As a guest on the SMEI webinar earlier, I discussed how to use blogging as a tool to build your visibility and increase your influence.
Blogging can be a great vehicle to increase your visibility if you do it right. There are 3 key approaches that you can take:
Creating and posting on your own blog site
A combination of each of these will maximize your impact.
Creating your own blog site
If you decide to create your own blog then you have 3 options – the first is to use a blog platform like Tumblr or WordPress.com – these are free and easy to set up but you don’t own the domain and these are often used for hobby or personal interest topics so perception is an important consideration.
The next option is a little more labour intensive and that is to set up your own domain and blog. I like this option best as you have more control and it is a more professional option.
The last option if you decide to set up your own blog is to use social networks. LinkedIn is a great place to do this.
Guest blogging is a great way to hit the ground fast. By posting on a blog that is already established in your industry you will reach more people, faster. Look for blogs or magazines in your industry that accept articles (they are not hard to find although their criteria may be strict), that get lots of traffic, comments and shares.
This is often overlooked as a tool to establish your brand and certainly should never be used solely as an SEO tactic but the right comment in the right place, at the right time can help you establish and build relationships with the blogger (who is likely a thought leader in your industry) as well as their audience. Always take time to read the post, thank the blogger, and add value in your comment.
Email remains one of the strongest digital marketing tools in our marketing arsenal, especially since people are more likely to open emails on their smartphone or device. Here’s a vital tip to help you make the most of your email marketing campaigns. It sounds like common sense but it’s a mistake we see a lot. Watch this.
Yesterday I was invited, at the last minute, to join a panel of articulate and gifted women to present and discuss women in leadership for the Women in Leadership Foundation mentorship program here in Vancouver. I was honoured to be part of such an esteemed group that included Cindy Hogg – Moving the Human Spirit, Agnes Garaba – SAP – Head of HR Canada, Stephanie Redivo – GIRLsmarts4tech & SAP – Senior Project Manager and Ingrid Kastens – Executive Director Pacific Community Resources Society. As is often the case with me, I jumped in with both feet without giving it much thought then began to panic: “what will I say”, “what do I know about leadership” said the pesky voices in my head. So I broke it into bite sized chunks.
Thanks to Gwen Gnazdowsky for facilitating this great event and to Sherry Baumgardner for sharing the lovely photos below.
What Leadership Means to Me
For me leadership is all about sharing my knowledge with others so that they can learn from me and from the mistakes and successes I’ve had along the way. It is also about learning from the experiences and knowledge of thought leaders – people to whom I am very thankful to every day because they share their insights and help me stay abreast of developments in such a fast changing industry (shout out to Mari Smith, Chris Brogan, Brian Solis, Seth Goden, Mitch Joel, Scott Stratten and all the influencers who tirelessly lead and share).
Leadership is all about inspiring others to do great things but it’s not about doing it for them nor is it about forcing them to do things your way. I’ve had some great bosses over the years but not all of them have been great leaders (or even good ones for that matter!).
Leadership and Social Media
Social media gives us a vehicle to lead and to be influenced like never before. We live in a time when technology allows us to inspire others and lead in brand new ways. Twenty years ago leadership was more about personal one on one connections. You could read books by leaders but there was little or no interaction. You could influence and be influenced by colleagues, bosses and partners but it was difficult to influence a wider audience.
I am not saying that personal, one on one leadership connections are no longer important to leadership (they are still paramount) but now things are different and we’re so fortunate to live at a time when we can augment personal relationships to influence, interact and collaborate with like minded people across the globe online.
During our panel the other speakers talked about connections, about trust, about corporate culture, about partnerships and about inspiring creativity. Social media enhances our ability to do each of these.
Key Components to Social Leadership
1. Connections – social media allows us to connect with younger generations in the forums they are most comfortable with so that we can help and influence them in positive ways. It also allows us to connect and learn from those influencers, to grow those connections into valuable relationships and to take advantage of their sage advice to have a positive impact on you and your career or business. Humans have produced more information in the last 2 years than ever before but if you are following the right people rather than haphazardly following everyone and anyone you will be exposed to great content.
