October 5th, 2016

16 Vital Tips to Get Your Social Media Marketing on Track

16 Vital Tips to Get Your Social Media Marketing on Track

A solid social media presence is a big help to an online home business. It helps you connect with your audience and drives traffic to your website. While mastering social media takes a lot of work, there are some basics that will help you get started.

1. Get Started

This is the big one if you haven’t done so already. Pick at least one social media site you think will go well with your target audience, and make an account for your business. Start sharing. Follow others. If you don’t start, you’ll never figure out how it works.

2. Keep Trying

Most people quickly become frustrated with social media because it takes so long to get results. Viral doesn’t come easy. Neither do followers. You’ll see others who make it look easy and wonder why it isn’t so simple for you. Don’t focus on them, other than to see if you can get ideas to build off of.

3. Interact

The key word in social media is “social.” If you want things to go well, be social. Ask questions. Reply to people. Be helpful.

4. Follow Others

With many forms of social media, one of the best ways to build your following is to follow others. Find the big names in your industry and follow them. Find interesting people and follow them. Find people who might be interested in your business and follow them. Many will follow you in return – if not, you may still have a chance to interact with them by replying to things they’ve posted.

5. Self Promote

Promote your business in your social media accounts. That’s why you’re there, isn’t it? So long as you don’t overdo it, people won’t be offended.

I use Revive Old Post to keep a stream of my old posts going on Facebook and Twitter. You can also choose to share old posts on LinkedIn, Xing or Tumblr. The pro version gives a lot more control for scheduling purposes and other features. You can exclude categories, tags and even individual posts, which is handy when some things you post are only relevant to when you posted them, and not later.

6. Promote Useful Information From Others

Do not only post about your stuff. Share things that might interest your followers from other sources. This will make your account far more interesting to people than if you just post about your business.

7. Pick Your Social Media Channels

You do not have to use Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Vine, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, Tumblr,… you get the idea. Use the ones that make sense for your business. Trying to use everything will only make it harder to do well at any of them.

8. Be Personal

Another part of being social is being a real person. You don’t have to post every bad moment you have, pictures of meals or anything like that. Be you. An appropriately professional you, but still you. You can joke around if that’s a part of who you are in your professional online presence; just keep in mind who you want people to see as the person behind your business.

9. Be Open to Dialogue

You may have to deal with criticism or questions at times on social media. Hopefully most of it will be easily dealt with, but sometimes you may have to deal with problems you wish could have been kept off social media. Whatever it is you have to discuss on social media, do your best to keep it professional and respectful.

10. Give It Time

It takes time for most people to build a social media following. The people who get a huge following quickly most often have fans from somewhere else or have something go viral. The rest of us have to build a following over time by posting quality information on our social media accounts and hoping for shares.

11. Don’t Stress About Going Viral

Having a post go viral is a goal for many businesses. It can drive a lot of traffic. It’s a nice goal.

It’s not something you should stress over, however. It is very hard to predict what will go viral. Create interesting content for your audience and keep your real goals in mind. It’s not traffic. Sales, subscribers and anything to do with income are much better goals than mere traffic. Viral posts aren’t necessarily good at that part.

12. Don’t Get Addicted

Social media can be a lot of fun. That means many people use it too heavily, to the detriment of their business. Social media should be a tool for your business, not a focus. If it’s taking up too much of your work day, you need to reassess how you’re using social media.

13. Pick Your Controversies

It can be good to get involved in controversies. People love a good argument. But when you’re representing your business, pick which controversies you get involved in. There’s no point in offending potential customers unnecessarily.

14. Use Scheduling Tools

There are a lot of tools available to make scheduling your social media posts easier. I use Hootsuite. You could also consider Buffer, Everypost, SocialOomph, Sprout Social or other tools. New ones come out regularly.

Pick the tool based on the social networks you use and the features the tool has. With most you’ll need a paid account, but the time you save will be worth the money. The convenience is well worth the money, and most give you a free trial, so you can test it out before spending anything.

Don’t overdo the scheduling thing. You still need to be personal, and sometimes you will need to post in real time. Sometimes you will want to rethink things you had previously scheduled due to events in the real world.

15. Link to Your Social Media Accounts on Your Website

You want people to find your social media accounts and follow them. Make it easy by prominently linking to them on your website.

