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Are You Targeting the Wrong Social Influencers? 3 Mistakes Brands are Making

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Working with major influencers might be able to help your brand reach new audiences, but are you reaching out to the wrong people online? How you measure the value of an influencer can drastically affect the success of your campaigns. Let’s take a look at three mistakes brands are making when it comes to working with social influencers.

Mistake #1: Working with Influencers Long-Term without Monitoring

Most companies monitor the the ROI of working with individuals or groups of influencers, but this isn’t the only thing you should be monitoring. In a post for Social Media Examiner, Russ Henneberry from Content Measures notes that one of the most important things for you to follow is what else a person is saying online. Why? You might not want to endorse what they are doing.

Remember, when you’re working with an influencer to promote your brand, they are a low-level spokesperson for your company. Someone who has a large, engaged network isn’t always a good choice if they are also saying things that aren’t in line with your brand’s mission statement. For example, someone who curses or talks about adult topics often might not be great for promoting a family brand, even if they are followed by a lot of parents.

Mistake #2: Working with Influencers who Promote Anything for a Buck

We all need to make a living, but if you’re working with social influencers who are willing to promote nearly anything, you might be missing the mark a bit. Someone promoting several things throughout the day is doing little more than broadcasting. Even if they have a large, engaged audience, few people will read the message about your company simply because the stream is moving too fast.

Instead, look for influencers who are a little more selective about what they promote. These influencers, because they work with a smaller number of brands, are more useful to you, since their audience doesn’t have as much content fatigue as influencers who are constantly promoting something or other.

Mistake #3: Neglecting Social Influencers who Already Like Your Brand

Before you start making a list of social influencers with high Klout scores or large Twitter followings, look at who is already talking about your brand or at least using your product. It’s important to reward influencers who are already loyal to your brand before you go outside of your community to find more influencers willing to talk about your brand.

Keep your community, especially the top influencers, engaged, offer sneak previews, coupons, and other offers. Retweet your fans and republish their content (with permission). Above all, listen. Don’t just respond to complaints. Show your appreciation for positive comments as well.

The Unintentional Thought Leader: Seven Steps For Small Business Blogging

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When I launched Marketing Sparks three years ago, “thought leadership” was not a goal. Discuss issues I care about? Yes. Stoke my desire to write? Absolutely. Maybe even attract new business as a bonus? Of course.

Over time, though, I discovered that a certain style of writing could help position my small business blog as an authority and go-to expert. That said, I use the term “thought leadership” hesitantly and humbly—it tends to sound lofty—and there are no hard and fast rules defining it. When it comes to blogging, my definition revolves around having expertise on a topic, shedding light on issues, offering a point-of-view, and sharing innovative thinking…and doing this is easier than you might think.

Here are seven steps you can take to start your own thought leadership blog or tweak your current one to elevate your content from standard fare to superior must-read.

1. Write About Your Passion

It starts with a cliché we’ve all heard: “Write from the heart.” Nothing could be more true in a thought leadership blog. That doesn’t mean pontificating or talking down to your audience, it means sharing your interest and expertise and giving that information to your audience freely. In the process, your readers will feel smarter too. Spreading insights through a blog that excites and energizes you—the kind you can’t wait to share with the online world—is contagious, and your readers will ultimately share with their own networks.

2. Choose Your Audience and They Will Choose You

As Daniel Rasmus said, “Go vertical or go home.” Pick an area to cover and stick with it. Let’s face it, we can’t all be experts on everything, and frankly, generic information is pretty useless. Think of it as a marketing campaign: Who is your target audience? Who will care about your knowledge base? What can you offer them that they can’t get elsewhere? Once you start adding value to your audience’s professional or personal life, you will slowly be viewed as a trusted source and develop a loyal following.

3. Get A Hub With Spokes

Now that you found your audience, it’s time to stimulate, educate, and even entertain them with your expertise. The key is to write on a variety of topics from your knowledge base and cast the widest net possible. When I take on my “hub” of marketing, there are a lot of “spokes” in that wheel: I write about branding, advertising, social media, events, technology—the list goes on. I also sprinkle in a diverse range of blog styles so that unpredictability is the only thing my audience can count on. That means:

  • Opinion
  • Interviews
  • Breaking news
  • Guest blogs
  • Follow-up pieces
  • Evergreen/timeless topics (my PowerPoint alternatives blog post from two years ago still garners steady hits)

Click to tweet this quote!

