6 Steps for small business to build a social network

May 28, 2009

Follow me on Twitter. Join my Facebook group. Link to me on LinkedIn. See my video on YouTube.

It use to be enough for a small business to market its services with advertising and public relations. But in the last few years, an avalanche of new opportunities has cascaded on the Internet in the form of social networking sites.

These sites give businesses more opportunities to get the word out about their companies, but they’ve also made most of us feel overwhelmed, trying to keep up.

1. Identify the advantages and limitations of social networking sites. Identify the sites where you should be putting your time. You can’t be everywhere, by researching the advantages and disadvantages, you have a better chance to reach them your audience.

2. Research the competition. What is your position in the market and how are you going to convey that to your customers online. See who else is out there and what they are going. It may not just be a local business, but a similar business in another city may be doing something you can leverage in your market.

3. Listen. Before you can do much more, get on the email lists, join the groups, connect with people, and follow them. Get involved by listening to what others are doing. Be cautious when getting into social media, you don’t want your first impression to be a bad one.

4. Determine your goals. What do you want to get out of the social networking site? Realistic expectations will lay the foundation for success. Do you want to drive 10% more traffic to your site? Increase the number of download a white paper by x number of visitors? Drive traffic (x customers) to your location ? Be specific in your goals and make them realistic. You should have both short and long term goals.

5. Make a plan. Managing your social networking visibility can be a full-time job. Making a plan and strategically integrating it into your marketing efforts will help to define your expectations and make your social networking intentional. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are a start but don’t forget on commenting on blogs and posting to groups.

6. Build on results. Keep track of where you are getting leads, comments and responses.

While there may be an attraction to “free” social networking, you can waste time and efforts if you are not intentional and have a plan.

© 2009 LaChapelle Design


10 Essential Twitter Tools for Business

May 27, 2009

Do you use Twitter? That’s a hot question these days. With more than 11 million users, the microblogging service is becoming an incredibly popular networking tool.

Still, most people struggle when it comes to using Twitter effectively. This may be especially true for businesses, which tend to feel pressure to join Twitter, but don’t quite know where to begin. If you want to use Twitter, but aren’t sure how to use it well, these process by using these 10 essential Twitter tools for business may help smooth the learning curve:

1. Tweetdeck

With Tweetdeck, you can not only tweet, reply, direct message, and retweet, but create groups of followers, shorten URLs, send pictures, and execute customized searchesBiggest benefits: Saving time and streamlining Twitter functions.

2. Tweetie / Twitterberry

Tweetie is kind of like a Tweetdeck for your iPhone

TwitterBerry, which is quite similar. Biggest benefit: Having a time-saving Twitter dashboard in your mobile device.

3. Twitt(url)y

Twitt(url)y tracks and ranks URL shared on Twitter by popularity. Biggest benefit: At-a-glance access to the hottest Twitter trends.

4. TwitterFriends

If you Twitter frequently, and Twitter is important for your business, this stats tool will help you take the next step towards becoming a master tweeter. Biggest benefit: Improving the efficiency and efficacy of your Twitter use.

5. SocialWhoIs

SocialWhoIs helps you find out more about people by entering their nickname and social media service. Biggest benefit: Finding new, relevant contacts.

6. TweetGrid

You don’t need to be a Twitter user to cull value from TweetGrid, which lets you follow topics, people, groups, events, and more in real-time on a search dashboard.

7. GroupTweet

Allows users to send tweets that only end up inside a designated group. Biggest benefit: Keeping potentially confidential tweets within a designated group.

8. OutTwit

TwitterMail, a similar service, lets you post tweets and follow replies through Web-based email. Biggest benefit: No need to download, open, or learn a new application to use Twitter.

9. Twellow

Twellow calls itself the Twitter Yellow Pages. Biggest benefit: Finding people to follow who will inform you, teach you, and help your business grow.

10. Follow Cost

How annoying will it be to follow a certain person on Twitter? Follow Cost answers this question for you.

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7 Habits of Highly Effective Twitterers

May 24, 2009

1. Filters and searches

Using Twitter Search and filters for your searches save you a ton of time when you’re looking for information via Twitter. The value in utilizing the filters is they help you to fine tune the results of your searches.

