Monday, July 30, 2012

Top 5 Tips to Embrace Social Media

Is your small business ready to embrace social media? With all of the choices, tackling social media can be intimidating. It's best to start with a few sites to kick off your social media strategy. Here are some of the most popular and best for small businesses:

1. Blogs
Write them, visit them, comment on them. There have been 133 million blogs indexed by Technorati since 2002. They're a great way to engage with customers, learn and network.

2. Twitter
People constantly ask "What is Twitter?" Essentially, Twitter is a micro-blog where you have 140 characters to get your message across. The goal is to follow people and acquire followers. The best way to do this is by providing value through your tweets. Send your followers to interesting articles, products they may like or let them know what you're up to.

3. Facebook
What started off as a way to connect with old friends has quickly evolved into a way to do so much more. From promoting your business and products, to acquiring customers as fans of your Facebook page, Facebook is a great way to get feedback and interact with clients and customers in real-tiome -- plus so much more.

4. LinkedIn
More commonly know as "Facebook for grown-ups," LinkedIn is a business tool that helps colleagues connect. It's a great way to locate long lost co-workers, locate a new job or network your way to new clients.

5. Digg
This is one of the largest and most popular social news websites where you can learn about topics including politics, entertainment, technology and general news. In addition, you can comment -- or "digg" -- web pages you enjoy.

Speaking of social media, I'm on Twitter (allyjackson), LinkedIn and Facebook, so be sure to look me up. I'd love to connect with you.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Why Your Small Business Needs an Online PR /Social Media Assistant

Owning a small business means you wear many different hats, from marketing director to accountant, and everything in between. With the emergence of social media, including this type of promotion in your marketing mix is crucial to reaching customers. But how do you find the time? Enter the Online PR/ Social Media Assistant. By enlisting the help of a dedicated, knowledgeable resource, you can take your business to new levels. Plus, you ensure that you're leveraging social media to connect with your customers, improve your products and/or services and find new business.

The Role of an Online PR/ Social Media Assistant
Here are just a few of the responsibilities this position can assume for your company:
  • Write blog posts
  • Submit articles to online publications
  • Provide guest posts to other blogs or publications to help you gain exposure
  • Manage your Facebook account and postings
  • Monitor and post to Twitter
  • Create and post how-to or promotional videos to YouTube
  • Write and distribute press releases
  • Coordinate media interviews
  • Secure speaking engagements
  • Identify other social media channels your business should leverage
  • Participate in online forums within your industry
  • The list goes on and on...
What to Look for in an Online PR/ Social Media Assistant
It seems that everyone today is calling themselves a "social media expert" so it's important to find someone that's a good fit for your business. Here are the top 3 credentials an Online PR/ Social Media Assistant should have:
  1. Experience -- You wouldn't hire an electrician who's not familiar with electrical systems or wiring. The same holds true for working in online public relations and social media. You want someone who is familiar and comfortable with a variety of media channels. For example, do they have a significant number of followers on Twitter and/or fans on Facebook? Have they helped other businesses reach their social media goals? Can they create an online PR strategy and execute it?
  2. Online writing skills -- Writing for the web and social media is vastly different from other kinds of business writing. Online writing needs to be succinct, catchy and to the point. It must engage customers, use the right keywords and generate buzz.
  3. Networking skills -- You'll want your Online PR/ Social Media Assistant to be able to collaborate and network easily and seamlessly to ensure your company gets the maximum amount of online exposure. From joining and participating in the right communities, to building relationships with bloggers, this role needs strong networking skills to be successful.
Where to Find an Online PR/ Social Media Assistant
Since social media is still fairly new, it can be difficult to find someone with an adequate amount of experience. That said, you may be able to get a college student or recent grad, who most likely is well versed in social media, for much less than someone with a few years of experience.

Here are a few options to help you find an assistant:
  • Referral/word of mouth
  • Craigslist
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google
  • College boards/forums
This post wouldn't be complete without a shameless plug for A Communication Solution. One of our specialties is helping small businesses with their online PR, social media and marketing with the right experience and know-how to get the job done.

I'd love to get your thoughts. Do you think this is a valuable resource for your business, or would you rather do it yourself? Perhaps you already have an Online PR/Social Media Assistant. What has your experience been?