I don't think it is healthy to dwell on the past and spend time lost in nostalgia, but it is good at the start of a new year to reflect on the passing year, and determine to make sure that the coming year will be much better in terms of every measure that can be used. In that spirit, I encourage everyone to do their best to make 2017 their best year ever, in whatever terms you feel are important to you.
Here is a Google review of 2016 in terms of search that may inspire you to do your best in 2017.
If you ever wondered what drives Markethive? This video explains it all. We did this for you. This is why it is basically free. This is why it was built, for all of the entrepreneurs who strugle and have a dream.
Markethive is Inbound Marketing combined with a dynamic vertical social network funded by advertising. Not only makes the entire Inbound Marketing system cost free, it also allows you to leverage huge results when you build groups to facilitate the platforms via the social network.
Markethive is next generation technology from a 20 year old Inbound Marketing platform called Veretekk. Built by the same entrepreneurs, innovation is our DNA.
I’ll say it: the days of outbound marketing are over.
The "Wolf of Wall Street" mentality of harassing customers over the phone, sending spamy emails, and going door-to-door to close deals has become much less effective in recent years. Customers have access to so much information every day, they’ve become increasingly resentful of marketing intrusions. The rise of blocking tools such as caller id, spam folders and ad blockers is not coincidence.
Inbound marketing is the new normal. That’s the idea that if you provide value to customers first, they will respond by returning that value back and doing business with you.
To get a peak under the hood inbound marketing, and get tips on how others can use it, I had a chance to chat with A.J. Agrawal – an entrepreneur who built his business, Alumnify, around it. A.J. is a fellow contributor at Entrepreneur as well as at Forbes, Huffington Post, and others.
Here’s an edited version of our e-mail interview:
Why begin with universities?
We started there because we saw a strong decrease year after year in alumni engagement. Right now, alumni engagement is at an all time low – under 10 percent. It was obvious that institutions were struggling to adjust to the new ways their alumni were communicating and engaging. So we saw the opportunity.
For about 85 years, alumni engagement was pretty steady. Then all of a sudden, in the 90’s it began to fall drastically. In panic mode, many schools chose to double down on the outbound marketing tactics that worked in the past: cold calls, snail mail, and increased email addresses. They also deployed better data tacking and software to help optimize open email rates as well as make the giving process easier for graduates.
But these strategies had no effect (or even a negative effect on engagement) because they were built on an overall strategy that was broken. So we decided we would build inbound marketing solutions to provide value to alumni first.
How do you begin inbound practices?
First, make sure you know what inbound marketing is. At its core, inbound is anything that provides a tremendous amount of value to your target customer without asking anything from them in return. There are tons of ways to do this and the best part is that most of the major strategies can be done for minimal cost.
One thing we recommend to companies we work with us is to start by getting a blog set up and to have someone be responsible for publishing regular content. One of the nice things about inbound marketing is that it requires companies to build major assets for their business. Your content library is a huge asset and will eventually help your SEO, and pull in more customers to your website.
Other popular inbound strategies include webinars, eBooks, infographics, mobile apps built to help your customers, and optimizing your social media.
Each business is different, so the strategy depends on factors including audience, industry, and expertise. Like most things, the hardest part is just getting started. Once you find an inbound strategy that starts to work, it becomes much easier to fine tune and expand on your traction.
Do you avoid outbound strategies?
Not at all. While inbound is definitely the future, some customers still respond well to outbound strategies. Even as an inbound company, we still cold call customers and send promotional emails once in a while — but as part of a complete plan.
When thinking about the brand I want for Alumnify, I don’t want prospects and customers avoiding our phone calls. The image of a customer seeing an Alumnify Team Member calling them and saying “Not these people again” is my worst nightmare. And it should be any entrepreneur’s nightmare too.
