Posts Tagged ‘Blogs’
If you’re someone that thinks of livestock when you hear the word branding, you may be a bit behind the times. Or you’re an actual cowboy. Either way, some simple tips on branding your business and building customer loyalty may help.
Here are some thoughts to get you started …
The Branding: The primary reason to brand your cattle was to help make them more easily identifiable. The same goes for corporate logos, advertising, and marketing campaigns. And, with the growth of online marketing, branding has become an important part of marketing even the smallest of businesses. Ultimately, having an online presence that is consistent, easily identified, and interactive will help you find new customers and keep current clients coming back. The trick is having your info where it can be easily found and making sure it’s consistent on all of your Internet properties, whether it’s a blog, Facebook page, or business website. Branding is about being identified and remembered. And a social-media campaign focused on keeping all the details, logos, and contact info consistent and presentable is one that will be more easily found online and more memorable.
The Messaging: Branding is a pretty simple concept. You want people to recognize your business and feel a sense of familiarity with you. What you do with that brand, however, is a bit more complicated. Sending the right message is about content. Once you’ve got your info, photos, and logos in place and your pages looking the way you want them, you have to have content that keeps people coming back to your page, to make it stand out from the rest of the Internet noise. For example, if you’re in the cupcake business, you don’t want a page that’s purely self-promotional and a bore for anyone other than you and your employees. You want a page that makes people think about how much they love cupcakes and would love to buy some. In other words, you want to share content that’s interesting, educational, and not directly self-promotional. In this particular example, you’d likely want to have some large, attractive pictures of cupcakes and stories touting their health benefits and how they’re particularly delicious this time of year. In other words, info that makes it more likely that visitors will feel familiar with your brand and a desire to do business with you.
Running a successful social-media campaign is a bit like running a railroad. First you have to be where the people are. Then you’ve got to keep a regular schedule so the people know when to get on board. Finally, you’ve got to offer your customers something they can’t get from your competition. And, in this case, that means offering quality content consistently and regularly. It also means providing superior service and treating your pages and profiles as an important extension of your business.
Here are some things to think about …
Location: Where you set up shop matters in any business. Open a bait shop 300 miles from the water and see how well that goes. The same is true in social media. Fortunately, this part isn’t very difficult. There are many sites out there. Some are new. So are niche. Some offer some things and others offer others. Ultimately, you want to be where the people are. Niche sites can be good for networking within your industry but new business comes from communicating with the public. And the best way to develop relationships with people online is to go where most of them are. And yeah, that means Facebook is probably a good bet.
Schedule: This is the part that trips a lot of people up. It’s one thing to survey the available social-media sites and get started registering. It’s an altogether different thing to log in regularly and use your profiles and pages to your advantage. Sadly, though it can be done, it isn’t automatic. You have to have something to share and you have to share it on a regular basis. How often you update your pages is up to you. Some social-media gurus will tell you you have to update your pages with new content multiple times a day. Fortunately, updating on any schedule – as long as it’s kept – will likely benefit you. Start slow. Come up with a post every other week. Then up the frequency as you get into a rhythm. What works for you is what works for you. In other words, set the pace you’re comfortable with and let the people know when to expect you. Regularity is familiarity. And familiarity breeds business.
The Extras: It really shouldn’t be a hard sell to get some people to visit, like, follow, or recommend your new social-media profiles. It’ll cost them nothing and make your page seem populated and more interesting to newcomers. So ask some previous clients, referral partners, and other professional contacts to stop by your new page. They’ll be happy to do it and you’ll end up with increased visibility and some potential new connections. But that’s where the extras come in. Now that you’ve got some people visiting, what you put up on you page determines whether or not they’ll come back. Offer good content, interesting info, be available, and answer any questions or comments you get. In other words, treat your social-media sites as an extension of your business and treat your fans and followers like they’re your customers. Be consistent and available, professional and prompt and they’ll return to you in the future.
Setting up a social-media strategy for your business is a lot like buying a box of donuts. After all, no one donut can fulfill all of your sugary needs. Maybe you’ve got a taste for chocolate and sprinkles but also need something plain to go with your morning coffee. This explains why they’re sold by the dozen. Now you won’t need a dozen social-media sites to properly harness the power of the Internet and propel your business forward. You may, however, want to consider your choices, your purposes, and which options make the most sense for your business and what you’d like to accomplish.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is fairly cut and dry. It’s the largest social-media site devoted to professionals and that means you won’t be sharing space with your 13-year-old niece. It’s Facebook for business and it provides a platform to get in touch with other professionals in your region and industry. If you’re looking to meet people, network, and maybe get some referrals, LinkedIn is a good place to start. It’s also a good place to learn. Joining groups and asking questions can lead to new connections but it can also lead to knowledge. Have a look around and see how other professionals are benefiting from LinkedIn. It isn’t all resumes and job hunters. But it is drawing 33.5 million users a month.
