Category Archives: Benefits of Social Media

It’s Not Too Late to Take Advantage of Social Media for Your Business

By Jenna Smith

As a small business with huge hopes of expansion, one of the biggest mistakes that could be made is to not utilize social media opportunities that are made available. Creative content is being used to attract new customers and retain ones that have been loyal up to this date by staying up-to-date with the times in terms of internet marketing. 

This is the new form of communication between companies and their consumers. Just about every credible and noteworthy business article or website have solid and convenient links to social media content. The public, and other businesses alike, are interested in what a company and the owners have to say about themselves in this new and current format of business.

Social Media as a Tool

Most all businesses are aware of how important search engines were to advertise their products or services, but the times are changing even more. Up to last year, Google was the most heavily-trafficked site on the internet, with staggering amounts of every day users. However, by the end of that same year, Facebook surpassed the model search engine to claim the role as number one in that realm. Considering it was thought of by many as just another social media networking site, this was impressive, to say the least.

Why? How? Herein lies a crucial lesson for business owners. People – anyone from students to CEO’s – want to be in on the current happenings of companies and people. The strong and capable businesses of tomorrow will be those on the forefront of using social media in marketing. One of the main reasons that Facebook became number one was that it provided new ways to interact with everyone that viewed the content, content made by a business or individual.

The point is that using social media to allow for viral marketing is an absolute must in today’s world. Providing your consumers with a popular, accessible, and easy way to see snippets and small blurbs about your progress will not only incline them to stay loyal to your company, but it also encourages further exposure outside the walls of your company and into conversations, blogs, and other social media mediums.

Never before have companies had the ability to relate to potential and existing companies by gaining feedback on special promotions, products, and general changes to how the business develops before costly changes have been made.

Blogging as a Virtual Handshake

One important use of a company’s blog site is to incorporate the use of affiliates by allowing them to advertise on your blog. Often times this can be an equal trade off for links on their site as well. Over time, a well-developed network between your company and the ones that can assist you in your endeavors will combine into a money making machine of its own.

The best part is, this is nothing new. Business owners today face the same challenges and obstacles as businessmen back in the 20th century faced, but now we have far better ways of building relationships and lasting connections over the internet. Using social media to grow your company is key.

Do not simply wait for growth with the idea that your product or service will stand on its own. Your competitors are already ahead of you if you have not started to use these new tools for marketing and interacting as you should be. Companies from a diverse set of backgrounds, anywhere from car insurance to fitness centers, and even companies like CTAerospace Engines now have a Facebook pages and social media outlets in efforts to connect with their consumer base on a current, popular level.

The Special Art of Marketing and Promoting Your Blog to the World

Have you recently decided to start your own blog, either to generate some side income or to voice your opinions on a topic you are passionate about to the world? You have likely already registered a domain name and signed up for a reliable web hosting service. You have probably spent some time exploring WordPress, the most popular content management and blog publishing tool available on the web today.

Now it is time for you to write and publish quality content to your blog. It is imperative that you understand the most important rule of online blogging: Content is king. In order to create a successful blog that enjoys high traffic flow, it is critical that your blog features fresh, original and engaging content. This should be the type of content that your readers would want to bookmark or email to family and friends.

Once your blog features some truly useful and interesting content, it is time for you to engage in a very special art: Promoting and marketing your blog to the roughly 2 billion Internet users worldwide. Let’s take a look at some key items you need to be aware of in order to excel at this art.

SEO and Backlinking

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an intricate part of creating a successful blog. On the Internet, content is currency. The major search engines, including Google, Yahoo and Bing, will rank your blog or website largely based on the content found on your site. You will need to do some keyword research based on your blog’s niche in order to create an SEO optimized blog. You can use the free Google AdWords Keyword Tool to compile a list of keywords that are in high demand but face low competition. This will allow your blog to perform well on search engine rankings, which translates to higher traffic flow.

Backlinking is an important practice that is very important to SEO. To keep things simple, backlinks are essentially links “back” to your blog or one of its pages. You can write guest posts on other online blogs that share a similar niche as your blog. Generally, you will be allowed to incorporate your blog’s link within this guest post. As you can see, backlinking is a means to get your blog’s link out there to as many sources as possible. This will increase overall traffic flow to your blog in two ways. The first is that many readers of those blogs you submitted guest posts to will land on your website. The second is that search engines reward quality backlinks with higher page rankings.

Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter

Currently, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter are the most popular social networking sites on the Internet. Your blog should strive to develop a presence on each of these powerful networking tools. It is very easy to create a customized Facebook page solely for your blog. You can invite friends, family and your current readers to join your page. If the content on your blog is truly appealing and useful, there is a great chance that plenty of Facebook users will join your page and visit your blog. It is also important to include pictures and videos on your page to attract Facebook users. The new Facebook Timeline gives you the ability to add a large cover photo. You can use this space to showcase some element of your blog.

Pinterest is the fastest growing website ever, according to Fortune Magazine, which makes it an important weapon in your social networking arsenal. Pinterest is a virtual pinboard-style photo sharing community. You can create a Pinterest page for your blog and create visually appealing “pins” that showcase various elements of your blog. 80 percent of Pinterest users are currently female and so it would make sense for you to try and target this base. Does your blog include any themes that would appeal specifically to women, such as beauty, fashion, home decor or exotic recipes? If so, you must use this tool to market and promote your blog.

Twitter is another powerful networking tool that belongs in your social media arsenal. You can very easily create a Twitter profile for your blog. This networking site provides its users the ability to write and post 140-character “tweets” that the world can see. Did you recently post a sensationally phenomenal article on your blog? You can write a brief headline and incorporate the link to your article.

Of course, you should follow other users on these social networking sites who belong in the same niche as you. This increases the chances that your links will be disseminated to the appropriate sources. You should also include a button to all the major social networking sites directly on your blog so that users can easily share the content on your website to the world. WordPress has several plugins that will help you add these all important buttons.

Analytics

It is vital to your marketing and promotional strategies that you closely track and monitor your analytics in order to understand how and where your traffic is coming from. You will be able to determine how much of your traffic is coming organically from search engines, through backlinks and from social networking sites. You have the ability to determine what exactly users searched on search engines to land on your page. You can really adjust and fine tune your strategies based on this information. Google Analytics is an excellent free tool you can use to track and analyze your analytics.

Your blog will gradually experience increased traffic as you implement these important practices. Never forget the most important rule of blogging, however, which is that content is king.

Rick Henderson is an avid fitness blogger, online instructor for The College City. Rick has utilized all these techniques to excel at the art of marketing and promoting his blog to the world.

3 Huge Reasons to Consider Guest Blogging

A guest post by Sam Peters

As a DIY marketer or entrepreneur, you’ve surely read multitudes about the benefits of marketing through social media websites.  Chances are similarly high that you’ve entertained advice about blogging for your business and brand as well.  It’s in considering the particular avenues and strategies associated with these marketing platforms, however, that the real difference between great success and mediocrity looms.

In the entrepreneurial spirit of things, it’s a common sentiment shared by many of us do-it-yourselfers to want our own original platforms in the electronic domain, and in particular, to own a unique and relevant domain name from which to launch our brand or blog.  However, the reality of the incredibly widespread use of the internet dictates that this is often not a possibility.  Sure, there are tons of available domain names out there still, but the chances of one of them fitting perfectly with your brand’s sleek conceptual image is slim.

It’s for reasons like this, as well as others, that guest blogging can be a hugely important tool in generating new leads and giving new audiences a taste of your brand.  Here we focus on 3 of these reasons for your marketing strategy consideration.

- Easy Self-Promotion: Guest blogging offers a great way to promote yourself and your business from various already-popular sites.  Perhaps the biggest advantage of this is the ability to use sites that often have a great domain name and a high SEO ranking as launching points for your brand or website.  Companies like www.1800vending.com have great, entrepreneurial idea-specific domain names that immediately generate hits just by virtue of their domain.

And while this specific domain doesn’t happen to be a blog, the number of similarly relevant domain names taken by blogs with viable guest posting options is huge: blogs just like the one you find yourself on now as a matter of fact.

- Unique Audiences: Nearly as extensive as the number of blogs out there (over 170 million), is the number of different topics covered by these sites.  The benefit of guest posting on a wide array of blogs, and thus to a hugely diverse audience, as opposed to blogging solely on your own individual, single-topic site, should be fairly obvious: a much greater and diverse exposure.

