A Smart Guide To Buffer

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

buffer-app

Social media is a must for any business who wishes to remain relevant and engaged in today’s modern and technological world. Being connected to various social platforms helps increase engagement, but what you post, when you post it and how, are just as important as where you post it. Being able to appear active around the clock  online, even when you’re away from the computer, isn’t as hard as it sounds.

There are various apps which allow you to schedule content to social networks. One of the leading ones is Buffer. This tool is purpose built to be a scheduling and sharing app. All you  have to do is connect your social profiles, “Buffer” the links you wish to post out, and away you go!

Getting Started

To sign up for an account, click on the  “Log in with email” option:

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Complete the email and password boxes and then click  “Create Account”:

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 12.44.05Once you have registered, you will be greeted by a choice of option plans. Click the option which would best suits your needs. Be aware that the individual user option is free, whilst the other two are paid but offer more features. You can always opt for a free trial before committing to a paid plan.

Once set up on a plan, you must add your social networks. You can do this by simply following the links on offer and authorising your networks:

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NB: you can choose to add just a Facebook page rather than an account of you prefer. Click the option under the Facebook Profile box. You can also add more profiles, such as LinkedIn, App.Net or a Google Plus page by following the “Accounts +” button in the top left corner of the screen:

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Schedule Content

Buffer is all about scheduling content at key times, so it’s important you set your profile up correctly. Select your timezone by filling out the location box. For example, type in “London – UK”.

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From there, you can select the days which you would like your scheduled content to go out on. For example, the photo below would imply content would be scheduled for every Tuesday and Friday:

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Now you’ve decided which days your updates will be published, you must now pick the times which they will go live. You can select as many times per day as you like. These times will go out for all  your select days. Be sure you choose times which are most relevant to your audience.

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Selecting Content

It’s all very well to have your dates and times set up to post, but now you need content to share! Be sure to add the Buffer extension button to your internet tool bar. This is the simplest way of Buffering. Once you have found something you think is worth sharing, simply click on the extension button whilst on the page you wish to share, and then select the social network you want to share it to and select where in the queue you want it to go:

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You can also Buffer tweets directly from Twitter.com. In your timeline, you will see the Buffer option come up in the bottom of the tweet boxes. Click on that and select the scheduling times just as above.

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You can always change the order your posts go out by managing them in the “Content” section of the tool bar:

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You can drag and drop content into the order you want it to published, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can shuffle content into a random order.

Analytics

Buffer comes complete with very basic analytics, even for the free plan. You can see how many people have clicked on your links for each network you publish to. This way, you can test which time gains you most engagement and always be sure to take advantage of it when scheduling future updates.

Conclusion

Being active on social is very important for businesses and individuals alike. Being able to appear socially active, even if you’re away from technology, means you are able to encourage more engagement and increase your audience and/or consumer base. Buffer is a brilliantly simple tool for ensuring you post regularly and around the clock at times which are tailored to your businesses needs.

5 Social Media Marketing Tools For Smart Business

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

social media marketing tools

Social media can be a minefield for businesses. An endless array of networks, interactions, posts and so on. Switching between tabs on the internet for your various profiles and replying from each individually can be tiring and time consuming. Fortunately, there are some excellent social media marketing tools out there that allow businesses to pool all of their social media and features into one place to ensure your social marketing is efficient and easy.

 

1 – HootSuite

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HootSuite is undoubtedly the leading social media platform, with over 9 million users. A popular and intuitive platform, this allows you to combine networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Instagram in one place. It offers various price plans and feature options, raging from free to “Pro” for £7.19 a month or their top range offer, “Enterprise” for elite business and corporate use. It allows you to not only post from each of your networks, but also to establish feeds for your @mentions, private messages, comments, and so on. An Ambassador of the classic, “column” interface, you can easily set up and organise your dashboard to please you.

Key Features:

  • Send updates to all connect networks simultaneously
  • Schedule updates
  • Keyword searches
  • Analytics
  • Team Members

You can read our “Smart Guide To HootSuite” here.

 

2 – TweetDeck

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TweetDeck, as the name may suggest, is a free and exclusively Twitter focused tool which allows you to streamline your Twitter use. You can have your timeline, notifications, Direct Messages and trends and activity all in one place, lined up next to each other so you save time having to navigate like you would on the website.

Key Features:

  • Scheduling Twitter updates
  • Custom Timelines

 

3 – Buffer

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An excellent tool for ensuring your links and updates are always published at opportune moments, Buffer allows you to schedule posts to times which suit your businesses needs. Posting to networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus, this simple but brilliant tool means you can get quality content and information to your audience even when you’re away from your desk. Price plans range from free to the “Awesome Plan” for $10 a month.

Key Features:

  • Scheduling posts across networks
  • Analytics
  • Team Members

 

4 – Zapp! Media Group

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Zapp! allows you to ad networks such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, email and many more and promote your business in a hard and fast manner. Set up similar to an email inbox, it has all your feeds and interactions in one stream, making sure you never miss a beat when it comes to your social media. Prices range from the “Basic Plan” of $39.95 per month to the “Pro” at $99.95 per month.

