July 27, 2009
Okay, every internet pundit and his brother are reminding us daily how Twitter and Facebook can be good for business. But just how? The tweets that seem to get the most attention are the ones getting pro athletes in trouble with their teams or leagues, or regurgitating celebrities' breakfast menus for their followings of fans. But less obvious, and quite effective in helping you register info and news designed to build and strengthen networks and relationships, are postings that you and others in your organization can begin using.
We've laid out our spin on it in the following tips: hard and fast reasons to begin incorporating these – and other – online social networks into your organization's m.o. When incorporated into your total online strategy, social media optimization presents undeniable opportunities and value for any organization.
1. It's the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to get the word out there about yourself and your business. Facebook and Twitter help you get found by people looking for you and those individuals in companies in related fields. For promoting events, your company blog, news, social media can be a natural extension of your marketing communications efforts. When using social media, try to couch your information in terms of newsworthiness rather than an advertisement. Share and educate, versus sell.
2. Ask any great sales and marketing professional, and he or she will tell you success is achieved by building relationships. Social media is all about that. You can begin the proverbial 'conversation' with prospects and influencers through the interactive simplicity and immediacy afforded by Facebook, Twitter and other networks. You may spawn your own networks, that, with utilization of Web 2.0 technology and an up-to-date content management system, are getting increasingly simple to start and maintain.
3. Social media is a great way to test ideas and get feedback on a variety of topics. Ask for opinions, survey groups, get a discussion thread going, ask and answer questions: all helpful ways to begin a dialog with customers, prospects, employees and associates. You may not be an expert on a topic, but if you can answer someone's question or point them to a solution, you are positioning yourself nicely as an authority. And don't be afraid to ask for help. Some great synergy can be spawned when people can help out each other.
4. Don't forget the social graces of online social networking. With the shorthand, abbreviated, 140-character pace at which online communications moves, it's wise not to lose track of plain ol' common sense and business etiquette. Yes, the line separating our personal and business lives is getting blurrier by the moment, but don't get sloppy and forget to follow up or extend courtesies where and when they need to – which is more often than not.
5. Last tip: Keep it up. Like any content on the web, if it's not fresh and consistent, it's likely not going to be helpful or held in high regard.
Factor these fundamentals into your online marketing efforts, and you'll start creating greater value with a 'social media optimized' web strategy.
March 24, 2009
With all the networks and tools emerging in the web 2.0 cloud and competing for your attention, do you find yourself challenged by sorting out the options, making the most of, or simply keeping up with them all? There sure are a lot of social networks popping up these days, and for every social network, there are a dozen more free tools just waiting to be utilized. How you choose to use these networks and tools should be considered your blank canvas... your picture waiting to be drawn.
Even novice web users are familiar with Facebook and Twitter, but you name the theme, and there's a list of social networks to support it. Some networks are more professional than others. Some more playful.
I recently found Plinky, where you answer a weekly prompt to spark digital discussion in your own creative way. All these tools are just other ways to express yourself. From Google docs and webmaster tools that support business on the web, to sites like Aviary that bring you Photoshop and Illustrator-esque functionality for next to nothing or totally free, these cloud tools are coming out of the woodwork or falling from the sky. Now the question is, "which ones should I use" and "how can I leverage these?" The answer is simple: use the ones that work best for you. Only trial and time will tell you for sure.
Here's how I manage my own time when it comes to qualifying, utilizing and not being ovewhelmed by these tools, which if you're not careful, can become a full-time job in just keeping up with them all. The first hour of my morning consists of the following:
1. Hit Google Reader where I have all my subscriptions to my favorite feeds. These feeds consist of tech news, design trends, individuals blogs... the list goes on. I have over 100 subscriptions that consolidate massive information into the reader for my quick scanning.
2. I will 'favorite' or 'share' the best entries in Google reader, and it will automatically update my Facebook account. I also add links to Delicious so I and my team members can see what I'm pushing to the front. In fact, we use a common company account for Delicious so that all of the people on our team can collaboratively add relevant links ranging from hot design trends to the latest jQuery snippets.
3. If I'm really excited about an entry in Google Reader, I'll Twitter the link, which shows that I'm sharing knowledge and could create some followers. This in turn, also updates my Facebook account. Do you see where this is going?
4. In turn, for that brief moment on Twitter, I might respond to a few @replies or contribute to some conversations I see going on. After a while, you will notice your name showing up in the #followfriday lists (where fellow Twitterers suggest to all their followers the recommended people to follow)
5. I also have Flickr, YouTube, Last.fm and a couple other sites that I frequent and that add activity updates to my Facebook stream. So, in reality, I don't actually spend a lot of time in my Facebook account other than to upload the occasional photo album. However, it sure looks like I do!
6. I set up Google alerts to scan for my name, my company name, or any of my product names on the Internet. If something is being said, I want to know. I also have these alerts set up in my reader. So, while I'm purusing my morning news, I can see any of these alerts as well.
7. Next up, Twitter search. Arguably one of the most valuable tools on the net. I type in my name, company and products here as well. This lets me see who's talking about me NOW. While I'm there, I might see what's being said about my friends... or maybe my favorite wines. At this time, I might share another link on Twitter, that again, updates my Facebook account.
8. I manage my own personal blog and I contribute to my company blog. These RSS feeds can be set up to syndicate into a variety of places. I have a combination of my personal and company blogs being syndicated into my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. This goes a long way. While I'm keeping my company site up to date, this valuable information is being recycled as it heads to my various other accounts. Other team members on my team do this as well so that our reach is increased even further.
