28 December 2012

3 reasons Why Content Is King

We have all heard the phrase "content is king".  But have you stopped to ask why?  I'm not talking about content solely for social media, advertising for marketing just pure content.
Here are 3 reasons I have come up with.

1.  The first is obvious, the others not so. Content creates traffic with the aid of social media. The knock-on effect sees the traffic creating leads and these leads being converted into sales.  Traffic spreads your message, your why and your expertise.

2.  Smaller chunks of content can be woven into a framework. You own the framework even if you are introducing someone's content into that framework. A suitable framework can illustrate a concept.  In NLP this is known as "chunking up". The best frameworks are visual. Example include Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs" or Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People". These two visual frameworks are based on triangles but there is no reason why rectangles, squares or circles cant be used. The purpose here is to aid in creating a relationship between the elements that compose a concept.

3.  The third is the most difficult. By turning content into a belief, you can change peoples' belief and in doing so influence others. In essence this is what a good sales script does, at a lower level. But it doesn't stop there. You position yourself as a thought leader in your field.

........thing is, its not for everyone but it is food for thought.

1 December 2012

Back-Up For Recovery

Dear Readers,
I'm currently recovering from a spinal injury.
I had a nerve decompression on my S1 in technical terms.
Once I'm back on my feet there will be plenty more posts on social media matters.

21 November 2012

Measure Your Twitter Engagement

I use social media to drive traffic and Twitter is an important part of that strategy.  What I have noticed is that even when a blog post starts to age and loose traffic you can still get a spike of page views.  These spikes of traffic are brought about by retweets, of that I am certain.  So I asked myself how can I monitor and record how many retweets I get and what do I need to do to get more retweets.

My favourite Twitter tool is Commun.it.  In addition to suggesting who to follow and who to unfollow, it has great Twitter stats.

commun.it screen shot

Above we have a month on month report of Twitter activity.  I do check to see that the number of retweets that I receive are increasing.  I would put this down to a combination of tweeting the right content which makes the right connection with the right people.  Its about engaging with someone as passionate about your subject matter as you are.  Commun.it also calculates your reach which is the total number of people who could potentially see your retweets or mentions.  Naturally you like to see this figure go up, unlike the example above for some reason.

Klout, PerrIndex, Kred, TweetLevel and PeekAnalytics all measure influence.  But influence is a direct result of engagement.  What I like what about Klout is you can go to the page of someone with a higher Klout score and see what type of content gives a higher level of retweets.  I need to point out that there is a lot to be learnt from this.
For the cusious amongst you, tools that measure the influence of your content include mPACT Pro, TRAACKR and Appinions.

Additional Twitter engagement tools include:
Topsy http://analytics.topsy.com/  This gives the number of hits to your website/blog from Twitter.  I confess I wonder how accurate this is.
TwitterCounter http://twittercounter.com/  This shows the growth in your followers and following.  It predicts the number of followers you will have in 15 days but it does not measure engagement.
BufferApp http://bufferapp.com   Allows you to schedule tweets and gives stats on your tweets such as number of times retweeted, how often favoured and reach.

Experiment with these tools and establish a favourite to keep a check on your Twitter engagement.
Do let other how you handle engagement!  Chris

15 November 2012

How To Write Your Own eBook

When it comes to internet marketing, we all know digital products are the thing to sell.  eBooks fall into this category. Writing your own ebook has the advantage of positioning you as an expert and maximising your sales commission.  Its also an automatable and low cost/low risk way to deliver an information product. 
I have been wanting to write an ebook for some time and thought I would share the following research with you.  The big questions are always:
  • how to pick a subject matter
  • how to break the work down, so its not overwhelming
  • how to create the content
How to pick a subject matter.  Consider the following criteria:
It should address a  hungry market.
It has to something you are interested in.
It doesn't necessarily have to be something you know about, it can be researched.
Avoid any fads or time sensitive topics as you want your ebook to sell for years to come.
Make sure books have been written on the subject matter.  If your topic is too new you will waste too much time convincing people that they need to read about your chosen topic.
Make sure people are actively looking for your subject matter that way you are supplying to the demand.
One great expression I came across was "pain sells better than pleasure" meaning its easier to sell to someone who is looking for a solution to an uncomfortable problem.  The psychologists amongst you will know that everything we do takes us away from pain and towards pleasure.  If you can solve a universal problem, people will want to read your book.

How to break the work down.  Every book needs an outline.  There is no need to reinvent the wheel here.  Having chosen a subject matter, go to Amazon and search the contents of books on your subject matter.  List the repeated topics covered.  These will form the backbone of your book.  Add to these topics to bring the number up to about ten.  These will become the chapters of your book.
Now that you have chapter titles, it becomes easy to concentrate on your content.  You are now dealing with manageable chunks.  The next question is how long should each chapter or your ebook be?  I have found varying answers to this.  Probably the best answer is make it just long enough for the reader to feel that they are getting value. 

How to create content.  You have options here. 
You can always Google it or research the subject matter by reading other books. 
You could buy a Private Label Rights (PLR)  book on the subject matter and edit it. 
You could outsource it through the likes of Odesk, eLance or others.
You could interview an expert on the matter.  This is popular and creates interest, provided you know an expert or you know where to find an expert.
Or you could simply write it yourself.  Simply start typing away and then cut & paste.
Personally I am writing a series of blog posts one at a time with the hope of stitching them together.

I hope this will encourage you to write your own ebook.
Your comments are always appreciated.  Chris

6 November 2012

Social Media Strategy - Why You Need One

There are times when I tell people that I am a social media consultant and I get an "Oh Yeah!, you mean Facebook and Twitter" style reply.  While Facebook and Twitter are both social media platforms, their strength lies in how they support each other AKA the strategy. 

In my humble opinion a social media strategy is what turns your content into traffic, traffic into leads and leads into sales regardless of your business type. 
I'll say again


You can start with either end of this equation.  If you know what level of sales you wish to generate as a result of your online presence, you can figure out the level of leads you need based on your conversion rate.  Knowing the number of leads you need gives you the amount of traffic you need to generate based on your opt-in or squeeze page success rate.  This in turn gives the amount of content required (for a given time period)  and the level of social media activity required to achieve that traffic.  All levels of this equation are measurable and can be recorded and compared week to week or month to month.

