Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’
It’s easy to mistake social media for a semi-frivolous, Internet-based time waster and give it half an effort. After all, how can you be serious about your business and spend any part of your day tweeting? So, if you can’t yet bring yourself to try and reap business benefits from Facebook or Twitter, try LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the most popular business-oriented, social-media site on the web and offers a way to focus on business while making connections online. Unfortunately, it also requires a little more attention to detail than it does to tweet what you had for lunch.
Here are some tips for beginners …
Finish What You Started: It’s one thing to leave your likes and dislikes off your personal Facebook page. Nobody will fault you if you don’t divulge your preference for lighthearted, romantic comedies. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is more like an online resume. So treat it as such. Leaving important information off your profile – such as past work experience, a bio, a photo, or specialties – will not only make you look like you can’t finish a job but it’ll also be less likely to catch anyone’s attention. And it isn’t only job-seeking college students who benefit from the social-networking site. There are more than 100 million members on LinkedIn. Which means, the more info you include, the more likely you’ll meet prospective clients or referral partners among that 100 million.
Invite Your Address Book: Okay, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Sure, LinkedIn offers a way to import all of your contacts from your email address book. But be careful. After all, you’re setting up a professional network. In other words, you may not need to connect with your mother, old friends from high school, or your cousin Larry. Save the personal connections for your personal pages. Keep focused and professional.
Participate: So you’ve filled out your profile and imported any business contacts to your LinkedIn profile. The next step is getting active on the site. LinkedIn offers the ability to join as many industry-related groups and discussions as you wish. So do it. Search groups by category or keyword and focus on your region or industry. Once you’ve joined, ask a question or answer an existing query. If nothing else, you may learn something from someone. At best, you’ll make new contacts within your industry and region that could lead to business down the line.
Recommend To Be Recommended: On LinkedIn, recommendations bolster your credibility. After all, if you’ve got a lot of recommendations, you’re most likely trustworthy and not out to scam, spam, or swindle anyone. But how do you get them? Well, start by recommending people you’ve had positive business experiences with. Once you’ve made some recommendations, it’ll be a lot easier to get some in return.
Like the holiday season, social media offers great promise but also a high risk of offending and angering the very people you hoped to gather together. If done incorrectly, your online fans and followers will turn on you and ruin your expectations of online success. However, with a few reminders, some forethought, and a focus on finding a consistent tone and producing quality content, your dreams of social-media success can be as easily attainable as making a Christmas wish list.
Here are some hints and tips for bettering your online presence and your chances for success …
Your Past: The first place to start when beginning a social-media campaign is with former clients, customers, and partners. If you had a good business relationship with someone in the past, chances are they won’t be reluctant to join your page and like your posts. They aren’t, however, going to be as interested in marketing pieces and sales pitches. That means, you’ll have to have content that is both interesting and professional, but that will also appeal to a wide audience. Having something to share that can interest both your past clients and potential business is key. Keeping your former customers close to you is an excellent way to boost word of mouth and repeat business.
Your Present: This will be where you place the greatest amount of focus. After all, chasing down potential leads and turning window shoppers into clients is where the money’s at. That makes this is an important category to cater to when thinking about how to approach your social-media pages and profiles. After all, a lot of these people have expressed interest in your services and may be ready to bite. That doesn’t mean, however, that they want to be hit with an inbox full of reminders that you’d like their business. Don’t seem desperate. Instead, approach these social-media contacts as though you’re interested in them rather than just their money.
Your Future: This is the area with the most amount of promise. After all, the idea that you can reach across the vast and varied Internet and pull in new contacts just by keeping a Facebook or Twitter account seems both unbelievable and undeniably attractive. Social media and the Internet at large have given businesses a much greater ability to reach out to their community and industry. If you keep your online presence focused on business and respect people’s boundaries, you will no doubt come across new clients you wouldn’t have otherwise. But, much like in the previous cases, you have to be considerate and not abuse your contacts by overloading them with unwelcome advertising or incessant solicitation. Follow common sense and treat people the way you’d like to be treated.
Social-media success can sometimes seem like winning the lottery. After all, the potential payout far exceeds the cost to get started. But unlike the lottery, there are social-media strategies you can utilize that will increase your odds of success.
Here are a few ways to increase your chances of winning big with social-media …
Update, Update, Update: Social media requires you to be social. And updating your pages is the online equivalent of socializing. It’s how you start a conversation with your contacts. It’s also how you create a community, attract visitors to your page, and brand your business. In other words, what you post on your blog or Facebook page will help define your business for newcomers but it will also begin a conversation with your existing clients and customers. Keep a consistent flow of content and you’ll be rewarded with increased activity on your pages. Leave nothing more than your address on your page, and you’ll be ignored. It’s that simple, really. In order to win the prize, you have to participate.
