Social Media

10 Things To Do Before Taking Your Business To Social Media

Everyone has heard about the wonders of social media marketing, and there is a tendency to want to be everywhere.

It’s a common belief that social media is easy, fast and free-of-cost, but this is just a false myth. Being everywhere means either, that you have resources to keep your social media platforms active, or that you will end up posting anything - without a business purpose - or nothing at all.

If it’s not done properly social media marketing has the risk of making you waste a lot of time and money, rapidly spread wrong information or a negative image of your business and even lead to legal issues.

If you’re thinking about using social media to promote your business, this post is a good start point. To save you time implementing a social media strategy, below there is a list of 10 things to learn or do before jumping onto this trend.

 

1.    Have a mobile-friendly website

Most of the traffic led by your social media pages will come from smart phones, iPads and tablets. To avoid frustrations to your visitors, make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Use the Google Mobile-Friendly tool to test your website and determine in a few seconds whether it’s mobile friendly.

If your website is still not mobile-friendly take a look at this 5 Step Plan To Mobile Friendly Websites, by Netology

 

2.    Have a blog

Social media platforms will allow you to promote but not to tell the story. To share best practices, successful stories, news and other interesting information about your business, you will need a blog. This will act as landing page for many of your social media content.

To know how to start blogging get this free beginners’ guide to blogging, by First Site Guide.

 

3.    Learn the jargon

Know the meaning of words like hashtags, retweets, mentions, etc, as well as how to use these functionalities in social media platforms.

This article by Hubspot offers a glossary of social media terms.

 

4.    Find your audience

Not every social media will bring the same benefits to your business. Take some time to study each channel and find out where you have better chances to connect with your target audience and how.

To determine what platform is more suitable for your business, also read this other post on What Social Media Should I Use To Promote My Business Online published previously on my blog.

 

5.    Have an editorial calendar

Find out your hot publishing times and days, and use an editorial calendar to help you create content on regular basis, i.e., a few times a week, and even several times a day for Twitter, and be consistent with your publishing days.

Download my free social media editorial planner here (PDF file)

 

6.    Set a social media marketing plan

Identify the ultimate goals of your social media platforms. These goals can be:

  • Building brand awareness,
  • Attracting new customers and growing sales, or
  • Building strong relationships and customer loyalty

Produce content aimed to reach these marketing goals and post with a purpose.

Here is a great post by Buffer on how to create a social media marketing plan.

 

7.    Sign-up for a social media management tool

Free tools like Buffer or Hootsuite can save you a lot of time, as they allow you to manage different social media platforms from a single dashboard.

In this other post Search Engine Journal selects these top 10 tools for managing your social media accounts.

 

8.    Create beautiful images

Get a good camera and lighting equipment, download Photoshop Express for your smart phone and learn to take great photographs for your social media posts.

Rebecca Corliss of Hubspot reports on a social media study that using images on Facebook pages increased shares by 53% over the average post, and posts with images have an increase of 104% in comments.

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Try PicMonkey and Canva to help you create images.

 

9.    Learn to write for social media

You will have to learn to craft your posts to produce short, creative and engaging content, entertain and inform your followers, plus show personality and a unique style.

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To learn how to write social media posts for business also read this other article by Jeff Molander.

 

10.    Join the conversations

Don’t just expect people to follow you. Join groups, participate in chats, follow others and so on. Social media is a great way to build strong relationships with existing clients, prospects, supplier and collaborators, media outlets and bloggers, and local communities.

Jill Shaw, Social Media Specialist at Infusionsoft, give us 8 excellent tips to use social media to forge authentic relationships.

 


Your Turn

What had you liked to know before starting to promote your business in social media?


Which Social Media Should I Choose To Promote My Business?

Social media has become a favourite way to promote a business for free. Any business wants to have social media presence, and there is a tendency to want to be everywhere.

Signing up for a social media platform and create a business profile doesn’t cost anything, but keeping your platform active requires a big amount of time, dedication and resources. So, before signing up for any social media platform, determine first which one is best for your business, depending on the nature of your products or services, the business personality and your target audience.

In this post today I’ll take you through the most popular social media platforms to help you identify which one is the most suitable for business.


