5 Advanced Twitter Tips for Your Small Business

So you’re running a small business and you’ve got the basics of social networking mastered: You tweet often, you’ve created a venue on Foursquare and your Facebook Page is beautiful. How do you move to the next level of social marketing mastery?

Devin Desjarlais, social media manager at Max Borges Agency, has five can’t-miss tips for upping your Twitter game.

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1. Don’t Schedule and Split

Scheduling tweets with a platform such as HootSuite or Tweetdeck can be a great way to spread out your business’ social sharing throughout the day. However, Desjarlais says that it’s important to pay attention to any responses your scheduled tweets may elicit — the follow-up conversation is just as important as the initial tweet, if not more.

“The key to attracting a following on Twitter is to engage with users,” Desjarlais says. “Hootsuite is a free platform that allows companies to schedule tweets for all accounts in one place. That means that you won’t have to spend all day planning the next 140 characters to publish. However, check back hourly to see who has tweeted back at you. Twitter users have a short attention span, so it’s important to respond as quickly as possible.”

2. Sit in the Stream

Get familiar with platforms that let you build streams around phrases or hashtags relevant to your company. That way, you’ve always got your ear to the social ground.

“Hashtags are an excellent way to track conversation about a specific topic,” Desjarlais says. “With Hootsuite, companies can create streams that track a specific hashtag, giving the account manager an easy way to find content and engage with other tweeters. For example, if your company makes custom guitars, you might want to follow a stream dedicated to the #music hashtag.”

3. Don’t Rely on Your Handle

It’s the mark of a successful social company to have plenty of customers tweeting at you or about you using your Twitter handle, but you can’t rely on all users to do that. If you’re only listening for tweets mentioning @BobsBurgerShack, for example, you’ll miss out on a tweet such as, “Man, I wish Bob’s Burger Shack had relish!”

The solution? Enhanced listening techniques.

“Topsy.com is a little-known website that lets users do real-time searches in the social web,” Desjarlais explains. “Do daily searches for your company’s name and narrow the search results to just tweets to see who is talking about your company but not @-mentioning you.” Or you can save searches for some key terms and common permutations of your company name, such as “Bobs burger” and “Bobs cheeseburger.”

4. Don’t Be a Social Egomaniac

While the majority of your tweets will probably be about your business, it’s important to develop a personality beyond tweeting out discounts or new menu options. It’s all about building a human personality.

“The last thing a company wants to do is spam their followers with tweets,” she says. “Twitter is about sharing ideas, information and occasionally inspirational quotes in order to build a community around what the business offers. Try to tweet at least five times per day and dedicate one or two of those tweets to sending users back to your company’s website. Schedule those posts between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. EST on the weekdays for the most engagement.”

5. Stay on Track

Determining the return on investment of social networking can be a real challenge, especially for smaller businesses that don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to complex analytics. Desjarlais says free tools are available to make that task just a bit easier.

“The URL shortener Bitly lets users create shortened links for any URL available online,” says Desjarlais. “Sign up for a free Bitly account and create custom Bitly links or ‘bitmarks’ that can be used whenever you send users back to your company’s website. To see how many people have clicked the link, simply paste the URL with a ‘+’ at the end into your Internet browser to see up-to-date metrics.”

Taken from: http://mashable.com/2012/06/23/twitter-tips-small-business/

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5 Ways strategic Social Media can help small businesses

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One of the biggest misconceptions about social media strategy is that only the big brands and enterprise organizations can afford success. The impression is bigger businesses have unlimited resources, people and budgets to execute on all new ideas. This is simply not true. Like in anything, people are focused on their jobs as they exist and anything new that comes along, well, it’s met with prejudice.

The truth is that small businesses possess an enormous advantage over big businesses—the ability to recognize and adapt to new opportunities much faster, with far less investment, and with a greater capacity to learn and improve at will. So when it comes down to how a small business should consider how to employ a social media strategy, why would we look to big business for inspiration?

a) Because they have millions of friends, fans, and followers?
b) They are getting a ton of Likes, Tweets, and Youtube views?
c) They are always the source of the best content – videos, posts, infographics, designs
d) None of the above

The answer is “d” – none of the above.

