WikiHow: A Social Medium for your Small Business

Have you ever wondered, “How to?”, or “How to do I?” Well many people, everyday, come across these questions. These questions bothered both Jack Herrick and Josh Hannah, the two top guys over at eHow, so much that they decided to do something about it. They came up with the idea to create a website that was, “The World’s Collaborative How To Manual,” They called their website WikiHow. Since the launch of the domain in 2006, this idea has just taken off; boasting a collection of over 119,725 “How To articles” and growing. There are some great aspects to this site: anyone can post an article, anyone can edit any article, and anyone can access any article for free! There are featured articles, and there are categories for the articles to make finding an article a little easier. If you can’t find the article you want, send a request for an article and anyone can answer your request. The best part of this site, in my opinion, is it also allows business to market themselves through the“How To Manuals.”

At, businesses are able to create either a how to guide, a written tutorial for the services provided by the business, or a “How to Hire” a certain firm. Did I mention that this type of medium is a free way to market your business? Yes, free! The website allows people that have problems to look for an answer and it allows your business to post the solution. Wikihow also has a citation and sources area to show the credibility of the author and article. This is where you can link back to your business’s website, creating possible new clients.

The service areas that are utilizing this social medium are the accounting, tax, law, and investment services. These firms put out articles that tell you how to hire a certain firm, the services provided by the firm, and some quick tips to solving easy problems that people may come across when dealing in law,tax, accounting, or investment areas. Many firms tell readers to look for certain skills when hiring a firm. This is where your firm can tell the reader to look for skills that your business has mastered. Here are some examples of articles posted by a law firm, a tax firm, and a personal investment firm utilizing Wikihow. The law firm submitted a “How to Choose a Criminal Defense Lawyer.” The personal finance firm posted a, “How to Pay Taxes on Freelance Work.” Finally the tax firm wrote a, “How to  File 831B Taxes.”

The article, the law firm submitted, “How to Choose a Criminal Lawyer,” introduces the benefits of hiring a lawyer. Then body of the article covers what to look for when hiring a criminal lawyer, why you should look for certain experiences, what steps are required to when hiring a lawyer, and who and what to avoid when making your selection. Finally in the sources and citation area, to show the creditability of the article, the law firm Gurovich, Berk, and Associates linked  to their website. By posting on WikiHow this law firm gained possible new clients because, the people that are searching for that article most likely are looking for an attorney. Secondly, the firm gained a way to cut out competition by saying who to avoid. Finally the law firm has better chance at picking up a client because the person who read the article can see the free advice, and creditability of the firm.

The next article by the personal investment firm, “How to Pay Taxes on Freelance Work,” is another route that businesses can take. This firm decided to give out a small piece of free advice on personal finance hoping others will see this advice, and want more. If the reader wanted more the link to their site was right in the sources and citations area. By posting this article this firm, like the law firm, gain possible clients that had an interest in services they offer.

Finally, the tax firm followed a similar format as the investment firm, they gave information on how file certain types taxes. The difference was the article had a feeling of uncertainty, that if this type of tax is not filed properly there can be serious implications. The article was hinting at if you become lost get help. That help was at the bottom in the form of a link to a tax service website.

Wikihow is a great way attract to create new potential clients to your web page. Its the perfect meeting area, people with a problems trying to find a solution, and people with answers trying to offer help.  There so many way different way to grab the attention of a new client by posting an article, so be creative. If you have a service business you need an article on WikiHow, let the world know how your business can can help them.


Getting Noticed With Facebook NFO

NFO?  At first it may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but knowing its secrets can help your Facebook content stand out among the 30 billion pieces of information shared monthly.  As much as 90% of your Facebook fans don’t come back to your page once they become a fan!  They actually visit your page usually after reading your content in their own news feed.  So how can you get your updates onto as many news feeds as possible?  Facebook News Feed Optimization (NFO) is the answer.  Facebook uses a specific formula to decide what shows up on a user’s home page.  Based on which pages you interact most with, the actions you take on these pages, and what posts are most recent, Facebook produces a home page specific to you.

