internet

Small Business: Social Media Tips

As the business world jumps further and further into the virtual world of the internet, it is often forgotten that the purpose of going "on-line" is to grow and develop our businesses. Take a step back and re-evaluate your "on-line" goals and ensure you are utilizing your online presence to accomplish them.

Keep it Small It may be counter intuitive to say keep it small when talking about social media, but the reality is that if you are a small business, and you only have so much time and resources to put into social media, the key is to pick one or two things, and do it well, really well.

Being on 5-10 social media platforms and only giving them a sliver of effort is going to come through to your audience. Think about your social media channels, where you get the best responses, the best interaction, the most reach, and focus your efforts there. It is better to have a more limited reach and have that reach be impactful, then have an extended reach and have it mean nothing.

Give Something Away This does not need to mean a physical thing, a gift, a coupon, or a free service, but I can simply mean giving away knowledge. Have your contacts look to you for industry leading advice. Sometimes giving away some knowledge that your competitors would not dare give away can be a great tool for attracting prospects to you.

Engage, Take the Conversation Off-Line It is very easy to hide behind our social media avatars and accounts.

Do you often ask yourself:

  • How can I engage my prospective clients?
  • How can I take this conversation off-line?

The key to turning prospective clients into paying clients is by engaging their interests and needs and taking the online conversation off-line.

Add Pictures and Video Don't forget to include pictures and videos where applicable to social media postings, websites and blogs. The power of sight can help "speak" to your message and draw a reader’s attention.

We all have heard "a picture is worth a thousand words".

It is time to put that knowledge to the test. Integrate pictures and videos to stimulate your readers!

Check out Flickr, Picasa, and YouTube to start. Include images in your website or blog. Or even try adding photos to Facebook. There are hundreds of ways to incorporate visuals to power up your messages.

In Summary… Effectively using social media for your small business may be as simple as asking a few targeted questions of yourself, but the re-evaluation may be the difference between a social media presence that flops and one that thrives!

How do you use your online presence to meet your business goals?

My Favorite WordPress Plugins

By Natalie Schloesser, IMPACT's Website Manager You’ve probably looked at a WordPress site today. In fact, IMPACT is built on WordPress! For those who don’t know, WordPress is an Open Source CMS Platform that drives nearly 20% of all websites today*.

In English please? Let’s work backwards. All websites are built on a ‘platform’ – basically software that helps the site work. CMS stands for “Content Management System”. If you can login to your website and change the content on a page, you have a CMS. Open Source** is a term that is used across the Internet; it’s a community of developers that work together to constantly build and improve upon software that is available to the general public at no cost.

Being a website developer and designer, I’ve worked with numerous different platforms, numerous different CMS’s, and numerous different Open Source products. Embarrassingly enough, I must admit: for a long time I did not jump on the WordPress bandwagon. I hesitated when building my first site in WordPress. Now I am happy to say that my first experience was so extremely pleasant that since then I have built every single new client site in WordPress and converted many of my current clients to the WordPress platform.

One great thing about WordPress are the plugins. Plugins are additions – “bells and whistles”, if you may – that offer you extra functionality to make your site do what you want. Side note: Widgets are the things you see in the sidebar columns or footer columns. Who knew the internet would bring us a whole new glossary of terms?

My Favorite WordPress Plugins Though this list could be much longer than it is, I thought I’d keep it to five. Here are my favorite WordPress Plugins, many of them on every site I build:

  1. nextGEN Photo Gallery A very powerful photo gallery that helps to organize your photos into albums. Automatically creates thumbnails, allows a title and caption for each photo, completely customizable page layout, and more.
  2. Social Profiles Widget This plugin is a widget that goes in your sidebar or footer columns. It has each social media icon ready for your social profile to save you the hassle of manually adding in each individual social website.
  3. Google Calendar Events If you use Google Calendar and need your calendar on your website, this is the way to go. The design is customizable, it can display events as a list or in a calendar grid, it comes complete with a widget for your sidebar or footer, and multiple Google Calendar feeds can be shown in one list/grid.
  4. Custom Contact Forms Most WordPress designs come with a basic contact form built in; name, email, text box, and submit button. This plugin comes in handy when you need a more robust contact form with many questions to ask. Though a bit clunky and not incredibly intuitive to set up, this plugin is extremely powerful and customizable, sure to meet your needs.
  5. All in One SEO Take control of your Search Engine Optimization with this powerful plugin. Designed for beginners through advanced users, it can either work out of the box or be fine-tuned and formatted as you wish.

If you have a WordPress site and would like one of these plugins, we’d be happy to help! Thinking of switching to WordPress? Contact us with questions! No matter what, you can’t deny that WordPress is one of the fastest growing platforms on the Internet. With developers worldwide contributing to the widgets, plugins, and the platform itself it will continue to grow and constantly improve.

*Infographic, http://cdn.yoast.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/wordpress-stats-infographic-yoast-full.jpg
**http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source

Facebook’s Timeline: Review Your Profile, Be Ready

Big players in social media and in the internet world seem to be consistently giving their sites “face-lifts”, and often without regard to the users actually wanting the change.  This is the case with Facebook’s new “Timeline”. It is not just a feature, but instead a renewal of your Facebook page to change the layout from a linear stream of information and posts to aggregated sections designed to highlight everything you like, your profile, your photos, and the apps you are using.

The catch is that it is not optional any longer.  The rollout will take place over the next few weeks, so it’s time to get on board and review your profile page to ensure it will look as you want it to.  It isn’t all bad, and some of us may even learn to like it. Here is what you need to know to transition safely.

  • Facebook TimelineAll posts will default to PUBLIC. Review your new and past posts.  During each post, ensure you check the inline audience selector and switch it as needed (to friends, etc.) so only who you want to see that information, can see it. If you are ever concerned you mis-marked previous posts, you can see how your Timeline looks to others by clicking the gear icon below your cover image and selecting “View As”.  You can change past posts globally through your Privacy Settings or individually by clicking the pencil icon next to each post.
    • To make sure your past posts are limited to friends, click on the small arrow on the top right corner of your Timeline. Then go to Privacy Settings >Limit the Audience for Past Posts >Manage Past Post Visibility and select Limit Old Posts. Alternately, you can change the audience by clicking on the small pencil icon at the top right of individual posts to edit or hide them from the Timeline.
  • You have 7 days to review your new Timeline.  Once you make the switch to Timeline (by choice or Facebook’s rollout), you only have 7 days to make any changes you need before other people see it (e.g. managing post visibility).
    • To rollout the Timeline yourself visit Facebook’s Timeline profile page, and click Get Timeline in the lower right corner.
  • Facebook wants to know more about you.  Facebook has many suggestions for how you can back fill your Timeline. You can add information from the past in such categories as “Work & Education”, “Family & Relationships”, and so on.  Simply click on the “Life Event” in your status bar and add away.  This actually isn’t all bad, you might enjoy posting life events from your past and allowing others to look at it, sort of like an online scrap book.  Keep in mind, however, the more information you put up, the more information Facebook is collecting on you, and the more information people can find about you.
  • Is security a concern? Your personal information is very valuable to you, and to criminals.  Keep that in mind when posting personal information.

Check out Facebook’s information on the new Timeline profile page.

Have additional questions? Contact us or check out the Facebook Help Center.