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Social media has grown tremendously over the last several years. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, Online games...the list goes on and on. Many pundits are saying that you cannot run a successful business today without getting on the social media bandwagon.

Whether their statements are true or not, many business people are unable to keep up with the various types of social media already available to them, and the constant barrage of new tools being introduced every day.

Most of our clients are not using any social media tools right now, but are becoming interested in looking into using some of the social media tools which have matured to the point where the client at least understands how they could be useful to their business. They have seen them used effectively by other companies and they are willing to explore how they may be useful in promoting their business. 

This month's RoadMap looks at blogging and how it can be used (and misused) in your business. This month Tech Tutor alerts you to a new, controversial social media tool recently released by Google. Take a look at it and let us know what you think.
RoadMap: Blogging
Roadmap
 
Is a blog right for your business? Will blogging help you to connect with your customers and clients in a way that will increase customer loyalty and bring you more sales or donations?

Maybe, yes. Maybe, no.

For a blog to be effective, it has to be well written, interesting and engaging, and easily available to your target audience.

First, it is essential that the individuals authoring the blog receive training in writing for the web. Good web articles and blogs, like good print articles, are written with a specific objective in mind and are targeted to a certain audience. However, good print copy can not be simply transferred to the web. People do not read the web like they read a newspaper or magazine article...
  • Keep web copy short. Your visitors have a very short attention span and will read very little of the copy on your page, so
  • Make it scannable. Make sure that your visitors can pick out your main points easily by making good use of headers and sub-headers, bulleted lists, highlighting and graphics.
Here are some tips for creating an effective business blog:
  • Use plugins for the blog software which focus on search engine optimization (SEO), making your blog load faster and making it easy for your readers to share the blog with others.
  • Focus on content. Use original material written in a casual voice. Write not only about your core business, but include posts about your industry, work life and processes at your company, and tips and tricks that you have learned that can help your reader.
  • Use a simple, straightforward design, which is not too flashy, to help you to convert your readers to customers.
  • However, don't neglect design altogether, since your blog is a place to be creative and show your company's human side to your customers.
  • Make sure that your readers know who you are. Assume that your average reader is not familiar with your company or your brand. Make sure that you include easy-to-find information about you, and a way for them to easily find out even more about you.
  • Have your blog somewhere on your company website. It is very unprofessional to host your blog anywhere else.
  • Blog regularly, at least a couple of times a week. Share the blog writing among several individuals so that one person does not become overwhelmed. Brainstorm editorial ideas and write your posts well ahead of your deadline.
  • Develop a community around your blog by encouraging a two way conversation. Enable commenting on the blog, read the comments and respond to them. 
  • Don't expect too much right away. It takes time to build readership. Everyone is busy and to get regular loyal readers, you need to prove your worth to those who visit your blog.
Once you have an engaging blog, you must make sure that it is easy for your readers to discover new content.
  • Link to your blog from your company website.
  • Add your blog url to your email signature and business cards.
  • Add your blog url to your marketing materials.
  • Use a full RSS feed for your blog so that your customers can read your entire blog without having to link to your blog site...the goal is to get your blog read, not to increase traffic on your site.
  • Embrace social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to get the word out about your blog and to make it easier for your readers to share your post with others.
  • Optimize your blog for search engines...use keywords in titles and write about things that potential customers are likely to be searching for.
A successful business blog takes time and creativity. Once you commit to blogging, you need to post quality content regularly for at least a year to establish your credibility and to build readership. You must also ensure that the readers can easily find your new blog posts and can easily share their comments about the blog with you and others in their network. 

Contact us for additional information or training in writing for the web and/or blogging.
SmartSite Technology serves as a virtual IT Department for small and medium sized businesses and non-profit organizations.  We provide all of the information technology services that a business needs to compete in today's marketplace.
 
Our goal at SmartSite Technology is to help each of our clients to be a success!! We know that technology is not a core competency for many small business owners and non-profit professionals. We believe that every organization benefits when they automate their business processes. We work closely with all of our clients, even those who are uncomfortable with computers and technology, to help them introduce automated processes into their operations. 
 
Contact us today to discuss your technology needs.
Sincerely,
 
Dixie Groutt
SmartSite Technology
 
Copyright 2009 SmartSite Technology. All rights reserved.
October 2009
In This Issue
RoadMap: Blogging
Your Tech Tutor Says...
tutor pic number 1

In September 2009, Google introduced a new, controversial type of social media...Google Sidewiki.

Google Sidewiki allows anyone to comment on any page on the internet. Anyone who installs Google Sidewiki on their PC is able to make any comment they want on any webpage on the Internet. Comments remain on the webpage indefinitely and are available for anyone with Google Sidewiki installed on their PC to read.

Google is marketing their Sidewiki as a tool which will help the information on the Internet to become even more valuable to the user. They say that information will be enhanced by the comments of other experts, and will create a dialog about controversial information.

If all Internet users were altruistic, the Google vision might be realized, however, we all know that this is not the case. Some Internet users delight in the mischief they can cause, and other users do everything they can to gain the upper hand over their competitors or to take advantage of unsuspecting Internet users.

Time will tell whether this new way to interact over the Internet will be successful. Considering the potential downsides, this tool may not be around long.
 
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