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Five Quick Social Media Tips for Brick-and-Mortar Businesses

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bigstock-Thinking-11766491 It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million views, 13 years for TV, four for the Internet. Facebook got there in nine months. The iPod got there in a couple days. How do brick and mortar businesses keep up? Social media isn’t optional anymore.

We’re out of the Technology and Information Ages and into the Participation Age. The hallmark of this age is “sharing”, which is why social media is so big. It allows us to share on a multitude of levels. It is a lot less expensive than advertising and when done well, is much more effective. How do we get our arms around it?

Don’t panic. Social media is just another communications medium, like radio, TV, fax and email. Except it is much more interactive and participative; like the phone, except at your leisure (you don’t have to answer right away).

Here are a few quick principles I use dealing with social media:

1. Pick just one or two entry points that can be highly integrated, that can push traffic to each other, and go deep.

In 2007 I picked blogging and Twitter. I would highly recommend that you blog (some are questioning that these days, I think it is still by far the best social media platform available), and then interact with people on Twitter about their interests. Or you can pair up Facebook and Google+ (some people use it to blog now). Or Pinterest and Google+, etc. Whatever you do, start small so you can actually participate and learn, not spam. You can expand later if you find you have the bandwidth, but stay focused until you are sure.

2. Become the expert in something.

Again, BLOG IF YOU CAN!! It’s by far the best way to use social media to become an expert. Write comments on other people’s blogs, and offer your material to others to repurpose it. Check out this post on the 10 reasons you need to stop making excuses and start blogging for your business.

3. Be INTERESTED, not just INTERESTING (and be interesting as a result of being interested).

Social media is all about discussions, not self-promotion. Example – join existing conversations on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. Support others in their comments and blogs, answer questions, and eventually they will want to know what you have to say and will visit your blog or community group. If you only promote, promote, promote, no one will care what you are saying.

After you have established yourself as someone who can contribute to others’ communities, maybe start your own Google+ hangout, forum, Facebook group, etc. Learn first, then invite your existing friends to join you. If you just self-promote, you could even get kicked out or banned, depending on the community. Build a network, don’t do networking! SERVE, DON’T SELL. Do NOT use social media to attempt to get a zillion new friends! All the research shows you should target your social media at your existing raving fans. SERVE them, and they will bring you new readers and new customers

4. Further your education by reading.

Read Rework by Fried and Hannson. Read Seth Godin’s blog and 37Signals.com’s blog. Find other blogs that you respect. (Editor’s note: Check out the NMX speakers list for blogs by authorities in the new media industry). See how they provide something of value. Don’t completely copy their content, just follow their lead – serve others with interesting content.

5. Search for local relationships and develop them online as well as off.

Connect, then offer offline opportunities. About 85-90% of all conversations about a product start off line and then move online. And again, starting with local relationships allows you to use social media to support your existing friends, who will then bring you more viewers and customers. If you go after herds of new people with your content, your friends will smell that and walk away.

Don’t see yourself doing this? There is a growing number of credible people who can help you by ghost-blogging, and by managing your business social media. (I would never let anyone else manage my personal Twitter account.) If you are going to hire others, make sure the public knows it’s not you – be authentic.

There are a bunch of other things you can do t boost your social presense, but if you start with these, you’ll be on the right track. For more great social media and blogging advice for businesses, check out the Business Category right here on the NMX blog.

Image credit: Bigstock

No More Excuses: Top 10 Reasons to Start a Business Blog in 2014

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bigstock-Beautiful-woman-with-thoughtfu-29888243(1) A few weeks ago I taught a blogging webinar for consultants as part of a social media education series. At the beginning, I did quick survey to gauge the knowledge base. Not surprisingly, my audience ranked high on awareness and interest in social media, and also appeared savvy in running their businesses.

