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Social Media Tips

10 Laws of Social Media Marketing

This was such a great read from Entrepreneur that we wanted to share…

Leveraging the power of content and social media marketing can help elevate your audience and customer base in a dramatic way. But getting started without any previous experience or insight could be challenging.

It’s vital that you understand social media marketing fundamentals. From maximizing quality to increasing your online entry points, abiding by these 10 laws will help build a foundation that will serve your customers, your brand and — perhaps most importantly — your bottom line.

1. The Law of Listening
Success with social media and content marketing requires more listening and less talking. Read your target audience’s online content and join discussions to learn what’s important to them. Only then can you create content and spark conversations that add value rather than clutter to their lives.

2. The Law of Focus
It’s better to specialize than to be a jack-of-all-trades. A highly-focused social media and content marketing strategy intended to build a strong brand has a better chance for success than a broad strategy that attempts to be all things to all people.

3. The Law of Quality
Quality trumps quantity. It’s better to have 1,000 online connections who read, share and talk about your content with their own audiences than 10,000 connections who disappear after connecting with you the first time.

4. The Law of Patience
Social media and content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. While it’s possible to catch lightning in a bottle, it’s far more likely that you’ll need to commit to the long haul to achieve results.

5. The Law of Compounding
If you publish amazing, quality content and work to build your online audience of quality followers, they’ll share it with their own audiences on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, their own blogs and more.

This sharing and discussing of your content opens new entry points for search engines like Google to find it in keyword searches. Those entry points could grow to hundreds or thousands of more potential ways for people to find you online.

6. The Law of Influence
Spend time finding the online influencers in your market who have quality audiences and are likely to be interested in your products, services and business. Connect with those people and work to build relationships with them.

If you get on their radar as an authoritative, interesting source of useful information, they might share your content with their own followers, which could put you and your business in front of a huge new audience.

7. The Law of Value
If you spend all your time on the social Web directly promoting your products and services, people will stop listening. You must add value to the conversation. Focus less on conversions and more on creating amazing content and developing relationships with online influencers. In time, those people will become a powerful catalyst for word-of-mouth marketing for your business.

8. The Law of Acknowledgment
You wouldn’t ignore someone who reaches out to you in person so don’t ignore them online. Building relationships is one of the most important parts of social media marketing success, so always acknowledge every person who reaches out to you.

9. The Law of Accessibility
Don’t publish your content and then disappear. Be available to your audience. That means you need to consistently publish content and participate in conversations. Followers online can be fickle and they won’t hesitate to replace you if you disappear for weeks or months.

10. The Law of Reciprocity
You can’t expect others to share your content and talk about you if you don’t do the same for them. So, a portion of the time you spend on social media should be focused on sharing and talking about content published by others.

Source: Entrepreneur

Orlando Social Media Strategy

Social media tools for business

To put it mildly, social media tools are transforming the way we communicate. These days, people send a tweet instead of an e-mail and write on Facebook walls instead of dial phone numbers. So you know the best way to reach customers is to join these conversations, but how? Which platform will send the right message? Here’s a look at the top five tools and how can small-business owners can take advantage of this change in communication to boost their bottom lines.

Facebook: Best for engaging with customers

Every business needs a Facebook page, period. The social media giant is on par to reach 1 billion users by August, according to iCrossing, a media research company in the U.K. Translation: All of your current and potential clients already have an account. Once you fill out your page, Barbara Rozgonyi, founder of Chicago-based marketing firm CoryWest Media, suggests sending out updates at least three times per week to start attracting attention.

“Don’t just write about your business, take a community approach and talk about what is going on in your industry and your community,” she says. “It needs to be a good mix.”

Another tip: Don’t talk at people. Instead, engage them in conversation by asking questions and responding to their comments. If you don’t have time to watch your Facebook feed all day (who does?) commit a few hours per week to replying to every comment posted on your page, advises Rozgonyi.

Make posts semi-personal, too. Sprinkle in a comment about the weather with an excited note about your favorite sports team. (Note: Don’t write about what you ate for lunch; that’s too personal.) Conversation between you and your customer will not only help put a face on your company, but add to feelings of goodwill among your base. (Here are a few tips on how to get Facebook fans.)

Twitter: Best for sharing news about your company

“Think of Twitter as a news channel,” says Rozgonyi. “It’s a good place to promote your business, talk about things happening and connect with people.”

Unlike Facebook users who, generally speaking, want to feel warm and fuzzy about a company before being sold, Twitter users are open to the hard sell, she says. So use the platform to advertise sales and specials. There is a fine line, though. Too many sales-y tweets, and you will lose followers. Post about three times per day, and if you don’t have time to do that, download Hootsuite, an application that allows you to schedule your tweets ahead of time.

Need more ideas on what to tweet? Rozgonyi recommends searching for what your competitors and target demographic are talking about. Join the conversation and you will have followers in no time.

Another tip: Post statistics about your industry—“everyone loves numbers,” she notes—and recipes.

But what if you don’t run a restaurant?

