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The Ultimate Online Marketing Guide for Small Businesses

A computer displaying online marketing metrics.

A computer displaying online marketing metrics.

This comprehensive list of resources is designed to help small businesses navigate the ever-changing world of online marketing. This online marketing guide will answer your questions about ranking on search engines, increasing conversion rates, and growing your presence on social media. See how much easier your marketing process can be with the help of these articles.

Mastering Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Website Maintenance and Optimization

Image Source: Benjamin Child/Unsplash.com
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Personal Branding: How to Build Your Brand in 4 Simple Steps

Personal Branding

Personal Branding

When you think of personal branding, superstars come to mind—icons such as Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, Kim Kardashian, and Ellen DeGeneres.

With such giants in the public sphere, it’s easy to forget that personal branding doesn’t always result in national news coverage, a multi-million-dollar TV show, or a personal clothing line. Sometimes, the result can be getting a new contract for your freelance work, collaborating with an influencer in your field, or standing out to a potential employer.

Perhaps not as sexy, but still important.

The following four steps will help you begin to develop yourself into a brand, with the goal of getting you to the point where potential customers and employers immediately associate your name with your service and/or product.

Step 1: Envision yourself as a brand.

The first step to building a personal brand is to think of yourself as a brand. No, this doesn’t mean you’re some lifeless product; this simply means you must think about how you can market your skills, services, and/or products to others, using your own name.

Ask yourself what your area of expertise is (or what you want your name to be associated with), and consider what you have to offer that others are willing to pay for, either as a customer or as an employer.

Be specific here, and don’t worry about limiting yourself to just one area. Marketing expert Jayson Demers firmly believes in the value of deciding on a specific niche within your field. Although you’ll have a smaller audience, it will be a much more valuable audience: “Specificity is a trade of volume for significance.” In other words, quality is better than quantity.

Step 2: Build an online presence.

As soon as you’ve defined your niche, you need to create an online presence. A good place to start is by googling your name. Do you appear in the search results? Are the results positive? What is the nature of the top results—are they your social media accounts, customer reviews, or your work? Assess your immediate online visibility, and build on it using the steps below.

As you move forward with developing your personal brand, google yourself regularly (or set up a Google Alert) to monitor your presence. It’s also worth noting that, if your name is John Smith, you may want to use a middle initial to make your name stand out.

To boost your visibility, consider buying a domain name; typically, it will look something like www.FirstnameLastname.com. Depending on the site you use for your purchase, the domain may only cost a few dollars each year. Buying a domain that includes your name will greatly increase the control you have over what people see when they google you. If you’re not convinced, check out Harry Guinness’s breakdown of the importance of owning your own domain.

Adding a social media presence will also help build your online presence. You can link to your accounts on your website, and since so many people use social media, it can be an effective alternative method to reaching and communicating with people.

However, remember that this requires you to be professional with your social media accounts. Keep your presence professional and avoid posting inappropriate content.

Another step you can take to boost your online presence is writing articles that are related to your specialty. Publishing these articles online (whether through a blog hosted on your website or a third-party publisher) will increase your internet footprint and position you as an expert in your field. Offering your opinion and expertise for free will signal to others that you are passionate and knowledgeable about your field.

Step 3: Learn, learn, and keep learning.

The third step is to continue developing your skills. Think you know everything there is to know about your profession? You’re (probably) wrong. Industries are constantly changing, and you need to stay as up to date as possible, considering that your presence is competing with the entire online world.

Take courses online or at a local college or university to continue developing your expertise and to learn from other experts. The upside to this is that tuition fees are often tax deductible!

Join associations that represent your profession. Often, associations will offer workshops or seminars, which will give you another expert’s perspective and experience in your industry. With your experience, perhaps you can consider leading a seminar yourself, which will further build your personal brand as a leader in your profession.

Follow bloggers and writers who give their opinions and updates on current trends; engage with them on their websites and social media.

Taking these steps, quite fortunately, gives you a head start on the next step.

Step 4: Make friends and network.

The downside to focusing on building your website and social media accounts is that people need to somehow find or be shown them. Networking brings you into direct contact with other experts and potential employers in a face-to-face setting. Real-world networking makes a great companion to your online presence because if no one in your field recognizes your name, your online content won’t carry as much weight.

Here is where you can benefit from being in contact with professors, classmates, colleagues, and fellow members of your profession’s association. These people might have special insights on current or future trends in your field, and they might be acquainted with potential employers or clients. Either way, by establishing connections and introducing yourself to others, you’re building your reputation by word of mouth.

Conclusion

These four steps are probably enough homework to keep you busy for a while. If you can see yourself as a brand, build an online presence, expand your knowledge, and network, you will have made an excellent start on developing your own personal brand.

Image source: Snufkin/pexels.com

How to Write a Resume

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The Comic Touch: How to Be Funny in Your Writing

A dog in a funny mask.

A dog in a funny mask.

Airplanes. Ben Affleck making a comeback after Gigli. Space travel. Women not just wearing—but totally rocking—pants on a regular basis. Justin Timberlake being taken seriously as an actor.

These are all things that people once thought highly unlikely, and maybe even impossible, yet they’re all totally accepted facts today.

The lesson here? There’s no such thing as impossible. If you put your mind to it and are willing to do the work, then gosh dang it, you can learn how to be funny.

But before we get into the how of writing humor, I’d like to delve into the why. The suspense of waiting for the how may very well kill you, I know, but what can I say? I’m a risk taker.

What are the benefits of writing humor into your story?

You may be wondering why incorporating humor into fiction and other types of creative writing is even important. You may think that learning how to be funny is secondary to learning how to tell compelling, dramatic stories.