What I didn’t expect, though, were the reasons accomplished business owners didn’t have a blog: lack of confidence, worrying about that first step, not knowing where to start. See a theme here? It’s all about getting started. For all you “blogcrastinators,” 2014 is the year to launch your small business blog. With each passing day, you’re missing out on one of the best, easiest, and most fun ways to grow your business (yes I said fun). Not convinced? Here are the top ten reasons:

#10-Be an original: Blogging was the first social media: If you think showing your social media chops consists of retweeting other people’s ideas, reposting industry articles on LinkedIn, or asking provocative questions on Facebook, you’re not seeing the whole picture. Blogging is the granddaddy online social media provocateur, and in a larger sense, the hub of all social media network connections—so go be an integral part of it.

#9-Regurgitated content doesn’t help your business: All that social media you are blasting out might be interesting, but it doesn’t have your thumbprint on it. Why not take advantage of social media to its fullest? Even better, your blog will provide you with an ample, endless supply of content to use, repackage, and repurpose for other marketing. In other words, promote yourself first, others later.

#8-Add instant cred to your business: Want to impress a client, customer, or new prospect? That’s guaranteed when you mention your blog in conversation, include it on your email signature, or any other subtle PR move—people will automatically take your business more seriously. It tells the world that you’ve made the investment to reach, influence, and connect with your audience, and those perceptions help your business star rise.

#7-Create an “open space” for thought: One of the great things about blogging is that it will stimulate and trigger an amazing cornucopia of ideas. You’ll find yourself constantly scouring for interesting ideas to post (in a good way), getting inspired to tackle topics you wouldn’t have dreamed of otherwise, and feeling the push to research new topics of interest. Blogs provide a great venue for this. You have to experience it to believe it, but trust me you will.

#6-Win-win with the competition: Check out the blogs of your competitors and see what they’re writing about, their style, how often they post. Then make sure you are writing better and differently, with a style unique to your business. Stand out in the blog crowd. And of course when you’re pushing yourself to higher standards, it nudges everyone else to get on that higher ground too.

#5-Become a better writer: They say a habit takes three months to adopt: When you start blogging on a regular basis, I guarantee you’ll find that your writing becomes more crisp, focused, and better as time goes on. Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes, and nowhere else is that more true than the art and discipline of writing.

#4-Get out of your comfort zone: It’s not often we get to email an industry expert to get an interview,  become an instant authority overnight by reading up on a topic voraciously, or whip up commentary post on anything we desire. Whatever path your blog takes, you will meet interesting people, learn about new things, and blogging will surely stand out as a unique, creative part of your business—and life.

#3 Become the master of your blog domain: Don’t drive yourself crazy with high expectations that you will be blogging on a daily basis—That is just not going to happen (feel free to prove me wrong though). Start your postings slow and build up—consider once a month or every other month. Then add in as you can. Posting every week on a certain day is a noble act, but only commit to what you can reasonably do. I advocate regularly and religiously, but not ridiculously.

#2-Cultivate a new way to express yourself: For those fearing the combo click of the keyboard with the white computer screen, you’ll be surprised at how you enjoy writing when it’s a topic you’re interested in, and even passionate about (here’s hoping you find your business at least interesting, otherwise you should find another lot in life). That’s not to say that some posts won’t be difficult to write, or get rewritten 20 times and you’re still not happy, but in the end, you will be proud of your accomplishments as a whole. That I know to be true.

#1-Your small gains can lead to big changes: I’m not sure what the attendees of my blog webinar did after that course I taught a few weeks ago, but I can only hope it pushed them to the next step of starting a blog, whether it was to check out blog templates, or commit to some topics to write about, and in some way ultimately get over their fears to begin a blog. Speaking from personal experience, having and nurturing my own blog for three years led to a regular monthly post here at BlogWorld and a cascade of blogging work for my own business. Ask any successful entrepreneur, anyone who has changed a habit, or any small business owner that started a blog—it’s totally worth it on all levels. So start 2014 with your blog!

What’s your excuse for not starting a blog? What’s holding you back?

Image credit: BigStock

“Own the Good You Do”: Scott Stratten’s Advice for Businesses on Twitter

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scott stratten Every time a business joins Twitter, an angel gets its wings. It means they’re going to at least try the social media thing. Getting businesses to realize the power of social media is half the battle.

