Monday, December 31, 2012

Social media year in review

This has been the most spectacular year for those of us involved in social media. The entire industry has grown in leaps and bounds. More entrepreneurs and companies are using it to help grow their businesses. Athletes, musicians and individuals are so involved in social media that they use it multiple times every day.

Here are some of the highlights of 2012:
  • Facebook stock goes public. Mark Zuckerberg gets even richer.
  • Facebook buys Instagram for a big pile of money.
  • Obama is called the “cool” president, has impromptu visit on Reddit and crashes the system.
  • Infographics are on the rise, using pictures and words to get a message to huge numbers of people.
  • Twitter had a record number of tweets during Super Storm Sandy.
  • Angry Cat and other fun memes flood social media.
  • Pinterest becomes 6th most popular social media.
  • Finding lost kids is enhanced with social media. Since it is incredibly fast, it gets the word out almost immediately.
  • Gangnam Style goes viral. Do you know how to do that dance?
  • Find lost pets, rehoming pets. Gets the word out faster and to more people than traditional methods.
  • The new MySpace – it’s bigger, better than ever and making a comeback.
  • Instagram changes policy, people get angry, Instagram changes it back in a matter of a couple days.
  • School shooting in Newtown, CN has social media ablaze with outrage, gun control opinions, tributes and an outpouring of emotions.
No one wants to read text these days. That’s why this list is a list, in bullet form. Infographics are snowballing in popularity because the graphics make it simpler than a paragraph of words, to get the information to the masses. People all over the world want instantaneous information and they do not want to spend a lot of time reading it.

The best thing that happened in 2012 with social media is that people now take this method of communication seriously – more now, than ever before. So, here’s to the end of 2012 and to watching social media grow even bigger than anyone ever imagined in 2013!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Instagram chief bends to pressure

The people have spoken. After the deluge of people bombarding instagram over their recently announced policies to take ownership of all photos beginning Janaury 2013, they have scrapped the idea.

Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom wrote, “The concerns we heard about from you the most focused on advertising, and what our changes might mean for you and your photos.”

While claiming that people misunderstood his intentions, Systrom continued, “Because of the feedback we have heard from you, we are reverting this advertising section to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010.”

Once again, this is proof of how powerful social media is. In just a matter of a couple days, the photo sharing app changed its plan. The announcement was made, people were appalled and began deleting the app or simply stopped using it.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, purchased the popular Instagram in 2012 for about a billion dollars in stock and cash. With over 100,000 million users, he could not afford for everyone to switch to another way to share photos.

Twitter is ramping up its photo sharing feature. It is now more flexible and user-friendly to compete with other apps. People can post pictures directly from the Twitter app. I often use this photo sharing feature when I am posting on Twitter.

When using a photo app to grow your business, there are so many options. During the past two days, I tried a number of other apps, but didn’t find anything that I liked as much as Instagram.

While Pinterest is a nice app, without the photo editing options Instagram has, it has a different focus. Pinterest is more about sharing photos you see on websites and less about promoting your own photos.

Since I am one of the multitude of Instagram users, I am thrilled that they will be changing their proposed plans. And I feel good about using the app again.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Instagram’s latest policy may cause them to go extinct

After all of the great times we’ve had with Instagram, the latest news might be the end of the popular app. Starting mid-January, Instagram, which was recently purchased by Facebook, has the rights to use any photos posted on the app. They can even use the photos for the purposes of advertising their product or selling photos without even giving any credit to the person who took the photo. What’s up with that? 

This is a perfect example of how social media can create change in a company. People have about a month to start bombarding Instagram with angry messages about how they want their photos to belong to them and not to be used or sold without compensation. 

Recent updates have given more options to the Instagram app. They added another photo style and changed the look of the program. This is supposed to make it more attractive to users. But the idea of the program selling photos without compensating or even acknowledging their users seems a bit unfair. There are plenty of other companies, like Hipstimatic, will be happy to have new users switch to their product.

I noticed that a few of my Facebook friends posted that they closed their Instagram accounts today. National Geographic has suspended posting photos as of this evening. I have a friend who is a photographer for them and he makes crazy money on each photo. Knowing that Instragram can use photos for free that after they pay tons of money to their photographers is going to keep them from posting anything. Their pictures were honestly the most amazing things I’ve seen on Instagram [not including family stuff].

This situation is quite a big deal in the realm of social media. A lot of people promote their businesses by using this app, but are not going to give Instagram free access to photos they pay to use themselves.

You have until January 16, 2013 to quit using the app or accept the fact that your photos are no longer your own. There are other, not as popular photo apps, that can be used instead. Whether Instagram changes their policy may depend on complaints and whether or not people jump ship and stop using this app.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Facebook down, OMG!

No, the world didn’t come to an end last night. It just seemed that way when Facebook had a little hiccup. What would we do without Facebook? It has become such a part of everyday life that all other social media went crazy with comments about it, which is interesting in its own way.

I had the most amazing time during the 15-20 minutes Facebook was down. Honestly, with the panic that ensued, it seemed like the problem lasted a lot longer. At first I thought my internet connection went down. According to what I read, a lot of people had the same thought.

Some people did not lose Facebook at all. Others could use the mobile version. The fact that people even mentioned that, shows how much this social media is imbedded in our society.

Because the site is so popular, it demonstrates why every business should have a page and use it. You need to post on your Facebook page at least a few times a week, preferably every day, to get the most out of the site. Also, adding links to your regular website will help send traffic to the social media page.

Millions of people are using social media every single day. If you want to grow your business, you have to be a part of it. I met someone at an in-person networking event recently who told a business owner, “If you’re so great, why doesn’t anyone know about you?”

So true! Enjoy the fact that free social media sites are here for your business. Every now and then there is a little problem, but for the most part they are a presence that must be part of your marketing if you are to succeed.

Just for fun, here are some of the fantastic comments I read last night. I didn’t attribute these to the people who sent them in case they didn’t want their names mentioned.

I’m predicting an explosion of births nine months from today. #facebook

Thought I broke #facebook but apparently it’s just down at the moment...

I didn’t realize how much #facebook meant to me :'(

#facebook is the number one trend worldwide.... Oh the irony

#facebook is down, How will i know what everyone is eating right now?!?

Because #facebook was down, he turned his head only to discover that his wife left him months ago, that he was hungry and that he had to pee

#facebook Is down, how will I know if my elderly next door neighbor is ok? I could knock and ask, but, face to face interaction, ewww.

This is Twitter in its prime; when #Facebook goes down and people need another social networking site to vent their frustration.

OMG #facebook is down. The Mayan doomsday calendar must be off by a few days.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Did social media hamper a police standoff?

Last weekend in Baltimore, a blogger was barricaded in his home while police tried to arrest him on an outstanding warrant. The warrant was had something to do with a firearms charge. 

