Twitter’s New Face(book) Lift

There’s a new look for social media birds to discover. And it’s very reminiscent of Facebook. Unlike many of Facebook’s tricky-to-navigate “enhancements,” however, this Twitter change is largely intuitive.

Twitter’s clean, simple design is meant to highlight you or your business and what you have to say. When you first make the switch to the new look, pop-ups will guide you on how to make changes and draw your attention to new functions, but here’s a rundown of what you can expect:lavi-twitter-before-and-after

Photo Alterations

Twitter hasn’t eliminated the profile picture or profile header, but both elements are now larger. The header fills the top of the screen, similar to but even wider than a Facebook page header. Rather than your profile description covering this large image as with the old Twitter design, the header is now unencumbered (making it a great spot for a logo or other branding) and the description has been relocated to under the profile picture in the lefthand column.

In another nod to Facebook, Tweeted photos now appear within the middle column of a profile rather than remaining as links that people have to click to see more.

What You See and What You Get

Similar to the ability to hide posts written by certain Facebook users, or minimize the number of updates you see from particular account holders, Twitter now has Filtered Tweets – you can choose the timeline you want to view when you’re looking at other users’ profiles to view 1) Tweets, 2) Tweets with photos or videos, or 3) Tweets and replies.

An automatic face lift of the new profile page comes courtesy of how much others interact with what you’ve Tweeted. Best Tweets are categorized as those that receive more engagement (replies, retweets, favorites) and they appear in a slightly larger font in your feed. That makes it easy for you (and others) to find your best and most popular content.

You can customize what gets attention with the Pinned Tweet function. You can pin one Tweet to the top of your page, no matter when it was posted, so your followers can see right off the bat what you’re all about, what you’re currently promoting, or what they need to know about your Twitter voice.

The New Menu, Etc.

Twitter now offers a horizontal menu of viewing options underneath the header, similar to Facebook’s menu. You can choose to view your own Tweets, Photos/Videos, Following, Followers, Favorites, or Lists. The Following and Followers tabs now show accounts with a tiled look rather than a list, making it far more pleasing to the eye.

Seems like everyone is taking a page from Facebook’s, well, book. Even some recent LinkedIn changes mirror Facebook. Twitter, though taking a few cues from the original social media giant, still has its own personality. Twitter demands brevity, and, in the beginning, was more about fun than function. Now, however, Twitter is just as much of a marketing tool as a flyer, commercial, or business card. Get with the flock and start Tweeting. It’s easier, more interesting, and more influential than ever.

Why Now’s the Time to Check Your LinkedIn Company Page

Be prepared – the look of your LinkedIn Company Page is about to change. The “Products & Services” page will be removed on April 14, 2014.

LinkedIn’s intent is to retire this less-effective feature and remind users of existing efficient options that can also help your company gain the visibility it desires and offer ways for you to highlight key products and services. The two best options to help make this happen: Showcase Pages and Company Updates.

The Appeal of LinkedIn Showcase Pages

LinkedIn Showcase Pages are reminiscent of a Facebook page, with a large header, general info under the header, and recent posts collected below. There are opportunities to Like, Comment, and Share each post, making this a potentially interactive and social method of communicating with followers while getting company news out there in a friendly way.

Photo Credit: LinkedIn Company Pages

Photo Credit: LinkedIn Company Pages

The Showcase Page is intended for building relationships with followers about specific, long-term aspects of your company, not for short-term marketing campaigns. Showcasing is intended to enhance a follower’s interaction with your company, and a person can follow your Showcase Page as they follow any Company Page. If you want to highlight a company initiative, business unit, or represent a brand, the Showcase Page is the way to go – just be ready to maintain a consistent active presence.

What’s Up With LinkedIn Company Updates?

For relationship-building with the followers of your LinkedIn Company Page, don’t forget about Company Updates. Followers who engage with your updates may be enticed to spread your message to their networks, allowing you to reach a larger audience. How? Again, similar to Facebook, a follower’s interaction with your Company Update will appear in that person’s newsfeed so their own LinkedIn connections will see how they’re interacting and who they’re following.

Company Updates are a great way to share information like company news, promotions, latest blog posts, whitepapers, and guides, relevant industry articles, and videos. LinkedIn members can view your Company Updates on your company’s “Home” tab, and your updates will appear on the homepage of followers of your Company Page to help keep you on the radar.

sample linkedin company update

One fairly recent aspect of Company Updates is Sponsored Updates. This gives your company that ability to sponsor a company update in order to extend your reach and get your best content in front of many more eyeballs than you typically would. You can target an audience based on demographics, skills, group involvement, even job title, location, and company. These campaigns run on a cost-per-click basis similar to Google AdWords.


