Back

Apply

12 Pro Tips for an Amazing Instagram Marketing

Instagram is by far the most personal and casual social media platform for businesses to connect with their audience on a more emotional level. But in order to get the best out of your Instagram marketing, you need to know certain tips and tricks to make the strategy work as best as possible for your business. Here are your ultimate 12 tips to help you jazz up your Instagram marketing and keep those followers coming, engaging and converting like never before. Social media is the best marketing tool that small business have ever had access to in HISTORY, and Instagram is definitely in my top 3 favourites. In this guide I’m going to give you 12 practical tips you can implement right now to start getting more followers, building an audience and growing your business! 1. Know your audience I’ll start off with the most important piece of advice that I give anyone when it comes to marketing. Know. Your. Audience. Whether you’re using Instagram, Facebook, TV, print.... it doesn’t matter. This applies to EVERYTHING. The first step towards getting attention and growing your business is by understanding your audience. Who are they? Where are they? What are they like? What do they want? Once you know exactly who you’re targeting, you’ll be able to attract them. 2. Post good content (and make it beautiful) Another piece of advice that applies to any social media platform is to post good content. People don’t want to follow something that’s boring or irrelevant, so once you understand your audience (in step #1) you can start creating engaging content for them. Instagram is a beautiful, artistic and visually-pleasing platform. You need to treat it that way! If you need ideas I’ve got you covered in step #3... 3. Reverse engineer the best in the world You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Who is the BEST in the world at what your business does? What accounts have the biggest following when it comes to your niche? Hunt them down, and take notes on what they’re doing. I do this to every client. I look at the best in the world, study each account, write down the key things they have in common and then put our own spin on it to create a world-class but unique Instagram profile. For some ideas, check out @starbucks, @benandjerrys, @redbull and @natgeo. 4. Be consistent The only thing worse than having no account is having a dead account. It looks like you actively don’t care about your business, so make sure you’re posting consistently. To keep it simple, just do one post a day!  This will get you in the habit of posting, and will force you to come up with creative ideas. If you want to schedule posts in advance, check out Buffer (it’s free). 5. Choose a theme Hand-in-hand with posting consistently is looking consistent. What style do you want your Instagram page to have? @flatlays is a great example of having a theme that they stay in line with. @squarespace also has a beautifully modern, less-is-more style that you can take inspiration from. Whatever you pick, I recommend using it throughout your entire page and definitely using the same colours and fonts to keep your branding consistent. Nothing is worse than a clumsy page with an ugly mixture of different quotes they got from an app! 6. Post at the Best Time of the Day. To give yourself the best chance of engagement, post at the best time of the day. When is the best? Well, that depends on your audience (step number one) Think about your customer. When are they on their phones the most?  For some practicality, the most common times are 8:00 am (people on the way to work), 12:00 noon (lunchtime) and 5:30 pm (after work). 7. Use Creative Captions Every photo needs a caption, the regular debate is about the length. Can you have a huge caption? The answer is YES absolutely, but must be in proportion. A recipe can be long, but useful. A powerful, emotionally moving image can have a 3-word caption. It's about the context.  It's worth noting that once your caption hits a certain number of characters, it becomes shortened and the user has to press the option to 'see more' so it doesn't really hurt to have a long one. If they don't want to read it, they can simply view the picture and move on. The only time you wouldn't post a long caption is when it's not offering value.  