Sabrina | Marketing, Services, Social Media, Websites | No CommentsI read a great article on the Smart Company website this morning. Author Craig Reardon argued the case for the ongoing existence of websites as marketing tools amid the wash of social media and sexy apps. Websites, he said, provided excellent opportunities for promoting a call to action within a marketing campaign. And unlike social media sites, where you are constrained by the design confines provided by those sites, on your own website you can do as you wish with the size of your advertising campaign images and the associated copy. Yes, social media is undoubtedly a necessary tool for most businesses these days, especially if you are engaging Gen X and young adults. But don't discount the value of your website, and keeping it up to date and relevant. Don't throw all your advertising into social media and leave your website looking stale. So, think about this. How can you use your website better? Can you offer your clients an online booking service via your website? Can you offer your clients something special if they jump onto your site after finding you on social media? (For example, you have a special landing page for these visitors and you might offer them something for nothing or a 5% or 10% discount on your services only available by visiting that page.) If you sell products via a traditional shop, why not also put a shopfront on your website so people who can't make it to your shop can buy from your site? It's not expensive in the big scheme of things - we can develop and integrate a shopfront from as little as $500 on top of your ordinary website, and that includes your SSL certificate - and your business then becomes national or international... wherever you want to take it, essentially. Websites will stay an integral part of marketing for years to come; they can provide a more in-depth look at what you do than social media does, but both options work hand in hand to promote your business. Chat to us about how we can help you promote an integrated look and feel across your social media and website, and how campaigns could work for you.
Sabrina | Marketing, Services, Social Media, Writing and Editing | No CommentsNow you've written your post you need to publicise it using pings,rss and social media.
PingingWordPress settings can automatically send your blog posts to a list of sites including Google, Feedburner, Technorati, Yahoo and more. Users can add these sites under Settings | Writing. I set all my clients up with a long list of sites in this section, starting with PingOMatic, so their blog posts have a wide reach. There has been comment about WordPress causing 'ping spam' in that every time you update an already published post, a new ping of that post is sent to the ping services and search engines. Unless you are a compulsive editor who insists on making changes several times when a post is published, this shouldn't affect you. One or two edits are fine. Ideally though, keep your blog posts in draft mode and use the Preview button until you are completely satisfied with your post. There is a plugin for WordPress users which lets you control when and how you ping your posts, but I have read mixed reviews about it and at this stage have not installed it for my clients.
RSSI enable RSS feeds for all my client sites - again this helps with SEO and allows visitors to subscribe to those feeds and get the blog posts in their email inbox. For some of us this may be a bit of an old-fashioned way to do things as social media is now a more savvy way to spread your word. But again, it helps with SEO.
Social MediaIdeally this element is a blog post in itself! Firstly I am not a social media coach, so I won't be giving you a strategy on how to use social media for your blog or business. Everybody's business is different so social media channels that work for you may not work for someone else. Having said that, you are likely to have a Twitter account and Facebook page and probably Google+, or at least one of those. If you have Twitter and Facebook, it's easy enough to set your blog posts to send directly to Twitter and have Twitter post them on your Facebook page. There are plugins which do this on WordPress sites - and on other software too. An obvious tip for your Facebook page: once you've posted your blog post to your Page, do go back to your personal account and share it with your friends too! This gives you the opportunity to tag people in your status update to encourage them to look at your post - something you can't do with an automated post. You may like to consider using Hootsuite to manage all your social media networks, saving you time and effort. This could be a real time-saver if you regularly use more than two or three social media channels. There is a cost involved in using Hootsuite after a 30 day free trial. Ping.fm (soon to be Seesmic) is another tool to integrate your blog posts with your social media accounts. LinkedIn gives you options for feeding your WordPress posts and your Twitter feeds to your LinkedIn profile. Networked Blogs provides social media sharing options and the option for syndication. If you are a prolific blogger and post at least two articles a week, then syndication is a must. Obviously you want your visitors to share posts they like on your site, so it's important to give them some sharing options on each post. I include a sharing plugin for each of my clients so visitors can share posts through a number of social media channels. An example of these is showing at the bottom of this post. I hope this post has provided a basic explanation of ways to publicise your blog. The more it gets 'out there' the higher your search engine ranking will be. Do have some ideas or strategies you'd like to share? Leave a comment below and let's get chatting about it.
