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.

 

 

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.

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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.

 

 

 

Re-purpose Content With Digital Animation

Videos make great online content and, compared to using real video footage, digital animation is a relatively quick and flexible way to put together an entertaining piece.

Here’s how BeeSocialSmart created an animated video from existing content…..

Re-purpose Existing Content: In terms of promoting your services, re-packaging your existing content in the form of a video can provide new marketing opportunities and stimulate interest in your company.  YouTube videos are great for your Google ranking and, social media gurus like Jeff Bullas are always telling us, they are more likely to get shared and prompt feedback via social media channels.  They also provide a fun and interesting way to encourage people to find out more about you by visiting your website.

We had the idea of creating an animated video to promote our social media services and started thinking about how to create a short ‘sting’ to tell people what we do.  The style needed to be clear and bright, show off our friendly personality and give a short, comprehensive message of what we are about.

Pare Down Content: Before thinking of any visuals, we sat down and made some notes on what we wanted to say.  The message had to be made up of short sentences and bullet points but not become too slogan-y.  It also had to get straight to the point, be quick to read and easy to understand.

There’s so much to say about your own business that it can be quite difficult to pare it down to the bare essentials.  However, we think we did quite a good job of picking a few choice phrases and still giving a strong ‘call to action’.

Key Points for video content:

  • Keep messages short and easy to absorb
  • Don’t overload the screen
  • Pace things so that people have time to read the text
  • Unless it’s a tutorial, if your video starts to get more than a couple of minutes long consider splitting it into two separate clips.
  • Try to be consistent with your other marketing materials and activity
  • Make it clear what people should do when they reach the end

After sorting out the text content, we began thinking about how to present the information visually.

Use Your Brand:  The star of the show was always going to be our busy bee, but of course we also needed to make good use of our logo and brand colours. By taking

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Social Media Can Help Your Business Bloom

inspiration from other elements such as the BeeSocialSmart website and our presentation material, we were able to keep a consistent feel.  Consistency is important because it helps people understand who the message is from and gives a much more professional impression.

From this point on, it’s really a case of using your imagination!  The great thing about animation is that pretty much anything is possible.  However, it’s still important to remember to present text clearly and pace things so that people have time to read and absorb the information.

Animation: Sitting down with the animator, we first of all worked on getting the text to flow and then used the animated bee to link the ‘scenes’ together.  We added a vibrating effect to the word ‘buzz’ and, naturally, the word ‘bloom’ was just crying out for a few flowers.  We chose a vibrant pink to bring in an extra splash of colour and add a little impact.

We didn’t have a voiceover, so we chose some soundtrack music which we used to set the pace and timing for the animation.  Adding a few sound effects completed the job!

The finished video was uploaded to our new YouTube channel and embedded into the BeeSocialSmart website.  From there is was easy to promote the video using Facebook and Twitter.

If you want more help with understanding how to use video as part of your online marketing strategy then contact us info@beesocialsmart.co.uk or visit our web site www.beesocialsmart.co.uk.

6 Point Checklist – Making Your Content King!

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘Content is King’. But you may be sitting there afraid to ask what this actually means, or simply worrying just how to make your content regal…this checklist could help!

What do we mean by content? Our personal favourite definition (courtesy of www.TheWordFactory.com).

“Content is the presentation of information for a purpose to an audience through a channel in a form.”

For social media, ‘content’ is the post, tweet, image, blog and video you share on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn (and other social media platforms). If you’re aiming for ‘Royal Status” ask yourself these few things.

Content Is King

Making Content King

Is my content………………

Interesting, useful or helpful? Make your content work hard: tell a story, share some facts, surprise your readers, reveal some secrets, give a new spin on existing knowledge, make the reader laugh or cry. Give your fans and followers something to act on or teach them something new, they may well do some of your marketing for you – by sharing, liking and retweeting.

Diverse? Make your content varied and interesting. Re-purpose content you already own such as white papers, research data, editorial articles – it can all be used online. Offer tips and information to educate. Remember to add links to your own website and other sources of information you value. Don’t forget to ask questions, provide promotions and offers. Occasional humour or levity is good as well. Don’t be afraid to share other people’s content it shows you are impartial and value other points of view.

Relevant to my target audience? Identify who you need to talk to and use appropriate phrases, keywords and identify suitable #hashtags. Join existing conversations among your target audience, enjoy the ‘chat’ and avoid the hard sell.

Well written? There’s nothing worse than a post or tweet full of errors and broken links so make sure it’s….

  • Punchy
  • Concise
  • Polite
  • Helpful
  • Trustworthy
  • Entertaining
  • In English (not text speak)
  • Check the spelling
  • Check grammar
  • Check links

Remember all content refers back to your business and your brand.

Helping to drive my business forward? Linking your content to business goals gives your social media efforts a purpose.  Maybe you want to find new business partnerships, or research a new region for business development, identify potential customers and learn more about them, converse with experts in your industry or simply entertain your followers and fans. Write content that helps to meet these goals.

Planned? Content works best when it’s planned and co-ordinated. Use a content calendar to schedule content based on business objectives, monthly targets, seasonality, industry trends and events. Be timely with your content link it to trends and news.

At BeeSocialSmart we follow Chris Brogan and in a recent blog and we found his statement that “Content Marketing is sales-minded storytelling”. It embodies the essence of good practice. Avoid the hard sell but know what you want to say – link your content to your quarterly sales objectives and build a story that helps achieve those targets.