The truth is, writing humor is important precisely because it helps create compelling and dramatic stories. Allow me to break that down into five easily digestible points that are sure to provide you with your daily dose of figurative fiber:

1. Humor can be used to give us a break from other more intense emotions.

You’ve surely heard the term “comic relief” tossed around before. Comic relief occurs when a comic scene or character appears in an otherwise tragic or serious tale. It gives the audience or reader a break from the intensity of the rest of the story.

Shakespeare is big on comic relief. Considering that his tragedies—like King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Othello, to name a few—always conclude with the violent deaths of most of the characters, you can see how some laughs might ease the tension a bit before the imminent bloodshed.

2. Writing humor can be satiric—it can work to highlight the absurdity of a real issue.

Sometimes writing about reality can be a hefty task. Explicitly stating what’s wrong with the world, with society, with your parents, or with your less-than-complete sense of self is not always the most effective or entertaining way to communicate your message. Plus, some topics are taboo—and as fun as it is to say taboo, what this word means is that you’re not really supposed to talk about certain things. Cue satire.

Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 is an astonishing example of satire. Heller uses satire to highlight the absurdity, the illogicality, the painful contradictions, and the nonsensical confusion experienced by soldiers fighting in a world war, as well as the chaos behind the concept of war itself.

Another example of tackling a taboo subject with satire is Oscar Wilde’s hilarious play, The Importance of Being Earnest, which highlights the contradictions between appearances and reality in English society in the late 1800s. In Earnest, deviations from convention are the only ways to escape a world in which believing something is enough to make it true. In the play, this is seen in Algernon’s “Bunburying,” which is widely interpreted as a metaphor for homosexual activity (which was illegal at the time and landed Wilde himself in prison).

3. Writing humor can help create an honest connection between the reader and the narrator or character.

Just as we love the “class clown” in real life, we tend to love funny characters in books. These are the kinds of people who, if they actually existed, would make my grandmother smile wryly and say, “Oh, that one’s a character all right!” I love that woman.

A great example of using humor in writing to help the reader relate to the story is John Dies at the End, a comic horror novel by David Wong. A truly absurd book from start to finish, this comic and sardonic narrative lets the reader inside the mind of the narrator, David. We get a solid grasp of his sense of humor (complete with grammar jokes about apostrophes and dangling modifiers, I might add), but we also get the inside scoop on the intense experiences and feelings he’s having.

Considering that David has unwittingly contributed to the opening of a portal to other dimensions, complete with gods of chaos and squiggly, creepy creatures, you could say he’s going through a pretty tough time. The humor in this book also helps us fall in love with David’s partner in crime, John, who to our relief—spoiler alert—does not actually die at the end.

4. Humor can be used as a contrast to tragedy, making the poignancy of more difficult emotions hit the reader even harder.

Dave Eggers masters the contrast of comedy with tragedy in his semi-fictional memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. This book is laugh-out-loud funny. It’s crawling with Eggers’ trademark wit and astute observations about the hilarity of everyday life. Filled with wild tangents and unconventional fourth-wall confrontations, this book is sure to keep most readers on their toes.

Did I mention both of Eggers’ parents die at the beginning of the book and that Eggers must then assume custody of his young brother? Eggers, with his fantastical blurring of fiction and reality, allows the reader to almost forget this. Then, quietly, he reminds us. The result? We’re momentarily heartbroken, only to be uplifted again by Eggers’ next wild tangent. While it may be either wildly pretentious or painfully ironic, the book’s title is quite accurate.

5. Writing humorously keeps the reader interested and engaged.

Even if humor serves no other purpose in your writing, know this—most people respect a good display of wit. Even if you don’t know how to be funny in real life, I suggest you learn how to be in your writing.

Clever writing is intelligent writing, and intelligent writing is respected and encourages engagement. Shakespeare reigns supreme in the wit department, and Wilde runs a close second. For more examples of wit that just won’t quit, I recommend checking out anything written by Jane Austen, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

So there’s the why. Now where’s the how?

As promised, here is your guide to how to be funny in writing. Follow these steps, and you’ll surely be busting guts in no time at all:

1. Give up now.

If you haven’t figured out how to be funny on your own already, it’s not going to happen. What do you think I am, a wizard or something? Go on. Get outta here!

2. Wait, no! I was lying! Don’t go!

I was just doing something unexpected to try to catch you off guard. Did it work? Sometimes the element of surprise is enough to elicit a laugh when writing humor.

3. See what I did there? Aren’t I clever?

“Oh, the cleverness of me!” If it fits your story, making allusions to famous icons and events can put your jokes into context and help readers relate to you. Peter Pan is a go-to of mine, so you can’t have him, but anyone else is all yours. Another way to illicit a laugh is to hearken back to a previous point from your own story in a surprising way. Once you set up a world, weave together inside jokes that you share with your reader.

4. A false sense of grandeur can sometimes be funny, too. Trust me—I know.

Pretending that you know what you’re talking about is a sure way to get people to laugh at you, especially if you quite obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. Sure, it might not be the kind of laughter you’re after, but a laugh is a laugh, right?

5. Right. You wanted to learn how to be funny.

If you really want to learn how to be funny, you’re going to have to do a bit of work. Read some of the works mentioned above, and think about how humor is used in them (using my handy-dandy descriptions as a guide). Then, think about how you can incorporate humor into your own writing.

Make note of the jokes that made you laugh the hardest, and dissect them to really understand how they work before putting those mechanisms into practice.

Your jokes might not be gold at first, but in time, I’m sure you’ll find that you’re cracking jokes faster than my grandma cracks eggs for Sunday brunch. Have I mentioned yet today how much I love her?

Image Source: Braydon Anderson/Unsplash.com

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10 Ways to Use Social Media to Build Your Professional Network

A professional network.

Professional Network

Are you a budding professional? Or are you changing careers, hoping to break into that new hierarchy of skilled personnel?

