October 31, 2014

Social Media Mistakes Small Businesses Should Avoid

Guest Post by Diana Smith

Courtesy of Stuart Miles - Freedigitalphotos.net

Courtesy of Stuart Miles – Freedigitalphotos.net

By now, most companies that want to connect with customers are on social media. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram etc. bring brands and their audience closer together in more ways than in the past. But it is all too easy to make social media mistakes when faced with what can be a very confusing online landscape to those that are new to it. Here is a roundup of social media mistakes small businesses can avoid.

1. Not having a clear strategy

Like with your business plan, your social media activities also need a well-defined strategy so that you know exactly what your goals are and work towards them. It is all too easy to get swallowed up in the flurry of tweets and Facebook posts without thinking your plan through. This leads to too much wasted time and resources. Instead, create a social media marketing plan at the outset, and ask yourself what you hope to achieve. Decide how much time and resources you want to spend on social media. Be very clear in your objectives, and you will find it easier to focus on them.

2. Trying to be on all the social media spaces

There are too many social media networks out there today, and not all will suit your business. It is important to find out which platforms suit your brand or you may end up wasting time and resources where they are not maximized or even useful. Do some research; find out what spaces your competitors use and the networks your customers are on. If you already have an established network of connections on a specific site, consider starting from there.

3. Talking only about yourself

Many businesses make the mistake of using social media as a space for hard sell and direct advertisements. Remember that your official website is already there for the purpose. In social spaces, your customers are most important, and you should aim at solving problems and reaching out to customers’ needs rather than promoting your products. It is wise to stick to an 80-20 rule, where only 20% of your posts should be about your products and 80% should be aimed at answering queries and connecting with customers at a deeper level.

4. Crudely posting about sensitive issues

Mistakes of posting untimely or insensitive comments about sensitive issues are unfortunately all too common on these platforms, sometimes from the biggest brands. This is the fastest way of committing social media suicide. Avoid ruining your brand credibility and reputation by staying away from political posts or those that can rouse great emotions.

5. Not measuring your performance

Since your time as well as your resources are limited as a small business, you want to be able to measure every activity to see if the investment is worth it. Monitoring your social media progress is easy today with the vast arsenal of tools that are available for each platform. Nearly every social media platform has analytics tools that you can use to monitor the results of your campaigns and presence on these platforms. Use them to your advantage, and change your strategies according to the results.

6. Not engaging enough

By its very nature, social media is meant for engaging. Do not make the mistake of posting too much and not listening to what your customers have to say or sharing their content when it is relevant. Take some time out to join new conversations or ask and answer questions. Also make sure to respond to any questions that people ask you or comments they make to you.

7. Underutilizing potential

Social media platforms offer many opportunities to strengthen branding, but these opportunities are often not utilized to their maximum potential. Leaving blanks in your profile is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Your brand logo, information and other relevant images and links are essential sales tools that make people aware of who you are and what you can offer. Never leave your profile incomplete, as it reflects negatively on your brand. Complete social profiles are also more likely to show up on search results, as search engines prefer content that is truly helpful to their users.

Learn from mistakes of others when you are starting out to build a social media presence as a small business. Take the right first steps with your social media business promotion and you will soon see results in your ROIs.

 

Author bio:

Diana Smith is a business coach and a part-time writer interested in topics related to marketing and advertising. She writes about new marketing strategies and low advertising possibilities. Useful information for this article has been kindly provided by Cubic Promote.

Four Important Ways to Enhance Your Facebook Marketing

Facebook MarketingGuest Post by Rianne Hunter

As massive as this social networking platform is, there are many businesses that are still surprisingly uninformed about how to best take advantage of what Facebook has to offer. These are just some of the effective promotional strategies that not enough business owners leverage:

Create Engaging Content

This seems like a no-brainer for any business attempting to attract potential clients. However, far too many businesses on Facebook are too stiff and businesslike. What attracts avid Facebook users to the site is the amount of interesting, engaging content available for free. A business page existing on Facebook without much content, or without content geared towards enhancing the Facebook experience, is bound to be ineffective as a promotional tool.

