What Blogging and Social Media Can Do for You and Your Business!

 Monday, November 28, 2011
 

What is a blog and why should businesses blog? Blogs, or Web logs, present online journal content organized in reverse chronological order, and should be entertaining and informative. Blogs and other social media can create the following for you:


Online Democracy

This is the human factor that reads blogs, searches online for Information, sends and receives e-mails, sends and receives voice mails, and has a Web site or visits Web sites.

Search Engine Optimization

As much as 80 percent of all Web interactions begin with a search. Using key word phrases targeted to your product or service helps your organic placement and you can also use pay per click campaigns to grow faster, but organic sites seem to have more credibility for searches. From 80 to 95 percent of all clicks on a page happen in the organic results. This will get people to your site, but there needs to be recent and relevant content with links to keep consumers on your site and give information that is valuable to the customer.

Higher Prospect Interaction and Conversion

Google ranks phrases used on your site and it is important to know what the customer is searching for in your industry to be able to best interact on your site and gather leads that eventually convert to sales.

E-mail Acquisition

E-mail personalized newsletters are a great way to educate the consumer and establish you and your company as the expert in your field. There is a downside to e-mail campaigns in that if you are just selling, selling, and selling, you will have people opt out and the e-mail acquisition campaign will fail. Deliver content that your customers want to know and drive traffic back to your Web site with more relevant content.

A great example of this would be in a newsletter. My company links back to our seminar page http://www.exhib-it.com/seminars/ highlighting our FREE marketing seminars for the entire year at a glance.

This is informative for the customer and shows how our company supports businesses in the community (which establishes our promotion and process that is relevant to our strategies).

Employee Retention/Customer Engagement

Employees who blog for a company are more engaged with the company than employees who do not blog for the company. If you want to start with an online blogging site, try WordPress (www.wordpress.org). It is the most widely used blogging site and is free, and has lots of plug-ins. The featured plug-in are WordPress.com Stats that provides simple, concise stats with no additional load on a server by plugging into WordPress.com’s stat system. WP Super Cache is a very fast caching engine for WordPress that produces static html files. Poll Daddy polls create and manage the polls from within WordPress.

Intense Debate Comments enhances and encourages conversation on a blog by building the reader community, increasing comments, and boosting page views. Wickett Twitter Widget displays tweets from a Twitter account in the sidebar of a blog.

Get Recent Comments displays the most recent comments or track backs with your own formatting in the sidebar. The weaknesses are that WordPress usually requires you to have hardware/server and it is a little more technical to use, and is not built for organizations.

Key word-focused blogs compound at a much higher rate than individual blogs.  However, if you do not post frequently and systematically, your blog may end up nowhere. Blogs are meant to be written frequently with relevant content that is key word focused. If you are doing something unique in marketing, write about it online! Use the Internet for traditional and media marketing and incorporate social media to grow your business!

About DJ Heckes, Author of Full BRAIN Marketing and Owner of EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts



DJ Heckes is CEO of EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts and Full BRAIN Marketing .  She focuses on educating and training companies to significantly improve their Small Business Marketing strategies.  DJ Heckes also presents customized training programs for Business Marketing, Social Media, Leadership and Trade Show Marketing. Learn more at www.EXHIB-IT.com  and www.fullBRAINMarketing.com.  Be sure to follow us!

DJ Heckes, CEO & Author
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
www.exhib-it.com
Full BRAIN Marketing
www.fullbrainmarketing.com



Using Enhanced Images to Engage Your Followers

 Monday, August 01, 2011
 

How Will Images Help You Engage Your Followers?

Do you remember when you were a kid and all of your favorite books had pictures in them?  Someone else read to you and you looked at the pictures.  Magazines, catalogues, newspapers, and all other forms of written material were never attractive to you unless there were pictures.  I even remember always begging my mother to let me look at the pictures while I was being read to, but I always had to wait until the end of the page when she turned the book around to show me.

The concept is essentially the same.  Things are a lot more fun to read when you have something visual, tangible, to go along with it.  Think about it.  Even now, would you rather read some report that was long and tedious and had nothing but text or an equally long article with color and visuals popping out at you?  

Images are everywhere and can be used all over the place - on your website and social media pages (could you imagine those without pictures? Boring!), and even your blogs.  In an article I found online, Why Images are Vital to Modern Blogs,” by Adam Singer, he drives home the importance of including images in your blogs to keep your readers interested…is it working?


Enhancing Effects

Effects are a great way of getting your pictures to really pop.  People are more likely to look at a picture with pizzazz than one that they could take just as well.  There are all sorts of programs and apps available to you if you choose this route.  And for all you Mac users out there, you may find photography apps online.  And remember: be creative!

iPhoneography

We have all had those moments while we were out and about and in a situation where we said, “I wish I had my camera!”  Well, for those who have an iPhone, not only does it allow you to never miss that Kodak moment, but there are apps you can download to really jazz up your photos—on the go, anytime, anywhere.  Iphoneography has become quite the big deal, from amateur photographers to professionals.  In the articleExplore the Art of iPhoneography: A Three Step Guide to Get You Started,” photographer Stephanie C. Roberts tells us how to get the most out of our iPhones from a photographer’s stance, and what apps to use to really make your photos unique. Just as a writer might jot spontaneous thoughts in a journal or an artist might draw loose marks in a sketchbook, making images with your iPhone can help you craft compositions in a more organic way, hone your instincts to anticipate magic moments, loosen up your traditional approach to photography and illuminate a path toward defining your unique vision.”
 

Hipstamatic

Hipstamatic is one of those amazing iPhone apps that can really help you add life to your photographs.  Stephanie Roberts uses it herself saying, “Hipstamatic mimics the unique style of vintage prints characterized by vignettes, blurring, textured edges and oversaturated colors created with the original analog plastic camera. Using a square-format viewfinder, the app lets you switch ‘lenses,’ ‘flash’ and ‘film’ with the swipe of a finger. I often shoot with Hipstamatic because I like composing images in the square-format viewfinder and I like the creative constraint of choosing the ‘film’ and ‘lens’ before I shoot.”

If you are looking for more details on Hipstamatic and how you can use it, Rick Brooks from Flyte talks about it, and other fun apps, in this informative video.

Lights, Camera, Action!