Naturally a strategy needs to be resourced.  Someone will have to generate or be responsible for collecting content.  Social media is the mechanism that spreads your message (the content) through the various social media platforms.  One platform reinforcing the other for maximum reach.  You can post to several social media platforms at once using social media aggregators such as HooteSuite.  Can you see that this is a strategy not just the use of Facebook or Twitter in isolation. 
In the case of this blog, I announce a new post via the activity feed on LinkedIn.  The new post is also woven into the conversation on Twitter several times and a link to the post goes up on Facebook.  Facebook mentions whats happening on Twitter and vice versa, not always but occasionally.  I'm finding that more and more followers onTwitter take that introductory moment to push for a LIKE on Facebook, why not.  Posts become guest posts, there is StumbleUpon and things like RebelMouse. Dont forget YouTube.
Its interconnectivity, not just "OhYeah!, Facebook and Twitter".  

 A word of caution, if you are selling cement mixers and nothing else, its difficult to generate universal appeal and keep the conservation going.  Universal appeal and constant conversation are a prerequisite for promoting a product or service online.  If your business constantly has the newest must-have product, your job will be easier.

Possible Anomalies
If you are promoting a brand online without the intention of selling online, your sales can naturally occur offline.  Online brand promotion still needs a social media strategy.  Likewise if you are promoting a social issue such as health and/or safety you still need a strategy to maximise the reach of your message and get an offline result.   Fire departments are actively using social media to announce the type of fire hazard that is commonly seen at a particular time of year and seeing a reduction in fires in return, as an example.
If you are a charity, you may not be generating sales but you will be receiving income in the form of donation having found those who are most likely to be interested in your cause.

Have I made it sound too easy?  I'll cover the details of leads and sales conversion in later posts.  I did plan to monetise my blog after all.

3 November 2012

Social Business

I was only recently introduced to the term "social business" as a result of a talk given by my local IBM office.  Whether you are a stand alone affiliate marketer or a large corporation, its fair to say that from a business point of view we tend to think of social media as a marketing tool only.  But the true social business uses a more integrated, across the board approach that includes:
  1. Human Resources.  Linkedin is the platform of choice here used by recruiters not only to recruit those seeking jobs but to recruit passively through recommendation.  Creating a better employee fit has lead to a 26% increase in revenue per employee.
  2. Marketing.  81% of purchasers now receive product purchase advice from friends and followers on social media sites.  Having the right content on your site that addresses potential customers' problems will create customer engagement, create trust and build your brand.  Getting customers to review your products will create more trust for the next customer to buy.
  3. Sales.  Social businesses have seen a 49% increase in customer retention through connecting with customers and relationship building in dedicated communities. 
  4. Customer Service.  Customer feedback can be analysed and responded to faster.  If you have a gripe about a product you have bought, send a tweet about it and see quickly you will get a response.  Social businesses want to resolve these issues quickly as they know the damage that can be caused to their brand. 
  5. Product and/or Service Innovation.  A 66% reduction in time to market have been recorded using social media.  Receiving test group feedback to a new product or service introduction is easy with social media.  A crowd sourced initial response can be used to tweak your product or service resulting in higher sales. 
  6. Supply Chain.  Social integration with suppliers is also vital.  It leads to quick problem solving and gives more opportunities for future product/service development and collaboration. 
If you are a web designer or app developer bring social media into all tools. 
Put social sharing buttons on the top right not bottom right of the landing page. 
Create content that will interest crowds and that individuals will want to share.
Social media networks are putting more people on line than ever before.

I would like to hear how social your organisation is and where social media has made the biggest improvement.  Many thanks, Chris.

PS I came across a more clinical term for "social business" today.  It is "behavioral economics" :)

26 October 2012

10 Ways To Monetise Twitter

Twitter amazes me.  Right now it is my favourite means of generating traffic to my blog.  But I have yet to monetize the situation, so I wanted to research the options.

The first thing you need is at least several hundred followers on Twitter, several thousand followers would be best.  I made a lot of mistakes getting my early Twitter followers on board.  If I were to do it again I would following 30 people a day every day.  After the first week I would start unfollowing 10 a day who are not following you back.  This would mean growing your Twitter followers by approximately 600 a month.  Obviously the fuel to make this all happen is content which needs to be tweeted about 5 times a day for the first month.  Retweeting content is always greatly appreciated by others (even the gurus) and is vital to growing followers.  When you are seen to engage your followers other will join in also.  All these things I have learned from experience
So, what are the options to monetising Twitter.
  1. Send tweets promoting Clickbank.  This seems to be the most popular, become an affiliate and promote products online..  Most marketers make the mistake of sending you directly to an affiliate site.  They do this with capturing your email details and without offering any useful content that might be of interest to keep the prospect coming back for more.  This in my opinion is just too untrustworthy.  There's no relationship.
  2. Send tweets promoting Amazon products.  Your tweet can include an Amazon affiliate link. If the item is of interest to your followers you will be paid a commission on the sale.  You also get paid commission on items bought by that customer within a certain time frame.  We all know how good Amazon are at recommending additional items for purchase based on what you have purchased in the past. 
  3. Send tweets promoting eBay products.  Not dissimilar to promoting Amazon products.
  4. Send tweets promoting big events.  If there is a speaking event related to your niche, your followers would want to know about it.  All speaking events will have an affiliate link from the promoters.  These are always big tickets items and worth considering.
  5. Offer to tweet for others.  Many companies outsource their social media.  Ask your colleagues if you can help out or offer your services through www.fiverr.com
  6. Get paid to tweets promotional messages and links.  This can be done through sites like www.twittad.com www.twtmob.com and www.sponsoredtweets.com
  7. Retweet to your account for other.  Yes, this can be done through sites such as www.retweet.it www.retweets.com and many others.
  8. Promote webinars via tweets.  This is something I have to look at more closely. Webinars need a high levels of traffic.  They are also places where people are ready to spend money. 
  9. Tweet links to your blog.  Your blog can then be monetised with Adsense.  A word of warning you need very high levels of traffic to make money from Adsense. 
  10. Use Twitter Search to identify someone with a problem.  Naturally you would be in a position to sell them a solution to their problem.
Want to share your favourite way of making money with Twitter or want to know more, please leave a comment below.  Thanks, Chris.

