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Social Media For Business

Social Media Does Matter

 

Would you open your business for the day and not turn on the lights? Would you prepare to greet your customers but not bother to unlock the front door or switch on the open sign? The same “of course not” theory applies to your social media efforts. If you are asking yourself why social media matters, think of it simply in terms of a common sense way of interacting with both existing, and potential new customers.

Keeping Up with Social Media

If your time is limited and your schedule is tight, try to carve out a few minutes at the beginning and end of your day for a quick social media coffee break. Pour yourself a cup of coffee as you begin your day and take a few moments to check your @mentions on Twitter and respond to them. While you are enjoying the pick me up from that first cup of office coffee, check your Facebook wall for new “likes” or comments. Reciprocate those posts with responses of your own. This sort of engagement not only shows your network that you are interested in what they have to say, but also that you value the time and effort they have taken to connect with your business. Retweet links in your Twitter timeline that are of interest to you or mention a valuable tweet to a follower so that they might engage with a potential new Twitter personality. By making this networking effort, you will not only grow your followers list, but you will also be encouraging the spread of your tweets. Each time that you extend the kindness of an unrequited tweet, you foster goodwill within your network towards your business. This “you scratch my back and I will scratch yours” mentality is one of the cornerstones of Twitter for business. The same theory applies to your end of day procedures. You would not think of locking up for the day without setting the security alarm. Train yourself to check your social media channels in the same way. A quick five or ten minutes at the end of the day can be rewarded significantly if it turns into increased sales during the rest of the workweek. Launching a new product the next day; take time to post the upcoming launch on your Facebook wall before you leave for the day. Have a new shipment just arrive; announce it on your Twitter page to drive sales for the following day. Not only do you help to build momentum for your sales goals, but you also allow your network and their followers to feel like they have received an insider’s view that not everyone else is privy to. That special feeling that comes from getting the inside scoop is another terrific way to build your followers.

Increase Your Followers

Image of social media follower

Increase Customer Base with Social Media

Another useful way to grow your following through social media is through the use of polls and questions. Whether you use one of Facebook’s Poll applications (http://www.facebook.com/OpinionPolls) or you use a third party site like Survey Monkey (http://www.surveymonkey.com) or Poll Daddy (http://www.polldaddy.com), giving visitors to your social media feeds the opportunity to have their opinions heard can be highly rewarding. A business that values the feedback of their customers is a business that is likely to be rewarded with ongoing loyalty. If you are able to include a creative or quirky angle to your questioning, you have the added benefit of a potential viral hit to your poll. Visitors to your Twitter page or Facebook wall are much more likely to share your poll if there is something catchy in it that will be of interest to their friends and associates.

Growing your social media presence and your following is all about engaging on a consistent basis in a way that is both interesting and rewarding. Think about what you react to online and use those same elements in your connections with your followers. Social media does not have to be the painful task that some business owners perceive it to be. It can be just as invigorating as that morning cup of caffeine and so much more rewarding when you see the results translated onto your bottom line profitability. What other form of advertising costs you nothing more than just a few minutes of your time each day, yet continues to reward your efforts with ongoing goodwill?

Twitter for Business

Twitter for Business is Crucial

Image of Twitter for business

Twitter for Business

 

A key element in creating an online business is to use social media to your advantage. One crucial element in your social media toolbox is Twitter for business (http://business.twitter.com/basics/best-practices). By following the best practices procedures that Twitter lays out for you, the odds are stacked in your favor that your efforts will garner you a significant return on your investment. ROI is not always strictly direct sales either. Using Twitter for business to your advantage can often mean building a personable reputation online as you interact with your followers. If your company creates an approachable personality via its Twitter account, both customers and potential customers are far more likely to engage with you and purchase whatever product your online business is promoting. Engaging with your followers on Twitter does not mean tweeting out untold numbers of auto-posts or product data. Providing relevant and informative information to your network that they will find useful is crucial. Engaging with your audience by asking questions or offering polls will enable you to build a relationship and increase your following. Taking part in Twitter conversations that matter to your network will also help to solidify your business’ reputation online as approachable, informed, and engaged.

