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Twitter: One of the Fastest-Growing Social Networking Sites

There are a handful of big players in the social networking world. Twitter appears to be one of the sites that continues to grow in popularity. In fact, according to research compiled by Brickfish, as of October 2013, there are 231.7 million active users on Twitter worldwide and 100 million of them log into Twitter daily. So what is Twitter and why is it still growing when many of the other social sites are facing challenges?

What Is Twitter?

Put simply, Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that lets you send and read “tweets.” Tweets are text messages limited to 140 characters. However, within the context of any tweet, you can embed links which make it a powerful marketing tool for anyone with a blog or a website. Being able to link to other URLs means you can share value and information. You can share links from your own site as well as promote your fellow business owners to build relationships with customers, prospects, and associates.

You can also make your tweets shareable by using the hashtag. The hashtag is the symbol # and it identifies the keywords for your tweet or post. Here are a few examples:

* What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions? LINK #ThanksgivingMemories #ThanksgivingTraditions
* 10 tips to help you have a relaxed Thanksgiving holiday LINK #NoMoreThanksgivingStress

People can search for your keywords and be led to your Twitter profile where they may follow you and/or share your links with others.

The Power of the Masses

Twitter continues to grow in popularity for a number of reasons. The first is that it is incredibly easy to use. Messages take seconds to write, share, and read. We’re a rushed society with little time to peruse long content. If something can be said and shared in just a few characters, we’re thrilled.

So in addition to Twitter being easy to use, it’s also simple to share messages. One click of a “retweet” button and you’ve spread the wealth. That means, as a business owner, if you’re able to provide a tweet with value and benefit, it stands a good chance of being shared. Each time it is shared by someone, you’re reaching a larger audience. One tweet can quickly be viewed by thousands of people. The website traffic possibilities are astounding.

Finally, the folks over at Twitter are continually striving to add value to the site to make it more user-friendly and to provide more features. Their partnership with Vine means that people can now easily make and share six-second videos on Twitter. It’s just one more way Twitter is providing value and allowing people around the world to communicate.

Business owners looking into marketing with social media may want to take a look at the benefits of embracing Twitter. It’s one site that is used by people of all ages and demographics. It continues to grow and provide value.

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LinkedIn: Still a Great Source for Social Networking

LinkedIn is a specialty social networking site. It’s much more specialized than the others due to the audience it attracts. LinkedIn is specifically for professionals. If you’re looking for a job then it’s a must. However, business owners looking to attract prospects and connect with industry professionals can also utilize LinkedIn in a productive and prosperous way.

What Is LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with 225 million members in over 200 countries. It’s a social networking site that offers professionals a number of benefits and features. It began in concept in the living room of the owner and was launched in 2003. Ten years later it is a thriving social networking site that can be used in a number of business building ways.

The Many Features and Benefits of LinkedIn

Company Pages

The first element of LinkedIn is that it allows business owners to create Company Pages. Unlike profile pages on other social networking sites, Company Pages comes with analytics as well as an ability to share meaningful content and promote your business.

LinkedIn groups

This feature may be one of the most beneficial because it allows you to join groups that are specific to your audience and your industry. Within a group you can connect with other professionals and prospects to build an audience. Groups support conversations, article posting, polling, and display group icons on your Company Page to further enhance your connections.

Advertising

Like many social networking sites, LinkedIn offers advertising options for members. You can reach a targeted audience with ads that you can test and track for best results.

Marketing solutions

LinkedIn offers a professional membership that goes above and beyond the standard membership. You can then utilize features like their Marketing Solutions program that also lets you create specific messages for your audience through targeted content marketing.

Integration

Finally, LinkedIn is a site that understands you want to make the most of your social networking efforts. You can integrate many social media sites with your LinkedIn page. Integration saves time and maximizes your results.

Creating Content for LinkedIn

It’s important to remember that while you can integrate your social marketing efforts, LinkedIn has a unique audience. It often makes sense to create unique content for LinkedIn followers. They tend to be professionals and their needs may be different than your general audience.