Even if you’re a shy person who shudders slightly at the word networking, you have to admit it’s an essential part of our job-seeking culture. After all, it’s not what you know but who you know.

How can you enter this labyrinth of strange names and faces, trying to make connections with people you’ve admired from a distance but never had the opportunity (or courage) to meet? The answer lies in our technological society’s way of staying connected: social media.

Building a strong online presence can be just as important as interacting with people face to face, and a well-worded tweet to the right person can be just as effective as an in-person meeting.

One thing I’ve learned about networking is that it’s not about using people to fuel one’s ambitions; it’s about appreciating people through meaningful relationships. Many people have the wrong idea about how to network, believing they must hound complete strangers whom they have targeted as the most likely to give them a leg up in their career.

However, true networking is not self-interested, but community-minded. The following 10 tips will help you use social media to network effectively and in a way that benefits both you and your connections.

Networking Tips for Social Media Beginners

1. Start with your existing connections.

Most of us have accumulated phone, email, and Facebook contacts from colleagues, friends, and acquaintances we know in person. It’s a great place to start to reach out to the people you already know to make sure you have added them on other social networks, such as LinkedIn, and to make sure you have the correct information about them. These contacts form the epicenter of your network.

TIP: Import existing contacts to LinkedIn and Facebook from your online address book, or ask your friends, teachers, and colleagues for their email addresses. You can also join school groups, volunteer organizations, or associations on both these sites.

2. Reach out to your fellow social media users.

Once you feel confident with your founding network members, you can move to other applications. Reach out to people you’ve interacted with online in meaningful ways. Maybe you’re an avid reader of a blog or a dedicated follower of a fellow professional on Twitter. Look for spirited discussions on Facebook or other online forums. If you value this individual’s input or share their ideals, maybe you’ll be able to work with them or recommend a connection with another contact one day.

TIP: Start a conversation on Twitter to network with a professional. Stay polite, express genuine interest in that person, and support them before you share your personal goals.

3. Figure out where you want to be and whom you want to be like.

Sometimes learning how to network is a journey of self-discovery. But why not learn from the best? Plus, people often like to share their wisdom and help those who are just starting out. By researching people who hold interesting positions or people you admire in your field, you can start to plan the next phase of your networking—and of your own career.

TIP: Use the Company Search feature on LinkedIn to find out which companies employ the members of your network and when these companies are hiring. You can also use the Advanced Search function to find professionals and career opportunities in your field.

4. Build your online presence.

Completing your LinkedIn or Facebook profile is like wearing a complete outfit to an interview: the more coordinated and put-together you are, the better the first impression. Let your experiences, personal preferences, activities, and interests express your identity on social networks, and don’t limit yourself to just one platform. Start a blog. Write a review. Check your email (yes, and I mean frequently!). By being active on social media, you’ll give your friends and followers a better opportunity to learn about you and interact with you, allowing your network to grow in quality and in numbers.

TIP: Write an article on your blog, and include quotes from experts about a topic that interests you. In doing so, you’ll give those experts more exposure and establish a basis for building a new relationship with them. Don’t have a blog yet? Take a look at one of these popular blogging sites to get started!

5. Look for shared interests and things in common.cheese

What is your passion? Do you have a hobby, or are you part of a nerd group on Facebook? Believe it or not, your weird passion for the history of cheese making might actually pay off in your job search. Just as people converse more easily about subjects that interest them, you’ll find that your professional network will really open up when you share common interests.

TIP: Facebook Groups are a great way to network based on shared interests: you can share files, create events, and start polls about any topic you want and with whomever you want.

Social Media Tips for Networking like a Pro

If you are already familiar with networking or if you’ve already landed that dream job, there’s still more you can do to improve your professional network.

6. Join professional networks.

Once you’ve found your career niche, you can find a “version” of LinkedIn tailored to your own profession. For instance, academia.edu allows academics to share research papers with colleagues, and zerply.com connects talented film industry professionals with upcoming artistic projects. But don’t just stop at joining in—you should actively coordinate groups within your existing networks to keep your connections (old and new) alive.

TIP: Starting a LinkedIn Group is a way to form meaningful connections with smaller collections of people in common industries. They’re good places to connect with influencers in your field, allowing you to share content, ask questions, give answers, and make contacts.

7. Formality is good, but personality is better.

Remember the awkward icebreaker games they made you play on the first day of school? “Tell us your name, your favorite color, and one interesting fact about yourself!” If you were one of the outgoing ones who said, “I can do a perfect impression of a peacock!” (and then proceed to make said sound), chances are people remembered your name. Confidence always makes an impression on others, and part of that confidence involves reminding your network how they know you.

TIP: Send a friendly note reminding your colleague where you met, through whom you met, or what organization you have in common. LinkedIn prompts you to do this upon adding a connection, but make sure you take the initiative when connecting elsewhere. Sharing details about yourself can make you interesting and, above all, identifiable.

8. Practice the golden rule: help others in your network.LinkedIn

Building your professional network doesn’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) be all about you. Maybe you recently got an entry-level job in your field, and you see a position that one of your grad school friends could fill easily. Recommending that friend for the position can benefit your company, which gets a competent worker, as well as your friend, who gets a leg up in the industry—and it also helps you. Others will remember your thoughtfulness. Being part of a community means supporting others and receiving support in return.

TIP: Post job links, career fairs, and other professional events to your contacts in that field. Endorse the skills of former and current co-workers on LinkedIn, as this will provide them with value and make them more likely to reciprocate.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Reaching out to others for help might seem scary, but the worst anyone can say to you is “No.” Besides, professional development is all about cooperating with others, sharing your strengths, and allowing others to help you in your areas of weakness.

TIP: Instead of asking a complete stranger for a job straight away (why should they help?), ask for advice or request an informational interview from a fellow professional in a courteous, friendly manner. How (and when) you ask is just as important as what you ask.