While You’re in Company Page Limbo

Before the Products & Services pages are deleted completely, Company Page admins will be able to edit existing products and services, but you will not be able to add anything new. It will be possible to save recommendations by copying them from the Products & Services tab into a Word doc. You can also have LinkedIn do some of the work and request a copy of the recommendations that were on the page as of March 4, 2014. Be aware: The recs will only be available through LinkedIn’s Customer Support until May 30, 2014.

Bye, Bye Google Places. Hello Google+ Local

Attention all you businesses who rely on locally-relevant search traffic. Hotel? Yep – that’s you.  Restaurant? You too. Professional services? Yeppers. Retail shops. Uh-huh. The list goes on and on. If your customers find you in part by your location, this news should interest you.

That little Google+ profile you set up and have since neglected is about to take over the world.  Well, sort of.  At least it has become quite a bit more important. On May 30, 2012, Google+ Local replaced Google Places (the listings that represent a business in local search and Google maps), which means about 80 million Google Places pages worldwide have automatically been converted into Google+ Local pages.

I’ll wait here while you run and Google your business to check it out.


So, how’s it look?

Disorienting? Confusing? Here’s the essence of this news: Google+ Local combines local business information with social networking capabilities to give business owners the opportunity to be more relevant, more marketable, and more easily found by consumers. We’ve outlined a few of the changes so you don’t miss a beat as you aim to amp up your search engine rankings and resulting revenue.

See-ya Stars, Hello Numbers

Google+ Local has replaced its star ratings with Zagat-numbered ratings. Users will no longer be asked to rate businesses on a four- or five-point star continuum – a more structured form (regarding service, atmosphere, etc.) will be used and additional comments should be welcomed by businesses.

 google+ local search

What you’ll see: For instance, consumers who Google “hotels in Pismo Beach” will get local search returns – but they’ll have to make a choice based on the 30-point Zagat rating scale rather than the very visual yellow star ratings. What’s good: The 30-point spread provides a more accurate rating of an establishment rather than offering just a blanket bad/ok/great (1 star/3 stars/5 stars) kind of review.

Get There Any Which Way

By searching through, Google Maps, Google+, or using a mobile app, users can land on the new Google+ Local pages and get the local search results they want.

google + local results 

The new “Local” tab in Google+ also takes users to a personalized local home page which will contain a collection of recommended content. Consumers can browse their home page content or continue to search as they normally would. While a user and all of their neighbors won’t see the same home page, there will be common elements. The bottom line is that if your biz is located in San Luis Obispo, you want it to be showing up on the Google+ Local home page of everyone in the 5 Cities area.

Go Social through Google+ Local

Google+ Local is poised to become as social as Twitter and Facebook with its versatility, rich content, and heightened functionality. Your friends who post photos of the amazing dinner they eat out every night on Twitpic or Instagram? Soon they’ll have a new outlet for their food mania – posts like these will be the visual fodder that makes Google+ Local pages appealing.

google+ local optimization



Google+ users can earmark pics, reviews, and recommendations for their Google+ Local “Circles” which are essentially filters that allow users to share what they want with the people they want … just like they do through other social media. However, Google+ Local’s method is much more discerning and aims to improve upon the Facebook format – users can separate out friends, family, and colleagues into their own circles.

Interact With Your Customers

Google Places gave enterprises an online presence, but through Google+ Local, merchants and business owners will have the opportunity to develop followers and directly communicate with them through messaging – essentially, the same kinds of social methods that are already available through Facebook and Twitter. According to Google, there are even more merchant features on the horizon that will enhance your online marketing efforts.

Your Google+ Local Page Will Be Indexed

If you use Google Places for Business, don’t worry – you can still access your page and dashboard as you normally would. However, the consumer face of your Google Place now shows up in the context of a Google+ Local page.

Google Places pages were not indexed, but Google+ Local pages will be – which means the opportunities for you to use SEO have just grown exponentially. If you’ve ignored that element of marketing online in the past, you truly can’t afford to do so now.

A Last Word About Google+ Local (For Now)

This new action by Google is an amazing opportunity for every business owner to develop better and stronger interactions with their customers and become social in one central place – but it also demands that you learn how to really use Google+ so you can work it to your advantage. The more you absorb and utilize the ins and outs of this development, the more your business will thrive.

