A small business owner’s guide to using social media – Part 2

This post is continued from Part One of A small business owner’s guide to using social media by Phoebe Netto of Good Business Consulting

Just like society has golden rules and universal principles on how to interact with others, social media also has similar rules to operate by.

Social media is one of the greatest tools available to small-to-medium businesses and sole operators. You can communicate directly with your ideal clients without going through a ‘middle-man’ such as a journalist, advertisement or website.

When operating by the following rules, social media can deliver your message to new audiences, provide you with new connections, and act as a platform to share your expertise and thought-leadership:

(For the first three rules of social media use, click here).

4.        No yelling in the hallway (or on social media)

Would you ever walk into a room full of strangers and announce, “I can take your business to the next level at half the price”? No? Didn’t think so. So don’t do it on social media.

If you notice that someone on your social media platform asks for a recommendation or complains that they can’t find a good provider of a certain product or service, then sure – feel free to suggest a solution or offer to discuss offline with them. You might even land a nice piece of new business. The point is to be helpful, with brings me to my next point.

5.        Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you

Use social media to share, give value, help others, provide helpful information, collaborate, and create a reason for people to want to know more about you and what you do.

You can give value and at the same time promote your business by sharing links to your blog, provide thought leadership, expertise and helpful advice. This shows that you are passionate about your industry area and gives people a non-confrontational and subtle way to experience your knowledge.

Make sure you also share other people’s blog posts, links to useful website, spread great social media content (such as tweets) from others, and promote other businesses (if worthy of promotion). Remember, it’s not all about you!

6.        You have two ears and only one mouth for a reason

My mother always used to tell me this and she was right (as usual). Social media is not a forum for monologues. Those who do not interact or listen to what others are saying on social media will eventually find themselves very lonely (offline and online).

Worthless tweets and overactive robots cause more harm than good.

Instead interact with others by asking questions, offering advice and responding to other people’s online questions.

7.       All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

Show your personality. People do business with people, not companies. So make sure show your personality so people can feel a connection.

Be sincere. You can’t fake relationships – even on social media. Put a smile on the faces of those who follow you.

When you follow these principles you are well on your way to building important connections with your ideal clients.

Phoebe Netto is the Managing Director of Good Business Consulting, a marketing and public relations consultancy for small-to-medium businesses.

Phoebe has a background in public relations and marketing, and takes these skills that are often reserved for big businesses with big budgets, and uses them to help good small businesses grow and meet their objectives.

www.goodbusiness.net.au (be sure to sign up for the Good Business Consulting newsletter and check out the blog while you’re there)

@Phoebe_Netto

phoebe@goodbusiness.net.au

A small business owner’s guide to using social media

This is the first part of a two-part series by Phoebe Netto, the Managing Director of Good Business Consulting, a marketing and public relations consultancy for small-to-medium businesses.

Phoebe has a background in public relations and marketing, and takes these skills that are often reserved for big businesses with big budgets, and uses them to help good small businesses grow and meet their objectives.

www.goodbusiness.net.au (be sure to sign up for the Good Business Consulting newsletter and check out the blog while you’re there)

@Phoebe_Netto

phoebe@goodbusiness.net.au

In marketing yourself and your business, you should aim to be at every watering hole where your ideal clients congregate. After all, if people do not know that you exist and what you can offer, how else will they become clients? For many of you, one of those waterholes will include social media.

Social media opens up a whole new audience to you, provides a means to make new connections, and gives you the tools to introduce yourself and your services in a subtle way to your ideal clients.

It allows you to extend the reach of your thought leadership and gives you the opportunity to share examples of your work and testimonials. Social media can also provide you with a constant flow of advice, ideas, and links to resources that are focused on your area of expertise or interest.

Regardless of what social media platform you decide to use, there are universal principles or golden rules that you must adhere to. You will notice that these rules are not much different to society’s rules for social engagement offline.

1.        Do things on purpose

If you are on twitter, know why you are on twitter and let your tweets reflect your purpose. The same rule applies for every social media platform. For example, I help small-to-medium businesses and sole operators grow with marketing and public relations. I need to ensure that the majority of my tweets on twitter are about small business, marketing and public relations. My twitter followers should know what to expect of my twitter content.

One of the mistakes that many small businesses and sole operators make when using social media is that they do not choose the right platform. This results in busy activity rather than productivity. Only focus on social media platforms that are a gathering place for your unique target group.

For example, young pet owners would be more inclined to interact with you on facebook than on LinkedIn. If you are a freelance journalist, twitter would be best as there are countless editors to interact with there and you can share links to examples of your work.

2.        It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason

Always remember that social media is not a foreign land speaking in another language. It is real life with real people, real relationships and real conversations.

This is why many of the same social etiquette principles that we value and operate by in business and in life, also apply to social media.

3.        It is better to give than to receive

In my business there are a couple of principles that lead to successful marketing and public relations. In media relations if you give others (journalists, editors and the publication’s readers) what they want, you will get what you want. For example, if I help a journalist by giving them a great piece of news or a well-written bylined article, I will get what I want which is great coverage for my client.

Similarly, marketing is most successful when it is focused on meeting needs and making life easier and more pleasant for others. When a small business addresses the deepest concerns and desires of both its clients and potential clients, and makes them feel special, they will attract leads and repeat business.

These principles are also golden rules of social media. Zig Ziglar summarised it by saying, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Part Two of this post will continue with the four final golden rules of social media use for you and your business. Make sure you drop by on Monday

Top 5 sites for freelancers

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. When it comes to working as a freelancer or sole trader, there are lots of great sources of information and guidance around the world. Here’s my top 5 list of freelance resources.

