What’s the Point? Small Businesses Blogging

When you are talking with friends or colleagues, you don’t limit yourself to only 140 characters. Most of the time, you’ll share stories, experiences and anecdotes that you believe may interest them.

The same is true on social media – success isn’t purely about utilising Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The art of blogging is an integral part of creating a strong, knowledgeable and interesting social media presence. In this entry to our series we ask – what’s the point in small businesses blogging?o-GUY-TYPING-facebook

Quite obviously, we believe there is value to blogging, and so do the experts at Hubspot. According to their studies, B2B companies that blog just 1-2 times per month generate on average 70% more leads than those who doblog-typefacen’t. Also, small businesses tend to see the biggest gains in traffic when they post blog pieces, and the average company with 100 or more blog articles is more likely to experience continued lead growth.

On top of this, companies that increase the rate of their blogging from 3 to 6 posts a month almost double their leads, and the average company will see a 45% growth in traffic when increasing blog posts from below 20 to 21-50.

Blogging is also a great way to ‘touch base’ with your customers and prospects, to remind them of your brand, and promote recognition and loyalty. Proving to your customers and prospects that you are knowledgeable in your field encourages trust, which can in turn improve sales.

Now that we’ve established that blogging is incredibly beneficial for all businesses, here are our 6 steps to getting started:wplogoblue-notext-rgb

  1. Hosting
    Find a platform on which to host your blog. We use WordPress, but other popular alternatives include Blogger and Tumblr.
  2. Subject
    Decide on a subject matter for your blog that you are knowledgeable about, and that your audience will find interesting. Your blog could perhaps include your own business insights, like ours, or alternatively be about a more specific industry or subject.
  3. Design
    Pick an eye-catching design that reflects your branding, includes your logo and resonates with your target demographic. It is usually best to find a complementary blend between images and text.
  4. Write!
    Write a blog post that people will actually want to read. Try blogging about topics you have extensive knowledge of, and can offer others advice about how to match your success, or topics you believe your target market will find interesting.
  5. ShareTwitter_bird_logo_2012.svg
    A successful blog needs to be seen, so share it across your social media channels and via your website. This way, it is visible to both existing customers and prospects.
  6. Monitor
    Watch the statistics to see which blog posts generate the most traffic. This will show you that you have written about a topic that is of interest to your audience, so you may want to focus more of your effort on expanding your dialogue in that area.

Once you have started your blog, keeping it regularly updated with interesting content, and sharing these updates with your audience, is the best way of ensuring its success.

So to recap – what’s the point?

  • B2B companies that blog just 1-2 times per month generate on average 70% more leads than those who don’t
  • Small businesses tend to see the biggest gains in traffic when they post blog pieces
  • A chance to touch base with your customers, remind them of your brand, and promote recognition and loyalty
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What’s the Point? Social Media Demographics (Infographic)

Social Media Platforms

The above infographic is a highly simplified way of making one of the most important decisions in social media: which platform is right for your business?

In today’s entry to the series, we ask – social media demographics, what’s the point?

Clearly, it is important not to stretch your resource too thinly across many platforms, but to focus your efforts on the tools that will make the most impact on your target market. To do this, you need to identify your key audience. A simple way to do this is to envisage your audience as one entity, to create an ‘avatar’ if you like – a template for the perfect receiver of your message. Maximising impact is all about understanding which social media platforms your avatar is most likely to use.

Here are the top 5 social media platforms and their demographics:

fb_icon_325x325Facebook: With over 1.2 billion users, Facebook is still dominating social media. Its user base spans across all ages, and therefore Facebook is a decent place to establish your presence, as your target audience will generally lie within its demographic. Businesses operating in the B2C arena appear to find sizeable success on this platform. However, opinions on Facebook have been changing among the youth, and a study by PiperJaffay of over 5,000 teenagers found that the number who consider it the most important social media site has fallen by 10%.

Twitter: Twitter is dominated by a younger audience, but isn’t exclusively limited to under Twitter_bird_logo_2012.svg25s, as around 30 million of its 280 million users are age 50-64. Twitter users are predominantly male, and 46% of those active on the site log in on a daily basis. With a 140 character limit per post, interaction is direct and snappy.

LinkedIn: LLinkedIn_logo_initialsinkedIn has the oldest age demographic of all social media platforms, with 79% of users aged 35 and over. Its users are predominantly male professionals, and those with high-level income. It has huge application in a B2B environment, which we have explained further here.

