September 10, 2010 Comments Off
Yesterday I received an email from one of our readers, asking on what social media sites he should try to secure his name (which can be either his personal name, or his website/business name, depending on what brand he is trying to promote).
In my opinion there are two that are absolutely a must: Twitter and Facebook. All the others are optional. Depending on the type of business you have some niche social sites might be compulsory too. For instance, if you are a photographer you should try to secure your name/brand on Flickr too.
That being said, if you have time available it could be a good idea to secure your name on as many social sites as possible. This will solidify your brand and enable you to interact with your audience/customers on many different platforms.
There is a web tool that helps with this task. It is called namechk.com.
You just need to put the desired name on the search box and the tool will check whether it’s available on not on around 150 social media sites. You can also use it as a list of the sites where you can go and create a profile, as some of them will also let you place a backlink to your website.
(Via Daily Blog Tips.)
July 21, 2010 Comments Off
This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.
In a world where small businesses with corporate blogs receive 55 percent more traffic than small businesses that don’t blog, companies should be taking note on how to improve their blogs, attract more readers and get more results.
But still, a lot of companies with corporate blogs seem to be bogged down in uniformed policies and simply aren’t thinking outside the box. Afraid to take on colorful personalities or step a bit outside of their company’s happenings, many corporate blogs employ an official tone announcing the play-by-play updates of company news. This is just one mistake that businesses are making in the blogging world.
There is a laundry list of issues that need to be addressed when it comes to improving corporate blogs, but here we’ve narrowed down the key elements that companies should focus on. Here are 10 tips for corporate bloggers hoping to make a positive splash in their communities.
1. Establish a Content Theme and Editorial Guidelines
When creating a product or service, you must be able to define the value that it’s bringing to consumers. In the case of a blog, you need to clearly define the focused theme that your team will follow. Choose a blog name and theme that fits well with your company’s expertise, but don’t be afraid to branch out into a larger space. Your blog should provide pertinent information for consumers interested in your area of business.
Once you’ve chosen an area to cover, create a set of editorial guidelines that your bloggers will follow. Guidelines can include appropriate verticals and topics to cover, as well as how and when posts should be written.
A clear goal and theme for your blog will make it easier for users to know what to expect. For example, Dogstuff, an online shop for canine gifts, toys and supplies, hosts a blog called Dog Blog. The blog is simple and to the point, and it’s more than evident that the blog is about dogs. The theme is specific enough for readers to understand what they may find, but it is such a broad topic, that almost limitless posts are possible.
2. Choose a Blogging Team and Process
Choose a team of core bloggers to begin your blogging adventure. Select individuals that are knowledgeable and comfortable writing about the areas you would like to cover. Also, it’s key to choose people who write well and have a great online presence.
Train your bloggers on the editorial guidelines and decide what type of writing and editing process you would like to put in place. Some companies prefer to elect an editor or group of editors to have a final look at all blog posts, while other companies allow their bloggers to publish directly. Figure out the level of comfort you have with your blogging, editing and publishing process and implement a procedure that works well for your team.
3. Humanize Your Company
A company blog is an opportune place to let down your hair and get to know your customers. Think of it as a conversation between people, not between a brand and one person. In order to have a conversation, you need two people — a blogger and a reader.
Give your corporate bloggers the freedom to be themselves. Encourage them to have their own personalities and writing styles. This type of diversity is more representative of your company than any monotonous tone that you could manufacture on your own.
Always keep in mind that your blog is about people connecting and conversing with people, not a corporation. Throw away that ‘corporate’ concept, and you’ll be ahead of most.
4. Avoid PR and Marketing
If maintained correctly, your blog will act as a repository of real analysis and opinions provided by your company’s fine employees. The type of insight and expertise that a blog can demonstrate is far more useful than any PR pitch that you could post. Stay away from trying to sell your readers. There are appropriate venues for that, and your blog shouldn’t be one of them.
Continue to add to the conversation, adding value for your readers. Your opinions will be priceless. And for the times that you don’t have an opinion on an important topic, gauge your community’s opinion by taking a poll or interviewing key people.
