Five tips to creating a social media content plan for your business

Effective, fun and relevant content is an essential part of any social media strategy. Social content is an immediate reflection of your brand image and the reason your audience will engage with you. That’s why it’s essential to build a content strategy into any campaign.

A well thought through plan will give you direction, ensure your messages are consistent and you are part of the conversation.

Here are some top tips in creating engaging, useful and dynamic content.

  1. Generate a content plan for at least, the next six months. Share exciting news, a new product launch, your business anniversary, and ensure a regular flow of content. This is an essential part of growing awareness, establishing an audience and fostering engagement. If you go quiet you risk losing your audience.
  1. Use proactive and reactive content. Planned content can be classed as proactive if you are actively planning and creating content over a long period of time. Part of your planning must also consider being reactive too. Answering queries and responding to negative or positive comments or reviews.
  1. Time your content. As part of your content plan create a calendar that considers what you are going to say and when you’re going to say. Make sure it’s relevant to where people are in their lives and the season. Nobody wants to hear about Christmas in January, but they will want to know about the January sales. Check out Google Trends, What’s Hot on Google Plus or trending Hashtags on Twitter or Facebook.
  2. Tell a story. A large part of social media is storytelling. Capture your customer’s interest and make them invest in your company story. The most successful companies are the ones that have gained our interest in their story to the point where we want to share it with other people. We want to be associated with them.
  3. Measure your success so far. A very important part of your content planning strategy should entail finding out what content worked and what did not. This has to be a constant process. Don’t waste time creating and publishing low impact content; focus on the themes that are proving successful and reflect this in your planning.

Good content may well be the reason why a customer decides to interact with you.

 

 

 

 

 

Five ways to use LinkedIn to grow your business

LinkedIn has become a well-known free network of professionals offering the opportunity to generate leads for business. LinkedIn provides information on users’ experience, skills, professional backgrounds and personal connections.

Here are five ways you can use LinkedIn to grow business:

  1. Establish a 100% profile. Setting up a LinkedIn profile is very easy. Simply follow the step by step guide to ensure your profile is 100% complete. Once it is 100% complete you become searchable. This will add to your social media presence online. Make sure you have a professional headshot and the minimum three recommendations to complete your profile.
  2. Grow your network: All accounts in LinkedIn enable you to join up to 50 groups. I would suggest joining all industry groups relevant to your business and any alumni groups related to your educational background. As a blogger I regularly share content with groups to share my thoughts and become a thought leader within my sector.
  3. Use it for research: When you are trying to figure out a way to pitch a prospect, your LinkedIn account is a good place to start. You can find people by company, industry and city or search for a specific name. I have personally found LinkedIn invaluable for researching prospects before meeting or contacting them. Look for any common contacts or interests to build rapport.
  4. Demonstrate your expertise: The Questions and Answers section on LinkedIn offers an easy way for you to share your knowledge in a particular subject or industry and become a go to person for tips, advice or solutions. If the person who asked the question selects your answer as the best, that will always appear in your profile as well, which adds another layer of credibility.
  5. Post at least one update a week: Make a habit of sharing at least one useful article that will be of interest to your prospects. Update a week, more if you can. This will then be shared with all of your connections in their home feed. This places you fresh in their mind.

 

4 Tips and Tools for an effective Social Media Approach

You might be just getting started with social media or already flying high. But are you doing everything to ensure the most effective approach?

  1. Use Social Media internally. Use tools to improve communication between team members and your best customers. Collaboration tools include: Wikis, Basecamp HQ and Sharepoint. Meeting tools include: Webex and Skype. Instant Messaging tools include: MSN, Gmail chat. Cloud computing tools include: Google Apps. Internal social network tools include: Yammer and Salesforce Chatter.
  2. Set the ground-rules and ensure you have a social media policy. Even if you are not officially using social media, chances are your employees are, so you need a policy. The policy should clearly outline how employees should behave online, what they should and shouldn’t say. You may also need a response guide outlining how you will respond to good and bad comments about your organisation online.
  3. Listen and respond. Social Media is a series of online conversations and all good conversationalists are great listeners. Listen to what the leading organisations in your sector are doing, listen to your customers and keep up-to-date with industry blogs. Try these available tools: Google Alerts, Socialmention.com, LinkedIn groups, Twitter search and Open Facebook Search. When you have listened and understand what people are saying and where they are saying it, start responding on specific industry blogs, joining Twitter discussions or starting discussions on LinkedIn.
  4. Measure. Everything online is measureable. Regularly check your analytics to see what is working and not working. Repeat what’s working and stop what’s not. Try using Measuring tools such as Klout, Radian 6, Twenty Feet or Sysomos.