Twitter: Twitter is also pretty simple to understand. It’s just like having a blog, only your posts are limited to 140 characters. That means, it’s designed to publish information in quick, continually updated bits. That’s why it initially gained a reputation for being the tool of self-involved Internet-addicts needing to share each and everything they’re doing as they’re doing it. Well it’s evolved from a site where you find out what your friends are having for breakfast. Everyone from neurosurgeons to politicians to your next door neighbor has a page. Which means, it’s all in how you use it. Type the name of your industry and scroll through the most recent tweets related to your business. It’ll provide a glimpse of what Twitter is and why it’s good for your business.
Facebook: Facebook is the trickiest of the big three. It started as a purely social site for college students but is now so large that it’s almost its own micro-Internet. And because it’s the site Americans spend most of their online time browsing, it’s become an important part of any businesses’ social-media strategy. More and more, businesses include their Facebook fan page’s address in their marketing and advertising. Use it for promotions and educating your customers. Offer them a deal or discount for liking your page. Carve out a spot so that you have a platform on the world’s most popular social-media site. It may not pay off in a week but not having a presence on Facebook means ignoring the fact that nearly everyone is using it and the time they spend on it is time they won’t be looking at your website.
On the Internet, content is currency. Having a website, blog, or social-media profiles without content is like having a car without wheels. You’ve got the foundation but you don’t have the means to make it go. Successfully marketing your business online means you have to, not only be part of the conversation, you have to start some yourself. You have to stay active and continually engaged. The Internet values quantity over quality and, if you have both, you’re golden.
Here are some things to think about …
Types of Content: The mistake a lot of people make is feeling like their content has to always directly relate to their business. It doesn’t. Your content has to appeal to your target audience but doesn’t have to have a direct link to the services you provide. For example, if you were selling skin-care products to teenagers, you wouldn’t have to fill your Facebook fan page with posts only about teenage skin and ways to keep it healthy. You could use anything that might appeal to teenagers. Posting about issues and topics interesting to teens would be more effective than posting only about skin. After all, teenagers may want clear skin but they likely aren’t interested in reading article after article about it. Mix it up and keep it interesting.
Ways to Use It: Content is a general word. What does it mean exactly? Well, it means anything you share anywhere you share it. It can be blog posts, tweets, Facebook updates, or emails. It’s not about where, it’s about what. In other words, once you’ve created some content, think about the most appropriate ways to use it. Twitter, for example, has a very specific format. You can’t tweet a paragraph, so quick updates, links, and photos are perfect. But a blog post may also work well as an email blast. If you’ve got something to share on your blog and you’d like to share it with your email list, you’re going to boost the number of people who see it. And numbers, after all, mean more opportunities for business.
How To Think About It: Here’s the trick. Stop thinking of your Internet properties as having to compete against everything else on the Internet. If you’re in real-estate, you don’t have to worry about your real-estate blog competing with the top sources of industry news and information on the web. You’re never going to surpass the number of people looking at the top news sources and industry sites. You’re never going to become CNN. You’re goal isn’t to have the number one site on the web. You’re goal is to have the number one site among your clients and customers. If you’re sharing your content with the people you’re hoping to do business with, it doesn’t matter how many hits you receive. If you have one visitor to your blog and they end up your client, you’re an Internet success.
Nobody likes a poorly timed call from a telemarketer. Answering a call about having your carpet cleaned when your house has wall-to-wall hardwood floors is never welcome, least of all during the dinner hour. But, what if that telemarketer, rather than trying to sell you something you didn’t need, gave you some information you could use? What if every time you answered a call from a telemarketer they didn’t try to sell you anything but, instead, told you something fascinating and then left you alone. You may be more opened to future calls. This is the theory behind social-media and content marketing.
Here are some tips on content creation and building a presence and reputation online …
Know Your Audience: You’ll find articles suggesting you need to post multiple times a day to your blog, Twitter, and Facebook page. And yeah, the more you post the more attention you’re likely to get. It’s the old quantity over quality argument. In order to drum up some new business, however, you needn’t follow any arbitrary number of posts per day, week, or month. More importantly, you need to determine what kind of content your customers and potential clients would most benefit from receiving. Sending out a tweet every hour that doesn’t appeal to your customers and has nothing to do with your business won’t gain you any respect or attention. Posting something of value, however, can result in a new connection regardless of the frequency.
Know Your Topic: It’s tempting to get online and fill your pages with everything from the personal to the professional. And when you’re starting out and having difficulty finding appropriate content, posting about your favorite hobbies and habits may seem like a good way to get going. But nobody shopping for your particular services is going to choose you over your competition simply because you share the same taste in television, food, or sports teams. They will, however, take a longer look at your page if you’re consistently posting educational, informative, and interesting content aimed at helping them make better decisions. Give your audience what they’re looking for and they’re more likely to come looking for you when they’re ready to do business.
Know Your Purpose: Because it’s easy and free, setting your business up with a social-media profile may seem less valuable and vital. In other words, it may not seem like something that requires time, effort, planning, and forethought. It does. Spending a little time figuring out how you want to present yourself, what kind of content you’d like to offer, and who your target audience will be, can make the difference between a successful campaign and a half-empty Facebook fan page. You wouldn’t, for example, take out an advertisement without considering what it says, where it runs, and how it brands your business. So the same amount of consideration should go into your social-media properties. Keep them professional, up-to-date, consistent, and timely for best results.
Living in the Internet age is a lot like being around for the gold rush. There’s a lot of buzz about the limitless opportunities and possibilities but there are no guarantees that it’ll make you any money. Fortunately, unlike the gold rush, the Internet doesn’t require you to cross the country on a brutal horse-and-carriage led trip through the mountains and you won’t have to do hours and hours of manual labor in order to try your luck. Which is to say, if mining gold were this easy, everyone would have done it. And yet, there are those that are still hesitant to take their business online.
Here are some tips and ideas for those of you still on the fence …
Social Media Is Local: Stop thinking of the entirety of the Internet and start thinking about it as a way to get in touch with people in your area and region. The Internet may be able to reach all four corners of the known universe but its users generally are engaged with their friends, family, and community when they’re online. That means, social media is actually more efficient and valuable to small businesses than large corporations. After all, no one is going to pay too much attention to a tweet from Coca-Cola but they’d be more likely to read a post or click a link sent from a local business they know and trust. If you’re not doing business in India, there’s no need to set up a social-media campaign aimed at world domination. Keep it focused, targeted, and small to start.
Social Media Is Participatory: Here’s the part that trips a lot of people up. Despite being named “social” media, many people are turned off by the idea that they will actually need to communicate and reach out to other people. They want their social-media campaign to function like an online advertisement waiting to be seen by the right people. Unfortunately, there’s no quicker way to become lost in a pile of forgotten social-media profiles than to set up a page and quickly abandon it. You needn’t feel like you have to constantly be updating and refreshing your pages but it does help to have something to offer. And always be polite and engaging with the people that follow your pages and posts.
Social Media Isn’t Going Anywhere: Fortunately, the opportunities and possibilities of the Internet will be around a lot longer than the gold was in San Francisco. Which means, there may not be a rush, but there’s also no reason to wait. The early adopters will have the advantage of offering something their competition doesn’t. If you wait five years to take your goods and services online, your Facebook fan page will still be beneficial but it won’t give you a competitive edge. Which means, not only can a properly executed social-media campaign benefit your business but the sooner you start the better those benefits are likely to be.
Here’s a stat for anyone that believes blogs aren’t a viable lead generator … More than half of businesses that blog report having acquired a customer specifically through their blog. According to HubSpot’s 2012 State of Inbound Marketing survey, 57 percent of company blogs have pulled in a new client, that’s better than Facebook or Twitter. In other words, if you’re thinking of starting a social-media campaign for your business and you’re convinced business blogging is a thing of the not-so distant past, here are some things to think about …
Sharing is Marketing: The percentage of businesses with a company blog has risen in all of the past three years and has now reached 65 percent. In other words, if you’re not blogging, you’re behind the times. You’re a dying breed. A dinosaur. And there’s a reason the majority of companies are maintaining blogs. First, they’re a cheap way of increasing your web presence. Secondly, in the Internet age, marketing means getting your content passed along. Sharing is key. And a blog gives you a place to begin generating content and an audience. Once you’ve gotten accustomed to producing content set yourself up on a few social-media sites to syndicate your content even further.
More Is More: So you set up a blog, posted twice, and when it didn’t result in any new business, gave up? Well what did you expect would happen? According to the HubSpot survey, among businesses who reported acquiring a customer through their blog, 92 percent posted multiple times a day. In other words, the more you share, the more likely you generate traffic, make new contacts, and build new business. Now you may be thinking you don’t have the time to post multiple times a day. Well, 66 percent of those business blogs acquired a customer while only blogging once a week and, among blogs that only updated monthly, 56 percent gained a customer. In other words, even if you’re too busy or too lazy, chances are a business blog will benefit your bottom line.