I watched it unfold on Twitter as one of the Baltimore Sun reporters was giving updates on his page about the police standoff that lasted over four hours. As the police negotiator trying to talk to the man on the phone, he was sharing the conversation in a live webcast.

In this case, did social media backfire? Not, really. The guy was eventually arrested.

Did it give an unfair advantage the man who was surrounded by police? No. Again, he was arrested.

Does social media sabotage the police in certain situations? Maybe, although I’m not so sure.

Did the general public learn the “secrets” to negotiations? Every negotiation is different, so I think not.

Everything has a good and bad side. Maybe this was one case where having access to the internet worked against the good guys. According to Baltimore police, they serve about a dozen of this type of warrant every day, usually without having their discussions broadcast all over the world.

There have been plenty of other times where internet access actually helps the good guys. And, in the end, the man was taken into custody without incident, just not before he pled his case to the public. Of course, he also let everyone know that he was about to be arrested. I’m not so sure that had him winning any new friends. 

We always have to take the good with the bad, and try to turn the bad situations into a learning experience. Live webcasts can do a lot of good in the world.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Look beyond seasonal advertising

Every year, and earlier each year, we are inundated with holiday advertising. Bombarded, is probably a better description. Do you think this advertising works? Or, is there so much advertising, that we fog over and don’t hear any of it? Obviously, it works or no one would do it. But, it can be a little overwhelming at times. I saw my first Christmas ad of the year over the summer for K-Mart (I think) and how they brought back layaway this year.

As for marketing, it must continue year round for your business to succeed. If you only market in lean times, you will end up with peaks and valleys in your income. What happens is, people tend to stop marketing when they are busy, so no new business comes to them. Then, there is a period of time with less work. They begin marketing again and things pick up again.

If instead, you market your business steadily, work flow will remain constant. This might sounds silly, but don’t be afraid of having too much work! You can always farm out some of your tasks. Find a virtual assistant. Get someone to return calls for you. Hire a freelancer to do some parts of the job you do not like, or are not your strong suit. Then you can concentrate on what you do best and your business will grow.

Remember, having tons of work is your ultimate goal.

If you truly want to increase your business, get a plan together for what to do when work is plentiful. How will you handle an avalanche of new business? Maybe the part time worker or freelancer who currently puts in a few hours a week, will turn into your full time staff.

Keep on marketing, no matter what the season. You will discover a more consistent work flow and better financial results.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Eight ways to attract viewers to your blog

Here is a list of eight ways to raise your popularity. In the comments section, feel free to add any ideas of your own.

1. Post as often as possible. Make your blog entries become a permanent fixture in your readers’ lives. There is something be said for consistency.

2. Add links to some of the old blogs within a new blog. Invariably, you will write about a similar subject to one you wrote about in the past. Connect your older blog with your new one and you will certainly add page views.

3. Use images. Whenever you can, add images, videos, infographics – anything that will attract the eyes of people scanning through pages of information. The image will grab them, and great writing will keep them.

4. Answer all comments people post on your blog. Also, comment on other blogs. This increases your credibility.

5. Give timely and useful information. A blog that says nothing has no reason to be read. Relate big news items like the election, hurricanes, sports victories or other popular trending topics to your blog.

6. Write a great headline. Sometimes the headline is an afterthought. Make sure your headline is as engaging as the rest of the blog.

7. You have a sense of humor – use it! Even if you are writing about a serious topic, being clever and witty will keep people reading.

8. Don’t forget other social media! This probably should have been the first thing on the list. Spread your wealth of information all over the internet. Use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and all of the bookmarking sites to get as many viewers as possible.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Twitter to make changes

What makes Instagram better than Twitter? Nothing soon! Twitter is going to add Instragram-like photo editing features to the mobile page putting it in direct competition with the well-known photo app. So, how does this help Twitter? It gives people more incentive to stay on the site longer.

Any time you stay on a site or app, they benefit. Advertisers have a better chance to grab your business. And, at the same time, they are taking business away from other mobile apps.

All of these apps are trying to one-up each other. Guess who benefits? We do, as consumers. The apps are becoming more sophisticated and provide new options, as people get more attached to them. Many apps come in and out of popularity, but Twitter has had staying power.

Right now, many people including Twitter VIPs, actors and athletes, are taking a photo with their phone, manipulating it in Instagram and then posting it to social media. By giving users the option to edit the photo right in the Twitter app, it saves a step. In the settings section, users can set up their Twitter page to post everything on both Facebook and Twitter. That saves social media people like me, precious time and effort. Removing the need for Instagram would make things even easier.

I’ve been a huge fan of Twitter from the first time I used it because of the 140 character limit. While some people see that as a negative, I love it. I feel like you should be able to sum up anything with 140 characters. It eliminates the fluff and reduces your message to the real facts.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Too bad social media can’t change the weather

While the weather can change social media, it’s too bad it can’t be the other way around. Of course, Hurricane Sandy is trending and so is FEMA while the wind whips around my house and knocks branches off the trees. Just as I typed this, a big gust of wind hit and my dog went flying upstairs to hide.

In Baltimore, we’re bracing for heavy-duty winds from now until about 2 a.m. I can only hope my power holds out through the worst of it. My neighborhood has above ground lines so we lose power quite often during bad storms.

Social media is obviously abuzz over this storm. Not only are people posting about power outages, weather updates, but crazy photos of Godzilla walking in New York Harbor and the State of Liberty with a ominous looking, swirling cloud have been Photoshopped. Don’t believe everything you see, people!

Some of us, who are considered technically savvy people, look at every photo with a little bit of skepticism. We’ve manipulated photos enough to look the way we want them that we are naturally looking for shadows that don’t all go in the same direction or other signs of photo altering.

Knowing that people are home from work, and surfing cyberspace to wait out the storm, gives some of us the opportunity to reach people who don’t always see what we post. And, it’s nice to know that I can look on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Google+ and see that my friends are “hunkered down” as Baltimore’s mayor told us to do. I’m sure all of social media is working with higher than normal traffic.

I can at least see that my friends and family members are okay, when they are posting status updates and photos or forwarding someone else’s photos. Surfing and reading, that’s really a relaxing thing to do while you are “hunkering down.”

Cross your fingers, offer a good thought and let’s keep spirits up during Mother Nature’s latest attack on us. She seems really pissed today.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Photo sharing fun

Have you purchased anything that needs to be assembled lately? If so, you might have noticed that many things do not have words in their instructions. It’s all symbols and drawing. Maybe it is because the products are sold all over the world, but I wonder if it is not something else. It seems that today, sharing drawings, photos and videos is becoming just as important as sharing the written word.
Choosing a way to share your photos has become a competitive industry. There are many from which to choose: Hipstamatic, Pinterest, Instagram or a host of other apps that allow people to share their smart phone photos with the world. They are all easy to use, for the most part.