Facebook

Facebook it’s the biggest social media platform on the web. Everyone is on Facebook, so every brand and business wants to be there too. Even you can reach a very large audience through Facebook, it’s also highly competitive.

What you see on Facebook depends on your previous interactions with every page that you follow. If you don’t like, share, comment or follow links in any post of a fan page, Facebook will stop showing posts from that page in your feeds.

Therefore, you may have thousands of Facebook fans, but not everyone sees what you post on your page. If you want to reach your entire group of fans, you have to pay and boost your post.

To know more about how Facebook feed filters work, read this article 'Facebook News Feed Filters emotion Study', published by The Guardian.

Facebook is for your business if you have:

  • Cool photos of your products
  • Amusing or inspirational videos of your business
  • Useful articles and links to valuable resources
  • Contests and giveaways
  • Discounts, coupons or package deals
  • Upcoming events, webinars, conferences, workshops, etc

 

A great example: Mr. Wonderful

Mr. Wonderful was established in 2013 by a couple of Spanish graphic designers. They used to be a small design studio. Not anymore. With a huge social media success they have become one of the most popular brands of scrapbook and stationary in Spain.

Their Facebook page is great because their posts combine clever copyrighting, beautiful images and links to interesting resources, a winning combination to get lots and lots of responses from their followers. They share new products, company updates, events, etc, with beautiful and well-styled images and graphic copy.

Twitter

Twitter is described as a microblog site with a 140-character text limit. It’s a very fast-paced social network with a very short life span, which means that you have to post as often as you can.

Twitter is a great way to start conversations with people on the Internet. While everyone recommends Twitter for customer service, I personally find it a great platform to thank people who have interacted or collaborated with my business somehow. For example, thanking a blogger who mentioned my products or services in a blog post or congratulating a provider for putting together a fabulous event that I attended.

Twitter is for your business if you can…

  • share frequent company or industry news and updates (at least 2 – 3 times a day)
  • start conversations and answer questions about a topic of general/industry interest.
  • listen and help customers with doubts or even complaints.

 

Google+

Google+ is similar to Facebook but with more marketing features (like hangouts and +1s). As it’s owned by Google, everything is posted there will rank highly in their search engine.

 Google+ is for your business if…

  • Seo is an important part of your digital marketing strategy
  • You share cool photos or videos
  • You have useful articles and resources that can be shared through a link
  • You want to promote upcoming events, webinars, workshops, etc

 

Pinterest

Pinterest is the platform for quality visual content, being more suitable to promote products than services. However, many businesses have found the formula to sell their expertise on Pinterest sharing knowledge through infographics.

Pinterest is for your business if you…

  • Target women between 25 – 45 year old
  • Are in the photography, design or lifestyle industries (fashion, design, home decor, food and luxury brands)
  • Sell products online, as it allows including a backlink to your product page on your site.
  • Have professional and styled images of your products
  • Share images that are not in your website or will be only for a limited time.

 

A great example: Elle&Co

Elle&Co is the brand of a young and talented designer who has managed to make Pinterest the main referral of traffic to her website. Her main target is creative businesses for a female young market, so Pinterest was the perfect channel to reach this target. Even she doesn't sell physical products, infographics and clever graphic headlines grab the interest of Pinterest users.

 

Instagram

Instagram is another photo and video sharing platform with includes some filters and photo editing tools. You can only post on Instagram from your Smart phone which means that you can share more casual images - and less professional - than in Pinterest.

Although you don’t need to share here professional images, many businesses put a lot of effort in sharing beautiful, well-styled and perfectly lighted images of their products, making their brands stand out in Instagram.

Uploading professional photos saved from the Internet directly on to your phone can take away the connexion with the brand, as your audience expects to see a more informal side of your business in Instagram.

Instagram is for your business if…

  • Your business is in the lifestyle industry
  • Your target audience is mainly female between 18 – 35 years old.
  • You can take beautiful images of your products with a consistent look and feel directly from your Smart phone.

 

A great example: My little fabric

My little fabric is the business name of Aline, an amazing French graphic designer and photographer, so there is no surprise here how beautiful her Instagram is.

