How do you know if someone is worth following-

How do you know if someone is worth following?

The world of social media and digital marketing is full of fakes and frauds. I’m serious. How many “experts” do you come across that have only 20 Twitter followers?

People in my profession are a dime a dozen, however there are some really, really good people out there really kickin it and are worth your follow.

I’ve written about determining someone’s social influence and about those “expert” lists, but this time I thought I would take a look at the positives – key ways to tell if someone you are looking at is indeed worth your time, respect and follow.

 

When looking at their social media profiles…

 

Twitter

  • How many people are they following versus how many follow them. Most will be even on their follower/following count, but most have more following them than they are following. Be on alert if the said “expert” has 50 followers and are following over 2,000 of if the balance is way out of whack like following 500 and have over 100,000 following them. The only exceptions? Celebrities and athletes, you know, famous people.

 

  • Look at how many times they’ve been listed. This doesn’t automatically show up on the actual Twitter site, however if you use TweetDeck, you can see this. Just click on the person’s name to see their bio pop up and it will show you how many lists they are on. Compare that to the number of people following them.

tweetdeck

  • Read their tweets. Are they constantly pushing their own content? Are they doing nothing but broadcasting with no engagement? Or are they sharing other people’s content as well as their own and engaging with people? You can get a good idea about someone from their tweets. Scroll back a few days and see what they have going on. True influencers will support others and won’t make it all about themselves.

LinkedIn

  • What do they have as their profile picture? Is it an obnoxious picture of something professional? I know some influential people will have a fun picture as their profile picture, and that’s okay. Fun is okay, t-shirts and sticking your tongue out is not.

 

  • Read their bio. Is everything filled out? Are they pushing the same keywords (stuffing the bio) without telling you who they are? Is it a big sales pitch or is it telling a story? Worthy influencers will not pounce on you with a sales pitch as their first point of interaction.

 

  • Look at their experience – what have the done in the past? Also, see who they are connected with. There is one social “expert” that really rubbed me the wrong way and I won’t connect with anyone who has this person listed as a connection if I don’t know them already. Maybe I’ll write a post about that later. Who you surround yourself with says a lot about you – be careful who you connect with.

 

  • Do they have any recommendations? Those who are worth connecting with following will have recommendations. Read them and use your judgment.

Google Plus

I know this is a platform a lot have given up on, but if the person you are looking at is using it, it’s worth looking at. Are they sharing meaningless articles or are they really being informative and seeing great interaction?

This is a hit or miss platform. Not all influencers you look at will be on it. Give them a few bonus points if they are 😉

I am intentionally leaving off Facebook and Pinterest. I rarely use a person’s Facebook or Pinterest presence as a way to judge if I want to follow them. In my experience the credible ones are most active on Twitter first, then LinkedIn and/or Google Plus.

 

Other ways…

 

Google them.

Seriously. Type their name in your favorite search engine and see what pops up – both the good, bad and the ugly. Seeing what’s out there about your person will give you a good picture. Speaking of pictures, try searching them in Google Images as well. You may be surprised what you find.

Visit their website.

What does their site say about them? Is it filled with spam and sales pitches? Does it convey who they are? I personally like the less-flashy, more subdued look.

Read their blog.

This is a biggie. What type of content are they publishing? Is it fluff or does it contain value? While you are reading their posts, take a look at the comments and social shares. True influencers will have their content shared and commented on. Not every post will have the same amount. Some have a lot of shares but little or no comments; some will have lots of comments but hardly any shares.

Find out how they distribute content.

Many influencers I follow distribute their content on other sites such as Social Media Today or Business 2 Community. Some also write for other sites, such as Steamfeed, Millennial CEO or IBM, to name a few. Respected influencers are given opportunities to contribute to other sites because they are providing value.

 

When looking at people to follow, there are a lot of things to consider, but ultimately it’s up to you – your judgment, what your instincts tell you and the overall feel you get for a person. I would caution you to really do your research before placing your trust and respect in a person. I’ve been burned before because I didn’t do just that.

In what ways can you tell if someone is worth following?

Why Having Competition is Beneficial

Why Having Competition is Beneficial

From playing tag outside after school over a decade or two ago to browsing other business’s social media sites to check out their followers, we have all been raised on the idea that competition is necessary. In fact, it can even be beneficial and healthy in the long run.