Instead of writing about one topic, try guest blogging about a number of different brand-relatable subjects that can draw various potential clients and customers in from all over the blogosphere.  Consumers appreciate a company that shows great diversity and versatility.

- Less Restriction: Guest blogging or posting also carries with it a greater amount of freedom than solely blogging for your own site.  As a guest blogger, you not only have the option to use various and diverse blogs as platforms for your business as discussed in the previous point; you also have a similar amount of personal freedom in terms of when/how often you post.  Maintaining a successful blog brings with it a good amount of time dedicated to posting regularly and often to keep readers interested and regularly following your blog.

As a business owner and DIY marketer, the unfortunate reality is that we often don’t have the time necessary to maintain such habits.  Guest blogging then, offers a unique solution to that problem, by affording us great avenues for generating more viewers, and the freedom to post when and where we want without worrying about losing expectant, regular followers.

While being an entrepreneur and a general DIY kind of guy or girl can at times be quite challenging, there are some great solutions out there to meet these many challenges we all face.  Among others, guest blogging is one of the best avenues used in a successful and diverse personal marketing campaign, and should be strongly considered as a part of your strategy for success.

How To Use Blogging To Grow Your Small Businesses

The following is a guest post from Jenna Smith

The small business world has eaten many entrepreneurs alive as they struggled to move their companies into volatile markets. Many small business owners have discovered the importance of establishing an energetic online presence, where many consumers are doing more and more of their shopping and business transactions. They’ve also realized that it’s better to protect your online reputation than leave it up to chance. SEO and link building can make your business’s blog rise high in search results. But once readers find your company online you need to be sure they will be willing and able to share it with their networks of friends and associates. That’s why the following online tools are crucial to small business owners looking to leverage the blogosphere:

Social Media—Are you using the most valuable promotional tool since the invention of television to paint your business’s blog across the Internet? If not, you need to check in on some quick Twitter and Facebook tutorials and learn how to get your blog listed in niche Twitter communities and ‘liked’ and ‘shared’ by hundreds of loyal fans on Facebook.

Podcasts—Podcasts are on the rise more than ever and are an excellent way to redirect fresh traffic to your site. When people are driving they can’t watch television, so they listen to the radio. Similarly, when people are absorbed in physical tasks they can’t sit down and read your blog, but they can listen to your podcast.

Guest blogging—Make a name for yourself as an entrepreneur and generate excitement about your business by writing for someone else’s blog. This creates a rich backlink for you as well as the potential for many more links and spots on blogrolls.

Social media aggregators—Promote your site to social media aggregators like Streamy, Flock, and FriendFeed. These sites collect users activities across a wide variety of social media sites and consolidates them in one place, making their information more actionable.

RSS feeds—By giving your blog an RSS feed, which is usually offered as an automatic service by most content platforms, you give your readers a chance to subscribe to your blog. Building your subscriber base is one of the most crucial elements of adding to the value of your site.

Bookmarking—Submit—and allow your readers to submit, via plugins—your blog to social news aggregators like Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, delicious, and BuzzFeed. These sites bookmark your content for millions of online readers.

CMS—Take advantage of the incredible tools offered by content management systems. With its vast number of social media plugins, CMSs like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal make the commercial world a more friendly, efficient and exciting place for small business owners.

Combined, the tools listed above can make for a powerful portfolio for small business owners looking to tap new markets. If they are utilized correctly, these methods can turn an ordinary business with little online presence into a powerful enterprise with thousands of new subscribers and customers.

My Relationship with Guy Kawasaki and the Evolution of Twitter

guykawasaki

It was a May-December romance back in 2007/2008.  Guy Kawasaki had 5,000 Twitter followers and I had 500.  I can still remember my first shock when Guy followed me back.  I didn’t believe it was him, so I asked a question — and he responded.  All from the web – all from a single column of Twitter.

Back then Twitter was more manual, more organic, more authentic.  You would read someone’s bio line, visit their web site, follow them and start a conversation.   I remember when Guy was writing his last book “Reality Check” his tweets would come from his living room where the kids were watching Sponge Bob and he was writing his book.   I had never really met Guy Kawasaki.  I had read his books but here were a few thousand of us getting to know each other a little deeper beyond the PR and the hype.