Instagram: 57% of Instagram’s users accessInstagram-logo-005 it every day, and its age demographic is a mix of young and older people. Instagram is a highly effective platform for visual marketing, with success in this arena especially noted among the 18-29 age group. Just over 50% of users are female, a notably more even spread than Pinterest, making it effective with a wider audience.

Pinterest: pinterest_badge_redApproximately 84% of Pinterest users are women, and 70% of all users get inspiration for future purchases from the site. This makes this image-based platform an incredibly effective sales tool, and those with visually appealing products to sell would suit well here.

By discovering which of the above platforms to focus your efforts on, you can find real measurable success on social media.

So to recap – what’s the point?

  • Discovering which social media platform is most suited to your business will help you to target your intended audience far easier, thereby boosting your presence to the people that matter to you

What’s the Point? Spending Time on Social Media

Social media may be free of charge, but it isn’t without cost.

In fact, the resource you’ll be parting with is something that many small businesses don’t have nearly enough of – time. Today in our series, we ask “what’s the point?” in spending time on social media.

As we all know, time is money. When there are so many other priorities, a small business owner could be forgiven fotwitter gaggedr thinking that social media is a drain on their time, and by extension a waste of money. However, in the case of social media, there could easily be a rather substantial return on your investment.

A recent study by the Internet Advertising Bureau UK revealed that almost 80% of consumers would be more inclined to buy more often because of a brand’s social media presence. Small businesses who are neglecting this platform are most certainly missing out on this custom. Put simply: if you aren’t on it, you won’t win it!

Statistics compiled by Marketing Tech Blog strongly support this argument. 46% of web users look towards social media when making a purchase, and 67% of Twitter users say they are more likely to buy from brands they follow. And this isn’t a luxury purely afforded to huge brands; 8 out of 10 small businesses use some form of social media to drive growth for their business, and 3 in 5 of these small business say they’ve gained new customers as a direct result of their social media efforts. It appears that even blogging drives impressive results, with HubSpot cblue-alarm-clock-16620034laiming that B2B companies that blog just 1-2 times per month generate 70% more leads than those who don’t.

So yes, the trade-off for this social media success is time, and you can expect to take time out daily to implement an effective social media approach. However, the amount you need to spend can be drastically reduced by using the following 5 techniques:

  1. Start by developing a strong and clearly defined strategy. This should include which social media platform is going to be used for each specific purpose. Your plan should be fluid and flexible, in order to adapt to changes in what you communicate and how you engage with your audience.
  2. Automatic scheduling software, such as free-to-use Hootsuite, means you don’t need to be sat at your computer all day long. Hootsuite also gives you a simple platform with which to manage all of your accounts in one place.hootsuite_logo_detail
  3. An editorial calendar is an excellent way of keeping track of what original and curated content you’ll share through your various social media channels, and this can also be a real time-saver.
  4. Stockpile content ideas when you have some down-time, and then pick from the batch of ‘drafts’ when you next need something to post. This eliminates the stress of having to come up with new content on the spot.
  5. Resource may be an issue, but you don’t have to be the sole driving force. Encourage your staff to share and develop ideas that they feel might be of interest to your chosen audience.

With these time-saving tactics and the overwhelming data on its impact, can you really afford not to spend your time on social media? Do so effectively, and you may well end up with some startlingly positive results.

So to recap – what’s the point?

  • 80% of consumers would be more inclined to buy more often because of your social media presence
  • 46% of web users will look towards your social media presence when making a purchase
  • Free software automates and streamlines your efforts
  • Making the most of your down-time frees you from coming up with content on the spot

Start making a real return on your social media investment today.

What’s the Point? LinkedIn for Small Businesses

We are constantly reminded of the importance of social media in business, but social media success is no longer limited to big powerhouse brands. Now, everyone with an internet connection can get in on the action. With this in mind, we explore social media for small businesses in a series of blogs in which we ask the eternal question – what’s the point?

LinkedIn, the business-oriented social media platform launched in 2003, reports over 250 million users across 200 countries worldwide. Whilst it started life as a site for job-hunting, it is fast becoming synonymous with business networking: meaning that it cannot be ignored. And here are 4 simple steps to start on your LinkedIn journey:

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1. Networking

A strong network goes a long way to establishing a good reputation. Connecting with the decision makers of your target accounts can be very beneficial, and LinkedIn is the perfect forum. Use their position, tenure and responsibilities to know whether they are the right person to contact. Viewing their profile may also provide you with talking points, such as their interests or voluntary activities, that may act as an ice-breaker for first contact. Connecting with other industry professionals, and reading and interacting with their content, can give you a comprehensive view of the types of content your audience engages with.