Original photo on left, edited version on right.
 Hipstamatic wants people to find that artist within themselves. Pinterest seems to concentrate on style and fashion. Instagram became popular as a way to share food photos. Millions of people are using them, deciding which one(s) to use is a dilemma. It seems like just when I get used to using something, it falls out of favor and another has come to take its place. At the same time, I do not want to neglect the people I have already made a connection with. I end up dividing my time and photos among various photo sharing options.

Most of the photo sharing apps will allow the user to edit, crop and change the lighting. Many can make the photo look old-timey, artsy or have some special effect that makes a poor quality photo appear like the photographer did it on purpose (always good for my sad photography skills). Photos can be imported from the phone’s camera roll or taken through the app, manipulated and then exported to other social media sites. It is a way for people to share photos of every aspect of their lives, which seems to be important these days. 

Original photo on left, edited version on right.
And, 300 words in, I get to the point. You can drive prospective clients to your website, blog or other page with your amazing photos. Allow people to get to know your brand. Use descriptions with hashtags making your photos searchable. Follow people who are in your target audience. They just might follow back. You can add text to the actual photo in some apps. Add your website. Give the people a way to find your business.
People are making money using these apps by funneling business to their more serious website, Facebook page, Twitter page, Google+ or blog.

Take some photos and give it a try. Who doesn’t like taking pictures? I took about 20 photos while walking my dog the other way to give a new app a try (see above). It is a fun way to get your message to the masses and grow your business.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Make the most of mobile media

People use social media at work and at home, but they also use it on their smart phones and tablets. As a marketing professional, you need to take advantage of that. Have you ever looked at your own website on a smart phone?

Some websites and/or blogs look great on a computer, but not so hot on a phone or tablet. You need to address this as more people are using their cell phones to look up businesses when they are not at home. Your phone number or contact information must be easy to find on your mobile site so people can reach you.

It is not out of the question to create your own app that can be downloaded by your clients. You don’t have to be a bank, sports team or large company to have an app. You can put some handy content on a smart phone app that will encourage clients to keep it on their phone. Give them something useful, reference material that your target market wants and needs to have at their fingertips. Every time the client turns on their phone or tablet, your app is staring them in the face. Your name becomes familiar to them and as they get to know and trust you, they will buy from you.

When you optimize online business listings, like through Bing, allow businesses to register and set up a mobile page. You can promote that on your social media so that people can bookmark your listing for easy access.

Put some thought into how people can use your blog, website and even an app when they are away from home. You might just discover a whole group of people that become new clients.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Iphone issues resolved

After a couple weeks of my iphone acting like it’s lost it’s mind, I am currently restoring it as a new phone. Poof! All of my hours of work on Angry Birds – gone! Poof! All of my work on Stupid Zombies – gone! I’m calling it work, because some of those levels were really hard.

I also feel like I’m having a long distance relationship with my contact at Apple. He’s a very nice person. Last week he was on vacation and I didn’t really want to work with someone else since he’s been so helpful. He would have stayed on the phone with me while my phone does its updating thing. I didn’t want to hold him hostage, so I let him go. He’ll be back. The Apple people actually call back when they say they will.

My issue, if you missed the blog a few weeks ago, was that I upgraded to iphone OS 6.0 and suddenly the icloud is not working. It thinks I still have my old, now defunct, email address. Everything is fine on my computer and mostly everything is fine on the phone. It’s just the cloud, which is one place to backup your data. It’s kind of important.

Please understand that I have had Apple products since the 1980s. I am a huge fan. This is now become my life’s work – to straighten out my phone and not lose all of my contacts, photos and other data. I’m sad that I lost my high scores. But, hey, I did it once. I can do it again! I didn’t lose any apps that I purchased. They will still be there.

I have to say that the people at Apple are extremely helpful when something doesn’t work. I have had problems with PCs, I didn’t even know who to call. Maybe I’m spoiled by fine products and English speaking help, but I think Apple’s customer service is top notch. I have engineers and technical people trying to solve my problem.

If only all of life’s problems were solved with such friendliness and a willingness to help. Sure, that’s what they are paid to do, but have you called a customer service person lately? You are lucky if you can even figure out how to speak to a human being. And, in the case of my cable/internet/phone provider, friendly and courteous service is not always offered.

My iphone is updated. I lost my high scores. I had to reset all of my settings and re-enter my passwords on Twitter, Facebook, etc., but I’m back with my head in the clouds – AKA icloud is working again! All is well once more in the realm of my computer equipment.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

“Wheel of Fortune” tryouts

I took a break from social media today as the Wheel of Fortune show came to town looking for new contestants. As a tribute in memory of my grandmother, who used to give me grief when I would blurt out the answers before she knew them, I decided to go to the tryouts. I must say, it was an incredible disappointment. The way they chose people to come up on stage was completely random, names drawn out of a big drum. 

The event was held in a closed storefront that used to be a Best Buy. It was completely empty save a few tall tables with no chairs, a display from the local affiliate station and the stage.

I’m guessing a few thousand people were there, and only about 100 got to shine on stage. They encouraged people to be outrageous. One woman brought her husband up with her and they danced. Another woman sang. It nearly became a talent show.

The “traveling Pat Sajak” and “traveling Vanna White” (not the actual people, but people who play their parts during the tryouts), were less than spectacular. The man was practically yelling into the microphone and did a number of weird jumps and leaps on stage. I guess this is minor leagues for television emcees. I’ll say the man especially, was trying a little too hard.

The “traveling Pat” did his best to pump up the audience. He was asking people what their favorite show was. And the answer was a screaming, “Wheel of Fortune!”

There was no wheel to spin. The letter board was made up of small dry erase whiteboards. The “traveling Vanna” would write in the letters as they were guessed. After talking to five “contestants” they just asked each person to guess a letter and then they had three seconds to guess the puzzle. There was only one puzzle, then the next group of five came up to the stage and were interviewed. This went on for four hours.

I guessed almost all of the puzzles before the people up on the stage. I hate to brag, but I am pretty good at that game.

Each of the people who made it to the stage received some kind of WOF swag. The rest of us poor slobs got nothing. Well, I won’t say that. There were stickers and key chains from the local affiliate. Lame.

After all the “games” were played they promised that everyone would be put into a “second chance” drawing. In fact, even if people were picked to come up to the stage and even if they guessed the puzzle correctly, there was no promise that any of them would be on the show.

And, of course, if chosen I’d be responsible for getting across the country to where the show is taped. I seriously doubt they’ll be doing a Baltimore group of shows, but you never know. The best part of the whole experience was the ridiculous Winnebago pulling a trailer with the tackiest artwork on it (see above).

