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How Your Social Footprint Can Make or Break Your Blogging Efforts

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Coined sometime in the mid-1990’s, though nobody is positive by whom, the term “social media” wouldn’t become household for another 20 years. Today, Facebook, Google, and other heavy hitters in the internet industry are making a push to get the whole world connected sooner rather than later, harkening to a future where everybody on the planet is always online, all of the time.

Older bloggers will remember a time before the Internet, back before AOL startup CDs marauded mailboxes monthly, and before the sound of the Internet groaning to life preceded every session of “surfing” the World Wide Web. Privacy was a different thing back then. It existed on its own, without the word “settings” or “policy” attached as suffixes. Finding somebody meant looking them up in the local phonebook, provided that they were actually listed.

Today, social media has replaced the archaic phonebook, and in the same way that we’ve lost the white and yellow pages, the line between the personal self and the professional brand has also been blurred. As the web has evolved and grown more complex as a technology over time, so has our relationship with the web itself. Our identities live online, as do our bank account numbers, our lists of friends, and every public tweet, status update, and pin.

We are no longer simply living with the Internet–we are living in it.

Social Media Image Sizes

From Making a Living In It, to Simply Living In It

Once dismissed as an impossibility, we now live in a time where a business that can survive without the Internet, let alone a social media profile of some kind, is very rare. In the same way, human beings without connected social media profiles or a digital/social footprint are also rare. We all know somebody (who knows somebody that knows somebody) who lives “off grid,” but, for most of us, that simply isn’t possible–especially if that grid is how we make a living!

Kashmir Hill, writer for Forbes, calls our obsession with the Internet, and more specifically, with social media, “digital dope”. She points out that social media has permeated our lives so completely, that most of us won’t trust somebody if they don’t have a profile on the Internet, preferring to believe that they’re more likely hiding something than that they’re technologically illiterate or simply “opting out”. Some might even go so far as to call the inability to be contacted easily at all times “socially irresponsible”.

Interestingly enough, the rules (or what you might call the “social norm”) regarding internet visibility for both businesses and individuals have become almost indistinguishable–and this is why those with a career in blogging are poised so opportunely to succeed.

You Are a Personal Brand, Whether You Like It Or Not

Marc Ecko, in his 2015 book Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out, makes one of the most significant statements that a blogger in the modern era should pay attention to.

He says: “I am a brand, but I am not a label… you too are a brand. Whether you know it or not. Whether you like it or not. A brand is not skin-deep. Labels are skin-deep, but a brand–a true, authentic brand–is made of blood and bones, skin and organs. A brand has a heartbeat.

This quote says a lot. It brings to attention the fact that even if you aren’t “self-employed” that you are still always visible to the rest of the world, “advertising” yourself via your social and digital footprint. That footprint is the closest thing the majority of this world will come to experiencing the “blood and bones, skin and organs” that makes up you. This is what the world sees as “your most authentic self,” and whether you think it’s mixed in with your personal brand or not, the rest of the world will associate your brand with the flesh and bone “you”.

Offline Branding

The fact that fresh high school and college grads are regularly advised to review and purge their social footprints to appear more appealing during the job search serves well to prove this point, as does the fact that 48 percent of hiring managers in 2015 decided not to hire a candidate due to something they found on social media. With bloggers and blogs, the stakes are even higher. Both a blog and its writers are constantly criticized for their authenticity. A faceless brand, even if it does have a social profile, is bound to be much less trusted than a brand with a spokesperson.

In the same way, a blog without an author (beyond the “default” wordpress account it comes with) will not gain–and I daresay does not deserve to gain–the trust of its readers. Even bloggers that use pen names will either merge or create new social and digital footprints with and for those names. This is called providing social proof when applied to conventional business, and represents an opportunity for real people to connect with what they see as an “authentic” brand–but be wary. As the title of this article states, you can also be broken by your social footprint, and it’s much easier to do than you think.

Avoid Becoming Your Own Worst Legal or PR Nightmare

From Home Depot’s infamous race-related Twitter debacle to Pigalle chef Marc Orfaly’s reprehensible Facebook tirade, it seems like the world can’t go a week without somebody attracting the collective ire of the Internet. Watching what you say in terms of political correctness and authenticity are going to go a long way. To put it more simply, bloggers should always simply be polite and tell the truth. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t strive to be yourself on social media, or to say that you can’t make jokes or be risqué–it just means that you really need to watch what you say. One bad joke could mean the end of your career.

