Posts Tagged ‘Blogger’

We all know social media is an important tool for brand awareness and customer acquisition — but how exactly are you supposed to convert random Twitter and Facebook users into real-life customers? Well, that depends.

Different brands have different challenges when it comes to customer acquisition: “If you’re our customer, you’ve signed up for a year-long service, unlike the Starbucks of the world, where you can be a customer by coming in for a cup of coffee one day,” says Lisa D’Aromando, social media community manager at Equinox. Whether you’re a clothing shop, a restaurant or a subscription service, you must tailor your strategy so that it makes sense for your brand. That said, there are a few universal ways to help your company attract new faces on the social web.

“I’m a big believer in creating and sharing meaningful content,” says Danni Snyder, co-founder and creative director at jewelry brand Dannijo. “Over time, that is every brand’s best bet for creating and sustaining a following that will grow their business.”

But what does it all entail? Mashable spoke with some super-social brands about how they find new customersand lock in their existing ones they have as repeat buyers.

1. Get Your Search On

There are 340 million tweets sent per day — odds are that a few of them are referencing your brand, though you may not realize it. “Just because chatter on social media channels isn’t mentioning your brand by handle or hashtag doesn’t mean it isn’t happening,” says McKee Floyd, director of brand development at Sweetgreen.

The key is to be proactive. For the company’s upcoming Sweetlife Festival, Floyd set up Twitter searches for “sweetlife” and “sweetlife festival” on TweetDeck, which pulls the tweets even if users didn’t include the hashtag. “As groups of friends have conversations back and forth on Twitter about whether or not they should buy tickets, we monitor and chime in with helpful info, answering logistical questions about the festival and hopefully swaying them towards choosing to attend.”

Geoff Alexander, managing partner at Chicago’s Wow Bao, says his team also uses TweetDeck to search for certain keywords — such as “wow bao,” “baomouth” and “hot Asian buns” — and they reply to any and all posts they find. Wow Bao initially got into social media because there wasn’t a budget for advertising, so the brand opted to spread the word by giving away buns. “@BaoMouth searches the Internet for ways to reward people — giving away bao, full meals or mobile money [for the food truck],” says Alexander.

But the search tactic works for more than just food concepts. Danni Snyder says she monitor mentions of Dannijo religiously and also searches Twitter for “jewelry.” Consuming social media buzz about jewelry — and not just Dannijo’s wares — helps the brand be “aware of what people are talking about, what they like and don’t like, etc.” says Snyder, which can help Dannijo cultivate a new audience with their next collection.

One tip for finding new customers is to see who’s engaging with your competitors — if someone just started following or tweeted at or checked in at another bakery in the neighborhood, you could tweet at the person to come check out your cupcakes. They customer will appreciate the shout-out and the fact that you handpicked them to be your customer. Get clever with searches that are relevant to your business and offerings to help you target potential customers — then reel them in by being charming and human, not salesy.

2. Use Images to Engage

A picture is worth a thousand words — photos drive twice as much engagement as text posts do on Facebook. So if you’re looking to attract some new fans, start snapping pics.

Snyder says Instagram is her favorite medium for connecting with fans. “You can subliminally market without annoying your customers because each post is capable of accomplishing a number of things,” she says. “In one post, we can showcase a new design available at Dannijo.com, thus driving traffic to our ecommerce site; show how we’d style the jewelry; mention a tastemaker friend like Questlove or ManRepeller and promote them while they’re wearing Dannijo; inspire discussion and engagement, gaining valuable customer feedback; and provide followers some visual inspiration and insight into your creative process.”

But the pics need not be product-focused. Dannijo posts photos of food and musicians that embody the Dannijo vibe, and its 9,745 followers like and comment on every one of them. Similarly, Rent the Runway posts pictures of various style trends. “On Facebook, we try to use as much imagery as possible — not just promotional imagery of our dresses, but images that relate to pop-culture,” says Jenny Fleiss, president and co-founder of Rent the Runway. For example, in anticipation of the upcoming Great Gatsby movie, the RTR blog posted about Gatsby-inspired fashion trends.

3. Host a Competition

Nothing gets customers going like some swag, so contests are a great way to boost your followers and engagement. But be strategic about what you’re offering, or else you could attract the wrong followers.

ModCloth hosts monthly photo contests that garner hundreds of entries and thousands of votes. “Our most recent contest, Thrifted Treasures, asked our fans to share their favorite vintage finds, and our community could vote up their favorites,” explains Natasha Khan, ModCloth’s social media manager. “The social actions surrounding that event brought in thousands of new fans, which we otherwise would not have gained.”

Khan says contests and offers have been the most high impact customer generation events for ModCloth. But if you’re planning on hosting a contest, Khan has a few suggestions. First, build in actions that allow the fan to share to their social networks, as this will increase virality. Second, stay true to your brand. Third, tweak the contest to fit the platform on which you’re running it — “On Facebook that means sharing photography, on Twitter it means wordplay hashtags, and for Polyvore it means styling outfits,” says Khan.

“Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to Facebook fan growth. If your company product is clothing and your prize is free iPads, then you will gain followers that might not belong to your core demographic. Make sure the reward is something your customer will value, such as a gift card or grab bag of your products,” says Khan.

4. Spice Up The Platforms

With so many platforms to manage, be sure to have a distinct M.O. on each channel — and cross-pollinate sparingly. If a customer sees the same information and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest, she need only follow you on one of these platforms. Also, be wary of overpromotion. Nothing is more of a turnoff than a constant sales messaging — people easily can unfollow, and they will. Interestingly, many of Wow Bao’s posts have nothing to do with bao — @BaoMouth tweets during award shows and keeps a lively conversation going on a number of topics, winning people over with its spunky personality.

Of course, a big reason why you use various social media channels is to promote your product, so there are some things to keep in mind for the messaging when you are pushing your goods.

“Prove the value of being a Facebook fan. If you can find the same content and offers on other channels, there is no incentive to also follow the brand on Facebook,” Khan says. “Exclusive Facebook-only offers and original content reinforces our investment in the channel.” The same goes for every other social platform.

For Equinox, Facebook is for broadcasting of events and initiatives, like Cycle For Survival, Twitter is more conversation and geared toward responding to questions about membership, fitness routines and healthy eating, and Foursquare is the platform on which to find offers for Equinox’s spa and shop, which are open to the public. “Every Monday in March, we posted a different Foursquare check-in special for The Shop at all of our locations,” says D’Aromando. “Since you don’t have to necessarily be a member to go to The Shop or The Spa, these specials are accessible to everyone,” and can lure in potential customers into becoming Equinox members.

