Archive for October, 2010

25
Oct
10

Use social media to build your brand

Use social media to build your brand

Posted: 10/24/2010 06:22:56 PM PDT

Q: What is social media and how can I use it to help my small business?
A: The term “social media” is used to describe interactive communities on the Web. There are a whole lot of different social media websites. Some of the more popular are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and blogs.

Social media marketing can help most small businesses boost sales. Small business owners use social media to build relationships, which indirectly increases sales. The practice of using social media builds a business’s database of contacts and connections, increases visibility to prospective customers, and gets the word out about their products and services in creative ways. The first thing you can do to use social media to help your business is to get your toes wet. Start by finding a blog that you enjoy reading that is related in some way to your business and regularly post comments on it. What you are doing is starting a conversation with the blog owner and its readers. You’re building relationships.

If you sign each of your posts with your name and Web address, you are marketing your business and hopefully driving new traffic to your website.

Another easy place to get started is to create an account at Facebook or LinkedIn.

With these types of accounts you can make friends, build relationships, talk about your business services and products, and direct people to your company website. Facebook, for example, has over 500 million active

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users with more than 150 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices. That is a very powerful platform on which to build a presence.
Another way is to start a blog for your business. In one action you can give your company a Web presence, start building relationships, and get the word out about your products and services.

How successful you are at marketing your business with social media will depend on how much you put into it. Social media marketing takes commitment, effort and passion to make it work.

Social media are all about relationships. To be successful, you need to understand how to build and use those relationships. In much the same way, you are already building relationships and networking in the physical world, networking in the digital world isn’t really that big of a stretch.

Social media marketing can be a phenomenal marketing tool for small businesses.

Laurel Eriksen is owner of Eriksen Web Design (www.eriksenwebdesign.com), a small business Web design and marketing firm based in Ranch Cucamonga.

Read more: http://www.sbsun.com/business/ci_16424293#ixzz13MtwF4TI

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23
Oct
10

Small Business News: Social Media and Networking Lessons

Small Business News: Social Media and Networking Lessons

Small Business News October 22, 2010 By Small Business News
Social media and networking are two things you’ll hear plenty about in small business circles these days. From the way we market to the way we learn more about our customers or industry and our market, social media and networking are often at the heart. Here’s a roundup aimed to seek out that heart and illuminate the world.

Entrepreneurial Frontier

More about new Facebook groups. We’ve blogged before about this new Facebook feature including the positives and negatives (OK, there are some of those), but how simple is it for you to decide whether this is the kind of tool you really want to use for your business and why? We’ve got some basic info for you. TechClump

What can your dog teach you about business? Well, a lot, according to Jackie Parnell. Here are 16 tips she’s come up with after an enlightening e-mail about ”What dogs know about life…” Look through the list and see if you find any information that is useful for your business. Building Businesses Creating Brands

Social Lessons

Lessons in networking. Of course, there are few small business who would tell you that networking doesn’t work. But what is the best way to network for your small business. As it turns out there may be a set of basic best practices that will at least head you in the right direction. Here are ten tips (and a video!) to help your business networking accomplish its target results. Bloggertone

What The Social Network movie can teach every entrepreneur. Yep, not everybody who’s watched the new movie Mark Zuckerberg hated it or necessarily thought it gave the co-founder of Facebook a black. Heck, some people even learned something from watching the flick. Here are five really important lessons about entrepreneurship you might have missed. Abnormal Marketing

Tools & Tips

Social media app provides online newsletter option. Interested in creating an online newsletter for your business, but not yet settled on the best format to use. Read more about the Facebook app from eCircle, ‘Faceook2Subscribe’, and learn more about the tool’s function as a subscriber based newsletter application for small businesses everywhere. B2B Marketing News

Social media is great but don’t forget the rest of SEO. Remember there’s still a vast Web out there crawling with search spiders whose habits for indexing sites are not clearly understood. Facebook and Twitter are awesome for marketing your Website but you’ll also need to know how to be sure the search engines can find it. Search Engine Guide

Big Ideas

Watch your mouth!…or your fingers while tweeting. Hey, things said, tweeted or shared via the revolutionary new social media cannot easily be taken back afterwards. Social media can be great for marketing and PR. But it can also turn into a nightmare with just a few unfortunate keystrokes. Global Reach Copywriting

What Web applications could your small business utilize? You’ve no doubt heard of “the cloud”, the buzz word with a fuzzy description that is just starting to come into focus for some entrepreneurs as a way to share Web apps for a fee rather than buying and licensing them for your business and maybe dozens of workstations. You may, however, be wondering what kind of apps are available. Well, wonder no more. The Inspired Entrepreneur