14 October 2012

Make Your Content Stick

I got a great reaction to my post "Content Creation"  so I was wondering how I could expand the subject matter.  I recently read the book "Made To Stick" by Chip & Dan Heath.  The book explores how to make ideas memorable or "sticky", a vital requirement in the blogoshere. Likewise any new software or eBook needs to be sticky to gain traction in the marketplace.

What Sticks?  Any idea that is understandable, memorable and effective in changing an audience's thoughts or behaviour.  Use the following checklist to ensure that your message sticks.

How To Get Sticky?  Chip and Stan came up with the anagram SUCCESs which consists of:
  • Simple. Focus on your core message and then share it using a concept that the audience already understands.  Don't argue ten points, concentrate on that one game changing point.  Prioritise your message.
  • Unexpected.  Use an unexpected perspective to get attention and hold the interest. Be counterintuitive to increase alertness and grab interest.  Aim for a "huh!" reaction.  Highlight the gap in your audiences knowledge and then fill it.  Offering to solve a major problem so big that people think unsolvable fits into this category.  Consider how you can break the routine or the pattern that your audience is used to.  This is where the idea of a purple cow comes to play.  A purple cow creates surprise and interest all in one.  Avoid common sense as this leads your audience back to their old thought pattern and your message is lost forever.
  • Concrete.  Help people understand and remember your message.  Technical jargon wont help here, but the use of familiar metaphors will.  Metaphors can explain a concept in terms of what we already know by giving a comparison.  Concreteness also ensures that your message means the same thing to everyone.  "World class customer service" only means one thing.  Your message becomes focused.
  • Credible.  Make it believable.  Don't quote statistics that cant be remembered.  Let your audience compare what you are saying against what they already know.  This gives massive weight to your message.  You sweep aside the non-believers and create evangelists who further spread your message. 
  • Emotional.  Make people care by allowing them to connect with their emotions.  Make them care by feeling something.  Again statistics will not cause an emotional response.  Its easier to get an emotional response when your message is targeted at one individual or a very particular group of individuals rather than the masses.  You can think of the critical emotional and work backwards looking at what you need to illustrate in order to invoke that emotion.
  • Stories.  Use stories to illustrate a path of action.  Stories create images in our minds which we can replicate.  People learn from stories and find them easy to remember and pass on, spreading your message.

I hope the above checklist will help you check your message for "stickiness".
If you have any questions or would like to know more please leave a comment below.

7 October 2012

"Make Money Online" - What Does This Mean?

You often see the words "Make Money Online" on various web pages or posts.  You ask yourself is this a con or is there a  push button method to making money online?  The following article intends to demystify the subject.

To make money online (or offline for that matter) you need two things, customers and something to sell. 

Finding potential customers on line is often referred to as "driving traffic".  Social media is an ideal method to drive traffic as it is free.   Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and You Tube can all be employed to direct traffic to your website or blog.  These methods have all been discussed in previous blog articles.  Its worth mentioning that these platforms can be used to reinforce one another well and that the mix of platforms you use forms your social media strategy (this is a subject in itself to be covered later).  Also never depend on only one social media platform to drive traffic for you, as the rules constantly change and this one source of traffic could easily be cut off.

Selling online has a number of labels.  It is typically referred to as internet marketing and also known as online marketing or social media marketing if social media is involved.  The only difference between "making money online from home" and  running a business online is the scale at which you do things.  This is basically down to the amount of time you invest and the number of customers you target.   When selling online products there are two options:
Affiliates, here you promote and sell other peoples products.  Commissions are typically in the 50%-70% range.  Naturally it makes sense to sell an affiliate product that you have used yourself and found useful if not invaluable.  The biggest affiliate sites are ClickBank and ClickSure but there are many others.  Affiliate marketing is a good place to start earning money online.  We will cover this in more detail later.
Sell your own products.  If you have expert knowledge of something you can productise it for sale online.  Typically this can be as simple as writing a Word document and converting it into a pdf.  The graphics of your virtual product will be vital to selling online.  Luckily there are many tools to handle this. Crafting your own eBook takes time and isn't for everyone.

Other methods of making money on line include:
Blogging If have an interest or expertise in a particular subject matter, start a blog about it.  You can monetise your blog using Google Adsense.  You can also drive traffic to other peoples products and be paid per customer that buyer or earn a commission.
Selling your articles on line as a copywriter.  This can be done through freelance sites or you could apply directly to larger blog sites that require guest writers.  You can write about the niches that you know or you can research a new topics altogether.  If you are known as an expert in your field, then people will be looking for people like you to write for them.  Writing sales copy is a highly paid branch of copy writing.
Get paid to take surveys.  Numerous companies pay ordinary people money to take surveys that give marketing companies a better overview of their marketplace and its customer.  I dont know anyone making a living from this, but it could supplement your income.  One such site is ecashopinions.com
Freelancing online through sites such as ODesk or eLance.  Here you can sign up as an independent freelancer for anything from data entry, web design or SEO.  Recommendations are key to getting work.
Virtual customer representatives call potential customers and answer customer queries.  Here you work for a call centre.  In today's world this can easily be done remotely, working from home.
Selling physical goods through marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay.  This is where the on line world meets the offline world.

In conclusion making money online is a good way to supplement your weekly income.  The success of your online money making abilities will depend on your ability to learn.  So "learn to earn".  Many of the social media skills we cover will help you to do so.   Start part time and see where it takes you.

If you would like to know more or if you would like a particular topic covered, please leave a comment below.
Regards, Chris

30 September 2012

22 Ways to Create Compelling Content [Infographic]

22 Ways to Create Compelling Content - Infographic
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

How To Create Content

Have you ever gotten stuck for ideas for content for your website or blog?  I recently hit a wall and decided I'd share how I got around it. 
I formulated some rules as to what content must be, such as
relevant to your niche
relevant to your community, yet
With these qualities in mind, content can be found with the aid of:

Google Alerts on your niche for up-to-the-minute news

Article sites such as www.alltop.com, www.ezinearticles.com, www.goarticles.com  and www.articlebase.com will give inspiration.

Google Reader can be used to aggregate and curate blog content on a particular topics.

Ask colleagues and friends. Some may have ideas for a blog post, others may be looking for an opportunity to blog or simply just take relevant pictures that can be shared on Facebook. If you don't have any aspiring film producers in the office, you might need to farm this one out. Just remember video blogs can be made with an iPhone and they can be raw so long as they deliver relevant content.