Whether or not they use this platform well is another story. Recently, I like the advice Scott Stratten wrote on his blog, UnMarketing, about the art of engaging with your fans, not just responding to customer complaints. Writes Scott,

Own the good you do. Value the positive voice.  It’s too easy only to focus on the negative.  You need to make time to thank customers who love what you do.  Be proud and say thank you. […]

Don’t leave all those high-fives hanging.  Take time away from fighting fires, and seeking out new customers, to thank the ones you have. This is the where the opportunity for brand endearment begins.  Don’t value your customers based only on purchases already made.  A happy customer is your best marketer.  Grow those relationships.”

There is absolutely positively no better marketing tool than word of mouth, and that’s not something you can buy. Think about it: when you’re going to make a large purchase, what’s more important: what the company says about themselves or what others are saying about the company? I will spend more money based on a friend’s recommendation, and I’m not alone. A 2010 study by Opinion Research Corp revealed that 59% of consumers consult friends and family members to get their opinions before making a purchase.

All it takes, sometimes, is a little recognition. A simple thank you on Twitter is the equivalent of a smile and a “come again” when someone is leaving your brick-and-mortar store.

Check out the rest of Scott’s post and his entire UnMarketing blog for more advice on using Twitter for your business.

Did you see our recent announcement?

We’re proud to announce that Scott is presenting a keynote at NMX 2014 in January. He’s always one of our highest-rated speakers, and we loved his keynote in 2010. See more information about Scott and the rest of our recently-announced keynoters here!

Want a free recording of one of Scott’s previous sessions? Check out this giveaway!

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+?

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?

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.)

How Social Media is Changing the Face of Hiring

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Social media has made a huge impact on recruitment and the recruitment process. Companies, head hunters, and recruitment agencies are turning to social media sites to promote available positions, research potential applicants, and make a decision on whether the applicant they have chosen is the best match for their business. On average, recruitment statistics show that around 89% will use social media at some point during the recruitment process to make a decision, with 80% of recruitment agencies using LinkedIn in particular to find potential applicants for positions they are working on.

Why Social Media?

Social media will simply tell you a lot about a person that might not be apparent on a CV or resume. A basic Facebook page can tell companies how the person conducts themselves and how they interact with other people online. It also tells recruiters about the person’s communication skills, whether they were truthful on their application, and whether there is any reason they shouldn’t be accepted for the position.

In fact, a large number of companies will now turn to social media before they even contact the applicant for the first time. This saves them time and energy and ensures that anyone they interview is the right fit for the company. Many times when I have been approached for a job myself, it is because I have been headhunted by a recruiter who has found me through Twitter, Facebook, or even Google+.

One Step Further in Recruitment

Interestingly, recruiters are taking social media one step further when hiring. For example, the Omnicom Group used Twitter to find five interns for summer work without every seeing their CV or resume.

The company took note how each applicant responded to five tweets which were posted over five days, and from this information they were able to make a decision on the best five interns for the job.

Other companies have also turned to new media instead of relying traditional hiring processes. Skype, for example, is used for interviewing potential candidates, allowing recruiters to cast a broader net instead of just looking at the local pool of candidates.

What Recruiters Look For

The majority of companies using social media for their recruitment process use this valuable social media tool to ensure that the applicant has been honest about who they say they are. Companies can match this against the CV they received. Photographs on Instagram, for example, can show talent, but poor language on tweets and bad communication skills on Facebook can reflect badly on how a future employee conducts themselves on the social media sites.

Social media pages are brimming with information on schools attended, places worked, communication skills, photographs, and so much more. Often, it’s not just about a person’s skills, but also about whether or not they will fit with the team. Social media can help companies determine this. It’s easier for recruiters to make a decision between two very qualified applicants once they have read through their social media profiles.

Digital, design, and web have also combined to bring innovation to recruiters and simple innovation like these when applying for a job speaks more to businesses these days. Infographic CVs and resumes, for example, demonstrates skills without much explanation needed.

Exactly what a company looks for when it comes to social media will vary, but one this is for sure: the social media world is forever expanding and will not be stopping in the new face of hiring.

Do you use social media to hire new employees? Or have you been hired based on your social skills, even for a non-social job?