Innovation

Facebook app proves need for employee driven innovation. Mark Harbeke shares the story of Google engineer Brian Kennish, who built an app to benefit both Facebook and Google as part of the personal project time he is granted by his employer, Google. Do you de3legate a means for employee innovation at your small business? Should you? Winning Workplaces

Social media: It’s not just for engagement anymore. Engagement, engagement, engagement. We’ve heard it parroted a again and again by well-meaning social media gurus who insist this is the best use for the new Internet tool and companies like Comcast, Dell and BestBuy have had success in using it this way. But could social media also be beneficial to small businesses for driving sales? IBM thinks so and is taking a few steps toward development. V3 Integrated Marketing

20
Oct
10

yes, it’s time to think about Social Media and X-mas


How to Use Social Media in Christmas Marketing
Kevin Gibbons | Oct 20, 2010 |

OK, I realize it’s early to start using the C-word, but it’s almost too late to be planning your festive social strategy.

A new study by lead generation firm LinkShare has found that almost half of all marketers will be using social platforms this winter, with a further 37 percent intending to use online vouchers and special offers.

That means some businesses will be venturing into social marketing for the first time, and at one of the busiest times of year for many consumer-facing companies. If you’re one of them, what do you need to know?

Pick Your Platform

How much of a budget are you planning to dedicate to your Christmas social marketing? If it’s a small, experimental budget, then you’ll need to be reasonable about how much you can expect to achieve.

Perhaps you should begin with a Twitter campaign, or a Facebook campaign, or a blog, or a forum. Don’t try and do all of them only to fail for lack of budget.

Add Value to Christmas Shoppers

Successful social media marketing is about offering value to people. This can be about posting discounts and vouchers, especially at Christmas, when everyone’s budgets are stretched.

However, it’s not just discounts; to be truly social online you need to do more than talk about your products.

So, this is where intelligent and useful blog posts come in; thoughtful and succinct tweets; clever Facebook applications; content that’s worth sharing.

Don’t Spend Hours on Individuals

While it’s lovely to occasionally use your corporate power to make one person very happy, especially at Christmas, don’t waste your social media time.

It’s easy to lose perspective in a social platform and spend hours reconciling one lone customer, or giving far more credence to a complaint just because it was made on Twitter, when actually the complainer has fewer than five followers.

Having said that, targeting individuals can be a good idea. You just need to pick your individual.

So, for example, if you’re a cuddly toy retailer and someone tweets you that their neighbor’s house burned down, presents and all, donating something to the kids can win you some really great publicity.

Just don’t waste hours agonizing over random people online. Resolve their complaints as you would any other customer — quickly and fairly, but not as a particular priority.

Interact With Your Customers

You wouldn’t walk around a Christmas party simply handing out vouchers for your shop and you can’t behave that way online.

Interact with people, start conversations, respond to feedback, engage in debate, promote discussions. This is how you become a personable brand and a social media success.

The clue is in the word “social”!

Can You Attract Viral Attention?

I groan inside when enthusiastic but old school marketers proudly tell me they’ve “gone viral” because they’ve uploaded a video onto YouTube, or launched a competition via Twitter.

But Christmas is a good time to try your luck at achieving viral marketing, because people are much more relaxed, especially at work.

That means they’re happier to share e-mail funnies or spend time on Twitter and Facebook. So it’s a good time to publish your viral attempt.

Viral marketing is very hit and miss, but you’ll almost certainly need to invest considerable cash. Look at previous successful festive campaigns: Elf Yourself, Pimp My Sleigh, and the many successful Christmas-themed mini-games.

All of these were slick and well designed, but they also had a huge amount of paid-for publicity and also a fair bit of luck. If you want to go viral, it’s an investment gamble but you need to do it well if it’s to have any hope of success.

18
Oct
10

considering social media content management systems

Third-party tools help control social media load
by Dana Kohlbeck
OCTOBER 18, 2010

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and more: As marketers, we’ve experimented with these new mediums with the understanding that social media is now a permanent and important component of business marketing.

But with the plethora of social media platforms to squeeze into our already strained schedules, how do we effectively manage it all?

Along with the influx of online networking platforms, we should consider social media content management systems — third-party applications to help maximize our social media efforts. From managing content, customizing each platform for your customers and measuring campaign success, these third-party tools can be budget friendly, time efficient and serve as a helpful resource for new ideas and to learn how other companies are executing.

If you’re looking to maximize both time and reach within social media platforms, look to applications such as HooteSuite or SocialOomph. These tools allow you to update multiple accounts like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn from one platform, as well as pre-schedule messages for consistency and strategic time release.

According to a recent business.com study, 81 percent of marketers use social media to build brand awareness. What better way to spread the brand message than to customize your social media platforms to reflect that brand?

Create a brand channel on YouTube that reflects the look, feel and tone of your brand or add a personal welcome landing tab on your Facebook page with direct messaging or customer quizzes and contests. With tools such as BuddyMedia and North Social, these customization processes are simple and cost effective.

