April 11, 2012

How Your Company Can Engage Users On LinkedIn

[By Sarah Faglio]

LinkedInLinkedIn is a social networking tool that is used professionally by companies and associates all around the world.  The site allows users to connect with other professionals, as well as businesses.  After connecting with another professional or following a company LinkedIn page, you have the opportunity to share, learn and network.  Companies who maintain a LinkedIn profile page also have the opportunity to connect with professionals, create an online presence, share updates as well as interact and network with current and potential clients, employees and customers.  A company profile can be very useful in establishing your brand throughout a professional social network, as well as create opportunities for new business and ways to connect with professionals that may add to your success. 

LinkedIn is a centralized location where millions of LinkedIn members go to be up-to-date on company news, products or services, business opportunities and job openings.  LinkedIn company pages have two functions:

1.) For a business, it’s the opportunity to:
  • Tell your company’s story
  • Highlight your products and services
  • Engage with followers
  • Share career opportunities
  • Drive word of mouth at scale
2.) For millions of professionals, a Company Page is a place to:
  • Explore companies of interest
  • Get the latest company updates and industry news
  • Research products & services

Status updates
Recently, LinkedIn created the option for users (individuals and companies) to share status updates with people they are connected with.  For business, these updates should include company news, industry updates and helpful information.  The platform allows you to connect your LinkedIn statuses with your company's Twitter feed, allowing LinkedIn updates to reflect exactly what you share on your Twitter profile.  Updates should be shared at least twice a day, but no more than 5-6 times a day to avoid spamming or overindulging your followers' newsfeed.  Followers are also able to comment or 'like' a share, which opens the door to having a conversation started.


Employee profiles
When professionals set up their own LinkedIn accounts, they are given the option to denote their employment history.   There is a listing of all your current employees on your company page, therefore it is important for employees to have filled out profiles.  This creates opportunity for your employees to network with other professionals for advice as well as create new business connections on behalf of your company.  Your company's Twitter account can also be connected to your employee's LinkedIn status updates, so their connections receive your shares as well. 

Group interaction
There are a multitude of groups that make up the LinkedIn network.  These groups have ranges across many industries and interests of its members.  Through research and search, your company can determine a list of groups that are relative to your business or industry.  LinkedIn allows you to start discussions on relative topics as a way to interact with the other members.  These can be created as often as twice a week in order to provoke comments and feedback on what you share.  These topics should include helpful, informative tips and advice as well as industry updates.  Discussions are another way to introduce and share a new blog entry on your company's website.  Make sure you do not sell or advertise in these groups or people will just ignore what you have to share and have no interest in reading further.
LinkedIn is a very helpful tool to companies looking to further their audience reach and share ideas and topics relative to their business.  Through group and status shares, interaction is encouraged with potential clients, customers, employees, other professionals etc.  By making the most of your LinkedIn profile through status updates, filled out employee profiles and group interaction, your company is increasing its online presence, which is a huge step in creating business online.

April 6, 2012

How to Create a Strong Twitter Follow for Your Company

[By Sarah Faglio]
Twitter Follow

Twitter is a social media platform that allows companies to share messages directly to their target audience with little to no cost.  Messages on Twitter are allocated strictly 140 characters.  Therefore, it is important that your company constructs your updates with proper keywording and hashtags as well as be enticing enough to get read or clicked on.  The larger your following, the more resources you have in spreading important company news, blog update, specials, giveaways, contests or helpful industry information.  There are many steps that your company can take to increase your following, consequently raising awareness of your brand and products or services.

Directing traffic from your other sites
Your website is a great opportunity to bring awareness to your Twitter page.  Just by simply visiting your website, you know that users have an interest in your company, brand and/or product or service. There are multiple places where you can place Twitter social media buttons to direct traffic and interest to your Twitter profile.

Twitter Follow ButtonA Twitter follow button can be placed on your homepage or throughout your website's pages.  This will direct users to your Twitter profile and make it easy for them to follow you.
Tweet ButtonTweet buttons can be placed near newly shared content, such as press releases, blog entries, specials and contests or giveaways.  Making it easy to share your content on their own Twitter profiles helps to bring awareness to this new information on your website.
Widgets can also be placed on your website and Facebook profile to actively share updated news feeds from your recent Twitter updates, favorited Tweets, search results in real time (i.e. live events, broadcastings, conferences or TV shows) or a list of favorite tweets in one list.