Give And You Shall Receive: One of the quickest ways to draw attention to your page is to pay attention to other people’s pages and profiles. This means, spending some time perusing the pages of your contacts and clients and leaving a compliment or comment while you’re there. Recommend someone on LinkedIn. Thank someone for a recent positive business interaction. Follow their feed. Like a link. Just like in the real world, people on social media respond well to kindness, flattery, and friendliness. Reach out and you’re likely to see them return the favor. Don’t sit on your hands waiting for the public to discover you. Initiate.
Be Dynamic And Compelling: This doesn’t mean you have to change your personality or act like someone other than who you are. It does mean you should try to encourage interaction by posting things that are both interesting and relevant to your client base. It also means you should use pictures, post videos, ask questions, post surveys, and customize your pages wherever possible. The more dynamic your online presence, the more likely people will leave your pages with a positive impression of you and your business. It shows a bit of effort and care. It also shows you’re reliable, consistent, available, and interested in creating a dialogue with your customers.
Among social-media sites, Twitter has the least obvious professional application. It’s character limitation and cutesy lingo make it seem like a stretch for someone hoping to reap business benefits from social networking. Still, there are a number of inventive ways to use Twitter that will make it easier to find contacts, research your local market, and connect with industry leaders.
Here are some tips for using Twitter more effectively …
Use Keywords: On Twitter, people attach hashtags to particular words or phrases to make their tweets easier to find. Attaching a hashtag means people searching for that topic will be more likely to find that tweet. It also make eavesdropping on Twitter users even easier. Search for a keyword or phrase associated with your business and get an instant report on what people are thinking and saying about your industry. Use what you learn to craft better business strategies and address your customers’ needs and concerns. Using Twitter for field research doesn’t even require an account. It’s the fastest, easiest, and most effective way to use Twitter for business.
Go Local: Apply that same lesson to your region, city, or state and you can quickly find Twitter users in your neighborhood and community. This is a good way to boost your followers and make new contacts. Find some local Twitter users who either fit your target demographic or are influential or active in the community, then follow their feed. Chances are many of these new contacts will follow you back. Use that opportunity to introduce yourself and begin a conversation. You are, after all, neighbors. Keep it casual and conversational. Soon these contacts will become online friends and their word of mouth and familiarity with you and your business will benefit your bottom line.
Reach Out: It can’t hurt to take the first step. Reaching out and following people on Twitter is a quick way to generate some goodwill and gather some fans of your own. Finding people in your area or industry is a good start but don’t be afraid to also follow feeds of people and entities beyond your immediate grasp as well. By which we mean, follow the local newspapers, city leaders, national media sites, industry trade groups, and any or anything else that pertains to your business and interests you and, presumably, your followers. As always, keep it professional and family friendly. Ultimately, the more diverse and active your Twitter page is, the better chance you’ll have at making it work for you and your business.
Finding social-media advice online is as easy as finding cars in a parking lot. Which is to say, there are plenty of gurus and experts hoping to teach you how to maximize your potential and rack up huge numbers of followers and fans. But – despite their expertise and savvy – the best advice is usually just common sense. To that end, we’ve compiled 9 common sense tips to help you become a more successful and effective social-media marketer.
Respond: Answer questions, thank people even if it’s just a few words. Make it a two-way conversation, listen to what others have to say and appreciate suggestions and feedback. It will make what you do even better.
Know What You’re Doing: If you’re going to establish yourself on social media, get involved in social media. Start your own Twitter account, Facebook page, read blogs, and get engaged. That’s the best way to understand the culture, tone, best practices, and protocol.
Add Value: Share tips, tricks, and insights. People’s time is precious and they need to get something out of the time they spend on your page. Make listening to you worth their while.
Drive Traffic To Your Website: Adding links in appropriate places within posts, and occasionally in Tweets, can drive potential business to your official website.
Your Brand Is Everything, Everywhere: Your business brand is everything and anything you do. From your logo, colors, tagline, and Twitter background to your blog header, website, profile pic, and bio. Your brand is everything you post, anywhere you’re represented. Be cautious and consistent.
Integrate: All your marketing efforts should work together to present consistent brand messages and lead to your ultimate marketing goals. You should also cross-promote your various marketing efforts.
