Blog Audience: 5 Ways to Expand Your Reach

Posted on May 24th, 2011 by Tiffany Categories Uncategorized

Have you ever written a blog post? If you have, then you know the rush of emotions that comes with publishing your first post. With a single click of a button, you can simultaneously feel empowered and overwhelmed, excited and completely alone.
It’s hard not to feel that the post you’ve spent excruciating time perfecting is being launched into a black hole from where you’re not going to elicit a response. 
The numbers are staggering – since 2002, Technorati has indexed over 133 million weblogs. And yet, finding and expanding a dedicated audience is not as cumbersome or out of reach as you might think. But it will take an investment of time.
1. Headlines – This is what your audience sees first. If you make your headlines catchy, pithy and entertaining, then your chances of being read and shared increase greatly from the get-go.
2. Timely Posts – Keeping your posts timely and relevant to the times makes sense because people are tuned in to the current trends. If social media is all the rage right now, talking about it when it’s no longer a start-up phenomenon is not going to position you as an expert on the topic.
3. Mix the media – It’s no secret that people like pictures. Augmenting your blog posts with pictures and videos enriches your content and makes the packaging more attractive. Read: more click-throughs, sharing and readability.
4. Network – Take the time to regularly visit other bloggers, write comments and participate in discussions. The key is to remember that you’re not trying to sell yourself. Keep the “hard sell” at bay and you’re bound to trigger natural curiosity and interest for your own site.
5. Diversify – Diversification isn’t just for stocks and investment portfolios anymore. To see more numbers in visitation, diversify your outreach through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and use bookmarking sites Delicious and Reddit. 
Additionally, give your readers an easy way to share what you’ve posted. Widget services like ShareThis have easy-to-embed buttons that your readers can click on to share posts with their networks and friends. 
Of course, none of these suggestions supersede the value of good quality content, posting regularly and staying honest. 
Do you have a successful blog? How did you increase your audience numbers? Leave us a comment below!

Building a Better Business Blog

Posted on May 17th, 2011 by Tiffany Categories Uncategorized

Pardon the alliteration, but this post just begs for a fun headline. Now that we’ve said it out loud, we still want to bring your attention to blogging for your business.
The most obvious benefit to blogging is the generous amount of space it affords to writers. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, this social media tool doesn’t necessitate a truncated conversation with your audience. 
If you’ve been blogging for a while, are a blogging newbie or even if you’re contemplating running a blog for your business, we have a few housekeeping tips for you to bear in mind.
1. Strategize
The first question, as always, is to know what you want to achieve with your blog. Experts recommend not beginning a blog if you can’t create enough content to keep going. 
Fair enough, we say. 
However, if you can keep your blog updated consistently and in a timely manner, we recommend a written strategy to propel yourself further. Know what you want to accomplish with your blog posts, position yourself as an expert, and plan ahead. 
And while you’re at it, spend some time ensuring that your blog content is creative and original.
2. Understand your audience’s needs
Too often, company blogs and small businesses feature posts that only an insider could understand. Take a look at your recent postings. If you’ve stumbled across industry terms 5 times too many, you’ll probably need to raise a red flag.
Because the last thing that you want to do is to sound like a textbook. Even in a niche market, content littered with jargon, statistics and hard numbers can only help for so long. Eventually, you’re going to find your readers – and potential clients – turning away if the content or the conversations aren’t accessible or easy to understand.
3. Hyperlinks
Blogging well is very much like writing an academic paper – except with more paragraphs. You still have to cite your sources and give credit for borrowed information, for 2 major reasons.
1. You’re not the one who researched and wrote the original content, and
2. Linking to your source helps create an opportunity to network within the industry.
Speaking of hyperlinks, this is a good time to state the obvious from a design perspective. Leave your hyperlinks colored blue; don’t make your hyperlinks blend into your content or give them a color that’s barely visible or fades the text, because in some cases, widely accepted web standards are a good thing.
4. Multiply the media
It’s not just college students. No one likes reading an endless ocean of text. It’s no secret that attention spans have shortened to accommodate the need for 21st century multi-tasking, which means incorporating video and images into your blog posts will bode well for you.
5. Interact 
If managed well, your blog can be the perfect platform for engaging your audience, encouraging conversations and building communities.
And it requires an investment of time and patience. Take the time to respond to negative and positive comments. They display your willingness to be transparent and encourage feedback. 
In the long term, you’ll have built a rapport with your audience, industry experts and writers within the community. 