E-mail signatures
Twitter follow buttons or links to your page can also be placed within your e-mail signatures.  It is likely that a person that you are engaged with through e-mail is interested in your brand or company.  Providing a quick link to your page tells them that you have a Twitter profile and you are welcoming them to follow it.  Twitter social media buttons should also be placed within newsletter e-mails or e-mail marketing campaigns as a way to introduce your Twitter profile and generate a followership.


Twitter HashtagsHashtags are a way to show up in search results, helping people find your shares and follow your updates.  Hashtags are # signs that are placed within a Twitter share.  They consist of keywords or other unique phrases that people who searched on it would be interested in your share.  The '#' is placed before the keyword or phrases, without any spaces (i.e. #marketing #socialmedia). 

Engage with Twitter community
Another way to create a following is to actively research and follow others.  Search using keywords to find any news sites, groups or bloggers that are relative to your industry.  Do not follow competitors or random profiles that have nothing to do with your business or industry.  The key is to not just follow random people in order to create a larger following, but follow people that are relative to  or interested in your industry or business.  When you follow people, you are making them aware of your profile, and giving them the chance to follow you back.  Also, it is also important to engage with the Twitter community, such as re-tweeting or sharing other helpful information relative to your industry on your own profile.  This information can be found from your Twitter newsfeed and research from other articles shared (except from competitors) on bloggers' or news websites.

Twitter UpdateCreating a strong Twitter follow takes time and is achieved through determination and commitment to the social media platform.  Updating your Twitter status often, at least a few times a day, is essential to being an active Twitter user.  Social media is vital in creating a strong social presence and helping your business get found online and generate more sales.

March 26, 2012

How To Engage Through Feedback on Social Media Sites

[By Sarah Faglio]

Social Media Commentary
Many companies use social media to market themselves to their target audience.  Social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are used to share valuable information directly to followers.  Companies use these sites to connect with potential clients or customers and provide information directly, in an effort to keep them engaged and aware of their brands.  These platforms allow followers to provide feedback to what you share, so it is important to make sure that your company shows that you value their comments and input.

When people show interest in what you share on your social media profiles, it is necessary to acknowledge their feedback.  This effort shows that you value their opinions and are willing to help them find answers to any questions they have have that is relative to your industry or business.

Here are ways to engage followers who comment on your social media profiles, while remaining both personal and professional:

Valuable content
People who choose to follow your company on social media sites show that they are interested in what you have to say and welcome your shares.  Make sure that you share content that is valuable to your followers so they are interested in reading or viewing it.  This would include helpful information, tips, advice, sales (special offers) etc., instead of blatant advertisements or sales pitches.

Provoke conversation
It is always good to have a conversation going on anything you share with your followers.  At the conclusion of your shares, ask your followers for their opinions or what they think.

Good timing
Monitoring your social media sites is useful when responding to a comment made on one of your company's shares.  It is easy to set up e-mail notifications so that an e-mail is sent straight to your inbox once there is new activity on your profile.  Following up right away shows how much your company values opinions and works to engage followers.  It is also valuable to be e-mailed right away where there are tensions or complaints made so that you can alleviate the situation as soon as possible.

SPAM
Normally I would advise you to not delete any comments made on a company profile, whether is be good or bad.   However, in order to maintain a professional presence, you should make sure your comments are free from SPAM litter.  It is also okay to erase SPAM or attempts of other businesses to advertise on your page.

Facebook CommentsMake it personal
When responding to a comment on one of your status updates or shares, be sure to personalize your message.  By addressing people by their first names when writing a response, you are showing them that you value them specifically and appreciate their comment. 


Become an industry expert
There are many times that people comment on your statuses or page expressing an interest in your product or service, as well as have questions pertaining to your industry.  This is a great opportunity to give advice and provide them answers that they are looking for.  This will help them view you as an industry expert and not only value your feedback, but also look towards your company as a more positive and trusting place of business.

Maintaining integrity
It may be very enticing to compare your company to other competitive businesses in the industry, however I would strongly advise against this.  It is both highly unprofessional and damaging to your integrity if you bad mouth or speak negatively about another company on your public social media sites.

Handling negative comments
There may be some instances where disgruntled people use your social media as an opportunity to complain about your company or its services or products.  However, do not fight back or get angry with these comments. Instead, say that you value their opinions and then offer ways to help them or solve any issues they have.  This type of damage control shows how committed you are to your customers and that you value them and will work to make sure everyone is satisfied with your company.  Showing that you will go out of your way to make sure they are taken care of shows how much your company values their business.

