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Saturday November 1st 2014

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Posts Tagged ‘Networking Suite’

Top Tips: 9 Recommendations And Reminders To Boost Your Social-Media Success

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 Top Three Reasons You Need A Facebook Page

It may be easy to convince yourself that you don’t need a Facebook page for your business. After all, you’ve gone this long without one. But if you’re interested in building your business and connecting with potential clients in your community, not having a Facebook page puts you at a disadvantage. As evidence, we compiled the following three reasons your business would benefit from having a presence on social media’s most popular site.

Reach: Okay, we’ve said this before but … The top reason you need a Facebook page is the number of people who check in with the social-media giant every day. Facebook is hugely popular and the most visited website in the country. That means, a Facebook page provides you with a platform to reach out to the millions of members who keep on top of their status updates, fans, friends, and followers. The trick, of course, is finding the right audience. Which is why the first goal should be to connect with people in your region and industry. The Internet may be a vast resource able to connect with people half way across the globe, but your goal should be to build a community of locals who may be in the market for your particular services.

Connectivity: In the ever-changing world of social media, Facebook may seem like old hat. But, though it’s no longer the newest or latest craze, it does have the benefit of already having established itself. And by “established itself,” we mean it’s inescapable. That means, Facebook allows you to connect with and link to just about anything you’d ever need, including your blog, Twitter profile, and an impressive list of applications to further increase the functionality of your page. If you can think of something you’d like to do with your page, there is likely a way to make it happen.

Competition: Not having a Facebook page for your business puts you behind the times – and your competitors. It may be a case of “everybody else is doing it,” but it’s true. The more ways you have to explain, educate, and engage potential clients, the better. So, in an increasingly technologically connected world, you can’t afford to be the only business in town that’s trying to connect with customers using 20th-century tools.

By The Numbers: More Stats To Change Your Mind About Social Media

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.

Twitter For Business: The Top Tools, Hints & Help

Among the top social-media sites, Twitter seems the most frivolous. It’s hard to imagine something that involves tweeting being a worthwhile thing to do with your time. And yet, there a countless examples of businesses that are successfully incorporating Twitter into their social-media marketing strategy. Used correctly, Twitter can help you boost brand awareness and familiarity, customer loyalty, word of mouth, and visibility. Here are some of our top tips, hints and help for businesses looking to capitalize in the Twitterverse.

Just Tweet: Okay, if you’re just starting out on Twitter, the first thing to do is tweet. You aren’t likely to attract anything but spam with an empty page. If you’re having trouble thinking of something to say, re-tweet something you found interesting or informative that relates to your industry or area. You can’t expect to gain any followers unless you’ve got something to share. Starting from scratch can be difficult but keep it professional, relevant, and regularly updated for best results.

Use the Hashtag: If you’ve heard the term but haven’t yet understood the concept, here you go … Hashtags identify the topic or subject of your tweet, making it easier for people to find it through searches. For example, if you’re tweeting about real estate, follow your tweet with #realestate. That way, it’s more likely your tweet will be found by people searching for real estate on Twitter. But think it through, as a hashtag for something as general as real estate will likely be among thousands of others.

Nearby Tweets: See who’s tweeting what in your area with nearbytweets.com. The simple setup delivers search results based on a keyword and a location. Search for anything anywhere and see who’s tweeting what near you.

Make Friends: The more people you follow, the more people will follow you. Choose some interesting people and businesses in your industry and region and follow them. Check their followers and follow some of them too. Not only will you have access to any tips and info they share, you’ll boost your visibility and attract your own followers.

Engage: Build a community by commenting and re-tweeting what other people have posted. Post something that isn’t directly related to your business. Talk about other businesses in your area. Point out interesting things in your community.

Be Thankful: Using Twitter properly – or any other social-media site for that matter – requires a bit of old-fashioned etiquette. Much like they do in everyday life, people online appreciate a simple thank you from time to time. For our purposes that means turning on email notifications from your Twitter page. Twitter will send you an email any time someone new follows you. Be sure to send a thank you. It’s a good way to encourage communication and requires nothing more than a short message.

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.

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 about it than the people paying you for your services. Otherwise, they’d do it themselves. That means, at the very least, you can add insight, context, and explanation to any information you’ve tweeted. If, for example, you tweet a link to an article related to your industry, follow with another tweet that adds background or explanation. Give your Twitter followers some of your expertise for free and they just may end up paying customers down the road.