Here are some of the best ways to get your content seen and interacted with more:

1.  As the saying goes, “Less is more.”

Everyone has that Facebook friend that you believe never leaves their computer because they post every half hour.  Now with the new privacy settings, you can actually unlike a page or hide posts from particular people.  The #1 reason people do this is to avoid those annoying posts.  You definitely don’t want to be “unliked” because you are considered a nuisance, so post only 2-5 times a day to stay in good graces.

2.  As the saying goes, “Keep it short and sweet.”

That same Facebook friend that posts every half hour usually posts extremely long statuses too.  By now you probably don’t even bother reading them!  Studies show that keeping your status 80 characters or less will lead to more engagement from users.  So keep it simple!

3.  As the saying goes, “Keep things interesting.”

Why do people read gossip magazines?  I’m sure it’s not for the meaningful articles!  The photos are what attract readers to buy these magazines.  For your Facebook posts keep the content interesting.  When a user’s news feed shows up the first thing that will grab their attention is photos, videos, links, and even questions that spark conversation.  Just plain words might get over looked if there are other interesting posts above or below it.

4.  As the saying goes, “There is always an exception to the rule.”

Usually when posting a link on other social networking sites, like twitter, you should stick to short links.  However, on Facebook you will actually get 3 times the engagement if you use full links.

5.  As the saying goes, “Time is of the essence.”

Apparently a lot of people sit on Facebook at work bored to tears.  As a result, the website receives high traffic from about 10am Eastern to 4pm Eastern.  However, there are those who don’t have the opportunity to Facebook at work, so evenings are a good time too!  By posting during one of these high traffic times you will receive more exposure and interaction from fans.

6.  As the saying goes, “TGIF!”

Facebook actually has a happiness index, and to no surprise it spikes about 10% on Fridays.  Thursdays and Fridays have about an 18% higher engagement rate than other days in the week.  So posting on those days will also lead to more exposure and interaction from all those “happy it’s the weekend” followers.

7.  As the saying goes, “Be spontaneous.”

Facebook tends to give a little bit more visibility to those that post manually instead of through a third-party app or automated system.  So by taking just a little bit of time out and posting yourself, your posts will sound more personable, and help you reach more fans at the same time.

So, keep it simple, short, and interesting, take advantage of those happy days and times, and be yourself!  And for more information on how to stand out click here.

4 Steps for Small Businesses and Social Media

If you own or are a part of a small business, you know the many challenges that face you on a daily basis. I’ll venture to say that marketing is a big one. Knowing the who, what, why, when, where, and how of marketing for your business is a crucial factor in seeing your business succeed. Due to the small budgets of many small businesses, marketing is often seen as a “backseat” concern. However, with new social media networks, marketing is now easy, cheap, and can even be fun! Here are 4 steps to consider when utilizing social media for small businesses:

1. Don’t overextend yourself:

Small businesses have a tendency to overextend themselves, and try to do everything at once, in order to gain a market presence. This can often have adverse effects. By setting small goals for your business, you can gradually integrate social media marketing into your daily routine.

However, this rule also applies to social networking. By first identifying your target audience, you can then proceed to try to identify which social network(s) your audience utilizes most. By doing this, it saves you from having to create profiles on the dozens of social networks online and lets you focus on a select few.

Example: If you are a law firm or other professional association, you would most likely target users using LinkedIn. If you are a retail store, you would most likely use Facebook or Twitter.

2. Engage your audience, don’t try to sell to them:
Social media is interactive, hence the “social” part. This means that the traditional “one-way street” means of advertising are no longer effective. Businesses using social media need to engage their customers, and make them feel as if they are a crucial part to the business. Pushing sales messages and countless ads will cause you to lose customers. Audiences want to be able to input their opinions, remarks, and ideas, and then see those ideas put to use.

Integrating consumer input into the marketing strategy of your small business is a crucial element to your future success.

3. Balance your time, as well as your money:
While social media itself is free, the costs associated with it can be quite high. Deciding whether to handle social media promotions yourself, hiring a media director, or outsourcing your social media needs can have a big influence in the direction of your business. By handling social media yourself, you can save money in the short term, but in the long-term, you run the risk of losing time spent on other projects, which results in a loss of revenue.  However, by hiring a person or outsourcing your social media, you can focus on things that need attention, while leaving your social media networking to individuals or firms that specialize in just that. This method saves both time, in the short term and long term, as well as money in the long term.