8. Use relevant hashtags. I’ll add a bit extra for this section because it’s super-handy... Hashtags are very important for getting discovered on Instagram. You can put up to 30 hashtags in a post and it’s important to put the popular ones that are relevant to your page. Don’t post your own hashtags or incredibly unique / specific ones, as nobody will search for that. I’m talking about those huge hashtags that make up a ridiculous sentence like  like #mitchhillsmidweekadvice. Sometimes those silly hashtags can be used for humour, but never use it for discovery. To find the best ones, simply go to the search bar in Instagram, press on ‘tags’ and start putting in words. You will see numbers pop up next the keywords. This shows you how many people have used that particular hashtag. Your goal is to find the top 30 that are most relevant to your page, and it’s also a good idea to do location-specific tags. For example #brisbaneanyday is a tag here in Brisbane, like #melbourneiloveyou is in Melbourne. FINALLY - post your hashtags in the COMMENTS! Posting a truckload of hashtags in the caption just makes you look desperate and messy. Share your photo with a regular caption, and then comment on your own photo with the tags. 9. Follow the followers of similar pages This is another golden tip. If you’re looking for new customers, where better to find them than your competitors? Research the accounts of your competitors (or similar pages) and follow their followers. (Note: NOT the people that they are following. People that are following them). If they are interested in your competitor, they’re likely interested in you. Follow as many as you can (you can only do 60 an hour) and bring them over to your page. Remember first impressions count, that’s why you need to be AWESOME (step #2. See how it all ties in together?) 10. Update your bio link regularly. Instagram can be a great platform to drive traffic, however you can’t post clickable links in the captions. The only place for you to put a link is in your bio. (And yes, you can write the link in the caption but even with a short URL they aren’t going to type that manually). When putting up a post, say ‘click the link in our bio for _____’ that way it’s only 2 taps away. Use Bitly to create nice short links that you can place in your bio. Bitly also allows you to track clicks so you can see how many people clicked that particular link. It’s also free! 11. Use Instagram Stories I love Instagram stories. Along with Facebook Live, this is where I am most active. Social media these days is about being personal, not having an unrealistic ‘glossy’ type marketing like you’d expect to see from an Audi advertisement. Instagram Stories are a great place for you to be casual, share snippets and go ‘behind the scenes’ in your business. Whenever you have an idea that you think your audience might love, throw it up. It’s like a digital notepad. Whenever you think “Hey - this would be good for Instagram”, chuck it up then and there otherwise you’ll forget. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect - it’s casual after all! Just remember tip #1 and #2…. Know what your audience wants and make it awesome. 12. Use Instagram Ads Instagram advertisement is a great way to get into the feeds of your target customer. These are great because you can click a link and have the viewer go directly from their phone to whatever you’re sending them to. Recently Instagram has upped their game when it comes to ads with more flexibility and design options, and is definitely worth checking out. BONUS TIP! Use tools like Wordswag and Canva If you want to add some flare to your posts and use text or quotes, definitely check out Wordswag and Canva. Wordswag is perfect for on-the-go editing from your phone, and Canva is just the best fricken thing in the world that allows you to design artwork quickly and easily. Only reason I mentioned Wordswag is that Canva can be a bit trickier from a phone. Whatever you use - make sure it’s consistent with your brand (tip #4) and use that font / theme each time otherwise you’ll look messy. If you implement these 12 tips your Instagram will be on fire! Just remember to be interesting, engaging, relevant and beautiful. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at Mastered Marketing!