 

 

 

10 Top Tips to Enhance Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is an excellent networking tool to help you achieve all of your professional goals. LinkedIn provides a tool for headhunters, clients, customers and new businesses looking for partners or opportunities, so it is important to ensure your LinkedIn profile reflects who you are, what you can offer and why you are such a valuable connection.

LinkedIn’s capabilities allow you to see who is viewing your profile for business opportunities, engage with your target audience through the sharing of information, ideas and posting on groups, identifying relevant people who may help you in your current position, company or long term career and positioning yourself as a thought leader within your sector or industry.

LinkedIn can also be utilised as a very useful and worthwhile CRM tool, which is regularly updated by each profile user.

Here are 10 ways you can enhance and optimise your LinkedIn profile:

1. A Detailed Profile

A LinkedIn profile is similar to a CV, where you display your past education information, work experience, skills, current work position and profile picture. You can follow LinkedIn’s Profile Completion Tips when editing your profile.

Besides that, adding a profile headline and summary also helps to make an impression and make you stand out.

The headline gives you a professional ‘identity’, an opportunity to showcase some of the more detailed parts of your profile, hidden away from viewers who are not connected to you. A summary offers a way to reflect your personality, which can complement your CV if an employer were to view your profile.

 

It is also important to use keywords in your headline, summary and throughout your entire profile. The keywords could consist of your main passion or profession and will help your LinkedIn profile turn up more often on search engine results.

a sarah

2. Temporarily turn off activity broadcast

If you have had LinkedIn for a while and have already connected with people, updating your profile will fill their feed and your wall with update notices. This means that if you happen to choose to update your LinkedIn with ‘old details’, for instance, if you are finally coming out as the Director of x that you are, your connections will think that you’ve only started in the job recently.

By turning off your activity broadcast temporarily, you can silently update your LinkedIn profile without letting the world know.

activity broadcasts

To do this:

  1. Go to ‘Settings’, and under ‘Privacy Controls’, you should be able to see ‘Turn on/off your activity broadcasts’.
  2. Click on that and another overlay window will appear allowing you to uncheck the option.

After saving these changes, other users won’t be able to see every detailed profile update you have made. You can choose to leave it off or turn it on after you have finished editing.

3. Proofread your entire profile

Just like any other tool/ application used in the professional world, you wouldn’t want your LinkedIn profile to have any grammatical or spelling errors which will of course not reflect well on you as a professional.

It is also important to word your profile summary and important information effectively so that it is communicated well with the audience in mind.

Try putting yourself in the eyes of the reader and see if you understand what your profile is about. It may also be helpful to have someone screen through your profile for a second opinion or to point out any errors that you may have missed out.

 

4. Do not lie about anything

This is fairly obvious. Lying is not tolerated in the professional world, especially when you can easily get caught. This is also true for information on your LinkedIn profile with details like your education and job history.

Not only is it very easy to check and confirm just about anything on the Internet, it is also a sign of how ethical (or non-ethical) you are. Appearing untrustworthy is never good for business.

5. Customise your profile URL

By default, your LinkedIn profile URL will consist of random alphanumerical characters. However, you can elect to have a customized profile URL by going to Settings > Edit Public Profile > Customize Your Public Profile URL. Or Edit profile and click on edit next to your URL under your header.

public profile

Pick the name you would like to display on your vanity URL. Your profile URL will bear your name, something like uk.linkedIn.com/in/SarahWillis. You can even take it a step further by making sure that your vanity URL for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are all the same, for added coverage.

customize public profile

 

6. Add a Profile Picture

People want to know what you look like, so always add a photo on your profile. Often before meetings, conferences or events people will look you up just to find out a bit about you, and adding a photo gives that familiarity.