It was an interesting experience, but not too much fun. The person who was supposed to go with me had a pet emergency so I had to go it alone. They are doing it again tomorrow, but there is an Orioles baseball playoff game and a Ravens football game that need watching!

My feet hurt. Some people brought their own folding chairs. But those were the only seats available. I probably should have stayed at my computer. This is what happens when I leave the comfort of my home office and venture out into the real world.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Twitter is blowing up with political comments

Just when people are saying that social media does nothing for their business, a great stat about how effective it is blows that theory out of the water. Last night’s presidential debate was the biggest political event EVER for Twitter.

While making a statement about the debates does nothing for my business, or probably yours, it does show the impact that this powerful medium is making. According to Twitter, there were 10.3 million tweets in the 90 minutes during the debate. That is a lot of tweeting!

The most tweetable (if that’s a word) moment was when Mr. Romney asked to move on to a new debate topic. Moderator Jim Lehrer responded a cheeky “Let’s not.” There were 158,690 tweets per minute in that flurry of tweeting. I love it!

Seeing the full impact of Twitter gives me great ammo to use when I talk to people about social media. Of course, my clients’ small businesses are not going to generate that kind of traffic. But, knowing that millions of people are using this social medium at all hours of the day and night, demonstrates the powerful presence that Twitter has on today’s society.

Former VP Al Gore made comments about President Obama’s performance being altered by the altitude in Denver. He was mocked world-wide for his statements and is, as of this writing, still trending. Twitter has been buzzing about it all day.

Of course, Facebook was no slouch either. Many of my personal friends were commenting throughout the course of the debate. I’m sure that was happening all over the country and beyond. I’ve notice that a lot of people resent any political comments on their Facebook pages and have limited comments by friends who constantly talk politics.

A couple weeks ago, I was eating at a restaurant and the waiter happened to mention that he actually deactivated his Facebook account until after the election. While that seemed a little extreme to me, I can understand it. Personally, I like to keep comments about politics and religion to myself. But, I like to read what everyone has to say, if only to see on which side of the fence they stand.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sports and social media

Continuing with a sports motif… Catch the Redskins game last night? Former Baltimore Raven and now Washington Redskin, Billy Cundiff, missed three field goals before kicking a game winner in the last few seconds of the game. You might wonder what this has to do with social media – actually, quite a lot.

Billy Cundiff missed a critical field goal for the Ravens last year during the playoffs and the entire city turned against him. His teammates were the first people to speak out in his defense. Ray Lewis was quoted as saying, “We win as a team, we lose as a team.” That did little to stop the horrible tweets, Facebook posts and other social media insults and threats.

Using social media for good instead of evil, should be our goal. Focus on what the kicker did in the last play of the game and not threaten his life.

Sometimes it is best to keep your opinions to yourself. This is especially true if you are trying to grow your business and use your social media to do that. You never know who is reading your posts or how they feel about any given situation.

There was an interview with baseball sportscaster Joe Buck on TV last night. He also received negative tweets and was reading them on his phone during the games. He said it affected the way he did his job. He had to stop using Twitter to keep his peace of mind. Are you driving people away from social media with negative comments? Let’s hope not!

Iran has blocked certain websites from that country, although they have unblocked gmail today. We live in a wonderful, free society and to take that freedom and use it to heckle, harass and browbeat people is wrong.

Let’s try and have some good karma. Think of at least one nice thing to tweet or post on Google+ , LinkedIn or Facebook

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ice Hockey and Social Media

My nephew Jake plays ice hockey for the University of Maryland (Go Terps!) and because it is a club team, they do not have good attendance or recognition for their efforts. Don’t get me wrong, they play as hard as any hockey players. The games are certainly not televised and the webcasts are not the greatest. They have a website and Facebook page and at one time there was a Twitter page, but it did not have a lot of activity.

I believe the wifi is not very strong at the arena. Using a webcam for a wide shot of an entire ice rink is not the best way to shoot a sporting event. But, they use social media to their advantage with the home games webcast from the arena. They basically use a laptop webcam and broadcast on LiveStream, a website that shows webcasts.

Isn’t that a great idea? Why not broadcast your events? Grow your business through webinars.

If you use Google+, you can create a hangout where up to ten people can have a live video conference call and millions more can watch. And it’s all FREE! What if you gave a webinar about your business and had people from all over the world watch, some can ask questions (the ones who are on the conference call). No fancy equipment is necessary. Really, all you need is a laptop with a camera and an internet connection. If you have headphones with a microphone you can get fairly good sound.

Plop a vase of flowers on a desk to gussy it up a bit, and aim the webcam at your face – you’re ready to go! Maybe put a few notes in front of you, but you know about your business. You don’t really need a lot written materials, just enough to keep you on topic – and you don’t want to read from a script.

If you announce and promote the event on your website, blog, email and through social media, put it in your newsletter or ezine – any way you want, you will get results. Encourage people to send questions in advance so that you have time to prepare great answers.

Be sure to offer this complimentary webcast to your ideal clients. Give them good information, stuff they can use. Encourage them to hire you at the end of the talk.

As you are prepare for your webinar, take a break now and then and watch or listen to a Terps ice hockey game!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New iPhone OS6

Do you ever feel like you are back-peddling in life? That’s how I felt when I downloaded the new iPhone software. To be fair, I’ll admit I have an older model, the 3GS. I changed my main email about 6-9 months ago and the new version of iCloud reverted back to the old email address and refuses to cooperate!

Don’t get me wrong, I still love Apple and Mac. I’ll give away my age and say that I’ve had a Mac since day one and an Apple 2e before that. You can talk to me until you’re blue in the face, but you will never convince me that a PC is better. Sorry.

I taught word processing back in the days of Dos. I’ve kept and used PCs over the years (along with Macs) because some of my clients worked on PC only and the files didn’t translate from one to the other way back when.

Back to my dilemma… I have to say that the people at Apple were very nice, they couldn’t help me, but they were very nice. I seem to always have the “exception to the rule,” no matter what my software, hardware, house or car problems are.

I spoke to three different people at Apple and while I was on the phone for two hours with them, I did a little research. Every time they upgrade anything, they are inundated with phone calls and emails from people with problems. I’m sure this is true with every software company. Usually, (not in my case, but with most people), they give a quick answer and the problem is solved. Honestly, the software generally does most of the work. You just plug your phone into the computer and it is done in a matter of minutes.

After talking to two young techs, I was passed along to an expert. He couldn’t help me either, but we had a great conversation while he tried.

He told me that the new You Tube app is a winner. It apparently has some excellent new features. Many social media sites are changing to keep up with people wanting to share things using the mobile versions. This is wonderful news for those of us who are constantly on the move.