People who visit your website and then follow you on social media are more likely to come back. Your presence and your posts on social media will remind them about your website and what you offer.

On this site, I have links to my social media accounts on the right sidebar. They’re highly visible, yet not in the way.

16. Make It Easy for People to Share Your Content

Have links near your content that simplify social sharing of your content. Visitors may do some of you marketing work for you by sharing content they found interesting. There are plenty of WordPress plugins, such as Shareaholic, which will do this for you automatically. I have mine at the bottom of my posts, but others prefer the top or side of their content.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

May 24th, 2016

Pinterest Is Allowing Affiliate Links Again. How Should You Use Them?

Pinterest Is Allowing Affiliate Links Again

Pinterest has decided to allow affiliate links again. They’re now confident in their ability to decide what’s spam. That’s great news if you’ve wanted to share affiliate links on your Pinterest boards. Now you just need to make sure you aren’t spamming your affiliate links.

This brings up the question of just what is spam on Pinterest anyhow? It’s pretty obvious that if you’re pinning nothing but affiliate links, they may be flagged as spam. An occasional affiliate link here and there, will probably not be flagged. What you need to consider is where pinning affiliate links crosses that line.

Much of that will probably depend on the type of affiliate links you pin. If you’re pinning questionable business opportunities, poorly tested alternative medications and other ethically dubious things, they’ll probably be flagged as spam. Pin that hilarious shirt you found on Amazon, it probably won’t be a problem. It’s all up to Pinterest’s discretion, of course, not mine. I can only guess.

Pinterest had been a good source of income for affiliate marketers who did a good job of pinning things people wanted. With this news, I’m sure it will be again.

The key to doing well I expect to be understanding why people come to Pinterest, and to your boards in particular. What gets a lot of clicks, likes and repins? You can get some ideas from this post about what people are searching for, or check the popular board. In general, food, fashion and ideas for around the home seem popular. People want ideas when they come to Pinterest; how are you going to to give them ideas?

That said, you don’t have to pin affiliate links just because Pinterest says you can now. I prefer to have more control over my links, so I will probably stick to using affiliate links primarily on my websites rather than on my Pinterest boards. I prefer the greater control that gives me. A blog post where I can change out the links if something goes wrong is more appealing to me.

Obey the Rules

There are a few rules you must obey if you pin affiliate links… or use them anywhere, for that matter.

The first has to do with disclosure. You must always obey FTC rules and do a disclosure. A hashtag such as #ad, #aff or #affiliate is generally considered acceptable, although there is no FTC guidance saying if that’s enough or not. Make sure it’s prominent. Just the word works too. Alternatively, make a statement about your connection within the text of your pin.

You also must make sure that you’re obeying the rules of your affiliate agreement. Know if you are allowed to share your affiliate links with each company on social media or not. Not all companies want you to do that. If you’ve read the policies of the program and you still aren’t certain, email the company and ask. You don’t want to lose a valuable account because you didn’t realize that you couldn’t share the links directly on social media.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

March 2nd, 2015

Can You Get Paid to Use Twitter and Facebook?

Can You Get Paid to Use Twitter and Facebook?

Using Twitter, Facebook and other social media websites can take big chunks out of your work at home day. They’re something most of us have to learn how to manage our time, so it only takes up as much time as we can allow. But if you really love using social media, wouldn’t it be nice to get paid to do so?

It’s not impossible. Many companies need someone to take care of their social media. Obviously, this kind of work is different from managing your own accounts and socializing with your friends, but it’s a job that requires you to use social media, and can often be done from home. Some companies expect you to work in their office, of course.

What Does a Social Media Manager Do?

The basic job of a social media manager is to manage the business’ social media effectively. While some feel it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of social media campaigns – it’s very difficult to draw a direct connection between social media results and sales in many cases. Nonetheless, a healthy social media presence is a benefit to businesses – it’s one more way to for customers to connect with you.

To help with this, a social media manager must do several things:

1. Understand what your audience needs from the business.

Social media has a large impact on how people view the brand. It’s up to you to know how your employer’s brand should look on social media. What do people buy from the business, and what do they want to know from it? Your social media efforts should help your audience in those areas.

This also involves knowing where your audience is. Your efforts won’t be effective if you focus on Facebook when your target audience prefers Instagram or Twitter.