Image Credits: mkhmarketing, spencereholtaway, qubodup

Struggle to Juggle: Three Marketing Kickstarters To Do Right Now

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Multi-tasking Business Woman

National Small Business Week celebrates its 50th anniversary this June on a high note:  According to the Small Business Administration, half of Americans own or work for a small business. While this is a glowing testament to America’s entrepreneurial spirit, one of the biggest conundrums small businesses still continually face is marketing: knowing they need promotion to grow and thrive but often lacking the time, money, and people to do the work. “Of all the classes we offer during San Francisco Small Business Week, marketing courses are the most popular,” said Jane Gong, a City coordinator of the nation’s largest such event.

So what can small businesses do lickety-split to get started, brush up, or recommit to a marketing program? Here are some ways to start or reboot your  efforts: After that, it’s up to you to make it a habit.

#1 Ask, Don’t Tell (When it Comes to Social Networks)

News flash to small business owners: social media is no longer a “trend” or “sexy”– it’s a reality of an integrated marketing plan. “Small business owners need to stop complaining about having little or no understanding of social media and no time to learn it,” said Brian Moran said in an article interview. “One of my favorite sayings is, ‘If you don’t have the time to do something right, when are you going to find the time to do it over?” Gong said, “When people are starting a business, the questions we get asked most about are social media. They think they need to be on social networks to increase their returns, but if you’re a mom and pop corner store, they are not sure it makes sense.”

Kickstarter: Go where your customers social-ize: Though it seems intuitive to get your target audience’s input to help drive marketing decisions, many businesses don’t, not because of lack of desire, but preoccupation with five hundred other tasks at hand. In the end though, the time you spend upfront getting feedback will prevent wasted time later. Though Facebook appears to be the most popular social network for small businesses, get the raw data from your  customers and prospects: survey in-person, by email, or quickly and free online . They’ll appreciate that you want their insight and the input will help shape your plans.

Once you establish your social media direction, get educated for free online. Also, check out what your competition is doing and get inspiration from the  brands you admire. Start small by offering something of value to get fans and followers, such as a Facebook-only deal, a discount for Twitter followers, or showcase customer photos on Pinterest. But start something and do it consistently as you build and fine-tune your social media program.

#2 Give Your Blog Nine Lives (or At Least Five)

Chances are if you’re reading this article, you already have a blog or want to: as most bloggers will attest to, it’s one of the easiest and straightforward ways to promote your business. Did you also know there are at least five things you can do to transform a stale blog to fresh content? The best place to start is to check your stats (or tags and categories) and determine the best performing ones. If you don’t have a blog yet, come up with a popular industry topic and use that as a starting point.

Going through the stats exercise for my own blog, I found a piece from a year ago about J.C. Penney’s rebranding disaster was my third top-read post of all time. Upon further research I found out why: On a Google search of “JC Penny Branding Disaster”, my blog comes up fourth, below PRDaily and Forbes and above Huffington Post. Even though the position could change, I got great SEO by writing about a popular topic when the story was blowing up in the media. Now, to use it for my own purposes…

Kickstarter: Repurpose. Repurpose. Repurpose. Did someone say repurpose? For the J.C. Penney blog, potential ideas are: 1) Update blog to reflect the recent booting of its CEO and apology ad and republicize on all social networks; 2) Use as partial content for quick blog countdown “The Five Worst Branding Disasters of All Time”; 3) Turn blog into online story and publicize; 4) Reformat with some quick visuals and create Slideshare and blast out to social networks. 5) If I were feeling particularly ambitious, I could create a short video that tells the story of what happened (a search revealed just one interview.) People are hungry for online information in different ways to learn about big events, industry trends, and practical tips–you can be the expert, go-to source no matter which they choose.

#3 Putting the Cure in Curation: the Multi-tasker Extraordinaire

Content curation for your business can be  a great marketing Swiss Army Knife, but it’s a lot of work. There are services that  do the legwork for free, collecting relevant content in your industry, monitoring your competition, and  even prepping a targeted customer newsletter. “I use the analogy that people really are looking for water,” said Scott Scanlon, CEO of You Brand, Inc. in a content curation video.” …ultimately they don’t want to drink out of a fire-hose–they want a glass of water. If you can be there providing that glass of water on a consistent basis you’ll begin to garner their trust.” Bonus: Content curation services enable topic discovery for your blog, web site, or email marketing campaign–the possibilities are endless.