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Another great example: The Villa Styling

Australian stylist and photographer Louise Roche uses Instagram to showcase her work, publishing amazing photographs quite regularly. In spite of her professional and high quality visual content she doesn't promote her business on Pinterest. Instead she uses Instagram, and let her website visitors pin her photographs to their own Pinterest boards through sharing tools under her images.

 

Youtube

Youtube is a video sharing platform. After Google, YouTube is the second largest search engine. Like Google+, since Google owns it every link in YouTube will rank quite well in search engines.

Youtube is for your business if…

  • Seo is an important part of your digital marketing strategy
  • If you’re a mediapreneur in the video production, movie-making and music industry!
  • You can produce your own videos to share your expertise (through video-tutorials, vlogging, etc)
  • You can produce video-demos of your product showing how they’re different from everyone else’s.
  • You can produce a very cool, watchable and sharable video that will go viral.

 

A great example: Oh Joy!

American graphic designer Joy Cho made of blog a global fenomenum. After one decade of blogging Joy has now implementing her own Youtube channel for those who rather watch than read.

 

Linkedin

Linkedin is the largest professional social media platform for business people, where you can share your expertise and professional skills. It connects recruiters and job-seekers, and it’s also great to connect with industry fellows.

You can share expertise through linkedin groups, as well as get referrals and recommendations from those who have worked with you.

Linkedin is for your business if you…

  • Are a B2B business (like coaching, consulting or business development services)
  • Share professional and informative content
  • Offer links to career-oriented articles and resources
  • Post jobs and career opportunities.

 


Wrap up

If you are a small business owner, select a maximum of three o four platforms to promote your business and create a clear and well-organised plan to keep your platforms alive. Don’t try to be everywhere just because everyone is. It’s better to have just a couple of active social media channels to promote your business that a long list of dead channels where you only post once in a blue moon.


YOUR TURN

What social media platform are you using to promote your business and why? Which one is working the best for you and which one is not working at all?


16 Free Must-Have Tools For Small Businesses

Over the many years I worked for big international organisations I never had to worry about software. It was always provided and paid by the company and all I had to do was to demonstrate I could use it.

During all these years I got so used to working with different virtual tools that they became essential to do my everyday work.

But when I started my own business, software became an expensive cost that I couldn’t always afford. Therefore, I needed to find similar solutions to the ones I used to use in my job, but at a minimal cost.

Last week, as I was organising my bookmark folders, I realised over the last couple of years running my business I managed to find a good set of free tools that I couldn’t do business without. These tools might be equally useful for many other freelancers and small business owners, so I collected all of them in this post today to tell you how I replaced expensive software with free and open-source solutions saving a huge amount of money to my small business.

free-must-have-tools-for-small-business

 

Time-management Tools

1. Trello

I used to work with a notepad next to my desk to organize my daily tasks and a desk full of project plans, calendars and post-its. But when I started to work from home – with a 3 years old constantly around – I had to keep my desk completely empty. So I found Trello.

Trello is a free web-based project and task management tool to make to-do lists, checklists, workflows, deadline reminders, etc. Trello has replaced all my sticky notes, notepads, planners and workflow charts with a simple and very easy to use tool, where I keep all organized in just a virtual dashboard. I can connect from any computer, share dashboards with others and work collaboratively online.

2. Evernote

This tool has replaced my ideabooks with a simple virtual workspace. I find Evernote really useful for blogging or developing creative projects. When an idea comes to my mind I take notes in Evernote, when I see something inspiring in a book or magazine somewhere I scan the image and take it with me, when I’m researching online I’m constantly clipping websites and articles and save them in here too, etc.

 

Finance and invoicing

3. FreshBooks

When you work for an external company, there is usually a finance accounts team looking after everything that has to do with payments. When you work for yourself you’re your own accounts team. Invoicing my clients used to be a daunting task for me, until I found FreshBooks. This tool allows me to create, send and manage invoices online and even collect payments online by credit card, Google Checkout or PayPal.

If you work with others (employees or contractors) it’s also a great way to track the time that each of them time dedicate to their projects and pay them accordingly.

Even though this app has a small monthly fee, it saves me a lot of time, and in business, time is equal to money.

