Overcome your blog phobia!

Worried about taking your first step into the world of blogs?

Taking your ideas and committing them to paper (or virtual paper) takes courage, determination and a good deal of self belief. You may ponder for hours, even days, over what you want to say and how you are going to say it. Believing in what you’ve got to say is critical; the best advice I’ve read recently is from the blogging master Jeff Bullas

“It’s your time to share your knowledge with a world that needs inspiration.”

Read on for simple tips for any small business, sole-trader or SME about to embark on this journey of self belief and knowledge sharing.

Reasons To Write A Blog

  • It’s a great way to open up your company or business to a new audience
  • It gives you freedom to write about whatever you want
  • It can create new channels of communication with customers and prospects
  • It’s a great place to promote new products and offers

 

What To Write About – To stay motivated and maintain regular blog schedule you have to write about your passion, something that you enjoy and that you can talk about with ease. The trick is not to over think your topic. The content you include in your blog could be educational, inspirational, funny, thought provoking even contentious.

Speech bubble about blogsDon’t worry about being original or ground breaking, just make it interesting.

A blog it doesn’t have to be the written word. What about a video blog, or image based blog, try tools like Slideshare as a new way to present content.

A Great Headline – I always write my headline last. Mostly because I just want to get on and write the blog, also because as I write the headline idea just develops.

The headline needs to make readers want to read on (as you hopefully have in this case). If you’re struggling here are a few pointers for effective headlines:

  1. List posts “20 ways to…….peel a banana…”
  2. How To… or Ways To…….write a blog/do something
  3. The Secret of ……..
  4. What everybody ought to know about…..

Make It Easy To Share  – Don’t forget to add social sharing buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (and YouTube and Pinterest – for visual blogs).

So if you are worried or procrastinating over writing your first blog. My advice is just go for it.

 

 

5 Curation Tools To Create Your Own Online Magazine

Publish your own online magazine or newspaperYou have probably heard the phrase  content curation a lot; and the concept of sharing interesting, relevant articles and posts is one of the core activities in good social media marketing.  By sharing good content from a range of sources, you can show expertise in your field and present your customers, prospects, business partners and colleagues with a single stream of relevant, accurate and informed material.

“CURATION means to discover, gather and present digital content about a specific topic or subject; amassing content from a variety of sources and delivering it in an organised fashion. It’s now becoming a marketing staple for companies who want a successful online presence”

Source: EContentMagazine

Of course, many people make extensive use of Twitter and Facebook to share blogs, news and websites and Pinterest is great for building a visual pin-board of ideas.  But how about collating and presenting all these articles visually as your own magazine or newspaper?

There are a variety of tools that serve this very purpose.  They can be fun to use and give your community a one-stop-shop for finding useful resources and news.

Not only do they allow you to share content you have found, they actually help you find new content to publish to your own pages.  Most include a “bookmarklet” to make it easy to share articles.  A bookmarklet is the tiny icon that sits in your browser’s toolbar.  It allows you to grab content or feeds from any web page and add them to your paper in 1 click.

Here are five well-known online curation tools we like:

  • Storify

    Storify gathers social media postings such as tweets, photos and videos to tell a story on a particular subject.  The interface lets you search multiple networks and resources to build your story.  You can also add your own headlines and comments, pulling all the elements together and giving your own opinions.

  • Paper.li

    Paper.li has many automated features that help you promote your pages and find new, relevant content from across the web.  It allows users to subscribe to your paper and also gives you access to scheduled posts and usage stats.  It comes as a free basic version and also a paid-for ‘Pro’ edition with more features and customisation options.

  • Scoop.it

    Scoop.it is another tool with a great magazine-style layout at the front-end.  Its smart searches and community help you discover new content and, of course, it also gives you a bookmarklet to add your own content.  You can add your own thoughts and perspective and easily share your magazine across social networks and blogs.

  • RebelMouse.com

    RebelMouse.com, with its ‘Rebel Roar’ product, is a relatively new arrival offering a sophisticated, professional publishing platform which is already being used by some very big companies.  It includes many of the same features as other tools;  it allows you to bring together and share content from social networks and websites.  It has a strong focus on automated tools such as generating newsletters, Twitter Cards, polls and petitions.

  • Pearltrees

    Pearltrees is a much more visual platform, ideal for photos, graphics and video.  This makes it similar in many ways to Pinterest although the interface has the feel of an online slideshow.

If you use any of these tools why not link your magazine below and we will share. Or if we’ve missed your favourite content curation tool let us know!

Simple Tips for More Professional-looking Photos on Social Media

Images are becoming increasingly important when it comes to getting noticed on social media, in particular Facebook, which now prioritises posts that include images and video over text only posts, and Twitter where images are visible in the timeline and of course Pinterest (which is all about image content).

