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Why Your Twitter Disclaimer Does More Harm Than Good

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bigstock-Disclaimer-the-Dictionary-Pro-18198233 If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a thousand times:

My tweets do not represent the opinion of my employer.

Is it just me, or is this the most ridiculous statement ever? Every time I see it, I get twitchy. Because it anything, you’re making things worse.

People think that this disclaimer justifies bad behavior on Twitter. Or rather, not bad per se, but behavior not in line with their employer’s brand. They curse, make lewd comments, start drama, or otherwise act in controversial ways, then they point to their disclaimer and say, “But it’s okay, because this is me and I’m not representing a brand right now.”

Why is this ridiculous?

Let’s say you see someone out at the bar, getting wasted, hitting on everything with a pulse, and yelling racial slurs in a drunken stupor. Then, the next day, you see that same person working at Disney World. You’d probably be pretty disgusted that a company like Disney would work with someone like that.

Would it make a difference if, the night before at the bar, the person was wearing a shirt with “Anything I’m doing right now doesn’t represent my employer, Disney!” printed on it? Absolutely not. If anything, it draws attention to the juxtaposition between the idiot behavior and the family-friendly employee.

Here’s the thing: anything you do or say online represents your employer, whether you post a disclaimer or not.

If you want to publicly post pictures of you doing shots at the bar, make sure that it isn’t going to hurt your employer’s brand. Some companies are more family-friendly than others. If your personality doesn’t fit well with your company’s brand, it is probably time to start looking for a new job.

It makes me wrinkle my nose when I hear about companies trying to control their employees’ social accounts, but remember: How you represent yourself online can affect whether or not you get a raise, whether or not you survive a round of layoffs, and whether or not you are promoted into a leadership position. It’s not about your employer controlling your social accounts. It’s about respect, and realizing that your actions online are as real as your actions in a face-to-face situation.

So stop it with the disclaimers. They don’t mean anything. Just act responsibly online, and don’t write anything on Twitter that you wouldn’t send to your boss directly.

Image Credit: Bigstock

How to Build Your Brand Using Quora

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SNAG_Program-0662

SNAG_Program-0662 Quora is a digital space for users to exchange knowledge. Unlike its competitors, Yahoo! Answers and ChaCha, Quora’s user base attracts experts. From the beginning, business CEOs, Hollywood producers, and notable journalists have been answering questions.

Quora’s top answers are ones that were voted on by the users. Thus the answers that gain the most exposure are the answers that are the most useful or interesting.

How do you craft a strong answer that will get promoted?

The following Quora response made me want to buy a political book despite a minimum interest in politics.

The original question was: “What is the single most illuminating question I can ask someone?” There were plenty of interesting answers like ‘If all jobs paid the same, what would you be doing?’ and ‘When you die, what do you want to be remembered for?’

But the most popular answer came from New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor. It was so popular that it was ‘upvoted’ by 2,166 Quora users. As a comparison, the next highest answer had only 291 votes.

In Jodi Kantor’s response she recommends avoiding overly general and philosophical questions if you really want to get to know someone. To get honest answers you have to do your homework. She illustrates her point with an example from her interviews with the First Family:

“The most illuminating questions are simple and specific. In the fall of 2009, I interviewed [the] President and First Lady … about their marriage. My goal was to get them to avoid sound bites, to give honest, unrehearsed answers. . . . So I summoned up my nerve and asked them, “How do you have an equal marriage when one person is president?”

Her full response captivated me. And then I was hooked with this final sentence:
“Oh, and if you’re interested in the Obamas’ behind the scenes adjustment to the White House, my book has much more on the topic.”

What Makes a Good Answer?

Credibility: Kantor’s answer was started with a statement about her professional interviewing experience with the NY Times. With credentials right up front, I knew the answer came from a reliable source.

Unique perspective: Instead of giving another predictable answer, she rejected the premise of the question altogether and offered a unique perspective.

Support with storytelling: To support her point, Kantor told an insider story about Mr. and Mrs. Obama that had famous intrigue but at the same time was relatable as she discussed the interworking of marriage.