excellent resource on Hubspot which explains how social media works to market your company, in case you're unsure or sceptical, and also how to monitor what people are saying about you and how to measure the impact on your business, i.e. what percentages turn to leads. This is a slideshow and while it unashamedly plugs Hubspot at the end, the information supplied is valid and relevant. If you're spending too much time monitoring your social media and wondering what to make of it, I suggest you view the show and enjoy your next morning cuppa. Here it is:
Sabrina | News, Social Media, Websites | No CommentsGoogle announced this week that it had extended Google+ to allow users to create pages for their company or organisation. Get in quick, particularly if you have a business name that could be confused with someone else's. Why should you? It's an extra SEO boost for your company, as you can link your own website with your Google+ page. Andrew Cherwenka of The Huffington Post explains it rather nicely in this article. We know that Google wants its new service to not only rival Facebook but knock it out of the water. Google+ is a cloud service whose file-sharing abilities are a boon for organisations as it works hand in glove with Google Docs - and we know that Facebook doesn't have an equivalent. Picture a group of contractors, all working on the same project, sharing their files in real time on Google+. They are all in the same 'circle' and people outside that circle can't see or access the file. Rather than emailing files back and forth, files are checked in and out in real time. For small business, Andrew Cherwenka has a comment to gladden your heart: "Google Plus makes it pretty easy to sort followers into groups (they call them Circles) and send targeted, relevant messages to these smaller audiences. Brands can create robust content calendars with posts intended just for certain cities, ages, gender and languages. Imagine Pizza Hut sending a family dine-in update to 35-year-old mothers in Toronto and a take-out offer just to 22-year-old guys in Thunder Bay. To brands, that's gold." We're experimenting with the new business page for Google+ at the moment. It's superbly easy to set up. Within five minutes of setting the page up we had it linked to the sociables section on this website. Finding the contacts to go in circles is slightly harder. Unless your contacts fill in relevant information and add an image you can recognise, you may well be adding the wrong John or Jane Smith to your circles. We'll keep you posted.
typewriter production all but dead (apparently it's struggling to hang onto the earth around the grave with one feeble hand on a tussock of grass), the MamaMia site posted an article todayabout the almost lost art of letter writing, by hand. With the rise of the internet and social media, the only people likely to write a letter by hand are those who don't own or operate a computer - ageing relatives, typically, who just can't get the hang of it or don't want to know about computers. Time was when receiving a personal letter was exciting, especially if it was from a friend in a far-flung place. There was the texture of the paper for starters - my aunt in Surrey used beautiful thick, creamy paper - and depending on the writer, handwriting that ranged from spider-crawled-out-of-an-inkwell to elegant pseudo-Copperplate. My grandmother was a prolific letter writer and kept her family and far-flung friends up to date with family happenings. I had a long-distance relationship for a couple of years in the 1980s with a guy who lived in Canada, and we'd send long letters full of our daily lives and photographs to each other. Our letters were stuffed too with newspaper and magazine clippings we thought the other may be interested in. Occasionally the letters would be just that, simple letters with no insertions, but I kept them and read them over and over; even the nasty bust-up ones that signalled the end. I binned the lot during a big life