Key Features:

  • Scheduling
  • Analytics
  • Brand searches – highlights who is talking about your brand online
  • RSS Feeds

 

5 – SproutSocial

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SproutSocial is set up much like an Inbox you would find for email interfaces. Pooling all your feeds across the various networks into one place, you can establish “Smart Inboxes” to cherry pick the data that is relevant to your social marketing needs. There are three options for price plans, ranging from Deluxe at $59 per user a month, Premium at $99 per user a month and Enterprise at $1,500 per month.

Key Features:

  • All-in-one Inbox
  • Multiple profiles
  • Analytics
  • Mobile App

 

Key Focus

Finding the right social media marketing tools for your business really can shave time off your day as well as up the ante in marketing prowess. It may be that you are happy using one tool for your social use, or find that mixing and matching different tools means you get the best features from each. Finding what works for you is the key to successful social marketing, but one thing is for sure, these tools really are great help for those serious about social networking.

Photo credit: Mykl Roventine via photopin cc

A Smart Guide To HootSuite

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

guide to hootsuiteUsing social media to promote your business is an excellent and cost effect way to market as well as interact with your audience. Being on as many social networks as possible means you get a full range of people who can access your business. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus or others, you need to be able to harness it’s power. Keeping up to date with your wall posts, private messages, @mentions or Direct Messages can be time consuming. This is why it’s useful to look into social management platforms which allow you to store your important data in one place

HootSuite is one such platform. The juggernaut of social media platforms, this brand allows you to streamline all of your social media activity into one easy to use interface. With access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (depending on your account), Google Plus and FourSquare, you have all you need to be a social media savvy business in one place. It operates a “freemium” option as well as paid accounts, so you can find something to suit your needs.

 

Getting Started

create account on hootsuite

 

  • From there, fill in the data file with your email address, full name and create a password.
  • Connect your desired networks:

add social networks to hootsuite

Setting Up Your Profile

Once you have added your networks, you can start setting up your dashboard.

  • To create a stream, simply click on the “Add Stream” option in the top tool bar:

set up your hootsuite profile

  • From there, you can decide which network you want the stream to be for. If you want a social network stream, click on networks options down the left side of the tool bar. Once you have done that, you can then apply the options applicable to that network, whether you want your @mentions, DM’s, news feed photos, etc. If you want a stream dedicated to keywords, the simply click on that option in the top tool bar.

add stream to hootsuite

 

  • You can delete streams by clicking on the small X on the right hand side of the column tool bar at the top.
  • You can also refresh your feed by clicking on the circular arrow in the column tool bar to see new content.

 

Compose An Update

Once you have set up all your streams for the content you need, you can start exploring how to post updates and respond to others.

  • To post an update, simply scroll over the “Compose” box and you will get a pop up box to write your message in. From there, you can choose which network/s you wish to publish to by clicking on the network options down the left:

compose an update in hootsuite

  • You can attach a link to your updates by clicking on the option as pictured in the shot above.
  • You can also attach a location to your update if you wish to by clicking on the location bulb. The second icon from the right.

 

Schedule Updates

Scheduling updates is so simple with HootSuite.

  • You can schedule your updates to go out at specified times and dates directly from the compose box. Click on the calendar option (as pictured in the above image, second icon on the left) and set up the data as required:

schedule updates using hootsuite

 

NB: if you have a paid HootSuite account, you can use the bulk upload scheduler to schedule multiple messages at once. This option is not available on the free account.

 

Keyword Searches

Being able to search for the keywords relevant to your business needs is a very important social media tool. HootSuite allows you to search for keywords and set up streams to be able to see them easily and respond to them as required.

  • Click on the “Add Stream”, just as you would when adding a social network feed. Click on the “Keyword” option along the top of the tool box.

tracking keywords in hootsuite

 

  • Enter the word of choice into the text box and click on “Add” followed by “Add Stream” to create the column. You can repeat this for as many keywords or phrases as you need.
  • You can use this keyword search to also search for relevant hashtag updates.

 

Conclusion

HootSuite really is an excellent tool for any business looking to create a power base on social media.  Being able to have every network, every core feature and every possible column for all your feeds, really is important in saving you time and ensuring you do not miss a beat when it comes to social  marketing.

 

 

How To Make The Most Of #Hashtags

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

hashtags

“Hashtags” is a term that many may have heard, but not necessarily know very much about. It has fast become a social buzzword and it’s now encroaching on more and more social media sites. In essence, the hashtag is a word or full phrase prefixed by the hashtag symbol (#) which are hyperlinks to relative topics. Originally a stand out feature belonging to Twitter, it can now be found on Google Plus, Facebook and Instagram.

 

How It Works

When using hashtags, you are posting links directly from your update into a forum of related, categorised topics, words or phrases. In essence, it allows both you and others to search for keywords or phrases related to your market by collecting all updates which share the same tagged content and grouping them into one place. For example, if you hash tagged #SocialMedia in an update and then clicked on the tag, you would be taken to a page where that tag has been used by others. From there, you can reply and connect with people who  you know are talking about the same interests.

