Business Blоg | The Three Most Effесtіvе Eѕѕеntіаl Elеmеntѕ

Buѕіnеѕѕ blоg nоt only dоеѕ it aрrоvіdе a ѕрасе fоr frеѕh, rеgulаrlу uрdаtеd соntеnt (whісh ѕеаrсh еngіnеѕ lоvе), whеn dоnе соrrесtlу a business blog саn еѕtаblіѕh a lоуаl group of сuѕtоmеrѕ and рrоmоtеrѕ. Aftеr bеіng іmmеrѕеd in thе Internet mаrkеtіng іnduѕtrу fоr уеаrѕ аnd experimenting with dozens оf different оnlіnе mаrkеtіng mеthоdѕ, I hаvе fоund blogging tо bе оnе оf the mоѕt еffесtіvе business marketing tools.

Hоwеvеr, I hаvе ѕееn some соmраnіеѕ mаkе mаjоr flаwѕ wіth thеіr business blоgѕ. Thеѕе mіѕtаkеѕ саuѕе buѕіnеѕѕеѕ tо wаѕtе a grеаt dеаl оf rеѕоurсеѕ оn thеіr business blоgѕ wіth little оr nо rеturn оn іnvеѕtmеnt. There аrе many fасtоrѕ thаt make a buѕіnеѕѕ blog successful оr a flор. In this article, I’ll touch оn thе thrее оf the mоѕt critical ѕtrаtеgіеѕ fоr building an еffесtіvе buѕіnеѕѕ blog.

Eѕtаblіѕhіng аn Overall Mіѕѕіоn and Purpose for Yоur Business Blоg

Though this may seem еlеmеntаrу, it’s аmаzіng how mаnу buѕіnеѕѕ blogs dо not ѕееm to hаvе an еѕtаblіѕhеd рurроѕе! Whаt nееd is уоur buѕіnеѕѕ blog gоіng to fill fоr іtѕ rеаdеrѕ? Whаt tорісѕ аrе уоu going tо соvеr on уоur blоg? Having a clearly dеfіnеd written ‘рurроѕе’ fоr уоur business blоg will hеlр еnѕurе thаt уоur blоg соntеnt wіll ѕtау оn tаrgеt аnd оn tоріс so thаt уоu dеlіvеr whаt уоur rеаdеrѕ еxресt еvеrу time.

Mаnу business blоgѕ make the mіѕtаkе of wrіtіng content thаt is of interest tо their рееrѕ rather thаn their tаrgеt аudіеnсе. If оnе оf уоur рrіmаrу оbjесtіvеѕ іѕ to ѕеll рrоduсtѕ, it’s іmроrtаnt to сrеаtе a resource that wіll be оf bеnеfіt tо уоur tаrgеt аudіеnсе.

Consider your buѕіnеѕѕ blog lіkе a mаgаzіnе. When you рісk up уоur fаvоrіtе mаgаzіnе frоm the rасk, you have a рrеttу gооd іdеа аbоut whаt wіll bе in thе mаgаzіnе. People subscribe tо mаgаzіnеѕ оnlу whеn thеу hаvе a sense that the соntеnt іn the mаgаzіnе wіll bе соnѕіѕtеntlу rеlаtіvе to thеіr interests.

The same goes fоr a buѕіnеѕѕ blоg. Onе of thе рrіmаrу gоаlѕ оf a blоg is tо еѕtаblіѕh a lаrgе ѕubѕсrірtіоn base. Thіѕ іѕ dоnе by соnѕіѕtеntlу delivering content that іѕ оf іntеrеѕt tо your readership base. Clеаrlу dеfіnіng thе mіѕѕіоn аnd рurроѕе оf уоur blоg provides уоu wіth a guideline for сrеаtіng content that is соnѕіѕtеntlу uѕеful tо your readers.

Business Blоg Marketing: Telling Nоt Selling

Blogs аrе nоt thе рlасе fоr a heavy hіttіng ѕаlеѕ ріtсh. In fасt, bеіng too salesy іѕ the fastest way tо turn оff blоg readers. Blоggеrѕ dоn’t mіnd that уоu аrе trуіng to рrоmоtе ѕоmеthіng – most аrе. But hеаvу-hаndеd ѕаlеѕ tасtісѕ just dоn’t fly іn thе blоgоѕрhеrе.

I’vе worked wіth some соmраnіеѕ thаt were ѕо wоrrіеd аbоut not ѕоundіng too promotional thаt they tооk thеіr buѕіnеѕѕ blоg to the орроѕіtе еxtrеmе. Reading thеіr blog, уоu would have nо іdеа whаt thе соmраnу wаѕ оr whаt they ѕоld. One dіdn’t еvеn hаvе link bасk tо thеіr wеbѕіtе! Thе key tо сrеаtіng еffесtіvе buѕіnеѕѕ blоgѕ іѕ tо fіnd the rіght balance.

One wау that уоu саn іntrоduсе уоur products without bеіng рuѕhу іѕ by сhооѕіng a layout thаt allows уоu tо fеаturе ѕоmе оf уоur рrоduсtѕ оn еvеrу раgе. A twо оr thrее соlumn blоg lауоut works wеll fоr thіѕ рurроѕе, as dоеѕ a blog lауоut with ѕеvеrаl ‘feature’ bоxеѕ at the tор.