Instead, I believe that the key to getting customers to love us is to provide value without asking for anything in return. For example, we have a free inbound marketing email list we just launched yesterday with weekly tips and webinars. And I’m always happy to help any fellow entrepreneur hammer out an inbound strategy. That type of approach may take more work in the short run, but it’ll also help build a much better brand to our customers in the long run.
According to one marketing automation expert David Raab, nearly 70 percent of marketers are not happy with their marketing automation software. Clearly, there is much room for improvement in this industry, despite the enormous potential benefits that can be achieved.
One area of particular promise is "predictive intelligence". Marketing automation software that embraces this type of model will provide better results for customers and those results will improve over time due to the machine learning aspect of this type of software model.
True AI or artificial intelligence really exists only in the world of science fiction, but we can already see how technology like Google's "rank brain" are being implemented at a very high level into their search algorithms.
This post is not intended as a treatise on the subject, but only to highlight the development that will inevitably take place in marketing automation to a more predictive and machine learning type model that incorporates elements of artificial intelligence.
So, what would this type of marketing automation software look like, how would it work, and what could it do for clients using the software?
As an example, it is a common marketing strategy to ask the client to start with an avatar of what their ideal customer looks like. A software with AI elements would be able to examine a company's current database of customers, and analyze all demographic data as well as social media profiles of all current customers. It would then perform a detailed and sophisticated search across various websites and social media, and recommend an exhaustive list of potential prospects.
This analysis would be based on similarities with current customers, and would also recommend the best way to connect with them which would most likely yield the best results.
This is a highly sophisticated method of marketing automation that does not currently exist. The ability of this type of software to target potential prospects with laser-like accuracy will likely turn the marketing automation market on its head.
The company that comes out with this kind of predictive analysis model may dominate the industry for years to come, and prove to be a highly sought after commodity, even at a fairly high price. It is also equally likely that the downward price pressure of open sourcing may prove to significantly lower costs for the consumer.
It is clear that forward thinking companies such as Google are investing in the future by relying heavily on automation in a wide variety of markets. Look at the investment Google has made in self-driving cars, for example. Uber drivers may become a thing of the past in the not too distant future.
Consider what Perry Marshall a well-known marketing expert had to say about automation in a recent email.
"2003-2009 was the age of PPC.
2010-2016 has been the age of Social Media.
2017 and beyond will be the age of Artificial Intelligence
Now mind you, this “Artificial Intelligence” is not self-aware. It’s not HAL 9000 reading your lips as you talk outside the spaceship like in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Not yet anyway.
But don’t underestimate this AI.
I have clients who are taking AI to deep levels, re-inventing the future as we speak. You won’t fully see the results of what they’re doing for another year or two.
But let’s just say that talking to machines like Alexa and Siri is only the tip of the iceberg.
The key to success in 2017-2020…especially in AdWords…is OWNING some of that Automation.
Automation is a rack-the-shotgun, 95/5, winners and losers phenomenon. "
Prophetic words of wisdom, no doubt, from the marketing and AdWords expert.
Watch for those technologies that claim this type of predictive AI model to emerge and lead the industry by wide margins in the years to come.
Take a look at these three leading-edge marketing automation technologies you can use today.
Markethive – (free) – dramatically increases your reach on the Internet by using cooperative blog syndication technology, and much more
Social Lead Generator – auto-join and auto-post to open and closed Facebook groups, dramatically expand your Twitter followers, and more.
Linked Group Messenger – Increase your LinkedIn invitation rate and grow a very large group of 1st level connections on LinkedIn. Especially helpful to avoid the LinkedIn "idk" limit.
Of course, I will keep you informed of these trends, and help you to stay on top of these significant technologies.
For most small businesses marketing is either a huge expense or a huge burden. If you are trying to run a small business, or if you are an entrepreneur trying to navigate your way online, the word marketing is kind of a scary one.
You envision yourself or your team spending hours and hours blogging, or creating content on social networks with no guarantee that your time investment will pay off. Or you pay someone through the nose to handle your marketing, not really sure if that investment will work out any better than doing it in-house.