The Elements of Good Storytelling

In Kantor’s answer, she uses some basic storytelling elements to prove her point:

1. The back story/setting: Kantor explains how she came up with the question.

“I had come to understand that equality was a serious issue in the Obama marriage, and that in the White House, the president and first lady are not treated in the same way… So I … asked them, ‘How do you have an equal marriage when one person is president?’”

2. The obstacle: Kantor shows how receiving an answer to an unorthodox interview question was difficult with step-by-step action and dialogue.

3. Step-by-step action: The action keeps us reading.
“Barack Obama is normally so eloquent, but he botched his reply three times, stopping and starting over . . .”

4. Dialogue: The dialogue makes this story more relatable and personal.
“Finally on the fourth try, he half-joked that his staff was more concerned with satisfying the first lady than satisfying him.”

5. Details: The details help us feel like we’re in the room witnessing the interview.

Make Your Point Stick with Point Evidence Point (PEP)

An extremely effective way of getting your point across is the “Point, Evidence, Point” technique or PEP. To get your point to stick with your target audience you must make your point, and then give evidence to support, and then summarize your point at the end. For more on PEP, check out my previous podcast How to Make Your Point Stick.

Persuade with the “But You Are Free” Technique

The introduction must be earnest. Despite intentions, if products and services are discussed too directly, too often, or too early, your answer will feel like a sales pitch. However, if you don’t mention your products and services at all, it can be a lost opportunity. I saw a great Quora answer by a producer and blogger but because their products and services weren’t mentioned I had to Google the information.

Depending on users to go to Google is unreliable. Conclude answers with a brief line of products and services.

One effective technique for introducing your products or services is the “but you are free” method. With this technique the listener is told they are free to refuse the request being made. The idea is that you make it clear that the listener has a choice in the matter.

Jodi Kantor uses this technique in the last line of her response:

“Oh, and if you’re interested in the Obamas’ behind the scenes adjustment to the White House, my book has much more on the topic.”

Quora is different than other social media platforms because brands are built not with memorable images or one-liners but with thoughtful answers (and questions) that resonate with readers. By using the techniques in this article, you can develop Quora content that rises to the top!

4 Quick (but Necessary) Changes to Make to Your Facebook Page Right Now

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Is your Facebook page optimized?  Are you missing opportunities because you don’t have something set up quite right?  You could be getting more out of Facebook with just a few quick adjustments to your Facebook page and your posting strategy.  Here are 4 quick things that you can do to get more out of your Facebook page.

1.  Link Your Profile to Your Page

I see many people who don’t have their Facebook profile properly linked to their Facebook page.  You want to make sure your friends and personal connections can easily find your page and business just in case they are trying to refer business to you.

Andrea Vahl 1

In this case, the person had an “official” Facebook page but the profile was linked to a “community” Facebook page.  When someone types in the name of a business as their employer but doesn’t link it officially to the page, Facebook creates a “community page” that doesn’t tie to the page and doesn’t allow posting.   Now, people can actually like that community page and you aren’t getting “credit” for those likes on your own page – the horror!

To get rid of this linkage on your profile, edit your about section and then delete the community page.

Andrea Vahl 2

Now, add a position to your work and education section and start typing the name of your Facebook page.  You should see the page in the drop-down menu to select it.

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2.  Add Your Website in Your About Section

You want people to easily click to your website to find out more about you.  Sometimes your website address can be a bit hidden in your about section and you don’t want people to struggle to find it.

The “short description” area in your about section is the part that shows up the front of your Facebook page.

Andrea Vahl 4

You can actually write more characters in the about section than actually show up on the front of your timeline so that some of the words may be cut off.  Keep the blurb (including the website address) to about 175 characters max to avoid this.  To edit the short description, go to edit page, update page info, and navigate to the short description.

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3.  Change Your Posting Strategy

We’ve all noticed that the reach of our posts has changed.  Unfortunately, photos and posts with links are not getting the reach that they used to which means that they don’t have the potential to get as much interaction as a text-only post.

So if you have been posting more photo and link posts, it’s time to add in more text. But images and links can still be quite engaging so you can’t abandon those posts completely.  I’ve been starting to advise people post around 40% of their total posts as text, 40% photos (maybe with a link in the status area as well), and 20% Links.  If videos are part of your strategy, add those into the mix where appropriate.

