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Chicago Freelance Copywriter

Archive for September, 2010


Photo by Normalityrelief

I mentioned in Monday’s relationship challenge post that I attended a wedding last weekend and learned two lessons I would be sharing with you. The first was a reminder on how important relationships are. Today you get the second.

This is such a simple lesson but one I think we often overlook.

Hard work pays off.

That’s basically all there is to this lesson. My friend who got married, Mary, put her heart and soul into this wedding. For ten months she worked tirelessly to make this joyful event everything she ever wanted it to be. And in the end, it was more beautiful and loving than I think even she imagined it could be.

I think this is such a potent lesson for social media because delving into using social media for your business is going to take a lot of hard work. So it’s important to remember that in the end, it will all pay off.

But you already know this, so what else is there to know? I think it’s important to understand where to put all this time and effort. It’s easy to get bogged down in social media and end up spending an hour somewhere that won’t pay you back in the end.

Here are the top five ways to spend your time in order to yield the best possible results:

1.) Blogging

I know, how many times have I come back to blogging? Here I am again. Instead of reiterating myself over and over, I’m just going to link to old posts that explain how blogging is an amazing way to connect with customers, communicate with customers, turn readers into clients, and so forth. In the end, I truly believe there isn’t a downside to starting a business blog and putting a large chunk of your efforts into this platform.

2.) Reading

Staying on top of your industry trends is a powerful tool. Knowing what is working for others in your industry can help you decide what to do with your own business. And if you’re going to be putting your time into blogging, then you need to read other blogs to get a feeling for how they are written, what sort of value they are providing, and so forth. Check their comments section, are they having conversations? Are their ideas being reflected back at them in an interesting way? What can you learn?

3.) Conversing

This is where Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn come in. Truthfully, not every platform is going to be right for every business. That is why I didn’t give them each their own number. But all three can be amazing for different types of businesses. Deciding which platform to concentrate on can take a lot of hard work in itself. But once you figure out which will help promote your business, they can be extremely beneficial.

For help deciding which platform works best for your business, shoot me an email or leave a question in comments and I’ll help you figure out what you want to use the platform to accomplish, and from there we can decide which one works best.

4.) SEO

Being found by Google is a huge goal that many companies find so overwhelming they completely ignore it. SEO is not my area of expertise. I can’t tell you how to get your site to the first page, that’s left to the real experts who are both artists and scientists. However, I can tell you that it’s not something that can be overlooked, and you would be a fool to do so.

5.) Brand recognition

When you start a social media campaign, it’s worth the time and effort to make sure your company’s brand is consistent across everything you do. Social media isn’t just about conversing and connecting, it’s about building awareness for your company. Don’t confuse potential customers by using many different logos or pictures.

What do you think? Do you agree these are good ways to spend your time and important areas to put in the hard work? Do you sometimes need to be reminded that putting in hard work will pay off in the end? I know I do.

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The Social Media Relationship Challenge


Photo by Josep Ma. Rosell

I spent the weekend in upstate New York attending one of my favorite people in the world’s wedding. It was an absolutely beautiful affair, held in an old barn that has been standing since 1799. Coming from Chicago, where the biggest hill is the street curb, the scenery was a true and complete treat. Rolling hills covered with trees all succumbing to fall and changing from green to orange, red, and brown.

Ok, so what does this have to do with social media? There are two answers. The second you’ll get on Wednesday. But today we’re going to discuss relationships.

Being with so many wonderful friends reminded just how much relationships matter. This is true outside of work, but it’s equally true when it comes to your work life. Social media is about building relationships, and with the Internet at our fingertips it can be fairly easy. But what about taking those relationships off of Twitter and Facebook and onto a more personal level?

I’m not suggesting you turn every Twitter follower into a personal friend, but if you run across someone who you learn a lot from, perhaps that is someone worth conversing with over email or even a phone call, or if you’re lucky enough to live in the same area, a real-life meeting.

I think a lot of the reason this doesn’t happen more is because rejection online is still rejection. If you are thinking of sending someone whose blog you really admire an email, you’re putting yourself out there. It’s a hard thing to do, and one that I’m still not 100% comfortable with.

So I am going to issue you a challenge. I am not exaggerating when I say relationships are important. In fact, one of my clients bases her entire marketing business on relationship marketing. She gave me permission to share her ideas, which I will do on Friday.  I guarantee, they will open up a whole new possibility in how you run your marketing campaign.

On to the challenge: In order to grow more relationships, directly after finishing reading this post, I want you think of one person you’ve been conversing with using social media. Whether it’s reading their blog, going back and forth on Twitter, or following their Facebook fan page, pick the person you think you’d connect with the most and send them an email. Just say, hello, I wanted to let you know how much I’ve enjoyed talking and learning from you online, and I think we have a lot in common. It doesn’t need to have a call to action in it. Don’t ask for anything. Just let them know you’ve enjoyed their words and work and see where it goes.

If I were going to write to anyone, it would probably be Annabel Candy. I love her blog, Get In the Hotspot, and I find her postings immensely helpful. So I will take the challenge as well. Sometime today I am going to email her and let her know how much I like her work. You report back to me and I’ll report back to you.

Here’s to forming a new relationship because of social media.

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Top-Ten-Social-Media-Promotional-IdeasSo you have a great new product and you want the entire world to know about it. Or you have added a new service to your list and want to offer it out. What’s the best way to go about letting people know just how awesome your business is?

I am going to give you a list of 10 mediums you can use to get your word out.

