• Gaining Traffic From Social Media

    Social media is all the rage. Business owners are smart to tap into these tools to drive traffic to their sites, yet many are missing the mark. Here are some tips:

    1. Offer insight about your industry. When you’re online at your social networking site of choice it’s absolutely important to participate, but how you participate can make all the difference. If you’re merely commenting about what you had for dinner and your new car, then you’re not optimizing the site or your time. Instead, make sure to offer insight about your industry. This doesn’t mean every post has to link to an article or post of yours.

    You can link to relevant content on other sites, offer quotes and data. So while it’s great to share your personality on these sites, it’s also important to establish your credibility and authority. Provide relevant and useful information, and people will automatically go to your site to learn more about you and what you have to offer.

    2. Use attention-grabbing headlines, as well as  comments, controversy,  and how-to statements.

    3. Offer giveaways. People still like getting something for free and you can promote your freebies and giveaways on social networking sites. Reports, online courses or tutorials, blueprints, ebooks and video and audio content are all great ways to motivate traffic to your site.

    4. Use special promotions for your unique social media audience. If you have Facebook fans, consider offering them special promotions for signing up and for being a fan. You can do the same thing if you have a twitter account and so on. Consider giving each new friend/follower a coupon via a direct message to them. That coupon will motivate them to at least visit your website and may turn them into a customer or subscriber.

    Be willing to test and track to see what works. You can create a special webpage to drive social networking traffic to. You can even duplicate that page and use a unique URL for each site you participate on. This way you can track your traffic from each post and from each social networking site to see what works. It’s a great way to gain insight to your audience and to ensure you’re optimizing your time and efforts.

  • How Much Togetherness Do We Really Need?

    Look, I’m a technology loving girl.  The internet has truly changed the way we live, and I’m thankful for that everyday, especially since I have made my career out of owning blogs and using social media.

    Ahhh… social media. That really is the heart of the matter. Yes, the internet opened the world up to us, but social media is what brought it home. It is no lie that I have met many of my friends online. People that I hang out with regularly. When I started my site, I lived in Alaska. Back then, MySpace was cool, and several people from the area that I am originally from, and currently live in, found me and friended me. When I got back to Michigan, they attended some of the same events that I did, we met in person, hit if off, and now we’re pals.

    I would be lying if said I didn’t love social media. I am on Facebook and Twitter quite a bit. But that’s pretty much it. Facebook and Twitter. In fact, I have made jokes about Facebook being my husband and Twitter being my boyfriend…

    But things are always evolving and changing. Social media is no exception. There are always new sites and ways to connect. I’m talking FourSquare, PlanCast, Tumblr, etc.

    Most people have a hard time figuring out what to do with ONE social media site. Do we really need a handful? I mean, how much togetherness do we really need?

    If you’re uploading your pictures to Facebook and giving me a minute-by-minute breakdown of our day on Twitter, do I really need to know where you’re checking in on Foursquare? No. If I already read your blog and follow you on Twitter, do I need to Tumble you, too? No.

    Maybe, instead of all of this friending and following and tweeting and planning and checking in and checking out and whatever in the hell else we’re doing, maybe… we just all need to take a small break from each other.

    It’s okay to just pick one or two social media sites that you like and stick with them. For me, I use a WordPress blog, Twitter, and Facebook. I have apps for all of them on my phone and I can post, tweet, or update at the click of a button.

    And on the other hand, it’s okay to just un-plug from the internets every once in a while. In fact, you might want to try it for an hour or so every day. (do not gasp… do not stop breathing… you will be okay)

    So, if you’re feeling freaked out and overwhelmed by social media.. just stop. STOP. Take a breath. Turn off your gadgets. Grab some paper and a pen or a book or just sit and do nothing. When you feel ready, come back to your gadget and feel free to tweet, or update or post. But just pick one … and forget about the urge to login to 1o sites and tell everyone the same thing, over and over and over again…..

  • Who Are You Really Listening To?

    When I started looking for information on how to work from home and start my own business, there wasn’t any Facebook or Twitter. Back then, I had to go to message boards. You could ask a question, and people would reply back. The information was often from people with vastly different opinions. It could be hard to figure out what was “right” and what was “wrong.”

    Sometimes the people giving the advice were only pushing their own agenda. If someone asked for a way to work from home, they could easily receive 30 or more replies from people pushing them to join their network marketing company or direct sales company, even if the person had said they were looking for information on telecommuting.

    A lot of people were hurt or misled by the information they found on message boards. Even more people have the opportunity to get misinformed via Twitter and Facebook.

    When you ask a question and people respond to you, you will get answers from people who are genuinely trying to help you. But that doesn’t mean they are qualified to dispense the advice. For example, let’s say you wanted to find work as a freelance proofreader. Well, the person who responds to you may seem like they have a ton of helpful advice, but they may only be telling you what they have heard. They may never have actually been employed in the field. They may have only opened up their Twitter account two days before you. That two days of extra experience isn’t really that helpful.

    Before you take advice from someone – and definitely before you spend money on somene’s product or service, please think about the following:

    Who is this person? Anyone can go online and start answering questions and pushing a product. Do some investigative work to find out who this person is and what their experience is.

    What does Google have to say about them? If someone has been online for a year or more, they should have a nice sized Google footprint. If someone wants you to spend money on their product or service, Google their name. If nothing comes up, they probably haven’t been online as long as they say they have. If a bunch of complaints come up, be very cautious! Read through the first few pages of results and see what others think of this person.

    Who’s actually following them? You may find someone on Twitter who claims to be a social media expert. They may even look the part  with 20,000 followers. But don’t be fooled! Look and see who’s actually following them. There are ways to “pump up” the number of your Twitter followers by creating fake Twitter accounts. Make sure actual people are following  the person in question.

