Social tools for business

Social Tools for Business

I'm at the cottage and I am thinking about all the online tools out there and how valuable they can be for businesses. Now, more than ever before, business owners can communicate with their clients and potential clients quickly and effectively.

If you are a business owner who continues to struggle with how to make social media work for you then I encourage you to read through five of my favourite blog posts that offer up valuable social media tips on some of my favourite social channels:

1)   Should you be on Instagram?

If you are a business owner who doesn’t understand the value of posting pictures on a regular basis, then read this post to find out if you’re missing out on a tool that could be helping you reach an audience you didn’t even know existed! If you are a visual business, you should most probably be on Instagram. Click here to learn more.

2) The Value of Recommendations and Endorsements

LinkedIn is a professional social channel and is the best place to showcase your accreditations, skills and accomplishments. It is also a place to connect and network with new professional connections and prove that you are worth working with. It is for this reason that you should learn and use the recommendation and endorsement features on LinkedIn. These features allow people to see what you are all about and have to offer without having to connect with you first. To learn more about the value of LinkedIn, click here.

3)   Why should my small business use Facebook?

Believe it or not there are still small businesses who are not on Facebook – or they are on as a personal profile or group and do not have a business page.  There are advantages to being on Facebook as a business and this post goes back to the basics – for those who still need convincing. To read the full post, click here.

4)   The Twitter Rules of Thirds

If you are new to Twitter, or you have an account, but instead of using it for business use it for news updates instead, this blog post will help you understand what you should really be using this conversational social channel for. Twitter is not as time consuming as you may think! Used correctly for about ten minutes a day can help grow your audience substantially. Click here to learn more about Twitter.

5)   Periscope – What is it and why should I care?

This is a new social app and it is taking the world by storm!  Periscope allows you to live stream from your cell phone and it’s free to broadcast and view. There is a lot of potential in this simple app, and I have seen business owners use it to share tips, product reveals and more!  It’s a quick and easy tool that can be used to connect with your audience in real time – from anywhere in the world. Click here to read more on Periscope.

So, as I connect with you miles from my office I hope you find these highlighted posts helpful as you continue to explore the endless possibilities social media brings for small businesses. 

How to find quality content for social media scheduling

It’s okay to schedule your social media updates. We all lead busy lives and unless you are a larger business who can afford to hire someone full-time to engage and monitor your social networks 24/7, scheduling is the simplest way to provide your audience with consistent content. Luckily, scheduling tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer make scheduling content relatively painless.

They key is to find quality content that you can schedule to be shared throughout the day and across various social networks. The question then remains of how to find quality content that can be scheduled and shared.

Link back to your website 

Don’t be afraid to link back to previously published (but still relevant) blog posts. Preface the link in the update by telling people why they should read the post, what they may have missed if they hadn’t read it before (that's what the ICYMI you may often see on social media is all about it "in case you missed it") or why it’s a great resource for them. You could also pull a quote from the blog post and use that as the text of your scheduled update and also include the link to the post so people can read more.

You should also schedule and share the services you provide, any workshops you are hosting or any other product or event that you want your audience to know about. Just make sure to schedule it within a relevant timeframe and link back to where they can learn more and purchase or register.

Share third party articles

Sharing articles from like-minded blogs and websites is a great way to show your expertise to your audience. You can find these articles or blog posts by doing a quick Google search on your industry, or just look to see what other people are sharing on your social networks. If you link back to the author's site or source in your tweet or Facebook status the person or company responsible for the article will also be notified that you shared their content, which may in turn result in a new “like” or follower.  Just remember not to share any third party links until you have fully read and understood the content.

Create shareable images 

Research and compile quotes from industry experts or even from your own website and create shareable images using tools such as Canva or PicMonkey. You can easily schedule these images and can encourage audience engagement by accompanying the image with a question such as, “Do you agree?”

Scheduled or not it is important that your social media updates are relevant and inline with your business’ goals and objectives. Remember that if you don’t have time for engaging with your audience to not ask difficult or controversial questions or share content that might start a discussion you don’t have the time for. 

Do you schedule your content? How do you find your content?

Should you be on Twitter?

Recently people have noticed that I’m not talking about Twitter very much. They’re right – I’m not. Is it because I don’t think Twitter is a good tool any more? No. It’s because for most of the people I’m talking to, I just don’t think it’s the right tool for them. At least not in the beginning.

I love Twitter. Don’t get me wrong, I think it has huge potential and can make a lot of difference in any business, but I also think that it is one of the tools that requires the most time and effort to do well. I know how busy business owners are, and when they are just starting to use social media they aren’t going to be ready for the time commitment required to take advantage of the potential on Twitter. 

I’ll elaborate a bit more on why:

Twitter is about relationships

Most people think that Twitter is about telling the world what you had for lunch (by the way – I totally think you SHOULD do that). But it’s also so much more than that. Twitter is an opportunity to have conversations. It’s about interacting with other people. It’s about sharing ideas and thoughts, and learning from experts.

