YouTube bulletins let you get social  

Posted by Rich DeFabritus in , ,

One of the great things about YouTube is the ability to demonstrate a solution or present a customer testimonial in a much more dynamic form than printed word.  When you need to make a point or grab someone's attention quickly - as is often the case in the digital world - visual stimulation is "money in the bank".  Unfortunately, everyone else has the same idea, so how do you let your YouTube subscribers know what's new or what cool stuff you are working on?

The answer is bulletins.  If you have an existing YouTube channel, and you are actively publishing video content, you can communicate with your subscribers by sending out text and videos directly to them.  Those of you familiar with Facebook status updates will see the similarities.  Simply click the "Post Bulletin" tab that appears on your Channel Page, enter a message and the video link you wish to send to your subscribers, and click the "Post Bulletin" button.  Your bulletin will then appear on the homepage of each of your subscribers, an easy way to engage them and keep traffic flowing to your video content.

If you blog it, will they come?  

Posted by Rich DeFabritus in , ,

If you blog frequently, it goes without saying that if you don't get people's attention, no one will read it. Not unlike any other source of information, simply having content isn't enough - you have to work to get those eyeballs. Don't despair - there are creative ways to go about doing this, and you won't have to expend any additional energy.

You may have heard the term "SEO", or Search Engine Optimization. SEO is a critical way that webmasters get their content or sites to rank higher in natural search. It can be complex and expensive, but if you are creative, you can do some basic SEO for your blog at no cost. Many search engines use technology called "bots" that crawl your content to determine relevance to search terms. Basically, they read the text and interpret those terms accordingly. Your task is to make the bot's job easier by using keywords, tags, and keeping your blog easy to load (also called "lightweight").

Tracking trends with Twitter hashtags  

Posted by Rich DeFabritus in , ,

The very nature of social media is the ability to interact with others using highly accessible, simple to use channels such as Twitter. The amount of people you interact with, however, usually depends on how many "followers" or "friends" you are able to attract to those channels.

But suppose you witnessed an event or a happening that urgently needed broadcasting to more than just your followers - what would you do? That's just what Nate Ritter was thinking about as he watched the San Diego fires in 2007. The solution? Hashtags.

Hashtags are used as a way to categorize information over Twitter so that others can track tweets related to a specific topic. You can create a hashtag by prefacing a word with the pound - or "hash" - symbol. For example, to create a hashtag about dogs, you might put the string "#dogs" in your tweets. Nate Ritter used the hashtag #sandiegofire to provide real time updates to people that wanted more information about the fires as they occurred. To track hashtags, you need only to follow @hashtags on Twitter.

For a small business owner, hashtags can be a powerful resource - consider using them if you are presenting a live webinar and you want a broad audience to track your contextual updates. Promoting new product launches or events are perfect for hashtagging - especially if your audience is looking to get information in a timely fashion.

No matter how you use hashtags, they are a handy tool that small business owners are frequently leveraging as a way to connect with people that have a shared interest.

Twitter: the art of the headline  

Posted by Rich DeFabritus in , ,

Imagine you are a journalist, and you've just written the most compelling article of your career.  Now imagine, after pouring your heart and soul into the piece, less than 20% of your readers actually read the article.

Experienced writers have a way of dealing with this - they have honed their skills by writing killer headlines.  Why?  Because on the average, 80% of all readers read nothing more than the headline.  The challenge lies in writing a headline that informs the reader of what the story is about in a very clear and concise manner.

And so it goes with Twitter - a "micro blogging" site that showcases the art of the headline.  You see, with Twitter, you are limited to writing copy that consists of no more than 140 characters (known as a "tweet").  When you think about it, that's not a lot of room to get your message across.  Yet, it presents a very similar challenge a journalist faces when trying to write a really snappy headline.

If you want to grab the attention your Twitter stream followers, then adhere to the "4-U" principle of headline (or in this case, tweet) writing:

  • The tweet must be useful to the reader
  • The tweet must provide a sense of urgency to the reader
  • The tweet must be unique to the reader
  • The tweet must be ultra-specific for the reader
Take care to ensure your tweets are as short as possible - not only to meet the 140 character limit, but to allow others to "re-tweet" your content.  How short?  That's up to you, but the best headlines tend to be no more than 8-10 words.

It's been said that "content is king".  If you expect anyone to consume your content, a great headline is great place to start.

The truth about web-erasing technology  

Posted by Rich DeFabritus in , , ,

With the massive growth of social networking sites like Facebook, more and more people are sharing personal photos of themselves online. Unfortunately, sometimes unflattering or inappropriate photos can make it out to "cyberspace", and they can come back to haunt you if you don't take the time to remove them.

Now, new software known as X-Pire promises to rectify this problem by adding a digital "expiration date" to your photos.  After a certain period of time, any posted photos will be automatically deleted from whatever site it is uploaded to.  For those of you that are "part-time" Facebook users - or just plain forgetful when it comes to updating or changing your profile - X-Pire could be a real benefit.

A word of caution, however - just because a photo is deleted doesn't mean it's no longer there.  Digital imagery - or any data for that matter - is relatively easy to copy.  The case of Barbara Streisand can attest to this, and not even a very public lawsuit was successful in stopping it.

Your best bet is to refrain from posting anything that could be construed as inappropriate.  If you have any doubt - DON'T POST IT!  In the long run, you'll save yourself - and your small business - any potential problems that could arise as a result.

Small businesses and social media  

Posted by Rich DeFabritus in , , ,

I am encouraged that small business owners remain optimistic about their growth expectations for 2011. According to a recent survey conducted by Intuit, 60% of small business owners expect to see growth over the next 12 months.

Additionally, 56% said they will focus on retaining (or increasing) their current customer base, and 41% would increase their marketing efforts.

What I find interesting is that many of these respondents have ignored social media as a way to attract new customers:

  • Only 8% said they use Twitter
  • Only 9% said they have a blog
  • Only 27% use Facebook

This despite 90% saying they acquire customers via word of mouth! 

By its very nature, social networking is word of mouth.  Information gets passed from person to person, albeit in an online or virtual forum, and has the potential to reach millions of people.  Not to mention how easy it is to get started - which is precisely why I started this blog.

If you are a small business owner, I strongly urge you to develop a social media plan.  Don't know how?  Follow this blog and I'll provide tips and guidance on exactly how to do so in an easy, cost-effective way.

Doesn't your small business deserve it?

Leverage video for advertising to drive awareness  

Posted by Rich DeFabritus

Check out this video I made on YouTube. Care to guess what it cost to make?  The production values should give me away, but the fact that I did this for free and put it together in less than 5 minutes demonstrates how easy it is to use video and YouTube as an effective advertising medium.

Let me know what you think!