    What is the quality of their free information? Everyone offers some amount of “free information.” It may be in the form of their tweets, the posts on their blog, perhaps they offer a free ecourse via email or a small report or workbook for download. Before you pay good money for their help, look at their free information. What is the quality? If they don’t seem to know what they are talking about, if the information is hard to understand, or if they simply tell you to do something but can’t explain why you should do it, keep your money and look for help elsewhere.

    Are they listening to you? Or are they telling you? When you ask this person a question, do they listen to you? Do they give you an answer that works best for your situation? Or do they offer you a cookie-cutter explanation and tell you to fit your life into their solution? If someone really wants to help you, they will be explaining the options that fit your needs!

    How do you feel about them? Most importantly, how do you feel about this person? Do they make you feel comfortable? Are they someone you want to work with? Listen to your gut! Your instincts won’t lie!

  • Social Media Divorce: Making Your Way Through It

    Earlier today, I posed this question on my Facebook:  “If Facebook is my husband, is Twitter my boyfriend? Or am I just in a plural marriage?” Of course, that was meant to be a joke, but your connection to social media can be a lot like a relationship. You spend a lot of time with it, you tell it about your day and what you’re up to, it provides feedback and a connection, and sooner or later, you realize you’re kind of dependent on it.

    Unfortunately, there are times when even good relationships go bad. The same is true for social media. Do you really think you’re going to find any friends on Friendster? And MySpace is kind of like the slightly older cousin/neighbor/friend that seemed pretty cool when you were younger. Now, you just realize he’s a big flippin’ burn out.

    Sure, there are still a few people hanging around him, but those are people who a) have no clue or b) resist change. And he may still have a following with teenagers, but kids are known to hang out with older, dodgy weirdos who can score them alcohol.

    Anyway… back to the point. Here’s how to get through your Social Media Divorce:

    Let Your Feelings Be Known

    Sit down with your social media site {re: MySpace} and tell them why you are leaving. Explain that you had some good times, but you’ve grown apart. Let them know that you wish them luck, but that there really isn’t any point to being ‘friends’ anymore.

    Tell Your Friends And Family

    The next step is to tell your friends and family that you are moving on and where they can find you. This may mean your custom Facebook URL or your Twitter handle, etc. Your best bet is to include your new address in your emails, on your business cards, etc. Don’t be shy about letting people know…

    Start Seeing Other Sites

    In many cases, a social media divorce happens because the person has started seeing Facebook and/or Twitter on the side.  If you haven’t started yet, now is the time! You’re a free agent! Don’t feel bad about tweeting or updating your Facebook status. Remember, you are not married to MySpace anymore!

    Have Fun And Experiment – But Remember What You Learned

    Yes, now is the time to have fun and experiment with new sites. Let your hair down a little and put up some Twitpics, Retweet a funny post, install a Twitter app on your phone, hell – if you have the ability… go mobile with Facebook, and don’t forget to tell a few people you like their status and even leave a comment or two.

    But remember what you learned. Social Media sites don’t last forever, so don’t get too attached. Just because it’s hot today, doesn’t mean it’s going to be the “it” place to be next year. When you start hearing chatter about the next cool thing, don’t be so quick to dismiss it. Be adventurous and go explore it. You never know, you may just find a new (and enjoyable) distraction.

  • Drawing The Line Between Business and Personal In Social Media

    In the past, people left their homes in the morning, went to work, and at 5pm they clocked out and went home. Work was kept at work, and people were free to enjoy their home life on their own terms.

    Today, the line between “work life” and “personal life” is often blurred. We are now a mobile society. Thanks to computers, people can easily bring their work home with them and continue to work long after the clock passes 5pm; cell phones allow people to be contacted with work matters at any time of day; and social media allows people you know from your business life to easily find out more than you want them to know about your personal life.

    So, is there a way to keep the two sides of your life separate? Yes, there is. First of all, if you want your personal life to be kept private, set your social media accounts up that way. You can protect your tweets on Twitter so that they are only visible by the people you approve and you can set your Facebook up so that only your friends can see your information, pictures, and so forth.

    If you use Twitter to stay in contact with both people from your professional and persona lives, set up two different accounts. Only approve people you know and interact with on a personal basis to see your personal tweets. If a colleague or client sends a follow request to your personal account, send them an email directing them towards your professional account.

    If you are a Facebook user, set up a personal account for your friends and family and then create a page for your professional life. This will allow people to become a “fan” of your business and stay in touch with you. They will only be allowed to see the things you post on your page; they won’t be allowed to see what is on your personal page unless you add them as a friend.

    Again, if someone from your professional life sends a friend request to your personal account, simply send them an email letting them know your personal account is to share photos and news with friends and family only, and then direct them towards your business page.

    Keep in mind that if you are an entrepreneur and you are trying to promote yourself as your brand, you may not want to separate your accounts. Allowing people a glimpse of your personal life can help build relationships.

    In the past, people did business with those that were local to them. Today, people can choose to do business with someone from across the street or across the globe. Exchanging messages on Twitter and Facebook with clients and colleagues has replaced the wave that people once received when walking into their work place or favorite local business.

    Some may argue that they do not want their personal information available to clients and colleagues. Others may argue that nothing has really changed over the years.

    Imagine if you were doing business in the 1970s exclusively with people who lived in your town. Your clients and colleagues would probably know much more detailed information about you, such as where you lived, what kind of car you drove, your home phone number, whether or not your child played in that week’s little league game, and so forth.

    Deciding on whether or not to separate your personal side from your professional side is entirely up to you. Either way, remember to always practice common sense when using social media. Even if the things that you post are for friends and family only, you are still putting things up on the web and those things can easily get spread around the internet. If you don’t want to someone to see it, don’t put it up there for the world to see!