Be Active: Update your status, share, comment, send invitations to connect, start group discussions, answer questions, and comment on other people’s pages and profiles. It’s called social media for a reason.
Seek Feedback: If nothing else, social media should be an effective way of finding out what your customers and clients think of your business. When was the last time you asked them what they’d like to see on your page? Whether you’re asking them to vote on your next post or to choose a product or service they’d like you to incorporate into your business, don’t underestimate the value of feedback.
Understand Your Objective: Before jumping on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other network, ask yourself “Why?” Each marketing effort should be clearly and logically tied to core business objectives. Are you using this network for customer service, brand awareness, or community building? And what does success look like? Having more fans or followers is not really a viable metric. Having a more engaged community could be.
The key to successfully marketing your business through social media is to make it seem like you’re not. Which is to say, social-media marketing requires a little slight of hand, a lot of patience, and some faith. You can’t expect to put up some pages, upload a bunch of sales material, and wait for new clients to come knocking down your door. You’ll have to build a community of followers, fans, contacts, and customers the old-fashioned way.
Here are some tips to marketing your business without seeming to …
Think About Your Approach: So you registered for some social-media pages and are eager to start selling your services online? Well, unfortunately, that’s not how it works. In fact, there’s no quicker way to turn off potential online leads than to hammer away with sales talk and solicitations. Social-media marketing requires a little finesse. That means, rather than posting everyday about your business and services, you should be offering information and help. Approach your online contacts as though you’re doing it out of the kindness of your heart and the familiarity and goodwill you generate will lead to word-of-mouth and business.
The Content Conundrum: What do you post when you’d really rather beg for business? Well, there are a number of things. The quickest and easiest way to generate some good content is to share interesting info you’ve found that may help someone in need of your particular services. Pass along some industry news that a consumer might not know but should. Explain and add context to any numbers, stats, or trends that a potential customer would benefit from knowing. Approach your updates and posts as though you’re a good friend hoping to assist someone with an important decision. Answer questions and ask for feedback. All of these things will generate a back-and-forth with your online contacts that can only benefit your business.
Turning Contacts Into Clients: Of course, to some people, the process of luring in business through social-media may seem like a wasted effort. After all, who has the time to be posting to Facebook or LinkedIn when they need to generate real money in the real world? With time and consistency, however, social-media can – and will – lead to business. It’s just a matter of targeting the right audience and keeping up with your contacts. Social-media is a word-of-mouth machine. Give it time and you’ll soon see that your contacts are not only turning into clients, but are also recommending you to their contacts and online communities.
Management skills are an important part of having an effective social-media presence. Not only do you have to manage your content and keep up with contacts and comments, you have to effectively manage your time – which can be the biggest obstacle for someone new to online marketing. Here are some helpful hints and tips to making better use of your pages and profiles, as well as your time.
Get A Calendar: This may seem obvious but keeping a schedule will greatly increase your odds of staying on top of your social-media profiles. If you’re continually trying to find 10 minutes to update your Facebook page while juggling yet another busy work day, there will always be something more important to take care of. If, however, you block off a time of day or week to handle all of the notifications, emails, and updates you need to address, you’ll be more likely to get around to it. How often you need to check in with your social-media presence, depends on your business and client base. What works for one person won’t, necessarily, for another. Make a schedule and stick with it.
Put Your Followers To Work: Successful social-media pages are driven – not by their administrators – but by the fans and followers that tune in to what is being posted on the page or blog. In other words, when you’ve got a lively community of people engaged with the information you’re offering, your page will begin to take care of itself. Sure, you’ll need to stay on top of things, but having people reading and commenting on what you’re posting online will encourage others. And, with any luck, your page will become a forum for like-minded individuals exchanging ideas and questions. To get things going, offer a discount or prize for people who comment or contribute to your page. Along with your content, ask a question or take a poll related to the topic. Get people involved and your page will soon take on a life of its own.
Minimize And Simplify: If you’re someone who’s prone to feeling overwhelmed or tends to value results over patience, start small and don’t try to take over the Internet overnight. That means, taking one step at a time. Don’t register for 12 different profiles, fill out half of the info requested, and throw up your hands when nothing’s happened after one week. Start with one page and get familiar with the way things operate. Get used to updating your page and promoting your content. Once you start to have success on one site, try another if you’d like. As always, there’s no universal rule. Maybe Twitter works for you and Facebook doesn’t. Maybe you need both. Only trial, error, and time will determine the answer to what works for you and your business.