Interact: Twitter is about communication. It’s meant to be conversational, which explains the character limitations. Ideally, you’d encourage a back-and-forth with your followers and those you follow, using tweets to respond and reply to questions, concerns, and messages. Twitter allows for direct messages, which operate a lot like email. Respond to the messages you receive and to people who tweet about your or your business. It may sound like a lot of work but, if done correctly, the benefit to your business will outweigh the time you invested building a following. Keep your expectations reasonable.

The Three Social Media Mistakes That Are Holding You Back

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.

The Basics: How To Get Your Social-Media Campaign On The Right Track

 

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.

 

Social-Media Strategy: What You Need Now To Build Business Online

 

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.

The Layman’s Guide To Search-Engine Optimization

 

Trying to figure out the algorithm Google uses to rank web pages in search-engine results would take a degree in mathematics and a minor in computer science. And even then, you may be at a loss. That means, search-engine optimization will forever remain a mystery to any of us outside the bowels of Google’s headquarters. Still, you don’t have to be schooled in calculus and computer programming to know that the more popular and regularly updated a web page, the more easily it’ll be found in search-engine results.

Here are a few simple tips to improving your web presence without hiring a mathematician …

Content & Keywords: You can find plenty of articles online explaining how to optimize your web properties through the use of keywords. Simply put, if you have a blog and use the phrase “ice cream stand” in every sentence in every blog post you put up on the web, then you’ll be more likely to be found when someone searches for ice cream stands on Google or Bing. But creating content around keywords will likely leave your blog posts sounding as though English was your second language. However, if your business is running an ice cream stand and you’re blogging about your industry, then you’ll naturally be including all the right keywords. Which is another way of saying, regular content relevant to your profession or industry will naturally include all the appropriate keywords. That means, creating content regularly and focusing on a target audience is the simplest way to ensure that you show up in the right searches online.

Plugins: If you’re using WordPress, there are plenty of plugins available that promise to increase your search-engine rankings. These plugins, including All in One SEO Pack, WordPress SEO by Yoast, and SEO Smart Links, will require some input and knowledge on your end but can help automatically tag your pages and posts to increase the likelihood that you’re found in the searches you’d prefer. Unfortunately, if you’re already creating regular content and are active online, it’ll be hard to determine whether the plugin or your manual efforts are responsible for any noticeable results. Still, having a look through the available online tools can’t hurt and may help you achieve the results you desire.

Social-Media: Having social-media pages devoted to your business can also help you show up in search-engine results. But, in order to capitalize on the positive effects social-media can have in getting you found by the right people, you’ll have to make sure your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages are properly set up. For example, though you may be tempted to get creative with your page names, the most effective way to be found in search-engine results is to be straightforward. Use your business name or the closest thing to it and also fill in the most essential parts of your fan pages and profiles. The more relevant information you share online, the more you’ll be found in relevant search-engine results.

 

Wikipedia: social media The online forms of communicating that any individual can employ, which include blogs, microblogs such as Twitter and social networking sites such as Facebook.

House Cleaning: An End Of The Year Guide To Social Media Maintenance

 

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

 

Future Forecast: Social-Media, Email Marketing Trends For 2012

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

The Basics: Business Blogging For The Busy Professional

 

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

By The Numbers: 8 Reasons Your Business Needs Social Media

 

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

 

Tweet Suite: The Top 11 Tools For Twitter Success

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.

Social Media Isn’t Magic And Other Keys To Success Online

It’s tempting to think social-media success involves a little magic and some sleight-of-hand. There must be some app, service, software, or site that would propel your profits and boost your business. Maybe the spammers are right and you should just buy 1,000 Facebook fans and wait for them to spread the word. Sadly, though there are many helpful tools available to help you along the way (See our previous posts on apps and plugins for LinkedIn, Facebook, and WordPress), social media isn’t magic. It is, however, an effective way to develop relationships and create word-of-mouth if done correctly.

Here are some tips on successfully marketing your business through social media …

Content is King: Social-media success requires a bit of restraint. Which means, while you may want to fill your blog or Twitter feed with advertisements for you and your business, you’ll do better offering content that is interesting to your potential customer base and forming relationships with any followers or fans you make along the way. Keep your content short and easy to read. On Facebook, for example, it’s been shown that shorter posts get shared 27 percent more than longer posts. And, when you think about it, it’s just common sense. If you’re selling cupcakes, people will get tired of hearing about how you’ve got cupcakes for sale. But what if you posted a recipe instead? It’s likely that the recipe would be shared and enjoyed by more people than yet another plea for business.