And why stop with just pictures?  Think bigger and more engaging, and throw some short films into the mix!  You can put them on your site, social media pages, and blogs.  They can be anything from testimonials to creative short ads shot by you, or even your customers.  Animoto is a great tool that helps you take you stills, clips and music and make a little movie out of them.

Creating That Experience

In the end, it is all about the user’s experience on your site/blog/page, and images can help enhance that experience.  But you really must be creative with the images you use, whether you find them or create them/have someone create them for you.  They need to be aesthetically pleasing to stick out in the user’s memory, and thus have your page stick out as well.  Think of some of your favorite photographs.  What about them appeals to you? What exactly about that picture makes it better than the others? 

Color, contrast, unique lines, and captivating subjects are just some components of memorable and engaging images.  Connie Malamed writes about research on processing fluency, which “influences a viewer’s affective response to a work.”  In her post, How to Improve the Appeal of Your Graphicsshe talks about how processing fluency affects aesthetic experiences, and lists four features that help to promote the fluency (thus creating a more positive reaction for the viewer): “Symmetry (vertical symmetry in particular), High figure-ground contrast, Visual clarity, Less information rather than more”.

Now you know how to engage your followers with your images, how to use them, how to play with them, and how to make them more aesthetically pleasing to the viewer.  So I challenge you to take these tips and implement them. Also, let me know what you think.  Questions, comments, anything, just let me know!

DJ Heckes, CEO & Author
Full BRAIN Marketing
www.exhib-it.com
Full BRAIN Marketing
www.fullbrainmarketing.com



6 Ways to Promote Your Brand, Drive Online Traffic, and Give Great Customer Service

 Monday, July 25, 2011
 

Learn six ways to promote your brand and drive online traffic through providing great Customer Service? In this article, we will show you just how to do that! Have you ever noticed that people are more likely to participate in things if they are given an incentive?  Well, if you haven’t, just know it is true.  People like rewards, it is that simple.   

What Does This Mean to You?

Because social media is such a huge deal nowadays, everyone wants to be a part of it, and they all want the same thing out of it: more business!  So how on earth are you supposed to stand out when everyone, including your competition, is doing the exact same thing for the exact same reason?

In this endless frenzy of businesses jumping on the social media bandwagon, it is very easy to lose sight of certain things.  One thing no one should lose sight of though is customer service.  You may be thinking, “Customer service on Facebook?”  Well, yes!  Anytime you are representing your brand, customers and customer service must be what we never lose focus on.

So, how do you drive business, get people onto your website, and have more loyal followers/customers than your competition?  Offer great customer service, and offer rewards.  Rewards are an amazing way to inspire people to visit your pages. 

Let’s check out a few examples so you can see what I mean… 

Available ONLINE ONLY!

Everyone loves a good discount.  But clipping coupons out of the Sunday paper is quickly falling out of fashion.  What is the fad now? Online coupons!  Discount websites, such as Groupon, are exploding in popularity.  People just cannot get enough, and have come to not only love, but expect a certain percent off.


Now What?

Well, if you are looking to drive traffic onto your website, this is a wonderful way to do that.  Offer things that are only available online, and people will not be able to resist.

There are many different ways to go about this, so use your creativity.  You could print codes out on receipts, send out a newsletter with discounts or reach out through social media; sign up with Groupon or other sites that offer similar services.

There are many ways to reach your customer base when offering discounts online.  Just be sure to remember, as with everything online, you must be able to reach your audience the way that they want to be reached, so do not just use one avenue. 

Make it Into a Game.

We all play games, every last one of us-- especially games we can win. So give your fans and followers something to go for!

Sites such as GowallaGetGlue and Foursquare, they entice users by making “checking-in” a game.  They will reward you every time you “check-in” by giving you a badge or medal of sorts.  Foursquare has a leader board which shows how many points you have collected compared to your friends and other connections.  So every time you log on, you will see where you rank, and will probably do what you can to make sure you rank at least in the top three.


Now What?

Easy!  Start your own competition! 

How you design the game is up to you, depending on your particular business and customer base.  But give the people who visit your page or site a reason to come back—offer stickers or stamps (preferably branded) to reward your loyal visitors.  Put some creative thought into this so you can make it as interesting as possible.

This method works very well for businesses that survive on their customers making frequent purchases.  I am sure you have all experienced going to a place of business, typically restaurants and the like, and they hand you a card and say that if you get a certain amount of stamps your next burger is free.  It is a similar concept, and it works very well.

For smaller companies, it may be easier to associate with a large brand with an established reputation for this type of reward system, like Foursquare.

Always keep in mind that the end goal is to creative a positive experience for customers, or potential customers.  Be creative and engaging to stand out in their mind as the website that is the most fun, and rewarding, to visit.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

This is a really fun way to promote your brand: include your customers in your advertising!

I know, the idea sounds a little wacky, but it really does work.  Doritos did it by creating a campaign called Make an Ad, Make a Fortune, where customers made commercials for Doritos.  The most popular commercial was broadcast on prime-time television! 


Now What?

Regardless of what form of advertising you use, offering people their moment in the limelight is always going to work.

Give clear instructions so everyone knows what is expected, and encourage everyone to get involved!  That way you are not only promoting the brand, but building a customer base.  Also, if you are still looking for ways to build your online traffic, have the vote take place on your website or social media site.

And the Grand Prize Goes To…

Contests, specifically content-creation contests, are an incredible way of promoting your brand. It’s a method that digitally involves customers, or potential customers, and gets businesses free publicity.  Nothing bad about that!

A recent demonstration of this came in the form of Microsoft’s Cannes 2011 competitionwhich asked students to create a film showing the usefulness of a Windows 7 PC in a student’s life. 


Now What?

First you have to come up with a great incentive—a prize.  Many people are very creative, but it takes a lot to bring that creativity out.  So what you offer must be very tempting.  For example, the Microsoft Cannes competition offered $8,000, a trip to Cannes for two, parties, and the works.  Needless to say it got people off their couches and behind their cameras.

Granted, very few companies can compete with Microsoft as far as cash prizes go, but giving away free products or services will work well also.  Get your team together and brainstorm!  What do you want to ask people to create, what is the content, and what is their reward?

Areas for Improvement

What is the first brand that comes to mind when it comes to listening to customer feedback?  Starbucks.