Create business
Social media is gives your company the means to guide your followers directly to your website.  After expressing interest through comments, or asking questions, if it very simple to reply back with links to your website that would either help them learn more about a specific industry topic or about your company and how it could help them solve a problem or acquiesce a desire.

Social Media Marketing
Social media is an excellent opportunity to engage directly with your followers, potential customers, qualified leads or valued customers.  It allows you to ask questions and gauge the opinions of your followers on a specific topic related to your company or what it sells.  This free feedback can help your company grow and customize the way it sells to be more appealing to customers.  Interacting directly with your followers through comments allows your company to show that you value their business and are there to solve industry-related issues or questions.

March 18, 2012

Facebook Timeline: How To Brand Your Company

Facebook Timeline[By Sarah Faglio]

 Since its launch in February 2004, Facebook has fundamentally changed the way we network socially and market to our target audience.  Facebook Timeline has turned into an outlet for storytelling for marketers.  As of February 2012, Facebook has more than 845 million active users.  However, Facebook is going through a new change that will affect the way your company uses the application to brand itself to valued and potential customers.  Since December 15, 2011, Timeline has replaced the traditional Facebook profile as the new way profiles are organized.


In Timeline, the photos, videos, events and posts in a profile are categorized according to the period of time in which they were uploaded or created.  In addition to a profile picture, a cover photo is a large picture along the top of your profile.  The About section is where you describe your company: its mission, overview, description as well as when it was founded and contact info.  In addition to a section for photos, you can also add other applications such as Notes, how many people have liked your page (including which of the visitor's friends like your page), your Likes, Events, Videos and Maps.  The main part of your profile is your Stories, where you share and highlight your most memorable posts, photos and life events on your timeline.  You are able to 'pin posts' or anchor the most important story to the top of your page for up to seven days.  Larger stories (bigger in size than rest of posts) such as photos, video and link stories drive engagement to those topics.  You can also highlight important stories with the star icon or hide/delete stories that aren't as engaging or relevant with the pencil icon.  Milestones photos allow you to define your key moments over time, such as reaching a certain number of fans, opening a new location, winning an award etc.

Facebook TimelineCover Photo vs. Profile Picture
The cover photo is the large picture at the top of your company profile page.  Some examples include a popular product or menu item, creative artwork relative to your company/industry or a picture of people using your products or services.  With these endless possibilities, you can change the picture as often as you like.  Your profile picture is the thumbnail icon used throughout Facebook whenever you post a comment or update.  This should be a picture that represents your business, such as your logo.  Make sure you use appropriate picture sizes for your cover photo (851x315 pixels) and profile picture (180x180 pixels to 32x32 pixels) to prevent it from being blurry and unprofessional.

Photos and Apps
Your photos and customized apps appear at the top of your company's profile page.  Photos that you can share can be pictures of your products, people using your services, your attendance at events etc.  There are many apps on Facebook that could help your company interact and engage your followers.  Here are some FREE top applications used by businesses to enhance their Facebook fan pages.
  • RSS Graffiti periodically checks the RSS/Atom feeds of relevant blogs or news sites that you specify and posts new entries or articles on your wall.
  • Pagemodo Pagebuilder helps you to design your page without any design or graphic art skills.  It has many templates to choose from that allow you to add photos, embed videos, change fonts and text as well as showcase your products.
  • Social RSS allows you to add your blog and RSS feeds to your page and play flash, MP3 and Silverlight files directly from the tab.
  • Wildfire Interactive's Promotion app makes it easy to add giveaways, sweepstakes, coupon giveaways, special deals and contests to your company's fan page. 
  • Marketplace is a virtual classified ad for Facebook where you can post free ads that appear both online and via social media sites, and are seen by about 8 million active monthly users.
  • Kremsa developed a poll app, used by about 1.8 million people monthly, that allows companies to place daily or weekly polls on serious or silly subjects as another reason for a fan to visit your page.
  • Networked Blogs syndicates fresh posts automatically from your company's blog onto your wall.
  • Survey Monkey or Poll are interactive tools that allow you to generate public opinion of your products or services or develop new business ideas.
Facebook Timeline
The new Facebook Timeline allows your company to tell its story as well as highlight important occurrences and engage your followers.  With these new adjustments taking place for all Facebook accounts on March 30th, 2012, it is important that you make sure you learn how to use this innovative change made to this popular social media platform.  Remember the key to any successful social media marketing plan is to be creative and share information that is both helpful and valuable to your followers to provoke engagement and interest in your brand.

