November 29th, 2012

Do You Have Your Pinterest Business Account?

I came across an interesting post on Hubspot about Pinterest offering business accounts. If you’re using your Pinterest account for your business, you may want to take a look at this. I’ve had a lot going on family-wise lately, but I finally had the time to look this over myself and make the switch to a business account.

At this point, it’s not really all that different. Just visit business.pinterest.com and click the link to convert your account to a business account, then agree to the business Terms of Service.

What’s New?

Your pinboards won’t look any different as a business than they did when you had a personal account. On the surface, you may not see a lot of changes. There are, however, some nice new tools.

Take the profile or board widget, for example. You can use it to share your recent pins on your website. This could be useful in drawing more attention to your pinboards, hopefully to encourage more shares of your material on Pinterest and eventually drive more traffic to your site. After all, building your traffic is what it’s about if you’re a business.

You also get access to case studies. Some businesses have done quite well on Pinterest, and this makes it easy to take a look.

There will also be access to any future tools they release for businesses. What that means, no one knows yet, but there are certainly tools that would be useful to business owners that personal accounts usually won’t care about.

If you haven’t done it already, you should also go ahead and verify your website with Pinterest. This lets them know that yes, it’s your site. Just go to your Settings page and click the Verify Website button, then follow the directions.

Why Bother?

It may not seem like there’s all that much reason to bother with making the switch from a personal to business Pinterest account. And I’ll agree that the differences are minor… now. I don’t know if that will continue to be the case. There’s also a clause in the personal accounts TOS saying that if you’re using Pinterest for commercial purposes, you’ll use a business account. I don’t know when they’ll start enforcing that, but it’s something you should be aware of.

The big question is do you convert your current page to a business one or start a fresh one for your business? The answer depends on how you’ve been using your pinboards so far.

If you’ve been keeping it pretty much personal, and most of your followers are personal, you probably want to start a whole new account for your business. It may be a bit of a pain logging in and out between them or using separate browsers for them, but that’s something you have to work out for yourself. Getting followers from the old account to the new account may be a challenge.

If you’ve been using it mostly for business, go ahead and make the switch. Odds are no one will notice the difference.

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.

September 19th, 2012

15 Common Social Media Mistakes Home Business Owners Make

Social media can be hugely beneficial to your home business, but you can also make huge mistakes with it. Mistakes won’t always be serious, but some may spread farther and stick around far longer than you’d like. Offend the wrong person, and your offense may be spread to many other people, and you can’t count on a net benefit from getting your name out there. As much as you can, you should avoid making serious social media mistakes.

I don’t mean little mistakes such as not posting often enough. Most people won’t notice that much if you rarely post – you just won’t get the benefits of posting regularly. I mean mistakes that get the wrong kind of attention.

Mistake #1: Friending or Following EVERYONE

A big list of friends or followers looks nice on your social media accounts, especially if they return the favor. The problem is when you aren’t focused on following the right people. If you just find a list and start following, you’ll probably follow a lot of junk accounts. They might follow you back, but they won’t become customers and will probably just clutter your feed.

Be picky. Follow people who are relevant to your business or are just plain interesting. Your list of followers won’t increase as quickly, but they’ll be higher quality and more fun to deal with.

Mistake #2: Failing to Admit Mistakes

We all make mistakes, but if you make a mistake on social media, apologize or correct it the same way. It might be as simple as an incorrect link, or something more serious such as sharing inaccurate information. Take just a moment to correct yourself so that you aren’t just leaving the mistake out there unfixed. Admitting you’re wrong can sting, but it also can help to build trust.

Mistake #3: Being Rude

It’s easy to be rude online, even unintentionally. If you read much online you’ve probably seen it. There’s no tone to the written word, so a poor word choice can deeply offend someone else.

Then there’s the all too common deliberate rudeness. I don’t just mean the sort trolls use. I mean the rude way some people disagree with each other online. Name calling really isn’t necessary in an argument. You’re better off using facts and relevant opinions about the subject at hand, not harsh and possibly unsubstantiated statements about the person you disagree with.

Mistake #4: Fail to Build Relationships

Social media is about building relationships, not pure marketing. Let your human side show at least some of the time. Reply to people. Participate in conversations. Be real.