Lululemon Athletica, a yoga-inspired athletic apparel company, constantly adds value to its community through its blog by providing posts on topics that their core followers would appreciate. Some of the most recent posts were on how to do a handstand, protect the lower back, and explore a new city.
Readers will get a taste of the massive knowledge bank available at your company. Take your mind off of marketing, and you’ll find that the analysis that you provide sells your company better than a press release ever could.
5. Welcome Criticism
Oftentimes, corporations shy away from opening up their websites and blogs for commenting and interaction, because they are afraid of the harm that criticisms may cause. Make it a policy to welcome criticism, thinking of it as an opportunity for feedback and improvement. There are lots of ways to deal with negative feedback, so don’t be afraid to open up to your community.
6. Outline a Comment Policy
Be aware that if you open up your blog for full feedback (which you should), you will get a variety of comments — constructive, complimentary, hateful, and spam. Be prepared for everything. Create a comment policy that your team can follow, and make sure everyone is on same page. Outline the types of comments that should be responded to, deleted or passed along for follow-up.
7. Get Social
Make sure your blog is open for comments and utilizes share tools, such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. Share tools allow your users to pass along your content. Why not allow your readers to promote your work?
Put forth an effort to respond to comments or forward them on when a specific employee could offer the best expertise in that area. Make sure each employee maintains a personable tone when responding to comments, so that readers know that your bloggers are genuine.
Lastly, if you haven’t done so already, implement a social media strategy for your blog, creating the appropriate profiles across social networks that your readers and customers are active on. Usually, Facebook and Twitter are a good start, and YouTube is a must for video-sharing. When you post on your blog, announce the new post on your social networks and ask for your readers’ opinions on the subject.
Promote your social presence on your blog, by implementing links, buttons and widgets that link to your social profiles. This will enable readers to stay connected with you across platforms. Whole Foods’ blog, Whole Story, for example, displays its social links prominently at the top of the blog.
8. Promote Your Blog
Just as you would promote any other company initiative, get the word out about your blog. Share the URL on your website, social networks, business cards, e-mails, and advertisements.
Without promotion, building an audience can be difficult. Get behind the quality work that your team is putting into the blog and promote away.
9. Monitor Mentions and Feedback
One way to get a pulse on your blog and its effects on the community is to monitor mentions and feedback. Set up Google Alerts for your brand, blog name and any keywords that might be relevant. Search on Technorati and Twitter for those set terms.
To make things easier with Twitter, set up custom search columns in a Twitter client, such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or CoTweet. The columns will update in real time, keeping you up-to-date on brand and blog mentions at all times.
Getting more sophisticated, you should look into social media brand management tools, such as Radian6, for monitoring keywords across social sites.
10. Track Everything
You’re probably accustomed to tracking everything, and your blog is no different. If your blog is a page on your website, make sure your current web analytics tools are set to track all the same data that it monitors on your website. If you don’t currently have a web analytics tool, check out Google Analytics, a free analytics tool with an easy-to-use interface.
At the minimum, make sure you’re tracking site traffic, where referrals are coming from, and traffic-wise which posts are doing best. Learn from the data and adjust your blogging guidelines accordingly.
April 24, 2010 Comments Off
This past week certainly flew by at the speed of Google Fiber. If you didn’t get the chance to take in all the how-tos, app reviews, and business tips found here on Mashable, rest assured, we’ve gathered them into another convenient resource buffet, fully stocked for some all-you-can-read weekend enjoyment.
This week’s edition includes some easy ways to make a difference with social media, a look at how video conferencing technology is improving education, some new social strategies for businesses of any size, and much more.
- Dear Foursquare: This Is Not the Right Time to Sell
The location-based network’s extraordinary growth and buzz have caught the eye of Internet heavyweights, notably Yahoo. But if the Foursquare team aims to be a worldwide game-changer like Facebook and Twitter before them, it may be wise to forego the big pay day and keep on truckin’.
- 9 Ways to Do Good With 5 Minutes or $25
Social media makes it easier than ever to make a difference. Whether you can donate a little bit of time, or a little bit of money, check out these easy ways to contribute on the web or on your phone.
- How Social Media Can Effect Real Social and Governmental Change
Transparency, open APIs, and free-flowing information are just a few of the ways societies and governments can be improved. This post discusses some important social media campaigns that have made a difference.
- 4 Tips for Tapping Into Twitter Conversations
Twitter is so much more than just sending updates and links into the void — it’s the world’s real-time conversation. If you want to take part, heed the advice in this post.
- Exclusive: Tour the ‘If I Can Dream’ Command Center [VIDEO]
The interesting new reality/online video hybrid show ‘If I Can Dream’ hit the web on March 2nd, and its impressive production and technical values have turned more than a few heads. This exclusive tour of the show’s HQ sheds some insight on the unique experiment.
- 5 More Ways to Go Green for Earth Day
Earth Day may have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the environmental awareness hook. Explore these social strategies for going green any time of year.
- How Social Media Helped Travelers During the Iceland Volcano Eruption
The Icelandic volcano eruption cost millions in airline revenue and left thousands stranded, but it may have opened new windows of communication. See how travelers and airlines took advantage of social channels to relay vital information that call centers and websites could not.
For more social media news and resources, you can follow Mashable’s social media channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.
Tech & Mobile
- HOW TO: Give Your iPhone a Spring Clean
With so many tempting apps available for download, it’s easy for your iPhone to get cluttered. Well spring is here, and it’s time to organize your mobile life. Check these tips on streamlining your beloved handheld.
- 5 Ways Classrooms Can Use Video Conferencing
Web-based video chat has allowed students to connect with a world of experts and curricula that were previously unavailable. Take a look at these five examples of high-tech education in action.
- 10 Free iPhone Apps to Help You Go Green for Earth Day
Environmentalism doesn’t stop at your desktop. Staying green on the go can be a little bit easier with these 10 resourceful iPhone apps.
- 10 Excellent Examples of Recycled Gadgetry
If you’re all about gadget-themed decor and apparel (and who isn’t really?), you won’t want to miss these awesome products, built from the circuits and wires of yesterday’s tech.
For more tech news and resources, you can follow Mashable’s tech channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.
- Why It’s More Important Than Ever To Be an Early Adopter Brand
If your business aims to compete at the speed of social media, it’s critical that you be ahead of the curve on the latest trends. This post discusses why.
- HOW TO: Reignite Your Business Network Online
Without a viable network, your business probably wouldn’t be successful. If that old Rolodex or business card pile is growing stale, here are some tips for reconnecting online.
- How Recruiters are Using Social Media for Real Results
Social media has opened up a whole new channel for recruiters to scout. Here are some tips from the pros who have landed great candidates from the social web.
- How Companies Can Use Sentiment Analysis to Improve Their Business
What are people saying about your brand on the web? Is it good or bad? How bad should it get before you intervene? These questions can be answered by employing a sentiment analysis strategy.
- 5 Unique Ways to Use Twitter for Business
Contests, customer service, recruiting — it’s all been done on Twitter. If your business is looking for some fresh ideas, be sure to check in here.
- 8 Social Media Strategies to Engage Multicultural Consumers
The purchasing power of multicultural consumers is growing exponentially. If you want to reach them, you need to understand how to connect. This post has some tips on using social media to do so.
- 5 Masterminds That Have Redefined Startup Life
Along the road of Internet entrepreneurship, there have been thought leaders who took risks, and changed the game for everyone. Check out these five profiles of some of the most influential minds in tech business.
- Why Retention Should Be Your Top Priority in Social Media Marketing
If your business model hinges only on how virally your product is shared, you may be missing the bigger picture. For long-term sustainability, customer retention is key.
- Top 10 YouTube Tips for Small Businesses
YouTube is a too-often neglected channel for promoting your business. Because it’s free and has incredible reach, it’s the perfect platform for small businesses to set up shop. Here are 10 best practices to note while exploring your web video strategy.
- HOW TO: Add Blogger Outreach to Your PR Plan
The opinions of bloggers reach far and wide, making them a great vehicle for your brand. If you haven’t added blogger outreach to your PR arsenal, read these tips for best results.
For more business news and resources, you can follow Mashable’s business channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.