March 13, 2012

Helpful Tips to Successfully Blog for Your Company

[By Sarah Faglio]

Blogging


Blogging is essential in helping a company expand its online presence in attracting qualified leads and creating customers.  With U.S. users spending 3X more time on blogs and social media than in e-mail, companies need to adjust to where their target audience is.  Blogs that are integrated with your website is able to add to its SEO value (helping your company rank higher in search engine results), essentially driving in more traffic for users interested in your industry.



Top 10 Tips for Successful Professional Blogging
  1. Integrate blog with your website. By creating your blog on the same domain as your website, you are enabling the fresh content and traffic from your blog to be attributed to your website's SEO value.  Your blog could be added to your website as a sub-domain (i.e. http://blog.website.com) or in a folder of your website (i.e. http://website.com/blog).
  2. Do not focus solely on your company.  Users go to your blog to learn about the industry and information that is relevant to them.  If you just write about your company, your accomplishments and products or services then users become disinterested since it is not relevant to them.  Your content needs to be written for your target audience as a place where they can learn about your industry, not a place filled with advertising or self-promotion.
  3. Publish new content frequently.  In order to keep an active blog, you need to publish updated posts at least 2-3 times a week.  Freshly updated content puts it high in search engine results when users are searching for topics similar to what you are writing about.
  4. Optimize content for search.  Proper keyword placement throughout your blog helps it to rank higher on organic search results for that terms.  Placing keywords at the beginning of the title and throughout the post helps it get indexed and ranked higher by search engines.  Meta-keywords and alt-tags in pictures also attribute to your organic search traffic. 
  5. Use social media.  Promoting your blog updates on your company's other social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+) alerts your followers, people interested in your company or industry.  This draws traffic to your blog and essentially increases readership and popularity of your posts.  Adding social media shares at the end of your posts make it easier for readers to share your content on their own social media accounts to spread to their followers.  Being engaged in blogging communities also helps to spread your content to interested readers.
  6. Optimize for lead generation.  Intriguing blog posts are able to draw in a strong leadership, but as a business it is important to know who these visitors are.  Many of them have the potential to be qualifed leads and paying customers.  By placing links throughout the blog post to call-to-action landing pages, you are able to develop a list of qualified leads who you can nurture into customers.
  7. Using blog analytics.  Traffic, referring sites and popularity of posts are the essential analytic details of your blog that help you to determine potential strengths and weaknesses.  This helps you to learn which topics are the most popular and are most interesting to your readers.  By learning what your followers enjoy reading, you know what topics to write about for future posts that would generate the most interest.  Referring sites, such as specific social media account, provide insight into how useful those sites are to the success of your blog.
  8. Comment box.  Comment boxes allow readers to give feedback and voice their opinions on your blog posts.  By closing off this option, you are preventing dialog between your company and a potential customer.  This also grants readers the opportunity to ask questions, allowing you to reply with suggestions or solutions to their problems (that possibly your product or service could provide).  If there are any inappropriate responses, you are able to delete them or moderate them before they are visible on your site.
  9. Post new entries in the morning.  Research shows that the best time to share new content is in the morning, since that is when blog entries are read the most often.
  10. Be professional.  Avoid trash talking competition, clients etc., as well as be as professional and relevant to your industry as possible.  You want to be viewed as the subject matter expert in your industry, so you need to attain respect from your audience that comes from maintaining a professional blog.
Blogging

A recent 2011 ROI study found that 69% of companies attribute their lead generation success to blogging.  Studies have shown the significant contribution that blogging makes to the successful of a company's online presence and website. However, upon maintaining a blog for your company, make sure you pay attention to these tips in order to be the most productive and successful in your blogging endeavors.

March 5, 2012

Pinterest: How To Use It For Your Business

[By Sarah Faglio]

Pinterest
Pinterest is a new virtual pinboard where people can create and manage theme-based image collections to share with the rest of the community.  The pinboard-styled photo sharing social website has been growing rapidly since its launch in March 2010, with 10 million U.S. monthly users in January 2012.  While Pinterest is typically used socially for people to share photos, recipes etc. that are interesting or intriguing, the site can also be used by companies to network and market themselves. 

