traceysinclairconsulting

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Tag Archives: social media

Twitter for writers

I’ve posted before on using Twitter for business, but I recognise that how you use Twitter will depend on what you aim to get from it, and what you are using it to promote. With that in mind, I wrote a short piece for writing site Strictly Writing, tailored specifically to using Twitter to promote your writing, whether as fledgling freelance writer trying to build a reputation, or an established published author trying to facilitate a better relationship with your readers. You can read the full piece here.

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Blogging for business – what to write about

Choose the right format – is blogging right for you? There are many reasons why blogging can be great for your business. It can attract traffic to your website (Google loves regularly updated content); it can help establish you as a thought leader in your field; it can help build relationships with your customers or clients. But it isn’t right for everyone. There are a lot of social media platforms out there, and before you start it’s worth taking some time to gauge which is the right one for you.  If you’re a law firm keen to promote your expertise, blogging is ideal – but if you’re a restaurant trying to build a community, or a crafter trying to sell your products, you may be better off just creating a Facebook page, or setting up a Pinterest account. * Consider your ideal market (and where you’re likely to find them), your content, and the amount of resource you have available, and decide accordingly.

Identify a problem, offer a solution: many people think that a blog should just be a sales pitch – but that’s not what will bring people to your site. The best blogs offer their readers something, and this is often in terms of solving their problems. This can range from the significant to the trivial: a legal blog, for instance, will be focused on issues that can have major repercussions – what does this law mean for me? How do I comply with it, and what happens if I don’t? But not all ‘problems’ are life changing – that doesn’t mean we don’t want an answer. For instance, if you run a furniture business, you might be answering questions such as: what’s the most environmentally friendly material I can use in my house? How do I make more storage in a small space? What are the most hardwearing products for a child’s room? Think about what your potential customers and clients might ask, and set about answering it.

Adding personality: the amount of personal information you include in a blog will, of course, depend entirely on the type of product or service you are offering, and the ‘brand’ you are creating. But in general, readers won’t care about you or your company, so it’s best to limit this kind of information. Some personal content can help humanise your brand, though – so the occasional post about, say, a charity event, can be interesting and add colour. Personal content can also help certain types of business connect with their peers – for example, if you run a small, local business, a blog about your experiences networking and tips about local groups could be interesting and useful. You don’t want to be giving away trade secrets, but don’t be stingy with your knowledge – sharing information can be a great way of building a profile.

Visuals: some blogs can be text focused (eg law blogs) but most will require images of some sort. While you don’t have to use a professional photographer, remember the quality of images will reflect on you, so you can’t just stick up blurry photos taken with your phone! Also, be wary of using images taken from the internet – some may be usable through a creative commons licence (but must be properly credited), but you must be careful not to use anything subject to copyright.

Keep at it! Few things look worse than starting a blog, doing a couple of posts and then neglecting it – what kind of message does that send to potential clients and customers? So only start a blog if you really think you can keep it going, or if you can afford to pay someone to blog for you. (Many writers, me included, offer this service: you can check sites such as freelancer.com for writers with web experience, or do a search under ‘blogging’ on networking sites like LinkedIn).

*It’s worth noting that, while it is a phenomenally popular platform, there is some controversy over the terms and conditions of Pinterest. Do make sure it’s right for you before you sign up.

Twitter for business made simple

Of all the social media platforms, Twitter is perhaps the most misunderstood and maligned – but it’s also one of the most powerful, and used properly can promote your business and attract traffic to your website. So here are some tips on how to get started, and how to make the most of Twitter for business. (There’s even a glossary at the end…)

Short is sweet, so keep it snappy! You only have 140 characters, and ideally you want to use less, so that if someone wants to “retweet” your message (ie, repost it so that their followers can see it) this leaves room for them to add a comment. (Eg – “Great post from @yournamehere )

Shorten your links: Twitter will often shorten links in posts, but if you need to shorten your URL to make space you can use a ‘link shortener’ such as http://bit.ly . Simply paste your link into the site and it will create a new short link for you. This also has the advantage that if you set up a (free) account, you can see on bit.ly how many times your link has been opened.

Be clear: don’t try and be too clever or opaque in your tweet, or people simply won’t click through to the link. Remember that most people on Twitter will be following literally hundreds – or even thousands – of people, so you need to catch their attention in a split second. That said, a little bit of humour or character will make people warm to you and can help you stand out.

Use keywords and hashtags: people search on Twitter using keywords – so if everyone is talking about “phone hacking”, you don’t want to be talking about “telephone espionage”. You can use a hashtag to emphasise this, eg #phonehacking (no space after the # or between words, but put a space after the hashtag if you’re using punctuation – eg ‘Murdoch denies knowledge of #phonehacking ! – if you don’t leave a space, the punctuation negates the hashtag as Twitter doesn’t recognise it).

This aids with searching so that people can easily see a group of tweets on the same subject. Hashtags can be used to highlight your topic even if the specific word isn’t in the tweet. (eg, Murdoch interviewed about emails #medialaw). If you’re not sure of whether a hashtag is appropriate, you can do a quick search to see if the one you want to use is being used already. But don’t worry – there’s no such thing as an “incorrect” hashtag, so there’s no penalty for getting it wrong. Though note: never add a ‘trending’ hashtag to a post where it’s not appropriate just to get attention (eg #ladygaga The FSA today announced new fines…) – this can lead to being ‘flamed’.