One of the new iPhone features is that when you download a new app, it has a little blue ribbon across it. This helps those people who have tons of apps to find the new ones they just downloaded. Once you use it, the blue ribbon goes away.

The interface with Twitter and Facebook is a main change on the new OS for the iPhone. Sharing is easier and that’s the name of the game with any new software. Connecting people in every way possible is the goal of all social sites.

I will try not to be discouraged about my problem. If you haven’t upgraded, do it. Don’t let my problems dissuade you. An engineer at Apple has been contacted and will be getting back to me when they figure out how to solve my one-of-a-kind issue.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New Twitter layout

On the Today Show this morning, Twitter unveiled their new page layout and upgrade. After much hoopla, it doesn’t really seem all that much different. The big difference is really on the ipad app. So, thumbs up or thumbs down?

The home page looks the same. It is only when you look at your profile in the new design, that it has a much new look. Similar to the much maligned Timeline on Facebook, there is a smaller photo in the middle with a larger photo behind it. While Facebook put the little photo to the side, Twitter has located the photo  smack dab in the middle of the larger one.

If you know anything about photography, or design in general, you usually put your subject matter in the general vicinity of the center. Of course, more artsy people might disagree that the subject matter could go to the side of the photo. What I’m trying to say is that, at least for me, it was very difficult to pick a photo where my smaller photo didn’t cover the face in the picture.

After a lengthy search for the right photo, I went with a picture of my dog. I wasn’t thinking about the placement of the smaller photo because. I actually laughed out loud when I saw that the smaller photo was right on top of his face. I tried some trees, some other animal photos and I ended up with the same photo I am using on my Facebook page. So much for being creative. I’ll have to take some new photos with the subject matter around the edges of the picture.

As someone who likes to keep updated wherever I am, I often use the mobile app. I think the new version looks a bit more friendly. It has the same smaller photo in the middle of the bigger photo though. The larger photo does give you a better view than the tiny thumbnail.

I wish I could tell you all about how the ipad app works, but unfortunately I do not own one. From what I saw and read, this app has had the biggest overhaul of all with more features that allow you to view photos easier.

More photo-related apps like Instagram and Pinterest are gaining in popularity. Twitter and Facebook are trying to keep their sites more visual.

Just like most people, I tend to fight change. I don’t feel like the new upgrades make a huge difference in Twitter, but I do find that photo within a photo a bit awkward. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Microblogging with Twitter

Want to have more influence on Twitter? A great way to have an impact on other users is to keep posting. Use keywords in your microblog just like on your website.

Start by getting organized. Make sure you send your tweets multiple times every day. By sending unique tweets, you avoid being boring and redundant. There is someone I followed on Twitter who sent the exact same message every day, countless times each day. I would see it over and over. I don’t spend that much time using Twitter.  While sending the same message a couple times a day might be effective, I think this person goes way overboard. Maybe it works for him, but I had to drop him because it felt too spammy for my liking.

If you are a jeweler, for example, you might start off the day talking about the price of gold or silver. Later in the day, mention that you have watches on sale. There should be a lot of content on your page, so there is always something to tweet. Almost always include a link to your site, blog or Facebook page to get people to read the whole story. The tweet is just a snippet, that’s why it is called a microblog.

If the web address is too long, it takes away from the characters you need for your message. The remedy is a site that will create a shorter link for you, like even allows you to customize the link.

If you don’t want to send people to your web page, try adding a photo and get attention with that. When using photos, post them on Pinterest or Instagram, and add hashtag keywords in your description. Always let people know who you are and what your message is.

Always try to get at least one or two keywords into your tweet. Just like on your website or blog, keywords are truly key. Everyone wants people to click the link in their tweet. In order to do that, you need to attract people with keywords that explain what your business does. Your message, including keywords, should be a part of everything you do and everything you say – this is your brand.

Make your tweets interesting and thought provoking. Then get to work. Tweet early and tweet often.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Infographics on the rise

Infographics, like the one on this page, are gaining ground on regular photos for marketing. Why not? Take your subject matter and turn it into something that is a little more entertaining than a boring photo or mere words. You do not have much time to either get someone’s attention or lose him. Having interesting artwork can make the difference.

As memes have become more popular, infographics followed along with B2B (business to business) messages. At a glance, a person can see the article’s subject matter. Then, he can make the decision to read or to move along to something else. Because my background is in graphics, I find the use of infographics a fun way to get my message to others. Because the graphic work is a jpg or gif file, the image can be pinned on Pinterest.

Often times, I take some base clipart and add my own spin. I’ve always been a huge fan of collage and taking pieces of art and putting them together in a graphic is a little collage-y. I didn’t realize I was such a trendsetter until I started reading about infographics in the news lately.

Since the beginning of this blog, I’ve been custom designing little graphics to make my point. Who knew? What I thought was a quick little flourish on my blog, is now becoming a serious marketing technique. Without getting an advanced degree in graphics, you should be able to find some clipart (I subscribe to a service) and then embellish it to illustrate your content. If not, I’m available for consultation at a reasonable price.

As You Tube, Pinterest, Instagram and memes are snowballing in popularity, the visual media is nearly as important as the written words. Make sure if you are using artwork in anything you do, like your website or blog, that you have permission or pay for the art you use. If not, you can get yourself into trouble with copyright infringements. Better yet, draw your own images or take your own photos.

It seems like every day the social media possibilities are changing or growing. As a B2B owner, freelancer or subcontractor, you have to change with the times. You only have a couple seconds to get someone’s attention or they will click on to the next item. If you have read all the way to this point – thank you!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Using the wrong social media is like wearing mismatched shoes

This is a true story… I was having some car issues and a friend loaned me a truck to use to use for the weekend. I’ll admit it, I like to drive without shoes. I wear flip-flops a lot and it’s just not a good idea to drive with them. The floor of the truck felt really icky on my bare feet. I wanted to run over to the grocery store, but didn’t want to drive in my usual shoe-less manner.

I decided I would look silly wearing my regular shoes with shorts. I wore my flip-flops, but I didn’t want to take them off to drive. I brought one shoe with me to wear on my right foot while I drove. I know, it was a dumb idea. I did my shopping, paid for my groceries and started toward the truck. As I was walking out of the grocery store I heard some people muttering and snickering. I thought nothing of it. I jumped back into the truck and felt around with my foot for the shoe. Whoops. I was wearing it. So that means… yes! I was wearing a flip-flop on one foot and a shoe on the other! Then, I understood why people were snickering.

So, what does this have to do with social media? I promise, I don’t share embarrassing stories just for the fun of it. Sometimes we get so comfortable with our social media, that we forget every site we use is not a perfect match for our business.

