Choosing the Right Social Media Tools for Your Business

2012 has been called the, “Year of Social Media.” Reports have found that 75% of marketers plan to increase their social media spending this year, and social media is expected to have a major impact on television and the presidential election.

With such high expectations for social media, you may feel like if your business is not in the social media loop, you could quickly go out of business. However, before rushing into multiple social media platforms in a panic, consider your business needs. Social media can certainly help your business, but some platforms aren’t the best options for your company, so don’t feel like you must enable all platforms.

Today, a wide variety of social media platforms exist that have various features to cater to specific needs. Come up with an effective social media strategy that will use your money and resources the most efficiently. Don’t believe the hype that getting thousands of Facebook followers, or sending out dozens of Tweets per day is the key to social media success for every business. To get the most out of social media marketing, you need to figure out which social media tools are right for you, and focus specifically on those.

First, identify your audience. You need to define whom it is you want to talk to. If you try to communicate with the most number of consumers possible, you won’t see much brand loyalty in return. If you want to engage with as many consumers as possible efficiently, you need to use different tools in different ways. Every social media platform has its own culture. They have specific tones and engage a specific type of person. This is why it is crucial for you to pick the platforms that best reach your target audience.

Next, define your social media needs. Are you simply trying to increase foot traffic to your stores? Or are you trying to see large sales increases? Maybe your issue is not so much about your customers as it is about your company’s communication techniques. All social media platforms don’t fit all business needs. Figure out what your goal is with social media for you company, and choose the platforms that best fit those needs.

Thirdly, make a plan for how you will use social media. The main goal of all social media platforms is to connect to others, but different platforms do this in different ways. Are you trying to get feedback from your customers? Are you trying to improve your recruiting efforts? Figuring out how you want to use your social media accounts will help narrow down the available platforms to the ones that are most relevant to your needs.

And finally, choose the right tool! After you’ve found your target audience, defined your needs, and decided how you want to use social media, you’re all set to choose the right platforms.

Now do the research necessary to find the right platform for you. If you want your social media strategy to be more private than a public network like Twitter, look into a site like Yammer. Yammer allows you to securely communicate private information.

If your business is trying to build a stronger relationship between its staff and outside contractors, use a platform that can be easily integrated into your business. Think about creating a Wiki or checking out a site like Huddle.

If you’re a local company, wanting to connect with those close to you, platforms like Gowalla or Foursquare give users rewards for check-ins and other discounts that will lead to more foot traffic to your store in a way that a larger platform like Facebook cannot do as successfully.

Clearly social media strategies are complicated and there’s no single, right answer for finding success. Investigate the available platforms and experiment. Find what’s working and what’s not. If you find that a certain platform is not generating results, don’t waste your time with it. Move on a focus on other platforms that are better suited for your business.


The Benefits of Blogging


Blogging has certainly become a huge part of social media marketing today. By providing quality information, a consumer can understand exactly how your company works and exactly what kind of products and services you provide. A powerful blog can provide an eye-opening insight for a consumer to realize how your business is relevant to their life.

Blogging is similar to a company newsletter. If your business still hasn’t launched a blog, you probably have a company newsletter lying around the office. These newsletters provide information, possibly show pictures, and are a way for employees and consumers to check out the latest updates happening in the company. Perhaps they even offer articles with tips for employees, or maybe a list of employee birthdays.

The point is, newsletters like this keep the company unified and up to speed. However, the problem with printed newsletters is that they have a limited life span and come with publication costs, which limits circulation. This means the information is provided then quickly lost, and only a small number of people end up seeing it.

With this in mind, consider the power of blogging! Everyone in your company can access it, and consumers and future customers everywhere can view it as well. With all the free sites available to start a blog, cost is not an issue. Even creating a section on your website dedicated to blogging is a free way to post information that will remain available for anyone interested.

Additionally, information on blogs can be added, edited and updated as needed. And with powerful search engine technology, users anywhere interested in your company’s line of expertise can be directed to your company’s blog. This will lead to a greater awareness of your brand, and a greater increase in potential customers.

