Archives for July 2012

Three social plug-ins to boost your new WordPress site

A guest post from Mike Goodwin

social wordle

social wordle (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Everybody wants to get social with their business nowadays, often without stopping to ask if it’s actually the right thing for them to do. There’s no doubt that in some circumstances, Facebook, Twitter and even Google + can be good for your business – and luckily WordPress is well equipped to help you out if you decide it is right for you.

Now obviously, if you are setting up an online store or web-connected company you’ll want to have been through the basics first. There’s no benefit to having thousands of ‘likes’ and followers if you haven’t taken the time to set up the basics. Sites like MoneySupermarket can offer advice, as well as price comparison on things like business insurance, so could be a great place to start if you need help. However, when you start looking for help on WordPress plugins you could feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of recommendations out there. Here are five WordPress plugins that stand out among the many thousands you’ll no doubt stumble upon (no pun intended) that should be the first you start with.

Facebook Comments by Alex Moss

A simple but effective way for people to offer you their thoughts on your pages while logged in to Facebook, this plug-in is very simple to set-up and could be useful for general feedback that will be seen by others. Of course, having people able to post at will on your page – like all social media channels – comes with a certain amount of risk involved, so make sure you are able to monitor and moderate what is being said.

Twitter Profile Widget by Twitter

It isn’t always easy to keep your site updated with every single thing you are up to, but people will want to know that you are active and communicating within your industry – which is why Twitter can be so great for business. The Twitter Profile Widget allows you to place a small sidebar widget on your site that shows your most recent tweets as they go out. Be careful to share only what you want to, but add this to your site if you want to add an extra bit of regularly updated content to your pages.

Google +1 Button Plugin by AJ Batac

Whether we like it or not, Google+ isn’t going anywhere anytime soon – and as the search engine is pushing its fledgling social network more and more into its results pages it seems that businesses would do well to not ignore it. Once you have a page for your company, you’ll also want to make your web pages sharable to those who visit, luckily there are countless widgets that allow you to add a +1 button to your posts, but this one is simple and effective enough to not take up too much of your time and energy.

Social networks are a minefield for business if you don’t know what you are doing, so it’s worth thinking carefully about whether or not they are right for you. However, if you do want to make your site more accessible to the millions who now log on to their accounts on a daily basis, these three plug-ins are a great place to start.

Mike works as a technology blogger and enjoys sharing the latest tips and tricks for small businesses and startups. He lives in rural Cheshire and is a huge advocate of building self hosted sites with WordPress.

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Concerned about privacy on Google+? [infographic]

I’m a big fan of Google+, despite the criticisms aimed at it from certain quarters. A great aid to SEO, thriving communities if you know where to look, and brilliant for website traffic, I’m not quite sure where all the ‘ghost town’ complaints come from to be honest!

One thing I have seen people worrying about is the privacy aspect, so this infographic from Zone Alarm makes interesting reading.

Are you concerned about privacy on Google+?

Don’t forget to check out our 30 Day Google+ Challenge too to make the most of G+ for your business.

Are you more Twitter than Facebook?

This made me smile this morning – depending on the day, I’m either Facebook or LinkedIn 🙂 Which social network are you?

Which Social Network Are You?

Which Social Network Are You

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Confused about Twitter #hashtags? [infographic]

One of the things that people ask me about the most during my Twitter training is hashtags. It seems that they confuse a lot of people, some can’t see the point of them and others are using them willy nilly without really knowing what they’re doing 🙂

So it was great to find this brilliant infographic from Social Caffeine, explaining them in more detail.

A simple guide, it will explain a little more about what hashtags are, how using more than two in a tweet can be detrimental, and places where you can find out more.

Questions about hashtags? Post them in the comments and I’ll be happy to help.

And of course, check out our 30 Day Twitter Challenge 🙂

Rise of Personal Branding = Return of DIY Marketing

A guest post by Sam Peters

English: "Evolve Or DIY"

English: "Evolve Or DIY" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a time when DIY marketing sounded a little bit crazy. Entrepreneurs who were going it alone and lighting out for new business shores were expected to hire a marketing team in order to properly brand and position a new product or service. Doing it yourself was tantamount to representing yourself at trial—foolish, arrogant, and even dangerous.

But the landscape has changed in the last couple decades and new tools are at our disposal that make hiring an entire marketing team unnecessary. In fact, solo entrepreneurs are on the rise and more and more of them are finding that new web technologies—specifically, social media, cloud services, and mobile devices—afford them the opportunity to do their own personal branding without the need of a team, fancy hardware, or even a primary office.

Social media=team of one is possible
An aggressive, prolific social media user can accomplish all the goals of a traditional marketing team online by creating dialogues with consumers and forging organic, viral campaigns. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram are just the beginning. Smaller, niche networks will be the wave of the future, allowing a more granular assessment of target demographics.