Read more
12 tips to make Twitter work for your business

  Whilst the uptake of Twitter in Australia is low compared to the US and the UK, Twitter is about to open an office in Sydney this year to increase its presence here. Who knows, this could be the turning point for Twitter, as more small businesses jump on the social media bandwagon. It may be time to rethink you strategy for Twitter and assess if there's an opportunity for your business to capitalise on it before others do - but you have to act fast if you're up for it. In my previous post, I blogged about how Twitter can easily be resource intensive, so it's important to have the right strategy in place. In this post, I'd like to share some of my experience and tips in making Twitter more effective for your business. Tip #1: Add value   What you share in tweets should add value to others, primarily by directing your followers to interesting, relevant and insightful content. You should be an active curator, with a reasonably high threshold on what might be of value or interest to your followers. As the wealth of content available to us grow each day, it will be increasingly difficult to curate, but it's still important to be selective. Tip #2: Resist temptations Don't be tempted to tweet about your business all the time. Just because you're passionate about the value your business brings, it doesn't mean your followers are always receptive to your tweets. Even the best intentions can easily be misconstrued if we're not careful. The last thing you want to do is spam your followers. Twitter is about connecting and sharing information, ideas, and occasionally, inspirations on what your business offers. If your follower finds value in your tweets, they'll be intrigued enough to look you up anyway. Tip #3: Have the right attitude Having the right attitude will propel your business forward, but the wrong motivation and expectations can set you in the wrong path altogether. The right approach will enable to build meaningful relationships, whereas careless self-promotion could suggest you're desperate for sales. On the other hand, patience and persistence will hold you in good stead. Although I’ll talk a little about tools later in this post, the message is simple –  Making Twitter work well for your business is not always about the tools,  but the way you engage and build your brand with your audience. Tip #4: Get organised Planning ahead can significantly improve your experience with Twitter. Work out why and how you're going to use Twitter. Work out your key messages, the tools will you need, how much time and how often will you be spending on Twitter. Ensure you have a sound process internally for converting Twitter leads into actual customers. As Micha Wotton, our Head of Web Development at SavvySME often quotes, "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well." Tip #5: Get your house in order So first thing's first, get your Twitter header page in order. It’s the landing page for your Twitter audience, so it should reflect what your business is about, not just pictures of your cat or your Lamborghini. It pays to spruce it up and take advantage of the new customisable header page. I found a great resource, which you may find helpful: Tips on designing Twitter custom header page Tip #6: Sort out who's who In my view, setting up Twitter lists is essential to help save time and focus on tweets that matter. It's virtually impossible to keep track of all your connections, and do so well. Twitter list helps you to group regular customers, influencers, suppliers and partners - even your competitors. Don't spend too much time analysing the list on day one. As your connections grow, you can always add them to the lists. Tip #7: Make use of available Twitter tools Tools can really help you focus and save time. For instance, I use HootSuite to manage all my social networks. I love simplicity of smart designs and its easy-to-use dashboard makes managing conversations a breeze. Hootlet makes it easy for me to share web pages to one or all of my social networks at the same time. TweetDeck is another good option. In fact, we had a recent related Q&A What automated platforms or tools can you recommend for social media activities? There are many Twitter tools out there to choose from. Here's a list of tools you may find useful, thanks to Matt Antonino at High on SEO. Tip #8: Cut out the noise I use HootSuite to create streams around search phrases, hashtags, mentions, locations, and any other filters I choose to use. This helps to cut out the noise whilst keeping my ears on the ground on what’s happening in real time. To keep track of my followers, I use SocialBro – a powerful analytical tool to manage all my connections, reporting and audience analysis. Tip #9: Analyse topics and conversations I use Topsy.com frequently to search on who is talking about SavvySME or any other topics that I’m interested to find out in the social world real-time. It’s an incredibly powerful search and automatic alert tool. Another tool worth mentioning is Bitly, which doubles as a URL shortener but also an analytics tool to see how many of your audience click on the links in your tweets. Tip #10: Follow through when you tweet Be careful not to leave your account unattended for days on end. A staggering 56% of customer tweets to companies are being ignored. Responding to interests or questions is just as important as the initial tweet that generated those interests. The key is plan and get into a rhythm you're comfortable with so that potential leads are not left out in the cold. Tip #11: Be yourself While it is reasonable to expect that your tweets are business related, remember Twitter remains very much a conversational tool. It’s important to be yourself. Let your personality shine through your tweets. Relax and enjoy yourself. It’s a whole lot more fun this way. :) Tip #12: Keep at it In summary, making Twitter effective for your business requires a combination of the right mindset, knowledge, tools, discipline and patience. Twitter may be a good fit for your business but you’ll obviously need a sound strategy and commit to it! So do you have any tips or tools you'd like to share with the community too? We'd love to hear from you. This article is part of our January blogging challenge. We’d love for you to join us. To start blogging, just start writing an article. Go to the Navigation Bar > Information > Write an article. 