2. Content – social media allows us to share our wisdom and learnings and to disseminate great content that we find online with other interested parties. One of the purposes if this blog is to share content that is valuable and might inspire other businesses and marketers. As an influencee, the ability to listen effectively is key here, to know how to use hashtags and lists.
3. Communication – social media allows us to communicate with much wider audiences and to connect one on one or one to many like never before. Effective communication is the top attribute for effective leadership and yet many CEO’s who have the opportunity to do so don’t or won’t. Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube offer leaders a vehicle to communicate and influence in very personal and positive ways.
Social Leadership and Inspiration
As someone who runs a small company working with select clients, the opportunity to talk on this panel got me thinking about the ways I lead. I was surprised to realise that whilst I don’t always have the opportunity to lead many subordinates in traditional hierarchical, corporate leadership roles (and I am quite glad of that!), I lead in other ways. Practically everything I do from influencing and assisting clients, partners and associates to grow online, to sharing blog posts, to Tweeting valuable content, to mentoring other women and to speaking and teaching, is intended to unfluence and inspire others in positive ways and for that opportunity I am grateful.
This year’s line up at the Art of Marketing wasn’t as ‘star studded’ as previous years and I debated whether to go or not. I’m glad I did. The quality of the presentations was even better than before. In marketing we’re getting back to basics. We’re not obsessed solely by social media anymore and that’s great because now we can focus on what makes people tick and how this applies to all aspects of marketing.
The underlying thread in every presentation was psychology, how people think, what they do and how great marketers manipulate, ahem, influence.
Here are some of the key points I learned from the speakers.
Dr. Robert Cialdini – Influence: The Ultimate Power Tool
Robert’s presentation was all about tactics we can use to develop strong and meaningful business relationships. His key takeaway came in the form of a handy dandy laminated card outlining how to ethically influence people:
Remember to reciprocate – be the first to give service, information or concessions.
Emaphisize scarcity, unique features and exclusive information.
Know and show your authority – but remember to empahisize your weaknesses first.
Start small and build – consistently.
Make friends to influence people – what do you have in common? Being genuine is important.
People proof, people power – gain consensus and unleash people power by sharing others successes and tesimonials.
Nir Eyal – Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
There are 4 key aspects to getting people hooked on your products:
The Trigger – the thing that sparks your interest (can be internal or external). These triggers tend to be habit forming because when we see them we feel a certain way.
The Action – companies leverage motivation and ability to get people to take action.
The Reward – there has to be something in it for the intended audience.
The Investment – how do you get them hooked so that they come back for more.
Martin Lindstrom – Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy
According to Martin, if you want to persaude people to buy you first need to get clear on what the emotional end goal is then you need to uncover the things that matter most to the people you want to buy from you. Unfortunately we’re drowning in big data but have no real information – or we are missing the small things that really matter. Martin notices unusual correlations in behaviour that impact decisions and by small I mean the things that most people miss or take for granted. For example, did you know that your credit rating can be assessed by the way you type? He pulls from his experience to tell stories such as telling why people in Saudi wrap things in plastic (fear) and why people are more likely to buy when you appeal to their inner age (which is usualy somewhere in the 20s) rather than their actual age.
He ended with this quote from Benjamin Franklin – ‘Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.
Jackie Huba – Loyalty Lessons from Lady Gaga
Businesses and marketers can learn a lot from Lady Gaga. The pop phenomenon knows her fan’s inside out. She’s taken the time to truly understand her 1 percenters – those fans that are passionate to the point of obsession (she’s even given them a name – “Little Monsters”) and she focuses on making them feel special. She’s also someone who does things her way, supports and publicises the causes she believes in and is true and authentic to herself. As a result she is hugely succesful and has a loyal following of fans who would follow her to the ends of the earth. If businesses spent more time getting to know their 1% clients and catering to them instead of constantly pursuing new clients they would be much more effective.
Chip Heath – Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Chip’s presentation was all about the decisions people make and how they make them. There are 4 points that impact the likelihood that your decision will be the right one:
Consider all the options – don’t just get stuck on one and go for it. Take time to think about all possible options. If you do then you are more likely to choose the right one and even if you don’t you will be more likely to adapt and change along the way and you will be faster at getting it done!
Reality test your assumptions.