The company’s Q blog is another digital project where you’ll find awe-inspiring videos and original lifestyle content — a great way to add value for potential customers. “Q was launched to extend our brand and increase this word-of-mouth among our target audience. It gives people — members and nonmembers — topics and material from our Equinox experts to share with others,” says D’Aromando. “In lieu of promos, we create a different sort of currency: highly produced, branded content on Q with exclusives for our social media communities.”

5. Make It Personal

No one like a mass message — consumers like to feel as if they’re the only ones being spoken to. You should know your customers and speak to them in personal ways to establish touchpoints that build relationships and create loyalty.

“I like to make it very personable — if someone tweets a question I make sure to answer immediately,” says Steven Rojas, social media director at GrandLife Hotels. “Often I go as far as Googling that person to make sure I know as much as I can about them before reaching out. I want to humanize the brand so people don’t feel like they are speaking to a computer but to an actual person who cares about what they are saying. My obsession for all things digital never sleeps, so I make sure everyone gets what they need, when they need it.”

Live chats are another effective way to offer intimate interaction and engagement with fans. “It’s about having a conversation with your community, so we often do live chats with our stylists on Facebook to answer any styling questions customers may have,” says Fleiss. “These posts tend to elicit the most ‘Likes’ and comments.”

While you’re browsing sites for comments to respond to, don’t ignore negative feedback — addressing the complaint is an opportunity to convert an unhappy customer into an impressed brand ambassador.

“We’re very appreciative when someone takes the time to let us know about a bad experience or an issue because then we can help fix it,” says Jenny Danzi, a Mountain Dew brand manager. “Reply to every complaint to turn those consumers into advocates — even if you can not offer an instant fix, people appreciate getting a human response,” she adds. And don’t forget that even the littlest gesture can make a big difference. “Sometimes for us it can be as simple as letting consumers know where they can find our products,” says Danzi.

Wow Bao takes it to the next level, proactively finding ways to create touchpoints with consumers. “We comment on any and all posts mentioning people’s birthdays and pop culture,” says Alexander. “We even schedule posts for people’s birthdays, when people post something like, ‘My birthday is in 12 days’” — a very personalized tactic that can go a long way

6. Let Your Customers Shine

Nothing makes a customer feel better than being acknowledged — or better yet, honored — by their favorite brand. Is there a way to offer kudos to your loyal fans? If so, make it happen.

Because women love to talk about what they’re wearing — and often wear RTR to social events such as weddings and cocktail parties — Rent the Runway strives to move these conversations online. “We have weekly style award contests on our blog and Facebook Page, and a section of our site called RTR Moments where women can share photos of themselves in RTR dresses,” says Fleiss.

For Mountain Dew, whose fan base is extremely young and active on social media, the “Diet Mountain Dew Supernova Spotter” is a great way to celebrate the return of the fan-chosen flavor in addition to highlighting the passion of the fans. “Dew drinkers can upload their photo of Diet Supernova, and on Friday we’ll open the entries up to public voting. Fifteen winners will each get a Diet Dew hoodie, and everyone who enters can easily share their Diet Supernova passion with friends,” Danzi says.

For Equinox, whose social media fan base is largely comprised of members, the goal isn’t as much to incentivize people to join (they already have), but to make them feel special for being members. “We have a Facebook app where members can refer friends directly, and if the friend joins, the member gets a referral bonus,” says D’Aromando. “We also just launched a program on Twitter where we’re rewarding our advocates by offering them private group fitness classes for them and their friends. This gives us a way to say ‘thanks’ to those who always post about us, and it gives them something to talk about with their friends — online and off.”

Brands, how does your company acquire new customers on social media? Consumers, what makes you want to become a customer? Let us know in the comments.

Having started all willy-nilly with Pinterest like Joe-Joe the idiot circus boy, I put absolutely no thought into what I was doing while kicking the tires. Now that PT is hotter than Canadian Maple syrup at a swingers party I can tell you what I did wrong.

First off, like most of us I really didn’t know what it was. Therefore I was just so eager to get my hands on it and stake a claim. A few things fell out of that experience. I started a bunch of lists that were important to me such as “Zombies, DesigNation, Survivalistic” and near naked women at “Shabam.” That being said my account is more about me personally and not about me ‘the brand.’

First question to ask – “Are you supporting a brand (corporate or personal) or is this a personal Pinterest account?”

The point here is all I’ve really done with my current account is give people a reason to think I’m a porn freak-based doomsday prepper that has a insatiable interest in art, automotive and design. While that’s not wrong per se, it’s not necessarily a glowing presentation of the personal creative/social thought leadership that I’m trying to establish.

Well If you’re not launching a brand, I say let’s lose the dogs of war and find the weirdest shit you can. Pin it and your noisy co-workers will create new things to gossip about around the water-cooler – ”then last night he pinned 17 different kind of Chinese throwing stars with anime characters on them! I know right!?!” The other edge to this sword however is that it’s more about the real “you” in the real world. If you don’t want people thinking you dress up and play Phyllis Diller on the weekends, probably best not to pin up a roadmap to that effect.

Next question to ask – “How do I categorize and thereby subjugate by brand?”

It’s like constructing an information architecture for a website and the “pins” end up the relational sub-pages within the “boards” you create. If you where to launch a clothing line or related outreach you might do something like:

  • Men’s Tops
  • Men’s Pants
  • Men’s Accessories
  • Men’s Shoes

…rinse and repeat with gender and age-group variance.

The caveat being that your pin either be yours OR have an affiliate or referral agreement with the product line to show it, as there’s been some “gray” areas regarding copyright and terms as is pertains to Pinterest. ADDITIONALLY! It’s also important to note that Pinterest may make money using your links in a referral capacity with companies such as Skim Links and others. They literally piggy back your link posted on the site to see if it goes to a retail site with an affiliate program. Upon finding referral coding it adds an affiliate code that ensures Pinterest will make some cash from sales that derive from that link. While not illegal (yet) it has brought them under some scrutiny.

Other things I didn’t do that you should:

  • USE #HASHTAGS AND REFERRING (truncated) LINKS IN YOUR PINS!
  • Include links back to your website and landing pages in your pins to drive traffic back to your website.
  • Create a “Follow Me On Pinterest” button for my site and social channels. You can also now add Pinterest to your Facebook account.
  • Use it like a focus group and crowdsource with it.
  • Create boards that you can use as competitive reference or trends within your industries.
  • Pinterest, as of yet, has not created a business “Page” model and therefore it might be said that there will be a redux in the process given that this is the case. I can’t imagine they won’t, as most LARGE social channel models have adopted this as standard practice.
  • Actively cross-fertilize your ‘pinning’ with your other social channels to boost traffic (important to note however it will NOT increase your SEO as has been prosthelytized until you turn your search engine “visability” on in your settings.)
  • If I get to do it again I think I will sort media too. I’d create specify boards for video vs. photos.
  • Also look for really “different” visuals. No one will click through on a default logo, but a beret wearing ferret riding a monkey that has a beret and AR15 rifle just might get you “repinned.”
  • Engage other pinners + make nice = more followers.