4. Circle-Slash Vanilla Views 

Rehashing a trending hot topic—say, Apple’s court battle with Samsung—is more about content aggregation than delivering any meaningful insight to your readers. You might get a lot of Google hits, but are not illuminating anything new. Blogging as an authority means taking a stand and doing it authentically. One of the keys is not just to understand a topic fully, but to offer readers an alternative point of view or additional insight. In other words, content that makes your blog worth reading and stand out from the crowd. As Jessica Northey said at this year’s NMX in the  panel session How To Build Your Blog Community: Three Top Bloggers Share Their Secrets, “Tell the truth, make it matter, and never be boring.” Amen to that.

5. Do Your Homework

Having earned a living as a reporter early in my career, I’ve always had a nose for news, curiosity, and a desire to ask questions. And when my reputation is at stake, I take that very seriously—and your readers will too. They count on you to do the background and research for them. Make sure you are using the best and most current information before you hit “publish.” If an important data point is missing or there is sloppy attribution, your credibility suffers. Conversely, if you get corrections from readers, cop to it, update your blog, and even thank the person for pointing it out. We’re all mere mortals…even those gunnin’ to be a thought leader.

6. There is No “Self” In Promotion

Ever heard the old saying, “Let someone else say how great you are”? Don’t promote your business or anything that smacks of it in your blog. Readers will sniff it out and run the other way. With so many choices on the Internet to spend their precious time, readers come for new ideas and practices, not thinly-veiled or overt pitches.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t market the heck out of your blog on a regular basis: Promote it to your personal and business network, leverage your social media channels by sharing and starting conversations, and of course reciprocate with other bloggers in your field. Don’t forget to mention your blog to clients and prospects when a related topic comes up. And, yes, in case you were wondering, I have gained new clients from my blog posts. Not only do prospects get a shortcut to your knowledge and skill set, it builds instant confidence in you before you’re even hired.

7. Leadership Versus Readership

There are so many blog styles: newsy updates, opinion blogs, branded blogs, affiliate marketing blogs, mommy blogs, and on and on. Choosing to do a thought leadership blog is a quieter and narrower path—dare I say “quality over quantity.” It takes time to grow your audience and build credibility, so be patient.

For most small business owners, blogging is a “sideline” to the busy life of running a company and does not pay the bills. Yet if you stay the course on the slow but sure path, you will be rewarded handsomely in personal gratification, respect, and potentially new work.

How could your blog be changed by adding a thought leader slant? What benefits would you gain from doing so?

Ramon Ray’s Five Steps for Personal Branding

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As many of you may have heard, NMX (BlogWorld) recently purchased a new conference: Ramon Ray’s Small Business Summit. We’re super excited to work with Ramon, who is an absolute firecracker.

Ramon was actually a speaker at NMX 2013, where he talked about personal branding and how this affects your company’s growth. Knowing Ramon on a personal level, not just seeing a faceless Small Business Summit logo, is part of what enticed NMX to want to work with him in the first place, so he was the perfect person to speak on this topic.

His session covered an incredible amount of information in just a short 30 minutes (and you can watch the entire session as a premium member of NMX University), but today, I wanted to cover his five steps for personal branding success. (And a big thank you to Jess Boyer for helping with this post by taking notes during the session!)

Step One: Establish Your Platform

People like to put other people and businesses into neat, little boxes. If you don’t define yourself, others will do it for you. So think about what your message will be, what your brand will be. What are your strengths? What do you want people to know about you? What makes you stand out?

Step Two: Show the Hell Up!

According to Ramon, you don’t have to tweet all day long. What you do have to do, however, is be visible online and in your community. Volunteer. Join your local chamber or business networks. Look for new opportunities for people to get to know you. You can’t phone in the personal connection factor.

Step Three: Be an Online Publisher

Ramon also stated something we know extremely well here at NMX: if you aren’t online, you don’t exist. You have to lead with your content online, rather than the sell. Get out there on social media and start a blog so you can tell your story. People will listen, and once they get to know, like, and trust you, they’ll also want to do business with you.

Step Four: Plan for Media Exposure

Once you establish yourself online and in your community, the media will start to contact you, and this has a snowball effect. Media leads to more media leads to more media – provided you are an interesting story to cover. So be ready. Be personable and have your story ready to tell in a quick easy-to-understand way.

Step Five: Organize an Event

This is by far the hardest step in Ramon’s plan, but it can also be the most rewarding. You don’t have to plan the next NMX or Small Business Summit. Even on a small level, events will help you network with others in your industry, attract media attention, and boost your credibility. However, it’s important to be aware that organizing an event can be stressful and expensive. If you work with people you trust, though, it can be an incredible personal branding tool.

Remember, you can watch Ramon’s complete session, along with dozens of others about business, online content creation, publishing, social media, and more at NMX University with premium membership (our 2013 virtual ticket). Check it out today!

Are Your Employees on LinkedIn? Three Profile Creation Tips from Stephanie Sammons

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We often think of LinkedIn as a professional social network for individuals, but did you know LinkedIn could also help build your business? At BusinessNext 2013 (presented by NMX), speaker Stephanie Sammons, CEO of Wired Advisor, presented “7 Powerful LinkedIn Marketing Strategies for Building Your Business” – and today, I wanted to talk about one of the most important aspects she covered: profile creation for your employees.

“Everyone in the company needs to understand how to set up a good profile.”

The more your employees are visible on LinkedIn, the more your business will be visible on LinkedIn. Visibility leads to brand recognition, talent acquisition, and more, so it’s definitely good for every company to have a presence on LinkedIn. Consider spending a day training your employees on this platform, or at least covering the basics of creating a good profile. According to Stephanie, here’s what your employees need to keep in mind when creating a profile.

  • Professional and Accurate Information

One of the biggest mistakes people make with LinkedIn is not keeping the information up-to-date. An employee who is now a manager or even higher in your company might still have their previous job listed. Worse, employees might choose to have unprofessional information listed on their LinkedIn profile, which could reflect poorly on your company as a whole. Go over what is appropriate with your employees and encourage them to update often.

  • Frequent and Consistent Status Updates

Most people who use LinkedIn do not use the status update capability or they have it linked to Twitter, where updates are commonly pretty casual.  Instead, encourage your employees to update LinkedIn during the day, posting professional (and non-confidential) information about the daily happenings at the office.

  • Network Growth

Make sure your employees are linked with one another and encourage them to allow connections with other people they know. More 1st level connections lead to more 2nd level connections, which lead to more 3rd level connections…and these are all people who are, in some way, connected to your company. If your employees grow their connections, your visibility on this platform grows as well.

This just scratches the surface of Stephanie’s BusinessNext session at NMX 2013. Want the whole thing? Check out our 2013 Virtual Ticket, available exclusively at NMX University for access to her session as well as hundreds of other session recordings from our event.

How to Turn Social into Sales with Ann Handley

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One of the biggest frustrations for businesses is turning all of their online activities into actual sales. You can have 50,000 Twitter followers and post to your blog three times a day, but if doing these things isn’t ultimately leading to customers, you might as well be banging your head against the wall.

In this video, NMX speaker Ann Handley from MarketingProfs talks about this very problem. How do you turn social into sales?

[youtube]http://youtu.be/g1VRExiBb04[/youtube]

To add to Ann’s great advice, I would also say this: Before you decide there’s no ROI in what you’re doing, make sure you’re measuring ROI correctly. If you’re using traditional techniques, you might not see great numbers, but that might mean you’re looking at the wrong stats.

For example, if only one person bought something after posting about a sale on Facebook, the ROI isn’t looking so hot. But if 500 people became aware of your brand due to others sharing about your sale, and even just 10% of them become future customers, suddenly Facebook’s ROI looks a lot better.

At the same time, make sure you’re not reporting stats with a spin just to convince yourself that there’s a good ROI of your online activities. Using the same example, if you made 50 sales after posting about something on Facebook, that might be look good at first, but if the majority of those sales were people who were already your customers and would have purchased something anyway, regardless of your Facebook posting activities, the numbers suddenly don’t look so hot.

So measure, measure, measure…and always make sure you’re measuring the right things and analyzing the numbers properly.

If you think Ann Handley is one smart cookie just like I do, don’t miss her live on stage at NMX in Vegas this January! Check out Ann and all of the other BusinessNext speakers here.