Distance yourself from the decision – consider what the impact of your decision will be in 10 mintues, in 10 months and in 10 years.
Prepare to be wrong – think about what can go wrong and put contingenies in place before it’s too late.
The Art of Marketing found a new home this year in the Convention Centre East in Vancouver. Floor level seating didn’t enhance the experience the way plush theatre seating at the old location (Chan Centre) did, and the lack of wifi for an event costing several hundred bucks was archaic but this did nothing to diminish the impact of the speakers.
This is it, Out-Smarts 600th blog post. I started this blog back in 2006 on the old Outsmarts Sales and Marketing website with the goal of using the medium to:
to establish expertise (having just made the shift to focus solely on social media and online marketing) and;
to share my knowledge of the Internet and with other entrepreneurs and small businesses.
It has been almost 8 years and quite the rollercoaster ride. A lot has changed for blog technology, social media as well as the way we do business in general. The first Out-Smarts blog post was titled Why Companies Should Blog and most of the content that first blog post is still appropriate today though. I’ve learnt a lot along the way; my blogging style has evolved, and I’ve discovered that a blog has many uses, not just branding and sharing.
Here are a few of the takeaways from my 600 blog posts.
1. Blogging is a labour of love – when I started out I regularly blogged several times a week and would recommend that clients do the same. These days I blog less and believe that quality trumps quantity. If you have time to write only one blog post a month, make it count.
2. The more you blog, the more visitors your site will get. This seems like a juxtaposition to point 1 above, and it is. Yes, if you blog more often you will get more traffic but, and this is a big BUT, you have to ask: is it the traffic you want? Are you attracting your target audience? Back when we blogged more frequently here, we got more visitors to the site but the traffic was less targeted, so our conversion rates on the website were lower, and bounce rate was higher. It wasn’t helping us reach our strategic goals.
3. Content should be unique and interesting (or some say outrageous) and it should add value to your audience. There is so much noise out there that it is hard to get attention, but you have to balance your brand and authenticity with the need to get noticed. Sex and sensationalism sell but what does it say about you or your firm – it might be great for Gawker but is it right for you?
4. Finding blog inspiration can be a challenge. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience and write for them not for you. Ask yourself what you know that you can share that will be useful or stimulating for them. Find inspiration in your day to day activities. Read an interesting article that you found inspirational? Blog about it. Someone asked you an excellent question. Share the answer with your followers.
5. Make it easy for people to share your content and make your content attractive so that people will want to share it. Social media makes it easy for your readers to share your content. Make it even easier for them by adding widgets to your site so that people can quickly click to share where ever they wish to do so.
6. We live in a content marketing world. Today’s marketing mantra seems to be ‘the more you give away for free, the more you get back’. But that isn’t always the case. For small business generating free content has to be a balance, don’t make the mistake of spending so much time creating and giving away content that you don’t have time for revenue generating activities.
7. You don’t have to have a blog to take advantage of blogging. Blogs are a great way to learn and be inspired too. By reading the right blogs it can go a long way to helping you stay abreast of developments in your industry or location.
8. Your blog can be used as a central repository of information so that when people ask you a question you can easily point them in the right direction if you have the answer. It is also a useful tool to engage online with people that you meet in real life. For example, I teach regular education sessions at Small Business BC and will often mention specific blog posts that go into more detail about the topic I am discussing. This enables students to connect easily with the blog during or after the event.
9. Don’t just share once, share often. Share your blog posts often and across your different social platforms at various times in order to reach more people.
To this day, people who are thinking about doing business with Out-Smarts will check out our blog. I believe we’ve done a great job in establishing our expertise here and as for sharing our knowledge, the blog has been a great vehicle to allow us to do so. 600 blog posts seem like a lot but looking back it was truly a time well invested. Here’s to 600 more!
Design and development aren’t the only things you need to factor when launching your small business website. It is very important in the design and development phase to consider optimizing your site so that it is more likely to be found by your target audience when they search on Google.
Here are some simple SEO pointers I shared with a client recently to help his WordPress website rank higher – I thought you might be interested in too:
1. Each page on your website including your blog posts should have a META Title Description and one keyword in the META – you can use as many keywords as you like in the content just don’t use them overly repetitively.