In short, without competition, how could we ever improve our own ideas and marketing skills or attempt to earn more views? How would we have any incentive to learn more about our field or eagerness to build upon our knowledge? This being said, competition in the marketing field can make ourselves and our customers even better than we already are.

I will lay out five of the benefits in this post so that your competitive side can get some ideas from me (even though I may in fact be part of your competition!).

Ironic, but nonetheless, useful.

  1. It can and should improve your customer service: How do more and more grocery stores and health food restaurants continue popping up around town? Because competition leads entrepreneurs and businesses to want to join the market and make it even better for consumers. But, just as we have the decision to shop at the store of our choice, so do our customers have the ability to move from one business to the other. That being said, we must ensure that our customer service and communication is top notch and above our competitors.
  2. It narrows your focus tremendously: Because so many of us can easily join new social media sites or create our own marketing sites, having competition forces us to identify our strengths and weaknesses in order to improve our own marketing skills. Without competitors, there would never be any incentive to want to improve ourselves and master those skills that we already claim to have. Also, because there is so much competition nowadays, competition makes us focus on the key customers we already have to better serve their needs.
  3. It allows the ability to learn more: Remember when the new kid in school brought their favorite toy to class, and you had never even heard of it before? Well, social media marketing can be somewhat of a throwback to this very situation. Because there are so many other businesses targeting the same or similar audiences, it make it incredibly easy to gather new and improved ideas, even from our own competition. Almost daily, I am seeing new marketing strategies and ideas that I had never realized even existed. With this competitive market, learning from our peers makes both of us better and allows consumers to have the best of both worlds.
  4. Employees will end up learning more: Because of the added competition in the field, your employees will want to develop new skills and knowledge about the marketplace to ensure an advantage. Typically, employees in social marketing have an excellent grasp on the field already, so having a desire to learn more and an eagerness to be better than the competition should not be much of a problem
  5. There will always be room for improvement: No one can predict the future, and that includes your competition. Once new material enter the field, companies can efficiently gather the necessary strategies and ideas. This can ensure that your company makes the first move in the field and takes the lead over the competition in that category. Customers love to test out new ideas, products and anything they haven’t seen in the marketplace before, so your company can earn major brownie points by improving in all new aspects of social media marketing and those strategies surrounding the field.

Now tell us: how do you feel about competition in your marketplace? Do you feel that it ultimately improves your company?

 

Not All Content Has to be Epic

Not All Content Has to be Epic

I’m here to tell you something really important…

Not every piece you publish on social media has to be epic.

Now that that weight is off your shoulder, you can relax. Don’t get me wrong, publishing epic content is great but you can do it every.single.time. No one (or business) is ever 100%. There is no need to stress about publishing epic content every time you hit “post” or “publish”.

Good, quality content is always important. It’s what helps you earn respect and a following – even clients. However your audience doesn’t expect perfection with every post. Yes, you’ll publish some duds every now and then, but you know what? It’s okay.

Let me share with you why not every post has to be epic…

You want to stay relevant.

A lot of times what some deem as “epic posts” are not relevant to the topic or industry of that particular business. It’s very important that businesses stay on-topic – that’s why you were followed in the first place.

Every now and then it’s okay to go off-topic but don’t do it just to try to be epic. There is no sense in risking losing followers to be epic.

 

You need to show some personality and be relatable.

When you try to write an epic post, many times the language turns robotic and you lose the fun, personal approach. You’re on social media to engage with your community and to do that, you need to show them who you are. I understand some companies and organizations are very limited in this arena, but just do the best you can with what is allowed.

At the same time you need to be relatable. Show people what’s going on in the Monday morning meeting. Talk about something great (or bad if you choose) that happened. Allowing your audience to see you’re a real person just like them will help them to relate to you and then you can start building the relationship that will lead to a loyal customer.

 

If you aim for perfection every time you will wear yourself out.

It can stressful enough crafting the perfect social strategy for your business and planning your content. Trying to be epic each and every time will simply overwhelm you and you’ll totally miss the target. As a perfectionist, it’s hard for me to accept I can’t have perfect content all the time. If someone tells you that you have to be perfect 100% of the time, they’re lying. Or at least setting you up with unrealistic expectations. Don’t stress over it. Make it your goal to publish good, quality content that is going to show you are real and that you understand your audience. That will make you epic.