Starbucks designed a campaign to make the voices of the customers heard, called “My Starbucks Idea”.  They do this by collecting ideas from their existing customers and allow others to vote on which they would most like to see implemented, and the most popular suggestions are.


Dell also has a similar campaign going called Dell’s Idea Storm, where, like Starbucks, they encourage customer input and actually use their ideas.


 

It’s So Simple

Have you ever noticed that sometimes we get going so fast, that every once and a while we forget about the niceties?  Well, that should simply no longer be overlooked!  One of the best customer rewards systems is to simply say, “Thank you!”

This reward system is meant to go, not only on its own, but with every other method of rewarding your customers we have discussed here today.  The person who films the winning commercial should get a thank-you, as should the one who had the winning idea that brought more business into your establishment, and so on.  A thank-you can even be as modest as sending a thank-you note.  You want to leave the customer feeling as if they are appreciated—and they most certainly are.

Now what?

After using one, or all, of these methods to drive your online customer base, what is next?

Get feedback.  Feedback forms work very well.  A great way to get the feedback and gathering more online followers at the same time is to put those feedback forms on your website or social media sites.  But, whatever you do, do not forget to listen to these comments—they are no use to anyone as just air.

Your customers will know when you have listened, and feel more valued as a result.  And that is what it is all about after all, is it not?  Customer service! 

DJ Heckes, CEO & Author
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
www.exhib-it.com
Full BRAIN Marketing
www.fullbrainmarketing.com



11 Sources for Creating Social Media Content Strategy

 Monday, July 04, 2011
 

As a writer, as well as a dedicated user of social media, it is sometimes a challenge to keep coming up with topics that are interesting and engaging.  Yes, you heard right—even I struggle as a weekly blog writer from all the research and information I read.

Topics and content are what secure your social media following.  Without interesting content, no one wants to engage, and then all the time and effort you put into social media becomes futile and a waste of time.  At the same time, you cannot just write about some random topic that has no relation to your industry just because some people may find it interesting.  If you are using social media, you have to realize that you cannot reach everyone.  What you need to do is discuss things that are relevant to your industry, and valuable to your followers/fans. 

The power of social media is undeniable.  It assists in building rapport, can increase web traffic or even bring in walk-ins!  That is why content is so very important.  Social media can be the fuel behind your business, and content is the fuel for your social media.  What you need is a source for your content, your fuel, that will not only help you get over that crippling condition known as writers’ block, but make your social media postings a “must read.”

 

Everyone needs a little helping hand, so here are some tips that will help to make sure you never run out of fuel for your fire.

1. Get Everyone Involved!

The amazing thing about people being different from one another is that everyone has an opinion, a perspective and general way of looking at things that are fresh, new and exciting.  This is why it is a great idea to get all of your employees involved in your blogging and social media activities.  They may have ideas about content that never once occurred to you, or have a new way of approaching a topic that to you seemed boring and useless.  If you have a FAQ (frequently asked questions) area on your website, or a place for comments or concerns, have employees write blogs in response.  That way, not only are you answering customer questions and solving potential problems, but you are creating content that is relevant and valuable to your following from multiple points of view.  And just to make sure that all blogs and postings are formatted the same, you can create templates!  Go to www.contentrulesbook.com for some template ideas.    




 2. Use an RSS Reader to View Your Subject Specific Blogs at a Glance.

Every writer needs a source of inspiration.  One tried and true method is to study the subject you want to write about by reading what other experts have already written.  You can sign up for a free RSS Reader that will allow you to see all of the blogs you are subscribed to in one place instead of hunting the Internet for interesting topics to write about.  As always, Google is an amazing resource for just about everything.  Google offers a free RSS Reader (Google Reader), as well as a place for you to go and search for and subscribe to blogs that are relevant to your industry.  If you have a few different areas of interest, you can divide them into categories which will make it easier for you to scan and pick out what you want to talk about.  As with all writing, you must make it your own.  Combine the new ideas you have read about with your own creativity and ingenuity to create a blog that is new, exciting, and full of valuable and relevant content.




Also try using Google Blogs for their search option to search the blog directory sites such as Technorati  
as shown below or Blogcatalog to find blogs that are relevant to your product or service.  Be sure to organize your RSS Feeds into folders and sort by category for ease of scanning and you can combine the topics by industry classifications with your own commentary to create posts that stand on their own.

3. Use LinkedIn Groups.

The internet is a constant source for finding tools.  Some of the tools offered do not appear that way at first, so you must open your mind and look at everything as a potential resource.  One resource you may not have thought of is LinkedIn!  I know, it seems crazy to use social media as a social media content resource, but used the right way, LinkedIn can be an effective tool.

There are hundreds of groups discussing hundreds of topics, and believe me, people have no problem expressing their opinions.  Join groups that are relevant to your industry, and again, take advantage of experts in your field being willing to share their knowledge.  It is never a bad thing to look at things from another’s point of view.

4. Eavesdrop…

Don’t be shy, everyone does it.  And it is truly a great way of finding out what the average Joe is interested in.  Of course you do not have to listen to everyone’s conversations at all times, but keep an ear out for key words that are relevant to your niche in the world.  You can even go as far as carrying a little notepad and pen around with you so you can jot things down as you hear them or even better use Evernote to make it easier to remember things whether big or small, using your computer, the web or even your phone. You can do this while waiting in lines, sitting on the train, or an airplane, or eating out are all good opportunities to hear what interests the average consumer.


5. Audience Participation.

Here is a concept that seems obvious but is so often overlooked: ask your audience.  Post something on Facebook or Twitter asking what THEY would like to read about.  Many times your followers and fans know exactly what kind of advice they want from you, and they will not hesitate to tell you when given the chance.  You can also take polls, surveys and ask questions to find out what the general public is interested in learning from you.  Your client base is the backbone of your business, so do not forget about them.  You write blogs so they will read them, so who better to go to for subject matter?  

6. Audio Books.

What on Earth did we do before the Internet?  Oh yes - we read books!  We sat down and actually took time out of our day to study, research and learn.  Of course I understand that we do not always have a few hours to just drop everything and read a book, but that is why they invented audio books!  You can be driving down the highway and still reading, but in a much safer way.  The basic point here is not to get so wrapped up in the up and coming way of doing things that you forget about our old friend, the book—believe it or not, they are still around. Check out eMusic or Audible for a nice selection of titles to choose from.

