Where to Find Social Media Content

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There is no question today about the tremendous value of social media in online marketing. It’s free. It taps huge audiences And it’s easy…

There is one challenge, however, that seems to trip up businesses again and again. It’s the need to find social media content. It’s not enough to simply have accounts on all the major social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You have to have enough content to make your interactions on these networks interesting.

The good news is since most social media involves sharing content in small helpings, you don’t have to invest too much time and effort in finding social media content. You just need to know where to look.

Great Sources for Social Media Content

  • Your own blog. If you have a blog — and I recommend you do — you have a library of social media content just waiting for you. You can create discussions around new posts as well as older ones. As long as they’re still relevant, link to them and share away. You’ll have great social media interactions and see your blog traffic increase, too!
  • Shared content. Sharing, liking and retweeting other people’s content is a perfectly valid use of social media. It shows that you’re interested in others’ views, and sharing their material can help gain new friends and followers. This shouldn’t be 100% of your social media activity, but it can be fantastic when used in conjunction with other types of content.
  • RSS feeds. Start using an RSS feedreader, like Google Reader, if you aren’t already and subscribe to some blogs and other content sources that interest you. Check your feedreader regularly. Anything that comes through your feeds could be great social media content. Topical posts are a nice way to generate feedback and discussion.
  • Marketing materials. If you’ve got white papers or case studies on your site, you’ve also got social media content. The trick is to not to be obviously promotional about it. Put the sources forward as topics for discussion rather than simply illustrating the success of your business. Videos can be especially good to share.
  • Books. Books aren’t dead, yet. A quick book review can be an excellent way to get a conversation going. It doesn’t have to be limited to books you like, either. If you’re writing a critical review, though, try to keep it within the realm of constructive criticism so you don’t come off as overly harsh.
  • Traditional media. News pieces you see during breakfast or stories you hear on the radio during your commute also represent fine social media content. Try to link to a source article or transcript if possible, but it’s not absolutely necessary. The point is to show you’re active, engaged and sharing information you think is interesting.
  • Challenges at work. Bringing up issues you’ve faced at work can be a rich source for social media content. The key is to discuss solutions to these problems or ways your industry might be impacted by them. Again, keep it positive. And, obviously, don’t name names if you’re dealing with clients and customers.

To summarize, there’s wonderful material for social media content all around you. All you’ve got to do is look around with a creative eye. You’ll find it.

Then, just make sure to use it.

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Effective Podcasting in the Facebook Era

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Podcasting is a wonderful way for businesses to communicate ideas. It’s compelling. Intimate in a way text can never be. And producing a professional show is surprisingly affordable.

It would be easy to assume that podcasting has been eclipsed by social networking over the past few years and is no longer a compelling medium. But this is just not the case. In fact, podcasting can be particularly effective when used in conjunction with social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you think of a podcast like any other type of online content, then you can approach it the same way on your social networks. Create great content. Promote your episodes directly on your network feed. Watch your audience grow.

Here are some specific tips for making the most of podcasting in the Facebook era.

Best Practices for Podcasting Today

  1. Choose your format wisely. Audio or video? Each has particular advantages, so choose based on the type of show you want. Audio is quicker, easier and cheaper to produce. And it can be consumed on the go. Video is, obviously, more visually compelling. Which should you select? Ask yourself what kind of story you want to tell. If your show is one person speaking in a studio, audio may well be stronger. If you’re out and about, video can bring your viewers there with you.
  2. Keep episodes short and sweet. While there’s no definitive rule on the perfect length of a podcast episode, a good rule of thumb is to keep it as short as possible. There are, of course, exceptions, such as in-depth interview shows. But generally, keep your episodes tight enough for listeners or viewers to consume in one sitting. We are talking primarily about business podcasting here, so be mindful of the needs of your audience. Businesspeople want their information quickly.
  3. Make sure your episodes are useful. If people going to take the time to listen to or view your show, make sure they’re getting something they can use. Podcasts are a great way to share ideas and teach the skills you’ve developed over the course of your career. Structure your show in a way that highlights information your audience can put to use. A self-centered or promotional show won’t get you anywhere.
  4. Build a good web home for your show. In order to take advantage of social network promotion, your podcast has to be set up correctly. That means not only does it need its own home on the web — complete with RSS feed — but each episode must have its own, unique URL. This way, you can promote each episode on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. And if each episode has a URL, you can also use SEO to make your episodes easier to find.
  5. Make subscribing easy. Most people still don’t know what an RSS feed is or what it does. So, you’ve got to make subscribing to your show dead simple. Create big, bold buttons for subscribing via RSS feed and subscribing via iTunes. Make it possible to subscribe via email, for those who still prefer getting their episodes the old-fashioned way. Also, make sure there’s a download link for each episode for those who want to consume your content manually.
  6. Promote. Promote. Promote.  By all means, put your show on iTunes so that anyone with an iPhone or iPad can download your episodes easily. But, don’t stop there. Make sure you are constantly promoting your podcast through your social networks, linking to the podcast episodes themselves. Some social networks even have plugins that can be used to embed episodes directly into your social media feed.