Protecting Your Reputation

Justine Sacco provides the perfect example of a tweet gone wrong and how it can flip a person and their brand upside down. For anybody unfamiliar, Sacco, a PR rep with 170 followers at the time, tweeted a racially insensitive joke before boarding an international flight to South Africa. By the time she landed, her tweet was the number one trending topic on Twitter. She ended up deleting her account after being fired by her employer, and goes down as one of the most well-known victims of online shaming in recent history.

In the most extreme cases, losing your job, damaging your personal brand, and pissing off the entire world is just the tip of the iceberg. Just as social media can be used as evidence in civil suits, misuse of social media can also bring business lawsuits to self-branding entrepreneurs and bloggers. Inc.com’s advice on how to avoid a social media lawsuit mentions that copyright and trademark laws, FTC advertising laws, privacy laws, and laws concerning illegal app development are what most brands usually end up in hot water over violating. Illegal app development is the doozy here, as bloggers that use social media for promotion are generally most at risk of running illegal social media contests without even knowing it.

Just Be Nice and Tell the Truth

The takeaway here is to remember that you, as a blogger, are the living, breathing, flesh and blood embodiment of your blog. Your social media efforts, and, in effect, your social footprint, can either be one of your greatest tools for driving traffic, or your personal brand’s death knell. Liz Borod lists 10 excellent tips on Mashable for bloggers looking to beef up their social media, but the most applicable piece of advice bloggers can follow regarding their social footprint can be summed up as such:

Be authentic, be professional, and be nice–otherwise, don’t be surprised if you end up as one of the most hated people on the Internet.

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As an active entrepreneur and blogger, my topics of discussion are mainly on business strategy, tech startups and motivating others to succeed. You can read up on my latest content at BlogReign.com.

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Top 10 Tips to Run a Perfect Expert Roundup Post for Your Brand

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Perfect Roundup Post

Roundups are common – it’s been happening for a long time now.

However, running one isn’t that simple.

It requires the right ingredients – Good Topic Selection, Outreach, Presentation and Sharing.

But that is just the basics. What makes a roundup success isn’t an easy to cook recipe. It will need a lot of dedicated effort, several weeks of emails and follow-ups – too much editing and coding and finally a lot of sharing.

Here’s a small guide on how we run roundups and receive several thousand social shares – once it goes live.

Social Experts

1) Topic Selection:

Roundups end up getting several thousand social shares on an average but much of that depends on the topic that you have selected. Spend enough time to thoroughly research titles that generates a lot of attention. This title must be related to the site where you are going to post the roundup – else there will be little benefit of it.

Think of what your target audience wants to hear, for example for a finance blog – “43 Millionaires Share their Tips on How to grow your Money Quickly” – In short, relevant, catchy and actionable.

Do note that you have to find enough willing influencers on the niche to justify the roundup.

2) Email out Reach

Once the topic is decided, start the outreach process. Look for list of sites related to your niche and send them an email.

Use Google and search for terms related to your roundup, see what sites comes up. Look up their email ids and contact details and send them a basic pitch email.

This is the first pitch and it should be small and catchy. People hardly have enough time to read more than a few words – no point sending them huge paragraphs. Simply email them a small line about yourself, tell them that you are hosting a roundup where you need their participation. Let them know that your past roundups have received several thousand social shares and that should be enough for the first pitch.

When they reply back send them all the details. Keep the email small and mention everything in points – for example, where the post will be published, names of a few huge influencers who will participate, the question and the deadline.

3) Social Media Outreach

Outreach shouldn’t be limited to emails only. There are facebook groups, LinkedIn groups etc. which are very active and have good discussions. Use those places, post a small update and ask people to participate in an upcoming roundup. You will receive several replies from these groups and these are excellent places for promoting the roundup too.

These are the same people who will share your roundup once it goes live and these groups will send you so many social shares too.

To learn more about what’s working for other big name sites and branding that have completed their own roundups, and have seen massive results with social sharing, check out these 21 examples.

4) Using Lists

If you are someone like us who likes to carry out these roundups regularly then it is best that you use an email service like Mailerlite, Aweber, MailChimp etc. and start making a list of people who likes to participate in roundups.

Send an email and ask for participation when you are carrying out the roundup.

Every time someone sends you their roundup entry, make sure to ask them to sign up for the roundup list – that way they won’t ever miss out on the next roundup you will be doing.

