Three of the Best Free Social Media Tools Today 

By Steve Hoag

free social media tools

 

There are a bunch of great tools out there for social media that you have to pay for. There are also some awesome tools that won’t cost you a dime. For a lot of SMBs, there isn’t really a ton of wiggle room in the budget for social media tools. For that reason, it’s important to take advantage of all the freebies on the web. For example:

HootSuite

HootSuite is to social media tools as Google is to search engines. It’s the industry leader, hugely popular, and packed with features. It’s also a freemium product, where you get a lot of the features in the free version, but can pay extra if you want more advanced tools. HootSuite allows you to simultaneously post from multiple accounts, schedule posts, create custom searches and reports, and much more! It’s very effective at displaying all of your social media feeds in a concise and intuitive manner. Give it a try today if you haven’t already, it’s not like it’s going to cost you anything.

Bit.ly

You need to use a service like bit.ly if blogging and sharing dynamic content is an important part of your social media presence. This service allows you to shorten URLs, which is great for networks like Twitter. The real benefit though is that it tracks clickthroughs. This will help your marketing team see what types of content are performing the best, at which times, and in what region. It’s an incredible amount of insight for a free tool.

Klout

Klout was the new kid on the block not too long ago, but has since become a mainstay in the social media world. It is the first major effort at creating platform that measures influence across social platforms. And frankly, it’s done a pretty good job! The Klout team is also continuously revising its algorithm so it keeps getting more accurate. There are a bunch of cool features like who your top influencers are, and who you influence the most. If you want to create promotional campaigns Klout has ‘Perks’ which are deals that companies can offer to thought leaders in a certain industry to create buzz about their company. For instance, a $30 gift card to Starbucks in exchange for tweeting about a new coffee drink. Klout is also integrated with other services like HootSuite, quickly cementing its status on social media.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Tuesday, January 28, 2014 6:31:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging enterprise retail marketing SMB social media social media marketing

Blogging 202: Mistakes to Avoid 

By Steve Hoag

blogging 202

Once you create your initial blog schedule, get your ideas together, and start writing, you have to avoid making easy mistakes. There are a number of things you should NEVER do, especially if you want to use your blog to build traffic and online exposure.

Duplicating online content.

This should be a no-brainer, but you should never copy someone else’s content and try to pass it off as your own. This will not help your search rankings, because search engines look out for this sort of behavior and will remove your post from results. Also, you could get into some legal troubles down the road if you aren’t careful. When it comes to blogging, it’s ok to use other articles as inspiration, but it’s not ok to copy them word for word.

Ignore using social media to share your blog.

Blogs are meant to be shared, and social media is the best way of accomplishing that. If you forget to use social media, you are forgoing a free marketing tool that has unprecedented reach. You are limiting your blog’s exposure to its subscribers, when it could be reaching thousands, if not millions of people.

Forget to use analytics to track clickthroughs.

Using analytics is the only way to know which topics you are posting about are generating traffic for your site. Without proper monitoring you will never know which topics to ignore or focus on. There are a bunch of free options out there like bit.ly which you can use to track clickthroughs on URLs. Trust me, using services like these go a long way.

Forget to make content shareable on your blog.

Another easily made mistake is forgetting to include social sharing buttons/badges on your blog page. You need to make life easy for your users by streamlining processes. Many users might think your article is great, but don’t want to go through the ‘hassle’ of copying a link, logging into a service, and then sharing it. Social sharing buttons take care of this potential problem, and can help to create more buzz/traffic.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Friday, January 17, 2014 5:30:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging enterprise SEO SMB social media social media marketing website

The Top 2014 Web Design Trend Links (Thus Far) 

By Steve Hoag

web design trends links

There have been dozens of articles written leading up to, and immediately following New Years. We’ve taken the liberty of poring through a lot of these and collecting the best and most interesting for your reading pleasure! Check it out:

Melissa Cale’s 2014 Design Trends Pinterest

Melisa Cale, a Pinterest user and professional photographer, has assembled a plethora of web design trend related articles, infographics, websites, and much more. She used a ton of reliable sources to create a very thorough and broad spectrum of information for what to expect in 2014.  Definitely worth a look!

Collis Ta’eed’s 2014 Design Trend Article

While many designers/writers are focusing on aesthetic changes in their trend rundowns, Collis, a web designer/CEO, also looks at other factors. For example, he takes a analyzes the CMS industry, and how that will impact design, as well as indie design tools that will make an impact quickly. Definitely worth reading if you want to see a part of the bigger picture!

