Posts Tagged ‘Social Networking’
The Social Media world is a fast paced and ever-changing environment. In order to succeed in understanding this rapidly expanding world, it helps to keep up with new statistics and facts. The most efficient way of staying ahead is by simply staying involved. If one is consistently interacting with their social media outlets, it undoubtedly becomes easier to grasp new habits and trends.
Over the last year, social media has evolved into a much larger concept. Facebook is still considered the most successful social-media invention to date, with 23% of Facebook users checking their accounts at least 5 times a day. Other sites are giving Facebook a run for its money; Twitter is vigorously recruiting new users at an optimal speed, snagging a whopping 53% more users in less than one year while Facebook users have only increased by 19%.
New trends such as Instagram and Pinterest have become immensely popular recently, allowing users to upload pictures to share their unique story or showcase their brand visually. Businesses are taking advantage of these social-media sites to attract customers with a variety of available product pictures, and in result approximately 1/2 of social media users say Facebook and Pinterest have influenced them on previous purchases.
It has been suggested that the recent jump in social-media activity is due to mobile use. Mobile sharing has become immensely popular among users. Social-media users are no longer required to stay in one location to access their various sites. Mobile devices provide the necessities needed to complete most general social-media tasks such as posting pictures, sharing your status and location and sending/receiving Emails. This light-weight independence is an attractive characteristic to the majority of users while traditional options, such as desktop and laptop computers are not as convenient.
Keeping abreast of recent changes and new technology in social media can be difficult at times, but if one understands the social channels they are targeting, one has a much better chance that their specific social-media campaign will succeed. Social media is mostly user-friendly but at times can be confusing. One must know the difference between simply using social media and using social media to incorporate the right aspects into the DNA of the brand one has created. Social media changes every day. It is imperative to understand the changes to ensure brand success online.
You can find quick tips to improve your social-media presence on our Facebook page here
Among social-media sites, Twitter has the least obvious professional application. It’s character limitation and cutesy lingo make it seem like a stretch for someone hoping to reap business benefits from social networking. Still, there are a number of inventive ways to use Twitter that will make it easier to find contacts, research your local market, and connect with industry leaders.
Here are some tips for using Twitter more effectively …
Use Keywords: On Twitter, people attach hashtags to particular words or phrases to make their tweets easier to find. Attaching a hashtag means people searching for that topic will be more likely to find that tweet. It also make eavesdropping on Twitter users even easier. Search for a keyword or phrase associated with your business and get an instant report on what people are thinking and saying about your industry. Use what you learn to craft better business strategies and address your customers’ needs and concerns. Using Twitter for field research doesn’t even require an account. It’s the fastest, easiest, and most effective way to use Twitter for business.
Go Local: Apply that same lesson to your region, city, or state and you can quickly find Twitter users in your neighborhood and community. This is a good way to boost your followers and make new contacts. Find some local Twitter users who either fit your target demographic or are influential or active in the community, then follow their feed. Chances are many of these new contacts will follow you back. Use that opportunity to introduce yourself and begin a conversation. You are, after all, neighbors. Keep it casual and conversational. Soon these contacts will become online friends and their word of mouth and familiarity with you and your business will benefit your bottom line.
Reach Out: It can’t hurt to take the first step. Reaching out and following people on Twitter is a quick way to generate some goodwill and gather some fans of your own. Finding people in your area or industry is a good start but don’t be afraid to also follow feeds of people and entities beyond your immediate grasp as well. By which we mean, follow the local newspapers, city leaders, national media sites, industry trade groups, and any or anything else that pertains to your business and interests you and, presumably, your followers. As always, keep it professional and family friendly. Ultimately, the more diverse and active your Twitter page is, the better chance you’ll have at making it work for you and your business.
Finding social-media advice online is as easy as finding cars in a parking lot. Which is to say, there are plenty of gurus and experts hoping to teach you how to maximize your potential and rack up huge numbers of followers and fans. But – despite their expertise and savvy – the best advice is usually just common sense. To that end, we’ve compiled 9 common sense tips to help you become a more successful and effective social-media marketer.
Respond: Answer questions, thank people even if it’s just a few words. Make it a two-way conversation, listen to what others have to say and appreciate suggestions and feedback. It will make what you do even better.
Know What You’re Doing: If you’re going to establish yourself on social media, get involved in social media. Start your own Twitter account, Facebook page, read blogs, and get engaged. That’s the best way to understand the culture, tone, best practices, and protocol.
Add Value: Share tips, tricks, and insights. People’s time is precious and they need to get something out of the time they spend on your page. Make listening to you worth their while.
Drive Traffic To Your Website: Adding links in appropriate places within posts, and occasionally in Tweets, can drive potential business to your official website.
Your Brand Is Everything, Everywhere: Your business brand is everything and anything you do. From your logo, colors, tagline, and Twitter background to your blog header, website, profile pic, and bio. Your brand is everything you post, anywhere you’re represented. Be cautious and consistent.
Integrate: All your marketing efforts should work together to present consistent brand messages and lead to your ultimate marketing goals. You should also cross-promote your various marketing efforts.
Be Active: Update your status, share, comment, send invitations to connect, start group discussions, answer questions, and comment on other people’s pages and profiles. It’s called social media for a reason.
Seek Feedback: If nothing else, social media should be an effective way of finding out what your customers and clients think of your business. When was the last time you asked them what they’d like to see on your page? Whether you’re asking them to vote on your next post or to choose a product or service they’d like you to incorporate into your business, don’t underestimate the value of feedback.
Understand Your Objective: Before jumping on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other network, ask yourself “Why?” Each marketing effort should be clearly and logically tied to core business objectives. Are you using this network for customer service, brand awareness, or community building? And what does success look like? Having more fans or followers is not really a viable metric. Having a more engaged community could be.
The key to successfully marketing your business through social media is to make it seem like you’re not. Which is to say, social-media marketing requires a little slight of hand, a lot of patience, and some faith. You can’t expect to put up some pages, upload a bunch of sales material, and wait for new clients to come knocking down your door. You’ll have to build a community of followers, fans, contacts, and customers the old-fashioned way.
Here are some tips to marketing your business without seeming to …
Think About Your Approach: So you registered for some social-media pages and are eager to start selling your services online? Well, unfortunately, that’s not how it works. In fact, there’s no quicker way to turn off potential online leads than to hammer away with sales talk and solicitations. Social-media marketing requires a little finesse. That means, rather than posting everyday about your business and services, you should be offering information and help. Approach your online contacts as though you’re doing it out of the kindness of your heart and the familiarity and goodwill you generate will lead to word-of-mouth and business.
The Content Conundrum: What do you post when you’d really rather beg for business? Well, there are a number of things. The quickest and easiest way to generate some good content is to share interesting info you’ve found that may help someone in need of your particular services. Pass along some industry news that a consumer might not know but should. Explain and add context to any numbers, stats, or trends that a potential customer would benefit from knowing. Approach your updates and posts as though you’re a good friend hoping to assist someone with an important decision. Answer questions and ask for feedback. All of these things will generate a back-and-forth with your online contacts that can only benefit your business.
Turning Contacts Into Clients: Of course, to some people, the process of luring in business through social-media may seem like a wasted effort. After all, who has the time to be posting to Facebook or LinkedIn when they need to generate real money in the real world? With time and consistency, however, social-media can – and will – lead to business. It’s just a matter of targeting the right audience and keeping up with your contacts. Social-media is a word-of-mouth machine. Give it time and you’ll soon see that your contacts are not only turning into clients, but are also recommending you to their contacts and online communities.
Management skills are an important part of having an effective social-media presence. Not only do you have to manage your content and keep up with contacts and comments, you have to effectively manage your time – which can be the biggest obstacle for someone new to online marketing. Here are some helpful hints and tips to making better use of your pages and profiles, as well as your time.
Get A Calendar: This may seem obvious but keeping a schedule will greatly increase your odds of staying on top of your social-media profiles. If you’re continually trying to find 10 minutes to update your Facebook page while juggling yet another busy work day, there will always be something more important to take care of. If, however, you block off a time of day or week to handle all of the notifications, emails, and updates you need to address, you’ll be more likely to get around to it. How often you need to check in with your social-media presence, depends on your business and client base. What works for one person won’t, necessarily, for another. Make a schedule and stick with it.
Put Your Followers To Work: Successful social-media pages are driven – not by their administrators – but by the fans and followers that tune in to what is being posted on the page or blog. In other words, when you’ve got a lively community of people engaged with the information you’re offering, your page will begin to take care of itself. Sure, you’ll need to stay on top of things, but having people reading and commenting on what you’re posting online will encourage others. And, with any luck, your page will become a forum for like-minded individuals exchanging ideas and questions. To get things going, offer a discount or prize for people who comment or contribute to your page. Along with your content, ask a question or take a poll related to the topic. Get people involved and your page will soon take on a life of its own.
Minimize And Simplify: If you’re someone who’s prone to feeling overwhelmed or tends to value results over patience, start small and don’t try to take over the Internet overnight. That means, taking one step at a time. Don’t register for 12 different profiles, fill out half of the info requested, and throw up your hands when nothing’s happened after one week. Start with one page and get familiar with the way things operate. Get used to updating your page and promoting your content. Once you start to have success on one site, try another if you’d like. As always, there’s no universal rule. Maybe Twitter works for you and Facebook doesn’t. Maybe you need both. Only trial, error, and time will determine the answer to what works for you and your business.
Despite what they say, you can argue with numbers. You can also argue with chickens. Neither of these activities, however, is likely to produce a positive outcome. That’s why, though it may be easier and more convenient to ignore reality, you’ll always do better if you acknowledge the facts.
To that end, here are some facts about social-media marketing …
Nielsen estimates that social media and blogs reach 80 percent of active Internet users in the U.S.: Not only that, Nielsen also found that nearly a quarter of all Internet usage is spent on blogs or social-media sites – double the amount spent on gaming. That means, almost half of all Internet usage is split between people playing games online and those perusing social-media pages, profiles, and blogs. And since you likely won’t be able to effectively market your business through online games, you should probably take a look at registering a Facebook page or setting up a blog. The potential upside is huge and there is little to lose. Having a shot at a new audience of potential customers and clients is ultimately what marketing is meant to accomplish. Social media provides an excellent platform to reach new people and generate business.
60 percent of consumers say they are willing to post about products or services if they get a deal: In other words, social media is a viable avenue for promoting and marketing your business. By interacting with your clients and customers over social-media, you are able to appeal to them directly, while offering them exclusive deals and bonuses. It takes a little creativity, but finding a way to get your Facebook or Twitter followers to spread the word for you is worth the effort. Offering Internet-only promos is a great way to boost interest in your business among current and potential clients. Just don’t overwhelm your connections with sales pieces and drive them away.
91 percent of experienced social marketers see increased traffic to their website and 79 percent say they’re generating more quality leads: Doubt all you want but more and more businesses are finding success marketing their services through social-media channels. The key word here, though, is “experienced.” In other words, you’re not going to see boosted traffic to your website and a bag full of quality leads during your first week online. It takes time, effort, and a bit of practice to learn what works for you and put it into action. Those who have had success with social media, have had patience with social media. Give it time and pay attention. After all, the stats say your efforts will ultimately be rewarded.
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.
Social media can seem like a relatively painless proposition until it comes to creating content for your pages. Content is the difference between success and failure online. But it’s also the part of social networking that takes the most time and effort – which is why it trips up so many would-be social-media marketers.
Think of it like throwing a dinner party. You want to have an interesting guest list and hope to dazzle them with your entertaining skills. But – in order to have a successful gathering – you’ll need dinner. Provide good food and a comfortable atmosphere and your guests will be clamoring for an invite the next time you’re having people over. Skimp on the appetizers and deliver a mediocre meal and word will get out, ensuring future invites go ignored. In other words, what you serve your guests matters whether you’re throwing a dinner party or promoting your services over the Internet.
Here are some tips on creating compelling content …
Go With What You Know: If you’re creating content for a business blog or fan page, this one should be easy. After all, your content should relate to your business and you, presumably, know something about your business and industry. Having to write blog posts can seem like homework. Make it easier by writing something you know well. Try industry news and updates, answers to frequently asked questions, or explaining something about your business that your clients and customers should understand. If you’re writing something you know well, it won’t be as difficult to think of what or how to say it. Make it easy on yourself and stick with topics you’re familiar with.
Write The Way You Speak: Writing doesn’t have to be a chore. If you’re writing something for your blog or social-media site, start by thinking of the way you’d say it if you were telling someone in person. You don’t have to change the way you communicate. Keep it simple and conversational. Don’t worry about the sophistication of your sentence structure. Pay more attention to whether or not you’ve effectively communicated what you set out to say. Ultimately, you want visitors to read it, not grade it. Keep it short, easily consumed, and professional.
Use The Internet: Ideas abound on the Internet. If you’re having trouble creating content, there are countless ideas, topics, and resources available to you online. Social media is about sharing and communicating. So post a link to a story or article your read that relates to your industry or region. Link to a video or re-tweet something. In other words, don’t always feel like you have to write 500 words on some challenging topic or issue. Keep it simple and light. You’re not producing a manifesto, you’re trying to deliver interesting content to encourage visitors to interact with you and your business.
If you were told that you could network your business to millions of people without spending anything more than your time and effort, you’d have to be crazy or independently wealthy to turn down the opportunity. And yet, many people ignore the platform social media provides to spread the word and promote their business. If you’re among those that still feel that social media isn’t important, necessary, or vital to boosting your business, a recent Harris Interactive poll of 2,037 may help change your mind.
Here are some of the numbers …
62 percent of Americans say they’re afraid of missing something if they don’t keep an eye on their social network. In other words, a majority of respondents are glued to status, news, and event updates received through their Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn accounts. Which means, social-media is as important a source of information to a majority of Americans as their phone and email messages. Having a presence on any – or all – of the major social-media sites is an opportunity to be among the updates being shared and read by the millions of Americans that check in on Facebook before reading their email inbox.