New Business.  Because of the routine nature of business, we forget that aquiring a new customer here, or delivering a solution there is news.  If you cant give the name of the customer involved for whatever reason, just remember that its the people in your company that make it happen.  Your audience wont know how you do things or what makes you stand out doing what you do, so report it via a blog. 

Charity Or Social Events.  If you are a company that sponsors a charity event make it a condition of sponsorship that someone writes an editorial on the event which can quickly turned into a blog post.  You get great content and the event gets more PR, that's win-win.  If you sponsor a number of charity events to increase your community involvement you need a more structured approach.  You need to map everything out on an event planning calendar.  You'll need to increase engagement before the event and report the success of the events afterwards.  Remember contributors to a charity event wont just want to know how much money was raised but who benefited and how. 

Ask your community what would they like to see future articles covering

Invite a guest blogger to post a blog.  Allow him/her to include a contextual link and agree that you will reciprocate with a guest blog.

Report on trends in your industry.  Statistics always draw interest.  Infographics are a big help here

Review a product or even a book that is of interest to your audience.  Remember to sell "the sizzle not the sausage".

Write a case study.  Sometimes its the application of your product or service that needs to be written about.  This can then be compared with different ways of doing thing.  You can analyse which method gave the best results and why.

Mind Mapping. Map out what you have blogged about so far and then saw what areas you haven't yet covered to tie your blogging message together.  See Tony Buzan's book on "Mind Mapping".

Keep a List.  Just keep adding to a list of blog post ideas as you go along.  If you don't write these titles down as they come to you, they will be lost.

Hope this clears any bloggers' block.

21 September 2012

What To Expect From Social Media

For the social media novice, the prospect of entering into the world of social media for the first time can be daunting. It can be perplexing trying to work out where and how to begin in the labyrinth of available online networks, each boasting mind-boggling numbers of potential new customers for your business. If only you could fathom a way in which to meaningfully engage with them! If, for example, you have never been “poked” or “retweeted”, probing this unknown domain with its unfamiliar vernacular and seemingly odd etiquettes could present a risk to your existing marketing efforts and, if handled incorrectly, may damage your existing online corporate / brand identity.
In this blog post you will find a few basic helpful tips for getting started in this space.  Ultimately you should the confidence to take your first steps into this exciting media, and to start to craft a sustainable social media strategy for your business.

Begin by “listening”
If you currently do not have any, or very little, social media presence, begin by “listening” to existing social media channels / groups that share your organisation’s interests. Open sites, such a Twitter, allow you to search their content streams using such tools as Twitter Search. The Google Alert service enables you to set up regular user-defined email alerts that monitor the internet for new content in a number of formats such a blog entries, videos, discussions and more. In taking this approach, you can start to compile your knowledge base of “who” is posting “what” content on your chosen topic or query, before getting involved yourself.

Taking your first steps
As you become more au fait with the various styles of language and different etiquettes used within social media, create new social media accounts that you feel best serve your business. All social media platforms vary in what they offer and some will provide you with much better access to your target audience than others. Advice about which social media platform best suits your type of business will differ, but ultimately you will get a strong feel for what is and isn’t working fairly quickly. Advice about specific social media platforms and their potential impact is widely available online.

Starting to build your community
As your confidence grows, you will want to build a community around your chosen field of expertise. This involves locating like-minded people / organisations / customers and beginning to interact with them. This may take the form of commenting on other users’ content, inviting them to comment on your content, exchanging ideas / concepts (social media is a great place to ask questions), sharing information / links etcetera. Don’t be afraid to put others in the limelight, share with others what you know, show a human side and always remain courteous, helpful and supportive. Not all comments you receive will be positive or necessarily fair, so be prepared to engage with these conversations and to see them through to an amicable solution where possible. Bear in mind that you are not the only person in the social media space with something interesting to say; it’s not just about you and users can easily tune out! Ultimately you are trying to create a valuable community so remember, it’s a two-way street; if you ask for feedback, be prepared to help others when they ask for yours.

What can your community expect?A social media community will take time to build but don’t get frustrated. From the outset of establishing your social media presence, give your community a strong sense of what your specialist area is and how often they can expect to interact with you. By setting expectation levels, people know what to expect from you but ultimately that means an extra workload on your shoulders too. As your reputation and reach in the social media space grows, so will interest in you and your organisation’s products and services.

Create and plan like a publisher
Inevitably, as your social media efforts gather pace, so will the demand on your resources. The introduction of a weekly blog, for example, involving writing and moderating the content, responding to user comments etcetera will all take regular amounts of time and effort to manage. Add to this a successful spin-off webinar series, regular tweetups and before you know it, interacting with your social media community will become an increasingly time-consuming task. “Success” you may say. Indeed, but you need to schedule in the various workloads and additional resources associated with your social media efforts to ensure they continue to flourish. Keep in mind too that social media can have the effect of disarming even the most seasoned traditional marketer, so don’t assume they are the best suited to help with social media content tasks. By selecting someone already in touch with contemporary blogging styles and techniques, it can save valuable admin time and spare a few blushes. That said, bear in mind that whether it is one or more people sharing the job of managing your social media accounts, you should establish a set of social media guidelines for all staff (templates are readily available online).

Content strategy is key
Alongside your new social media strategy must sit your greater content strategy. This will involve the content that you have available now, together with the content you plan to share with your community in the future. Some of which you will know is in the pipeline, such as content created around an annual event, for example; some of which may come about via your social media endeavours, such as the opportunity to write a guest blog or to present at a virtual event. Either way, embracing the creative drive and editorial planning principles of a publisher will help you and your organisation better deliver good quality, original, authoritative and timely content resulting in maximum impact for your products / brands. At the heart of this will be a “living” editorial calendar that sets out the necessary content inputs by subject, type, author and deadline. This in turn will underpin and inform both your on and off-line content marketing strategy moving forward.

by Martin Maynard, Red Rocket Media

17 September 2012

You Tube Up Close & Personal

You Tube Drives Traffic
You Tube receives 4 billion hits a day.  You Tube is the second largest search engine and the third most visited website that there is.  Currently 72 hours of video footage are uploaded to You Tube every minute (September 2012).   The average visitor spends 23 minutes per day on You Tube while the age demographic ranges from toddler to 54 year old.  The best thing about You Tube is that it shows up in Google searches.  What this means is that you are fifty times more likely to be found on You Tube than a blog post.  Yet a survey of a large audience found that while 82% of the group viewed You Tube in the last 7 days , only 11% had ever put up a video.  So you know what to do.  Its time to start making your own You Tube videos to drive traffic to your website or blog. 

