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7 Social Media Misconceptions

Transition-Marketing-ServicesSocial Media Marketing.

Social Media has quickly grown as a marketing tool. Several years ago there was a massive push by marketing consultants to bring clients of all backgrounds onto Social Media. This has dramatically changed the social media scene in both feel and usage. As corporations took to the Social Media “Airwaves” the content and type of usage has evolved.

The need to increase ad revenue has pushed the big contenders in new directions which has significantly impacted their content, the display of YOUR content and the overall reason for the average household’s usage. Not everyone has been happy with the changes, and many users have become disenchanted with the big Social Media platforms, seeing them as no more than Corporate shills. Yet usage continues to be steady.

Like it or not we will continue to see this push by Marketing & Advertising agencies for a few years yet, until the next big tech revolution occurs, or until our first big tech blackout happens. All indications are that advertising options will continue to grow as a must for many Social platforms.

This Social Media revolution has taken place over a little more than a decade. Over that time the platforms have evolved, the tools have adjusted and our methods have changed. Tips and tricks for optimal Social Media usage have come and gone like political promises.

In three previous posts we have outlined several Social Media misconceptions. Ideas, tips and information that simply are not true. These posts can be found here:

In the following post we will finish up with 7 final Social Media Misconceptions that business owners and marketers alike can (and should) ignore.

Okanagan-Marketing

7 Social Media Misconceptions.

1) Engagement Is The All Important Metric.

Let’s start by explaining. There are two key non-paying metrics involved in Social Media:

  • Number of Followers: Your number of followers or likes – essentially your Social Media audience.
  • Follower Engagement: Your engagement and individual connectivity with your followers.

Now both of these metrics are important, both will lead to potential sales and income. However neither by themselves will generate dollars. In our previous post we discussed why gaining followers is not the single key to success on Social Media. Engaging them is equally important, however one must note that “Follower Engagement” itself is considered a non-paying metric also.

Follower Engagement not only a non-paying metric, it’s also a fuzzy metric with many different interpretations. It is important of course. It establishes communication and relationships with potential leads and it provides insight into which of your content is connecting with your audience, which then impacts your future content and design decisions.

Follower Engagement however, is simply one more piece in the big-picture-puzzle. Your number of followers does not alone dictate your economic success, likewise engagement with those followers is just another in a several step process to generating sales interest.

2) Only Publish Content About Your Company.

Wrong.

I personally do not want to hear or witness a non-stop feed of propaganda about your business. If you are publishing only messages and content about your company, unless I am a stock holder, I DON’T CARE.

Ask yourself this: Would you want to sit and listen to someone you hardly know tell you all about how great they are? Probably not.

Why then would anyone voluntarily listen to you spout of a list of your awards, events, products, reviews etc? It is the exact same thing, and it is obnoxious. I will unfollow you quickly, as will the bulk of Social Media users.

Instead let your audience assist in dictating your content. The odd post about your companies recent achievement, or new product is great – but build the rest of your content based on what your audience wants. Think about it like romancing a first date. If you do all the talking, attempting to promote yourself, there likely won’t be a second date. Instead ENGAGE them. Find out about them, take an interest in their lives. Base your conversation around what THEY are saying.

Ask yourself (or rather ask them).

  • What are their concerns?
  • What are their problems?
  • What are their challenges?
  • What are they interested in?
  • What are they talking about?

Romance your audience. Pay attention to them and engage them with your content.

3) You Should Post A Certain # Of Posts Each Day.

This is a common misconception and it is actually rooted in legitimate research. There are in fact optimal times during the day in which to post, likewise there is an optimal frequency with which to post. There has in fact been a great deal of research done on the topic including this great report by Dan Zarrella.

However, this research is not carved in stone and it does not necessarily pertain to everyone. As with any data and research, this report was based on independent results stemming from multiple test posts over a large number of accounts.

Every Social Media platform is different and has different optimal times for posts. Similarly every independent Social Media user has a different audience with different schedules, browsing habits and agendas.

We recommend that users do their own research based on their own profiles and their own audience:

  1. Test the timing for each of your posts and see when you are receiving the best level of connectivity with your followers.
  2. Test the frequency and verify the same.
  3. Test your content and see what is engaging the most.

Remember, these are YOUR followers, they are custom to you and your post scheduling should reflect that.

4) Setup Your Facebook or Twitter or Blog (etc) Profile and The Rest Is A Breeze.

Wrong again. Very wrong.

Engaging in Social Media is just like any other “Social” or Networking event. It is not enough to just be there. You need to be involved.