Cloud services=less hardware needed
Documents and files can be stored online and changes can be made to them that will be synchronized across a shared or private network. Therefore, you can work with clients on massive projects without the need for a preponderance of expensive hardware. This makes your output more efficient, more economical, and more secure.

Mobile devices=stop paying office rent
A DIY marketer can work on the go, facilitating projects and networking with clients with mobile devices. While an office isn’t a bad thing to have, if you’re looking to reduce your costs, working without an office has never been more legitimate. A marketing team no longer needs to be a workforce of dozens occupying an entire office floor.

Not only do these tools make it easier to inexpensively operate a business and market your own products and services, it opens doors for personal branding that previous generations of DIY entrepreneurs missed out on. The one-two punch of social media optimization and SEO makes it possible to leverage a small brand in big ways.

These innovations allow entrepreneurs and DIY marketers to focus on the important part of marketing, which is creating a personalized brand that connects with consumers. Focus your efforts on creating the kinds of relationships with clients, customers, and partners that will last for years.

This is a Guest Post written by Samantha Peters, an avid blogger who enjoys writing about various career and job related topics. Sam manages The Education Update and lives in beautiful San Diego, California.

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5 Ways to Avoid Blogging Confusion

Further Confusion

Further Confusion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you want your online business to thrive, you need to stay in touch with the times. Whether you’ve been blogging for years or just got started yesterday, it isn’t easy to know the best practices for SEO and online marketing right off the bat. They also constantly change, meaning that something that was popular years ago might not work so well now.

Terrible ’90s internet graphics aside, another example of this is the idea of writing about anything you like on your personal website. People might create blogs to write about a variety of interests or promote anything they wanted, but there generally wasn’t much thought given to having separate sites or sections for different posts.

Before WordPress and other content management systems made this easy, it was hard to change your sit structure if you realized you were confusing your readers. Now, however, you have no excuses! Here are five simple ways you can avoid confusing your blog readers.

1. Summarize and “lead them in”

Rather than having all your content visible on one page, make sure it only displays summaries of each post with links for readers to click through and see the rest of it. This helps them skim past what they find boring, and when they get interested in something you have to say, it draws them further into your site.

2. Use categories properly

You really can’t go wrong with categories! They allow you to group together related topics so your readers can easily see what general themes you cover, and look for more tips on things they’re interested in while avoiding topics they don’t want to read about. Using categories means your reader won’t be confused by seeing posts about different topics next to each other.

3. Specialize to appeal to your audience

Figure out who your target audience is, and what they’re likely to want to see. If you’re writing about internet marketing, don’t suddenly publish posts on cooking or gadgets. Instead, make sure your blog is designed to attract readers who are interested in internet marketing, and then “funnel” them into the categories they’re interested in – PPC ads, website design, etc.

4. Remember to diversify sometimes

At the same time, don’t let your blog grow stale by writing about the exact same thing all the time. An internet marketer may still want to read about topics like hiring freelancers, taxes, or hardware to make life easier. Just make sure everything is organized into categories (for example, income strategies, product reviews, marketing advice, and so on).

5. Keep it specific

When you’re trying to attract people who want to buy your book on pet care, don’t let your post ramble through stories of pets you’ve once owned unless it’s relevant to the point. Each post should contain valuable information with a point, not a long paragraph with no white space and seemingly no point. Periodically re-evaluate your writing to make sure it still makes sense and you aren’t confusing your reader through content rather than structure; incidentally, this also benefits you SEO-wise.

By following these practices when you structure your blogging topics, you can make sure your audience is on board and hanging onto every word you have to say. This allows you to better serve their needs, and gives you a better chance of succeeding with your online business!

Author Bio:

Guest post contributed by Charles Dearing, for Hostgator Review – a review site and webmaster tool that enables you to discover which web hosting company any site is hosted with.

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Beginner’s Guide to PPC and Leveraging It for Content Marketing

When you put a lot of effort into creating amazing content, you want a ton of people to see it.

Paid advertisements on Google can help get your content seen above the SERPs by people all over the world who are actually searching for what you offer. The best part? You control everything: how much you spend, where your ads show, when they show, what they say, and where that traffic lands on your website.

Simply Business recently created a guide to AdWords for small businesses new to the game. You can see in the below graphic that the first step is creating objectives for your advertising. If you’ve already decided you want to leverage paid search for content marketing, you’re halfway there. Your objective is to get your content seen.


Click image to open interactive version.

Besides setting up your account and defining objectives, though, you really want to make sure that implementing paid search will help you achieve your goals. To do this you need to understand that AdWords is only a part of the picture – you need to recognize where it fits into your conversion funnel and ensure the supporting phases are optimized for success.