Why?

Because most businesses, large and small, have not answered that very question, why? Why would we go on social networks? Why would customers connect with us there? Why would we gain any value out of online engagement? Why would any of this impact my business?

At the root of the problem, today’s social media programs start with the technology in mind and not the solution in mind. Many businesses jump into Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Google+, et al, without thinking through opportunities or customer expectations and experiences.

To help get you started and to leap frog even the most advanced businesses in social media, I’ve outlined 5-step approach. Working through it will assist in the development of a relevant social media strategy that allows you to earn customer attention, relationships, and loyalty in places that only expand your reach and impact.

5 Ways to Develop a Strategic Social Media Presence

1. Listen, Search, Walk a “Daily in the Life” of…

Take some time to search Google, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Google+ for related keywords and geographies to your business.

Take notes of what you find…capture the trends, insights, activity, and the players that matter to you

Document the 5W’s + the H.E.: Who, What, When, Why, How, and to What Extent – it’s the only way to work toward ROI

Prioritize networks

Recognize patterns and behavior

Observe trends and themes

Tip: Also pay attention to what people aren’t saying or sharing

2. Define Your Online Brand: What do you want people to see and appreciate?

Take a step back to think about the value you can add based on who you are and the expertise or the unique service or solution that only you can provide

Define why you are different than your competition

Design the professional brand and the persona you would like to convey online

Describe “your” experience: What is it that you want people to see or think when they find you in social networks

Portray your brand, persona and the experience in your profiles

Tip: Don’t sell or overly promote…

3. Develop a Social Media Strategy: Make your presence matter

Write a vision statement for how you will use social media to build relationships, a community around your value proposition, and how social media will enable your strategy

Describe what social media success will look like

Customize your presence, goals, and what success looks like in each network

Create an editorial program that reinforces your value, your business, and your goals within each network

Understand what format to you love using AND what seems to be the formats your customers prefer

Curate relevant and interesting content that reflects your professional and personal interests

Tip: Find the balance between personal and professional activity online, it can’t be ALL business

4. Build and Invest in Your Community: Participate and earn affinity to become a trusted resource

Share insights in the communities that matter to your business and reach beyond the friends, fans, and followers you already have

Identify and talk to local online influencers who can help you spread your expertise and value

Ask and answer questions in your communities and across other vibrant communities hosted by others

Maintain a valuable and timely presence

Create a “linked” network of resources: Link to or recommend people who can also help your customers

Tip: Invest proportionally in social media, search engine optimization/digital and your real world activities

5. Learn: Repeat steps 1-5 over time to stay relevant as technology and behavior evolves

Learn from everything to improve experiences and your overall strategy

Ask your community what they’re looking for and how you can better help

Monitor activity using social media listening tools around you and in your areas of focus to stay on top of trends, themes, and needs

Tip: Looking at activity through the lens of your customers and walking in their shoes will always keep you on target in your strategy.

Taken from: http://www.briansolis.com/2012/09/5-ways-strategic-social-media-can-help-small-businesses/

9 Helpful Tips for Business Blogging

It’s one thing to create a blog – it’s another to create a blog that readers want to visit again and again. If you’re serious about using blog hosting to meet your business goals, there are nine tips to follow when developing a business blogging strategy.

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#1: Find a valuable niche

The ideal blog dares to be different. Find a neglected (or new) area of your industry that will appeal to your target audience. Ask yourself, “Will they want to read about this every day?” If the answer is “yes,” you have a great reason to create a blog.

#2: Enjoy yourself

Business blogging should never feel like a chore. When you create a blog because you’re interested in its topic, your readers will appreciate – and even reciprocate – your enthusiasm.