Setting up your company page
As of now, Pinterest membership is free but invite only.  That means that you need to request an invite before you are able to set up a company page.  It is important to note that you should use the same e-mail address that you use for your company Twitter account, since you are able to connect the two upon creation of your Pinterest profile.  After requesting an invitation, it takes a few days to receive an e-mail from Pinterest allowing you to set up your account.  Once you receive the e-mail, you will get a link to click to start setting up your account.  After connecting Pinterest with your Twitter account, you are brought to a page to create your Pinterest profile.  Select a username that is unique to your company, as well as an e-mail address (same one used for your Twitter account) and password.  You are then brought to a welcome page where you are prompted to select categories that are of interest to you.  Choose the category that is best suited to your industry, which leads you to follow people who contribute to those categories.  When prompted to create boards, you can start developing topics relative to your industry.   

Editing profile to market your company
In the top right hand corner of the page, click on your username then settings.  The about section should include a description of your company, with inclusion of keywords relevant to your industry.  Upload an image of your company logo as well as your company's website.  You can also link your profile to your Facebook and Twitter accounts by turning on those options.  Also, make sure you have visibility option off so that your profile is indexed by search engines.  The drop down option of pin it button in the about tab  in the top right allows you create Pinterest buttons to share on your website to help visitors find your profile.

Editing boards
Boards are used to organize your pins (images) into categories to make it easier for the community to view what you share.  In the top right hand corner of the page, click on your username then boards. Go to edit board, then create a title, then description with keywords relative to your industry.  Choose Just Me option in who can pin and choose a category most relative to the topic. 

Adding Pins
Adding pins
The Add+ option in the top right allows you to start adding pins in your profile.  Click Upload a Pin to choose an image from your computer or Add a Pin to choose an image from your website.  Include a description filled with keywording and choose a board (or create a new board using the drop-down option) to upload the image to.  Click the Twitter square and select Pin It.  Click Edit, add a link to a page on your website where the photo can be found (such as a relative blog article on your site) and choose a board to add it to before clicking Save Pin.  The Create Board option allows you to create a new topic or category for putting additional pins into.


Engaging the Pinterest community
You can gain exposure for your brand and interest in your profile by engaging the Pinterest community without bothering or annoying its members.  Go through what others add to their pinboards and like or comment on their photos with positive feedback and praise for sharing the useful picture.  You can also re-pin someone else's picture onto your own profile by clicking the re-pin option.  These options are available whenever you hoover over a picture with your mouse.  When others start following your pinboards, be sure to follow some of their boards too.

What to share
People in a social community want to view valuable content, not sales pitches.  They are not interested in pictures of your business or workers.  However, this is a great place to put up pictures of your products or people using your services (such as hair and beauty).  If your company is more relative to business management, such as advertising or marketing, then helpful graphs, designs or infographics/data visualizations relative to your industry are great images to share.  Be creative, if it looks interesting or holds valuable information, then share it on your Pinterest profile to others who may be intrigued.

February 27, 2012

The New Rules of Marketing and PR: Book Review (Part 3)

The New Rules of Marketing and PR
The New Rules of Marketing and PR, written by David Meerman Scott, a Businessweek bestseller, provides people with valuable insight into how to use social media, blogs, news releases, online video and viral marketing to reach buyers directlyMeerman talks about all the hottest insider tips on the latest tools and techniques so readers could confidently market any product, service or idea.  After reading this book, I have provided an outline of the main ideas that Scott touches upon.  However, I encourage every marketer, company or anyone else looking to learn about the evolving marketing industry and strategies to read this book.  Scott goes through every one of these strategies with details and examples that makes it very easy for anyone, those with or without a marketing background, to understand and implement in their own endeavors 

This is a continuation of the previous posting.


Pitching to the media
Barraging large groups of journalists with indiscriminate PR materials is not a good strategy to get reports and editors to pay attention to you.  First, pay attention to what individual reporters write about and then write specific and targeted pitches crafted for them that consists of information that is useful to them.  Start a relationship with influential bloggers by commenting on their entries.  Then, develop your own blog, which gives your company a place in the media community, and publish information that generates interest of reporters and bloggers.  Here are some tips on how to pitch to the media:
  • Target one reporters at a time.
  • Help the journalists understand the big picture.
  • Explain how customers use your product or work with your organization.
  • Do not send email attachments unless asked.
  • Follow up promptly with potential contacts.
  • It is a two-way street - journalists need you to pitch to them.