Among respondents 18 to 34, nearly 40 percent said they check their profiles every morning after waking up. Maybe you’re thinking that your business doesn’t appeal to a young demographic and that means you don’t need a social-media campaign. But the fact that an increasing number of young Americans turn to social media immediately after getting out of bed says something about the future importance of the medium and the probably longevity of its popularity. In other words, social media isn’t going away. In fact, it’s becoming more popular among Americans.
40 percent said they’d rather clean the shower drains at the local gym than give up their social network. Okay, maybe the drains at your local gym are spotless and that stat doesn’t impress you. How about the fact that the same number of respondents said they’d rather wait in line at the DMV, give up an hour of sleep every night for a year, get a root canal, or sit in traffic for four hours while listening to polka music?
Nearly 70 percent of LinkedIn users are just observing. Not all social-media users are interested in telling the world what they did with their day. In fact, a lot of activity on social networks doesn’t involve posting or participating. The fact that more than half of Twitter users and nearly 40 percent of people on Facebook are just looking means your information, content, and updates could be among those being read by users who log in to their social-media accounts as a source for information, recommendations, and news.
It’s been said that everyone makes mistakes. But that’s only half the story. After all, it’s not whether you make a mistake, it’s the severity of the mistake you make that matters. There’s a difference between locking your keys in the car and accidentally parking your car in the living room. One is an understandable error and the other – under most circumstances – isn’t. Like anything else, when starting a social-media campaign for your business, you will make mistakes. But avoiding the type of mistakes that will leave your page barren and ignored are more important than worrying about a typo in your bio.
Here’s a quick list of some things you can do to avoid making some of the most inexcusable social-media mistakes …
Use It or Lose It: When it comes to social media, the number one mistake people make is not using the pages and profiles they set up. Whether from lack of interest, time, or understanding, many social-media pages serve as nothing more than a placeholder. They’re like online business cards with little more than an address, a phone number, and a photo. But the difference between success and failure in social media is participation. If you bothered to set your business up with a Facebook page or Twitter account, use it. Contact people, promote your site, produce some content, join groups, comment on someone’s post. In short, interact. It doesn’t take much to get someone to like or follow a social-media profile. You don’t have to take them to dinner or earn enough of their trust to be given a key to their house. All you need to do is participate and not be rude, aggressive, annoying, or mean spirited.
Make A Good Impression: You’re introducing yourself to a whole new audience. Act like it matters. You want to present yourself as professional, experienced, consistent, and efficient. Make sure anything you put up online showcases only those qualities you’d like associated with you and your business. That means, no beach photos, questionable jokes, religion or politics. Keep it focused on business and make a clear distinction between any personal profiles you maintain and those specifically for your business. Google your name and scroll through some of the results. Those are the same things potential clients will see if they look you up online – which they likely will. Having a professional online presence is a great way to make a good first impression. More and more, people check the Internet before deciding who to do business with. Don’t scare them away before you even meet them.
Location, Location, Location: Much like anything else, where you set yourself up makes a difference. Which is to say, location matters whether you’re opening for business on Main St. or on the Internet. Make sure the accounts you register for make sense for your business. You’re fairly safe if you stick with some combination of the most popular sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The membership numbers alone make them worthwhile. Outside of the that, do a little research before you register your business name and slap some info together. Make sure any sites you join serve a legitimate business purpose and can be used to your advantage. You’ll be most successful if your Internet presence is focused and consistent. Only take on what you can handle. And only go where there are potential business benefits.
If you feel you aren’t getting the most out of your LinkedIn profile, you’re probably right. Maybe you added your resume, contact info, and photo and are now wondering what else you can do with your page. Maybe you’re not sure – beyond job hunting – what purpose LinkedIn serves in the first place. Or maybe you’ve seen other peoples’ pages and wondered how they made them so dynamic, interesting, and interactive. Well there are a number of ways to boost your LinkedIn presence and become more effective that don’t require a degree in computer programming or a high level of Internet savvy.
Here are three ways to get the most out of your account …
Take It Offline: Sometimes social media can feel limiting because it all takes place behind the veil of the Internet. Which is to say, it’s a little impersonal. But, if you’re the type of person that feels more comfortable doing your networking the old-fashioned way, LinkedIn provides an easy way to take your social-media contacts into the real world. Search the events section of LinkedIn and you can locate actual gatherings of like-minded individuals in your region and industry. Search keywords that apply to your business and then find some events in your area. It’s a great way to make new connections, network in your area, and boost your LinkedIn contacts all at the same time.
