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4 ways you can take your website copy from good to great


Category Archives: Marketing

4 ways you can take your website copy from good to great

DMZ guest blog by: Karina Barker, DMZ EiR

As one of the DMZ’s tactical EiRs, I get the incredible job of working with founders to help them amp up their copywriting. Not only do I offer strategic advice around brand positioning, voice, content, etc., I also get to roll up my sleeves and
do the writing alongside the founders.

Over my time in this capacity, I’ve noticed several common questions emerge as startups work to articulate their value proposition. While their vision might be clear in their minds, crafting website copy that has customers sitting up and taking action can be more of a challenge.

With more than 16 years under my belt as a copywriter and communications specialist, I’ve written for every kind of organization, from government, to startups, to Fortune 500 companies. I’ve seen firsthand how small mistakes can limit your copy’s impact—and how some simple tweaks can make all the difference. Seriously!

Here are 4 tips you can use to take your website from good to great:


1. Nail your homepage headline and sub-headline

According to the Nielsen-Norman Group, users leave websites on average after about 10-20 seconds. That means you’ve got less than 10 seconds to make your value proposition clear and convince visitors to stay. 

Your homepage headline and sub-headline are the first things visitors will see when they land on your page. That means these are your best shot to convince a visitor to stay (and hopefully convert). 

One of the most common mistakes I see companies make is focusing their website on them

A common format you’ll see is: We offer [this service] by doing [this thing]. Or, similarly: At [company], we help [this type of person] do [this thing].

But the goal of your website isn’t to share information about you. The goal of your website is to attract and convert customers. And that means you need to turn the spotlight on your customer —and talk about them.

Take a look at this homepage headline from Wealthsimple. 

Image: Wealthsimple

They don’t say “We help you do money right.” 

Instead the headline is direct and it implies “I’m going to do money right (with Wealthsimple’s help).” That subtle shift makes the reader see themselves in the headline.

The subheading then goes on to clearly articulate the actual “thing” that Wealthsimple offers (“powerful financial tools”) and the action-packed benefits that the customer can expect to derive (“grow and manage your money”).

While Wealthsimple makes it look easy, this kind of copy can take time and work (not to mention testing). If you don’t know where to start, a great first step is “voice of customer” research. Interview your customers, survey your product testers, read your online for views and search for the words your target audience uses to talk about benefits. This gives you a foundation to begin crafting and testing your headlines.


2. Don’t underestimate the power of social proof

Social proof is a powerful form of persuasion. When you include social proof in your webcopy, you tap into one of humanity’s deepest desires: to belong. 

We all put a lot of value on what we see people we trust doing and supporting. When we’re trying to decide between all the different options out there, we look to see what other people are doing. In fact, 91% of consumers read reviews before making a purchasing decision.  

If you’ve ever wondered why brands are willing to pay influencers big bucks for endorsements, this is it.

Here are some ideas for how to include social proof for businesses, even if you’re just getting started:

  • List any awards or prizes that your business has received
  • Share press/media/interviews covering your company
  • Run a social media campaign (and offer incentives) to encourage users to rate or review your product 
  • Request reviews or testimonials from existing customers
  • Create case studies based on real-life clients—or if you haven’t worked with any clients yet, craft use case studies that use a character that customers will identify with. (Note: always be clear if a study is based on a hypothetical rather than real world client.)
  • Share logos of high-profile clients that you’ve worked with
  • Share the number of users you’ve reached or clients you’ve served

Certain types of social proof will be worth more to certain audiences. Think about what can do to move the needle the most, and work towards collecting and presenting that type of social proof.


3. Keep your calls-to-action consistent

A call-to-action (CTA) is the moment when all of the work you’ve put into the rest of your copy gets put to the test. The CTA is where you encourage visitors to take your desired action. 

In order to craft a successful CTA you need to: 

  • Know what you want a visitor to do. Sign up for a free trial? Subscribe to your newsletter? Book a call with your sales team? 
  • Make it stand out. Pick the right spot, colour, visuals to draw visitor’s eyes to your CTA.
  • Be direct. CTAs are usually imperatives that begin with an action word. “Sign Up Now,” “Learn More,” “Start Your Free Trial.” Your CTA is not the place to get too wordy. 
  • Offer incentives. Make it easy for visitors to say yes by adding a line or two below your CTA: reassure visitors (e.g. cancel any time) or offer a desirable incentive (e.g. 10% of your first order)
  • Create urgency. Make visitors take action while they’re on your site. Use time words (e.g. sign up now, grab your instant download) to create a sense of urgency or signal time constraints (e.g. limited time offer)

But one of the most common mistakes I see is a lack of consistency in your CTA copy. If you want visitors to follow through, your CTA must be crystal clear–and repeated over and over. 