The Future Is Now: Among respondents to the HubSpot survey, 62 percent say social media has grown more important to them in the past six months. And, on the flip side, only 14 percent named trade shows and nine percent said telemarketing. In other words, if you believed social media was a passing fancy and there was no need to participate, you’ve been proven wrong. More and more businesses are incorporating and benefiting from social media and blogs. And more of them are reporting their successes. The same survey found 81 percent of businesses said their blog was useful or better, with 34 percent calling it important and 25 percent saying it was critical. Yeah, critical.
Think of LinkedIn as the most well-attended networking event the world has ever seen. Then congratulate yourself on finding a way to meet and greet with more than 70 million professionals without having to endure the awkward conversations and business-card exchanges that go along with your regular, run-of-the-mill business gathering.
When used correctly, LinkedIn provides a platform for online networking, maintaining contacts, receiving referrals and participating in the community at large. And so, we’ve compiled the following tips and tools from past posts in order to help you take better advantage of your profile …
Your Profile: Since LinkedIn began as a vehicle for job hunters, many people are still under the impression that some form of copy-and-pasted resume is all you need to attract potential business to your page. Truth is, this is a representation of you and, hopefully, one that will be seen by potential clients and partners. That means, you’ll want to offer up a bit more than your work history. If you have a Twitter page, add it. Add your website as well. Get connected by importing your email address book and sending out an invite to your business contacts. Add a bio and job experience. The more information you offer, the more likely your profile will be found.
Get Active: So you’ve filled out your profile and imported your business contacts to LinkedIn. 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 road.
Make Recommendations: 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.
WordPress: If you have a business blog and haven’t added it to your LinkedIn page, you should. The WordPress application on LinkedIn allows you to easily update your profile with your most recent blog posts, provided you’re using WordPress. And, if embedding your blog on your LinkedIn profile sounds like it may be beyond your technological abilities, it’s as easy as entering your domain name into the application. Everything else is automatic.
Polls: You may think polls are only for research centers and presidential campaigns but they’re also a handy and convenient way of gathering information that will boost your business. Use the poll application on LinkedIn to pose a question to your connections and millions of other professionals, then use their answers to better your services. In addition, the poll application allows you to embed the voting module on your website or blog.
Be Strategic: Once you’ve set up a page and joined some groups, developed some content, discussion topics, or questions to share, it’s time to think strategically about how, where, and when to post it. You don’t, for example, want to post your content on Christmas morning or the 4th of July or even weekends for that matter. Posting the right topic to the right group at a time when there’s likely to be more traffic and interest will make the difference between being ignored and being found among millions of members.
Some of us are old-fashioned. Not by choice, necessarily. Mostly because it’s easier to romanticize the simplicity of the past than it is to always keep up on the newest developments here in the present. In other words, it’s tiring trying to stay current when you just figured out how to send a proper fax. So when it comes to keeping a business blog or setting up a fan page on Facebook, it’s difficult to see the reason or benefit.
Here are some old ways of thinking about new things …
Mailers, Newsletters & Blogs: Used to be that businesses would send out mailers or newsletters hoping to attract prospective clients. Printed mailers sent through the postal service were meant to inform, educate, and entertain, as well as announce new services and promotions. In other words, your business blog is just an ongoing version of the same thing. In fact, keeping a blog updated with information aimed at attracting and interesting potential customers also makes it easy to produce an old-fashioned monthly or weekly newsletter. After all, you now have the content. All you’ll need to decide is whether to print and mail it or copy-and-paste it into an email.
Social-Media & The Town Crier: All the way back to the beginnings of civilized society, people found ways to inform their neighbors of important news and announce happenings, deals, and developments. There’s little difference between what’s happening on social-media sites and what used to happen in the town square. In other words, today’s town square is online. Go where the people are. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, based purely on membership numbers, are where people are spending their time. Setting up an account is the virtual equivalent of having a platform in the center of town. Now you’ve got a space, make some noise.
Fliers, Email & Announcements: Email is about delivery. It’s the post office online. In fact, it’s so much like the post office people regularly discount it’s usefulness and say it’s obsolete. Sending emails is a way of getting your information, links, and offers to their appropriate destination. It’s like putting a flier up on a telephone pole. Say you’ve recently started a business blog. Send out an email to your contact list inviting them to have a look. In other words, it’s an easier, and more directed, way of getting your information and announcements into the right hands without having to buy a staple gun and walk 10 miles a day.
- Photo by C!../Flickr
Sharing is a big part of a successful social-media campaign. You’ve got to share and be shared to gather followers, fans, and friends online. But, for a lot of people, curiosity about social media is overwhelmed by a sense of dread over having to come up with content, posts, updates, and tweets on a regular basis.