Think about it this way. If you set up a booth at a trades show and sat in a chair in the corner for the duration and never spoke to a soul, what would you expect for results? Social Media is much the same. It requires constant vigilance, updates and response. It is called “Social” Media for a reason. The entire premise of it is to get out and connect with other users. It is about conversing, communicating and networking.

Social Media requires time and effort. It requires consistent maintenance and updates.

5) You Can Just Wing It On Social Media.Small-Business-Plan

There is a misconception that Social Media requires little planning, that one can just post to it as they see fit.

In fairness, Social Media does require a flexible and adaptable controller and the posts can be spur of the moment. When operating a Social Media profile the controller must be prepared for anything, you are engaging people over the anonymity of the internet after all, and that can result in some bizarre interactions.

However, while flexibility is a must, so is an overall strategy. A few things to consider when developing a Social Media strategy:

  1. Why are you on Social Media?
  2. What are you goals?
    • How will you achieve them?
  3. Who are you targeting?
    • How will you find them?
    • How will you approach them?
  4. What content will you need to develop and post?
    • Do you have the means to do so?
    • Who will be in charge of doing so?

Figure our you goals, then determine who you want to connect with to achieve them; how you want to connect with them and what you need to do so? Who in your company is responsible for what? Have a plan to ensure success.

6) Every Division Of Your Company Needs An Individual Account.

They don’t.

You don’t.

Big corporations often go this route. Many large corporate companies (Kohler, Apple, Coca-Cola etc) have multiple accounts. In fact a report by Altimeter indicates that the average corporation has 178 corporate controlled Social Media accounts. That is an overkill even for companies of monolithic proportions.

The fact is that for every additional Social Media account, you are incurring added costs, added drain on resources and another avenue that can jeopardize the consistency of your brand’s communications. For the small to mid-size business especially, this makes zero sense. In addition, adding multiple accounts divides your efforts, provides far more information to analyze and reduces your overall Social Media reach.

The best plan is to create and build up a single account on whichever platforms you have deemed pertinent. If you have multiple target markets, don’t create multiple accounts, rather diversify the content on a single account, to reach the different targets from one place.

7) Don’t Ask Followers To “Follow, Like or RT” You.

This is a bit of a fair presumption actually. It seems quite forward and rude almost to just come out and ask someone to “Like” you. Yet the truth is that it works. There won’t be any terrible fallout or heckling as a result. You are simply putting it forward to someone – already engaged with your content – to share it. It is a  polite call to action and it is in fact a recommended thing to do.

Don’t abuse it of course, if you are constantly badgering everyone to RT every post… well that may indeed get a little stale.

Okanagan Small Business Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

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Five Social Media Misconceptions

Social-Media-Marketing

Social media policies can be crippling.

1) Social Media Requires Policing And A Policy.

Ok let’s cut through the red tape and the bureaucracy because Social media policies wind up wasting time and stalling out efforts. Attempting to police every single thing published within a single channel is nearly impossible and one stands to lose more trying to get approval to reply, then just replying promptly.

It’s impossible to prepare for every possible scenario on social media. What is more, with social media speed is of the essence. One must respond quickly at every opportunity. If one has to run every reply through a chain of command, or get approval via policy, then they risk losing out. Social media is lightening quick and dialogue on it must reflect that.

The best bet is to put simple guidelines for social media publication in place, rather than a full fledged policy. Make sure that those representing your brand on social media have good judgement and then entrust them to represent you properly.

A few examples of good guidelines are as follows:

  • Use your common sense.
  • Beware of privacy issues.
  • Play nice, and be honest.
  • Allow publications to fun, while still relevant & respectful.
  • Encourage conversation & discourse.
  • Consider asking your representatives to add their initials to posts.
  • Maintain a distinction between posts for your brand and personal posts by your reps.

 2) Social Media Is 100% Free.

Marketing-Content

Image Source: techpost.ug

This can be a common misconception. Yes there is almost never a cost to sign up to a social network however the natural evolution of your social media profiles will require time & resources, which as we know requires “moola moola”. True social media marketing success requires an investment of time. It requires consistent updates and posts, content creation, publication, searching and dialogue with other users.

Do not make the mistake of assuming social media is quick and easy. If you want any real success via these channels, then you need to maintain, update and use them properly. All of these things take time and time requires money.

It doesn’t end there either. Once you have a social media plan in place and the cogs are turning, the next step is marketing analytics. The only way to see if you are truly making any progress on social media is to measure the ROI. This as well, requires time, people and software.

There is no question that social media pays however it must be looked at as an investment and not simply a free ride.

Small-Business-Marketing

Social media is the fishing line and your website is the boat.

3) Social Media Alone Is Enough.

FALSE! False, false, false! Social media is a wonderful tool but it DOES NOT REPLACE other marketing strategies. Social media is simply an additional channel. It complements other parts of your strategy but it cannot stand alone.