Nоt ‘hіdіng’ the fасt thаt you hаvе something to оffеr helps you tо еѕtаblіѕh уоur buѕіnеѕѕ аѕ аn еxреrt іn уоur niche. It’s реrfесtlу fіnе to reference уоur products іn your post іn thе context оf a useful article that tells rеаdеrѕ how tо ассоmрlіѕh сеrtаіn gоаlѕ as opposed to a роѕt thаt ѕоlеlу рuѕh уоur рrоduсt. Rеаdеrѕ begin tо truѕt уоur соntеnt and lеаrn to lіkе you – аnd therefore are more lіkеlу tо buу thе рrоduсtѕ and services you оffеr.

Finding Your Buѕіnеѕѕ Blog Vоісе

One оf the grеаtеѕt mistakes a people tend tо mаkе whеn сrеаtіng a business blog is tо write in ‘соrроrаtеѕе’ as орроѕеd tо a more соnvеrѕаtіоnаl tоnе. Juѕt like thеrе іѕ a сеrtаіn ассерtеd writing style for a рrеѕѕ rеlеаѕе оr аn editorial аrtісlе, thеrе is аlѕо a particular ассерtеd wrіtіng ѕtуlе for blоgѕ.

Thе mоѕt effective and рорulаr business blоgѕ hаvе a реrѕоnаl voice. Thіѕ scares ѕоmе businesses and соrроrаtіоnѕ – but it doesn’t hаvе to! Sеlесt a few kеу company rерrеѕеntаtіvеѕ as thе реrѕоnаlіtіеѕ оf thе buѕіnеѕѕ blоg. If уоu’rе worried аbоut gіvіng реорlе the rіght to іnѕtаntlу рublіѕh соntеnt, уоu саn ѕеt up a ѕуѕtеm so that nо post gоеѕ live without thе аррrоvаl оf a ѕіnglе іndіvіduаl whоѕе role іѕ to еnѕurе that the blog rеmаіnѕ consistent аnd professional.

Hаvе еасh реrѕоn іnсludе thеіr photo in thе about page or even іn thе роѕt wіth multi-author blоgѕ. Post authors should rеѕроnd tо соmmеntѕ and еngаgе іn dіаlоguе wіth readers in оrdеr tо buіld and еnhаnсе rеlаtіоnѕhір. Blog marketing іѕ vеrу much ‘relationship mаrkеtіng.’ Responding tо rеаdеr comments аnd ԛuеѕtіоnѕ іѕ аn іmроrtаnt duty оf a business blog writer оr аnоthеr аѕѕіgnеd реrѕоn wіthіn thе оrgаnіzаtіоn.

Though a blоg саn bе ѕеt uр іn a mаttеr of minutes, there іѕ a lоt оf planning and ѕtrаtеgу that gоеѕ іntо сrеаtіng a truly effective business blоg. Starting уоu рlаnnіng ѕеѕѕіоn bу tасklіng these thrее соrе роіntѕ is a great way to gеt уоur buѕіnеѕѕ blоg off tо аn еffесtіvе start! buѕіnеѕѕ blоg off tо аn еffесtіvе start!

cyber-monday-300x252Cyber Monday proved to be the biggest shopping day of the year, especially for digital commerce. IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark reported that on-line sales were up 20.6 percent for 2013 compared to last year’s figures. How people make decisions and actually buy has shifted once again and three key trends are emerging:

(1) Mobile sales are skyrocketing! Not that long ago, there were plenty of retail experts who doubted that mobile shopping would never really take off. Yet this year mobile traffic accounted for 31.7 percent of all online traffic, up more than 45 percent compared to last year, and generating more than 17 percent of all online sales

(2) Social content is a key underlying influence that we should be thinking about. That is, to what degree were the purchasing decisions on Cyber Monday shaped by the opinions of social peers, social content and thought leaders? Social influence attracts the same kind of skepticism as mobile ecommerce did in the early days. While it’s harder to measure social influence, it clearly accelerated in 2013. For example, I often find myself researching a product across my social networks before opening a browser to buy it and I’m not alone – consumers are 71 percent more likely to buy a product when referred by social media.

(3) The millennial generation is now having a big impact. Millennials make more mobile purchases than any other generation. Furthermore, there are now 72 million people in this group in the U.S. alone (18-32 years old). They have the biggest combined purchasing power—nearly $2.5 trillion—worldwide of any generation in history. Roughly 63 percent of millennials keep up with their brands of choice via social content and 84 percent report that word-of-mouth plays the biggest role in influencing their purchasing decisions. Clearly, millennials and their buying behavior are of critical importance to business.  

On the other hand, two-thirds of all Americans are on the FTC’s Do Not Call List and 86 percent mute the TV or change the channel when an ad comes on. We also know that the brand experience is now starting to supersede the value of the actual product. The combination of these trends is why I am so strongly encouraging all of our customers to activate their digital ecosystems to transform their customers’ experiences and sell in the way people want to buy today.

digital-ecosystem2I’m betting that enterprises of all types, but especially retailers, will need to place social at the center of their interactions with customers. We’re talking about integrated toolsets that improve self-discovery of goods and services, marketing effectiveness, online sales, service and loyalty programs. Social communities may well prove to be your best and most effective marketing, with many actually transforming their customers into virtual members of their extended sales force! Increasingly sophisticated analytics will underpin all of these investments and shed new light on the revenue generated by social referrals.