 

Now you can sit back and relax. And enjoy a nice cup of coffee.

What are your thoughts? Should every piece of content be epic or is that expecting too much?

5 Reasons to Keep Blogging

5 Reasons to Keep Blogging

Once upon a time (but not too long ago!), blogging was just another trendy “thing” for creative people to dabble in. Early blogging took on a variety of subjects, but most were personal in nature. These early bloggers hardly worried about things like SEO or PageRank – they only wanted a place where they could easily publish their thoughts and opinions online.

Now, fast forward to the past five years or so. We have seen blogging evolve and into something altogether different from its earliest beginnings. And we also know that blogging hasn’t really been “just another trendy thing” for quite some time.

In fact, blogging is serious business these days, and savvy business owners and marketers understand this. Blogging is still one of the best ways a business can drive traffic to their websites from the internet.

On the other hand, these same business owners and marketers are also finding that the activity of blogging has become more complicated than in the past. Some are becoming frustrated with the frequently changing Google algorithms and SEO guidelines. And then, to top it off, bloggers are being told they must create “quality” content which “provides value to their readers,” in order to stand out from the rest.

This leaves business owners and marketers with two simple choices. They can either (a) stop blogging or (b) keep blogging. You can tell which choice I recommend by this article’s title.

Why should a business keep blogging?

1) SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is still an important thing

Regardless of what you hear around the internet, SEO is not going away. The rules of SEO may change, but it’s still an important part of being found online. Fresh content, which is achieved through blogging on a regular basis, helps keep your website on Google’s (and your potential clients’) radars.

2) Your readers miss you

You may feel discouraged after publishing regularly for weeks, months…even years…but think no one is reading your carefully crafted posts. Don’t let a lack of comments or social shares bring you down though. If you’re blogging, people are noticing.

If you haven’t been paying attention to your Google Analytics, then you should start. This tool is free and provides insights that show you how people (and how many) are finding your website. Seeing this information for yourself will help you realize that you really have not been wasting your time blogging.

3) Consistent blogging helps build credibility and trust

Some business owners and marketers mistakenly believe blogging is necessary only for lead generation. When business is going well, they may not see the need for maintaining their blogs. The reality is that through keeping your company blog current and constantly providing value, you may be strengthening and preserving the relationships you have built with new and current clients. A long-term relationship with a happy client is always a win-win situation.

4) Networking opportunities

Depending on your business and/or personal goals, you may benefit from online networking. Blogging regularly opens up all sorts of networking opportunities, such as being invited to speak at events, attend events, be interviewed, and more. Networking is also useful for generating leads for your business, as well as closing sales.

5) Practice makes perfect…or close enough

Writing blog posts isn’t easy, and nearly every blogger goes through periods where they want to take breaks from it. However, if you aren’t careful, your procrastination can easily take over. Your well-intentioned short break could become permanent one. Nip all this in the bud and take a short break, but focus on writing your way through your “dry spells,” (or whatever you choose to call them).

Some people may write extra articles that they can pull out during those times they feel unmotivated. Others choose guest blogging as a way of staying in the loop. Either way, most people agree that “practice makes perfect” when it comes to blogging. Along with the other benefits, regular blogging also helps you keep your writing skills honed and your head in the game.

 

Are you blogging for your business? What suggestions do you have for keeping a business blog alive? I’d love to hear your thoughts – please feel free to leave your comments below.

Using Instagram for Business 101

Ask Mandy Q&A: Using Instagram for Business 101

Instagram is on the rise. This image-based platform topped 300 million users in 2014.  More and more businesses are taking advantage of this awesome platform. In fact, this is one I’m trying to use more of this year, both personally and professionally.

This past week I received the following question via my Ask Mandy page:

I’d like to know “how to” promote my portrait photography on Instagram. How do you post photos files other than those taken with your phone? So far, the only suggestion I’ve seen is to upload them from box. I just started using Instagram and so far the only posts I see are the ones I “follow” instead of everything posted. So how do I know if my posts will be seen by everyone?

