Learning about Blogs

When I started writing this GetFound blog at the start of the course, it was my very first attempt at this type of writing and boy did I learn a LOT.  While I had definitely heard of blogs, I did not fully comprehend the amount of work, time and dedication that goes into producing one on a regular basis.  Finding topics, researching the details and then gathering the information into a format that is somewhat interesting and of value to the reader was much more of a challenge than I had ever imagined.

Previously, when helping friends GetFound online, I always told them that a blog was a great tool to get your name and information out to your potential clients and to build the valuable content that search engines look for all the time.  They usually all told me the same thing…..I’ve got a business to run, I don’t have time to blog.  I can now somewhat understand where they were coming from.

I did learn a great deal though about blogging and I’d like to share just a few of the tips and ideas that I learned along the way, usually by making mistakes.  I hope these tips help you make your blogging experience successful.MP900285038

1. Pick your topic well

Picking the topic that you are going to blog about for an extended period of time shouldn’t be a quick 5 minute decision.  Pick a topic that you are passionate about and have experience in.  I made the mistake of picking a highly technical topic and the time spent researching, experimenting and testing took far more time than I had expected or allotted for writing the blog.  Next time I’m writing about Tim Hortons coffee and The Simpsons…;-)

126856032,C6BDF581839E3B398042. Develop an Editorial Calendar

This was probably some of the best advice I got early on in my blog writing ‘career’ .  Taking time early in the writing process to develop a calendar of blog topics that you will write about allows you to get your thoughts in a logical manner that flows for your readers.  It also allows you to time your posts better to take advantage of special occasions or seasons that could impact your topic.  Of course an editorial calendar is just a planning tool and like all plans, sometimes it needs to be changed due to new circumstances or information that you would like to share.  In my editorial calendar, I had not planned to be writing about Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and his amazing public relations success with a silly story about delivery drones, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to comment at that time.

3. Don’t get Frustratedimagery_05_11_08_000276

WordPress is an amazing tool but for some reason the way I think something should work and the way it actually works in WordPress can be drastically different.  Don’t let problems with the tool frustrate you or turn you off of blogging.  Continue to work at it and try new things and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.  I couldn’t find a pie chart that described what I wanted to show on my blog so I learned how to import one I created in MS Excel into WordPress and it was a great feeling of accomplishment when I finished.

4. Write Often

Not as easily done as said, I found out initially and it was very much in line with what my friends had told me…finding the time to blog is tough.  I found that by developing a schedule and trying to stick to it worked the best for me.  For example, I tried to write and research for my blog on Sundays as this was the only day in my schedule that was usually open.  I would develop the drafts on Sunday and either post them that day or let them ‘ripen’ for a few days and then tweak them and post.  Building in that schedule helped me a lot.

Marina_MG_55505. Have Fun

Writing a blog can be a lot of fun and you can learn a lot in the process, particularly if you took my advice in point #1 and picked a topic that you really like and want to share your knowledge of.  While it took a lot of time, I truly learned a LOT about my subject and enjoyed writing about it to try to help small business people GetFound online.

For me this first blogging attempt was a trial and error exercise but in the end I learned a lot and can now fully appreciate the time and work that goes into building a really good blog….especially when compared to the amount of time I put in on a bad one.  Good luck and happy blogging!

Advertisements

Point of Reference

Businessmen and Laptop Computer

As I start to wind down this blog, I wanted to share with you some great resources I’ve found over the years that have helped me learn about online marketing for small and medium sized businesses.  Some provide technical detail but most have easy to use resources that even I can understand and implement.  Take some time when you can and visit some of these sites and of course share with me any sites you’ve found helpful in your journey to GetFound.

 

MH900407253Websites and tools

Moz – Moz is the go to resource for Search Engine Optimization information and their Beginners Guide to SEO is a great reference for anyone starting out with a website, who wants to get it right.  They also have a host of tools available, many for free, to help you evaluate your site and find opportunities.

Google – believe it or not, the worlds leader in search also provides great resources to help people get started in optimizing their website.  Their Search Engine Optimization Guide is a great, easy to read place to start.  They even have a great series of videos available on their YouTube channel.  Not to be outdone, Bing has also created a set of tools to help you improve your sight’s visibility to your audience.

Wordtracker – this is a site I really like and it offers a lot of tools and usually useful newsletters on topics that can help you improve the visibility of your website.  They also offer a number of great videos to help you learn more about online marketing.

 

Information LinksMP900285038

Search Engine Land – provides a great selection of articles and opinion pieces on online marketing topics ranging from SEO to Local Search to Social Media and everything in between.