 

How To Make It Work For You

Hashtags are a simple yet effective social marketing strategy for any business simply because they are a really great way of connecting with people and thus, expanding your audience or customer base via social marketing. By adding a hashtag to your social posts, you are increasing the level of engagement as you are creating links to allow others to find you.

For example, if you’re a book shop, you could be using #Books followed by the genre #Crime #SciFi #Romance and so on. This way, people can not only see what you have on offer if they are searching for those keywords.

If you’re company is having a sale, be sure to hashtag #sale so that you have an extra marketing tool at your exposure to target more people.

 

Avoid Making A Hash Of It

Although they are a fun, quirky and key social marketing tool, it is possible to use them in an adverse manner which could do your brand more harm than good.  Key hashtag do’s and don’ts are:

  • DON’T jump on the bandwagon. Just because a certain hashtag is trending, don’t try and use it to your benefit if it’s irrelevant to  your brand. For example, if #OneDirection is the days most popular tag, adding it to one of your updates about the new kitchen appliances your shop is now selling is inappropriate and could result in ridicule and bad feedback.
  • DO keep it simple and keep it short. Single words are great for hash tagging and so are short phrases, but adding full sentences wont work as it becomes hard to read and looks odd. For example #thiswouldbearathersillyuseofhashtags!
  • DON’T use spaces or punctuation between words if you’re using more than one. You can differentiate between words by using capitals instead. #ForExample
  • DO remember to use it across all social platforms. Long gone are the days when it was a Twitter exclusive, be sure you use them on Facebook, G+ and Instagram also to really make the most of them.
  • DON’T over hashtag. You only need one or two tags per update. Hash tagging too many words per update will look wrong and defeat the purpose of impact key word marketing. #Do #Not #Hashtag #Every #Word – Watch the video at the end to see how using too many hashtags can look.
  • DO remember that you don’t need to just think of what it is you’re hash tagging. Search the various platforms for keywords that hashtags flag to see who else is talking about those topics and then reach out to them.

 

Conclusion

Social media hashtags are a really excellent way of both marketing your goods and offers as well as finding others who have posted about them and allowing you to connect directly. It’s a proactive tool which all businesses should be embracing on social and increasing engagement and consumer audience.

#Over #Use #Of #Hashtags!

Photo credit: quinn.anya via photopin cc

How To Get Started On Instagram for a Local Business

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

how to get started with Instagram

Instagram is one of the largest social networks in use and is certainly the worlds leading photo platform. A primarily mobile based app, it allows users to take, upload and digitally filter and enhance photos before sharing them publicly, both online in its own forum and also via other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. It is renowned for its retro feel and look, inspired by the days of polaroid photos giving your photos a classic cool touch.

 

Getting Started

It really is simple, just go to your app store on your phone and search for Instagram and download. Here’s the app on iTunes and GooglePlay. Be sure to use your brand name when registering your handle, keeping it the same as your Facebook and Twitter profiles if possible to give you consistency and make you easy to locate. The same goes for your profile photo, if you have a brand logo, make sure you use that. Link out to your website in the bio section to ensure increased traffic to your own site.

  • Once you have it installed, open the app and start uploading by clicking on the blue camera icon in the bottom centre of the screen.

Take a photo with Instagram

  • From there you can either take a photo in real time or scroll through your gallery to find one.
  • Resize it using the touch screen square option, click the arrow icon top right corner to move on.
  • Select the filters from the row across the bottom of the screen until you find one you like.

Instagram filter options

  • You can also test other options such as blurred edges and frames from the top of the page. Once you’re happy, click the arrow again to select the final control page:

Post a photo on Instagram

  • Select to send it to other profiles such as Facebook and Twitter for maximise publicity. You also have the option to tag other Instagram users if its relevant to do so, it’s a good way of reaching out. If you like, you can even add a location to the photo so people know where to find you. After you have done that, all that is left is to post it by again clicking the arrow. It’s really that easy!

 

How To Use It For Business

It’s a common misperception that photo apps such as Instagram are aimed solely at young people for personal use, and although this is one core marketing group, it’s also a fantastic way to plug your business if you know how to embrace it correctly. The key is to balance the content of your photos from personal and fun, so your audience can see that you’re human and approachable, but also maintain a level of business and work ethics.

  • Posting photos of your team having coffee and laughing during work meetings is a perfect Instagram photo opportunity to help break the fourth wall between you and your consumer base. Whilst these laid back personal touches are welcome and should be embraced, be sure to ensure they retain a level of respectability.
  • Be clever with it as a marketing tool. Have a sale on? Upload an Instagram of a “Sale!” image so your customers know that they can get money off and be more likely to engage.
  • Be sure to use hashtags when you publish. Key ideas would be your brand name, the word sale, the items you sell and are showing in the photo, length of sale, colour of item. These keyword hashtags will help lead customers to you (especially if you also post out to Facebook and Twitter when you publish).

 

Conclusion

Instagram is a great visual marketing tool. Not only can you market items or products, you can show the public that you’re just like them, normal people, having fun and doing a great job. By walking a line of personal touches and business posts, you will have an Instagram profile people will love and connect with. And if people are connecting, they’re appreciating your brand.