You can’t possibly miss Hubspot’s CTA. Not only is it in bright orange, it’s repeated word-for-word in their header and navigation bar. Even though their CTA is a little on the longer side, you know exactly what you’re supposed to do next (“Start free or get a demo”):

Image: Hubspot

In essence, when crafting your CTA, ask: What should the user do, and why? Your CTA should work in tandem with the rest of your webcopy to drive that message home. Inconsistent messaging (or multiple, competing CTAs in close proximity) can confuse your target audience or, worse, make them lose trust in your business. 

4. Boost interest with a unique brand voice

Once you’ve nailed the technical copywriting pieces, you can take your website (and your brand) to the next level by honing your brand voice. 

While it can seem daunting, developing your brand voice doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Reflect your audience. Go back to customer profiles and reflect on the voice used by your ideal clients. Is your target audience young and sassy or mature and sophisticated? 
  • Name three characteristics of your ideal brand voice. Authoritative? Trustworthy? Quirky? Cool? Passionate? Informative? Pick three attributes that capture the essence of your business. 
  • Define the dos and don’ts of your brand voice. Once you have your three characteristics, you can get more detailed on how this translates to your copy. For example, if you pick “trustworthy” as one of your attributes, your dos and don’ts may include: 
    • Do: use honesty, direct language, be transparent, share mistakes, follow-through
    • Don’t: push the hard sell, use jargon, over promise, trash talk competitors

As you grow, you can build out your brand voice into a document to share with anyone who is handling communications for your business. And remember, as you grow and change, your brand voice may develop too. 

If you need help with your copywriting, I’d love to chat! Learn more about how DMZ’s EiRs can support your business here

Content marketing for startups: How to master your strategy

DMZ guest blog by: Rokham Fard, DMZ EiR

Content marketing: it’s something that almost every company does, but few do it exceptionally well. Regardless, it is a tool that should be a part of every startup’s arsenal.

If your startup has little budget or no online audience, mastering your content marketing via your company website’s blog is a great place to start building your brand awareness and converting your audience into customers. The great news? Your content strategy is something you can learn to master with little to no budget. And – when you do it right – years down the road you will have built promotional assets. 

This article is two-fold: it covers both the creation and promotion of your blog content. Learn how to structure your blog writing, choose an appealing topic, and repurpose your content in your email and social media marketing efforts. Best of all, along the way you’ll get simple hacks you can use to satisfy web algorithms and skyrocket your online engagement.

Your startups’ content strategy can take several attempts of trial and error – but hit that sweet spot start, and you’ll be seeing real return on your efforts. 

Choose a winning blog topic

Picking the right blog topic requires careful consideration. When doing this, you mustn’t improvise and assume the whole world cares about what
you think is top-of-mind for your customers. Selecting a subject matter should be a data-driven process – not hypothesis-driven.

Anchor your topic around a question or problem

Don’t throw all kinds of messages out there and hope one sticks. It’s not about frequency of content. It’s about doing the right one, and then spending a lot more time getting it out there. It’s crucial to vet your topic before you start writing. You need to find out what the external world is asking about the topic you want to write about.

The easiest method to gather information around the world’s questions is to Google it. You’ll want to anchor your blog around a certain phrase or question. Try it: as an example, search “coping with anxiety”. How many people are searching that in a month? In Canada? In the U.S.? If a lot of people are searching for it, you know there is market demand. Your search phrase should have between 1,000 to 10,000 monthly searches for your geographical audience (if your target audience only lives in Canada, try incorporating U.S. searches to reach that 10,000). Another great tool to vet your topic is UberSuggest.

Write the best answer on Google

Once you’ve identified the question you’re going to answer, the magic is to offer a solution to that question or problem that is subjectively better than the first ten results on Google. 

The reality is, almost no one checks the second page of Google. If you are able to be subjectively better than all those ten combined, then your answer will be considered better to the user. Algorithms on Google are fully optimized for that. If you are taking the right steps for SEO, you will eventually rank up. 

Trust is one of the most important aspects required to build a relationship with potential customers and retain existing ones. You build trust by addressing someone’s problem better than they can, then offering them a solution. 

The only way you can do that is if you are a subject matter expert who can offer insights that come from deep knowledge. Companies will oftentimes hire a content writer who is remote and cheap to employ. What happens when you hire someone who doesn’t have expertise in your subject matter? They go to Google, they search your key phrase and regurgitate the same information that the top articles on Google have already written about. Your blog writer should be a subject-matter expert. 

If you can articulate someone’s problem better than they can, that is a great start to building trust and gaining loyal followers.

