CMS

6 Tips for Choosing the Right Content Management System For Your Startup

Every business strategy, from marketing to manufacturing, is spun around improving customer satisfaction. This truism is no news to us, but the notable fact is that it applies to even our business website and content. Why? Because if you wish to build a customer-centric company, your website – the face of your company, should reflect the same.

You need a strong content management system (CMS) which makes it possible for your website to adapt to and evolve with your customers’ ever-changing tastes and preferences. Especially if you are a startup, you have to make sure that you are picking the right CMS for your company since, for most startups, the major conversion point from a lead to a customer is the website.

A content management system can indeed help you effectively create and manage your digital content, and it can provide an interface for all your employees to collaborate within; some of the most famous ones include WordPress and Joomla (see more). The type of content management system you choose for your company can make or break your whole marketing setup, which makes it absolutely crucial to select the right CMS.

Here are a few basic questions you need to ask yourself to ensure that you pick the right content management system:

1. Can you edit the content easily?

Before investing in a tool, it is paramount that you find out how easy the CMS is to work with, especially for content editing. Check to see if you can easily insert images, update texts, upload documents etc. It is also important to check if it’s easy to add new web pages. Why? Your website needs to change with the demands, requirements, and trends, and the CMS should make that easy for you. Ask your web partner to give you a thorough demo of the CMS so that you can get firsthand experience before investing in it and thereby make an informed choice to purchase.

Here’s the takeaway: Make sure that the CMS is very intuitive and friendly to use for both the tech and non-tech employees.

SEO-friendly CMS

2. Is it SEO-friendly?

One of the most important points to remember is don’t choose a CMS which can negatively impact your efforts to search-optimize your content.

Here are some things you must keep in mind:

  • The CMS must allow you to add unique titles and labels for your post, tailored to suit the content of the page and also SEO optimized.
  • The URLs the CMS generates for your web pages should be neat and simple, instead of www.abc.com/page189$XZ2–that’s not good for your SEO.
  • Your platform must be able to integrate with other SEO optimization tools.

3. Did you check to see how secure the platform is?

Hire a web designer or a tech expert to analyze the potential security issues and see if your CMS can address them or can accommodate tools that can address them. For example, if someone hacks your website, what actions will the CMS company take? To clarify the security issues, you should also take the time to read the online reviews about your CMS company, get in touch with previous users and get a first-hand opinion if possible.

For example, if the existing users tell you that they are having to constantly upgrade their system with security code patches, that’s not a very good sign and you probably should consider a different CMS company.

CMS licensing fees

4. Does the CMS require any licensing fees?

There might be some costs you are neglecting, and for a startup, that might not bode well.

For some CMS platforms, a one-time fee or a licensing fee may be required to use the product unconditionally, which in many cases is reasonable. But for some platforms, you might incur additional charges whenever you want to update or upgrade, and you must keep such costs in mind before picking out a platform. In some cases, even adding additional plugins and extensions might cost you. Make sure you know how much cost the CMS platform might incur now and in the future too.

5. Will the CMS work with your server or technical configurations?

Not all website hosters are compatible with all content management systems. You must make sure that your CMS will work perfectly with your IT configurations. If you are not adept at doing so, hire a freelancer to help you check whether the CMS is compatible with your web server, because obviously you shouldn’t end up spending your dollars on a tool that might not even work for you.

In many cases, your IT configurations block out a number of websites, especially those that seem like personal blogs.  Check to see these limitations first. For example, some IT departments block-out the majority of the WordPress blogs and in such cases, you won’t be able to access the platform using your office IT configurations. Not good!

tracking web analytics with your CMS

6. Can the CMS accommodate web analytics?

If you are running a business, you need metrics to measure your progress. That makes it extremely important to ensure that your CMS will accommodate the tracking and measuring of your performance. You must check to see if it can integrate with analytics tools like Google Webmaster and Google Analytics.

To measure your lead generation and lead activity and understand how you are doing and what changes you might need to implement, your CMS must also be able to integrate with lead generation tools.