The type of content that appeals to Facebook users is similar to the content that users post themselves: pictures, stories, news as it happens, observations, and humor. The most effectual Facebook posts are posts that users want to “Like” and share, regardless of whether it came from a business page or one of their friends.

 Promote Facebook Posts

Many business owners and/or Facebook business page administrators are caught up in the “free” aspect of Facebook. While the site does offer a number of ways to promote a business free of charge, Facebook has some pay options, including Promoted Posts, that are not free, but offer powerful promotional opportunities that fit within very limited advertising budgets.

These Promoted Posts are among various options Facebook offers for businesses to reach a wide audience. While some of your posts will reach people who have liked your business page, there is no guarantee that a post will reach anybody, unless it is promoted. Promoting a post on Facebook doesn’t have to be expensive. You can choose your budget and the estimated number of impressions among either fans of your page exclusively, or fans of your page, along with their friends.

Use a Page Template

One of the initial appeals of Facebook over other social networking sites was that the site has a low-key, inoffensive aesthetic that is pervasive throughout the user experience. However, you can still choose a pre-designed, Facebook page template that fits within Facebook standards while making your page stand out. Boilerplate Facebook business pages are all too common, and do no favors to businesses trying to cultivate their own unique appeal. A quality template from unique design services can be a must for effective promotion in the social network world.

Advertise on Facebook

As mentioned with Promoted Posts, many business owners are reluctant to spend money on Facebook. However, Facebook is a goldmine for advertisers, as it lets businesses target ads to extremely precise demographics based on location, age, interests, and other factors. Only people who fit your specified demographics will see your ad, and it is possible to make large numbers of impressions without spending a fortune.

 

The potential promotional power of Facebook is huge, but only if you use the right approach. Although many successful businesses are content to have a simple Facebook page with no additional strategy, these are some underutilized methods of maximizing your Facebook power.

 

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Rianne Hunter is a mother of three, aspiring author, and independent blogger. She is interested in all things family, fitness, marketing, and technology

How to use Google Plus for Business: 3 Tips for Independent Ventures

How to use GooglePlus for BusinessGuest Post by Tom C. Black

If you’ve set up a Google+ page under the name of your business, the next step is to optimize this resource and establish your brand as a leading industry influence. This is particularly important if you are a small or independent business owner. If used correctly, Google+ enables you to compete with more established firms regardless of your size or financial prowess.

There is little doubt that Google+ has evolved rapidly since its inception, with the Global Web Index reporting that it now has 359 million active users. This means that the site has usurped Twitter as the second most popular social media resource, while the vast influence of Google as a brand also means that users can benefit from a number of integrated search engine features.

Using Google Plus for your Business: 3 Steps to Success

With this in mind, what practical steps should you take when using Google+ to enhance your business’s standing as an influential thought leader? Consider the following:

Claim Authorship of All External Online Content

Google has become increasingly pre-occupied with content marketing in recent times, as it seeks to create a more engaging and informative experience for users. This means that the marketing output that your brand creates will be integral to developing a desirable level of industry influence, and Google+ enables you to attribute published content to your business. Simply by including a link to your business’s Google+ profile in the author bio of your published content and then placing the external link in the contributor section of your page, you can claim authorship and begin to establish an instantly recognizable brand.

Connect your Business Website and Google Plus Page

Google has made several changes to help boost the appeal of its + pages, with the most prominent being the replacement of Google Places. Commercial users can now benefit from G+ Local, which has streamlined the process of local search and enhanced the significance of owning a commercial + page. As a result of this, you can directly connect your businesses website and location information to your Google+ profile, which in turn will enhance your search engine visibility and assist you in reaching a targeted audience. With more refined Google places optimization, your brand can benefit significantly with a strong and visible + profile.