So, if your business is set on printed newsletters, take these thoughts into consideration and see for yourself the benefits of online blogging. Think about any amazing articles published in magazines and newsletters that you’d be dying to read again. If those articles had been blogs online, you would be able to refer back to them anytime.

Keep in mind that with all the power that comes from blogging comes more responsibility. Your readers and followers will have questions, want further information, and the Internet makes it easy for them to give quick feedback to your blogs. So be prepared to be active and address your readers and learn from their feedback to strengthen your blog.

It’s time to grasp the importance of blogging, and reap in the benefits! Through quality blog posts, you will keep readers coming back to your blog and potentially gain consumers through interesting and informed blogs about your company.


Tips for Using Twitter for Small Businesses


Twitter has undeniably become an effective tool for carrying out social media marketing campaigns. For small to medium sized businesses specifically, Twitter can be one of the most efficient platforms for gaining brand awareness and loyalty.

Just like with any other social media tool, it’s crucial to first set a campaign plan before jumping onto the site. You must first establish how your company will get the most benefit out of using Twitter.

To help get the most out of Twitter, here are some tips for your business to follow to find success.

1. Decide what you’re going to tweet before tweeting it

You want your brand to have a distinct and uniform communication style. Keep your way of speaking to consumers consistent to give your brand it’s own unique voice. Everything you tweet should relate to a common message that reflects your brand.

By creating your tweets ahead of time, you can check to make sure they give off a common vibe and provide quality content that connects to your product or service.

2. Follow your customers back

One of the benefits of being a small-sized business is that you are able to have close relationships with your consumers. On a site like Twitter, people enjoy being followed back. It shows your interest in them and helps create and build a relationship.

When you gain a follower, follow them back as a way to return the favor. They followed you out of interest for your brand, so follow them back and show them you’re interested in them as well.

3. Search for possible followers

On Twitter, people usually follow a brand not only because they’re interested in that brand, but also because that brand provides quality content. If your brand can come up with continually quality content, you will gain more followers who have an interest in your brand’s area of expertise.

You can find more potential followers by making searches simply by using the subject matter from your content and searching for others who are discussing the same topic. Follow these people and see if they end up following you back. But, be careful that these people are truly interested in what your brand is all about, as you don’t want to end up gaining a bunch of followers who are not interested in what your product or service has to offer.


12 Best Online Marketing Strategies For 2012

At this time of each year we think about what we accomplished over the last year – and what we want to improve on for the upcoming new year.

From a marketing perspective, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all new ideas and bright shiny objects out there to pull our attention away from the marketing strategies that matter most – those that will actually improve your business and expand your marketing reach.

So, in honor of the new year – I present to you the 12 best online marketing strategies to focus on for 2012. There could be more – but these are in my opinion the best strategies to bring you quicker to your business goals using online marketing strategies that work.

Don’t choose them all! Focus on the 2 or 3 that you feel could impact your marketing effort the most – and carve out the time and plan for implementing them next year!

1. Improve your irresistible free offer. Perhaps it’s time to replace that outdated “free report” or “eBook” with an even higher value freebie to offer site visitors. As I referred to in my post about the best freebie out there – my favorite is still the Audio CD – which has huge intrinsic value because it’s a physical “thing” and you can capture mailing addresses in addition to just email address.

2. Launch a new product or program. There is always something you can “launch” whether it’s a new product or program. You can also “re-launch” something you did this year that performed really well. My post shares some great methods for launching a new product or program. Think about what you can do differently this time around to make it even more engaging and worthwhile for your audience. Add more bonuses and juicier incentives to help increase sales.

3. Do a new webinar or teleseminar. Each new year is a great time to host a new topic using either a webinar or teleseminar. It can also be a perfect time to switch up the format and see what works best. Been doing a bunch of teleseminars lately? Try a webinar? Doing just webinars? Try a teleseminar. And, choose a topic that is new to your audience and see what kind of response you receive.