Relationships Matter: Whether you have 10 Twitter followers or 5,000 Facebook fans, you should make an effort to treat them as something more than potential dollar signs. After all, people will be more loyal and likely to tell their friends if there’s a person behind the page rather than a company logo that rarely responds to messages or comments. Don’t be as concerned with the number of connections you’ve made as much as the connections themselves. Be personable, appreciative, and responsive. You may find shifting your focus from quantity to quality will, strangely enough, end up boosting your numbers.

Sharing is Caring: Your goal is to get people to share your content or your contact info. You may find someone in search of exactly the service you provide through your social-media efforts or you may be contacted by someone who had a link sent to them or had a friend tell them about your business. In other words, it’s about word-of-mouth. And the best way to create word-of-mouth is to do your best to be respectful and not an annoyance. Post regularly to your blog or social-media site but not so much that people tune you out. Share good information and think it through. Think about what you’d be interested in or what would be helpful to your customers and allow that to guide what you post.

The Ibis Network / www.theibisnetwork.com

WordPress Made Easy: Top Plugins For Your Business Blog

Keeping a business blog can be an effective tool for branding your business, generating leads, and keeping in touch with clients, partners, and anyone else who stumbles across your site. It can also be a headache. That’s why you should be taking advantage of the large directory of plugins available to WordPress users. Plugins, like apps, are easy-to-use and greatly increase the functionality of your site. They can help with everything from reducing spam comments to spell checking to syndicating your content and improving your search-engine rankings. Best of all, they’re typically free and shouldn’t require a degree in computer programming to use.

Here are a few to benefit your blog and your business …

Postie: Posting regular content to your business blog can be challenging, if only because it can be difficult to fit into an otherwise busy work schedule. Using the Postie plugin, however, can take some of the work out of blogging by making it possible to send your posts via email. You can set categories and tags, include pictures and videos, and strip off your email signature and anything else you wouldn’t want appearing on your blog. Easy to set up and customize, Postie requires nothing more than a dedicated email address to send your posts to. After that, posting to your blog will be no more difficult than sending any other email.

Network Publisher: In order to use Network Publisher, you’ll need to register for an account with the plugin’s author, Links Alpha. That’s the bad news. The good news is it’s free and will make updating your entire social network a breeze. Network Publisher allows you to publish your blog posts to any, or all, of the 30 social-media sites offered, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, and Google Buzz.

WPTouch: In the age of the iPhone, iPod, and Android, it’s important that people accessing the Internet from their phone or tablet are still able to find and use your site. WPTouch will automatically transform your blog into a mobile-friendly theme without requiring any coding. In other words, this WordPress plugin will provide an accessible and user-friendly version of your site for mobile visitors without affecting your regular blog theme.

Jetpack: Jetpack is actually a set of plugins, including a widget for displaying your Twitter feed, stats, a URL shortener, and a collection of share buttons that allow your readers to easily pass your posts along to their social networks. It even includes a spelling, style, and grammar check to help you edit your writing efficiently. The all-in-one package is allows users of self-hosting WordPress sites to access the same easy-to-use widgets and tools available from wordpress.com.

The Ibis Network / www.theibisnetwork.com

 

Three Keys To Building A Business Brand Online

There aren’t a lot of self-described idiots out there. Which is to say, people like to believe they’re smart. And that’s the reason branding your business online is so important. After all, your customers and clients want to feel like they’re making an informed decision before spending their money. So the more information you share, the more they feel like they’re making a smart choice by choosing to do business with you.

Here are some tips to building a better business brand through social media …

The Foundation: In order to properly brand your business, you’ll need a foundation. That means, having a business blog. Having a blog provides your social network with a focal point. It also offers a convenient way to share content that can then be posted on any additional social-media sites you’ve set up. Make sure, though, that your blog represents your business professionally and consistently. Pay attention to the theme, layout, and widgets you’re using. Though it’s tempting to use all the bells and whistles available to you, a cluttered blog means a cluttered brand. Make sure it’s easy to read and, most importantly, easy to identify who’s in charge. You’ll want visitors to read what you’ve posted on your blog but you’ll also want them to know who you are and what you do.