Install Some Applications: Though LinkedIn doesn’t offer as many applications as some other social-media sites, there are still a number of useful tools available to you. For example, LinkedIn provides a WordPress app that will automatically retrieve and display your posts from your blog. It’s an excellent way to add interest to your page while increasing the number of people who see and read your blog. There are also applications to help you share documents, collaborate with colleagues, display your Amazon.com reading list, and share your business travel plans. Which is to say, there are plenty of available ways to customize your LinkedIn page. Don’t be afraid to install a few and test them out. Through trial-and-error you will soon have a much more interesting and attractive page to share with your contacts and connections.
Join, Participate, And Repeat: The good news is LinkedIn is the most popular social network for professionals. That means, there’s no confusing personal contacts with business clients, customers, and partners. It also means an impressive selection of groups and forums you can join. Like the events section, you can search groups by keyword and join a few that relate to your industry or region. Participate in the conversations you find there or start a few of your own. Remember, this isn’t the place for advertising or promotion. Be polite, professional, knowledgeable, and eager to help with information, answers, and ideas. It’s a great way to focus your attention on the people that are most likely to appreciate your services and need your expertise.
Some people fall into the trap of thinking a Facebook or Twitter page will promote their business without them having to do anything at all. Meaning, they register for a page, fill out their information, and believe their work is done. As if the Twitter fairy will come along and deliver their tweets to the masses without them having to do any of the heavy lifting. Well that’s not the way it works. Part of a successful social-media campaign is promoting your pages, blog posts, and online activities. You have to let people know what you’re doing if you hope to have anyone take an interest in your social-media efforts. Here are some hints, tips, and ideas on promoting your online properties.
The Real World: Promoting your pages and blogs in the real world is the most effective way of boosting your social-media success rate. Asking people to like your Facebook page or follow your Twitter feed is made infinitely more effective if you’re doing it in person or offline. It’s why you’re seeing an increasing number of businesses including their social-media info in their advertising, on billboards, and on their business cards. You have to promote your pages the same way you would anything else. Let people know you’re online and ask them to have a look. The more interest you create, the more contacts you’ll make. The more contacts you make, the more business you’ll generate. In other words, remember your Facebook and Twitter pages next time you’re networking or sending printed materials. Ask people to connect with you online and you’ll see an instant increase in activity on your pages.
Via Email: Because nearly everyone uses it, email is a great way to spread the word about your pages, profiles, and blogs. Sending out an email with a link to a new blog post or social-media profile, is a good way to introduce your contacts and clients to your online properties. Even adding your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn address to your email signature can lead to an uptick in visitors to your page. As long as you aren’t bugging your contacts every other hour, asking them to read something you wrote or to stop by your pages is a good way to keep in touch with your contacts while increasing activity on your social-media profiles.
Groups, Forums, And Comments: Participation is another way to get the word out about your social-media properties. Joining groups and forums on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn gets you in front of like-minded people with similar interests and concerns. As long as you’re not too self-promotional and you take an honest interest in the discussions and questions being offered, your presence will be appreciated and your familiarity among people likely to have an interest in your business will increase. It’s an indirect way of promoting your business, but commenting on other people’s pages or questions in forums can boost your reputation, generate new contacts, and increase word of mouth. Stay professional, knowledgeable, and accessible and you’ll soon see results.
Signing up for a page on Facebook doesn’t cost anything. But that doesn’t mean it’s free. In the end, social media is a draw because it seems simple and inexpensive. But, though it may save dollars and cents, it’ll cost you time and effort. In other words, things aren’t always what they seem. Once you’ve registered for an account, the work begins. And that’s where a lot of us stumble. Who has the time? Where are the immediate results? Why bother? Fortunately, a few tips to help organize your efforts and boost your effectiveness may be all you need to help get you through the disappointing realization that it may not be as easy as it seemed.
Find Good Sources: Creating content is difficult. It’s time consuming and involves choices. It requires you to decide what topics will be interesting to your contacts and then provide information on that topic in a compelling way. So what’s the best way to do that? Well it starts with your sources. Find websites, Twitter feeds, blogs, news sites, and anything else that provides inspiration and information you can use. Posting a link to a news story or a list of stats and trends you’ve come across is a great way to create quick, appropriate content. If you’ve got a good list of feeds and sources, you’ll have an easier time finding things to discuss and write about. If you’re starting from scratch each morning with nothing more than your brain and a cup of coffee, you may be in trouble.
Create a Schedule: Disorganization costs you time and creates stress. The best way to avoid this trap is to make a schedule. If you’re having trouble finding time to post to your sites, respond to comments, and check in with your contacts, set aside a block of time in the morning or evening and use it for maintaining your social-media pages. Depending on how much time you’d like to devote to your efforts, you can schedule time every other day, twice a day, or weekly. Just stay consistent. If you stick with your schedule, soon you’ll find a rhythm and won’t have to worry about finding the time to focus on Facebook. Sitting down for a half hour at the end of every day will make keeping your pages fresh and updated easier. It’ll also make you less likely to give up on things after two weeks.
