Saturday, August 20, 2011

How Teens Can Benefit from Social Media

Let’s face it – teens are spending a lot of time on media related activity. A recent study says that teens actually spend 80% of their Internet time on Social Networks. It’s the end of summer and it’s time to get ready for school. Will the start of the new school year keep young people from spending much of their time on Facebook – probably not. How do we encourage kids to use social networks safely and responsibly? Is it really possible for youth to learn how to communicate effectively from a 140-character tweet? Sure they can. There are actually a growing number of educators that are embracing social media. In fact, the American Library Association discourages schools and libraries from barring social media – such exclusion “does not teach safe behavior and leaves youth without the necessary knowledge and skills to protect their privacy or engage in responsible speech.”

Not only is encouraging the use of social media among young people beneficial as it relates to bringing copyright and privacy awareness to teens, writing thoughts and ideas in 420 or 120 characters or less is indeed a skill. Writers, especially journalists know the importance of being concise in their storytelling. At the time of this post, Reader’s Digest announced a contest that gives you a once-in-a-lifetime chance to Publish Your Life Story… in 150 words or fewer. The prize - $25,000! We’re already telling “our story” on social networks through tweets, pictures, blogs, vlogs, etc. And the stories are being told in 420 characters or less on Facebook and less than 140 characters on Twitter. Therefore, we should be able to tell our story in 150 words or less with our eyes closed.

So for all of you social media specialists, donate an hour or more of your time to educate a young person on how to use social media effectively. Let's teach writing skills that can help students write better papers, complete college applications more effectively and even land that dream job after college. Below are a few career options in which strong writing skills are required:

• Journalism
• Reporting
• Public Relations
• Publishing
• Communications
• Marketing

Parents, check your local library for social media workshops offered at low or no cost. There also might be course offerings at a college or university in your area. Social media isn’t going away anytime soon, therefore, let’s embrace it and educate youth on how to use it effectively.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Social Media Strategies for Small Businesses

If you’re a start-up or a small business and think you don’t have an adequate budget to effectively market your business, think again. If you have a computer and Internet access, that’s enough to get you started on the right track. For starters, develop a practical approach towards creating a social media strategy for your business. According to the 2010 Social Media Marketing report, 67% of marketers will increase their use of social media channels including Facebook and Twitter. As you develop your marketing strategy, integrate social media into your marketing campaign. In other words, create a Social Media Strategy that includes but not limited to:

1. Research the Social Networks that you’d like to infiltrate.

2. Understand the needs of your target audience.

3. Make connections and talk to people. Share your goals and identify supporters.

4. Measure results.

Below are valuable tips that will help you launch an effective Social Media Campaign for your small business:

1. If you don’t have a Facebook page for your business, create one now. I tell clients to launch a “Friend” page first – build friendships/relationships and launch your “Fan” page as you come near your 5000 Friend limit.

2. Open a Twitter account and connect with clients and “experts” in your field to build your network. Join the conversation on Twitter, participate in Twitter chats and become part of the community. Check out the Twitter chat schedule.

3. Launch a Twitter chat party introducing your brand. Schedule weekly twitter chats and brand yourself as an “expert” in your field. This will give you the opportunity to create a forum where you can share your knowledge all the while bringing awareness to your brand.

4. Create a You Tube channel. Identify a spokesperson for your channel, producer and editor, then develop your content. Create fresh, consistent content.

5. Design and implement an e-Newsletter. Constant Contact provides you with free and low cost tools to design a professional looking document in minutes. Use the e-Newsletter to build your database, strengthen relationships and promote your brand. Share coupons and updates about products and services provided by your company.

6. Create a blog. Make it interactive and include video as much as possible. Engaging your customers is critical to building relationships. Use the blog to talk with your clients, share company insight. For example... Your company might have launched a new product that faced challenges in its development stages – write about it. Draw the reader in by sharing a personal story associated with a product or service you offer. People love transparency – be honest and draw people in by your story.

7. Purchase a domain name. Domain names may be purchased at a very low cost. Even if you don’t have the budget to create a website, it’s ok. Link your domain name to your blog until you’re ready to invest in a website. Also, purchase a few email addresses Doing so helps establish credibility to your business or start-up.

As you build your brand, always remember to apply these simple steps at every stage of your business:

• Build Relationships
• Fresh Content
• Share Your Knowledge
• Image is Everything
• Connect with Clients/Customers
• Be Transparent

There are so many free and low-cost tools available to you. Use these tools to your advantage. Don’t wait for that million-dollar check to come in the mail. Just go with what you have and work it!!