Podcasting is still going strong in the Facebook era. It’s a highly convenient and easy-to-use technology that allows you to tell complex stories and push them to a receptive audience that’s interested in what you have to say.

Through podcasting, you can establish yourself both as an authority and as a personality people want to hear. Give it a shot.

The Importance of Social Media for Business

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As we all know, in just a short time social media has almost completely changed the face of online marketing.

If your business has not yet taken advantage of this truly incredible channel, now is the time to do so. It’s extremely cost effective, easy-to-use and can put your product or service in front of hundreds of millions of potential customers.

Still not convinced? Here are some key reasons why you should be incorporating social media into your overall marketing program.

Benefits of Social Media for Business

  1. More than a billion users are waiting for you. Social media has exploded in popularity worldwide, with a significant portion of the entire human population now making use of social sites. Check out these stats:
    • Facebook: more than 800 million members
    • YouTube: 800 million unique users a month
    • Twitter: more than 400 million unique users a month
    • LinkedIn: 150 million users
    • Google+: 100 million users
    • Pinterest: 10 million users
  2. Social media is free. That’s right. Social media is entirely free to use. A few sites like LinkedIn offer premium paid services alongside their free service, but even that is rare. In general, the only direct cost in making use of social media for business is your own time and labor.
  3. Your customers are there. While social media usage may be skewed slightly toward younger users, individuals across demographics are going social. For example, nearly half of Facebook’s user base is more than 45 years old. Whatever your target market, it’s on social media.
  4. There are social networks for everyone. The demographics of social users change from network to network. Pinterest is overwhelmingly used by women with craft and design interests, while Google+ is generally for young, technologically-savvy users. LinkedIn is filled with those looking for business contacts.
  5. Your competitors are already there. Even if your business isn’t active on social media, your competition almost certainly is. Do you really want to cede them the entire social media space?

Embracing social media for business offers huge potential for generating discussion about your products and services and, eventually, winning new customers. It’s free and carries very little downside.

The question really isn’t why should you be on social media? But why shouldn’t you?

Great Tools for Managing Social Media

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The great thing about social media is it’s free. There’s no charge for basic membership on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and the like.

That doesn’t mean, however, that there is no cost to carrying out a social media program. Posting. Identifying and adding friends/followers. Monitoring. Responding to comments. It all takes time … and someone to do the work.

The good news is the right tools can make these tasks much easier. In fact, the creation of social media management tools is now a booming industry. While there are many, many tools on the market, the list below should give you a good sense for what’s out there and how you can use these tools for managing social media.

Great Tools for Managing Social Media

  • dlvr.itdlvr.it is a specialized service for pushing your blog posts to social media networks. It assigns a custom short URL for your blog post, and then updates whichever services you select with the post. It also contains some nice analytics for tracking click rates and responses to your posts.
  • HootsuiteFrom its humble beginnings as a Twitter aggregator, Hootsuite has grown to include monitoring of Facebook, LinkedIn, Ping.fm, WordPress, MySpace and FourSquare accounts. You can to post the same message across all your profiles and even schedule your posts in batches ahead of time.
  • Hubspot: If you need a single service to be the center of every aspect of your inbound marketing, Hubspot is almost certainly your first choice. Everything from keyword selection, blog management and site analytics can be performed through the service, along with social media monitoring and management. We like it so much, we’re a certified Hubspot partner agency.
  • Ping.fm: As one of the oldest social media aggregators, Ping.fm also has some of the broadest support. There are apps and plugins for different operating systems and devices and it works with many social networks. Also, Ping.fm remains one of the easiest services for updating all your social media.
  • Radian6With an extensive list of major corporate clients such as Pepsi, UPS and 3M, Radian6 provides among the most robust social monitoring and analysis tools on the market. It is an expensive service. However, with its ability to integrate into other marketing tools, it provides companies with a big advantage in managing their social presence.
  • SproutSocial: Also geared toward companies, this social monitoring tool can notify you of any mentions of your products and keywords — as well as competitors. It has robust data filtering and reporting options, as well as support for routing specific subjects to different members of your team.
  • TweetDeckTweetDeck, purchased by Twitter last year, is another tool for managing social media, combining all of your social media profiles into an easy-to-read all-in-one dashboard. It has a web-based version as well as software for Windows, OSX, Chrome and mobile platforms.

