What can a blog do to your business?

What can a blog do to your business?Attend our free webinar August 24 and learn how to create highly profitable direct mail campaigns that will grow your business. Register Now »

Till recently, Influencer Marketing as a term was used in the context of movie and sports stars who endorsed various products and services in the mass media. Enterprises earmark a sizable portion of their marketing budget to engage these offline celebrities as a part of their Influencer Marketing strategy.

However, with Internet penetration growing exponentially and social media becoming ubiquitous, Influencer Marketing has touched the next generation of celebrities – bloggers, video bloggers and micro-bloggers.

Bloggers, who are a source of inspiration for hundreds and thousands of loyal followers, have become important influencers because they are seen as authentic and trustworthy people. In a recent report by McKinsey marketing-inspired word-of-mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and these customers have a 37 per cent higher retention rate.

Another key aspect going in the favour of bloggers as influencers is the big connect they have with the new age social and mobile first consumers. Brands, both big and small, are increasingly engaging in blogging as an Influencer Marketing tool for the following reasons:

1. COST-EFFECTIVENESS: In comparison to engaging movie and sport celebs, collaborating with bloggers as a part of Influencer Marketing is much more cost-effective.

2. HUMANISATION OF BUSINESS: Since blogging is a conversational style of writing where every blogger has his/her own tonality, it results in greater connect with audiences and in a native fashion.

3. ENHANCEMENT OF CREDIBILITY: When bloggers, being a third party, talk about a brand or a product, it creates an objective-based impression among readers and enhances the credibility of the brand.

4. EFFECTIVE CONNECT WITH TARGETED AUDIENCE: Every blogger has their own area of expertise for writing and hence a niche set of followers. Therefore, collaborating with bloggers with right set of followers helps brands hit the bull’s eye in terms of audiences.

5. DRIVING MORE TRAFFIC ON BRAND’S WEBSITE: Since bloggers generally integrate the images and links of the products and services they are writing on, it results in driving higher and relevant traffic back to the brands website.

6. ENHANCING SCALABILITY: The availability of Influencer Marketing platforms empowers brands to scale up the collaboration with bloggers from 10’s to 100’s based on budget and campaign requirements.

The key challenge a brand faces is to find and connect with right set of bloggers. Below are few points a marketer should consider while engaging with social influencers:

Relevance of the blog and blogger: Marketers must check what the blogger writes about and if the blog followers fall under the brand’s TG. Quality/tonality of the blog and background of the blogger are equally necessary to determine before engaging.

Audience engagement: A good blogger is the one who knows how to get audience hooked. One way to see the audience engagement is to check if a blog is receiving any comments from its visitors. Apart from that, social media connections to the blog can be a sound parameter to measure the audience engagement.

Reach of the blog: Reach is an essential metric to attain the popularity of a blog. One can ask for the monthly traffic analytics of the blog to get the insights into its reach. The higher the numbers, the better!

Influencer Marketing, powered by blogging, is the fastest growing channel for digital customer acquisition and integrating it as an integral part of marketing mix is the best way to turbo-charge your social sales.

How to Automate Your Social Marketing Efforts

How to Automate Your Social Marketing EffortsIn their book Start Your Own Business, the staff of Entrepreneur Media Inc. guides you through the critical steps to starting your business, then supports you in surviving the first three years as a business owner. In this edited excerpt, the authors describe how you can use automation to speed up the spread of your content across multiple social channels.

With all the social media site tools available, often the best way to be effective with your social marketing is to automate the process. First, you need to decide whether automation is right for you and, if so, which automation you should set up. Automation can be key in turning your contacts into profits because you can post less, but at the same time, you get more exposure. Social automation, however, can be considered spamming, so be careful with how you set it up.

How does social network automation work? There are tools likeHootsuite and SocialFlow where you can automate your social networking sites or TubeMogul to automate your video posting. These sites can submit a link or post to not just one or two sites but, in some cases, up to 60. Sometimes, though, the link posted isn’t relevant for the site it goes out to. In other words, the links aren’t even relevant for the members of the network, and sometimes they’re not properly tagged or categorized. This eventually leads to negative votes on the article or post submitted, so make sure you set up your automation properly.