Ensure the photo reflects you as a professional and portrays you in the way you want your clients to perceive you.

Use a high quality, recent profile picture of yourself, which appropriately describes your role in your industry.

7. Use LinkedIn logo’s on your website

LinkedIn has a few different designs of profile badges that can help you promote your LinkedIn profile.

To find these badges, go to ‘Settings’ and then click on the link to ‘Edit your public profile’. To the right, you will see ‘Profile Badges’. Clicking on Create a profile badge will bring you to another page where you can choose from the many designs available.

You can use the HTML codes of these badges to use on your blog, website or other forums that you frequently use. When users click on these badges, they’ll be automatically directed to your LinkedIn profile.

profile badges

8. Contribute and be active on LinkedIn Groups

Groups on LinkedIn are a place for members to share and participate in a professional setting in a specific industry or area of interests. There are plenty of groups for job seekers your university alumni, specific professions and a variety of associations from all over the world. Being actively involved in these groups could lead you to make new connections or new clients.

groups

9. Personalise LinkedIn invite requests

When trying to make a connection with a fellow professional, you have to send them an email request. The request is already standardised but it is always a good idea to personalise the notes. The receiver would at least get an idea of who you are and give them an idea of why you want to connect. You wouldn’t just hand over a business card to someone without introducing yourself, so think of LinkedIn in very much the same way.

10. Use LinkedIn Applications

LinkedIn has applications that you can add to your profile to enhance your profile in different ways. For instance if you are a keen blogger, then you might want to add the WordPress app to your profile which lets you sync blog posts with your LinkedIn profile.

applications

If you make or edit great videos and want to show it off on your profile, you could use theSlideShare or Box.net app that enables you to embed videos in your profile.

Here are some extra tips

1. Add LinkedIn To Your Email Signature

A great way to get connected with clients or people you are working with is to add your LinkedIn profile link to your email signature. This indirectly increases the exposure to your LinkedIn profile, helping you to make connections, even when you are not actively doing so.

2. Connect LinkedIn With Twitter

Under your LinkedIn profile Settings, you can choose to connect your account with Twitter where you can either display Tweets on your LinkedIn profile, or share LinkedIn posts on Twitter.

If you want to display only certain Tweets with your connections on LinkedIn, you can use the #in hashtag on your Tweets where only those with that hashtag will be displayed on your LinkedIn profile.

As you continue to improve the content within your profile you’ll notice that your profile ranking, searchability, and number of people viewing your profile will most likely increase.  The more visible you are, the more visible your brand and company will be, so it is also important to ensure all staff have an updated and optimised LinkedIn profile.

  1. Export your Useful Connections

You can export your connections into an excel file. Go to connections, and at the bottom of your connections you will see export connections. Export a CSV file here.

connections
  1. Tag your Connections

You can not possibly be expected to ever remember each one of your contacts, and if you wanted to group all your contacts and access them all quickly, e.g. Marketing contacts you can do so by ‘tagging’ them. You can do this easily by clicking on the connection and ‘Edit Tags’ and just adding relevant tags. Your connections will not be notified.

 

Six signs you are using social media wrong

Using social media as a marketing tool can reap rewards for your business. When used correctly, you can successfully promote yourself, brand, or product. But if something goes wrong online, you can risk harming your reputation, both personally and professionally. It is important to consider what you should and shouldn’t be doing with social media to market your brand. So I have put together six signs you could be using social media wrong. I hope this will make you think about your current social media strategy and if you need to change it, before it’s too late!