Re-think the structure of blog writing

If you’d like to write something people are going to read, think of your content as a prescription. We were taught to write using a certain skeleton: the intro and hypothesis, point one, point two, point three and the conclusion. 

These days, and on the web especially, consumers typically don’t have the time to read your essay. They came to your blog to ask a question, to get an answer. 

Adopting a new style of writing by putting the carrot upfront: what will a reader get from this post? Get them on the edge of their seat; give them a promise upfront. Then, move into your solutions: one, two, three. And, at the end, there’s no conclusion per se – it’s a summary. 

The three layers of content within a blog: macro, micro, nano

Young startups often avoid spending the time to produce quality blog content and opt for short-term marketing wins, which will become more expensive in the long run. What many don’t realize is that you can invest more time and resources in creating one blog, and you’ll end up producing content that can be repurposed for various channels over an extended period of time. 

There are three layers of content produced here: the macro, the micro and the nano. Why is it important to distinguish between these three layers? Well, they each provide value to your marketing strategy in different ways. 

The macro is the entire blog post. One of the more frequently asked questions around blog post creation is the length of your posts. Try to write around 2000-2500 words per post. While that may sound like a lot, you must remember how much noise is out there to compete with. Additionally, if you were to cover a topic and only had 500 words to work with, it’s hard to give the subjectively best answer to your reader’s question. I’ll touch on why this is important, and tips for having the subjectively best answer again soon.

Furthermore, a longer blog will also reap benefits from a technical perspective: with richer, denser content, your website’s blog will appeal more to search engines’ machine learning. For example, Google’s semantic analysis is strong enough to understand your content’s focus and will do so more easily with denser content – improving your online search visibility.

Next comes the “micro” layer of content. Your blog post should yield three to five main topics or solutions (which we’ll touch on soon). Each one of those solutions can be thought of as a micro-sized piece of content. Micro content can be leveraged in for your email newsletter, for example. Build a drip campaign using this content where every email covers one of the three to five solutions outlined in your blog post. If you write one article for your blog and have, on average, four solutions in one article, that will equate to four weeks worth of drip campaigns! By the time you have 10 articles, you’ll have 40 weeks of campaigns. 

Finally, the “nano” layer of content consists of the even smaller bits buried within those solutions – they are the bite-sized, action-driven solutions that are derived from each micro. This is the content that will feed your social media. 

Let’s size it up. A macro piece equals three to five micro pieces and about eight to 12 nano pieces. All of a sudden, you have eight to 12 social posts – and for the next month, you have something new every few days for your social channels. 

That’s how you stay top of mind. Re-purpose your content strategically, and you’ll gain the mindshare of your audience.

Promote the hell out of your content

You have a piece of content… now, what do you do with it? 

The general rule of thumb is that 20 percent of your time should go towards creating your content and 80 percent towards promoting. You’ve vetted this idea for your blog and you know there’s demand – now take the time to get your content out there.

With your blog content, you can leverage both long and short term gains. The long term effect is that you’re going to start getting ranked on Google. If you have given the best answer on the internet, you’ll start ranking higher on search engines. The short term gain is that you have content that’s ready to be promoted. Remember, the micro and nano layers within your blog have helped you distinguish this content. You won’t need to think about new topics for your email newsletters, and you won’t need to hire someone to keep your social media alive. Don’t operate in silos – repurpose that content!

Cater to the social platform’s algorithm

Take a look at your LinkedIn feed. You’ll probably notice examples of these nano posts. 

How do you ensure your LinkedIn posts perform well? You have to cater to the platform’s algorithm. LinkedIn’s platform, like many other social platforms, prioritizes 1) relevant content, and 2) engagement. The more your posts play into what the algorithm likes, the more eyes you will get on your social content. If you want more engagement on your posts across social media channels like LinkedIn, here are some hacks to consider.

First, when you create your post based on your nano, never include the link back to the article if you don’t have to. It’s counterintuitive. When someone is scrolling through their LinkedIn feed, do they really want to stop and read a 2000 word article? No. Think about where your audience’s head is at. Your LinkedIn posts should act as nuggets, intriguing them to want to hear more about what you’ve got to say. Second, if you are linking your article within your LinkedIn post, you’re not catering to the platform’s algorithm. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn – each one of these platforms is biased towards keeping the user on the platform. They don’t want a user to leave the platform, they make money by keeping them around. This is another reason to avoid linking out to your website. I’ve seen up to ten times the engagement when I don’t link out to my article. 

If you feel like your post needs a call-to-action, I would suggest signing off with the same hashtag at the tail end of each social media post. This is good for brand awareness, and when someone clicks on your hashtag, they’ll see everything you’ve published. Even more important, the click from the user is a signal to the platform’s algorithm for engagement. 