“It doesn’t matter,” says Rozgonyi. “If you post your best recipes every Friday, people will start looking for that and pretty soon they will want to know what else you do.” (Here are the 12 most effective ways to engage on Twitter.)

LinkedIn: Best for finding new clients

Margelit Hoffman is obsessed with LinkedIn. As co-founder of Hoffman Productions, a video production company out of Allentown, Pa., she joins LinkedIn groups where her target customer is hanging out and strikes up conversations.

“I post discussions and lead people to interesting things we post on our blog,” she says. “I only post things that will help people. They need to get something out of it, or they won’t click.”

Her advice: Make sure your profile page is complete and your tagline explains what the company does, a good trick for increasing your search engine optimization, or SEO. From there, join groups and be active on them. In a recent post, Hoffman shared a video to an industry group and a man she didn’t know contacted her about a job.

“He ended up giving us our biggest contract to date,” she beams.

Not sure what groups to join? First, conceptualize your target market. Then click on the “Group” tab at the top of the page. From there, type in keywords that match your market, Hoffman suggests. When you find a group that sounds interesting and is open to the public, click on it to see what they are chatting about, then join. If the group is private, ask to be invited. (Get more tips on how to find leads using LinkedIn.)

Google+: Best for improving your search ranking

Google+ has similar characteristics to Facebook, but with one major perk: It has incredible SEO. The next time you do a Google search, check out the results that appear near the top of the page. See those tiny photos of people you know? Those are your friends already on Google+ who’ve posted a topic similar to the one you just searched. Ahh, the genius that is Google.

Hoffman uses Google+ purely as an SEO tool, so every time she puts up a new blog or tweet, she re-posts it to the site.

Rozgonyi recommends using the site for its Hangout function. This is where up to 10 different people can talk to each other on video. The function is very popular (check out President Barack Obama’s use of the tool) and can be used by small-business owners wanting to schedule free videoconference chats. (Here’s a look at some pros and cons of Google+ for small business.)

Pinterest: Best for increasing your visibility

Pinterest is the newest kid on the social media block, making a splash with more than 3 million monthly users. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest doesn’t encourage comments. It does, however, still encourage sharing—in the visual form. Users are able to “pin” photos of whatever they find interesting (i.e. videos, ideas, etc.) to their profiles and share “pins” with others.

“It is a good place for businesses with a visual element to hang out,” says Hoffman. “If you are a personal chef, for example, have a professional photographer take pictures of your food and post it on there. Then, when people share, it will increase your company’s visibility.” (Here are five tips on how to use Pinterest.)

Source: OPENForum

Social media tips for gaining fans and followers

With so much conversation and chatter happening on the Web right now, it’s tough to know how to get your business to stand out from the masses. Here are some tips that can help you learn more about how to gain fans, followers and friends and increase your business’ online presence.

1. Be authentic. Be honest and compelling, and professional. This is a core ingredient of social media success.

2. Make time! Yes, we are all busy and we have very full lives. Small business owners are no different. But as many highly effective people will say, you always have time for what you put first in your life. So make time and make it a priority.

3. Consistency is key. If you don’t participate on a regular basis, you won’t see results in the social media world. You don’t have to tweet 500 times a day, or even be on your computer 24/7, but a 24 hour response time is a good benchmark to have when answering to comments, questions or feedback.

4. Tell a story. People love glimpsing into the lives of others. We’re fascinated by it. Don’t share anything you feel uncomfortable with, but let people know the authentic you.

5. Plan, plan, plan. Think about what you want your social media goals to be six months, a year, even two years down the road. Formulate a plan of action and stick to it. You’ll be thankful you did.

6. Learn from criticism. Nobody likes criticism, even when it’s well intentioned, but many times this kind of feedback can help your organization or small business make changes for the better. Don’t ignore it completely — listen to problems and then make a decision on what to do.

7. Always listen. Be aware of what people are saying about your brand or business. An easy way to do this? Sign up for Google Alerts, so you can monitor what’s being said about you online on a regular basis.

8. Develop a social media policy. Formulate a policy for your team so they know what’s appropriate to talk about online, and what isn’t. Keep a document handy so that all your employees can be briefed on what’s expected.

9. Go mobile. With iPad sales skyrocketing, the demand for apps on the go shouldn’t be ignored. If you can, develop your own application now or put it in the works for the future.

10. Have fun! Social media is an exciting and fast-paced environment. Creative and original ideas often have the best chance of standing out, so there’s no reason not to have fun with it!

Tips for designing your next e-blast

We often get asked, “How can I make sure my e-blast is read by my clients or customers?” Clients want to make sure that in the myriad of emails that litter our inboxes each day, theirs isn’t the one that’s deleted instantaneously. While inboxes these days are a cluttered world, you can take some steps to make sure yours isn’t immediately launched into the proverbial trash bin.

• First, respect your reader and don’t waste their time. Your customers aren’t sitting around waiting for your email to arrive. So when it does, make sure you get to the point – quickly. Tell your clients and customers what you want them to know, right away.

• Always ask permission. Not everyone wants to receive your latest news or product information. So make sure you ask your readers if they’d like to receive your updates. If you show them a sample of what they’ll get along with information about how often they’ll get it, even better.