1 – Freelance Switch

With lots of short, punchy articles, Freelance Switch is a great source of advice. There’s also a job board and discussion forums so you can bounce ideas of others that might be in a similar work position,

2 – Good Business Consulting

Good Business Consulting’s blog provides advice to sole traders and small businesses. While  Good Business Consulting offers professional services, the blog is a great way to get insight into the way Phoebe Netto [Twitter link] thinks and what sorts of benefits she can deliver to your business.

3 – Freelance Folder

FreelanceFolder is a community for freelancers, entrepreneurs, work-at-home business owners, and web-workers. While the forums aren’t as active as Freelance Switch, the quality of advice is great for experienced and new sole traders alike.

4 – ProBlogger

You might wonder what a blogging advice site has to offer but there’s plenty. Time management tips, writing tips, how to get more people to your website – all that and more.

5 – Freelance Rant

I think the site description says it all – “This is the long lost writing assignment and second home of Johnny Spence, a freelancer with a bone to pick at the whole 9 – 5 life spent confined to the cubicle.”

So there’s my Top 5 sites. Which sites do you visit regularly? Where do you get your advice? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Blogging on the iPad

Many journalists are also bloggers, either running their own corner of cyberspace or blogging for some publication. Most blogs use some sort of Content Management System, or CMS, for getting content live on the web. It turns out that the iPad is a pretty good tool for doing this although you’ll need to invest a few dollars to make it work.

iOS Tips for Capturing Images

The iPad makes it easy to capture images from the web.

To grab an image from a website, just tap-hold on the image. A context menu will appear that allows you to save the image. That will put the image file in the iPad’s Photo app.

If you need a screen capture, which might be the only way to get an image if you need something that the usual image saving process can’t do then simple hold down the iPad’s front button and press the power button. If the sound is on, you’ll hear a shutter sound as the screen flashes. The screen capture will be saved automatically into your Photos.

Image Editing on the iPad

There are literally hundreds of image editing and manipulation apps for the iPad. We’re going to suggest just two.

The first is actually an iPhone app but that’s not a big deal. Crop Suey makes it easy to crop and rotate images – perfect if you need to clean up a screen grab or some other image.

Crop Suey costs $1.99 from the App Store.

The second app is one for when you want to make things look a little special. Color Splash (free from the App Store) lets you apply some special affects to images. It takes an image, converts it to black and white and lets you selectively recolor specific parts of the image. If you need to highlight something in an image, just recolor that specific part.

Blogging Software for posting and editing on the iPad

Of course, the iPad’s version of Safari is big enough to run the WordPress admin tools from then browser. But what if you’re not online?

WordPress for iOS is a good place to start. It lets you create posts and save them locally. You can add images but it doesn’t let you set the alignment easily. Also, if you want to create a link you have to manually create the link – that means you need some basic HTML skills.

The reality is that WordPress for iOS is OK but very basic. In our experience, it also not very stable. We found that it would frequently crash after saving.

Another option is BlogPress. It’s a more polished app that can be used to create content for a whole bunch of different blogging systems including Blogger, Drupal and Joomla among others.

We like that is offers some basic HTML formatting and seems far more stable than WordPress’s app. One thing we did notice with the HTML formatting was that it uses the older B and I tabs for bold and italics respectively whereas “strong” and “em” are more commonly used these days.

We also like that BlogPress will automatically send an update to Twitter and Facebook when we post without the need to load a plug-in to WordPress.

BlogPress costs $2.99 from the App Store. In our view, the cost is worth it for the advantages it boasts over WordPress’ free app.

Keyboard Case – make your iPad a notebook

Typing on the iPad’s soft keyboard isn’t too bad but sometimes it’s nice to use something with actual buttons. We reviewed the PADACS Rubata Keyboard Case a few weeks ago at ITWire.

We’ve been using this case for awhile now and it’s getting used a lot. It does add some bulk to the unit, making the iPad the same size as a netbook. However, being able to pull the iPad out and use it as a regular tablet gives it an edge over many netbooks.

The PADACS Rubata Keyboard Case can be purchased from the PADACS online store for $110AU

Google Analytics on the iPad

Following on from my recent look at The iPad Blogging Toolkit, I’ve been getting my head around the whole SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, thing. Put simply, the application of good SEO techniques can help you get your blog further up the page ranking system of search engines. That means that when people search for something, your blog or website is more likely to come up near the top of the results.

One way to measure how your site is performing is to use the software that most web hosting companies provide. However, a more popular way of measuring how much traffic your site is attracting and, more importantly, how it’s finding you, is to use something like Google Analytics. In order for Analytics to work you need to run some specific code on all the pages you wish to measure. If, like me, you’re not interested into delving into your blog’s source code, there are WordPress plug-ins that do the legwork for you.

If you’re an iPad user, one of the hassles is that not all of the nice graphs show up on the screen. That realization meant that I needed to take a trip to the App Store. A quick search for “Google Analytics” revealed several different applications that would bring the data from Google Analytics.

Like many people I started with a free option – an app simply called Analytics. The App Store reviews seemed reasonable and the price was right.

What Analytics delivers is the same experience you’d have on a computer running a proper web browser. Graphs, tables and other visual elements appear with Analytics just as they would on a regular computer. Depending on the performance of your Internet connection, the app can feel a little slow but it wasn’t bad enough to make us want to spend money for another application.

The main stats I’m interested in are number of visitors, where they are coming from and what search terms are attracting them. Armed with those bits of data I can tweak the posts I create (using BlogPress) so that I can make sure I write content that my readers are most interested in and draws the most traffic through search engines.

This is the start of a journey for me. being able to find tools that work when I’m not at my desk is super important. Analytics is, for now, one of the tools that enables me to write relevant content that attracts visitors.