All businesses are becoming social businesses, whether they realize it or not, as the fundamental behaviors of how people consume is changing. The question is, are businesses ready to harness this new reality or just sit on the sidelines?

imageOn Thanksgiving Thursday, we ate. On Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we shopped. And on #GivingTuesday, we gave.  And in all these cases, the emergence of the social web is amplifying our abilities in each of them!

The #GivingTuesday national charitable movement was started by the U.N. Foundation in 2012 as the nonprofit sector’s answer to the buying bonanza that dominates Thanksgiving Day weekend as the lead-in to holiday shopping. #GivingTuesday was established to mobilize charities, businesses and individuals to take collaborative action to improve their local communities by donating to the charities and causes they support, especially among those most actively engaged in social media – the millennial generation. 

Individuals are encouraged to give to the organization of their choice and then share their actions on the social web to spread the word and encourage others to follow their example. The inaugural launch of #GivingTuesday in 2012 garnered 2.5 million social media impressions and the Giving Tuesday hashtag was mentioned  over 185,000 times, resulting in significant national and international trending. In 2012, #GivingTuesday received over 800 press hits, equating to over 59 million impressions.

The preliminary results for 2013 are even stronger according to Blackbaud, the nonprofit technology provider and #GivingTuesday’s partner, suggesting that this movement is not just another passing fad:

  • Online donations were up 90% for 3,800 nonprofits as tracked by Blackbaud compared to 2012, and it processed more than $19.2 million in online donations in 2013, as compared to $10.1 million in 2012. 

  • The average online donation was $142.05, which was significantly higher than the $101.60 average amount given in 2012.

  • Blackbaud maintains that this builds upon the solid end-of-year giving season last year, when online giving outpaced retail e-commerce growth by over 4%.

These preliminary results, combined with the surge of Facebook posts, tweets, #unselfie uploads and press hits surrounding #GivingTuesday clearly indicate the economic impact that the millennial generation wields. The following conclusions are too important to ignore:

  • Social Business is more critical than ever before and goes well beyond social media. Organizations that do not change and adapt for the multichannel world in which the majority of their customers and donors live will struggle in the long-term. This shift goes beyond technology. Organizations must recognize changes in donor and customer behavior that will reward some companies and organizations at the expense of others. Businesses that do not have an effective online strategy which includes social attributes, such as charitable fundraising, will miss out.

  • In tune with what we have seen from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the millennial generation has an exponentially increasing economic impact. While many millennials may not have the income to donate significant amounts to the organizations they are passionate about, they have the desire and the connectivity to support them in unexpected ways and serve as ideal brand ambassadors. They value being connected to their personal networks and they want to share the causes they care about with friends and colleagues and expand their influence in positive directions. Rather than “selfies,” one of the many “selfish” things the millennial generation is known for, thousands of millennials posted “#unselfies” on social media that depicted them supporting worthwhile causes. The #unselfie spread like wildfire on the web with countless Instagram pages, Facebook posts and tweets and also served as a free marketing campaign for the #GivingTuesday movement.

  • Crowdfunding is a true enabler in the digital age. With an Internet connection and a few dollars to spare, bettering the world is literally now at one’s fingertips as more organizations look for ways to crowdsource global advancement. Crowdfunding sites such as Indiegogo, Fundly and Crowdvance are empowering people and organizations – from mayors in small towns to major corporations and charities of all sizes – by providing them with an effective, efficient tool to increase awareness, mobilize a broader base of supporters and drive real results from their followers. The digital platform is attracting millennial do-gooders, who are tech savvy and who would rather donate their money with a click of a button instead of a written check, and value instantaneous gratification and interaction, albeit digitally rather than personally (besides, how many millennials even have stamps and envelopes and use snail mail?).

Regardless of the monetary results, #GivingTuesday is clearly building relationships with socially conscious donors and potentially all those who are online friends and followers of such donors, which can translate into greater awareness and success for businesses associated with charitable organizations. The future will be shaped and funded in large part by the millennial generation as it matures. The real payoff will be if organizations can focus on relationship building with the tech savvy millennial generation and retain their support long term.

imageLately I’ve been thinking a lot about the transformative value of Social Business.  It’s clear that every business is becoming a social business – whether they realize it or not – as a result of the unmistakable fact that leaders, employees and consumers are pervasively adopting social networking as a way of life.  The question now is, how will businesses harness this new reality?  Well, we are now seeing leading businesses harness social technologies to energize a new production line for the digital age.

Historically, the production line was largely about producing physical things more effectively and efficiently. Before the production line, people had to build all manner of things painstakingly by hand. These things took a long time to assemble so they cost a great deal to buy.

But when Henry Ford introduced the first moving production line to the nascent automobile industry, he was able to improve the efficiency of his factories by a factor of eight to one. Model Ts were rolling off the line every three minutes, and pretty soon the car became an integral part of American culture.

