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Guest Blogging, Part 1

Social Sonar - Wednesday, April 04, 2012

 

What is guest blogging?

Guest blogging entails writing a blog post for someone else’s blog. You get credited as the author of the post, and it links to your own blog or website so readers can find your site. For small businesses, it is most beneficial to guest blog for sites related to your market.

How being a guest blogger benefits you...
You’ll make business connections, engage new potential customers, and maybe get some clout out of the deal. You’ll also hopefully get the most important payoff - traffic to your site.

How your guest blog benefits others...

“...in the post-Panda era, guest blogging is one of the most powerful ways to rank higher with Google. The Panda-dubbed updates to the Google algorithm that started changing ranking factors (and search results) in early 2011 have dramatically shifted the search marketing game.

Where once a brute-force effort to blanket the internet with spammy back-linked content and stuff keywords for ranking could convince Google that a site was worth a high rank, now the focus has shifted more clearly to original, quality content. Google is in the business of serving up the most relevant online resources, so naturally, it wants websites to earn their search placement, not take it.” - Social Media Today, “Google Panda Makes Guest Blogging Easier”

This means that more and more webmasters are in need of high-quality, content-rich copy in order to improve their rankings in the search engine. Your guest blog gives them exactly that!

Be sure to check out Part 2 of this blog to find out how to become a guest blogger and more.

True Fans vs Vanity Fans

Social Sonar - Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Enthusiastic FansSometimes, when fan growth on your company's Facebook page is ticking along rather slowly, it can be tempting to investigate companies that can help you just buy new fans. Yes, they do exist, and they make all kinds of promises about being able to procure "targeted fans," fast growth, and more.

However, if you comb the web for reviews of fan-buying companies, you'll find that there is a very clear difference between true fans and "vanity fans." Here are some of the key differences between the two:

  • True fans tend to engage in meaningful interaction with you on your page, while vanity fans may not interact at all, or worse, leave strange commentary on your wall.
  • True fans are genuinely interested in your product and/or service, and are more likely to become brand ambassadors for you, spreading the gospel of your company to other people who might also become fans. Vanity fans may have been paid to fan your page (or they may be junk profiles), and therefore have little incentive to recruit other potential fans.
  • True fans are more likely than vanity fans to be in the proper geographical locations and demographics to actually become customers.

The bottom line here is perfectly summed up by Graeme Olsen Southwest eCommerce:

"Sometimes when you've started a new Facebook fan page, and you want some fan numbers to make it look more reputable, then you may wish to consider purchasing some fans. For example, you may feel that when someone visits your Facebook fan page, they are more likely to interact or join if they see 1000 fans instead of 3 fans.

But because purchased fans will never be as loyal as real fans, you should view them as just number builders (that is, just there to make your initial page look better). For that reason, you should source them as cheap as possible."

Still need a little more convincing that buying fans may not be as beneficial as it sounds? Check out this great article from Practical eCommerce.

Meet Your Match: Cross-Market with Other Businesses

Social Sonar - Saturday, March 24, 2012

Linking HandsIf you're a small business owner, you know that growing your Facebook fanbase can be a slow process. Cross-promoting with other local businesses can be a useful tool in seeing steady growth. Here are some steps you can take to make effective cross-promotion a reality:

1) Do a little reconnaissance.
Research the fan pages of other small businesses of your size who have similar fan-counts. You'll be looking for those companies that are not direct competitors, but with similar customer demographics. For example, if you're a wedding photographer, you may want to consider looking for florists or DJ's.

2) Figure out what your cross-promotion will be.
Will you be doing a week's worth of promotional posts for each other? Guest blogging? A joint event that you can promote through Facebook? If you're doing a sweepstakes or giveaway, make sure to research Facebook's rules regarding sweepstakes (and be sure to partner with someone who also understands them.)

3) Come up with a pitch.
Mary, owner of an jewelry boutique wanted to partner with a small bakery on her block. She framed her proposal as wanting to reward her loyal Facebook fans by doing a small sweepstakes where they could win a dozen cupcakes. In exchange for her neighboring bakery providing the cupcakes, she would offer to do a series of Facebook Posts during the sweepstakes that would promote the bakery and link to their Facebook Page, Twitter, etc. At the same time, she offered to give away a piece of custom jewelry for a similar sweepstakes on the bakery's Facebook page.

4) Reach out.
It may seem daunting to contact someone out of the blue about possible cross-promotion, but you'd be pleasantly surprised at how receptive people are if they're in the same boat as you. Just remember, they're trying to build fanbases too! In the end, it's a numbers game - The more businesses you contact, the better your odds will be at finding someone to partner up with. Another tactic is to attend local business networking events to meet people in person. It's often easier to convey the benefits of cross-promotion over the phone or face-to-face, than through e-mail.

5) Stay in touch.
The added benefit of this type of cross-promotion is that you'll be forming meaningful relationships with other local businesses. Mary, who we mentioned above, did end up partnering up with the local bakery, and she and the owner remain friends to this day. They've even partnered up for tradeshows and other events, and now have an ongoing business relationship that is proving to be mutually beneficial.