Despite what they say, you can argue with numbers. You can also argue with chickens. Neither of these activities, however, is likely to produce a positive outcome. That’s why, though it may be easier and more convenient to ignore reality, you’ll always do better if you acknowledge the facts.
To that end, here are some facts about social-media marketing …
Nielsen estimates that social media and blogs reach 80 percent of active Internet users in the U.S.: Not only that, Nielsen also found that nearly a quarter of all Internet usage is spent on blogs or social-media sites – double the amount spent on gaming. That means, almost half of all Internet usage is split between people playing games online and those perusing social-media pages, profiles, and blogs. And since you likely won’t be able to effectively market your business through online games, you should probably take a look at registering a Facebook page or setting up a blog. The potential upside is huge and there is little to lose. Having a shot at a new audience of potential customers and clients is ultimately what marketing is meant to accomplish. Social media provides an excellent platform to reach new people and generate business.
60 percent of consumers say they are willing to post about products or services if they get a deal: In other words, social media is a viable avenue for promoting and marketing your business. By interacting with your clients and customers over social-media, you are able to appeal to them directly, while offering them exclusive deals and bonuses. It takes a little creativity, but finding a way to get your Facebook or Twitter followers to spread the word for you is worth the effort. Offering Internet-only promos is a great way to boost interest in your business among current and potential clients. Just don’t overwhelm your connections with sales pieces and drive them away.
91 percent of experienced social marketers see increased traffic to their website and 79 percent say they’re generating more quality leads: Doubt all you want but more and more businesses are finding success marketing their services through social-media channels. The key word here, though, is “experienced.” In other words, you’re not going to see boosted traffic to your website and a bag full of quality leads during your first week online. It takes time, effort, and a bit of practice to learn what works for you and put it into action. Those who have had success with social media, have had patience with social media. Give it time and pay attention. After all, the stats say your efforts will ultimately be rewarded.
We know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “It’s 2012, do I really still need a business blog?” Well, the short answer is yes. Though blogs – in Internet years – are a nearly ancient form of online communication, they’re still an effective and totally customizable platform for furthering your business and boosting your brand.
Here are a few reasons you still need a blog in 2012 …
It’s RSS, Baby: RSS stands for “real simple syndication.” And syndication is the name of the game, even in this age of smart phones and tablets. Having a blog means you have an RSS feed. Having a RSS feed means your content can be easily spread across the Internet through any website or app that links via RSS. This feed contains all the words and photos and anything else you post to your blog. Now say you’d like to share that content on your Facebook page. Well that’s as easy as finding a RSS app and filling in the address to your feed. In other words, you need a business blog to use as home base for all the content you create to share with your clients, customers, partners, followers, and fans online.
It’s A Custom Fit: Blogs, as they were originally known, were nothing more than an online scroll of entries posted by whomever set up the page. These days, however, your blog can do just about anything. In fact, you can even set up a storefront and sell products complete with a credit-card checkout and shipping rates, if you wish. There are an endless number of themes and plugins, which make having a blog a completely customizable form of social-media and online marketing. It’s the closest thing available to a paint-by-numbers website. Having a dynamic online presence can only improve your reputation and help convince potential clients of your expertise and professionalism.
It’s Home Base: Think of your blog as home base for your social-media campaign. It’s where you create content and test new ideas. From your blog, you can see what does and doesn’t work and then take that to your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn page. With a blog, you’re afforded more freedom and function than you are on any of the major social-media platforms. Because of this, you’re better able to get creative and see what your audience responds to the most. It’s also a great way to create traffic between your pages by linking to your blog from your social-media pages.
Social media can seem like a relatively painless proposition until it comes to creating content for your pages. Content is the difference between success and failure online. But it’s also the part of social networking that takes the most time and effort – which is why it trips up so many would-be social-media marketers.
Think of it like throwing a dinner party. You want to have an interesting guest list and hope to dazzle them with your entertaining skills. But – in order to have a successful gathering – you’ll need dinner. Provide good food and a comfortable atmosphere and your guests will be clamoring for an invite the next time you’re having people over. Skimp on the appetizers and deliver a mediocre meal and word will get out, ensuring future invites go ignored. In other words, what you serve your guests matters whether you’re throwing a dinner party or promoting your services over the Internet.
Here are some tips on creating compelling content …
Go With What You Know: If you’re creating content for a business blog or fan page, this one should be easy. After all, your content should relate to your business and you, presumably, know something about your business and industry. Having to write blog posts can seem like homework. Make it easier by writing something you know well. Try industry news and updates, answers to frequently asked questions, or explaining something about your business that your clients and customers should understand. If you’re writing something you know well, it won’t be as difficult to think of what or how to say it. Make it easy on yourself and stick with topics you’re familiar with.