Final Thoughts

Here’s the takeaway. Selecting the right content management system requires two things:

  • List your needs, requirements and business goals
  • Strip down the CMS feature by feature and review each one to understand how well it fits with the above list

About Niraj Ranjan Rout

Niraj is the CEO and Founder of Hiver, an app that turns Gmail into a powerful customer support and collaboration tool. Read more about Hiver in Business Insider, Inc., Hubspot, and Lifehack.

Follow Niraj on Twitter @nirajr

search-friendly blog

What are 10 Ways to Make a Blog More Search-Friendly?

It’s no wonder almost everyone seems to be blogging these days. WordPress.com estimates that there are 56 million new blog posts and almost 47 million new comments on those posts hosted on its network every month. The numbers would be larger if they included blogs outside the WordPress.com network. Even more staggering – these blogs are reaching 409 million people every month.

As if writing compelling blog content wasn’t difficult enough, the sheer number of blogs being written have created a monumental challenge – writing a blog people can actually find. In the midst of 56 million other blogs posted each month, businesses are struggling to position their blog so it can reach more people. Luckily, there are a few search marketing tips that can help.

Here are 10 ways to make a blog more search-friendly:

1. Create a blog title that “speaks” to your audience

Bloggers know to craft blog titles which incorporate keywords used in the content. However, voice search is starting to change the rules of search engine optimization (SEO) and may impact the way blog titles are written. A recent Google blog reported, “…mobile voice searches more than doubled in the past year,” and when people use voice search, they typically ask questions as if they are having a conversation. So, keywords are still important in a blog title, but the title should also be conducive to how someone might ask a question and use key prompts such as what, when, where, why and who.

2. Ask a question in the blog title

In the title, if you can capture a question your audience is asking, natural next steps for them are to want the answer to that question and read the blog. For this reason, blog titles with questions get a higher click-through rate than titles without questions. This format also gives the blog practical utility; in other words, it fills an information void for the reader and becomes a must-read blog, not just a nice to read one.

blogs with a number in the title

3. Put a number in your blog title

People are more inclined to click on a blog title with a number. Why? Hubspot suggests three reasons:

  • Readers perceive the content to be more actionable because it has a list of steps, actions, lessons, or tips.
  • The blog is more easily scanned, and readers know they can jump in and read just part of the piece.
  • Numbers in the title also give the reader a clue as to the length of the blog.

4. Keep the blog title length within guidelines

Although it may be tempting to write whatever title suits the blog, ultimately a lengthy title will be truncated in the Google search snippet. When the title is too long, Google algorithms will cut off some of the text and put ellipses, the three dots at the end. Write a short, punchy title that includes your keyword(s), and when possible, leave room for the business name which WordPress will add in for you. Edit your title in your content management system and use a handy tool to help, such as the one offered by Moz. I have amended the title tag for this blog, for example, to show:

What are 10 Ways to Make a Blog More Search-Friendly?

Left unedited, it would appear:

What are 10 Ways to Make a Blog More Search-Friendly? | R…

5. Segment the blog using subheads

Segmenting a blog is essential. It is visually easier to read a blog that is broken into smaller, more consumable pieces. Most people are short on time, so they scan a blog and read the subheads first to see if anything piques their interest. They provide different points that may entice the reader to jump in partway through the blog.

Subheads are also key elements of the blog hierarchy and are searchable. They provide another opportunity to use keywords. So, well-written subheads allow readers and search engines more chances to find essential aspects of your content.

6. Use tags to give the blog content hierarchy

Some content in a blog is more important than others. The blog title is more important than the subhead titles; the subhead titles are more important than the paragraph text below them. Hierarchy is a slightly technical aspect of blogging, but both essential to understand and easily accomplished! Tag the blog title as Heading 1 or H1 if your platform does not automatically do so, and tag subhead titles Heading 2 or H2 in the content management system to denote their importance in the blog. You can find the Heading 1, Heading 2 tags in the Paragraph drop-down menu in WordPress.