One thing you can do to have a link post have the reach of a text post is to post the link in the status area just as you would normally do but then delete the link preview.  Now the post will get the same reach of a text-only post but have a link embedded in the text area to drive traffic.

Andrea Vahl 6

But don’t take my word for this – do your own testing on your own page – see point #4.

4.  Set up some posting experiments

We get into ruts.  We post sporadically.  We are all rushed.  But it’s important to find out what the ideal types of posts, the ideal number of posts, and the ideal times to post are for our own personal audience.  And those numbers can change.  And sometimes people suggest a certain type of post (or ratio of posts) that doesn’t work as well with your own audience.  So we need to be doing continual testing for ourselves.

First, look into your Facebook insights to get some good ideas about what types of posts your audience likes.  Under the posts section, look at the “best post types” to see what works.  On my page, I see that status posts have been working the best lately.  But that needs to be tested further.

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If you normally post 1 time per day, try upping your posting to 3 times per day for 1 week and measuring the results.  Or if you post a text post and a link post, try posting all text posts for a day at different times and measuring the performance of those posts.  Then post all photo posts for a day at different times an measuring those results.

Don’t let someone else tell you what is best for your audience, do your own experimentation.

As Facebook constantly changes, we know we must constantly change to keep up.  Sometimes the little tweaks can make the biggest differences.  And the nice thing about these tweaks is that they are easy and quick to implement.

Have you made a quick tweak to your page that has made a big difference?  Tell us in the comments below! And hope to see you at New Media Expo in January! (Editor’s note: Andrea will be speaking about Facebook at NMX, so make sure you have your ticket to the show.)

Lynette Young on Your Follower Count versus Your Bank Account

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lynetteyoungpic002 I’m not so naive to believe that follow count doesn’t matter. The bigger your audience, but more potential customers you have. But I think we can all get a bit caught up in caring too much about our follower numbers and not enough about how we’re going to convert those followers.

Writes Lynette Young in her blog post “Social Media Success and Profit for Your Business,”

So many times businesses seem to think the ‘goal’ of participating in digital communications and social media is to collect as many “friends, followers or fans” as they can. If your business could earn income off of popularity then the “Triple F” formula would serve you well. If you are looking to make money or grow a profitable business, then those three items don’t mean anything without the knowledge and expertise to turn the Triple F into money.

You can’t pay your mortgage with likes. But that doesn’t mean that likes (and shares and followers, etc.) don’t matter at all. What you need is a PLAN from turning a new follower into a repeat customer.

If you’re a blogger or podcaster without a physical or ever digital product, this still applies to you. Instead of “repeat customer” think about how you can turn social follower into “repeat readers/listeners.”

So my question to you is this: what’s your conversion plan?

Learn More from Lynette

I love learning from Lynette, and if you do too, consider coming to NMX 2014 to see her live on the keynote stage! Right now, we’re giving away a group of past session recordings, including one of Lynette’s presentations. Help us celebrate by downloading and enjoying these sessions now!

Get your free recordings here >

How Bloggers Can Run Successful Facebook Contests

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facebook like button Running a contest on Facebook just got easier! They’ve been making a ton of changes recently, and this is one I really like. Facebook recently decided to allow business pages to run contests without using an app, so now you can ask users to like a status, comment, send messages, and more in order to enter your contest. You can also use likes as a voting mechanism for a contest.

The biggest rules still in place for running Facebook contests are:

  • You can’t ask people to tag themselves in a photo as an entry to win. (Makes sense, since Facebook doesn’t want people tagging themselves in pictures where they aren’t actually found.)
  • You can’t ask people to share on their personal profile as a contest entry. (Contests are still not allowed on personal pages, only business pages.)

Facebook contest rules were so strict in the past that many bloggers just didn’t bother, other than perhaps running the occasional Rafflecopter-based contest. Now that the rules are a lot less strict, are Facebook contests something you should consider?

