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

Christmas Social Caffeine

Here’s wishing all our readers a Merry Christmas! Many happy returns for the season.

In case you need some holiday reading, here are our five most popular posts from 2014:

1. 25 List Posts No Self-Respecting Social Marketer Should Ignore

This is our 2014 top performer, with over 1,500 social shares. More than six months after it was published, it’s still going strong and getting passed around the social airwaves.

The list post classics we link to in this post include 50 Out Of The Box Marketing Ideas For Small Businesses, The Top 75 Must-Read Online Marketing Blogs and 70+ epic social media case studies, stats, blog posts and more.

Check out all 25 of the list posts here.

2. 10 Powerful Insights from Social Media’s Most Influential Women

Women are the leading lights of social media, and the fact that this post has proved so popular shows that everyone knows it.

This is the first in a four part series covering social media’s top 25 women, so dig in and enjoy.

Who is social media’s most influential women? You’ll have to read the article to find out.

3. 3 Ways Your Small Business Can Rock It on Facebook

This was a surprise hit for us. We knew the Facebook tips we shared were special, but we didn’t know quite how useful small business owners would find them.

Check it out here, and if you find it helpful, share it with your Facebook friends.

4. Your Brand’s Content Has to Kill It: Here’s Where You Start

In this article we shared our best tips on writing blog posts and creating content.

It didn’t prove a huge hit in terms of social shares, but it got a ton of attention on StumbleUpon.

Take a look here, and if you like what you see, why not bump up the Twitter share count by sharing it with your followers?

5. 25 Social Media Tips from the World’s 5 Biggest Power Users (What Do They Know that You Don’t?)

For this post we tracked down social media’s biggest power users, and delved into their best writing to find their top tips.

Little wonder that others found it special too.

Check it out here.

Special Mention: 7 Things Your 3-Year-Old Knows About Social Media Marketing That You Don’t

We had a lot of fun writing this one – collecting quotes from toddlers and translating them into social media advice.

We hope you’ll like it too – it’s got a touch of Christmas magic! You can read it here.

Over to You

Do you have a favorite Social Caffeine post from 2014? Let us know what it is in the comments!

 

budget impact demand marketingAttention is scarce.

There’s so much stuff in cyberspace, it’s easy for people to overlook you and your business in your small corner of the world.

So, get out of your little pond and start swimming with the sharks.

Here’s how you can punch above your weight.

1. Go Newsjacking

Newsjacking is the art of shining a light on your brand by injecting your own angle into breaking news stories.

Why does it work? Because journalists are always looking for opinions to stir into their stories. If your opinions serve as good story thickeners, then you’ll make it into the news.

How can you newsjack? David Meerman Scott, who invented the art of Newsjacking, follows a three step formula:

A. Find News to Jack

Before you can jack the news, you need to know what the news is. To find hot stories you can:

  • Monitor keywords and phrases relevant to your niche using Google Alerts
  • Follow journalists who cover your industry on Twitter
  • Monitor relevant Twitter hashtags

B. Create Your Newsjacking Strategy

What will you do that’s newsworthy? Will you simply share your opinion? Or will you do something spectacular that adds to the story?

C. Make the News

Now you’ve decided what you’ll do to jack the news, do it, then tell everyone about it. Blog about it, tweet about it, or hold a live news conference on Google Hangouts.

2. Connect With Influencers

Have you developed a product you know people will love – if only you could get the word out?

We’ve looked at how you can jump on the bandwagon of the news. But the news is no longer the only trusted source of information.

Where else do people turn for insight?

They look to their network. Their friends and family. And the influencers they trust.

Get an influencer on board with your brand, and you instantly create a bond of trust with their audience.

What’s the best way to reach out to influencers? We recommend starting on Twitter. You can check our advice on hooking up with Twitter influencers here.

3. Create a Ton of EPIC Content

Content marketing is a brilliant strategy for getting attention. And you can get started for peanuts. All you need is around a hundred bucks to host a blog and a pocketful of ideas.

Easy peasy… before you know it you’ll be hitting the front page of Google, right?

Not so fast, cowboy.

Creating content will engage your audience. And some of it will go viral. But this will only happen if the content you create is epic.

There are oceans upon oceans of mediocre content out there, created by bots, or people paid $2 an article.

You can do better than that. And you must.

As Corbett Barr puts it:

Write things that make people think. Inspire people. Change lives. Create value. Blow people away with your usefulness.

Be EPIC!

4.Channel the Power of Images

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

According to urban legend, that phrase is a Chinese proverb. The truth? It was coined by a newspaper editor in the early 20th century.

Either way, it points to the deep truth that you can say a lot more with a single image than could ever be expressed in an article or blog post.