I should have looked at who’s doing it right before doing it at all:

As always, I’m making this stuff up as I grow up. Let me know your thoughts. All my best.

Michael Roberts

The latest social media site to join the ranks of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is Pinterest. Haven’t heard of it? You will. With over 10 million users, it is quickly rivaling Google+ and YouTube for traffic.

For those of you who don’t know about Pinterest, it is a visual site that allows you to post or PIN pictures to your wall, or a wall of your choosing. It might seem more like a B2C site and it has been historically a strong site for people selling jewelry, crafts, or major retailers highlighting new products.

But lately, it has gotten some traction as a traffic generator for business marketers too. Here are a couple of considerations for including Pinterest in your social media marketing efforts.

  1. Pinterest is a visual medium, so think about the visuals you already have in your content library. These could be cool pics, images from the covers of your white papers or ebooks, visuals from your blog posts with links back to those posts, even pictures from behind the scenes at your company. All these could capture traffic from Pinterest and drive visitors back to your site.
  2. Expand your definition of visuals and you can include data and charts too. Graphs, charts, even illustrations communicate complex thoughts in a single picture. This type of content is perfect for Pinterest.
  3. Take photos of happy customers and PIN them as well. This gives everyone a warm and fuzzy feeling about your firm and helps potential prospects feel more familiar with your company and therefore more comfortable reaching out to you.
  4. Use dedicated landing pages associated with your pins so that you can track traffic from Pinterest and measure the effectiveness of your efforts.
  5. Comment on other people’s pins. This will give you some additional exposure and when people see your comments they might eventually find your site, your blog and your content.
  6. Promote your Pinterest content through other, more popular, social sites. Create a Tweet or a Facebook post that links to your Pinterest page. Pinterest is hot, so these extended networks might be interested in seeing what someone else is doing on a newer social site.

Check out our Pinterest page to see how we are using it to drive leads. Feel free to follow us and see our latest Pins! If you need help creating an ROI for your social media programs, we can help

Thank you,

Michael Roberts

We’re going to talk about four ways that you can – starting today – lose traffic to your website or blog, yet still come out ahead in the long run.

Clean Your Room

You are a dirty (dirty, I said) little social media user, aren’t you? When’s the last time you cleaned out your Twitter account? Purged your Facebook friends? Took a really long, hard look at your LinkedIn connections.

Your audience should make you proud, plain and simple. If you haven’t taken the time to clean out your audience, how do you know who’s really there? Sure, you can automate some of these tasks with monitoring tools like TwitSweeper – a service that scans your Twitter followers for spam and blacklisted accounts each week and sheds the riff raff automatically – but the onus is on you. Think like a kid on this one: If you have so many toys in your toy box that the lid won’t even close, who are you going to get to the ones you really want to play with?

You can’t. Because they’ll have fallen to the bottom of the box.

Cultivating and curating your audience is a neverending obligation. And by ditching the wrongs, you make room for the rights. The people you truly want to develop relationships with.

Loss: People who aren’t really customers or never will be.

Gain: Space for real fans and time on your end to spend with them.

Quit Acting Like You’re Walmart

You do not have something for everyone. I promise. This is a short point, but great businesses are built because an audience knows how to use that business. Walmart is great if you want to go fill your cart with piles of crap, heave that crap into the back of your car, and then heave that crap into your house.

Don’t make your audience heave and haul crap from place to place. When you take the time to admit what it is that you love, what offers you the smartest profit margins, and makes you smile at the beginning and end of every day – that’s what you should be focusing on.  The people who wanted to heave and haul crap? Sure, they’ll go away. But the good news is you’ll have a lot more time to spend on the audience who will gravitate toward who you are and what you do…and that’s because people who get what you do will refer you to people who need what you have to offer.

And then suddenly, being Walmart doesn’t matter anymore. You’re a specialty bistro.

Loss: Time wasted on trying to serve people things you don’t love serving. People who don’t really know what they want and don’t understand enough about you to bring you more loyal customers.

Gain: Focus. Fans who know who your brand is and what it’s all about so they can hand-deliver more people just like them to your doorstep.

Have an Opinion

If you’ve ever stopped by RedheadWriting, you know I’m not afraid to have an opinion. It’s time to stop thinking that having an opinion is bad.

When’s the last time you went to a dinner party and everyone around the table agreed on every single topic discussed? It’s the same way with brands and their audiences. We won’t always agree with our customers and customers won’t always agree with us. But great brands are willing to take a stand and abide by a certain set of beliefs. People will fall by the wayside – but that’s just it. They’re people. They have their own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Just like your very human brand.

Don’t believe me? Think of one (just ONE) wishy-washy person in your life you’d be willing to throw yourself in front of a train to save. (Aside from a relative…) You want to cultivate an audience for your brand that will throw themselves in front of trains for you. And wishy-washy just doesn’t get that type of fan in your corner.

Oh, and I might as well tell you now: You’re going to tick some people off along the way. It’s okay. Because by ticking them off and sending them away, you’re keeping the ones who truly matter and eventually, attracting more people just like them.

Loss: The fear you’re going to offend some folks (because you are). The people who are easily offended by who you and your brand truly are. The people who never really liked YOU in the first place.

Gain: People who share similar views and even when they don’t respect you and your brand for putting it out there.

Say No (duh)

With everyone crawling out of the woodwork saying that Pinterest is social’s destination-du-jour, maybe your brand should be the one saying no. Maybe you should say no to Twitter. Quora. Facebook. Honestly, maybe the only place you should be is LinkedIn or perhaps an industry-specific forum in addition to your blog (do you need a blog?).

The beauty of our business climate is that it’s ripe with choices. It’s also a time- and soul-sucking curse. It’s time you say no to outlets that don’t serve you or your audience. And if you’re afraid of the 38 users you might miss on Pinterest by focusing on your 3800 Facebook fans who chat, share, like, and promote your brand and result in conversions, I’ve got news for you. Those 38 people? They’ll still be on Pinterest if and when you decide it’s a good move to spend your time there. And if they’re not, well – no loss, really.

Saying no in the social realm is something that we must get better at in business. It’s okay to while away the hours on one site or another sharing funny images and whatnot, but our businesses deserve a definitive NO. By walking away from outlets that don’t serve you OR your desired audience, you can stop being a follower and become a leader.

Which is why I’m betting you went into business in the first place.

Loss: Tendonitis caused from a wicked case of Helium Hand (you know, saying yes all the time). Audiences who aren’t interested enough in you or what you have to offer to understand where YOU live and hang out with you there. Audiences who probably aren’t very committed to a platform to justify your investment in it – especially if it’s the Next Big Thing.