Mistake #5: Ignoring Customers

If you want to look like a responsive business, you have to respond. This is really helpful in social media, which many people favor as a way to contact a business or comment about them. Keep an eye out for posts about your business name, and especially for any directed at you. Respond when you can, the sooner the better. This is doubly important when someone has a problem with your business.

Mistake #6: Using Too Many Abbreviations

Abbreviations are sometimes necessary in social media, especially on sites such as Twitter where you have a limited number of characters per post. Unnecessary abbreviations can be annoying, KWIM? They can also obscure your meaning for those readers who don’t understand a particular abbreviation.

Mistake #7: Poor Grammar and Spelling

Most of us use poor grammar and spelling some of the time. It’s all too easy to make mistakes, especially if you have autocorrect on. Read your posts before you send them out to make sure that you’re saying what you meant to say and that it can be easily understood.

Mistake #8: Sharing Other People’s Posts as Your Own

People say and share some really neat things on social media, and being the originator of something interesting can get you some good attention. That doesn’t make it right to take someone else’s idea and pretending you started it.

Many social media sites make it easy to share where you got a particular item from. There’s the retweet button for Twitter, or the RT abbreviation if you want to do it your own way. There’s the share button on Facebook that shows where you got a post from. Pinterest allows you to repin interesting items. All these give credit to the source.

Of course, you can share similar ideas that you’ve seen elsewhere, just make sure that the idea is better and uniquely served in your own words. You can build a great reputation online by sharing the work of other people if you do it honestly.

Mistake #9: Failing to be Relevant

This mistake happens most often either when you’re in a conversation or when there’s something big going on. Perhaps you’re participating in a social media event and you break in with something completely off topic. People aren’t going to appreciate that.

It’s also a risk of automating your social media posting. To a degree, this isn’t a terrible thing, but if it leads to inappropriate posts, you may have a problem. Think about what you’re posting if people are talking about major tragedies or other major events. If you share something online completely irrelevant to it, or worse, disrespectful to those involved, how will that make your business look? Pay attention to what’s going on before you post, and consider pausing automated posts if they might be inappropriate at a particular time.

Mistake #10: Overposting

You may only have so much time each day in which to do your social media marketing, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to share all your posts at once. You can use Hootsuite or other services to schedule your posts for later, and check on responses briefly as necessary. A flood of posts from your account doesn’t look as good as you might hope.

Mistake #11: Being Overly Promotional

When you’re using social media to promote your business, of course you have to be promotional. Just remember that the point to social media is to be a person too. Not everything you post needs to be a way to earn money for yourself. Sometimes you should post just to be a person or a good resource.

Mistake #12: Expecting Too Much

Social media most likely won’t be the making of your home business. It can help build traffic, it can help build your reputation, but it’s just one factor in your business, not a miracle.

Mistake #13: Getting Too Personal

The personal touch is a good thing for many businesses, especially when you’re the only person running it, but there should be limits. Keep your personal and business profiles separate. This allows you to share things with family and friends that you don’t need associated with your business. You can still share appropriate personal things on your business accounts, depending on the kind of personality you want to show.

This is especially helpful on sites like Facebook where you’re more limited in the number of friends you can have on your personal page. It’s better to have people interested in your business follow your business page.

Mistake #14: Fail to Make it Easy to Share Your Content

Finally, make sure it’s easy to share the content you have on your website. People will tweet, like, pin and otherwise share interesting content without buttons to make it easier, but more people will do so if it’s easy. Social sites usually provide code to make this easy, and there are plugins for WordPress if you have a blog. Some will even keep count of how many times your content has been shared, a wonderful social proof for your website.

Mistake #15: Using Too Many Social Media Websites

There are a lot of social media websites out there. You can’t participate on all of them, and you really shouldn’t try to. It will take too much time and too many resources to do so.

Instead, focus on the bigger ones and any specific to your niche. See where you get the most return for your efforts. If one site isn’t working for you, another may work better. Be picky. You only have so much time you should be spending on your social media efforts. Use it wisely.

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 19th, 2012

Is Your Blog Pinterest-Friendly? Do You Want It to Be?

