Build Off Your Blog

 

When blogs first began to gain popularity, they were used almost exclusively as personal diaries.

Nowadays, however, blogs have evolved into something far more advanced; for both individuals and businesses, they act as invaluable marketing tools used to brand your business and interact with your audience like never before. To find out how you could be making more of your blog, read on.

Social Media Integration

This is kind of a no-brainer, but is so important it’s still worth mentioning. If someone happens upon your blog and likes what they see, the first thing they’ll want to do is connect with you on another social media platform. After all, having to seek out your blog each time they want an update is one thing, but being directly notified of updates on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter is another.

To make this as easy as possible for your readers, you’ll want to add a row of attractive social media icons on your blog, preferably in clear view and close to the header. To do this, you can either hire a web designer or do it yourself for free. If you choose the latter option and aren’t an HTML whiz, try a quick and easy tutorial for help.

Comment Interaction

The comments section of your blog posts is, hands down, the very best place to engage your customers, gauge their interest, and learn what you could be doing better. If you have comments disabled on your blog, change that immediately; commenting is the lifeblood of the blogging world and should be one of your top priorities.

The best way to receive more comments is to leave thoughtful comments on other blogs similar to your own, and the best way to make those new commentors feel valued is to reply to their input. Whether they left compliments or criticism, reply with gratitude and a warm, conversational attitude.

If someone mentions something they don’t like about your blog, don’t take it personally or ignore it. Thank them for sharing their opinion and ask what specific aspects of your blog need to be improved on. If someone leaves a positive but very brief comment, replying with a simple “thank you” will leave a good impression. After all, people come to your blog out of curiosity, but they’ll stay for the quality content and the personal connection you develop with them.

Opt-In Email Newsletters

Giving your blog’s visitors the option to have news, updates, and special offers delivered straight to their inbox via an email newsletter is one of the best things you can do to foster the growth of a solid, long-lasting readership. For this to work, though, it is essential that you stick to a few key rules of thumb.

Keep your emails short and sweet–you want your emails to pack a quick punch, not ramble on. In addition, be sure to stay upbeat, positive, and honest. You want your readers to look forward to opening your emails, not feel weighed down by lackluster writing, guilt-based pleas for their business, or less-than-desirable deals (no one wants to read that they’re getting $25 off in the subject line only to discover in the fine print that the offer only applies if they spend $500 or more).

Time and energy spent making sure your graphics pop will make your emails seem fresh and clean, rather than cluttered or distracting.

Finally, never email people who haven’t signed up to be on your mailing list, never email people who have unsubscribed from your mailing list, and always give your recipients a quick and easy way to unsubscribe in the first place. It’s not just common courtesy; it’s the LAW. Stick to these guidelines and your reputation for being respectful of your customers and their wishes can only grow.

At first, using your blog as a crucial marketing tool can seem intimidating. By following some basic principles to build rapport with your visitors, you can be well on your way to growing a loyal, enduring readership in no time.

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Pinterest is a Bigger Influencer Than You Think

 

Any fellow Pinterest addicts out there? The first step is admitting that you have a problem, and I definitely do. When I’ve exhausted checking Facebook, Instagram, and a parenting message board that I frequent, Pinterest in my next stop. And then the next thing I know, it’s four hours later, my mouth is watering with visions of desserts and delicious recipes and my wallet is cringing at the impending trip to Hobby Lobby for craft supplies.

Pinterest has done a lot of things right in its first few years. It has gained a huge following, opened itself up to businesses, and launched very user friendly mobile apps so that people can use the site on the go. While the network is not free of all Internet issues (think spam) it’s definitely a great example of a company that is run really, really well.

When you think about it, Pinterest is genius for everyone involved. Designed to be an online bulletin board, it’s perfect for users to keep track of recipes, craft ideas, decorating inspiration, and so much more. But it also drives traffic to websites. When you click “see more” you’ll visit an actual website. This has been a boon for many small blogs and companies that might not have gained exposure otherwise.

In light of all of this info, it should come as no surprise that Pinterest is the second largest referrer of web traffic when it comes to social media. Eclipsed only by Facebook and its more than one billion users, Pinterest is really in a league of its own when it comes to referral traffic. According to Mashable, Pinterest drives more traffic than the four other major social networks (LinkedIn, Reddit, Twitter, and Google +) combined. I particularly love Pinterest because the traffic is primarily organic and sites are getting people to click through because they are genuinely interested in what they are seeing.

There’s no doubt that Pinterest is a juggernaut when it comes to the Internet. I’m interested to see what the company will do next.

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Maddie Heinen is a regular contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com. She is a freelance writer who specializes in blogging, content creation, and social media. When she is not working, she is taking care of her two kids, husband, and home in Central Florida. Maddie enjoys reading, shopping, and is interested in real estate. She is currently working on establishing her own internet-based media company, Red Hibiscus Media, which will specialize in both online content as well as print material.

5 Essential Truths about Social Media

 

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that social media is taking over the world – both business and personal. Their immense popularity has caused the networks to grow and change very often. While this is good on some levels, it can also make for a confusing landscape for people who use it for a variety of applications.

Businesses in particular have faced changes to social media platforms and terms very often. Having to adapt to these new requirements and recommendations can be exhausting. But behind it all, there are a few principles that are important to follow when it comes to social media. I’d consider theses some of the most fundamental “truths” when it comes to using these networks. Here they are:

  1. The quality of what you post is so important. The old adage is of course, quality over quantity. The same is absolutely true with social media. Take the time to really figure out what kind of time and effort you can contribute to your pages. Then use that time to post quality information. If you can only make the commitment to post once every two days, but it is quality content, that is the way to go.
  2. Keep your focus on your followers. Don’t forget who you actually joined social media for. While you might be tempted to push your own agenda, make sure that you post things that you think they would like to see. By focusing on the people that you hope to engage, you’re more likely to achieve the results that you are looking for.
  3. Make your pages/accounts visually interesting. The more photos and video you post, the better. It’s a simple as that. On Facebook, changing your cover and profile photo often will make you more visible. People like visuals!
  4. Interaction is key. Use your pages to actually talk back and forth with your followers/customers. Don’t just give a canned reply to a question or comments. It’s important to keep checking back and continue the conversation until everyone is satisfied.
  5. Sharing is a good thing. While you shouldn’t share every single thing that comes across your social media path, your followers are likely to appreciate you sharing content that is relevant to their interests.

We all know that social media can either really help or really hurt a business. Make yours one of the good ones!

(Photo Source)

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.