Gain: Smaller audiences that will – if they’re committed to you, find you in the places you dospend time. Time to focus on the outlets that mean the most to your brand and audience. A greater understanding of your brand and its audience, as you’ve listened to who they are, what they want, and where they live enough to know where you’d be best off spending your time.

Are you looking for Business loans?  Learn more about Business Loans at: www.vms-washington.com and ask about the Durbin Amendment that was passed on October 2011 and how it will help you lower your credit card rates.

The old saying “If you build it, they will come” does NOT apply to your Web site; you’ve got to do more than simply publish it and one of the best things is to increase your position on the search engine results page. 


A beautifully designed website is great for a company’s image. However, the same website with no traffic is bad for business. Read these five easy non-technical SEO strategies to improve your websites visibility and traffic.

Step One – Google Local Business Listing
It is no secret; Google is king of the search engines. This is why the majority of your SEO efforts should be focused on having your website indexed by Google. It is not likely that your small local business will be able to compete with large national companies, their keywords and SEO efforts. However, it appears Google has realized this and has accommodated the small local business owner by creating free Google Local Business Listings. Many times if a Google user searches for a particular business niche and types in a city, the Google Local Listings will appear before all other listings.

Also, new technology (mainly smart phones) allows for Internet users’ geographical location to be automatically updated and provided to the search engine. With automatic location updates, Google Local Listings are very important for relevant searches (the best example could be the use of the service for a local restaurant or store). Because of this, it is important that all small businesses claim and optimize their Google Local Business Listing. Claiming and updating the information can be very beneficial from a business standpoint by attracting new customers and improving online presence.

Claiming a Google Local Listing is simple, free and quick. All you have to do is sign up for a Google account and claim your business. Once signed in you will be able to optimize your account by entering in your services/products, updating your location, providing contact information, uploading images/video, and adding other relevant business information. After your updates are complete you will be sent a PIN and need to enter it in order for the listing to be seen by Google users.

*Be sure to read the Google user agreement and follow all of the conditions in the agreement. Failure to do so could result in the removal of your Google Local Business Listing.

Step Two – Begin Blogging on your Website

Blogging is a very important aspect of SEO. Today’s search engines love new, fresh content and a blog is the best and easiest way to generate fresh content on your website. Many of the pages on your website are most likely static and change infrequently. This alone can keep your site from appearing in search engines. A blog serves several purposes for your business and website.

Foremost, a blog is a great way to interact with your current and future customers. It allows your company the opportunity to discuss important news and information quickly, easily, and affordably. A blog also allows your company to be seen as an authority in your industry – resulting in increased customer trust and respect. Blogging allows your business to showcase it’s strengths by putting the company’s expertise into words. A blog can also make your company larger through sharing and linking. Every new reader that shares your article could potentially assist you in gaining new customers!

Each blog entry should focus on one topic and should attack one keyword or phrase. The title should contain the keyword or phrase and encourage reading, filled with useful, relevant information. These are just a few great ways to use your business blog as an SEO tool for your website.

*A business blog should be considered even if you are not interested in SEO.

Step Three – Social Bookmarking for Traffic

Once you have completed steps one and two, it is time to start driving traffic to your website using free social bookmarking tools. There are a number of social bookmarking websites,DiggDeliciousStumbleUponReddit, and many more; each is a great way of introducing Internet users and search engines to your website and content. Every time a new blog entry is written, it should immediately be bookmarked on the social bookmarking website of your choice (or all of them). Bookmarking each new blog entry helps increase links to your website and provides an easy way for interested readers/customers to find your website and content. By bookmarking the pages and new content of your website, you are helping search engines quickly locate your website and index new information. If your bookmarks receive additional attention from other users, of the bookmarking website, search engines will notice this and give your site much more attention.

The effects of social bookmarking can last many months, but it is best practice to continually and consistently update your website content with new blog entries and same day bookmarking.

http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/social-bookmarking-websites is a great list of the 20 most popular social bookmarking websites.

Step Four – Utilize Twitter Effectively

If you are serious about SEO and creating a strong online presence for your business, you should sign up for Twitter. Twitter is a free service that allows users to follow other users and share information. Twitter is great for business! Twitter allows small businesses to easily and freely connect and communicate with new customers. In addition, it is a great business networking tool that can help small businesses interact and connect with other successful companies.

Do NOT use Twitter to continually spam other users with links to your website. Doing this will accomplish nothing, except for zero followers and zero benefits from the service. Instead, use Twitter as a way to meet new people and share relevant information in your industry. Once you have created a decent following (60 followers), you can begin tweeting links to new blog entries and information on your website. Search engines will follow the links and quickly index your website. Should your tweet be retweeted by another Twitter user, search engines will give even more attention to your Twitter account and website. These are just a few of the great uses Twitter provides small businesses.

Step 5 – Get Links through Directories

Inbound links are very important for SEO. Inbound links are other websites linking to your website. Inbound links can be difficult to obtain, but the easiest way is by submitting your website to directories. Not all directories are created equal; links from unrelated websites could have zero SEO influence and serve no purpose (for instance, it makes no sense for a plumbing company to submit their website to a massage therapist directory). Each industry tends to have established niche directories with relevant information and good link quality. So, do some research and locate directories that relate to your industry and submit your website. Many of these directories are free but some charge a listing fee.

Every company interested in SEO also needs to submit their website to the DMOZ Open Directory. The directory is free and very important for SEO.

*Before submitting your website to DMOZ, be sure to read the user agreement and do not violate any of the conditions.

That’s all!

There you have it – five easy non-technical SEO steps for small business owners. It is very important to note that these are just a few techniques to increase search engine visibility and increase website traffic. However, using these strategies on a poorly designed website with bad navigation, bad code, bad title tags, bad keywords, and other negative attributes will not provide the same results as would be seen on a website designed for SEO, which focuses on easy navigation and search engine accessibility.

Why hasn’t your processor mentioned the Durbin Amendment?Learn how to lower your card acceptance cost: www.vms-washington.com and ask about the Durbin Amendment that was passed on October 2011 and how it will help you lower your rates. 

I am asked over and over again how I manage to get over a hundred tweets per post on a regular basis.

The answer is actually quite simple and, in many ways, very obvious: it’s all about networking and collaboration.

Here are my 7 ways to get an impressive number of retweets nearly on autopilot.

1. Quantity Matters

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – quantity of your Twitter followers does matter.

Of course, I am not discounting quality either. As a matter of fact, we will talk about it a little later.

You have to admit though: with 32K+ followers, my posts are much more likely to get retweeted for that reason alone.

I can see that those of you who are following me @VMS_Washington are raising their eyebrows: 32K? What is he talking about?

The thing is that my followers are divided into 6 different Twitter accounts.