Many of us are more B2B (business to business) than B2C (business to consumer). Twitter is a fantastic option for B2C, but does not always work as well for every B2B company, although some businesses can excel with Twitter. LinkedIn, being more on the professional side, might be better for those B2B companies. BizSugar is perfect for bookmarking advertising and marketing businesses, but not so much for people selling pet supplies. Etsy is a wonderful place to sell home made or crafted items, but not mass produced goods. Facebook, while informal, seems to work for many B2B and B2C businesses. Google+ is better for people who want to target their market.

Every business is different, so every marketing plan should be different. What works for me might not be the best option for you. As you experiment with various social media sites, you will discover that some things will work really well. And others, well… not so much.

Look into all of the social media available and then make the decisions about what will be the best fit for growing your business. Don’t walk around in mismatched shoes! Take the time to see what matches best with you, your business and your clients.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bookmarking sites can work for you

Bookmarking sites are the one easy way to spread your message to the most people in a short amount of time. If you have never heard of StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, BizSugar, YahooBookmarks, GoogleBookmarks, you are missing out on a way to reach countless people. For every blog I write, website I design and article I post, I spread the word through bookmarking sites.

There are tons of these sites out there, you just have to know where to find them. For the most part, the sites are popularity contests. Like or vote for the page, and it rises in the ranks.

By using the Add This toolbar to your browser, you have a convenient way to organize all of the bookmarking and social sites. You load your favorite sites, and when you use the toolbar, all of your social sites are right there. You can just click on them one by one and share your blog, site or article. Unlike Twitter, Facebook and Google+, many bookmarking sites can only be used once per page. Each blog entry can be viewed as its own page, so you can promote each blog entry through each bookmarking site for maximum exposure of your business.

Before you sign yourself up for a whole bunch of bookmarking sites, take a look at each one and see if it is appropriate for your business blog or website. Some, like BizSugar, are more appropriate for marketing and business related sites, but not so much for others. StumbleUpon, Reddit and Digg are more general and have lots of topics or subtopics from which to choose. If your business does not fit well into their custom topics, it might not be a good fit for you. Don’t waste your valuable time promoting something that is never going to be viewed. Remember to sign up for – and use – Google Analytics and see which sites and search engines are sending you the most traffic.

Another issue is how many members the sites have. Some of the bookmarking sites have limited membership, or the members may all be from foreign countries. That’s great if you market your business to foreign countries, but not if you don’t.

You have to join each bookmarking site before you can use them. But after that, it becomes easy and routine. Add This has sharing codes that are easily attached to your blog so other people can share the page too. You will see the share buttons at the bottom of each of my blog entries. Once you set up your accounts, you can add the codes to the blog. Be nice to the bloggers you like and share their page. Hint, hint... 

The Add This sharing codes and toolbar both have loads of social media and bookmarking sites. That is why I chose to use their links on my blogs and websites. In order to grow your business, use these bookmarking sites as much as can. I’d love to hear about how bookmarking is helping you.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Social media and the elections

As we get closer to the presidential election, social media is playing a huge role in the process this year. I remember back when George W. Bush was running for president and there was a row of bloggers at the convention. I had no idea what a blogger was! Oh, how times have changed.

Blogs and social media have come light years ahead since then. Obama crashed Reddit with his impromptu AMA (ask me anything) interview with the world. He also made a big splash on Google+ with a hangout where regular citizens had the opportunity to have online face time with our commander in chief. (The video is still available for viewing.)  Obama is all over social media proving to his supporters that he is hip and computer savvy.

Mitt Romney is no slouch himself when it comes to social media. He’s all over Twitter with many tweets daily about his campaign. Romney also has 6.5 million Facebook followers, and that is no small feat. He, like many other politicians, is trying to attract voters via social sites.

National candidates are not the only ones taking advantage of this method of promotion. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Local candidates all over the country are making promises, badmouthing their opponents and promoting their fundraising events on every social site they can find.

The power of this promotional tool called social media is growing and changing daily. The best part of social media is allowing public figures to connect with as many individuals as possible, give opportunities to followers that were never available in past elections. Fans, supporters and opponents all feel a closer personal connection when they can respond to the candidate. Back in the day, it was a big deal when Bill Clinton showed his human side and went on late night television playing his saxophone. Now, it’s Google+ hangouts, Twitter Q&As, You Tube messages and so much more.

Everyone who has a business should take a lesson from the politicians. Check out what they are doing on social media. You should be doing the same things to reach as many people as possible. Take your message to the people and grow your business.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Instagram for fun and profit

While I’ve been an avid user of many social media sites, I only recently started using Instagram. As a rival to Pinterest, businesses can take advantage of this very visual medium to spread the word of their brand. Unlike Pinterest, users can edit their photos.
Last night I went to a happy hour event to say goodbye to a friend who is moving out of town. It just so happened there was a big rally for the Ravens going on at the same time. I snapped a photo of a car – Ravens purple – on display.  Not bad, right?

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, take advantage and start posting. Whether you have photos of people, movie stars, athletes, food pics, crafting projects, flowers or whatever – you can spread a message visually. Use this free service to grow your business. Think of all the images that define who you are and what you do. Then go take some pictures.

Just about everyone has a camera on his/her phone. With Instagram, you can add a little flair to your pics and make them look old-timey or change the warmth of the photo. Essentially, you can make fairly awful pictures look pretty good – or at least make them look artsy!

Instagram started gaining popularity as a business tool with chefs showing off their delicious food. If you have ever taken a photo of food, it generally looks terrible – unless you have professional equipment and great lighting. Using the various tools on Instagram, you can make your dinner plate look much more appetizing.

Just like with Twitter and Pinterest, you can add hashtags to keywords in your descriptions. You should use descriptions of the photos when using Instagram for business purposes to help people find you when they search keywords or terms.

Wordpress and other websites have Instagram widgets that can add up to 20 photos onto your web page. This keeps your site ever-changing as you regularly update photos. We all know how much people love to see new content. It gives your clients a reason to keep checking back with your site or your Instagram page.

Since I just started using Instagram, I don’t have much on my page yet. But you can find me under the name snakecharmed.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Analyze who views your page

Do you have any idea who is looking at your website? Do you know where the traffic originates? If you are trying to grow, or care at all about your business, you should know how people are finding your website or blog. If you do not know where you are getting customers, this is important information.

The most popular way to get a handle on your page viewers is with Google Analytics. It takes a little know-how to use this. You have to be able to add code to your page, or get someone add it for you. Google Analytics will analyze how your viewers find you, the efficacy of your keywords and there is even a section just for social media sites. Lots of information is there, but it does you no good if you are not looking at it on a regular basis. New features just came out for Google Analytics including shortcuts to the stats you use the most often.