Read more
3 Steps to Establish Your Brand's Twitter Presence

While many brands have a presence on the big three social networks - Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – most are still not utilising the platforms to best potential. There’s an abundance of opportunities arising from social media, connections to be made, business to be generated, but knowing where to start can difficult. How do you use twitter for business? What people do you follow? What’s a realistic target to aim for in the social space? Each of the big 3 is significantly different, and getting the most out of them requires a dedicated approach. The three steps below are some very basic tips about how to establish a twitter presence. Twitter is loaded with potential leads and clients and it’s crucial that you have an active presence, both in an output and monitoring sense. The basics of Twitter are essentially ‘The Three C’s’: 1. Connect Once you’ve gone through the set-up process and put together a profile, you need to connect with relevant people in your field. Clients, business associates, industry advisers – locate the relevant people with a Twitter presence and follow them to establish a connection. One method to establish a twitter presence is to find a business similar to yours and go through their ‘Followers’ and ‘Following’ lists and pick out the relevant profiles you want to connect with or monitor. Another useful tactic for how to use Twitter for business is to search by keywords and hashtags relevant to your business - Twitter has numerous search options, including the ability to search by location and date range (there’s a heap of great tips on how to steal your competitor’s followers in this piece). When you follow these connections, many will follow you back, getting you on your way to establishing your Twitter presence. 2. Create So now you’ve got a brand profile, you’ve got followers, and you’ve got a blank text field right in front of you. Now what do you Tweet? 140 characters can seem like a novel when you’ve got nothing to say. The first thing you should be tweeting about is any special offers or things you want potential customers to know about your business. The second thing you should be tweeting is unique content created by your brand. If you don’t have content, you need to start making some, and ideally content that your followers will want to read and share to maximise re-tweet and reach value. Creating great content is a separate process that requires a dedicated effort in your overall strategic plan so I won’t go into it here, but getting readers to your content is the next phase in the process, and where Twitter can help. Put together a concise and enticing Tweet with a link your brand post, include an image or video, if you can (one study found tweets with images are 94% more likely to be re-tweeted) then tweet it out. You should re-tweet the link to your brand content three to five times throughout the day in 4 to 6 hour intervals – people are online at different times and Twitter's real-time stream moves fast, so it's good practice to send out links a few times to ensure best reach. You can use apps like Followerwonk to check the best times to reach your followers and social management tools like Hootsuite to schedule sends. Each time you tweet it, consider including a different quote from the article or a different catch line to maximise interest. This will help to increase your twitter presence. From there, you should maybe tweet it out three times more the following day, dependent on the article’s popularity – if it’s been highly shared, maybe tweet the link out again and keep doing so at extended intervals till share numbers decline – it’ll be different dependent on the industry, and you’ll work out which works best for you, but the balance you need to strike is between ensuring maximum reach value for the content and not spamming people and potentially losing followers because of it. 3. Curate You need to be reading as much content related to your field as you can - reading through twenty or more blog posts each morning should become the norm. From these posts, you should tweet out links to great content, making sure you note the Twitter handle of the article’s author when you do. This acknowledges the author’s work and lets them know you’re sharing their content, helping you network with other leaders within your industry. If you are thinking about how to use Twitter for business, a good approach is to send links in new tweets of their own more often than re-tweeting, as it ensures your profile shows up in your followers' feed, giving your brand more exposure (though re-tweeting also has networking benefits). You need to be careful how many items you share to avoid flooding people’s feeds, and you need to ensure the content you share is of high relevance to your followers, not to your business alone, but sharing content and acknowledging and engaging with creators is a critical step to increase your twitter presence. The number of items you should share each day will depend on content quality, but you should aim for three as a base, stretched out through the day. These are some very basic notes on creating a Twitter presence for your brand, but these key steps will form the backbone of your social media presence. It won’t take long to familiarise yourself and become part of the social space, but establishing your brand is an ongoing process. As with all social media, you are there to build relationships, and as with any relationship, you need to engage, assist and contribute to increase your twitter presence. Your unique content will be key to this, and will strengthen your brand’s position, enabling you to maximise exposure and convert connections into business opportunities.

