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

Social Media

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.

Top 10 Blogs 2015

If anyone tells you blogging is a dying art, block your ears.

Sure, video is taking center stage. But that’s just pushing up the quality of all content. Blog articles are getting better and better. We’re either in the golden age of blogging, or we’re on the way there.

With that in mind, we’ve selected the top 10 blogs and bloggers to watch in 2015. They’ve made it into this list because they write amazing blog posts – but also because they’re friends and mentors.

Oh, and to make it extra special, we’ve included our favourite posts from their blogs over the past year.

Don’t take our word for it about how damn good these guys and gals are. Check them out for yourself…

1. James Altucher, The Ultimate Guide for Becoming an Idea Machine

For James Altucher ideas are “the currency of life”. He explains:

Good ideas buy you good experiences, buy you better ideas, buy you better experiences, buy you more time, save your life. Financial wealth is a side effect of the “runner’s high” of your idea muscle.

As social marketers and content creators, ideas are the core of our work. Good ideas lead to flourishing content that’s widely shared.

Mediocre ideas? Let’s not talk about those…

James Altucher has created a step-by-step guide to becoming an idea machine. Following his guide, you’ll have an output of 10 ideas per day, or over 3,500 ideas per year.

Take a look and get inspired here.

Follow James Altucher on Twitter here.

2. Jonathan Fields, The Seven Lies that Keep Us From Success

We are the primary authors of the thoughts, words and limitations that tend to do the most damage to our potential. It’s the stories we tell ourselves. The lies that stop us from taking action.

So says Jonathan Fields, and in a seven part series he explores in depth the lies we tell ourselves that prevent us from being successful. Even better, he shows how to bust up those lies for the myths they are.

Need some motivation to keep you moving forward in 2015? This is the post to read.

Get your buzz on here.

Follow Jonathan Fields on Twitter here.

3. Social Media Examiner, 26 Creative Ways to Publish Social Media Updates

Ever stuck on ideas for what to share on social media? Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.

In this post – our favorite from Social Media Examiner in 2014 – the prolific Ali Luke gives 26 fresh ideas on what you can do with your social updates.

Post ideas include book recommendations, company milestones, evergreen content, and interviews with your team members.

This post has over 15,000 social shares, so it looks like all the social media lovers out there enjoyed it too.

Check it here.

Follow Ali Luke on Twitter here.

4. Jeff Bullas, 10 Ways To Create Contagious Content for Your Social Media Marketing

What we love about this post is that it delves into the why. It gets deep into the psychology of why people share content, so you can apply the advice whatever industry you’re in.

Our favorite part of the post is the 6 guidelines that increase the chances of content being shared:

  • Appeal to your audience’s motivation to connect with each other (not just with your brand).
  • Tell a story.
  • Credibility needs to be established, as does trust, which is the cost of getting shares.
  • Keep the message simple.
  • Appeal to positive emotions like inspiration, illumination or amusement to build a positive brand connection.
  • Embed a sense of urgency.

Read it here.

Follow Jeff Bullas on Twitter here.

5. Neil Patel, The Formula for a Perfect Headline

In the world of the internet, headlines matter. They’re more than important. You could say headlines are the key to great content.

In Neil Patel’s terms:

On average, when I write a great headline, I generate 6,591 more visitors the day I publish the post. I also generate 292 more tweets and 137 more Facebook shares.

That’s why we enjoyed Neil Patel’s Formula for a Perfect Headline. It distills the art of headline writing into a simple infographic that anyone can use.

Learn the headline formula here.

Follow Neil Patel on Twitter here.

6. Jay Baer, Why It Might Be Time to Completely Change Your Social Media Strategy

Jay Baer throws the cat among the pigeons with this post, and points out that “reach” on social media is often much smaller than we imagine.

If I send out a tweet, the 124,000 who have said they want to hear from me won’t see that tweet. A small cross-section (usually about 2,000, according to my Twitter stats) will see it instead. Thus, my theoretical reach is 124,000, but my reliable reach is about 1.6% of that, and the actual people comprising that 1.6% shifts somewhat from tweet to tweet. The same dynamics exist on Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram, Google +, and especially Facebook.

What this lack of reliable reach means is that we keep trying to communicate with people who have asked to hear from us, but when we send those messages what we mostly get are busy signals.

What’s the solution?

Read the article here to find out.

Follow Jay Baer on Twitter here.

7. Francisco Rosales, After 1.5 Million Posts Analyzed, Here is the Perfect Facebook Post

What does the perfect Facebook post look like? After analysing 1.5 million posts from across 6,000 pages, Francisco Rosales reveals what works and what doesn’t – with some surprising results.

See for yourself here.

Follow Francisco Rosales on Twitter here.

8. Derek Halpern, I got a $310 haircut. I learned 3 SURPRISING things about raising your prices.

In this short but sweet post (plus 7 minute video), Derek Halpern reveals what he learned when he splurged $310 on a haircut (when he usually spends $40).

What did he find out?

Check Derek’s conclusions here.

Follow Derek Halpern on Twitter here.

9. Guy Kawasaki, The Art of Evangelism

You’ve got something awesome to share – but what’s the best way to share it?

Guy Kawasaki, formerly chief evangelist for Apple, provides 11 steps for sharing the good news.

We love all of them, but especially number 5:

Look for agnostics, ignore atheists. It is very hard to convert someone to a new religion when he worships another god. The hardest person to convert to Macintosh was someone who worshipped MS-DOS. The easiest person was someone who never used a personal computer before. If a person doesn’t “get” your product or service after fifteen minutes, cut your losses and move on.

Read all 11 steps here.

Follow Guy Kawasaki on Twitter here.

10. Michael Hyatt, The Top-10 Characteristics of Lousy Leaders

It’s always good to learn from your mistakes, but even better to learn from the mistakes of others.

Leadership coach Michael Hyatt shows how you can avoid the mistakes that lousy leaders make, and so put yourself on the path to becoming a great leader.

Check his post here.

Follow Michael Hyatt on Twitter here.