Understanding hashtags, part 2: although this is less relevant for a business account, it’s worth knowing that hashtags have now developed to become humour: it’s common for people to add them as a punchline to a joke. So not all hashtags are actually subject specific or relevant (eg, ‘I am working late and everyone is out of the office #mightaswelleatallthebiscuits ‘).

Caution required: Twitter is PUBLIC: every one of your tweets is public and can be seen by everyone on Twitter – even if they don’t follow you – and can come up in a Google search. Even if you delete tweets, people can find them – just think of some of the news stories about people being arrested for what they post online. This includes replies sent to other people’s tweets (but not private messages). Use sensible precautions. Don’t be abusive or offensive, and be careful using humour – it may not translate. Remember that if you’re tweeting a series of messages, followers may only notice one: so don’t rely on context to clarify your tweet. Also, if you’re tweeting to promote a business, poor spelling and grammar and an over reliance on ‘text’ speak can look unprofessional. Never tweet anything confidential and be careful about being controversial. If in doubt, don’t tweet it.

But, don’t be scared: it’s highly unlikely you’ll break the internet. Providing you don’t tweet anything abusive, confidential or offensive, it’s not a disaster if you accidentally have a typo or a broken link in your tweet, or send something out half typed. Just send a “Sorry, here’s the correct link” type tweet.

You have to engage! Those who use social media a lot are rightly suspicious of people they see using it JUST to broadcast about themselves. Don’t just use Twitter as a way of advertising your blogs, products or newsletters, but to build relationships with contacts, potential clients and other thought leaders. There are a number of easy, low maintenance ways to engage with Twitter:

  • Build a “following” list, and keep adding to it: every so often look at the list of Twitter suggestions and add a couple who seem relevant. Following only a tiny handful of people makes it look like you really don’t care that much.
  • Look at who’s following you and consider following them back: you don’t have to follow everyone who follows you (and you will get a fair number of ‘spam’ followers) but if it’s appropriate, it helps build a relationship.
  • Retweet other people’s tweets: again, only where appropriate, but it’s a good way of a) showing you read your feed, and therefore engage and b) building relationships, because people can see who has retweeted their tweets.
  • Check your messages: Twitter has a ‘@mention’ button on the main screen. By clicking this you can see if people have retweeted your tweets or sent you messages. Always reply to any direct messages, unless they are clearly spam.
  • Follow Friday“: Follow Friday is a way of recommending other feeds to your own followers. This is done by posting #FF then the address: so #FF @rpcprivacylaw . You can add commentary also: “For up to date news on privacy law, #FF @rpcprivacylaw.” It’s considered good ‘netiquette’ to thank people who have suggested you as an #FF – simply by tweeting “Thanks for the #FF @name” or similar. (You can see who has done this by checking the @mention button).

Glossary

Twitter – a social media “microblogging” platform

Tweet – each post or message that you put on Twitter

Retweet – reposting someone else’s tweet

Hashtag – # symbol that helps when searching for topics (see below)

Trending – what people on Twitter are talking about which shows up as a list when  you search topics (eg, at the moment, you will often see #Leveson trending as people follow the inquiry).

Followers – the people who are following your Twitter feed

Following – the people whose Twitter feeds you follow

@mentions – tweets where your twitter address has been used

Flaming – abusive tweets or messages, often multiple

Spam – useless tweets often aimed at getting you to click into dodgy websites; direct messages from people you don’t know inviting you to click onto links.

Bots – automatically generated spam messages. Ignore.

URL: the unique web address of a webpage, blog post, news story etc: eg http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17867537

Defero Law social network for legal professionals – what is it and why should you join?

There are now a plethora of social media sites to choose from, and keeping up with the ones which are best for your business can be time consuming and confusing. So could using smaller, more targeted sites be the answer? I spoke to Richard Pettet, founder of Defero Law, a social networking site aimed specifically at legal professionals, to find out what he thought.

What is your professional background? I spent 11 years working as an advertising manager at Chambers and Partners legal directories.

When and why did you start the site? The site was officially launched in its current form in March 2011. The original concept was simply a legal marketing blog but when others started to join in and asked to post content then the site started to develop into more of a community. What took me by surprise was that law firms were asking to use it as a publishing tool. And so a legal social network was born.

What makes it different from other social networking sites like LinkedIn? Content. LinkedIn is great for connecting, but do you ever ask yourself why you connect with half the people you link up with? I do. The mantra for Defero Law is ‘be found for what you say’. Content is still king when it comes to online marketing and with Defero Law’s great SEO and publishing options, it’s simply a better platform on which to promote your content and win clients or meaningful connections.

What has the market reaction been? Positive, given the risk averse nature of the legal industry. It’s aimed at SMEs really because ‘Big Law’, broadly speaking, have not really cottoned on to any form of social media yet. They will, but not yet. For now the smaller law firms who are looking for additional online exposure are loving it. Members also tell me it’s a friendly place to connect and share, which is something I’m proud of.

Who is a typical member?  A healthy mix of lawyers at small to medium sized law firms and business development staff at a range of firms, from small High Street firms to Top 50 corporates. The Top 50 guys are the site ‘lurkers’, sussing out if and when to dive in with a blog or similar once the committee has approved it. You know how it is.

Where do you see the site going next? World domination of the legal social media landscape! Or just providing a safe, friendly environment for the legal industry to promote itself in the face of changing market conditions. I’m not sure which sounds better…

So, does Defero Law sound like a good fit for your business goals? Check out the site here to find out more.