Help, I’m being followed! Now what?

I logged on to my Twitter account today and was surprised to see that in a couple of short weeks I have gained 69 followers on Twitter (and none of them are members of my family!). I’m having some great conversations with people and discovering a lot of valuable information. So I started to wonder, now what? How do I keep the momentum going and build some quality relationships? Here are some of the helpful answers that I came across.

John Paul Aguiar has over 100,000 followers (a tad more than my 69), and he offers this great straightforward advice:siguenos-twitter

  • Follow the right people
  • Connect and engage
  • Share great stuff
  • Be available
  • Say thank you

Even if you share good quality information on Twitter regularly, if all you do is make posts you won’t receive a lot of comments or retweets. Making time to interact with your followers and build a sense of real community is vital.

In addition to knowing what to do, Jennifer Hanford shares some helpful insight into what not to do. Be sure that you don’t:

  • Overtly boast or show off about having “so many” followers.
  • Try too hard to engage
  • Stress out
  • Blast sales messages and/or spam your followers
  • Make your content all about you, all the time
  • Become complacent
  • Follow people back just because they followed you
  • Obsess over how many followers you have

Some valuable information also comes from Derek Halpern, who summarized the findings of a research study exploring what people like to read on Twitter. Some of key things that they don’t like are: octopus-final

  • Cryptic tweets
  • Repeating old news
  • Using too many # and @ signs
  • Just links without commentary
  • Boring tweets

Derek recommends that to hold your readers’ interest it is important to:

  • Be funny and witty
  • Create curiosity
  • Be interesting

Armed with these tips, I am am confident that I will continue to create a great network on social media and develop mutually beneficial relationships with my followers.

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Why Learn Social Media Marketing from a Book?

In my ADL310 course on social media marketing we were assigned a textbook to read as part of our homework.  Why choose a textbook when social media itself can teach us the basics? There are blogs on WordPress telling us how to use WordPress; tweets on Twitter with links to articles about using Twitter, and I’m willing to bet I could find a Facebook page telling me the best way to create a page on Facebook. So what is the usefulness of a text on social media?

Recently I have come across numerous helpful articles online with tips on how to use social media marketing effectively, from creating great blog content, using Pinterest for marketing, mistakes to avoid on Linked In, and even the best time of day to tweet. The majority of these articles are blog posts between 500 and 2,500 words, and they are designed to catch your attention, give you a handful of helpful ideas or interesting facts, and then send you on to the next article in the blog. These posts are short and to the point, exposing you to a lot of ideas in a brief amount of time.

If you want to drill deeper into some of these concepts though, something more detailed is required. A text on social media marketing allows the reader to expand their knowledge and really get comfortable with a particular aspect of social media, whether they want to learn how to improve the design of their website, write a e-book, or use a specif platform like Google+ more effectively.

In ADL310 our required reading is The Zen of Social Media Marketing, named one of the top 10 best social media marketing books of 2013. In my opinion Shama Kabani’s book is a great guide to social media marketing for beginners and those looking to learn more, with easy to follow advicethe-zen-of-social-media and helpful insights. Her suggestions were easy for me to grasp and implement right away. I have gained confidence quickly and already seen positive results from following her advice.

Wouldn’t books on social media marketing become outdated in a short amount of time though, as trends shift and social media platforms evolve and emerge? Sure, some books might not have as much impact 2-3 years after their publishing date, but others such as Shama’ Kabani’s book have been updated with new information and re-released as a new edition.

In fact, seeing the value in her book has lead me to follow her on Twitter as well. Not only have I learned from the information published in her book, but I can continue to learn from Shama through social media itself by reading her tweets. So a great social media marketing book can also lead us to a great social media marketing mentor.

To discover some more fantastic books on social media marketing, check out these 17 social media books that will make you a better marketer.

My thoughts on the blogging experience

I love to research topics that interest me, I love writing, and I love teaching and providing helpful information to others–so blogging is something that should come easily to me, and for the most part it has. A few years ago I had a couple of blogs on Blogger and really enjoyed creating posts for them; however, I eventually decided to delete the blogs as I wasn’t writing very often anymore and I was also beginning a job search so I didn’t want potential employers reading them.