7. Add alternative text to your images

Images are an excellent way to break up longform content like a blog. They can also help make the blog search-friendly and optimize SEO. Content management systems have an image field labeled “alt text,” which stands for alternative text, and it allows you to write a few words that describe the image. Alt text is shown if someone viewing the blog utilizes a device which cannot show the image. It is also picked up in search and provides another opportunity to use relevant keywords that bring people back to your blog.

tags and categories in a blog

8. Label a blog with carefully considered categories and tags

Blogs should be assigned relevant categories and tags. Both are organizing systems, or taxonomies, which allow the reader to search for blogs by topic. My favorite explanation of the difference is by Morten Rand-Hendriksen. He describes categories as the broad system that allows the grouping of similar types of content, and there can be hierarchical relationships between categories. Tags, on the other hand, have no relationship to other tags but rather can help identify content areas covered in the blog. An example he uses is a person’s closet. Jackets, pants and skirts are the equivalent of categories. You probably group your clothes in this way in the closet. Information such as dry clean only, 100% cotton, or made in the USA would be tags. People wouldn’t organize their closet by the tags, but tags represent useful information nevertheless.

9. Err on the side of simplicity for the blog writing style

By some estimates, the average reading level in the United States is equivalent to that of a 7th or 8th grader, and it’s a statistic worth keeping in mind when writing a blog. In an interesting article that looked at the effect of complex writing on readership, Shane Snow found that simpler blogs get more reach and argued, “…we should aim to reduce complexity in our writing as much as possible…. Our readers will comprehend and retain our ideas more reliably. And we’ll have a higher likelihood of reaching more people.”

Some SEO plugins include a reading ease score for exactly this reason. Readability is a ranking factor in search, but it is unclear that simplicity just for simplicity’s sake has distinct advantages, especially if the content really is about a complex topic. Therefore, align the writing complexity to the content and err on the side of simplicity for more widespread reach.

10. Use bullet points in your blog

In 2015, Google confirmed that for the first time in the US, more Google searches were done on mobile devices than computers. The shift means that more content will be consumed on mobile devices as well, and that content includes blogs. Bullet points are an important construct in the new mobile paradigm because they:

  • break content into easily consumable bits
  • can be formatted to highlight keywords or concepts
  • are viewed favorably in search algorithms
  • can be easily scanned by the reader
  • are mobile-friendly
  • visually break up paragraph style longform blogs

So, in addition to creating well-written content, take the time to learn how to structure your blog in a way that can be more easily picked up in search. There are beginner’s guides to get you started, and as the WordPress.com statistics show, blogging is well worth the effort and a viable way to reach your audience. Follow our 10 tips for a more search-friendly blog and one that can stand apart in a very crowded field.

If you’re struggling to write a monthly post or have no idea how to optimize it, we can assist you! Contact us at (973) 218-6558 or email team@resourcefulbusiness.com. We can help you with your blogging and make it search-friendly too!

5 Signs Digital Marketing is Replacing Traditional Media

Why would a company remove their office address from a brochure or ask for marketing material to be developed that will never go to print? Why would a marketing piece be written in a way that assumes the reader will only peruse the subheads and perhaps a few bullet points?

These requests are real, so what is prompting companies to dramatically revise the way they are choosing to communicate? The answer is more straightforward than you might think. Taken out of context, these demands may seem a little offbeat, but they actually reflect an important shift towards digital media. As digital marketing slowly subsumes some traditional forms of communication, companies are learning to adapt their marketing material to reach audiences in new ways.

The cues are everywhere. Here are a few we are seeing and believe are 5 signs that digital marketing is replacing traditional media.

1. Office addresses disappear

Companies are doing away with their physical office location(s) on marketing material. Instead, they are asking for three reference pieces of information in documents created in interactive Portable Document Format (PDF), a format that supports features such as hyperlinks and buttons:

  • the company name
  • the company website with a hyperlink
  • the company phone number with a link that will open a phone dialer

The shift is proof that for some businesses, technology is making geographic location irrelevant. Companies can service and communicate with clients all over the world, and they want their literature to transcend references to a physical location.

2. Interactive PDFs

Now more than ever, brochures are created as interactive PDFs which assume readers will view them on their desktop, tablet or mobile device. A high resolution rendering of a document on screen opens up a host of visual options not available in print. For some organizations, printable versions are almost an afterthought, sometimes used only for a conference display table. Rather, the marketing strategy is simply to send brochures that are both visual and interactive and then push for a meeting.

