The Blog

Using Twitter as part of your Social Media campaigns

I recently had a conversation with someone that doesn’t understand what Twitter could do for their business. Their comment was, “I really don’t care about seeing what someone is doing – and why would I want to tell the world that I just walked into Starbucks”. Of course, there are those that use Twitter for this…but there is far more to Twitter than updating in 140 characters exactly what you’re doing at that very moment. Tweets are a great tool to share stories, promote your business, offer promotions to your customers, break news about a big sale or a new product introduction, as well as to cheaply and effectively build your brand. So, based on that conversation, here’s what I told him makes Twitter an important part of a businesses social media marketing campaign.

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Build a network – Facebook and other social networking platforms are great for keeping in touch with people you already know, but when it comes to building out your network among those that don’t know you, Twitter is much more effective. With Twitter, you can find and follow those that have similar interests as you  – helping you to build clientele that you may not of otherwise been able to find.

Drive website and blog traffic – You’ve updated your website, or added a new blog post – now you have to hope people find it. With Twitter, you can redistribute that content – and drive them back to the full blog post or web update, improving your site traffic.

It’s a great PR tool – With Twitter’s Direct Messaging tools, you can target specific journalists that follow you on Twitter to pitch story ideas. Given the cost of retaining a PR firm for a small business, this can be a very cost effective way to get news about your company out to the press.

Understand how your brands are doing – With the ability within Twitter to keep track of “mentions”, you can not only see what is being said about your brands and your company, you’ll be in  a much better  position to deal with negative feedback and counter it quickly. And, it’s also a great tool for getting instant feedback – far quicker (and quicker) than focus groups. Just ask your followers for their opinion!

Link to other conversations that might be of interest to your customers – With Twitter, it’s easy to share those things that you might find to be of interest with your customers. Not only is this a bit easier than trying to figure out what to say every time you make a Twitter post, its an effective way to not only keep your name in  front of your clients, but also continue to on your reputation as being a more viable source of information than your competition.

Improve your knowledge & skills – For example, I started following a number of design companies that post on Twitter. From that, I’ve discovered things like sources for free fonts, CSS design tools, best-practices for print submissions that I was unaware of…tools that allow me to not only offer better services for my clients, but also help streamline the work I do.

Improve relationships in your existing networks – Rather than using instant messaging,  Twitter allows people to connect and message regardless of what IM network they may use. And, with TweetDeck’s (and other Twitter platforms) ability to easily allow you do either to group messages, direct message, and mentions, you have the ability to connect far easier than trying to manage IM message among multiple networks.

Find good employees – Try using Twitter to solicit your followers for references on people you might need to hire. Much more convenient (and cheaper) than using either classified ads, or online job search websites!

Find a job – In the same vein, if the economy has you downsized, or you’re having to downsize your own company, use Twitter to soliciti your followers to either find yourself new job opportunities, or aid your soon-to-be downsized people to find new employment.

Why you should use WordPress for your blogging platform

I first started working with WordPress about 2 years ago, when a client project I was working on required me to transfer their existing WordPress blog to a new hosting account. Which, required me to learn how easy it was to transfer the background MySQL database to the new host, change a few settings, and then test to make sure everything was working properly.

When I first started playing with that blog while testing things, I realized how much more impactful this platform was over other platforms like Blogger or Tumblr – and it all came down to the following:

1. Branding: The last thing you want when someone is at your website, is for the viewer to leave. You want to keep them there, rather than make them feel that they’ve gone “someplace else”. Sure, you can modify your template in other platforms to include your logo – but, with WordPress, you can have your web designer “reskin” the WordPress blog to look as though the viewer was actually still within your site. For example, this blog for The Design Foundry that you’re looking at is a WordPress blog, yet the rest of this website is a normal, PHP-based website.  Not to mention the issue of trying to come up with a URL name for a non-WordPress blog that matches your current URL!

2. Mobile: With the advent of the iPhone, more and more web-content, especially blogs, are now being looked at over a mobile platform. There is no guarantee of readability of your blog over mobile platforms if you’re using something like Tumblr or Blogger. Yet, with WordPress, you can download and install a free plug-in such as WP-Touch (which, allows your WordPress blog to appear in an iPhone friendly manner – but only on iPhones) – or the WordPress Mobile Edition plug in which I’ve now started using, which supports not only the iPhone, but also Android, Windows Mobile, and Blackberry platforms.

3. Plug-ins: I touched on this a moment ago under Mobile – but there are huge advantages to being able to install a plug-in for a specific need. Whether it’s to improve mobile viewing, search engine optimization, or other more specific needs – WordPress has a flexibility that other platforms are lacking in.

4. Search: First, if your current website is using Google Analytics, you can download a plug-in called Google Analyticator, that allows you to put in your Analytics code and it will track your blog under your current reporting. Second, you can download the plug-in called All-In-One-SEO – which allows you to add content for that specific blog posting making it more searchable – including Title / Description / Meta Tags. And, if your WordPress blog is part of your overall site, it may help your Google page-rank.

5. CMS: Also known as a Content Management System, a CMS is a website that you can constantly update and maintain – which is excellent for keeping things like an online calender, news & events page, or….your blog – updated easily! The WordPress platform has two parts – “Posts” (which are your regular blog entries), and “Pages” (which are basically web-pages”. If your under a tight budget constraint, or need to set up a micro-website – WordPress is a great way of doing this. With plenty of free or inexpensive “skins” (a.k.a. “Themes”) available from places like Template Monster, for around $50 – you can now have a small, inexpensive website!

6. You’re In Good Company: Sure, there are hundreds of thousands of small blogs out there using WordPress. But, some larger companies you might have heard of also use WordPress. Companies like Digg, Ford, General Electronic, Sony, People Magazine, Samsung, Playstation, New York Times,CNN, Flickr, eBay, Yahoo, and Wall Street Journal also use WordPress.

Keep in mind there are two versions of WordPress. There is the version that is like other blogs such as Blogger – that’s not what you’re looking for. You want the one where you download a file, and install it via FTP to your hosting account. You’ll also need to set up a MySQL database for WordPress on your hosting account, so you’ll want to make sure your hosting uses Linux, not Windows, and that your hosting package includes MySQL databases available. And, unless your the technical sort, you might want to have a web design company or your hosting company do your install.

Now, if you’re new to blogging, and all of this seems a bit daunting – not a problem. One of the other nice things about WordPress is it’s ability to import your content, including tags that you’ve used, when you do your first install. So, if you’re not ready to move to WordPress yet – you can either start or continue with your current platform until you’re ready, and depending on your current platform, have a very easy transition when your ready without loosing the content that you’ve already put out there.  And, feel free to contact The Design Foundry if you want to know more!

Happy Blogging!

Resources:

www.wordpress.org
www.templatemonster.com
www.semperfiwebdesign.com (All-In-One-SEO Plugin)
plugins.spiralwebconsulting.com/analyticator.html (Google Analyticator Plug-In)
crowdfavorite.com/wordpress (WordPress Mobile Edition Plug-In)