and people they like”
You’ve entered the world of social media. Your website is up and running, you’re becoming a Twitter enthusiast and now you’ve decided it’s time to add a blog to your marketing arsenal.
Before you launch into blogging you really have to ask yourself “Why?”. There are already over 200 million blogs out there so it’s essential you know why you’re spending this time doing something everyone else is already doing.
Don’t let the numbers put you off. You aren’t competing with the millions of others (that’s impossible!) but you will need to find your niche and have a purpose. Simply by having a purpose your likelihood to persist and persevere with your blog increases.
Confession time here, in the beginning I didn’t give blogging any thought at all. Someone asked me why I wasn’t blogging, so I just did. Yup, that much thought. My early blog entries are a (very) random series of miscellany that I wrote whenever I felt I should. But they served no purpose whatsoever and they never will.
And I’ve changed direction at least twice since I started. You can read my early work as it’s still here, nothing has been erased. I’ve left them on this blog as thoughtful, how not tos. They aren’t really terrible, just a bit clueless.
See I’m human. I’ll even share my not so greatest moments with you so you can learn from my not always so brilliant example.
Right, back to you and your blog. When you decide to write a blog to support your business you should at least start thinking about why.
Knowing why you’re blogging is not only important for goal setting and establishing a direction, it’s important as a motivation tool. Blogging is where you will spend the largest chunk of your time in your social media world. I don’t mean you’ll be on your blog for hours at a stretch, but writing a good blog takes up a greater chunk of time than send out a dozen tweets, or putting links onto your Facebook Business Page.
It’ll take you more than a few minutes to write something publishable, edit it, decorate it with pretty and relevant pictures, edit it again, save it, find those three (at least!) spelling mistakes, edit and again and then finally publish it. Then, and there is a then, time to promote it on your other social networks, using it to direct traffic and therefore clients to your website. Knowing all this activity has a point is essential to the small business owner.
So finally, why do people/companies/organisations blog? Here are a few reason why:
1. To establish your reputation as an expert
2. To engage in conversation with others
3. To express your thoughts – self publish
4. Show prospective clients who you are
5. To share ideas – can be both personal and business
6. To help and advise – again can be both personal and business
7. Enhance your chances of being found by search engines i.e. improve your visibility
8. For money – blogging as a job
9. Affiliate marketing – selling someone else’s product or service
10. To develop and sell a product
12. Fame and fortune
13. Writing content for other online resources or offline projects
Finding your niche and
connecting to your happy customers
Vancouver, Canada – 2011
You can blog for any one of these reasons or a combination of a few or most of them. Mine’s a cocktail of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11 (OK and as it’s ultimately for work and the blog does direct people my way, it’s also a bit of 8). Keep in mind when you start a blog that it’s work and it will take patience and it should be a part of your long term plan.
I understand there’s a learning curve and that the phenomena of social media can be a bit of a maze. It takes dedication, time and practice to learn how to use these tools to their best advantage.
Good luck and happy blogging.
– you take this network seriously and have respect for the business world, and fellow professionals online,
– you know how to take advantage of the best opportunities, and
– since you know how to network online properly, this demonstrates clearly that you’re Internet savvy.Connections and future connections on LinkedIn will be impressed, and take you more seriously, rather than the opposite, which is to relegate you to Deep Web oblivion.
1. Complete your profile 100%. According to LinkedIn, by fully completing your profile, you will be “40 times more likely to receive opportunities”. Well I suppose they would say that, wouldn’t they. But even if that statistic isn’t quite that high, “opportunities” should be an incentive for you to make the effort.
The world is getting astonishingly quicker and smaller as the phenomenon of the Internet has changed how we do business. Now with Social Media added to your business arsenal, you have yet another thing to do. Be honest, sometimes you don’t have time for it or maybe sometimes you just don’t feel like it. That’s OK. It’s allowed honest! And it’s completely human to want to step back once in awhile, if you feel you’ve had enough.
As you’re not Oscar Wilde, it’s hard to be eloquent all the time and it takes time and effort to dazzle on the Internet. With the incessant demands of life at 24/7, even poor Mr. Wilde would have felt his dagger sharp repartee dull every now and then. If you don’t have teams of people to help, sometimes you need to step back and recharge your batteries.
Unless Social Media is your full time job, make sure you keep it in it’s place as a useful and versatile tool for engaging your customers.
A few tips for keeping yourself dazzling:
1. Take a break from posting longer more involved articles or campaigns. Stop saying quite so much and possibly start sending out a few photos with short captions or share some sites (real or virtual) that you just quite like. Big plus side, it shows your audience that you are well-rounded, more human, more personable, more accessible i.e. more like them.
2. If you’ve been online a while its OK to cheat and bring back a post or an entry from a few months ago. Your new fans won’t have seen it and maybe your old fans need a refresher (the worse prospect is they’ll just won’t bother reading it again).