There are many automation capabilities and options available. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

Twitter to Facebook. Every time you post on Twitter, it will automatically post to your personal Facebook newsfeed. While some media professionals have gotten away from this since the @Twitter handles are “dead links” when they move to Facebook, it can still be a fast and efficient way to automate. However, if Facebook is your primary source of engagement, consider the other way around for automation (see below).

Facebook Fan Page to Twitter. Every time you post to your Facebook fan page, it can post to Twitter, which will, in turn, post to your personal Facebook newsfeed.

Link your blog to Facebook. Click on the NetworkedBlogs applicationin Facebook, and add your blog information as prompted. There’s a verification process that Facebook will walk you through to make sure you’re the author of the blog.

Link your blog to LinkedIn. Go to Applications, and click on WordPress if you have a WordPress blog, or go to Applications then Blog Link if you have a TypePad blog. LinkedIn will walk you through the process step by step.

Link your blog to Twitter. Twitterfeed is a handy, free website and application that will “feed your blog to Twitter.” Go to Twitterfeed, sign up for an account, verify and log in, then click “Create New Feed” button, and add your blog. It might take a few hours to start working. Once going, it’s fairly reliable unless Twitter goes down or has API issues. Check the stream once a week.

Use a service like Hootsuite, where you can schedule posts months in advance. You can also use the service to link to all of your social media accounts, from Twitter and Facebook to LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. Your most popular articles or blog posts can be “socialed” months into the future to give them new life. Just be sure to make clear that they’re older posts (add the phrase “In case you missed it,” or ICYMI in Twitterspeak).

Another way to automate your blog so it posts to the social sites you’re active on is to set up widgets and add plugins. You can do this for sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Squidoo, Delicious, Digg and many more. The way a widget works is every time you post on one social site, it will go out to your blog as an update. First, you need to make sure your blog allows widgets. Some blogs won’t allow widgets unless you host the blog on your own site. Once you determine whether you can add these widgets, log in to each of the sites you want to add a widget to and go to the search box and type in widget. That will take you to the most current directions on how to upload or generate the HTML code needed to post widgets to your blog.

Plugins are applications that can enhance the capabilities of your blog, such as the All in One SEO plugins available on WordPress, which helps you optimize your blog for search engines, or the WPtouch iPhone Theme on WordPress that transforms your WordPress blog into an iPhone application-style theme. There are thousands of plugins available, and they’re usually found on your blog platform under “plugin.”

5 Steps to Take to Start Your Small Business Blog Today

5 Steps to Take to Start Your Small Business Blog TodayYou know you need to be blogging for your small business, but you have no idea where to start. Sound familiar? If so, read on, for exactlywhat you need to do to start a small business blog today.If you already have a WordPress website for your business and simply want to add a blog, you can do this through your their dashboard. Here is a good primer on how to do this.

To add a blog to your existing non-WordPress site involves a more technical process that may require the help of a web designer or developer.

But if you’re starting from scratch, here is a step-by-step process for starting your own small business blog today.

1. Decide on a blogging platform.

This is an important decision. Choosing the wrong platform may not make or break you, but it can make things more difficult than they need to be.

There are many different blogging sites you can use, but the most versatile and user-friendly platform out there is WordPress. There are two types of WordPress sites and it’s important you choose the right one. There is WordPress.com, which allows you to set up, in minutes, a blog and its domain (e.g., www.yoursite.wordpress.com). For reasons that go beyond the scope of this article, I do not recommend using this version for your business blog.

I do recommend using WordPress.org to create your own self-hosted blog. This site is simple to use, although non-techies might need a bit of help with the initial setup.

Both versions are free. Hosting and registering a domain will cost a bit, but more on that later.

If you’d like to explore your options, there are several other platforms that are completely free and give you the ability to set up your site in a few steps; they include Weebly, Joomla and Drupal.  However, you should be aware that most of these sites won’t work for a business blog in the long run. Restrictions in terms of design, functionality and SEO will make it very difficult later on to have a successful business blog.

