Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Practicing Caution With Pinterest

Few social media networks are as visually stimulating and appealing as Pinterest, which is why it's one of the fastest growing social platforms around with over 70 million users. There's photos of delicious "healthy" recipes for us to try at home, panoramas of backyard oases for us to long for, and workout tips and tricks to help tone and trim our body. But are they always accurate?

Word of advice, don't trust everything you read on Pinterest.

Pinterest, while popular, can also be dangerous. Have you ever tried a recipe and the results weren't what you expected? You're not alone. Just like common advertisements, Pinterest items can be optimized to sell products and for clickthroughs, all without the backdrop of a realistic expectation.

There are harmful fitness routines, dangerous diets, and even falsely attributed quotes that circulate Pinterest very regularly. For example, here's a Hitler quote that was attributed to Taylor Swift, and 20 other Pinterest tips that, well, are lies.

So be cautious when diving into Pintest content, it isn't always as it appears.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Why PIN-teresting Content is Important in Social Media

Doesn’t it seem like a new social media platform launches daily? Although that isn’t far from the truth, you can find stability in some mainstay social networks that are as solid as they come.

We’ve talked before on why you should be on social media in order to best reach your prospective customers – but another thing worth considering - is focusing on the right social media for your business.

Still Fast Growing
One of the fastest growing social platforms these days is Pinterest, a virtual “pinboard” of images and information that allows users to find information on the internet and save it to the appropriate online board.

Who Uses Pinterest
Depending upon your business, Pinterest might be the great arena for your online business presence. Around 95% of Pinterest users are women – which means that might be a strategic place for you to reach out to those you’re selling to if women include your market target.

What To Pin
Post images of your products, and inspirational messages to connect with your users and establish yourself as an online friend.

Remember - social media needs to stay SOCIAL - or it won't make the right connection with users. Your long-term goal with ANY social media platform is to make friends, and then turn those folks into brand advocates for your company or business. Get OTHERS talking about you and your business to really generate a great community of prospects.

Considering our clients are mostly small-medium size businesses with more modest marketing budgets, we try to do the things every website owner should be doing - and that's having a presence across multiple platforms - and optimizing that exposure for branding.  If time and budget allow - certainly you can run some VERY grand and successful social media campaigns. However, in so many cases, a tight ship must be run - and it has to be made easy enough to do on a smaller budget or, even better - in house.
With social media - stick to the famous saying, “Keep it simple, stupid!" (KISS) Don’t beat yourself up about having to learn multiple platforms – find the one you need to focus on most.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Protecting Yourself On The Internet

The internet can be a dangerous place and sharing personal information over social media and other internet facets can put you at risk!

So how can we stay protected in an age that feels like people already share too much? Is that Facebook status about being on vacation really going to make your home susceptible to unforeseen visitors? Maybe. Here’s a couple tips on how to protect yourself online.

1. Passwords
Use different passwords for all of your logins. While having one password can really be a breeze, it opens you up to having all of your accounts compromised, rather than just one. One account is much easier to manage than a full-blown security breach!

Also, make sure that your passwords are hard to guess and are strong. “Puppy1” isn’t cutting it anymore, so use a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols to make your password like a cryptic vault!

2. Social Media
Revealing too much about yourself on social media can be very dangerous. Reevaluate who you are friends with on these networks and be cautious sharing information that could be indicators of your password. It doesn’t take much for a hacker to get in, so stop them in their tracks and be wise in what you share.

But it's more than just a hacker that you have to worry about - it's the folks that don't post, don't share, just sort of lurk around... Are you a Facebook user - ? Are you a parent? Have you seen this site?
Take This Lollipop

Enough said.

3. Be aware
The most neglected protection tip is simply to be aware. Computers can get viruses. Cell phones can be stolen. Online accounts can be compromised. Pay attention to your online surroundings and protect yourself by being extra cautious before clicking on links or to install an internet filter or protection service.

And another thing - your computer could go kaput. Make regular backups. If you can't afford an expensive online backup program - buy an external hard drive and backup your precious family photos and files regularly - or save those special things to the cloud. (Dropbox, Google Drive - both FREE!)

The internet can be scary but don’t let it be! Just be aware and cautious and you’ll be able to enjoy it all without the worries.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Client Spotlight - Little Dog Fashion

We are thrilled to have been able to redesign, a Volusion website design - and bring to life the little dog that inspired tons of handmade doggie duds.

From the owner of Little Dog Fashion:

The story of Little Dog Fashion Pet boutique begins well before 2008. My children were small at the time and wanted to do a special project with me. That special project was to start a small business, Stockings Galore – a Christmas store. 

One year, somebody brought the tiniest Chihuahua into our store and asked if we had any clothes for his little fur baby. We did not at the time but agreed that we should check out if there was a market for dog clothes. 

Well, there was! 

And Little Dog Fashion Pet Boutique was born - as a woman owned business that provides an online location where pet owners from around the world come to shop for fun and functional dog fashion for their four legged family members. 

All of my doggie clothes are designed and made by me in Phoenix, AZ. I specialize in teacup and toy breed size dogs like Chihuahuas, Yorkies and Maltese or any other dog or pet in that size range. My unique fashions are made with your baby’s comfort and your sense of style in mind. And if your fur baby is a little bigger or hard to fit, no problem! My creations can be customized to ensure a great and comfortable fit. 

Every year my dog fashion line expands, resulting in me carrying a broad range of products including dog collars, dog grooming accents, doggie diapers and belly bands, hoodies for boys and girls, dog pajamas, dresses for little dog girls, shirts for little doggie boys, beds and bassinets. Items listed under the names of Little Dog Fashion or Darling Diapers are designed and made by me and inspired and modeled by my little Maltese dog, Sophie, right here in Phoenix. 

This year little Dog Fashion will introduce two new brands. 

One is called Eco Little Dog Fashion and will feature doggie clothes made from organic materials. The first collection will be launched in the fall and will consist of pjs and dresses. 

 The second new brand is Sari Beaux and it will feature high end fabrics and trims and OOAK creations. The first Sari Beaux collection will also arrive in fall or winter of 2013. 

Giving back to the animals that give all of us so much joy and unconditional love is a big part of my personal ethics which I take very seriously. I am proud to support the Arizona Humane Society and Celebrity Catwalk and hope to become a regular contributor for both organizations to help support all the good work that they do. You can see the display and read about these events in the event section of the home page. 

Join us in celebrating the new design on Little Dog Fashion!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Learning LinkedIn - The Social Media King For Business Professionals

Sometimes Facebook can seem like the Wild West—full of baby pictures, engagements, vacation sunsets and political rants. It’s personal - and not exactly the most intentional platform for a professional to create their own personal identity or brand.

LinkedIn is a social platform that fits that very niche - in a professional way. Although it’s been around since 2003, LinkedIn has now grown to become one of the top four platforms in terms of the amount of active users and is the number one business social media platform.

So what exactly is LinkedIn and why should you, as an employee of a business or a business owner, be on it? 

LinkedIn is a thriving online community of professionals looking to make connections, recommendations and network for professional purposes. LinkedIn has their own mail system called InMail that allows you to send 5 messages to others (more are available in premium membership packages) for a variety of purposes.

You’re able to search for and find others at your company, in your field or in a profession that you are interested in learning more about.

LinkedIn offers professional “Groups” that you can request to join that serve as discussion boards for job postings and for sharing information with others.

Interested in learning more? Sign up for a LinkedIn profile today and stay tuned for ways you can utilize your profile to build a great business community online.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Why Twitter Matters

Have you ever had an older relative or friend ask if you’re into “that 'tweeter' or Facebook stuff?” Or - better yet - and more relevant to our purpose -  have you ever been asked - "Why should my business have to do all that stuff on social media?"

We have.

Social media can be a difficult thing to understand on a number of levels. Primarily - anyone who's not 40 or under - is probably wondering how it will help them sell, how it will help them increase business - or how it will help them do anything - other than not waste time trying to figure it all out.

Social media is still sort of new, and it is rapidly changing; but there is enough data to prove that there is some stable ground: your customers need to hear you and they need to hear you where they feel comfortable. 

We get this. 

But I can't lie.

I often wonder - Twitter? Really? Why do I bother tweeting? We have a whopping two sentences to share, and it really seems like a celebrity venue, or vehicle for celebs to communicate to the world - and for their fans and followers to connect with them on some level. I see it all the time and Twitter is full of spam, too - so what's the point? Is that really a great fit for a local landscaping company? Is it a good fit for MY CLIENTS?

The answer - in short - is yes, for the most part - Twitter is a good thing to be doing - for any company.

Twitter early on established itself as a top platform on the social media landscape - many suggest it is only second to Facebook when it comes users. Although Twitter is not short of praise, it is often misunderstood and neglected. There’s more to Twitter than Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. It allows you to communicate with your customers, new customers, potential customers, friends, and others - quickly and succinctly.

How often do you sit and read an entire article? How often do you skim? Research suggests that we, customers and clients of businesses all across the globe, want information quick and direct. We don’t have time to sift through uninteresting commentary to find the small bit of information that we think we can use. Some of your potential prospects are on Twitter.

As a matter-of-fact, software engineered to track Twitter users’ interests and activities might be one of the fastest growing software niches in the entire tech world.

How do you reach them? Find a member of your target audience and engage with them. Share their content; develop relationships with those whom you see as prospective clients. Don’t be afraid to ask for RT (retweets) from your fan base. If your customers feel connected with you, they’ll do so without hesitation.  Twitter is a great place to build not just brand awareness and exposure - it's a great place to create advocates for your business.

A Twitter profile also shows up in search results. That's a perk.

