How to Set Up Your Blog To Be A Launching And Landing Pad For Social Media

 

 

 

How to Set Up Your Blog To Be
A Launching And Landing Pad For Social Media

 

 

I know first hand how overwhelming, and even annoying, it can be to implement social media. But social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc.) is not a trend or a fad. It is a permanent part of the online landscape.

If you use social media correctly and strategically, your business can grow significantly by reaching potential customers and turning those customers into loyal fans. It’s worth it to move beyond the obstacles and watch your business grow. But social media needs a launching and landing pad for all those potential customers. And your blog is that pad!

It’s All About Your Blog

Social media needs a home base and your home base will be your blog. Establishing your blog involves several steps. We’ll break those steps into action items that are within your capabilities. Then with your blog in place, your social media activities have a place to send those potential customers you’ll be connecting with.

I want you to make smart choices from the start about technology, software and blogging, so here are recommendations based on my experience.

These are the basic steps to follow:

Step 1: Choose a Domain Name That Works For You and Not Against You

A domain name serves as your address on a computer network. It’s where your clients and customers go to find you.

Your domain name should mirror your company name. And it should be easy to remember, easy to find, and easy to spell. Avoid spellings or words that are complicated to type. Imagine typing your chosen name as a web site address. For example, “Ellie’s Essentials” may sound nice, but typing www.elliesessentials.com can be confusing because of the multiple occurrences of the letters e, l and s. (In fact, the first time I typed it here, I misspelled it!) Also, no hyphens or apostrophes. Just a clear and catchy phrase.

Once you have come up with a name that works and is available as a domain name, go ahead and purchase it.

Now, you are ready to choose your blogging platform.

Step 2: Choose a Blogging Platform

There are several blogging platforms such as Blogger that are free or inexpensive. I use and recommend WordPress, which is also free. WordPress is easy to use. And I prefer it because it offers some important benefits that are not found in other platforms.

There are two packages, WordPress.com and WordPress.org, both free. I strongly suggest that you use WordPress.org because it gives you complete control and flexibility in the layout of your website and that is what you are looking for.

WordPress also has security and functionality measures in place that make it a good choice for your blogging platform. The WordPress software is updated regularly to address new security issues that may arise. The latest version of WordPress is always available from the main WordPress site. From a functionality standpoint, the system architecture behind WordPress features multiple data centers to host your website, while at the same making it respond faster to requests from around the world.

If you choose to go with wordpress.org, you will need to select a hosting site.

Step 3: Select a Web Hosting Service

The next step is to find a web hosting service that is reliable and offers the benefits and levels of service that you need in order to get the most out of your blog.

For beginners, I recommend www.hostgator.com because they offer high levels of customer support. Normally their hosting fees are $6.95 a month, but they are currently offering a special rate of $3.96 a month.

GoDaddy is also very good. They offer a ‘one click install’ Economy WordPress hosting plan that is really a great deal. Monthly hosting fees can be as little as $3 to $5 (that’s $36 to $60/ year) depending on how long you sign up for. Go to www.godaddy.com for more information.
You are almost ready to go, but you need to choose a theme.

Step 4: Install WordPress and Choose a Theme

Themes are the fun part. The look of your blog is an important part of your online image. It’s who you are and is part of your brand, so to speak.

Your theme should be flexible and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)-friendly, which means that it, works well with Google requirements. Choose a theme that you can easily edit and customize to make your own. Not only do you want to find an easily editable design theme, but you also need to find one that can be edited with a little CSS and HTML “know how.” Making these types of modifications will help you put your personal stamp on your blog and you want to be able to do that easily.

There are many WordPress themes, but there are only a few that I really recommend.
I use the Genesis theme and love it. It is both SEO and user-friendly. My coach, Kim Garst, uses and recommends the Headway theme.

So choose a theme and customize your blog to look spiffy, because it’s time to start writing.

Step 5: Let the Blogging Begin

All of the hoopla about names, platforms and hosting services has been for the purpose of creating a home base for your blog. Getting started with blogging is a very exciting step. Personally, I just jumped in and started writing. That would be my encouragement to you as well. Just do it.

It’s not necessary to be a perfect writer when you blog. We are all drawn to genuine people who share their experiences and opinions in an authentic way. Does that sound like something you can do? If you have a particular viewpoint or something that you have learned in life, blog about it. There are people out there who need to be encouraged or who might want to learn from what you know or have experienced.

The blog posts that you write are called “content.” The real challenge is to consistently create content that is valuable and interesting to your readers. I have learned that two posts per week, one on Monday and another on Thursday, is the preferred schedule for posting new content. Don’t ask me why Monday and Thursday. That’s what the research recommends and that’s what many of my friends do, so I stick with the Monday/Thursday formula.