Then millions of people joined Twitter and while playing with a variety of applications and tools – I’ve accumulated more followers than I can build relationships with.  So, now I use Tweet Deck and I’ve created a new column to replicate the experience I once had with my original Twitter stream.  The new column is called “Tweeps” and it consists of as many of my original Twitter friends as I run across.  Guy Kawasaki no has some help with his Twitter account.  An assistant posts articles from Alltop – but he’s still there, you just have to watch to see which tweet is his.

My point in all this is that real human relationships can’t be automated.   Somewhere along the learning curve of Twitter, we’ve lost sight of what it is really about.  The concept of Twitter is about MORE than letting people know that you were having a cup of coffee at the local shop.  But it’s also not meant to be some mass marketing spamming tool of direct messages offering downloads and sales pitches.

I’m seriously thinking about picking one Twitter account and totally weeding out the people that don’t fit and that I don’t have the time and energy to build real relationships with.  I don’t mean to be cruel, I just mean to be real.

I’ve played with a variety of automated Twitter applications that send direct messages to people that follow me and then autofollow them – I’ve stopped those.  I’ve really made the commitment to use at least one Twitter account purely for the Twitter experience of building virtualy relationships with interesting people.

What I’ve learned from this Twitter reverie is that I don’t like or prefer to use Twitter as a direct marketing tool.  I will use it to communicate information that I think might be valuable to my followers, but I’m not going to use it for blatant self-promotion.

What about you?  I’m curious to know what your thoughts are on this.

How a Marketing Strategist Uses Twitter

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I’ve been on Twitter now for at least 18 months.  Maybe it’s been two years.  I know ther was a period of time where opened an account sometime in 2007 and thought “HUH?!”  But then about six months into it, I was getting the hang of how it worked and how to really make sense out of it.

I’d talked so much about it, written a few articles and read more than a few articles on the topic and basically felt that I was done writing and commenting on Twitter.  Yet, I see that there are still more new people getting on board for whom it’s all new.

So, I’m going to do a quick roundup of twitter how-to’s, why-to’s and other miscellaneous things you might want to know or use. 

Who should use Twitter?

If you want to be in busines over the next 20 years, you need to know and understand what 20-year-olds are doing with technology today.  It’s Twitter today and it will be something else tomorrow.  All business owners should have a working knowledge of at least Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  ALL marketing and sales people should have Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.  If you intend to get a job, buy something or sell something – you need to have an understanding of the tool.  If you choose not to participate, that is perfectly fine.  Make it a choice based on ROI or strategy, but not ignorance.

What I learned from and about Twitter

  1. Open an account in your full name.  You should be building a personal brand and you should have an account in your name.  I wish I had done that.  I opened my first account with my blog name “strategystew” and then a second with my subscription site name “DIYMarketers.”  Starting with your own name will give you the most flexibility and you can always open up more accounts for other brands that you want to “promote.”
  2. Tweet about what you’re reading.  I was confused about answering the question “What are you doing?”  At first I thought, who cares if I’m having a cup of coffee?  But then I realized that I was reading cool stuff and thinking about it — these are the things you want to post on twitter.
  3. It’s a digital billboard.  While Twitter is a micro-blog, it’s also a digital billboard.  Each tweet is indexed by Google so use those 140 characters well.  Brand yourself with your tweets, post resourceful and useful articles that people will see and reference. 
  4. Don’t SPAM on Twitter.  If you want Twitter to be an effective strategy – please don’t ask people to buy stuff.  Don’t tweet links where you are asking for money.  No one likes that.  People who want to buy things are searching eBay and people who want to read things are on Twitter.
  5. Interconnect your Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook .  People are always asking me how I have time for all of this.  I don’t.  I have all these account connected so that when I post on one, it posts to all the rest.  This is a time saver.  If you have a WordPress blog, there are plugins that will publish a link to Twitter of your latest blog post. 

That’s all for now, tweeties.  Hope this helps and I hope I’ll find you on Twitter. 

You can follow me on Twitter – Just click over to www.Twitter.com/strategystew or www.Twitter.com/DIYMarketers

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Word-of-Mouth 2.0

In the world of business, nothing has changed and everything has changed.  The best marketing strategy any business can use has been – and continues to be Word-of-Mouth or Referral Marketing.  It costs the least, and yields the most loyal and profitable customers.

