Our Social Media Summer Series at our monthly meetings of our Small Business Resource Network featured fascinating get-togethers and productive, lively, discussions.
The first session’s topic was: “It starts with a Blog Or Get Your Website Social Media Ready“.
We talked about how a blog – or website update – improves dramatically a static website’s search engine visibility and also serves well as a communication and information hub when venturing into the online communities on public social networks. We talked about the most important features of a blog.
More in-depth look at the most popular blog engines and their differences is available in Birgit Pauli-Haack’s post on 4 Best Blog Engines For Small Business & Start-ups”.
One of the fundamental principles of Social Media is information sharing and we looked at the motivations of why people share information with their networks.
At the end of the first evening, we looked at the webstats of a client’s website converted to a blog four months earlier and now publishes four to five times a week. By comparing website traffic prior to the blog, we saw traffic increased 3 1/2 times after the blog and traffic increased 2.25 times on the website’s lead generation page. What we learned is a blog will get you two birds with one stone: It increases tremendously your search engine visiblity and it will provide great, relevant and sharable content for your online business network and will spread ideas & solutions.
The second session was All About Facebook and how to use it for your business.
We walked through the anatomy of a facebook page (as opposed to a facebook profile) and again discussed how to make social media really work with relevant content shared with your inner circle and by collaborating with strategic partners to enlarge the reach by multiplying the posts by, “liking,” commenting and sharing. Again we looked at a few ways to reach beyond your own group of friends by taging partner company pages, working with sponsors of the same event and doing something good for non-profits with whom you might be engaged.
The discussion after the presentation included suggestions for separating a personal profile from your company’s page, a very important part of Facebook marketing. For small business owners this is an important distinction. On one hand, you communicate with friends and family; but on the other hand, you have friend requests from members in your various business networks who also want to connect with you on a personal level.
It’s not uncommon for business owners to mix business and leisure on Facebook. A company’s brand page will also have “likes” or fans the owner has accumulated through a personal profile on Facebook. You don’t want to bore your friends with business items nor do you want to reveal too much personal sharing to business associates.
The potential conflict needs to be carefully navigated. If some posts or notes are boring to your friends, they might also be boring for your clients and company fans. And even if people are your friends, they still might be interested in your company’s project.
(To be honest, most of my life is related to my work on the Internet and quite a few of my friends are working in the same field so we share some common interests. On the other hand, I am very much involved in community projects as a volunteer and sharing information on the company page wouldn’t be appropriate but I have no scrupels when it comes to shout-outs for my favorite non-profit or cool events around town. Most of my friends seems to have been quite forgiving when I post business techie-stuff on Facebook and I also learned to live with the fact that there might be quite a few hundred people that “hide” my stream from their own newsfeed.)
A lot can be learned about the performance of your social media activities within your audience. Study members of your audience and find out what’s relevant to them. If it’s good enough, they will share it with their own friends. But if it’s not, you are just shouting into the warm summer breeze.
During August’s meeting, people gathered around to learn, “Why You Should Bother with Google+.“
We explored why search engine result pages change with different social signals around the Interwebs. We also looked at Google+ Killer Features – Circles, Ripples and my personal favorite Google+ Hangouts. A brief discussion also revealed a very interesting observation: Facebook is for talking to people you know. Google+ is very good to find new people that communicate in a particular space. That is also a phenomenon that Google+ has in common with Twitter, where I discover interesting people all the time.
The last few minutes on the 3rd evening we spent exploring the company pages on LinkedIn. How to create company pages,how to post and how it looks in followers’ news stream. The unique propositon of LinkedIn Company Pages is that you can also list specifically your company’s products and services and your followers, customers and business friends can give recommendations on specific services or products. None of the other social networks allow this kind of product/services-oriented communication.
The three presentations by Birgit Pauli-Haack have been posted on Slideshare.net for download, review and study.
Session 2: How to Use Facebook for Business?