Use Twitter for Business Communication

One of best opportunities that Twitter provides is an immediate chance to respond directly to customer questions and complaints. By responding in a proactive way to help resolve customer issues, you cement your company’s reputation once again as an engaged firm that truly takes customer feedback seriously. When you are able to turn a potential problem into a selling point for your company, you not only save the initial customer relationship but you also leave a positive impression in the mind of anyone following your Twitter conversation. The old adage of two friends telling two friends definitely comes into play when Twitter is used as a means to resolve customer concerns and complaints successfully. The next time that your business’ name is mentioned in real life conversations, chances are good that your proactive approach to customer service will be mentioned in a positive light.

Lead Generation

Twitter is also a fantastic tool for lead generation for your company. By using Twitter’s search function, you can instantly find conversations that are relevant to your firm. When you search for hashtags that pertain to your business, you are able to respond directly to fellow Twitter users. Whether a Twitter user is tweeting about a product like yours that they are looking for or simply bringing up your type of business in conversation, being able to contribute to the conversation already in progress gets your foot in the door. Doing so in a tactful way that provides value to the Twitter user is extremely important. You do not want to appear as if you are forcefully thrusting your business card into the conversation. Whether you use humor or an informative link to add value, the key is to be helpful without being overbearing or intrusive. No matter what type of business you are in, taking advantage of Twitter’s search function is invaluable.

Analytics for Twitter

Twitter has recently announced a private beta testing of their web analytics tool (https://dev.twitter.com/blog/introducing-twitter-web-analytics), which will provide another valuable resource to users once it is rolled out to the public. Buzz is already swirling in the Twitterverse in regard to just how useful the analytical tool will be. From seeing which of your tweets are producing the most engagement to measuring the effectiveness of your Tweet buttons, the ability of analytics to assist you in tailoring your Twitter feed will be incredibly useful.

Growing your followers, and thus your potential customer base, is another element of Twitter that cannot be overlooked. Think of Twitter as a customer service tool and not as a marketing tool. If you keep that thought foremost in your mind, your customer engagement will reflect that attitude. By focusing on serving the needs of your customers/followers, you will grow your following in a very organic way. There are all sorts of ways to increase your following in non-organic ways (Twitter bots for example) but in order to attract followers of influence you want your network to be one of value and not just of numbers. You can have thousands of followers but if those followers are not engaging with you (and you with them) in a positive way, you are not taking full advantage of the opportunities of that relationship. A terrific way to grow your network in a natural way is to use prompts in many of your business actions. Encouraging anyone that interacts with your business to tweet about it is a wonderful way to grow your following through positive word of mouth. Add prompts to your invoices, place them in your email signatures, and even occasionally tweet them yourself. By encouraging word of mouth you once again advertise to anyone within view of the Twitter conversation that you are a company that takes its customer service relationships seriously. A network that is engaged and invested socially in the success of your business is likely to be profitable and persuasive.

 

SEO Marketing Trends

Keeping Up with SEO Marketing Trends


In the world of SEO marketing, it is imperative to keep up with the latest trends in order to update strategies, set new goals and keep ahead of our competition. Now this may sound like a large company’s philosophy but this is something that every person who is involved in Internet marketing needs to keep in the forefront of their mind. Even the smallest niche website operator should have an SEO plan in place in order to be successful.

SEO Marketing Changes

Pictture of SEO Marketing Strategy

Trends in SEO Marketing

The past year has brought about some major changes in search engines and relevancy of content. Google’s Panda update has put the attention on quality content. This led many small operators to reevaluate the type of content that they were using. We all know quality content is most certainly lacking in many websites. Google is attempting to clean up the mess that we currently find when people are performing searches. There is nothing more frustrating when a person searches for a particular item only to be directed to a site that has no content or content that is not relevant to the search performed. Many website operators and SEO professionals had to rethink and change their approach on content. Much more thought now needs to be placed in how content is developed and used.

New SEO Marketing Strategies

Perhaps the largest impacting change over the past year has been social media. It has been an explosive part of the Internet and SEO marketing strategies are realizing the importance of including it in the overall marketing plan. A study has recently been released from Nielsen discussing the amount of time and how many people use different social media sites. Some of the statistics are absolutely staggering. For example, this may not come as any real surprise; Facebook leads all social media sites with people spending 53.5 billion minutes on the site, just in the month of May alone. Google saw its usage of 12.5 billion minutes and YouTube 9.1 billion minutes. Tumblr users spent .624 billion minutes, Twitter .565 and Linkedln .326 billion minutes respectively, all in the month of May.

