Archive for May, 2011

May 18, 2011

Social Commerce: How social media can boost your business [Infographic]

Some interesting statistics on social commerce in this infographic from spinback. Many of these conclusions are expected, but it’s great to have some more numbers (specifically dollar figures) behind the notion that most social media engagement can help convert “shares” to sales. A few highlights:

  • 90% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know
  • 67% spend more money online after reading recommendations
  • 3.2 unique visitors to your site per social media share

You want people talking about your business, online – simple, right? Once you start to encourage/empower these conversations to help boost your business, you need to make sure you are in a position to participate. Have an action plan in place that allows you to share/amplify the positive posts, and reach out to and address the negative ones. Positive posts give you that valuable third-party credibility, etc., while negative posts almost always provide an actionable piece of business intelligence. Reach out to that dissatisfied customer and address their problem.

What do you think?

May 11, 2011

Blogging 201: Nine tips on creating engaging blog content

Content is the most important ingredient for any media, and blogs are no exception. Coming up with, and delivering, quality content is often challenging, so here are a few tips to help you generate content to keep your readers coming back.

1. Stay on topic. Be sure to only blog about things that are relevant to your blog.  For instance, if you blog about fashion, don’t include a post on why your favourite restaurant or sports teams. If you start to stray from your original focus, your blog will no longer be about your passion/interest: it will be about you and, as mentioned in blogging 101, nobody really wants to read a blog about you.

2. Limit yourself to one main idea per post. Often there’s a lot to say, but you can’t say it all in one post.  Here you should pick out your most important point and stick to it. If there really is too much to say, consider using the series approach where you blog several times about the same topic… i.e. this ongoing blogging series.

3. Pick a side and share your opinion. You don’t need to be negative about it, just have an opinion. These posts often generate a lot of traffic and comments as people want to contribute to the conversation.

4. Write about news and current events. Find something in the news and blog about it. There is not always an obvious connection between your blog topic and what’s hot in the news, so it’s up to the blogger to find, or create, that connection. For instance, I wanted to blog about the recent Canadian Federal Election, but the question was what to blog about. Once I saw a news story about how job postings were made to hire people to post right-, or left-, wing comments, I knew I had found my topic.

5. Be useful. You want to add value for your reader. Consider sharing a resource, experience, expertise, etc. Don’t be afraid to share some of your “industry secrets” and how-to posts are always popular if you can help people with a common problem you’ve solved.

6. Vary the types of posts you make. Consider using different formats to present your information to keep the reader interested. You may want to use how-tos, top 10 lists, opinion, infographics, reviews, case studies, or even  interviews.

7. Write straight-forward and catchy headlines. People decide if they are going to click on your post based on the headline, so it’s important to capture what your post is about in as few words as possible. The strongest headlines add the elements of interest, wordplay, and/or humour. I’m always writing, and re-writing, my headlines to be sure I come up with something that fits. Reading other blogs can often help get the headline juices flowing. For more on effective headline writing, check out Blogging 301.

8. Make sure your content is consumable. People don’t read the internet, they scan it. Use a combination of lists, images, graphs, charts, and different formatting options to make your key points stand out. Also, make sure to include a photo, image, or video in each post – this helps to visually break-up your text and adds interest to the post.

9. Set a schedule and stick to it. Being regular is important. If you set a regular, and achievable,  schedule to create new posts, you and your readers will get into the routine of creating and consuming your content.  Professional bloggers often post everyday, but others who have a different day-job will post once a week, or a couple times a month.

May 5, 2011

Worst. Inforgraphic. Ever. The “Evolution of Email” from Microsoft

Who knew that the Evolution of Email, as told by Microsoft, would be even more boring than the technology itself?

What bothers me most about this infographic is that is glosses over the biggest part of the evolution – the introduction of free, browser-based, cloud-computing, email services. Yes, they mention Yahoo Mail, Gmail, and Hotmail, but really don’t do them justice. I would argue that the email “revolution” didn’t really happen until these free services were introduced.

These services allow anybody to have an email account, not just those who pay for internet services. This is big because, in the 1990s, many families (mine included) only had one email address that all family members used. Though this account all the incoming and outgoing messages were available for everybody to see. With the introduction of services like Hotmail, we no longer had to use the “house” account that our parents set up and monitored.

With this new-found freedom, young internet users were able to get their first taste of innovation online as they explored and experimented with the power of the internet.  They could now sign up for ICQ, subscribe to newsletters, enter contests, have their own contacts, launch a personal website (Nerd Alert: I had a Warez, Appz, and Qbasic website), etc.

These free email tools really allowed youth to differentiate themselves from their parents in much of the same way the youth of the 1950s and 1960s used technology (primarily, the transistor radio) to differentiate themselves from theirs.

Maybe I’m wrong on this one, what do you think?

Also, I don’t know what Facebook has to do with the evolution of email – it’s a completely different communications model. Email is essentially glorified letter writing distributed from computer-to-computer whereas social media thrives on the many-to-many conversations that are often happening in real-time.

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