Mashable – covers social media news from around the world.  Great resource to keep up on changes, trends and new social media platforms as they come out.  Learn about the next big thing before your friends and competitors do.

Search Engine Journal – another great resource for online marketing articles on SEO, Local Search, Pay-Per-Click, Social Media and just about anything else you can ask for.  Articles are written by various writers to give you a lot of different perspectives and ideas.

Of course this is just a small sampling of tools and information sites to get you started.  Believe it or not the internet is full of information and ideas….this thing might catch on.  As always, read lots, weigh the ideas and do what is best for you and your company….Happy Hunting!

Jeff Bezos is a Genius

220px-Jeff_Bezos%27_iconic_laugh

This is a bit of a turn from our normal discussions on how to help get your local small business found online by your customers, but what Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos did this week, really needs to be discussed.  At just 49 years of age, Bezos has established and built one of the most recognizable brands in today’s marketplace.  With a net worth of over $28 billion, Bezos is a pioneer in the ecommerce industry.   Amazon.com was created by Bezos in 1994, in where else but the garage of his home, and has now grown to a $61 billion enterprise (2012)

While his work in building an ecommerce giant is truly impressive, what I personally find to be the most intriguing is his recent announcement of Prime Air, a delivery service from Amazon that will guarantee delivery within 30 minutes, of products weighing under 5 pounds by autonomous drone.  Bezos announced his idea on CBS News  60 Minutes  on December 1, 2013, the night before ‘cyber-Monday’ the busiest online shopping day of the year.  He demonstrated his idea by displaying a pair of advanced, private drones adorned with the Prime Air Amazon logo, in a corporate board room.  It was also accompanied by a YouTube video demonstrating the delivery of a small package from an Amazon fulfillment center to a customer’s front door without any human intervention.  The entire investment in this idea was probably less than $100,000 to purchase the two units and create the video (below).

And what did he get for his relatively small investment?

  • More than 3 days of global news coverage around the world by every major and minor news organization imaginable.  To purchase that amount of broadcast coverage would cost most businesses millions of dollars, it cost Amazon nothing.
  • In less than a week, the YouTube video has received more than 12.5 million views and has been shared widely on social media and email around the world.

What makes this amazing?

And what makes this entire announcement even more amazing to me is that the concept that is being announced and shared globally is, at best, years away from implementation.  It’s really nothing more than an idea with a couple of cool props and a nice little 1:20 minute video to go along with it.  Some of the reasons I feel this way:

  • The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which regulates the airspace in the US is at least 1-2 years away from developing laws that cover the use of autonomous (self-governing) drones.  Bezos has no idea if the new laws would even allow his idea to fly…….pun intended.
  • The technology is not there and probably won’t be for years.  While the US military has developed very advanced autonomous drones, they tend to operate at high altitudes in military operating zones with little other traffic or obstacles around them.  An autonomous drone that needs to operate at a low level, in a built up urban area with large numbers of potential obstacles is years from development.  Simple things like power lines, vehicles, trees, and moving people all create obstacles that a drone would have to identify and figure out a way around before this idea could even work.  Even determining where it is safe to land will be a challenge for a drone at this time.
  • It would have an incredibly limited ability to reach customers. Since the drone must operate out of a Amazon fulfillment center, that carries the product you want and must be within about 20 minutes flying time of your house, it will be available to very, very few customers.  Unless Amazon builds many, many more fulfillment centers, this service would only be available to a small customer base.
  • It would be incredibly expensive to provide this service.  While the use of a drone does not have a lot of direct operating costs associated with it (fuel, maintenance, software, etc.) it can still only carry one 5 pound package at a time within an extremely small delivery area.  A UPS or FedEx delivery truck carrying hundreds of packages to a much, much larger delivery area will still be a much more cost effective means of delivering packages.

This is not to say that the technology may not ever be developed, as recent advancements show us that almost anything is possible, I just don’t believe that the idea Bezos presented on 60 minutes is a near term solution for Amazon or any other ecommerce company for many years to come.  Though I would love to be proved wrong.

Setting up a Google+ Page for your Business

Google + is a relatively new entrant into the social media world but it is a platform that is growing at an unprecedented pace globally and cannot be ignored by small business owners.  In Canada 17.8% of the population use Google+ or approximately 6 million profiles (CircleCount).

Setting up a Google+ page for business is relatively easy to do with just a few short steps.  If you already have a Google account (such as a GMail account) you can set up your page in just minutes.  Check out the video below by Glen Wilson as he walks you through the steps.