3. Uber thin fonts

In marketing material, there are often font combinations that contrast paragraph text from subheads or headings. For example, you might see all of the subheads in a sans serif font (fonts without little projections at the tips of the letters) and the paragraph text in a complimentary serif font (fonts with the decorative tips at the ends of the letters). The combination gives the piece visual appeal and sets apart important headings.

font combinations in digital marketing

With digital delivery of marketing material, it is possible to use extremely thin fonts which convey a crisp, sophisticated look. These types of fonts are more challenging to use in print, especially over a dark background. An example of a popular combination we like to use in interactive PDFs is Helvetica Neue UltraLight and Georgia.

4. 24/7 digital marketing requests

The workday is on a global 24-hour clock, and client requests even extend through the weekend. It’s really no surprise. Proofs are exchanged electronically. The cloud helps creative teams work from anywhere. We have reached out to firms in other countries and timezones to help us with our work. Platforms such as Upwork, have freelancers from all over the world that actively bid on projects. The payment portal and user experience are almost effortless, and in some ways easier than traditional billing and payment cycles.

Sometimes clients put work requests in on a Friday evening, and even with several rounds of revisions throughout the weekend, the finished product is ready on Monday. I personally don’t believe digital marketing is meant to fit neatly into Monday to Friday office hours, and why not take advantage of a global talent pool for project work?

5. Less, more impactful content

It’s not a coincidence that platforms like BuzzFeed, a social news and entertainment network, and Snapchat, a social messaging app, have huge user growth. They offer imagery, immediacy and in the case of Snapchat, the ability to post a “snap” that even disappears after it is viewed. They remind us how brief the period of time is that a digital marketer has to capture someone’s attention.

Companies see the same trends and observe clients quickly scanning their marketing materials if the brochure is even read at all. The challenge for content creators in the digital age is to write less frequent, more impactful content. If concepts can be represented visually or interactively, they will more easily catch the reader’s attention for a marketing edge.

There’s no doubt that when it comes to marketing, change is all around us. Companies are thinking more about who they want to reach and how. With a suite of digital tools available, getting a message out has never been easier. Ideating content good enough to rise above the marketing noise and captivate an audience – that’s as hard as ever.  

If your traditional marketing campaign needs a digital overhaul, contact us or call (973) 218-6558. In the sometimes confusing age of new media, we would love to create a digital marketing strategy for your company that will engage your audience and grow your brand.

 

photo credit: By Takashi Hososhima from Tokyo, Japan (A typewriter) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

crowded digital marketing space

Stand Out in a Crowded Digital Marketing Space: 3 Ways To Rise Above the Noise of Your Competition

By Chris R. Benjamin, Guest Blogger

Companies are becoming increasingly sophisticated about digital marketing and the need for high-quality communications in the digital space. That means more competition than ever before, in just about every industry.

With your target audience already being reached through sharp content marketing and carefully-cultivated relationships, how can you make room for your messages to be heard? The answer is to make your marketing messages stand out.

Here are 3 strategies that you can employ in order to be heard “above the noise,” even when you can’t seem to get a word in edgewise.

1. Get the timing right

There’s a lot to be said for delivering your marketing messages at the right time. By paying close attention to your target market’s habits—that is, how they use social media, what they do online, and when they search for the solutions you can provide—you can learn the best times to hit “publish” on your blog, or make snappy posts and announcements on social outlets like Facebook and Twitter.

 Some solid research exists on the right time of day to execute content on various platforms:

Belle Beth Cooper of social automation app Buffer reports that the average blog receives the most traffic on Mondays (out of all other days of the week) and at 11am (out of all other times of day. Most comments on blogs are made on Saturdays, and around 9am regardless of day.

Jason Keath, CEO of Social Fresh, reports some interesting data from Shareaholic: Social sharing happens more on Thursday than any other day of the week, followed by Wednesdays, Fridays and Mondays. 27% of content sharing happens between 8am and 12pm.