If marketing is “fishing for leads”. Then consider social media to be the fishing line. It works great to hook potential customers, but you still need somewhere to reel them in to. A “boat” as it were. You must have a landing page, somewhere for those followers to go to find the information they need. You cannot convert social media followers to potential sales leads without a landing page(s).

Simply put you cannot attract followers in social media without good content. That content must come from somewhere, a blog, a website etc. You cannot convert followers into sales leads without landing pages (blog, website etc.) that provide necessary information and “can’t-refuse” offers.

Long story short: Get a website or other form of landing page (no Facebook does not count).

4. Social Media Cannot Be Measured.Marketing-Analytics

Everything can be measured. In fact one of the founding principles within every successful industry segment is “measurement”. Whether dealing with marketing, production, distribution or other, without measurement there is no way to determine the success of an endeavor and no way to determine whether to continue or not.

Social media is the same. As with every other marketing tool, social media can be measured.

So how do you measure? There are many ways, the first and primary step should be to set a goal and gauge your progress.  Here are a few examples:

  1. Seek to engage existing consumers and gauge the number of successful conversations.
  2. Create an offer only available on social media, then measure how many people attempt to cash it in within your business.
  3. Seek to gain new leads & set a quantity to reach by a specific date.
  4. Seek to increase the reach overall of your content. Measure using software and analytics tools built into that specific social media platform.
  5. Seek to support Customer Service by reducing the need for support calls. Measure how many calls are coming in and then compare as your social media profiles begin to take flight. Monitor to see if the average number of calls per month decrease over time.

Whatever you determine to be your goal, there is a way to measure it and that measurement is crucial.

social-media-followers

500 or 5000 followers. It doesn’t matter if none of them convert into leads.

5) Your Number of Followers Is The Most Important Metric.

A high number of followers can certainly be indication of doing something right. However followers don’t generate income. They are not sales, they do not pay your bills and they will not guarantee your business survival.

Also to be considered, is that every social media platform has a high number of “spam” profiles, essentially dummy profiles that follow you simply to be followed back. There is zero value in these profiles as they cannot be converted to leads.

Instead what you must consider, is what is most important to your business. Generating massive numbers of followers should not be a top priority. Rather you should focus on thoroughly engaging a smaller number of followers in order to transform them into leads and eventually into sales.

Okanagan-Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

5 Pieces Of Social Media Advice You Should Ignore

Hint: If they use the term "guru", they aren't.

Hint: If they use the term “guru”, they aren’t.

Social Media Advice You Should Ignore.

The following are five REAL pieces of social media advice from supposed “Social Media Guru’s”. We highly recommend familiarizing yourself with and then IGNORING these suggestions.

1) Your Target Market Isn’t On Social Media, So Don’t Bother.

This is one of the tallest tales and longest lies out there. YES YOUR PROSPECTS ARE USING SOCIAL MEDIA.

In a recent study by the Pew Research Center, an estimated 69% of the adult population was found to be using social media. That 69% includes your targets. If statistics don’t do it for you then we challenge you step onto ANY SOCIAL NETWORK and test drive their targeted advertising programs (trying out is free). You will quickly see just how large an audience exists for your business.

Setting aside the obvious sales benefits and lead prospects, there are a number of other reasons to get on board.

  1. Communicating with other members of your industry.
  2. Monitoring competitors actions and communications.
  3. Researching new developments within your business sector.
  4. Discovering advertising, Public relations, press release or other marketing opportunities.
  5. Connecting with influencers & industry leaders.

Social Media presents an unprecedented opportunity for businesses of all sizes. A responsible business owner owes it to themselves and to their employees, to research it properly before choosing to accept or reject it.

2) Utilize Trending Hashtags To Gain Exposure (Twitter).

Hashtags were at one time the means to organize tweets. They are still a common tool used to organize specific campaigns or events. Hashtags can be promoted to gain exposure, and they are designed in such a way as to enable tracking, sharing and monitoring content related to specific events.

Pro Tip Note: The key for organizing around hashtags is to understand which hashtags work. Generic hashtags (IE #marketing #advertising #tuna etc) are seldom monitored and therefore seldom reaches anyone new. Attempting to use these can result in  being labelled a rookie.

You can view top trending hashtags in the “Discover” section, these are tweets that are being promoted, being used to organize, or are otherwise hitting the “viral hotspot” on twitter. Attempting to become involved in these hashtags to gain exposure is a dicey proposition and often fails miserably.