#3: Look at the big picture

While it’s only natural to focus on the products and services you offer, you can also benefit from broadening your scope. For example, if you create a blog for your pet toy store, your target audience may be interested in posts about pet health and nutrition, or even pet rescue programs. Stick with your overall business blogging theme, but explore diverse (yet related) topics.

#4: See what’s out there

Online sources like Technorati® and Google® Blog Search can help you determine how many blogs are currently covering the topics you are considering. You might also want to look at the additional topics these blogs are discussing, which can inspire new ideas of your own.

#5: Network with other bloggers

Connect with other bloggers in your industry by using Technorati®, Google® Blogs, and other social sites to find like-minded bloggers. Once you find relevant blogs, you should bookmark them, comment often, talk with the author, and social tag their blog entries. By building these relationships, you can gain new links to your blog and – ultimately – new readers.

#6: Add media

Blogs don’t have to consist of text alone. Video, images and surveys can all add interest to your blog. Mix the creative media into the text instead of placing it at the top or the bottom.

#7: Encourage interaction

Blogs have a unique ability to encourage conversations and create interaction. A blog with no comments isn’t really a blog – it’s an editorial column or a standard website. Be sure to invite readers to leave comments each time you post.

#8: Keep up the good work

Develop – and stick to – a schedule when you create a blog. Your readers should know when to expect a new post, whether you’re posting every day of the week or on the same day every week.

#9: Don’t give up

It can take months to build a loyal base of readers when you create a blog. Plan to make business blogging a regular part of your communication strategy for at least a year.

When you create a blog for your business, your overall goal should be to attract repeat visitors.

Taken from: http://www.networksolutions.com/education/9-helpful-tips-for-business-blogging/

What is SEO?

SEO is short for search engine optimisation, it is the process by which you get a website to appear near the top of the search results for the terms that you want to rank well for. The reason that you would want to do this is obvious, the site that is at the top of the search results will get the most visitors. A site that is on the tenth page of the search results however will likely get very few visitors. Therefore if your webpage is an important part of your business you have to make sure that it ranks well.

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The search engines are supposed to provide the most relevant results for each search term and this is what they try to do. Therefore in theory you should be able to get your site to rank at the top of the search results simply by providing the best and most relevant content. In practice things don’t work out that way, most of the time you are going to have to take steps to help your site to rank well. How much work is required will depend on how much competition there is for that search term.

There are basically two parts to search engine optimisation, the first is known as on page optimisation. This involves making sure that it is clear what your site is about. The easier it is for the search engines to tell what your site is about the easier it will be for it to determine what it should rank for. That means that you are going to want to make sure that your content is tightly focused. You will also want to make sure that your site is laid out in a way that is easy to navigate and that related pages are linked together.

The other part of SEO is off page optimization, this is mainly about getting links. Since the search engines really can’t make judgments on things like quality it is necessary that there be another way to determine which sites are best. In large part this is done by looking at how many other sites link to your site. The theory is that the best sites will be linked to the most. This also makes it possible to get your site to rank well by creating the links yourself. Not all links count for the same value so it is important that you know which links are the most useful and that you go after them.

It is important to realise that SEO is not a onetime thing, if you stop doing it you can be sure that other sites will go past you in the rankings. That means that you will need to be constantly adding new links to your site. Once you have your site ranked at the top you can reduce the amount of time that you have to spend looking for links but you can’t stop entirely.

Taken from: http://www.gnctech.net/what-is-seo.php

5 Essential Social Media Tips For Your Job Hunt

The new year will be here before we know it and college seniors will soon be taking to the streets, heading to web and networking events in hopes of landing a job post-graduation. Any modern job search requires more than just a resume and portfolio, however. Here are five essential social media tips from creative staffing agency, Vitamin T, which job seekers should consider when embarking on their job search.

