Social Media Tips & Resources for Small Businesses

  • HOW TO: Poll Consumers on Facebook
    We collected some simple ways to poll your consumers on Facebook, as well as a mini-list of best practices.
  • HOW TO: Set Up a Foursquare Special
    There are now seven types of specials available on Foursquare — here’s an explanation of each special, along with some tips to help you get started.
  • 10 Proven Strategies for Greater Likeability on Facebook
    Here are 10 universal laws for brand likeability in social media.
  • HOW TO: Get Your Employees On Board With Your Social Media Policy
    It’s not an easy job to help people reconcile their public and private lives on social media, and it all comes down to training, mentorship, and establishing guidelines and best practices. Here are some tips.
  • 5 Best Practices for Travel & Tourism Brands on Facebook
    Best practices for travel and tourism brands on Facebook — borrowed from the big players in the industry — that will help you attract gadling jetsetters and secure more reservations.
  • HOW TO: Create a Group Tumblr Blog
    Want to set up a company blog that contributors can post to from multiple accounts? Want to use a password-protected Tumblr internally? Here we show you how.
  • 5 Tips for Closing a Sale on Facebook
    How can you maximize the social network to close sales for your own business? Here are five tips to help you design a Facebook presence that makes buying your products more desirable and easy.
  • 14 Best Practices for Long-Term Social Media Success
    Following these best practices will prevent your brand from falling victim to the coming wave of customer unlikes and unfollows. But more importantly, focusing social channels and investing in the value of each will improve the customer experience and encourage greater engagement.
  • HOW TO: Start Marketing on Foursquare
    The most recent iteration of the location-based app, Foursquare 3.0, expanded the features and made it much easier for businesses to jump on the bandwagon and start marketing. Get started here.
  • HOW TO: Get Started With Photo Blogging
    We consume so much content in our digital lives, it seems we’ve developed a need for it to be presented in the simplest, most efficient way possible. Enter: the photo blog.
  • Social Media for Small Businesses: 6 Effective Strategies
    Many small business owners are either too busy for social media, or they don’t truly understand Facebook, Foursquare or Twitter. So they choose to delegate these tools to interns or specialists. This may not always be in the best interest of the company.
  • How Tasti D-Lite Has Raised the Bar for Social Media Success
    Frozen dessert shop Tasti D-Lite has been heating up the social space over the past few years, introducing a series of innovative digital programs and campaigns. We spoke with Chief Marketing Officer Bill Zinke to get a taste for what the company is up to lately and what digital and social projects it’s working on next.
  • How Small Businesses Can Use Social Media for Customer Service [INTERVIEW]
    Customer relationship management isn’t just the domain of big brands, and these days, more and more companies are offering free online tools to make it easier for SMBs to keep track of and reach out to their customers.
  • HOW TO: Start Marketing With HootSuite
    As social media increasingly becomes optimized for brands, marketers are finding themselves juggling multiple accounts across a variety of networks. With so many statuses to update and so little time, keeping yourself organized is key.
  • 5 YouTube Marketing Tips for Better Engagement
    In addition to its incredible success as the de facto portal for video uploads and viewing, YouTube is itself a community. For brands, it provides an additional viable opportunities to spark discussion with followers. It’s a place to build relationships and create a space for users to converse with each other about branded content.
  • 5 Tips for Recruiting College Students via Social Media
    More and more companies are recognizing the value of social media in building their employer brand in the minds of college students. From the Department of State (@DOScareers) to Google (@GoogleStudents) to MTV (@MTVNetworksJobs), organizations across many industries are taking to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and blogs to enhance their image and build a pipeline of talent from college campuses.
  • HOW TO: Add Social Sharing Buttons to Your Website
    For many sites, adding social sharing buttons is a simple and effective way to quickly boost pageviews and sharing stats. Unfortunately, it can also be a way to clutter up your pages, confuse your users, and cause massive bugs and layout issues. Here’s a quick guide to best practices for adding social sharing buttons to your site or blog.
  • Should You Outsource Your Social Media Efforts?
    Hiring a social media consultant may not be as straightforward as hiring other types of professional service providers, such as a web designer or an accountant. Here are four questions to consider when deciding whether to outsource your social media.
  • How The Pros Measure Social Media Marketing Success
    The notion that marketing costs can’t always be understood is an ancient one. John Wanamaker, a department store mogul who died in 1922, once mused, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Here are some tips to help you figure it out.
  • HOW TO: Get the Most Out of Facebook and Twitter Promotions
    As social media has worked its way into every aspect of our lives, we as a culture have come to expect that our favorite brands — from “Big Gay Ice Cream” trucks to national airlines and fashion houses — are easily accessible on the most popular social networks.
  • 9 Digital Marketing Lessons From Top Social Brands
    Big brands have already blazed trails in the digital marketing world. We spoke to social media and marketing experts at MTV, American Express, Xbox, NBA and AT&T to get the scoop on how they learned to hit the mark.
  • HOW TO: Use Facebook Social Plugins on Your Website
    One of the easiest ways to make your online presence more social is by adding Facebook social plugins to your website. There are many different Facebook social plugins to choose from — here are four of the top plugins for business and tips on how and when to use them.
  • How Businesses Can Survive a Product Recall Using Social Media
    These five tips will help companies maximize the potential of social media to protect consumers and their brands in the midst of any product recall situation.
  • HOW TO: Avoid and Prevent Facebook Spam
    Facebook is doing a lot to help curb app-generated spam, with platform spam down 95% in 2010, but no automated system is perfect. Here are some tips to reduce the amount of spam that you see on Facebook — and avoid contributing to the problem yourself.
  • 6 Common Email Marketing Mistakes Small Businesses Make
    For small businesses, email still represents a cheap, effective way to establish or maintain a relationship with clients. But the content has the power to either attract or repel — check out these tips before you hit “send.”
  • HOW TO: Launch Any Product Using Social Media
    Guy Kawasaki shares 12 things he did to launch his new book, including information about costs, vendors and analytics.
  • 5 Excellent Small Business Blogs To Learn From
    Here are five small businesses that are using a blog to reach local communities and showcase the company’s experience and expertise. We’ve outlined exactly what they’re doing right as a guide for other small businesses to improve their own blogging activities.
  • 10 Tips for Posting on Your Brand’s Facebook Page
    Once your brand is on Facebook, the question becomes: How you engage those fans and sustain a meaningful online dialogue with your customers?
  • Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Company Blog
    Corporate websites are often little more than interactive brochures that display basic information and describe what the business offers. But if you’re looking to do more, then a company blog is a much better choice.
  • 5 Tips for Maintaining Brand Consistency Across Social Media
    As the recent foibles of Aflac, Chrysler and Kenneth Cole and others demonstrate, keeping an up-to-date, 24/7 presence on social media has its risks. A bigger risk though, is to ignore social media. So what is a brand to do?
  • The Pros and Cons Of Tumblr For Small Business
    More and more businesses have been getting hip to social blogging platform Tumblr, which may have you wondering, “Should I be on Tumblr, too?”