Online marketing is crucial to the life of your business – don’t resist this shift. But we want to know: How do you feel about the shift from Google Places to Google+? Are you overwhelmed with yet another social media duty or excited about the opportunities that lie ahead?


Need help? We do this stuff!


How to Use Pinterest and Powerpoint to Drive Traffic and Leads to Your Website

Pinterest and Powerpoint Are a Match Made in B2B Marketing Heaven

Pinterest is a next generation social network tool that drives traffic to your website using images. 

How to Use Pinterest and Powerpoint to Drive Traffic and Leads to Your Website

Powerpoint is an older software tool that communicates important business concepts through images. 


It occurred to us that these technologies should be two great tastes that taste great together.  

And as good inbound marketing consultants, we figured out a way to put them together to help you drive traffic and generate leads. 

Step 1: Plan Your Social Media Marketing Campaign

Any good marketing campaign starts by defining the goals, strategy and tools & tactics to get the job done.  

What’s The Business Goal?

To drive visitors to your website from Pinterest and convert them to leads by getting them to download your informative Powerpoint presentation. 

What’s The Strategy to Achieve The Goal?

Create a Presentation Board on your Pinterest account where people can click on the Powerpoint slide image and go to the landing page where they download the presentation and generate a lead.

What Tools Do We Need to Execute the Strategy?

  • A Pinterest account
  • An Image of the Presentation
  • A Landing Page for the Presentation
  • The Actual Presentation

Step 2: Put Your Best Image Forward

Identify the best image you have in your Powerpoint presentation. This might be a colorful chart or a great image you pulled off of iStockphoto. Whatever it is, you’ll want to use the most visually appealing, informative and representative slide in the whole deck and make an image out of it. 

In Powerpoint, follow these steps to make an image out of a slide:

  • Make sure everything on the slide is “grouped” into one image in Powerpoint. Do this by selecting all the images and any text boxes and then clicking on Format –> Group. 
  • Now just right click (Control Click on Macs) on the entire grouped set and select “Save as Picture”
  • Save it on your hard drive; name the file something meaningful like “Presentation X Pinterest Image”

Step 3: Create a Landing Page

A landing page is a single web page whose entire purpose in life is to convert a visitor into a lead. This is often done through well written copy and the promise of downloading an in-depth article or presentation in exchange for the visitor giving up their name and email address.

For our example here, you should “gate” the Powerpoint presentation behind a small form that asks the visitor to input their name and email address to get be able to download it. This will represent your lead. 

For continuity’s sake, we suggest you use the same image in the landing page as the image you created for Pinterest in Step 2.

When you’re done, keep the URL of the landing page handy, because you’re going to need it later.  

For more information on landing pages, read this Hubspot E-book: An Introductory Guide to Building Landing Pages. If you need help creating landing pages, we heard this landing page design company is pretty good. 

How to Use Pinterest and Powerpoint to Drive Traffic and Leads to Your Website

Step 4: Upload Image to Pinterest

  • Go to Pinterest and log in  to your account. If you don’t have one and need an invite, contact us and we’ll send you one. 
  • Click on Add in the upper right corner
  • Select the “Upload a Pin” option
  • Click on Choose a File and upload the image you created in Step 1, Presentation X Pinterest Image. 
  • [IMPORTANT] Write a 500 character description of the presentation and its benefits to the end user. Make sure it’s

    How to Use Pinterest and Powerpoint to Drive Traffic and Leads to Your Website

    keyword rich! This is how people will find the image on Google and Pinterest

  • Click on the Pin It button
  • Click the Edit button you see above the image
  • [IMPORTANT]  Copy and paste the URL of the landing page you created in the Link field
  • Click Save Pin

How to Use Pinterest and Powerpoint to Drive Traffic and Leads to Your Website

Have a Board of Different Presentations Pointing to Different Landing Pages

You can create different boards for different types of content you may have – Charts, Infographics, Quotes to Live By and of course, Presentations.

You may even want to have several different Presentations Boards based on your different product lines for example.

But remember to point each presentation to a different landing page targeted to a different segment of your target market.  This makes it easier later to analyze which landing pages are converting and which one aren’t. 

We’d love to hear if you tried this technique and how it went. Did you generate traffic and leads? Let us know! Happy Pinning!

If you’re interested, check out some of our other interesting stuff like this pretty cool infographic to find out why you should work with an inbound marketing agency.

