Posts in "Digital marketing" Category

Last video for WeTalkBusiness on social media and search engine optimisation

This is the last of my interviews with WeTalkBusiness about social media and search engine optimisation – most importantly, how I use Twitter and Facebook to promote my business. I’m now providing this service, with a web developer, for other small businesses and organisations – check out Pollocks Toy Museum Trust where we provided a custom WordPress template with full social media integration.

The Bloggers Guide to Google+ by Matt Cooke and Lisa de Bonis at Britmums Live

I decided to go to Britmums Live, the event for parent bloggers in the UK, this year and I’m so glad I did! It’s a yearly event for members of Britmums, one of the oldest parent blogger networks in the UK (and one which welcomes daddy bloggers too, despite the name). The bloggers who turn up are usually parents who blog about all kinds of things – family life, products for children, parenting challenges, cooking, crafts or small business (like me!).

The Bloggers guide to Google+ by Matt Cooke of Google+ and Lisa de Bonis
The first session I attended was a Google+ seminar: Google+ are currently reaching out to early adopters like bloggers and are keen to organise communities based around ‘shared passions’ – they suggested organising your circles to reflect your enthusiasms such as crafting, food etc so that you can follow people who share the same passion as you (and gain inspiration for blogs) and also so that you can share blog entries or other links with appropriate audiences.

Lisa mentioned that a blogger who is keen to remain anonymous should create a Page for their blog; no one will know that their Profile runs the Page.

Another cool feature they talked about is Hangouts: if you run a Hangout on Air you can stream if from your blog and it will be auto recorded and saved on Youtube. Some ways you can use this are for Product Reviews, How to’s, Q&A sessions, Book Clubs, Debates and of course Vlogging.


Learn More about Google+Google Reader Integration One questioner asked whether Google+ had any plans to make it easier for users of Google Reader to share links. I was keen to hear the answer to this as I subscribe to a lot of RSS streams from blogs in my Google Reader and I don’t think I’m alone! I’ve often been baffled by the lack of ‘joining up’ in some Google services and think Reader would have been perfect for more sharing, not less, as it’s such a useful service. Google+ responded that they are keen to encourage manual sharing from Google+ itself at this point, to get people to use the service more and know it better, but might add more integration with other services further down the line. I’m not 100% convinced by this – how come Blogger has auto-share added, then? – but at least we know the official line!

Several members of the audience had questions about merging Google+ accounts into one (is it possible? Short answer, no) and whether Profiles or Pages are better (short answer, use a Profile for your personal account and a Page for your professional account).

This was a very useful session for those of us who are still learning about Google+ – it’s such a new network that there is a steep learning curve even if you are a Google obsessive, like me.

Using the Advanced Features of Facebook Pages Seminar by Janis Curry at Britmums Live

Advanced Blogging: Using the Advanced Features of Facebook Pages seminar by Janis Curry of Really Kid Friendly

This was another great seminar at Britmums Live and very informative for those of us who run Facebook Pages. Janis had some great points about considering your audience: make sure you add good, shareable content and don’t make your posts too ‘blogger-centric’. Also, time updates to suit them.

Good ways to create engagement are to ask people to Like or Comment or ask questions on Facebook.

She cautioned against using too much automated posting, eg from Twitter, and suggests using Crowdbooster or Sproutsocial instead so you can tailor updates to each network.

Think about your blog – what’s it all about? Describe it in one minute and identify the main themes. Focus your Page (and blog) on 3-4 themes.

Think about your relationship to your readers – best friend? Sister? Resource?

Facebook updates should tell your story and show you have a history.

Vary your posts by pinning photos etc or by varying types of post to keep your page looking lively. And customise your app buttons (the little squares that show up under your main photo) with some cute images for a real impact!

Info about running competitions on Facebook
No asking visitors to Like/Comment/add photos to enter a competition.
They can’t enter automatically if they Like your page.
They can’t use Likes/Shares as a voting mechanism.
You can’t notify winners through Facebook.

You can use a Canvas page or Page app to manage a competition or ask visitors to Like your Page as part of the competition criteria. She recommends Contests for Facebook or Lujure for this.

This was a very useful seminar for advanced Facebook Page users – I picked up some great tips from Janis!

Visit her website Very Kid Friendly.

Getting Social – a guide for small businesses

This presentation was created as a guide to small businesses. It talks about the demographics of users of different social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube) with data for 2012 wherever possible and includes information on measuring influence and ROI. All rights reserved to Tabitha Potts.

