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8 Update of My Free Social Media Ebook

Social media and online marketing tools and tactics are an evolving lot. What was true last month may have a new twist this month.

social media for business

With that in mind I am happy to report that I’ve once again teamed up with the Microsoft Office Live Small Business team to bring you the revised and freshly updated – Let’s Talk: Social Media for Small Business.

While the reasons why a small business might jump into the social media fray have remained fundamentally the same, the how of it all has evolved substantially since version one. In this update, I’ve added a lot more information about Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and also included some thoughts on managing the social media beast, including my own social media system.

office live small businessThanks to Microsoft for making this free guide available again. You can grab a copy from the Office Live Small Business site or here.

33 Twitter and LinkedIn Finally Sync Up

LinkedIn and Twitter announced an integration today that should be interesting.

Starting sometime today, LinkedIn users can automatically feed their Twitter status updates to their LinkedIn status updates. While LinkedIn’s status update feature is right there for all to use, my experience is that people don’t use it nearly as much as they should – or certainly not like Twitter. (Even though LinkedIn has more members than Twitter.) This should be a real shot in the arm to LinkedIn from an exposure standpoint, but it may shake things up a bit too as the volume of status updates skyrockets.

The partnership is significant for another reason. I think this update is a further move towards positioning Twitter as the central content distribution hub for business. Facebook Fan Pages now offer easy Twitter integration and Bing and Google have established official ties with Twitter as well.

The ability to cross post goes both ways.

On LinkedIn

You can post from LinkedIn status and have it update twitter or the other way around. On LinkedIn you will change some setting and then click the Twitter box to have a LinkedIn status update post to Twitter.

linkedin status

On Twitter

The Twitter integration works very much like the popular Selective Twitter App for Facebook, when you post on Twitter and add the hashtag #li or #in the twitter update will also post to LinkedIn.

twitter integration

Here’s the update announcement from the LinkedIn blog: LinkedIn works with Twitter, and vice versa

12 Biznik Blends High Tech with High Touch

BiznikFortunately, it’s starting to feel like the wave of social media hype has crested and small businesses can turn their attention to understanding social media “best practices” rather than obsessing over next week’s new tool.

Today’s greatest small business opportunity awaits those who learn to skillfully blend the awareness creating, automating, and filtering aspects of social media platforms with the trust and customer building aspects of education based, face-to-face networking.

Seattle based social media upstart Biznik (well, compared to the likes of Facebook or LinkedIn) has positioned itself as this new breed of network tool. Biznik’s primary target is small business owners and, while they have plenty of real estate to tap, it’s primary objective is to build a social network that combines the best of an online platform with localized community events and human contact.

On a the platform side the tool allows you to effectively build a profile (here’s mine), post articles, invite members to become a part of your network, join and create groups around community or themes, and create and promote local events. (More on this)

On the harder to quantify side, the quality of engagement in this network far outstrips anything I’ve seen and been a part of in other networks. This comes through loud and clear in things like article comments and messages to new members. In some ways, this would be enough to make Biznik a winner for the small business, but it’s the tip of the iceberg, I think, for people who drill down into this a bit.

The fact that Biznik has also created an event platform that is geographically driven presents an unique opportunity. So, now if you want to create a Feed Your Mind Networking Breakfast, like Jesse Wolfram in Mill Creek Washington does, you’ve got a targeted network and a ready made platform. I think it might be one of the best way to optimize social networking and traditional business building

I visited with Biznik co-founder Dan McComb for an upcoming episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast (Dan acts as the online editor while his spouse and co-founder, Lara Feltin, acts as CEO) and Dan confessed that the organization’s West Coast roots led to lots of natural growth in communities like Seattle and Portland, but that there is tremendous opportunity for growth elsewhere. To me this is a platform ripe for community leaders.

While Facebook and LinkedIn are grabbing headlines and remain great places to build business, I think small business folks should join Biznik and start building there as well.

13 New Feature Makes LinkedIn More Like a CRM Tool

LinkedIn pushed an upgraded feature through today that makes it a much more powerful small business prospecting and relationship tool in my book.

When prospecting on LinkedIn in the past you could type in a keyword or specific company search and locate people you might want to reach out to. For many folks this is the greatest benefit of LinkedIn participation. The tough thing was you had to look at the details of each profile you might find and make a decision about contacting them right then as there wasn’t a convenient way to save or group your chosen profiles for future use.

Today, LinkedIn added a tool in the paid version that allows you to create searches and then save the profiles that look interesting to folders in what it’s calling your Profile Organizer. So, let’s say you are scouting out journalists at a certain publication. You can do a search, set up a folder, and save all the profiles you like in that folder for later contact. They’ve also added a “note” feature so you can jot something of interest to yourself or even something that was said when you contacted them last. I think this feature makes the paid version worth a look. Of course, they’ve also made it free for 30 days. You activate the free trial by simply using the Save a profile feature.