purge about five years ago, with some misgivings, but it was a cleansing feeling as far as those bust-up Dear Jane letters went. Treasured though are letters and cards from my long-gone father and grandparents. When I see their writing - each one individual and packed with their personalities - I can hear them speak the words on the paper. Their voices flood into my head and I can see their faces. That's something you just don't get with email or social media even when, as with Facebook, there's a face right in front of you. Then there's the postcards. Luckily we have friends and family who still send them, as it's nicer to get a picture and message we can stick on the fridge for a bit rather than read "OMG! In Barcelona! Does anyone know a good tapas bar?" on Twitter or Facebook - a message meant for as many readers as possible. The postcards are personalised for us alone. Nice. Being so used to using a computer for just about all correspondence these days, I find writing letters by hand quite difficult. My handwriting doesn't keep up with my brain, whereas my typing almost does. The joy of using a computer means you can edit and delete your work until you get something with which you're happy. I'm guilty of sending printed letters to family and friends as a result. Yes, the dreaded Christmas Newsletter! However I do personalise it and edit it for each person, usually older relatives. I did write by hand to my cousin Bruce last year (using, I might add, my fountain pen) but because I'm impatient didn't tell him half the news I would have in a word-processed letter. And of course there's email and social media, and hitting the send button is far less work than walking down to the post office. When I write handwritten letters these days I actually draft it on the Mac and then copy it out when I'm happy with it. Daft? Maybe, but it's the way I organise my thoughts. Finding good writing paper these days is a challenge, too. There are some awful and twee stationery sets on eBay, but as for plain-printed linen paper, it's a hard call. I did have some thick parchment-coloured A4 paper put aside which I've guillotined down into a more personal size for handwritten letters. I'd like to think that the odd letters I write give their recipients something in the mail other than bills and junk advertising; certainly I enjoy the ones I receive. Here's a challenge: This week, write a letter to a friend or relative. Surprise them. Make them smile. Give them something that perhaps, in this throwaway and delete-button age, they may keep for at least a little while. (This post cross-posted from Caroline Sully's fiction)
Have you ever thought to yourself, "I'll never be a workaholic, I value my time too much", and then found yourself working after dinner or at weekends? You're not alone, especially if you're a small business owner. Trust me, I've not only been there, I AM there. I used to enjoy switching off at the end of each day, but that's a luxury these days. I think the rise and rise of technology puts more pressure on all of us to be connected, to be always available. I'm sure you've had people leave repeated text messages, voice messages or emails for you, wondering why you are out of range for an hour or two. You could be in a meeting or conference, but whatever the reason you're simply not there when people want you to be. The trouble is, many of us put up with it. Do you:
- let people ring you outside business hours - have mobile phone, will travel...er, be available?
- check your emails before going to bed?
- check your emails before breakfast?
- stuck in meetings all day, you work into the night to catch up on projects and tasks?
- view weekends as the perfect time to work without constant interruptions from mobile phones and emails?
- use your smartphone or tablet to check your email/professional social media accounts at restaurants?
- work when you're on holiday - after all, most hotels and resorts have good broadband, so why not catch up on work?