4. Make your business fun and interactive, not just a brand with a logo:
This is not so much an issue for small businesses as it is in the corporate sector. Social networking opens up the possibility for transparency much more than traditional media. Consumers want to feel connected to the business, as they would a person. This is possible by engaging them. By removing the stiff, emotionless business image, you can add personality your business. This can be done by asking questions, creating surveys or polls that people can vote on, encouraging their input, creating special promotions or specials for those using social media, such as 10% off a product or service for “Checking In” on Foursquare. All of these ideas foster an environment of mutual engagement.

For more great tips on growing your small business via social media, check out the articles listed here and here.

An Interesting Infographic on the Growth of Social Media

Check out this infographic on Social Media use from the Search Engine Journal.

Some of the numbers I found most interesting:

  • 75% of brand “likes” came from advertisements
  • 49% of Twitter users either never or rarely check Twitter but 59% of companies use Twitter to engage with customers
  • 1 in 4 Americans watch a video on YouTube everyday but only 33% of companies are on YouTube
  • Chicago is the fastest growing city on Facebook

Is Tumblr a Useful Social Media Platform for Your Business?

With the global explosion of social networks in the late 2000’s many businesses wonder which social network is the most beneficial for engaging with their customers. Facebook and Twitter are recognized as excellent platforms to promote businesses and interact with potential clients. What about Tumblr? Can Tumblr be useful for businesses as they engage with customers and potential customers?

As with most things, the answer is relative. What type of service or product does your business offer? What is your targeted demographic? Does your demographic use social media? If so, does your target audience prefer posts that are text-intensive or image-intensive, or a combination of both? These are the types of questions you should be asking  yourself as you design your social media strategy.

Before you decide either way, let’s explore exactly what Tumblr is, how it is used and who uses it:

  • 56% of monthly users are under the age of 34, 52% of these users are male
  • About half of Tumblr’s 14 million daily posts are image based
  • Allows users to post text, images, links, quotes, audio, and video

Tumblr was created in 2007, by David Karp and Marco Arment, as a micro-blogging service that would allow users to easily post video, text, images, quotes, links, and audio, as well as their own existing blogs. As of 2009, Tumblr had an 85% retention rate of users, compared with only 40% for Twitter. That retention rate, alongside the nearly 15,000 new users everyday, Tumblr is seen as a definite rival to Twitter in the near future.

Businesses looking at long-term goals for social media marketing should realize Tumblr is an up-and-coming social network, such as Facebook was in 2006-2007. Its cross-platform usability is appealing to many types of businesses as a way to best engage with customers. Check out these blogs here and here for information on whether or not Tumblr is right for your small business.

What Facebook’s Newest Privacy Changes Mean for Your Business

Recently, Facebook announced that their new privacy settings would be taking effect August 25, starting with one percent of their 750 million users. The changes to Facebook’s wildly unpopular approach to user privacy settings is most likely a result of the rise Google+. Because users can easily and accurately control who sees what information, businesses could potentially have a more difficult time trying to connect with users. Here’s a quick summary of how Facebook’s new privacy changes may affect your company:

    • On the upper right corner of the screen, there will be a new drop down menu where users can choose which information to display to the public (Facebook’s new profile redesign looks oddly similar to Google+, hmmm…). While users had this capability before in their setting page, the new drop down menu is more easily and quickly accessible. The new accessibility of this feature could mean more users do not publicly share information that could draw attention to your business (such as check-its, tags, etc.)
    • Users will now be able to tag non-friends in status updates and pictures. This change could actually be beneficial to your business as people who have not taken the time to actually “like” you can tag you in their status, resulting in more exposure for your business.
    • Before posting a status update or picture, you can choose who can see it by choosing either public, friends, or custom. Again, this feature may decrease public exposure to your company if users are only sharing information to a select few.
    • Users can also more easily choose the “View Profile As” button from their profile (which was previously located in Setting) to view and possibly change what content is available to the public.
    • Another potentially beneficial new update is that users can now tag their location (such as your business) in their status updates, whereas it was only previously available via the “Check In” option through Facebook mobile.
    • Now, when tagged in status update by another person, you have the option to approve the tag or reject it. When tagged in a photo, users have the ability to remove the tag, ask the user to take down the photo, or block the user. This is also a beneficial update, as you can monitor who and how your business is tagged, preventing unwanted attention.