5) Direct Submission

People like to participate in places where they find entries from other familiar people. If they see a word document with some entries from people they know, they would want to add their own entry as well.

For this you can use the G Suite or use Guest Crew status updates like we do. This way, when you add a status update people will both participate and tweet it out as well – which results in more participation.

5) Formatting

How you present your roundup is totally up to you. Here are a few quick tips to format a roundup for success.

At the top of the roundup before you get into the expert answers – make a small list of clickable names, that way people can quickly reach the expert that they want to read. This hashtag navigation is very important.

Once you start formatting the roundup make sure to include a small image of the expert and next to the image – post a tweetable answer. Post the longer answer below it, that way it becomes more readable.

Do note that many people prefers small roundups where less than 15 people participate like this one published at MYUKMailBox – just make sure to keep the formatting in the same style.

6) Tweetables

People like to share content and making catchy tweetables make the process simpler. When you pitch your question to an expert, always ask for a smaller answer which will be added to the tweetable. Most people will send their small answer but some won’t. This is where you need to edit out a small sentence from the longer answer and make a tweetable out of it.

While making the tweetable, include your own username – so that when someone tweets it out, you will get a notification too.

7) Graphics

Canva is the best option here – or you can use a graphic tool if you are blessed with more talent.

Try to make a graphic for every entry you have received. Simply include the image of the expert, their tweetable answer as a quote in the image and mention some details of the site where the roundup is published and the name and website of the expert on the graphic.

Place the graphic below the tweetable and chances are that most people will use the graphic for sharing the answers.

While Canva is great for creating visuals, it’s also easy to create animated white board and explainer videos as well. A perfect tool for this is mysimpleshow.

Through their drag and drop video creation tool, it’s quite easy to take the information provided by your experts, add in a photo of the expert, and then have an animation video created with all of the information already presented in your roundup. The great thing about this is that it can greatly improve the overall branding and reach of your content, while also making it easier for the experts to share with their social audiences as well.

If putting in the time and effort to create your own video isn’t something you are interested in, you can also refer to their full service site at simpleshow. Through this premium service, their brand can create completely customized and professional videos to match the look and feel you are going after.

This is the ideal solution for bigger brands that want exposure from their expert roundups. The build it your own solution at mysimpleshow is also ideal for freelancers that might be doing all of the expert roundup outreach and work, then looking to upsell a premium package even further.

8) Sharing it out

At this point the entire roundup is ready. This is where you need to start sharing the roundup.

While sharing, make sure to carefully tag the experts on every social site where you will share the roundup. You will receive many social shares if you tag carefully. Don’t limit the sharing to only social profiles, share it on the groups that are related to the roundup, share it further on forums where it is relevant. Ask your friends to share it further.

When it comes to running a successful expert roundup and promotion campaign, there are many tools to use to your advantage. Outside of the traditional WordPress plugins and social sharing methods we are all accustomed to, you can also look for other working methods — such as outreach tools, Facebook Groups, email finder tools, and also automation follow-up tools.

9) Outreach and Letting them know

Finally, send the experts who have participated – an email with all the details of where the post is published and a few quick links where they can share the roundup further.

Don’t be pushy while asking for shares – simply give them the links to make the sharing process easier.

10) Keep sharing further

This is your roundup and you should be the one to keep the sharing going – everyday after the roundup is published and socialized.

Do note that most people are busy and they can only share when they have enough time on their hands. This is where you need to fit in. Use the tweetables you have created and start tweeting it out – at least 10 tweets a day. This will take several days to complete and your roundup will keep getting social shares in the coming weeks.

Roundups are so far our best marketing method, it does takes time – most roundups take a full month of time to get it ready and published but they are always worth their time and effort.

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15 Unconventional Social Media Tactics That Encourage Engagement

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Just about every brand is on social media nowadays, but not all of them know how to use it effectively. It’s not enough to have a profile on multiple platforms and post content regularly. You need to provide the right kinds of content and posts that will make your followers want to react, share and comment.

To find out what works, we asked a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members for their favorite lesser-known strategy for boosting a brand’s social media engagement. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Hold Contests and Giveaways

A great way to drive engagement and social growth is via contests and giveaways. “Tag and win” contests are a great way to drive action and at a relatively low cost. We use these to gain new followers and build brand awareness. It is a good idea to make it as easy as possible to enter and share with friends, as this will drive the viral nature of the post and go much further.

Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure

2. Promote User-Generated Content

User-generated content is a great way to encourage social media engagement. If you come off as being too promotional or professional, you give off the impression that you’re only there to do business. Encouraging customers to develop their own content allows businesses to show off their products from a more personalized point of view will increase engagement by highlighting your customers first.

Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP

3. Create and Share Useful Infographics

A great way to drive up engagement for image-based social networks, especially if your business is based on written content like mine, is to post infographics. If they contain interesting information presented in an aesthetically pleasing manner, readers will be inclined to reblog or retweet your posts. Small businesses can easily find freelance designers to help make them on sites like Fiverr.

Bryce Welker, Accounting Institute for Success

4. Offer Exclusive Group Access

To entice our audience to engage with our Facebook Messenger bot, we entice them to join by giving them exclusive access to a free Facebook group that only our Messenger subscribers will have access. It includes exclusive training and Facebook live speed coaching that can’t be found anywhere else. By creating a unique “club,” it keeps the right people in our group and increases engagement.

Bryan Kesler, CPA Exam Guide

5. Jack the News

Newsjacking is not “stealing the news.” Instead, it’s a valuable way for you to use a breaking story to shine a light on something you are doing at your business. While people are searching for the topic, new viewers will stumble upon what you are saying about the topic. It is a simple, cost-effective way for small business to generate tons of media coverage and social media engagement. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

6. Have a Virtual Party

Who said parties can only be offline? You can take your party online as well. We like to invite our customers, prospects and partners to join us for a virtual party. This is the easiest way to get discovered because when people share their voice, their audience sees what they are sharing as well.

Sweta Patel, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing

7. Add Facebook Messenger to Your Website Homepage

It’s really easy (and free) to install the Facebook Messenger widget on your company’s homepage. As live chat becomes the No. 1 communication preference for online customers, bringing Facebook’s chat capabilities directly to your site encourages more interaction with customers. Plus, it’s a clever way to draw them into your social ecosystem.

Eng Tan, Simplr

8. Thank Your Customers Using Video

We love to use video on social media to thank our customers. A short, 15-second post identifying a great customer by name can create an amazing ripple effect. That person will likely share it on social, which will then create positive brand awareness. A small business can do this with an iPhone — just dedicate five to 10 minutes a day to these posts and watch the shares stream in.

Yaniv Masjedi, Nextiva

9. Say Hello to Your Neighbors

As a physical location business, I love using Instagram’s geo-location feature. We can say hello to all the neighbors, to potential clients and to anyone who’s tagged themselves in or near our location. For example, I can see who’s nearby our massage studio based on who’s tagged themselves at the local gym, yoga studio or juice bar, and then “Like” and comment on their posts so they know we exist. – Rachel Beider, Massage Outpost

10. Focus on Image-Based Content

Several of my clients who are startup founders post images that are not necessarily about the product or service they sell but it talks about the industry they serve. For example, a pregnancy care app used to post images about newly born babies, which made them very popular. A picture is better than a thousand words — people always respond to something that is visually appealing.

Piyush Jain, SIMpalm

11. Join a Relevant Group

Creating and joining engagement pods or groups with a similar niche is one of the underutilized methods to gain more engagement within your social media platforms. It’s essentially creating a community of loyal supporters to follow, like and comment on every content that you post. This will work for both personal and business brands.

Fritz Colcol, Simply Thalia

12. Integrate Offline Promotions

If you have a store or retail related market, you can introduce items and posters within your store that will encourage people to engage with you via social media. It’s important to have a strategy in mind when you’re using social. How much promotion will you do? Discount offers? Value-driven content? Contests? Let people know you intend to provide this via social with in-person marketing items. Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting

13. Reach Out to Them First

I go through my followers’ followers and reach out to them on their pages. This means asking questions, commenting and retweeting their posts. I find that they then take the time to see who I am and discover what I do. This has significantly raised our followers in an organic way.

John Rampton, Calendar

14 Take Advantage of Polls

Using polls in your Instagram stories is a great way to simultaneously encourage engagement and tap into valuable customer feedback. Pose questions in a fun and light-hearted way. This is a great way to take the temperature of your community. Are they willing to take two seconds to engage with you? If not, it may be time to re-think your overall approach to social media.

Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR

15. Share On-Brand Memes

Especially to the younger generations, memes are unique to our times and there is nothing like it in terms of engagement. Business owners sometimes have problems to not only understand memes but also to use them in successful campaigns. You need to have someone in the team that keeps up with pop culture and creates memes according to your brand, but you won’t regret it.

Brian Condenanza, Fluo Shoes

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How to Make Them ‘Appy: 4 Top App Trends Rocking the Mobile World

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As the App Store reported having more than 2 million applications available on it in 2018, it’s clear that the app market is a little saturated. However, through a sort of natural selection, app trends keep changing to ensure that users get the most out of their mobile and smart devices.

If you follow what’s happening in apps, you’ll stay ahead of your competitors and build apps that people use.

Here are four trends that are changing the way people use apps this year.

1. Apps For Wearables

Despite a few hiccups with products like the Google Glass, wearable devices are alive and well. The number of people walking around with FitBits and smartwatches is only going to grow in the next few years. Along with these smart devices are the requisite apps to make them more useful.

Smart wearables are a great way to stay healthy for some people. A watch that also watches your heart rate, checks your daily step count, and alerts you of appointments is a great way to stay in check. When you can receive alerts to take medications or to get to the doctor, it creates a personal connection with the device.

Increasingly, companies are integrating productivity applications for wearable devices. While tablets and smartphones started out as devices to perform some leisure activities on, they now have tools to keep you working. This is a welcome change for some while others call it a shame for the way it keeps us tethered.

More products will come with sensors attached to them that are then synchronized with apps. There are lots of connected devices sure to bed developed in the coming years that we can’t even predict yet and each one of them needs an app.

2. IoT and Smart Home Devices

Most estimates suggest that in only a few years, the number of smart devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home are going to outnumber people. With these devices connected and listening to our every move and command, they’ll become more integrated with our daily lives. Smart home devices give us a way to be more productive and integrate the technology we’re already using with our home life.

As these items become more useful and more prevalent, they’re becoming more integrated with one another. You can now control smart home devices remotely via apps. You can start heating up your home as soon as you leave the office or unlock your door for visiting guests while you’re out running errands. Many of these smart home applications can be accessed through mobile apps as well.

These devices are collecting more and more data as time goes on. When integrated with weather applications, your heater can warn you that you won’t need it because a warm front is moving in. If there’s a blizzard coming, your fridge application can tell you that you should pick up some milk before you get home since you’re almost out.

There are so many ways that WiFi enabled devices at home can connect with you while you’re away. You can turn off lights that you forgot to hit on your way out or even know whether you left the oven on by checking the app.

3. More Mobile Purchasing

As mobile internet use has passed browsing on desktops and laptops, the number of people shopping has also moved mobile. More devices are now integrating payment methods like Apple Pay and Google Wallet into their interfaces, making mobile devices more accessible. It also means that developers need to get to work on new ways to process transactions.

Making purchases is becoming easier to do without cash. To process payment of any type from any customer that comes your way, you need to have the tools at your disposal. Not having the ability to process a payment sends your customers to your competitors.

Wearable devices are going to get into the purchasing game as well. When they can process payments, you’ll see very people leaving the house with their wallet.

Combine all this with data collection and predictive analytics and you’ll find new ways to engage customer loyalty. If you sell products in a brick and mortar space, your customers can get notified of special promotions as they walk by a business. Get them to buy from a certain retailer by tracking their data and you’ll build customer loyalty through habitual purchasing.

4. All New User Experiences

As devices find new ways to collect and display data, mobile user interfaces are going to change. With smaller spaces come more interesting challenges. The most successful mobile companies are finding new ways to push intuitive design out to their clients.

Interactive interfaces require designers to create apps that allow you to do things you could never do on mobile devices before. With user attention split and constant interruptions, apps need to accommodate these challenges.

App development needs to use content layers and circular design patterns that help people manage their content. With the increased use of augmented technology, there will be new ways for people to explore the space they’re in. If you’re the first company of your type to take up space there, you can lead the way in your industry.

The standards for user interface keep changing, meaning that your designers need to be at the top of their game. As these standards change, so do customer expectations.

App Trends Are Going To Keep Shifting

If you think you’ll ever finish chasing app trends, you’re never going to be happy with this moving target. Once you realize that chasing trends is the way of the world in the app game, you’ll be much happier about the results.

If you want to increase your productivity, check out our latest guide for building projects with better tools.

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