Something else to consider is that algorithms also have a bias towards posts that use an image. 

Go where your audience already hangs out

If you don’t have a huge audience yet on your brand’s social channels, don’t worry. I don’t recommend trying to build a big audience right off the bat. It can be expensive and you can do it gradually. What I would recommend is for you to go to where your audience already hangs out to promote the hell out of your content. There are two great places to do this for free: Facebook and Reddit.


There are Facebook pages on just about every topic out there. Go to Facebook’s search engine. In the search bar, search using your keyword or the topic you’ve written about. Change the filter to search Pages, and you’ll find Pages who are interested in learning about your topic at hand. Find a page that has at least a couple thousand followers. Look at their newsfeed. What type of content is being shared? Do they give love to any third-party content? If they do, you can message the admin and explain why your article would provide value to their audience. Ask them to share it – you’d be surprised how many times they’ll do it. This can drive more traffic to your own Facebook page, and hopefully, your website too.


Reddit can be a hit or miss as behaviours can be very inconsistent with the users and admins, but it can be a highly effective way to engage your target audience. There are thousands of subreddits about every topic under the sun. You can use Google to find subreddits. Find some subreddits that are relevant, and post your article in those subreddits – but not as you are promoting it. Why is this important? The moment Reddit sniffs that you are self-promoting, they will remove you from that Subreddit. Post it as if you are an observer – as if you stumbled across this resource on the web that you thought was worth sharing. 

Take these Facebook and Reddit tactics into consideration. Try each platform at least once – find a few gems, and in a couple posts’ time, you can come back to these great audiences! A lot of these audiences might convert to subscribers – and who knows – maybe even customers of your business. 

If done correctly, Facebook and Reddit can help your content take off. 

Conclusion: practice makes perfect

Keep in mind that your blogging strategy is an ongoing cycle. Prioritize quality over quantity. There’s no need to produce a new post every week, it
will become exhausting. The more you can invest in promotion, you will end up finding the right audience.

When it comes to perfecting content writing and promotion, there’s not always a one-size-fits-all solution. It starts with getting confident about vetting the right topic for your blog post and structuring your article in a way that’s easy to consume. Once you have a quality article written, learn how to leverage the micro and nano nuggets of information that come out of each blog post. You’ll start to see success in your analytics and get into the rhythm of things.  

While there’s so much more that can be covered, the truth is that strategies are ever-changing as technology becomes smarter and consumer behaviour shifts.  

If you begin implementing the tactics outlined in this article, you’ll get comfortable working in a way that caters to your consumers’ thinking. Take that with you as the digital environment continues to evolve, and you will have greater success in adapting your content marketing to fit the needs of your business.

Six reasons your startup needs social media (even if you don’t think it does)

Here are the top six reasons for building your online presence.

Different startups need different platforms (you don’t need them all)

Linkedin and Twitter are great platforms for verbal communication. They don’t focus as much on visual assets, though a good mix of both is effective. Instagram and Facebook, on the other hand, are visual platforms, so you have more opportunity to show off a physical product. No matter the platform, keep copy simple, clear and to the point to further each posts’ impact.

Control your narrative

Clients are going to look up your company on Google. Make sure they are seeing what you want them to rather than seeing other businesses with similar names pop up in the search bar first. This is called SEO (search engine optimization). If you don’t manage your image, your image will manage you. A recent article by Search Engine Journal informed readers that, “In addition to optimizing for your own website, you must also optimize for the Google search experience in 2019.”

Free advertising

Yes, investing in ads or a social media management platform is also wise but when you’re starting out, simply having twenty minutes a day dedicated to posting on social, liking and engaging with other accounts via comments and direct messages, can be extremely beneficial. Community management is key when it comes to startup social channels.

“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”
– Chinese proverb

Tomorrow is too far away, and will you really do it tomorrow? Make those accounts now.

Analytics, analytics, analytics

Social media gives you the unique opportunity to test new ideas and get almost-instant direct market feedback. With new business-friendly features, you can track success rates of different posts or gain insights into who follows your company. Another form of data that comes from social is positive customer reviews. Overall, more data = more business.

People like a good story

An easy way to stand out from competitors is to be relatable. Show the faces behind the company, your office space and team hard at work. When people see who you are as a company, they will feel more drawn to you as opposed to a company with no social context. As well as feeling drawn to you, they will also be more inclined to trust your company. In a recent Forbes article on the subject, they state that, “In this environment, businesses can no longer afford to be faceless entities.” If Forbes says you need a story, you need a story.