Simply put, there are folks on Twitter that are interested in what you do - and they’re asking questions. Get in there and find them. Answer their questions, provide your service—and chances are you won’t just have a purchase, you’ll have a brand advocate in your corner for years to come.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Return on Relationship (ROR) in Social Media

Social media. It’s the fresh buzzword heard from businesses all across the globe.
Social media is the new kid on the block that few truly know much about, and everyone has an opinion on how to work it.

It bucks the traditional methods of customer relations and marketing, and introduces new concepts of engagement with consumers that can seem impractical or unnecessary.

But at Kari & Co. - we think it's totally imperative - to keep your name in front of your potential client or target. We think it's beneficial to keep reminding folks that you're there, and to get your business name seen over and over - it's exposure.

It’s a competitive world on the web - and the edge is given to those companies that provide great products or services to communities that need them. The edge is given to businesses that have web sites and eCommerce options… the edge is given to businesses on social media.

With a variety of different social networking platforms, users can share photos, information and memories with one another creating strong online relationships where advice is trusted and recommendations lead to purchase decisions. 

People like to show their opinion, have their say and share their thoughts. As long as your company keeps social media social - and does not only share business items and constantly try to sell the user - it'll be successful for your company - at whatever frequency and intensity you do it.

Simply put, social media isn’t just your teenage daughter checking her Facebook on her iPhone. It’s where your consumers live! Your consumer is online somewhere browsing search engines, websites and social media platforms for information.

Don’t you want them to come to you? Social media provides return on relationship (ROR). Like the business term, return on investment (ROI), social media enables businesses to communicate freely and personally with their customers in order to build trustworthy and reliable relationships with them.  And - as you know, building relationships is a huge part of any industry or business - and is at the core of your success - whatever you do.

If your business provides a great experience to a user, don’t you want them to tell their friends? That favorable experience at your business goes online, across a variety of platforms and becomes that golden “word of mouth” marketing that brings customers back into your doors.

Time and time again.

So saddle up with social media, it isn’t going away.

Embrace online engagement and allow your users to put a face or voice with your brand. It’ll help your business and your consumers in the years to come.

Monday, March 25, 2013

How Much Should You Pay For A Website?

I call it 'business terrorism'.

Businesses - holding others hostage, or using fear - to charge WAY more than they should for website design, web maintenance, hosting, social media and more.

Lately - I've seen several local 'web design' and 'SEO' agencies and firms preying on small business (and doctor's offices mostly, that I have seen).  I have been watching people pay hundreds of dollars for things that take less than an hour to perform (adding links to copy on a page for example, or a new link from the drop down menu on a custom Wordpress site).

I've seen instances this year - where doctors paid more for their website - than they would a luxury car.  

I have seen cases - locally - and recently - where these webdesign and marketing companies 'host' and design the sites for the client, then do not give them access at all or full, free reign to manage their own site, AND then - they charge them unbelievable money to make small changes. (over $1000 to add a link to the navigation? really?)

Now, I'm not talking about a website that provides an interactive, multi-programming platform experience that does something AHHHHH-MAZING.

And if anyone needed that - it's not something we do - it's out of my league and skill set. I'm talking about a Wordpress site design. Or a standard HTML (page by page) small business website.

For this same type of website - which we do every day - our website design rates start at $1500.00 and go up to around $2500 - and it all depends on time involved. We post these rates directly on our website - we try to be as up-front as possible - from the start and communicate the entire way through. Of course - it can cost more - sure - but it rarely is.  We do small changes, updates for our hourly rate and a two-hour minimum. And - I can get a TON done in two hours.  We work hard, one on one try to include as much as we can - to give added value to our clients and do quality work, efficiently. 

Bottom line: we're nowhere NEAR $20k, $30k and even over $50k. (all of which - I have seen here LATELY - as in the last 6 months on more than 5 different local clients)  Makes me wonder if our prices are that far below the ballpark?

And - we don't 'host' sites and mark up that cost with another fee. We charge money for a providing a service to you. We don't need to make more money by marking up hosting. We refer our clients to our favorite web hosting company - Host Assured, and then let our client set up their own account - billing and management so that they can manage that fully moving forward. Why, you ask? We find this works best on a number of levels - 1/ they can get support directly from the host and 2/ if they choose to leave us, or go with another company - they have full freedom over their website, it's content - and who has access to it. These poor companies I've been working with lately seem to be in the dark on their access and what they are paying for. That's just wrong.

Of course, Kari & Co. is just me, and Kim - and a couple of other quality folks. We have some help from time to time with blogging and content, but for the most part we do all of the design work, we have a WONDERFUL programmer friend in Bangkok who is a brilliant jQuery ninja - but beyond that - what you see is what you get with us. We stay busy, we work hard and we feel we provide a quality end result at a competitive price.

But I see an opportunity here. As a consultant maybe - helping clients (especially medical companies needing medical practice websites) save money from the business terrorists.