This might be a bit of an exaggeration, but unfortunately, it is the reality that far too many start-ups and existing small businesses face. Here are some excellent tools that you probably have not heard of, that can help ease your burden. Do not worry, relief is on the way.
Markethive – this is a totally free social network for entrepreneurs and small businesses. This network can help you, even if you don't have your own website. If you do have your own website, it can work hand in hand for even better results.
It would take an entire blog post to describe everything that Markethive can do for you, but let's just start with their blogging platform. Simply put I get 10X the post views on Markethive compared to the views I get on LinkedIn Pulse.
Markethive is an engaged social network. This is quite a surprising comparison, despite the fact that I have 10k 1st level connections on LinkedIn, and only 500 friends in Markethive. As they say, go figure!
LeadOutcome – you may or may not be aware that LinkedIn is one of the few social networks that allows the export of names and email addresses. Your entire database of 1st level connections on LinkedIn whether you have 500, 2500, or 25,000 1st level connections, can be exported and sent email using automated marketing methods. This is obviously extremely significant for marketers.
I am not a big fan of autoresponders, or email blasters, as I like to call them. Aside from telling you the open rates and clickthrough rates of email, they really do little else.
No autoresponder I know of can tell you who is "hot", and who is not. There are a number of specialized features that CRM software systems like LeadOutcome offer, but the fact that each action a lead takes is "scored" makes a huge difference.
You now know who is "hot", and who is not. There are a number of additional features of LeadOutcome that make it highly desirable, but given that it's monthly cost is less than most autoresponders makes it a relative no-brainer.
Simple Lead Generator for Facebook and Twitter. Without listing all of the features and benefits, (see the video link for details), this powerful software lets you search for and find groups automatically by keyword search.
You can post automatically to groups, and also to your friends on Facebook. You can also auto-follow on Twitter and auto-like tweets in order to encourage people to follow you back. This can save hours and hours of your time if you are active on either Facebook or Twitter.
Group Messenger for LinkedIn. (see the video link for details) This software allows you to market automatically on LinkedIn. No need for manual messages one by one anymore.
You can auto-invite based on keyword searches and auto-invite group members for groups of which you are a member. You can email open networkers over and above the LinkedIn limits for invitations.
Of course, you will find quite a large number of rather expensive systems for inbound marketing that will schedule and organize your content, etc. etc. Despite the advantages of these systems, you will find most of what they do in Markethive at no charge.
An essential component of any inbound marketing strategy, or what I like to call automated marketing is about how to gain access to prospects. There are always restrictions on the manual methods social networks offer to contact, message, and connect with friends and potential prospects.
The above-mentioned automated software systems allow you the access that you need in order to market effectively on these major social networking platforms. You can save yourself hours and hours of manual labor using these systems.
You will not find a more powerful or lower-cost suite of tools for inbound marketing on any other list on the Internet that is current for 2016 than this one.
Please connect with me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/leadsonline or call 973-259-6055 for more information.
Sponsored by Markethive – THE social network for entrepreneurs
What are the rules of etiquette on Facebook and how should I observe them on my Facebook profile and in my Facebook groups? No matter what we do in life, or where we go, there are standards that apply, right? In the workplace, at school, in church, even at a baseball game.
No matter where we are, there are expectations of how we should behave in order to not just get along, but to harmonize with others. The same is true online, but the rules of the game are a little different. Somehow the rules online have changed, and people say things online that they would never dream of saying in front of people they know.
There is widespread political bashing from the left and the right online now, of which you are probably very well aware, but it by no means is it limited to politics. In perhaps a vain attempt to bring a little civility to the online world, and especially to Facebook where the rules of the “Old Wild, Wild West” seem to reign supreme, I would like to talk about Facebook etiquette from the online marketers point of view.
I know, to use a crude analogy, I may be merely spitting into the wind here, but it seems to me someone has to point this out, and I guess I might as well be the one to do it. What does political bashing inside a Facebook group of pro-Trump, or pro-Hillary supporters actually accomplish? This is a real enigma for me.