Reasons To Make Your First Video
  1. It draws qualified traffic.
  2. Excellent for branding and showing professionalism.
  3. Establishes you as an author with celebrity status.
  4. Ranks better than articles.
  5. Its free and can work forever.

Where To Start
Look at videos in your niche.  Use the Google Keyword Tool to identify 30 keywords in your niche and build ideas around these keywords.  The types of videos that work well are "how to" videos and music videos. 

Essential Video Ingredients
I wanted to know what makes a good You Tube video and came up with the following list.
  1. Provide value.  For many this means getting your message across in an entertaining way.  Apparently 68% of the audience want entertainment and 28% want information, so the trick is to reach a happy medium.
  2. Be relevant to your video key words.
  3. Short and to the point, ideally in 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Demonstrate what you are saying.  A head and shoulders video of you getting your message out will not work.  The trick here is to able to put your words into a graphical context.  This needs thought but it will make or break the success of your video.  A metaphor here would be to think in terms of visual answers.
  5. Have a call to action.
  6. Get viewers to subscribe and share.
  7. Get viewers to click a link to your website.
  8. Tell your audience what to do, why to do it and how to do it.
  9. Above all be consistant.
The Breakup of a Good Video
So in laying out the storyline for your video you need to achieve the following
Grab attention in 2-6 seconds:
Intro bumper in 4-7 seconds.  This is your logo with music
The content in 1-5 minutes.  Do this, this and this to solve your viewers' problem with call to action
Outro bumper in 4-7seconds. Your branded logo again
Outtakes in 4-7 seconds.  Include your mistakes as they humanise you

My Video Isnt Getting Any Results
If your video fails to drive traffic, it will be for the following reasons:
the video is too boring.  Remember head and shoulders doesnt work.
your video is not optimised for keywords
or you dont understand You Tube etiquette and need more engagement.

Ideally you should have a camera with an external mic jack.  In today's world of HD movie cameras sound if often the limiting factor.  A lapel mcrophone is ideal.  However the best place to start is with what you have.  Many of today's videos are made simply with an iPhone.  The most important thing about lighting is make sure you dont have shadow on the eyes.  This prevents people from seeing your facial expression.  Videos can be edited with iMovies for the Mac or Windows Movie Maker.  The other option is to farm out your video editing to the likes of Odesk.

Whats Important
The most import thing is to make a start and take action.  Your skills will improve with practice.  As your video marketing pays off you can always up scale your camera equipment.  The important thing is to get in the game.


6 September 2012

How To Grow Your Followers On Twitter

If you are like me you can see the value of connecting on Twitter.  By now you know that following someone in the hope that they will follow you back doesnt work.  Also you'll be aware of automated connections and  conversations. And God knows we all need a little self promotion thrown in.
After tireless research I have concluded that the way to stand out on Twitter is to be real and human.  How hard can that be, I hear you say. So 
  1. Focus on others. Paying attention to other peoples content and acknowledging that through retweeting.  This will get you noticed.  There are some expert tweeps out there who retweet about 80% of the time.  Now this not a magic number but it is an indication. Now follow those who retweet your message, can you see a cycle forming.
  2. Connect with purpose.  Make sure you have something in common with your new connection.  Check their profile and past tweets.  Add them to your list, keep an eye on their conversations and find ways to interact.
  3. Ask genuine questions.  Asking a question is the ideal way to start a conversion and get to know your connection.  Learn something new and then share it by retweeting.  Base the conversation around "you" rather than "I".
  4. Use Twitter bait.  This literally is a hook with which to snag a conversation that creates interest.
    To do this create catchy punchlines such as "Twitter saves lives ...." to grab attention and interest. 
    Use metaphors to convey concepts with few words.   Metaphors are easy to relate to as we are familar with them and they often paint images in our minds.
    Use data to make a point.  Current data is always topical.
    Lists of related information keep the conversation going and creates a mental link.
  5. Add value with real content.  Do your best to avoid the temptation of a link as this takes from the conversation.   Instead turn your tweet into a killer punchline.
  6. Use hashtags.  This shows your focus and gets attention.  Tweets with hashtags are seen by tweebs other than just your followers.
  7. Use social sharing buttons.  Make sure your blog or site has social sharing buttons that allow bite size content of your to be tweeted with ease.  This reduces barriers for your tribe to spread your message
  8. Automation does help!
 Its no silver bullet but it helps grow your tribe.  Hope this helps.

4 September 2012

Lead Generation With LinkedIn

This article is a follow on article to "How To Improve Your LinkedIn Profile".  For quite some time I was convinced that there was something wrong with my LinkedIn profile.  After all LinkedIn was a networking tool which generate some people enormous amounts of business. And for some reason I wasn't getting any business leads from the platform.   Then the penny dropped, I was not getting it in front of enough of the right people that mattered.
Please think about the above sentence very carefully.  Like all social media, generating your profile is one thing, but valuable content and connecting with others, is another thing.  It is true that you will expand your network most at its periphery, so this is where you have to go. 
In terms of LinkedIn, this means going through your colleagues connects and connecting with someone you don't know.  After all, if you are connected to one person and you cant get to do business together then you have to move onto the next prospect.  If you cant get an introduction do explain who the link is, that way people get a feel for where you are coming from, "I saw you also know so-and-so".  Obviously it makes sense to connect with someone whose psychographic as well as demographic profile matches your product or service.  Just bare in mind that the connections of one individual will link to the connections of another.  Equally by growing your contacts you are allowing others to grow theirs.  Its a mutual experience.  If you are tempted to ask where is the science in this, the answer is the science is in the sum of the parts.  I have met many who say that you don't need quantity but quality of connections.  The truth is it depends and you never know what leads to new business. 
One thing I learnt about making connection with LinkedIn is that there is a slow lane and there is a fast lane.  There are those who guard their LinkedIn contacts and there are those who would gladly share them.  You have to identify who you are dealing with.  As a group, those who are in the fast lane are the LinkedIn Open Networkers, they want to connect.
Having connected via LinkedIn with a new contact what are the options?  Naturally there is the option of a follow up Skype call or an email but that's not all.  If you want to stand out in someone's mind you will need to have engaged in conversation, discussed a topic, or examined how you could mutually benefit each other in the future.
All of your LinkedIn contacts can be exported to an autoresponder so you can use that contact for email marketing purposes.  Simply go to contacts at the top bar of LinkedIn, then to my connections and then press export to Outlook Express (CSV).  Balancing great content within your email campaign with product offering ensures a following and a higher open rate.  But most of all stay connected.