2. Engage with your audience.

Social media is where many people go when they just can’t get results from a business any other way. How often have you heard stories from people who said they had a problem with a company, and it was only resolved when they complained about it on social media?

A social media manager makes sure these complaints get taken care of if at all possible. You have to know how to handle a wide range of problems, or who to talk to if you don’t know what to do. Problems that are left unresolved or ignored may only get worse on social media. Word can spread quickly. When possible, it’s better to make it word of how well the problem was handled, rather than how awful your response or lack thereof was.

Other times, you may be answering simple questions about the company. People are usually happy to have their question answered directly from the company, even if they didn’t direct it right at you.

You will also need to be aware of any threats to the business. Hopefully this is a rare thing, but if there is a threat, you will want to have it handled appropriately, even if that means calling the authorities. Online threats can be difficult to handle, as not all police departments know what to do about it themselves, but you need to pay attention.

3. Share content.

While much of your employer’s content creation may be handled by bloggers, you have to make it work with social media – phrasing things effectively for the limits of each platform, choosing the right images, right timing and so forth.

Make sure your content works with other promotions going on. Other kinds of advertising may refer people to the business’s social accounts – be sure the messages work well together.

4. Advertise your social presence and build a following.

Many social networks allow you to pay to promote your content, so you can get in front of more people and build your following. These may appear different from your regular social media content. Know whether you’re trying to make sales directly with paid social advertising or if you’re more focused on building a following. A solid following on social media can have long term benefits for a business, so even though it doesn’t show immediate results financially, it can be a very worthwhile goal.

5. Build conversions.

A solid following does very little good if it doesn’t convert into paying customers. You may be able to use your social media efforts to capture leads for other types of marketing or bring in sales. 100,000 fans or followers have very little value if none of them buy anything from you.

6. Show a good ROI.

Proving that your social media work is giving a good return on investment can be difficult, but it’s part of the job to prove that what you’re doing is worthwhile. Analyze the results you’ve gotten each week, not only so you can show what gave a good return, but so that you learn what kinds of things do better and worse.

How Do You Get the Job?

As with any other job, employers hope to find social media managers with the experience to help them reach their goals. You have to find a way to show that first employer that you have what it takes to do the job.

Marketing experience is a big help. A degree in Marketing isn’t a must, but if you don’t have that, some sort of experience you can show is.

You can expect potential employers to want to look at your own social media profiles. If you can’t show that you post interesting things regularly, or if you haven’t built your own following very well, why would an employer want you to manage their social media marketing? Your profiles are highly relevant, so make sure they look appropriate. Ideally, you should be able to show examples on multiple platforms, and show that you know how to work with each one.

You can spot openings on various job boards, as well as on the social media pages of various companies. Sites such as Jobs In Social Media specialize in this kind of job opening. Regular job boards such as Indeed also have listings you may find of interest. Remember that not all will be flexible or home based.

Freelancing is another option. Rather than work for one company, take on a variety of clients who need help with their social media. Freelancing can be both more flexible and more demanding, depending on the relationship between you and your clients. Check sites such as Elance, Guru and oDesk (edit: now Upwork) for openings.

Beware These Social Media Mistakes

Many people make serious mistakes with their social media profiles or when talking to potential clients or employers. If you want to become a social media professional, don’t make these mistakes:

1. Badmouth current or previous clients, anywhere.

Whether on your own social media, on someone’s social media account you’re managing, or in conversation with a potential client or employer, don’t say negative things about your other clients, past or present. It only makes you look bad, and makes potential employers wonder what you’ll say about them.

2. Link dropping.

Do not drop links to your social media pages or regular websites when they aren’t relevant, especially if the only thing you post is the link. You aren’t making that page look any better, and you aren’t getting people interested in visiting it.

3. Post about your services when they aren’t relevant to the conversation.

Similar to link dropping is posting about your services or the company you’re trying to promote when they aren’t relevant to the conversation at hand. You’ll look much better if you participate in the conversation and keep it relevant.

4. Be overly personal.

You should be a little personal on social media, but keep it within reason. Some things you should share only with friends, not with the rest of the world. Keep the really personal stuff to the profiles that only your personal friends can see; don’t share it with the world.