Who are they going to influence in a group where everyone shares the same political view? If they wanted to try and change someone’ viewpoint, maybe they should all go together and post all over one of the pro-Hillary sites until the owner of the site would just give up in frustration, (or vice versa).
I really don’t want to go here, but it also seems like there is an awful lot of Muslim bashing on Facebook. Where did this come from? I fully understand the frustration with the wars in the Middle East, but especially at the time of the 4th of July when we celebrate the Constitution, isn’t freedom of religion one of the fundamental principles of the pilgrims, to the Founding Fathers and the Revolutionary patriots? Jeesh, give the complaints against Muslims, especially Muslim-Americans a rest already.
OK, now here is the practical side to this post for those who want to promote on Facebook. You may ask “How should I post on my Facebook profile and my Facebook groups”?
One thing that should be said upfront, you should probably develop a thick skin if you don’t have one already, since there is someone, somewhere who will want to beat up on you, (verbally), for one reason or another. If you can’t take the heat, I suggest you get out of the fire and leave Facebook.
There is no rush whatsoever to join any group on Facebook. I have heard that there 8 million groups on Facebook, so there are plenty of groups to join, and they will be waiting for you, so do a little research before you click that join button.
There are a very large number of groups that are nothing but classified ads sites. If you post to these groups, your p ost is just one of thousands of other ads that no one is really paying attention to, so do not waste your time with these groups.
On these groups, there is no interaction, almost no comments, and no intelligent life as far as I can tell. Why would you want to waste a post on this kind of site?
A good sign of a healthy group is the number of new members, as well as your first reaction in viewing the most recent posts. Are there just ads, or are they promoting a discussion of any kind? Is there any discussion at all? If so, then maybe this group is worthwhile. If not, no problem, just move on to another one of the 8 million groups on Facebook. No harm, no foul.
Also do not waste your time posting out the same message to all of your groups. Change it up a little. Obviously there some of the people you want to add as friends and want to connect with that are members of many of the same groups you are. You look like a spammer if you post the same information everywhere.
The one exception to this rule would be a Holiday greeting. I used this method in a non-promotional way to wish my friends and people in my groups Happy Memorial Day, and I did it again, for The 4th of July. I received hundreds of likes,
and comments and they were still coming in several weeks after the Holiday.
This is when I realized that promotional methods on Facebook have a potential to reach tens or even hundreds of thousands of people.
So my advice is as follows:
1) Be polite, don’t push your own agenda all the time.
2) Inspire people with your message and they will follow you and want to be your friend.
3) Join groups with growing membership, and make sure you check the rules of
group and act accordingly.
4) Interact as much as possible on groups, especially with the moderators, influencers, or people active on the group.
5) Reply to messages in a timely manner. (same day if possible)
6) Have something inspiring to say with short test messages and images. Ideally do not promote directly through your text message, but you can link to another page with useful information and links to your offers. This indirect method of promotion will be more effective in the long run than just splashing your ad everywhere like most people do.
7) Have fun and keep your sense of humor. Don’t forget that Facebook started as a fun place for people to connect. In growing so big, Facebook has lost quite a bit of that “fun” spirit, but use your creativity to keep trying new things, and experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t. By following these guidelines your experience on Facebook will be more enjoyable, AND more profitable.
Sponsored by Markethive – – THE social network for entrepreneurs
For the most part, guest posting is sort of like begging, right? You have a blog that you are trying to promote, and you are hoping to increase traffic to it, By guest posting on a blog that has more traffic than your blog, you are hoping to trickle away some of the traffic on the larger blog to your smaller blog.
That pretty much sums it up, right? The larger more popular blog doesn't mind so much, as long as you provide useful content to the blog owners readers. It is one less blog post the owner has to write after all.