While a few of these new features have always been available under the users settings, Facebook is proving that they are ready to finally listen and act upon users’ complaints.  It is likely that businesses will have to adapt how they manager their profiles in order to accommodate the changes in how users protect and share their information. What is certain is that with the emergence of Facebook’s newest competition,  Google+, you can guarantee that these won’t be last of Facebook’s changes. Here’s another great article from Entrepreneur on how these changes are likely to affect your business.

The Value of LinkedIn for Social Networking Your Small Business

In today’s business world, social networking is a must. LinkedIn, as the world’s largest professional social network, is perfectly positioned for small businesses. Each day valuable connections are made on LinkedIn that add value to the bottom line. If you and your employees are not using LinkedIn, you may be missing out on some opportunities. LinkedIn can help you get new clients, give your company greater legitimacy in the corporate world, attract new employees, crowdsource solutions from experts in your business for questions your employees may have, and bring in more profits. You and your employees should set up a LinkedIn account that  highlights what you and your employees excel at. This results in clients or customers being able to see what your company can do for them.

Here are some of the best advantages of having a LinkedIn account:

  1. You can get new customers for your business by building online recommendations and word of mouth. Satisfied customers are the best source of new customers. 
  2. Build your industry network—online and in person. Search LinkedIn’s Groups directory to find industry associations and networks to take part in. 
  3. Find answers to tough business questions you don’t know. Wondering whether your recent office purchase is tax deductible? Check out hundreds of questions on related topics here.
  4. Win new business by answering questions in your area of expertise. Use the many forums on LinkedIn to share the knowledge you’ve gained in your area of expertise. 

To see the full list of advantages check out this article by Guy Kawaski, co-founder oat AllTop corporate from his web column on American Express’ OPEN forum blog,

Dealing with Negative Feedback on Your Social Media Pages

If your business has a social media presence you have most likely had to wrestle with the question of how to deal with negative posts on your page. Should you remove them, respond to them, ignore them? These are important questions to think about as you develop your business’ social media presence.

One of the first things to consider is who posted the negative comment. Was it a customer? A competitor? A spammer? Or just someone trying to create trouble  (in social media lingo, they are called trolls)?

The next thing to think about is what kind of comment was it. Was it a complaint about an issue the commenter is having with your business? Was it constructive criticism with suggestions for improvement?  Is it spam from someone else extolling the virtues of their business? Is it an unmerited attack on your business by someone trying to create a stir?

Once you’ve determined who the comment is coming from and what kind of comment it is, you can now implement some tools to deal with it. While many businesses are tempted to simply remove negative comments, this isn’t always the best option. If the comment is coming from a customer or customers with a legitimate complaint, simply removing the comment can often make things worse and simply move the conversation to another online venue that you can’t control. If this is the type of comment that you are dealing with, it is better to acknowledge the issue and respond to the customer(s) either publicly or with an invitation to contact you privately to further discuss the issue. Remember that social media is an opportunity to engage with the customer and dealing quickly and honestly with complaints will earn your business respect and loyalty in the social media world. Southwest airlines comes to mind as a business that handles customer complaints well through social media. A quick visit to their Twitter page and you see a constant stream of conversations that address customer issues and complaints in a positive way.