2. Marketing

When it comes to marketing your business, LinkedIn is a must. Creating a free company page gives your business a presence, and makes you easier to find and interact with. Add your logo and banner image to begin promoting your brand identity, and link to your other social media accounts and website. In addition to giving your business extra credibility, company pages rank highly in searches, making it easier for professionals to find you.

3. Engagement

Once you’ve established your page, create origiApprentices 2nal content to attract and engage an ideal audience. Not only will producing interesting posts show that you are knowledgeable in your industry, they may also be shared on a much wider scale and promote your business. If important professionals like what you have to say, there may even be opportunities for reciprocal sharing of content or guest-blogging.

4. Recruitment

A strong company page will not only attract an audience, but potential employees too. Using LinkedIn for recruitment allows you to reach out to the right candidates easily. Having your current employees connected with your company page is a great way to demonstrate your happy workforce and healthy workplace culture to prospective candidates.

Finally, LinkedIn is a fantastic forum for the B2B environment, and small businesses who work in this area will find the platform most beneficial. Even if your main revenue comes from end users, there are still huge benefits in establishing rapport with other industry professionals, developing relationships with suppliers, and scouting out your competitors.

So to recap – what’s the point?

  • Network with decision makers, industry professionals and other key contacts easily
  • Create a free company page that makes your business easier to find
  • Build your credibility and industry standing with original content
  • Use as a simple forum for recruitment

Get yourself established on LinkedIn, and quickly reap the business rewards.

 

 

The 3 Resolutions You Probably Made This Year

January is almost over, and as always, many of us will have struggled to keep our New Year’s resolutions. If you’re hitting the wall and in need of a little helping hand, here’s our advice on keeping the three resolutions you probably made this year.

  1. Get fitter, stay fitter.

Odds are, you made some sort of resolution about making a healthy lifestyle change. Maybe this was a pledge to join a gym, or choose a healthier alternative for lunch, or just to walk the dog every evening.

For an easy healthy lifestyle change to implement in the office, we’d suggest swapping out your ‘milk and 2 sugars’ English breakfast tea for some Twinings, Tetley or Clipper green teas. Organic teas are a great healthy alternative, and full of natural antioxidants. They also taste delicious!

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  1. Sort it out!

A promise to get ourselves organised seems very common at the start of the year, but all too quickly descends into chaos. Workplaces and home offices alike risk becoming cluttered and haphazard, reducing productivity and increasing stress.

Reorganise your desk with an Avery desk set, and also make the most of Avery’s fantastic range of filing labels to help quickly sort your stacks of unmarked files. For the incredibly organised, colour code your documents with Post-It index flags. Lastly, look ahead to the rest of the year in a fashion the entire office can see, with a Sasco wall planner.

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  1. Give a little, get a lot

The start of the year is a good time to reflect on those who aren’t as fortunate, and January is always a time when charities are desperate for donations.

Involve your colleagues in an office fundraiser to help out your favourite charity. Make the most of those who have already broken their diet resolutions, by hosting a charity cake sale. Or if you’re as lucky as us, you may be able to combine altruism with the resolution of getting fitter, as featured in our 2014 Staines-to-Selby cycle challenge!

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Whatever your resolutions were, here’s to hoping you enter February successfully keeping them. Tweet us your progress @XPD_Chat!

Infographics: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Infographics are the sleek and quick way to relay information through design, and they reached a whole new level of popularity on social media last year. With our waning attention spans wanting appealing content in just a moment, the model has been embraced by brands and organisations worldwide. To discuss their benefits, we’ve created one of our own.

Benefit of Infographics

Here is essentially the same information in text format:

Say goodbye to the ‘wall of text’
Infographics have done away with the need for paragraph after paragraph of bland information. In this digital age, design is everything, as we all strive to make our content stand out beyond that of our competitors. Infographics also make for eye-catching emails (and blog posts!).

Share and share alike
Infographics are a way of making your content instantly more ‘shareable’. They are more likely to be retweeted and engaged with that plain text Tweets, and have a greater chance of becoming viral, too.

Brand it!
Placing your logo on an infographic means that, no matter where it is shared, your company name goes along with it. A design consistent with the colours and style of your brand can also increase awareness, and make your infographics instantly identifiable.

So which way of relaying the above information did you prefer? In our opinion, the infographic is the more interesting and engaging method.

Infographics

A picture really is worth a thousand words:

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If you agree, try making your own infographic using a tool such as www.Piktochart.com , and Tweet us the results @XPD_Chat