If you’re just starting to form your content strategy, you might start out by making your blog and social media posts around the times suggested above. Later on, once you have a dedicated following, you can look at your own data to discern the optimal times for content publication.

How to stand out: Using the broad statistical data or your own metrics, construct a content schedule you will stick to, testing and refining as you go along. If you get your content out to your audience when they’re most likely to be looking for, engaging with, and sharing it, you will catch many more eyes than your less time-conscious competitors.

2. Segment your market

One of the defining characteristics of successful companies is that they know their market intimately. The more deeply you understand your customers’ specific wishes, fears, and needs, the better you’ll be able to convince them that your solution is the right one.

First, compose a sketch of your audience. Things to consider include age, sex, location, beliefs, education, and personality. With those factors in mind, visit the forums your ideal users frequent and take note of popular discussion topics. Use tools such as the Google AdWords Keyword Planner and Google Trends to see how often relevant words and phrases come up. You’ll then be able to write blogs and social media posts that instantly arouse interest.

Need some more insight? Conduct a survey. Send out an email to your subscribers asking them what their greatest hurdles are, and then construct content around the answers you get.

How to stand out: Get to know your audience and speak to them directly through your content. Answer their questions. Ask them to share their experiences and stories with you. Become intimately familiar with what drives your followers and respond to their deepest needs, and you’ll gain the coveted access to their trust.

3. Infuse Your Messages with Creativity and Novelty

It’s a fact. Humans are fascinated by items that are “out of the ordinary.” Capturing their attention and redirecting it towards a practical solution is exactly how you’ll make a lasting impression.

First, think about your brand. A strong Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, is one way you can set yourself apart the moment a new prospective customer encounters it. Consider what your brand says that’s different from anything else out there. What remarkable results can you alone (or, your company alone) deliver? Define your USP succinctly, and then build content around it.

Creativity can also involve providing a new perspective. It can mean:

  • Bringing up a hot-button issue in your industry and offering a unique take on how to solve the problem.
  • Being humorous in a way that’s not too abstract, but that connects your brand with a new sense of how your product can enhance lives.
  • Hosting contests on social media to create excitement and buzz surrounding your brand.

How to stand out: Identify the one (or two) things that your company is in a unique position to accomplish for your target market, and develop or refine your USP around those points. With that as a launching pad, think outside of the box to get your audience to see you, and the rest of their own world, in a new light.

Put all of the above together, and you’ll create a complete experience for your target audience—one in which they see you as a thought-leader who’s immediately responsive to their needs, wherever they happen to be in your sales cycle. Engage with your customers at the right times, in their language, and with interactions that intrigue them, and you’ll have no problem rising above the competition—both today and for the foreseeable future.


Chris R. Benjamin is a New York City-based freelance writer who specializes in the topics of digital marketing, small business development, and applied psychology, among others. See more of his work at BennyTheWriter.com.

5 Essential Elements to a Knockout Content Management Strategy

The digital nature of marketing today allows for the distribution of content at breathtaking speeds. Advertisers target ads based on a population’s demographic profile including a consumer’s age, geographic location or areas of interest. In fact, the power and precision made possible by electronic marketing has made a content management strategy even more critical to a business’ success.

Simply put, content management is the process of creating, editing, posting and managing digital content. Whether you create your own or hire an outside company to develop and execute it for you, here are 5 essential elements to a knockout content management strategy.

1. Define your Target Demographic

A traditional marketing campaign might include print media, internet marketing, networking events, or television ads. Today, over 80% of small business owners also incorporate social media in their marketing strategy. A quick look at social media provides an excellent example of why it is imperative to define the target demographic, because social media networks are not all created equal, at least as far as user demographics are concerned.

Social media networks are not all created equal, at least as far as user demographics are concerned.

The Pew Research Center compiles comprehensive statistics on social media user demographics broken down by characteristics such as age, race, income, and education. In the Social Media Update 2013, their researchers confirmed that Facebook remains the most popular social media network by far, and along with Instagram, has the highest levels of user engagement. So, for example, if you own a retail business, these two social networks are great choices for engaging the client base and encouraging them to post how they are enjoying or using your product. Facebook and Instagram would also be ideal platforms to run a contest and do a product give-away. Another example is that women are four times more likely to use Pinterest than men, so perhaps Pinterest would be a good choice for a business with highly visual, eye-catching products geared towards women. And older consumers like LinkedIn, which after Facebook, has the highest percentage of users in the 30 to 49 and 50 to 64 age brackets. So, if your service or product targets C-level employees or managers, LinkedIn might be the right social network choice.