  • Think about what has the most benefit to you. Asking someone to like your page as an entry means that you’ll gain more followers. However, those followers might never see your updates again. Asking someone to like or comment on a status means they are engaging with your page, so they’ll be more likely to see your updates in the future.
  • Determine if an app still makes more sense. The benefit to an app like Rafflecopter, Shortstack, Heyo, etc. is that administering the promotion and choosing a winner is easier. You can also often more easily customize the look and feel of a tab for running your contest by using a third party app.
  • Check out other contest options. Facebook just might not be the best place for your specific contest. It really depends on your goals and where your community hangs out. It might make more sense to run your contest on your blog itself instead and just use Facebook to promote it.

If Facebook is a good contest option for you, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Facebook isn’t completely pay to play…but…you’re going to get a LOT more entries if you pay to promote the contest on Facebook. If you have a small fan page (less than 1000 people), it’s going to be pretty hard to gain traction for your contest unless you pay for promotion. The good news is that you can see pretty good results, even for just $50, especially if you’re giving away a good prize.
  • A compelling image will entice people to enter. Check out your own timeline. It is FILLED with updates from your friends. If you want to stand out, create a compelling image that includes text like “Win It!” to grab people’s attention. Of course, if you plan to promote, make sure that the image you use don’t have so much text that Facebook refuses the ad.
  • Bigger prizes don’t always mean more engagement. You’d think that the bigger the prize, the more people you’ll have excited about your contest, right? Wrong. What people want and need means more than the value of the product. For example, you might give away an hour of consulting with yourself, which you’d normally charge $300 to do. But if your Facebook fans aren’t super interested in having consulting with you, they might be more inclined to take action on a $50 Amazon gift card.

So now that Facebook has made it easier to run a contest on Facebook, will you take advantage of these changes and use this platform for a giveaway in conjunction with your blog?

Do Bloggers Need to be on Google+?

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google plus The principle behind the founding of Google is quite simple: Some webpages are much more important others. How do they decide which are the most important? Basically, importance is given to content that Google believes answers questions users have about a particular topic better than other webpages.

The face of internet search technology was completely changed by Google webpage evaluations. They evaluate each link pointing to a particular webpage according to the quantity, as well as how much Google trusts the sites the links come from.

However, in 1998 things changed even more. That’s when Google also began judging the popularity of a webpage based on the amount of likes it receives through social media sharing. Social sharing helps to increase the search engine rankings of a particular webpage. Yet, Facebook and Twitter still aren’t exactly cooperative with Google. The webpage itself was always the focus of the story, until recently. Thanks to Google+, the writer is now a central part as well.

How to Increase Your Google+ Audience

Google+ profiles serve as verifiable identities for bloggers. Your reputation on Google+ is influenced by several factors:

  • The actual number of Google+ followers you have.
  • The actual number of reshares for your content.
  • The actual number of +1’s you receive.
  • Your Google+ activity: regular posts, comments, reshares and +1’s you’ve given others.

Thanks to Google+, your content is not the only thing users can vote for to grow your reputation. Today, when you get a +1 on your content, you, personally, are also getting a +1 vote. Many users say that Google+ profiles appear to grow much faster than on both Facebook and Twitter.

So, what are some effective ways to build your Google+ audience? Just keep in mind that G+ is a social media platform made up of groups of like-minded people, called communities. Therefore, that’s exactly how you should treat it.

  • Create a Great Bio – Effective Google+ bios include your actual name or pen name, a summary describing who you are, what your business does, why you’re using Google+ and the type of content you plan to share on G+. Make sure that there are keywords included in your places, education, employment and introduction sections of your Google+ bio.
  • Build Relationships – When you first begin, follow people you actually know. Then, simply search for more people to follow and get to know. Google has also implemented Google+ Hangouts, which gives users a more unique way to interact with other G+ users.
  • Share Content – Create original content for your blog posts. These can be video, photo or text posts. Then, share links to your content on G+. Be sure to create an attention-grabbing headline and add a brief though about the content. Also, end your post with an intriguing question to encourage user comments.
  • Comment, Comment, Comment – Leave relevant, interesting comments on photos and posts, asking thought-provoking questions. You can also refer (or tag) other users by typing “+” and their name to get a display of results to choose from.

