Social media for recruiting and retention – five tips to get you started

I had the pleasure of presenting this morning at the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School Directors Conference in Ashkelon, Israel. What a great audience! It’s such a pleasure to have an energetic group that’s as interested in learning and asking questions as I am in teaching and answering them.

I hope I hear from many of the participants again – there’s only so much one can cover in a short presentation, but I know this group has some fabulous opportunities when it comes to marketing themselves online.

If you’re interested in learning a little more about using social media as a tool for recruiting and retaining students, you can view my presentation below.

Three tips before you create your Facebook page

facebook fan page tips, facebook fan page tutorial, facebook fan page how to, create facebook fan page, facebook pages for business, change facebook page nameFacebook pages for business are a useful marketing tool. Their benefits range from increased interaction with fans, a way to offer avid customers unique content and deals and overall branding that can help your product or service spread virally with the help of happy clients. A recent study has gone as far to attach a dollar value to each fan for consumer brands on Facebook – $136.

Unfortunately, many of Facebook’s tools aren’t as well documented as many marketers would like. While there are myriad choices for improving your Facebook page and brand strategy, avoid these three stumbling blocks before you begin.

Choose your name carefully – you can’t change it later

What’s in a name? A lot – especially when it comes to dominating Facebook search for key terms. As Nathalie Klein reminded me after a related Facebook page post, you can’t edit the name of your Facebook page. Once it’s created, your only options are deleting the original page (and losing all of your fans) and creating a new one. Take a minute to choose carefully when registering the new page. [Read more…]

Three steps to improve your SEO

Social Media 1-2-3It’s been awhile since our last Social Media 1-2-3 post. For that, I apologize. We’ve been crazy busy here at P3. December is a jam-packed speaking, moderating and attending circuit for us. For me, being out of the office and away from the organized nature of my desk aren’t conducive to blogging.

This week’s post is on SEO. While you might think search engine optimization isn’t related to (or – gasp – necessary for) a successful social media campaign, you’re missing out on a crucial opportunity to draw in more relevant web traffic.

Finally, you might also think that SEO is for super-guru-expert web developers only. To be sure, there are aspects of SEO that would befuddle the average blogger, but the big picture is well within your grasp.

With that said, let’s look at three simple steps anyone can implement.

Keep it human friendly

If you take one grain of knowledge from this post, it’s this: what’s human friendly is also SEO friendly. It’s true in every instance I can think of – quality of content, ease of navigation, site speed, etc. Google serves human beings and it’s in their best interest to direct their incoming search traffic to sites that are human friendly.

What can you do to keep your site user friendly?

  • Write content that you would enjoy reading and keep it clearly organized using headings
  • Keep your site clearly organized using categories and tags
  • Create sitemaps – one in HTML for real people, one in XML for Googlebot (not using a CMS? you can still create a sitemap here)
  • Keep the navigation simple – real people don’t enjoy clicking through six levels of navigation to get to your sterling prose

Increase your incoming links

Give potential visitors a good reason to visit your site multiple times, comment and even share your content. Provide your would-be visitors with content that offers value (without heavy marketing jargon) and they’ll be more likely to share the link with others. Since Google and other search engines place a high value on the number of incoming links from other high-quality sites, increasing your incoming links (known as inbound marketing) is a great way to raise yourself in search results.

What’s the best way to regularly update content in a simple, SEO-friendly format on a website today? You’ve got a handful of options, but the easiest is probably a blog. Post new content on a regular basis. Find other bloggers that are covering similar content or reaching out to the same target market and comment on their blogs. While it might seem like a simple strategy, it’s also very effective and easy for anyone to do.

Avoid duplicate content

Have you heard this one?

You’re a new blogger. A friend has been blogging for years. In order to help you get some additional traffic when you first start blogging, your friend copies your first blog post and posts it over on their site. A link at the bottom tells readers to “visit this site for more great blog posts like this one!”

While it might seem like your friend did you a kind favor, the reality is that they hurt your SEO. Duplicate content appearing on multiple sites is a no-no for SEO. In short, you’re in competition against your friend for ranking on the same blog post. Since your friend’s site is older, has more incoming links and likely more content, you’re going to lose.

Avoid posting duplicate content on multiple sites. Although SEO experts disagree on how dramatic the impact might be, the general consensus is that it’s to be avoided whenever you can.

Three simple, non-technical tips can go a long way toward improving how Google sees and ranks your site.

For more specific tips on how to optimize a site built with WordPress, don’t miss Joost de Valk’s excellent post and presentation on the subject (and thanks to Rebecca at Illuminea for sharing the link to the presentation on Twitter).

For more technical (and frequently comic) tips directly from Google, don’t miss the Google Webmasters Channel and more info from Matt Cutts on Twitter.

Three steps to getting started in Twitter

Social Media 1-2-3

Social Media 1-2-3

twitter introduction, getting started twitter, new user twitter, twitter tutorialThe social media world is still abuzz about Twitter. How can simple 140-character messages help you to inform and interact with your target market?