Write The Way You Speak: Writing doesn’t have to be a chore. If you’re writing something for your blog or social-media site, start by thinking of the way you’d say it if you were telling someone in person. You don’t have to change the way you communicate. Keep it simple and conversational. Don’t worry about the sophistication of your sentence structure. Pay more attention to whether or not you’ve effectively communicated what you set out to say. Ultimately, you want visitors to read it, not grade it. Keep it short, easily consumed, and professional.
Use The Internet: Ideas abound on the Internet. If you’re having trouble creating content, there are countless ideas, topics, and resources available to you online. Social media is about sharing and communicating. So post a link to a story or article your read that relates to your industry or region. Link to a video or re-tweet something. In other words, don’t always feel like you have to write 500 words on some challenging topic or issue. Keep it simple and light. You’re not producing a manifesto, you’re trying to deliver interesting content to encourage visitors to interact with you and your business.
If you were told that you could network your business to millions of people without spending anything more than your time and effort, you’d have to be crazy or independently wealthy to turn down the opportunity. And yet, many people ignore the platform social media provides to spread the word and promote their business. If you’re among those that still feel that social media isn’t important, necessary, or vital to boosting your business, a recent Harris Interactive poll of 2,037 may help change your mind.
Here are some of the numbers …
62 percent of Americans say they’re afraid of missing something if they don’t keep an eye on their social network. In other words, a majority of respondents are glued to status, news, and event updates received through their Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn accounts. Which means, social-media is as important a source of information to a majority of Americans as their phone and email messages. Having a presence on any – or all – of the major social-media sites is an opportunity to be among the updates being shared and read by the millions of Americans that check in on Facebook before reading their email inbox.
Among respondents 18 to 34, nearly 40 percent said they check their profiles every morning after waking up. Maybe you’re thinking that your business doesn’t appeal to a young demographic and that means you don’t need a social-media campaign. But the fact that an increasing number of young Americans turn to social media immediately after getting out of bed says something about the future importance of the medium and the probably longevity of its popularity. In other words, social media isn’t going away. In fact, it’s becoming more popular among Americans.
40 percent said they’d rather clean the shower drains at the local gym than give up their social network. Okay, maybe the drains at your local gym are spotless and that stat doesn’t impress you. How about the fact that the same number of respondents said they’d rather wait in line at the DMV, give up an hour of sleep every night for a year, get a root canal, or sit in traffic for four hours while listening to polka music?
Nearly 70 percent of LinkedIn users are just observing. Not all social-media users are interested in telling the world what they did with their day. In fact, a lot of activity on social networks doesn’t involve posting or participating. The fact that more than half of Twitter users and nearly 40 percent of people on Facebook are just looking means your information, content, and updates could be among those being read by users who log in to their social-media accounts as a source for information, recommendations, and news.
It’s been said that everyone makes mistakes. But that’s only half the story. After all, it’s not whether you make a mistake, it’s the severity of the mistake you make that matters. There’s a difference between locking your keys in the car and accidentally parking your car in the living room. One is an understandable error and the other – under most circumstances – isn’t. Like anything else, when starting a social-media campaign for your business, you will make mistakes. But avoiding the type of mistakes that will leave your page barren and ignored are more important than worrying about a typo in your bio.
Here’s a quick list of some things you can do to avoid making some of the most inexcusable social-media mistakes …
Use It or Lose It: When it comes to social media, the number one mistake people make is not using the pages and profiles they set up. Whether from lack of interest, time, or understanding, many social-media pages serve as nothing more than a placeholder. They’re like online business cards with little more than an address, a phone number, and a photo. But the difference between success and failure in social media is participation. If you bothered to set your business up with a Facebook page or Twitter account, use it. Contact people, promote your site, produce some content, join groups, comment on someone’s post. In short, interact. It doesn’t take much to get someone to like or follow a social-media profile. You don’t have to take them to dinner or earn enough of their trust to be given a key to their house. All you need to do is participate and not be rude, aggressive, annoying, or mean spirited.
Make A Good Impression: You’re introducing yourself to a whole new audience. Act like it matters. You want to present yourself as professional, experienced, consistent, and efficient. Make sure anything you put up online showcases only those qualities you’d like associated with you and your business. That means, no beach photos, questionable jokes, religion or politics. Keep it focused on business and make a clear distinction between any personal profiles you maintain and those specifically for your business. Google your name and scroll through some of the results. Those are the same things potential clients will see if they look you up online – which they likely will. Having a professional online presence is a great way to make a good first impression. More and more, people check the Internet before deciding who to do business with. Don’t scare them away before you even meet them.