10. Use online tools to build more face-to-face connections.

Remember the days when communication meant walking up to someone, writing them a letter, or dialing their phone number? (Okay, maybe you don’t.) Previous generations had to learn effective communication by non-digital means, but you still need interpersonal finesse when communicating online. For example, people in the business world don’t respond well to an email addressed “To Whom It May Concern” because it seems impersonal, communicating that you didn’t care enough to research the recipient of your message (even if your true intention is simply to be respectful).

The goal is to be both respectful and warm, and this can be done by taking the time to read about your connections and interact with them on a personal level. Once you’ve established a cordial online relationship, you can make your relationship even more personal with phone calls, notes, and even meetings.

TIP: Use meetup.com to arrange face-to-face meetings with professionals from your local area, or simply send a friendly email to an existing acquaintance in your network.

Other Great Social Media Networking Resources

  • Just starting your career search and want to make an impression? Try Inklyo’s How to Write a Resume course to learn how to create an attractive, professional resume.
  • Maybe you want to tailor your job search to a particular profession. Join beyond.com to find jobs from multiple streams.
  • Are you a local business owner? Try localsnetworking.com to meet other professionals in your area.
  • There are even sites for emerging innovators, such as angel.co and makerbase.co, which help you find the funding you need to get started in your field.

Ask Not What Your Professional Network Can Do For You…

Now you’re ready to harness the power of social media for your professional network. Remember, though, that these 10 tips are not about climbing to the top of the professional ladder at the expense of others—they are about connecting with others in a community-minded way. Whatever you do, wherever you go in life, it’s your relationships that matter, and showing consistent politeness and consideration toward others will be more important in the end than simply “getting ahead.”

Image Source: Daria Shevtsova/Unsplash.com, Jakub Rostkowski/Stocksnap.io, Freestocks.org/Stocksnap.io

How to Write a Resume

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How to Get a Scholarship Using Facebook

How to Get a Scholarship

Scholarship Aid College Education Loan Money ConceptYou’ve been accepted to university. You’ve already envisioned the posters you’ll hang up in your dorm room; your iPod is stocked with a mix of Dave Matthews Band and EDM tunes; you’ve cleaned Costco out of its entire supply of Red Bull and ramen noodles—and then the tuition bill comes. Cue the flood of questions about how to get a scholarship.

Your guidance counselor hands you a stack of scholarship application forms, and you groan. With so many people applying for the same treasure troves of shining financial aid, what chance do you have?

What can you do to give your application that extra advantage, so you can breeze into university with enough change in your pocket to order your first 3 a.m. pad thai?

The answer is right in front of you. In fact, you’ve been clicking over to it while reading this very article (for shame!). You’ve got carpal tunnel from frantically “liking” your friends’ posts left and right. Oh yes, you’ve got it. The answer is Facebook.

The truth is that scholarship reviewers are now going beyond applications and transcripts to determine who is best suited for financial assistance. Facebook is an easy and effective way to get an inside view of the applicant’s public image and whether he or she displays the values and qualities desired by a particular fund or institution.

Think of it as your first interview; your Facebook profile is your chance to show your reviewer a bit about who you are as a person, what you’re passionate about, and how well you fit what the reviewer is looking for. Follow these three steps to transform your Facebook account into a scholarship magnet.

Step 1: Purge.

We’ve all heard the cautionary tales—restaurant servers being fired for posting pictures of customers and commenting profanely on their rude behavior; teachers being dismissed for photos (even private ones!) that depict them drinking; a nun was even kicked out of a convent for spending too much time on Facebook! As a general rule, inappropriate material, such as party photos, insensitive comments, offensive language, and even just a generally negative attitude, won’t look good to a potential scholarship evaluation team.

Don’t forget that, even if your recent posts and photos are the picture of wholesomeness, viewers can access your shared content from years ago with just one click.

The solution? Delete. You may look incredible in that keg-stand photo (doubtful), and that rant about your teacher may have some of the cleverest wording ever known to the literary world, but get rid of them. They’re not worth missing out on that scholarship.

What might seem harmless could also taint someone’s idea of you:

  • Applying to a liberal organization but your favorite book is The Fountainhead? Something doesn’t quite add up.
  • Trying for a prestigious scholarship but all your “liked” movies are of the Jackass variety? You’ll need more luck than Johnny Knoxville did when he faced that charging bull while blindfolded.

In all your posts, strive to present a consistent, positive, and professional public image, and you can’t go wrong!

Step 2: Streamline.

Research what personal qualities and experiences are asked for in this scholarship. Use Facebook’s extra features to your advantage: “like” relevant pages or even books and movies that show up in the left bar.

Are you applying for a scholarship from a particular institution or organization? Find their Facebook page and “like” it.

Upload photos or other proof of your activities that reflect the kind of extracurriculars or skills that the scholarship looks for.

Step 3: Engage in positive activity.

Now that you’ve removed all negative content and have updated your page to reflect the kind of person that scholarship committees are seeking, it’s time to establish a positive online presence. Your reviewers will want to see that you’re active in your community and have a continued presence in your fields of interest. Regularly post positive content that lets your personality sparkle.

This is your chance to make yourself memorable, so use it!

Rather than trying to hide your Facebook account (like these students who adopted names like Samwise Gams, FunkMaster Floikes, and Lizzie McGuire on their social media accounts), let it work for you. It might just be what your scholarship application needs to stand out from the stack.

The final thing you must be aware of when using Facebook to help you get a scholarship is the quality of your posts. If grammar and spelling are not your forte, it might not be a bad idea to have a friend or a proofreading company look over your social media posts before you send them. This will give reviewers extra assurance that you care about details and how you are perceived.