Not only this strategy helps me to get the maximum number of followers in the shortest period of time, but also every time I send a tweet about my blog post, I get 6 RTs instead of one.

Bottom line for me was that quality is important for networking, but without quantity your social media traffic generation will go down the drain.

2. Quality Is the Key

Now that we talked about quantity, here’s what I think of quality when it comes down to social interaction.

It’s IMPERATIVE.

You have to respond to your followers.

You have to initiate conversations with them.

You also have to initiate/follow/respond to tweets from more influential bloggers you’d like to get to know better or rather be known by them.

For every tweeted post from my own blog, I retweet several posts by other bloggers.

3. Collaborate

In other words, create a small group of bloggers in the same niche as yours and agree to add each other’s RSS feeds to your Twitter accounts, whether you use MarketMeSuite, Hootsuite, or Twitterfeed.com.

It goes without saying that you need to choose wisely here.

If your group gets too big, it’ll be too difficult to know who is holding their side of the bargain.

Smaller group is best, and by that I mean 15-20 bloggers – that’s my sweet spot.

So now, every time you publish a post, it’ll be automatically RTed by everyone in your group, as well as you’ll be automatically RTing their content, so it doesn’t appear like all you do is self-promote your own blog.

Quality issue: since you need to limit the number of bloggers in your group (in my opinion), you HAVE TO make sure that:

1. These bloggers have a substantial influence in the twittersphere.

Always try to make sure that the bloggers you recruit have at least the same or ideally many more Twitter followers and their content gets RTed by their followers (just take a look at the number of RTs they get on their own posts).

2. Also, make sure their content is of quality – since you’ll be automatically RTing it, it’d better be good or you’ll loose credibility with your own followers.

Where to find collaborators: everywhere.

Literally.

Look for blogs in the same niche that you like and contact their owners, explaining the benefits of collaboration.

Check out the people you follow on Twitter – the ones you’d really like to connect with – and send them a DM or, better yet, go to their blog and use the contact form to get in touch with them.

Look for existing collaboration groups you can join.

If you notice the same people RTing each other’s content, chances are they are in a group of sorts.

Be creative and don’t be afraid to create your own group, if you can’t find any to join.

Hint: Skype is a perfect place to create a group like that. That way you can always send everyone a message to share your post on different networks.

4. Send Email to Your List

Every time you send an email to your list letting them know you’ve got a new post up, make it easy for them to RT your post right from your email.

That way, even if they don’t have the time to read your post, they still might RT it, IF you make it simple.

I, like most bloggers I know, use Aweber for my email autoresponder and as of right now there’s no way to add social media sharing buttons to your emails.
However, I found an easy way to do it directly from an email through a free service called ClickToTweet.

It’s rather simple, really – you write a tweet the way you’d like to, include your shortened link and your @Mention and click “Generate Link!”

And voila – you now have a link you can add to your Aweber or whatever other autoresponder you are using and all your subscribers have to do is to click on it to retweet.

5. Show Favoritism

It’s funny because I use them a lot to bring my new Twitter followers back to my blog, yet I completely ignore my own inbox since it takes so long to get rid of a bunch of spam in search of a couple of legit messages.

Well, what happens is that not all messages are spam and some of my followers sometimes request that I take a look at their blog posts and RT them.

Once I do that, I, per Kristi’s suggestion, keep their ID in a text file and occasionally ask them to RT one of my posts that I really want to do well.

6. Use Triberr.com

Triberr.com is still a fairly new service created by Dino Dogan geared specifically towards forming groups with one common purpose – to RT each other’s stuff.

This has recently become my trump RT card. Because of the kind of tribe I am in, my content has quite a reach, and yours can too.

7. Use Plugins

Definitely, make it easy for your readers to RT your content.

Here’s what I use on my blog to encourage RTs:

1. Social media sharing buttons to the right of the page.

It’s not a plugin I use; these are hard-coded into my theme and are actually pretty easy to add.

The reason they are hard-coded is because of speed – I don’t need yet another plugin to slow down my blog.

If you don’t know how to do it, just choose one of the multitude of social sharing plugins.

2. I also use Twitter @Anywhere plugin at the end of each posts – it’s one of the easiest ways I found to get your readers to RT your content because all it takes is one click.

3. CommentLuv Premium: the recent paid version of the famous plugin has significantly increased my reader engagement by offering them a choice to RT my post, “like” it on Facebook, or click on +1 in order to get access to their last 10 posts.

Marketing Takeaway

Some of these methods require some initial investment of time and / or money, but once set up, they can run on autopilot, which is my favorite part about this whole Twitter promotion process.

Are there more ways to promote your post on Twitter and get more RTs? I am sure.

Are there any more automated ways to do it? I doubt it.

Final word of wisdom: the number of RTs your post gets is not always reflective of the amount of traffic you might get.

A high retweet number is nice to have for social proof and self-satisfaction, but you should never rely upon your RTs alone to bring you traffic.

Why hasn’t your processor mentioned the Durbin Amendment?Learn how to lower your card acceptance cost: www.vms-washington.com and ask about the Durbin Amendment that was passed on October 2011 and how it will help you lower your rates. 

Have you conversed on Facebook, tweeted your favorite articles, and checked into Foursquare yet today? What about pinned an image on Pinterest, bought or sold stock on Empire Avenue, and done whatever it is people are doing on Google+ nowadays? I won’t even ask about the number of blogs you’ve read or mobile apps you’ve used. Just thinking about these tasks can cause some to become overwhelmed—they experience “social media overload.”

New social networks and tools are introduced every day, which means new challenges and questions for marketing professionals, social media strategists, and average people looking to brand themselves online. Which platforms should I use? When should I use them? There are only 24 hours in a day, how do I find the time to manage all my networks?!

I’ll admit, there’ve been times I felt like I was stretched pretty thin trying to keep up with various obligatory social tasks. Thankfully, I no longer feel that way (most of the time). Here are a few of the steps I took that really helped manage the social media overload.

1. Prioritize

Which tasks are the most essential? Determining your priorities is crucial in managing your time online. When you are faced with a giant list of tasks that need to be done, invest your time and energy first where it will make the most impact, and later return to do tasks that aren’t as much of a priority. For me, responding to Facebook and blog comments ranks above tweeting my favorite articles, so I do those first.

2. Filter

If you always have hundreds of unread blog stories in your feed reader or you skip over a certain user’s updates on a routine basis, it’s time to get picky. There is such a thing as subscribing to too many things. After all, what is the point of following or subscribing to people if you never ever read what they are saying? I’ve cut down on the number of blogs I subscribe to, and it has helped a lot. There’s also something cathartic about trimming those lists, have fun!