Content management platforms not only help to execute campaigns, but are also effective for measuring program success and gathering valuable consumer insight. Use these tools to find more about the people interacting with your content on Facebook or who responded to your Twitter feeds.

Determine which content is most viewed and shared with others, or which messages have low visits and should be tweaked. Tools such as ObjectiveMarketer, Virture and Spredfast provide reporting analytics. Virtue, in particular, has turned a few heads in the marketing field for its ability to estimate social media campaign value and return on investment projections — which is sure to help get the attention of your CFO.

Experiment with these tools to find out which are a good fit for your company and program goals. Then dive deeper into the social media possibilities to propel your online marketing programs and drive customer engagement to a new level.

Dana Kohlbeck is an account manager for Coalesce Marketing & Design Inc. in Appleton. She can be reached at 920-380-4444 or dana@coalescemarketing. com.

12
Oct
10

Social Media Is Key To Small Business Marketing

Social Media Is Key To Small Business Marketing
Written by Resources for Entrepreneurs Staff
Published: 10/11/2010

Sites like Facebook and Twitter help entrepreneurs

One of the most cost-effective ways for small business owners to increase sales is by getting plugged in to the world of social media.

Social networks such as Facebook or Twitter allow a company of any size to add a whole new weapon to its marketing arsenal. Tech-savvy marketing experts like Tomica Bonner say that, thanks to the rapid growth in the pace of technology, businesses can learn more about what their customers want and see how to increase profits.

Once an entrepreneur decides to take the proverbial plunge, he or she must figure out which direction to go in.

“There are many social platforms, it’s important to know how each of them works. Find out their benefits and how they can help grow your business. Facebook allows you to build a fan page where potential customers can ‘like’ your page and interact with the business,” wrote Bonner in an article for Technorati.com. “Twitter is a way to market free to your followers and drive traffic to your website. Blogging offer[s] credibility to your business and is another way to speak personally to your customers.”

Whichever site a business picks, it can help the company be competitive with larger competition. The new social media craze has been good news for small business owners looking to promote themselves on the cheap.

08
Oct
10

Social media crucial to job search

By Kristi L. Gustafson, Albany Times Union

A couple of weeks ago, Josh Shea started a new job as a senior web developer with Brayton Graphics, a design firm in Schenectady, N.Y.

But if it wasn’t for Shea’s use of social media, he never would have heard about the position. It, like many jobs these days, was advertised solely on social networking sites — specifically Twitter and Facebook.

With more than 500 million users on Facebook, 160 million on Twitter and 75 million on LinkedIn, social media are a growing avenue for employers to reach out to fill open positions and for potential employees to find jobs.

Those statistics, combined with the competitive job market and the national unemployment rate hovering at 9.5 percent, add up to a new mandate for career-minded men and women: Get a Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn account and learn how to use it.

“These social networking tools are no longer considered a ‘maybe’ when it comes to job search and are a must-have for being noticed, building visibility and credibility and for ongoing career management,” says Diane Crompton, a senior career management consultant with Right Management in Atlanta. “At least 50 percent of our landed candidates are now using social media as a critical part of being noticed, getting introductions and leads for their next position.”

Crompton says more than 80 percent of people now find jobs through networking — including in-person and online. A recent survey from Jobvite, a maker of recruiting software, found that nearly 75 percent of employers now use social media in their recruiting efforts.

Shea has been using social media — primarily Facebook and Twitter — to build his professional brand for nearly three years. Facebook has opened several freelance opportunities, while Twitter led to his new position.

He and Elizabeth Delos, the owner of Brayton, connected on Twitter more than a year ago. They started following each other because of their shared professional interests.

“When I started following them … I didn’t know I’d end up working there,” says Shea. “I follow people because they’re interesting, not because of an opportunity, but because I want to read what they have to say.”

Shea is careful about what he says — and the images he posts — on any social networking site. His motto: “You never know who your next client is or who your next contact is.”

Having a positive professional presence online through social media sites such as LinkedIn can help a job seeker compete in a crowded candidate pool, says Allison Keibel, the assistant director at the Center for Career Development at Adelphi University. Employers, she says, can find more information online about candidates before bringing them in for an interview — as Delos did.

This can work to job seekers’ advantage, she says, helping them develop a marketing strategy and “brand” their image online by displaying samples of their work on a personal website or by creating profiles with recommendations from colleagues — a feature that is especially popular on LinkedIn.

As for Shea, the web guru wasn’t looking for a job when Delos contacted him. He was working for LifeChurch.TV as a web developer, and enjoying his work, but he was familiar with Delos and her company and admired what they did.

The admiration was mutual. Delos and Shea had been following each other on Twitter for about a year and, while they didn’t “talk” regularly, Delos was familiar with — and impressed by — Shea’s work.