Search Engine MarketingSearch engine marketing
Build content for your buyer personas, content that talks about the problems they face, in the words and phrases they actually use.  Search engine marketing consists of appealing to search engine algorithms, such as the URL you use, placement of certain words within your content, tags, metadata, inbound links etc.  It is ineffective to try and reach buyers with broad, general search terms, instead use long-tail keywords.  The best approach is to create separate search engine marketing programs for dozens, hundreds or even tens of thousands of specific search terms that people might actually search on.  Create a unique identity for yourself, your product and your company in order to stand out from the crowd and rise to prominence on search engines.  It is important to build landing pages that have specific content to enlighten and inform the people who just clicked over to your site from the search engine.  To optimize your website for search engine marketing, it is important to keep these landing page guidelines in mind:
  • Make the landing page short and the graphics simple.
  • Create the page with your company's look, feel and tone.
  • Write from the prospect's point of view.
  • A landing page is communications not advertising.
  • Provide a quote from a happy customer.
  • Make the landing page a self-contained unit.
  • Make the call-to-action clear and easy to respond to.
  • Use multiple calls-to-action.
  • Ask only for necessary information.
  • Do not forget to follow up. 

Get StartedGetting started 
Upon getting started with online marketing, implement all these ideas in bits and pieces.  Think about how you might selectively experiment with the ideas in these pages rather than fret about coordinating them all and trying to get everything right on the first go.  To begin your buyer persona research, read the publications that your buyers read, perhaps attend a webinar that they attend, read a few of the blogs in the space and perhaps interview a few buyers.  Add a few pages of targeted thought leadership content for your buyer personas to an already existing website.  Read blogs in your market, begin to comment on them and then start your own blog.  Earn attention online by using the ideas throughout this book, create something interesting and publish it online for free: a YouTube video, blog, research report, series of photos, Twitter stream, e-book, Facebook fan page or other pieces of web content.

It doesn't matter what line of work you're in or what group of buyers you are trying to reach - you can harness the power of the web to reach your target audience directly.  Be like the people that Scott talks about in The New Rules of Marketing and PR and get out there and make it happen!

February 20, 2012

The New Rules of Marketing and PR: Book Review (Part 2)

[By Sarah Faglio]

The New Rules of Marketing and PR
The New Rules of Marketing and PR, written by David Meerman Scott, a Businessweek bestseller, provides people with valuable insight into how to use social media, blogs, news releases, online video and viral marketing to reach buyers directlyMeerman talks about all the hottest insider tips on the latest tools and techniques so readers could confidently market any product, service or idea.  After reading this book, I have provided an outline of the main ideas that Scott touches upon.  However, I encourage every marketer, company or anyone else looking to learn about the evolving marketing industry and strategies to read this book.  Scott goes through every one of these strategies with details and examples that makes it very easy for anyone, those with or without a marketing background, to understand and implement in their own endeavors 

This is a continuation of the previous posting.

  
Thought Leadership Content 
White papers are written for a business audience, defines a problem, and offers a solution, but does not pitch a particular company or productE-books are PDF formatted documents of a little intrigue that solves a problem for your buyer personas.  Podcasts consists of flip videos that allow marketers to be ready to interview customers, employees and industry analysts.  It is also easy to quickly post videos, such as short clips showing how your products are made or used onto your website or blog.  Other examples of leadership content include: e-mail newsletters, webinars, wikis, research and survey reportsphotos, images, graphs, charts, blogs, audio and videoGobbledygook consists of overused phrases, industry jargon and overused language that has becoming meaningless.  Instead, it is important to write content for your buyers by providing information to Internet browsers when they need it, which can lead to a long and profitable relationship with your company.  Psychologists have shown that people learn better with different forms of media, therefore it is necessary to have messages in as many formats as possible.

Social Media
Social Networking Sites
People join Facebook groups because they want to stay informed, but on their own time.  The best way to maintain a Facebook group is to make valuable information available.  People can post information to these group themselves, actively taking a part in the brand, as well as easily recommend the posts to others.  When it comes Twitter, you have to put yourself out there as an interested member of the community.  It takes time to build a following, but the best way to get people to pay attention to you is to participate by following others and responding to them as you would in a blogosphere.  To make the most out of social networking sites for marketing, it is important to keep these suggestions in mind:
  • Target a specific audience.
  • Be a thought leader.
  • Be authentic and transparent.
  • Create lots of links.
  • Encourage people to contact you.
  • Participate.
  • Make it easy to find you.
  • Experiment.

Blogging Tips
  • Easy to use blogging software.
  • Custom graphical image as your masthead.
  • Turn on comments feature.
  • Use captcha to prevent spamming.
  • RSS capability.
  • About page.
  • Participate in online community,
  • Do not write excessively about your company and products or services.