3. Let people know you’re having a offline vacation and let people know when you’ll be back. No six month cruises though! People will only “watch this” space so long. I feel it’s fine to tell your audience that you’re having a break. Make sure you don’t go onto deep hibernation for weeks, or months because you will be forgotten. Ensure you send out tidbits every now and then so they don’t forget who you are.
4. Maybe you’re tired because you’re throwing yourself around a bit too much. Did you dive into the Social Media arena without really thinking and tried giving it ALL a go? Periodically have a rethink and overhaul your marketing and communications strategy if necessary.
You might need to scale down your online activities and concentrate on creating better quality content on fewer platforms. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you have to. You’re not a lemming. Mindless following is not required. Be discerning and use the tools that work best for you.
5. Get help. Stop doing everything yourself, especially if you are really fed up and feel very unlikely to step up again. Delegate the responsibilities of Social Media to someone else (within your rules of course), spread it around a team or even outsource.
So stop beating yourself up for not being “on” and “with it” all the time. Just because the Internet is going round and round incessantly, doesn’t mean you have to try and keep up. Nor should you. You can, and should get off the insanity making online treadmill every now and then. You need a reality break and it’s great and necessary for getting some perspective.
I hope these bits of advice are helpful and that you get the timeout you need.
Why do I do this? Well as the inimitable Mr Wilde said:
OK I admit it. I waste time on the Internet. Photography and social media sites are my downfall. According to a study by Nielson – social networks and blogs count for 23% of total time spent online – (in the US – but it’s probably pretty much the same in most places). At least I can be comforted that I’m not alone.
But it’s hard not to be diverted. Especially when you work on your computer all day, it can be very hard not to be distracted by little, very shiny, new things. We all know that what’s happening on any of your three Twitter/Google+/Facebook/etc accounts is so much more appealing than focusing on paid work. And that new app/gadget/life changing device has to be scrutinized, commented on and shared immediately!
Without adding 6 hours to your day, how do you tear yourself away from all that sparkles on the Internet and devote yourself to paying work?
No painless answer. Sorry. The brutally honest truth is that it’ll require giving stuff up and some discipline on your part.
1. Ditch the myth of multitasking (I am absolutely not a believer, you just set yourself up to fail). No you can’t do more than one thing at the same time successfully. If necessary write a to do list and cross things off. Make a point of completing tasks before delving into something else.
2. Focus on the small goals that support your big goals. Get rid of the distractions that aren’t motivating you or helping you achieve your end goal. Are you using all those gadgets and online tools properly? Do they duplicate activities or make you pointlessly update more services?
3. Assess your use of Social Media. Are you really getting something out of it? Does it have a significant place in your overall marketing scheme and are you using it effectively? Be honest about this (and it’s hard). Often it’s more fun to chat and share than get any actual work done. Make sure your Social Media activities are (yep that dreaded but appropriate phrase) “fit for purpose”.
4. Be disciplined about your time. If you have to – draw up a chart, make a schedule, create a timetable and stick to it. Get a real clock and don’t rely on the tiny clock on your computer. Make sure you have a big visual so you are aware that those 5 minutes do go sailing by.
5. Stop playing games! Solitaire, Farmville, World of Warcraft, whatever. Those little treats you let yourself have as a break. Only after hours! Yep, you have to be a grown-up now (but only to a point!)
6. Chatting. Yep, stop talking so much. You have to be friendly and personable even online but be aware how long those conversations are going on for and be clear as to what is your agenda. Are you bored, flirting or is it really work?
All these tactics will require you to be conscientious and truthful about your working habits. The good news is, when you resolve to take back control of your time you will (oddly but ultimately) have more to spend it how you like.
So more time for wielding a big sword on WoW!
Now this is a topic that I really understand from both sides. And I hang my head in shame at my earlier self.
I was you. The skeptic. Well not exactly skeptical, a big, “Oh no I don’t want to do that. It’s going to take up time I don’t have and frankly I can’t be bothered”. That was me.
I run a small business helping people sort out in general terms their stuff, including: IT, files, information overload, etc…( and now Social Media of course). I was busy flinging myself around at networking events, attending forums, scrounging for clients in every legal way I knew how and generally getting on with the whole ship load of activities it takes to run a small business. Where was I going to find the time to engage in Social Media and honestly were my prospective clients even there yet?
That was two years ago. So most of my clients weren’t there and I had yet to take the plunge. As a vastly over qualified information professional (yep. breaking my arm, patting myself on the back :-)), I was already spending far too much time in the ether, on the Internet – trawling through databases, compiling research for clients, filing electronically and even with paper. So I knew all about information and people.
Hand on heart I just didn’t want to learn anything new. I knew what I was doing and how it was supposed to work. Well time for one of those paradigm shifts. Horses and cart can still get you from place to place to. Even walking works if you have enough time. But now, the Pony Express is but a legend and a great film set but no one is seriously ever going to contemplate it’s revival as a viable form of transportation.