Host Google Plus Hangouts

The success of Social Media Day Meet-Ups through Facebook has been pronounced, but Google+ also enables you to host webinars and online conferences. So, if you have previously struggled with the prohibitive cost of webinar software, this free alternative means that you need not lose ground while competing with more financially established market rivals. Google+ Hangouts can also be used for a variety of functions, whether you need to conduct interviews, host panel discussions or chair private meetings. While you are currently limited to 10 active participants through the resource, you will have the capacity to stream your video to an unlimited number of YouTube viewers if you aspire to host a large-scale webinar event.

The Last Word

If you are to succeed in the current business environment, it is crucial that your brand have significant online reach and influence. This can only be achieved through the publication of informative and engaging content, and the optimization of resources such as Google+. By creating a visible + page that is integrated with your businesses website and all external content, it is possible to establish a brand that boasts considerable influence and genuine thought leadership.

 

Tom C. Black is Head of Search at Boot camp Media Limited Bootcampmedia.co.uk

Achieve Your Small Business Online Marketing Goals

Building Small Business

Image Courtesy of Renjith Krishnan

Every time I go online, which is all day long, there seems to be something new I need to add to my arsenal of online marketing information.  Marketing is what I do for others.  It’s also what I do for my own business, yet, even I sometimes get a bit dazed when I think about where yet another online marketing process will fit into the grand scheme of my business. So, I can just imagine how overwhelming it must be for those who realize online marketing and sales are important to your small business’s success, but it’s not your passion or strong suit.

Many small business owners understand that they need to beef up their online marketing strategies, but are not sure which tools or services they need.  You should know that the goal is to be found by your potential customers.  To reach this goal, you will need to increase your web traffic.   To increase your web traffic, and consequently your leads and conversions, you need to achieve higher placement on search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing.  If not, you’re missing an opportunity to connect with potential clients and highlight your expertise.

In this article, I’d like to outline five basic tools every small business should utilize in an effort to realize its online marketing goals.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO’s effectiveness is frequently misunderstood.  The critical ongoing work of SEO requires building inbound links with proper anchor text and writing and posting intelligently keyworded content. SEO is all about creating content so compelling and engaging that your readers promote it by linking to it and/or sharing it.  This will increase your trust and your authority and helps those pages you want to rank well for particular keywords.

When your website is linked by another site, this is called an inbound link. Search engines use the number of inbound links to measure how popular a website is. Ranking high on web searches and generating new web traffic is a must when looking to attract new clients online.

More links means better search engine rankings and more site traffic.  This translates into more sales leads.

Note: The visible characters and words that hyperlinks display when linking to another document or location on the web are called anchor text (like the words “inbound link” in the preceding paragraph).

Content development (e.g., articles, short videos, audio snippits, blog posts, news feeds, etc.) is one of the three pillars of search engine optimization. Updating your site by adding new content allows you to rank for additional (high value, low competition) keywords and generate more website traffic. The Google Adwords Keyword tool, which will soon become Keyword Planner, is an easy-to-use tool you can use to figure out the value and competition levels of your keyword choices.

Social Media Marketing

Integrating social media marketing, e.g., Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, Facebook, blogging, Mashable, Reddit, Quora, Youtube, etc., into your marketing strategy can help attract new clients, grow your online brand and significantly improve your search ranking on Google. I always suggest just picking a few platforms and focusing your energy and time on maximizing your presence on them.

Local Optimization

Thirty percent of all web searchers are local. It’s expected that in the next two years, local searchers will outnumber nonlocal searchers.  Additionally, Google has shifted to focus much more heavily on local results.  Therefore, it is critical to optimize your website to improve your local ranking as soon as possible.  This can be done by doing things as simple as maintaining your Google+ profile and Google+ Local page that has been locally verified.

Search engines also look for how many places it’s listed. Having your listing consistently across a large number of directories tells search engines you take your business seriously.  It also increases the likelihood of your potential clients finding you.  There’s no telling where a person will be searching from, and even if it’s not a very popular website or network, (s)he can still potentially be a valuable lead.