Finally, it’s time to launch your social media

Step 6: Time to Meet People, Engage Them and Build Relationships

Once you have posted a few blogs, it’s time to engage with your readers. Allow them to make comments on your blog and then be sure to respond to their comments. Next you’re ready to begin linking your blogposts to your Facebook page and tweeting them to Twitter.

I suggest that you write this on a Post It note and keep it near your computer: “All customer contacts should lead back to my blog.” So when you link your blogpost to Facebook and someone opens it, they will be taken to your blog. When you tweet your blogpost to Twitter and someone opens it, they will be taken to your blog.

This is the fun part! Be genuine, make friends, share information, and attract followers in the process. That is social media in action.
How can we help?

This article has provided an overview of the steps you’ll want to follow to get your blog set up as your social media launching and landing pad. Are there any particular steps that are holding you back? Here at OlgaHermans.com, we can customize a service package for you that will move you past that obstacle and get you on the road to social media. We can help! Contact us at va@olgahermans.com a description of your needs and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.

photo credit: Mike Licht via photopin

Five Steps To Get Started in Social Media

 

 

 

 

Five Steps To Get Started in Social Media

From my previous blog posts, you know that I believe 100 per cent in social media as a tool to extend the reach of your business or ministry.  Because I’m “all in,” people often ask me: “How do I get started in social media?”  If you are like many people, you have a Facebook account and most likely frequent one other social media platform.  The effectiveness of these social media tools is dependent, first in choosing the right platforms and then in strategically using those platforms to achieve your purpose.  But before we begin I want to be totally candid with you. Are you ready?

The most important thing to remember:

If you expect to succeed through social media, YOU MUST BE COMMITTED!

You shouldn’t start it unless you are willing to invest time and resources into it.

Still in?  Great.  Next, we’ll go through the following five-point checklist.  By the time we’re finished you’ll have all you need to get started in social media.

1.    Choose your platform

Each social media platform has unique advantages for differing uses and audiences.  You can be successful with each one individually, but you also need to determine which ones are best for your specific purpose.   I have found that I have the greatest success by using several platforms thus covering many bases.

Let’s review the platforms:

a. Facebook provides a highly personal way for businesses to connect with their clients.  It’s a great platform for creating your brand – how people think about your business, and marketing your service or product.  Facebook pages can be used to speak with your customers.  And Facebook “Groups,” can create mini-communities for the purpose of an ongoing conversation about what’s important to your groups of customers with common needs or interests.

b. Twitter, on the other hand, focuses on group-oriented and concise communication through its micro-blogging service.  Messages are “tweeted” in bursts of 140 characters or less.  Twitter reaches a much broader audience and with the use of hashtags, specific topics can be targeted. Twitter allows you to connect and have conversations with people from anywhere in the world who share your interests. It’s a great site for finding out what is “trending” in the world conversation, and for finding and discovering niches specific to your business.

c. Pinterest is all about images and creative flair.  It is a great place to showcase your interests, personal and professional, in a single site.  You can create Pinterest boards to collect and display images relating to everything from inspirational quotes, home decor, and photography to marketing. It’s a great place to capture and drive traffic to your website.

d. LinkedIn is more business-like – direct and to the point. Your profile is much like a resume.  Through LinkedIn you can broadcast professional activities to your connections.  Professionals from small business owners and freelancers to CEOs of major Fortune 500 corporations frequent this platform. It is the online version of a networking event but with the built-in safeguards of entry and introductions through known and trusted associates.  LinkedIn is ideal for connecting both with potential employers and clients.

e. Google+ is still too new to define.  Being part of Google, we can say it has great Search Engine Optimization (SEO) possibilities. While the typical user profile has not yet emerged, it is said that more men than women use Google+.  As part of the Google brand, Google+ has great growth potential.  It certainly won’t hurt you to join this emerging network, but for now, Facebook and Twitter have the greatest number of users.

2.    Professionally brand your social media presence

I have had to learn this through trail and error, but I’m finally on my way.  I am convinced of the importance of having a professional graphic designer create a branded presence for all my social media platforms. You’ll be seeing my social media look change in the weeks to come.

3.     Be consistent in everything that you do from platform to platform

To succeed you need to gain your client’s trust.  To gain your clients’ trust you must be consistent, which requires diligence.  Part of your brand becomes being the person who is always there when your clients want to interact.  If you’re not willing to be consistently present and interactive, there are others who are.  And your friends/followers/connections will find them, just as they found you.

4.    Position yourself as an authority

As your “online real estate,” your blog is your greatest asset.  It is the place that people come to visit you, to assess your image, and to see what you have to say. To gain authority through your blog, you must post fresh, high-quality content at least twice a week.

