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10 Great Ways To Use Twitter To Your Business's Advantage

by Amy Armitage

Twitter is the latest web-centric communications service to explode onto the scene, and businesses have moved in rapidly. However, a little discretion goes a long way, as the users of "social" sites and services have demonstrated that they will stomach only so much commercialization of what they consider their personal space. As MySpace evolved from an upstart new kid on the block where everyone let everything "hang out" to a part of the Rupert Murdoch media empire, people who'd had enough began looking for other places. This influenced the rise of Facebook. Now that Facebook has begun acting like a "regular old corporation," too, folks are on the search again.

Your company can most definitely benefit from using Twitter. The primary use for it in business is to listen, because, as every top-performing salesman knows, listening is more important than talking most of the time. You want to hear from every customer, vendor, client, industry leader, journalist, activist, colleague and competitor who has anything to say about your product, service or business. Twitter has much in common with old-style networking, like early morning meetings at diners and water-cooler chats, except it's been "virtualized" for 21st century knowledge sharing. With that brief introduction, let's look at 10 great ways to use Twitter to your business's advantage.

1. Listen more, talk less: If you just think of Twitter as another way to "post" your messages and advertisements, you're missing the whole point and your following will probably be nonexistent. Spend more time listening to what others are "tweeting" (posting) about you and you will gather valuable information. When you do post a message, make it something people want to know, not something you want them to know.

2. Find your niche: Twitter's uses are limited only by your imagination, or someone else's if you're fresh out of ideas. Don't think of what you can get, but what you can offer and what you can learn. You may want to share knowledge, you may want to obtain it, or you may just want to assure customers, colleagues and others that you are available to them. You will benefit to the extent that you listen and stay engaged, which means referring back to #1 a lot.

3. Develop a personality (or a few): A number of business bloggers have commented on how well Twitter works to humanize an otherwise impersonal entity like a corporation. A fresh and interesting personality attracts followers, and some successful firms even allow numerous voices to reach out from within the company's offices and cubicles.

4. Eavesdrop: There are several good tools for monitoring what is being said, starting with Twitter's own search field. Search for your term(s) and when the results are displayed, you will also get a list of the current most-popular searches (to the right) so you always know what's hot at the moment. The site monitter.com, as the name implies, was developed specifically for use with Twitter, to allow simultaneous multiple searches.

5. Build your audience: The first thing to do is post a few tweets to get a handle on how it all works, of course, and dedicate some study time to see what your competitors and companies in the same industry are doing. Make use of the "Find People" function on the top of the Twitter page to find people in your own company, your current clients and colleagues, old classmates and friends, etc. Use the "@" reply to connect directly with people, to make sure they see your tweet, and discuss matters of interest to them. When they respond with the @ reply, other folks following them may notice you and choose to follow you, too.

6. Follow the followers: You should find out who else your followers are following, as that can give you fresh insight into the types of people to seek. Use the various search methods (see #4 above) to find subjects that relate to your industry, and pay attention to who's talking about these matters. Don't be a broadcaster, be a conversationalist, and if you do Twitter right, you will build a following daily.

7. Be human: Too many people, from firms both large and small, represent their firms poorly by appearing to be robots on a fixed schedule. They crank out PR verbiage and automated data and don't offer anything for followers to grab hold of. You have to "throw them a line" or you will sail right by everyone.

8. Be polite and respectful: This means that the rules for eating Thanksgiving dinner at the neighbor's house are in effect-no politics, no religion, unless you're a politician or a clergyman, of course. These subjects have no place in a business conversation, so leave them out.

9: Play nice: Don't get emotionally involved or rant about a person, place or product. One marketing blogger called Twitter "a ship we are all traveling on," so it's important to act appropriately-or be forced to "walk the plank."

