The Hello Bar is a simple notification bar that engages users and communicates a call to action.

Business Blogging

Business blogging is a great way of pulling in new customers.

But don’t take our word for it. Here’s why blogs matter…

  1. Blogs mean business. They’re not just pretty window-dressing for websites. 61% of US online consumers have purchased an item based on a blog’s recommendation.
  2. Blogging wins over paid ads. Research shows that up to 80% of people ignore paid ads in search results. These are people you can only access by creating great content that they want to read.
  3. The more you blog, the more customers you’ll get. A study by Hubspot found that the more frequently brands posted new content, the more customers they acquired. Nearly nine in ten (89%) of brands who posted content multiple times a day won a new customer during the study, compared to just 33% of brands who posted content less than monthly. The lesson? Blog frequently, and you will almost certainly bring in customers.
  4. Blogs are seen as trusted sources. We live in a world where there is increasing distrust of marketing messages. Blogs are bucking this trend, with 81% of US online consumers trusting information from blogs.
  5. Blogging frequently means more traffic to your website. Businesses who post to their blog more than 20 times per month (that’s the equivalent of once a day, Monday to Friday) generate five times more traffic compared to businesses who only post to their blog four times per month (i.e. once per week).
  6. Blogs come in all languages. Wherever you are in the world, your business can benefit from blogging. WordPress hosts blogs written in more than 120 languages. English is by far the most popular, accounting for 71% of blogs. Spanish takes second place, with 5% of blogs written in the language of love.
  7. Blogging is a low cost way of generating leads. It costs 62% less to generate a lead using inbound marketing compared to outbound marketing. In other words, blogging can help you save money on your marketing budget.

Sources

BlogHer, Women and Social Media in 2012

Search Engine Land, Eye-Tracking Study

HubSpot, Websites With More Content Generate More Customers

WordPress, A live look at activity across WordPress.com

HubSpot, Lead Generation Lessons From 4,000 Businesses

Hubspot, Everything You Need to Sell Your Boss on Business Blogging

Grow LinkedIn Network

LinkedIn is the professional networker’s choice. It’s the business users social media site. And business is all about people.

Whether you’re looking to upgrade your career, connect with potential clients, or just develop your professional skills by connecting with others in your industry, LinkedIn is an ideal tool.

How can you make sure you’ve got the best possible LinkedIn network?

1. Get the Basics Right

Is your LinkedIn profile up to scratch? Have you written a keyword rich summary, and filled out your career history? Do you have a professional photo and a compelling headline?

Even if you’ve done all this, if it’s a long time since you updated your profile, then it’s time for a change! Switch up your photo or your headline. Why? Because LinkedIn places a premium on fresh profiles, so you’ll be given pride of place in search results.

2. Post Updates Frequently

When you log into LinkedIn, do you see updates from the same set of people every time? There’s a reason for that. Not many people make the effort to post regular updates on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn might seem like a ghost town, but the truth is that pretty much half of LinkedIn users log in on a regular basis. According to Pew Research, over a third (34%) of LinkedIn users log into the network at least once a week. A further 13% sign in every day.

That’s why posting regular updates is so powerful. You’ll appear on the newsfeed of your contacts, which is a subtle way of building influence.

Of course, as with all social networks, some of your updates will get more attention than others. But posting frequent updates is a far better way of standing out than staying silent.

Stuck for ideas? You could share:

  • A quote for the day
  • YouTube videos you found helpful
  • News items that are relevant to your industry
  • Important announcements about your company
  • Updates about your work achievements
  • Business articles you’ve read and found interesting

3. Invite Your Email Contacts to Connect

LinkedIn gives you the option to import connections from your email list, whether you use Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook.

Why connect with people you already know? First, because a power network is made up of people who know and trust you. Your email contacts are likely to fall into this category. Second, inviting someone to join your LinkedIn network establishes that you want a professional relationship with them. Your family and friends can help you uncover hidden career and business opportunities. Third, with your email “acquaintances” you’ll be establishing a new form of contact, and indicating that you want to stay in touch.

Another benefit is that growing your network will help LinkedIn get smarter at suggesting people for you to connect with. When you work on growing your network, it’s easier to keep it growing.

4. Be Discerning in Who You Connect With

A LinkedIn power network isn’t made up of any Tom, Dick and Harry (or any Jane, June and Jacinda). As we’ve mentioned, creating a power network is about connecting with people you know and trust.

Focus your LinkedIn networking on people you’ve met in real life. And whenever you meet new people at conferences or exhibitions, ask if you can add them to your LinkedIn network.