32 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Small Business Blogging

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Brilliant Bloggers is a bi-weekly series here at NMX where we look at the best posts from around the web, all surrounding a specific topic. Every other week, we’ll feature a brilliant blogger, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Small Business Blogging

A blog can be an extremely powerful tool for some business owners. But, of course, there are a lot of stumbling blocks. How do I find the time? What do I write about? How do I promote my posts?

Today, our Brilliant Bloggers list answers these questions and more. We’ve collected over 30 posts that can help you start a small business blog or boost sales using the one you already have.

And don’t forget our can’t-miss business sessions at BusinessNext, presented by NMX. This show features experts in the business, blogging, and marketing worlds to help you learn about taking your business blog and other online efforts to the next level. Register now!

Brilliant Blogger of the Week:

The Value of Small Business Blogging: 3 Key Questions & Answers by Lee Odden

I could point to any number of posts about small business blogging on TopRank from Lee Odden, but I like this one the best because it addresses why exactly small businesses should be blogging in the first place. When I talk to small business owners, the biggest stumbling block is getting them to believe they need a blog. Sometimes, a blog might not make sense, but in most cases having a blog can really boost your business. In this post, Lee talks about the benefits of having a blog for your small business, and if you’re hungry for even more, he links to a video at the end where he talks to Frank J. Kenny more about small business blogging.

Did you know Lee will also be speaking at BusinessNext, being presented at NMX 2013 in Las Vegas? You don’t want to miss him and Amy Porterfield speaking in the session “Companies That Hit The Bullseye With Their Social Campaigns.” Grab a full access pass today to get access to this BusinessNext session!

Even More Brilliant Advice:

  1. 3 Tips for Starting a Small Business Blog by Collis Ta’eed (@collis)
  2. 5 Benefits of Small Business Blogging by bMighty2 (@bmighty2)
  3. 5 Costly Mistakes Small Business Blogs Cannot Afford by Prasanna Bidkar (@prasannabidkar)
  4. 5 Keys to Successful Small Business Blogging by Ty Kiisel (@tykiisel)
  5. 5 Small Business Business Blogging Tips by Jase Group (@JASEGroup)
  6. 5 Things To Do Before You Launch Your [Small Business] Blog by Sarah Von Bargen (@yesandyes)
  7. 5 Ways To Build A Better Business Through Blogging by Lisa Barone (@lisabarone)
  8. 6 Reasons Every Small Business Should Be Blogging… Are You Missing the Boat? by Jonah Lopin (@JonahLopin)
  9. 6 Tips for Customizing Your Small Business Blog by Ben Parr (@benparr)
  10. 7 Blogging Mistakes That Small Businesses Make by Lou Dubois (@lou_dubois)
  11. 7 Ways to Amplify Your Small Business Blog by Monica Romeri
  12. 8 Tips for Keeping your Business Blog Current by Caron Beesley (@caronbeesley)
  13. 9 Hard-Hitting Content Strategies for Small Business Blogging by Neil Patel (@neilpatel)
  14. 9 Tips for Creating More Small Business Blogging Ideas by Mark Hayward (@mark_hayward)
  15. Best 4 Blogging Tips for Small Business Owners by Lynn Brown (@learnit2earnit)
  16. Blog Management for Small Businesses: The Ultimate Guide by Heather Rast (@heatherrast)
  17. Content Strategies for Small Business Blogs by Aylin Poulton
  18. Going Local with Your Small Business Blogging by Ashley Neal (@smallbizatlanta)
  19. How to Blog Effectively to Market Your Small Business by Shashi Bellamkonda (@ShashiB)
  20. How To Make Your Business Blog Informative by Amie Marse (@Content_Money)
  21. How to Start a Small Business Blog the Right Way by Marion Jacobson (@searchqueen)
  22. Six Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Blog Now by Women’s Leadership Exchange (@WLExchange)
  23. Small Business Blogs: Is Blogging Worth it for Small Businesses? by Emily Bennington (@EmilyBennington)
  24. Small Business Blogging Tips: How to create compelling posts by Chris Wallace
  25. Small Business Blogging Tips for Beginners by Danielle Rodabaugh (@DaRodabaugh)
  26. Top 10 Small Business Blogging Mistakes to Avoid in 2013 by Linda Dessau (@lindadessau)
  27. Why a Small Business Blog Is Your Most Valuable Marketing Asset by Lynnette Fusilier (@pearlgirl)
  28. Why Every Small Business Needs a WordPress Blog for Their Social Media Strategy by Jeannette Paladino (@jepaladino)
  29. Why You should Blog for Your Small Business by Lance Sonka (@lancesonka)

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about small business? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link.