If you have ecommerce on your site, Google Analytics can even figure out the percentage of website visitors who become customers. You can analyze individual pages, and get in-depth analysis.

If you are sharing new pages or blogs on Twitter, but you are not getting any traffic from Twitter, that is saying something that you need to know. Either you are not reaching enough people or your message is not encouraging people to click the link to your page. Making your message a call to action may improve the clicks.

Some people are not technically savvy and have no clue about how to add code to their page. I totally understand. Most of my clients don’t get it at all. For them, there is another way to figure out who is viewing their site. It’s called Stats Crop. By entering your web address, you can get a lot of information about how your site is working. Stats Crop gives each page a number score and gives suggestions on how to raise it (adding backlinks, getting the page indexed on search engines and more). Learn about your keywords. Are they working? Do you need to add more? How are similar sites doing? This can help you figure out what marketing methods are working best.

Users of Blogger can get access to how the blog is doing. They have most of the same information as Google Analytics, but without doing a thing! All you need to do is go to the dashboard page and click on the little blue graph under the name of the blog. If you have multiple blogs, there will be one for each of them. By clicking on “traffic sources,” you can see how people find you.

Somehow I’m getting viewers from a porn site. I swear, I don’t know how that is happening! I can’t imagine why someone would go from porn to my blog, but I’ll take the page views however I can get them.

A year ago, I never heard of BizSugar, and now I know I’m getting most of my page views through them. Friend Feed, on the other hand, isn’t doing much for me at all. One of my clients gets her best page views from StumbleUpon. Maybe it is how each book-marking or other social site categorizes the keywords entered when I submit the pages.

The best way to know what is happening with your clients and page viewers is to use every way possible to analyze your website. Learning who comes to the page will help you figure out more about your target market. You will learn what marketing is working, or not. If you don’t understand how to use this analysis, view the help section. It is definitely worth the trouble.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Social media in the news today: from Gaga to Obama

Just when I started trying to think of something to write about today, I heard all kinds of social media news. More and more often, social media events are becoming mainstream media events. TV and radio news covers a social media topic almost every day. 

This morning, as a follow-up to the school shooting in Baltimore County Monday, there was a major surge on twitter. A special needs student, Daniel Borowy, was apparently the random victim of the shooter. We are told that he is a huge fan of Lady Gaga. There has been a push to get Lady Gaga to come to Baltimore and visit this young man as he recuperates from his injuries. At this point, he is still in critical condition. 

While students of the school brought painted signs saying “Pray for Daniel” today, the social media side of the story was also coming to life. Over 10,000 people are fans of a Facebook page that asks for prayers for the boy. The hashtag #GagaVisitDaniel was trending on Twitter this morning. I don’t know if Lady Gaga has any interest in visiting this boy or not, but my curiosity is definitely piqued.

Will social media put the pressure on this singer to come visit a sick special needs students? Tune in next time. It just might happen.

I figured that I had my topic today with the Lady Gaga thing and then I saw a post on Facebook where someone said President Obama was on the site Reddit. If you don’t know what Reddit is, it is a site where you can post a page or link you like and make a comment about it. People can give it thumbs up or thumbs down.

I’ve been trying to see what is going on – but guess what? President Obama crashed Reddit! So many people are trying to do exactly what I wanted to do, see what the president has to say on Reddit and they are overwhelmed.

After proofing my post, Reddit is back up and running. I urge you to check it out. There are some funny, serious and thought-provoking comments on there. Here is one from Obama himself, “…this is an example of how technology and the internet can empower the sorts of conversations that strengthen our democracy over the long run.”

That’s the power of social media! Don’t you just love it?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Social media "Whoops!" posts

This morning I read an article about Bill Cosby. Yesterday, for the fourth time, there was a rumor that he died. It was all over the internet. False celebrity death notices seem to be the norm on Twitter and Facebook. Remember the false death stories about Jon Bon Jovi a few months ago?

Then there are posts that should never be said at all. A man was arrested in England after making racial slurs against a sports star. Either the poster didn’t think or didn’t care what he was posting.

Whether it is risqué, wrong, racist or just in poor taste, that is no way to get people to like, know and trust you. Those are the people who will want to buy from you or use your services. Your reputation is based on what you say and how you say it. Don’t blow it by making an off the cuff comment that contradicts your message or brand.

How many times have we heard about people accidentally (or on purpose) sending nude photos of themselves or others? How about when Tori Spelling’s husband sent a touching tweet about how beautiful his wife looked playing with their kids first thing in the morning? It accidentally showed his wife’s bare breast! He didn’t look at the photo closely before he posted it.

There are entire websites devoted to inappropriate photos that people have posted. Sometimes it’s a sexy or nude photo with a small child in the background. There are all kinds of examples of what not to do!

If you are an entrepreneur, you need to filter things before you send them. We all know that once it’s out there, it’s out there for good. Even though the Tori Spelling photo was taken off Twitter after a few brief hours, countless people saw it and people downloaded the photo. Once that happens, there is no taking it back.

If you need to do so, type out your posts in a word processing program so you have a chance to proof them. If you run a business, you can type out several messages that you want to send during the day. Proof them all in the morning and then copy and paste them into Twitter at the time you want to post them.

Always look at the links before you share or retweet someone else’s post. Make sure it is not offensive or incorrect information. There might be a message that seems okay, but then when you click on the link or view a photo, you might discover something disturbing.

Checking photos and proofing your posts before you send them should be something everyone knows and does. If you are an entrepreneur, this is vital to the success of your business (unless you are in the business of exploiting these posts). Don’t stop posting –just think before you post!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Breaking news and social media

Today in Baltimore, it was the first day of school. Unfortunately, at Perry Hall High School in Baltimore County, there was also a shooting today. It’s a shame, especially for kids having to remember this happening on their first day of high school. It was the new Baltimore County School Superintendent, Dallas Dance’s first day too. It was not a good one. Social media took on a large role as the events, rumors and facts unfolded.

Right after the shooting occurred, the school was not able to send any official message to the parents. They needed to fully assess the situation first. Kids in some classes were not allowed to have cell phones turned on, but others did have access to their cell phones. They immediately started texting their parents, letting them know they were okay. Later, as the school had an official statement about what had happened, parents were sent phone and text messages.

Twitter was abuzz with activity about the shooting. Lots of preliminary information and even more speculation and gossip was being generated. Loads of tweets with “Perry Hall shooter” were flowing freely through cyberspace before police even had the school secured. Baltimore County’s  Emergency information Twitter page, @BACOemergency,  was sending messages including some to the press. The was another rumor that the shooter had tweeted “SO SICK. RIP victims. R-T FOR RESPECT.” People also speculated that he was a victim of bullying.