Using Google+ for Social Media Marketing

Your blog must contain interesting content that’s relevant and valuable to the lives of your target audience. Social media marketing is one of the most effective techniques for getting the word out about your blog and its great content.

Are you using Google+ to interact with your target audience? If so, what are some of the methods you use to lure readers to your blog posts using Google+?

An End to EdgeRank: What Does Facebook’s New Feed Algorithm Mean for Your Page?

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facebook like button Facebook EdgeRank has officially been retired, but that still doesn’t mean every single user will see every single post you write. Facebook has a new feed algorithm, and if you’re managing a page on this platform for your business, blog, podcast, or web series, it’s important to understand how Facebook’s changes are going to effect you.

Storybumping: It’s Good News

The feature everyone is talking about right now is called storybumping. In the past, Facebook annoyingly decided which posts users would and would not see based on a calculated value. A post that got a lot of attention quickly could go viral, but if you didn’t post at exactly the right time, it didn’t matter what your update was about: people wouldn’t see it. In a few hours, that post would be buried by newer posts.

Now, Facebook is “bumping” stories that you haven’t seen yet, instead of just looking at the publish time. That means Facebook users still have a chance of seeing your posts, even if they’re older. Post timing isn’t as important as it was before.

The results are extremely positive for those of us wanting our page updates to be seen. In initial tests, TechCrunch reports that these changes mean an “8% boost in interactions for stories from Pages and public figures” and that people are seeing about 70% of all possible updates in their stream, as compared to just 57% in the past.

As a user, this means that Facebook will be more interesting for you, since you’ll see new updates whenever you log in, even if the posts are a bit older, instead of just seeing recent stories that you’ve already read.

Last Actor: It’s Even Better News

Even more interesting that storybumping is the “last actor” concept. This way of showing posts to users runs on the theory that the people/pages you’re interacting with most (by looking at their profiles/pages, liking, commenting, browsing their photos, etc.) are the updates you want to see.

This is good news for anyone actively engaging with users on Facebook. If people are interacting with your page, that means they’ll be more likely to see updates from you in the future. It keeps your most rabid fans involved with what’s going on with your page.

So What Does This Mean for Your Page?

It’s all pretty good news, in my opinion, for people who are consistently sharing awesome content and actually engaging with fans on Facebook. It’s bad news for people who just “check in” occasionally, even if your posts do tend to be interesting.

But more importantly, what it means in a broader sense is that if you market a business online or create content online, you have to be flexible. The rules for any platform are fluid, so being stuck in your ways of doing things will bite you in the behind in the the end. Always be experimenting, learning and evolving, on Facebook and otherwise, so you can continue to tweak the way your share and create content. If you stop, you’re really just going backward.

Top 10 Mistakes Beginner Bloggers Make With Pinterest

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Pinterest logo Pinterest is a social network that focuses on sharing images… visuals, as opposed to text. Bloggers can use Pinterest to their advantage for promoting products, services and building your brand online. Yet, there are some major mistakes beginner bloggers need to avoid when it comes to Pinterest. Here are the top 10:

1. Using Dull Images

Pinterest is all about visuals. Your images should be engaging, and filled with good descriptions and colorful text. Some beginner bloggers use stock photography, not understanding the value of quality, compelling images. For more information, see “3 Ways to Create Better Images for Your Blog Posts.”

2. Not Utilizing Keywords Enough

Create categories, and assign each board to a specific category. Each board should have a description, which uses detailed SEO keywords. This helps other Pinterest users locate your pins based on they’re searches. However, try not to over-analyze your descriptions. If so, users will assume you’re just pushing some product and won’t follow you.

3. Limiting Your Genres

This is one of the top beginner blogger mistakes. Many will stick to only one genre. Just because your company specializes in landscaping doesn’t mean you have to pin only images of lawns, trees and landscapes. Your target audience is all over Pinterest, interested in many different topics. So, you should be all over the place too. For your landscaping company, pin home cleaning and design tips also. Have a guided imagery business? Pin boards with inspirational quotes. Keep your pins related, but don’t be too narrowly focused.