4. Connect with a new joint venture partner. Have this year be the year you establish a great partnership with a new strategic alliance or joint venture partner. I explained how to do this in my post about joint venture as a great list building strategy. Someone that you feel can really pull you and help you in a big way – while you can do the same for them. I always like to think outside the box about who to connect with – and expect something great as a result.

5. Create an affiliate program. Perhaps this is the year you launch an affiliate program. Affiliates are a great way to spread your message and build your list – while also supporting your sales of products or programs. Pretty much most shopping cart programs support affiliate programs and are easy to establish.

6. Update your website / blog. Website looking a bit outdated? Perhaps it’s time to hire a graphic designer for that new logo you’ve been craving or hire a website developer to update your entire site. I shared how important design is when it comes to marketing online in an earlier post so don’t skimp on the important details when updating your website. First impressions matter most when designing your website.

7. Be more active on social media. Are you one of the folks who has a Twitter account but hardly ever uses it? Perhaps you’re wondering exactly what to post on that new Facebook fanpage you created? Have this year be the year you be more “social” on social media. Remember, you can’t be active on these social media sites unless you show up and do the work.

8. Start a pay-per-click advertising campaign. I’m a huge fan of pay-per-click advertising. One of my earlier posts about PPC explains that it’s one of the best and most effective ways to quickly and authentically build your list with highly qualified leads. Whether it’s Google AdWords or Facebook ads – they convert brand new prospects onto your list and you can target very specific groups of people searching what you have to offer. Yes, you gotta pay for the traffic – but – it’s definitely worth it on the long run.

9. Add video to your marketing. It’s 2012 and you’re still not using video in your online marketing? It’s time to jump onboard with the most powerful and effective way to connect and build trust online with visitors to your site. With the advances of technology and video equipment costs plummeting – you really have no excuse to do more video and start reaping the benefits immediately.

10. Generate more content. Only posting to your blog once every other week or once a month? This is the year you need to generate a ton more content – way more than you’re even doing now (unless you blog every single day.) Putting out high-content and high-value articles and blog posts is how you get new traffic as well as nurture the existing audience you have on your list. Content is king.

11. Be smart about SEO. Still don’t have a clue about search engine optimization or how it relates to your blog or website? SEO is critical for having massive success online – and can’t be ignored or overlooked anymore. Develop a comprehensive SEO strategy about how to improve your search engine rankings for your best keywords and let’s get to work.

12. Email your list more often. Only sending the email newsletter out when you have the time for it? This is the year we get you on a consistent and frequent schedule of emailing your list all this great content you’re now generating. If you’re doing monthly now – consider bi-weekly. Sending the newsletter every other week? Let’s make it happen by sending it weekly. The more you email your list – the higher your open rates and consumption of your content – which is all good.

There you have it! The official 12 best marketing strategies to grow your business with online marketing for 2012.

Until next time… Learn It, Love It, Live It!

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Seven SEO & Social Media Trends For 2012



In the year ahead, there seem to be some major social media tactics you can expect to see affecting businesses. Some of these trends have already been carried out by companies, but in 2012, expect to see a mass adoption of these plans carried out by all types of businesses.

1. Google+ Explosion

Google+ will continually come out with new features, and Google+ pages will continue to become more business-friendly. The integration with other Google properties, like in paid search ads, its search engine results page, Google Reader and YouTube will be the greatest advantage for Google.

Google had a strong focus on social media last year by basing its employee bonus and salary structure off of its success through social media. This has resulted in everyone involved the Google world constantly considering social media. This internal focus will lead to an external force where consumers will make Google+ a main social media platform in 2012.

2. Creating Engaged Communities

Businesses will be sure to pay attention to their current community members in 2012, as marketers become more advanced in planning and measuring their campaigns. There will be a stronger emphasis on creating an engaged community as opposed to mere numbers of followers. So, community managers need to energize community members and engage with them in multiple areas, like market research, product development and product discounts, for example.

Managing and building communities is about the consumers, the information and staying consistent. This strategy will be seen heavily in 2012 and will become a key part of community management.