Here are three steps to get you going with this potentially powerful marketing tool:

Step One: Create your account: It might seem obvious, but you’re going to need a Twitter account (and possibly more than one – even if you plan on tweeting from only one). Head over to Twitter.com and get started. When possible, use your real name as your Twitter handle (the @username part). Then add your real name so that others can find you easily. Use a password that’s tough to break and an email address you check frequently.

It’s a good idea to let Twitter check if your friends are already online by comparing your email contacts. You can also check in with other folks you’re connected to in social networks. It’s your choice whether or not to follow the celebs that Twitter suggests, but might help you get a start following some folks that tweet regularly. Once you’re finished registering your account, it’s time to finish editing your settings.

Click the Settings link. Inside settings, you have six tabs:

  • Account
  • Password
  • Mobile
  • Notices
  • Picture
  • Design

We’re going to edit your account, picture and design. When you get some free time down the road, it would be good for you to check out the others as well.

Under account, check the information and update your time zone (unless you are in Greenland). Add the web address to your site or blog. Add your location and language. For your bio, try to write a short and witty synopsis of you, what you tweet, what you do and why someone might be interested in you. It’s social media, so it’s okay for your bio to be creative – remember, you’re trying to connect with other real people. When you’re finished, click save.

Under picture, we’ll upload a small snapshot of you so people know who’s tweeting. Try and pick a tightly cropped shot since you’ve got a small window to fill. And despite how cute they are, use your picture – not your kids, your pets, or your cartoon avatar. We want to see you. When you’ve added your photo, click save.

Under design, it’s time to get creative. Your best bet is to create a custom background using of the many tools available on the Web. Make sure your background has your Web address – Twitter is even more successful when it’s used as a tool to get people back to your home base on the Web. When you’re finished making changes, click save.

Step Two: Connect with others: Now you’re ready to get going. You can fire off a few introductory tweets, but you might want to try and make a few connections first. Start by finding folks that you know are on Twitter – allowing Twitter to compare your email contacts and other networks is a great way to start. Look for any friends you know are using Twitter. When you find someone, click Follow to begin seeing their tweets in your Twitter stream.

Search for other contacts by using the search field on the right side of your Twitter site, looking for keywords that interest you. Take a spin through the trending topics and see if any tweets jump out at you.

When you’ve got a handful of folks you’re following, see who they’re following and who else is following them – chances are higher that they’re legit (meaning they’re not spammers) and that they may share some similar interests with you.

Tip: Don’t be surprised if you have some followers before you have sent out any tweets. Some might be spammers – if so, you’ll want to block them and report them to Twitter – but others might have found something of interest in your bio, your location, or might have matched their own email contacts with your address.

Step Three: Share great content: Why would someone want to follow you in Twitter? Because you provide a resource, a wealth of information that interests them and that they can share with others. The absolute bare minimum should be a 50/50 balance in content. Half of the time, you need to share content that is useful but in no way self-promotes or references your marketing interests. Half of the time, you can gently lead your audience into articles, posts, or other links that cast you in a favorable light. Anything more heavy handed quickly becomes, to borrow a term from Chris Brogan, social media’s version of carpet bombing. Become the go-to person on the Web for all information in your focus area – whether it’s thought leadership within your industry or reasoned commentary on news events of a particular bent – and you will get followers who appreciate your work, share your links and are eager to interact.

We’d love your feedback on our new series – Social Media 1-2-3 – here on the blog at Pixel/Point Press. Don’t miss last week’s article on drafting a social media strategy. And come back next week when we look at three common Twitter terms explained: retweets, DMs and hashtags.

To read more articles in this series, please bookmark this category.

Social Media 1-2-3: Three steps to create a social media strategy

Social Media 1-2-3
Our first post in a series to help beginners (and maybe some more experienced hands as well) understand social media begins with strategy.

Often skipped entirely or dismissed as unnecessary, drafting a social media strategy should be the cornerstone of every social media campaign – regardless of the company size. Whether you’re an individual looking to rebrand yourself before a job search or an international company trying to target a new market, you need to have a plan. Let’s take a look at what goes into a social media strategy in three steps.

Three-step social media strategy

One caveat: This three-step guide assumes that you’ve already spent some time online listening to your market and you’re able to make an educated guess at how to target them. Before you can build a strategy, you’ll need to have set reasonable goals for your social media campaign.

Step One: Resources: Social media isn’t free. Before jumping on the Facebook bandwagon, take a hard look at what resources you can allocate.

Will a new social media campaign replace existing aspects of your current marketing? If so, will it free up budget? What content are you going to contribute? Do you have a regularly updated blog that provides more than simple self promotion? Is your company in support of promoting themselves as thought leaders in their industry? How often can you add new content?