There are plenty more tools out there for managing social media; these are just the tip of the iceberg. The key is to identify those tools that will let you get the most out of your social media effort without sucking up inordinate amounts of time and effort.

As a starting point, just pick one of the tools mentioned above and give it a shot. You’ll be happy you did.

How to Promote Your Blog with Social Media

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Blogging and social media make a great couple.

On their own, each are wonderful tools for marketers looking to extend their brands’ reach and awareness and drive engagement. Together, however, their power multiplies. By using social media to promote your blog, you extend the reach of your content substantially.

The good news is it’s really not that hard to do. Just follow the seven steps below to power your blog with social media.

How to Promote Your Blog

  1. Provide social media sharing links. This is pretty obvious and most blogging software makes it a simple matter. You should provide links on every post to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn, at a minimum. Other social networks may be available as well, so provide links to the best of those for your audience. The key to sharing socially is making it easy for your visitors, and these links turn it into a one-click affair.
  2. Set up automated sharing. Many blogging software packages offer this and if it is available to you, use it. Automated sharing basically takes your posts and automatically posts them on Twitter, Facebook, etc. My only caveat is some blogging software makes the Facebook posts without adding your post image. If this is the case, I’d disable automated sharing for Facebook and post to that network manually. Images are key for capturing readers’ attention.
  3. Use Twitter multiple times per post. The key to Twitter is that your timeline is always moving, so if you’ve posted hours ago you should consider that tweet gone forever. If you’re got a good blog post you want to promote on Twitter, you’ll need to tweet it several times during the day. You can even come back to it the next day for a few rounds. Unlike other social networks, this won’t be considered spam. So be aggressive with your Twitter account.
  4. Repost on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn. In terms of the other major social networks, I recommend hitting them all, regardless on whether each is a priority for you. It doesn’t take long to post on all of these networks, probably less than a a minute each. You never know what you’re going to get. And even though Google+ doesn’t seem to be terribly active yet with everyday folks, it seems to me like there’s substantial SEO value to be had by posting there.
  5. Start conversations in LinkedIn groups. I’ve found this to be a terrific source of traffic. LinkedIn folks are serious about their networking and have a real thirst for valuable content. So, find a half-dozen or so groups that cover your industry or interest and make sure to share your blog posts there. You’ll find that your content is appreciated, and over time you can build a nice audience. Just make sure to share only valuable content. Don’t spam the groups with marketing.
  6. Ask your friends, followers to reshare. Don’t be shy about this. When you’ve got a good blog post, ask the folks you know to reshare it. It might be your friends and colleagues you ask to share on their social networks. You might post on Twitter and ask your followers to retweet your content. People can’t help you if they don’t know you need it. So go ahead and request resharing. Most people will be happy to do it.
  7. Don’t forget about your older posts. This one is critical. As you create blog posts, you are building a great library of content. You shouldn’t think that your sharing can only take place the day you write the blog. You should come back to your old blog posts periodically and reshare them as long as they are still relevant. Some posts will have a shelf-life of years. As long as the content is valuable, keep pushing it out. You’ll build real value for your blog over time.

Of course, the key to promoting your blog with social media is to make it a process. Every time I post a new blog, I promote it as described above. The whole process is quick, taking far less time than writing the post in the first place. And it pays off.

Having a well-read blog can enable you to use your blog for a variety of purposes, such as serving as the centerpiece of your inbound marketing efforts. Then you’ve created the ability to generate leads and, over time, new customers.

Joined at the Hip: Social Media and Public Relations

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In today’s world, social media and public relations go together as Forrest Gump might say “like peas and carrots.”

The reason is pretty obvious. Public relations tells the stories a company or organization wants to disseminate widely. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ put your stories in front of audiences that number in the millions — collectively, hundreds of millions. It’s hard to imagine many channels that can offer wider distribution than that.

So, how do we make this happen? Here are some tips to get you going.

  • Make sure all the stories you pitch have a home online. Company blogs and online news releases are two easy ways to accomplish this.
  • Decide in advance which social networks are meaningful for your organization and establish a presence there.
  • Post your stories, including links to your blog posts or online news releases, on your social networks every time you pitch them.
  • If you use Twitter, remember to repost your story a number of times, as tweets have a short shelf life.
  • Become an active member of your social networks, adding to your audience over time. Eventually, you’ll reach a critical mass.

If getting your social network strategy up and running seems like a daunting task, just take it one step at a time. Pick one network and get it up and running. Then another. Then another.