Keep It Simple: It’s easy to get swept up in enthusiasm and try to take over the Internet. But that’s not the goal. You’re only trying to make it easier for your contacts, and potential business, to find, familiarize, and get in touch with you. Build your social-media presence in a way that doesn’t overwhelm you or your audience. If you keep things manageable, you’re more likely to succeed. That means, focusing on only what you can handle. If you’re going to set up more than a page or two, link them together so they’re sharing content. You’re not going to see much success if you’ve got pages that aren’t being maintained.
It’s been said that we learn everything we need to know in kindergarten. Mostly it’s said as comfort to the majority of us who excelled at nap time but never went on to get a Harvard degree. But it’s also said because a lot of the basics are covered in kindergarten. You learn about following the rules, coloring inside the lines, getting along with others, and not biting someone for stealing your crayons. In other words, the fundamentals. And along with everything else, those basics apply to social media.
Coloring Inside The Lines: Seems simple enough. The lines in coloring books are there because most of us weren’t born professional illustrators. So use them. When setting up a social media page or a blog, be sure to use the guidelines they’ve provided to fill out your page and make it seem like you know what you’re doing. There’s a reason they have a space for a photo, one for your contact info, and for some background information. It’s because those are some of the first things people will wonder when stumbling upon your page. They’re going to want to get a quick snapshot of who you are and what you’re offering. Make a good first impression by completing your profile.
Follow The Rules: There are some simple rules to follow when using social media and, if you don’t, you’ll likely hear about it. Just as in life, people in groups and forums generally want you to follow some simple rules in order to participate. Pay attention and follow along. The benefit of joining groups is to mingle with people in your industry and region. Don’t start off by offending them, ignoring their requests, and using their forum as an advertising venue for your business. Play along and by the rules and you’ll find yourself meeting new contacts and potential clients.
Play Nice With Others: Be polite, participate, and don’t be a jerk or a nuisance. This would appear to be the most obvious of all lessons from kindergarten that could be applied online. Unfortunately, some people abuse the relative anonymity of the Internet. Don’t be like them. Respond to comments politely. Be accessible to your contacts. Ask questions. Take an interest in others. Share knowledge. Be grateful that anyone at all is looking at your page and paying attention to what you’re doing. You’re trying to attract, not repel, people. Act like it.
These days, mobile devices such as iPhones, Androids, and iPads are challenging the desktop computer’s popularity, and its way of doing things. Apps, or applications, change the way we react, respond, use, and benefit from technology. At its root, an app is nothing more than a tool. And, obviously, the more tools in your tool box, the more effective and efficient you’ll be. The only trouble is finding the right app for the job. Fortunately for you, we’ve collected some of the best apps for keeping your business organized, efficient, and ahead of the curve.
Documents Unlimited: This app allows you to edit and create Microsoft Office and OpenOffice documents. It consistently ranks among the top business apps because it essentially allows for some of the functionality of the desktop computer in a mobile device. You can also connect to your Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and Google Docs account.
Inkflow: Inkflow is a great solution for anyone that needs to jot down ideas on the run. Turn your iPhone or iPad into a pad of digital paper. Make notes, to-do lists, and drawings with your finger or stylus and then move them around, arrange them, zoom in and out, and reorganize. Best of all its free.
Philips BatterySense: This is a simple but handy app, especially if you’re someone with a tendency to run out of battery at exactly the wrong time. Not only does it keep track of how much charge you have left and how long it’ll take to recharge, it breaks down the amount of time you have left to do certain activities. For example, it’ll let you know exactly how many more minutes of Internet use you have before you’re shut down.
Flipboard: Flipboard arranges all of your RSS, Facebook, and Twitter feeds into an attractive magazine-style layout. In other words, it’ll send you all of your news and updates and it’ll make it look pretty. It’ll also change the way you browse the Internet and use social media. A great way to stay ahead of the game and atop your social-media pages.
Fileboard: Another app for storing, sharing, and working with your documents and files. Fileboard makes it easy to access all of your stuff in one central location. It also makes it easier to find what you’re looking for when you’re on the run and don’t have two hours to search through your documents folder.
Vlingo: Vlingo is a voice-activated virtual assistant for your iPhone. Which is a fancy way of saying it allows you to speak your commands, texts, emails, and anything else you’d like your phone to do. Need directions, say so. Need to send a text message, say so. You get the picture.
Appsfire Deals: Top ranked in the U.S., Canada, Spain, France, Italy, Singapore, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, this app tells you when apps go on sale or are offered for free for a limited time. It’s a great way to find new applications and not have to spend any money doing it.