In conclusion then, guest posters are like either beggars or leeches, and blog owners who allow guest posting are a little lazy. This is sort of a cynical way of looking at guest posting, I know, but it is to illustrate a point.
Suppose you could promise that you would not only write a blog post, but you would post the link out to tens of thousands of your social media connections, and millions of members of Facebook, and LinkedIn groups to which you belong. Would that make your guest post seem more attractive to the blog owner? You better believe it would!
You move from the position as a guest post beggar to a guest post promoter, and even a champion.
Listen to these comments from a blog owner on whose blog I recently promoted a guest post at:
"Hi John, thats awesome! I see that your post is most viewed post of the site and is trending. Also, I see that it is performing well on Twitter and LinkedIn. Thank you so much for sharing. Great Synergy"! Max Angel – Cofounder at ThatsJournal.
I suggested that he might want to join Markethive, or that he might be interested in some of the automation tools I use.
Max responded. "You are very welcome, John. Thanks a lot for the marketing inputs. I will check it out. Thanks again for the post contribution. Please feel free to let me know if you or your friends want to share anything related to marketing. We will be happy to help. Thanks!" I would say that is a pleased blog owner, right?
If we work together, we can help each other find these kinds of guest blog post opportunities, and spread the message about Markethive. Feel free to contact Max about guest posting on his blog.
PS – did I mention that this promotion also brought in at least 5 or more new Markethive subscribers?
Well before I reveal the answer to that question, what is the real benefit of social networking anyway?
Why should any online marketer spend time on social networks? Wouldn't time be better spent just blogging and communicating with prospects and customers using email and other more productive methods, instead of wasting time on social media?
I can understand that social media can sometimes seem like unproductive time, especially repeated posts on Facebook that few people will ever see.
The answer, I think, boils down to one word, REACH!. If only one hundred people read a post of mine on Pulse, the blogging platform on LinkedIn, (for example), then that is one hundred more people that have read something I have written, and might decide to reach out back to me. If they had never read my blog post they probably never would have had that chance to read something that I wrote, and possibly connect with me.
Admittedly, that is only 100 viewers out of a total of 8,000 of my first level connections, so the percentage is not particularly high. Supposing instead of a hundred or so views, I could get a thousand views for the same post that I submitted to LinkedIn? That would 10X better than posting on Pulse, right? And if I could get 10,000 views of the same post, now that would be something substantial, at that point, right?
Social Media has the possibility of magnifying the reach of my outreach efforts. Posting is one, and sharing content on social media is another. Where on social media can you get the greatest bang for your buck, or the greatest reach for time spent? The answer is Markethive. It is a new social network for entrepreneurs that is available by invitation. Just click on this link —-> Markethive, to find out more.
I have a number of posts on Markethive with thousands of views already, despite the fact that it is a relatively new social network. I have no doubt that with the new tools Markethive has recently implemented, I will soon get over 10k views on a single post.
So why do posts get so many views on Markethive?
1) You can share your blog posts on Markethive with your other social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn, Stumblupon, and others.
2) With your permission, other bloggers on Markethive can share your content on their blogs, as well as on their own social networks. You can also reciprocate to do the same with their content on your own blogs, and social networks.
3) As an owner of a group, you can share your content as often as you want with your group members. LinkedIn limits your ability to post to your group to one message per week. There is no limit to group messaging on Markethive. If you have valuable and interesting content to share with your group members, you can message your group members every day.
I give LinkedIn Workshops two times each week using one of the Markethive webinar rooms. I have great respect for LinkedIn, and use it extensively to prospect and find marketing automation customers for my local marketing business. There are so many great things that I like about LinkedIn, not the least of which is it's enormous size. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, and other social networks all have their strengths and weaknesses.
When it comes to blogging and my attempts to reach as many people as possible, however, I have to say, I prefer Markethive, and not only for it's blogging and sharing capabilities. So, when I ask the mirror on the wall what is the most powerful social marketing network for entrepreneurs of all, it tells me that Markethive is best one of all.