Kickstarter: Max out a free curation serviceScoop.it paper.liCurata, newcomer Swayy and other services specialize in online curation from thousands of online sources to slash time and effort. Take advantage  to get information compiled, organized, and leverage for your own purposes. If you use a curation service for customer newsletters, put your own brand stamp with commentary or tweaking a headline for your audience.

Too pressed for time to try any of these? Break down kickstarters into baby steps and do one part each week.

Image Credit: Bigstock

25 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Vine

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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: Vine

Vine is the hottest new kid on the block, and although people are still a little tentative about using anything that involved video, this is really helping to introduce a new medium to people in the least intimidating way possible. The thought of creating a 10-minute video is terrifying to a lot of people. A 6-second video? Well, that’s not so bad.

Using Vine can be fun, but it can also be a promotional tool for your brand or content. So this week’s Brilliant Bloggers is filled with advice on making the most of this new platform.

Brilliant Blogger of the Week:

craig fifield Vine App: The Ultimate Guide to More Likes and Followers by Craig Fifield

Vine is still pretty new, so if you haven’t checked out this platform yet, don’t worry: you aren’t alone. That’s why I love this post from Craig Fifield at Social Media Today. It’s everything you need to know to get started plus lots of tips for users of all experience levels. This is an especially helpful post if you are using (or thinking about using) Vine for your small business, your blog, or something else you’re trying to promote, rather than just for fun.

After you check it out on the post, you can also follow Craig on Twitter at @craigfifield.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

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

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: Writing Viral Posts

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. 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.

12 Ways Blogging Would Be Different Without Twitter

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blogging would be different without twitter

It’s hard to imagine a world without Twitter. It was the faster-growing social network in 2012, and 1/5 of all US Internet users are also active on Twitter.* For bloggers especially, the world would be very different without Twitter.

But maybe there’s something we can lean from that. Twitter is an amazing way to reach your community, but it can perhaps cloud our vision. By thinking about what the world would be like without Twitter, we can perhaps find some new opportunities for our blogs. Here’s how blogging would be different if Twitter did not exist:

1. We’d would have jumped on the image train sooner.

Bloggers today are starting to understand the power of having good images, especially with the rise of Pinterest and Instagram. However, I believe we would have come to that conclusion as an industry sooner if nor for Twitter, which embraces text, not images. Yes, you can tweet out pictures, but it isn’t the same as an image-heavy social network. Even on Facebook, images are more important than text and links.

Are you putting effort into your images or are you begrudgingly using crappy stock photography because you “have” to? I’ll be the first to admit that I was late to jump on the boat with using images with my blog posts, and it’s still not my favorite part of blogging, but without a doubt, I get more social share and comments (on average) when I have compelling images to go with a post.

Need some advice on image creation? Here’s how I do it.


2. Reading and commenting on other blogs would be more important.

Instead of commenting on posts we like, we usually just retweet the link, even though most of us are ecstatic when we get an email saying that there’s a new comment on one of our posts.

Social shares are great for promotion, but in my opinion, actual comments are even more important. The entire point of a blog is to have a conversation. That’s what makes blogs different than newspapers and magazines–there is interaction. If your post is meant to educate, commenters can add to that knowledge. If your post is meant to entertain or inspire, commenters can share their stories and opinions to make your original post even better.

Even if you opt not to allow comments on your blog, without Twitter, I believe we’d be more easily able to build communities. Before Twitter, I remember that I had my favorite blogs bookmarked (and later added to my RSS reader) and I’d check for new content every day. I felt more like I was part of something, and I anticipated every post because I wasn’t getting 140-character snippets from the blogger every 10 minutes between posts.

I highly encourage you to think about your online activities as they pertain to other bloggers. Don’t just follow someone on Twitter, retweet their links, and call it a day. If you enjoy someone’s work, be a part of their community by being present on their blog, and encourage your followers to do the same.