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15 Ways to Fail at Social Media Marketing (Infographic)

Ways to Fail at Social Media Marketing

When it comes to social media marketing, knowing what not to do can be as important as knowing what to do. The consequences of a mistake can be (at best) losing followers or (at worst) losing your clients’ and potential clients’ trust. Those are pretty high stakes. This infographic lists 15 things to avoid at all costs when executing your business’s social media strategy. If you’d like more information about these tips, check out the full article.

15 Ways to Fail at Social Media Marketing (Infographic)

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15 Ways to Fail at Social Media Marketing

Ways to Fail at Social Media

Ways to Fail at Social Media You’ve accepted the importance of social media marketing for your business. You’ve read all the statistics about the increasing value of social media for your content marketing plan, and you’ve begun integrating social media into your business strategy. Good for you! You’re already in the game. While other people are still trying to figure out how to tie their skates, you’re out there doing laps and taking practice shots. But how many of those shots are you missing?

When it comes to social media marketing, there’s a lot to learn. Between all the various networking sites and blogs—not to mention other aspects of your marketing plan—social media can be overwhelming. If you never learn the rules, you’re never going to have the competitive edge you need. You’ll never gain the audience you want if you aren’t creating and sharing the right kind of content, and as a result, you might never be able to come up with clever sports analogies for your blog posts. (Also, you know, your conversion rates may suffer.) So, because I know you’re eager to dazzle your loyal fans and prospective customers with your new-found aptitude for social media, here are 15 marketing fails to avoid when using social media marketing for your business.

1. Bragging

Here’s the thing: for one reason or another, your fans and followers already like you. Maybe they want to keep an eye out for promotions, maybe they’ve purchased from you before and are big on brand loyalty, or maybe they just like your blog posts. The bottom line here is that, in some way, you’ve already won them over. So, unless you’re determined to change their minds, don’t spend all your time on social media bragging about how great your company is. It’s a big turnoff for your followers, 45% of whom will probably unfollow you if you’re too heavy on the self-promotion.

2. Being Antisocial

It’s in the name: social media. The whole point is to reach out and create a community based on your company or brand. Not being social on social media is like holding a press conference and refusing to answer any questions. Take advantage of your social media accounts by retweeting, sharing, and responding to your followers.

3. Treating Social Media as a Side Project

Social media editors have borne the brunt of many jokes over the past few years. You may still think you don’t need a person dedicated to managing sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Depending on the size of your business, you may or may not be correct; you may actually need several people dedicated to your social media. The fact is, social media marketing done right can lead to a huge increase in conversions for your company. Don’t believe me? Here’s some food for thought: companies that generate more than 1,000 Likes for their Facebook pages also tend to receive approximately 1,400 website visits per day, and approximately 46% of online visitors take social media into account when they make purchase decisions. Take advantage of social media by investing time and money into your social media strategy.

4. Inconsistency: A Copywriter’s Nightmare

The copy on your social media pages needs to be consistent with your brand’s voice. While you may need to take a slightly different approach to tweets than you do to blog posts, your overall tone needs to be consistent.

5. Ignoring Your Followers

Your social media followers aren’t just interested in what you have to say to them—they also want to be able to communicate with you quickly and conveniently. If someone asks you a question that you don’t answer, other followers will think you don’t care about your followers (and, by association, your customers). Take the time to respond to both positive and negative feedback. This may be especially important for negative feedback; 25% of consumers who use social media to complain about a product or experience expect a response within one hour of that complaint.

6. Automation Gone Wrong

Automation can be very helpful when you are managing social media across several different sites and platforms. However, as with everything, automation in social media can go too far. Make sure you have a human behind your social media to avoid embarrassing mishaps like these.

7. Not Measuring

Naturally, the consequences of not measuring your social media-related metrics are that you will never know whether what you’re doing is actually working. What you focus on measuring will depend on what your social media goals are: are you trying to drive traffic to your site, or are you trying to directly improve your ROI? Whatever your goals, you need to measure your social media metrics to see if you are achieving them.

8. Talking Their Ears Off

Don't bore your followers. Written posts are great, but visual content is better. I’m not saying you should trade all your blog posts in for videos, photos, and infographics, but you should integrate some visual content into your social media posts. If written material is all you have to offer, your followers are going to get bored.

9. Being Oblivious to Current Events

As I mentioned before, automation can be great when you’re managing several social media accounts. Using sites like Hootsuite to schedule your posts can save you lots of time; however, you need to remain aware of current events. There have been a few incidences of unintentionally insensitive social media posts being made by companies due to prescheduled posts, like this one. If some terrible tragedy has occurred, a tweet about your newest promotion or a funny dog meme will very likely come off as distasteful.

10. Forgetting that People Buy from People

Computers are extremely advanced, but they are not advanced enough to create content for social media sites—only humans can do that. So why are you emulating a robot in the copy on your social media sites? Your followers like seeing your human side. Tell some jokes, share some insider info about your office, or share a funny picture. Revealing the real people behind your brand will likely garner you some new (and human!) followers.

11. Repeating Yourself

Repurposing your content for different venues is good—repeatedly reusing the exact same content is not. Don’t bombard your followers with the same content in the same format. If you do, you’re running the risk that 21% of those followers will leave your social media page behind for good.

12. Winging It

Twitter's logo.When we’re talking about your personal Twitter account, you are totally free to “wing it.” Fly by the seat of your pants, go where the wind takes you, play it by ear—any clichéd expression about not making plans will work. But when it comes to your social media marketing, you need to have a plan. Creating and following through with a social media strategy will seriously improve the effectiveness of your social media efforts.

13. Providing Useless Content

Content marketing is all about creating and distributing quality content. You need to provide your followers with information they will not easily find elsewhere. This also includes the content you share; if your social media pages are a source of quality information on specific topics, it won’t matter if not all of this material was created by you. The hope here is that other people are sharing your original content on their social media sites too!