A presentation on Social Media in TV using Prezi

I was recently asked to give a talk on Social Media and how to use it in television by the recently launched The Talent Manager – it’s a great new company set up by TV training experts DV Talent that gives television freelancers a central database to store their CVs and update them regularly so that all their potential employers can see them. I’ve worked for a few TV companies recently (helping them with social media) and I used to work in television so this was a really interesting challenge.

I was on a panel with Peter Heneghan, Social Media Ambassador at Channel 4, and Olly Lambert the documentary film maker, so no pressure there then…. Peter Heneghan talked about using Twitter hashtags and the importance of choosing one carefully and publicising it wherever possible. Channel Four’s recent Dispatches on artificially high-priced tickets on ‘fan-only’ websites used the hashtag #TicketScandal and flashed it on the screen during the programme itself. It trended on Twitter and is still attracting new tweets. Olly Lambert talked about what it was like to direct a reality documentary series (The Family) when one of the family members was seen by viewers as ‘bullying’ another and became upset by the criticisms of her behaviour on Twitter. He also talked about his very funny, and popular, Edit Suite Stories Facebook group. The gist of his talk was that great content will always find its own audience, but he has also experimented with hashtags on Twitter and found them very useful as a way of encouraging debate.

As we were having a panel discussion with brief presentations I decided to try out a new tool, Prezi, to make my own presentation. It is cloud-based presenting and the site itself is very easy to use and find your way around. To create a new presentation, just click “New Prezi” on the site once you’ve registered and logged on. 
If you’re used to Powerpoint or similar tools, Prezi is a bit disorientating at first. You will see a blank page where you can add text boxes, links, images and Youtube clips using a strange blob-shaped controller at the top left of the screen. This is your Master document where all of your images, text and clips will be displayed at once.

Images can be any size, and you can zoom in and out when viewing them in the presentation. Rather than adding ‘slides’, you set a path on one main screen using the Path command which will put your images, text, Youtube clips etc in order. These will then display as ‘Slides’ at the bottom of your edit screen, so you can see whether the order is correct.

When you present, the viewer pans from one ‘slide’ to the next on the same screen: the best way to make use of this is to zoom. There are some great example Prezis on their site which will show you some dramatic ways to do this.

Prezi worked very well for my presentation and once I have mastered the best way to make use of its graphic qualities I would use it in preference to Powerpoint, I think. You can download it and store it on a memory stick which works on Macs and PCs, or access it on any computer connected to the Internet – hurrah for the cloud! If you have created a free Prezi account, be aware that you cannot make your Prezi private.

One other issue is that it’s not currently possible to create an audio track to play with the presentation (except by some fairly complicated workarounds) so you are out of luck if you want to make this a stand alone web presentation with an audio commentary.

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Preparing your Facebook Business page for Timeline on March 30th

Facebook is switching all Facebook Business Pages to the new Timeline design.  This change rather crept up on me, but I managed to get ready in the end. I thought I’d blog a few notes  for those who are still trying to figure out the changes that have been made, especially other small businesses owners like me without a lot of time on their hands.

First of all, to see how your page will look you have to activate Facebook Timeline Preview. There should be a Preview tab at the top of your page – if not, go to Introducing New Facebook Pages and press the green button to preview your page. Ta da!

What you will probably notice immediately is a gap at the top of the Page where you should put your Cover Photo (just click Add Cover Photo or Change Cover Photo and upload or select from your photos on Facebook). This image should ideally be 851 x 315 pixels in size and I recommend that you make this a priority before all the Pages are switched over on the 30th of March. Businesses are not supposed to put any promotional material or text on here. It’s quite hard to come up with the right image if you are a business selling all kinds of different products, so I settled for a collage (made for free in Picasa and edited with Gimp). I’m going to adjust it seasonally to show off different products from my range.

Your Apps will be displayed below the Cover Photo as square buttons rather than tabs as they were before. The default Photos folder always comes first on the left. You can change the order they come in by clicking on the little pencil icon on the top right hand corner of each button. An option to swap places with another button will come up. You can also customise the ‘cover’ for each App, if you like, by adding an image.

For a business, it makes more sense to add Milestones than it does on a personal Facebook Profile (where it often feels like bragging – at least, to me!). Milestones are new product releases, reviews, awards, important dates and so on – you can add them via your Status bar which displays just below your cover Photo. They will display on your Timeline at the appropriate date once you have added all the details.