What you’ll need

For any social platform, you’ll need:

  1. A clear, high resolution logo to use as your profile photo. Your profile photo should be the exact same on all platforms for consistency.
  2. A tagline that clearly explains your company’s mission. Again, keep it short, clear and impactful.
  3. Consistency – be sure to post at least once and a while so your page doesn’t collect dust.

How startups can partner with influencers the right way

Social media influencers mean big money.

They have thousands of followers, command “fans” around the world and can launch global campaigns with one well-timed photo or push of a button. In layman terms, these new-age “stars” have real power. And, brands have noticed.

More companies are eschewing big-name celebrities in favour of social media stars who have huge followings. In turn, startups have instituted special ways to recognize these individuals (and sometimes even profit off of them). Think Twitter’s checkmarks, Instagram’s badges and Snapchat’s special emojis.

“Influencers [and influencer marketing power] isn’t going away,” explained Jessica Clifton, U.S. managing director for strategic growth and development at Edelman about the rise of these socially savvy millennials.

Now tech startups are hoping to get in on the action. They’re tapping influencers to lead their businesses and manage their social strategies. But, is it a good idea? When done right these socially savvy individuals can generate international buzz. When things go wrong it can alienate existing customers and permanently tarnish a brand.

The rise of the influencer

The relationship between influencers and the tech industry isn’t complicated. In the early years, social startups sought out and helped amplify influencers on their platforms. For instance, Markham-based Lily Singh works with YouTube and special brands across the globe, while fitness guru Kayla Itsines is the poster girl for Instagram.

More recently tech-based startups (and tech enthusiasts) have started working with influencers in greater numbers, although with mixed results.

Blue Apron, a food delivery system based in San Francisco, fired millennial star Jenelle Evans last month after customers threatened to boycott the controversial star. Earlier this week Instagram star Claudia Oshry and her sister Jackie were fired by social media show Oath after old anti-Muslim tweets were unearthed.

These problems embody how wrong influencer partnerships can go: When done right it can be a great business move, but also easily lead to trouble if done wrong.

So what should entrepreneurs do? Make sure you perform an exhaustive search that takes into account an individual’s background and working relationships. “Brands need to do more research into these influencers,” says Delmundo CEO Nick Cicero. “There are more people to keep track of than ever before, and it’s harder to do quality control. So you have to do the research to make sure some YouTube kid won’t put your brand in a bad light.”

Rachel David, a former broadcaster turned YouTube star and now entrepreneur agrees. Her agency works with a slew of influencers across Canada and North America. For small companies or startups that see partnering with an influencer as easy “low-hanging fruit” it comes with unique challenges.

“[Startups and brands] realize that they want to attach themselves to influencers but they need someone like me to do a background check,” she says. “These are things that not every company knows how to do properly.” Her advice? Companies that don’t have extensive resources on hand should work with specialized agencies who understand the changing market.

David isn’t wrong. It doesn’t take much work to find companies (both big and small) that failed to do their due diligence and ended up paying the price. Disney’s brand was hit when its Youtuber influencer PewDiePie made anti semitic remarks while advertisers were up in arms after popular influencer Logan Paul aired a video showing a dead body earlier this year.

Platforms have to be wary too

It’s not just companies that need to be wary. The tech platforms that help promote these users face an uphill battle now-a-days too. Critics have long accused social media sites of not doing enough to stem the negative and sometimes ‘toxic’ content influencers produced.

Earlier this month, Unilever — a consumer goods company that owns Dove, Axe, Ben & Jerry’s– threatened to walk away from digital platforms. They continue to prop sites that promoted harmful content and influencers. The announcement was huge, considering it spends about $9.8 billion every year to promote its products around the globe.

In response YouTube and Google have committed to increasing the number of moderators and strengthened guidelines for its creators. It’s a step in the right direction and puts the onus back on providers. Although, David adds it won’t completely solve the problem.”Every creator is responsible for their actions. Advertisers are spending their money, they can’t control what comes out of a creator’s mouth. What they can control is who they put as “trending,” who they recommended.”

“Tech companies will now need to take on roles they never dreamed of when they started,” says Clifton. “These platforms are growing up and now can’t focus on merely just providing these free services.”

While it’s too early to know for sure what will happen, like any maturing industry, social media platforms are showcasing how crucial it is for companies to change as they grow with their users.

Facebook: Your startup is probably doing it wrong

If you didn’t already know, Facebook is pretty much considered a diamond in the rough of the world that is social media. In Q4 of 2016, Facebook reported an active user base of 1.6B accounts (that’s a lot of memes). So do you start when your company is only a couple of months old with a tiny budget and a ton of social media channels to invest in?
When it comes to social media, most businesses (especially the small ones) think of Facebook. And rightfully so. Yet, most startups struggle to use Facebook to its full advantage. In this post we’ll go over what and how to post on Facebook.