People tend to trust the information they find on LinkedIn more than other sites. This simple fact can help you build tremendous authority and credibility in your niche. If you’re not using LinkedIn to grow your business or you’ve let your profile lag, consider giving this top rated social media site the attention it deserves.

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Google+: The Benefits to Your Brand

Google joined the ranks of the top social networking sites when they released Google+. This simple, and free, tool allows you to connect with your audience, share information, and even stream online content. Like other social networking sites, it can be used to brand your business. However, Google+ may offer some benefits to your brand that you just can’t find anywhere else.

Create a Hangout in Google+

Google Hangouts is a free service that allows you to have conversations with up to ten people. You can also live stream recorded content to thousands of people. Google Hangouts makes it easy to handle small group conversations or large scale content initiatives. There are video chat features which mean you can see who you’re talking to and vice versa.

It helps you strengthen your brand personality and voice. This can be particularly powerful for small business owners who have direct contact with their clients and prospects. Face-to-face conversations build relationships.

Create Circles in Google+

One of the features of Google+ is that it allows you to create circles. These circles are essentially segmented groups of people. For example, you might create a circle for your prospects, and another circle for your customers. You can create a circle of friends and family as well. In fact, you can create as many circles as you want.

People cannot see which circle you place them in so privacy isn’t a concern. This circle concept allows you to share content with segmented audiences. You can send one message to prospects and another to customers. Segmentation gives you the power to create branded messages that appeal directly to your audience.

Create a Scrapbook in Google+

Google+ has a feature called “Scrapbook Photos.” As you may know, visual elements are powerful branding tools. This feature lets you add photos at the top of your Google+ profile. You can add infographics, photos from events, and even photos from products or company services. It’s also a good idea to keep your profile page fresh by updating your photos on a regular basis.

Finally, Google+ is a social media tool that you can integrate with your other social networking efforts. You can also use it to create events and upload video and other content forms. Use content to build your brand and to reach targeted groups of people. Link to your website and share visuals to help add personality to your profile and build relationships with your followers.

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Connect with “Experts”

Social Media
Ever thought you could be involved in a conversation with Ashton Kutcher, Jon Stewart, or Miley Cyrus? What about some of your industry’s rock stars? Well, you can, through social media. Tools like Twitter and Facebook make it easy to connect with the stars and the experts on a person-to-person level. Here’s how:

Get on their radar

Read their blog. See what they’re writing about. Retweet their tweets, comment on their Facebook page, and link to their content. The goal is not to become a stalker, but to let them know you’re out there, and you’re more than just a fanboy or fangirl. (If you feel a little stalker-ish, remember that they’re posting their content in a public forum, for public consumption.

Add value

Leave insightful blog comments that expand on the topic. Write your own blog post and link back to theirs. Create a video response. Let them know about your experiences and results using the methods or techniques they’ve taught.

Ask a question

Give them something to respond to! Ask a question that shows you understand their topic, and that you’ve followed their information streams. Don’t make it too personal, but make it unusual – something that you haven’t seen answered elsewhere, but something other followers might wonder about, too.

Don’t get offended

With tens, and sometimes hundreds, of thousands of followers, chances are that your question is one of dozens they’ll receive. If yours doesn’t get answered, don’t get hurt feelings. It’s purely a matter of volume, not anything personal against you.

Rinse and repeat

Keep at it – the longer you work at establishing the relationship, the more familiar your name will seem. If your question isn’t answered the first time you ask it, post it again. Try a few times, and then move on and ask another.

Give before you ask

If you’re hoping to establish a relationship with someone in your industry as a potential joint venture partner, or because you want to guest post on their blog, then you have some more work to do. The top dogs in different niches receive dozens of requests for help. Stand out from the crowd of favor-seekers by doing something for THEM first.
 
Getting noticed by the stars in Hollywood, or in your industry, is possible. But rather than sending a fan letter via post and waiting months for a reply, cut through the red tape and go directly to the source via social media. It will save you time, and save yourself a postage stamp.