7. Forums.

Call it old fashion, but you should never forget our old friend, the forum.  Do a simple web search about forums in your industry and see what is going on. This method is simple, fast and effective, so why not use it?  You do not even have to tell people where you found your information if you don’t want to.

 

8. News Sources.

Isn’t it terrible to be behind the times on current events?  Well, there is a way to avoid that…keep up with current events!  These days there are an infinite number of sources available for news no matter what topic.  You can use sites likewww.AllTop.com  or Google News that will allow you to search current events by area of interest.  You can find news about your industry from all over the world and instantly have a topic to blog about or share with your fans.  Just take a look; you will be surprised what you can find.


9. Go To Events.

I know this one kind of seems like a no-brainer, but just like getting feedback from your audience, this tip is often neglected.  Attend meetings, conferences, seminars, webinars, tradeshows, or any other kind of face to face event relevant to your industry.  It gives you a chance to learn the up and comings of your industry as well as gather interesting new content to share with your following. Try setting up your own MeetupsTweetchatsConferences orWebinars through a wealth of events hosted both on and offline and on a weekly basis with so much free exchange of wealth of knowledge and ideas.  You will be left inspired with new ideas and new-found energy to turn those ideas into remarkable content.


10. Merge Your Unfinished Ideas!

If you are anything like me, I am sure you have a plethora of half-finished blogs hanging around, just waiting for something to be done with them.  Today is your lucky day, because I am going to share with you how to turn them into a workable, post-able source of information.  Go through your blogs and see if you can find a few with related topics, then merge them together—simple as that!  Not only have you freed up space on your computer, but you have just created an amazingly informative blog out of ideas you never thought would go anywhere.

11.      Try Making a Tag Cloud.

You can use entire conversations based around your keywords that are relevant to you to build a tag cloud. Look for 15 tweets that mention your brand, industry or product and drop them into a tag cloud application such as Wordle.  This is a site that is a toy for generating “word clouds” from the text you provide.  These clouds give greater prominence to your words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can also tweak the clouds you create with different fonts, color schemes and layouts. The images you create with this tool are yours to use whenever you like. You can print them out or even save them to the Wordle gallery to share with all your friends. You may even find keywords you may not have thought of in addition to a few surprise topics of association. This is a great way to find emerging trends to blog about and stretch your content dollar!


DJ Heckes, CEO & Author
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
www.exhib-it.com
Full BRAIN Marketing
www.fullbrainmarketing.com



A Simple Way to Calculate Social Media Return on Investment

 Monday, June 13, 2011
 

When you hear the phrase, “social media return on investment,” you may ask yourself how you could possibly measure a return on investment of using something that costs you virtually nothing.  But if you think about it, although the major social media sites are free, you still have to take time out of your busy day to post something or engage with your followers.  Or if one of your employees posts things online for you, they are taking time out of their schedule which costs you employee salary.  And what if you hire someone to engage in social media?   You have to be able to measure your return on investment to judge whether or not your social media activity is working positively for your business.

Social media return on investment (ROI) means different things to a lot of people.  It could mean a “return on engagement,” or a “return on creativity and/or originality.”  Simply put, social media ROI is a measurement of effectiveness.  In a strictly technical sense, it is a way of measuring the effectiveness of marketing through social media.  This may sound complicated and tedious, but it is actually quite easy, and well worth the time.

 
What Exactly is ROI?

Before we go in depth about calculating the return on your social media investment, let us first make sure we all know what ROI really means, and why it is so important.

In the world of business, ROI is meant to measure the efficiency of an investment.  It is based on the financial formula:

ROI = (return – investment) / investment %.

In short this formula tells you whether or not your investment was worthwhile.  If you keep your investment the same while seeing in an increase in returns, this indicates a positive ROI.  A negative ROI means that your returns decreased while keeping the investment the same.  It goes without saying that an increase on your ROI is much more desirable than a decrease on your ROI. 

Because the formula for ROI uses just two variables, it is a quick and easy way to not only measure, but compare your marketing campaigns.  That way you can always go back and see what worked for your company, what did not, and how to improve any less-than-successful campaigns.  

Now that we understand the importance of measuring ROI and what it actually means, we can begin to apply it to marketing through social media.  If you want a more in depth look at ROI, see Investopedia’s definition here:

Social Media ROI: What is your investment, and what is your return?

So, now that we understand ROI and everything knowing it accomplishes, we can just take our social media returns and investments and plug them into the formula, right?

Social media ROI = (SM return – SM investment) / SM investment %

Not quite.  Although the investment in social media is fairly clearly defined, the return is not so easy.  What exactly is the return on social media, and how do you attach a dollar value to it?  Just like everything else in marketing, metrics are essential.  Thus both of these questions must have answers before we can move on and accurately measure your social media ROI.

The Social Media Return: What do you Plan to Accomplish?

You cannot just dive head first into a social media marketing campaign.  As in all aspects of marketing, regardless of the investment, you must have goals.  Without goals, nothing is measurable and without metrics, how can you know if you actually accomplished anything?  One of the best things about marketing through social media, however, is you can tweak the definition of your social media return to suit your company’s personal goals.  As Brian Solis from the Altimeter Group says, “Everything starts with an end in mind.”

The social media return is a way of showing what you have gained from that particular campaign.  Let us say, for instance, that what you want out of your social media investment is more sales.  Your social media return then becomes the amount of sales that have sprung from your social media engagement.  But what if instead of boosting sales, you wanted to make your brand more recognizable?  Then you would launch a social media campaign focused on promoting your brand, and your return becomes brand awareness.

Another great thing about social media marketing campaigns is that you can launch multiple campaigns from multiple angles with multiple end goals in sight.  For example, let us say that you want to drive sales while promoting your brand and building relationships with your followers—you can do that!  Be aware, however, that having more comments, likes, and followers is not indicative of your return.  More specifically, your return is indicated by whether or not those follows, likes and comments have moved you closer to your goal, whatever that may be. 

In short, you do not want to use social media just to keep up with the times.  You must be able to prove that your investment in social media has accomplished something positive for your company, thus you must set realistic and measurable goals for yourself.

But How do you Quantify Your Social Media Return on Investment?