Consider this example from last year. Kenneth Cole, a brand that should have known better, attempted to hijack the trending #Cairo hashtag. The hashtag was trending during the massive tumult that was occurring in the middle east. Perhaps you remember, when an Egyptian citizen enacted self-immolation and lit himself on fire in protest against the government. This sparked an upheaval throughout the entire middle east and quickly became a trend on Twitter.

Kenneth Cole coldly and ignorantly attempted to jump on board with this little tweet:

Hashtag-Twitter-Fail-Brand-Social-Media

People were not pleased and it quickly became a PR nightmare. All because of a haphazard attempt to gain a little quick exposure off of a trend. Source

This doesn’t necessarily mean that taking part in a trending hashtag is bad, it just means do so with caution.

3) Outsource Your Social Media.

 

This CAN BE quite a ridiculous suggestion once you understand the purpose of social media. Social media is the means for you to communicate with your audience (aka customers). How can this be accurately done if someone else is doing the speaking for you?

  1. The “voice” of your social media efforts needs to be your own.
  2. The conversation’s content has to be based on you and your knowledge and experience.
  3. The answers, comments and reactions to interactions have to come from you.
  4. This pertains especially to small businesses or niche markets.

You are the one best suited to represent your business, whether in person, on the phone or online. If not you, then someone within your business that is qualified to accurately respond and with the customer care necessary. That doesn’t mean hiring out is entirely out of the question, but it must be done with great caution and with an understanding of what is at stake.

There are MANY “professional social media guru’s” that will fight to represent your business online. If you are going to hire someone outside of your organization, we recommend reading either (or both) of these articles:

4) Hire An Intern or Otherwise Temporary & Inexpensive Employee To Rep Your Social Media.

This really just echoes what was said above. At least a social media specialist might know what they are doing. Why anyone would trust their brands image and communications to someone so unqualified is beyond us. At best you get someone who cares about their job, but lacks experience. At worst you get someone who could care less about their job, about your brand and about your customers.

Image source: incedogroup.com

Image source: incedogroup.com

This actually only acts to magnify the root of the problem, which is the idea that social media is just a throw-away marketing strategy with little value.

Social media is in fact a highly intense and in-depth field on which to market ones brand. To trust this marketing to non-qualified individuals is on par with hiring a middle-school media class to produce your commercial. Don’t do it.

Rule of thumb, would you let this individual represent you in a television interview? No? Then don’t put them on the social media channels.

5) Don’t Get All Personal, This Is Business.

Yes it is business, however one cannot forget the “SOCIAL” in social media. That means talking, sharing, conversing and otherwise relating to your audience. Social media marketing is different in that respect from many other marketing avenues. Social media requires the brand to talk directly TO their audience as opposed talking AT them.

“People don’t fall in love with hex colors and logos — they fall in love with people,” – Erika Napoletano (@RedHeadWriting)

Social media give one the unique opportunity to share some of their “colour” or personality. One gets to share a little bit of what makes their brand unique, the people. When you take to the social media air waves, don’t shy away from being personal, embrace it. Engage and converse as a business owner and not a corporate automaton.

Okanagan Small Business Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

It’s The Small Things – Our LinkedIn Award.

LinkedIn Social Media Award

We don’t normally toot our own horn, however this award caught us off guard and we are still a little excited!

Our Social Media Manager was recently awarded as being within the top 10% for profile views on LinkedIn.

With 200 million unique users, 10% is still quite a few people, it is a small success nonetheless!

…and successes should be celebrated and shared!

The Infographic below displays a rough idea of LinkedIn’s users.

LinkedIn Infographic

Three Social Media Marketing Avenues For Small Business

Three Social Marketing Avenues For Small Business.

Small businesses are just that – small, with limited resources. When dealing with small business marketing, branding and advertising one needs to be able to maximize overall exposure and consumer impact, at minimal costs.

Social Media provides the tooling and resources to do just that. Social Media has given businesses an unprecedented means to reach the masses with little or no overhead. However it does require careful focused planning. Do not make the mistake of presuming that it is enough to have a Social Media presence. Leveraging it for marketing and brand value requires more than haphazard attempts.

“The thing about Social Media that frustrates marketers to no end is that you can’t buy attention… ….What you’ll do instead if you’re just four people, [is ask] how can we amaze them? That change in posture, that change in attitude is the single biggest shift, that’s going on the Internet right now” – Seth Godin

In this post we will outline three key ways that small business operators can begin to utilize Social Media to broadcast their business and create brand exposure. To keep things fun, we have broken each tip into three categories (Cold, Medium & Warm) based on the steps to take in relation to expertise and technical marketing know-how.

3 Social Media Marketing Tips

As with all Marketing, success is determined by setting clear goals, implementing processes and then measuring results. It is our recommendation that, prior to establishing any of the below efforts, one determines first what their goals are. Only by knowing fully what is being sought, can one measure their success.