Related: How to Turbocharge the Launch of Your Corporate Blog

2. Choose a WordPress theme.

One of the best features of WordPress is that it allows you to easily customize the look and feel of your blog, using themes. There’s a large list of free themes available in the WordPress Theme Directory, or try checking out premium (paid) themes at a site like ThemeForest.

When choosing a theme, keep in mind the following:

  • Is it responsive? Does it display properly on a variety of devices, including desktop, tablets and mobile devices?
  • Does it come with some level of customer support and/or a support forum?
  • Does it allow a level of customization (e.g., changing colors, navigation menu, buttons, widgets, etc.)?

3. Register a domain name.

Once you’ve decided which blogging platform you’re going to use, choose a domain name. This will be the URL used to access your site (e.g., www.yoursite.com). You can do this through a domain registrar like NameCheap, 1&1 or GoDaddy.

Your domain will cost you around $10 a year; the price goes down if you’re willing to pay for more than one year up-front. Try to choose a .com domain (as opposed to .net, .biz, etc.), if possible, and use your trademarked business name if it’s available. Make sure your domain is easy to remember yet specific enough to differentiate you from sites or businesses with a similar name.

4. Purchase web hosting.

While your WordPress site is free, you’ll still need to pay to have your blog hosted, which costs more than the domain rental. You can purchase your web hosting service through a number of different companies, but some of the more popular are GoDaddy, Hostgator, Bluehost and 1&1.

5. Make a plan, and get writing!

This is the fun part, the reason you decided to get a business blog in the first place. Before you dive in, however, it’s important to think about the purpose of your blog.

  • What is your main objective? Is it to get leads, build your email list or become an expert in your field?
  • How often will you commit to blogging? Two to three times a week is ideal, but blogging once a week is better than nothing.
  • What’s the “voice” of your blog? Casual and fun? Authoritative? Academic?
  • How will you get your readers to take action while on your blog? An email opt-in box? A link to a sales page? Or a call to action to fill out a request for a quote?

Once you have a plan in place, go ahead and write. Focus on topics where you have unique insights to share, or where you can really add to the conversation. Don’t just rehash what everyone else is saying. Be original and write about topics that are of value to your audience.

Wondering what comes next? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Building a Successful Business Blog, or Secrets Of a Killer Blog Post, or 21 Types of Blog Posts That Get People Talking.

Are you ready to jump in and start your own small business blog? If not, what’s holding you back? Share below!

A Simple Guide to Using Multiple Blogging Platforms in Your Content Strategy

A Simple Guide to Using Multiple Blogging Platforms in Your Content StrategyAttend our free webinar August 24 and learn how to create highly profitable direct mail campaigns that will grow your business. Register Now »

Facebook recently launched a new pilot program called “Instant Articles” that allows select publishers to upload articles directly to the NewsFeed.

LinkedIn has already built a publishing empire by allowing users to do something very similar, and sites like Medium and (to a lesser extent) Google+ are centered around exactly this kind of self-publishing.

This leaves dedicated company blogs in a strange place.

They are still necessary to act as a hub for all of your content and as a dedicated place where you control the design and benefit from the close association between your brand and the material you produce.

However, the attention of many consumers is shifting more towards platforms that consolidate all the content that interests them into one destination as opposed to visiting a few different blogs.

“In the perfect world, I recommend covering all of your bases with your own blog as a primary hub, Medium for sharing thought leadership and LinkedIn for added exposure,” said Sujan Patel, the VP of Marketing at When I Work and creator of ContentMarketer.io.

This article will discuss how to utilize the opportunities for growing and scaling your audience on these alternative blogging platforms while still maintaining a robust and healthy central blog of your own.

I’ll explore how to port existing content from your blog and tailor it to each platform in order to maximize your content’s impact.It used to be that most content lived on a single site that the publisher owned. People used to find blog content by visiting a company’s website directly, using an RSS reader, through email or the search engines.

Then came social media and changed how users discovered content completely.

Now people could find great new content to explore via recommendations from friends or from the crowd, but in many cases they were still leaving the social platform and going to the original publisher’s site to actually consume this content.