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: NMX/BusinessNext 2013!

Our next edition of Brilliant Bloggers in January will feature all of the awesome, recap posts about NMX 2013! Good or bad, we love hearing your thoughts on the show. Want to be included on this round-up list? You have to attend NMX and/or BusinessNext 2013! Check out our live event site to learn how to register or upgrade to an all-access pass.

I’d love to include a link to your post in our next installment– and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts (and contact info for sending your links!). We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

What Businesses NEED to Learn from Romney’s Project ORCA

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Project ORCA was supposed to be the saving grace for the Republican presidential campaign. In a race that came down to the wire in many states, this new way of organizing Romney’s league of enthusiastic volunteers to monitor voting across the country could have been responsible for swinging the votes his way. Obviously, that did not happen, and in a post entitled “The Unmitigated Disaster Known As Project ORCA” one would-be volunteer, John Ekdahl, outlined exactly  how this project failed. Another disgruntled would-be volunteer shared similar experiences with Brietbart News here.

Now that how has been answered, the remaining question is why. And, importantly, what can we learn from this mess?

Simplicity, Defined

Project ORCA was designed to be extremely simple. Using smartphones, volunteers were supposed to be able to easily report who had voted and who had yet to show up at the polls. That way, registered Republicans could be contacted and encouraged to come out to vote.

While the system was fairly uncomplicated for volunteers, the introduction to it was not clear. This is where Project ORCA fell short, and this is where many businesses fall short as well. Simplicity marries design and implementation. One without the other, and you risk failure.

With Project ORCA, volunteers’ questions were not adequately answered during conference calls. They didn’t receive their packets until the night before, and the term “app” confused people (Project ORCA used a mobile website, not an app available on the Android/iPhone store, but they called it a “mobile web app”). Volunteers were not instructed properly about the information they needed to take to their polling location, so many were turned away. Questions to the help line went unanswered.

When you introduce a new technology to your customers, is the implementation as simple as the design? Is your audience prepared for the changes? Are you ready to provide customer support? Have you taken the process out of the users’ hands as much as possible?

Timing is Everything

More important that simplicity perhaps, is timing. The Republican party waited until the last minute to implement this new system, causing mass chaos on election day. Ekdahl reports attempting to reach out for help so he could still fulfill his promise as a volunteer, but it seems as though the system was overwhelmed with people having problems, so he never received a response. Undoubtedly, many others found themselves in a similar situation.

Despite conference calls about Project ORCA in the weeks leading up to election day, too much was left to the last minute, with no real Plan B in place if problems ensued. The timing was just wrong. Had the kinks been worked out in October or better yet, even earlier, through beta testing and mock election day run-throughs, this initiative might have instead been a success. It may have even changed the course of the election.

I’m sure the Republican party did some testing before the big day. I’m not suggesting they just threw this together and crossed their fingers that it would work. But they didn’t also allow their volunteers to be part of the testing. If you’re introducing a new technology to your audience, whether it’s a brand new ecommerce site, a new interface for a digital product, or something else entirely (like a new way of counting votes at polling locations), you have to give people a chance to test out the system before they need to use it.

Half-Truths and Problems Ahead

What I find most troubling about the reports I’ve been reading from Project ORCA volunteers is that they all seem to have been reassured that problems were localized. Even before election day, it sounds like frankenspeak talons were tightly grasping this entire project. Writes Ekdahl,

“From the very start there were warning signs. After signing up, you were invited to take part in nightly conference calls. The calls were more of the slick marketing speech type than helpful training sessions. There was a lot of “rah-rahs” and lofty talk about how this would change the ballgame.”

Never underestimate your audience like this. People don’t want to hear half-truths and false flattery. They want answers to their questions and help with their problems. Nothing will sink a business faster than their customer base feeling like they’re being fed lies.

No matter where your political loyalties lie, I think we can all agree that Republicans have some rough roads ahead. It’s arguable whether the success of Project ORCA could have changed the tide, but it’s inarguable that it’s failure is making many uneasy about party management. This is perhaps the most important lesson businesses need to learn from the Republican party and the downfall of Project ORCA: the seas won’t always be smooth sailing, but when problems arise, how you manage your audience, especially through online channels, will set the course for the future.