14. Being Sloppy

Typos, grammatical errors, and punctuation mistakes are never acceptable in your company’s social media posts. If you are careless about the quality of your posts, you are being careless about the number of followers you have, which of course means you are being careless about your company’s leads. If you need to invest in an editing service for your social media posts, do it. Do whatever you need to ensure that your posts are error-free.

15. Not Taking Social Media Seriously

If this article has done nothing else, I hope it has proved to you that social media marketing can and should be an integral part of your company’s marketing strategy. Your social media presence needs to be taken seriously, and that means avoiding gaffes like this. Avoid social media fails by making sure your employees understand the importance of your company’s social media strategy.

Image sources: Counselling/Pixabay.com, Wojtek Witkowski/Stocksnap.io, Nemo/Pixabay.com

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How to Perform a Social Media Cleanup Before a Job Search

How to Perform a Social Media Cleanup Before a Job Search

How to Perform a Social Media Cleanup Before a Job SearchPerforming a social media cleanup has become an important part of the job search process. Whether you realize it or not, what you post online becomes part of your personal brand, and those pictures from that one summer camping trip you barely remember from your early 20s can come back to haunt you. Potential employers can and do check job candidates’ personal social media accounts, making social media etiquette an important factor to keep in mind. How you are portrayed online can affect an employer’s impression of you before you even meet face-to-face.

To begin a social media cleanup, run a Google search on yourself to see what a potential employer might find. It is likely that your various social media accounts will appear, which employers will look at to gain more insight into your personality, opinions, and lifestyle. This is where understanding how to present yourself professionally via personal branding and social media etiquette is important. Note: if you aren’t willing to change your online habits, consider changing your privacy settings to hide your activity.

Twitter

What to remove

Everyone needs to rant sometimes, and Twitter has become an outlet for many peoples’ pet peeves, strong opinions, and personal views. A well-worded tweet reflecting on a trending news story is one thing, but if an employer finds a Twitter account filled with complaints about work and coworkers, or repeated tweets to other companies in attempts to get free stuff, it might make the employer second-guess whether you’re a fit with the company. It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re presenting a good impression of yourself, and while the occasional cat meme is harmless enough, keep the vulgar language or pictures to a minimum.

How to remove a tweet

  1. Sign in to Twitter.
  2. Click on your profile.
  3. Choose the tweet you wish to delete, and select the ellipsis (“…”) at the bottom of the tweet itself to view more options.
  4. Select “Delete Tweet,” and confirm that you wish to delete it.

How to Delete a Tweet from Twitter.

Personal branding

Personal branding on Twitter is easy because of the simplicity of the Twitter profile. Make sure you provide a professional profile picture that reflects you, your business, and your niche. For example, if you’re a hobby photographer, make sure your profile picture showcases your photography style. Your profile bio is limited to 160 characters, but you should remember to include the most relevant keywords associated with your personal brand or niche.

Take your time writing your bio, and make it interesting by being authentic and true to your lifestyle. You can also include hashtags in your bio that directly connect to aspects of your brand. Be sure to include your website address or link to another social media account. If an employer finds a well-presented Twitter profile highlighting your accomplishments and talents, the employer is more likely to gain a good first impression of your value as an employee.

Facebook

What to remove

Facebook can be especially problematic because so many people have used the social network for years, and it is possible to be tagged in posts and pictures that you may not have written or posted. Social etiquette has changed over the years, depending on what stage of life you were in when you began using social media. For many millennials who opened their first Facebook account nearly a decade ago, this makes a social media cleanup essential.

It may be a good idea to remove or hide any questionable pictures from your college or university days. (You know—the ones that feature beer bottles and strange outfits.) It’s also a good idea to scan your status updates, shares, and posts to remove anything too extreme; you want to make sure your rant about ignorant people or that post including a video of Kim Kardashian selfies isn’t the first thing a potential employer sees. On Facebook, much of this information can also be hidden instead of deleted.

How to remove or hide pictures and posts

Photo Albums

  1. Log in to your Facebook account, and go to your profile.
  2. Select the Photos tab.
  3. Select the Albums tab.
  4. You can make the photo album private from the Settings menu in the bottom right-hand corner of each album.
  5. You can delete an album by clicking on the album and choosing to delete it from the Settings tab in the top right-hand corner.
  6. Confirm that you want to delete the album.

Pictures

  1. Log in to your Facebook account, and go to your profile.
  2. Select the Photos tab.
  3. You can delete photos individually by going to the Photos tab (for all photos you have uploaded to an album or your timeline) or by searching for them in the Albums tab. To delete, hover over a photo, and select Delete This Photo from the Edit option found in the top right-hand corner.

4. Confirm that you want to delete the picture.

How to delete a photo from Facebook, part 2.

5. To hide the picture, choose the option Hide from Timeline.You can remove yourself from pictures in which others have tagged you by hovering over the photo and choosing the Remove Tag option from the Edit feature found in the top right-hand corner.

Status Updates and Posts

  1. Log in to your Facebook account, and go to your profile.
  2. Scroll down your timeline, and find the post or status update you wish to remove.
  3. Select the downward arrow in the top right-hand corner of your post, and select Delete.
  4. Confirm that you want to delete the post.
  5. To hide a status or post, select the Hide from Timeline option from the same menu.

How to delete a Facebook post.

Personal branding

Personal branding on Facebook is not something many people think about in relation to their personal accounts. But Facebook can work for you both personally and professionally. Make sure you present a professional profile picture and cover image. This doesn’t mean they have to be stuffy or formal, but high-quality, appropriate photos will significantly contribute to others’ impressions of you.