Mobile Websites

Mobile search volume is growing so fast that experts expect it to surpass desktop search volume by 2014.  Your web visitors are not going to read microscopic type, scroll side to side to finish reading a sentence, or search high and low for a phone number while browsing on a smart phone or tablet.  Therefore, your site needs to be mobile-friendly. “Nearly every business needs to adapt to reach consumers effectively on any screen,” says Janine Warner, a globally recognized digital design and Internet trends consultant. At the very least, you may need to simplify your site design and create a mobile version of your website.

Newsletters

The simplest way to increase referrals from your clients and contacts is to regularly remind them of your business’s existence.  Each month, using services like Aweber, Constant Contact, iContact, MailChimp, etc., you can create a monthly or weekly e-newsletter for your firm.  These are all low-cost, but highly effective, email marketing services.  Your newsletter need not be elaborate.  The Internet is filled with ideas for content and information that you can include in your newsletters.

To bring in leads you have to succeed at building small business marketing strategies, but marketing campaigns don’t have to be as overwhelming as they may sound. By optimizing your marketing process and promoting your small business products or services online, you’ll be able to set up a recurring stream of leads so you can build your customer base and improve your bottom line.

Stacey Mathis Copywriting can help you complete the content writing and copywriting components of your online marketing goals and conceptualize a small business marketing strategy that will have a stronger impact on your business.

Public Relations and Communications – Then and Now

Public Relations & Communications - Then and NowI was in the process of writing an elaborate blog post for lawyers who choose to ignore the social media revolution, content marketing and new media PR when I came across this infographic by inkhouse.net.  It highlights the many changes that have taken place in Public Relations and communications over the last few years.  It truly sums up what I was trying to impart to the attorneys who still just don’t “get” this digital marketing hoopla. This infographic says it all, so I am posting it instead of my article.  I really enjoyed this one, and I know you will too. Check it out:

 

The Social (Media) Sickness – an Infographic

Social Media” – I was going to write a blog post about a similar subject, but then discovered this funny infographic.  So, I stole it. Just kidding, I borrowed it.  Anyway, I think it’s useful for freelance copywriters to see if they find themselves, in their business capacity, among the social sickos.  Sadly, I found my own conduct on one of the panels here. But, I’m glad I did.  Now that I know there is awareness about such behavior and folks are cognizant of it and not necessarily in a good way, I’ll modify my business tactic.

Initially, I was not a fan of the infographic. However, recently, as I’ve come to appreciate the time-saving benefit of a visual shorthand of unwieldy and often complicated text, I’ve become a huge fan. They’re so simple, yet so enlightening, and many are just freakin’ funny!

Enjoy!

Social-Sickness-Infographic

Upcoming Free Webinar: The State of SEO and Internet Marketing in 2012

Dear Visitors,

Internet search engine technology has made leaps and bounds in recent years and has offered businesses the ability to specifically target select audiences by employing innovative SEO techniques. Today, Google alone has over 400 million searches occurring daily. However, a business’s ability to be found on-line by its intended audience is akin to finding a needle in a haystack and can either propel or hinder the success of many companies competing for online business (this, of course, includes your freelance copywriting clients).

The pioneer of inbound marketing – HubSpot’s  commitment to education continues with FREE WEBINARS that are exploding with information to help companies and freelancers excel at SEO, create content, and learn to identify the best long-tail keywords necessary for optimizing  website pages.  Hubspot can explain how to track competitors’ online presence to maximize the success rate for being found online by potential customers.

In this free 60-minute webinar, you will learn (whether for your freelance copywriting business or your client):

  • How to utilize content in your SEO and inbound marketing
  • How to stay competitive in the rapidly evolving Internet marketing landscape
  • What the best SEO practices in today’s marketing industry are
  • Data that will help you make smarter marketing decisions

In addition, you will have an opportunity to ask questions and participate in the conversation.