Social promises to introduce similar sweeping changes to the way we run our businesses, but not so much by further automating physical production, but rather by harnessing the collective knowledge, expertise and ideas of large numbers of people. That’s how we’ll drive innovation. If the web started out about clicks and eyeballs and search, it’s now about social.  With billions of social connections and expressions, the social web is fueling a knowledge-based economy, and organizations are taking note.

IBM’s Institute for Business Value recently released its global C-suite study, The Customer Activated Enterprise. It reads like a rallying cry for becoming a social business. For example, most C-level executives realize that their organizations are becoming borderless and more porous to outside influence. They’re admitting openly that their best ideas and their greatest innovations may come from people outside of the organization. Fully 90 percent of CxOs plan to collaborate much more extensively with customers over the next three-to-five years. CEOs from all over the world told us that their customers now exert greater influence over business strategy than everyone but the C-suite itself. That means customers now hold more sway than the average board of directors.

I tell every single one of our customers that social networks are their greatest source for inspiration and innovation and therefore, of revenue. Innovation in business is no longer relegated to product development teams or to the C-suite. But businesses need to adopt new business models that tap into the ingenuity and the desires of their customers, and the collective capabilities of their organizations, and then integrate these practices into their strategic planning, from product development to marketing to services and sales. It’s no wonder that we are seeing so many businesses now adopting crowdsourcing to one degree of another! In the new knowledge-based economy, where the customer experience supersedes the value of the product, and where rapid, client-centric innovation is expected, it’s not longer a question of if, it’s a question of when enterprises of all types adopt this aspect of social business as a standard way to operate. THINK Social Business!

 [OptinLink id=1]Business Innovation[/OptinLink]

Social mail: It’s not an oxymoron, it’s the future
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Venkatesh Raman, IBM Competitive Marketing Strategist
@exultvenkat

For several years, most businesses have relied and still depend on email to communicate corporate information both internally and externally. Suppose you read an interesting business article online and wanted to share it with your team  – would you share it via email or enterprise social networks (ESN)?

According to Radicati Group (Email Statistics Report, 2013-2017), “Business email accounts total 929 million mailboxes in 2013,. This figure is expected to grow at an average annual growth rate of about 5% over the next four years, and reach over 1.1 billion by the end of 2017.”

There are general misconceptions about enterprise social networking such as:

  • ESN is “Facebook for the enterprises” or “Twitter for the enterprises”
  • ESN is a definite replacement for e-mail
  • ESN is often referred to both external (customer, supplier and partners engagement) and internal (employee collaboration and engagement)
  • ESN is one more add-on communication channel

I strongly believe those connotations are misleading in the context of enterprise social networking. So what is ESN? ESN spans across tools and technologies within enterprises to share knowledge, identify experts and collaborate with virtual/remote teams worldwide irrespective of their location, departments, business units, devices, etc. with enterprise-grade security features.

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In this digital arena, we are undergoing a dramatic cultural change in terms of our business communication across organizations around the globe. Today, e-mail is the most widely used tool for business communication due to its existence for almost two decades, but the rise of enterprise social networks provides a great opportunity for global organizations to collaborate and share information irrespective of time zone differences and devices.

 

McKinsey Global Institute (MGIs) estimates suggest that “by fully implementing social technologies, companies have an opportunity to raise the productivity of interaction workers—high-skill knowledge workers, including managers and professionals—by 20 to 25 percent.”

 

Thus, organizations have to find ways to embrace these social tools to improve further on business communication overall.

Email inadequacies

Despite the following inadequacies of email, it’s well rooted and widespread in corporate and , – internal as well as external:

  • Email is a powerful business communication tool for individual and small group of people only
  • Email holds a vast amount of corporate knowledge in its inbox, folders and sent items
  • Email doesn’t suit for geographically dispersed and virtual teams communication
  • This is evident from the recent proliferation of social networks in enterprises that facilitates internal and external collaboration to find experts, share knowledge and connect in real-time.

Future is Social Mail

According to IDC (The Future of Email Is Social), “The future of email is social, and the future of social business clearly includes email as a key part of its feature set. The new social email provides both a powerful accelerator for social adoption and the backdrop for relief from email fatigue. Socially enabled email has already started to move the enterprise.”

The recent proliferation of enterprise social networks has enabled global organizations to become a knowledge powerhouse to share information across departments, boundaries, devices etc. No doubt, in the future, social will not replace email by any means but it will complement it.

So, what is Social Mail? Social Mail is the seamless integration of all your collaboration tools in one place, where and when you want them. It’s also about allowing users to communicate freely outside the boundaries of a traditional email client and having access anytime and anywhere — on a PC, a phone, a tablet, the desktop and the cloud.

IBM Notes and Domino 9.0 Social Edition is the only social mail offering in the market, from the maker of IBM Connections, the market leader in enterprise social software.

As more and more Facebook/Instagram/Vine generation users join the corporate workforce, email will primarily be used for sending alerts/notifications about content updates in the enterprise social networks sphere.


Social mail is sure to be a hot topic at IBM Connect 2014 in Orlando, January 26 – 30.  See what sessions have already been announced:

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Announcing: First round of accepted IBM Connect sessions

Connect 2014 Sessions: The list is getting longer

IClick to enlarge love to study what the market is talking about. As they say, knowledge is gold in today’s knowledge economy. Well, yesterday I read a paper distributed by Jive: “The Intranet Is Dead: Long Live the Social Intranet.” It made me smile! 

