The biggest challenge for any blogger, social media marketer, content creator and publisher is to “start”
Many of us wait to be perfect before publishing or hitting that “go” button. Others are afraid that what they create will be judged as more of the same or they have nothing that will be seen as meaningful or insightful.
That presents a problem.
You will never get it just right and yes, you may be judged as being redundant, even superficial and even a copycat. You are not alone, I hear that conversation all the time.
What is stopping you? Is it the fear, is it that you have so many passions and interests that you don’t know which one to choose. Time to pick one?
Maybe it is time to step up and step out into the light.
Light that flame.
In this page we will look at the fundamentals of
- Starting a blog
Learn the art and science of social media marketing from the start
- To help you get started with starting a blog I have been working with Bluehost to make it simple and cost effective.
Blogging and social media marketing are very synergistic and powerful combination when woven together. Whether your a personal brand, sell products to consumers or [provide goods and services to other business
Let’s first have a look at the attitude, skills, steps and resources the blogger who wants to succeed will need.
The blogging journey starts with one short step
Any journey requires starting despite your fears and placing one foot after the other, building an online house a brick at a time and one word after the other.1
It means having “a go” despite judgment and criticism, and on the social web that will happen.
If you saw my first articles on this blog (and I am not going to provide a link for you, they are so embarrassing), then you would understand that starting means imperfection and being prepared to be vulnerable.
Be courageous then the opportunities will be revealed in time. True bravery is willing to be “you” despite stones being thrown and criticism turning up in your blog comments. That is part of the journey. Seth Godin even struggles with this (he turned his blog comments off). But he still started and keeps publishing.
Nothing will happen
If you don’t start then nothing will happen…. it is that simple.
Many of us also don’t know where to start and this b2log’s goal is to help people start, learn and grow as a personal and business brand in a world that is defined and controlled more each day by the social web.
- Want to publish your ideas? Start a blog!
- Want to market your business or personal brand? Learn the art and science of social media marketing.
- Want to be seen as a thought leader or expert in your field then you need to create content, publish it on a blog and promote it on social media networks, apply email marketing and make it easy for search engines to find you.
Why should you start?
This is what will happen if you start and learn to do it well.
- Your brand awareness will grow
- Open doors to global opportunities
- Create business networking opportunities
- Position you and your brand as a thought leader and expert
- Rank higher in search engines
- Learn a lot about your business and yourself
- Build an online asset that doesn’t sleep
- Grow as an individual and as a business
- Provide a lifestyle freedom
Are you ready to start and have a burning passion to grow? Want to make a difference?
Where do you start?
You need to lay the foundation for your online presence and brand.
I don’t know of any better way to do that than with a blog or website that allows you to take your message to a global audience.
You couldn’t do this 5 years ago without either paying millions of dollars for mass media advertising, or having access to the movers and shakers in government and business.
In the past you needed deep pockets and access to social and business networks that required decades of wining and dining.
Blogging, Facebook, Twitter and social media networks have removed the barriers and gatekeepers control to accessing your target audience at a global scale.
Building a platform and creating contagious content that can be shared for free by the crowd on social networks is your path to success and lifestyle freedom.
The blog is your content foundation
Blogging used to be the online personal diary where you kept pictures of your dog, cat and travels.
It was for the geek.
As publishing has moved from offline to online and the importance of print diminishes more every day the blog has become the knowledge, idea and content cornerstone.
It needs to “searchable” and “Googleable”.
The blog makes it easy for search engines to index your content so that your brand is found when potential customers use key words and phrases in their search for information on products and services.
Search, social and content are more intertwined than ever before. Do one without the other and it is like tying one hand behind your back.
Today’s “visibility” is not obtained by locking up your content on parchment, in filing cabinets or offline hard drives. Becoming a well known thought leader is not achieved with one article published in a newspaper or industry magazine.
It’s just the start.
Content needs to be free to roam.
Key steps to blogging success
Here are the key steps to take you from offline anonymity to online recognition.
1. Connect into your power source
Identify your passion, purpose and innate abilities. Do this and the energy required and the work that is needed will seem like play.
2. Create a memorable brand
The challenge in a stadium of 500 million websites who are trying to gain attention and visibility is standing out.