3. Stronger Marketing Intelligence

Last year there was a lot of new technology platforms that changed social media monitoring and provided advanced data to help drive marketing campaigns.

This year, businesses will move beyond just looking at company mentions and influencer scores, and move more toward combining different social data in order to create a marketing intelligence that will drive future marketing campaigns. Many tools do this already, but there is sure to be more this year.

4. Social Media Driving SEO

The usual on-page SEO factors will still remain constant, as it makes your content search friendly, but in 2012, strong sharing activities through social media will drive SEO results.

SEO conversions will be higher and simpler to measure on organic search. And as a result, more companies will carry out a closer collaboration between their social teams and searches.

5. Real, Quality Content

Everyone appreciates content that is relevant, engaging and unique to the consumer. In the past few years, companies have worked hard to come up with content with the sole purpose of creating content for SEO.

In 2012, there will be a more structured way for businesses to form content with a focus on giving unique value to consumers that will lead to higher engagement levels with community members.

5. The Power of Facebook

In the past, companies worked to get a somewhat superficial quantity of Facebook fans without considering the quality of those fans. This year, expect to see companies focus on finding greater profitability with a sharp ROI emphasis in the form of Facebook ads, contests and promotions.

Companies will find that there’s more to Facebook than measuring a linear conversion path from a fan to a consumer. Marketers will measure the non-linear path of ROI more by making Facebook-exclusive promotions to drive foot traffic to the retail stores.

Facebook Ads campaigns will be measured based on the profitability that leads to revenues or supports.

7. SoLoMo (Social, Local, Mobile)

More integrated campaigns that combine social media with local offers involving mobile devices will be seen in 2012. Socially promoted mobile content can build brand loyalty, and ultimately increase sales.

Sites like LivingSocial and Groupon are good examples of using deals to drive local sales. Foursquare is another example of the SoLoMo strategy.

It’s clear that the quickly changing social media environment can be overwhelming. However, by staying on-top of the latest social media tactics, your company can stay strong in the social media world.


Selling Your Products and Services With Social Media



In 2012, more companies will come to realize that doing business through social networks is a huge payoff. People are becoming more aware of how social media works and are getting comfortable with it.

With this level of comfort with social media finally reached, it is now the goal of marketers to experiment with ways on how to go above and beyond with social media! While using social media correctly takes lots of patience, finding the latest tricks to make your social media efforts unique is the key to becoming (and maintaining) a thriving business.

The main cause companies do not find success with social media marketing is when there are merely sending out sales messages through social networks. Communicating sales messages might work to an extent on an advertising and email marketing level, but they fall short when considering that most people do not join social networks to shop. With this in mind, sales pitches can come across as annoying or harsh to social network users.

If you want to find your optimal path to selling your products and services with social media, here are some tips.

1. Communicate to the right target market.

While there may be millions of people on Facebook, you do not need to target all of them. To find your perfect market, you need to communicate that, “We sell this” or “We help with that, and for anyone who wants this or that, we are talking to you!” It’s also important to use data to create your social media messages that will precisely spark interest to those looking for your product or service.

2. Use only the best messages.

With social media sites like Twitter, companies try to use 140 characters or less to advertise in attempt to get their audience to “retweet” and interact with their brand. But, this isn’t a technique that is easily mastered. Try using Google AdWords to experiment with compact messages. When you come across a message that gains clicks, you know that message is likely to have similar success as a tweet or other social network message!

3. Engage with your audience.

This is one of the most powerful Internet marketing tools. You want to gain information from your audience, on top of giving out your business information. You want your audience to share their thoughts and rate things in order for your business to get feedback and cater to your audiences needs/wants, likes and dislikes. Make feedback forms part of your way of doing business in return for providing great products and services. Make your content easy to like, tweet and email, so it becomes social.

4. Prove you’re a worthwhile company.

Even if you can compose the most convincing tweet, it’s still hard to get someone to buy into your company based off that one tweet. Make your relationship with your consumers about value and interaction right from the start. Think about giving something away that your target market needs and wants. Then become the company whose free products and services are better than other companies’ paid stuff! People will certainly want to engage with your company this way, and hopefully become loyal customers to your brand.