Promoting on Instagram really is no different than other social media platforms. Here’s a simple 101 guide to promoting your business on Instagram:

Uploading Photos to Use

Instgram is different from Facebook and Twitter because you have to upload a photo to post. Photos are the backbone of this platform – without them, this wouldn’t exist. Unfortunately at this time, there is not a direct way to upload a photo via your computer. I’m sure one day we may have this option, but right now, there’s not. Here are the most common ways to post your photo to Instagram:

  • Take a photo on your smartphone or tablet and direct upload from the device.
  • Create a DropBox folder or a folder in Google Drive and upload the photos you’d like to use and sync it with your smartphone or tablet. You’d then download the image from the cloud onto your device and post from there.
  • Repost App. This is an app that allows you to share other people’s Instagram photos. When you open it, it brings up the feed of who you follow and you just tap the photo you want to share and it allows you to open it up in your Instagram account to post.

Using Hashtags

Hashtags are very important when using this platform for your business. Like Twitter, these allow you to be found when someone searches. Instagram’s guidelines on hashtags can be found here. Jenn Hermann of Jenn’s Trends is one of the top Instagram strategy people I know. She wrote an article about using hashtags on Instagram and here’s what she says (and I suggest as well) –

  • Use relevant keyword hashtags
  • Don’t use too many hashtags
  • Use industry related hashtags
  • Keep your audience in mind
  • Don’t hijack hashtags (basically using a popular hashtag to butt in on a trend or conversation)

One of her best suggestions on using hashtags was to create a list of hashtags and save them on your mobile device –

“On your mobile device, I recommend you create a notepad note (on whichever app you prefer) with your favorite/preferred hashtags. You can even create multiple lists if you have multiple types of content you share on Instagram. Set the list with your core hashtags and simply copy and paste it into your Instagram post caption to save you having to type them in each time. It’ll also make sure you don’t leave any out!”

Following People & Getting Followers

In the question above she mentioned only seeing the posts of people she’s followed, not everyone. On Instagram, in your feed you will only see the posts from those you follow. If you click on eyeglass at the bottom, it pulls up the search where you see photos from people based on the people you follow. You can also search people and hashtags as well. To be found and get followers, it’s important for you to use hashtags (see above). Most people you follow will follow you back, however here are some tips when you follow people and getting people to follow you back:

  • Have your bio completely filled out and include a link to your website. Also, make sure you have a legit and professional-looking profile photo (read: no bikini pictures or topless (if you are a guy), no vulgar expressions, etc.).
  • Post relevant content. Your stream should not be a collection of selfies.
  • When you do follow someone and they follow you back, do not immediately unfollow them. This is my biggest pet peeve. I’ll have people follow me and I’ll follow them back if I like their content and 2 days later, I’m scrolling through my followers and see they are not following me anymore. Talk about rude. Beware of those who follow you who are following A LOT less than follow them.
  • Check out who is following your competitor and follow those people. Keep in mind to only follow quality people.
  • Comment on other people’s posts. If someone comments on mine and I’m not following them, more often than not, I’ll follow them. Of course, look at their bio and what they’ve posted first.
  • Use relevant hashtags.

Promoting Across the Web

Of course you’ll want everyone to know you are on Instagram now. When you launch your account, make sure you have your Instagram link on your website. Also, post a status update with your link on your other social accounts. I have several I follow on different social media platforms and their Instagram posts are much different (for the better) than their Facebook updates. Here are some ideas to promote your Instagram account across the web:

  • Status update on your social platforms.
  • Link on your website.
  • Write a blog post about why you’re using it.
  • Share your Instagram photos to Twitter and Facebook.

Be Active Daily!

Like any other social media platform, you have to use it regularly to benefit from it. Posting once per week is not going to do it. Plan on posting 2-3 times per day. The more active you are, the more your account with grow.

Track Your Analytics

Last but not least, you need to be able to track and measure your Instgram effors. Fortunately there’s a great program called Iconosquare to help! This program lets you manage comments on your Instagram photos, manage your account by providing you widgets and badges to let people know you’re on Instagram and gives you data on who is following you and optimal times to post.

 

Using Instagram can be A LOT of fun. It’s a great way to get a behind-the-scenes peek into the daily lives of business and individuals. If you use it the right way, you’ll see your presence grow.

Do YOU have a social media question you’d like answered? Just write in your question on our Ask Mandy Q&A page!

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