3. Aggregate

Applications like TweetDeck and HootSuite can do many things to help you save time and feel less overwhelmed. It is easy to save searches for terms, see direct messages and mentions from Twitter at a glance, and collect information from multiple platforms so you can read it in one place. Signing up for one of these tools (I recommend HootSuite) will save you time in the long run.

4. Automate

We all have lives, right? This means we aren’t online all the time. Using a tool to schedule your updates means you can plan what to say and let the tool publish it for you at a specified time. HootSuite, TweetDeck and Buffer are all great scheduling applications to use.

5. Relax

If you have to take a break from the Internet for a few days to interact with real humans (which I promise won’t kill you), know that it will still be there when you get back. On the Internet, everything is archived. If you feel like catching up after being gone for a while, all it takes is visiting a few RSS feeds or scrolling down some Timelines. Then, jump back in right where you left off.

Part of the fun of social media can be trying different things and sorting through the chaos to find something you truly enjoy. If that chaos ever gets to be too much to handle, I hope these tips will help with your case of “social media overload.”

Have you ever felt like you were spreading yourself too thin with social media? If you have other ways of managing overload let me know in the comments below.

Why hasn’t your processor mentioned the Durbin Amendment?Learn how to lower your card acceptance cost: www.vms-washington.com and ask about the Durbin Amendment that was passed on October 2011 and how it will help you lower your rates. 

Today we’re going to talk about how to go about getting more followers on Twitter. Let me first preface this with one statement: getting followers is NOT the most important aspect of social media, building relationships IS the primary objective.

Learn how to get more followers on Twitter. I provide 13 easy tips for getting more people to follow you and developing meaningful relationships on Twitter. By getting more followers you’re increasing your circle of influence and opening up many more potential opportunities to develop those relationships that are key to having a good social media presence and (if applicable) making it work for your business.

However, by getting more followers you’re increasing your circle of influence and opening up many more potential opportunities to develop those relationships that are key to having a good social media presence and (if applicable) making it work for your business.

Tip #1: Create a Solid Profile

This one falls under the “duh” section, but many people/businesses don’t do it. Creating a Twitter profile that looks good, has some personality, and works to expand your network of followers can be done in a few easy steps.

  1. Create a Twitter username/handle that makes sense and is easy to remember. Mine is @vms_washington which is fairly simple. If it’s too late for you on this step, no worries.
  2. Fill out your bio completely. You have 160 character spaces, so make sure that you make your bio interesting while at the same time using the keywords that best describe you (or your business) – think of keywords you might want to show up for in a Twitter/Google search.
  3. Enter your location. I think that it’s really important to take part on conversations not just on a national level on Twitter, but on a local level too. If your location isn’t displayed in your profile, somebody local who doesn’t know you may be less inclined to engage you in a local conversation.
  4. Create a custom Twitter background image. Make sure that your custom background image lists your key details, as well as website and social media handles. Keep in mind that it will be positioned in the top-left of your screen, as well as whether or not you want it to be repeatable. I see some people who don’t have it repeating that don’t create an image that is wide enough or set a background color that blends well.
  5. Create a Custom Profile Picture. I can’t stress this enough. If you’re a person, use a picture of yourself. If you’re a company, use a logo or relevant picture. For me, this simple thing is often the difference between me following somebody or not.
  6. Link to Your Website. If you have a website then be sure to link to it. This is good for SEO and may drive a lot of referral traffic. Also, don’t link to a shortened URL in your profile (such as bit.ly or ow.ly), it’s just annoying and makes me think scammer or fake website off the bat!

Tip #2: Cross Promote

This is another simple thing that many people overlook. Just as I’ve said above, use your Twitter profile to promote your website, but conversely you need to utilize your website (as well as other web areas) to promote your Twitter presence.

If your website gets a lot of traffic, please don’t let it go to waste by not putting an icon or link somewhere to your Twitter handle. It would be a damn shame.

In addition, if you do things like traditional marketing or public speaking that takes place offline, be sure to always find a way to plug your Twitter handle (in addition to your website).

Tip #3: Follow Others

I call this the 80% rule. If you follow 1,000 people you’ll probably get around 800 people to follow you back.

I’m absolutely not condoning following people that you’re not interesting in building a relationship or getting some type of useful communication from just to drive up your follower count. That pretty much defeats the purpose of using social media.

What I am saying is that you should make it a habit to follow people first if they interest you. This could be as simple as making it a part of your daily routine. For example, if you’re surfing the web and find an interesting site or article, take the time to follow that person on Twitter.

You may even take it a step further and maybe leave a comment or some type of feedback in addition to a follow. If that’s the case – WALLAH!!! You’ve just started the process of beginning a meaningful relationship with another person online.

Tip #4: Re-Tweet Others

I’m a huge proponent of this methodology. Nobody likes that friend that only talks about themselves and never wants to listen to or talk about what others are saying. Don’t be that Twitter user who is only interested in talking about yourself.

If you find an article that somebody in your circle wrote interesting, or if somebody you know is promoting a worthy cause, then Re-Tweet that sucker! You’ll find that by helping others achieve their goals first (without expecting anything in return), you may be setting yourself up for a favor later on.

It’s kind of a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” type of thing. BUT please don’t help others just because you want something from them. Help them because you want to! It’s just good karma.

Tip #5: Promote Sharing of Your Content

This especially applies if you’re a blogger like myself. Make sure you’ve got Twitter Re-Tweet buttons installed on your post pages. This will enable users to Re-Tweet your site’s content. This will do a couple of things:

  • Drive more traffic to your blog. Everybody likes that!
  • Expose your articles to that user’s Twitter circle. This is a giant black box if you think about it. Imagine if the person that RT’s your article has 30k followers? That’s 30k potential eyes on your content – who might then be inclined to follow you as well.
  • Enables you to start a relationship. If somebody is nice enough to RT your article, be nice enough to follow them in return. This is a door-opener to beginning a relationship on Twitter.

Tip #6: Be Worthy of Re-Tweet

This tip is to ride on tip #5. If you want people to RT your content or tweets, it’s gotta be worthy of it in the first place. If you create content that is compelling and helps somebody learn something new or solve a problem, then you’ll probably find that you’ll get a lot of RT’s. If you content and tweets are as stale as a bag of chips left open overnight, then don’t expect much.

Tip #7: Be Active, Send Tweets Often

If you’re trying to build a Twitter following, it is imperative that you don’t let yourself go a few days – let alone weeks – without sending a Tweet out to your followers. I recommend sending at least 1 Tweet per day at a minimum to keep you top of mind to your followers, as well as to stay fresh.

In addition, sending compelling Tweets frequently will increase the likelihood that your Tweets get Re-Tweeting. See tip #5 for reasons why that is important again.

This is not to say you need to be spamming people with tweets all the time, as that shit can get annoying fast! Do that, and you’ll likely get more Twitter quitters than followers.