The shooter is in custody. One student is in critical condition at Shock Trauma. A guidance counselor grabbed the shooter after the first shot and wrestled the shotgun away from him as a second shot went into the ceiling. More teachers joined in and the shooter was forcibly held until police arrived a few minutes later. That takes real guts! Kudos to those brave souls.

There is a rumor that the shooter posted “First day of school, last day alive.” on his Facebook page. The is a Baltimore County Breaking News Facebook page staffed by volunteers that worked diligently all day to keep people updated on events as they were happening.

Social media was all over this event. I’m sure at least one student video or photo exists of this event. The police probably confiscated and/or examined as many phones as they could find in the cafeteria, where the shooting occurred.

Good news or bad, Twitter, Facebook, texting and other social media gets news out to people much faster than the old-fashioned “telephone tree” when people called each other on the phone. While I can feel for the families involved in this tragic and frightening event, I can’t help but appreciate how social media was all over this. As the news becomes an online media event and people become amateur reporters with their smart phones, the news business has never been as instantaneous as it is today. The way we process breaking news has been forever changed, I think it is a change for the better.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Don’t forget about old networking methods

As you enter into the realm of the social media, you can’t forget about the old ways. Tweeting, posting and sharing are all great ways to get your brand to a lot of people. However, meeting people in person, networking, making phone calls – those methods all still work.

Today I went to a luncheon for business women and they were quite a hoot. As I generally spend my days hunched over my computer tapping away at the keys, getting out and seeing other humanoids was enriching, if nothing else! Just like giving a polar bear at the zoo a giant ice ball with a fish in the center of it, meeting some people in person was my enrichment for the day.

The women I met were from various fields, only one other spends her entire day alone with a computer. While immersed in cyberspace, we tend to forget about how important it is to do networking in person with other business people to help grow our businesses.

Check your community and find a networking organization. Most allow visitors to attend at least one or two meetings without joining the organization. Get a feel for the group and see if it is a good fit for you. You don’t have to meet everyone at once. I felt a little intimidated at the first one I attended. If you just make a few connections, the next time you go, you will know at least one or two people. Then, it becomes much easier.

Always take a big stack of cards, even if you think you will only give out a few. It’s always best to be prepared. If you don’t have cards – shame on you! Get some. There are reasonably priced places online like where cards are very inexpensive (some are free, you just pay shipping). Vista Print offers designs already made up for a variety of businesses or generic cards. If you need help, get in touch with me. I can design something for you at a reasonable price.

Take advantage of all the ways to connect with others and grow your business. Don’t limit yourself by relying completely on the internet.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Twitter: Like a brief message in a bottle

Some people don’t get it at all. Other people don’t even try. Twitter has been the focal point of military coups, tragic shootings and more. Users are tracking events with Twitter. Businesses are sending their messages this way too.

You never realize how much you can say in just a few characters until you start using Twitter. What a great way to communicate your message! Sending a message in a bottle doesn’t really get results, but Twitter does. With over 100 million active users, if you are not using Twitter, you are missing out on a huge audience.

Gain lots of followers to ensure your message is going to the most people possible. That takes time, but it is worth the effort. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, put your Twitter link everywhere! Add it to your website, blog and everywhere else you have a web page. Put your twitter handle or link to your page in your email signature. I check out people’s information in their signatures all of the time. I’m not the only one who does that…

With a decent following, or even when you are getting started, you should tweet at least a few times every day. It’s simple to add photos. People love photos, if you have the chance, add them.

Because the message is short and sweet, you can post multiple times every day without getting anyone too angry about it. Make an offer for your business. Tell people a fun or interesting fact. You can say things that have nothing to do with your business. Just tweet for fun. The message goes out to an ocean of millions, the ripple effect can help you grow your business.

Using hashtags (the # symbol) helps people find your tweets. If you own a garage, for example, using the hashtag #oilchange might help you get the message that you are having a special on oil changes today. The hashtag makes the word searchable. You could search #oilchange and see all of the recent tweets that used that hashtag. That is how people follow a dramatic play, get up to the second sports info, keep up on a natural disaster, military coup or war.

People also use the hashtags for chats. Knitters meet weekly to discuss a knitting topic. Athletes “guest tweet” for NBA’s twitter page and answer questions on occasion. It is a wonderful forum and no one ever gets long winded.

If you are sending a message for your business in a tweet, try to say something that evokes a response from the reader, a call to action. Something like: When was your last #oilchange? Come in today, we’re having a special! (By the way, I just made up that web address. It is not real).

By using automated tweeting software, your oil change message can go out ten or more times in a day. The more you send the message, the more people will see it. You can also tweet variations on a theme. Send multiple messages in a day, each one talking about the sale on oil changes, but giving a different fun fact or silly comment with each. Make your message stand out from the others. Watch what your competition does and do it better.

Sometimes people forget they can make the tweets entertaining and interesting as well as sending their company message. Even if you don’t have anything funny to say, you can always retweet something you find funny that someone else posted. Retweeting posts can assist in gaining new followers.

If you use the @ symbol before someone’s user name, that will change who is able to see the tweet. Only people in your stream and their stream will see it. If you add a period before the @, as in .@, everyone can see it. I just learned that one myself. I’ll have to try it soon.

Unlike the message in a bottle, you are sure people are reading your message. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you should give it a try. It’s a fun way to use social media. If you're not following me yet, visit me on Twitter (@snakecharmed).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Social media: worth the trouble or not so much?

There has been a lot of talk lately about whether or not social media actually works as a method of marketing. Some large companies have over 100 social media accounts. Each division or section of the business has its own complement of social media sites. Obviously, large companies find value in social media.

Are you using LinkedIn? According to SocialMedia B2B, “LinkedIn generates more leads for B2B companies than Facebook, Twitter or blogs. Yet only 47% of B2B marketers say they are actively using LinkedIn vs. 90% on Facebook.”

In other words, if you are not using LinkedIn, you should start! Don’t wait for an engraved invitation. The groups on LinkedIn work wonders in networking. Join as many as you feel are relevant to start networking right away.

Nonprofit organizations and colleges are some of the biggest users of social media. They take advantage because they are always looking for inexpensive ways to do their marketing. Other businesses make the mistake of always they have to spend a lot on marketing in order to get a good return on investment. Entrepreneurs and every business should use social media to the max. Other forms of marketing can be combined with social media to bring the right mix for your business.

A You Tube channel with videos, even if you only have a few, is really helpful in this visual world. Your clients begin to build a bond with you through videos. As they learn more about you and your business, they will begin to like and trust you. Then, hopefully, they will buy from you too.

Keep active and post often or you will be wasting the effort. Posting every now and then does nothing to help promote your brand. The more you post, the more friends, follows and likes you will get and that means you are reaching more people. So, get cracking! Start building your brand and growing your business.