You need to take your brand from bland to memorable.
3. Design a simple marketing plan that works
Blog and website marketing is sustainable if you need to pay for it. You need to enlist the leverage of social networks to crowd source your marketing for free. So develop a marketing plan that will supercharge your traffic and brand awareness that taps into free and low cost marketing tactics. This also will need to include the other two pillars of digital marketing, email and search engine marketing.
4. Build a strong blog foundation
Laying the foundations for an easy to maintain blog platform is essential for online asset building.
This requires three key elements:
- Design that is memorable and intuitive for the user
- Development of a blog site you own on your own domain that allows easy content creation and easy sharing on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. WordPress meets these requirements.
- Hosting that is robust (operates 24/7) and loads quickly.
5. Publish contagious content
Learn how to create contagious content that brings people back and creates loyal fans. This needs to be in variety of media.
6. Market your blog for free with social media and other powerful strategies
Social media will accelerate your marketing with crowd sourced social media marketing and you will also need to learn about other powerful marketing strategies such as search and email marketing
7. Have something to sell
Creating a global blog that has traffic is one thing but you need to have something to sell. There are many ways to make money online. Here are 12 ways to monetise a blog.
8. Maintaining the momentum of success
Starting is one thing and marketing is another. The final piece of the puzzle is to learn how to maintain the motivation and momentum to ensure you succeed. It is vital that you change your thinking from campaign marketing to continuous marketing.
You will need to persist with the creation and marketing of your content. Google’s search engine algorithms need fresh and unique content.
2. Social Media Marketing
So what is social media marketing?
In a nutshell, it is the art and science of applying the power of the global social networks to increase brand awareness, share your content and increase sales through “crowd sourced” marketing.
Do it well and your marketing is done for free by followers and fans.
A holistic and grown up approach involves integrating social media marketing into the fabric of your whole digital strategy and brand marketing.
Integration is key.
Social media marketing should be part of your blogging, SEO and email marketing plans. It needs to include unique content that people love to share.
Facebook “likes” is not social media marketing
For many it is the pursuit of Facebook likes. The reality is that this is only a small part of social media marketing.
Social media still has some image problems for the CEO and his executive team. Facebook is sometimes seen as having the odour of an online dating site and as the social network of choice for drunken teenagers posting photos.
It is not taken as a serious marketing medium by some businesses and management.
What if Google thinks social networks are important?
If the biggest search engine on the planet starts to realise that social media networks are important then its time to commit to a new marketing strategy.
Consider the following.
- Google has just spent $560 million designing, developing and launching Google+ (Over 400 million people are now users)
- Facebook has over 1.1 billion users, which translates into nearly one in two global internet users.
- Search engines are using social signals such as re-tweets, Facebook shares and comments as indicators of what people think is important content. And that is being woven into their algorithms that decide what appears on the first page of search engine results.
Don’t you think it is time to take social media marketing as a serious option.
Some more questions
Despite that some of the questions that still crop up are:
- Isn’t it superficial?
- Facebook marketing is social media marketing?
- What is a blog?
- Won’t I lose control of the brand if I allow comments on the blog?
- What is the return on investment?
- What do I do with a micro blogging social network that only allows 140 characters?
- Who is going to look after it?
So where do you start with social media marketing?
Setting up your social media brand online
There are many choices when is comes to setting up your social media brand online.
When it comes down to it, the two you cannot and shouldn’t ignore are Facebook and Twitter.
This is where you need to start.
The reason to choose these is that they are the biggest, most active, have high engagement and will drive the most traffic to your website or blog.
How to start with Facebook
There are a few key steps to starting with Facebook
1. Brand your Facebook page
Building an online brand with social networks requires ensuring your “brand image” is consistent across all platforms. Create a Facebook page banner that is recognizable as your brand when visitors land
2. Customise your Facebook page with an app
One of the most popular apps to do this with is “ShortStack” and this allows you to capture more likes or grow your email database list by offering access to premium content by liking or providing their email to access it.
3. Grow your Facebook community
There are two ways to do this
a. Free (organic)
Some top tactics to help you with this include
- Add a social plugin to your website or blog where people can “like” your page without leaving
- Include a link to your Facebook page in your emails
- Create or source great content and share it on Facebook
- Share your Facebook links on Twitter
b. Paid advertising
Facebook advertising is easy to do and can be limited and capped by time and daily spend.