This will be a long one, so buckle in!

Which type of startups can Facebook help?

If you’re a B2C startup where your customers use Facebook as their preferred social network (e.g., e-commerce sites, lifestyle products, etc.), then Facebook is the place for you. If you’re a B2B startup, Facebook isn’t going to be the place you magically rake in those new leads. Simply put, Facebook is casual. The purchase intent would (in most cases) be a lot lower since it’s an important business decision. Does that mean you shouldn’t have a Facebook page? Although some B2B startups may disagree, I would still recommend having a Facebook presence because without it your startup will lose the edge in many instances (searchability on Google, advertising, check-ins… the list goes on).

The major challenges you’ll face on Facebook

First, let’s talk about the Facebook Edgerank Algorithm which drastically affects your posts’ visibility (super serious).

Ever wonder why your Facebook post reach is going down even though you publish top-notch content? Blame the Edgerank algorithm. Facebook only shows customized content to people even when they’ve liked your page.

Users that don’t engage will never see your new status updates

That’s thanks to the millions of Facebook pages also fighting for attention. Think of it like babysitting 1.6B 10 year olds (it’s okay, we’re just pretending.) Mark Zuckerberg knows this and introduced Edgerank to make sure that people only see content they care about ( they also need to make money by encouraging companies to invest in ads and increase reach, but that’s neither here nor there).

So the major challenges your startup might face may include:

  • Declining post reach because of the new algorithm (don’t get surprised if only 5% of followers see your post)
  • Confusion in understanding which type of content/posts work best for you and at what time.

Post reach

This problem can be solved if more people interact with your posts (duh). Here is how to do it.

Show what’s happening inside and hear people out
Promoting transparency and openness always sends a positive message and helps people connect with your company on a deeper level. This also gives people a chance to tell what they think of your company (yay, free user feedback.) Johnny Cupcakes is a great example.

Post at non-peak times
Since everyone is trying to publish at the same time (say 6 p.m.), try posting at a non-peak time. That way you’re competing with fewer accounts for attention. You can check the peak and nonpeak times in your Facebook Insights. I find that 11:43 a.m., 3:24 p.m., and 8:54 p.m. work great for DMZ accounts (this won’t be the same for you.) Overall industry stats show that the best time to post is between 1 and 3 pm and Thursday’s, Friday’s and Sunday’s see the most engagement.

Use more of pictures and videos
Various ‘studies’ have shown that pictures, video and live posts have higher weightage than status updates and links.


Evidence shows that picture, video and live posts perform 43% better than any other posts. The optimum resolution for pictures is 940 px * 2048 px. Topical articles (good or bad) always perform better, so check what’s trending on Facebook (fake news… what fake news?) Also, posts that are optimized with Open Graph perform 64% better (more in the final tips section)

Final tips

Your content is great, your page is on fire and you’re getting leads like it’s Christmas morning. Before you celebrate, here are a few tips on adding that final touch to make sure you don’t look amateur.

Open graph

When you add a link to Facebook, it auto generates a preview at the bottom of your post. When this happens you’re free to delete the link from your post (neat, eh!) From here you can change the article title, description and even add in your own picture. You know your audience best, so take the time to customize each post to better engage and attract them.

Hashtags DON’T always work

I get it, you love hashtags. Your team just scored a large lump sum of funding and you want to let everyone in the world know. Considering what we discussed above (the Facebook Edgerank Algorithm), users aren’t actually going out there and looking for hashtags on Facebook. One hashtag is enough, but treat your business page in this case like your personal one. You’re having a one-on-one conversation with each user. Studies show that posts without hashtags (formatted properly) will do 7% better than ones with. Something is better than nothing.

Calm down, someone’s already beat you to the punch

Facebook isn’t like any other platform. You shouldn’t be posting six times a day (or everyday for that matter). Of course this all depends on your industry, audience and type of content, but Facebook is the most used platform out there. Users will usually have 20 minute sessions on the platform, 6-10 times a day. So if you’re posting too often, you’re spamming. Listen to your audience and track what posts do better on what day and time. Rinse and repeat from then on.

Key terms

Impression: How many times your post was seen.

Reach: How many individual accounts/people your post made it to.

Likes: ‘I agree with what you shared so I’m going to like this post’

Shares: ‘I super agree with what you shared! My friends need to see this’

Comments: ‘Great picture, Sheila!’


Knowing when, how and what to do with Facebook can be tough. But if done properly, the returns are well worth it. Some B2C companies out there understand this and sell more inventory through Facebook than on their website. Listen, learn and adapt. The right content strategy and approach can save you a lot of time, money and worry.