The report went on to say that 80% of Internet users in the United States visit or use the Facebook social media site. The interesting fact is with the availability and affordability of mobile smart phones, 40% of these people are accessing social media sites from their phones. Another important point of the study states one-fourth persons living in the United States use their time exclusively on social media and blog sites.

For the SEO marketing strategy, it is imperative that this trend not be overlooked. Studies such as the Nielsen report brings home the point businesses must include social media in their overall strategy and planning. Marketing has always been based on understanding who your customers are and as the trends are suggesting, the customers are the ones who are using social media as their primary method of using the Internet. The following is a quote from the report that stresses the importance of utilizing social media outlets in your marketing plan:

“Whether it’s a brand icon inviting consumers to connect with a company on LinkedIn, a news ticker promoting an anchor’s Twitter handle or an advertisement asking a consumer to “Like” a product on Facebook, people are constantly being driven to social media.” (Read the full Nielson Report at http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/social/)

What does this mean? It means that everyone needs to not overlook social media and integrate it into their overall marketing plan. Whether you decide to include just Facebook or if you decide to utilize several different social media sites, the idea is not to miss the boat and fall way behind your competitors. The world of SEO marketing is constantly changing and to be successful in your Internet endeavors, you need to focus on the trends. Incorporate social media into your plan, quality and unique content is the name of the game today and relevancy is imperative.

 

SEO and Facebook

Increase Your SEO Using Facebook

If you want to use social media to increase your SEO efforts, a great way to do so is through the use of Facebook Pages. Requiring very little effort to set up, in no time at all you can have another tool in your SEO arsenal. With keyword optimized content refreshed on a daily basis, you can be driving search engine traffic not only to your Facebook page but to your business website, Twitter feed, and YouTube channel also.

Keywords Essential for Facebook Pages

One important element to be aware of to take full advantage of Facebook Pages is to make sure that the keywords your business focuses on are included within the title of your page. This not only attracts your target audience but it also puts your keywords in your URL. Continuing to add fresh content is crucial as is making sure that your content is keyword optimized without being stuffed. Above all else, you want to be delivering information to your audience that is valuable and shareable. Quality is definitely to be valued over quantity. Before you add any new posts to your Facebook Page ask yourself if you are providing information that is of significant value to your readership and if your post is shareable. For anyone that clicks on your “Become a Fan” link on your Facebook Page, your posts will appear on their wall. If the information you provide is not of real value, you very well could end up losing fans and gaining the reputation of being one step above a social media spammer. You want your posts to garner you new fans, not lose the ones you currently have.

Use Data Feeds

Picture of Facebook data Feeds

Data Feeds & Facebook

In order to make the most of your search engine optimization efforts, be sure to include a variety of different data feeds to your Facebook Page. One important element is video. You can create your own YouTube channel with its own share of keyword optimized comments and captions. Once your videos are live on your YouTube channel and are properly optimized, you can then post them to your Facebook page. A well-executed video has a much better chance of becoming popular (if not viral) if it is shared via other social media channels and not just posted on YouTube. The more eyes you can direct to your video content, the greater the odds are of them checking out your website too. Be sure that your video channel is set up professionally with links to your website, company information, as well as links to all of your social media channels. As more and more social signals become integrated into search engine results, having each of your channels well optimized is going to become even more important. Whether you are designing a custom Twitter background for your account or integrating a keyword specific Twitter feed into your website, having all of your social media efforts interlinked is absolutely critical.

Explore Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are another element to consider in your SEO toolkit. Display advertising has all but exploded thanks to the mobile advertising. From Smartphones to iPads, the mobile ad market is going gangbusters and Facebook ads are part of that explosion. The success of this form of advertising is well documented, so why not take double advantage of this opportunity by making sure that your target keywords are well represented within each and every placement.

Making the most of search engine optimization and social networks does require some effort but the rewards are definitely worth it. From integrating your Facebook posts into your Twitter feed, to posting your YouTube videos to the rest of your channels, the success of your efforts will be determined by one hand washing the other. Who is ready to lather up?