PS As of February 2013 LinkedIn contacts can no longer be exported.  The only alternative is to use LinkedIn's InMail with which you can contact 50 contacts at a time.

Want to know more, ask me a question.....

31 August 2012

How To Improve Your LinkedIn Profile

Is your LinkedIn page getting the notice it deserves?  In particular are you getting the right audience to your Linkedin page? If not, the following steps will help significantly.
  1. Your Photograph - Many will argue that your photograph should be a professionally taken studio shot against a plain white background.  The only problem is that you then look just everyone else.  Personally I choose to have a high degree of light and shadow in my photo with a map of the world in the background, declaring my global intentions.  Be different, stand out, get out of the office.  Needless to say, if you have no photograph people will not want to link in.  Its a matter of trust.
  2. Your Name - There seems to be a debate here also.  Many will say your name should be your name only.  If you want to stand out with authority in a LinkedIn group discussion you will need more.  If you have qualifications that others don't have in your field put them in.  Differentiate yourself again.  If you are talking to an accountant you want to know you are talking to a CPA.  The term LION which I have in my title, I will explain later.
  3. Your Public Profile Link - We all have a public profile link on LinkedIn.  To change this go to your name on the top right of your LinkedIn page.  Click "Settings" and then "edit your public profile".  If you want to be seen you need to set your profile to "make public to everyone".  Your profile has its own URL which initially has a default of random numbers and letters.  Click "Customize your public profile URL" and replace the garbage with your name.  Now if you type your name into Google, your Linkedin profile will be among the top listings.
  4. Summary, Work Experience, Skills, Interests And Expertise - Use keywords here for which you want to be found.  Its that simple. No need to go crazy with multiple keywords meaning the same thing but keywords nonetheless.  Make your "summary" personal by speaking in the first person, this draws more attention for some reason.  Also your "summary" can be used to address your target audience directly . Give readers a reason to connect and do business. 
  5. Recommendations - The more you have the better.  I'm told 10 is ideal.  Just ask those that you have done business with.  Recommendations are an easy thing to overlook but they add credibility to those that don't know you.
  6. Your Connections - It definitely looks good to have lots of connections.  The truth is, the more connections you have, the easier it is to connect with anyone.  I joined the LinkedIn Open Networker group to increase my connections, hence the term LION after my name. LIONs like to connect and expand their network.      
  7. Your Websites - By selecting "other" rather than "website" you can replace your website's URL with a more meaningful term such as "my marketing blog".  This will simply make more sense to the reader who will then more likely go and have a look.
  8. Groups - You can join up to 50 groups on LinkedIn.  I would suggest you join as many as you can.  The more groups you join, the more it shows your field(s) of expertise.  Naturally it makes sense to participate on the groups discussions.  By answering other's questions you demonstrate your knowledge and expertise and gain connections. 
  9. Answers - Under the "More" tab on the top right of your LI page, you will find a section called "answers".  Here you can answer peoples queries, show your expertise and connect.   Equally this is a great place for asking questions and get an opinion on a matter.  Either way it forces engagement and connections.
  10. Share Your Update - This section has now been moved to the LinkedIn Home page.  If you are doing something important that is best broadcast, share it with your LinkedIn connections here.  If you are promoting a new blog post this way, I would announce it more than once as the LinkedIn home page now reads like a Twitter feed.
  11. Blog Lists - Again under the "more" tab there is a section called "applications".  There are a variety to choose from. In particular choose to list your blogs.  These will be displayed at the very bottom of your LinkedIn page.  Show your expertise that you have gathered in your blog posts.
  12. LinkedIn and Twitter - There was a time when your tweets could automatically be sent to LinkedIn by including "#in" at the end of your tweet.  This seems to have been done away with, just recently.  Now when you post an update on the LinkedIn homepage and press "share" the update is also sent to your Twitter followers.  I can see this changing in the near future as it is not as effective.
PS Blog lists and Twitter were removed from LinkedIn from the 12/12/2012.  Answers disappeared at the end of January 2013.
    That's plenty to get you on the right track.  I will do another blog post on getting business with LinkedIn in the near future.  Keep watching
If I have forgotten anything which you feel is of importance please let me know via a comment below.

28 August 2012

5 Ways To Automate Twitter

There are a number of tools to automate your Twitter and Facebook accounts.  They all have varying degrees of automation and fuctionality.  Depending on what you are trying to achieve, one of these many suit you better than the other.  Some of you may choose to experiment with them all.  While an automated Twitter feed gives a core of tweets, your social media accounts will need human input or you will loose followers and friends.  Here's my list:

TweetDeck - From TweetDeck you can post directly to Facebook and tweet directly to Twitter.  It also handles LinkedIn and FourSquare.  It is free to use.  You cannot schedule (set the time at which you want posts to be sent).  Its best feature is that TweetDeck has multiple columns so that you can search for multiple keywords or hashtags in real time.  This makes it an ideal listening tool.  Realistically its level of automation is poor but it lets you put all your apples in one barrel.

TweetAdder 3.0 - This application has to be purchased for a once off fee.  The price varies depending on the number of profiles you want to list. It starts at $55 for one profile and ranges to $188 for unlimited profiles.  It manages Twitter accounts only but it can manage a number of them.  Where TweetDeck is under-automated I feel TweetAdder is uber-automated.  It does not allow for any additional human input.  It allows you to generate a list of followers based on keywords, keywords in the tweebs' bios, hashtag keywords and location.  TweetAdder can be set to automatically follow this list, unfollow and follow back.  You can feed tweets from a bucket list or from an RSS feed.  You can also re-tweet based on keywords.  Automated "thank you" messages can also be set up.  While TweetAdder has all the bells and whistle, it reminds me of a visit I had aboard a submarine where crew were employed to oversee technology that automated everything.  The point is thats overkill.  But you might like overkill.