3 tips on making Instagram your most powerful social media platform

In this series, I’ll share some quick tips on how to succeed online and how you can best leverage the internet’s most popular communication platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat) to better connect with your audience, build lasting relationships and create a strong and engaging digital brand.

If you ask anyone with a decent online presence what their most profitable social platform is, chances are they’ll say Instagram. That’s where we’ll start this series.

Your Instagram crash course

Instagram currently has over 600 million users, and each user spends on average three hours each day on the platform (you do the math.) Seriously high engagement rates (4.21%) show that Instagram actually matters to a brand’s audience. In fact, one high quality Instagram post will drive on average 50x the engagement of a Facebook post and about 120x the engagement of a follower on Twitter.

Breaking the fourth wall is totally okay

Rule # 1: Don’t be a robot. Sell your story. Instagram specifically isn’t only about racking up likes or followers, it’s also about promoting the journey of your brand and giving your audience a glimpse into who your startup is and what it’s all about. You want your audience to relate to your business. Rather than feeling the NEED to engage, you want to create an environment that makes them WANT to like, share or comment. So what do you post to be human, relevant and transparent? Here are a few examples:

  • Just hire a new staff member to your awesome team? Post about it.
  • Attending a sweet conference on behalf of your startup? Post about it.
  • Going out for a tasty team lunch? Post about it.
  • Launch a brand new service on top of what you already offer? Post about it.
  • Just publish a quality blog post on how startups should use Instagram? … You get it.

Your content should allow anyone to see what it’s like to be on your team. Lifestyle over any product or service is an easier sell. Just be sure to develop a consistent theme for all of your pictures (from style to colour palette to filter.) It’ll help you create a wholesome experience and will guarantee that your followers are genuine and engaged.

And while you’re at it, be sure to establish your own hashtag (yes, hashtags matter). If anyone wants to see what you’re all about, having a branded hashtag (like #TeamDMZ) will allow them to get a glance with one click.

Build friendships. Not leads

With Google Adwords bids skyrocketing in price, Twitter ads being completely and utterly useless and Facebook billing you for breathing on their platform, Instagram is the next best thing (and will only charge you time).

Building relationships on @Instagram is very different from what you’d normally think to do.

Follow, like, comment, repeat

The best and most cost effective way to get your brand known on Instagram is to engage as much as you can. While most businesses wait for consumers to come to them, Instagram favours those who take the first step. So get on your phone, search for the most relevant hashtag for your startup (e.g., #fintech) and get to work. I find that on average 40% of the accounts you engage with follow you back.

Re-engage. Over and over and over

Now that you have the followers and audience, you need to consistently engage and peak their interest. Make sure you’re posting high quality and relevant content between one to three times a day. As you post, you may see your audience engaging at different times. Be adaptable and change the frequency of your posts based on performance (Instagram’s built-in analytics options are a great way to gauge).

Also, make sure you’re replying within 30 minutes of someone commenting on your post. You want to reply to a user during the (short) timeframe they’re active on the platform. This keeps your metrics in the green and forces users to come back to your profile to reply (easy, but often overlooked).

Use #hashtags

We’ve all seen it… the massive wall of hashtags that looks horrendous, but gets the job done. Its purpose? To reach into as many topic buckets as possible. But try and keep the hashtags relevant to the content (e.g., #GoNorth – Google’s tech conference). You’re going to want to attach those hashtags as a separate comment after posting your picture (read: avoid looking too foolish).

Don’t know what hashtags to post? You can go retro and do some grunt work and research, but luckily technology has advanced far enough for an app to do all the work. Check out Focalmark for all your Instagram hashtag needs.

Like any relationship, building trust and loyalty takes time. And just like acting, my other true calling, social media is about reacting. Listen, engage and don’t expect users to immediately jump onto your profile. Slow and steady definitely wins the race here.

Succeeding on @Instagram means forgetting the need and creating the want.

Finally, never force your content. If you don’t know what to post or don’t think you should post something, don’t. The most successful brands are ones that act, post and engage as people – not businesses. Don’t overthink it and have fun.

Bonus: Get the right tools

Before you jump into the world of In
 stagram, here are the five tools that will make your content look and feel a lot more exciting than it may be (#nofilter is no longer cool).

VSCO: Simple, intuitive and necessary. This camera app will allow you to edit your picture in ways Instagram won’t.

Ultralight: If VSCO cam is just too mainstream for you.

Boomerang: Instagram’s own app which lets you capture your moment in a GIF format when a picture or video just won’t cut it (if it moves, it’s more interesting).

Hyperlapse: Timelapse for Instagram (everything moves faster).

Followers+: Track your accounts’ followers ratio and see who unfollows you, doesn’t follow you back or blocks you (great to gauge content types).