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Using Social Media to See What’s Hot

Social Media
Large corporations spend millions of dollars, prowling the streets, seeing what the trends in fashion, music, and culture are. They rely on feedback from companies like Gallup, the Nielsen Ratings, and American Consumer Opinion to see what’s hot and what’s not. As a small business, you don’t have the same level of resources. But that’s okay – you can get your own “feet on the street” feedback, quickly and easily, using your social media networks. Here are some of the tools you can use to see what’s hot, right now:
 

Twitter trends

Go to http://search.twitter.com/ and right below the search box, you’ll see a list of trending topics (as of this writing, the trending topics include “White People Hobbies,” “Black People Hobbies,” “Wendi Murdoch,” and “Louise Mensch”). If there’s a topic you want to track, you can click on the name and subscribe to the RSS feed to keep constantly updated on a trending topic.

Hashtags

If you want to follow a particular topic (“internet marketing,” “redsox,” etc.) via Twitter, you can simply follow the hashtag (#) associated with that subject. You can also subscribe to the RSS feed to be notified whenever new tweets on that topic are posted.

Facebook and LinkedIn Groups

It’s a little more difficult to see what’s trending on Facebook or LinkedIn, but you can see what groups are growing and what topics are hot. Do a search on either site for results, and join groups that look interesting and pertinent to your business. You can receive messages directly to your email inbox or opt to log in to your account to read. Either way is a great tactic for keeping tabs on what people in your niche are talking about.

Yahoo! and Google Groups

Go to groups.yahoo.com or groups.google.com to view thousands upon thousands of groups for interests as varied as recycling, Santa Clara University alums, and Justin Bieber fans. Join the ones appropriate for your interests, browse topics, and see suggestions at http://custom.yahoo.com/bestofyahoogroups/.

YouTube

Head over to http://www.youtube.com/videos?feature=mh to see the most viewed videos of the day. You can even see top results by category (Education, Howto & Style, Nonprofits & Activism, News & Politics, Comedy, People & Blogs, etc.) The results may surprise you!

Stumbleupon, Technorati, Alltop

Check out any of these blog aggregators to see what others find interesting, read-worthy, or titillating. You can see hot topics, trending news, and just plain weird stuff.
 
As you can see, no need to hire a beat reporter to tell you what’s happening in your target market. You can easily track it all from your computer – no reporter’s notebook required.

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Going Beyond Customer Support

Social Media
Make a choice: Would you rather spend the December holidays with your crazy Aunt Betty the doll enthusiast attached to your hip, or spend the afternoon trying to troubleshoot your computer modem by phone with your cable company? If you’re like most people, you’d ask Betty to pull out the photos of the lifelike dolls. Let’s face it; these days, customer support is a pain in the rear, not to mention a huge time suck.
 
Thank goodness, you can turn to your social network to help you out. Here’s how:
 

Tweet first

There are a number of major companies, including Zappos.com and Comcast, who have customer service reps following twitter streams and searching for their brand name in search of unhappy customers. If you can post your issue in 140 characters or less, go for it! Hint: make sure you use the company name – spelled correctly! – in your tweet, and employ hashtags where warranted. In other words: “My #HP OfficeJet 5600 won’t print from my MacBook Pro. Anyone have any ideas?

Take it to Facebook

Many companies have branded Facebook pages where you’ll receive a personalized response within hours, or even minutes. That way you can go about your business instead of sitting on the phone, frantically working your way through the automated telephone tree. Hint: Post a message on their wall rather than trying to contact them via Facebook message. The public aspect of your plea for help will ignite a faster response.

Try their website

Bypass the 800 number and email in favor of a live chat. You can get a live someone immediately (or within a minute or two) instead of playing hurry up and wait on the phone. Live chat not available? Try the email contact form. You may have to wait 24 hours for a response, but you can use that time productively.

Record a video

If all else fails, record a video and post it to YouTube. You never know what a visual plea for help, or a bad review, will do for cutting through the red tape. Be calm, though, and leave room for a response; if all you do is spazz out, they’ll just write you off as a nut.
 
The key here is to take control of your own time rather than letting someone else determine your destiny. Don’t let “them” tell you that you must sit on hold for 45 minutes before you get a living, breathing person to listen to your problems. Save time and take it online.