SocialOomph - By contrast again SocialOomph has a very dated interface compared to TweetAdder.  The professional version  costs roughly $36 per month.  You can post and schedule posts to Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn and our blog.  It also handles Status New, Plurk and Onlywire, if of interest.  It generates suggestions of people to follow on Tweeter.  This list of possible followers needs to be vetted before acceptance.  I didnt find any means to balance followers and following ie you can unfollow from SocialOomph.  It does handle automated direct messages to thank followers for following.

Hootsuite - This has a very user friendly interface where you can add many social media accounts and any number of them.  Your Twitter account will automatically be broken up into columns of home feed, mentions, direct messages and sent tweets.  Hootesuit creates live streams of individual subject matter which you can keep separate.  You can post to all profiles at once.  Posts can also be scheduled.  One nice feature is the use of a social bar where your posts can be sent directly to the likes of Digg and Reddit.  The possibilities are endless here.  If you are a social media manager then this one is for you. 

Tweepi -  Lists your Twitter followers in such a way that you can see how many they are following, when they last tweeted and where or not they are following you.  This allows you to flushout those that aren't following you and follow those that are following you.  Tweeti also allows you to follow a specific user's followers in order to grow your followers.  On the upgraded version you can force users to unfollow you.  All in all a power Twitter only tool.

Please let me know your views on social media automation and what you find to be most effective?

26 August 2012

How Twitter Can Benefit Your Business

Many small and medium sized businesses are still resisting to use Twitter.  Generally the questions is asked who will be responsible for keeping the social media channels up to date, who will provide the content and who will deal with queries.  Putting these questions aside, here are a number of sound business reasons to use Twitter for business.
  1. Use Twitter as a listening channel.  Using the "search" box on Twitter and type in the keywords for your own product for service. If you operate in a particlar area you can add "near:your_area" to the search.  The term "-http" generally removes marketeers active in that sector.  If you need to search to multiple search words simultaneously use the Twitter tool Tweetdeck.  This will give you a realtime listing of the tweets for your search words.
  2. Use Twitter For Inbound Marketing. Having found tweebs looking for your product/service you can actively engaged these potential customers.    Send them a direct message (DM) with your website URL.  Ask if you can answer any queries they might have.  Gather information. Sure you can let customers find you through a Google search but you'll be one of many.  Twitter goes more direct engagement.
  3. Promote Your Product Or Sevice.  Let the public know who you are, what you do and where you do it.  Bang that drum.  Use the hashtag followed by your keyword to get found on Twitter eg #socialmedia.
  4. Keep Your Customers Informed.  Twitter is the ideal tool for announcing industry updates, news or events.  Let your existing followers knows whats newsworthy. 
  5. Identify Any Unhappy Customers.  Unhappy customers cost sales.  You know the old story,  a happy customer will recommend you to 3  people and an unhappy customer will tell 11 people to steer clear of you.  Deal with them using a direct message on Twitter.
  6. Twitter Makes An Ideal PR Tool.  Promote your product or brand, keeping customers informed and dealing with unhappy customers all fall into the area of public relations.  But does your PR department use Twitter?  Manage your communications with Twitter.  Communicate your company's successes without bragging or giving too much away.  Its all good for business.
  7. Communicate With Employees.  Many companies have email free days and use Twitter to communicate instead.  Got something urgent use Twitter.
  8. Recruit Employees Through Twitter.  Employment agencies use Twitter to annouce any vacancies.  Its a low cost way of getting the word out there.
  9. Built Your Network.  Your "followers" are part of your network, build on them.  Be reciprocal with your followers' tweets and retweet them to help spread their message.  This will be appreciated. 
  10. Virally Spread Your Message.  Likewise ask your follows to "Pls RT" or retweet your message to increase its reach.
  11. Order Taking.  Some companies are equipped to take your order my tweet.  This is an automated error free way of doing business.
That should be enough to get you started using Twitter.

24 August 2012

4 Ways To Use Pinterest For Business

Post image for 4 Ways To Use Pinterest For Business

Who doesn’t like visual things? We all do.
We live in a visual world, and that’s what makes Pinterest so great for small businesses. It’s a way to share your products and interests through photos to create a vibe, evoke a feeling and make a connection with a potential customer.
Today, I’d like to share four ways that you can use Pinterest to further your reach and grow your business.

But first things first, what is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a virtual pinboard, a vision board or mood board of sorts. It’s a place to save cool things you find on the web, in a magazine, or even in a shop. Users can simply add Pinterest to their browser to capture things they find online or they can snap a quick pic of something they see on the street or in a magazine and upload it to their board.

Best of all, Pinterest is social. You can share pins via twitter or facebook, users can like a pin or repin it. You can also follow people on Pinterest and be notified when they have new pins. Or you can go old school and use the search function to find something specific.
All of this means that there are a lot of eyes to potentially see what folks are pinning on Pinterest.

So, how can you use Pinterest to grow your business?

  • Show your style If you run a design company of some sort, Pinterest is a grand slam for you. You can find clients solely based off your boards. Share your winning design boards and ideas. Don’t be shy. Or if you are looking for a designer, search Pinterest to find one that’s your style.
  • Market research If you run a retail store you can create a collaboration board where anyone can add to it. Title it “Things you’d like to see” and ask your followers to pin cool things they would like to see in your shop. Or if you design and create goods, use Pinterest to see trends. Check out what people are pinning and use boards for inspiration. Now, that’s a fun way to do market research.
  • Word of mouth Pinning your own goods over and over is frowned upon on Pinterest. But offering a really easy way for visitors to your site to share your goods on their boards, is a fantastically smart marketing move. Pinterest makes it really easy to create a “pin it” button for your retail site. They even have a button creator that will automatically fill out a description for the person pinning. This means users can share your marketing message with just a click of a button.
  • Community building Because Pinterest supports open, collaboration boards, it’s a great place to share like-minded finds. Create a board for your friends, fans and followers to collaborate. Title it, add a description and moderate it from time to time. Creating and moderating a pin board is a fun way to further your “expert” factor.