F-Commerce and your Facebook Page

Social Sonar - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Have you ever considered empowering your Facebook Page with an attached online store? There are now a growing number of social media commerce solutions (affectionately known as F-Commerce solutions) that allow you to offer your Facebook Fans direct access to your products/services. Pretty exciting, considering that if you've got a following on Facebook, you'll have built-in access to potential customers.

We recently spoke with small-business owner, Emily, about her experience with social commerce platform, Payvment. So far, she says that things have been going smoothly, noting that, “the interface was very straightforward, and our overall user experience has been great.”

Emily's business is in the home decor industry, so for her, using social media to sell product is actually a good way to test the waters with new inventory. Since her business page has about 6,000 fans on Facebook, she feels like she has access to the opinions and buying habits of a larger cross-section of potential customers than she would in her brick-and-mortar store. She especially appreciates Payvment's polling feature, which allows her to gain valuable information on her customers' needs and ever-changing tastes. And her customers don't have to go very far to check out her newest products - there is a nifty “Shop Now” button at the top of the timeline-style page, right next to the “photos” icon.

As of right now, she is very low-volume, so her service is free. However, she says that if things continue to go well, she may consider upgrading to the premium service. Still, even though sales have been steady, she does have some misgivings at times. “Is my business page a place where people can have a community in a non-threatening way - meaning without the pressure to buy - or is it a store? I still haven't quite figured that out.”

Either way, it's clear that F-Commerce industry is poised to explode in the next few years. If you're interested in exploring how F-Commerce could have an effect on your business, then look no further than Social Commerce Today's list of 20 Leading F-Commerce Software Solution Providers.

Introducing Facebook Offers

Social Sonar - Saturday, March 17, 2012

Facebook recently rolled out, on a limited basis, Facebook Offers.  It allows you to create a coupon or discount for your business and offer it up on your fan page.  The best part of Offers is that it won't cost you a dime (other than honoring said discount). 

Offers are currently only available to Facebook's managed advertising clients.  The assumption is that they will be made available to other business pages soon. 

Here is how Facebook Offers will work:

* From your fan page, click Offers.

* Create an attention-grabbing headline.

* Set an expiration date.

* Upload a photo.

* Describe the terms and conditions of your offer.

* Post!

Your Offer will then show up in the news feeds of your fans.  When your fan clicks the link to redeem the Offer, it will be e-mailed directly to them.  You, however, will not have access to their e-mail address. 

The only thing that is not clear is whether Facebook will allow you to set limits on the number of Offers redeemed.  If you are a one-man operation, and you somehow manage to "sell" 500 Offers, will you be able to handle the additional business? 

Facebook Offers doesn't replace Facebook Ads, since Offers will only be seen by current fans.  However, if used properly, it will provide an additional way to reach your fans and potential customers without overwhelming them.

Do you offer coupons at your business?  Would you be interested in using a service like Facebook Offers? 

Communicating Via Social Media

Social Sonar - Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Facebook currently has over 850 million users.  Twitter isn't far behind, with 500 million signed up for the service.  Social media is defined as web sites and other online means of communication that are used by large groups of people to share information and to develop social and professional contacts.  Due to the rising popularity of social media websites, the way humans communicate is changing. 

Like never before, we are able to keep in touch with high school sweethearts, former colleagues, and old BFFs.  Facebook makes it easy, allowing us to simply click the "like" button, a virtual round of applause, rather than forcing us to actually respond to posts.  If someone posts something especially funny or interesting, a click of the "share" button allows us to show our approval by passing that post on to the rest of our friends.  Never have we been so connected...without actually having to connect.  

For those using social media to promote a business, it reiterates that we should be having conversations with potential customers.  Those who only try to "sell" their service or product on social media sites often find their fans tire quickly of the tactic and stop following them.  However, if a company is posting interesting and engaging content -- posts worthy of comments and re-posting -- they start a conversation with their fans, which builds their brand. 

Many of us are still navigating the twists and turns of the social media game.  One thing is clear, however.  Communication is a two-way street.  Use social media to spark conversations that keep potential customers coming back to your site.  If you provide a fun and interesting social media scene that your customers want to visit, you will increase the chances that those visitors will make a purchase from your company later. 

What kinds of content do you post to engage customers on your social media sites?

Who is Using Social Media?

Social Sonar - Saturday, March 10, 2012

MBA Online recently released a report and infographic about who is using the largest social media sites. 

They found that 66% of adults are connected to at least one social media site.  College students, or those who have completed at least some college, represent the majority on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Digg and Reddit. Among Facebook users, 57% have completed some college, and 24% have earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Some might be surprised to learn that people 45 and older make up 46% of Facebook users.

About 57% of Facebook and 59% of Twitter users are women. Eighty-two percent of Pinterest users are women, who pin crafts, gift ideas, hobbies, interior design and fashion. Google+ reports that 71% of their users are men and about half of Google+ users are 24 or younger. LinkedIn reports an even ratio of men and women — 49% over age 45 — who use the site to connect with other business professionals.

Check out the infographic below for other statistics.  The more you understand where your potential customers log in, the sooner you can pinpoint where you too should spend your time.  