Now we arrive to the most complicated part.  We have set our goals and defined our social media return, now what we need to do is assign value to that return—quantify in terms of money.  This is without doubt the most difficult part, because you need to assign a dollar value to something that may not necessarily be tangible. 

When using social media to promote your sales, the quantification of that return is relatively straight forward.  You can pass out coupons that are only available to followers, and in so doing you can track how much business was generated from using social media.  But in cases of, say, building relationships, quantifying becomes a bit murkier, yet still essential.

One way of doing this is by asking new clients how they heard about you, or why they chose your company.  If you keep track of the answers you get, you can see exactly how much new business was generated by taking the time to listen to your followers.  Then you can begin putting value on your return.

Basically, the idea is to be able to see and measure not only the value of building rapport and relationships, but the effectiveness of doing it through social media.

Putting a value on promoting brand awareness is yet another beast entirely.  You could accomplish this by sending out e-coupons to your fans and followers and keep track of the traffic and business generated from online.  In this way you can judge not only how effective your social media marketing campaigns are, but how they compare with your other marketing techniques.  According to the social media analytics company Virtue , who in April of 2010, stated that according to their research, the average Facebook fan is estimated to be worth $3.60. They did this by looking at the average number of messages each fan received, and then compared this number to what it would cost to purchase impressions in order to send the same number of messages to each fan. 

Social media offers a multitude of channels for quantifying the value of your return, and in this way allows you, the marketer, to be more creative and innovative in your methods.  

Social Media ROI: How Does it Compare?

Once you are able to quantify the value of your social media marketing campaign, and have estimate your investment, you will be ready to plug your numbers into the ROI formula, then, presto!  You now can now clearly see if you returns in social media marketing were worth the investment.  

The great thing about having accomplished this is that you can now use your calculation of one social media campaign and compare it to your other ROIs.  Did you launch other social media marketing campaigns?  If so, you can now see which ones were effective and which were not.  What about offline campaigns or e-mail campaigns?  You can now see how your social media ROI compares to those.    Remember, ROI is a measurement of efficiency, so having calculated the ROI of your social media campaign, you use the ROI number to compare to other social media campaigns and also your TV, print, radio and other campaigns.

For a more in depth look at strategizing your social media focus areas, check out the Altimeter Group’s research report by clicking here!

When you are able to calculate the ROI in all forms of marketing, you can start to create a clear picture of what works best for your company—what type of campaign is most effective and efficient.  This is why ROI is so very important, and becomes one of the most useful and powerful tools in your company’s marketing arsenal. 

DJ Heckes, CEO & Author
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
www.exhib-it.com
Full BRAIN Marketing
www.fullbrainmarketing.com



How to Blog - Use Images to Enhance Your Blog

 Monday, June 06, 2011
 
How to blog – using images to enhance your blogs and blog posts. In this blog article, I will share with you 19 ways that you can use images to make your blog more appealing to read, entice readers to want to come back for more, and increase your credibility in the online community.
One thing to know first is that the best blogs are built on top of outstanding content to draw readers in and keep them engaged.
Too many images can become a distraction to your blogs so balance is necessary. Try to find the right balance to make your blog more appealing and the right images to use to get what you want out of your blog.
First let’s look at some design essentials of how to see images and design for your blog.

1.   How To Blog Branding.
Having al compelling blog header is one of the most important design elements of your blog. Designing a blog header starts with having a logo within the blog header and also needs a design to convey the message you want to strengthen your brand.

         
The Pioneer Women’s Blog does a great job with a well-designed header that changes with the seasons.

2.   How To Blog Social Media Profiles.
Your blog is considered a social media platform and you want to make it easy for other readers to connect with you on the social platforms they feel most comfortable connecting in. This is why many blogs have easy-to-recognize social media icons in a prominent position within their content.
 
It is easy to see what Dan Zarrella is interested in with is prominent position of these social media icons on his blog.


3.   Have Easy Reading Blog Posts.
 
Images in your blog posts need to make your blog appealing to keep visitors on your site.

 
Ecoki uses photos in blog posts to make reading easy and entertaining

Other key places to use images are in the side bar and in the footer of your Blogs, depending on your overall blog design. Readers naturally turn to these areas for useful information. This is why the footer or sidebar are great places to show your readers what to do next.


 
Notice that the images used on this portion of the side bar Rise to the Top.

The Hubspot Blog above has a primary call to action “Get the Book” with a link.  This is something that needs to be clear in your blog of what is your main objective. What do you want your visitors to do when they read your blog? Once you’ve figured this out, use images to direct the readers’ attention to your primary call to action.

4.   Offer Free Incentives.

The primary objective for most bloggers is to increase their list of subscribers. Many bloggers do this by giving away a free report or other freebie as an incentive to read further and follow them. Use a compelling image for your free incentive to get readers to want to sign up and receive RSS Feeds to your Blog.

 
This blogger offers a free ebook to email subscribers. The read image grabs the readers’ attention easily and leads them to the sign up information.

5.   Develop your Own QR Code.
Another type of graphic is the QR Code. If this is something your audience can relate to, you may find it useful to have on your blog.
 
Denise Wakeman has a QR Code in the side bar of her blog page.

6.   Promoting a Book.

The primary objective for some bloggers is to promote their own book. A well-positioned picture of your book is a great way for increasing recognition, highlighting your expertise and building your credibility.



 
 Also Available at the following resellers...
                     

7.   Key Presentations.

Many companies choose to embed a key presentation in their side bar to highlight their particular area of expertise and create a call to action. Pay attention to the visuals you use to make your blog readers want to find out more information about what you do.

 
David Meerman Scott adds this image which he links to a YouTube video in a prominent position in his blog.

8.   Products.
Place visually any appealing badges about your products in a prominent position to get more sales.
 
Copyblogger’s product badges are appealing.

9.   Blog Author Photos.
If you do not have a photo of yourself or your team in your blog header, consider putting one in the side bar of your blog. This shows your readers who you are and can make it much easier to connect with you. See below for an example of my marketing blog header with my own photo.

 Full BRAIN Marketing


10.     Using Navigation to Build External Links.
IS there something else you would like to share with your readers? Make a link appealing with the right image.

 
Brian Solis has an image that links to his mobile app.

11.   Using Navigation to Build Internal Links.

You may want to highlight certain information on your blog that readers may otherwise miss if visiting your website.