10: Stay positive: Don't be pessimistic, and don't whine or complain about what's wrong with this or that industry or the world in general. People will follow people they like, who offer something of value, who are upbeat and who stay on an even keel. Of course, some situations require a serious, even solemn approach, but those are the exceptions and should be handled delicately. Anyone can bellyache, gripe, moan and groan. A leader, on the other hand, offers solutions.

Bottom line? Twitter is a tool, and a good one, for keeping conversations going with stakeholders, potential customers, colleagues and even competitors. It takes real-time management because it's a real-time tool, but when it's done right Twitter can be an important addition to your sales, marketing and business communications arsenal.


Source: HostReview

Measuring the ROI of Online Public Relations

by Lee Odden

Measuring the return on investment from online marketing and PR efforts is essential as an indication of success as well as a feedback mechanism to guide subsequent efforts.

Determining the effectiveness of SEO for Public Relations starts with clearly identified objectives. Matching the purpose for the effort with specific metrics is essential. For example, if improving brand visibility is a goal, then documenting brand mentions in connection with news & PR content at regular intervals can demonstrate the effect of content promotion and link building.

Online PR metrics and tools often include:

* News wire service metrics (see screen capture below)
* Web analytics for landing pages and web site
* Google and Yahoo alerts
* Monitor blog search engines (via RSS)
* Press release landing page conversion tracking
* Social media monitoring
* Inbound links
* Pickups on blogs
* Pickups on other web sites & online publications
* News and Standard Search Engine Rankings
* Conversions: Less likely sales, more likely white paper downloads, webinar signups, newsletter subscriptions, demos, etc

A press release that is keyword optimized and announcing a promotional offer of some kind, should have tracking codes added to the links embedded in the release. Those links should point to landing pages designed to convert visitors from the press release to the desired outcome. Ranking is not a worthwhile metric in this case but conversions are.

Capturing various measures and key performance indicators isn’t enough to gain support for optimizing news content in many organizations. These efforts belong within the Public Relations effort and should emphasize goals consistent with PR objectives. Sometimes it takes a little creative packaging of analytics to help other departments or upstream executives “get” the value of optimizing PR content for search.

Here are a few tactics to use in order to sell the value of SEO within a PR effort:

* Show competitor social search visibility vs client/company

* Show competitor’s optimized news content ranking in various types of search engines where the company/client is not (and probably should be)

* Research a keyword glossary and run a ranking report on those phrases. Show the lack of search visibility for what search audiences are actually looking for, relevant to the business

* Run a test of a few news items, whether they be blog posts, press releases or a digital asset like video. Take a benchmark measurement first and then show progress.

* Set keyword ranking goals for news content and estimate the cost to achieve the same goals with PPC advertising over time. Demonstrate the cost of organic search traffic vs PPC traffic.

If you can’t get budget approval for an overall search campaign as part of specific PR efforts, then using a competitive example or a small scale test might be enough to demonstrate the value of incorporating SEO with Public Relations.


Source: MediaRelationsBlog

4 Tips for Getting More Out of Your Google Analytics Account

by Lyndi Lawson

I’ve had a fair bit of free time on my hands lately. Not the good kind, where I catch up on my reading and finally get around to organising a repair to the leaks in my roof. Oh no – it was more the lying-in-bed-in-the-throes-of-an-evil-tonsillitis-bronchitis-black-lung-viral-bacterial-mucous-ridden-hell kind. Nonetheless, it gave me some time to think, not least of all about my tips, which today are on getting more out of Google Analytics.

We’ve all heard or read the line somewhere before: the beauty of eMarketing lies in its trackability and measurability. It’s true too – except that for the less technically minded among us, it’s easier said than done. Enter Google Analytics; the free tool from Google that makes it possible for marketers to track their site statistics. Undoubtedly one of Google’s gems, this tool can nonetheless be intimidating. These pointers are aimed at making it a little less scary for new users.