(This article does not cover profile pictures or mastheads which often have to be made to particular dimensions. More on that in a future blog.)

Sharing snaps is OK but if you’re showing off products, your workspace or even your staff then it’s worth making a little extra effort to make your images look better, more professional and ultimately more shareable.

At the risk of upsetting my professional photographer friends, you don’t particularly need a high end camera to get good results.  Images on social media are not meant to be printed and tend not to stick around too long in the stream.  Their main purpose is to grab attention and encourage sharing.  Compact cameras and phone cameras these days all take pretty high resolution photos and, with a little thought, can attain great results!

Here are a few beginners’ tips to help make your images look more attractive online:

  • Make sure your photo is in focus.  Sounds obvious but look around at how many slightly fuzzy photos there are out there.  The problem here is that you can’t always tell how in focus the picture is on the camera or phone screen.  Always try to review your photo on a larger computer screen before sharing it online.
  •  Make sure the picture is well-lit.  If you haven’t got good daylight then you may need to find a bright lamp or two.  Good lighting will help the camera focus and make the colours look vibrant, giving depth to the image.  This is particularly important for product shots where people will want to see close details.
  • Before you publish your image, look at the composition and see if it could be improved by cropping in close to the subject.  Some media let you do this online, WordPress for example, but otherwise you will have to do this off-line in a photo editing app or software package.
  • When cropping, check the background.  Is there too much of it?  Does it look messy?  Removing excess background such as walls, the floor or anything that wasn’t intended to be in shot keeps the focus on the subject of the photo, enhances the overall composition and doesn’t distract the viewer.
  • Look for odd lines at the edges of the photo and try to crop those out, too.  Generally this will give you a cleaner, neater look to the image.
  • Try a square crop.  Cropping an image into a square can look particularly attractive and gives a modern feel to a page.
  • While you’re editing your photos, don’t be overly concerned with file size and don’t over-compress or reduce the size of your images before uploading.  Most (I can’t think of any that don’t) social media and blogging platforms automatically compress and resize your images when you add them and too much compression will result in loss of quality, making your photos look grainy and pixelated.

Here’s an example to show how cropping can improve a photo I snapped on my phone.

Original photo:

Uncropped original image

Image showing the crop area

Final cropped image:

Final image

Good photography can really make a social media post stand out from the rest and, with a little attention to detail and a bit of extra effort, you can really give your quick snapshots a professional feel.  I hope you find these tips useful and please share the results if you try them out in your own social marketing activities.

What Can You Learn from the New York Times about Twitter

Whilst thinking about ways to save time on Twitter, I came across this article written by Michael Roston (@MichealRoston) of The New York Times’ social media desk. And I figured that if you’re going to get tips on using social media, you might as well get them from the best!

NYT-blog-imageThe NY Times (@nytimes) has obviously done some extensive analysis (in part using SocialFlow) on what works well and what is less successful on Twitter. The article contains some very useful and interesting information, that anyone using Twitter for promotion, can take onboard.

Re-tweet Trusted Sources

One of the main findings of the article is that by re-tweeting updates from trusted sources they can maintain a strong following that is literally hanging on their every word. They are taking on the role of curator and moderator for their own followers, presenting them with a single stream of accurate and informed material.

Of course, we are not all in the position of needing to report on current events every minute of the day; however, by selectively retweeting posts from other experts and commentators we can give our own followers the benefits of knowledge from multiple sources, relevant to them because the filtering and assessment has already been done.

Automation Caution

Another important finding was how problems had occurred with automated tweets that would not have happened at times when the stream was being monitored. The errors were mainly to do with badly worded or inaccurate content.

When looking for ways to save time on social media, it’s easy to think that automation is the answer to everything. However, the lesson here is to make sure that what you have scheduled is accurate and will still be accurate by the time the tweet is actually sent. Of course, double-checking spelling and links goes without saying. The crime of sending out dead links, in particular, could cost you followers especially if you’re not around to make the correction.

Clarity Beats All

Being writers and journalists, the NY Times staff pride themselves on being able to pull a clever headline or two out of the bag. Interestingly, however, their research has shown that on Twitter the clever headlines aren’t always the ones that get the best response. The article indicates that, in fact, it is clear, straight forward writing that gets the most retweets and click-throughs.

Re-sends Work

Another nice point made by the article is that a tweet that received a good response from followers in terms of retweets and clicks is more than capable of re-producing that success when sent again at another time. Their example shows that a tweet sent mid-week can pick up a different but equally significant audience when sent at the weekend.

This must be heartening for anyone trying to save themselves a little time, and confirms that going to the effort of generating good, solid content pays off and can work harder than we at first imagined.