Don’t forget to check, and if necessary, edit your About section, which appears at the bottom left of your cover photo just above your Status bar, as it is very prominent int he new Facebook design.

‘Like-gating’ – asking Facebook visitors who are not fans to Like your page so they can get a special offer or promotion – is apparently something Facebook is not keen on, as they’ve made it more or less impossible to create a custom landing page for visitors. Instead, everyone arrives on the Timeline. It is possible to create a custom landing page for adverts, though, so you can create an advert for a particular promotion or offer for non-fans to entice them over.  I recently came across a helpful article on Alternative Tactics to Like Gating which explains some other ways to try and increase your Likes.

Importing your blog as Facebook Notes has been discontinued for a few months now, however it is still possible to import your blog using Networked Blogs, and I’ve switched to this in a bid to get a little bit of my life back! I’ve set mine to publish on my Timeline via Syndication.

When you are ready, press Publish – or you can just wait for Facebook to do it for you!

Please visit my Facebook Page and let me know what you think – or if you have any comments please leave them below.

How to get your author photo to show up in Google search results

In case you’ve ever wondered how some people get a thumbnail photo of themselves to show up in Google search results, these are known as Google author links and they are a great tool for making yourself more visible in search results and increasing your credibility if you run a blog. I’ve just managed to activate mine and thought I’d pass on the methods I used to get myself listed: it’s really a question of patience and trial and error. You can see how the thumbnail photo looks in the screenshot below: it’s about four times larger than the small photo that appears when you have shared a link on Google Plus and which usually says “You shared this”.

Google has detailed instructions about how to activate Google author links but it isn’t terribly clear how to apply this to different blog platforms. I’ve managed to activate these successfully in WordPress and in Blogger so thought I’d pass on the knowledge I’ve gained about the simplest way to do this. You will need to have a Google Plus account for this to work. These notes are for people with single author blogs only, but you will find instructions for multiple user blogs on the Google link above. These instructions are also relevant for Google+ personal profiles rather than business pages.

1. If you haven’t already, set up your Google Plus account.
2. If you don’t have one, set up an About Me page on both your Blogger and WordPress accounts. Add any biographical information you want to appear in search results (you can link your Blogger and Google+ accounts here but you still need to have an About Me page for this to work in my experience). Don’t forget your keywords!
3. In WordPress, you may need to add the Allow Rel= and HTML plugin if you are using the WordPress Author Bios page.
4. Sign into Google Plus and copy the URL at the top of your home page which will be followed by a string of 21 digits. This is your Google Profile URL.
5. Go here to get your personalised Google+ profile button and paste your profile URL into the box it shows you to generate the button HTML code. Copy the button HTML code (NB this is NOT the same as a “+1” button which allows others to share your content).
6. Add the button code at the bottom of your Blogger and WordPress ‘About Me’ pages (remember to paste into the HMTL section not the visual editor).
7. You should now have a button at the bottom of your About Me pages that links to your Google+ profile, just like I do here.
8. Now sign into your Google Plus account and go to ‘Edit Profile’.
9. Look for the ‘+1’s’ tab and click the box saying ‘Show this tab on your profile’ (I’m not entirely sure why this step is necessary but I include it as a lot of other walkthroughs have mentioned it and I did it myself).
10. Next, click the ‘About’ tab and click on the section saying ‘Contributor To’ and ‘Add Custom Link’
11. Add the link to your About Me page (NOT just the general URL) ie for both your WordPress and blogger blogs.
12. Go to the Rich Snippets Testing Tool and put your About Me page URL in the box to check that your mark up is working correctly. The result should look something like this:

13. Google have provided a form you can send them to let them know you have added the Author link to your blog or site. It’s worth filling it in as they may get back to you if it doesn’t work.

That’s it! You can also add reciprocal links from your Google+ Business Page to your business website too, if you like, as I’ve done on Mimimyne, using this link, although it does not mean you will get author style profile photos in search.

Here’s a useful resource on Google author links by Joost de Valk for WordPress users and a detailed post on Google author links by AJ Kohn that I also found useful.

It’s also possible to get verified using your email address, try this link here – I haven’t used this method myself but it may be quicker than the method I described above!

Once it’s set up and running correctly, you can check your Author Stats in Webmaster Tools in the Labs section.