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Use keywords

Searching for a person online is like searching for a book in Powell’s and not knowing the author. It is important to use keywords in your LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and other social media bios so you are easier to find. If you’re a front-end developer, you want to come up when employers or recruiters are searching for HTML, CSS, etc. on LinkedIn. Think about the skills you use every day and the things that make you great at your job, and make sure they are listed in your bio. For Twitter, you want someone to come to your profile and immediately know who you are, what you do and why they should hire you. They’ll scan your feed, so make sure it’s true to what you’re claiming in your bio. If your keywords say one thing and your feed says another, you’re not likely to look credible.

Google yourself

Because your potential employers will. There is nothing worse than walking into an interview and having an employer tell you something about yourself you didn’t know was out there. Google has a long memory, but if you’re prepared, you can preempt any confusion without surprise. Again—keywords in your bios will help better control what people are finding.

Connect with potential employers

Don’t just listen, talk. Retweet their tweets, comment on their posts, share their posts and tag them in posts. Every time you engage with a potential employer online, it is another chance for you to be noticed, and maybe even become their next hire. At the very least, listen. Know what potential employers are talking about on social media so you can bring it up in a potential interview. You might not retweet every tweet, but they’ll know you are paying attention.

Mind your manners

Be mindful of the language you are using and the opinions you are sharing publicly. You never want to say anything that would offend a potential employer. When someone is considering you for a job, they are considering you to represent their brand/company. It is hard to change a negative first impression, so control your online presence by only sharing things you want Google to remember. Keep in mind, if you retweet something someone else posted it still reflects on you. So think before you post.

Keep it human

Be yourself. You aren’t a robot. Humanize your feeds. It’s important to have conversations and engage with others, but it’s also alright to talk about things that are not related to your job. Do you like watching sports, have a cooking blog or sit on a community board? Talk about it! You don’t have to tell everyone what you’re having for every meal, but employers like to know you’re multifaceted.

 Taken from: http://bostinno.com/2012/12/08/5-essential-social-media-tips-for-your-job-hunt/

10 SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING TIPS FOR BUSINESS OWNERS

As business owners venture in to the scary world of managing their own Social Media campaigns, many are driving blind. A little bit of education goes a long way and we suggest following these 10 Social Media Marketing Tips for Business Owners to get started. There are endless ways to drive traffic to a website, increase brand awareness around the web, and engage with potential clients through Social Media Marketing. The ability to reach people in real time and target a relevant audience has never been easier.

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10. Serve the community

Don’t always be looking to serve yourself and your business, provide your following with something that helps them that may not necessarily help you. Becoming a resource is the greatest step you can take to becoming trusted within your community. Spend time researching the other areas that your target market are interested in and provide helpful links and information.

9. Pass traffic to your website

From everywhere possible! Your main social Media Marketing goal should be passing traffic to your website. Remember that your own website is still your greatest sales tool. It has all your information and has the ability to keep people interested. Link from all YouTube videos, Flickr photos, business profiles, and anywhere else you can possibly imagine.

8. Use tools

There are a ton of third party tools for Social Networking websites, use them. They will help you stay organized and save time. Some of my favorites are:

  • ReFollow for Twitter
  • Flickr Uploadr
  • StumbleUpon Toolbar

7. Find niche networks within your industry

There are Social Networks popping up everywhere. Many are specifically targeted to a particular niche. Find Social Networks within your niche and use them. The traffic may not be as high as Facebook and Twitter, but you can easily become a leader within smaller Networks.

6. Write, write, write

Set up a blog. Write until you can’t write anymore. Hire a writer. Do something, anything to keep your content fresh and your readers interested. Don’t just write for your blog, submit articles to sites like Squidoo, Associated Content, InfoBarrel, and HubPages.

5. Promote everywhere

Once you have finished writing, promote it everywhere. Pass traffic through all of your Social Networking accounts, submit your articles to Digg, Reddit, Mixx, etc. Promote everything you do on every single avenue possible. You never know which site could make your article a hit. Whether you get a ton of Retweets, hit the front page of Digg, or get lot’s of Stumbles… if you’re writing something of value, it will catch on somewhere.