Location, Location, Location: Much like anything else, where you set yourself up makes a difference. Which is to say, location matters whether you’re opening for business on Main St. or on the Internet. Make sure the accounts you register for make sense for your business. You’re fairly safe if you stick with some combination of the most popular sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The membership numbers alone make them worthwhile. Outside of the that, do a little research before you register your business name and slap some info together. Make sure any sites you join serve a legitimate business purpose and can be used to your advantage. You’ll be most successful if your Internet presence is focused and consistent. Only take on what you can handle. And only go where there are potential business benefits.
Some people fall into the trap of thinking a Facebook or Twitter page will promote their business without them having to do anything at all. Meaning, they register for a page, fill out their information, and believe their work is done. As if the Twitter fairy will come along and deliver their tweets to the masses without them having to do any of the heavy lifting. Well that’s not the way it works. Part of a successful social-media campaign is promoting your pages, blog posts, and online activities. You have to let people know what you’re doing if you hope to have anyone take an interest in your social-media efforts. Here are some hints, tips, and ideas on promoting your online properties.
The Real World: Promoting your pages and blogs in the real world is the most effective way of boosting your social-media success rate. Asking people to like your Facebook page or follow your Twitter feed is made infinitely more effective if you’re doing it in person or offline. It’s why you’re seeing an increasing number of businesses including their social-media info in their advertising, on billboards, and on their business cards. You have to promote your pages the same way you would anything else. Let people know you’re online and ask them to have a look. The more interest you create, the more contacts you’ll make. The more contacts you make, the more business you’ll generate. In other words, remember your Facebook and Twitter pages next time you’re networking or sending printed materials. Ask people to connect with you online and you’ll see an instant increase in activity on your pages.
Via Email: Because nearly everyone uses it, email is a great way to spread the word about your pages, profiles, and blogs. Sending out an email with a link to a new blog post or social-media profile, is a good way to introduce your contacts and clients to your online properties. Even adding your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn address to your email signature can lead to an uptick in visitors to your page. As long as you aren’t bugging your contacts every other hour, asking them to read something you wrote or to stop by your pages is a good way to keep in touch with your contacts while increasing activity on your social-media profiles.
Groups, Forums, And Comments: Participation is another way to get the word out about your social-media properties. Joining groups and forums on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn gets you in front of like-minded people with similar interests and concerns. As long as you’re not too self-promotional and you take an honest interest in the discussions and questions being offered, your presence will be appreciated and your familiarity among people likely to have an interest in your business will increase. It’s an indirect way of promoting your business, but commenting on other people’s pages or questions in forums can boost your reputation, generate new contacts, and increase word of mouth. Stay professional, knowledgeable, and accessible and you’ll soon see results.
Signing up for a page on Facebook doesn’t cost anything. But that doesn’t mean it’s free. In the end, social media is a draw because it seems simple and inexpensive. But, though it may save dollars and cents, it’ll cost you time and effort. In other words, things aren’t always what they seem. Once you’ve registered for an account, the work begins. And that’s where a lot of us stumble. Who has the time? Where are the immediate results? Why bother? Fortunately, a few tips to help organize your efforts and boost your effectiveness may be all you need to help get you through the disappointing realization that it may not be as easy as it seemed.
Find Good Sources: Creating content is difficult. It’s time consuming and involves choices. It requires you to decide what topics will be interesting to your contacts and then provide information on that topic in a compelling way. So what’s the best way to do that? Well it starts with your sources. Find websites, Twitter feeds, blogs, news sites, and anything else that provides inspiration and information you can use. Posting a link to a news story or a list of stats and trends you’ve come across is a great way to create quick, appropriate content. If you’ve got a good list of feeds and sources, you’ll have an easier time finding things to discuss and write about. If you’re starting from scratch each morning with nothing more than your brain and a cup of coffee, you may be in trouble.
Create a Schedule: Disorganization costs you time and creates stress. The best way to avoid this trap is to make a schedule. If you’re having trouble finding time to post to your sites, respond to comments, and check in with your contacts, set aside a block of time in the morning or evening and use it for maintaining your social-media pages. Depending on how much time you’d like to devote to your efforts, you can schedule time every other day, twice a day, or weekly. Just stay consistent. If you stick with your schedule, soon you’ll find a rhythm and won’t have to worry about finding the time to focus on Facebook. Sitting down for a half hour at the end of every day will make keeping your pages fresh and updated easier. It’ll also make you less likely to give up on things after two weeks.