Read more
3 steps to successful social media content

So you’re working on a new social media strategy and you’re thinking to yourself, how do I go about this? What information should I give to my potential customers? How can I use my updates to generate sales? Ultimately, your primary goals are to advocate your cause, increase sales and expose your brand. But the road leading to all that takes time to navigate and requires hard work, wit and a lot of wisdom. Whether you’re an expert in the field of digital marketing or just starting out as a rookie, the key to social media is to build strong and lasting relationships with your followers. Realistically, these are not founded solely on posting random stuff on Facebook or Twitter. You have to feed something valuable to nourish the symbiotic relationships that produce likes, shares and retweets; thus expanding your social network. Step 1 - Start With a Theme You want your audience to know who you are and what you do. You’ve got products and services to sell after all, but chances are you have numerous competitors in the same marketplace. You have to make sure that you stand out from the rest and give your brand the best possible chance of being the one that people will remember, and even better engage with. Come up with an overall theme – a general idea about what you want your audience to glean from you. It is also better if you can relate to your audience on a personal level – the extent of which varies depending on the nature of your business. Step 2 - Solutions over Products Focus on your product. Actually no don’t – focus on providing your clients with solutions to their most irksome and recurring problems. Whether you are selling e-books, training modules, fashion or cars, it is critical that your audience sees the value you offer. Products are physical items that depreciate over time. Solutions, however, are long-lasting and are still relevant for significant periods of time. For example, let’s say you’re promoting a hammer. Focussing on the product would see you tell people, “It’s made from a very strong metal” but focussing on the benefits to your customers might see you state, “You’ll never have to buy another hammer again…” See the difference? Step 3 - Consistency is the Key Believe it or not, your audience possess very keen memories. Once they decide they want to follow your business’s feeds, they remember almost everything you say and write. Therefore, you need to be consistent – from the frequency of your posts to the upcoming special feature you’ve committed to release. Plan your overall strategy for a four to six-month period. You can still be flexible to make adjustments and although it is nice to innovate from time to time, do not make promises that you can’t keep. Avoid running before you’ve learnt to walk i.e. finish one campaign to a high standard rather than trying to run multiple, poorly. Content planning can be tedious, but it can be highly rewarding if you master it and see the numerous benefits that it can bring. Take it seriously, but don’t become disheartened when your first posts don’t go viral or get as many shares as you would have liked. The bottom line is to engage with your audience and keep your posts fun to maximise their shareability. Key Takeaways Seek to forge strong and lasting relationships Utilise your corporate branding to allow for easy recognition Explain product benefits not specifications Always be consistent Nail one project 100% before starting the next Social media is a marathon, not a sprint so keep going and don't give up!

Read more
4 ways to make your social media marketing rock!

Have you ever been at a rock concert and paused for a moment to look around you? It’s usually either a beautiful mess or utter madness. Navigating the social media landscape can sometimes feel like a rock concert as well, with 1.71 billion monthly active users on Facebook, 313M active monthly users on Twitter, and over 450 million registered users on LinkedIn globally — all with different demographics and preferences. Like in real life, there are ways to become a social media rock star to engage and delight your target audience. 1. Understand Your Fans Before rocking out your social media plan, you need to understand your fans, in this case your audience. Attendees at rock concerts may be from different backgrounds but they all come together for the same objective: for one thing only: to watch the performer. And this artist needs to know how to appeal and attract different personalities out in the crowd. The same concept can apply for social media: users are all diverse but they are here to interact and engage with their network and brands. Social media marketer’s mission is to keep luring in these users and keep them coming back for more. Developing audience personas requires an initial investment, but this investment will pay off further along the customer lifecycle when buyers are engaged and developed into brand advocates. 2. Make Your Lyrics Memorable Mapping out an adequate social media marketing strategy will help further determine how exactly you plan to engage this audience across different social platforms Firstly, set the tone, style and strategies for the content. Like the lights need to be adjusted at a concert, content needs to be tailored to target audiences and their preferences. It can be conversational, prescriptive or authoritative and in different form: text, image or assets. Then, research what topics customers are most interested in and develop content around it. Rock stars need to determine what songs they will feature in their set list, based on the audience they are performing for. For social media, the topics brands should be writing about will be determined by each persona’s interests and how they can appeal to them. 3. Create a Brand Voice Just like every rock star has their unique sound, brands should have a voice that embodies its values. For both B2B and consumer marketers, social media has become a go-to channel for brand development and audience engagement. It’s an easy way to stay in touch with buyers, creatively market products and services, and most importantly reinforce brand voice. Ensuring company values and culture in incorporated into the tone and language of your content is crucial for nurturing the brand’s theme projected on social media. Social media is a platform that promotes two-way dialogue; an aspect most marketers and brands neglect. By expressing personality in responses and content, users are more inclined to have a positive engagement and experience with that brand.     4. Listen to the beat Rock stars listen for cues from their audience to see whether their material is resonating with their audience, and social media marketing is no different. Social media can be used to add transparency and provide real-time responses for consumers; responding to complaints is a phenomenal way to turn a negative into a positive. Feedback is an invaluable evaluation tool that marketers must utilise in order to improve and address limitations, and ensure they are providing the best possible services to their customers.   Social media can feel like a rock concert sometimes, with all the different noises and personalities clashing together. However, with the right strategy, brands can have a spectacular and consistent show with their audience.  