  1. Hello? Is there anybody out there? One of the worst things you can do is ignore your audience and potential customers. Social media is all about the conversation. If you’re constantly just making statements and not asking questions or engaging with your followers, then you’re missing out on the big benefits that can come from true engagement. Never ever just ignore a negative comment and delete it. Trust me. It will come back to bite you on the bum!
  2. Why does no one want to follow me? Gaining followers isn’t a perfect way to measure social media success. However, if your social following isn’t growing as a result of your marketing efforts, you need to revaluate your strategy. Try to come up with something new that will engage a larger number of people across wider demographics.
  3. Lost for words. The number-one cardinal social media sin is not posting on a regular basis. If your followers can see that you haven’t posted in the last few days, weeks or months at a time, they’ll either not bother to follow you or just won’t engage at all.
  4. Who needs a plan for this sort of stuff? I know social media is instant, but it also requires a lot of pre planning. The companies that get the best results are those that develop an overarching strategy for connecting with their followers. If your business doesn’t yet have this in place, invest some time in planning some goals.
  5. One size does not fit all. Do you auto post all of your updates across all your social channels? Twitter and Facebook are very different channels and each warrant tailored content, across each one to suit its audience. Always think through who you want to target and ensure your content is specific to your audience and the platform you are posting on.
  6. Just go away! You ignore or worse, delete negative comments. No matter how ‘good’ your brand is, negative comments will happen. And when they do happen, there’s only one way to deal with it. Respond. Say you’re sorry, ask for their details and private message them or take it offline.

 

How SEO friendly is your social content?

Writing-SEO-Friendly-Content-image

So you’ve just about nailed your social content, but are you considering how SEO friendly it is?

For 81% of consumers, search influences what they think about a company (Weber Shandwick) and of companies that invest in content marketing, 78% use paid search and 69% use SEO to increase audience discovery of that content (eMarketer.)

Search engines will favour high value content in search results. Social media sites favour sharable, linkable content. So by combining smart social media and SEO tactics you can create a competitive advantage for attracting new customers whether they search Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube or blogs. You can in turn bring more targeted traffic to your site while increasing your rankings. So bringing both social and SEO together can be a very powerful way of boosting your website traffic.

Here are five top tips to help give your social media posts an SEO boost:

1. Include your keywords

Ensure your social content includes the keywords that will help people to find your content. Your brand name is also a keyword, so try and also include that where you can.

2. Put it in context

Google’s algorithm, Hummingbird aims to understand the intent behind web searches rather than just the keywords used. Put your keywords in context within social posts.

 3. It’s a popularity contest

Have you ever mentioned someone who is widely recognised, with a huge follower base? Try it! Mention them when you share your content. If that influencer’s followers see it, maybe that influencer will also share it or mention you. You could also try asking industry experts with a high follower number to share your content relevant to their industry. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!

 4. Say it with a picture

Content that is visually appealing is ranked higher and more likely to receive click through and shares, therefore being ranked much higher. A post with an image is less likely to be missed by someone scrolling through their feed. You could also add a descriptive keyword in the image name.

 5. Add Share Buttons within Your Post

You can add the simple ‘share this’ buttons, but there is also a way now that people can share your content with options to share quotes or other sentences they find interesting within your posts.

 

4 Tips and Tools for an effective Social Media Approach

You might be just getting started with social media or already flying high. But are you doing everything to ensure the most effective approach?

  1. Use Social Media internally. Use tools to improve communication between team members and your best customers. Collaboration tools include: Wikis, Basecamp HQ and Sharepoint. Meeting tools include:       Webex and Skype. Instant Messaging tools include: MSN, Gmail chat. Cloud computing tools include: Google Apps. Internal social network tools include: Yammer and Salesforce Chatter.
  2. Set the ground-rules and ensure you have a social media policy. Even if you are not officially using social media, chances are your employees are, so you need a policy. The policy should clearly outline how employees should behave online, what they should and shouldn’t say. You may also need a response guide outlining how you will respond to good and bad comments about your organisation online.
  3. Listen and respond. Social Media is a series of online conversations and all good conversationalists are great listeners. Listen to what the leading organisations in your sector are doing, listen to your customers and keep up-to-date with industry blogs. Try these available tools: Google Alerts, Socialmention.com, LinkedIn groups, Twitter search and Open Facebook Search. When you have listened and understand what people are saying and where they are saying it, start responding on specific industry blogs, joining Twitter discussions or starting discussions on LinkedIn.
  4. Measure. Everything online is measureable. Regularly check your analytics to see what is working and not working. Repeat what’s working and stop what’s not. Try using Measuring tools such as Klout, Radian 6, Twenty Feet or Sysomos.