Here are some ways to ideas, hints, and tips on what and where to share …
You’re A Curator: First things first, you don’t have to have anything interesting to say. The Internet is a vast resource and no one person can absorb all the information that’s available online. Which is to say, if you’ve come across anything in the news or anything that would be of interest to a potential client, share a link on your Twitter page. It’s a great way of informing and keeping in touch with existing customers and potential business. And it relieves you of the necessity of always having to come up with something to say off the top of your head. A curator is in charge of choosing the art that hangs on a museum’s walls, not creating it. Think of yourself as a curator and share the most interesting and relevant news that relates to your target audience.
You’re An Expert: Now, you may not think of yourself as an expert. Few people do. However, if you’ve spent any time in your current business, chances are you know more than the people paying you for your services. Otherwise, they’d do it themselves. That means, at the very least, you can add insights, context, and explanation to any information you’ve tweeted. If, for example, you tweet a link to an article related to your industry, add another tweet with some background or explanation. Give your Twitter followers some of your insight and expertise and they just may end up as your customers and clients
You’re A Media Mogul: Most importantly, share your content between your social-media sites. If you’re setting up a Twitter page, there are many ways to import blog posts and such to your Twitter feed. There are also easy-to-use apps and tools that will export your tweets to your Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, or blog. In other words, think of each of your individual pages as part of one whole. Spread your content around and make sure it’s getting out and circulating among all your connections and contacts across the Internet. The more you share, the more visible you are. The more visible you are, the more likely you are to turn online contacts into real-world clients.
Change can be challenging for some and totally paralyzing for others. It’s among the reasons so many dismiss the benefits of taking their business online. It’s easier to retreat than it is to keep up with the ever-evolving nature of the Internet and its boundless opportunities. There is, however, a simpler way of thinking of things and we offer a few of them below
Content is Conversation: Content is key when marketing your business online. But what is content? Well, instead of trying to break down the ins-and-outs of “content marketing,” imagine you’re having a conversation with a potential client. What types of things would you want to share with them? Maybe some news, a hot tip, a new deal? That’s your content. Blog posts, tweets, and Facebook updates needn’t be perfectly composed, crafty, clever, or even that creative. The only thing they need to be is relevant to the types of people you’d like to turn into customers.
Social Media is a Satellite: Think of your social-media profiles or blog as a satellite office. It’s your website away from home. It’s like an easily customized billboard that you have complete control over. Sure, it won’t replace your business website but it will become a place where you can communicate and connect with potential partners and future customers. Keep ‘em professional and relevant to your target audience and they’ll become a vital part of how you do business and how you reach new business.
The Internet is Everywhere: Increasingly, people are accessing the Internet wherever they go and whenever they want. And with the popularity of products like the iPhone and iPad, the ease with which people can access the Internet will only increase. That means, if you plan to stay in business for another five or 10 years, you’ll likely end up using the Internet in some way to promote and market your services. Starting now just means you’ll be better positioned to take advantage of future opportunities as the Internet becomes more and more integrated with everyday life.
The lesson behind the story of the Three Little Pigs isn’t that the pig is a particularly industrious animal. It’s that the pig who used bricks rather than sticks to build his house survived by being the most intelligent pig. He outsmarted the wolf and saved his fat friends by having the smarts to choose a sturdy building material rather than one more easily blown down. In other words, sometimes outsmarting the competition and surviving means choosing the right tools and materials to build upon. And that’s how the story of the three little pigs relates to social-media marketing. You may not feel the need or understand the benefits yet of marketing your business online. But having an online presence means you’re building a sturdy foundation for your business and using all the tools available to you. In other words, you’re not a pig in a straw house hoping for the best.
Here are answers to three common excuses and misconceptions about social-media marketing …
The Internet Isn’t Going Anywhere: It may seem tempting to dismiss social-media marketing as hogwash. It’s a convenient excuse to seem smarter than everyone else by not buying into the newest thing. Unfortunately, the Internet is no longer a new thing nor does it appear to be on the way out. The choice here isn’t whether or not you’re going to use social media to market your business. The choice is between doing it now and doing it later. Small businesses using social-media sites and blogs have found them to be an effective way to boost brand loyalty, communication with customers and clients, and new business. Just because it doesn’t work overnight and without any effort from you doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.
