Monthly Archives: June 2013

Building an Online Community for your Business

Building a better online community is something every business should consider. Doing so will allow you to withstand any algorithmic change Google brings to its search engine and still allow you to get plenty of traffic. In addition, it’ll allow you to add value to your business and let you stand out against your competition.

But to build a better community, you need to focus on building a better company. This isn’t a quick fix – it’s not about building a couple of links, throwing up some content, or sending a few messages on social media. If you want a genuine following, you need a solid offline marketing strategy that includes strong content, engaging with your followers and doing what it takes to build your business to develop a following.

Before you even take off though, you need to set goals. Don’t even focus on what pieces of the puzzle you need to work on until you know exactly what you’re hoping to achieve by building an online community. Are you looking to increase traffic to your website or sales of product by ‘x’ percent within the next three months? Are you looking to improve your relationship with the customers you already have?

Once you figure out what you’re looking to achieve, it’s now time to elect people for specific tasks and develop a specific strategy to address your goals. 

For finding the right people for your team, you should understand the roles
 needed as there’ll be plenty of work to be done, meaning that there’ll be plenty of roles that will need to be filled and with the right people. Here’s a few roles that you may want to think about filling:

  • Project manager: You want to have someone who will keep the rest of your team on schedule and on task
  • Social media and reputation manager: You want to find someone who can monitor your brand’s reputation and keep track of mentions as well as handle your social media accounts, which includes posting updates, engaging with clients, etc. I would recommend Marty Weintraub’s book on how to manage a community if you’re planning on doing it yourself. If you’re looking to hire an outside vendor to help with social media and reputation management services, I would recommend Smart SEO Designs, an agency I’ve used previously to help with our own social media and reputation management needs.
  • Content writers: You want someone who can write interesting articles to post on your blog that people will want to share across the various social media networks
  • Search Engine Optimization: You need to find people who like research and analysis to stay on top of the latest trends so that the content that you’re writers are posting are optimized as well as having your website optimized.
  • Designer: Visual content is a great way to spread information in an easily digestible manner – that’s why Pinterest and infographics are so hot, so make sure you have someone who can design graphics at a moments notice.

As you can see, there are many positions to be filled one (and there are many other positions that weren’t even listed), making this a lot of work for just one person to do. If you don’t have a budget to get people who can excel at each of these positions, figure out who in your team can help fill these positions and then hire outside help to fill in the gaps.

Once you’ve developed your team, it’s time to come up with a strategy. Developing a strategy will help you with hitting the goals that you set for your business. Taking the time to develop a proper strategy will let you break those high level goals down into actionable pieces.

You should understand that there is no formula. The strategy that’s right for one business could be very wrong for another business. Get creative and find what works for your business. Don’t be afraid to try out different things to see what’s best for your business. It’s ok to make some mistakes – this is what will let you figure out what works to grow your community.

Building an online community can help you stop chasing Google’s frequent algorithm changes. You’ll also get more then just brand name recognition, you’ll get genuine engagement.

We’d love to hear what strategies have you used to build and grow your online community?

Using LinkedIn Business Growth
Over one billion searches are done on LinkedIn per year. The network is a great place for anyone who is looking to boost their visibility and grow their professional contact list. Just take a look at the following stats that show just how great LinkedIn can be for growing your business:
  • LinkedIn users have money: Over half the users on LinkedIn earn more than $60K per year and over a third earn more than $100K
  • LinkedIn users are educated: Nearly half have a college degree and over a quarter have a graduate degree.
  • LinkedIn users love the site: Nearly a quarter of the users are on the site a minimum of 30 times per month.
LinkedIn is definitely something that you should incorporate into your marketing strategy to help grow your business. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Complete Your Profile
Completing your profile is the first step in ensuring that you use LinkedIn to its fullest. Completing your profile will allow you to appear in LinkedIn search results and the more complete it is, the more you can set yourself apart from others as well as appear higher in the search results.LinkedIn searches are unique and relevant specifically to the person searching. It tailors its search by  Connections in Common, Connections by Degree (1st, 2nd then 3rd Degree Connections) and finally Groups in common. This is in addition to profile completeness which is what will allow you to trump over other people. Most people only fill out their profile partially – if you take the time to fill yours to 100%, you’ll rise above the rest.

Optimize Your Profile

Now that you’ve completed your profile, the next step is to optimize it by using specific keywords to your business. As mentioned above, LinkedIn uses its own algorithm when displaying results which is done by relevance. LinkedIn will show 1st degree connections and of those connections, it’ll show those with a completed profile first. Then it’ll move to 2nd degree connections, 3rd degree connections, groups and then everyone else.

The keywords that you plan to use in your profile should range from broad to very targeted. Since you want to have as many people find you as possible, you should use as many keywords as you can that relate to your business without overusing them. You can put these keywords in multiple places and depending on where you put them, they’ll have a different effect. Keywords in your name, headline, company name, job title, and skills rank highest.

Write A Killer Headline

It’s great to come up first on someone’s search result, but what good does it do if they aren’t clicking through to your profile? Your headline is one of the first things someone will see about you. To get someone to check your profile out, you need to entice them with a catchy headline – “marketing manager” just won’t cut it.  There are thousands of of “marketing managers” out there. You need to come up with a headline that differentiates you. Think about what makes you special and what you want to be known for?

By using more specific terms, and a variety of them, not only will you show up for more searches (since you’ll be using more keywords) but you’ll also be able to create a headline that will want people to click on you. Make your headline as catchy as possible. Lure prospective people in with your headline and wow them with your completed profile which should show off your expertise.

Include An Image

A picture shows that you are a real person and not some sort of spam bot. It’ll allow you to show up in searches more often (remember, completed profile) as well as giving you a trust factor. People make first impressions via photos, so it’d be a good idea to keep away from group shots, party shots, etc. While you don’t have to have a professional photo, it might be something worth considering.

Update Regularly

Now that you have a fantastic profile, it’s time to show it off by creating regular updates so that you can engage with the LinkedIn community. This will also allow you to show up on news feeds regularly. Update your status with information that’s relevant to your business – blog posts, company updates, press releases, etc. Just make sure to update regularly.

One last thing – stand out from the crowd by sending personal introductions with a real message instead of using the stock ones created by LinkedIn. Also make sure to send a ‘thank you’ message after someone has accepted your friend request. For additional tips on growing your business, check out Iconic Mind, an IT consulting group with a focus on growth both from a technology and business perspective. You can follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn.