat pictures then bravo to you! It is important for businesses to keep their social media properties social and human.

Using Analytics – nearly every social media platform comes built-in with some form of analytics. Use this data to find out which of your posts are performing the best, thereby zeroing in on the right content, as well as finding the right time to post, thus receiving the most engagement.

Staying Hungry for Knowledge – a ‘know best’ attitude will prevent you from achieving success with your strategy. Those who research social media and become more knowledgeable are exponentially more likely to be successful. One has to admit that they don’t know, before they can learn.

Using BuzzSumo and Research to Find Viral Content – reposting viral/already popular content works and is highly recommended.

Dove-tailing your Social Media and Content Marketing Efforts – your campaigns should be working together and not be disjointed. There should be a precise and known result from your social media promotion activity, and it should fit in with your other marketing work.

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2017 Email Marketing Battle Plan

Make 2017 a year where you take your newsletter initiative to a whole new level!

What type of emails are you sending out to your list?

Are they getting you results?

Do you have a way of determining whether or not they are getting you results?

If you’re not satisfied with the performance of your current email marketing efforts then pay heed.

In this new year, adopt a whole new strategy:

  • Start using Maichimp or Constant Contact or Aweber, if you are NOT already. You need these services so you can get analytics on your emails, and there by find out what is working and what isn’t. There is no way of tracking/measure success unless you have analytics.
  • Get INFORMED and educated on the subject of email marketing! It is in itself an entire subject. This can’t be over-stressed. Read blogs, books and take courses on this. A good book on the subject is “Email Marketing Machine” by Ryan Deiss.
  • Take what you have learned and apply it, bit by bit. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to implement something that you don’t have a firm grasp on. Just start taking action, step by step. EXAMPLE: taking your list and dividing it into small, more specific lists. A list for paying customers, a list for subscribers who have never bought anything. A list for subscribers who have never opened any of your emails. Simply by sorting your list into different groups you can then communicate to each one more in a more tailored fashion, and get better responses. You would need to have an email service like Mail Chimp in order to determine the open rate of the subscribers on your list. This is an example of something non-complicated you can learn about and apply simply to your setup, and get great results.
  • Keep statistics of your email marketing before and after your new implementations. If you notice statistics getting worse, don’t be afraid to admit the fact that it got worse, and what you did, did not work. Stay objective and be willing to admit mistakes and learn from them. When you do see improvements, make sure you figure out exactly what caused the improvement, and keep doing it.
  • Find successful actions of others and test them out. This is obvious but often gets over-looked.
  • After the pattern of learning, testing and measuring, once you finally get a working installation and are seeing measurable results with certainty, do NOT go and change or reinvent the wheel! What works, works. Don’t let some new gimmick or technique persuade you to undo something which is already working and getting you results. That would be willful suicide. At this point you should only make changes very gradually in a ‘micro’ fashion. If there is some new thing you want to implement, but it would undo certain aspects of your setup, then you should try experimenting this new thing on a smaller list first. Consider it a ‘pilot’ approach.


The key take-aways from this is that you update your system by using a mass email service (Mail Chimp, etc), and study, test, measure and repeat.

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Leveraging Instagram for your Business [Part Two]

How can I make viral-type content for my Instagram?

Creativity can be very tricky. Something you can always do, to help you get ideas is to see what other companies or people are posting, and see how you could make something similar or better. You are guaranteed to find some clever types of content ideas if you do this.

But let’s try an exercise right now, in creativity.

Take one of the companies we mentioned above… the landscaper. This isn’t that bad actually, it would be far more challenging if it were a bank and an insurance company. The reason it is not that bad is because landscaping is a CREATIVE industry. Things are made. And when things are made, anything can be made. Things can be altered, modified, to the creators liking. He is bound only by his budget and imagination. We can’t same the same for Tax Perpetration or Insurance… not a lot of creativity there.

Let’s take the landscape company and see what we can do:

  • Inspirational (use the same quotes everyone else does, these do NOT have to be industry specific)
  • Aesthetic and beautiful (professional photos of gardens, with macro lens, wide lens, high saturation on the colors, unusual angles, artistic, use drone cameras for high angle still shots, or to shoot a video tour)
  • Weird, silly or surprising (a landscape done a la ‘Minecraft’, or any landscaping/gardening done to replicate something from pop culture, like Disney movies, etc etc.)
  • Really cool (a functioning castle and mote, built with retaining wall pavers)
  • Funny (close up, macro photos of Lego people (or other popular toys), in perilous/odd circumstances in the garden. Like getting stuck in paver sealer, while being confronted by ants… etc)


As you can see, there is MUCH you can do, it just takes some digging around, persistence, looking at what people are doing, and putting your own touch on it.