I was excited to create a new blog as one of my assignments for the ADL310 course. Since I intend to open a new business within the next 6 months, I felt it would be a great opportunity to build a website and blog for my business. This sounded like the best thing for me to do, but when I went to get started, the thought of creating a business blog instead of a personal blog was immediately intimidating.  Suddenly I felt concerned about how my blog should look, what I should write about, who would potentially be reading it.  So I chickened out! 😉

I decided to begin with this blog first (yep, the one you are reading) and just get comfortable with using WordPress and playing around with it. Instead of writing posts for my new business, I blog-wordle-11elected to write about what I am learning about social media marketing through my ADL310 course. I have spent several hours looking for websites and blogs related to my business interest, and then evaluating them. This has given me some insight and ideas about how I want my own site to look and what NOT to do.

I have discovered a lot of great articles through Twitter that have helped me to start learning techniques for blogging, and given me some useful tips. I am gaining a sense of how long my blog posts should be on a business website, how they should be formatted, the importance of using pictures, tags, keywords, and lists, etc. I have read some advice on how to create great content that is appropriate for my audience and will keep people interested.

Armed with this information, I’m beginning to feel ready to create my “real” blog and start to write things more directly related to my new business. I just discovered today that I can create a WordPress blog and set it to “private”, which means it doesn’t appear in search engines, and is not viewable by the public. At the same time, I can can invite specific people to read it and grant them access, so that way I can get feedback from people I know until I am ready to go public with the entire thing.  Now that I know this, I plan to start creating a blog for my business. Even if it takes some time to customize how I want it to look, I can at least get started on writing content and filing it away for future posts.

I am grateful to the ADL310 course for giving me the courage and motivation to start building my website and blog!

How effective might blogging be for growing my business?

One of my reasons for enrolling in the ADL310 course on social media was as preparation for launching my own successful small business. I wanted to discover some great tips on effective social media marketing, practice my new skills, learn how to build a website and blog using the WordPress platform, and gain some confidence before putting myself and my business “out there” on the internet.

I have trained in numerous areas of natural healing for both people and animals, including such modalities as Reiki, flower essences, herbs, aromatherapy, crystal healing, and healing touch. To some people these alternative methods of healing seem mysterious, and the idea of using them to help animals is even more unusual to others. Therefore, websites and blogs that inform and educate people about these options for improving their health and that of their pets are very important.

For my class homework I was asked to find 2 blogs in my work area that use social media effectively and evaluate them. My readers may be surprised to learn that I had no problem locating more than 15 Canadian websites for animal healers, but finding ones that use social media effectively was more difficult. Some of these sites did not have blogs, and unfortunately many of those that did were not making good use of social media to help grow their business, in my opinion. Some blogs were not being kept current, while others included customer testimonials but no informative/educational articles, or vice versa. One blog was just a whole bunch of photos of the business owner’s dog, which I suppose gives customers some insight into the business owner’s personal life, but no helpful information.

Twitter has helped me to quickly locate and read a lot of short articles for beginning bloggers using this platform to build a business, and it feels like I have learned a lot about blogging in a short time! I  see that to attract consumers and convert them into customers, I need to have a great selection of content on my website, including a blog that is updated on a regular basis. The posts should be a variety of content. In my case these posts could include things such as customer testimonials, answers to questions like “what is Reiki?” or “how can flower essences help my pet?”, discussion of trending topics related to animals, and relevant personal stories about myself and my life that let people get to know me. My blog should include pictures, videos, and links to all my other social media platforms.

It’s a bit daunting to think of all the time and effort it will take for me to build and maintain an effective presence on the web, but I feel that social media and blogging in particular has a huge potential to help me expand my customer base and grow my business. I am surprised to see that others in my field are not necessarily utilizing these tools as well as they could, but if their businesses are successful without social media marketing, then imagine how much more they could grow and develop if they began to use it more effectively.

I am excited by the possibilities and look forward to learning more as I continue with the ADL310 course!

Photo by Gatis Gribusts

Photo by Gatis Gribusts

Reiki Dogs: Evaluating a blog and the use of social media

In my search for a second blog in my area of work that uses social media effectively, I came across Reiki Dogs. Lisa has been blogging regularly since 2008, with an average of 1-2 articles a month, and has had 34,884 views of her blog to date. Clearly people are finding and reading her blog! Her articles can be on the lengthy side, but the content is interesting, informative, and at times thought-provoking. However, I noticed that there is no topic index, and considering the number of posts in the archives it would be really helpful to have a list of tagged topics.

In the right-hand column of her blog, Lisa has links to her main website (which is separate from her blog, possibly because the blog is hosted by Blogger instead of WordPress). There is also a link to her Facebook page where you can “like” her business. Unfortunately, both of these links are rather hidden among photos and advertisements, and I feel it would be better to highlight these more prominently at the top of her blog.