Don’t Think Of It As Facebook: It may seem silly to have a Facebook page or Twitter account for your business. So don’t think of it as social media. Think of it as a mini-website, a branch office, or satellite location. In other words, just because it’s a Facebook page doesn’t mean you have to use it to update your friends on where you’re hanging out on Friday night. Think of it as an extension of your website being hosted on the web’s most popular site. If your Twitter page is just an easily-updated extension of your online brand, then it’s a much easier concept to grasp. After all, making changes to your business website is difficult and not something you want to do a couple of times a day. But if you want to get a quick message out to your clients and customers, having a presence on any of the major social-networking sites means you can. You can never have too many avenues for communicating, keeping in touch, and generating word-of-mouth.
It Does Work, Just Not On Its Own: It’s also easy to say it doesn’t work. Or that you tried and nothing happened once you set up your page. It will take some time and effort but it will work. If you bought a phone and never used it, it wouldn’t be a broken phone. And you couldn’t return it due to a lack of calls. In other words, social media and online marketing is just another form of communication. Having an account on Facebook or Twitter won’t bring in business by itself but if you use your account to get in touch with past and potential clients, it will result in more familiarity with your business, new leads, and new business.
If you opened a retail store and had a flood of customers coming through your door everyday but never buying anything, you wouldn’t call that success. Sure, you would have succeeded in getting people to visit but, if your visitors do nothing but look, you wouldn’t be able to afford your rent, employees, or merchandise. Which means, you would be out of business just as quickly as you got into it. Social-media marketing works the same way. Converting visitors into customers takes effort and some organization. Concentrating on quantity over quality can leave you with an impressive stat sheet but no new leads.
Here are some tips on organizing your efforts and making the most of your online properties …
The Operations Center: Maybe you feel like blogs are yesterday’s news and you’d prefer to skip a step and take your online efforts directly to Facebook or Twitter. Don’t. A blog gives you much more control over how and what your customers see. Facebook, for example, is continually changing and evolving. You have no control over the next update and how that may affect your ability to share your content with potential customers, clients, and partners. Set up a blog and use that as your central hub. From there you can send your posts to whatever other online properties you use for business. In short, start with the blog and share from there. You’ll have more control and an easier time organizing your info and where it’s shared.
Use Your Base: Maintaining a blog takes effort. If nothing else, it requires regular content. That can be a challenge. So much so that getting your blog in front of your target audience can be a secondary concern. Turning your latest post into a lead generator can be tricky but building an audience may be easier than it seems. For one, you can use existing and past clients to generate an audience that’s focused and familiar. How, you may ask, would having past customers reading your blog help build your business? Well it will boost awareness and readership, in addition to providing all important word-of-mouth. After all, a past customer who’s already familiar with you and work will be more willing to pass along your info to family, friends, and colleagues.
Merge and Integrate: Too often, professionals set themselves up with social-media sites and blogs but don’t take the time to link them together or to their business website. Using RSS feeds or any available plugins and widgets online makes it easier than ever to incorporate your blog into your business site, your Facebook fan page, and your Twitter feed. If the purpose of keeping a business blog is to build business, then your main objective should be getting people to visit any or all of your online properties. Driving traffic back to your business website is key. Make sure you’re making it easy for visitors to find you before complaining that your online marketing efforts are a waste of time and effort.
The Ibis Network / www.theibisnetwork.com
If you’ve ever been a child, you know that making a mess is far easier than cleaning one up. Which is to say, we’ve all been guilty – at one time or another- of putting off the thankless task of cleaning up after ourselves. Cleaning, however, often exposes things previously hidden by clutter and makes it easier to use what you have. Your Internet presence is no different. Having a social-media presence for your business requires maintenance.
Here are a few tips, hints, and motivations for an end-of-the-year social-media house cleaning …
Google Yourself: It won’t make you an egomaniac to have a look at the results that come up when your name is plugged into any of the more popular online search engines. In fact, it’s an effective way of discovering what appears when a prospective client searches for you or your business. If you run your business’ name through Google or Bing and are embarrassed by the results or find pages with old contact information, you can be sure your prospective clients have seen the same. It’s also a good way of finding the Twitter or Facebook fan page you set up and abandoned a year ago. Have a good look at how you’re being presented online and go to work cleaning and updating your presence.
Be Consistent: Having an Internet presence is one thing. Having a consistent presence is another. If you have multiple social-media pages for your business, make sure you’re presenting yourself in an uniform way. That means, they all have the same contact info, bio, photo, name, addresses, and tone. If you’re “Crazy Eddie”on Facebook but “Edward” on Twitter, you’re likely to confuse anyone searching for you or your services. Having a consistently professional online presence means, no matter where someone finds you on the web, you’re well represented and offering the most up-to-date contact information.