Read more
5 characterisitics of viral content

Ever wonder how a single post can generate hundreds of thousands of likes, shares and retweets in just a short period of time?  It is amazing how one post can inspire so much attention and drive so much traffic even if, at first glance, the content seems no different to any other from your perspective. While there is no definitive criterion that defines what viral content is, there are surely ways to evoke emotion and attract a lot of attention. Here are 5 types of content that have the potential to go viral: 1. Long in-depth posts Long in-depth posts that contain a great deal of information are more likely to be shared than shorter blurb-type ones. This is because people value the power of detailed posts and, after all, information is power. People like being able to cite studies, facts and other solid data in arguments, which is why in-depth posts get a lot more attention and are more likely to be referred back to from other sites. This is because a link to a detailed article is much better than copying a few specific lines that are deemed thought-provoking or useful. Articles that cite important notes or facts about a particular phenomenon or issue are also tend to be shared instead of copied. 2. Emotionally arousing posts People use different social media platforms mainly to maintain relationships. This is the ultimate alternative to bridge physical gaps and maintain communication. Because people are naturally emotional, they easily respond to materials that arouse feelings of anxiety, anger, excitement, achievement and awe. Stunning photographs of landscapes and people’s portraits can easily get thousands of likes or shares simply because they speak directly to the audience. Raging letters of protest rouse sympathisers because they often represent shared sentiments. 3. Practical and useful materials Perfect examples of these are news organisations, informational and how-to websites that provide easily accessible updates and advice on how to solve day-to-day problems. Trivial facts that elicit surprise or amazement are always interesting to people. Timely news updates about famous people or particular groups and organisations are deemed useful to specific types of audiences and can gather a lot of momentum depending on what’s trending at present. 4. Articles by famous authors Posting a spoiler alert about hugely popular TV series and other famous literature and movies can become an instantly viral hit on Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore, a celebrity or political figure posting or tweeting about something shocking – like a sexual preference – can also become heavily shared and read. Even simple self-portraits posted on Instagram garner thousands of likes if they are of a celebrity or influential figure. 5. Humour No matter how many negative posts and gloomy updates are posted online, the power of humour and happiness is always stronger. Thus, injecting humour into your post will not only brighten someone’s day but also provide you with significant numbers of likes and shares. Remember back in 2008 when former US President George W Bush had shoes hurled at him during a press conference? Well, following that incident an online game appeared where players could throw virtual shoes at George W Bush. Let’s just say that this was one small game that instantly went viral and ended up netting the creator a significant sum of money after he sold it. Key Takeaways Provide detailed in-depth information wherever possible Arouse emotions at every opportunity Supply practical tips and useful advice for everyday problems Harness the power of celebrity brands Make people laugh and enjoy themselves with your content Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Read more
5 free blog platforms you can use to start blogging