If you spent all of your time with your head in a bucket, you’d never see the sunshine. Fortunately, there are some fairly obvious ways to correct that issue. Among them, the first – and most obvious – is taking the bucket off of your head. When it comes to social media, there are those that understand, participate, and benefit from the available online tools and there are others that seem to have placed their head in the aforementioned bucket. But, in much the same way, there are some easy solutions for anyone who remains on the social-media sidelines.
Here are three basic social-media mistakes and misconceptions to avoid …
The Only Thing You Have To Fear: Fear is responsible for a lot of missed opportunities. So remember that when you’re telling yourself that your business doesn’t need social media to succeed. Maybe you’re right but maybe you’d be twice as successful if you made an effort to market your wares online. In other words, the number one mistake people make is not trying. Social media can be intimidating for the uninitiated but, trust us, it’s pretty user friendly and the risks are low. Try starting with one account and go from there. You don’t have to master the Internet in the first week. You can, however, get a profile up and start getting the word out. Take small steps. If you get stuck, you’re only a Google search away from an answer to your problem.
Use It or Lose it: Once you’re online and have your info up on the social-media site of your choice, keep logging in. This isn’t a one-stop fix. Abandoning your social-media pages sends the wrong signal to prospective clients and also defeats the purpose of having a page in the first place. Log in often and familiarize yourself with the functions and possibilities. There are limitless ways you can use social media to your advantage but none of them will work if you never log in. It sounds obvious but many people throw in the towel soon after adding their address. Then they proclaim that Facebook and LinkedIn are useless. Those people are wrong. If you spend some time tinkering around, you’ll undoubtedly find ways to boost your presence and build new relationships with potential clients and customers.
Be Resourceful: There are hundreds of available applications, tools, and plugins available for any social-media platform you choose to use. Take some time to research them and figure out what they do. They are there to make your job easier. Technology, though scary to some, is ultimately there to make you more efficient and your work easier. If, however, you never explore its potential, you will never reap the benefits. No matter what you’re attempting to do, there’s likely an application designed to help you out. And most are totally free to use. That means, there’s absolutely nothing to lose other than time. And, after a couple of searches, you will, no doubt, locate a number of resources that will not only make your social-media experience more enjoyable but more profitable as well.
Sometimes all it takes is a simple reminder. After all, it’s easy to forget the basics and fundamentals of anything once you get going. So being reminded of the seemingly small details can often make the difference between success and failure. When it comes to social media, the ever-expanding list of apps, plugins, widgets, websites, and platforms can confound even the savviest online observer. But, at its root, social media is about communication and community. In other words, before you get overwhelmed by the bells and whistles, spend some time getting back to basics.
With that in mind, we collected another list of simple do’s and don’ts for social-media success …
Don’t Be Too Self-Promotional: There will be a temptation to overload your pages with flattering facts about your business and services. But social media isn’t for advertising. It’s for socializing. Your social-media profiles should be a place where you share info and updates that are professionally relevant and of interest to clients and potential clients. Don’t overdo the self-promotional posts.
Do Join Groups: Sites, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, offer the ability to join groups formed around interests, industries, communities, etc. In other words, joining a group means meeting like minded individuals and sharing thoughts, views, and ideas. It’s a good way of finding your target audience, making new connections, and learning something along the way.
Don’t Confuse The Personal and The Professional: This one seems easy enough. After all, if you’ve registered a social-media account under the name of your business, you already know that isn’t the place for posting vacation pictures. Right? Well, if not, consider your social-media profiles and blogs an extension of your business website. Keep it professional and save the personal tidbits for a profile your clients can’t see.
Do Like, Recommend, Follow, And Fan: If you want to make connections quickly, initiate. Take some time and leave positive feedback on the pages of people and businesses you’ve interacted with in the past. Chances are, if you make the effort to say something nice about someone, they’ll return the favor.
Don’t Ignore Your Contacts: When you’ve made an effort to get people to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else, you have to follow through. If you don’t, you’ll lose the connections you have. This means, you have to be responsive when someone comments on a post or sends you a message. It means you have to log in regularly and share interesting info with your contacts. It means, you have to be social, interactive, and available.
Do Think It Through: Most importantly, you have to give some thought to anything you post online. It’s easy to forget that you’re publishing something on the Internet under your business name and, once it’s up, there’s no telling who will find it or where it’ll appear. Make sure whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it in a way that properly represents your business and enhances your professional presentation.
Everyone’s searching for an easy way out. And Internet-based marketing campaigns are no exception. In fact, some of the draw of marketing your business online is that, at first, it seems easy, inexpensive, and relatively labor free. That, however, is not the case. Like anything else, it requires some effort, time, and attention to truly pay off. In other words, it ain’t a get rich quick scheme but it is a viable and valuable tool for any business hoping to capitalize on the popularity of social media.