The Next Web’s 2014 Design Trends Slideshow

The Next Web is a great resource for designers. If you haven’t heard of it before, take a look, because it is awesome. In related news, their slideshow on the biggest emerging trends is fantastic. It provides informative visuals to go along with detailed descriptions. If you want a comprehensive breakdown that you can read through in 3 minutes, check this out!

John Croft’s Web Standards Killed The HTML Star

While the other links/articles have been mostly positive, and looked at aesthetics and tool changes, this one analyzes web development/design as a profession. Croft takes a look at how being an HTML & CSS guru is no longer good enough, and states that developers/designers need to ‘diversify or die.’ Tough love! Also, if you’re interested, check out this response piece by Jeffrey Zeldman for another view. Great stuff!

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Thursday, January 9, 2014 7:45:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging enterprise SMB social media web design web development web trends website

Three Tips on How To Become A Thought Leader Using Social Media 

By Steve Hoag

how to become a thought leader using social media

Part of inbound marketing is about generating demand for content. Another important part of it is becoming a thought leader so that you retain that demand. Becoming a thought leader is a gradual process. It won’t happen overnight. But once you become one, you will start to see great dividends! Check out these three tips on how to get started using only social media:

Maintain a consistent presence

Consistency is key! One of the most important factors for staying top of mind is keeping a consistent presence online. Create a social media schedule with planned blog posts, tweets, etc, and stick to it! People have short term memories when it comes to social media. If you stop having an active presence, people will forget about you. Also, consistency and more posts equates to increased credibility. Over time, your high value content and steady presence will have a huge impact on you becoming a thought leader in your sphere of influence.

Always respond in a timely manner

Do you like it when you send someone a text and they don’t reply for a few days? You begin wondering if there’s something wrong with you, or maybe something happened to the other person. It gets especially awkward when you see them posting things on social media, but still haven’t replied to you. The same thing is true for people who comment on your posts, or mention you online! Never leave a potential customer or partner hanging. Every person you interact with should feel valued.

Be personable, and go the extra mile!

People like to post things on social media about companies going the extra mile for them. Anything from a handwritten birthday card at a hotel to a free replacement from your favorite company can make an immediate impact on brand perception. When it comes to social media, the same thing holds true. While you may not be giving out products, there are other ways of making customers feel appreciated. Make it a point to go through your newsfeeds on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc and congratulate people on new jobs, promotions, birthdays, etc. Thank them for posting great content. Not enough companies make it a point to connect with people on a personal level. Again, making people feel valued will elevate your brand to entirely new levels online.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Tuesday, January 7, 2014 7:15:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging enterprise SMB social media social media marketing web trends website

Blogging 101: A Crash Course 

By Steve Hoag

blogging 101

Creating a blog is one of the best ways to generate organic traffic to your website. It’s also useful for branding, becoming a thought leader, and being trusted by consumers. Many people get scared by the idea of having to write consistently, and think that they don’t have enough time or experience to do so. That is just ridiculous! As long as you don’t have a tenuous grasp on English, you can blog! Check out these tips on how to get started:

Figure out whether you need to use a third party blogging site or can implement a blog on your existing website.

This bit is extremely important. Does your existing business website have blogging functionality? If it does, great! You can start writing immediately. If it doesn’t you may need to choose a third party solution like WordPress and link to it from your site. Using a service like WordPress means you will have to set up a smaller second website, but this is fairly easy. They have a ton of templates, and are very affordable. Just make sure your branding matches up and you are good to go!

Create a manageable schedule.                                       

This varies from business to business. You need to figure out what works for YOU. If you can only blog once a week, than do that! Do whatever is comfortable for you. Once you start getting used to blogging you will be able to write more efficiently and produce content at a faster pace.

Make all your content shareable!

The point of blogging is to generate engagement with your customers. Make sure all your content is easily shareable via ‘Share This’ buttons. That way, users can share anything they like with various social media networks.

Share EVERYTHING on social media.

If you don’t have a business social media account yet, get one. Having a social media presence is pretty much mandatory for practically any industry at this point. People won’t know about all this great content you are creating if you don’t share it with your networks! Also, be sure to use a service like bit.ly so you can track click throughs on your articles. It will help a ton with regards to seeing which articles resonate with your target audience, and which don’t.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Friday, January 3, 2014 6:59:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging enterprise retail marketing SEO SMB social media social media marketing web design web trends website
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