In order for you to rank more highly for that keyword in Google search your keyword should be contained:
The in the URL of the page
In the headings on the page
In the content of the page (less than 6%) rather than repeating the keyword too often you can use other secondary keywords.
In the META Title – Should be less than 60 characters in the format: [Company Name | Short Description of page]. The description should include keyword you have identified as the one most likely to get you the most targeted traffic.
The META Description which should be less than 160 characters and should tell people what you do and who for with a call to action i.e. find out more / sign up now.
2. Use the All in One SEO Plugin to add the META Titles and Descriptions to our WordPress site – you add them by going to each page separately and scrolling to the bottom where it allows you to enter your META ‘Title”, ‘Description’ and keyword. All in One SEO has a red, amber, green light system that helps you to visually determine whether your SEO ducks line up.
3. Brainstorm, research keywords and use your knowledge of the industry to come up with words that people would use to find you. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Use Google to try out different terms and see what the results are. Come up with a list of a few words for each page. Check in on Google Webmaster and Analytics to see what words people are using to search and find you and include those on the list too. Use Google Analytics Keyword Tools to research keyword volume and competition based on PPC data and Trends to track trends over time. You are aiming to have a main keyword (which will be used in each area outlined in 1 above) as well as secondary relevant keywords that you can incorporate into your content on the pages of your site.
Need help with SEO? It’s what we do. Call 604 909 3532 to see if we might be a good fit.
I was watching the Daily Show the other night – maybe you saw it too – there was a segment about journalism (and side boobs…) that intersected journalism students and their idea of what headlines are best with a guy from Gawker sharing his experience of what drives click online. The students were using traditional approaches using headlines that actually described the content of the article but were a little boring whilst the Gawker guy was all in for the sex and sensationalism sells even if the titles had little reflection on the content.
It got me thinking about blogging and how challenging it can be to come up with blog titles that are short, sweet and compel people to click whilst at the same time representative of what the article is about.
There a a tonne of things we have to think about when coming up with a good blog title. We have to juggle grabbing attention with making it authentic all within the boundaries of SEO and search limitations. And then I found this great infographic on the Hubspot blog originated from Quick Sprout.:
To encapsulate the things you need to consider for crafting great headlines (I’ve added a couple too):
1. Make them concise and upbeat – keep your titles short so that they look good when people find them via Google search
2. The perfect length for a headline is 6 words – less word = more likelihood of retention
3. The first word and last words count the most so make them stand out.
4. Speak directly to your audience and make it personal.
5. Include adjectives that are interesting such as effortless, strange, essential.
6. Use negative wording – I am not a big fan of this as I see too much manipulation through negativity online.
7. Use numbers rather than words like using 10 tips in the title rather than Ten.
8. Go the extra mile – make it intriguing. The example used on the infographic is 15 Ways to Study (9 is a must!).
9. Formula: Trigger Word or Number + Interesting Adjective + Keyword + Promise – a lot to fit in to a title!
10. This one is mine: Once you have a great headline stick it in a Google search to see if other bloggers have used it. You are aiming for something unique but with all of the content online it’s hard to achieve, if it is though you can get a windfall of clicks.
In view of the new legislation coming into law soon, I would like to personally share Out-Smarts E-Manifesto with you so that you understand our commitment to you in these our electronic communications.
Out-Smarts E Manifesto
1. Out-Smarts builds business on trust and relationships – not by using slimy sales tactics – we don’t cold call nor do we send spam and we never will.
2. Out-Smarts is committed to adding value and providing Internet and social media marketing information that you can take and apply for yourself. All newsletter communication from us will be educational and NEVER aimed at selling you something you don’t want.
2. Out-Smarts values your privacy and will never share your contact email with third parties or anyone else – unless you specifically ask us to (in writing)!
3. Out-Smarts newsletters will continue to be infrequent (4 per year or fewer) and we will never bombard you with content you don’t need or want.
4. All newsletter communications will contain a mechanism allowing you to easily unsubscribe at any time (usually in both the header and the footer).
5. We will never send you unsolicited communications via text, SMS, IM or Direct Messages on social networks. Promise!