2. Understand Media Consumption Patterns

One aspect of content management strategy that is often overlooked is what device the target audience is actually using to access social media, a general marketing campaign, an e-commerce site, or an app for the business. Eighty percent of mobile device users have the Android operating system, and Android users tend to have lower incomes and slightly lower rates of engagement than iPhone users. iPhone owners have a higher level of device engagement, make purchases more often with their mobile device, have higher incomes, but are much less widespread than Android users. So in developing a content management strategy, a business must determine if the income and location of the target audience is conducive to owning iPhones or Android devices, and also whether the marketing strategy needs breadth, depth or both to work. For an interesting article on this subject, read the Business Insider comparison published in April, “These Maps Show That Android Is For People With Less Money,” and to analyze a target area specifically, try Mapbox which shows geographic mobile device usage based on Tweets.

3. Identify Meaningful Goals

To ensure it is on the mark, a content marketing strategy should have meaningful goals that are established upfront and agreed by all parties. If the goal can’t be defined, then the outcome can’t be measured either. Examples of tangible goals are increasing subscribers or readership of an electronic newsletter as well as engagement with those clients when the newsletter is released. Another objective might be to convert engagement or ad clicks into an actionable response by the client, such as a call for a consultation. A company blogger might try to get the blog syndicated for more recognition and a wider audience. For some businesses, the management team may want to see Facebook likes and Twitter followers increasing every week. Another measurable goal might be the number of customers posting product pictures on Instagram or Pinterest and sharing their personal stories related to the products.

A great content management strategy must have meaningful goals defined for every platform and metrics which quantify the base case before the campaign is even launched. After the marketing effort begins, data points should be compared to the base case on a regular basis.

Social Media Metrics

 4. Measure Return on Investment (ROI)

A content management strategy must also include a basis for measuring both the financial impact and reach of the campaign. Metrics like organic subscriber growth versus paid subscriber growth, blog comments from readers, click-throughs and page likes are measurable indications of reach, but quantifiable financial impacts are a must too.

Levels of engagement for a content management strategy must be viewed in the context of campaign spend to see if the strategy has a bona fide ROI. You can easily analyze the basic data. For example, add a promotional code to a new social media ad to see how many people actually redeem it. Compare how many dollars were spent running the campaign to the number of coupons redeemed and you have a measure of the actual dollar spend, per new customer. Vary content blocks in a newsletter and monitor click-throughs. If click-throughs rise, dollars spent on creating the campaign relative to click-throughs will tell you the actual dollar spend, per click-through. If Page Likes and the number of Followers increases after a campaign, the company could be seeing increasing brand awareness and reach. Another great example of a measurable ROI is to link a product discount to a Pin on Pinterest. Monitor the number of click-throughs to your e-commerce store from the Pin and whether the coupon is redeemed.

5. Use Tracking Tools

To confirm the effectiveness of content marketing initiatives, choose a suite of tracking tools and monitor the metrics. For campaigns that link back to a company website, Google Analytics can provide extensive information on website engagement including whether visitors clicked through an ad, if they are new or returning, what pages were visited, how long they were on the page, and what keywords they typed in to find the site. Similarly, Facebook campaigns have a detailed Ads Manager dashboard which will show the number of users who saw an ad, Page Likes, website clicks and even the average price paid for the click on the ad. The Facebook Insights dashboard also provides an excellent visual summary of Page Likes, Post Reach and Engagement. For electronic newsletters that contain a multitude of clickable components, the post distribution statistics will detail opens, unique click-throughs for the individual parts, social media shares and open rates. All of these tracking tools will provide tangible measures of campaign effectiveness and a basis for tweaking a content management strategy. If you have engaged a content management firm to manage your strategy for you, many of these statistics can be exported to Excel, so ensure you receive monthly reports for review.