What if it is constructive criticism that a commenter leaves on your page? As a small business owner, you are probably very passionate about what you do. You have probably poured hours of your own time into every aspect of your business. Its very personal for you and when someone criticizes your business, it is very easy to take it personally. So, even if you disagree with the post, it is important to acknowledge the comment politely and gratefully – yes, gratefully. Constructive criticism means that someone is payingattention and took the time to start a conversation with you. There may be times when it is appropriate to remove constructive criticism from a public forum, but you should always acknowledge the commenter for their feedback and their time. Also, remember to take this feedback seriously. Sometimes you may get a good idea from someone that took the time to write this kind of post if you are open-minded enough to listen. One example of a company that is getting this right is Dell. In 2007, Dell started Ideastorm, a website designed to collect ideas from their customers online. Dell has integrated Ideastorm into its own Twitter feed and their Facebook campaign. While not everyone is going to have the desire to be this open to the public’s ideas, it is good to remember that great things can come from crowdsourcing.

If the negative comment is either spam or an unwarranted attack by a troll, feel free to simply remove it. However, I would caution you to never engage in a  flame war with this type of commenter. Simply take the high road – remove the post and pretend like it never happened. Engaging in a tit-for-tat negative battle is not going to do you or your business any good.

In a perfect world no one would ever have anything negative to say about your business, but in the real world mistakes happen and it’s important to acknowledge them sincerely when they are brought to your attention. In other words, even in the virtual world, it’s important to keep it real.

4 Tips To Make Your Tweets Stand Out

Twitter is an extremely valuable resource for marketing your business. But  how do you ensure your tweets are read?  NowSourcing recently had a great blog post that included 1o Ways to Make Your Tweets Stand Out, but we narrowed the list down to what we think were the most important. Below are four excellent tips to make your tweets shine.

1. Be Original
Have fun and get creative with your tweets. With approximately 110 million tweets per day, users are bombarded with a large amount of information that can be redundant or boring. Social media is about connecting with people, so be personable and use your own voice when tweeting. This awesome slideshow on CNBC shows how the top ten companies using Twitter are successfully promoting their business and improving customer relations.

2. Be Short
Try to avoid tweeting a short story…with today’s hectic lifestyle users sometimes only have a few seconds to skim tweets so make sure to keeps your tweets concise and to the point. While Twitter does limit  your tweets to 140 characters, your followers are likely to skip over a tweet that is unusually long. Keeping your tweets short also ensures that there is enough room for others to retweet and include their own opinion. Hint-use links! Because 140 characters is such a limited space, you can post a link with your tweet to direct your followers to another web page, article, etc., with more information.

3. Time Your Tweets
Timing your tweets doesn’t mean publishing every fifteen minutes, but rather focusing when you tweet to the times your followers are most active. If you seem to receive the greatest number of replies and retweets during the afternoon, you should be the most active on Twitter that time of day as well. Hint-when tweeting, keep in mind that the Eastern Time Zone is the most populated time zone in the U.S so it is likely you will want to tweet during the times of day these people are most active on Twitter.

4. Provoke Thought
Your tweets should leave your followers thinking and wanting more. People love to be shocked by interesting statistics, so if you can, try to include these in your tweets. Your goal should be to create interest and get your followers talking. A tweet that makes people think will more likely result in a retweet or a reply, exposing your business to a larger pool of potential consumers. Take a look at some of 2010’s most retweeted tweets to see what they did right.

Be sure to keep these tweet tips in mind next time you tweet, but most importantly, have fun! If you are having fun, your tweets will definitely stand out amongst the crowd.

QR Code: An Acronym in Need of a Definition

In an effort to continue explaining and defining the various acronyms you may need to understand, today I bring you the QR Code. The acronym is short for quick response code. These two-dimensional bar codes are cropping up all over the place and if you don’t know what they are, you definitely need a quick tutorial. These codes can be scanned on mobile devices and provide the user with a plethora of information. It can link them to a website, social media site, videos, customer reviews, etc. depending on how they are set up and what platform the user is using to read the codes. If you want a more detailed explanation, check here and here.

There was an excellent article yesterday in The Business Insider explaining how to use QR codes to enhance your business. Here are the tips from the article that I think are the five most important: 1) make sure your QR code adds value or offers something special they can’t get from just your website; 2) make sure the site is mobile friendly; 3) provide original content so that you stand out among your competitors; 4) it should be easy to scan; and 5) make sure the links all work before you put it out there.

Also, the Social Media Examiner had an excellent post today about how to use QR codes in conjunction with your Facebook page.

Finally, check out this fun little video I put together.