Fill in all of your professional information—potential employers might check this against your application. Follow groups and pages that relate to who you are and your interests; presenting the most authentic version of yourself online is a key part of personal branding. Be aware of what you post on Facebook, and perhaps substitute that extra cute cat mash-up video for a think piece on something about which you are passionate.

Instagram

What to remove

Like Facebook, you might want to consider a social media cleanup of your Instagram feed, considering that the two platforms are so closely intertwined (and that Instagram is now owned by Facebook). Remove any questionable photos that may not show you in the best light if an employer were to stumble across them, or you can set your account to private. Removing any off-color quotes or images is also an important aspect of social media etiquette.

How to remove

  1. Log in to Instagram on your phone or tablet—pictures cannot be The Instagram logo.deleted from the computer dashboard.
  2. Go to your profile.
  3. Select the photo you wish to delete.
  4. View more options by selecting the ellipsis (“. . .”).
  5. Select Delete from the Options menu.
  6. Confirm that you wish to delete the photo.

Personal branding

Instagram has become a significant platform for personal branding. To utilize the app to its best potential, upload a professional profile picture, and really consider what you post. You are more likely to gain followers if your images are edited in a similar manner so that the photos flow together nicely or have the same aesthetic. Try to showcase photos that you have taken yourself that reveal who you are and what your lifestyle is like in an authentic way.

Conclusion

The key to knowing what to post on social media, especially when embarking on a job search, is to consider each post from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know you. Ask yourself, “If this one post were the only thing somebody knew about me, how would I come across?”

Even though your friends and family may know that a certain status update is meant to be sarcastic or that you only use the word totes ironically (s-u-u-ure), remember that potential employers don’t know you well and are still in the process of forming their opinions about you. Make sure your social media accounts help them form accurate and positive opinions that reassure them of your professionalism and reliability.

 

How to Write a Cover LetterImage source: jarmoluk/Pixabay.com

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Ready, Set, Connect: Seven Social Media Tools That Make an Impression

Social Media Tools that Make an Impression

Level up your brand by getting social

Social Media Tools that Make an ImpressionTwenty years ago, GeoCities made its online debut. As one of the world’s first social media communities, GeoCities set the benchmark for future sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Today, there are hundreds of similar platforms from which to choose. To make the most of them, you’ll need to learn how to leverage their unique services, from microblogging to photo sharing.

It’s a lot to master, but the end result is worth the initial investment. These seven social media tools will help you get started.

1) Facebook

Facebook is a classic and for good reason. By the end of 2013, over 750 million users were logging onto the site each day, making it one of the most popular social media sites in the world.

Setting up a Facebook page is the perfect way to create an online community around your business. Think of your page as a dynamic newsletter with different sections and interactive content. It should contain news and updates as well as encourage customers to leave comments and to “like” your services. Facebook is also a great place to share media-rich content, such as videos, podcasts, or Instagram photos showcasing your latest products.

2) Twitter

Most people know Twitter as the social media site that popularized the hashtag. For businesses, Twitter provides a fast-paced way to keep in touch with your target audience.

If customers have any questions or concerns, you can quickly respond with a tweet. Twitter’s mobile-friendly interface makes it ideal for on-the-go businesses. You can provide updates on new products and services as well as conduct contests or polls. Twitter’s 270 million users value messages that are short—140 characters or less—and sweet. It’s a great platform to hone your brand presentation and increase your visibility by tweeting about trending topics.

3) LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the go-to social media tool for job seekers and recruiters. It’s a fantastic platform for professional brand management whether your business has only a few or several hundred connections.

If you’re looking for fresh talent, LinkedIn has you covered with over 300 million registered users. By creating a company page, you can easily advertise job openings or post updates on products and services. A company page is also a logical place to share articles or blog posts that will appeal to others in your industry. Browsing the content posted by your connections can help you stay on top of recent trends in employment or business news.

4) Instagram

Since 2010, Instagram has been the top platform for photo sharing. If you’re looking for a memorable way to tell your company’s story, then Instagram could be the ideal social media tool.

Instagram gives you the ability to construct a visually stunning web presence quickly and easily. You can post shareable images and 15-second videos, which is a great way to highlight products or services that aren’t shown on your website. Another unique idea is to give your followers a behind-the-scenes look at your office culture.

Using Instagram filters, you can easily tweak any image so that it matches your brand. Within minutes, you can also link your Instagram page to Facebook and Twitter so that your videos and photographs will reach a wider audience. By adding relevant hashtags to your images, it’s even more likely that they’ll be seen by the customers and followers who matter most.

5) Mention

Many businesses simply don’t have the time to monitor all of their social media accounts. Mention makes it simple by aggregating activity from the platforms you use most, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

With Mention, you can find out who’s talking about your business in real time and react to mentions by instantly posting a response, or if you’re tied up with work, you can save your mentions to share later on another social media platform. Mention also lets you export stats about your online activity as an Excel spreadsheet. This is useful for comparing your business with competitors and tracking your popularity on social media over time.

6) eGrabber

Imagine having the contact information for the top professionals in your industry right at your fingertips. With eGrabber’s Account Researcher tool, you can easily track down the email address and phone number of anyone you’re interested in contacting. As a natural complement to LinkedIn, eGrabber helps you build your professional network and find new business partners.

Being the best in your industry means knowing who your competition is. eGrabber can provide a profile of any small- to medium-sized company even if it doesn’t have a website or digital footprint. This is helpful for discovering the revenue, number of employees, and services of other businesses in your field. You can depend on the eGrabber research tool since it works in real time, meaning you’ll always have the most up-to-date information about potential contacts.

7) Tagboard

Hashtags are a powerful way to communicate your brand. Tagboard makes it easy to track hashtags across different social media platforms, including Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram.