4. Wave

I also love Wave as it’s similar to Freshbooks but 100% free! However, if you work with employees or contractors, Wave has some limitations, like for example, the payroll feature is only available in US and Canada. But it’s still a great way to invoice clients and keep accounting books up to date, and it can also be integrated with credit card payments.

 

sale tracker

5. Square Up

As I also sell digital products, I used Square Register to tracks my sales and inventory, send digital receipts, access analytics and create reports for me to analyse what’s working and where to improve. Their card processing feature is currently available in the US, Canada Japan and Australia.

 

Document Sharing

6. Dropbox

This popular cloud storage service allows me to store my documents in the cloud instead on my computer (saving a lot of space), share them with clients and collaborators and access to them from any computer, so I can travel light! Dropbox is free up to 2GB of storage.

7. Google Drive

This is the other popular cloud storage service, that offers up to 5GB of free storage, but as everything with Google, you need to access through a Gmail account.

Both are very similar and I use one or the other depending on the client’s preferences.

8. WeTransfer

One of the most common problems that many of us usually have is that we work with very heavy documents that need to be sent to by email and we end up constantly getting notifications of quote limit reach from our email provider.

Many email providers also limit the size of the attachments to 10 MB, so here is where WeTransfer saved my life. It allows me to upload heavy documents and send a notification to their receptor to download them from his end. There was a time where I had to constantly send CDs and USBs by post, that’s not necessary anymore.

Even though WeTransfer doesn’t allow you to store the document for longer than 48 hrs, it’s still my favourite to send big files that cannot be sent by email.

 

Communication tools

9. Skype

In my old company I used to have a videoconference room with a huge screen and an audio system to meet and work with virtual teams all around the world. Now I have Skype at home and love it!

This free video conferencing system not only saves me a lot of money in international calls, its instant messaging feature is a great way to be connected with clients or collaborators, send quick messages and share files, making me less dependant on the email.

I also use constantly the sharing screen feature as it offers the possibility to run virtual training sessions and assist my client with technical issues not matter where they are (or where I am).

10. Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts used to offer something that Skype didn’t offer for free: group video calls. Now Skype also offers this feature. Google Hangouts does the same than Skype but it requires every account to have a Google Plus account, which adds an extra task in the registering process.

 

Client MANAGEMENT

11. Zoho

Since I started my career in Marketing and Communications, InterAction seemed to be the standard CRM for big corporations. Now I use Zoho to manage my clients and love it. It has so many features: account management, lead management, sales tracking… and yes, it’s totally free!

12. Really Simple Systems

Before finding ZoHo I used to utilised Really Simple Systems, a web-based customer relationship management solution with full suite sales, marketing and customer support platform. It has a lot less features and functionalities than ZoHo, which it’s not necessary a bad thing, as it’s actually much more simple and easier to use, and provides enough features for freelancers and small business owners.

 

Marketing

13. MailChimp

Although both Zoho and Really Simple Systems have an email marketing feature integrated, MailChimp is the most popular email marketing system. What I love about it is that is integrated with SquareSpace and many Wordpress pluggings, making the entire setup process much easier.

MailChimp allows me to collect email subscribers, design e-newsletters and email communications, send them to my email lists and track statistics.

 

Social Media

The most common problem in social media marketing is time management, as having a strong social media presence requires time and skills to engage, listen and respond to your audience.

14. Hootsuite

This social media monitoring tool allows me to schedule posts, manage all my social media activities and track analytics in just one platform.

15. Buffer

After using Hootsuite for a while, I found Buffer who does exactly the same than Hootsuite but with a much user-friendly interface.

Although both systems support Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Linkedin if you also have Pinterest or Instagram you will need Viraltag - for Pinterest scheduling - and Schedugram - for Instagram - to manage these other platforms.

 

Image editor

16. Gimp

As a multimedia designer for me it’s a priority to buy design software like Photoshop but there’s a great open-source image manipulation software that does photo retouching, image composition and image authoring too, and that software is Gimp. So unless you are a designer and need Photoshop integrated with other design tools (like Illustrator, InDesign, etc…) you can save a good money downloading this other software for free.


You turn

Which free tools do you find essential to manage you business and why? Do you know any other great tool for small business?