Drive traffic home

As with all social media, make sure you have your Pinterest account driving traffic back to your site. Pinterest is so cool that it allows you a place to link up to your website, Facebook and Twitter account in your profile.
So what are you waiting for? Go get that “pin it” button, add it to your site pronto and like any social network, engage and have fun!
How are you going to use Pinterest for business?
by Sarah Burns "The Mogul Mom"blogger

21 August 2012

How To Build Your Online Business Community

Social media has the power to create a sense of community around your organisation.  A prime example of an organisation using community build is the Red Cross.  The question however is always how?  You know you have "likes" on your Facebook page, followers on Twitter and even the odd guest post on your blog.  These are the obvious things to do but is it enough?

Things to consider:
  1. Your website/blog's shared purpose - You must have a buy in, something your readers can identify with and belong to.  Yours readers will be looking for like minded people with the same kind of problem or difficulty that you can solve. 
  2. You are the leader - Communities need a spokesperson that is you.  You need to maintain the community'ss purpose and its direction.  Conversation and connections will need to be probed and expanded.  Use your personal story to illustrate the community's purpose, after all people have similar problems.  Find guest bloggers who can spread the word of your movement.
  3. You are also the enforcer - some posts by members may need to be policed if abusive to other members or not in line with the site's purpose.
  4. Aim for inclusion - make sure members feel their points and concerns are met.  Also you will need to be seen to be fair so that all members need to receive the same consideration and be heard equally
  5. Create a Referral System - The best way to grow a community is to create a referral system, ideally with an incentive.  This incentive can be a prize for the member would refers the highest number of new members in a given time period.  Again such a referral system may will not suit all business models.  Another idea would be free admission to the community for getting two new members to sign up.  You need a self-perpetuating system build in or it all becomes an uphill struggle. 
  6. Continuity is key - All of the participants must feel that there is a benefit to continuing to visit the community, otherwise your member numbers will dwindle. Increasing content is of importance here.
  7. Your content - Growing a community requires content that is relevant to your target's interests.  This needs to be kept up to date.
  8. Work with feedback - Be aware that you may need to rethink the community's purpose based on the questions you are asked by your members.
  9. It takes time - And continual effort.  Do not expect a "critical mass" or "tipping point" number of followers that will arrive out of nowhere and make all the difference.  Should this happen (by some remote chance) then its a bonus.  You will continually win and loose new members even while growing at a steady pace. 
  10. In practical terms - Spread your group's shared purpose on Twitter.  Retweet messages from like minded people.  Spread the word of your movement through bloggers already blogging in that space. 
  11. Include outgoing links and related article on your blog posts.  Use an automated Twitter and Facebook feed on your subject matter to seed these online conversations. 

I would welcome comments or ideas, please comment below.

19 August 2012

7 Reasons To Blog For Business

 We all know blogging is becoming more and more popular so why should we get involved?  I know everyone will have their own reasons in their own order of importance but here are a few you should consider.
  1. Express Your Thoughts - Blogging is a perfect medium for this.  Typing out your thoughts at the time, will bring structure and clarify to your ideas.  There is plenty of scope to flesh them out. 
  2. Share Your Thoughts - Having written a blog post it is easy to share it though the use of social media be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Reddit. 
  3. Get FeedBack - By allowing others to comment on your blog or website you connect with the wider community and invite feedback on your ideas. 

By sticking to a common theme you can share your passion, interest and expertise in a particular subject matter.  This is often referred to as niche blogging.  Niche blogging has many business advantages.  It allows you to
  1. Raise Your Personal Profile - Blogging is definitely a way of standing out from the crowd, gathering a crowd around you and delivery your personal message to that crowd.  While more and more people are doing this, it is not for everyone.  Its worth mentioning that the marketing guru Seth Godin started off by blogging.  His first book was a collection of his first blog posts. 
  2. Raise Your Brand - Be it your personal brand or your comany brand, it will be elevated through association with a blog.  Even if you are blogging just to be heard your blog will become your brand.  All the more reason to keep your blog consistant or to a theme. 
  3. Show That You Are Human - A blog allows the writer and his followers to express their opinions and will bring across the humanity of those involved rather than just a corporate image.  Emotion is convincing and builds long term loyalty.
  4. Show Your Expertise - Again by sticking to a niche area you can demonstrate the depth of your knowledge on the subject matter.  The first question you will have to answer is "how much expertise should I share"?  You may want to test the water.  Many argue that in today's world where you can google anything, that information has no real value but its implimentation does.  This means that you give information  away freely but charge for the strategizing and application of your intellectual propertery.  Depending on your business model you may have varying views on this.  Either way sharing your expertise will establish you as an authority in your field.  In many cases demonstrating your expertise will automatically raise your personal and/or band profile. 
  5. Position Yourself - Your blog will show both your point of view and your strengths within a given niche.  This will automatically position you, show how you are different, relative to others in your field.
  6. Influence Others - Having established that you are a credible expert and that you have a position or point of view on why things in your industry are the way they are or where they are going, it becomes easy to influence your followers. 
  7. Drive Traffic - My recent experence is that blogging literally forces you to drive traffic to your site.  After all you want to be heard, don't you?
If you have any comments on the above please leave a comment below.

12 August 2012

Powerful Uses For Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a free tool that is easy to overlook. Think of it as a monitoring station, where you can track news, blogs, video, discussion and books on your keyword subject matter.  You can set the frequency of the alert and have it delivered by email or RSS feed. 

1. Monitor Your Brand
One of the first uses of Google Alerts I came across was to monitor for customer chatter on your own brand, goods or service.  Find a conversation relevant to your company, product or service gives you the chance to jump in and engage with potential customers.  In the worst case of someone damning your brand or service you can jump in and intervene.

2. Monitor Your Competitors
Google Alerts is an ideal way of keeping abreast of your competitors' latest product launches or news.  It makes sense to know what your competition is doing.

3. Monitor For Customers
Keywords covering your product offering that your potential customers would be using can be monitored.  Just select "discussions", "as it happens" and select the frequency of update.
If someone is looking for your product you have a chance to get in front of the customer.  This is the core of inbound marketing, a social media strategy that drives lead generation.

4. Monitor Industry News
Google Alerts can be used to aggregate the best of the news in your industry sector.  You have the option of hand picking bits of news or feeding the highlights to your Facebook page or Twitter.  This can be done using the RSS feed selection.  The trick here would be to interweave this newsfeed with more personalised posts.  Blog aggregation can also be done with Google Alerts rather than Google Reader.  Again this is a handy way of compiling all relevant information for a blog of your own or an industry related company newsletter.

 Google Alerts