Keep It Simple: It’s easy to get swept up in enthusiasm and try to take over the Internet. But that’s not the goal. You’re only trying to make it easier for your contacts, and potential business, to find, familiarize, and get in touch with you. Build your social-media presence in a way that doesn’t overwhelm you or your audience. If you keep things manageable, you’re more likely to succeed. That means, focusing on only what you can handle. If you’re going to set up more than a page or two, link them together so they’re sharing content. You’re not going to see much success if you’ve got pages that aren’t being maintained.
Social media can be like a Sunday morning crossword puzzle, both simple and enraging. The only difference is the answers to your social-media questions aren’t published in the next day’s newspaper. In order to help demystify social media for you, we’ve developed the following easy-to-remember keys to online success.
Here are the Four Cs of social-media marketing:
Communication: The first and most important thing to remember when pursuing a social-media strategy is communication. It is, after all, what social media is all about. It exists to provide an online platform for people to converse, share, and keep in touch with one another. For business, that means your social-media pages exist as a platform to communicate with past and future clients, referral partners, and potential business. If you aren’t communicating with your contacts, posting content, and participating in groups and forums, you are doing it wrong. You’re a wallflower and an observer. In order to change this, start sharing information, links to interesting articles, questions, thoughts, and offers on your social-media pages. Engage with your contact list and try and entice a response.
Consistency: Once you’ve begun participating, keep it up. Delivering quality content on a consistent schedule is a great way to encourage your contacts to interact with your page. You’re bettering your chances of capturing someone’s attention every time you post something to your page. That means, if you’re posting once a month, you likely won’t see results for awhile. If, however, you’re posting on a weekly or daily schedule, you’ll see more activity. In other words, activity begets activity. Participate and you’ll see more participation. You get the idea.
Content: The most difficult thing about achieving success with social media is producing quality content. What and when is important and makes a difference in the results. There are, however, some simple rules. Stay away from direct advertising or promotion. It’s a fast way to lose visitors. Try to imagine what someone in need of your particular service would find interesting and informative and go with that. Keep it professional. Share news and opinions relevant to your industry or region. Present yourself as an expert and field the questions and comments that come along with your posts. Keep on top of things and find a rhythm. Ultimately, if you’re posting consistently, offering quality information, and staying on top of any comments and questions that come your way, you’ll see results.
Commitment: You have to stick with it. Among the top mistakes people make online is giving up. If you’re expecting something immediate, you’re going to be disappointed. You can’t approach it like an advertisement. Show some enthusiasm for the medium and you’ll find an enthusiastic audience. Treat your social-media pages like a chore you have little interest in completing and your response will mimic your effort. You’ll get out of it what you put into it. Give it some time and effort before throwing in the virtual towel.
It’s been said that we learn everything we need to know in kindergarten. Mostly it’s said as comfort to the majority of us who excelled at nap time but never went on to get a Harvard degree. But it’s also said because a lot of the basics are covered in kindergarten. You learn about following the rules, coloring inside the lines, getting along with others, and not biting someone for stealing your crayons. In other words, the fundamentals. And along with everything else, those basics apply to social media.
Coloring Inside The Lines: Seems simple enough. The lines in coloring books are there because most of us weren’t born professional illustrators. So use them. When setting up a social media page or a blog, be sure to use the guidelines they’ve provided to fill out your page and make it seem like you know what you’re doing. There’s a reason they have a space for a photo, one for your contact info, and for some background information. It’s because those are some of the first things people will wonder when stumbling upon your page. They’re going to want to get a quick snapshot of who you are and what you’re offering. Make a good first impression by completing your profile.
Follow The Rules: There are some simple rules to follow when using social media and, if you don’t, you’ll likely hear about it. Just as in life, people in groups and forums generally want you to follow some simple rules in order to participate. Pay attention and follow along. The benefit of joining groups is to mingle with people in your industry and region. Don’t start off by offending them, ignoring their requests, and using their forum as an advertising venue for your business. Play along and by the rules and you’ll find yourself meeting new contacts and potential clients.
Play Nice With Others: Be polite, participate, and don’t be a jerk or a nuisance. This would appear to be the most obvious of all lessons from kindergarten that could be applied online. Unfortunately, some people abuse the relative anonymity of the Internet. Don’t be like them. Respond to comments politely. Be accessible to your contacts. Ask questions. Take an interest in others. Share knowledge. Be grateful that anyone at all is looking at your page and paying attention to what you’re doing. You’re trying to attract, not repel, people. Act like it.