Tip #8: Use #HashTags

#HashTags are Twitter’s way to link conversations around the same topic together. Accompanying a Tweet you send with a relevant #HashTag may be a good way to show up as part of a Twitter search, and will enable people to see the entire string of Tweets associated with that tag – helping them to keep track of the conversation a bit better.

Also, if you attend and event or speak at an event, create a hash tag for that event (ex: #epsmm10 which I created for a webinar series I did for Express Employment Professionals). This can be a great way to connect – and be connected – with everyone who attends and Tweets using that hash-tag.

When people track these conversations back to you, the you’ll likely get followers pouring in. If you’re a speaker at an event and have created a hash-tag, then you’ve opened yourself up to lots of opportunities to be followed and to find more people to follow (see #3) – even if you forget to do tip #2.

Note: The #HashTag that I created (#epsmm10) still shows up as a Tweet I’ve send and other users Tweets still have it in there, but when I perform a Twitter search for it, it shows no results. Not sure why that is? It is indexed in Google, but not showing in Twitter. Anyone who can tell me why that may be would be a big help.

Tip #9: Establish Credibility

This comes through the development of relationships and the expertise and credibility that may come from other areas. If you’re a famous actor, then this is easy. If you’re like me, it becomes hard work and a bit of a grind.

Establishing credibility means being good at what you do, being worthy of a RT (see #6), and helping others (see #3 and #4). If you’re able to do these things well, people will be far more inclined to follow you.

Tip #10: Fill a Need

This one is a no-brainer as well, and probably should have been mentioned a little earlier on this list. However, like a tree it fell where it fell. Whether it be providing useful tips, information, laughter, sorrow, etc etc etc., if you’ve filled some type of need or desire that peaks somebody’s interest they’ll be far more likely to follow you.

For me, I help people solve their problems around SEO, Social Media, and WordPress. A guy like @mikewhitmore who’s a social media strategist that provides me with the great blogs and  updates that my heart so desires. That’s a need, he fills it, which is why I follow.

Tip #11: Try To Get Listed

Getting listed on somebody’s Twitter list can be a very good thing. First off, like getting Re-Tweeted, being in someone’s Twitter list exposes you to a whole new network where you may not have been exposed before. People do not necessarily have to follow you to see that you’re on somebody’s list, but by looking at a person’s list they may decide to follow you.

For example, I’ve created a list to help me keep track of my Local Seattle Twitter Connections. If somebody wants to get involved with other Twitter users here in Seattle but may not necessarily know who those people are, they may look at my list to see who they should follow.

How do you get on somebody’s list:

  • Fill a need (see #10)
  • Be a specialist (I specialize in SEO, therefore I show up a lot in SEO lists)
  • Be worth following & listing (see #12 and #6)
  • I’m sure there’s more…

Tip #12: Be Worth Following

All of these other tips are great, but none of them hold a candle to this tip. Just be worth it! Be interesting or helpful enough for someone to take time out of their day to follow what you’re saying.

A main goal of using social media is to become an influencer. An influencer is someone who holds enough sway with the common-folk to get conversations to impact public opinions – good or bad – by what they say.

This often comes with flat-out being interesting enough to follow. So damn it, don’t be boring!

Bonus Tip

A quick and cheesy bonus tip…

Tip #13: Pictures, Contests, and Prizes

I read an article a while back from Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg.com on TechCrunch. In the article, he talked some about the impact that taking and posting amazing pictures (which have the potential to get viral exposure), as well as the impact of running contests and giving away prizes in exchange for getting more Twitter followers.

In my opinion, these methods (while maybe getting you more followers) may be a little less organic and meaningful. But hey, a follow is a follow is a follow. Enjoy!

To my readers: What methods have you used to get more followers on Twitter? Are there any experiences that you’d like to share that helped you gain more Twitter followers? I’d love to hear from you.

Why hasn’t your processor mentioned the Durbin Amendment?Learn how to lower your card acceptance cost: www.vms-washington.com and ask about the Durbin Amendment that was passed on October 2011 and how it will help you lower your rates. 

In 2007, the number of corporate brands using business blogs for marketing purposes was at just 16% according to eMarketer.

In 2012, that number was projected to be around 43%, which indicates that more companies are opening up to the idea of business blogging as an avenue to achieve their business goals.

Still, that leaves a significant number of businesses and corporate brands who have yet to adopt a blog. It has been my experience that when approaching businesses and corporate brands about getting a blog started, they have three main questions.

  1. What are the benefits of having a blog?
  2. How can we make our blog successful (which I will cover in my next post)?
  3. How will our blog drive business impact?

I will discuss the benefits of blogging for businesses in no particular order, as well as hint at some of the direct business impacts of having a blog.

1. Business Blogs Can Build Consumer Engagement

Blogs serve as an avenue from which good customer engagement can take place. Think about it – besides picking up the phone and calling you or visiting your business in person, where else would someone be able to have a direct conversation with someone in your company.

A couple ways in which you can engage your blog’s consumers:

  • Answering comments they’ve left on your blog articles.
  • Responding to comments or questions that you might through social media channels (if you’ve been savvy enough to cross-promote your blog posts there). See point #7.
  • Sending out weekly email recaps of the week’s top blog posts to your subscriber-lists (see point #8), and answering consumer questions via email as they come in.
  • Answer popular consumer questions through pre-recorded video responses, then post on your blog.

I’m sure there are more.

2. Blogging on Breaking News

Gone are the days of submitting traditional press releases as a means of updating the public on important company news. Granted, brands can (and should for links and further distribution) utilize press releases, many corporate brands now choose to to break news on their business blogs. For example, last week Google used their webmaster blog as a way to announce the release of Search Plus Your World.

In addition, corporate brands can also use their business blogs to address world news. This timely approach can show consumers that a business isn’t just thinking inside their own brand bubble, and is also addressing important events from the outside world. A great example I found of this in action was Southwest’s efforts through their blog to help consumers make donations to the Red Cross after Hurricane Irene.

3. Blogs Can Educate & Establish Trust

Brands using corporate business blogs can also leverage their content properties as a way to help their consumers learn about topics that are pertinent to the company, or about topics that are pertinent to the customer. This can be done in a few ways:

  • How-To’s: Whole Foods blog teaches consumers how to cook vegetable bean soup
  • Lifestyle: Zillow’s blog discusses financial questions to ask before you get married
  • Holiday posts: Ford’s blog discusses chocolate, flowers, and Ford for Valentine’s day

This type of stuff goes a long way towards establishing expertise, credibility, and trust, all while giving your customers what the are asking for.

4. Keyword Targeting for SEO

Anyone who has worked in the digital department for a large corporate brand can probably attest to the hassles and legal approval processes that come along with making any and all changes to the website. Therefore, getting new website pages implemented (or making modifications to existing pages) to work towards your SEO goals can be a tricky and time-consuming matter.