Now that you have an idea of what you can post, you should make your account.


Making your account

Naturally the first thing you need to do is make an Instagram account, you will do this using a smart phone (Android or iPhone), and you can start by making a personal page, and once you have that you can make a business account. You can put your phone, address, and domain name, logo etc.

BEFORE you create your business account, you should first keep it as a personal account for a while, so you can then find and follow all your Facebook friends who have Instagram, And they will most likely follow you back. This will let you start your Instagram account with a decent number of followers.

If you start right off the business profile your Facebook friends won’t recognize that as you when you follow their Instagram accounts.

Note: Once you achieve 100 followers Instagram will then allow you to start direct messaging users.


How to use Instagram

You have your account, you’re ready to rock and roll. For now, you simply need to worry about three things:

  • Right photos
  • Right hashtags
  • Right time/frequency

We have already gone over photos.

Let’s talk about hashtags next, and for that let us quote our friends over at Social Media Examiner:


How to use hashtags:

One of the ways people find content and contributors they enjoy on Instagram is to search with hashtags.

Here’s how that works.

Each piece of Instagram content you post can be accompanied by a short message or caption and a few hashtags. The hashtags help organize and categorize images and video content, which aids the process of content discovery and optimization.

Read their full article:


Time and Frequency

You should be posting 3 time a day, honestly. The times you will get the most engagement (meaning the times when most of your followers are online), will be lunch time, dinner time, and an hour or so before bed. This holds true on many social media platforms.



This basic guide should get you started using Instagram for your business the right way, and give you a foundation which you can build upon, and then add further complexity once you are familiar with the app.

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Leveraging Instagram for your Business

Why even use Instagram for your business?

You already have a company Facebook, Twitter, and maybe even a Pinterest. And despite your social media omnipresence you’re probably still not even getting the results you want.

The last thing you need is another social media platform to zap your energy, disperse your focus and cause you more disappointment.

Or maybe not?


Let’s look a little closer

Maybe your business was never suited for Facebook and Twitter to begin with, or the more likely reason it never took off is that it wasn’t used properly.

Twitter and Facebook are ‘relationship’ social media platforms, they are communication tools best used to interact with your user base, in a one-on-one fashion. This is why you will never get anywhere on your FB and your TW by just posting your daily photo and a caption, or a link to an article. Facebook is best used for ads, and Twitter is best used for directly communicating to specific users about content they are posting.

Youtube and Pinterest are ‘content’ social media platforms, they are where users go to get good free content, in the form of photos and video. They are going there to find something, not to communicate, they are there to find useful or entertaining content.


Where does Instagram fall?

Where does that leave Instagram? Instagram is content-based, as users go to it to find entertaining photos (content). But, Instagram also allows you to reach out and interact with other users, in the same way that Twitter does. Another element it borrows from Twitter is the use of hashtags, however with Instagram they are more versatile and you’re able to reach more people with them. We describe that further down in this article.

Before you dismiss Instagram as being too minor for your attention, I’d like to direct you to an ‘active monthly users’ survey from last year:

  • Facebook: 1.59 billion (December, 2015)
  • Instagram: 400 million (September, 2015)
  • Twitter: 320 million (March, 2016)
  • Google+: 300 million (October, 2013)
  • LinkedIn: 100 million (October, 2015)
  • Pinterest: 100 million (September 2015)

As the number 2 social media platform it definitely warrants some investigation.

Now that we have gone over very briefly what Instagram is, what it is not, and its relevance, let’s talk about how you can use it for your business.


Can my business even leverage a photo-based content social media platform like Instagram?

The answer is: Yes, IF you are creative! And the corollary is a resounding NO! if you are not creative.

Unfortunately, a carpet cleaner who only posts pictures of the carpets he has cleaned will not really get far on Instagram, Pinterest, or any other content-based social media platform (and he will certainly not get anywhere posting that on FB or TW). Nor will a landscaper who only posts pictures of the landscapes he has done, get any success. This is all far, far, far too banal for social media. Save these photos for your website’s project photo gallery. They have no place on social media.

The photos posted on Instagram or Pinterest must be either:

  • Inspirational (these are text-based images with excellent quotes, which uplift, or invigorate people)
  • Aesthetic and beautiful (attractive people, vistas, performances, making art out of unusual medium)
  • Weird, silly or surprising (a cat playing a piano, amazing feats)
  • Really cool (a customized AR 15)
  • Funny (any kind of meme or humorous video is at home on Instagram)

How can I make this type of content?