Organize It: Once you’ve had a look at where you’re being represented online and spent some time updating your pages, take the time to organize things and make it easier to maintain in the future. Start by saving all your login and password information in one place. There’s no quicker way to lose motivation for maintaining your social-media presence than to try to repeatedly log in to your profiles only to be turned away because of a forgotten password. Next, link your pages wherever possible. Having your blog posts appear on your LinkedIn page or your tweets on your Facebook page makes it easier to keep everything fresh, consistent, and up-to-date. Once you’ve found your pages, updated your contact info, linked them together, and saved your login information in an easily accessible place, you’ll be better able to communicate with potential customers and take advantage of any available online opportunities.
The Ibis Network / www.theibisnetwork.com
Predictions are a dangerous business. After all, if they’re wrong, it’s only a matter of time before everyone knows it. Nevertheless, the end of each year brings with it a flood of forecasts, predictions, and crystal-ball gazing gurus who claim to know what will happen in the year ahead. For your convenience, we’ve scoured the web in an effort to collect the experts’ most frequently forecast trends in social-media and email marketing for 2012 …
Email and Social-Media Marketing: A recent survey found that among the marketing programs businesses planned to invest in during the coming year, email and social-media marketing topped the list. And though the edge of the cutting edge will tell you that email is obsolete, everyone uses it – which explains its continued presence on trend lists. More than two-thirds of companies surveyed said they plan on integrating their social-media and email campaigns in 2012 and 47 percent said they would focus on using email to grow their social-media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter pages.
Content Curation: If you have a friend that’s particularly good at finding adorable puppy videos and insists on sending every one of them to everyone in their email address book, you’re already familiar with the concept behind content curation. Which is to say, it’s nothing more than sharing. For business, that means sharing good, relevant content with your fans and followers. When you come across something that would be informative or interesting to your customer base, post a link with an explanatory note. Make it your goal to become a trusted source of quality content. Sure, anyone can do a Google search and find what they want on their own but collecting the best bits and presenting them in one place will save them time and keep ‘em coming back.
Facebook: Facebook is hardly new but the number one social-media site on the web continues to evolve. And that evolution means Facebook will continue to weave itself into the everyday life of their members through new platforms, apps, and smart phone functionality. Once upon a time, merely having a Facebook presence for your business was the trend but now it’s time to take it seriously. Just based on the staggering membership numbers or the fact that it’s the website Americans spend most of their time using, Facebook has become an essential part of any social-media campaign.
Content Marketing: The difference between content marketing and content curation is simply who’s writing the blog posts, composing tweets, and creating videos. So while it’s a good idea to share interesting industry-relevant news with your online network, you’ll also have to create some content on your own. And no, this doesn’t mean you need an audio/video department and a team of former newspaper editors. It means you need to communicate. How and when are up to you.
The Ibis Network / www.theibisnetwork.com
If there’s a television network you watch more than any other, it’s not because they run more commercials than their competitors. It’s because you like their shows. In short, it’s the content. A cable channel devoted to food-related advertising wouldn’t garner nearly as many viewers as any one of the many cooking/food networks.
The same applies to your business blog. You’ll have to create content that makes people take interest and you’ll have to post it regularly enough that they come back in the future. And, if that sounds like a lot of pressure, here are a few tips to remember while blogging for business …
Give it Time: The good news is nobody is likely going to be reading your blog when you first get going. And, though that doesn’t sound like good news, it will provide you some time to come up with a plan, some content, and a schedule that fits your schedule. Don’t be afraid to try things. Gather some industry-related stats or surveys, news or links and focus on the most interesting bits and pieces. Grab a couple, write up a short explanatory sentence or two, then summarize the details. That’s a blog post. Experiment with lists and how-to posts. Most importantly, keep at it. It’ll take some time and a little promotion before you have any readers, use that time wisely.
Write it Right: Okay, we understand that one of the biggest deterrents to keeping a business blog is the writing. But you don’t have to be the second coming of William Shakespeare in order to have a successful blog. You only need to pay a little more attention. Turn your spell check on and fix any mistakes. Keep it short and simple. You don’t need to know what a semicolon does. You don’t even have to use them. You do, however, have to make it readable. Break it up into shorter paragraphs and read what you wrote before posting. In fact, step away for a half hour or so and reread what you wrote with fresh eyes.
Keep a Schedule: There are those that will say, “Who has the time?” And yeah, the day is only so long. But keeping a regular schedule is better than keeping a bruising schedule. Which means, while you may notice more attention from search engines if you post 10 times a day, you’d also notice fewer hours in your day available for doing business. The answer is setting a schedule in advance. If you only blog on Monday and Friday, but you put something up every Monday and Friday, any readers you have will know when to check in for your latest offering. If you post 49 times the first week and then once a month and a half later, you’ll lose any momentum you had. Be consistent.