Blogging Ethics
  • Transparency.  Do not pretend to be someone you aren't.
  • Privacy.  Do not blog about something that was disclosed to you.
  • Disclosure.  Disclose anything that is a conflict of interest.
  • Truthfulness.  Do not lie.
  • Credit.  Give credit to other bloggers. 

News Releases
News Releases
Do not just send news releases when big news is happening, instead find good reasons to send them all the time.  Instead of just targeting a handful of journalists, create news releases that appeal directly to your buyers and drive them into the sales process.  Include offers that compel consumers to respond to your release in some way.  Place links in releases to deliver potential customers to landing pages on your website.  Optimize news release delivery for search and browsing, such as writing releases that are replete with keyword-rich copy.  Add social media tags for Technorati, Digg and Del.icio.us so your release will be found by users as well. 


News release distribution services make it possible to spread to online news services such as Yahoo!, Google and Bing.  It is important to create content for your buyers by thinking, speaking and writing like your customers do and focus on words and phrases that your buyers use.  As a search engine marketing tool, news releases are only as valuable as the keywords and phrases that are contained in them.  Post releases on your website, since high-quality news release content brands a company or a non-profit as a busy market player, an active expert in the industry and a trusted resource to turn to.   

Online Media Room
News release pages on your website update more often than most other parts of a typical website.  Search engine algorithms tend to rank news release pages among the highest on your website, driving traffic there first.  Newsroom sections are should always be updated with fresh content, not only with stories about your company, but about your industry, customers and the community in which your company does business.  This content should also include videos and photos to enhance the appeal of the news release.  It is important to write for the needs of the buyers and journalists (or bloggers) instead of the needs of those who own the other parts of your organization's website.  Be sure to take bloggers seriously by granting interviews and acquiesce requests made by these strong online influences.  Consider potential users of the online media room and what content will be valuable to them.  Press kits contain background materials about your company, which helps journalists write stories.  Calendar events list the conferences, executive appearances and tradeshow events that your company participates in.  This shows that your company is active in your industry and helps to build your corporate credibility.  RSS subscription pages are used as part of the online media room as a primary way to deliver news release content.  

February 13, 2012

The New Rules of Marketing and PR: Book Review (Part 1)

[By Sarah Faglio]

The New Rules of Marketing and PR
The New Rules of Marketing and PR, written by David Meerman Scott, a Businessweek bestseller, provides people with valuable insight into how to use social media, blogs, news releases, online video and viral marketing to reach buyers directlyMeerman talks about all the hottest insider tips on the latest tools and techniques so readers could confidently market any product, service or idea.  After reading this book, I have provided an outline of the main ideas that Scott touches upon.  However, I encourage every marketer, company or anyone else looking to learn about the evolving marketing industry and strategies to read this book.  Scott goes through every one of these strategies with details and examples that makes it very easy for anyone, those with or without a marketing background, to understand and implement in their own endeavors.

The book starts with an engaging forward by Robert Scoble who commented on his work for Microsoft and how he used some of the strategies mentioned throughout the book.

Websites
Scott begins with examples from TV ads for cars and how websites have shown to be more useful since potential buyers read consumer feedback instead of advertisements.  The Internet allows companies to reach niche buyers with targeted messages at the fraction of the cost.  Instead of being a one-way interruption, the web provides useful content at the precise moment buyers need it.

Press Releases
Press Releases
Press releases shared directly to the company's potential customers or clients, allow them to communicate directly with buyers instead of just focusing on the media (reporters and editors).  Companies need to understand and research the keywords and phrases that their buyers are using to search for their products or services.  After developing a keyword list, micro-campaigns, such as direct-to-consumer news releases, can be used to drive buyers to pages complete with the content that they are seeking.  Optimizing press releases with relevant keywording helps them to appear in search results - reaching buyers directly.  In a web-interconnected world, content drives action and people do their own research online on products or services they are looking to purchase.  Valuable content contributes to the education of the marketplace and press releases have the opportunity to highlight expert ideas and stories

Valuable Content
Website visitors want content and valuable content that describes their issues/problems and offers potential solutions.  Companies need to write content such as this while always keeping in mind that they are writing for their target audience and their needs.  Web content directly contributes to an organization's online reputation by showing thought leadership in a marketplace of ideas.  Podcasts, or YouTube videos, for products or services have a visual impact on viewers.  People can also create videos of your products and share them on their own sites - which could help build your brand and exemplify useability of your products.  When marketing a commodity product, creating interesting information can lead to people finding it, sharing your ideas as well as tell your stories.  When marketing a brand, the first thing to do is to be genuine in communicating what the brand is about, which contributes to the overall personality of the brand.  He describes the world wide rave as creating something valuable that people want to share as well as making it easy for them to do so.  When creating content it is important to keep these suggestions in mind when writing:
  • No one cares about your product.  You need to share remarkable or interesting content that helps to solve a problem.
  • No coercion.
  • Lose control.
  • Be involved.
  • Create triggers that encourage people to share.
  • Drive people to your stuff via search engines.
  • Make stuff available for free online.