So, after Tweeting the position (for those of you who aren’t on Twitter, this is the equivalent of standing on a mountain top and shouting to whoever may be listening at the time), she contacted Shea on the social networking site.

Twitter was the only means of advertising she used to fill the spot.

The last time Delos had an opening, she had relied on craigslist, but the influx of unqualified candidates ended up being a waste of time, says Delos, who has never used newspapers or career-specific websites in her searches.

With Facebook and Twitter, on the other hand, she can find potential candidates she knows, thanks to previous contact or interaction through the social networking sites. Using the sites also lets employers such as Delos get a feel for the personality of potential employees. She can gauge whether they may fit into the office culture, a key part of employee retention.

This time around, she received little spam and few unqualified or mistargeted applicants through her social media search. What she did get was a pool of about eight solid candidates — a blend of people who contacted her, and those like Shea, whom she approached.

“A lot of businesses that are established and have been in business for 20 years are used to the print and see social media as an additional added benefit, but for me, this is the only way to go,” says Delos, who is 27 and started her company four years ago. “I won’t go back.”

Here are some pros and cons for the three most popular social networking sites used in job searches

LINKEDIN

Pro: Best all-around social networking vehicle for professional networking — diverse industries and levels of professionals are represented (75 million members from 200 countries). If you use only one social networking tool for professional purposes, this is it.
Con: Site still feels cumbersome and “clunky.” Lacks ease making new connections. Open networkers and those who want a more fluid, assertive approach to making new connections may need to upgrade to be able to send “straight shot” communications (InMails), get a broader reach with searches and make connections with greater ease..

TWITTER

Pro: Has a casual, fluid feel in terms of establishing new connections and communicating with others (versus the formality of LinkedIn). Great way to build visibility and “sync” to other social networking sites and virally spread your message.

Con: Can be a real time consumer if you don’t properly manage the stream of Tweets. Unless you’re willing to commit a level of time and effort and have a strategy for tweeting, may not be a good choice.

FACEBOOK

Pro: More of an informal, social community. Deserves attention for professional networking due to impressive membership (now up to a half-billion active users). Lots of opportunity to build rapport on many levels, including personal and professional interests. Easy way to re-connect with others and keep tabs on your “inner circle.”

Con: Still getting a bad rap due to privacy concerns on the site. Could also present challenges with high level of transparency. Tagged photos, wall postings and random updates can provide too much or not the right kind of information for your professional network if this is not monitored or privacy settings are too “loose.”

— Earlier this week, LinkedIn announced the launch of LinkedIn Signal, a new way for the site to display information that will make it look more like Twitter and Facebook with article-sharing, status updates and customized filters. The product will be rolled out to LinkedIn users over the next couple of months.

Source: Diane Crompton and Ellen Sautter, Atlanta-based senior career consultants and authors of “Seven Days to Online Networking” and “How to Find a Job through Social Networking.”

Kristi Gustafson can be reached by e-mail at kgustafson@timesunion.com. Follow her at Facebook.com/JustKristiOnline or Twitter.com/JustKristi

02
Oct
10

Social media has been such a benefit for businesses because it is inexpensive to use

How social media has affected commerce

by Cody Hodge

How has social media affected the way that people do business? Business is always evolving, and therefore business is always going to be affected by new trends and ways of thinking. The latest trend to really hit businesses lately is social media. Sites like Twitter and Facebook have taken off as business platforms that have really enabled businesses to reach out.

Why have social media sites become such a benefit for businesses? Social media has been such a benefit for businesses because it is inexpensive to use. Some sites might charge to turbocharge your social media experience, but it is mostly free. For example, SocialOomph will charge you 30 dollars a month to automate your Tweets, but Twitter itself is free to use. Facebook is also free to use.

Not only are most social platforms free to use, but they reach out to millions of people. There are an estimated 500 million people using Facebook according to Facebook. This means that a business has access to a potential client base of 500 million people. Granted, there are a lot of people out there just playing Farmville, but there are others out there who want to know more about your business.

It is very simple to use. A company can even assign an individual to be in charge of social media and not have to worry too much about training. There are some basic concepts like SEO and ways to be a polite online user, but those can be taught in a simple class in an hour or two. After that, the social networking strategy is as complicated as the company makes it out to be.

An easy to use and free platform reaching out to millions of people means a huge return on investment. If a company makes even one sale because they have used social media, it is a win for the company. Social media can be used a cheap form of advertising instead of having to spend huge chunks of money for a Super Bowl ad that might be used once.

Social media is going to completely revolutionize how business is done in the next decade. Once businesses harness it to its full potential, and the last remaining holdouts come on board, it will level the business playing field. The smaller company can use the same tools as the bigger companies to compete while making the consumer the overall winner.




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