 
One example above is we have a national event calendar that helps exhibitors research shows by region, industry and by date.  This is sometjign we want to be sure to share with readers and link to one of our other landing pages. You can click on the above image and it takes you to a our calendar landing page on our website.

12.     Add a Community Badge.
Blogs that haveactive communities should consder using a badge to incite more interaction within their online communities.
 
This business to business company Cree uses the above badge on their blog to incite readers to join their community.

13.    Blog Directories.
There are a number of popular blog directories that offer badges and widgets for their community to use. See below a great resource for blog directories.
 
Content Marketing Today has the Alltop
Logo and widget on their blog to highlight their presence 
In their industry.

14.    Regular Guest Blogging Sites.

Many bloggers publish articles on other websites and blogs.  Badges from these blogs will add credibility and social proof to your blog page.

 
Kristi Hines shares badges of the places where she publishes articles regularly in the side bar of her own blog.

15.    Social Networking Sites.
Many social networking sites have widgets that you can embed on your blog page. This is a great way to build social media platforms to grow your communities.  It also gives your readers the choice of where they want to connect with you on their own terms. It also lets your readers choose how they want to connect with you.

 
Citrix has a Flickr feed on t heir blog “Workshifting.”

16.    Rating Systems.
If you have a widely recognized ranking tool in your industry with a badge, consider placing this on your blog for social recognition.

 
Simply Zesty highlights their ranking on a popular
Ad Age Power150 list in the side bar of their blog.

17.    Awards and Prizes.
Share badges of awards and prizes you have won.

 
Erik Qualman, author of the book Socialnomics, highlights one of the
Awards he received for his book on his blob page. 

18.    Clients and Sponsors.
Consider highlighting your clients who you have worked with or your blog sponsors. Be sure to check if you have the right to publish their logos before posting t hem.

 
Web Advantage shows a selection of their clients in the side bar 
of their blog.

19.    Social Numbers.

Display widgets that highlight the size of your communities.  Popular widgets on many blogs share the number of your Twitter Followers, your blog subscribers and your Fans on Facebook.

 
Scott Monty has some great social proof next to his “Subscribe” button.


DJ Heckes, CEO & Author
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
www.exhib-it.com
Full BRAIN Marketing
www.fullbrainmarketing.com
      



Enhance Your Facebook Page with these 6 Tips

 Monday, May 23, 2011
 
Using Photos to enhance your Facebook Page is a key opportunity you may be overlooking. You can buy a camera for a minimal cost everywhere these days.  Using Photography, along with the rise of social media, allows everyone to shoot photos and share them with a lot of people.
Using photos in Social media allows organizations an incredible opportunity to connect with others online and showcase one’s brand in unique and interesting ways.
See below 6 Tips to keep in mind to incorporate photos into your Facebook page.

1.   It’s Not Personal-It’s Business

When it comes to using photos in social media to represent your brand, a common adage is often used to justify moral carelessness to provide insight when it comes to using photos. Keep in mind the photos you post are not your personal photos. The photos you post will likely look different than the photos you upload to your personal Facebook profile page.
The photos you post are an extension of your brand. They instantly tell others a lot about your organization to the casual reader. They don’t need to be in any particular formal but they should always be professional. Use the same judgment for posting photos that you would when showing a client in person. If you need to question whether a photo is appropriate enough to be posted, then it isn’t!

 
Zappos balances professionalism and fun when showcasing their brand on their Facebook page.

2.   If your Company is Local, Show it Off!

If you’re a local organization that could benefit from local appeal, play up your localness in the photos you post. Many organizations take pride on their location and the communities they serve. Don’t confuse showing off your local appeal with taking photos of local events and landmarks. 
Try showing members about your organization interacting with your local city in some meaningful way. A great example – if you are a local restaurant, try taking photos of your chef shopping for produce at the local farmer’s market! These types of photos not only showcase your brand, but can also make you more appealing to the clients you serve.

In the example below, the Albuquerque “Making Strides against Breast Cancer Walk” took place, on April 25, 2011 and see below a photo of the walkers!

 

 
3.   Post Photos You can Share With Others.

One of the most effective ways to broaden your online reach is to create content and upload photos that others will want to share. Photos provide a great opportunity for you to connect with others and provide content others will want to share with their online connections.
 

Develop content that is likely to be interesting and worthwhile to others. Chances are that no one cares what your office looks like unless it’s labeled as being really cool or they are told you are really cool. Think of subject content that others will want to see.
In the photo below, Local Joy Junction, Albuquerque, New Mexico posted a photo on their Facebook Page about PLANTING DAY!  Volunteers got together to install irrigation for Joy Gardens.  Joy Gardens is a collaborative effort between different church groups, local businesses, community members, guests and residents.


     
Try posting photos of events that involve other organizations. If the photos are decent quality, these organizations will likely share your photos, which also share your organization’s brand, with their followers. In addition to posting photos to your Facebook page, be sure to tell these organizations about the photos posted.
For example, if you sponsor a fundraising event in partnership with a few other organizations, you could post photos showcasing the event and let other organizations know about the photos. This allows you to share the positive contribution you’ve made and provide content that the partnering organizations will likely want to share with their own followers. This will drive more traffic to your Facebook page.
To spread the word on Facebook, try tagging other organizations in your posts and announce your new photos. After you’ve uploaded photos to an album and published them, follow these steps to tag organizations:

o   Visit other organizations by going to their Facebook pages and clicking the “Like” button.

o   Return to your own business Facebook page and click the “wall” link under your profile photo.

o   Beside the “Share” tab along the top of your Facebook page under the Wall Photos, make sure that the “Status” is selected.

o   In your status, announce your new photos, include a tag to the other organization by typing @ and the organization’s name.

o   Select the other organization from the pop up menu.

o   Click the blue “Share” button under your typed information.



 
4.   Add New Photos As Often as Possible.
Unless you have some sensational photos to attract the attention of viewers,  they’re likely not going to come back time after time to see the photos after the first post Posting new photos consistently can help entice people back to your Facebook page and keep you at the top of viewer’s minds. It’s also a great way to appear current and active on social media networks. The more consistent you upload new photos, the greater chance your supporters will share the content with others. Also, when you include a wide variety of photos, you increase the chance e that visitors on your page will find something else interesting.