4. Not Networking

Competition can be a good thing. So, don’t fear it. Search for other companies and bloggers you admire who are active on Pinterest. Then, band together with them, pinning their content in exchange for them pinning yours. You can also band together to create group boards. This will help to increase your visibility on Pinterest and online in general, increasing your traffic.

5. Not Linking Properly

This is another top beginner blogger mistake. Users get very annoyed with they click a Pin that takes them to a page not relevant to the post they were expecting. Some users will become very frustrated maneuvering around your site looking for that particular post. Others will close the screen and move on. All of your pins with links should send users directly to the post with the featured image.

6. Not Following Others

If you find pinners and boards that your target audience might find interesting, follow, follow, follow. Following others adds to the content and images your Pinterest followers have access to. As long as your images link to your blog content, this will help you boost traffic and generate leads. Also, many other bloggers will follow your Pinterest boards and pins in return. This assists you with building online communities on the Pinterest social network. So, be sure to like and repin any images you truly love.

7. Not Adding Descriptions

All of your images should have accurate descriptions. This helps Pinterest understand which pins and boards to display in search results. It also helps Google and other search engines understand what your images are all about. This helps your search engine optimization, which helps to raise your search engine rankings. It will also help you get found via Pinterest’s own search tool.

8. Not Using It to Recycle Content

All great content doesn’t necessarily need to begin from scratch. In order to provide your users with great content, gather it from various resources. Pinterest can be great inspiration when you’re writing. You can also repurpose content using Pinterest. Create an infographic out of a blog post. Link to your pins in your post. Create boards to supplement your topics. Get creative!

9. Not Staying Up-to-Date with Pinterest Changes

Did you know that Pinterest has new rules about running contests? Are you aware that Pinterest displays vertical content differently than it has in the past, which effects how infographics are displayed? Do you know how Pinterest has been updated recently? Stay on top of how Pinterest is changing so you can always get the most out of it.

10. Not Using Pinterest!

Pinterest is a very popular platform for promoting visual content, such infographics, cartoons, even videos. Get your content up there as soon as you publish and use pinterest.com/source/YOUR-URL to check what others are pinning from your blog.

Do you use Pinterest to market your business blog? How have you implemented your pins and boards into your daily tasks in order to increase traffic to your blog?

5 Mistakes Your Small Business is Making on Twitter

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business on twitter

As a small business owner, it can be challenge to keep up with best social practices. One of the most common questions I’m asked is, “What am I doing wrong?” If you’re not seeing the results you think you should from Twitter, here are a few mistakes you might be making:

Mistake #1: Broadcasting Without Interacting

The entire point of social media is to promote your business, right? Well, yes…but in a social way. It’s about more than just broadcasting. Sure, you can send out tweets that include links to your website or blog, but you also want to interact with your followers. Jump into relevant conversations. Be helpful when someone asks a question. Follow others in your industry and those who are potential customers. If you aren’t using the “@” reply function often, that’s something that needs to change. Southwest Airlines is a great example of a company doing this right. They are constantly retweeting and replying to their customers.

Mistake #2: Blurring the Lines Between Personality and Personal

When using social, I think it’s great for the personality of your company to shine through. You aren’t just a giant logo. There are real people behind your social account. But there’s a difference between showing your personality and getting personal. If you’re a business or brand on Twitter, you don’t need to tweet out pictures of your meal or rants about your flight being delayed. Save that for your personal account. Keep your Twitter interactions relevant to your business. Bill Gerth (and Frank Eliason before him) for Comcast does a great job at this at @comcastcares. Talenti Gelato (who we profiled here) and GrubHub are also awesome at letting their personality shine through while still making it about their respective businesses.

Mistake #3: Going on Hiatus

If you can’t commit to tweeting daily, get off of Twitter. No, really. It looks bad if someone asks a question on Twitter and you don’t reply quickly. An abandoned Twitter account is worse than having no Twitter account at all.

Mistake #4: Promotional Updates

Promotional updates are okay. After all, you’re using social media to promote your business. However, if you’re only promoting yourself, your tweets can get old quickly. A really great option is to start a blog and also promote your links to education or entertaining topics. If you run a lawn care company, don’t tweet yet again that you’re available for landscaping. Tweet a link to your post on the “10 Best Celebrity Yards” or “How to Get Rid of Summer Garden Pests.” Get people reading on your site through content marketing and then sell them on your products or services once they’re a fan.