This well-reviewed service is a seamless way to merge marketing with your social media activity. With Tagboard, you can create a stunning display board based on a specific hashtag, which is useful for promoting a new product or business idea. The boards are interactive, meaning customers can instantly like, retweet, or comment on items you’ve posted. Best of all, it’s easy to embed your tagboard elsewhere on the web, including your company website or a WordPress blog.

Social media tools help you inspire customers and make an impact

Why are businesses flocking to social media? The answer is simple: They love having a genuine connection with their clients.

With the right tools, it’s easier than ever to reach your ideal audience and make an impression. Whether your business has been online for years or is new to the web, now is the time to make your social media presence count.

Image source: Twin design/BigStockPhoto.com

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Social Media Marketing Tools That Will Rocket You to Success

Social Media Marketing Tools that Will Rocket You to Success

Social media meets marketing at its best

Social Media Marketing Tools that Will Rocket You to SuccessSeventy-four percent of Internet users are registered on social media.

Interesting, isn’t it? Now, imagine if your business could reach each one of them.

It sounds impossible, but with the right social media marketing tools, you’ll have a better chance of engaging your ideal clients. Whether you’re looking to build new relationships or strengthen existing ones, here are seven tools that will improve your marketing campaign by leaps and bounds.

1) Shutterstock

With so many businesses on the web, how do you make your content stand out? Adding images is one excellent solution.

Shutterstock is one of the best places to find high-quality stock photographs that are royalty-free. The site has millions of photographs to choose from, as well as illustrations, icons, and music samples. You can explore media from dozens of different categories, including wildlife, fashion, and infographics.

Shutterstock’s subscription service is also well-priced, and it’s easy to sign up. Depending on your content needs, you can pay by individual photo or purchase a membership for up to a year. Whatever option you choose, you’re guaranteed to receive a high-quality product from one of the most recognizable and respected image databases on the web.

2) Piktochart

Like Shutterstock, Piktochart emphasizes the visual side of social media. With Piktochart, you can create stunning infographics that are easily shareable on multiple platforms.

Piktochart’s easy-to-use interface was created for the non-designer. To create an infographic, you simply need to drag and drop different pre-designed elements onto your screen. The process is highly customizable, with tons of available themes, icons, and photos.

What’s not to love? Piktochart’s happy customers range from marketing specialists to public school teachers. If you’re looking to create visually appealing infographics to share on social media, Piktochart has everything you need.

3) Google Analytics

Google Analytics takes the mystery out of your marketing efforts by letting you know what’s working and what isn’t.

All you’ll need to get started is a Google account, which can easily be linked to an analytics profile. Within minutes, you’ll be able to see who your visitors are, what they’re searching for, and what type of device they’re using to find your content. This information is crucial for social media marketing, as you can then tailor your campaigns to your audience’s needs.

With Google Analytics, it’s easy to set specific marketing goals, such as receiving a certain number of page views, and you can track your progress in the online interface. For the beginner, the advanced analytics options may seem overwhelming, but Google provides free training resources that will help familiarize you with the application.

4) TubeMogul

Videos are great marketing tools because they’re entertaining, instructive, and easy to share. With TubeMogul, you can promote your multimedia content across dozens of different sites in just a few minutes. Its unique OneLoad service allows you to upload a video directly to the web. TubeMogul will then distribute it to influential media platforms, such as YouTube, Dailymotion, and Hulu.

Once your video is uploaded, you can track metrics like views, comments, and ratings to evaluate audience engagement. These statistics, helpfully provided in the TubeMogul interface, will help you tweak your advertising to reach the right audience. For brands and agencies, TubeMogul also offers packages with more in-depth analytics tools.

5) Latergramme

When it comes to making an impact on social media, timing is everything. If you’re an Instagram user, you’ll want to check out Latergramme, which helps you time your Instagram posts so they reach the optimum number of viewers.

With Latergramme, you can upload files directly from the web or your smartphone. An interactive calendar also helps you schedule images by the day, week, or month. This ensures that your posts will be published exactly when you want.

An integrated analytics tool shows you which photos have the most engagement, so you can plan your marketing efforts accordingly. Whether you’re posting personal photographs or a gorgeous stock image from Shutterstock, you’ll reach more users with your social media blasts than ever before.

6) Perfect Audience

If you notice your popularity on social media is slipping, Perfect Audience can help. It’s designed to increase audience retention and make sure you’re targeting the right clients.

Perfect Audience works by placing a hidden tag on your online content. This tag then analyzes audience data and creates a list of “lost visitors,” or visitors with a poor conversion rate. To entice them back to your content, Perfect Audience targets these users with personalized ads across the web, including networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

You can track the success of these ad campaigns using a built-in analytics tool. Perfect Audience’s clear billing guidelines and seamless integration of site tracking make this an ideal tool for social media marketing.

7) Socialbakers

Socialbakers is a suite of four tools: Analytics, Builder, Listening, and Ad Analytics. These applications allow you to monitor conversations across different platforms, so you can better engage and entertain your audience.

With Socialbakers, you can manage the activity on your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ profiles. You’ll quickly discover which posts or pages have the most impact, and you can customize your marketing efforts to capitalize on this success.

Socialbakers also allows you to find key influencers, measure interaction levels, and compare your advertising campaign to those of your competitors. If you’re looking for an ideal mix of ad analysis and engagement tracking, then Socialbakers could be the tool for you.

With the right tools, marketing is easier than ever before

How do you launch a memorable marketing campaign? There’s no secret formula, but having a handful of social media tools in your back pocket will give you an edge over the competition.

Not only will your job be simpler, but your interactions with potential clients will also become more meaningful. The next time you log onto social media, remember that powerful tools send a powerful message.

Disclosure: If there are links to a product in any of the reviews, a commission may be paid to us if you purchase the product. We will never write a review on a manufacturer’s product, nor will we promote a product, if we believe the product will not be beneficial to you.

Image source: bloomua/BigStockPhoto.com
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