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Search on the term marketing – hover over a profile and save it to marketing folder (Click image to enlarge)

note
In profile organizer you can make notes on any saved profile (Click image to enlarge)

The Profile Organizer shows up as a workspace under the contact tab and once active you’ll see “save profile” as an option any time you are looking at an individual or group of profiles.

The thing I like most is that this allows you to work in LinkedIn any time you have 10 minutes and makes that 10 minutes much more efficient. For me researching and contacting are two very different activities and take different frames of mind when doing them. I like that fact that I can organize all the profiles as I feel like it and then come back and do laser focused reaching out when I’m in that mood. The note taking field is what makes this CRM like to me. (Note: You don’t have to be connected to someone to save and note their profile either.)

You can read more about the Profile Organizer update here on the LinkedIn blog

85 5 Tips for Getting More From Your Blog

notebooksIn a further continuation of my series of quick social media tips (check out 5 Tips for Getting More from LinkedIn, 5 Tips for Getting More from Facebook, and 5 tips for Getting More from Twitter), I’m returning to my old pal the blog.

Seems like blogs have kind of made it into the main and don’t get talked about as hot social media plays, but in my mind, a web hub of education based information, easily created and housed on a blog, is the ultimate social media foundation element and probably the key to success when you engage prospects in other social media platforms.

1) Read, follow and listen – you probably won’t get much in the way of results from blogging until you know what and how to write. The best way to do that, and by the way something I’ve done and continue to do daily, is read lots of blogs, follow lots of people who point out interesting reads and listen using RSS, bookmarking sites like delicious, and every question your prospects and customers voice. Use an RSS reader such as Google Reader to make it very easy to listen to lots of content and then get a little notebook and carry with you at all times so you can jot down every question customers and prospects ask.

2) Write what people search – If you’re one of those folks who’s resisted blogging because you don’t think anyone would read your blog, don’t worry, they probably won’t. Most blogs aren’t read like a magazine, or like you might view it, they are found. In other words post the answers to the questions, problems, and challenges that you know your market is asking and seeking and your blog content will become the single greatest online lead generation tool in your mix. Discover the exact phrases people in your market are using when they search and write valuable content around that and people will find your blog before they know your competitors exist.

3) Ask for participation – Blogging is one of the first ways to build an engaged community. People talk about building community on twitter and other social sites, but few things can compare to the engagement that can surround healthy debates, reader generated content and suggestions in blog comments. Write your blog posts in ways that invite people to comment, ask for their ideas, and even ask them to give their opinions. Often, some of my points are amplified and made better through the comment stream that can surround them. Over time, you will build community participation and you may find that blogging is more fun when it becomes a conversation.

4) Engage your comment community – When people take the time to offer thoughtful comments take the time to respond when appropriate. If a debate is in order it’s okay to start one. Visit the sites of your comment community and engage in their writing. Link to their content in your blog posts and on twitter. You might also find that using comment enhancing plugins such as Disqus – the commenting system I use or Top Commentators, which shows a list of the people who comment the most, can make your comment community more active. (I wrote a post long ago called 7 ways to get more blog comments that you might also find useful)

5) Amplify your message – one obvious way to get more exposure for your blog is to post links to twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn with each new post and, as long as that’s not all you do, this can be an effective traffic strategy, however, another great way to amplify and broaden the exposure for your blog is to guest blog. Many, sometimes high traffic, blogs welcome well-written content from guests. Look for blogs that should have your same type of reader and offer samples of your writing. Be sure that your posts will receive a byline and link back to your blog and then also promote the heck out your guest appearance.

Image credit: Dvortygirl

29 How Social is Your Email?

I’ve noticed a really interesting phenomenon lately that I think needs some addressing.

For years people have sent out email with the little “tell a friend” or “forward to a friend” button and links – in fact, that may have actually been the first form of social media.

But here’s something else I’ve noticed. Email marketers aren’t further moving to amplify their efforts to spread the word by integrating social media into the email mix.

Personally, I think this is a great opportunity missed. Some marketers are claiming that social media will kill email, but I happen to believe neither is killing either. Integrating social media more fully into your email marketing efforts, and vice versa, is a way to make both broader and more far reaching.

The reason I think these two medium support each other so well is that they really serve different purposes in the marketer’s toolbox. Social media is not now, and may never be, a very good way to sell directly to a prospect, but email has a long history of very effective conversion, promotion and direct selling.