If you spent all of your time with your head in a bucket, you’d never see the sunshine. Fortunately, there are some fairly obvious ways to correct that issue. Among them, the first – and most obvious – is taking the bucket off of your head. When it comes to social media, there are those that understand, participate, and benefit from the available online tools and there are others that seem to have placed their head in the aforementioned bucket. But, in much the same way, there are some easy solutions for anyone who remains on the social-media sidelines.
Here are three basic social-media mistakes and misconceptions to avoid …
The Only Thing You Have To Fear: Fear is responsible for a lot of missed opportunities. So remember that when you’re telling yourself that your business doesn’t need social media to succeed. Maybe you’re right but maybe you’d be twice as successful if you made an effort to market your wares online. In other words, the number one mistake people make is not trying. Social media can be intimidating for the uninitiated but, trust us, it’s pretty user friendly and the risks are low. Try starting with one account and go from there. You don’t have to master the Internet in the first week. You can, however, get a profile up and start getting the word out. Take small steps. If you get stuck, you’re only a Google search away from an answer to your problem.
Use It or Lose it: Once you’re online and have your info up on the social-media site of your choice, keep logging in. This isn’t a one-stop fix. Abandoning your social-media pages sends the wrong signal to prospective clients and also defeats the purpose of having a page in the first place. Log in often and familiarize yourself with the functions and possibilities. There are limitless ways you can use social media to your advantage but none of them will work if you never log in. It sounds obvious but many people throw in the towel soon after adding their address. Then they proclaim that Facebook and LinkedIn are useless. Those people are wrong. If you spend some time tinkering around, you’ll undoubtedly find ways to boost your presence and build new relationships with potential clients and customers.
Be Resourceful: There are hundreds of available applications, tools, and plugins available for any social-media platform you choose to use. Take some time to research them and figure out what they do. They are there to make your job easier. Technology, though scary to some, is ultimately there to make you more efficient and your work easier. If, however, you never explore its potential, you will never reap the benefits. No matter what you’re attempting to do, there’s likely an application designed to help you out. And most are totally free to use. That means, there’s absolutely nothing to lose other than time. And, after a couple of searches, you will, no doubt, locate a number of resources that will not only make your social-media experience more enjoyable but more profitable as well.
Sometimes all it takes is a simple reminder. After all, it’s easy to forget the basics and fundamentals of anything once you get going. So being reminded of the seemingly small details can often make the difference between success and failure. When it comes to social media, the ever-expanding list of apps, plugins, widgets, websites, and platforms can confound even the savviest online observer. But, at its root, social media is about communication and community. In other words, before you get overwhelmed by the bells and whistles, spend some time getting back to basics.
With that in mind, we collected another list of simple do’s and don’ts for social-media success …
Don’t Be Too Self-Promotional: There will be a temptation to overload your pages with flattering facts about your business and services. But social media isn’t for advertising. It’s for socializing. Your social-media profiles should be a place where you share info and updates that are professionally relevant and of interest to clients and potential clients. Don’t overdo the self-promotional posts.
Do Join Groups: Sites, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, offer the ability to join groups formed around interests, industries, communities, etc. In other words, joining a group means meeting like minded individuals and sharing thoughts, views, and ideas. It’s a good way of finding your target audience, making new connections, and learning something along the way.
Don’t Confuse The Personal and The Professional: This one seems easy enough. After all, if you’ve registered a social-media account under the name of your business, you already know that isn’t the place for posting vacation pictures. Right? Well, if not, consider your social-media profiles and blogs an extension of your business website. Keep it professional and save the personal tidbits for a profile your clients can’t see.
Do Like, Recommend, Follow, And Fan: If you want to make connections quickly, initiate. Take some time and leave positive feedback on the pages of people and businesses you’ve interacted with in the past. Chances are, if you make the effort to say something nice about someone, they’ll return the favor.
Don’t Ignore Your Contacts: When you’ve made an effort to get people to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else, you have to follow through. If you don’t, you’ll lose the connections you have. This means, you have to be responsive when someone comments on a post or sends you a message. It means you have to log in regularly and share interesting info with your contacts. It means, you have to be social, interactive, and available.
Do Think It Through: Most importantly, you have to give some thought to anything you post online. It’s easy to forget that you’re publishing something on the Internet under your business name and, once it’s up, there’s no telling who will find it or where it’ll appear. Make sure whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it in a way that properly represents your business and enhances your professional presentation.