Google Plus

Google Plus Is an Entire Social Media System

 

In an effort to compete with the success of Facebook, the folks at Google have entered the social media arena with the arrival of Google Plus. Not to be confused with Google’s Plus One (their version of the Facebook Like button), Google+ is an entire social media system that allows users to connect with other Google+ contacts in a variety of ways. The system was originally introduced through an invitation only format, which was a huge success for Google as well as a masterful marketing technique. The exclusivity of the invitation only format had folks clamoring for invitations from around the globe. While it took Facebook 852 days to reach 10 million users, Google+ managed to hit 10 million users in only 16 days and 20 million users in just 24 days (https://plus.google.com/112418301618963883780/posts/D2Rz5rdciWE). This huge influx of users to a brand new social media entity confirms that Google definitely has a hit on their hands. It may not be a Facebook killer, but it definitely has its fair share of eager enthusiasts.

The most notable features of Google+ are Circles and Hangouts. Unlike Facebook, Google+’s Circles allows you to segregate your contacts into very specific groups so that not everyone of your contacts is exposed to every piece of information you add to your account. You can keep your work contacts separate from your family contacts, and you can even create separate circles so that different aspects of your work life are each in their own circle. Your boss and supervisors can be in one circle while your coworkers can be in another. It is this ability to individualize so many aspects of your social network that so many users find beneficial. Your boss does not have to hear about Aunt Mary’s surgery and Cousin Bob does not have to hear about the results of the big board meeting that your boss called.

Connect Your Mobile Devices with Google Plus

Photo of Google+

Mobile Devices & Google+

Hangouts are another incredibly popular feature of the Google+ social network. With the ability to connect via mobile devices as well as the ability to upload video content, many users are finding the Hangout area of Google+ a terrific plus to the system. Video conferencing is available so that you can remotely connect with others in your Google+ circle around the globe. As long as they have a webcam and a high speed internet connection, you can have a video chat with any of your contacts in your Hangout area.

Google is continually adding to their new Google+ system in an effort to deliver as much bang for the buck as possible. Extras in addition to video uploads and video conferencing include Google Sparks, Google Stream, and even Google Chat. It is this continual upgrading and tweaking that is sure to make Google+ an ongoing success. The teams at Google are masters at developing products that their users want and need and bringing them to their followers in a fast and efficient manner. With their ability to continually integrate all aspects of multitude of Google products, it is no wonder that Google+ has been such an out of the box runaway success. The integration is only expected to continue as more and more products are developed for this new social media network.

Take Google Plus for a Ride!

If you have not taken Google+ for a test drive it is definitely worth your while to check out. See it for yourself at www.plus.google.com where you can peruse the different options that are available to you as well as video overviews that will give you a real glimpse inside this new powerhouse social media network. Once you have seen first hand all the bells and whistles that are available to you, chances are that you too will be one of the many millions signing up to be the latest member of the Google+ fan club.

 

New Twitter Features

All Aflutter with the New Twitter Features

For anyone that uses Twitter for business, it helps to stay up to date on all of the latest changes happening with the site. Recently, Twitter has made a number of extremely useful upgrades to their system that will allow you to get even more out of your social media exchanges with your followers. Being aware of these updates is the first step in being able to take full advantage of their ease of use.

Automatic Url Shortening

Many Twitter users in the past have had to resort to third party url shorteners like Bit.ly to shorten the length of the links that they tweet to their network. One of the recent upgrades made to the system is that there is now a shortener built right into the system that automatically shortens any link of more than 20 characters to Twitter’s T.co shortened url. No longer do you have to rely on a third party url shortener to get your message out to your followers.

Integration of Mentions and Retweets

Another handy upgrade that frequent Twitter users will enjoy is the integration of @mentions and retweets into a single @username tab. No longer will you have to toggle in between the retweet tab and the @mentions tab to find out who is retweeting your tweets or mentioning you in their timeline. This handy new addition to the system will also advise you of any new followers as well as advising you when someone favorites a post that you have tweeted. It is unclear yet if this upgrade will be part and parcel of the entire Twitter system or only on select accounts.

Share Images Directly from Twitter

Picture of the new Twitter Features including image sharing

Image Sharing with New Twitter Features

One of the most popular recent changes to the site is the implementation of image sharing without the assistance of a third party image sharing site like Twitpic. There is now a tiny camera icon built right into the window where you create your tweets. Simply click on the camera icon to upload your image of choice for your followers. While this upgrade may not have thrilled the third party image sharing sites, it is a real plus for most Twitter users.