1. Facebook

If you ask 10 different businesses what their feelings are on Facebook, you will likely get 10 different answers. Many small businesses are adopting Facebook – the problem however, is that few understand WHY.

The fact is that Facebook is a low-cost tool, that when used PROPERLY, can engage consumers, promote brands and drive business.

Social Media is just that – SOCIAL and as such the marketing and branding endeavors on it need to be as well. Facebook is a means of SOCIALLY engaging consumers on the behalf of a brand and recent studies indicate it is doing a great job. This study by Mashable, indicated that around 50% of consumers actually value a brand’s Facebook page MORE than their website.

If that isn’t enough reason to look at Facebook seriously, then consider this:

  1. Facebook now has over 300 million registered users.
  2. 87% of people like brands on Facebook.
  3. Of those people, 82% state that Facebook is a good means of interacting with those brands.
  4. Of those people, 35% feel that brands listen to them more on Facebook than on a website.
  5. 75% of people state they feel more connected to a brand via Facebook.
  6. 69% of people have “Liked” a brand because their friend has.

Let us repeat, “SOCIAL media” is just that – SOCIAL! and as you can see from these recent statistics, Facebook offers brands a large-scale opportunity to engage customers, both current and potential.

Put another way: “Business Success” requires “Branding” which requires “Engagement” which is made possible by “Social Media”.

Cold: Sign up to Facebook and secure a Facebook Page name for your business or brand. Note that you want to create a “Business Page” and not a “User Profile” for your business. Operating a brand or business persona under a personal profile breaches Facebooks Terms and that is a very poor way to start showcasing your brand

Have a look at other brands, including competitors and see what they are doing. Have a look at how many “Likes” they have and view their posts to see how they are engaging customers. For more on Facebook Pages, primarily setting up your profile for success, visit our previous posts:

  1. Facebook Finesse Part 1 – Profile Cover Images
  2. Facebook Finesse Part 1 – Tweaking The Little Things

Medium: Succeeding on any Social Media platform is all about socializing and engaging your audience. Post articles that they are interested in, try to include images whenever possible and provide a reason for your targets to tune in.

  • Posts must be relevant to your business, brand and industry.
  • They should be developed with the specific’s of your target audience in mind.

Warm: When posting as your business page, you are representing your brand as a whole. An understanding of branding, brand philosophy, brand promise and brand image is crucial to achieving long-term and expanded Social Marketing success. Posts need to be specifically built to represent the overall brand image of the business, but also engaging for the specific body of customers that are being targeted.

Side Note: You may also look at the Facebook Ad’s option. It is a paid service and allows you to custom tailor advertising to be displayed only to specific targets based on the information plugged into their individual profiles.

2. Twitter

This is one of our personal favorites. It is quick paced, thanks in part to the 140 character limit on posts (tweets), and provides incredible opportunity for exposure. As of July of this year there are 500 million registered profiles with 180 million active users.

Twitter allows brands to freely communicate, either en mass or directly to other twitter users across the globe. The simple “hashtag” (#) system allows one to easily find other industry relevant users and content. It also enables a brand to build in specific search terms related to posts. This in turn adds to a brands ability to promote its association with specific services or ideas.

For a more few selling points on Twitter visit our previous posts:

Cold: We recommend signing up for Twitter asap and establishing a twitter account for your brand or business. Begin dabbling and take a look at the “Discover” tab to get an idea of how hashtags work and how best to connect with users pertaining to your business.

When signing on for a profile, Twitter will prompt you to find five users to follow, based on your interests and background. It then prompts you to find five more. This will give you a good idea as to where to start.

Spend some time searching different terms and users. Familiarize yourself with the type of content and the types of communications being shared. Search various terms related to your industry. Have a look, see who is already out there. Search out potential competitors and do some research. Simply put, wade into the water and get comfortable.

Medium: Once you are comfortable with the tools and how to use them, begin tweeting. Tweets are 140 character posts on Twitter. Keep your tweets relevant to your brand and industry, but ensure they are creative and engaging. You want to position your brand as accessible to the consumer audience, but also as leader on specific subjects or within a specific industry.

Begin connecting with other users. Using the “Discover” tools, find other users, whether brands or individuals, that make sense to connect with. These connections are an excellent way to spread your communications, generate increased exposure and grow your online presence. They are also a good source of other industry related information that you and your brand may profit from.

Warm: Maximizing your presence on Twitter will require more advanced tools. You will need to familiarize yourself with desktop and mobile Twitter clients like TweetDeck, Hootsuite and Twitterfall. These programs provide increased flexibility and control over your overall Twitter strategy.