I smiled because I absolutely agree with the point that Jive made – the intranet as we have known it is dead (R.I.P.). The traditional intranet has morphed from a network of content and application access to a network of people and collective knowledge. But isn’t that what we have been saying for many years now and isn’t there more to all this than just that intranets are dead?

There certainly is. Here at IBM and among our leading social business clients, “the intranet is dead” is not a new observation. We are now focused on the next chapter, helping business leaders better harness this new reality to lead in their markets.

Our research shows that some 90 percent of businesses across the globe are planning to fundamentally open up their organizations in entirely new ways, becoming highly transparent, client centric and fast moving – tuned to the individual desires of people, not broad based segments. In this context, distinctive expertise, thriving digital ecosystems and evidence-based decision making become the catalysts of growth. They are investing to:

  1. Empower people by creating new production lines of innovation fueled by the collective knowledge of the workplace and the marketplace.

  1. Understand people by harnessing the human face of data based on a fundamentally new source of behavioral and sentimental insights.

  1. Trust people by deploying new organizational designs and processes which optimize workplace talent and open up agile marketplace engagement. Policy, security and governance matter, thus infrastructure matters.

Client success, therefore, requires a holistic approach to deploying new social-savvy business processes that unlock the potential of people (consumers and employees). Success requires leveraging an integrated approach to optimizing human capital management, channeling knowledge-based communities and delivering exceptional customer experiences, all built on a common, enterprise-grade, highly secure cloud, mobile and big data and analytics foundation. This is what is unique about IBM Social Business; we recognize that the social intranet is just the tip of the iceberg. Marketplaces and workplaces are fusing together in entirely new ways, unlocking new engines of innovation.

We at IBM have been delivering value to our clients in this space since 2007 with the launch of IBM Connections, designed to transform the intranet into the social intranet.  Now, for four consecutive years, IDC has ranked IBM #1 in worldwide market share for enterprise social software.  Similarly, IBM has been positioned in the Leaders Quadrant of Gartner Inc.’s 2013 Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the workplace for five years in a row.

Where IBM Connections becomes even more powerful, however, is when you fuse it with the other key elements of what social businesses are looking to accomplish. We’ve built upon our social intranet leadership by integrating Kenexa (the leading human capital management solution provider), digital and social analytics, digital portal experiences, dynamic personalization, digital marketing management solutions and e-commerce solutions into our offerings.

Collectively, this is what clients are looking force.  All businesses are becoming social businesses whether they realize it or not, and that is why 62 percent are expanding their investment to harness the transformative value of social business.

As Jive points out, the social intranet is now status quo. But we at IBM are focused on how our clients are looking to build upon this new reality to drive business outcomes. For a good conversation about social business, check out this podcast from Social Media Philanthropy about how to rally the troops around a transformational force.

Teaching a man to “social” fish: A proverb for marketing teams
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By Tina Williams, IBM Program Manager for Social Business Initiatives
@ideasattjw

My days are spent focused on helping marketing teams to engage sales teams and technical communities in social activities.  I’ve heard a lot of opinions and approaches to helping “newbies” learn to Tweet and blog for the first time. In this post I’d like to share my thoughts on addressing this challenge by applying the common proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Let me know if you agree, or even if you don’t! 

Sample content is just the baitimage

In recent years, “tip sheets” have emerged across our organizations in both email and document formats. I’ve heard debates about whether tip sheets that include sample Tweets are a good practice or not.

Those who like tip sheets feel they need to provide content around key messages to their communities if they want the messages to get out. They want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to get involved and share important information in a timely manner.  

Those who don’t like tip sheets argue that sample Tweets just cause communities to spam the social venues. They worry that because members of their communities may likely be involved in similar social channels, if they just cut, paste and post the sample content it will result in a negative market impression.  

Both opinions have merit, but to me the challenge isn’t really the sample Tweet content. This content is just the “bait.”

Let’s apply this concept to fishing. If you are new to fishing, what if someone didn’t supply you with worms or some other bait? What would you do? You would have to have the right tools—a shovel. You’d have to know where to look—some moist soil. And you’d have to know how to do the work—the digging, sifting and searching. And then you’d need to know how to keep the worms alive until you go fishing.

The same is true for social content.  Often those in sales or other positions who we would like to Tweet or post simply don’t have the time to research relevant content or keep up with new announcements and information. So it is important for marketing teams to invest time and resources in researching and sifting through their marketing messages; collateral and assets; and market and industry news to find relevant content. 

In my opinion, it is more effective to centralize this activity, with a collaboration tool like Connections, with staff who are experienced at using social listening and research tools. They can make sure the content is written in ways that will result in the highest engagement. And they’ll have the skills to find and develop different types of content to attract different “fish” or potential clients into conversations and engagement. 

imageProperly hooking the bait is critical to catching the fish

Once you have your worms for bait, you wouldn’t just throw them into the water, right? This would make you popular in the local fish community—“Here comes that guy to feed us again!”—but wouldn’t help you actually catch any fish.  

How does this apply to social content and posting? To me, the cut-and-paste approach is pretty much the same as dumping your bait in the water. It is pretty obvious when someone is posting canned content because it lacks any personality. 