  Types of Blog platforms   Blogging is a powerful way to market your business or product. Blogging allows you to connect with a community and increase your reach online. Posting articles on SavvySME is considered a form of blogging but here are a list of blog platforms if you want to take that extra step and create your own blog.   Benefits of using a blog   Blogs are usually made based on one major topic or category. It allows the blogger to focus on a certain content that can gather his/her target market. A blog is relatively easy to use. Most platforms already have templates you can choose from. You need not learn how to create a website on your own or hire a team of web designers for you to start blogging. With this at hand, there will be more attention on the content of your blog. All you have to worry about is what you are writing about since it will be automatically compatible with your entire blog when you have posted it.   Blog platforms also have add-ons that can cater to your blogging needs. You can have your own search engine so that older or specific articles will be easier to find. There is also an option wherein you can put a comment box after every post so that you can garner feedback from the visitors of your blog.   Blogging is basically a pre-made website. All you have to do is input the content that you want your visitors to see and everything else will be done for you.   So what platform is most suitable for you?   Here are some of the most popular blog platforms:   WordPress WordPress is a free, open-source blogging platform that has grown into a full-fledged content management system. It enjoys enormous community support. WordPress is one of the most scalable blogging platforms there is today especially if you install it yourself to your own server. Otherwise the free hosted accounts are also very easy to use and have some great looking templates. Pros   Platform, domain, and hosting is free Ability to upgrade to your own customer domain for a low monthly fee of $13. A wide range of free design templates Wordpress supports categories. If you write about different subjects, this is a great way to organize posts. You can password-protect posts. You can embed popular JavaScripts like YouTube videos. Great SEO Cons     Not as simple as Blogger May not be able to embed iframes You can't upload plugins unless you have your own installed version. Most hosting providers have an easy install option, however this will require some technical knowledge. Blogger   Google owns Blogger and has it integrated with Google Accounts. The platform has been around since blogging's beginnings, and is still an excellent choice. Pros      Platform, domain, and hosting is free Ability to upgrade to a custom domain name Backed by Google, so it integrates well with other Google products and is more protected from the DDoS attacks that often plague human rights blogs. Free design templates You can embed popular JavaScripts like YouTube videos. If you are more tech-savvy, Blogger does allow you to FTP the files generated for your blog to your own website.  Cons Limited ability to customize your blog Google owns your content and can shut down your blog if they do not like your content. You cannot categorize posts, or have a blogroll. This is replaced by labels.    Tumblr Tumblr is one of the fastest growing blogging platforms in 2011. The demographics on Tumblr however tend to be very skewed towards certain demographics so you should choose a platform that is suited to your target audience. Pros   Originally just a photo-posting blog,   Tumblr recently added new features and expanded the things you can do with a Tumblr blog. Easy-to-use interface Encourages customisation  Cons You have to set up the comments function separately, using http://disqus.com. Not ideal if you have long posts    Posterous   Posterous has recently reinvented itself, introducing a concept it calls spaces. The idea is to offer more control over how content is shared. In some ways this makes Posterous as much a social network as a platform. Pros     Posterous is very simple to use. Once you sign up for a Posterous account, you are given a Posterous address to e-mail posts to. Compose an e-mail with text or attach a photo or video send it to the Posterous e-mail you are provided, and it is converted into a post on your site. It is also geared toward mobile blogging. It's easy to post an update when you are not at a computer. They have been adding new features,   like a new post editor, the ability to add stand-alone pages, moderate comments, and manage image galleries more easily.  CONS  Posterous only launched in 2008, so it is a smaller, less well-known community. Even though you can post by e-mail,   you will find yourself going to the Posterous interface to adjust the formatting.          Blog.com   Blog.com is another popular WordPress-powered blogging platform. PROS      it offers many beautiful premium themes in its free accounts, advanced plugins that one can expect only on a self-hosted blog  CONS    the free service displays more ads as compared to WordPress.com      Conclusion Having cited the pros and cons of popular blog platforms, this does not mean that I encourage or discourage these platforms. There are numerous blog  

Read more
5 lessons teenagers can teach business owners about using social media

You only have to ask a person under the age of 20 whether social media is overwhelming or scary to know they don't experience the same challenges that adults do when it comes to social media. Here are 5 strategies you can embrace to make it easier for you too. 1. Stop planning and take action. You know what kids are like – jump in and then think about it. Whereas adults tend to think about it, then plan, then learn, then plan some more, maybe learn some more, back to planning and by the time they’re ready to take action – there’s more to learn. I hear it over and over again and the reason many businesses haven’t created a strong social media presence already is because ….. they’re still thinking about what could happen. It’s time to stop planning or thinking and take action. Get started and see how it goes. What’s the worst thing that could happen? You might waste some time or change your strategy midway. Maybe you’ll have to learn as you go. At least you’ll have started and you’ll be that much closer to having an online presence than you were when you were still thinking and planning. Start! If you have to dip your toe in first do that but make a start. 2. Get click happy! What will this button do? What happens if I click here? Should I click this? The answer to these questions is DO IT AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS. Most of us didn’t grow up with IT savvy parents or teachers and we were told “don’t click”, “don’t touch that” and “follow instructions”. Kids today are much less likely to wait and they don’t have a fear of making a mistake like we do. They click it and see what happens. The creation of the “undo” button was a revolution we need to embrace. Couple that with the “I can do anything” attitude of youngsters and you have a “click it” movement. And I say why not. If you’re looking for a feature or a function and there are menus or option buttons you have two choices. Option 1, you could research and spend all day looking for the right advice, or 2 you could click it and you may just find the answer to your question. Go on, click it. 3. Life’s a game, so play. The world has changed – yes. The way we communicate has changed – yes. Our degree of sharing has shifted – yes. And life goes on. I say stop taking things so seriously. Social media has been in existence for well over ten years now and the impact it has had on our lives is enormous, there is no debating that. Have there been negative things come out of the introduction of social media – sure there has. But it isn’t too different to any other point in history when things change. The industrial revolution also brought change and impact but life continued. And so it will if you accept the way things are. Don’t make the change bigger than it needs to be. Embrace it and have fun with it. If there are elements of social media you don’t like – don’t participate. If there are interactions you don’t like – don’t look at them. Enjoy the time you do spend using social media and allow yourself time to adjust. 4. Small talk is easy. Small talk comes naturally to some and less naturally to others but the incredible thing is – small talk online brings big exposure. Is it worth learning to create conversations online if you know it could potentially expose you to hundreds (or even thousands) of people? Of course it is. The key is – engagement. The more people who interact with you ie. join your conversation, like what you’re saying or repeat what you said to their friends, the more exposure you’ll achieve for your brand. Don't be afraid to hear the opinions of others, even if they’re different to your opinions because just by joining in conversation with them – they’ve told their friends about you (indirectly of course). That’s pretty cool and who knows they may even become customers – now or in the future. Join conversations, participate in chit chat, and increase the number of people who know about your product or service. I like that! 5. Say it like it is. Hesitation, reservation and conservatism are the major differences between adults and kids when it comes to what to say. Sometimes, unfortunately kids go a little too far, not thinking at all and I don’t encourage that. But I do suggest you just say it and stop overthinking everything. Adults tend to get caught somewhere between the spoken language and the written language. Most business people can comfortably hold a conversation with a customer or colleague either on the phone or face-to-face. Ask them to write down what they spoke about and they get caught up in pronouns and pronunciation. Social media is not the place to get carried away with essays and prologues. The whole energy surrounding social media is conversational and that’s the tone you need to use if you want to engage online. I’m not suggesting you should be sloppy or use an abundance of shortened words. You’re in business and so you should be professional, of course. The tone you use should reflect the tone you use in your verbal communications, your offline conversations. Listen to yourself, record yourself if you need to. Hear the language and tone you use in conversations and bring that into your online conversations. Last but not least .. if a child doesn’t know how to do something, or simply doesn’t want to, what do they do? They ask someone for help. Not such a bad idea. Ask for help if you need it.

Read more