Would you like a more targeted, measurable and effective content management strategy? Resourceful Business can help define your user demographic and their consumption patterns and then put a knockout content management strategy in place to reach them. Contact us for a free consultation.

social media content

5 Shortcuts to Finding and Managing Great Social Media Content

For small business owners, there are never enough hours in the day. They juggle business strategy, production schedules, bookkeeping, payroll, marketing, human resources, content management and social media. It is no surprise that with such a long to-do list, social media marketing can fall by the wayside leading to inconsistent content posts and mundane points. But, there is hope for small business owners in pursuit of a social strategy filled with relevant, noteworthy and interesting topics that will engage their clients. Here are 5 shortcuts to finding and managing great social media content.

Set up News Feeds for Aggregation

Every industry has websites and electronic newsletters covering topics that are worth following. Feedly.com is one service that helps aggregate news feeds of interest, and you can create custom lists to follow. Our company, for example, manages content for multiple clients and we set up a custom list for each client, which collects stories from relevant news feeds in their industry. Another aggregation tool I really like is GetPocket.com. By installing the Chrome extension for Pocket or Feedly on your browser, you can upload any articles you want to read with a mouse click and even tag the articles. If you would like news to come directly to your Inbox, another option is to set up a Google Alert, www.google.com/alerts, a notification system based on keywords. Google Alerts will send you a list of relevant articles based off of your keywords and found in search as they happen, daily or weekly.

Follow Blogs by Industry Thought Leaders

follow blogs by other thought leadersEvery field has thought leaders or individuals who are blogging and of interest to you. It is fun and educational to follow and engage with them. Their blogs also provide relevant social content that you can share. Feedly.com allows you to follow blogs, so it is a great option for both news feeds and blogs. Often bloggers post their blogs on Facebook pages as opposed to WordPress or other blogging platforms. In that case, Liking the Page will do the trick and you can receive notifications of new blog posts. Another easy way to follow a blog is to click the RSS feed button if the blog has one. Typically, you will get an option to choose a Feed Reader service which will show all of the new blogs posted from the website and sometimes an option to receive an email alert. RSS feeds are often a point of real confusion amongst our clients, so here is a brief tutorial should you choose to try the RSS feed route, What is RSS.

Search for Content by Hashtag

hashtagsIn the context of social media, the pound sign is called a hashtag. A tool first used on Twitter, hashtags group topics and allow the reader to search and follow those topics through a clickable link. You can look for what is Trending on Twitter, and then even build some of your own social content around trending topics with high user engagement. You can also identify hashtags and related hashtags on relevant subjects with tools like Hashtagify.me. Once you have identified the hashtags you want to follow, set up a free Tagboard using the hashtag and you will get a fabulous visual of all of the trending content linked to that hashtag. Since all of the major social media platforms are using hashtags, creating great content means learning both how to deploy hashtags in your posts as well as how to use them to search for content.

Manage your Content with a Social Media Management Tool

After finding or creating your social media content, there are a number of tools you can use to schedule and manage it. Two of the most popular social media management tools are Buffer and Hootsuite. These platforms permit a user to post content to several social media accounts simultaneously, see user engagement and respond. User-friendly dashboards display character counts and image previews. Posts can be scheduled by day and time, so content postings can be input in advance. Many of the social media management tools offer news feed links right in the dashboard, so users can follow relevant content and then post it right from the news feed.

Nothing equates in value to original, creative content written by you.

Create Original Content

Most importantly, take the time to write your own content. Nothing equates in value to original, creative content written by you. If you like sharing interesting articles, write headlines yourself and post them on social media. If you blog, write about interesting trends in your industry. Answer common questions in your field of expertise. Summarize an interesting conference that you attended or offer a unique point of view on a controversial subject. Can’t think of a topic? Try the really fun, Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator. You simply enter three keywords and then the algorithm will give you a week’s worth of blog topics. In short, although thoughtful social media content takes time to write and develop, it is well worth it because you will slowly establish a following on social media and build a respected online voice.