Who will search for relevant articles to post? Who will answer comments on your blog and moderate posts to your Facebook fan page? How many staffers can be dedicated to the initial setup and learning curve of various tools? Will each staffer specialize in a specific area or will you need to cross train your staff to function with multiple tools? What skills do your staff already have and what will need to be taught/learned? Will your outreach be limited to business hours only or is it possible to allocate manpower over a larger part of the 24-hour cycle?

How much budget can you allocate to purchasing support tools for your strategy? Can you foot the bill for Involver’s toolset to make your Facebook presence more powerful and easier to manage? Will you and your staff have smartphones capable of sharing content from anywhere with a 3G connection?

To build a successful strategy using social media, you’ll need to take a hard look at three resources:

  • Time: How much time can you or your company dedicate to these efforts on an ongoing basis?
  • Talent: What skills can you leverage that allow you to reach out online in a new format?
  • Technology: Both hardware and know-how – can your current hardware get the job done and are your tech skills up to the task (or do you have a geek in waiting that could help you out)?

Step Two: Content: Before you create that corporate account at Digg.com, take a step back and consider what content you’ve got to share with the world.

The first part of content brainstorming should be a raid of your archives. Have you got good informational articles that can be repurposed as blog posts with a facelift? Do you have some PowerPoint presentations explaining your product or service that can be shared at SlideShare.net? Videos teaching someone some tips and tricks that you can add to YouTube? Audio files that teach – can they be made into a regular podcast? Content is king in any social media campaign, so consider first what you’ve got to use. In many cases, generating new content is also the most time consuming (and therefore resource consuming) aspect of your strategy, so make sure you use what you’ve already got.

But your own content is less than half of the equation. In order for your outreach effort to be a success, you need to become a valuable resource to your target market. And that means sharing a wealth of top-notch content that extends well beyond your own self-promotion efforts. If you’ve done a good job of building a successful listening system and know what content is relevant to your target market and where they can find those resources, you’re well on your way to sharing great links.

Instead of trying to steer your market to your content only, serve as an aggregator of relevant information on the Web in a variety of platforms. Become the go-to site for news and information, tips and tricks.

Instead of the staid model of solely diseminating information to your target market, become part of the discussion and encourage a focus group atmosphere.

Step Three: Tools: Finally, we reach the aspect of social media with which folks are most familiar. Once you’ve got the content, how are you going to reach your target market?

If you’re lucky, the most powerful tool in your social media toolbox might be your own Web site. If you’re unlucky, and your Web site doesn’t meet the needs of your target market, you’re going to have a hard time with any Web-based marketing campaign – despite your best efforts. Your own site is home base for your presence on the Web. If your ultimate goal is to sell a product, be contacted by a prospective client or be hired to perform a service, your own site is the most likely gateway for new business. Make sure you have your ducks in a row at home before spending resources trying to promote a weak site.

Whenever possible, your use of social networks like Facebook and Twitter should be a means of getting people back to your own Web site. Don’t let your networks serve as an end point. While it’s useful when someone shares your Facebook fan page, you’ll have a lot more leverage if the link they share is to your blog or Web site. Train your target market to come back to you as a destination for useful content. Any links to your site that are shared will improve your search engine optimization – this technique is known as inbound marketing.

Which networks are the best fit for your target market? Will you reach the same market on two different networks, such as Twitter and Facebook? What sites for rich media fit your content the best? Does your Web site have tracking software in place to determine from which sites people click through to you? Which networks are best suited to your specific goals?

In summary: Evaluate your resources, raid your archives for content and target your market on the networks that are most conducive to achieving your goals.

We’d love your feedback on our new series – Social Media 1-2-3 – here on the blog at Pixel/Point Press. To read more articles in this series, please bookmark this category.

Introducing Social Media 1-2-3 – a new series of blog posts for social media beginners

Earlier this week, a friend challenged me to explain the premise behind social media marketing in three steps. After a short spiel, I realized it is possible to explain the basics in simple, easy-to-understand terms – and doing so might just help someone to take their first steps using a new tool or strategy.

While I strive in our classes to provide a wealth of knowledge in a very short time span, hoping to keep our students busy for several months after the classes end, I’m beginning to realize something: There’s a market for brevity.

To meet that growing need, I’m hoping to create a series of blog posts explaining how to get started in the wide worlds of social media networking and marketing. Topics will include:

  • Blogging
  • WordPress
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Third-Party Twitter apps: Seesmic, TweetDeck, Bit.ly and others
  • Making the most of RSS feeds

And more. I’m also hoping my regular readers will help me generate some more topics. My goal is to provide a new post every Tuesday until I’m stumped for topics.

In another new addition to the blog, I’m asking readers for questions about how to use social media, drafting a strategy, etc. With your permission, I’ll reply to these questions and more every Wednesday on the blog so that others can learn from your questions. To send me a question, please email at kelli@pixelpointpress.com.

As always, thanks for reading, commenting, subscribing and sharing our content with others!