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Weekday Hashtag Challenge

I’ve decided to give myself a little challenge for the month of September. I am going to tweet every weekday using one of the popular weekday hashtags. I’ll be the first to admit that Twitter hasn’t been my favorite of the many social media options but I want to put a concentrated effort into it and see if my opinion changes at the end of the 30 days.

For this challenge I’ve picked the following five hashtags to use. I am also going to try for a mix of 80% business based and 20% fun/personal based posts.

#MondayMotivation

#TuesdayTip

#WednesdayWisdom

#ThrowbackThursday (#tbt)

#FollowFriday

I’ll be interested to see if this increases my overall engagement with Twitter and if the consistency leads to more followers. My hypothesis is that it will help build up my followers. I think another benefit is that it will encourage me to blog more so that I have some tips and wisdom to share.

My Twitter stats as of today:

Twitter stats 8.29.16

I’ll report back at the end of the month. Interested in joining the challenge? Comment with your Twitter handle and I will follow you.

Follow along with the challenge @devinrdevries

Here’s to a Prosperous & Fulfilling 2015

As we stand on the threshold of a new year we often take time to review the past year and plan our goals for the upcoming year. 2014 was an interesting year for me personally. I made two major decisions this year. First was to move back to my hometown of San Diego from Seattle.  The second was to step out onto the exhilarating and frightening ledge of self-employment. After several months trying to find my footing I feel like I’m finally getting my equilibrium back. I am hoping that leads to a fulfilling and prosperous 2015.

Here are a few of the areas I am going to focus on this coming year.

1. Facing my fears

dreamsAs an introvert with some social anxiety, things like standing in front of a crowd, talking on the phone, and of course having the dreaded money discussions with clients, are just experiences that will never come easy to me. And that’s okay. However, I do want to continue to push myself out of my comfort zone to achieve the success that I envision and know I am capable of.

Personally I think there is a lot of power in acknowledging the fear and then finding ways to work with it. For me that means knowing that I need to set aside time before and after I speak in front of groups to mentally charge. If I don’t I am a basket case and ultimately my productivity and general happiness suffers. So whatever you need to do to address your specific challenges is okay, and everyone is different. The important thing is to keep trying.

2. My Blog

This is a big one. I encourage my clients to have a blog and post regularly but often find that doing my own blog is always the very bottom of my personal to-do list. My goal for this year is to put aside time on my calendar specifically for writing my blog and to commit to at least one post a week.

3. Travel

On a more personal note I want to make sure that travel is a priority this year. I want my business to work for me and help me live the life I want. I’ve also found that I am not very motivated by money but setting goals where something like a trip to Disney World is the end reward is very effective. In my sights for 2015, Italy & England.

SONY DSC

 

What have been your successes in 2014? What are you looking forward to in 2015?

 

What Social Media Sites Should My Business Be On?

sm-questionmark-237x300You know social media is the future of marketing.  You know your business needs to have a presence.  But with so many websites out there it’s hard to figure out which to use and when.

Don’t fret.  I am here to help.  Before we dig in, take a breath, and repeat this mantra:

You do not need to be everywhere.  A quality social experience is better than quantity.

Okay now that we have that out of the way we can focus on how to determine which social networks are relevant to your business and then which ones you should put your time into developing.

Some questions to consider when starting :

  • What are my goals for social media?
  • What social sites do my customers use?
  • Which social sites do I enjoy using?
  • What type of content do I plan to share?

 

The Top Social Networks for Business

This is a helpful infographic to provide a quick breakdown of the major social media networks that we will discuss.

Social-infographic_2014(Source: Leverage)

Here is my general ranking of the social networks for most consultants, small businesses, or solo-practitioners.  The biggest caveat I would point out is if you are in retail or any design field then Pinterest and Instagram should rank higher on your list.  And again, you will need to decide what works best for your business and circumstances.  We don’t subscribe to a “one size fits all” rule.

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Twitter
  3. Facebook
  4. Google+
  5. Pinterest
  6. Instagram

LinkedIn

If you can only choose one social network site at this time I would encourage you to use LinkedIn.  It is one of the oldest and largest of the social sites.  It is also the only one that was designed with business in mind.  It is great for building your professional network, finding potential clients/customers, and sharing content (typically you will see blog posts or news articles being shared).  It is also an excellent tool for invitations to events you many be hosting.

Twitter

Twitter is all about the quick and succinct interaction.  Twitter can be a useful tool for communicating directly with your customers and keeping them abreast of your latest news, events or promotions.  Important to note that since Twitter is a fast paced environment you need to make sure you dedicate time, preferably everyday, to engage in conversations and share content otherwise you will fall off your follower’s radar.