3. Responding to your own comments would be more important.

Some bloggers opt not to reply to a single comment. Instead, they interact with fans via Twitter. That’s all fine and good, but it means that you’re taking the conversation away from what should be your most important platform: your actual blog.

If Twitter didn’t exist, we’d be forced to interact with fans via our comments instead. Conversations would develop, and this only adds to the value of the post for the next reader.

For those of you not current responding to comments, give it a try. You don’t have to respond to every single “great post” or “thanks for the info” message, but if someone takes the time to leave a thoughtful comment or ask a question, answer them. This is the single best way I’ve found to build a community on your blog. When you respond, you’re telling the commenter, “I see you, and I value you.” We all like to be acknowledged.

Recently, I posted about my own experiences responding to comments. Check it out here.


4. Niche forums would drive more traffic.

In some niches, forums are still hopping, but this has died down a bit since the days before Twitter. If Twitter didn’t exist, I think more blogs would have a forum associated with them or, at the least, more bloggers would be participating in general forums about their topics.

Instead, we just log onto Twitter and interact with the people we follow or the people who mention us. I bet if you look, though, you’ll find forums related to your niche. This is a fantastic way to find new readers for your blog and to make connections with other bloggers. Too few bloggers are using forums.


5. Our Google+ and LinkedIn connections would be crucial.

Every day, I see people ask for favors and make new connections on Twitter. It’s quick. It’s easy. Why not? Without this platform, we’d likely put a deeper emphasis on Google+ and LinkedIn instead.

Maybe we’re missing out, however, by not using these connections more. When you’re not limited to 140 characters, there’s so much more you can do and say. If you’re stuck in the routine of only checking Twitter, I highly recommend that you start using Google+ and LinkedIn as well. The relationships you can develop on these platforms are, in my opinion, much more meaningful.  Or at least, then can be.

This is especially true when you’re trying to get the attention of another popular blogger. On Twitter, it seems like everyone is trying to get a piece of these people. On Google+ and LinkedIn, it is often easier to build a relationship.


6. Headlines would be less important.

People send hundreds of dollars to learn how to write better headlines, and for good reason: when people share your links, the most enticing headlines get the most clicks.

On other social networks, there’s a little wiggle room to post some description with the title. With Twitter, you only have 140 characters, so the title is everything.

If Twitter did not exist, we wouldn’t care nearly as much about the titles of our posts. And maybe that would be a good thing.

I’m not suggesting that you don’t put any thought into the headlines your write. However, I do believe that some bloggers put the cart before the horse in this respect. The title of your post means nothing unless the post you’ve written is awesome. (Click to tweet.)

Most bloggers, myself included, are always looking for ways to improve traffic. It’s easy to get wrapped in what will give us that promotion edge, like writing better headlines. But it can be dangerous to spend more time on your promotion skills than on your writing skills. When’s the last time you looked at ways to improve your actual content, not just the way you promote your content?


7. Crowdsourcing content ideas wouldn’t be as easy.

Twitter is a really powerful platform for crowdsourcing ideas for your blog. Ask your community for tips to share. Brainstorm questions you can answer on your blog. Do an informal poll of your audience. Without Twitter, this kind of crowdsourcing wouldn’t be nearly as easy.

Yet, we don’t take advantage of this ability as often as we could.

My challenge to you is this: sometime in the next month, think about how you can use your Twitter following to crowdsource a blog post this week. Reach out to your followers and take advantage of this community you’ve built.


8. Email marketing would get more creative.

In my opinion, most (not all, but most) online marketing falls into one of three categories: social media, search engine optimization, and email marketing. Twitter obviously falls into the social media category and is even starting to play more into search engine optimization. Email marketing is a different beast completely. Even if you don’t spend much time online, if you’ve ever used the Internet, you probably have an email address.

Savvy marketers understand the power of email, but without social media, this way of contacting people would be even more important. The time you spend on Twitter now would have to be spent on something else, and I believe that “something else” would be email.

Maybe it would be a good thing for us to pretend Twitter didn’t exist so we actually did spend more time on email.

I’m subscribed to several so-called weekly newsletters. A very small percentage of those newsletters actually get sent every week, consistently. People get busy and the weekly obligation of producing an email for subscribers falls to the wayside.

In my opinion, this is a huge mistake. Even more than you social followers, people who have subscribed to your email list are your most engaged community members. They’re so involved that they’ve actually asked you to email content to their inbox, which is probably overflowing with junk, work emails, and communications from friends.

If you aren’t regularly emailing your subscribers, make a commitment to change this so that email becomes a priority. If you are one of the few bloggers who is very active with email, think about what you could be doing better and how you can build your list. Get creative and become an inbox standout. Email marketing deserves your attention!


9. “Engage” would have a different meaning.

I hate the term “engage.” I feel like most of the people who use it are being slimy. I guess that it’s such a sterile term that it makes me think anyone “engaging” me isn’t actually interested in me as a person, only how they can use me for their own benefit.

Twitter is place you’ll find the most “engagers” because it is easy. You don’t have to be thoughtful to engage on Twitter. You simply say thanks for retweets, promote links others have retweeted, and reply to people occasionally. Congratulations, you’ve successfully engaged people for another day. High five.

Of course, the people who really do understand how to use Twitter well know that successfully engaging means doing a lot more than the bare minimum. Still, without Twitter, I think “engage” would have a different meaning completely. It would mean thoughtful responses on other social networks, comments on other blog posts (like discussed above), emails, and maybe even handwritten cards. It would mean actually getting to know the people involved in your community.

This is what we should all be doing. You can still send short messages on Twitter, but instead of always thinking about what another person can do for you, stop engaging in order to get direct results. For example, don’t think, “if I retweet this person’s link, they’ll retweet mine.” Instead, think, “If I retweet awesome content on a regular basis, it will help my community and I’ll naturally get more followers, with some of those people retweeting my links too.” When you want engagement to give you direct results, it quickly turns into using people.


10. We’d have fewer distractions when writing.

I’m not going to tell you how many times I stopped writing this post to check or reply to someone on Twitter.

Turn it off. Write, and don’t turn it back on until your post draft is done. ‘Nuff said.


11. Guest posting would be more important.

Twitter is an amazing platform for building your audience. More so than any other social network, when someone shares one of your links or retweets something you say, it introduces you and your content to an entirely new audience.

If Twitter didn’t exist, we’d work a little harder at finding new audiences a different way. Namely, I think more bloggers would be writing guests posts. I also believe that guest blogging strategies would be tweaked a bit. It would be more important to step outside your comfort zone and write posts for completely new audiences on blogs outside your niche.

Let’s say you write food blog, for example. It is extremely beneficial for you post on other food blogs. However, those are people who may be reading your blog already, or who could come across your blog because they’re searching for that kind of information. What if you instead posted a kid-friend recipe on a popular parenting blog or a great take-along roadtrip recipe for a travel blog?

The key is to post on blogs that have audiences who would be interested in your content, but who might not otherwise find your blog.

Read more about guest posting here.


12. Content sharing would be more meaningful.

Lastly, without Twitter, it would be much more meaningful whenever someone shared content. Twitter makes it almost too easy to share links, and they have a tendency to fall into the abyss, never to be seen again. Twitter just isn’t a very effective content curation tool, and there’s not a lot of effort required to share a link on this platform.

When someone shares your content elsewhere, it’s a much bigger deal. On networks like Pinterest, that content is going to have a much longer life, because the focus is on categorizing awesome content over time instead of just blasting out links that never again see the light of day. On sites like Facebook and Google+, the person sharing your link is more likely to actually write some meaningful commentary to go along with the link, which starts conversations with their followers. And if someone emails a link to a friend? Well, that’s a huge deal. It’s more than a personal recommendation – it’s a “YOU HAVE TO READ THIS” recommendation.

Think about how you’re sharing content you love. Are you just tweeting it and calling it a day? If you actually want to support bloggers you love (and get others’ support in return), think about curating your content and going that extra mile when sharing. People gravitate toward those who share awesome content (a great example of this is George Takei on Facebook), so by putting a little more effort in how you share great content you find, you can build followers who want to read your content as well.


So there’s my list. How do you think blogging would be different without Twitter?

*Study data is available here.

Image Credit: Altered, from Bigstock

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