Stay tune for Part Two!!!

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Re-Evaluating Your Company Facebook [Part Two]

But I have a boring landscaping company and there is no popular or viral landscaping content on the web

This is a good point.

While it is best if you can keep the content you post tied to the industry/field that you work in, and keep everything on the same topic; you shouldn’t however let this idea restrict you to a life of monochrome! More importantly, who says the content you are posting MUST be popular or viral?

If you look back earlier, you’ll see we determined your audience simply wants:1) useful content which makes him better, 2) something funny, entertaining, 3) coupons great offers.

Obviously, it is best if you can post viral content which is relevant to your brand and audience. But if you CANT, then fear not. All you should do is post VALUABLE content (not necessarily virally popular), and your audience will be pleased. In this case, you wouldn’t use Buzz Sumo. Instead you’d search the web to find quality blog posts and articles on topics relating to your industry.


How often?

You should post three times a day. Once at lunch, once at dinner, and one late at night, around 10pm. However, this may vary from time zone to time zone; be sure to check your analytics to find when most of your users are online.

If your posts are quality (good content which makes people better) you won’t need to worry about people unfollowing you and getting annoyed (however, there will always be a small percentage who will unfollow you no matter what you do). BUT, if your posts are low quality, then you don’t want to post frequently, as your audience will get sick of seeing your low-quality content.


What you should NOT be doing

Let’s summarize what you shouldn’t be doing in your business Facebook campaign.

  • One or fewer posts per day
  • Posting only pictures of your products, or only posts about your products
  • Posting only things in your industry/field
  • Insisting that all content originates from your brand, and nothing from outside sources
  • Ignoring comments
  • Arguing with your audience


What you SHOULD be doing

  • You should be posting at least three times a day, at peak user online times
  • If you’re going to post about your products it had better only be one in every 20 posts. People did not follow your company’s FB page to hear about your products constantly
  • You should mix it up and post things in related fields, and even completely disrelated things, such as famous quotes, and yes, even cat videos. (it is still social media, after all)
  • Amazing content exists on the web, don’t deprive your audience; share it, and they will love you
  • You should respond to every single comment your channel gets, be it FB, TW, G+, whatever. It is important to engage with your audience and let them know someone is there
  • You should maintain good PR at all times on your social media channels. If you have a disgruntled fan/follower, use this as an opportunity to turn him into a zealous supporter, by giving them great service
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Re-Evaluating Your Company Facebook

Does your company Facebook campaign feel like a random ambiguous activity?

Do you feel a disconnect between your company’s Facebook page and your sales & marketing campaign?

Are you not getting any results with your business Facebook page?

If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions then let’s take a moment and re-evaluate your Facebook campaign strategy.


Facebook for business is different

For some reason, people think that they can only post photos of their products and coupons for their products. Although this ‘gut feeling’ is logical and understandable (after all, it is your business page and not a personal page, right!?), but what results does this actually get? How much engagement from the audience do you get when you post a photo and info of your product? I’m going to hazard a guess: not much.

It is not what people want.


But what do people want?

People typically expect a few different things from a business FB page:

  • Useful information. Emphasis on ‘useful’ information
  • Entertainment
  • Incentives (good deals, coupon codes, good special offers)

This tells you at once what you should be posting on your business social media campaign.

The above three times are in order of what you should be posting most frequently.

This also tells us that the subscriber, follower, fan or whatever you want to call them is interested in valuable content. Content which either makes them laugh and feel good, or content which gives them understanding, certainty, ability.


Where do I get this content?

Don’t make the mistake thinking that you must be the creator of all content you post on social media. And don’t let experts dissuade you saying that you’re diluting your brand by promoting other people’s content. This is simply not true. The idea of sharing is the very backbone of the web. It is perfectly acceptable for you to share great content created by others on your business Facebook page. Your audience will love it.

Of course if you had more time and energy you could hire your own people to create your own amazing content. But until you reach that level, content curation is a viable alternative to providing your audience with good content.

You can use free services like Buzz Sumo to find what content is the most popular and viral in particular fields or for certain keywords. And then just post a link to that article in your social media posts. This allows you to avoid the growing pains of not being sure if what you’re posting will be popular or not, as, you’re only posting content which has already proved to be popular.

The content you curate from the web could be anything from ‘how to guides’, white papers, or just really interesting articles a la BuzzFeed.

But I have a boring landscaping company and there is no popular or viral landscaping content on the web; what can I do?

This is a good question. Read Part Two for the answer.

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