The Goal: It’s easy enough to get yourself a blog and/or a Facebook page, Twitter account, or LinkedIn profile but you’ll also need a goal. The idea behind social-media marketing is to brand yourself as an expert and a resource. You want people to do business with you and you’re online to give them better access to you, your knowledge, and your business. In other words, your goal is to offer valuable information about your services, industry, and business and to share it with potential clients and customers. If you’re seen as knowledgeable, experienced, and willing to spend the time to make sure your clients are informed, you’ll increase the visibility and reputation of your business.

The Benefits: A properly branded social-media campaign can provide many benefits to your business. Most of all, it increases customer loyalty and referrals as it creates a stronger bond between you and your clients. If you’re communicating with your customers, sharing content, and responding to comments and questions online, you’re boosting the likelihood that those customers will remember you next time they’re in the market for your services or know someone that is. Social media also offers a platform for you to research your region and industry to help you better your business. Most of all, though, it serves as a word-of-mouth generator. The more you participate, the better the success rate.

The Ibis Network / www.theibisnetwork.com

Twitter For Business: Making Better Use Of Your Tweets

 

Social media is a great tool for eavesdroppers, voyeurs, and busybodies. Which means, the best way for you to find new business using social media is to make sure you’re being overheard by the right set of eavesdroppers. Talk loudly and make sure you’re saying something that will garner some attention. Then, once you’ve gotten their attention, be interesting, available, friendly, and polite.

Here are some tips to help you make better use of your Twitter page …

Be Thankful: Using Twitter properly – or any other social-media site for that matter – requires a bit of old-fashioned etiquette. Much like they do in everyday life, people online appreciate a simple thank you from time to time. For our purposes that means turning on email notifications from your Twitter page. Twitter will send you an email any time someone new follows you. Be sure to send a thank you. It’s a good way to encourage communication and requires nothing more than a short message.

Just Tweet Already: Okay, if you’re just starting out on Twitter, you’ll have to have some tweets on your page. You aren’t likely to attract anything but spam with any empty page. If you’re having trouble, re-tweet something you’ve found interesting or informative on someone else’s Twitter feed that relates to your industry or area. You can’t expect to gain any followers unless you’ve got something to share. Starting from scratch can be difficult but keep it professional and relevant and update it regularly for best results.

Make A List: Use Twitter’s list function to categorize and organize your contacts. Twitter allows you to create 20 lists of up to 500 members each. Create lists of industry contacts and leaders, regional pages, past clients, and anyone else that you’d like to keep up with. Breaking up your contacts into separate lists makes it easier to follow their feeds and look for ways to further engage and communicate.

Don’t Be Selfish: You will, of course, have to come up with some tweets of your own but you also shouldn’t feel embarrassed to pass along relevant and quality content to your followers. Promoting content you find elsewhere on the web is mutually beneficial. It gives you something to tweet and it passes along something of interest to your followers. Twitter is, in the end, just another way of keeping in touch with your business contacts. Gaining a reputation for sharing quality info means more activity on your Twitter page. And that means more potential business.

The Ibis Network / www.theibisnetwork.com

The Basics: 57 Social-Media Terms To Learn For Better Business Online

The Internet is an incredible resource but keeping up with an always-evolving online world can be a challenge. Sometimes the lingo alone can stand between successfully implementing a social-media strategy and being overwhelmed by widgets, avatars, and hashtags.

Here’s an update of our previous list of basic terms to familiarize yourself with (New terms in bold)  …

Active Rain – The largest social network for real-estate professionals. Launched in 2006, Active Rain has nearly 200,000 members.

Aggregator – A web-based tool or desktop application that collects syndicated content from across the Internet.

API (Application Programming Interface) A computer system or application that allows programs and websites to communicate and exchange data.

App – An application performing a specific task able to be accessed by your computer or phone.

Archives – An index page that organizes past entries and older posts by date.

Avatar – The image, picture, or username a person uses to identify themselves on social-networking sites.

Badge – A linked image displayed on a blog that promotes a person’s profiles or participation on other social-media sites, such as Facebook or Twitter.

Bit.ly – A popular – and free – URL shortening service that makes it easier to share lengthy web addresses on social-networking sites such as Twitter.

Blog – A regularly updated website or “web log” that allows a company or individual to post content and interact with readers through commentary, subscriptions, widgets, and syndicated RSS feeds.

Blogosphere – A term used to describe the totality of blogs on the Internet.

Blogroll A list of sites, typically found in the sidebar of a blog, showing the sites that particular blogger recommends.

Content – Content on any website, including text, pictures, video, and audio materials.