  • They enable pre-defined searches – crucial for monitoring specific keywords and names, including your own.
  • They allow pre-scheduling of tweets, which in turn allows your brand to maintain a more consistent presence with far less labour.
  • They equip users to better monitor trends, and communications.
  • They also allow for more accurate measurement of “impressions” – or users touched by your tweets.

Another useful tool to explore will be Twitters “Lists” resource. Creating “Lists” or groupings of users based on specific will help you to keep tabs on topics and subjects, without the hassle of weeding through thousands of followers.

The primary concern for any and all Social Media Marketing is maintaining consistency to the brand image and promise. As an individual moving forward with a Social Brand development – this is key and must be kept in mind at all times.

Image source: smashingmagazine.com

3. Blogging

Despite the ever-changing and advancing world of Social Media, Blogging continue to be play a strong role in brand and business marketing.

1. Blogging is a great way to supply consumers with information, services and resources all centered around your brand.

2. The content and linking can contribute greatly to increased SEO to your website.

3. Hosting a blog on industry related topics positions your brand as a leader.

Cold: Begin hosting a blog under your brand or business name. Several sites provide blog hosting for free including WordPress, Blogger and Blogsome. This sites will also allow you to convert your blog into a full website URL should you choose at a later date to do so.

Many of these sites offer easy to use, step by step instructions to establish a basic blog profile and it should not be too difficult to set up on your own.

Alternatives like Posterous and Tumblr also exist, although may not be the ideal choice for a beginner business related blog.

Our preference has been WordPress, however we also host a profile on Tumblr. At the end of the day each business is best off doing their own homework and determining which profile makes the most sense for them. Remember that hosting on multiple sites quickly diminishes time and resources.

Medium: Many web providers will allow you to transfer the blog hosting right to your own website. In the case of WordPress you can easily transfer it over to your website, thus increasing control over the content and aesthetics.

Stale Blogs are bad.

As you begin to work with the blog, you will want to maintain fresh content and posts. It is wise to post new articles once a week or more. Articles must pertain to your brand or business – remember that they are intended to position you as a leader in your industry. Keep it fresh and keep it relevant.

For more on developing engaging blog content, visit our article on “Blogging Tips”

Familiarize yourself with “tags” and how to use them. These tags will assist consumers in finding you and your blog. Sites like WordPress allow you to punch in desired “tags” and terms before publishing the article. Make use of them.

Warm: You have established a blog and begun maintaining it. Time to up the ante. To increase exposure and develop and audience, one needs to focus on CONTENT. Determine what your blog is intended to do. If it is to position you as a leader on all things “Interior Design”, then create content related to that field. Whatever your brand or business represents, that should be the driving force in your blog content.

Reading other people’s blogs, commenting on them and just generally establishing a presence is also a good way to lead people back to your blog. Get out and explore the Blog-o-sphere and make yourself known.

Make sure you enable your audience to share your content. Include Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Pinterest and all manner of other “share” buttons, to allow your audience to immediately share your content with their colleagues. WordPress and just about every other blogging site has plugins available that can be automatically shown on each of your posts – make sure to equip them.

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.

Small Business: Why You Need To Be On Twitter

You Belong On Twitter.

Every small business does. It is a tool of engagement and brand development. It is the means to find and learn from your market targets and it is quickly becoming a linchpin to modern marketing.

Consider the following points in regards to Twitter:

1. Twitter shrinks the world. Your brand instantly becomes apparent to both, the customer down the street and across the globe. “Twitter is a place where one person can help another person anywhere in the world” – Dave Larson, @TweetSmarter

2. It is budget friendly, easy to learn and easier to use. Here are a couple of quick Twitter references you should know:

  • Tweet: A message of 140 characters or less.
  • Retweet (RT): A reposting or sharing of someones else’s tweet.
  • @johndoe: The means by which you directly address another Twitter user within your tweet.
  • #Hashtag: Placing the hashtag (#) in front of any word or sentence turns it into a search reference for the Twitter search engine. It can also be used to accentuate the point behind your tweet.
  • “Via”: Source or author of the content being shared.
  • OH: Overheard. The means by which you share a rumour or story.
  • #FF: The Hashtag (search reference) for Follow Friday. The means by which you share people you follow with your followers, “paying it forward” if you will.

Bu utilizing simple tags like this, you literally have the world at your fingertips (whether they listen to you is another story).

3. It is here, it is now, it is real time. Ask a question, expect an answer. The power behind this as a market research tool is enormous. Not only do you have the tool to find your targets, you have the means to speak with them. If you doubt the power Twitter possesses to consolidate an effort – then consider the recent political uprisings that have begun to change the middle east.