How do I… measure my PR to determine my ROI?

How do you track and measure your PR activities?

Depends on who you ask. Unfortunately, there isn’t one overarching PR measurement tool to help you track whether what you’re doing is working. Depending on your business, your PR strategy, and your PR goals, how you measure your outcomes can vary.

Below are some basic ways to align your sales with your PR strategy.

Make use of Google Analytics

Are you familiar with Google Analytics? If not, then get on it! Google Analytics can help your business understand the behaviour flow of your target audience, especially after your media feature is published. Set up conversion goals to track where your traffic is coming from – blog, social media, media placements. Google Analytics can also help your startup gauge what messaging appeals most to your target market. Ask yourself, does the audience I’m tracking have clear needs? Is the messaging in our published feature meeting those needs? Answering these questions will help you understand how to leverage your media wins in order to see impact.

Track your website visitors

After an interview or feature with a top-tier media platform gets published, many startups tend to jump on their social media to see who’s sharing or talking about their most recent media win. While it’s important to know this information, don’t neglect your website analytics. Tracking the volume of visitors after a published piece has appeared is an easy way to see how much traction your media win generated and whether your messaging is having an impact.

Don’t forget to update the press/blog page of your website and your social media platforms to reflect the recent media interest in your startup.

Keep a pulse on the trends

Many startups pull major PR efforts for the launch of their business, new product or service. Although the timeframe of your startup’s goals is important, so is the seasonality in your business cycle. Make sure your PR campaign is timed with the market you’re addressing. For example, if you’re the founder of a startup that supports the learning process for students, your PR campaign will see a higher ROI during the back-to-school season. If your company addresses a current concern that’s being widely covered by the media, go out with a PR strategy and pitch a team member as an expert on this topic, while providing clear messaging on how your startup is the solution for this growing public concern.

Keep your story alive

Successful coverage doesn’t only depend on which outlet picked up your story, but how well you promote the story to your audience. For example, you land a story with The Globe and Mail and it’s shared through their Twitter account, don’t just retweet their post and consider your job done. Find ways to ride the wave by amplifying it with various marketing initiatives like sharing it through your company’s monthly newsletter, re-promoting it through your social channels weeks and months later and even venturing into paid social advertising. These efforts will continue to generate leads and help you track possible future leads.

Sales and PR can speak the same language. With this information, you can start to analyze how your PR efforts can be better suited towards your business development strategy.

How to explain technical things to not so technical people

Technical things

Every entrepreneur and developer has been faced with the challenge of communicating with people who know very little about what they do. No matter what industry you’re part of, you’ll most likely bump into people (and possible customers) that may not have the same skill sets as you. It’s important to find ways to make sure you’re being understood by whoever you’re pitching to. Here are a few tips to improve the sometimes strenuous process of talking about technical things to non-technical people.

Ask questions… like you mean it

As the expert, it’s your job to be the one who reaches across any knowledge cracks. To do this, you have to express technical ideas in ways they’ll understand without demeaning the audience. Start off by asking a few open-ended questions that allow the individual to feel comfortable with sharing how much they know or don’t know. This will give you a better understanding of the best way to explain your product or service in order to keep them engaged.

People and actions > systems and code

It can be difficult to avoid acronyms and jargon because these terms are useful and meaningful. There are a couple simple tricks to doing this. The first is to stop using technical names and take the time to describe what they do. And the second is to begin to educate your audience on a few key terms that may come up frequently during your presentation and then use just these terms throughout your pitch.

It can also be helpful to explain things from the user or customer’s point of view. Instead of saying “the system will,” start every sentence with “the user will.” Instead of “it’s coded like this” say “it’s made possible like this.” Case in point: don’t speak to everyone as if they’re a fellow entrepreneur or developer.

Market the benefits, not the features

Not all your customers are tech savvy folks who salivate when hearing about all the facts related to your product or service. What attracts most individuals are the benefits because they answer the question: “why does this matter to me?” So even though your developer spent months or even years on some state-of-the-art features that just can’t go unrecognized, in order to reel the point home, always follow your points on each feature with the sentence “the benefit of this is….”

Keep your cool

It’s important not to treat the people you’re presenting to as if they’re stupid. Although you may know much more than they do about a certain technical topic, it doesn’t mean you have to be trivial when making your point. Be humble. If the individual or group you’re presenting to has a blank stare on their face, learn how to deliver your content in a variety of ways that will allow your audience to focus on the mode that’s the most meaningful to them.

Just remember the age old saying “less is more.” When it comes to explaining the technical aspects of your product or service to nontechnical people, avoid data dumping and instead, try involving your audience as if you’re having a conversation.