Today I had a chat with Paul Sheiter, founder of  Hedgehog Leatherworks.  They make knife sheaths for survival enthusiasts.  Paul uses a rather simple, low-tech word-of-mouth, referral marketing strategy.  In fact, he has a policy against deluging his customers with e-mails and sales pitches.  He calls it the “No Dry-Hump” policy.

In fact, he runs a fairly steady conversation with many of his loyal customers primarily using e-mail.  When he’s thought of a new product, he shares it with the group via an e-mail, a picture and some questions.  His customers respond.  And then Paul really listens.

“Listening to what your customers actually say to you about your product is harder than you’d think.” he says.  “One time, I had it in my mind what I was going to do and then decided to ask my customers.  They chose something completely different from what I had in mind.  I had to let my idea take a back seat to what a fairly significant portion of my customers wanted.  We launched the version they wanted and it’s doing very well.”

Another critical focus of Paul’s strategy is focusing on the intersection between what you do well and what your customers want.

“My customer is the wilderness enthusiast.  But I find that a lot of military people also buy my products.  It might be tempting to start developing something to fit their needs, but I don’t know anything about their military experience in the field, but I do know a lot about survival.”

As an aside, Paul’s business is doing very well.  His focus is on providing the absolute highest quality product out there — and his customers know it.  For a young, tech savvy entrepreneur, Paul has his marketing philosophy and strategy planted squarely in the basics.

The core principles of building a brand and a promise that people will want to share with their friends – never goes out of style.  Our tools and vehicles for accomplishing these things might change.  But the end result stays the same.

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Companies Who Dove into the Social Media Marketing Trend

I did not intend for this blog to be focused on social media marketing.  Yet, I find myself engrosed by the conversation of how companies and marketers can, shoould, or should not be using a social media marketing strategy.

Just today, I’ve run into two posts/articles on the subject that I’d want to share with you.

Mack Collier from Viral Garden – Mack actually has two posts on the subject recently.  The first is about Dell and how Dell has finally learned to work with the market reality that is blogging and social media.  Dell has gone from treating this audience with disdain, to acknowledging the value or communication power and influence that they have.  The second post you’ll have to pay for to read, but the clip that Mack offers on his blog about the power of giving things away is great fodder for my comments here.

Gift If you understand the net worth of your customer — that is the profit that you keep after each transaction, you would be happy to freely give products and services away no questions asked. Let me be clear here.  I’m not talking about two-for-one.  I’m not talking about $30 off with a purchase of over $100.  I’m talking about the equivalent of a gift certificate.  If you don’t spend the amount of the certificate, we give you change back.  But how many people actually have the guts to do this?  Not many.  And I think that’s crazy because when was the last time you didn’t spend your gift certificate and then some?

I’m forever saying that the dollar amount that is your customer net worth is literally the amount of money you can afford to spend to PURCHASE another customer just like that one.  This strategy isn’t used very often, and when it is used, it’s usually by small retail businesses like restaurants and shops. 

Social Media gives us the opportunity to build strong, loyal relationships with our customers.  That means that gifts lavished on them – is money invested in building loyalty, relationship and profit. 

Patrick Shaber from Lonely Marketer – The FeBreeze brand is working its way into a new target market as well.  If you think about the commercials they show on TV, they are targeting homeowners, primarily adults.  But on Facebook, they are targeting college kids.  If you just reflect on your college days, the logic is intuitively obvious.  If you read some of the comments on Patrick’s site, you’ll notice that FeBreeze still has a bit of work to do.  But the most important thing is the be out there and connect with your target market.

Drew McLellan from The Marketing Minute – There’s a great discussion going on over at Marketing Minute about "Aging-out."  A bunch of marketing professionals (me included) are commenting on a deep seeded fear of becoming dinosaurs.  Are we missing the trends?  Are we staying on top of things the way we need to?  Can we be "chosen" as a marketing resource over some "with-it" twenty-something?  I say the answer is a resounding yes.  See what the rest are saying.

I say that "mature marketers" (I can’t believe I actually have to call myself this!) but mature marketers that stay current and engaged and enthusiastic about new technology and trends and how to use them to get our brands chosen have something that youth doesn’t always offer — discernment.

Discernment is this wonderful combination of wisdom, experience and practical know-how that we’ve earned with hard work and more than our share of mistakes.

So, I say, long live marketers with enthusuasmm, curiosity and a love for their customers and craft.