Get Mobile

Did you know that 56% of Canadians have a smartphone and that 66% of them access the Internet everyday on them?  Mobile browsing and searching for local business is fast becoming the norm for today’s savvy consumers, in fact 77% of users research products or services on their device (Check out this great presentation from Google for more information)  Also check out these amazing Canadian statistics from iamota and Insights West see if you can afford NOT to be on mobile.

Using social media tools to market events

So you’ve got a big event coming up for your business or an organization that you support.  Let’s review some tips and ideas to help you get the word out about your event around your k12653238local community and the surrounding communities.  The old methods of sending out press releases and ads in the local newspaper just doesn’t cut it anymore as more and more people engage with social media in your community.  The tools to promote your event are numerous (Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube,

Establishing Your Social Media presence

  • Twitter for Events

Twitter is one of the most powerful tools for engaging your audience both before and during your event. A couple of key points will help you make your event a success, such as, establishing an event hashtag and publicizing it before and during your event so followers can use it to post comments to.  Build your followership by sending out engaging tweets before and during the event, include pictures in your Tweets to catch people’s attention.  And don’t forget to use tools such as Hootesuite, hshtag, and Google Alerts to monitor comments about your event in near real time.

  • Facebook for Events

Setting up an event on Facebook is extremely simple and takes only a few minutes.  Your Facebook event can be used to notify potential guests, sell tickets,  or even to allow guests to RSVP for your event.  Facebook posts leading up to the event can help get the word out, not only to your own followers but also to their Facebook friends as well.  If your event has great visual appeal then Facebook is a great way to get the pictures out and build further interest in your event.  Keep you audience engaged by posting regularly to Facebook from the event as it is happening and post signs to prompt your guests to Check-In for your event on their Facebook.

  • Google+ for Events

Google+ is fast becoming a must have platform for all businesses and events to have.  Similar to Facebook, it is a highly visible medium and you can post pictures of your headliners, previous events, products or anything else that will get your viewers attention.  Google + Events also allows you to send out customizable invitations and even better it allows your guests to post pictures of the event to the site for your other followers and theirs to see.

 

  • Related k10381848articles

Get Tweeting

TwitterTwitter is a micro-blogging platform that allows businesses to share information and links in 140 character or less messages to their followers.    Canadians have more than 10 million Twitter accounts (Semiocast) and it’s growing at about 18% per quarter, according to GlobalWebIndex.  And setting up a Twitter account for your business is probably one of the simplest tasks you can do.

Getting Started

  1. Go to https://twitter.com/ and set up an account for your business by following the simple step by step process provided by Twitter.
  2. Now that you have your Twitter account set up and you’ve even added a few groups and people to follow, we’ll work on developing your profile:
    • Add logos and pictures to enhance the look of your Twitter page
    • Choose a user name that is easy to recognize and matches your business, Twitter will tell you if the handle is available or not
    • Write a good clear description of your business in the Bio section.  This will show up on your Twitter page when people visit.
    • Add your business website and other contact info to the Bio to let others find you more easily.

Build your Audience

  1. Be a Good Listener.  Monitor for mentions of your company and watch industry or geographic hashtags.  Retweet comments and make mentions of others in your tweets.  See what your competitors are doing and saying and see what is working and not working for them.
  2. Find your Voice. Make your Tweets conversational, helpful and genuine.  Respond to questions professionally and promptly.  Be nice!  Pictures, videos and other visual tools help attract attention to your tweet, if they are interesting or unique. Have conversations with your followers and stay engaged with them.
  3. Be strategic.  Develop a plan for your twitter communications, build an editorial calendar of subjects that you want to Tweet about and when.
  4. Get Re-Tweeted.  Develop Tweets that are of interest to your followers and they will re-tweet to their followers who may in turn re-tweet it again to their followers creating more interest and exposure for your business.  The key is developing something that people want to share.
  5. Get your name out there.  Add your twitter handle to your advertising, your website, business cards and Email signature blocks to make it easier for people to find you online.
  6. Integrate.  Twitter has great tools available to integrate your Twitter comments directly to your business Facebook page and plug-ins are available for your website to also receive direct feeds from your Twitter.  Depending on the type of business or organization you are promoting, this may or may not be a good option for you.
  7. Have fun with it!  As with everything, life is too short to worry about the little things.  Have conversations with your followers, engage with them, enjoy the experience.  It will be great for your business and you’ll have a fun time as well.