Date: Monday, August 20th

Time: 1:00 p.m. EST

PRESENTERS: Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz, and Dharmesh Shah, CTO of HubSpot.

Register to attend live here ► Everyone knows that search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the main players in Internet marketing. But how has it evolved in the past year?

Be sure to reserve your spot today, as attendance is limited.

 

How to Use Twitter to Market Your Freelance Copywriting Business

Some freelancers have said that a number of their biggest contracts have come through Twitter. It’s certainly the lucrative flavor of the day in marketing for numerous businesses (big and small), so I recommend you work it into your freelance copywriting business model. This list is by no means completely exhaustive, but it will undoubtedly steer you in a direction that can bring first-rate results to your freelance copywriting business. Social Media Core of Internet Networking and Twitter Marketing

Follow People Who are Likely to Need Your Services

Sign up for sites like Twellow, which lists its users by categories. You can simply add your twitter handle to a few of the categories you’re interested in. If you want to do copywriting for recreation and sports entities, you can follow people and businesses in that category. Other members can find you through a keyword search. People will begin to follow you back and read your tweets!

Use Your Tweets to Engage the Prospects, Not to Constantly Sell Your Services

Twitter is about socializing and building relationships. It’s not a platform for you to bombard your followers with sales pitches and the like.

Share your take on last night’s game or Apple’s latest gadget; however, don’t forget, this Twitter profile is connected to your business, so you do want to post tweets that are business-related. You can do things like inform your followers of a current event in the industry (news that, of course, would interest them) or share a quick anecdote or light humor or link to an article or blog post you’ve read. If you have a business blog, you can share the blog post title and the link and ask your followers to check it out.

Also, keep an eye out for followers who retweet your posts. Don’t forget to give them a shout-out, a “thank you.” Take a few minutes each day to comment on others’ tweets and to retweet ones you feel are worthy of sharing.

And yes, if you have an offer, you can let your followers know, but don’t overdo it; it’s a turn-off and will negatively impact your business.

Tweet Daily – Ideally at 12 pm, 1 pm and 2 pm or Thereabouts

I recommend these three times of day, because you stand a better chance of reaching folks during optimal Twitter reading periods who are in different time zones. This does not have to be as time-consuming and overwhelming as it sounds. In fact, this can be accomplished in under an hour. Solo practitioners have mastered the art of tweeting regularly. Sign up for a free service like Hootsuite.com. Pick one hour a week to write 15 tweets (3 for each business day of the week). Use online trade blogs and magazines, tips found in interesting blog posts (your own or someone else’s) to help you come up with ideas for tweets. Load them and schedule them on Hootsuite.com, and you’re done sending out tweets – for the whole week.

Create a Page on Your Website or Blog Where Your Followers Can Download Helpful Information

People love free, useful content. Every now and then, take some time and write a short 7-10 page report about something likely to interest your Twitter followers. Sign up for an email marketing service like Aweber or Constant Contact so that your report can automatically be sent to an interested party, i.e., a subscriber. You can also go on elance.com or guru.com and hire someone else to write it if you don’t have the time to write it yourself.

Put a Link to Your Resource Page on Your Twitter Profile

If you have some free stuff you can offer to site visitors, load it to one page, a Resource page. You come across as more of an authority when you have valuable, downloadable content. Never use your Home page unless you have a specific reason for sending readers to your Home page. Send them where they are more likely to stick around. People go to departments stores to look for useful departments; they don’t hang out in the lobby or the entrance way, because… well, what would be the point.

So, go ahead, try it. Now that businesses are starting to “get it” they are coming up with countless methods for leveraging this dynamic tool. You can too.

 

Happy Writing

Stacey

 

P.S. You may want to try these other helpful Twitter tools.

P.P.S. Read more on steps for writing great tweets for yourself or your clients.

 

 

 

 

 

FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

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Three Steps to Writing Great Tweets for Your Clients

Copywriters aren’t being hired just to write long form sales letters anymore. Mobile marketing and Social Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are creating the need for short, interesting and engaging messages.