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Share Important Announcements

Social Media
You’re changing the name of your blog. You just gave birth to a baby boy. You’re heading to Chicago for an upcoming trade show. You are releasing a new online product. All these are perfect opportunities to use your social media networks to help spread the word far and wide.
 
When you have something that you want to share with the widest possible audience, leverage your networks – all of them. Here are some tips to make sure your news gets the attention it deserves:
 
 

Don’t be afraid to post it more than once

Particularly on Twitter, stuff gets lost in the noise. If people don’t catch it the second you post it, it may be gone forever. Use a tool like Tweriod.com to see when most of your followers are online, and post during those times. And post it a couple of times over the course of a day or so. Those who already read the original post will just delete it without thinking twice about it.

Create an opportunity to connect

Turn a newsy announcement into a way to engage with your audience. Instead of just saying “My new product launches next week,” say, “Check out this sneak peek of my new eBook that I’m launching next week. Let me know what you think!” Or, “My daughter is here – here’s her birth photo. Guess her birth weight and the person who’s closest will win a free 30 minute consultation with me.” People are looking for new and different. Give it to them.

Talk about the news before it happens

Telling people about what you have in progress not only helps them feel engaged, it also serves as a subversive way to promote yourself without sounding promote-y. Say, “Just finished the last chapter for my eBook. Have you signed up for early notification?” Or, “I’m interviewing so-and-so next week for my next online class. Do you have any burning questions you’d like answered?”

Interconnect your social media networks

Place an announcement on Twitter that sends your followers over to your blog to read more. Record an announcement on YouTube and then post it on Facebook. The stronger the interconnections between the spokes of your network, the stronger the overall network.
 
Forget about press releases and publicists, and don’t sit back and wait for the newspapers to find you. Instead, you can do the promotion yourself by leveraging the members of your network.

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Take a Mental Vacation

Social Media
Whether you’re working in an office or at home, taking regular breaks is essential for your mental and physical well-being. In the traditional office, you could head to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee, or head down to the proverbial water cooler. But when you work for yourself, taking a break to join into humanity is a little more involved. You can get in the car and drive to Starbucks for a quick latte, but that takes time and money.
 
You could call up a friend to check in, but who talks on the phone anymore? Instead, here are a handful of things you can do to take a much-needed mental vacation, all from the comfort of your own home, all via your social media networks:
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  • Head over to Facebook and see whose birthday it is using the notification feature. Then leave them a birthday message on their wall (time: 5 minutes)
  • Catch up on your favorite non-work-related blogs. Or read a few of the industry movers and shakers and leave them a thoughtful comment, linking back to your own site. (10 minutes)
  • Post a question of the day (hashtag #QOTD) related to your niche, but in a “just for fun” sense. For instance, “What’s the last ___ you purchased for your ___?” This is a fun way to engage your Twitter followers, as well as gather some informal intelligence. (5 minutes)
  • Yes, go ahead and succumb to the Farmville or Plants vs. Zombies pull and log in to play for a limited time. Set an egg timer next to your computer and stop when time’s up. (15 minutes)
  • Check out the latest videos in your niche (did you know you can subscribe to other video creators’ YouTube channels?). Leave a comment or create a video response. (15 minutes)
  • Log into LinkedIn and update your status. Then check in on some of your groups and see what the hot topics are. Offer your expertise where appropriate. (15 minutes)
  • Do the same with Facebook. Visit some of the groups you belong to and leave questions on the wall, comment on others’ posts, and leave links where possible. (15 minutes)
  • See who’s commented on your blog lately and visit their websites, leaving comments and thanking them for visiting you. Reciprocity goes a long way to establishing relationships. (10 minutes)
  • Go to the iTunes store and see who hosts the leading podcasts in your industry. Visit their blogs and start establishing a relationship with these movers and shakers. (5 minutes)

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Any of these ideas takes less time than a trip to the local Starbucks counter – or a trip to the water cooler, for that matter! Use your break time wisely and you’ll receive the double benefits of refreshment and audience engagement.