To catch fish, the bait has to be placed on the hook skillfully to make sure it doesn’t just fall off when you cast the line. Likewise, to engage your audience in social channels, you need to properly “hook” social content you’ve been given so that it will attract your audience.

The hook is your own slant or personal touch.  When you read the sample content and review the links your marketing team has prepared for you, what are your thoughts? What information is useful to you that you now want to share? You should modify the content to reflect your personality so that your network will feel that it is authentically coming from you. I like this site that provides a nice reference for “Types of Content We Crave.” As the author states, “If your content doesn’t resonate with your audience, then they won’t follow you where you want to take them.”

Casting your line where and when the fish are biting

Now that you’ve gotten the content samples from your marketing team and personalized it to share, you should consider where and when to best cast your thoughts. What social channels are your peers involved in, especially those who would be interested in your thoughts on a particular subject? When are they most likely to be in these “waters” to see your “hooked bait”? 

By using this fishing analogy I don’t mean to imply that being social is all about trying to get someone on your “line.” However, providing relevant content, personalizing it and directing it to the right social channels at the right time are all keys to successful social engagement.

Being effective in social channels is really just an extension of how we build relationships face to face. And while I can understand marketing teams’ worry about creating sample social content for the communities they support, if we also teach these individuals to use this content in the appropriate way, it can result in meaningful and authentic engagement and discussions.

What are your thoughts? Leave your comments here or let’s have a discussion on Twitter. You can find me at @ideasattjw


By Jacques Pavlenyi

Senior Marketing Manager, IBM Collaboration Solutions

Word processing documents, spreadsheets, presentations…our collective work day is still dominated by what we write and share through these documents. Unfortunately, we all know the result. We spend a lot of time finding, collecting and consolidating input from multiple contributors. We struggle with multiple versions of the same document. Those multiple and often duplicate versions are posted to lots of places — our hard drive, our Content Management System, our internal social networks and directories… — that are hard to find. And a password protected document is hardly secure enough for many situations, especially for documents that need to be shared. And it’s all rather expensive if you happen to use Microsoft Office, as many of you do.

But there’s a new way of thinking about these critical business documents. Social document collaboration allows organizations to integrate key office document activities, including authoring, collaboration and sharing. More importantly, those actions can be taken regardless of where you are when done across desktop, cloud and mobile environments. And they should support open standards to make sharing and collaboration even easier. And they should integrate with secure content management systems so you can ensure policies are maintained.

IBM has offered social document collaboration for some time. IBM Docs for SmartCloud is perfect for mobile and social light-weight Web co-editing tools. And Apache OpenOffice makes for an excellent alternative to expensive packaged applications for full-featured desktop office productivity editing, ever since IBM donated IBM Lotus Symphony code to the Apache community back in 2011.

Today, we continue to lead social document collaboration with the announcement of the availability of IBM Docs 1.0.3. This latest release of IBM Docs makes some significant updates to the great product we first introduced for IBM SmartCloud:

  • IBM Docs is now available for on premises deployment with IBM Connections 4.5. It is also available with IBM Notes 9 Social Edition and IBM WebSphere Portal as an add-on to your existing IBM Connections files and profiles entitlements.
  • IBM Docs now supports Apple Safari 6, and IBM Docs Mobile now supports Apple iPad.
  • Performance improvements make for faster load times, faster page up and page down in spreadsheets, and faster conversion to PDF
  • IBM Docs files now retain their original extension, such as .doc or .xls, after being edited in IBM Docs. Before you had to go through several clicks to download files in Microsoft Office format, which is no longer the case.
  • You can set Microsoft Office file format as your default format for new files created in IBM Docs.
  • IBM Docs now allows you to create files from OOXML templates.
  • Serviceability enhancements means IBM Docs now provides more details in application level and Server level alerts, while also providing more accurate error codes for user scenarios when an error occurs.

IBM social document solutions help create a more effective workforce by helping teams focus on a single document in the cloud, with sophisticated, business-ready documents authored with your choice of editors – desktop, web or mobile. Publish to activity streams. Comment and discuss documents more widely. Edit, review, comment and approve on the go.

And you’ll have the depth and breadth of IBM – named Worldwide Market Share Leader in Social Software for Fourth Consecutive Year – including IBM services to jump start installation, deployment planning, QuickStarts, and large scale user communities support, on premises or in the cloud.

Doesn’t that sound like a better way to collaborate on business-critical documents and information? Try it for yourself and see why. You can try IBM Docs at no cost for 60 days as part of an IBM SmartCloud Engage Advanced trial. And of course, join the over 50 million people who have already downloaded Apache OpenOffice 3.4 (4.0 coming soon!).

Exceptional Digital Experience: Engaging customers on their terms

imageLarry Bowden, Vice President, Portals and Web Experience Software

In June during our Smarter Commerce Conference in Monaco, I had the pleasure of introducing our Exceptional Digital Experience software along with IBM client Amadori, a leading Italian Food Company, who showcased the exceptional digital experiences they are creating to delight their customers. 

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Amadori was on a quest to find ways they could communicate more effectively with their growing numbers of young consumers. They decided to harness the potential of online marketing to create a series of mini-sites for a line of similar products using “digital” communication. “We wanted to create fun, innovative sites with interactive features which would engage a group of consumers who are more likely to surf the Net,” Marco Magnaghi, Business Innovation Manager at Amadori explains.