4. There is no limit to what you can do with Twitter. Advertise, research, dialogue. build goodwill or address issues.

5.Twitter is a research tool – monitor competitors and other industry relevant parties to see what the latest buzz is from your consumers. This is a great way to see where your brand may be succeeding or failing, but it also works the same way for monitoring your competition.

5. You can spot trends and hop on board. You can spot fails and move out of the way. Twitter hosts communications on everything that is going in the world. You can monitor issues, big and small, relevant or not, and speak to them as you need to.

Twitter can act as a megaphone for your brand successes

6. It is flexible.The speed at which it moves, the nature of limited 140 character posts, and the speed on replies make Twitter the perfect medium to test the waters. Change message types and communications as needed based on real time feedback from sources that matter.

7. Twitter is a great way to spread goodwill. Position your brand on Twitter as an expert and proprietor of helpful industry tips and info. Be helpful and enrich others – the efforts are appreciated and can quickly build brand reputation.

8. Customer Service. Twitter efforts can play a huge role in partnering with your Customer Service and After Sales Service efforts. The speed with which you can address concerns, comments or questions is incredible. Use Twitter to address customer comments and build your brand at the same time (or use it to move them to a less “public” avenue such as email, in order to address more volatile concerns).

9. Immediate information spread. Why does this matter? If you have a sudden issue, crisis or concern – Twitter possesses the speed and wide range communication capabilities to get your message out asap.

10. Connecting. I have been thrilled time and again, with how useful Twitter is for searching out new and relevant contacts. By city, by industry, by name – no matter the parameters, I can seek out those I need to network with.

11. It builds your small business future. Your tweets are entirely public, they are being seen by not just your current customers, but potential ones as well. This positioning of your brand within the eyes of the consumer base, can translate into future sales.

12. Use Twitter as a megaphone for your successes. Don’t brag, but if you get a compliment, favorite, Re-tweet it, and/or reply to it. Doing so spreads the word that, “hey! someone thought you were pretty great!”

Going Viral: Twitter spreads information widely and quickly.

13. Build your brand. We have already addresses this briefly, but Twitter is an ideal medium for establish your brands philosophies, morals and standards within your consumer base. Use Twitter to reinforce your brand message, stay consistent and you will see positive brand growth.

14. Twitter provides a tool to humanize your brand. It is B2B and more. It is B2C (business to customer). You can dialogue directly with the people purchasing your products and services. You can avoid the cold corporate image and show your small business is human just like them.

All that being said, there are pros and cons to all things. Likewise their are correct ways to go about it. Some businesses and Social Media Specialists would purchase follows, but the best and most appropriate use of Twitter is to develop your audience through organic relationships – communicate, speak to them, ask questions and monitor results. Go to your customers and build your brand B2B and B2C.

If you do find yourself on Twitter – drop by and tweet “Hi” – @MarketingTMS

Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing Services Contact us for a free consultation.

9 Twitter Tips For Small Business

Twitter provides a channel for brand communication with customers.

Twitter has become the primary platform for brand expansion and customer engagement. While tweeting is an excellent tool for promotion and dialogue, it in itself does not necessarily translate into leads, sales and traffic. A high volume of Twitter followers will not guarantee a high volume of sales.

To succeed with Social Media you need to do more than simply tweet. You need a strategy, you need to know your target audience and you need to measure, measure, measure (measurement provides the impetus to your forward movement). Above all else, however, you need to understand what Twitter is and why you are on it. Here are a few things to consider.

1. …Your Homework, Do it!

Twitter offers and unprecedented medium for dialogue with your customers. It offers insights, trends and direct communication channels with the people purchasing products and services. Use it to to garner Market Research. This market research will quickly multiply your success potential. Speak with your audience, search out your target market and begin the conversation. Ask the questions – what matters to them? what are they looking for? how do they feel about your brand? how do they feel about your competitors?

Twitter offers an enormous opportunity to accumulate the feedback necessary to build your brand.

2. Make A Plan.

Don’t dive into the deep end with your water wings! Every business, big, small, wide and tall needs a strategy. This strategy should address key concerns such as:

Have a plan before jumping into Social Media head first.

  • Who is handling your monitoring and communication?
  • What are they posting?
  • How often are they posting?
  • Who (market target) are you chasing and engaging?
  • What is your brand goal once you have followers?
  • What message do you need to communicate?
  • How do you communicate this?
  • What is your contingency for customer feedback?

For tips on sourcing a good specialist, or for what is required to succeed in Social Media we recommend checking out: TIPS TO FINDING A GOOD SOCIAL MEDIA SPECIALIST and IS YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA OPERATOR QUALIFIED?