My personal approach on Twitter (@devinrdevries) is to share a mixture of personal interest and business.  This is what I feel works for me.  On the flip side I pretty much only use Facebook for personal sharing.

Facebook

Facebook users respond well to pictures, stories (news and aspirational), and promotional deals.  Recently Facebook has changed some rules for how brand page content gets served up so if you’re considering using Facebook for your business, you should understand that you will likely need to dedicate an advertising budget for promoting your content. In order for a brand page’s posts to show to its fans, reach must be amplified by paid promotion. Without paid promotion, Facebook reportedly shows brand page content to a mere 1 to 2 percent of a page’s followers.

Pinterest & Instagram

These sites are all about the visuals.  You must provide beautiful and clear images for people to engage with.  It’s also a transporting experience for users.  They want to see inspiring designs, delicious food, beautiful clothes and DIY tips.  As a retailer it’s a great tool for getting your product shared by a wide audience.  Pinterest has made some recent developments with business in mind such as performance analytics and promoted pins.

As an example my hobby/side business is floral design and wedding flowers.  I use Pinterest as The Chic Florist to engage with potential customers and get inspiration for myself.

My advice is to not be afraid of social media.  Jump in and try different sites out to see how others are using them and which seems like a good fit for you and your company.  You don’t want to hate using it otherwise you won’t keep up with it and then it no longer is an effective tool.

Let me know if you have any questions.  Also if anyone has tips on what has worked for their business, please share.

12 Tips for Your Web Marketing Game Plan

socialSometimes the world of web marketing and social media can seem overwhelming and for some who may just be entering the space it can be downright intimidating.  I often get asked “What should I be doing on the Internet to promote my business?” or “Where do I get started with social media?”  To help I’ve put together a list of my top tips for your web marketing and social media strategy.

Web & Social Media Tips

  1. Use LinkedIn as an outreach tool. A truly valuable tool within LinkedIn is the user to user messages. This can be used for many purposes, from introductions, to event invites, to publicizing the release of your new book. For new connections there should be a basis for the connection and if possible some benefit to them for connecting with you. Look for common organizations, LinkedIn groups, and synergistic fields.
  2. Update and complete your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn values users with what they call “complete profiles.” Users with completed profiles show up higher within LinkedIn’s search results. All sections should be up to date including a recent, professional photo and contact information.
  3. Create a short video for YouTube. Video is rapidly gaining in popularity, especially with the younger generations in the workforce who would much rather watch a video on a subject than read. In addition YouTube videos are important to the Google search algorithm and videos will raise you up in the search rankings. For an author try a book trailer. For a speaker use clips from your speeches. Video length should be under two minutes.
  4. Blog regularly. To position yourself as an expert it is best to blog about your area of expertise. Additional benefits of a blog include increased traffic to your website, brand awareness and lead generation. Try to be consistent in posting, with at least one post a week.
  5. Promote blog with LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Most blog sites have the option to connect your social profiles and automatically send an update to your social channels when a new blog post goes live.
  6. Give valuable information. This is really the crux of social media. It’s about what you can do for them and not what they do for you. Share how-to articles, tips, stories, a funny picture, etc.
  7. Save time by prescheduling your posts. There are several services such as HootSuite and Buffer that allow you to preschedule tweets and posts. This is a good time saver but you should still plan to have a mix of scheduled vs. in the moment participation.
  8. Post just before and after the top of the hour. If you’re trying to reach business people like marketers, office workers or managers, this is especially handy. Schedule your posts just before or just after the hour to catch people who are checking social media just before or just after a meeting.
  9. You don’t have to be everywhere. The number of social media sites continues to grow and you will often visit sites with six or seven different follow buttons. It can be overwhelming to you and to your clients. Better to choose one or two sites and use them well than to spread yourself too thin and not provide a quality experience.
  10. Engage with clients/customers. The real power in social media is the direct feedback component. This allows you to see what is on the minds of your prospects and address any issues they may have with you. Make sure you participate in conversations and reply to messages directed at you or your company.
  11. Use Google AdWords Keyword Planner. It is important to know how your clients describe themselves and their interests. The way to find this for free is through the ultimate free crowdsourcing tool: Google AdWords Keyword Planner. Your purpose for using it is to gauge the popularity of certain descriptions and phrases, based on the number of monthly searches on Google and then incorporate into your posts.
  12. Websites are living things. They need to be updated regularly. You never want to appear out of date on the Internet.
Have you had success with these strategies?  Any other web marketing strategies you’ve found to be helpful to your business?

Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile: Pump Up the Summary

Continuing on with our series on optimizing your LinkedIn profile we will spend some time on the summary section.