So, rather than dumping email for social media why not use your current lists and email marketing efforts to make social media a better tool for you.

Here are few ways to get started enhancing your social media presence through your email efforts while making your email efforts reach further using social media. (This post assumes that you have already established basic social media activities such as blogging, twitter, facebook and LinkedIn – even if they are not yet robust)

Email signature – this one is silly basic, but why not use the space – add your social network profiles to your every day email signature – some people may prefer connecting with you there.

sig

Make your mail tweetable – add a tweetmeme button to your email newsletter archive and make your stories easy to share via twitter,

meme

Subscribe and archive on Facebook – add an email newsletter archive to your Facebook fan page and don’t forget to add a newsletter sign-up form there too (I wrote about how to add a custom form to a Facebook page here)

face
in your email newsletters

Add links to all your social profiles

soci

Want to hear more about this and other ways to get more from your email? Join me for the Evolution of Email, a webinar sponsored by Verizon, Wednesday September 9th at 12:30 EDT

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29 5 Tips for Getting More From Social Media Marketing

listeningIn a further continuation of my series of quick social media tips (check out 5 Tips for Getting More from LinkedIn, 5 Tips for Getting More from Facebook, and 5 tips for Getting More from Twitter), I’m covering some overarching advice today as I believe small business owners and marketers need to think strategically about social media use, perhaps before they ever start to discuss tactical use.

1) Integrate – Don’t treat your social media activity as something separate from your other marketing initiatives. Feature links to your social media profiles in your email signature, on your business cards, in your ads, and as a standard block of copy in your weekly HTML email newsletter. In addition, make sure that links to your educational content are featured prominently in your social media profiles and that Facebook fan page visitors and blog subscribers are offered the opportunity to subscribe to your newsletter and attend your online and offline events. Make your social media profiles a part of your address copy block and you will soon see adding them to all that you do as an automatic action.

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65 5 Tips for Getting More From Twitter

follow me on twitterIn continuing with my series of quick social media tips (check out 5 tips for LinkedIn and 5 tips for Facebook) I’m covering some tips for business use of Twitter here. I’ve actually written about some of these tips in great detail before in this free ebook – Twitter for Business, but this can act as a quick primer for folks who like their info snack sized like this.

1. Tweet great content 3-4 times a day – Follow people who always find great stuff, subscribe to blogs that feature great links and reviews of new tools, scan weekly and daily email news digests such as SmartBriefs, cruise over to the delicious popular page and read print publications of interest. All of these sources (most of which can be scanned in a 15 minute sitting once you have them set up) are rich with content that your followers and the twitter world in general wants to read. One of the most valuable services you can provide is to be a filter for the information overload your prospects, customers and network are feeling. In a way, your twitter stream can become that valuable filter for pointing out the best content, but do it consistently and watch your follower count grow.

2. Reply to conversations (@ducttape) – One of the best ways to get engaged with those you follow is to join conversations where appropriate and offer answers and suggestions. Many common tweets come in the form of a question from someone looking for help. When you offer the solutions to these forms of tweets you automatically become more engaged and demonstrate some of your own knowledge, expertise and willingness to help. Obviously, you can’t sit around all day answering questions, but by focusing on addressing conversations that are related to your industry and field of expertise, you can build a reputation around topics that matter to your business objectives. Use 3rd party tools such as Seesmic Desktop (make sure you look at their browser based tool if you are having resource issues with desktop tools) or Tweetdeck so that you can easily scan conversations and be ready to reply to conversations that are directly related to you.

3. Retweet other people’s content – Another network and follower building practice is to retweet other people’s tweets. This is simply the act of taking someone’s tweet and tweeting it in your stream – with full credit to the original tweeter. This has become a very standard practice on twitter (designated with a RT) and can be overdone, but you can also use it for two purposes. If you are following people who tweet what you find to be very interesting content you are doing your followers a favor by sharing that content with them. In addition, you are, in effect, acknowledging the person whose content your retweeted. This is a nice bit of the culture of sharing and usually comes back in some form to help you build your following. People generally pay attention to the folks that are retweeting their content. However, this can become a crutch as well – make sure you are pushing your own content out in a nice mix. You can use tools like tweetmeme to track the most popular retweets. This can be a way to find new content for tip #1.

4. Use search to meet objectives – For many twitter power users search in the most important feature of twitter. You can use the twitter advanced search tool to create very elaborate searches that can filter out only the tweets that address your specific industry in your specific geography. Or you can find people talking about your expertise, whining about a problem you can help with, or proving a solution you need. Searches you create on twitter also produce an RSS feed so you can set your searches up in a way that deliver the results to your RSS reader on a daily basis. I would also include the use of the #hashtag function (I wrote in greater detail about hashtag use here) as a search tool. Get in the habit of using it to promote your events and promotions and while attending events, in person or online, as it’s a great way to find and connect with like-minded folks attending events. People who follow the event tag from afar will bump into your content this way as well. Once again, 3rd party tools like Seesmic Desktop and Tweetdeck allow you to monitor your searches, including hashtags, on your desktop.