Hopefully, these shortcuts will save you time and help you find and manage great social media content. If you think there still aren’t enough hours in the day to do your social media marketing, contact us. We can customize and implement a content management strategy for your business that is timely, consistent and engaging!

Clothespins in a Jar

Clothespins in a Jar: A Childhood Game That Will Improve Your Small Business

Summer is a wonderful time to retool a small company. The dynamics of the business often change, and the less hectic pace can provide the perfect backdrop to contemplate the to-do list. It reminds me of a childhood game, clothespins in a jar. When summer comes around, mothers sometimes ask their children what they want to do in the summer. The child will name a few things like trying the new neighborhood playground or learning to ride a bicycle without training wheels. The idea is written on a clothespin and put in a jar. The jar sits on the kitchen counter and the clothespin is removed from the jar once the activity is done. The goal is to have the jar completely empty before the fall when school begins and busy schedules resume. It is a fun game and a fabulous visual reminder all in one!

This summer, why not put a few clothespins in a jar for your small business. Select projects that you have not had time to focus on and either do them, or contract them out. Here are ten ideas to get you started and improve your small business:

Content Management

  • Produce a quarterly eBlast or newsletter and send it to your clients. The Return on Investment (ROI) is high when you find ways to keep in touch with your current and past customers. They will remember your company when you keep your brand in front of them in creative ways. Don’t succumb to the temptation to do a purely promotional newsletter, but rather develop original content so your clients will enjoy reading the eBlast.

  • Learn your website content management system (CMS). If your website is built on a platform like WordPress, learn how to upload your own pictures and edit the content instead of paying someone else to do it for you. According to WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg, almost 19% of the web now runs on WordPress, so understanding WordPress CMS is well worth the time and effort.

Social Media Strategy

  • Rebrand your social media. Have the banners, profile pictures and backgrounds customized to show your products, services and logo in an eye-catching way. Social media helps you engage with customers, show your brand and market your business too.

  • Integrate social media on your website. If you don’t have clickable, visible links to all of your social media platforms on your website pages, get a developer to add them for you. Once you integrate your social media, make sure to manage it.  See my previous blog: Stop Ruining Your Business with Social Media.

  • Come up with a promotion for your business and post it on social media.  One of my favorite Facebook promotion ideas is to have your customers post a picture of your product and how they are using it. Have them post the picture on your social media company page with a comment about their photo.  Offer a prize for the most creative picture, then ask if you can use it in your marketing!

    hire a quickbooks ProAdvisor

Finances

  • Get your business finances in order. Hire a QuickBooks Proadvisor or bookkeeper to set up a proper chart of accounts for your company and get all your revenue and expenses entered. Create a quarterly management report on QuickBooks and start to look at year-on-year comparisons of your business performance.

  • Keep track of your expense receipts in an organized way so you and your bookkeeper are not scrambling at tax time. Figure out a system to get company receipts to the bookkeeper in a timely fashion throughout the year. In addition to having documents at your fingertips in April, you will run your business more strategically by being on top of expenses.

Blogging

  • Start a blog, and then learn how to properly post it so it is optimized for search. By creating original content and developing a blog, your website traffic will improve. The market will also start to look to you as an expert in your field. Be patient, as sometimes it takes time for original content to produce results.

Website

  • Have your website redesigned so that the pages are fluid-width, responsive and they properly adjust to any screen size or mobile device. Website elements should adjust to accommodate desktop computers, iPads and mobile phones. If you have an e-commerce platform embedded in your website, it should be responsive and work on all devices as well.

Small Business Strategy

  • Allocate time each day to read. It is amazing how much knowledge you will gain by just reading 30 minutes per day in your field of expertise. Order subscriptions, find newspapers or electronic newsletters that have great articles and information in your company’s area of expertise. Set time aside to read them each day and stay informed in your field.

These ideas are just off the top of my head, and there are many more that will be specific to your company. So, this summer, if the pace of your business is a little less frenetic, create your own to-do list. Construct a visual reminder, your very own clothespins in a jar, and get motivated to dust off projects that you have been meaning to do. Need some assistance? At Resourceful Business, we can help with website design and redesign, QuickBooks, content management, blogging, SEO and small business strategy. Contact us.