The Ibis Network / www.theibisnetwork.com
It’s hard to argue with numbers, unless you’re a mathematician or Pythagoras. And so, we’ve provided a list of social-media stats, numbers, and raw data to help convert the skeptics and offer encouragement to those who seek it.
There are more than 800 million active Facebook users. That’s right, 800 million. And Americans spend more time on Facebook than on any other website. That means, they aren’t on your website. Which means, you should probably have a Facebook page. Setting up a Facebook fan page for your business is an excellent way of making sure that you have a presence on the website most of us are presently perusing.
Social media apps are the third most downloaded apps among smartphone users. That means, the increasing number of people who access the Internet from their cell phone are, increasingly, using it to access their social-media pages. If people are that invested in their social-media pages that they want to be able to access them wherever they are, that’s a pretty good indication that having a social-media plan for your business isn’t likely to be time wasted on a passing fad.
78% of small businesses are using Twitter. Now we understand this comes dangerously close to the everybody-else-is-doing-it line of thinking but everybody else is doing it. And they can’t all be wrong.
41% of people using LinkedIn for marketing have generated business with it. LinkedIn is often confused for a job-hunting website but it’s also a great place to connect with other professionals, referral partners, and potential clients.
There are 3.5 billion things shared on Facebook each week. That means, blog posts, links, news, etc. That also means social-media is a high-tech word-of-mouth machine. Having your info shared is the quickest way to meet potential business online.
On Twitter, interesting content is the number one reason people retweet. In other words, if your content is interesting you’re more likely to have your content shared. Humor and personal connection were the second and third most common reasons for retweeting. Which means, if you’re not funny, you’d better be interesting.
79% of companies are using or planning on using social media. And that’s according to Harvard Business Review. Their survey found 58 percent of companies were already engaged on social-media sites, while an additional 21 percent had plans to launch a social-networking campaign.
57% of companies using blogs reported that they’d acquired customers from leads they generated through their blogs. And don’t believe it when you hear someone say that blogs are no longer relevant. In fact, between 2009 and 2011, the percentage of businesses that blog increased from 48 percent to 65 percent.
The Ibis Network / www.theibisnetwork.com
So you signed up for a Twitter account, tweeted around a little, and think you know everything there is to know about the Twitterverse. Well there’s 1,000 ways to use Twitter and an ever-expanding list of tools available to help you figure one or two of those ways that’ll make it work for you and your business.
Here’s a list of some of tools, apps, and ideas to help you maximize your tweets …
Contaxio: A tool to help manage, track, and interconnect your Twitter account. With Contaxio, you’ll be able to find contacts with similar interests, review your activity, scan stats about the people you follow and those who follow you, and even keep up with new contacts from your Facebook page.
Twaitter: Twaitter is another all-in-one Twitter tool aimed at increasing your efficiency, managing your accounts, and organizing your Twitter output. Schedule a tweet for later or even set it up to send recurring tweets on a daily, monthly, or even yearly basis. You’ll also be able to manage your activity with an interactive calendar, link a RSS feed to your Twitter account, and invite co-workers to join your account.
Twictionary: If you’re new to social media, the lingo alone can be intimidating. Luckily, there’s a Twictionary, which is exactly what it sounds like it might be. A dictionary of Twitter-related terms you’ll learn everything from the meaning of the hashtag to what it means to be an Atwistocrat.
Twitter Counter: Twitter Counter claims to be the number one Twitter stat site, tracking more than 14 million Twitter users and providing stats, widgets, and buttons for its users. For a price, they even offer a featured spot on their website for people looking to gain some attention and followers.
Twitter-Search: The quickest way to find who and what you’re looking for on Twitter. Filter real-time tweets to find people and businesses in your region and industry, then follow the results.
Nearby Tweets: See who’s tweeting what in your area. The simple set-up delivers search results based on a keyword and a location. Search for anything anywhere and see who’s tweeting what near you.
TwitPic: Feeling limited by Twitter’s 140 character maximum? Use TwitPic to share photos with your Twitter followers. If you have a Twitter account, then you’re already signed up for TwitPic. Log in using your Twitter username and password and get started.
TweetScan: Another easy-to-use search tool for keeping on top of what’s happening on Twitter.
CoTweet: A popular site for managing your Twitter accounts. Handy for tracking multiple accounts and keeping you on top of all your online activity.
Twibs: A Twitter-based business directory, Twibs aims to help businesses reach their customers. It’s as simple as registering your business, choosing some keywords, and adding links to your email and blog.
Twitdom: A directory of nearly 2,000 available applications and sites offering Twitter-related services.