While some people use Twitter as a newsfeed, so many more only pay attention to the people they know and have built relationships with. If you aren’t talking to people, you’re never going to be one of the people others are really paying attention to.

Short story:  Last week I was at the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association National Conference in Toronto and I met a ton of great people. How can you build a relationship a step beyond meeting in person? How about a selfie, that you tweet and tag? It’s the small things that help build relationships.

Twitter is about getting to know people 

Did you know that Karen and I met on Twitter? There are so many opportunities to find the kind of people you’re looking for. Maybe those are customers, maybe they are people to partner with, maybe they are mentors. The point is that you can find and have conversations with and really get to know people you never would have had access to before.

Twitter is an amazing networking tool. I’ve made friends, I’ve gotten media coverage, and I’ve gotten clients by getting to know people and having regular conversations there. This takes a lot of time. It can be well worth it, but it’s going to take a commitment far beyond sending out a few tweets a day.

It takes a lot of effort to filter through the noise

Most people follow a lot of other people on Twitter. I follow about 3500 people and if I didn’t use lists I would never see the content that I want to see. 

Why don’t I just unfollow everyone but the people I’m interested in? Because I have different interests on different days. By following lots of people and by creating special lists for different interests, cities, topics, etc., I can spend my time on Twitter talking to and about the things I’m focusing on at that moment.

It takes a lot of time to set up those lists and filters, but once it’s done your time on Twitter is much better spent. 

So, should you be on Twitter?

If you’re new to social media and you feel intimidated by the idea of spending time on Twitter every day, it may not be the right starting place for you (I still think you can get off to a great start in ten minutes a day, but you’ll do better with a bigger commitment).

If you aren’t the kind of person who likes to chit chat, it might not be the place for you. 

If you’re looking for opportunities to network, find new communities and really jump in to conversations, you absolutely should and there are tons of great opportunities for you. 

Not every social media channel makes sense as a starting place for every person.  Figure out where your audience is and what you feel comfortable with. That may or may not be Twitter - and that’s okay!

Crazy for Twitter chats

Lately we’ve been taking part in a lot of Twitter chats. In fact, they’re currently my favourite way to spend time on Twitter. So, today I thought I would tell you a bit about what Twitter chats are and why I think they’re so great. 

What is a Twitter chat?

A Twitter chat is a scheduled time (usually one hour) when people get together on Twitter to discuss a topic. They do this by using one specific hashtag. By using a hashtag, people can read only the tweets that have that one hashtag for the duration of the hour, and get to talk about all kinds of interesting topics with a group of people also interested in that topic.

How do you filter out tweets with a specific hashtag?

There are various ways to do this:   

  • The simplest way is to click on the hashtag in one tweet. It will pull up all the other tweets with that hashtag. You can then keep refreshing this list.

  • Create a stream for your hashtag. This is similar to the first way of doing this, but you can create a permanent stream in a tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to follow a hashtag. 

  • Tweetchat is an online tool built for you to log in to and follow a specific hashtag. It also automatically populates all your tweets with the hashtag so you don’t have to keep re-typing it.

  • Nurph is very similar to Tweetchat, but it has a few add ons I really like, including retweeting and a playback feature.   

What do you talk about?

During a Twitter chat there is a host (or several hosts) who tweet out a series of questions. Anyone can then answer these questions. People often start breaking off into discussions with each other over the answers to those questions.

A Twitter chat is a great opportunity to learn more about a topic and find other people who are interested in that subject.

What’s in it for me?

  • Twitter chats are a great place to find people who are like-minded. By finding a chat that is centered in your industry you have the opportunity to connect with all kinds of new people that you could end up working with.
  • Twitter chats are a great place to learn. I take part in a lot of business related chats and I get to learn from the people hosting the chats as well as all of the other people taking part. They often have great insights into topics I don’t know a lot about or they broaden my knowledge on that topic.
  • Twitter chats are a great place to prove your expertise. By taking part in a chat about a topic that is of interest to your audience, you can show that you know what you’re talking about and that you’re worth following and getting to know better.

Twitter chats are too fast - how do I keep up?

Twitter chats ARE fast - no doubt about it. Here are a couple of tips to help you ease your way in:

1) If Twitter chats feel overwhelming, watch a couple of chats before trying to take part. Most chats have a rhythm and once you’ve witnessed a couple you should start to feel comfortable jumping in. You can even check out a past chat on Nurph and watch it at the speed that feels most comfortable to you.

2) Don’t worry if you can’t read all the tweets. Do your best and then skip to the next question. 

Give one a try!

There are so many reasons that Twitter chats are great. Google search for twitter chats in your industry or ask your friends if they take part in any chats and check one out. They are a lot of fun and they have led to not only a lot of learning and making new friends, but to new clients and sales for us. We’re having a Twitter chat for Social Capital this coming Thursday at 1:30pm too - we’d love to have you join us with hashtag #socapott.