1. Facebook

2. Twitter

3. A Company Blog

4. LinkedIn

5. Guest posting on other’s blogs

6. Have a conversation with your customers

7. Yelp

8. Have a contest

9. You Tube

10. iPhone app

In an effort to keep this post from being the length of a novel, I’m going to focus on three.

First up, guest posting on other’s blogs. What is a great way to both get your word out about a new product AND get new people to your website and blog? Guest blogging! Hopefully you follow a few blogs that deal with what you deal with. I know I do. Reach out to those people and ask to be a guest blogger and offer them a spot on your blog as well. Hopefully the readers of your guest post will become your readers as well.

Second, have a conversation with your customers. It is incredibly important to respond to every tweet, comment, and Facebook posting that comes your way. Nobody is going to talk to you if you don’t talk back. So if you blog about your new muffin and someone leaves a comment such as: sounds great! You respond to that person. Even if it’s just to say thanks. No questions asked.

Third, have a contest. Once you have that online community, it’s time to put it to use. Drive up sales, excite your clients, build buzz. One great way to do this is to have a contest. It’s up to you if it’s something as simple as a random drawing or if you want to put a bit of competition into it. But either way, at least you know the contest will have one winner – YOU!

These are three extremely easy and simple ways to promote a new product. Do you have any tried and true methods that you use? Sound off below.

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Good News and Bad News

I’m going to start with the good news since I like to think of myself as a glass half full kinda gal.

So here is my good news: My Social Media Writing business is thriving!  I am beyond thrilled.  When I started this business two months ago I knew there was a huge demand for well-written social media content priced with small businesses in mind.  Apparently I was right (and apparently I’m not afraid to say it out loud). I have met so many amazing small businesses who are starting out in social media and need a bit of help.  It’s been amazing working with different people, learning as much as I can, and helping small businesses move from traditional marketing into social media marketing.

How does this translate into bad news?  To quote the great Diane Keaton movie, something’s gotta give.  And unfortunately it’s going to be blog posts.  I post every single day now, but I’m going to cut back to three times a week.  This isn’t a quantity vs. quality debate (which I already had here on the blog).  It’s just a result of being too busy.  However, since I have declared myself a glass half full kinda gal, let’s hope that maybe this cut back will result in better posts that will provide you with a ridiculous amount of value.  Maybe they’ll be so good Seth Godin will quake in his boots.  Or maybe not.

Let’s put in another bit of good news though.  The more people I work with, the more I find great topics that I know small businesses need to learn about.  So the more clients I get, the better blog posts you’ll get.

I think I’ll start off posting Mon/Wed/Fri and see how that works.  And if I’m ever feeling cheeky, I’ll mix it up and not tell anyone.  But probably not.

Sorry today’s post is of no real value and you haven’t learned a thing beside the fact that I use the glass half full metaphor too much.

See you Friday.

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This is a blog geared toward small businesses, but that doesn’t mean we can’t play with the big boys sometimes. I wanted to talk about one company that is doing a lot of things right: Starbucks

Starbucks is a pretty bad-ass player at Social Media. Sure they’re huge, but that doesn’t mean a small business like yourself can’t learn from them. Here are a couple lessons worth paying attention to:

Listen To Your Customers

Starbucks has an entire website dedicated to listening to their customers. It’s called My Starbucks Idea, and it’s a place for those to give suggestions on how to improve the “Starbucks experience”.

I think of this idea as I think about editing blog posts. Sometimes we are so close to something that we can’t see how to make it better. If I work on a post for an hour, I am so involved, that I can’t step back and see a typo. But if I have someone read it over for me, then they will catch it right away. Same idea here. Sometimes your customers will really have amazing ideas on how to improve the experience they have with you. Take a note from Starbucks and make sure there is a forum where they can contact you and leave a suggestion.

Two big reasons why this works for Starbucks: 1) Any customer who is willing to register can participate 2) Others are able to see submitted ideas and vote on them, and even see results.


Use Your Employees

Starbucks Ideas In Action Blog is written by many Starbucks employees about different aspects of the Starbucks experience. A lot of times they are reacting to the ideas and suggestions put out by customers. But sometimes they are announcing a contest or touting a new coffee or telling a personal story about themselves and coffee. Whatever they decide to blog about, it’s a great way to engage with customers and open up a dialogue.


Twitter For Multiple Purposes

Starbucks has a Twitter handle @Starbucks. They use this for customer service mostly. But they also have @MyStarbucksIdea which is a Twitter shoot off of the webpage. They use this handle to encourage customers to engage. Last week they ran a pumpkin spice latte haiku contest in order to promote their seasonal product. So not only is Starbucks using Twitter to deal with customer complaints, but they are also using it for fun ideas like contests and games.


Work An Unexpected Angle

Did you know that Starbucks has a Youtube channel? Until researching this blog post, I didn’t. And when I found out, I have to admit, I was surprised. It had never occurred to me that they would work that angle. The channel has videos of their advertisements and commercials, along with info on their coffee blends.

Do What’s Right

I am shutting off the very loud part of my brain that is more cynical than many can imagine in order to write this next segment. Starbucks does a lot of great things as an ethical company, and they make sure you know that.

I think it’s great. If you are a company that is participating in charities, helping out your community, or just doing something that is moral, don’t be afraid to share it. Starbucks makes their values known from the second you are on their site. While some might say they should just do it because it’s right and not have to shout about it, I say you put it out there. You will most likely impress more people than you turn off.

All in all, Starbucks goes out if its way to engage customers and listen to them. Sure they’re big, but there is still a lot to be learned.

What do you think about Starbucks use of social media? Are you going to apply any of these lessons to your small business?

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