Creative Commons - A nonprofit corporation that provides free licenses and legal tools that label creative work with the creator’s specifications on reuse, sharing, and using commercially.

Dashboard – The administrative area on blogs and social-media sites that allows you to edit your information, manage comments, monitor traffic, upload files, etc.

Delicious - A free online bookmarking service that allows users to save web addresses publicly and privately online, so they can be easily accessed and shared.

Domain Name – The identifying name or address of an Internet site.

Facebook – The largest social-networking site for individuals and businesses. Facebook has more than 500 million users.

Feeds (RSS Feed) – A program used by a website that allows the user to syndicate their content and provide subscribers with new blog posts and articles without requiring them to visit the site.

FeedBurner – A Google-based tool that provides a way for users to accept subscriptions by email for their blog posts, podcasts, and online content.

Forums – Online forums allow members of social-media sites to interact with other members by posting messages or questions on particular topics.

Geotagging – Adding location-based data to media such as photos and video to help users find businesses and services by region.

Groups – Communities within social-media sites that allow users interested in particular topics or activities to share information, posts, and messages with other members.

Hashtag – Used on Twitter, a hashtag is a keyword or phrase preceded by a “#” that helps organize posts, making them easier to find in Twitter searches.

Hits – A measurement defined as any request for a file from a web server.

HootSuite – A web-based Twitter service that allows users to manage multiple Twitter profiles, schedule tweets, and view statistics and metrics.

Hyperlink – A navigational reference that embeds a link to a document or page on the Internet.

HTML – The coding language used to link documents, text and multimedia files on the Internet. HTML is the programming language that provides content and structure for web pages in order to define layout, font, color, and graphics.

LinkedIn – A business-oriented social-media site for professional networking. Launched in 2002, LinkedIn now has more than 70 million registered users.

Links – Highlighted text that, when clicked, takes readers to another page containing related content or source materials.

Link Building – The process of generating links to your website from other sites in an effort to boost search-engine ranking. Blogging is a popular method of link building.

Metadata Information, including titles, tags, and captions, used to describe a media item or blog post in order to make it more easily found by search engines and aggregators.

Micro-Blogging – A form of blogging that limits the amount of characters or words per post, such as Twitter.

Open Media – A term referring to any media, including video, text, and audio, that can be freely shared online.

Permalinks – The permanent address or URL of a blog post or web page. A permalink is what is used when linking to another story within an email message or post.

Profiles and Pages – The pages on social-networking sites where a person or business displays their contact information, pictures, posts, and files.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – The process of improving and increasing traffic to a website from search engines.

Sidebar – A column or columns along either or both sides of a blog’s main content area that includes widgets, contact and biographical information, links to previous posts and favorite sites, archives, badges, subscription information, RSS feeds, and more.

Social Media – Websites that provide communities with common interests a means to communicate and engage with one another online.

Social Networking – Socializing online through a social-media site, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, that allows you to create a profile and communicate with other members.

Subscribing – Signing up for a site’s feed, which automatically sends you new content from that site.

Syndication – The process of sharing and distributing content online.

Tag Cloud A visual representation of the most popular tags on a blog or website. More popular tags are usually shown in larger type while less popular tags appear smaller.

Tags Keywords associated with a blog post or other content making them more easily found through searches.

Threads – Messages or posts under a single forum topic or the comments and trackbacks of a particular blog post.

Trulia – A real-estate search engine and networking site that allows professionals to create business profiles and allows consumers to find listings, blogs, and real-estate information.

Tweet – A post or update on Twitter.

TweetDeck – A Twitter application that serves as a real-time browser that connects you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more.

Twitter – A micro-blogging site where members post “tweets” or messages of 140 characters or less.

Upload – The process of transferring a file from your computer to a website.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator) – A URL is the technical term for a website’s address.

Video Blog – A blog that produces and posts video content on a regular basis.

Wall – The shared portion, or discussion board, displayed on a social-media profile.

Webinar – A web-based seminar, presentation, lecture, or workshop transmitted over the web.

Widget – An application offered on social-media sites and blogs that performs a specific function allowing users to customize their profiles or blog.

Wiki – A technology that allows many users to edit a web page, such as Wikipedia.

WordPress – A blog publishing application that offers users an easy-to-use template through which they can create their own blog and maintain their own blog.

YouTube – Popular video-sharing website through which users upload, share, and view videos. It is the largest video-sharing site in the world.

Source materials here, here, here, here, here, and here.

The Ibis Network / www.theibisnetwork.com

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