Sabrina | Services, Social Media, Websites | No CommentsA mobile phone isn't just a mobile phone any more. Smartphones and other mobile devices give us tools and abilities to enhance our daily life - we can check our email from anywhere, surf the web, pay bills, use social media... add an iPad or other tablet to that, with its word processing and other office apps, and you have a device that can, for the most part, be a notebook/laptop replacement when you're out and about. These devices are growing in popularity so quickly that website design technology now has to take them into account and change to allow for the limitations and capabilities of these devices. There is an excellent article here by Siobhan Ambrose on making your WordPress website mobile-friendly. The advice in here is quite applicable to any website, not just one driven by WordPress. Siobhan cites some big predictions from Gartner Research on the rapidly increasing use of mobile technology. These include: "By 2013, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide. According to Gartner’s PC installed base forecast, the total number of PCs in use will reach 1.78 billion units in 2013. By 2013, the combined installed base of smartphones and browser-equipped enhanced phones will exceed 1.82 billion units and will be greater than the installed base for PCs thereafter." Wow! And also, "Mobile Web users are typically prepared to make fewer clicks on a website than users accessing sites from a PC. Although a growing number of websites and Web-based applications offer support for small-form-factor mobile devices, many still do not. Websites not optimized for the smaller-screen formats will become a market barrier for their owners — much content and many sites will need to be reformatted/rebuilt." Websites that use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) rather than tables have the advantage. CSS can expand and contract as you zoom on your mobile device. Tables can look awful on mobile devices, so if you've got a site you designed yourself a few years ago using FrontPage or similar software, it's time to think of updating and moving to a Content Management System (CMS) site driven by Joomla! or WordPress or similar software. (There's also SquareSpace, but I don't believe it offers the same value as WordPress as there is a monthly charge to use it and limited templates at this stage.) WordPress makes it easy to update on the go with a free WordPress app for iPhone and iPad. There are also versions available for Nokia, BlackBerry and Android from Automattic. I've been testing IoS for WordPress and find it easy enough to use on both an iPhone and iPad. See the website here for IoS WordPress. This app works whether or not you have a blog hosted on WordPress or your own website. If you manage multiple blogs, you can manage them all from your mobile device - how easy is that! The pic at right shows it in action, courtesy of the IoS site. I'm still investigating a Joomla! mobile editor, but if you want real flexibility for updating anywhere, anytime, head for WordPress and its mobile editing apps.
writes in today's Australian that "The challenge to the airline has been further amplified by the emergence of social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. "Within minutes of word escaping that there had been a problem with a Qantas jet bound from Singapore to Sydney, Twitter was alive with reports the jet had crashed. "In the past, such misinformation used to arrive in a newsroom and await confirmation before being broadcast to the world. However, this time Twitter followers for several minutes retweeted unconfirmed news of the crash and shares in the airline plunged briefly before its was clarified that the plane had in fact landed safely in Singapore. "By then, photos of the cowling were making their way across the world and pictures from the airport confirmed the wreckage was from the jet, with every tweet and image eroding faith in the Qantas brand. "Qantas's brand is now much like the crippled A380: damaged and grounded, but far from out of service." Doesn't this make you think about the power of social media and what it can do to your brand? That little line above about share prices dropping immediately after the tweets about the aircraft crashing are as chilling as the notion that the A380 actually fell from the sky. Social media isn't going to go away; it's getting bigger by the minute and is now, really, another arm of mainstream media. We can all be reporters. But reporting misinformation like the "crash" via social media channels can have a grave impact on organisations and the people that run them. When you use social media services, remember the information stays out there forever. Get your facts right before you put finger to keyboard. You could severely damage someone's reputation. Depending on the situation that someone could be you.
Sabrina | Books, Marketing, Services, Social Media, Websites, Writing and Editing | No CommentsSo, you want to start a blog and use it to gain customers and raise awareness of your products and services. Everyone tells you it's the thing to do. But how do you blog successfully? I recommend reading "Corporate Blogging for Dummies", by Douglass Karr and Chantelle Flannery. Then get some help from myself and my social media expert colleagues to get yours underway. This book will help you choose a blogging platform (including of course the wonderful WordPress which I highly recommend), and guide you through developing a strategy for your blog. Because what you post on your blog - or indeed your website or any social media platform - is in the public domain, you'll have legalities to consider such as copyrights and ownership, especially if you use material taken from another website. This book will tell you all the CYA (Cover Your Ass) stuff you'll need to know. The authors share best practice tips, as well as the all important What Not To Do. The book features successful corporate blogs as examples you can learn from. Best of all, at my bookshop prices start from around $16 (exc shipping). With the Aussie dollar almost at parity with the US$, that's fantastic; even with shipping included it's cheaper than buying it in Australia. So go forth - buy! Part of a successful blog is the look and feel of the site it's on, and that's where I can help you (as well as with actual content if you need help writing). If your blog is a standalone site rather than part of your corporate site, I can match your corporate look and feel so you have consistent branding across your sites. Contact me about getting your blog up and running as part of your social media strategy.