I strongly recommend reading the full article and taking note of their many examples.
Unless you’re working for a large corporation, it’s easy to shy away from comparing your own business to something like the New York Times. However, since they’ve done all the leg-work of analysing a huge amount of their own data, we can take advantage of their findings; cherry-picking the ideas and concepts that apply to our own social media goals and on a scale that we can manage.

Happy 30th birthday, Macintosh!

Who knows what % of current Apple users were even born when this was launched?

TED Blog

Thirty years ago today, Steve Jobs introduced the Macintosh 128k at an Apple shareholders’ meeting. Excitement was high after the airing of the now-classic commercial “1984” during the Super Bowl two days before, and the demo — complete with the “Chariots of Fire” theme song — lived up to the hype.

The unveiling was the backdrop for another thing that started in 1984: TED. At that first conference, Nicholas Negroponte made at jab at the Macintosh mouse in his talk, “5 predictions.” And at the next TED, held in 1990, John Sculley shared his vision for what he calls the “knowledge navigator,” a device eerily iPad-esque.

As we wish Macintosh a happy birthday, we can’t help but think of some of our intertwined moments. Here, a look.

View original post 585 more words

Link

http://blog.wishpond.com/post/54522636516/the-5-most-common-facebook-post-mistakes

As always a great blog from Wishpond that gives some easy advice on how to avoid classic Facebook pitfalls. Click on the link to read the blog and then take the challenge to find and share examples – share them with us via the comment box or Twitter or Facebook.

Just make sure your page isn’t among them.

Why Social Media?

In a traditional setting, advertising used to be leaflets, cold calling, billboards etc. This is now becoming obselete: So why do people use social media as opposed to traditional marketing?

In today’s modern society, everybody leads busy lives, nobody wants the intrusion of having a leaflet thrust into their hand as they are walking down the street, or to receive a telephone call in the evening after a long day.

Social media is about identifying your audience, targeting them and engaging in conversation. Once you have gained trust the ‘customer’ will begin to form a relationship with you and when they are looking for a supplier to purchase there product or service from, you are likely to be top of the list.

‘Engaging’ is the key word. The customer needs to give their permission for you to talk to them. Start a conversation, talk to them about their interests and lives. Let them see that you care about them as a person, and you are not all about the hard sell.

EPSON scanner image
Think 80/20

80% of your time on social media should be engaging and collaborating with your target audience. Only 20% should be you talking about your products.

Remember: Don’t let social media become anti-social!

 

At Bee Social Smart we aim to give practical, no nonsence advice to you, the supplier. We provide bespoke consultancy for your business to show you how to you can increase your performance with the use of social media.

The Secret Of Simple Social Media Strategy

In our last blog we shared some of the most common platforms that you can use for social media; hopefully you have narrowed it down to 2 or 3 that you know will work for your business and that you will have time to maintain.

At this point – make an important decision. Who within your organisation is going to look after your social media. Don’t assume that a younger employee will be better – the average age of a Facebook user is 39 (Twitter 38). It should be owned by someone who really understands the business and has the right personality and approach to be consistent – and has enough time to dedicate to making it effective.

So, now you are ready, here are a few tips for other things to consider:

Woman drawing action plan

Turn Ideas in Social Media Action

Set Some Objectives What do you want to achieve by using social media? The objectives you have for social media will vary depending on the type of business, organistion or charity you are. But it’s always good to have an objective to know why your doing it, maybe it’s:

  • to raise awareness about your business or your industry
  • to drive more website traffic
  • to get more customers into you shop (online or high street)
  • to act as communication hub for a particular issue
  • to become a community discussion group

Know Your AudienceWho are you talking to? You have to know what type of customers, fans, followers you are hoping to attract: knowing enough about them helps you work out where to find them, what to say and how to say it so they will respond to and most importantly it helps you share the type of content they will find interesting and want to share with others.

Think About Content If you haven’t already read our Content is King blog it might be a good place to start. Before you fire off that first post or Tweet you need to know what you are going to share. Having a content calendar always helps; maybe you want to follow a formula every week so Monday is news from your company, Tuesday is share a photo day, Wednesday is write a blog day etc. Do you have some video you can use? Perhaps you want to find relevant information that other people have already created and share. Whatever you decide to do, make a commitment to do it regularly.

Image

How Do You Know It’s Working?If you set objectives at the beginning it’s much easier to know if your social media efforts are working. There are some great tools you can use (usually free for trial period) like Hootsuite, SproutSocial – which help you schedule your activity and have great reporting features. Facebook has it’s own Insights – which is really valuable data for understanding what has worked in your page. And of course, you can use Google Analytics to analyse web traffic.

We’d love to know if this has helped you simplify your social media strategy – drop us a comment in the speech bubble at the top.