9. Do you use a CMS to manage your website? We do, and our CMS is considered a Web 2.0 CMS that allows us to syndicate pages, blogs, RSS feeds and more. When we write a blog, we do it in our CMS. Of course, whatever blog tool you are use should have an RSS feed that can be syndicated. This is important. It allows you to move your ideas further from your site, which draws people back to your site.
This is only a smattering of what I'm doing now. When I dicover a new social site, I see it as my obligation as a web developer to take a test drive and understand how it works, and how it could integrate into my morning regimen. I tend to change it up here and there. Some networks, I let fizzle out so I can spend more of my time on the networks that work for me. Remember, I try to keep this consolidated to the first hour of the day and some of these tasks might be relevant to do on a weekly or monthly basis.
Take some time yourself to leverage the new media and turn it into a systematic approach that broadens your reach, sharpens your mind and strengthens your brand.
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March 12, 2009
Seven simple tips can better position you in the LinkedIn community.
LinkedIn uses digital word of mouth to create sales opportunities
If you are not realizing the power of the LinkedIn social network to uncover marketing opportunities, we strongly suggest you take some time to get linked up using LinkedIn. We have landed some work lately through the power of LinkedIn, so we thought we'd post some ways you can make the most out of LinkedIn to help your own sales networking opportunities.
I was in the middle of writing this very blog post when a prospect called with an exciting LinkedIn story. I had previously mentioned to him that he may want to create a LinkedIn profile to start building some online connections of his own. Well, he did just that and he was happy to tell me soon after he made his LinkedIn profile, a customer of his from 25 years ago found him and sent him an e-mail. He was amazed and excited to tell me about it.
Here are some tips on making the most of your LinkedIn strategy:
1. Add a blog
What better way to establish you as a thought leader in your industry than to share information with others. LinkedIn allows you to drop in the "Blog Link" application which allows you to add your RSS feed from your blog. Not only does this appear on your page when someone is checking you out, but it is also shared within your network of connections. A blog is a good way to engage your audiences and position yourself as an authority, and it gives you just another avenue to push your content, your story, your brand.
2. Put a face behind the name
Just because the channel we're dealing with here is online doesn't mean it has to be impersonal, and you can't do some things to personalize the networking experience for your contacts. Posting a picture of yourself on your profile helps people identify you and can be a big step to building relationships. People like to see who they're dealing with. Pick a good picture, crop in tight, and don't worry if the pic's not fashion magazine quality. Even if your picture is shot from a webcam or cell phone, it brings you one step closer to the virtual world and makes you more approachable.
3. Join a group
There are group discussions out there to which you could contribute valuable information. Provide answers whenever you can. Ask a question to stimulate some interest in your own product or service offering. One thing I've learned about leveraging social media is you have to give a little to get a little. There are probably all kinds of groups you can join and gain valuable insight, but offer up some of your own valuable insight in the process. Join some groups and answer some questions. LinkedIn has very easy to use-easy to participate groups that allow you to offer up your unbridled knowledge, further positioning you as an authority, or at least someone to go to for answers
4. Dig around for connections
Being charged with drumming up new business for my company, I've learned that the next new client could come from anywhere. Qualified leads and referrals from existing clients are no doubt golden, but for stirring up new biz, you might be surprised at what a little digging around via LinkedIn might bring. What other place do you have such easy access to this virtual 'who's who' in business and industry? Chances are if you take the time to do some searches and shake some bushes, you can make a connection. Just yesterday, I found a web director via LinkedIn, and have already begun an online dialog with someone who could prove to be our next client – or point us toward the next one.
5. He said, she said
Nothing like a referral or recommendation to vouch for your own experience. Experience is not only the best teacher, it can be an endorsement for your product or service. Having a recommendation on LinkedIn can only help you when someone doesn't know much about you and is checking you out. He or she will quickly learn about you and find out you are a credible professional.
6. Get your own people linked
Make sure you always have current bio information of your key team members and use the strength of their credentials to invite people to your LinkedIn page. All you have to do is put in a link. (And if you had a nice web content management system, that would take mere seconds -- shameless plug.) You will be surprised how many people will make connections from your site just based on your employees being part of it.
7. Pay attention to the Network Update
On the main home page of LinkedIn, you will see all of the network updates. By keeping an eye on this, it will help you discover connections by seeing the new connections being made and the activity in groups you are part of. Routinely take a peek at this and you can learn who has been sniffing around your site.
We're Innersync Studio and we like to build web sites that are alive. More specifically, we like to empower you to breathe life into your web site. We want your site to be loved by many and make connections that have never been possible. We put our ideas here, to help stay in touch with our clients and help spread the good word.
P R E V I O U S P O S T S
- Using Social Media for School and Higher Education Marketing
- How a 'cloudy' economy — or at least web site — may not be a bad thing in 2010 and beyond
- Social media offers value for organizations
- Search engine optimization (SEO) techniques that work PART 1
- Starting your day in the expanding social network
A R C H I V E
B L O G S B Y T A Gblog, campusuite, cloud computing, content management tools, digital image management, Facebook, Innersync, jason, k-12, linkedin, Marketing, online social network, search engine optimization, seo, Social media, social media optimization, social networking, Twitter, web 2.0, web content management