Tweet “To” Option From Profile Pages

This useful new tool will allow you to instantly tweet directly to a Twitter user from their profile page rather than having to return to the home page. Simply click on the “tweet to” button while you are on a user’s profile page and your post will be tweeted directly to them.

Activity Tabs

The newly created activity tab will display retweets, favorites, and the follow activities of the people that you follow on Twitter. As a way of helping you to discover other interesting Twitter users to follow, the activity tab is expected to be a great addition to the site once it is rolled out to all accounts. The initial roll out reported to be only to select accounts and not system wide, but as with most social media site upgrades the popularity factor will definitely influence its full integration.

For the creators of Twitter, the focus has always been to create as enriching an experience as possible for their users. This recent blitz of upgrades goes a long way towards doing just that. The best way for you to get the most out of your Twitter time is to experiment with the many new features to see which options can best be utilized to help you grow your business. From tweeting images of your latest product release or ebook to tweeting links from like-minded individuals and companies you have discovered from your Activity tab, the opportunities to build your brand via Twitter will have you feeling like a kid in a candy store.

Social Networking

Importance of Social Networking

 

If you have already established your business and have your website up and running, it is now time to start thinking about publicizing your existence using social networking. It is all well and good to have a great business model or a top notch website, but if no one knows that you exist all of your efforts just might be for naught. One of the most cost effective ways that you can grow your brand is by using the multitude of social media opportunities that are available to you. With just a little bit of upfront sweat equity and a daily commitment to updating your social media channels with fresh content, you can be well on your way to creating your own media buzz.

Start Integrating Social Networking

The basics of buzz can be started with accounts on the two social media giants, Facebook and Twitter. While the initial setup is likely to be the most time consuming part of your efforts, once you have your social media ducks in a row your daily socializing efforts can be completed in just a few minutes a day if you so desire. Once the basics of your Facebook and Twitter accounts are set up, you can spend the rest of your allocated socializing time building your network and continuing to create buzz around your brand. The key to creating ongoing social media attention is to interact with like-minded individuals as well as those that are likely to be interested in what your business has to offer. Never miss the opportunity to place your Facebook address and Twitter tag in anything and everything that you post online. From your email signature to the forum posts you make, look at each entry that you make online as an opportunity to spread the gospel of your brand. It is all about getting your brand’s name out there and what better way than to include your pertinent details every time you send an email or comment on something online. Continue to engage in forums that are based on your business’ interests, comment on blogs pertinent to your company’s focus, and consistently offer your followers helpful and interesting information relevant to your business at every opportunity. Add informative posts to your Facebook page, tweet interesting links of interest on Twitter and you will soon find yourself the go-to person in terms of your business’ focus.

Use Videos as a Part of Social Networking

Picture of Social Networking Video

Social Networking Video Ideas

Another highly useful way to build business buzz is to get creative with video. The focus on video is expected to explode over the coming years so why not capitalize on this trend by starting your own video channel on sites like YouTube? You do not have to be a master camera operator or tech savvy guru to create engaging and enlightening videos in very short order. With the plethora of creative sites available on the internet to assist you with your video creation needs, in as little as a few minutes you can have a top notch business video uploaded to your own YouTube channel. From an animated comic strip complete with voice animation all the way to a multi-transitional professional quality video with stunning visual effects, the vast array of graphics that you can create for your own video social media channel is quite staggering. YouTube is making your efforts even easier with offerings like
http://www.youtube.com/create and http://www.youtube.com/creators/playbook.htm

Integrate Blogging with Social Media

Not to be overlooked in your efforts to build business buzz through social media is blogging. While you may think that since you already have a website there is no need for a blog too. This could not be further from the truth. While your website can be a stand alone entity that represents your business, your blog can be the personal touch that you give to your brand’s online identity. Think of your website as the storefront that people see while your blog can be more like the personable person a customer meets when they enter your premises. You can even combine blogging and video and opt for the latest social media craze “vlogging”. By combining video and blogging into your business’ online presence you highlight to all existing and potential customers that you are not online “with” the times but are potentially even slightly ahead of the curve. You can promote your website, Facebook and Twitter accounts through your blog and ever increase your exposure by doing so. Building your business buzz through social media can be compared to a runaway bus that shows no signs of stopping. When you add factors like mobile technology into the mix, savvy business owners are realizing that they had best get on the bus or be run over by it. It is your choice and your chance for success; what is stopping you?