Although every blog will still have a content strategy and approval process in place, most blogs offer a certain level of agility and flexibility to release new content on a regular basis.

What does this mean for SEO? Let’s say you identify a keyword that you’d like to target for your business. In order to target said keyword, you either need to tweak an existing page or create a new page to focus on said keyword.

Since we know making changes to the site is like telling an elephant to roller-skate up the side of a mountain while doing back-flips, using a blog post can be a quick way to target said keyword in the interim while you wait for the supporting topical page to be added to the regular site.

Doing this will give you a chance to rank for your keywords a bit more quickly, and if your brand is smart enough to layer subtle calls to action through the blog (along with some links to conversion pages), you will likely see some business impact.

5. Social Media Cross-Promotion

Another great thing about having a business blog for your corporate brand is that the opportunity exists for it to be cross-promoted via social media outlets. This social exposure typically happens in a few key ways:

  • A lot of corporations have an abundance of content that may be considered stale and not worth sharing, OR the site’s purpose simply isn’t content (think airline and travel sites). In either case, the normal content on the site is unlikely to be “shareworthy,” meaning nobody will find it interesting or worthwhile enough to share in their social circles. Blogs can help corporate brands break that mold by enabling them to create content that is any mix of fun, interesting, relevant, and many angles of shareworthy.
  • Blogs offer inherent advantages to promote social sharing via the various share buttons that are offered by the likes of TwitterFacebookGoogle+, etc. Most blog posts have some sort of social sharing option.
  • If you have a business blog and social media pages, you can cross-promote your posts on say, your Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus brand page to increase its overall exposure, engagement, and likelihood of being reshared.

These are no-brainers though.

6. Link Building for SEO

Again, taking into consideration the notion of being shareworthy, blogs can often be more linkworthy than regular websites just due to their inherent nature and flexibility with writing good content.

A good blog post has the potential to get spread throughout your networks, shared, and often linked to our cited by other sites/blogs if the content is considered to be in some way useful.

Anyone who knows SEO knows how valuable it is to build high-quality links back to your website using targeted anchor text. For those that don’t, let me educate quickly. Acquiring a link back to your website is like a positive vote. The more positive votes (links) your site gets, the better. Furthermore, links from sites that themselves are considered authoritative (and having lots of links) are better than links that are less authoritative. Also, search engines look at the anchor text that people use to link to your site as an indication of your site’s relevance for that anchor text. So, ultimately, you want large quantities of high-value links using a variety of your target keywords as anchor text.

Whereas the process of link building can be very tedious and time-consuming, writing a good blog post can help your brand get backlinks in bundles with the right amount of exposure. This will create a good balance of manual effort versus letting your marketing do the work for you.

7. Recurring Traffic Base

Last but certainly not least, a blog can be a good way to build up a base of recurring traffic that will keep coming back to your site, and will eventually be clamoring for your next blog post (hopefully) if you write them well and give them things that are useful to them.

Through the magic of RSS feedreaders (like Feedburner, Feedblitz, or Rapid Feeds) and email subscription options, you can build a list of people who subscribe to your blog, many of whom will keep coming back in the future as you update. If these people aren’t your customers already, then I challenge you to find a better means of staying in front of them for a relatively low cost with as high a level of engagement? Not many.

Anyhow, I’m not saying that having a blog is the end-all-be-be-all or anything, and I’m not even saying that it will help your ROI, but what I am saying is that if you’re part of the over 50% of corporate brands that still don’t have a business blog, then you’re seriously missing out on another emerging way to converse with your consumers in the digital space.

What do you think? Should every corporate brand have a digital blog? Why or why not?

Stay tuned for my upcoming post on the things that need to be in place to make a corporate blog (or any blog) successful.

Why hasn’t your processor mentioned the Durbin Amendment?Learn how to lower your card acceptance cost: www.vms-washington.com and ask about the Durbin Amendment that was passed on October 2011 and how it will help you lower your rates. 

I know what you are thinking.  I can use Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin for free.  I can set up a page, profile, or account, and it will not cost me one penny.

That is very true.  Accounts on almost all of the major social networks are completely free to set-up.  They will never ask for a credit card or a PayPal account.  They ask for nothing but information in return.

Wait.  That is not entirely true.  They do ask for something.  They ask for time.  Time to fill out your profile.  Time to create that page.  Time to post interesting information and updates.  Time to respond to your family, friends, and clients.  Oh, and did I mention the time to find all those great articles that you are sharing on Twitter and Facebook?

They ask us to spend our time.  But that’s free, right?

Or is it?

Social media accounts may be free to start, but there are many actual and hidden costs to establishing a presence within social media.  It’s important to know what some of these will be, before you or your brand begin.

Actual Costs

Within your company, who is responsible for your social media?  Or are you the social media department?  Either way, the hours you spend on social media is time taken away from other aspects of your company, whether it be speaking with new clients or ordering goods to sell.

And, as all of the literature suggests, you should have a landing page within Facebook, as it increases engagement considerably, and this may be the last time your “fans” directly visit your page.  Not only do the applications to use cost money, ranging from $5 to $30  per month, but what about the time it takes to create the landing page.  And the learning curve?  If you’ve never done it before, it could take hours just to figure out how to create the landing page.  Then you need to create it.

If you are creating these Facebook pages yourself, then you are not tending to any other aspects of your business.  Your time is money.

If you have someone within the company handling this, what is their hourly rate?  Their time is certainly money.  Either way, setting up your accounts will take time, which relates to an hourly rate.

Now that you’ve set up these accounts, do you just sit back?  If you build it, will they come?  Unfortunately, the answer is no.  You need to tend to these accounts.  You need to find great articles to share.  You need to engage with your clients and customers.  The time you’ll invest will vary from a few minutes per day to hours per week, depending on your social strategy.  (You do have one, don’t you?  After all,Saying You are on Facebook Does Not a Social Strategy Make.)

Hidden Cost

Now that you are active on social media, you are beginning to realize that you will also need to utilize their advertising engines, something you hadn’t thought of before, while thinking this would all be “free”.  Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all offer their own brand of advertising, whether it be ads or sponsored stories, to bring your message to your specific customer.  And all of these ads cost money, whether it be per impression or per click, they will all cost, and you will need to set a budget for these ads, that very well may be above and beyond your standard advertising budget.

So, in the end, is it worth the cost?  That is only something you, as the business owner, can decide.  I would only ask, “Can you afford not to?”

What other costs to social media have you found?  Share with me.

Why hasn’t your processor mentioned the Durbin Amendment?Learn how to lower your card acceptance cost: www.vms-washington.com and ask about the Durbin Amendment that was passed on October 2011 and how it will help you lower your rates.