5. Be boring.

At the same time, don’t be so impersonal that you’re boring. Allow your posts to sound like a real person without posting the things you don’t need random people to know about you. Be funny when funny is appropriate, serious when serious is appropriate, and so forth. You’re human – show it.

6. Stress about posting the right amount daily.

There are all kinds of theories about how often and what time you should post on social media. While you should be aware of these observations, don’t let them entirely rule you. If you don’t have something worthwhile to post, don’t. Quality is much more important than quantity.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

February 18th, 2015

No More Affiliate Links, Redirects or Trackers on Pinterest

No More Affiliate Links, Redirects or Trackers on Pinterest

edit: This is no longer true, as of May 2016. Affiliate links are back on Pinterest!

Affiliate links are no longer allowed on Pinterest. For many companies with affiliate programs, this is nothing new – Pinterest hasn’t allowed Amazon affiliate links for some time, for example. But now they no longer allow even those few companies they had allowed. The pins won’t be deleted, but all tracking information will be removed.

Pinterest says it’s to improve the user experience, although many suspect that it has more to do with upcoming monetization. Pinterest says that’s not the case, however. Affiliate links and redirects can make it harder for rich pins to work accurately.

Of course, all is not lost if you’ve been careful to keep your affiliate links more on your own site, under your own control. This has always been the most sensible way to handle affiliate links, as it builds your own property and your own reputation. When you build on your own property, your links are valid as long as you’re a part of that affiliate program.

It may be harder to promote through Pinterest this way, as you have to come up with the content, but in the long run it can be a more effective strategy. Pinterest can be a part of your marketing strategy, but your focus should always be on your own properties, with social media marketing as a tool to direct traffic to your properties.

It takes more effort, certainly, to build your own properties and content, but the results can be well worth it. You don’t have to worry that you’ll lose your account on a particular social media site, that policies will change there or that it will lose its popularity. While these things can still happen, it’s less important when that site is only a part of how your promote your own, rather than something you rely upon for your income.

This kind of thing can happen on any platform you use that you don’t control. On your own website, you decide when affiliate links are appropriate. All you have to obey are the rules of the hosting company, and those aren’t at all likely to change in ways that harm your online business – it’s too easy to switch someplace new. But the platforms you use to market your business may change at any time. It’s better to direct traffic from them to your website, then to your recommendations, than to put your recommendations where they can vanish at any time.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

February 10th, 2014

Should You Keep Marketing on Facebook When They Keep Changing the Rules?

facebookchangingrules

Having a page on Facebook for your business has been a good strategy for a while now. It’s one more place to let people who like your business know what’s up. The only problem is how difficult Facebook has been making it lately for your content to get in front of the people who like you. First text statuses were better, now they aren’t. Page owners have noticed serious declines views of their statuses. Is marketing on Facebook still worth it?

That’s Up to You

Very honestly, there’s no one right answer right now. Some people won’t find it worthwhile. Some will. It depends on your page. Many people feel that Facebook is now essentially pay-to-play for businesses. Facebook has to earn money, and it appears to many that their choice is to earn from the businesses that have enjoyed the platform and its benefits.

It’s rough right now. It really is. Just Ask Kim reports a reach of just 3% on Facebook. That’s horrendous. Mine isn’t that bad, but I don’t have a huge number of fans. Many people feel that Facebook wants business owners to have to pay to reach their fans, and they resent it. Just Ask Kim has some good tips on how to improve things on your page further down on that same article, and you may find it useful.

Test, Test, Test

The best thing I can recommend is that you test for yourself what works best for your page on Facebook. Post text updates. Post images with the link in the description you like. Use the auto-generated link share image and description. Try different days of the week and time of day. See for yourself what works best.

Over time, you can get a good feel for what is getting you the best response. Do this every few days, weeks or months so that you know you still have it right. Basically, if you think of it, take a little time to test.

What Am I Doing?

Just like any other business owner, I find the changes frustrating. So far I’m sticking with Facebook, but then I haven’t developed a huge following there yet anyhow, so the lower traffic levels don’t hit me as hard as they have others with more fans. I think, however, that I need to pay close attention how things are going and any future change Facebook makes.

Fortunately, there are still sites such as Pinterest, Twitter and so forth available. I haven’t given these the attention they deserve of late, being rather busy with my kids, but I may have to make more time. Where one platform becomes more difficult to use, another may look better.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.