Pinterest is huge right now, with both praise and controversy. Some blogs are getting huge traffic from Pinterest. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to get your blog ready for Pinterest. It comes down to one simple thing: have images.

The image on your blog post is what will show up on Pinterest. Make it a good one and it may be repinned all around, driving some good traffic. That said, there are a few catches. Like most things, it’s really not as simple as it first sounds.

The problem basically comes down to copyright. Users are supposed to make sure they have the right to share the photos they pin, but almost no one does. It’s a part of the TOS that is largely ignored and may cause legal issues. You don’t want this to become an issue for your own Pin Boards, as the legal issues can fall right in your lap. Even if the legal issues don’t impact you personally as such, you don’t want your posts that others have pinned to vanish due to copyright issues.

Stock Photos

If you use stock photos on your site, you don’t own the copyright on them, and in time this may be an issue for people who use Pinterest. Those royalty-free photos you use don’t include a license to have them go onto sites you don’t own. You don’t want to pin them onto your own boards to market your site and you shouldn’t encourage pinning of that page either.

Fortunately, Pinterest does allow you to block pinning to their site, as they have recognized the problem. You do have to take action in the form of a meta tag, and there is a WordPress plugin which will handle that for you. It’s easy enough to do manually; all you have to do is add <meta name=”pinterest” content=”nopin” /> to your header, and your images are safe from Pinterest.

Blocking pinning is a very good idea if you don’t have the rights to spread the image around. It may not directly be your fault that someone has pinned the image from your site, but if you know there’s an issue, it’s not that hard to prevent it.

Is the Traffic Right For You?

Some people don’t like the traffic they get from Pinterest, which is why sites such as Flickr now allow users to block pinning. Many crafters on sites such as Etsy aren’t all that happy about having their images used by people who simply intend to make the projects on their own. You really have to think about what it is you’re going to get from Pinterest before you start chasing the traffic.

Others have seen great success. There’s a good article on BusinessGrow.com about the success some people have found on Pinterest.  Sure, we can’t all have that kind of success, but it’s certainly fun to try.

AdAge has a very good article on planning for Pinterest.  These are things you should be thinking about if you want to leverage Pinterest traffic for your online home business, such as using images to improve audience engagement.

It’s something you have to think about whenever you look at any traffic source. Traffic is great, but if you aren’t getting what you want from it, what’s the point? Traffic doesn’t bring sales unless it’s targeted.

As for me, I know I don’t get much Pinterest traffic much. I have no doubt that it’s in large part to a lack of images here. I don’t know how often I’ll put in the effort to add in pinnable images here, but on some of my other sites, they’ll be more of a priority.

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.

July 28th, 2011

How Do You Use Facebook For Your Home Business?

Facebook is hugely popular. Many people love how it allows them to keep in touch with family, friends, old classmates and so forth with little effort. It’s an easy way to share those fun little moments you wouldn’t call and tell people about, but want to brag about anyhow… hopefully without sharing too much information.

Facebook is also great for many home businesses. Just as with your personal life, you can use Facebook to keep in contact with people about your business.

Don’t mix your business with your personal stuff on Facebook, however, or at least not too much. Facebook makes it easy to set up a page for your business, so that people who are interested in your business can follow it there, rather than being a part of your personal page.

It’s not that business acquaintances can’t become personal friends – they can. It’s that you want most of your business contacts separate. You don’t want to hit your Facebook friend limit due to business contacts and then not be able to friend your friends when your business page can be liked by as many people as care to do so.

What Should You Share on Your Business’s Facebook Page?

You probably don’t want to share what your kids or pets just did, or talk about your vacation plans on your business Facebook page. That’s not what most people are after when it comes to your business.

You do want to share what’s going on with your home business. Link to new blog posts. Announce sales and new products.

Interact With Current and Potential Customers

Facebook is one of many places you can interact with your customers. They may contact you with questions or problems through Facebook. Sometimes you’ll even get a rave review there.

How Do You Get People to Like Your Page?

The frustrating part at first can be getting enough people to like your business Facebook page. It’s frustrating trying to get those first few likes.

You can ask your current personal friends to like your page. Odds are many of them already know what you’re doing, and it’s a simple way for them to support you. Some may even be curious about what you do with your business anyhow.