Originally posted by Lauren Drell, Assistant Editor of Supported Content for Mashable


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Integrating Social Media with Traditional Marketing

The following is a discussion on a blog by Michelle Bonat originally posted in late 2008 but still very relevant today. Michelle discusses taking small steps towards integrating Social Media Marketing with classic (traditional) marketing programs.

Babysteps…How to integrate social media with traditional marketing programs

Social media marketing is most effective when it is an integrated part of your overall marketing efforts. But how do you jump into social media when you already have some really effective classic marketing programs in play? Here are a few ways you can babystep into the world of social media by leveraging the good stuff you already have.

1) Maintain a single consistent marketing strategy through classic and social media marketing.

Your goals, objectives and messages should be consistent across all of your marketing. Sounds simple, but unless you define and enforce this it won’t happen.

The good news here is that you don’t have to re-figure this all out just for social media. It’s really just taking your existing marketing platform and extending it.

2) Extend your reach – Reach out to your influencers in ways that they like to communicate.

Use your existing marketing knowledge about who influences your product’s purchasing decisions, and use social media tools to create a discussion with them where they hang out.

Some specific examples: Are your influencers kids? Get on the social networks catering to the younger set. IT buyers? Figure out which bloggers are influencing this community. Mobile sales professionals? Deliver content in a mobile enabled way, such as Twitter.

3) Invite your customers into the process.

While you are planning your next product, refining your messaging, or even launching a marketing campaign, figure out a way to get your customers involved whenever possible as early as possible. When you do this they feel that they have been heard, feel more engaged and valued, which results in a tighter connection with your company and product. It also gives you the benefit of upfront input. A product that people actually want? Described in a manner that speaks to them? Wonderful!

A good way to on-ramp this customer involvement include online communities (public or private, even a public group on an existing social network). You can even ask them to deliver their thoughts in video form by way of a contest – “describe what our product means to you”.

4) Turn an online forum into a social media hub.

Make people feel more at home by adding profile information and allowing the posting of pictures (or pointers to a picture posting service like Flickr).

Recognize that you have to give to get. Start a genuine conversation with your audience by having company employees contribute to the forums in their own words. For example, instead of just asking for feature enhancements suggestions, tell them what direction you are headed and, if possible, the timing for these enhancements (without giving away too much info). Then ask them their opinion.

Try these few tips to help ease into a social media program that leverages your existing marketing – and you will soon be on your way!


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SEO via Social Media

So, how do you optimize your social media so that it helps in the increasingly important objective of being found online as easily as possible?

Recently, at JeffBullas’s blog, the five top social media channels (Facebook, Blogs, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn) were targeted for search engine optimization purposes. Basically, how these five channels help you get noticed and found online. In light of Google’s recent initiative of Real-Time Search Results, social media activity and content are key components in search results. Ultimately, wouldn’t it be great to have all of the top five social media channels, YOUR channels, on the first page of your brand’s search results? Maybe even within the first five of six results sandwiched around your brand’s website? Well, the following, as clearly identified in the aforementioned blog, will help you achieve your SEO goals and objectives.