To put this into perspective, let’s say your objective is to get users to download your white paper. Down the road you are hoping this will result in a sale. You know that to consider your paid search efforts a success, you need to look at downloads vs. number of clicks. That is the easy part.

However, what if those numbers aren’t what you expected? Say the bounce rate is extremely high, or the number of downloads isn’t what you wanted because users are navigating to other areas of your site. The issue may be that your landing page wasn’t set up for success.

Understanding that you are paying for clicks is essential; it is up to you to convert those users once they are on your site. To counteract the negative results, consider some CRO to optimize that landing page and improve the conversion funnel.

By leveraging paid search to improve your content marketing efforts, you can integrate your marketing efforts and optimize every channel of online marketing. And that is the recipe for success.

Adria Saracino is a marketer and blogger. When not consulting on business strategy, you can find her writing about style on her fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.

What happens when I don’t take my own advice…

Sad face

Sad face (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, a hectic, crazy, mad few days have ensued. It was my own fault for thinking
a house move 5 minutes down the road could go well, really. I’ve moved house
enough times in my life to know that nothing ever goes completely smoothly!

First it was no internet in the old house (that we were still living in) and
then it was no internet in the new house (that we moved into over the weekend)
and a complete lack of 3G coverage that rendered dongles and Mifi completely
useless.

I can’t forward the phones to my mobile as ‘I don’t have that service
activated’ and I can’t activate it as ‘the line is in the middle of being
moved’.

And to top it all, the fact that I’ve ignored my own advice means that my own
business blog has been sorely ignored.

What advice? The advice to plan ahead, always have a few posts in hand, make
sure you have guest posts ready to fill gaps and if all else fails, rely on
infographics – that’s what advice!

Concentrating too much on keeping up with client work and organising the move,
I did the one thing I tell you all not to do – I let my blog go for over a
week. Not good, if you’re me.

Why am I telling you this? Surely I should be announcing that my fab
organisational skills meant my business ran smoothly while I was moving and
leave you all marvelling at my fantastic multi tasking? Well, I could, but
that’s not my style.

I believe in being honest with you – social media and keeping up the marketing
is hard, especially when life gets in the way.

I’m lucky; the enquiries are still coming in. I’ve kept most clients updated
via my phone on Twitter and Facebook. Most have been extremely good about it
and understand how hard I’m working this week to catch up. Others think I
should practice what I preach and be perfect 🙂 If only that were so!

But it’s made me realise more than ever how easy it is to let things slide –
when the gas man is condemning your boiler and you’re wondering how you’re
going to feed your 2 year old, somehow writing a blog doesn’t seem so
important.

Talking to some of my clients this week, they’ve reminded me that the Summer is
here (allegedly) and that the season of holidays and days off is almost upon
us. Kids will be breaking up for the holidays and things other than marketing
and social media will become more important.

I’m lucky I’m back on track, but I wouldn’t wish the last week on anyone to be
honest, much less you!

So I’d definitely recommend that you start planning now for any time you’re
going to be taking off.

Use Buffer http://www.bufferapp.com and
Hootsuite http://www.hootsuite.com to
schedule your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn posts while you’re away – just a
couple a day will keep you in people’s minds.

Start writing blog posts now that you can schedule – they don’t have to be
masterpieces, but they could be the difference between someone sending you an
enquiry or forgetting who you are as you’re not in the forefront of their mind.
Write more than you need – learn from my mistake!

If you need help with your blog posts, I’ve opened up my order book for July on
the Bonkers Blogging Offer –
http://www.nikkipilkington.com/bonkers-blogging-offer/ – rest assured I’ll not
be taking a holiday this Summer, I’m saving my time off for when you’re all
back from your jollies (and I have a house move to recover from!).

If you don’t need help, remember to keep on top of things – scheduling is your
friend 🙂

Yours, in cobbler’s children’s shoes….

Nikki

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A world without Facebook? [infographic]

Could you imagine a world without Facebook? Here’s what it would be like 🙂

10 Personal branding mistakes to avoid on Twitter

If you’re serious about using Twitter for business, then it’s work checking out this great infographic from LinkingR.com.

In summary the mistakes you could be making include:

  1. Not following people who interest you, and automatically following everyone who follows you.
  2. Automatically unfollowing people who don’t follow you.
  3. Having no picture, or using a picture that isn’t ‘real’.
  4. Using an irrelevant Twitter name.
  5. Not filling in your Twitter bio.
  6. Not using lists to filter the noise.
  7. Not having conversations with people.
  8. Not checking your @ messages and direct messages.
  9. Posting links without actually reading the content.
  10. Only sending one type of tweet.

I think I’d add to this #11 – never retweeting people – retweets are a big part of building relationships.

What would you add to the list?

Want to make more of Twitter for business? Check out my 30 Day Twitter Challenge!

 

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