Photos are a great way to show off your brand and also engage your followers. If you spend some time and put in a bit of thought to the photos you post, your photos can help you stand out among the mass of photos already posted on the Internet today.

5.   Show Off Your Personal Side of Your Organization!
The photos you post on the social media networks are a great chance for your company or organization to show off a more personal side that your clients may not often get to see.  Don’t just post photos you have on your website or in your advertising.  Become less formal and humanize your company or organization to show the personalities of people who work there.
The photos below are a great example of doing this.  At our 3rd Annual B2B Networking event, we show people networking and having fun engaging in conversation and also the Donation that we give every year that included a $1,200 tabletop exhibit donated to Samaritan Counseling Center. What a great community event.  This year we have one coming up June 2nd and will be posting new photos after that event too.

             


                 
This is a great way to make your company appear more personable and endearing to your potential customers and other companies or organizations you work with.

6.   The Photos You Post Should Represent Your Brand.
The photos you use will represent your brand and your organization to the casual observer. As such, it’s important that they show that you took some time and put in a bit of thought. Don’t upload too many photos of the same subject. Pick the best and only show those.

In addition, here are some basic photo editing tips for you to use. First, crop your photos to highlight the area of the photo you are showcasing. Do not use any photos that are blurry. Consider using some black and white photos to stand out and give a different look amongst the other photos.

Be creative and have fun.  The goal is to showcase your company or organization. Crop photos to showcase some of your staff members and leave nothing extraneous to distract from the main content or subject of the photo.

DJ Heckes, CEO & Author
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
www.exhib-it.com
Full BRAIN Marketing
www.fullbrainmarketing.com
      



Check out these 5 New Twitter Tools

 Monday, April 25, 2011
 
If you are using Twitter and really want to enhance your Twitter experience, check out these five tools below.  Twitter is pumping up the volume for real-time news source information and is no longer considered a procrastination tool.
These tools will come in handy for your preparing your strategic social media goals.

1.   Deepen Your Relationships in Twitter.
Twitter has a chat room called Nurph so you can chat with more than 140 characters unlike tweeting and you get a room!  All you have to do is tweet a link and bring your friends together for a real-time chat without taking over your followers’ timelines with lengthy conversations.

The Nurph chat rooms come complete with twitter profile integration and tweet streaming, which allows you to look at a highly optimized twitter-specific chat service.  This is a must try!

 
Take your Twitter conversations to the next level

2.   Be Rid of the Noise in Twitter
.
While FaceBook allows you to hide the annoying posts, why not Twitter?  Well, it turns out that Twitter now has an app called Proxlet that allows you to do this and much more!  This app works with your favorite clients like Twitter (usingChrome extension), TweetDeck Desktop and Twitter for iPhones.

Now you can block out those spam apps, filter out any annoying hashtags, temporarily mute the loud users, and breathe much easier knowing you have some control over the incoming content.
 

3.   Extend your Reach in Twitter!
If you are already mastering the Twitter game and want to build on that, try using Triberr tool that allows you to create a tighter network of fellow bloggers by sharing your posts and engaging  ideas.

This is an invite-only network where you can create your own “tribes” with other bloggers. Once you become part of a tribe, you can instantly share each other’s posts in Twitter which allows you to multiply your reach and retweets instantly.  Usually there are no more than 7 members are allowed per tribe and is invite-only, which guarantees that this remains high-quality and spam-free.  However, when reaching,  I found a few tribes with more than 7 Members.  This tool can still be thought of as a tight quality control human Twitter feed.  Go to the home page for Triberr and check out the video.  Search through the tribes and see which one fits you best and see if you can be asked to Join. 

 

4.   Share and Track Blog Content
.
Check out Dlvr.it, which is a smart online mailman that delivers your content to various platforms and tells you how many people enjoyed reading your content. Each time you publish news on your blog, it delivers the news to all relevant places on the web.

This means you can deliver news through your Twitter account, Facebook profile or wherever you want the news to be.  Also, Dlvr.it tells you how many clicks your published content received. This may come in handy for your social media efforts as well.

 Deliver your content to all of your favorite social networks


5.   Putting it all together with Awesome Stats and Metrics.
After you have put the above tools in place to create content, now it is time to make sense of it all and get the bigger picture for your impact.  Check out Twoolr as it provides you with all the data you need to analyze what you are doing with your Twitter efforts.

Twoolr provides you with metrics that matter most by giving you interesting visualizations such as usage trends and associated clouds and user comparison information. You can access all the information intuitively from the dashboard and can receive growth and community reports straight through your inbox. This is a simple tool and is presented in a slick design.

 

As I was researching the information for this blog, I went into each of the tools and played around.  You should too!

DJ Heckes, CEO & Author
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
www.exhib-it.com
Full BRAIN Marketing
www.fullbrainmarketing.com
      



Improve YOUR Public Relations Efforts to Create More Buzz

 Monday, February 28, 2011
 
Writing press releases can offer you the most influential publicity at affordable costs more than any other way of promotion. It is significant in this hyper-competitive environment we all live and work in and can be a vigorous advertising means for any business. The success behind effective PR is the way it is written and needs to serve as a good reading piece for your targeted media audience.

A press release can be used to announce a variety of information:

• Changes in corporate identity, such as company name or logo 
• Changes in corporate structure (new division or subsidiary) 
• Corporate opinion (opinion on industry trends)
• Corporate philanthropy (volunteer work, donations) 
• Events (open houses, tradeshow involvement, speaking engagements, award ceremonies) 
• Features • Hiring of agencies (public relations, accounting, law firm) 
• Increase in market share or revenue 
• Joint venture 
• Media advisories 
• Milestones (customers served, years in business) 
• New funding 
• New partner 
• New product 
• Personnel changes
• Round of funding received by the company 
• Significant new customer 
• Significant modification to an existing product 

If your press release does not contain breaking news, you may want to consider submitting your release as a feature distribution. Feature releases often get play in the "lifestyles" or "living" section of local newspapers and are designed for verbatim pickup. You can distribute your press release as a feature any day of the week or you can take advantage of topical packages from the distribution company. 