Here’s a short list of simple do’s and don’ts to help you accelerate your online opportunities …
Do Adjust Your Attitude: If you’ve registered for a social-media page or two and are now lounging poolside waiting for the business to start rolling in, this is the easiest and quickest way to change your fortune. Stop expecting something for nothing and start using the resources available to you. Social media is a tool but it won’t work itself. And expecting it to is no better than buying a hammer and expecting it to build you a house.
Don’t Give Up Immediately: A social-media campaign won’t succeed in the first three days. Probably not even within the first month. It’s gonna take some time to build up some content, fans, followers, and strategies. Time, consistency, and communication are the keys to success. Keep at it and stay engaged.
Do Import Your Contacts: All of the major social-media sites make it as easy as possible to transfer your email contacts to your page. Now you may not want to invite your mother to join you on LinkedIn but you’ve got to start somewhere. And inviting the contacts and connections from your address book will provide you with a foundation to build on. Announce your new page and ask people to connect with you. It’s far more effective than waiting for them to stumble upon your site on their own.
Don’t Skip The Photo: It’s 2012 and, if you haven’t yet figured out how to upload a photo, ask someone. ‘Cause chances are you know someone that can help you achieve this relatively easy and ultimately important task. Having a Facebook or Twitter page without a photo or logo or something that makes it seem as though you care at all about your presentation is a surefire way to make it look like you can’t be bothered. This is your business and wherever it is represented online should look professional.
Do Think About Content: Sure, you can have a presence on LinkedIn without having any content to share. You can do the same on Facebook. But, in the end, content is what gets people on your page and returning in the future. It’s also a way to further brand your business and help potential customers familiarize themselves with what you do, who you are, and why they should choose you over your competition.
Don’t Worry About Numbers: It’s easy to get discouraged if you’re trying to compete with Oprah for followers and fans. You can’t win that game. You can, however, approach your social-media campaign as a vehicle for spreading your message locally. In other words, you don’t have to have 1,000,000 friends and connections online to build business. You should concentrate your efforts on linking with people in your region and industry. Having five followers on your Twitter page that are in your area and looking for your services is better than having five million in China. It takes quality online connections, not quantity.
Do Explore The Possibilities: Nobody can tell you the best way to market your business. It is, after all, your business. But spending some time exploring what your social-media page of choice can do may result in new and exciting ideas. There are an endless number of applications, tools, and resources available on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress or any other social-media page you choose to use. Learn what they are and how to use them. Chances are, if there’s something you’d like to use your page for, there’s a tool to make that easier for you. Take some time and fool around. You may be surprised at the functionality available to you.
Blogs are to social media what Elvis was to popular music. Now before you declare this post ridiculous and stop reading, hear us out. Sure, Elvis didn’t invent rock-and-roll but he popularized it and inspired so many young musicians that he could rightly take credit for giving birth to everything from The Beatles to Black Sabbath. In much the same way, the basic idea behind blogs goes back much further than the late 1990s. But the popularity of blogging gave rise not only to social media but also the general idea that businesses could enhance their brand and Internet presence through a properly maintained and regularly updated online property.
Here are some tips and ideas to help build your business blog …
The Beginning: In the beginning, blogs were the domain of the self-absorbed. Developed as a sort of online diary, blogging soon became the Internet-based past time of anyone who believed they had something to say. And thus, the idea of the basement blogger sitting in his or her pajamas, cluttering the Internet was born. But the blog also became something more important than that. Blogs are easily updated and quickly customized websites. And businesses interested in having a presence online soon figured out that their static business website wasn’t drawing enough attention. So keeping a blog updated regularly with interesting content and relevant info became a way of expanding on their business’ online reach.
The Strategy: Social media, of course, isn’t really anything other than a way to share information with a group of friends, family members, clients, or connections. In other words, blogs stressed the importance of having content to share and social-media made it easier to share it. Which means, having a blog and a social-media presence is the most effective way of getting word out about your business and services. Posting information to your blog that will be interesting and helpful to your clients and connections is the first step. From there, share your blog posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other social-media sites you are using. That will maximize the number of people that see what you’ve shared and also the possibility that they will then pass it along to their list of online contacts. Do this consistently and you’ll see an uptick in the amount of attention your online properties receive.
The Results: Developing a consistent posting strategy and sharing it across your social network will undoubtedly lead to an increase in traffic to your sites. But getting the right traffic is the most important part of any blogging strategy. If you’re running a business in Topeka, Kansas and your blog and social-media sites are receiving the majority of their traffic from Japan, you’re not doing it right. Targeting your region and industry is important. Share content that pertains to the people you want to attract and actively seek out new connections in your area, rather than waiting for them to come to you. Once you begin receiving some attention from the right audience, you’ll have an easier time converting blog visitors into business. Be patient and avoid the temptation to use heavy-handed sales tactics. It’s not a get rich quick scheme. Give it time.
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.