4. Learn from your community

Use the people in your community as you wish them to use you. Learn from them. Whether you’re at the top end of your community or just started your business you can learn something from anyone. Research like minded people and businesses to always stay on top of your game.

3. Provide something of value

What do you offer that other don’t? If you don’t know the answer to that question you better find something fast. You can provide Twitter only specials, discounts to Facebook Fans, the next xx people to retweet get something free.

2. Interact with your audience

Spend time talking to people in your community. Reply to Tweets, comment on Facebook posts, engage your audience from your own posts. Host polls, reply to the comments on your blog. If you disagree, be polite. Do not come off as arrogant or as a know-it-all. Be respectful and always answer in a timely fashion when contacted. Word of mouth is still a great way to drum up business, being prompt and a resource can get your respect and respect gets you referrals.

1. Be everywhere

I recently heard someone say “Oh no, I don’t have Facebook, I just used LinkedIn”. While LinkedIn appears to working very well for this person, why cut yourself off from any potential source of clientele? Find and use every single option available, some work better than others within certain industries, but all can provide the option to interact with potential customers and give the option to refer people to your website.

Taken from: http://www.stikkymedia.com/blog/10-social-media-marketing-tips-business-owners

Essential social media advice for B2B companies

Here are some things the B2B world can learn from B2C social media best practices:

Devise a clear strategy before you dive in (and update yours if you’re already in the water). 

It’s not enough for a business to just “be there” when it comes to social media, and that applies to consumer brands and B2B companies. There have to be good reasons for you to engage in the media you’re using.

Ask yourself these questions, and perhaps even poll your customers or members to get clear answers:

• Is my intended audience already on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn? This question will become especially relevant when you’re deciding which social media channels your company should use. Chances are your customer base is using LinkedIn, so that should be a no-brainer. It gets a little trickier with Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. It’s even trickier to determine whether your customer base will want to find you in emerging social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram.

• How is my audience using different social media channels? This takes the previous question a step further. Your customer base may be using Facebook and Twitter to connect with friends and family, but are they also using it for networking or professional reasons? If your customers are on Facebook, but most are not using it to connect with companies for business purposes, that social media avenue may not be a priority. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be there; it’s only to say that you should prioritize the spaces your customers are using for professional reasons.

• What are my benchmarks for success in social media? We establish our benchmarks by taking a look first at how like-minded organizations are succeeding in social media. If we’re trailblazing, our goals will be less number-based and more anecdotally focused. We’ll want to listen first and make adjustments as we go. Eventually, our benchmark may be that our Facebook page is the first point of contact for the majority of our consumers—whether they’re inquiring about products or reaching out for customer-service purposes.

• Do we have the ability to effectively measure our success in the social space?If you don’t have the metrics to tell you how you’re performing against the benchmarks you’ve set for success, it will be difficult to justify increased spending on social media. You should measure more than just “likes” and “follows” month over month; you should be measuring engagement.

Don’t sound so corporate. 

It’s easy to tell social media managers to develop a distinctive voice in social media, but it’s tough to make it happen—especially when you’re writing for B2B. Inherently, these companies are less likely to have an overarching voice to rely on.

If you’re managing the social media presence for, say, Frosted Flakes, you have a built-in voice: Everything’s “grrrrrreat!” There are also layers of legal approval that you have to maneuver before a post goes up, so it’s likely that any semblance of voice could be lost in that process.

Don’t let it discourage you. If your company doesn’t have an agreed-upon voice, make it your own. Be conversational, but most of all be brief.

I’ve seen so many B2B organizations that feel every post needs to be a paragraph long. In my experience working with B2C brands, I consistently see that the more concise posts consistently garner higher engagement rates.

It sounds basic, but always respond to anyone who posts on your wall. We make this a point with our B2C brands, and B2Bs should be doing the same—even if it’s just to say “thanks for posting.”

Taken from: http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/Essential_social_media_advice_for_B2B_companies_10819.aspx