As a copywriter, here are three things you can do to write awesome tweets and other short messages for your client’s marketing campaigns . . .

First – Start With a Long Message

Instead of trying to create a super short, super awesome Tweet, give your creativity a chance to breathe and write something that’s 50 to 60 words long. Trying to write a great message in just a few words is a lot harder than writing an entire paragraph. If you start out trying to say something short, engaging and compelling, you may invite writer’s block.

Initially, give yourself plenty of words to work with instead. Let your thoughts flow freely. This is where your creativity will work its hardest. You can compress your message, edit it and become obsessed with perfection later. Starting with this approach could also help you come up with enough material for several smaller messages.

Second – Now, Say What You Just Said in 20 Words or Less

Once you’ve got a good body of thoughts written, start taking out all the weak words like: sort of, actually, virtually, possibly, somewhat, really, kind of, etc. Also, look through your message and take out the word “that” wherever you can manage without ruining the sentence structure.

Third – Work on Something Else for about 24 Hours

Once you’ve got something that’s nice and short (or if you’re stuck with just a few extra words and can’t seem to compress it anymore), find something unrelated to do for a day if time permits.  Coming back to your project after having slaved over it gives you a new perspective on it. It helps you determine whether you’ve written something worth keeping or if it just sounded good in the moment and needs to be rewritten.

Practice Tweet Writing Everyday – There’s a saying that goes: “The best time to repair your roof is when the sun is shining.” Likewise, the best time to learn to write good Tweets is when you’re not under the pressure to deliver on a deadline. Make a daily practice of compressing your messages into 20 words or less. Find a few ads that you really like and see how short you can make them without diluting their most engaging quality.

For example, a message like this one…. “This is the most amazing business management application on the market! You’ll fall in love with their user-friendly interface and the inquisitive data analysis tools.  The real-time collaboration features aren’t too bad either!” …can be compressed into this: “Want simple business management with Intuitive, real-time interaction? Check this out…” If you practice compressing other people’s messages into 20 words or less, and if you start your writing process by giving yourself 50 to 60 words to work with, you’ll be able to crank out high quality Tweets and dazzle your clients.

Need More Qualified Leads for Your Freelance Copywriting Business?

If you’ve got a website or blog and want to generate more leads for your freelance copywriting business, you’re in luck. Optimize your website to get found by more prospects and convert more of them into leads and paying customers with HubSpot’s all-in-one marketing software.

300x250 Trust

Need More Qualified Leads? Use HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing System. Try our FREE 30-Day Trial!

Inbound marketing (attracting people to your site) is the way small businesses that are in-the-know think and act. But, of course, if you’re not a tech geek, online marketing and web design are tough, if not impossible.

Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing System has revolutionized the ease and power of what your freelance copywriting website or blog can do and be. As you’ll find out in a moment, Hubspot’s marketing software is more than just a mere traffic generator. If you simply follow Hubspot’s system and use their tools, you’ll find yourself ahead of 90% of other freelance copywriters who are still living in the ancient times.

Why spend massive amounts of time searching for and then researching the most practical ways to optimize your first freelance copywriting website. Hubspot will do that overwhelming legwork for you!

HubSpot’s software gives you everything you need to make marketing that copywriting clients will actually love – earning quality leads and loyal customers in return.

Inbound channels, unlike outbound channels, produce higher quality leads. Learn how you can make your marketing efforts more inbound. Receive a Free Marketing Assessment From HubSpot!

HubSpot utilizes the platform for inbound marketing to help you:

  • attract qualified visitors to your website with remarkable content
  • convert your website visitors into leads and then into customers
  • analyze your online marketing efforts

What is HubSpot? HubSpot software:

  • helps you get found online by more qualified visitors.
  • shows you how to convert more visitors into leads.
  • gives you tools to close those leads efficiently.
  • measures and improves your marketing.

HubSpot’s inbound marketing tools incorporate website design, website and blog content, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, lead conversion, and web/marketing analytics.

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