Images grab attention. They’re eye candy and brain candy. That’s why infographics are so damn popular. It’s also why photos and albums are two of the best types of Facebook post for creating engagement.

So, get trigger happy on your camera, or sign up for a stock photo service. We can promise you won’t regret it.

5. Learn to Think in Stories

Stories are what make us human. We’ve been sharing stories ever since we sat around the cave fire discussing the day’s hunt.

Everyone loves a good story. And everyone wants to be part of a great story. So if you can tell good stories about your brand, you’re onto a winner.

What makes for a good story?

First you need a villain. That’s a problem your customers face (note: it’s also the problem that you’re able help them solve). Without the problem, their lives would be a whole lot better.

Next, you need a hero. The hero’s the guy (or gal) who defeats the villain.

Are you ready to step into the breach? Stop right there!

You are NOT the hero. The customer is the hero.

So what’s your role? Maybe you’re a sidekick who works with your clients to help them defeat the villain. Maybe you’re a magic potion that gives them extra power. Maybe you’re their secret weapon.

You’ve got a key role to play in the story, but you’re not the hero. Remember that whenever you’re telling stories about your brand.

Need more storytelling oomph? Then check out our 72 questions to help you dig deep in telling your brand’s story/

6. Become a Thought Leader

There are two ways of getting attention. One is to push yourself out there. Shout loud and be proud. It works, but it can be exhausting. And if you shout too loud, people might just start to block their ears.

What’s the alternative to pushing? You got it: pull marketing. With pull marketing, people come to you. You’re the magnet.

How can you magnetize yourself? An easy way is by sharing your expertise, for free. Start a blog. Ask podcasters to interview you. Guest post around the web. Write an ebook.

As you establish yourself as a thought leader in your field, you’ll find that people start coming to you. When you’re a go-to source, people turn up on your doorstep.

Everyone’s an expert in something. You’re probably an expert in your business (or at least in running a business). So start sharing what you know.

LinkedIn Invitation

You can have a lot at stake when you’re writing an LinkedIn invitation. You could be trying to connect with your dream employer, network with your ideal clients, or hook up with people to invest in your business idea.

What can you do to boost the chances that they’ll accept your invitation?

If you’ve done any research on LinkedIn, you’ll know that you should personalize your invitations (even though few people actually do so). We’ll come to that in a moment, because it’s an important strategy.

But before you write your invitation, there are a couple of things you should set straight.

What To Do Before You Send a LinkedIn Invitation

You need to get two things straight before you send out any invitation.

First, check that the person you want to connect with actually uses LinkedIn. Just because someone has a LinkedIn account doesn’t mean they actually check it. Look out for the following:

  • Do they have a photo? If not, then it’s probably not worth connecting.
  • How many connections do they have? Anything under 20, and it’s probably a zombie account.
  • Have they completed their LinkedIn profile?

Just because a LinkedIn account seems dead doesn’t mean you should avoid it (your invitation might win them over to using LinkedIn). But it’s a good warning sign that your invitation is unlikely to be accepted.

Second, make sure you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket. Don’t place all your hopes on one person. Instead, cast your net wide, and connect with lots of different people. That way, you’re bound to have some success, and you’ll discover a lot more opportunities.

Have a Reason to Connect

Next step is finding a reason to connect.

This could be that you just met someone at a conference, or have been chatting with them in a LinkedIn group. Both of these are good reasons to send an invitation. Remember to strike while the iron is hot!

Alternatively, you may have to find a reason to connect. The reason should never be about you, and always about the person you’re connecting with.

Good reasons for connecting include:

  • You share a connection in common (ask permission from the connection you share before you use this as a reason)
  • The person you’re connecting with – or their company – recently featured in the news

Hint: “I’m looking for a job at your company” is never a good reason to connect.

Write Your Invitation

You’ve done all the hard work already. Now it’s time to write your invitation.

The best personalized invitations are really simple and just 2 or 3 sentences long. Here’s a template:

Hi [First Name],

[How they know you, and a reason to connect].

Could we connect on LinkedIn?

Best wishes,

[Your Name]

In other words, the only part you have to fill out is the second paragraph. Here are some examples of what you could put there:

I really enjoyed meeting you at the workshop yesterday.

Daniel Jones mentioned that you’d be a really good person to get to know.

I appreciated the presentation you gave at the conference last week [Top tip: include your favorite line from the presentation].

I noticed that your company made record profits this year. Congratulations!

I really liked the blog post you wrote about [topic].

The key isn’t to write a lot. It’s to personalize what you do write.

Your Call

Do you personalize your LinkedIn invitations? If so, how? Let us know in the comments section, below.