Blogging for Your Business

I never really knew or understood what the purpose of a blog was until I started writing blog entries. I used to think blogs were just for individuals who wrote about their lives, sort of like an online journal. But little did I know that businesses also use blogs to try to increase traffic and search rankings. Business blogs produce a wealth of information about a variety of topics. They are one of the key ingredients to a successful internet marketing plan.

Business blogs are a form of social media that is a communication mechanism used to create and build relationships. Content is key when initiating a blog for your business. Online users are eager to dive into information that is meaningful and engaging. Blogging also allows a business to have a personality. It gives customers a chance to get to know a business on a different level. This also gives businesses a chance to hear feedback that they probably normally wouldn’t hear. Feedback, whether it is positive or negative, is beneficial for a business because it produces interaction. Businesses need interaction to start the communication process.

Blogs are a fun way to share important content and information to customers. A blog will give a business a personality, express creativity, and produce a positive business culture.

Twitter Turns Five

Twitter has been ‘tweeting’ around the world for five years now. The little blue Twitter bird has become a staple icon in the world of social media. Twitter got its start in a brainstorming session of a podcasting company called Odeo in San Francisco. Twitter was founded by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, and Biz Stone. Odeo needed a way to be saved and the idea was to reinvent the way we communicate. Jack Dorsey had a vision that would allow users to use 140 characters or less to send out information via text message. It started out as twttr, inspired by the photo sharing service Flickr. This phenomenon that would reshape our lives launched in March of 2006 when Jack Dorsey posted the first tweet “just setting up my twttr”.

Accounts were created and twttr had 100 users. Soon after Twitter exploded into a micro-blogging movement that was made into its own company in 2007. Soon after, people from all walks of life, celebrities, and even Obama were becoming encompassed in the world of Twitter. That 100 users that first started using Twitter became 200 million at the end of 2010 and has continued to grow since then.

In the five years that Twitter has existed they have won awards, launched in different languages, partnered with LinkedIn, and has made a major impact in social media upon many other feats. According to the Huffington Post, Twitter now handles about 140 million tweets per day and a billion tweets per week. Twitter will continue to grow and be the place for users to unleash 140 characters of anything imaginable, as well as be a place for businesses to grow and market their brand.

Facebook vs. Twitter, For Marketing

As the social media hype continues to grow, we ask the million dollar question for marketing. Which channels are best for business? A recent research report titled “Subscribers, Fans, and Followers” asks Facebook and Twitter users as well as email subscribers whose more prone to purchase products from these marketing venues.

Many marketers adhere to consistency with their marketing messages across social media and email channels. But when looking at the findings in the report we find that the audiences across these three channels have different needs and motivations.

Daily Twitter users who followed a brand were more than twice as likely to purchase a product from that brand than a Facebook user who “liked” a specific brand. Further, Facebook fans were the most likely group to disagree with the question as email subscribers fell in the middle.

The pattern among Twitter, Facebook, and email was similar when individuals were asked whether they’d recommend a brand in their social circles. 33% of Twitter users were likely to recommend brands while 24% of email subscribers and only 21% Facebook users responded in favor.

According to the study, Twitter followers are the most attractive group to marketers though it’s a smaller user base. Only 3% of US internet users follow a brand on Twitter. That 3% however, are the brand influencers compared to Facebook users and email subscribers. Facebook users generally become brand fans more for self-image because a connection has already been established in real life.

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While Social Networking Keeps Growing, Are You Missing Opportunities?

The stats are enormous. Twitter recently has surpassed 20 billion tweets and Facebook now has over 400 million users, 175 million of which log in everyday. It’s no wonder why all of the marketing hype centers around social media. It’s growth is fast and relentless yet experts are still trying to figure out how to be as opportunistic as possible in reaching an audience that is spending a huge amount of time social networking. The focus has shifted for businesses and advertisers to try and join in the online conversations. After all, there’s no sense in spending marketing dollars on television commercials for example, when consumers are using commercial time to engage in more social networking, unless it’s the Super Bowl.

A recent Nielson study reveals that social networking eats up twice as much time on the web as any other activity. Facebook and Twitter account for 22.7% of time spent online with the next closest activity being online gaming, 10.2%. The stats also show the degree to which social networking is taking the place of other forms of online communication. Both email and instant messaging have seen a significant drop as an online activity. Here’s the full stats from the study.

So what does it take to convince company to start marketing using social media? If you’ve been thinking about getting your feet wet for a while, now is the time to put your toes in the water! You don’t have to completely dive in but with growth like this, you owe it to your marketing strategy. Businesses shy away from social media largely because there’s so much out there and the results are hard to quantity. So start with the basics:

1. Create a Facebook profile: Try to connect with ‘friends’ that are relevant to your business. Most likely whether you’re B2B or B2C, your customers are already on Facebook. It’s relatively user friendly and not cumbersome to manage.

2. Open a Twitter account: Tweeting is fun and easy- it doesn’t take a lot of time out of your day. Again, you might find that your customers have already joined the Twitter universe.

3. Start a company blog: Blogging can be a great benefit to a business by increasing customer and visitor loyalty and driving more traffic to your company’s website. Decide on a focus for your blog, and write awesome content that will keep people coming back.

There are so many great resources online that will help you begin your social media endeavor and down the line, sharpen your social networking skills. Check out Mashable and Social Media Examiner.

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Brands Being Tested Through Social Media

A recent Harris Poll was released showing how strongly adults are influenced by social media when it comes to brands and product reviews. The study was conducted in April 2010 and asked 2,131 adults in the US to weigh in on a series of questions regarding social media consumer influence. Here are some of the interesting findings:

34% of adults who use social media, use it as an outlet to endorse or oppose brands. The polling found that 26% of those individuals are using the medium to express dissatisfaction while 23% are sharing their positive brand experiences. Either way, 38% of ALL adults who share their opinions in cyberspace are aiming to influence others.

So are people ultimately influenced by these rants and raves? They certainly are. The polling found that the number one influencer (71%) was “Reviews from family members or friends”. Coming in at a distant second was “Reviews in newspapers or magazines” (46%) and “Reviews from friends or people I follow on social networking sites” (45%).

Young adults were more likely than older adults to say their opinions encountered on social media sites were influential. Further, 50% of 18-34-year-olds versus 37% of adults 55 or older said social media reviews sway their interaction with companies, brands, and products.

There is good reason why marketers are employing social media policies. If done right, it can be a great channel to get a positive conversation about a brand spreading like a wildfire. In contrast, brands can be more vulnerable as well because real-life messages and experiences are being cast out by these individuals. People are generally more accepting of this information because they know it’s not just another marketing message.

B2B Social Media Users Growing But Not Experienced

For use of social media in a B2B environment, the time is now! A recent survey showed that 73% of B2B social media users have less than two years of experience. The popularity of the medium has been growing rapidly in the past year causing many marketers to sign up for Facebook, Twitter, etc. Now it’s a question of engaging yourself into the social networks and becoming familiar with what’s out there and how people are using them.

As more businesses continue to pay attention to social media and develop strategies, it’s a very opportune time for existing social networkers to sharpen their skills and stay ahead of the competition. More and more information is surfacing about the positive impact social media is having on business. B2B companies seem to have an advantage when using social media because they tend to focus on goals and results, such as lead generation, that visibly affect their bottom line. Social networking also improves communication between customers, prospects, and suppliers.

In North America, here are the percentages of B2B Marketers that currently are using different types of social media:

LinkedIn- 75%
SEO Tools-
Google Adwords-
Blogging Software-

Now remember, 73% of these users have less than two years experience with these social networks. Dive in!

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