You can also pay people who will build your account to a certain number of likes. I’m not a fan of this, as you really want people who are actually interested in your business to hit the like button, not just random accounts. This gives a nice looking count for your page, but if it doesn’t give anything more than that, what’s the point?

Facebook lets you post on the site using the name of your page rather than your own name. This is useful for some careful, polite marketing. You don’t want to spam all over Facebook, saying “visit me, buy from me!” Just as with any other site, you want to be interesting enough that people visit your page because you sound like someone who has something they want to check out.

Be careful what you post on other people’s and businesses’ walls. The nice ones just delete you if they don’t like how you posted on their wall. Others mark your posts as spam, which can lead to the loss of your account.

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.

April 12th, 2010

Which Social Media Sites Should You Be Marketing On?

There are a lot of social media websites out there. You could spend hours each day on marketing on them, but which ones will give you the best results?

That depends on you and your target market.

No social media website is going to do you any good at all if you don’t put some effort into it. If you just sign up and drop your link in, you probably aren’t going to see much benefit from any of them.

Where’s Your Target Market?

Start by figuring out which social media websites your target market is using. With the wide range out there, they may be using a few, but there are some rules of thumb, such as more professional networking going on at LinkedIn and sites such as Twitter and Facebook having a huge range of people on them.

You can find people in your target market on Facebook by checking out the Groups pages. Search on your keywords and see if there are any active groups there. What about Fan pages for your competition?

There are a variety of ways to seek people out on Twitter. You can search on the site itself. You can find directories that Twitter users have signed up on so their accounts show by category, such as WeFollow or Twellow.

Social bookmarking sites can also be a good choice, although it can be hard to say how the quality of traffic will be. A ton of traffic doesn’t always mean a ton of conversions, subscribers or anything other than a ton of traffic. But sites such as StumbleUpon, Digg and Reddit can be a fun experiment. Just beware the time sink.

How Do You Use Social Media?

How you use a particular social media site depends on which one you’re using. What works well on one may not be the best way to build a network on another.

To find people on LinkedIn, you may be best off letting them find you. Become an expert there. Join groups. Answer questions. Show that you’re an expert and build your references as a professional. It’s social, but more professional than personal.

Twitter does well if you can provide interesting information in a small space. It’s good if you’re able to tweet regularly and be interesting in some way. Share good article links, make interesting observations, interact with people as they post interesting things.

With all sites, the challenge is to keep them from eating up too much of your day. It’s very easy to get sucked into the various sites. If you don’t want to waste a lot of time on Facebook, for example, don’t start playing the games there. Sign up, connect with some friends and you can quickly tell who’s gotten too much into the various games. They might invite you, but unless you have time to spare you’re better off avoiding the games. Better to spend your time on things there that will benefit your home business.

Using StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit and similar sites can also be a huge time suck. You can get some good traffic out of them if you build a good profile and connections, but you can also lose a lot of time wandering them aimlessly. Use them wisely and at times when you can’t so easily do things that will more directly bring in business.

On any social media site, being overly promotional is not a good idea. People aren’t there to have things sold to them. They’re networking because they enjoy it, to build their own business, to get good information, that kind of thing. If you do nothing but say “buy, buy, buy,” they’ll unfriend you as fast as they can.

Instead, give quality information to bring people to you. If you sound like an expert and they need what you have to offer, they’ll decide to do business with you.

How Many to Use?

You can’t do a good job of using all social media websites, not even if you only stick to the big ones. There’s too much to do.

You’ll be better off if you can pick a couple to focus on. Get good at marketing on them.

Dividing your efforts dilutes them. There’s a balance between being available on a variety of networks and being unable to keep up.

As with any other sort of marketing you haven’t tried before, start by using just one social media site. Figure out what you’re doing. Get some fans, friends, followers, whatever they’re called. Get comfortable.

Even though each site takes a slightly different approach, you can take some of what you learn from each site and apply it to the next one while continuing with the sites you’re already on. You’re learning how to bring in business with a possibly more personal touch than other forms of marketing may have been for you.

Social media marketing isn’t something that comes naturally for everyone, but it’s a big help for bringing in traffic and business if you use it right. Give yourself some time and really pay attention to the learning process. You might find it a lot of fun as well as profitable.

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.