Having passed through two eras — content is king and social/analytics — digital experience is now entering its ubiquitous stage. Putting customers first has long been the elixir to a business’ success.  A few years back, providing an exceptional customer experience meant having a website strategy, but in today’s reality, to successfully deliver a tailored and consistent experience online that meets and exceeds audience expectations requires a broader approach — you must consider the entire customer journey. In other words, a somewhat straight-forward web strategy of years past has evolved into the need for a more comprehensive digital strategy.  

A digital experience strategy takes into account the emerging trends around the use of web and social analytics, more advanced rich media management and delivery, deeper social engagement and robust responsive design for mobile delivery. In this age of digital, a business’ success relies heavily on their ability to create and deliver exceptional digital experiences for their customers, engaging them on their terms and on their time. In fact, a Forrester survey found that more than 90% of respondents said that customer experience is a top strategic priority for their firm*.

Do you want to make an exceptional customer experience a strategic priority? Join me on July 17 at 11 am EDT to hear how you can transform the way you reach, understand and relate to customers through a rich and robust digital experience across multiple channels and devices.  Click here to register for the webcast: Reinvent Relationships with Exceptional Digital Experiences.

* Source: The State Of Customer Experience Management, 2013, Forrester Research, Inc., March 22, 2013

Google Plus Local Logo

Google Local Plus Profile Picture

If you have a Google Places or Google Plus Local listing, then you may or may not have noticed that your profile picture has just got bigger!

You now have the opportunity to have a bigger picture to show off your business – a good thing.

The more space you have for an image, the more opportunities you have within this image to showcase your business to your potential customers.

This post briefly shows you what the new cover image looks like and how you can update it.

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How Your Listing Will Look Without The Cover Image

Below is a screenshot for the Google Plus Local Page by default without a ‘Cover Image’; as you can see Google automatically inserts a map for your location with a pin showing where you are:

Before Cover Image Updated

Whilst this is OK, this does not really showcase your business in a way that you now have the opportunity to do.

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So what do I have to do to get the large cover image?

Simply you will either have to amend your existing Google + Local business page, or if you do not have one you will need to create for yourself a Google Plus Local Business Page.

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I do not have a Google Local Plus Business Listing – how do I create one?

The scope of this post is not to give detailed step by step instructions on how to set up a Google + Local business listing, though I will quickly summarise the steps you need to take below:

  1. Create a Google + Profile for yourself at https://plus.google.com
  2. Set Up your Google + Local Business Page at www.google.com/+/business/ and enter the same information that you have on your Google Places listing.

Please note that you need to click “Verify Now” to verify this listing; Google will send you a postcard with a pin number to your address which you will have to input before the listing becomes live.

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How do I change the cover image?

When you are in your business page simply click “Change Cover” and you have the opportunity to change your main picture and add a logo; see below:

After Cover Image Updated

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Google Local Plus New Image Dimensions

Google are a pain as the image upload interface is ‘clunky’ and if you do not upload images with the right size ratio Google will crop certain parts of the image.

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The minimum image dimension should be 250px, and I recommend you upload a square image.

You will note in the above example that the Corpus Fitness image is not square; all we did was upload an image with space above and below the logo to make sure the image was square (note the white space above and below should actually be transparent).

Corpus Logo

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Cover Image

Please note the cover image size is 1000 Pixels wide x 570 Pixels high; to stop Google cropping any of your image it would be best to create your image cover in this size prior to uploading, then you are in full control.

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You now have the change to create and upload a great bit of graphic design to your Google + Local Business Page to really show off your business.

It’s all relatively quick and easy to do, so why not just do it?

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The post Google Plus Local Profile Picture Has Just Got BIGGER appeared first on Max Your Web.

Our website is built on WordPress and we build most of our client websites on WordPress; we do this as we strongly believe that WordPress it is perfect for the small to medium sized business, but why?

No. 1 – The world’s most widely used website system for businesses

  • 25% all the world websites run on WordPress (2011)*
  • 14.7% of the world’s top million small, medium and big business websites run on WordPress*
* http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/wordpress-stats-and-numbers-breaking-their-own-records

No. 2 – Easy to use

You do not need to have any coding experience to use WordPress, if you can use Microsoft Word you can use WordPress.

You are no longer tied to your web designer and having to pay them £50+ to make small changes to the words on your web pages – it’s really easy to make text changes and do it yourself; see the interface below:

Wordpress Admin

No. 3 – Low cost

WordPress can be downloaded for free, and theme templates are also available from free to only a few dollars.

So you can do this yourself, but to be honest most business owners do not have the time or inclination to do this; if you pay web developer to do this for you prices start from about £450.

No.4 – You are not tied to a web design company

We have come across numerous businesses that are tied to their web design company, either because that web designer has a bespoke system on which the website is built, or the coding of the website is so complex it would be very difficult to move to another developer.

This is no longer the case with a WordPress website; there are thousands of specialist WordPress developers around the world, so if you want to move web designer you can.

No. 5 – Lots of options for how your website looks

For the graphic design of your website you can keep the costs down by downloading one of thousands of available theme templates; these look fantastic and customisation options mean your website never look the same as someone else’s.

