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Blog Out Loud, Episode .13 "Social Media Tips"

Post What Inspires You!

A lot of people struggle with what to blog about when it comes to their brand?! My answer - blog what inspires you! What gets you going? What makes you smile? What makes you want to connect to your customers? What do you love about your industry? Whatever it is, write it on your blog and share your inspirations with your own readers. Even if it doesn't even fall in your niche, if it appeals to you then work it in to your blog style. I recently spotted this incredible sand animator, Kseniya Simonova, and thought it was amazing and I wanted to share it with you guys. What does this have to do with blogging? Not much except that it's a great example of posting something that's not necessarily part of your industry. If you want to blog about something outside the box, say that and weave it into your brand message in some way, even "Hey this inspired me!" Since you are the business owner, your readers will love to hear what you enjoy even outside of the industry.

:: amazing video found via ::

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The Freemium-Style Website
and four reasons to join them!

I was reading Mediabistro and noticed an event coming up called the Freemium Summit. Curious, I read further and discovered what a freemium site was and that I, in fact, was already part of a few of them, although I didn't know there was a term for it. Freemium sites combine a free offering with a premium, paid offering. Basically any site that offers tiered membership, including a free option. I love this type of site because in an era where relationships and trust are key, trying on something for size will provide most people comfort to ultimately spend money on the value of the tiered content.

I am preparing to launch my new business, Sweetline Agency, in early February (more to come on this!) and I'm interested in sites that discuss entrepreneurship, women business owners and marketing methodologies. I am a {free} member of Savor the Success, Ladies Who Launch and, most recently, the Hatch Network. Each of these resourceful and important sites offer a free tier as well as various price-point tiers that provide more information. Depending on what you are looking for and what you are willing to spend, you can decide what's right for you. For me, the free option is great - I can check out the networks, meet new people and then decide to spend money to join a more detailed tier later on. I wanted to share four reasons why all business owners should join freemium networks.

1) Meet like-minded people who will support you. Many of us are creative business owners and time is of the essence. Adding another site, like freemium sites, will just take up more time - and, yes, it will. But you are meeting people, creating your own mini-network of business owners who all are looking for the same things - support, guidance and like-minded people.

2) Great networking! Most people on these sites are in the same shoes as you and are looking to support, share and meet new people. Plus you have a new pool of people to turn to if you need help with your company, a connection or advice. Why will most people help? Because you are all part of the same freemium community.

3) Embracing a new community and adding more people to your own group. As you build your business, consider all avenues for spreading your services and brand. A freemium community is a great place to share your brand by re-blogging a few posts and joining some of the forums.

4) More opportunity to express yourself as an expert in your field. Join the forums and meet people on your freemium sites. Add to the conversation relevant and interesting thoughts to express yourself and your company.


Build Your Social Media Communities From The Inside Out
Focusing on the Importance of e-Relationships

:: toast to your e-relationships like you would with good friends ::

Any positive and worthwhile relationship takes time to build and this should be the same mantra and style that you embrace as you embark on your social media journey. Don't get caught up on the number of followers, the number of tweets, the number of tiny URLs, you get where I am going with this. Instead, focus on who you are, what you want to say and to whom you want to talk to. I recently read an article about the Relationship Era, a new period of time consumers have entered where "brands that win are expanding their focus to also include non-financial goals -- the kind of things that shareholders might have considered a distraction previously. These brands are realizing that it is possible to do something that is intensely meaningful..." I couldn't agree more! Beyond making a profit, brands - like yours - have an opportunity to connect and grow meaningful relationships directly. Here are a few things to consider as you build your relationship foundation.

:: Like any friend, your Twitter and blog followers are interested in *you* and what you have to share. By focusing on this simple idea, you can create smart and interesting conversations that are relevant to you and your e-friends. Forget forming your message for a potential Influencer that has 80,000 followers and who, ironically, is following 80,000 people and most likely has no idea who you are. Instead, embrace your 200 real followers that are listening and spreading your word.

:: I really believe that you need to build your relationships from the inside out. Set your tone and content with what you personally believe in and love. Tailor it to your own customers, trust me, they'll tell their friends and the viral swing begins.

:: Like any good relationship, keep it real and keep it open. Ask your readers their opinion, what they like, what they want, etc. From there you can tailor and shape your content and messages to them while showing that you are listening.

:: Hand over the reigns to a guest blogger to do a post or two on your blog. Invite new friends to post a relevant topic. This shows trust and also an opportunity for some cross-promotion and a new group of e-friends.

By sticking with your core audience you are building a real foundation to your social media community where people feel free to engage, interact and enjoy your content. These invaluable people will be there for you when you need them to spread your brand message. They don't care about the #'s, they care about what you have to say. Remember if you want to chat with your customers, go to where the conversation is - right in your own social community. Read the entire article about the 5 Principles of Breakthrough Success in the Relationship Era right here.


Define Your Blog

It's been a busy start to 2010 and I am now catching up on a little Blog Out Loud love. Megan and I are chatting about the next BOL event so please stay tuned for news about a San Francisco panel in February or early March. As the year gets going and more and more people are embracing blogging and social media, I have seen more emphasis on defining one's blog. Not really as the topics, like home design, lifestyle, food, etc but rather the structure, style and tone of the blog. One of my own daily reads, On The Web With Kim Valle, has a nice post about this topic. Per Kim, are you:
  • a creator of new content – ex: a crafter,
  • a collector – blog is about what you like,
  • a curator – like I am
  • a news publisher – being the source of all the news about a specific topic
  • a problem solver
  • one that inspires people to act or create
  • a commentator, someone who shares his/her perspectives on issues and ideas, etc…
Consider who you are and how you want your blog to feel to others. And this may change as you get your own blog up and running. You'll slowly see what you enjoy writing and how your readers are responding to you. Take some time and define your blog, it will help you stay focused and become the foundation for your blogging adventure.


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Best Widget For Bloggers

One of the things that makes blogging easy and fluid are the free widgets that you can add to your sidebar or within your post template. From search box, to Google Connect, to link lists there are tons of free widgets that can make your blog rich and readable. My favorite by far - LinkWithin. This free widget can be added to your blog in literally 3 steps. It posts related reads automatically under each post that you publish (and any that had previously been published). So any and all of your old blog posts can be recycled to your continuing and new readers - yes!! Click here to add LinkWithin to your blog.

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Hello Blog Out Loud friends! Hope you enjoyed the holiday and took a little break from your computer and gathered some blogging inspiration for 2010. One of my fave new finds over the holiday was Listorious, a site that compiles the best Twitter lists. Love stationary? Find the Twitter list that will have tons of stationary designers and enthusiasts. Into vegan cuisine? So are tons of others and the list is already made! Start making Twitter lists of your own and enjoy this great (and free) resource.
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