Social Media Tips

Social Media Tips and Techniques

If you are thinking of utilizing social media to help build your business it helps to know which sites to use to get the most bang for your buck. Not only do you need to be able to use the sites that will give you the most impact but you also want to know how to use them effectively. Without proper care and attention to the way you are actually using social media for your business, you not only run the risk of using it ineffectively but possibly even alienating potential clients.

 

tips for social mediaLearn to Become Social

The key to using social media effectively is to remember the “social” aspect of it. Think of social media like a conversation with a friend. If the only thing you ever want to talk about is yourself and what you have been up to, you run the risk of turning off potential customers permanently. If any of your communications through social media are all about me, me, me your customers are soon going to tire of your messages and begin to tune you out. You need to engage with your audience and create ongoing dialogues with them.

social media tips

Learn Social Media Techniques

Whether that conversation is through questions you ask on your Facebook page to polls you post on your Twitter feed to video submissions you request through your YouTube channel, it is all about engaging with and creating a dialogue with your social network. The important factor to remember is that you want to create a two way connection with your social network on topics that are of interest to you both. Tweet information through Twitter on topics that are of interest to your followers that may or may not have anything to do with your business. Post funny videos or thoughts on your Facebook page to show the personality of your business. Show the human side of your business and more people will be inclined to engage with you socially.

 

tips for social mediaPicking the Right Social Sites

When it comes to knowing which social media sites to use to get the most return on your investment there are three that come out head and shoulders above the rest. While some businesses might swear by Tumblr or love StumbleUpon they are not in the top three in terms of getting the most back for your efforts. The top three social media sites to pay attention to are Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. While many businesses are well aware of the potential of Twitter and Facebook in terms of engaging with their customers, few take advantage of the potential of YouTube.

 

techniques for social mediaSocial Media Through Web Video

One great way to get your business going on YouTube is to create your own channel. You do not need to be a Hollywood filmmaker or expert cameraperson in order to create great videos. With the help of free downloadable software, you can create wonderful videos with simple text, with still images, or a combination of them both. If you add royalty free background music to your creation you can have a visually appealing creation in no time. Once your video is complete and uploaded to your business YouTube channel, you can share a link on your Twitter account, post it on your Facebook page, and even add it to your website or blog. Videos can be humorous and fun or serious and to the point. No matter what types of videos you create, be sure to keep the social concept in mind. You want your network to find your creations interesting and if possible make them something that your network might be tempted to share. Create a silly goofy video of your business that still gives a great impression of your company and your network might even be tempted to share it with their network too.

 

tips for social mediaConnecting the Social Dots

By using YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to spread the personality of your business you cannot help but to grow its presence online. The more people that engage with your firm the greater your odds are of converting them to a long term customer. Do not take their engagement with you for granted and make every effort to never lose their trust. With a concerted effort and focus on quality dialogue, you can effectively use social media to benefit your business in a very positive way.

Social Media Marketing

Social Media Benefits

Social media marketing is a very cost efficient way to grow your online business through free social media websites and applications. No matter what type of online business you have, using social media is an incredibly effective way to not only publicize your business but to also grow your customer base. There are a number of ways that you can accomplish this simply by devoting a little time each day.

Making Time for Social Media Marketing

In order for your socializing efforts to be valuable you do not necessarily have to hire a media specialist or spend hours upon hours each day promoting your online business. If you get in the habit of spending a specific amount of time each day to sites like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook you can significantly increase the reach of your company. If you find that making the time for social media efforts becomes a chore then try scheduling a specific time slot each day to growing your business. For some individuals, first thing in the morning works great. Simply grab a cup of coffee and then spend the first hour of your work day networking your business through online channels. In no time at all it will become a habit and you might even find that it is one of the more enjoyable parts of your day.

follow us on facebook

The Content Authority Facebook Page

When you are using these tools to grow your online business it is absolutely crucial to never overlook the social aspect of social media. You want to help your company to grow and to sustain that growth over the long haul. In order to accomplish that long term growth goal you need to deliberately focus on building relationships with your customers. Being social online does not mean bombarding them with “look at me” or “buy me” messages. You want to connect with your customers in ways that are meaningful to them while still offering them the opportunity to indulge in whatever products or services you offer. Customers tend to be much more loyal to businesses that they like on a personal level and that they know value their patronage. Never take their patronage for granted nor disrespect it in any way either. Using their email without their express permission or forwarding their information to another business are two sure fire ways to lose their business. Appreciate why they are interested in your business and continue to engage with them in ways that are meaningful to them.