The easiest way to start is with
- Standard Facebook
- “Like” ads”
- Run a competition
4. Engage with your fans
So you are building your Facebook community now it is time to start engaging with them.
Here are some tactics to get your started
- Ask Questions
- Write compelling headlines for your Facebook updates and posts
- Reply to comments
- Run polls and surveys
5. Sell to your Facebook community
So you are growing your community and engaging with them online on Facebook. You have now earned the right to sell to them
This can be done in a variety of ways
- Capture leads by asking for their email address
- Offer a coupon that provides a discount (the ShortStack “app” can help you with that)
- Setup a Facebook store
Not all tactics will suit every type of business. Use those that are appropriate for your brand and target market whether it is B2B or B2C.
6. Measure and Monitor your Facebook page
With all this activity happening on your Facebook page your need be measuring metrics such as:
- Brand awareness
- Click activity
Some of the tools to help you with that include
- Facebook insights (Free)
- Social Sprout
Note: Facebook is important but if you think that this constitutes a proper integrated social media marketing approach then you are mistaken. Facebook is only part of the equation. There are many elements to bring together and this is done with careful planning by creating a social media strategy plan that includes other vital social networks and takes into account search engines, content and other digital and traditional marketing assets and tactics as part of the mix.
The importance of a social media marketing strategy
If you want to succeed at social media marketing you need to create a social media marketing strategy. Just chasing Facebook likes is not a path to success. It is just a singular tactic that should be part of an overall plan that contributes to achieving your marketing goals.
On a social web, marketing is moving from campaign marketing to continuous marketing. Think of it as a journey of customer engagement and on going conversations rather than one off “raids” on your customers.
10 steps to social media marketing success
Here are the 10 key elements that will need to be part of that plan creation and execution.
Step 1: Create a clear focused vision and plan
This is where you decide whether you want to create brand awareness, position the brand as a thought leader, expert or increase sales. Make sure that the social media marketing goals are congruent with overall business and marketing goals.
Step 2: Obtain commitment from management
Trying to do this without commitment from management will set it up for failure. Obtain funding and ensure that you have a 12 month commitment as organic social media marketing takes time to see visible results. Increasing your Facebook fan base and twitter followers takes time.
Step 3: Determine target market and customer profile
Making sure you are clear whom you are targeting will enable you to choose the right social networks and social media networks.
Step 4: Outline and prioritise goals
Make sure you have clarity on your goals and their priorities. This could include
- Increasing Facebook likes.
- Improve customer engagement
- Build your email subscribers list through social media.
Be specific and set time goals.
Step 5. Develop tactics to achieve goals
If your primary goal is to increase Facebook likes then make sure the tactics to help achieve that are designed for that result
Want to increase customer engagement?… then ensure that your tactics and resources such as asking questions and responding to comments and thanking people for retweets and shares are in place.
Step 6: Resources allocated to achieve goals
Social media marketing takes time and resources.
Do you need to hire a part timer or will you contract it out. Will you need a community manager. Do you have the budget for design, developing the custom tabs on Facebook. Have you bought the software that will help you manage, monitor and automate.
Step 7: Create and plan content publishing schedule
Content is the foundation of your social media marketing efforts. Make sure you have sourced or created the content such as, articles, ebooks, images and online videos you will need for your social media marketing.
Then set a schedule for publishing that content on the social networks you are using.
It isn’t one size fits all. Different networks need different types of content.
Step 8: Publish and promote content on social networks
Some content can be automated for publishing especially Twitter. To optimise Facebook and Google+ pushing for the most visual impact then manual publishing may be required to ensure large and high definition images obtain the most impact.
Step 9: Measure, monitor and manage
There are a range of tools that you can use to measure social network marketing results and brand buzz. This can be a enterprise class tool such as Radian 6 through to Free tools such as Hootsuite, Google Analytics and Facebook insights.
Step 10: Modify, rinse and repeat
Some marketing tactics will not work well and others success will surprise you. Do more of what works and discard those that don’t. Digital marketing is very measureable.