Creating a Google Business Page using Google Plus

I was excited to see Mashable post on Google Plus this morning that Google Plus Business Pages were shortly going to be available. As you will know if you are interested in social networking at all, Google Plus is Google’s latest effort to go social and has been hailed a success with many people signing up for this new service. However, Google was anxious to avoid people signing up to Google Plus as companies and several people who created business Profiles (instead of personal Profiles) were apparently removed. After a tantalising delay, Google Business Pages finally went live today and I went and built one immediately. You will need a Google Plus account, Google will help you create one if you haven’t got one so you can build your Google Business Page straight away. Your Google Plus personal profile seems to have the same relationship to a Google Plus business page as a personal Facebook account does to a Facebook Business Page, ie you will need a personal account to create a Business page and will have to log into your personal Google Plus profile to manage it.

There are several categories of business page, including Product or Brand, Company, Institution or Organization, Local Business or Place, Arts, Entertainment or Sports and finally Other. I went for Brand although Mimimyne could also have been listed as Company or as Local Business (I chose not to do this as I already have a Place listing on Google and my business mainly trades online). These may be editable at a future date, at the moment they don’t appear to be – I hope this will be changed at some point as it is easy to choose something you might want to change later!

The next thing to do is choose your tag line (up to ten words), Page name and upload your logo. The logo space is small and square, like a profile photo, so you might want to resize and edit your logo before you upload it. I used a cropped image from my logo which I’ve used a lot before, for example on my Twitter page, so I feel it is familiar to my customers.

Like Google Plus profiles, the Google Plus business pages have a Scrapbook section where you can put five photos that represent your business. You will find this in the Edit Profile section, just below your tag line, where you are asked to add photos. These will remain on your profile till you edit or change them, as far as I can see, unlike the Facebook Business Page photos which update dynamically according to which photos you have recently added to albums.

The next thing to do on your Profile is add your Introduction (they are quite generous with space here and there are no warnings against using promotional text as there are on Dmoz, for example, but remember to add your keywords!). You can add Contact info including your email, phone, physical address, Skype and Google Talk chat names etc as well as fax numbers and anything else you might need. These all appear on a drop down menu so make sure you check and fill in the ones you want to fill in! You can also set your privacy here (to anyone on the web, or just people in your Circles, for example) although most companies will want this information set to Public.

Finally, you can add photos and posts as you would on a Facebook Business Page. You can’t add people to your Circles until they follow you, which is one thing that makes this quite different from a Google Plus profile page, so Google encourages you to share your page on your personal Google Plus stream and link to it from your business website to encourage more followers.

Check out Mimimyne’s Google Business Page and please add it to your circles!

Creating a Facebook Business Page competition using Promos

I have a Facebook Business Page for Mimimyne and am often looking for ways to improve it. I am a little behind at the moment as the change from FBML to iFrames means I will have to learn a new set of techniques which I haven’t yet found time to do. However, one thing I did want to do recently was run competitions for Mimimyne’s fans in a way that was consistent with Facebook’s competition rules. I found a great article by Mari Smith explaining Facebook’s promotions rules a little more simply which is a great starting point. Essentially Facebook do not want you to run competitions through Facebook via interactions with fans on Facebook – for example, they do not want you to offer prizes to fans for Liking your page, or contact competition winners via Facebook. This makes life that little bit more complicated for business owners with Pages on Facebook… sigh. So I went looking for an app that would allow me run competitions on Facebook without breaking their rules and found EasyPromos. This is free for the first use so I tried it out to see how well it works.

EasyPromos is a little tricky to install on your Page and it could do with more detailed instructions but once I had installed it it was quite intuitive to use. You set up a Promotion as a Draft and add an image, terms and conditions and a start and end date. The Promos page is also added as a tab to your Page. It works quite nicely in that it is easy to promote the page on your Wall so that existing fans will find it easily. You can ask for email addresses and images from competition entrants so that it is easy to contact them and choose what information will be displayed on the competition screen. I ran the competion and found that I quickly gained 43 new fans in a couple of weeks which was a great result for me. You can also display coupons to reward fans and set the Promos tab as a default landing page for visitors. Promos does seem quite a robust and flexible solution for small businesses although once you have run the first competition following competitions will cost $15 each. However, it will give business owners peace of mind knowing they are not breaking Facebook’s promotion guidelines and it does look professional.