How To Optimize Your 5 Top Social Media Channels
As originally posted on JeffBullas’s Blog on January 14, 2010

1. Facebook

Facebook has 3 types of ways you can participate, Profile (Personal), Groups (clubs and associations) and Pages (companies and businesses).

The primary goal of having a Facebook “Page” is to get fans (or subscribers) and invoke interaction. The secondary goal is drive them to an offer page or get them to your target website. How do you do get more fans and visibility within Facebook? By pushing content out tactfully. The Wall within a Page is the same as a Wall within a Profile. Therefore Page Admins can publish stories, news, and offers to their Fan’s home page streams. The other internal way to communicate with Fans is by direct messages to their inboxes, which is reportedly being used less and less. Who uses email these days anyway right, right?. Here are some ideas to get you started

– Use a group or page profile for your business rather than personal as they are much more transparent to search engine crawlers
– Choose a vanity URL that contains your keywords (such as facebook.com/widgetwholesales)
– Exclusive offers for Fans only is great Fan bait
– When you post content, always include video or imagery. Facebook users are very visual.
– Publish fresh content at least 2-3 times per week
– Analyze, iterate and optimize using the Facebook Insights Tool to get “high-level demographic and geographic insights about your Fans”, and to “analyze the number of interactions and overall engagement with your Page and posts.”

2. Blog

Blogging demonstrates true commitment and passion to your industry that you really can’t fake long-term. Most won’t be able to sustain it over long periods of time with frequency, but those who do so are rewarded in spades and stand out from the crowd. So here are some tips on optimizing your blog

– Buy ( I know that says get your credit card out) your own domain name not a subdomain or name under typepad or wordpress .. buying a homebase is a lot better than renting one.
– Purchase a theme such as WordPress Thesis theme that can be optimised for SEO such as URL’s and meta descriptions
– Post content regularly (at least once a week) .. Search engines love new unique content
– Promote your Blog on Twitter regularly (Google now has real time search feed into Twitter API)
– Include share buttons to other social media channels on each blog post so visitors can add your blog and posts

3. YouTube

The increasing impact of Social Media “Online Video and its importance to getting found online because of the facts and figures emerging that can’t be ignored… in fact its hard to get your head around them. Comscore announced in August, 2009 that over 25.4 Billion video views ocurred in the USA alone (Yes…. Billions not millions). This is up from 14.3 Billion In December 2008. This is a 78% increase in just 8 months. Google’s sites such as YouTube had a 39% market share with the closest competitor being Microsoft sites with 2.2%. (Google owns YouTube by the way). Here are some tips to get you started

– Create your own YouTube Channel
– In your description section for your video, always put your link to your blog or your website to make it easy for people to link back to your site
– Put the category such as [Social Media Marketing] in Brackets before each Title of your video
– Put “Tags” in your video tags section, make them relevant to your video title, fill up your tag allotment quota allowed and optimize them
– Again promote your YouTube video on Twitter and place them on your blog in a Video or YouTube Channel section

4. Twitter

Twitter became mainstream in during 2009 and has continued to provide ways to connect, communicate and promote your content from your website and blog.

– In the account settings, be sure to add your website’s URL
– Write a great title (approximately 42 characters are factored into each tweet’s title tag, including the account name, as well as the initial characters of each tweet. Keep in mind that your full tweet and all its characters are still being indexed by major engines).
– Place a retweet button on your blog articles and integrate your Twitter URL within your site’s Global Footer, which appears at the bottom of every page of your site. Both of these options offer usability to your site visitors and help drive your Twitter URL up in the search engines.
– Include “Follow me on Twitter” buttons on your emails and blog
– Leave at least 20 characters spare (make your tweet no longer than 120 charcters), so that it allows room for people to – “Retweet” your “Tweet” with comments like “Great post”
– Almost always include a link back to your blog posts in your tweet (don’t waste a Tweet), this is a significant traffic driver for bloggers.

5. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network which started up in 2003 and now has over 55 million members and growing rapidly (It is one of the top 5 social media channels). LinkedIn connects you to your trusted professional contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals. So how do you optimize this platform to enhance you and your companies brand.

– Create a public profile (don’t lock it away) This is an easy way to start building an on-line presence for yourself, since LinkedIn ranks high in the search engines
– Use the questions and answers feature to start conversations, create community, and position yourself as a subject matter expert. By answering questions, you are simultaneously endorsing your candidacy and expertise this can also be used to drive traffic to your blog when you leave your answer or when you place your question.
– In your homepage activate your Twitter and LinkedIn interfaces.
– Activate your blog feed to your homepage on linkedIn (where your last blog posts are displayed). Use the questions and answers feature to start conversations, create community, and position yourself as a subject matter expert. By answering questions, you are simultaneously endorsing your candidacy and expertise
– In your settings (in the edit my profile section) make sure your websites and blogs (you can enter 3) with relevant customised key word descriptions. (mine includes My Company, My blog (jeffbullas.com) and My Facebook “Page” URLs

Be sure to check out the original post on Jeffbullas’s blog as there are additional tips and links that are valuable resources for learning how to effectively utilize these top five social media channels.


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