Where is your business headed?

Image credit: Gage Skidmore

Why The President’s Tweet Became the Most Popular of All Time

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President Barack Obama made social media history with a tweet posted right after he was named the winner of the United States 2012 president election. This tweet surpassed tweets by celebrities like Justin Bieber to become the most shared tweet in history. As of writing this post, the tweet has been retweeted 0ver 793,000 times and favorited nearly 283,000 times.


It’s not surprising that a tweet from the POTUS after winning a second term went viral, but the circumstances are just part of what made this tweet so readily shared. Let’s take a look at why Obama’s tweet became the most popular of all time and what you can do to add some of that special sauce to your own tweets.

  • Visual Tweeting

The first and most obvious takeaway from Obama’s tweet success was that people respond to visuals. According to the Encyclopedia of Distances, about 65% of the general populus are visual thinkers, which is why teachers often make an effort to include visual aids when explaining a new topic and why infographics and Pinterest have both risen in popularity in the last year. The lesson here is to share images on social media when possible, especially if they help tell your brand’s story. People find these kinds of pictures easy to share.

  • Opportune Timing

Election night was a busy time for Obama and his staff, but they didn’t wait until a week later to celebrate Obama’s win with a tweet. They capitalized on the excitement of their audience by tweeting quickly after the election results were announced. The sunshine in the background easily gives it away that this is not a live picture, leading me to believe that staffers planned this tweet (and probably had tweet planned in case he lost as well). Can you take advantage over your audience’s excitement about something? Think about the timing of your tweets and plan them well.

  • A Personal Moment

It’s rare to get a look into the personal life of Obama, but this was an extremely personal picture with his wife, Michelle. Do you get personal with your audience? You don’t have to do so with every tweet, but allowing an occasional peak into your personal life can really help your audience connect with you. We’re all more likely to buy products from people we know, like, and trust. Personal moments allow people to get to know and like you, and from there, you can build trust.

  • Brevity

One of the biggest mistakes you can make on Twitter is not giving people the space to retweet you. If you’re right on the 140-character cusp, you’re not leaving room for “RT @yourname” or any comments about your tweet. This forces people to edit your original tweet if they want to retweet it, and frankly, most people won’t take the time. Obama’s very brief tweet helped to make it extremely shareable.

  • Emotional Tweeting

Lastly, Obama’s tweet is extremely emotional. To see him hugging his wife is not only a private moment, but also one that tugs are your heartstrings, even if you you didn’t vote for him. Anything emotional, whether it makes your laugh or cry, is easy for people to share, so think about how you can elicit these feelings from your followers.

Of course, a tweet that becomes as popular as Obama’s is something most of us can only dream of, but we can still adjust what we’re already doing to make our tweets more popular. For even more tips, tricks, and techniques for using social media for your business, check out our BusinessNext conference, featuring sessions like “How to Become an Effective Social Business Today,” “Social Media and the Law: Emerging Legal Issues and Obligations,” and more. And if you’re a content creator, definitely check out our next NMX event in Las Vegas for tips on promoting your blog, podcast, or videos using social medial.

Making Your Online Audience Uncomfortable in 10 Simple Steps

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Almost all businesses can benefit from an Internet presence, but if your online efforts aren’t properly managed, you could end up with a very uncomfortable audience. I’m all for stirring the pot when the moment is right, but if you aren’t careful, this discomfort will drive away business. Uncomfortable, awkward moments rarely lead to sales.

“Business schmisness!” you say? Alright then; here’s how to make your audience uncomfortable in 10 simple steps.

1. Get political.

The easiest and fastest way to drive away your online audience is to be extremely opinionated about a topic that doesn’t have anything to do with your company, but is extremely dividing. What better option than politics? So go ahead and tell us how stupid you think Democrats are! Or let us know that you think Republicans are morons! Encourage your audience to vote for your candidate of choice. After all, if they disagree, you don’t want their business anyway, right?

2. Get religious.

Politics aren’t your cup of tea? No problem! Just get religious. Nothing will make your audience uncomfortable faster than if you start challenging their belief system while they’re trying to buy your product.