PR marketing work wonders if your PR hits the proper audience at the proper time. It is used to foster interest in products or services that you market through your business venture. Your PR news release can be used as a useful tool to make people aware of recent happenings, interesting events and new products or services that are launched by your company. However, PR should be written using these components: 

• Source – Location to send Press Release 
• Publication Date 
• For IMMEDIATE RELEASSE should appear in upper left-hand margin with all letters capitalized 
• Headline - Should include a strong hook in headline 
• Dateline - Should include a Dateline with the city your press release is issued and date 
• Lead Paragraph – A strong introductory paragraph that grasps the readers’ attention and should contain your most relevant  message to include the five W’s (who, what, when, where, why) • Body – develop a strategy story to support the Lead Paragraph 
• Company Boilerplate – A short paragraph that describes your company, products, services, history 
• By expert writers who know the formula of writing a purposeful news material. Your PR should be newsworthy and not like an  advertisement object of your company. 

Although press releases are an important marketing tool, some may not be relevant and have a great story to tell. Writing a press release is not a cup of tea for all, it needs proper skill and perfect expressions. If you do not have qualified skills to build the buzz about your story, then hire some expert press release writer who has innate qualities of constructing theme based news release. When writing your own Press Release, you must consider that your PR must attract editor's interest and it must also contain the essential news item information. 

Knowing when and how to write press releases for one’s company can be as overwhelming and confusing. 

Creating “buzz” can be defined as anything which makes people talk about your business! See below some suggested ways to use Public Relations to get more buzz/media coverage: 

1. Work with a designer or programmer to create a cute object that can animate your name, product, service, and at the end, give  your email, phone number, URL, etc.... This is a great way to use Buzz as a publicity stunt? 

2. Invent a new process, system, cycle, or technique for your product or service. Send out a Press Release for it. 

3. Invent a new word for your industry that is catchy. This actually WORKS!

4. Don't confuse Buzz with Hype. Hype is bull. Buzz is truth and builds excitement about something folks want to believe in. 

5. Negative Buzz is not necessarily good Buzz. Bad PR is still considered Bad PR, and no PR is just as bad. 

6. Sponsor something that is considered high tech, creative and wild. Protest something which has a majority favorable / positive  public response. Get your company branding up on a billboard, and bring a radio station, and do the show from 80 feet up. 

7. A continual flow of Press Releases to your target audience helps keep your brand in front of companies and creates a greater,  stronger 'Buzz'. It also helps if you can get an endorsement, by someone who is respected in the marketplace that you are  advertising. This does wonders for giving your 'Buzz' a boost. 

After you have newsworthy information to write about, be sure to use different outlets for your press release and information. It is important to know how to reach your target audience through traditional, digital or social media marketing methodologies. 
We use our website to post all Press Releases written and also send them out to the publication sites or use two of the national public relations press release distribution sites. 

Then I recommend go into your social media community to tweet about the press release with a link back to the landing page where the actual press releases resides. After you have tweeted about it, go into some of your LinkedIn Groups and create discussions about the topic to create more viral buzz around the topic. When that is working for you, go into Facebook and post the links with building awareness and comments in that community. Have you tried writing an article or blog and post the information about your story and submit the 700 words+ blog to many of the free online distribution sites? This also helps with the press release buzz. 

I have written many guest blogs on national sites and then written a press release about the guest blogs posted that focus on a story. See here for the March guest blogs that will be on the S.C.O.R.E. National website. 

1. The Powerful Match: Social Media and Online Content- March 7: <http://blog.score.org/2011/03/marketing-the-powerful-match- social-media-and-online-content/> 

2. Develop a Social Media Content Strategy with Metrics- March 14: http://blog.score.org/2011/03/marketing-develop-a-social- media-content-strategy-with-metrics/ 

3. Create Meaningful and Effective Online Content- March 21: http://blog.score.org/2011/03/marketing-create-meaningful-and- effective-online-content/ 

  4. 6 Ways to Improve Your Blog with Inbound Links- March 28: 
 
You can build a lot of buzz around your business IF you have a compelling story, innovative new way to do business or a new product and grow your business. All it takes is a strategic mind, a little work and a focus with metrics in place. 

DJ Heckes, CEO & Author 
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts 
www.exhib-it.com 
Full BRAIN Marketing 
www.fullbrainmarketing.com



Establishing Expertise for Businesses in Social Media

 Monday, October 18, 2010
 
The term "Social Media" can mean different things to different people. To some it refers only to  social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Digg.  Really, social media refers to anything that allows social interaction online including not only sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, but also article comments, blogs, forums, groups, etc.

It is important to note that not all types of social media are right for all companies. Pursuing the wrong strategy can waste a lot of time without getting much return on your invested time. But having the right strategy can quickly turn into your most valuable marketing channel.  

Social media can be an excellent tool to establish yourself or your business as an "expert" in your industry. A good way is to start by making thoughtful comments on popular articles, blogs, forums or groups. When posting a comment, be sure that you compliment or acknowledge the writer and add to what the writer is saying.

No matter how important you think your work is, your organization needs to be notable, according to Wikipedia’s guidelines.


To build this criteria, whenever possible, ask to be a guest blogger for a relevant blog or publication. The idea is to build your credibility as a knowledgeable source whenever a potential customer or client is researching a particular topic.

If you have your own blog, be sure to include that website address when prompted by the commenting software to create a link so that readers can learn more about you from your blog. Many people are afraid to comment before they have built a reputable blog or professional site. Don't let this hold you back from making comments online! You can also link to your twitter account such as http://twitter.com/DJHeckes] if you feel that you don't have enough on your site to link to it yet. Another option is to link to your LinkedIn profile instead.  See examples below. The important thing is to start getting your name out there and then to provide a way to let interested readers find out more about you.






In addition to commenting in various communities online, be sure that you are a member of relevant groups in Facebook and in LinkedIn. Try to be an active member by listening and providing knowledgeable answers to questions asked by other members and on LinkedIn Answers.

Establishing expertise can be beneficial for businesses with one or more of the following characteristics:
•    sell large-ticket products or services
•    sell to relatively small, knowledgeable, and close-knit customer base 
•    sell to a broad geographic area

It's less helpful for companies that have one or more of the following charateristics:
•    Sell inexpensive, high-volume products 
•    Operate in a small geographic area
•    Don't need to demonstrate a high level of expertise

DJ Heckes, Author & CEO
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
www.exhib-it.com
Full BRAIN Marketing
www.fullbrainmarketing.com




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