When I did some more searching using Google I discovered that Lisa also has a Linked In profile, a YouTube profile with videos of her work, and a Facebook profile (in addition to her page) with public posts about her work. In addition, she recently published an ebook on Amazon.com, is a regular writer for OmTimes ezine, and was voted as a “Readers Choice Finalist” on About.com for Favourite Reiki Teacher. Wow! These are all amazing achievements, and clearly Lisa has built a great reputation for herself and her healing work online, so why aren’t these things being promoted on her blog? Again, there could be links on her blog to these other social media platforms.

I think it is great that Lisa is using all of these different sites to share her expertise and grow her business, and her blog is a great opportunity to link all of these resources together and really showcase her work. With almost 35,000 views of her page, the blog is definitely an effective social media tool for her, but it could be even more effective in getting the message out with a few small tweaks such as the ones that I have noted.

animalpanelnewest

Social media: keeping up appearances

From what I am learning in my marketing class, when utilized effectively social media can be a great way to attract consumers, cultivate relationships with customers, and build on successes to create a successful business.  However, what happens when a business suddenly stops engaging in social media? Do customers wonder, “What happened? Where did they go? Can I still rely on this business to stay open and continue to provide the products I like?”

I came across a nice-looking site selling flower essences for animals. The site is visually appealing, simply organized, and easy to navigate. Curiously, there is no “About Us” tab, but there is a link encouraging visitors to check out the company’s “new blog”. Eager to learn more about the company and their products, I clicked to investigate.

The blog turned out to have over 100 detailed posts that explain the uses of flower essences and highlight different products. The blog was regularly active from April 2008 to May 2010 and then for 3 months in 2013. The last blog post is from September 2013.

There is a link to follow the company on Twitter, and I clicked on it to discover that the company has 1,860 followers, with a total of 6,606 tweets that go back to August 2007. Again, the last posts are from September 2013, and interestingly they are about social media marketing!

This leads me back to my questions: “What happened? Where did they go?” If I were a regular customer using these flower essences I might be concerned that the company had shut down or might do so in the near future. Any number of things could have happened that affected this small business owner’s ability to actively market her business and keep up with social media–illness, family issues, personal commitments–and while I of course feel compassion at the thought of these possibilities, I am left wondering.

In your opinion, does having a presence on social media platforms work for or against a business when it is not kept current? On the one hand, we can clearly see that this business is well established, has provided useful content and information to customers in the past, and has knowledge and expertise in their field. On the other, for whatever reason the dialogue with customers has come to a standstill and there is nothing to suggest that the business is actively engaged in development or keeping up with new products and trends.

Is it valuable to leave the blog and Twitter account in place so people can see the archives, or would it be better to take them down and deactivate them until the business has time to keep them current once again? I look forward to your comments.

Animal Healings: great use of social media

I am excited to be taking a course on social media and learning more about how I can use online marketing to promote my budding small business!

As a newbie to social marketing, one of my first assignments is to find and evaluate a blog in my work area that uses social media effectively. I very quickly stumbled across Animal Healings and was impressed by the look of their website.  It has appealing graphics that load quickly, font that is easy to read, and buttons that connect you to their social media platforms.

ahlogo2013small

This small business has a web presence on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Pinterest, YouTube, FourSquare, Flickr, Tumbler, MySpace, Skype, and Google+, with blogs on both WordPress and Blogger. In fact, their website even features an entire page listing all the ways that you can connect with them online!

The link for their blog in the menu at the top of the website directs you to Blogger where there is an up-to-date blog with current postings. This includes testimonials from their customers, helpful tips, current news of interest to pet owners and animal lovers, as well as links back to various portions of the business website. The background theme and blog colours are well chosen and easy on the eyes.

However, if you don’t use the menu link to the blog and instead click on the WordPress icon on the website, you are taken to an older blog on WordPress that has not been updated in over a year. It appears that Animal Healings decided to switch from WordPress to Blogger towards the end of 2013, but the WordPress icon on their website has not been changed to a Blogger icon.

As a newbie to blogs, I am not sure if there is a mechanism to transfer old blog posts to a new website if you decide to switch social media platforms. Is there some way you can transfer the archives from the old blog to the new one so as not to lose any previous posts and keep the information compiled at one website? It would be a shame to lose 3 years of previous content and not be able to archive it at the new site. I will post this question on Twitter and see if someone can satisfy my curiosity.

I was really inspired by the great use of social media by Animal Healings to market their business online and I wish them great success with it! I hope someday to be able to market myself as effectively as they have!