Spreading the Word with YouTube

Social Sonar - Wednesday, March 07, 2012

YouTube (along with Facebook and Twitter) was named one of the top-valued social media sites, according to a global study carried out by the brand value rating agency BV4, in cooperation with the Department of Social Media Management of the HWZ University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration Zurich. Facebook has an estimated brand value of $29.115 billion, followed by YouTube with a brand value of $18.099 billion, and Twitter with $13.309 billion.

How can you use YouTube (or other video sharing websites) to further your brand? 

Even if you can't afford an expensive camera crew to film a commercial for you, with just a simple Flip camera, you can easily video, edit and publish your own message on YouTube. There are many programs such as Windows Movie Maker or iMovie that allow you to edit videos on your own. 

After you have created your video and uploaded it to YouTube, we suggest that you share it on other social media sites:  Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, etc.  Where ever you interact with your customers, you should share the link to your video.  If you send newsletters or write blogs, you can include the link (or embed it into the document). 

Here is a video, which explains how to leverage YouTube with other social media sites: http://rismedia.com/2012-02-20/weekly-video-tip-leveraging-youtube-with-social-media/

At Social Sonar, we agree that using video to help spread your message is a great idea.  If you missed our video, you can view it below:

Social Sonar Introduction from Social Sonar on Vimeo.

Let us know what you think about using videos for your business.  Have you tried it before?  If not, what is holding you back?

New Facebook Fan Page Layout

Social Sonar - Saturday, March 03, 2012

Facebook LogoOn March 30, 2012, all Facebook fan pages will follow in the footsteps of most personal profiles and enter the Timeline format phase.

According to Facebook, they believe it will help brand your page, highlight "what matters," and allow you to manage everything in one place. The new format will include the ability to set a large cover photo, which appears at the top of the page. It also allows you to set milestones, which defines your key moments in time that may have happened off of Facebook.

Here is Facebook's advice on how to engage people with your new Timeline page format:

  • "Share updates, questions, photos, links and other content on your Page regularly.
  • "Post at least a few times a week so people who like you see your stories in their news feeds, and visitors to your Page always see something new.
  • "Make sure people notice your most important content by pinning posts to the top of your Page or starring them so they're bigger.
  • "When people engage with you, make sure to respond so they know you're listening."

One of the new features is "pinning posts."  Pinned posts are page posts that admins have chosen to display prominently at the top of their Page. A pinned post always appears in the top left of a Page's timeline and has a flag in its top-right corner. A post a Page admin pins to the top of their Page will remain there for 7 days. After that, it’ll return to the date it was posted on the Page’s timeline. Posts from people who like a Page are not eligible to be pinned posts. Page admins can only pin posts created by the Page.

You will also be able to "star" posts to make them appear larger on your page.  You can highlight any post on your Page by starring it:

  1. Hover over a story on your Page's timeline.

  2. Click .

This allows you to highlight the posts you think are important. When you star a post, it expands to widescreen.

Although there have been many grumbles from people on Facebook about yet another format change, at Social Sonar, we believe Timeline will be beneficial for business fan pages. 

Have you experienced Timeline with your personal or business profile page?  How do you think it will affect fan pages?



Social Media in the News

Social Sonar - Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Here are our top five social media stories in the news this week:

1. Women Take Social Media Privacy More Seriously Than Men Do

In 2011, 63% of adults reported having a profile on a social media site (up from 20% in 2006). Fifty-eight percent say they have their profile set to "private" (meaning, only approved friends can view it). Nineteen percent say friends-of-friends can view their profile and 20% say their profile is completely public. The breakdown: Sixty-seven percent of women reported having a "private" profile, compared to 48% of men. Twenty-three percent of men opened their profile up to friends-of friends, while only 16% of women did so. Men were also more open with their profiles, with 26% having a fully public profile. Only 14% of women reported the same settings.

2. Social Media Tech Startups Scramble for Facebook Ad Opportunity

Facebook continues to encourage companies to pay for ads on their site, essentially making them pay to use their own fans to market to new customers.

3. How Long Do We Spend on Social Media Sites?

As expected, Facebook is the winner. The average is 405 minutes spent (over the month) on the site by a user in January 2012.

 

4. Careless Social Media Use May Raise Risk of Identity Fraud

With much of your personal information listed in one handy place, some are taking advantage and stealing other people's identities. Be smart about the information you list on your social media profile and be very careful about accepting friend requests from people you don't know. One interesting piece of advice: "...if you post about your dog using its name on Facebook, you probably shouldn’t be using your dog’s name as any sort of password."

5. Google's New Privacy Policy Complicates Protecting Personal Data

Google's new privacy policy is really about making money: "Google says that a primary goal of its approach is to simplify and enhance the Google experience, including by matching users with ads that should be of greater interest to them. For example, someone logged in to his Google e-mail account who then uses Google’s search engine to research automobiles may be on the receiving end of an e-mail or exposed to an ad alerting him to a sale at the car dealership down the block. This approach is also likely to increase revenue for Google, which makes money each time a user clicks on an ad."

Have you heard any interesting social media stories this week? Share them with us here!

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