And if you want to dig in a little deeper, check out one of our latest guides – The Essential Guide to Internet Marketing as well.

internet marketing guide   inbound marketing infographic

[VIDEO] Ford CMO Jim Farley Interview on Social Media Success

Shift to Social Media Has Meant Big Changes and Big Cost Savings at Ford

Some key points:

  • It’s important to create an entertaining experience for people on social. Engaging people is fundamental to the campaign’s success
  • Social has improved product awareness and consideration of Ford’s products tremendously 
  • Ford has seen massive savings as they’ve shifted away from traditional advertising budgets and started using PR and internet marketing agencies.
  • The skills Ford needs to run their marketing has shifted along with their shift to social.  


Transcription of Ford CMO Jim Farley Interview


What new insights has Ford learned from interacting in social channels, and how has that impacted Ford’s view of the customer experience?

We’re really excited because one of the things we’ve learned at Ford as we’ve launched more and more vehicles using social media is the importance of the actual experience of being involved in the launch. We’ve always thought of the customer experience as when you buy or service the car but in the case of the Fiesta Movement or the Focus Global Test Drive or even the Explorer launch, when we ask people to get involved in the launch of the product, we have to really think carefully about what we’re asking them to do and how much we give back to them in their life as they are involved in the launch. And that’s a new element that we never thought about. Going into social media launching, we were a little selfish at the beginning in the sense that we wanted the exposure. And now what we’re learning is the more entertaining we make it for the participants, the better it is for us as a company. And that’s probably the biggest linkage between customer experience and social media and launching new vehicles

Have you found social media most useful for loyalty, consideration or customer service?

We’ve really seen social media have the biggest impact in consideration because it’s allowed us to grow the awareness before the vehicles’ launch. Like the Ford Fiesta Movement did and grab attention from people who normally wouldn’t look at Ford. So social media has allowed us to connect with people authentically about our new vehicles and most of them wouldn’t had been considering Ford at all. In fact, we saw the Focus’ sales spike after we launched Fiesta because so many new customers came in looking at the Fiesta and discovered the Focus for the first time. At Ford, we knew we had the Focus but we were surprised at how many people didn’t know we had another small car.

Are there any areas that Ford can point to where social media has either lowered business costs, or improved existing process?

One of the real benefits of our benefits of social media is the dramatic efficiency we’ve seen. And it’s kinda in a unexpected way. By launching the vehicle early and getting people to talk about the new Global Focus and the new Fiesta in the US before it goes on sale, we can lower the amount of traditional advertising we can do after the vehicle goes on sale. That’s where really the massive cost savings have been. I’ll give you an example, in the Fiesta Movement, we have higher unaided nameplate awareness than Fit or Yaris and we spent 10 cents on the dollar compared to a traditional TV ad campaign. So by starting earlier and using social media to spread the word about the new product, we’re really reducing the amount of traditional advertising we have to spend.

How has your marketing team evolved in the past 24 months given your investment in social media?

The cool thing about the complexion of our marketing team at Ford has been over the last 24 months, especially as we’ve gotten into social media….well first, we’ve been growing. We’ve had 22 out of 23 months of market share growth, so we have added people to our team, especially in areas like Lincoln. The biggest change we’ve seen is in the kind of skills we need. What we’ve found is that the traditional lines between PR and the advertising team are gone. You know, the ideas have to be paid and earned and they have to be sorted out seamlessly. And so we need different kinds of people than we’ve ever had before and not only here at the company at Ford but also at the advertising industry and the kind of PR agencies we need to help us. More than the number of people, it’s really required us to have different kinds of skills and we’re still evolving. We need more people who can think creatively who can come up with ideas for a Facebook application; we can’t just delegate it to the agency. We have to, as a client, come up with these ideas. And then as we execute it, there can’t be any boundaries between the PR team and the traditional advertising team.

Ford made one of the most aggressive shifts into social media, while slashing advertising budgets. Were there any points at which Ford questioned this strategy?

Frankly, the biggest surprise to us is how mainstream this media has become for us. The Fiesta Movement is so popular, it really changed our thinking about the Explorer launch. That’s why we decided this summer to launch the Explorer on Facebook and have that one day where we celebrate Explorer around the world. And now we’re taking those ideas and going global with the Focus Test Drive that we’re announcing today. Have we been surprised? Absolutely. One of them is, “how do you execute something globally, how do you really get a global audience on Facebook activated around the new Focus?” It takes a lot of new thinking. Are there things that we would do differently? Probably. We probably should have moved a little faster and we probably should have done this a long time ago.