5.    Give more than you receive

Giving is a biblical principle that works for everyone. Make it your goal to help as many people as possible. If you need your first client, help someone free of charge. It’s a great way to begin to master the social media learning curve with all of its subtleties and nuances.  As you are faithful in the small things such as commenting on others’ blog posts and retweeting others’ tweets, they will do the same for you and your reach will spread.

So, what do you think?  Are you ready to get started in social media?  I’d love to hear what platforms you’ve chosen.  In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting tips and suggestions for implementing individual social media platforms.  Please let me know through your comments how I can serve you through this blog.

Social Media Matters and is HERE To Stay

 


Social Media Matters and is HERE To Stay

 

 

Last weekend I attended the SocialBoom conference in Tampa, Florida and met my coach, Kim Garst, as well as my online business friends.

Kim masterminded an outstanding conference with timely topics and insightful presenters. Social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk, New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best-Selling author, was just one of several excellent speakers. My main purpose in attending this conference was to further equip myself to help you reach and communicate more effectively with your customers through social media. I was not disappointed. There is so much to share, so let’s jump right in!

Here’s the take-away message of the SocialBoom conference:

Social media matters and is here to stay… And we haven’t seen anything yet!

It was awesome to be with other entrepreneurs who are excited about social media as a way to reach, interact with and better serve our customers. The message that came through loud and clear is social media is relevant and is here to stay. We have only begun to see the rise of social media because it brings a personal touch into an impersonal and densely populated business environment. But it wasn’t always this way…Let me explain.

My father owned a bakery in a small village in The Netherlands. He was well aware of the importance of listening to his customers. He did everything to satisfy the customer, because if he didn’t  word would get around our small village. In attention to his customers’ feedback could give his bakery (and him, by extension) a bad name. The customer might even go to another bakery.

Fast forward to an economy that spans the world. Instead of selling to neighbors, companies sell to a “demographic.” Large companies decide what to sell and there is little opportunity for individual customers to influence what is available to them. After having decided on a product line and its features, companies then spend advertising dollars to convince the customers to want what has been made available for sale.

As commerce has become more rooted in the Internet, social media provides a way for the customer to once more have a voice and communicate directly with businesses they buy from. The customer is valued more than ever because the customer has access to information.

Do you read online reviews about a product before you buy it? Of course you do. More and more people do nowadays.
Both the customer and the company benefit from having information about each other. The customer can develop a relationship with the company through communication and feedback. Companies can make changes to better serve their customers because they have direct access to customer feedback…Just like my dad did with his bakery.

At the same time the Internet has become more dominant in commerce, bringing customers and companies into more frequent and direct contact, tremendous advances have been in the capabilities of mobile devices. And mobile devices are fueling the widespread use of social media.

Most people own smartphones and they engage with social media platforms on the go. It’s convenient to be connected 24/7. Go to a boarding area of any airport and you’ll see waiting passengers engaging with the outside world – most likely through their social media platforms.

Social Media is here to stay, whether you like it or not. It is not a fad. It is no longer a trend. Simply put, social media is a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. And it’s here to stay!

Here are some facts to further consider:

1. Social media usage is growing

More people than ever before are using social media sites to connect with friends and family. Facebook is currently the most frequented social networking site, set to soon hit a billion users! Facebook is definitely a key player in the social media mix, having today become a routine part of many people’s online activities.

The next most frequented social media platform is Twitter which provides the ability to connect with anyone anywhere in the world simply by “following” and “tweeting.”

Other social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+ each bring their unique twist into the social media marketplace. It remains to be seen which platform will dominate. Facebook is #1 right now, then Twitter and then Pinterest.

Another aspect of social media that causes its usage to spread is that it constantly evolves. Case in point: micro-blogging. Micro-blogging is a newly emerging and very powerful social media platform. It is a combination of blogging and instant messaging that allows for creation of short messages, which are then posted to one’s social media profiles.

But is social media primarily a US phenomenon?

2. Social media is global and trans-cultural

Despite significant differences in government and cultural practices, the use of social media is growing internationally. While most social media platforms originated in the US, the majority of social media users are outside of the US. I know, for instance, that my native country, The Netherlands, has the largest number of users on LinkedIn.

Our behavior on social media rises above cultural and national differences throughout the world. As I mentioned, I am in a business group with people from several countries. On the other hand, the use of social media to inter-connect people locally is also growing.
So, for instance, if you want to meet-up with other graphic designers, or dog-lovers in your zip code, social media platforms are there to help it happen.

But is it mostly young people who use social media?

3. Social media is multi-generational

As with many social phenomena, youth are the first implementers. Teenagers and young adults from 15-24 are referred to as the ‘digital natives’ because they have grown up with the Internet and communicate mostly through social media (versus email and mobile phone). When we look at the future through the eyes of these young people, social media as THE communication platform is a certainty.