5. Be easy to retweet and follow – This one is both on twitter and off. Sharing great info is the first rule, but you can do other things as well. While twitter allows 140 characters, if you aim for 120 your tweets will be easier for someone to RT. This way people can add their handle and a bit of commentary. Use tools, such as the Tweetmeme WordPress plugin I have at the beginning of this post (go ahead you know you want to click that green retweet), that make your content off twitter easy to tweet. Add your “follow me on twitter” button to web pages, email newsletters and email signature. Add your @name to your business cards, stationary and invoices.

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58 5 Tips For Getting More from Facebook

Duct Tape Marketing on FacebookIn continuing with my series of quick social media tips (check out 5 tips for LinkedIn) I’m covering some tips for business use of Facebook here. I’ve actually written about some of these tips in great detail before, but this can act as a quick primer for folks who like their info snack sized like this.

1. Fan page – Facebook had personal profiles and groups from the start, but a few months ago they added to the function called fan pages and made them more business friendly. Any business on Facebook should create a fan page for their business and start optimizing additional content there. The cool thing about fan pages is that it’s now a lot like having another web site. You can add applications, newsletter sign-up pages and events and promote them to your friends on Facebook. When someone becomes a fan of your page, your updates on the page show up on their wall giving additional exposure. I wrote a pretty comprehensive post on the subject of Facebook Fan Pages here. Also, check out the Duct Tape Marketing Fan Page – http://www.facebook.com/ducttapemarketing – note the brand optimized URL – that’s pretty new and something you should take advantage of.

2. Custom HTML – this one’s a little more technical but when you create a fan page you will see that your page comes with tabs for various categories of content you create (each tab has it’s own URL so you can promote each section on your fan page around the web). Using the Facebook Mark-up Language (FBML) you can create custom boxes of HTML content, like newsletter sign-up pages, blog RSS feeds, and white paper downloads just like you might on your web site. FBML is a Facebook application you can get here. I’ve also done a quick little video showing you how to add FBML custom HTML here.

3. Special content – Give your Facebook fans a little something extra they might not find on your blog or web site. Upload images from your PowerPoint presentations, articles from the local publication you contribute to, or on the fly videos created using the Facebook video application. You’re bound to find some crossover from other social networks like twitter, so give the Facebook users something unique. I know some people caution about reposting twitter here, but I think it’s perfectly fine. I get lots of comments from people who just happen to like to use Facebook more than twitter and this way they still get updates.

4. Events, videos and apps – Use the heck out of all of the Facebook applications. (Here’s a post I did some time ago about some of the best Facebook business applications, many of which are now compatible with pages.) Promote events, upload or record video, hold contests and polls. All of this extra engagement is so easy to do using pre-built tools. And don’t forget to integrate your Facebook activity back to your web site and blog using a Facebook Fan Box – I wrote about the Facebook FanBox tool here.

5. Ads for awareness – I think that Facebook has built one of the better ad targeting tools going. You can target ads to Facebook members on all kinds of criteria and run pretty low cost campaigns. The trick though is to run campaigns that are compelling and promote your FaceBook Fan Page instead of trying to sell something. Promote your white paper, events, and educational content – create awareness about your great content and your will get the chance to earn the trust it takes to actually sell something to someone. Here’s where you go to find more info about Facebook Ads. And, I wrote about using Facebook ads to create awareness here.

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21 Health Insurance Reform and Small Business

Many issues swirl around the topic of health insurance when it comes to small business. It’s a subject that plagues small businesses and threatens to slow the real growth needed to pull out of the recession. Small business owners have long been penalized in the effort to offer insurance to their employees and those with pre-existing medical conditions don’t have the option of jumping in and starting a business for fear they won’t be able to acquire insurance they can afford.

The Council of Economic Advisers in the White House released a new report on the impact health insurance reform would have on small businesses. In an interesting use of social media the White House solicited feedback on the report from LinkedIn members using LinkedIn’s popular Question and Answers feature. CEA Chair Christina Romer answered some of the most penetrating responses in a live video online discussion at WhiteHouse.gov on Wednesday, July 29th.

I was asked to help select a handful of questions that represented the most pressing issues from the hundreds that were submitted and I can tell you this issue is an emotional hot button for business owners.

Here are some highlights of the questions from LinkedIn members.

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