Goals

Defining your site goals will help you use Analytics to reach them. Image Credit: Opododo

1. Don’t Just Set It Up; Actually Use It

Setting up accounts and profiles for tools and sites that you will never use is a common problem among techies and non techies alike. Google Analytics easily become one of those white elephant tools that you plan to go back to and never do. There are a lot of good reasons to use it. If you know what you’re doing, it can provide insights that will dramatically improve your site’s traffic and performance as well as your customer’s onsite experiences.

As I (regularly) tell my technically inept parents: when it comes to wrapping your head around something new, the best approach is to fiddle around until you have a better grasp of what tool can do. To my mucous infused brain, that sounds dirty – surprisingly, that’s unintentional. If you’re paralysed with the fear that you might break something, set up a second account to use solely for testing purposes. This way, you can master the various aspects of the tool fearlessly, and mistakes will have no impact on your ‘real’ account.

2. Optimise Your Goal Tracking

This tip assumes that your website has defined goals. These can vary from collecting newsletter signups to selling a product. Regardless of what your site goals are, setting up the tracking of these goals is crucial to your success with Google Analytics. Goal tracking is arguably the most useful thing that Google Analytics can do, because it offers insight into whether your website is converting visitors to customers or not. The process of setting up goals for your analytics profile is a simple one that involves defining your goal funnel and configuring your goals. Google has a great post that explains exactly how to do this, so I’m not going to flog a dead horse.

3. Utilise All of Your Reports

While the awesomeness of Google Analytics should not be downplayed, it nonetheless has limitations. While it will provide you with access to spiffy looking graphs, that’s where it ends – it cannot analyse the date for you. That’s part of your job. The other part is making sure that the insights you derive evolve into actionable changes and improvements to your site.

There are a vast number of reports that Analytics provides access to. While it is tempting to find one report (like the traffic report for instance) that you can easily make sense of and then stick with it, it is beneficial for you to at least explore the others. It can be really useful to see where your visitors come from geographically, which referring sites generate most of your traffic, which keywords bring people to your site, as well as the most popular content among other things. Again, the best way to avoid feeling overwhelmed by all of the data available is simply to play around with you account and get comfortable with it. You’re bound to find insight in unexpected places.

4. Don’t Underestimate The Importance of Segmentation

Segmentation is an excellent way to bring some order to your analytics data. It’s like colour coding your clothes or alphabetising your books, just a little less obsessive compulsive. Segmentation allows you to isolate bits of data and various groups so that you can view them in isolation and compare them with the whole. An example of this can be given using traffic. Should I wish to look at traffic that comes from South Africa and compare it to traffic coming from the rest of Africa or even the world, I can do so. In the event that I am trying to sell the majority of my products to international customers, this information will give me a great deal of insight. The folks at Google have been kind enough to set some of these up already, but for more specific segments, you will need to customise your own. Comprende? For more information on segmentation and the myriad of uses for it, check out this post from the horse’s mouth.

There is a lot more to Google Analytics than what I have written here. I reiterate: the best way to learn is always to do. Until you get in there and get your hands dirty, it is a tool that will not only remain shrouded in mystery but it will by and large, be useless to you.


Source: gottAquirk

10 Things You Should Cover In Your Social Networking Policy

SAN ANSELMO, CA - JANUARY 27:  In this photo i...
SAN ANSELMO, CA - JANUARY 27: In this photo illustration, the LinkedIn logo is displayed on the screen of a laptop computer on January 27, 2011 in San Anselmo, California. Social networking internet site LinkedIn Corp. filed documents with the U.S. regulators for an initial public offering. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
By: Debra Littlejohn Shinder

When the social networking phenomenon began, many companies dealt with it by not dealing with it — they simply banned/blocked social networking sites on the company network. Like the U.S. government’s attempts at Prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s, that didn’t work so well. Today’s young workers have grown up with Internet access and come to the job with the expectation that they’ll have those resources at their disposal. If you deny them the ability to check their Facebook pages during lunchtime or tweet when they’re taking a coffee (or more likely, energy drink) break, they’ll find a way around it or leave to work for a company that has fewer restrictions.
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