 

No matter which social media sites you choose to use to market your online business you can encourage continued growth by asking for information and responses from your audience. Place a poll about your business on your Facebook page with specific choices for your audience to interact with. Ask open ended questions on Twitter in order to create a dialogue with your followers. Upload a video to your company’s YouTube channel and invite responses in the comments section by posting a question that your viewers can respond to.

Engaging Social Media

Whatever you do, be sure that you follow up with each response that you get so that your audience knows that you truly appreciate their input. There is no point in beginning a dialogue if you are not going to follow up on their responses. Failure to respond to their comments is like throwing money out the window. Use their responses as a way to engage with them and to continue the conversation. Respond to their comments and then continue the dialogue by asking another question or even just asking for feedback. You want to take advantage of their participation with you to keep the conversation going and to build loyalty and camaraderie with you and your company. Interacting effectively simply means that you continue to engage with your audience and build relationships with them through your efforts. It may take a little effort on your part but the time you invest will be well worth when you see your online business flourish because of your efforts. Just think of your social efforts as your version of advertising and the only thing that it costs you is a little bit of your time. Isn’t your business worth the effort?

Twitter Automation

As with any form of social networking, Twitter works best when used on a personal level; however, they may be times when using a Twitter automation tool is desirable. The most popular and successful Twitter accounts work so well because they act and react with other users in mind, they don’t simply push out self-serving links when it suits them. Few companies making use of the service keep their tweets completely link-free, but the ones that post nothing but directions back to their sites are the ones that will be ignored, blocked and often banned.

A busy account can, however, streamline its actions with a few automated tweets. If you know you have a sale coming up, it’s easy to set up a service that will post your message at a designated time. This alarm clock style service means you’re sure not to mistime (or forget!) any important tweets, you won’t be sitting online with your finger hovering above your enter key waiting to share your news and you won’t need to pay anyone to stay late or work overtime just to get your message out. Pre-writing certain messages, for example, if you have a weekly preview tweet to tell followers of things to look out for, can be an efficient way of managing your Twitter time.

The most common way to use this tool is to update a Twitter account every time a site or blog is updated. Many blogs allow plugins to do this work, while other services take the information they need from an RSS feed. The obvious advantage is that this saves you time. If you’re going to tweet every update, or at least every update that you put into a certain category, it means you can do something else productive with your time. The downside is that this, like many other forms of automation, can quickly make an account look spammy, so it’s vital that if you use this sort of service you continue to give Twitter automation a personal touch, sending out your own messages, retweeting and replying to your followers more often than your account distributes automated messages.

People with personal accounts can use this service as well, particularly to send messages to people in other time zones – be the first to wish someone a happy birthday – or to announce something that you may have to hold back for a certain period of time. Perfect for the user too busy to be on at certain times, or who likes to stick to a certain sleep pattern.

Automated tools come in many forms. Twuffer starts at the most basic end – a simple calendar system that places scheduled tweets in a queue, ready to go when you decide they should be published. Twaitter takes things up a level, allowing you to repeat messages every day/week/month (to be used sparingly) and links up with Ping.fm to allow you to send messages to other platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. If you control more than one Twitter account, you may want to make use of CoTweet which allows you to send out the same message to many places.

No matter what level of automation you use, you need to be sure to check in to your account regularly to check on @replies and direct messages – unanswered messages is a sure way to annoy or lose followers.

So while Twitter automation can be a useful tool for saving time, if you make use of any of these services it’s vital that you don’t use them to take control of the running of your account. Every successful account has a personal touch and joins in conversations, makes comments outside its own personal interests and makes posts that are more for its followers rather than itself. If you’re using Twitter merely to tell people about yourself or you’re company, you’re doing it wrong.