Content Creation Strategies

Posted on May 10th, 2011 by Tiffany Categories Uncategorized

 Content curating – the term coined for the hours of time gathering and republishing content – looks like it’s here to stay. Which means that more than ever, people (industry experts, pundits) are keeping a closer and more watchful eye over the quality of content that gets produced and published on the Internet. Really, one half of the equation can’t exist without the other.

Good content – great content, even – doesn’t just create itself, however. It needs a focused strategy. And we found a few easy and simple tips that we’d love to share with you.
1. Find Your Voice
You can’t engage a market if you don’t know how to connect with them. Are you pithy? Wordy? Funny and entertaining? Thoughtful? And do any of these personas reflect the “sound” of your brand? To develop a relationship with your audience, what you say on the social networks must sound like you.
2. Stay with the Pulse
Timing is everything, and often times it requires dedicated planning sessions; for instance, creating a calendar of posts that may relate to your audience’s lives. Unless you’re anywhere in the Southern hemisphere, publishing articles on winter coats in the middle of May doesn’t make sense. 
3. Know Who You Are
At this point, we’re going to assume that you’re no stranger to social media. You want people to follow you on Twitter and “Like” you on Facebook. But why should they? What do you have to offer to an audience? Do you offer just a product or a memorable experience that they can carry and help spread the word about?
4. Listen and Engage
Have you been listening and responding to your audience? Engaging your target audience in a conversation is a proven way to build trust with them because your fans and followers need to know that there are real people – not bots – behind every update and blog post. 
Part of what makes social media so attractive is the built-in ability to “decentralize” the faceless, monolithic institution, a feature that is invaluable for building good-will and long-term relationships, which have a way of turning into repeat business and positive word-of-mouth advertising. 

How To: Developing an Effective Brand (Strategy)

Posted on May 3rd, 2011 by Tiffany Categories Uncategorized

We could begin by telling you what a brand really is. But we won’t. What we could begin with is by telling you what a brand is not. 
A brand is not a logo. It’s not an image formed by lines and colors to communicate the name of your organization. A brand – a successful brand – is what encompasses the length and breadth of your identity, your values, the relationships you’ve built over time and the quality that your clientele has come to expect from you.
In the social media world, successful brands are built upon two tenets that we see being repeated in every related discussion – authenticity and transparency. It’s an environment with staggering numbers where 50 million people “Like” a brand, every day. Overall, the numbers show an increasing need to create a brand that stands apart in the midst of all the advertising noise. 
1. Step One – Soul Searching
Why are you providing your service? What are your values, your vision and your mission? How do you want your customers to feel after they’ve interacted with your brand? What kind of an experience do you want them to leave with? 
Discovering your brand’s identity before you launch it is extremely important – once you have the answers for the questions above, it’s time to start building.
2. Building Relationships
Building a brand requires a long-term, committed relationship with customers, where you truly understand their needs and forge a path to fulfill them. If you’re running a social media campaign, take the time to listen and respond. Create a space that allows your customer base to interact with you, and don’t hinder the negative comments or critique. 
Remember, behind every “Like” and every comment is a real human being who brings an opportunity for magnified word-of-mouth advertising with every interaction.
3. One Step Ahead
Research and staying ahead of the curve are painstaking tasks, we know, but they’re necessary. There’s simply no way to downplay the importance of taking constant inventory of your social media presence and updating your activities across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
From videos to multi-platform posts to engaging with and responding to customers, make sure to set aside time dedicated to connecting and updating yourself on industry trends. The effort goes a long way in ensuring brand loyalty and a happy clientele.