The LinkedIn Profile Summary is where you can give people a glimpse into who you are, what your background is, what you’re looking to accomplish, and additional places they can find you online or contact you. It can also be used to provide additional descriptions about your experience, expertise, awards, etc. The LinkedIn summary also presents an opportunity to include links to content that you’ve created and displays them. For example, you could include a PowerPoint presentation you’ve given, a video clip of a speech, or samples from your portfolio if you are in a creative arena.

Here is an example of well-rounded summary that includes a sample video of a speech.hdlinkedinSee Henry’s Profile here.

Bottom line, this is your chance to solidify their impression of you and to sell them on your abilities. Don’t be afraid to add some sizzle. If you are looking to grow your business and find new clients tell them how you can help them in this section.

Optimize your LinkedIn Profile: Catch Attention with an Informative Headline

LinkedIn is one of the oldest and most established social networks.  It is the world’s biggest professional network with more than 259 million members in over 200 countries and territories.  Membership in the United States is over 84 million.  If you aren’t already using this tool, you should be.  It can be a major asset in your marketing arsenal.  This series of posts will help you to optimize your LinkedIn profile in five easy steps.

Before we dive into optimizing a quick word on why this is an important step.  LinkedIn values users with what they call “complete profiles”.  For instance users with completed profiles show up higher within LinkedIn’s search results.  Spending a little time now to get your profile in shape will pay off later.

Tip:  If you are already an established user with lots of connections you may not want to alert all your connections of small updates as you optimize your profile. You can turn your activity broadcasts on or off and select who can see your activity on their homepage from the Privacy & Settings page.

Step One:  Catch Attention with an Informative Headline

Following your name and picture the profile headline is the first impression that potential connections will have of you.  It is also a key factor in making your profile rank higher within LinkedIn’s search.  When writing your headline keep those dual purposes in mind.  Be clear about what you do for clients and try to include as many applicable keywords as possible for the search algorithm.  Multiple titles, descriptions of what you do, books you’ve written are all good ideas for your headline.  Be aware that there is currently a 120 character limit for this section.

For example having a headline such as “President of John Smith Consulting” gives prospective clients very little to go on and is easily passed over.  Wouldn’t you be more interested in talking to someone who is a “Facebook Marketing Expert Author & Trainer | Social Media Speaker | Relationship Marketing Specialist” or “CEO @TopRank Online Marketing, Author: Optimize, Public Speaker: Integrated Search, Social, & Content Marketing”?

The headline section is only the first area in which you will want to use keywords.  There are online tools that can help you identify what people are searching related to your particular field.  Google has an excellent one that I recommend checking out.  It’s important to consider what are known as short tail and long tail keywords.  Basically, long tail keywords are keyword phrases made up of 3-5 words whereas short tail keywords are one or two words.  Short tail will be the common and popular words associated with your industry.  The long tail ones are less popular but are more targeted to specific searches and come with less competition.  Including a mixture of both is the best strategy.

Have you come across any LinkedIn headlines that caught your eye?  Let us know in the comments and come back for the next post on pumping up the summary section.

The Selfie Seen Around the World: The Power of Twitter

This past Sunday the world gathered around their TVs for the 86th Academy Awards ceremony.  A star-studded event, headlined by comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, it was a night of fun for viewers and attendees alike.  In fact it had the most viewers in 14 years and was the most-watched entertainment telecast in 10 years.

A major contribution to this uptick in award show viewing is being attributed to the power of social media sites such as Twitter.  As Oscar host Ellen took full advantage of social media channels both tweeting and instagraming through the day and night.  The best example of which is the now famous selfie of Ellen with a myriad of A-list stars including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Lawrence taken during the broadcast. This tweet broke records for most retweeted picture and temporarily took down the Twitter site due to huge amounts of traffic.

 

Now this is an extreme example of the power a simple tweet can have but it is still a good reminder that as business professionals we should not be ignoring Twitter as part of our marketing tool kit.  Here are a few ways Twitter can be of use to you for promoting your business, service or product.

    1. Twitter enables customer engagement and communications – good or bad customers like to voice their opinions and feel like companies are hearing and responding to them.
    2. Twitter provides a platform for real-time communications – spread the latest news, announce a new product, communicate updates for events.
    3. Twitter is a great platform for your business to build its credibility as an industry expert.
    4. Create brand awareness – especially key if you are new or small business.  Post tips or interesting articles related to your business to give people an idea of how you can be helpful to them.

Why don’t you make it a goal this week to either join Twitter and create your first tweet or if you are already on Twitter post at least once a day for a week straight.

Any other benefits you’ve found from using Twitter to promote your business?  Let us know in the comments.