Valuable Content 

Content is king for websites.  Companies achieve productive use of their content by pulling together various buyer markets, media and products into one comprehensive place (their website).  Segment buyers and appeal to them based on their needs, instead of just talking about your product or service.  Basic research on buyers can help you learn a great deal about them, making your marketing more effective by knowing what they read and how to attract their buyer personasEffective search engine marketing strategies are created by knowing words and phrases that buyers use, essentially helping to develop a positive relationships with them online.


Internet Forums and Blogging
Companies can contribute to discussions in Internet forums, while making sure to keep sale conversations offline in order to gain trust from active participants.  Bloggers take a role in information dissemination by harnessing millions of conversations online.  These communities make it easier for companies to monitor what people say about you, while also allowing you to participate in conversations by commenting on other blogs.  Companies could also work with bloggers who write about their industry, or shape conversations by creating or writing their own blogs.

February 5, 2012

Twitter: How To Use It For Your Business

[By Sarah Faglio]

TwitterMany view social networking websites as a place to socialize causally with other people.  However, recently, many companies have discovered the value of using social media platforms to increase their online presence, which can lead to new customers and general interest in their company.  Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to share text-based posts of up to 140 characters.  The service is growing at a rapid rate with over 200 million tweets per day and over 300 million users.  Twitter can be very useful for businesses in their online marketing campaigns if used actively and most productively.

Setting up your company page
Signing up for a company Twitter account is fairly straightforward and quick to do.  The name you provide should be the name of the company or owner.  However, the name of the company should be used so that it is easier for users to find you if they do not know the owner's name.  The username (also known as your handle) should also be the name of the company to allow for easy search as well.  The profile picture should be the company's logo, name, or other image that is clearly representative of the company.  The bio section should include a short synopsis of the company so that people know exactly what your industry is and what your company offers in terms of product type or service.  Be sure to use keywords in this bio that allow users to easily search for your company based on their interests or what they are looking for.  The web section should include a link to your company's website or blog.  The location section should include the city and state of your company's headquarters or main location.  When choosing a design for your background, use colors, images or logos that represent your company, as well as contact information.  Avoid making your background too busy, keeping it simple will make your twitter profile easier to view.

Twitter Updates
Posting updates
To maintain an active Twitter profile, it is important to produce tweets on a consistent basis - about a few times a day.  Tweets are allocated only 140 characters so it is important that your message uses keywords and an encompassing short description that successfully summarizes that main topic of the message.  These messages may include updates on your website such as new information, sales or special offers, new blog postings or press releases.  Tweets should also consist of industry updates, such as news or articles from credible sources (newspapers, industry magazines, study results or new blog posts from respectable writers of the industry).  Many articles found on the Internet have tweet buttons alongside or at the end of their articles, which make it easy for you to share by just clicking the link to share on your own Twitter profile.  This information could be found from tweets of credible sources that you follow as well as online research of those writing valuable content on your industry. 

Tweeting and getting your information shared
Sharing valuable content will get you the attention that your company needs from industry writers, clients, customers and potential customers or clients.  Including keywords, important topic that interest your customer or client base can boost attention and general interest in your tweets.  It is very important that you include hashtags (#topic) in your tweets so that they can show up in search results for that topic.  Hashtags consist of keywords relevant to your topic or main idea of the tweet.  A Twitter widget of your live stream could be connected to your website, so that it is consistently updated with topics shared on your Twitter profile.  Also, your Twitter feed could be connected with your company's Facebook page so that your tweets are circulated to that audience as well.  Tweet buttons can also be added to the conclusion or side of any articles or updates that your company produces - making it easy for others to share on their own Twitter accounts.  Follow buttons make it easier for your website visitors to find your Twitter account and follow your company.

TwitterTwitter is a very useful tool in spreading quick news and updates to your followers.  The short messages make it easier for people to engage with and understand the message being shared.  As a reputable company, it is important to be professional in all of your tweets and profile.  This makes followers take you seriously and value the information that you share.  When used efficiently, Twitter has the potential to greatly add to your business's marketing campaigns and reach to your target audience.