How to Create a Killer LinkedIn Company Page

Having a Great LinkedIn Company Page is a Must

Your LinkedIn Company Page is a great central hub for keeping people up-to-date on your company news, job openings as well as product and service offerings. If you don’t have your company on LinkedIn yet, don’t wait another minute.

Here’s how to set up your company’s LinkedIn page in 5 steps. 

Read more

The New Facebook Ads: Game Changer for B2B Marketers?

Bringing Content and Advertising Together

Facebook’s new advertising products look like they may be a game changer for B2B marketers. 

You will now have the ability to use your own Facebook Page content to make your own ads.

Here’s why should you care.

Read more

Will Pinterest Replace Advertising?

What is Pinterest?

You may have heard of the latest social media phenomenon Pinterest.

Started in March 2010, Pinterest allows its users to create and share theme-based image collections.

According to the site, Pinterest’s mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.”

Read more

[VIDEO] B2B Social Media Statistics

Need to Justify Social Media ROI? 

Many companies need to justify their usage of social media by trying to determine an ROI. 

We understand that. 

And there’s nothing like a quick video to pack in some great examples and stats on how social media is changing the b2b marketing landscape across various industries. 

Read more

What is Inbound Marketing?

What The Heck is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is the process of attracting people to your website who actually care about what you have to say. It’s about creating content that people are interested in consuming. It’s about admitting that the old way of marketing – interruptive advertising – just doesn’t work anymore.

What is Inbound Marketing

It’s marketing and selling your products with authenticity and transparency.

It’s what people want. 

You may have heard Inbound Marketing referred to by different names. Some people call it Content Marketing or SEO or Social Media. The truth is Inbound Marketing is all of these things and more. 

Inbound Marketing is a Puzzle

Inbound marketing is like a puzzle – but not because it’s confusing. It’s a puzzle in the sense that it’s made up of many pieces. Pieces that should not stand on their own, but when put together, make total sense. To truly succeed online, business need to have a comprehensive strategy inclusive of all the pieces in the puzzle. Assembling the pieces together into one, cohesive strategy is the key to marketing success.

Four Core Pillars of Inbound Marketing

In order for your Inbound Marketing program to be successful, it needs to deliver in four key areas:

Traffic Generation

Generating more traffic for a website is like a recipe: you will need the proper mix of ingredients but there’s no one single formula for success. Rather, it’s a set of strategies and supporting tools working together. Those strategies are Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Customer-Oriented Blogging and Social Media sharing. All three working together will ensure an adequate supply of targeted traffic to your site. 

Lead Generation

So you’ve optimized your content, your’re blogging regularly and you’re getting some content shared on social media. Great start. But just because you have traffic coming in, doesn’t mean you’re getting any leads.

This is where premium content, landing pages and great calls-to-action come into play.  

Lead generation is a tacit quid pro quo between the marketer and customer. You have to convince your potential customer that what they’re getting (information) is worth more than what they’re giving up (their name and email address). Giving away useful customer-focused, problem solving content in exchange for information is one of the best ways to do this.  The amount of information you ask of them is directly related to how valuable the content you’re giving away. The more valuable the info, the more information you can ask of them.  

Once you have their name and email address, you can begin the process of nurturing leads toward sales. 

Sales Conversion

Would you consider someone who Likes you on Facebook a lead? Would you consider someone who downloads your whitepaper a lead?

The truth is that not all “leads” are created equal. 

That’s why managing your leads realistically while taking the long term view is a key part of converting leads to sales. Lead nurturing and segmented email campaigns are your primary tools for converting your leads into sales over time. 

Analysis & Measurement

One of the great advantages of internet marketing is access to data. With the proper tools such as Hubspot or Google Analytics 5.0, you can track almost everything about your site visitors.

The reports you generate should tie directly back to the goals you’ve set for the business. Is your goal to increase site traffic? Is your goal to improve traffic from social networks? Is your goal to increase conversion of your existing site visitors? All of these can be reported on analyzed. 

Remember, data doesn’t lie. It doesn’t matter what your boss wants to do or what some article says you should do. If the data shows that you’re not meeting your goals, change tactics and try again. Your inbound marketing program should be a continuous process of testing, measuring and tweaking. 

Making the Leap to Inbound Marketing

If your business is looking to consistently and affordably generate leads over time without annoying your customers, Inbound Marketing is something you should look into.

Spark Inbound Marketing is a full service inbound marketing agency that can help you make the leap to Inbound Marketing. We don’t promise overnight success but we do promise a system that delivers results over time.

Drop us a line, we love to talk about this stuff!