But it’s not only young people who are using social media. Social media is multi-generational. The fastest growing group in social media is users 55 and older. And advertisers know they can find an age-diverse audience on social media.

4. Social Media display advertising is on the rise

Advertisers seek out crowds. They want to get the widest and most targeted audience per dollar spent. Consider the degree of hoopla that surrounds ads aired during the annual Super Bowl. Companies spend millions of dollars to put their products in front of such a large audience. Many advertisers are now placing display ads on social media platforms – especially Facebook. The takeaway is that ads strategically placed on social media are effective in reaching designated audiences.

The Bottom Line:

Are you convinced as I am that social media is not only relevant, but is also becoming more and more a part of our society?

I recently read that there are 2.8 billion social media profiles on the Internet. That means that almost half of world’s population is faithful social media users! It also gives an idea of the increasing influence social media has on our personal, public and professional lives.

If social media is here to stay, then it’s essential for you and me to determine which social media platforms are relevant to better finding and serving our targeted online customers.

Let me know what you think. I always appreciate your questions and comments. 

 

 

SOCIAL MEDIA and YOU

 

 

Social Media and You


What is Social Media? Well, I’m glad you asked…

“Social media” is a phrase you hear often these days. But what does it mean? It’s a term that can be difficult to accurately define. A good place to start is by contrasting social media with traditional media

Traditional Media versus Social Media

Traditional media is a one-way street: you can read a newspaper or listen to a report on television, but there is limited ability for readers, listeners or viewers to respond with their thoughts, comments and opinions. Social media, on the other hand, is a two-way street that gives the consumers of information the ability to have a conversation with the media source and with each other.

A well-designed media source, such as a website, not only publishes information, but also provides its visitors and subscribers a way to respond to the information and interact in real time with others who are consuming the information.

I started a blog “The Choice Driven Life” in 2010 and I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoy communicating and interacting with my subscribers. During the past two years my blog has been fine-tuned and I continue to seek more and better ways to have conversations with those who follow me. I believe that the best way to elevate the quality of my followers experience is to incorporate social media. I have been making connections on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn for a while now and want to take social media to the next level.

So, I am thrilled to have the opportunity this coming weekend to attend the Social Boom Conference, hosted by Kim Garst, and featuring recognized social media experts Gary Vaynerchuk, and Nathan Latka to name a few. It will also be a great treat for me to meet all my online social media business buddies in person.

The Social Boom Conference will cover all social media platforms such as Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. There will also be experts presenting how to write, publish and market a book, as well as, many other social media topics. And I have purposely chosen to align myself with these experts in order to bring greater social media expertise to my “The Choice Driven Life” site and to the clients of  this blog: OlgaHermans.com

Why Social Media now?

Social media is here to stay. Whether or not we’re on board, interactive technologies such as Facebook and Twitter (among others) are already revolutionizing the way people work, interact, communicate, and minister to one another.

Churches and ministries increasingly use these technologies to communicate with their members, supporters, and website guests. Not only is it a way for them to connect with their followers, but it is also a way for followers to connect with each other. It’s the new way to communicate with others—across the room and across the world.

You have already used social media if you have done any of the following:
- sent or received a text from your cell phone
- left a comment on a blog
- updated your Facebook status
- posted a comment on Twitter
- participated in an online webinar
- encouraged a friend or family member through Facebook or Twitter
- made an online donation to your church or any other organization

I invite you to connect with me today on these 5 important Social Media Platforms:

Connect with me on Facebook
Facebook is a huge popular social networking site that allows us to make connections, share interests, and join groups. It is a place to communicate with friends and family, share photographs and is also a great tool for your business.

Connect with me on Twitter
Twitter is often called a social network or a micro blogging service, but it’s really just a lightning fast instant messaging machine. At its core, Twitter is about sending and receiving group messages. The messages are limited to 140 characters and they are called tweets.

Connect with me on Pinterest
This hot new social media site is s all about images. Pinterest is a visual bookmarking website that allows you to “pin” images and videos that you find online. These images are saved or shared with others by placing the “pins” on virtual pinboards.

Connect with me on Google+
If you’re familiar with Facebook and how it works, you’ll soon recognize that Google+ Stream is very similar to the Facebook Wall. It is a centralized dashboard where all the people that you are connected to, along with the content that they share, can be shared, liked and commented on.

Connect with me on LinkedIn
LinkedIN is a social network geared toward business. LinkedIn is very popular with those who are seeking work or trying to build their network of contacts in order to reach out to employers and like-minded individuals.

The Final Word

I strongly believe that the choice is not “whether” we implement social media. It’s how well we implement social media. The time has come for all of us to learn more about how to use these emerging platforms to engage with our followers and subscribers and connect them with one another. Come join me. We’ll have fun!