That’s not to say you should ignore invitations to connect from people you don’t know. Instead, look at their profile. Do they…

  • Have a profile picture? If so, that’s a good sign they’re an active and serious LinkedIn user.
  • Have over 50 connections? Again, this shows they’re active on LinkedIn, and so they’re potentially a valuable addition to your network.
  • Work in an industry that’s relevant to yours? Or in a sector you’d like to move into?

If you’re not sure on whether to connect, we recommend accepting the invitation. Then, drop them a line. Thank them for adding you as a connection, and ask about how they came across you. No response? You can delete them from your connections list. Many people will have a good explanation for connecting with you, and you will have kicked off a new relationship.

5. Write Personalized Invitations to Connect

Want to improve your success rate when you reach out to new connections? A simple way of doing this is to write personalized invitations to connect.

A personalized invitation doesn’t have to be long or complicated. In fact, it’s better to be short and to the point.

An effective personalized invitation will:

  • Explain how you know the person you’re connecting with
  • Let them know why you want to connect
  • Ask if they’d like to connect

You can do both of these in one or two short sentences.

For example, you could say:

“It’s been great working with you on [project]”

or…

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you in [LinkedIn Group]”

Then conclude with:

“Would you like to connect on LinkedIn?”

Easy peasy.

6. Take Part in LinkedIn Groups

Once you’ve added everyone in your real life network to your list of LinkedIn contacts, are you done? That’s up to you. It all depends on your goals and how you need your network to help you.

We’d recommend that you continue to reach out to new people, so your network keeps growing. LinkedIn provides tools to help you with this, the most powerful of which is LinkedIn Groups.

On LinkedIn, you’ll find groups covering pretty much anything. Whatever your job, and whatever industry you work in (provided it’s legal!), there’s likely to be a group for you. If there’s not, you can start one.

When you’re looking for groups to join:

  • Know who you want to connect with. For example, if you’re looking for clients, then groups that only connect you with your peers are unlikely to be helpful.
  • Choose carefully. Searching for a group will likely turn up hundreds of results. Look through them, and notice the groups that have active discussions. These are the best groups to join.
  • Join the groups you like the look of. This allows you to get a feel for a group, and find out whether it’s right for you. You can join a maximum of 50 groups, but you can always leave a group to sign up for another group.

Your Call

What’s your approach to building a LinkedIn network? Are you an open networker who will connect with anyone? Or are you more discerning in your networking approach? What are your top tips on LinkedIn networking? Let us know in the comments, below.

wow content

Social media is a hungry beast. To keep it fed, you’ve got to create original and engaging content week after week.

The problem? After a while, you run out of ideas. You wind up running over the same tired topics again and again.

Where can you find a new injection of life for your blog, video channel or Twitter feed?

Here are some ways you can discover original content that goes “ZING!”

1. Interview a Customer

This is a great strategy for creating content because it’s got so many wins:

  • You get a story to share – free content!
  • It acts as social proof. Showing you’ve helped one customer will help other customers decide that you’re the right business to help them.
  • You gain insight into the world of your customer, which can help you come up with new ideas to develop your products or services.

Don’t be shy about asking your customers if they’d like to be interviewed. Most will be flattered by the request, and happy to receive the extra exposure.

2. Profile Your Top Employees

Like interviewing customers, this one’s great from a couple of perspectives:

  • You create an incentive for your team to perform at their best. If they do, they’ll be profiled on your blog.
  • You get a story to share – free content!
  • You show your customers how dedicated your employees are to helping them.

What makes a good story? Engaging stories are always about overcoming problems. So ask your team about how they’ve helped your customers or clients to overcome problems.

3. Delve Into Your History

Most businesses fail in under a year. Sad, but true.

That means if your business is older than a year, you’re fighting fit. You’ve got a history and a story to tell. Think about:

  • How did you start your business?
  • What motivated you (or the founder) to set up your business?
  • What was the first product or service you sold?
  • What’s changed since you started?

4. Run a Survey

Getting insights from a wide range of people is easier than every before, thanks to tools such as SurveyMonkey.

Surveys can help you learn about your customers or competitors. They’re also likely to generate a ton of coverage from other blogs and media outlets.

When you’re sharing the results of your survey, avoid the temptation to write a bland, matter-of-fact report. Instead, focus on the findings that surprised you, or that are most significant to your industry.

5. Crowd-Source Brain Power

This is a technique we use a lot on Social Caffeine. Instead of waiting around for inspiration to strike (you could be stuck at your desk forever!), go and find the best insights from other people.

You can see two ways we’ve used this technique here and here.