5. Listen to your audience.

After your company has authentically and carefully done all this work to get on the right track to social media success, let your target market know where your company is headed and keep them on board with you. Imagine how your current customers view your company and try to get them to see where your company could take them in the future. Don’t automatically think that your customers will see the full potential of your company! Help them by showing them how to get the most out of your business. If you do this, and still don’t see sales, you will at least have gained the right to ask your consumers what it is you’re not doing well, and they will guide you on how to serve them better.

Many Internet marketers use these tips in their social media efforts, but when all of them are used together, in a cohesive effort, your company will find the pay off in social media marketing. Always remember that it takes hard work and patience!


Dos and Don’ts for Internet Marketers in 2012

The Internet marketing environment changes substantially year-to-year. This past year, there were some subtle changes, and some, not so subtle. Regardless, marketers must know how to handle these changes! Here are some Dos, and a couple Don’ts, for Internet marketing this New Year:

DO Segment by Behavior: Be more effective by segmenting your emailing lists and only send out relevant messages to small, targeted consumers. It may be extra work, but the pay off will be worth it! You will be less likely to annoy some consumers, and you will increase conversions. Examine when people are opening your emails, clicking on certain links, attending webinars, visiting certain pages on your site, etc. By analyzing this behavior of your customers, you will also discover their interests. You will then be able to communicate with them on a personal level, in a relevant manner.

DO create more personal connections: Large companies (and small companies in an attempt to look more prominent) seem to communicate to their customers in a dry, corporate style. Therefore, personal connection is not as relevant in marketing communication as it should be. To change this, businesses must be more authentic! People want to connect with other people, not corporations. Always keep one customer in mind when working, so you always market your business with an intimate touch.

DO learn persuasive copywriting basics: In order to prevent the Internet from creating lazy marketers, you must understand that social media and Internet marketing do not see results simply from creating social media profiles. To really see an increase in sales, persuasive copywriting is necessary for converting traffic. So avoid being shy and hesitant when it comes to sales. Be active and involved to communicate your products and services efficiently!

DO incorporate more video: Video can be a marketing tool that creates personal connections fast. For many consumers, it’s also the preferred way to learn. Making quality video today is inexpensive and easier than ever! Create video campaigns specifically for a target market. Even if it’s shooting and editing a video with an iPhone, try it out-consumers will certainly get to see a personal quality to your company.

DO experiment with mobile for lead capture: Mobile marketing is a booming field now! Consider using QR codes if you do any sort of direct mail or outdoor advertising. With text messaging, give your consumers the option of requesting further information, offers or coupons if they text a keyword to a short code. If you don’t engage with consumers through their phones, you’ll likely miss out on potential business!

DO define your social strategy: Try not to focus on gaining a certain number of followers/friends. Social media marketing is meant to be a traffic source. Therefore, you should measure traffic, leads and customers from your social media efforts to keep you focused on the real goals of social media marketing. Measure customer loyalty with similar metrics to those of your customer loyalty efforts. However your company is using social media, be sure to measure the right metrics. Don’t ever think social media ROI is untrackable!

DON’T forget about direct mail: When used correctly with an online marketing campaign, direct mail can strengthen your message and build a better connection with consumers. Currently, many marketers are reducing the amount of direct mail they send out, due to its cost. So, this could be your chance to stand out! Only send direct mail to people who have responded to your marketing efforts so that you know you’re investing in the customers who are most likely to keep purchasing from you.

DON’T have a static website: Just because your business has a website does not mean you have an online presence. Building a website doesn’t automatically bring in customers! You must drive traffic to your site. A great cost-effective way to do this is to blog about topics that are important to your target market. Search engines love sites that actively add relevant content. This means that if you learn basic SEO concepts, you can turn your static site into a sales machine!

Keep these Dos and Don’ts in mind and your marketing efforts are sure to find success in 2012!

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