Before you roll out your tweets we recommend taking part in the Twitter community. Log on and follow some tweets, get a feel for what people in your industry are doing. Understand the general zeitgeist surrounding your target market

Think about what you plan on posting – is it relevant and interesting?  Be realistic about how often you can post, schedule less if you need to, in order to remain consistent. Social Media is all about consistency and creative content.

3. Make Your Brand Known.

Get out and spread the word. Pass along to clients, industry partners, and relevant contacts that your brand is on Twitter. They may not be on Twitter yet, and partnering with them in your efforts can often be beneficial.

Begin engaging others on Twitter. Follow relevant feeds (IE experts, competitors etc). Begin conversing with established brands. Create content that will position you as an expert in the minds of your audience. You want to develop credibility and build your reputation. The more of a presence you make the more people will take notice.

Remember that you want to remain consistent to your Brand message. Your Social Media efforts should never appear fractured from the rest of your business.

4. ENGAGE.

Small Business success hinges on relationships and customer service. It is not often that the small business can compete on price point alone. Success is almost always determined by the brand loyalty one develops through nurturing their customers.

This is seldom easy, however it is highly rewarding (and profitable). Despite its online nature, Social Media is a great platform for developing these relationships. It is all about engagement, communication and dialogue. If your Twitter feed is a monologue then you are doing it wrong.

Talk to your customers, seek them out and begin the conversation. Doing so shows integrity and can instantly earn appreciation. Customers want and need to feel that they matter, by going to them you are reinforcing this association with your brand.

5. Be Human.

Be human. Be Authentic. Be Honest. Be Real.

Remember in all of your engagement to be real, be honest and be human. Brands spend thousands of dollars annually, attempting to “humanize” themselves, to make themselves accessible to “Joe Consumer”.

Be human and authentic, create a friendly banter and enjoy a good conversation. Don’t take offense to their feedback, but use every opportunity provided to show your customers that you are a customer as well, and your brand understands.

This is one perk to being a small business. It often comes more naturally and requires less red tape.

6. Build A Following.

This is achieved through three key steps.

  • Build relevant and creative content. Give your audience a reason to want more.
  • Post on a consistent schedule. Maintaining an active presence is absolutely key to building and KEEPING a following.
  • Post a consistent message. Whatever your content, ensure that you maintain a consistent brand message and meet the expectations of your followers. If you are plastics manufacturer, do not suddenly post LOLCATZ. You can change things up every now and again to keep it interesting – but always keep it relevant.

Keeping an active presence will ensure you build and retain your following. The value here is three fold:

  • It allows for quicker spotting of unhappy customers – which you then will engage.
  • It allows for more thoroughly spread updates to your audience.
  • “Viral Spread” – The more people are talking about your brand, the more are people hearing about your brand. The bigger your following, the quicker your content will be shared en mass.

7. Know Your Lingo!

Make sure you know how and what to communicate on Twitter. Here is a quick beginners breakdown:

Know the lingo and make waves on Twitter.

  • Tweet: A message of 140 characters or less.
  • Retweet (RT): A reposting or sharing of someones else’s tweet.
  • @johndoe: The means by which you directly address another Twitter user within your tweet.
  • #Hashtag: Placing the hashtag (#) in front of any word or sentence turns it into a search reference for the Twitter search engine. It can also be used to accentuate the point behind your tweet.
  • “Via”: Source or author of the content being shared.
  • OH: Overheard. The means by which you share a rumour or story.
  • #FF: The Hashtag (search reference) for Follow Friday. The means by which you share people you follow with your followers, “paying it forward” if you will.

8. SEO.

Search Engine Optimization is fairly easy to utilize on Twitter. First of all make a list of industry relevant key words. Implement them into your Twitter handle, your profile description and as often as possibly into your tweets. This will ensure that these key words are being associated by search engines, with your Twitter efforts (Further Info Here:)

9. Measure, Measure, Measure.

Hurrah! You have begun tweeting, you have followers! What does that mean? How do you measure the value? There are a number of tools to helop you do this. Consider Social media tools likeTweetdeck and Hootsuite. Both are easy to learn, easy to use, and can be downloaded free (Hootsuite also has a paid service).

You may also want to investigate Klout.com which can link into all of your Social Media efforts and using a series of algorithms and measurements, provide you with an “influence” score between 1 and 100.

Summary.

Small business owners face many challenges, the world of Social Media has, in effect, provided us with a wide array of tools – free tools – to engage and build our brand. By utilizing platforms like Twitter small business owners can engage and develop their client base.

Use Twitter to build your brands association with expertise and service. Dialogue with your customers one on one and as a group. Broadcast your small business and brand and you will not be disappointed.

Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing Services Contact us for a free consultation.