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Social Media Gets Feedback Fast

Social Media
Everything online happens at the speed of light. Decisions that used to take weeks or months to make are now a matter of mere minutes or seconds. There is no time for a group consensus or “sleeping on it.” But with your social media network, you can still get input from a number of people, quickly. There are literally millions of people on-hand, ready and able to give you feedback in the moment.
 
For instance, want to know if the font on your homepage is too small? Send a tweet with the page link and ask what the general public thinks. Wondering which header graphic better conveys your business? Post them both on your Facebook page and ask for input.
 
The benefits of turning to your social media network:
[list_orange]

  • You’ll get an interesting cross-section of respondents: Friends from high school, curious passers-by, coworkers.
  • It’s fast. Depending on the size of your network, you could have responses within minutes.
  • It’s free. You don’t have to pay a penny for the input.
  • It’s informal. No need to prepare a five-paragraph overview, ten-slide Powerpoint presentation, or other background information. Just ask and wait for input.
  • It’s objective. The people you’re asking have little or no vested interest in the outcome.

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Of course, this method is better for some queries than others. There are drawbacks:
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  • You have no control over the responses or who they come from. You could get input from people who aren’t part of your target audience, or who offer goofy suggestions.
  • By soliciting opinions, you can make people feel like they have ownership in the process. If you don’t take their advice, they can feel slighted.
  • You make some of the inner workings of your business public.

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As a result, soliciting fast feedback via social media networks is best for the following situations:
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  • When the decision is relatively major. You don’t want to ask the general public what you should do about selling your business, or responding to a law suit, or customer service issues.
  • When the results will be public anyway. If the decision is behind-the-scenes, keep it there. Our examples above – font size, header graphics – are public anyway. Don’t post private information, or anything that might breach confidence.
  • When you need a variety of opinions from different people. If you need feedback from a certain segment, you’re better off emailing them directly rather than putting out a public call for feedback.

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Social Media Secrets

Five years ago no one could have ever imagined the phenomenon social media would become. In fact, social media has opened a networking gateway where millions upon millions of people rely on its services each and every day. With that being said, people, businesses, and marketers are trying to uncover social media secrets that will allow them to use this networking phenomenon to their advantage. With that said, the information provided here in this article will prove to be very beneficial for those looking for the real secret behind the success of the social networks, and how you as a person or business owner can take advantage of these truths as well.

Is There Really a Social Media Secret?

The secret behind social media is really no secret at all. The reason why social networking works so well is because it provides the normal individual with the same tools a larger company would have for communicating to a large group, all at once. You see, the power of social media is not the fact that you can talk to a single person, but the message you send is seen by hundreds at the onset. If someone is intrigued by your message, it can then be shared with their network of friends, and on, and on, and on. So, the question becomes, how do you create a message that people will want to share on a consistent basis? This is the beginning of understanding social media secrets.

The First Big Secret

In order to be successful on any of the social networks, you will need to know some of the secrets that allow many people to become extremely successful utilizing these networks. In fact, a large number of individuals that utilize social media on a consistent basis do not understand how it works and why it’s so effective. To understand this, you’ll need to know one of the biggest social media secrets and that is ‘talking and listening’. There are a wide number of people and businesses that use social networks on a consistent basis but they run into a problem because they only use one part of the big secret. They either talk too much, or they listen and don’t talk. If you truly want to be successful on the social networks, you will need to learn how to do both.

The Second Big Secret

The second biggest secret is to not always talk about you. In fact, people don’t always want to hear about you. Although you would like to talk about you all day long, you are not the main reason others are using social networks. Once you begin to understand this, you will be a lot more successful at reaching your target audience and providing them with exactly what they’re looking for. You see, if you listen and participate on a consistent basis, you will be able to eventually read between the lines and find out that people are actually looking for something. Once you find out what that something is, all you need to do is provide it.

It’s important to realize that social media is here to stay. To be honest, this is a network that will continue to grow on a consistent basis. The sooner you become aware of many of the social media secrets that are available, the sooner you’ll be able to have success when it comes to the social networks. By understanding the information provided above, you will have a better understanding of what you’ll need to do to become part of the social media phenomenon that is taking place today.

Dr. John Elcik
The Pragmatic Web Designer