3. Get defensive when you’re wrong.

If you don’t like politics or religion, don’t worry. There are still plenty of ways to make your audience uncomfortable. Your online outlets will have to deal with customer problems from time to time, for example. Instead of apologizing and addressing the issue, get really defensive. Start an argument with one of your customers, and remember: never back down.

4. Beg for money.

Your audience won’t be truly uncomfortable until you’re begging for money. Tell them about your financial problems. Plead for more sales. If you really want to take the discomfort to the next level, you can even consider adding a donate button to your website. It’s not enough for people to support you by buying your products. They should just give you money as well.

5. Start an argument with another brand.

Your competitors really suck. Who cares if your audience is uncomfortable; you should tell them in a very public way so everyone knows how much better your company is.

6. Ignore a problem.

So what if your customers have problems? So what if your product’s been recalled? So what if your entire audience is ranting about issues online? It’s not like your store is on fire or something. Just ignore the problems and they’ll probably go away.

7. Mix personal with professional.

It’s going to make everyone extremely uncomfortable when you post your pictures from vacation on your company Twitter account, especially since you spent most of your time at a nude beach. Make sure to boost the discomfort level by going into detail about how your kid is potty training, and take every opportunity to complain about life. There’s no need for separation between personal and professional when you don’t care about audience comfort.

8. Be R-Rated.

Some of your customers prefer mild language? Kids might use your website? Eff that. It’s your business. You should be as vulgar as you want. Bonus points if you’re vaguely inappropriate with one of your customers.

9. Opt for text-speak instead of using grammar.

You only have 140 characters on Twitter, so you better make every one of them count. No need to shorten your message and use proper grammar (or at least make it readable). Speak like a 14-year-old girl would text. They’ll figure it out.

10. Give out incorrect information.

If your audience isn’t already clicking away from your site or profiles online, start doling out incorrect information. There’s no need to fact check. Go ahead and contradict yourself. If anyone asks a question to clarify, just ignore it (see point #6). That way, you can not only make your audience uncomfortable, but you can also really tick them off.

Photo Credit: Bigstock

Social Media Checklist: 12 Things To Ask Yourself Before You Tweet

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Social media managers have definitely been known to get themselves into hot water. For example, during a presidential debate, KitchenAid made a very insulting joke at President Obama’s expense, due to an employee who tweeted from the company account rather than a personal account. This certainly isn’t the first time a rogue tweet has made the news, and I’m sure it won’t be the last either.

Whether you’re tweeting on behalf of your employer or just tweeting from your personal account, what you say matters. Your tweets reflect on you and everyone who chooses to interact with you, including family members, co-workers and employers, and friends. So it doesn’t really matter if the tweet in my example came from KitchenAid’s account or the user’s personal account. It was still something the person should have thought twice about tweeting.

You can’t really erase something you’ve said online. People are quick to take screenshots, so just because you delete something in one place doesn’t mean it isn’t out there. And yes, digital blacklists do exist, so a single tweet can cause you to lose sponsorship deals, employment opportunities, and even friends.

So before you tweet, here are ten things to ask yourself:

  1. Am I tweeting from the right account?
  2. Does my tweet fit within my (or my company’s) brand online?
  3. Am I too emotional right now? (If you don’t know, wait three hours and see if you still feel like sending the tweet!)
  4. Would I be okay with my mother/grandmother/role model reading this tweet?
  5. Will I be okay with my children (or future children or nieces/nephews/whatever) seeing this tweet when they Google me someday?
  6. If a potential employer reads this tweet, will I miss out on job opportunities?
  7. Is the tweet clear or could it be confusing for some people? (This is especially important when using sarcasm or making a joke.)
  8. Are the links in the tweet working?
  9. Does my language (cursing or otherwise) reflect my personality and represent me well?
  10. Is tweeting a reply publicly the right choice or would a DM be better?
  11. Have I made my tweet short enough for others to retweet?
  12. Have I used hashtags when relevant so others can find my tweet?

Mistakes happen. I can’t count how many times I’ve accidentally tweeted from the wrong account or with a broken link. But even when I make a mistake, it’s not a big deal because I’m careful about what I say on Twitter regardless of the account I’m using.

The moral of today’s story? Be careful what you say online. Statements have a way of coming back to haunt you in ways you can’t imagine. Err on the side of caution, especially if you’re managing multiple accounts, and remember: just because you can say something online, doesn’t mean you should.

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