How social media can help your SEO

The traditional ways of SEO have changed, and it is important that businesses just like yours understand how this could be affecting you and your online presence. Google has found smarter ways to measure the popularity of your website. It’s called social media.

Social media is critical to your online presence and your search engine rankings. Your website and social media channels must work together with keyword-rich content. My big tip to ensure your website ranks highly in searches is to ensure your online content is dynamic, engaging and interactive and this is where social media can help you.

Here are four ways you can use social media to help your SEO efforts for an awesome online presence:

1. The better the social presence, the higher your website ranks.

The old SEO used links to determine which websites ranked the highest. The more links you had the better your SEO was. So SEO companies started building links manually. Then Google got smart and realised that SEO link building would never work long-term for ranking websites. So many websites were penalised and saw massive drops in their former SEO success. Google now looks at social media channels which are much harder to manipulate.

2. Being online and being social will build your online presence

Social media is a dynamic world of interaction and activity where something is constantly happening in real time. In order to make your online presence a success you have to be active and social. This is the fastest way to multiply your online presence simply because it’s where everyone is.

3. Use Social media to build buzz around your website

When you have a following on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, you will be growing fans who will share your content. That’s what social media is all about, being social! So when you write a blog post, you can take that content and share it on Twitter and then get some of your followers to share your content. You can also allow your website visitors to share pages from your website or blog on social media. You can do this by adding simple social share buttons, allowing people to quickly and easily vote for your content.

4. What’s your social signal?

Google measures your website’s social shareability and your effectiveness on social media channels, and ranks you from your social signals. How often do you share content on social channels? How many fans or followers do you have? Does your website have social sharing elements available? Google measures your Social signals which are based on your social media presence. So this is why a social media presence is so important.

 

Three tips for increasing your social media engagement

If you are anything like me, my family and many of my friends; you will have at least one device that allows you to check your social media channels on a regular basis, wherever you are in the world. You can use social media to help your business solve problems, generate positive word of mouth, and increase customer engagement. Here are some really simple tips to ensuring your social media is engaging:

Image
  1. Capture your audience’s attention with an online character 

It isn’t easy coming up with new, fresh and engaging content every day. But why not try ‘borrowing with pride’ from some of the tried and tested ideas where brands have already done it so well; with the introduction of an online company character. Creating a character that acts as another voice for your brand can work really well. Think of Compare the Market’s Orlov and the M&M’s characters, you could even caricature yourself. One of my personal favourites is Boo, the internet famous dog. Boo is known as the world’s cutest dog, and I’m not going to argue with that! Boo’s Facebook page started in 2009, with the accompanying description ‘My name is Boo. I am a dog. Life is good.’ Since then he’s gained nine million fans. He’s got books, branded merchandise, a deal with a toymaker and is the ‘spokes dog’ for Virgin America airlines, which featured photos of him in an airplane along with advice for people traveling with pets.

  1. A picture says a thousand words…

It really does on social media! Pictures have been proven to engage more than text. Photos get 53 percent more likes, 104 percent more comments and 84 percent more click-throughs on links versus text-based posts (Kissmetrics.) And keep the image text short and sweet. Ask a question or ask people to share. This could help generate greater awareness of your brand among the masses.

  1. Show a bit of personality

Don’t just push out content. Provide a ‘reason’ and ‘value’ for your customer to want to engage with you on a regular basis. Check out Tesco Mobile and their Twitter feed for some inspiration. I am not a Tesco Mobile customer but often find myself just checking out their tweets for pure entertainment value. They recently engaged in a very funny conversation with Jaffa Cakes and Yorkshire Tea. Buzzfeed called it the best Twitter conversation you’ll read today, and they were right! Tesco Mobile successfully takes away the sales talk and just talk to their customers as real people. On social media, personalities can break up the noise and engage and connect with the masses. You can use personality in your own social posts so that your business isn’t just some company or brand, but instead a group of people, who all share the same sense of humour and likes.

Image borrowed from www.postadvertising.com. If you want me to take it down, just let me know and i will do it right away. 

My blogging throughout 2013, in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for my blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 3,700 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.