• Keep your goals in focus. Sit down and come up with an answer to the following: “What is the one thing you want people to do when they get this email?” Designing with a myriad of 5 or more goals is hard, but 1 or 2 are much more attainable. This also helps you measure your success.

• Don’t bury your unsubscribe link! Disclaimers are the prose of lawyers, but we have to abide by them. If people are not interested in your content anymore, there’s no point in continuing to email them. So make unsubscribing easy, and if your readers decide to come back one day, they’ll know exactly how to do so.

• No fancy coding allowed. While CSS and HTML render wonderfully on the Internet, it isn’t so for email clients. So code like it’s 1998, and use inline CSS. You’ll be glad you did.

•  Images aren’t always viewed. Those using Outlook or Gmail will often need to click to show your images. No matter how beautiful and engaging your images are, if they can’t be seen, you won’t convey your message. The solution? Make sure your email  has HTML text as well as plain text, so you don’t alienate anyone.

• Test, test, test. And test again. Make sure you test your email on a variety of clients. Doing so will help you see the potential pitfalls and help you remedy any problems. After all, once you hit send, you can’t take it back!

Social networking faux pas

We get a lot of questions about social media these days from clients. The buzz around social media is deafening, and it seems that “everyone is doing it.” Though, in more cases than not, businesses are still warming up to the idea.

When trying to come up with a social media marketing plan that works for you and your business, we can often learn from mistakes that others make.

Here are 6 faux pas to avoid:

1. No automated greetings. When you set up a 3rd party social media application to automatically reply to your followers, you’re basically being seen as spam. Don’t put your virtual foot in your mouth.

2. Put together a plan. Put together a strategy, and communicate that strategy to your employees. You’ll need a clear idea of how social networks can expand your company’s marketing or customer service strategy. You’ll also need to make sure you  have clear benchmarks you can use to measure how your plan is doing.

3. Don’t be a broken record. Repeating yourself over and over again on your blog, facebook wall or Twitter page is a recipe for disaster. It not only alienates current and potential followers, but it’s embarrassing. Come up with original content.

4. Engage more than sell. While shameless promotion is a good thing, too much of a good thing can work against you. Don’t be afraid to change things up by posting links to news in your vertical market or industry, or cite interesting things people in your network are saying. Give your audience interesting tidbits of information to keep them engaged.

5. Personality helps. Each employee who is posting to your account(s) should be encouraged to be themselves. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through — in your tone, message and voice.

6. No ghost tweeters. Many companies pay other companies or outside experts to run their social media strategy. Huge mistake. Put your best people on your social networks and educate them on how to respond to clients and customers… quickly and professionally. It’s minimal cost for maximum return.

Social media tips for small business owners

Engage in the conversation – An online conversation is taking place right now about your business, your industry or issues affecting your community. Inject yourself and opinions into the conversation by following opinion leaders on Twitter and social networking sites and commenting on blog posts. Whenever possible, include a link back to your content or website.

Small business owners often ask us, “What is social media, and how can I benefit from it?” Wading through the overwhelming amount of information and tips online can leave a small business owner with very little time to focus on their business. Here’s a “cheat sheet” list of tips to help get you started using social media in your business:

1. Offer a sneak peek.

Offering an inside glimpse of new products or services online can help foster demand and provide crucial feedback to help smooth a launch. For instance, John Doyle, founder of chocolate company John and Kira’s in Philadelphia, posts photos of new products on Flickr and invites comments from customers.

2. Share your experience.

Sharing knowledge you’ve mastered about your trade can go a tremendous way towards boosting your brand. You should be demonstrating expertise on Facebook, Twitter and your blog, and adding local context to your posts and tweets. In other words, what does the information you’re providing say about your specific region or city?

3. Offer value.

Gaining credibility with potential clients and customers is important. How can you achieve credibility utilizing social media? The answer lies in adding value. First, provide potential clients and customers with all the information they’ll need to contact you online and off, and communicate clearly what your business offers. Next, define what you’ll be providing customers for their attention and time. Special offers, promotions, giveaways and coupons are all excellent techniques for providing something of benefit. If your budget is too limited for coupons, etc., make sure the content you are offering is valuable to the people and businesses you’re trying to reach. In short, envision the need you are fulfilling by providing that content and serve the customer with useful information to fill that void.

When writing content, always have an appropriate and professional tone and use links to other sites, blogs, or news articles to help illustrate your point.  You can share this content on any number of places such as on your own blog, a community blog or even in Tweets.

4. Engage in conversation.

Join in! An online conversation is taking place right now about your business, your industry or issues affecting your local community. Inject yourself and opinions into the conversation by following opinion leaders on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites, and do comment on blog posts. Whenever possible, include a link back to your company’s Web site.

5. Know your customers.

Your customers and clients are talking about you online whether you like it or not –– on their own blogs, consumer-focused Web sites and on review sites like Yelp, Yahoo! Local, and CitySearch. While you often can’t control the conversation, you can help steer it by listening, engaging with customers and working to resolve any problems.