We have and must move on. So kicking and screaming (all right mild foot stomping) I leapt into Social Media and against my traditional judgement I found myself liking it very much.
Why? “Why such a quick and devoted convert,” I hear you ask. Easy, I love that Social Media is available to all and it brings the consumer back in control. For how long have we been sold at, talked down to and had our likes and dislikes dictated to us? With Social Media the product don’t get any better but the customer service comes back into play and it becomes about us and not about them.
As the owner and operator of a small business that puts my clients’ needs first, that’s what I like the most. Customer service counts again! Social Media doesn’t improve the product but it does improve your relationship with your client.
Social Media is a forum that works for businesses of all descriptions and budgets of all sizes. As long as you have someone (or yourself) who is devoted to establishing a cunning plan and will work diligently towards establishing an engaging long term relationship with their client base, then everyone has a chance of success.
If you are a sole trader, a micro-business, a small or medium business, you can use Social Media effectively in your marketing scheme. Through proper time management, effective strategizing, you can creating a personalized niche for your brand and you will find the clients you want and deserve.
You can’t afford to ignore Social Media, not now and definitely not in the future. Social Media is still relatively new and over the next year even more businesses will start taking advantage of the opportunities it has to offer. For your business, find a format that suits you and your marketing strategy and start making a name for yourself. You don’t have to compete with the granddaddies of branding but you can promote yourself in your little corner of the web and the world.
There are currently over 500 million Twitter accounts, a billion million people on Facebook and the professional social networking site LinkedIn reached over 100 million members last year. Your people are out there.
Start talking to them.
Now this is the article where I show my true colours as a Social Media Heretic.
I’ve written a number of articles about following on Twitter and you have asked me how to, why to and mostly what to do. First off, please understand these are entirely my own opinions. I don’t run a complicated stats package and I don’t use studies or fancy algorithms to back up my insight. My Twitter advice comes from 20+ years working with people and establishing productive working relationships with them in the flesh and online. I do know what I’m doing. I was manhandling online information before Twitter and before Mark Zuckerberg had any friends.
What you get from me is straight talking.
If you have read any of my previous articles, you’ll know that my advice is primarily aimed at small and medium business enterprises. I want to help you develop and maintain an engaging, open and positive relationship with your clients. All my advice is based on my mantra (yep here we go again):
However, I’m not exclusive and any and all my advice can be taken on board by anyone. It’s good stuff!
I probably spend more time on Twitter than most because I want to get under its’ skin and find out how it works for those of you in the real world. It’s my job to sort it out Social Media for those of you who want to part-take but haven’t got the time or necessarily the inclination. I would like you to be able to maximize your opportunities and enable you to use your time online productively.
So back to being a Social Media Heretic.
For SMEs (and most of us) I sincerely believe that it’s not about big numbers but quality numbers. This is why I don’t adhere to the more is more plan of action. I don’t slavishly follow everyone who follows me. Honestly I don’t understand why some people do follow me. They obviously haven’t read any of my tweets, visited this blog or gone to my website. They usually leave before the week is out. Yes, confession time here. People leave me in droves! OK a minor trickle, but it happens.
I don’t care. (OK it’s very nice to have loads and loads of followers. I do enjoy having a fan club that may or may not listen to what I have to say. I’m human, I want to be liked!)
What I do care about more is the people I follow. And yes many followed me first and I liked what I saw and followed back. The others I discovered myself. I’m choosy not a ego manic.
“Oh, but you’re so mean because that’s not very nice”, I hear you cry. Not so. I’m sure the other 189, 999,301 plus accounts on Twitter will find their own fans (in some cases I wish they would just go away but…).
Come on! Who has the time?
Really is it important to be followed by everyone including the cat’s brother? Wouldn’t it be better to develop a solid core of interesting and engaged followers who actually know who you are? People and businesses you can talk to/sell to/rely on/are interested in? My answer is yes. Your most effective use of Twitter is as an integrated part of your marketing scheme. So use it to it’s best advantage to find your particular niche audience.
I say this because I feel that you must always keep in mind the “Social” aspect of Social Media and this require dialogue, interaction, exchange. You know – being social. And yes, to use Twitter really effectively you have to do this.
The formal lingo for developing a compatible/useful/involved following is called “Organic”. Because it’s a selective process, takes a lot of time and yes you have to wade through some decomposing natural products to get there (nice euphemism eh?).
In the long run (and do keep in mind that all Social Media is for the long run, it’s not an over night quick fix), developing your home grown organic followership will be much more rewarding than 1,500,000 followers who only need you to make their numbers look good.
It’s not just a popularity contest. Twitter is a business platform. Seriously.
Hope this helps clear up a few things. Any ideas, objections, insights……you know where I am.