2. There are no rules, but establish your “twitter goals”.  What do you want to get out of Twitter?

3. Understand prime tweet hours for conversations and traffic Recommended Prime Tweet Hours: Twitter has replaced the morning email time for some.

4. Setup your workflow and apps

5. “Always a tweet away”. You want to appear to be always thinking about your followers or the entire twitter community.

6. Sharing information and being helpful.  Be consistent with your sharing habits and try not to make too much noise.

7. Understand what Twitter really is. What is Twitter for you?

Bonus: Attend tweetups or understand how to use twitter offline as much online for your personal life or busines

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Is There A Difference Between Social Media And Social Networking?

May 22, 2009

There is a big distinction in the terms Social Networking and Social Media. While many use these two terms interchangeably, you can separate them and the websites that represent one or another or even both effectively.

You can parse out the word Social from Media and Networking in each term. Social Media can be called a strategy and an outlet for broadcasting, while Social Networking is a tool and a utility for connecting with others. Essentially, you can lump both terms together under the umbrella of Web 2.0.

The difference is not just semantics but in the features and functions put into these websites by their creators which dictates the way they are to be used. There’s also a kind of, which came first, the chicken or the egg kind of argument to be made here. I suspect that Social Networking came first which evolved into Social Media.

Social Networking.LinkedIn is a good tool for Social Networking.

Social Media. YouTube is a really good Social Media website.

Twitter and Facebook are Web 2.0 sites with the whole package. They straddle the Social Media and Social Networking divide perfectly.

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Get the Most Out of Twitter #Hashtags

May 19, 2009

One of the most complex features of Twitter for new users to understand is the hashtag, a topic with a hash symbol (”#”) at the start to identify it.

he hashtag is a favorite tool of conferences and event organizers, but it’s also a way for Twitter users to organize themselves: if everyone agrees to append a certain hashtag to tweets about a topic, it becomes easier to find that topic in search, and more likely the topic will appear in Twitter’s Trending Topics. So how do you disseminate and make sense of all this hashtag madness? By going through the art of the hashtag step-by-step, of course.

1. Identifying hashtags

For new Twitter users, and even we veterans, figuring out what a specific hashtag is being used for can be a major chore. When a hashtag starts to trend, it gets even more difficult to parse the information stream.

2. Tracking hashtags

f you’re trying to track tweets from a hashtag in real-time, Monitter and Twitterfall are good choices. Once again, Hashtags.org provides graphs and hour-by-hour information on top hashtags.

One last tip: if you need to track a less popular Twitter hashtag, try setting up a Twilert to get a daily email of the use of a specific hashtag.

3. Using hashtags

If you’re about to put on an event or are looking to take your event to a new level, here are some useful tips for hashtag organization:

Choose a single hashtag early

Remind attendees of the hashtag constantly

– Provide a website widgets

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Viral Marketing 1, 2, 3

May 18, 2009

How do you get your customers to do your marketing for you — and more effectively than you could ever hope to do it yourself? By giving them a great value proposition and making it super-easy for them to pass it on. No gimmicks, no tricks. Viral marketing is all about giving your customers what they really want — and really want to share.

Everyone talks about building an online community that drives “viral” marketing — but how exactly do you accomplish that? Viral marketing is not about setting up a forum and hoping people will come. It’s not about
launching the 3,009th Facebook application that will sink quickly into obscurity. It’s about driving a value chain and meeting a need. Users need to get something in return for what they put in.

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CEOs Who Use Twitter

May 17, 2009

Tweets from the Chiefs

In August 2008 BusienssWeek reported on 18 chief executives who use the microblogging application Twitter to clue customers in on new services, help them with questions about their products, and generally get a little bit personal with customers, business associates, and the public.

Not even a year later, they bring you nearly 50 CEOs who find tweeting a personal and professional delight. Twitter’s growth has been astounding. As of August, for example, Digg founder Kevin Rose had only 61,000 “followers”— people who sign up to view a certain Twitter user’s tweets—but now he has more than 600,000.

So read on to learn how Virgin Group’s Richard Branson, Zappos.com’s Tony Hsieh, and dozens more CEOs harness the simple powers of Twitter.

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