Alternatively if you want a completely bespoke website this is possible, though you will need to pay a web developer to do this for you.

Finally if you change your mind over the design of your site and want something new, gone are the days of having your whole website re-built; now all you need is a new theme and all the existing pages remain.

No. 6 – Easy to add lots of functionality

You don’t need to pay a developer hundreds or thousands of pounds to add an image slider to your home page, or a form to your contact us page; there are now thousands of simple to install ‘Plugins’ that will do this for you.

The worldwide developer community has created lots of things called ‘plugins’ for WordPress; in essence these are just small computer programs that add functionality to your website; and the great thing is that you need zero coding knowledge to be able to install them and add great functionality to your WordPress site.

See our websites image slider plugin below – this is really easy to use.

TheThe Fly Image Slider

No. 7 – People find your website as WordPress is loved by the Search Engines

Quite simply WordPress is very search engine friendly.

The code on the site is written in a way that the search engines like, plus it is really easy for you to add your keywords in the right places, especially with the amazing plugin “Wordpress SEO by Yoast”.

Wordpress SEO

No. 8 – Never have your website get out of date

There is a worldwide community of thousands of WordPress developers constantly updating WordPress continuously making it more user-friendly and powerful.

So you no longer have to worry about you website getting out of date, for you have any army of developer continuously updating your website free of charge!

So now you have it – 8 Top Reasons to Definitely Use WordPress for Your Businesses Website

The post 8 Top Reasons to Definitely Use WordPress for Your Business’ Website appeared first on Max Your Web.

Social Media Monitoring – Curbing Your Social Media Habits

imageKeith Brooks, Social and Collaboration Practice Leader, VoiceRite

Imagine you are on an island in the Caribbean, cold drink in hand, sun shining down on you, and your family and friends are with you just hanging out or walking around the island. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? No phones in sight, no TV, no car—just you, sand and the sounds of the waves crashing on the beach.

 How long could you go before you had to whip out your phone or laptop to get a picture, post to Facebook or answer some office emails? These days, not very long it seems. Based on this article and infographic, 74 percent of vacationers use social media while on vacation, and many are logging more and more work hours too.

imageWhat if I told you that every week, for an entire day, I go cold turkey on all electrical items? In fact, sometimes, it can be two to three days like this. Am I not being social? Am I not getting work done? Will the world end if I do not tweet? So far it has worked for me, but is it hurting my job prospects or my status in the social business world or other aspects of my career?

Why do I choose to abstain from using my devices sometimes? And why write about it on this blog? Let me answer the second question first. As a Redbooks Thought Leader, I can easily spout ideas or experiences that I live day to day. However, what if, as in this case, my experience is quite unlike most others’? In order to fully grok different aspects of social business, sometimes it helps to remember that the people behind the avatars and tweets are more colorful than they appear.

Social Media Monitoring

To answer the first question, over the last few years I’ve made a more open effort to include parts of my family life in my social media usage, even at work. You see I was struggling with issues some of you may experience now as you get into more social media. For instance, how do these bloggers find time to write so many posts? When do they have time to write these white papers or tinker around with new products or social applications? And they get their work done as well! I hate overachievers.

I realized that what was “holding me back” was something about myself that might not be known to the general public, so I thought that maybe by being more inclusive of my private life, some of these worries would go away. So about two years ago I started checking in on FourSquare on Friday afternoons at a place called Shabbat.

You can think of the term as it is translated: the Sabbath—a subtle way to let clients and the world know that I was not only Jewish but also taking a religious stand. Since I usually checked in just before the time of Shabbat I did not know what to expect the first week. To my surprise I received numerous replies, likes and comments all wishing me a good Shabbos, which is the usual refrain for those who practice this rest day.

This response was amazing. Think about it, a few thousand of my connections took notice, and then for me all was good and sane. Ah, but what most of them did not understand was that I really was off—offline, off the grid, no network, no electric toys, no posts or tweets. A spiritual respite for 25 hours can be done, and rarely has it been a problem for my clients or coworkers. Admittedly I may work or cover certain holiday periods in exchange for the Saturdays or other holidays I take off, but that is a small price to pay.

Social Media Monitoring

I continued this practice and along the way became an IBM Champion for IBM Collaborative Solutions and WebSphere as well as a Redbooks Thought Leader. Even with less time available I was able to persevere and achieve these accolades. So can you.

While skipping a day of social media may make you feel like you’re missing out, at the same time you will feel totally free. I may have lost a few job interviews because I could not agree to a 24×7 world, but I never lost a client. Turning off your device for a day or two may stress you out the first time, but if you can repeat the exercise you will eventually feel less stressed. Who knows, you may find yourself being social with the people you love or those you meet on the street. You missed the National Day of Unplugging for 2013, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying it out this weekend.

Do you ever take a break from your gadgets? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments or connect with me on Twitter.

Keith Books is the Social and Collaboration Practice Leader for Voicerite, an IBM Premier Business Partner. Keith has spoken at SugarCon, Lotusphere, the View Admin conferences and other industry events on subjects around messaging and social leadership. Keith has written articles, books and blogs around IBM products and solutions for over 20 years.

Keith is an IBM Redbooks thought leader.

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