Mistake #5: Not Following Relevant Hashtags

Lastly, are you following hashtags in your industry? Hashtags (using the # symbol before a word or phrase) allow you to see what people are saying about a specific topic. Following these hashtags allows you to identify problems, jump into conversations, and find new followers (and potential customers). Always be listening to what your target market is saying.

What’s the biggest mistake you see businesses making on Twitter? Leave a comment!

Class in Session: Social Media Lessons from the Nation’s Best Schools

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Many of the nation’s best universities have discovered that social media is an excellent way to reach, impress and attract top-notch students. Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania are among the most active schools in this arena, turning to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, blogs and message boards to inform, entertain and recruit.

Can business owners, Internet entrepreneurs and job seekers learn from the example being set by these and other prestigious institutions of higher education? There’s little doubt that methods similar to those being used to attract the world’s best students can also work to get the attention of potential customers, employees and employers.

Stars, Presidents, and International Projects: Showing Off Your Assets

So what is Harvard doing to enhance its online presence? A recent visit to the school’s Facebook page provided a look at two diverse but equally interesting subjects: a relatively nearby system that is turning out new stars at a staggering rate and the 16th president of the United States.

If you spend a little time on the Harvard Facebook page, you’ll find out that the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics is a joint collaboration of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. This information might not mean much to you if you plan to study Economics or Marketing, but, if you think your future will have something to do with what’s out there beyond planet Earth, glancing at the school’s Facebook page might convince you to take a closer look at Harvard.

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Along the same lines, you might be impressed to know that in the school’s Houghton Library collection, you’ll find a piece of the earliest surviving work by Abraham Lincoln: math exercises he wrote in 1825, at the age of 16.

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If you are considering a future in engineering, you may want to visit the University of Pennsylvania Facebook page. There you’ll find information about the Penn Engineers Without Borders program, complete with a photo of two Penn students working on a project in Cameroon.

Bottom line? Use social media to highlight your assets. Share information that your business has, even if it doesn’t directly rate to making a sale. Use your online presence to make your company a trusted authority.

Sharing Information

Here are some other ways universities across the country are tapping into the social media gold mine:

  • The job market – Using LinkedIn and other options, universities are putting their students in touch with employers and recruiters.
  • Sharing knowledge – Colleges and universities are sharing knowledge, experience and information online.
  • Seeking the best students – Many potential students use social media to connect with one another and learn about the world around them – and find out what specific universities have to offer.
  • Online learning – Online education gives students the option to learn on their own schedule.

These outreach efforts and opportunities make universities more valuable to students (their “customers”) and more visible to potential students.

Get Their Attention

Whether you are seeking a job or, as an entrepreneur, you’re looking for new business, it’s important to remember that you first must get the attention of your potential customers. Once you do that, here are a few tips to help you use social to keep them interested in the service or product you are offering.

  • Connect with your customers by posting on your Facebook page once a day, tweeting a few times daily and writing a regular post on LinkedIn.
  • Don’t use lingo or language that your customers might not understand. You should show them that you are interested in helping them, and you should try to develop a bond between you and the people who will be buying your products and services.
  • Offer special prices or services that are available only to the people you reach through social media to give your customers and potential customers a reason to follow you regularly on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Blogging will enhance your presence in the world of social media. You can establish a blog on your website and use it for Facebook and Twitter posts.
  • Join conversations on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. This will help you establish yourself as an expert in your field.
  • Don’t ignore your competition. You might be able to copy some of the things they are doing in the world of social media. There’s nothing wrong with investigating what others in your industry have done, and it’s okay to copy* the things they have done right.

If your business depends on your ability to use social media to attract and retain customers, take the time to learn from some of the most prestigious schools in the United States.

(*Editor’s note: we’re talking about “copying” ideas here to make them work for your business, not plagiarism, which is NEVER okay. Be ethical in your business practices when reviewing your competitors.)

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