I suggest you give it a try, and you may find the same answer to your question that i did. See you on Markethive!
Profile Pages: “Online Branding and Building Authority”
What is the difference between online branding and building authority? Some would consider it the same thing, but in reality it can be two completely different processes. Online branding is a way to get more exposure for your brand on all levels of online marketing, especially search and social.
Building authority takes online branding to the next level by making each online presence for a brand authoritative. It goes beyond just about creating a blog or social media account. The following are ways you can build your online brand as well as your authority.
Blogs are beneficial for brands for three reasons. First of all, blogs help you rank well in search engines – Google loves fresh, unique content on websites that are constantly updated. If you’re looking to meet this goal, be sure to use Markethive’s blog platform and build a blog team in a Markethive group to assist in greater content and curation.
RE: WordPress Markethive’s technology super charges WordPress campaigns.
Next, blogs provide for great content to share on social media networks. It’s hard to get traction if your just sharing product and sales pages. But if you’re sharing informative blog posts about your industry, you’re likely to get a lot of traffic and social shares.
Markethive provides plugins and widgets and tech that allows visitors to subscribe to your blog from their Social Networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, thereby allowing your new Markethive posts to publish to their news feed automatically.
Finally, great blogs can help your brand build authority in your niche. This is where you go above and beyond cookie cutter posts that talk about your product to creating awesome content in the form of:
Awesome content will show fans of your industry that you know your stuff and therefore are the brand to go with for their business needs. A great example of this is the blog you are reading right now – Markethive has Inbound Marketing technologies, the go to Social Network and infographics that have been tweeted and liked over 10,000 times and posts that have been viewed on Facebook, LinkedIn and Stumbleupon over 100,000 times.
There are two great fears that brands have when it comes to blogging. One is that they won’t have anything to blog about, and this is a complete myth. Everyone can find something to blog about. You just have to expand your definition of the target audience. Imagine you had a body shop. You probably won’t get a lot of attention if you’re writing about paint booths and sanding tools all the time, but you will if you think about broader topics that would interest the people likely to visit an auto body shop. You can blog about the latest coolest Hot Rods at the coming Hot Rod Nationals show or the latest NASCAR winner to grab fans of those programs. Or you can blog about environmental issues and the Prious to grab environmentalists. Just think bigger!
The other fear is that they will be giving away “trade secrets” and lose their business. This one is especially common within industries like SEO, where a brand might feel like giving out ten steps to link building will give their customers the info they need to just do it themselves. But this just isn’t true. I have found that most of the time, if you give a complex, in-depth tutorial, a potential customer will see that your brand has the knowledge to do the service, but they won’t have the time or resources to do it for themselves. Hence, they’ll go with you because they feel confident that your brand has the expertise demonstrated in the content provided on the blog.
The key with your brand’s blog is to make sure that it is apparent who is behind the content. Whether you have your blog on your domain (yourbrand.com/blog), as a subdomain (blog.yourbrand.com), or as a separate site (yourbrandblog.com), be sure that it is matched to your brand. Check out Markethive’s site, blog, and subscribers profile pages, logged in dashboard and display variances on hand held devices. All are unique yet all are well branded and follow a conventional identity protocol (all on separate domains and different devices) as an example of great branding.
Guest Blog for Others (This is a major component in Markethive)
When it comes to blogging, you don’t want to keep the good stuff all to yourself. Guest blogging (join a Markethive Group to share content is that easy) is a great way to build your online brand presence and authority. The basic goal is to find a (GROUP) blog whose audience will be interested in your brand, and create a great piece of content for that blog.
Notice I said great piece of content. I would go so far as to say that the content you create for another (GROUP) site’s blog should be even better than the content you create for your own site. You want the content you create for another blog (GROUP) to rock. You want that content to generate additional social shares, comments, and traffic for the blog owner.
As you create GROUP posts for others, be sure to save the links to those guest posts for future reference. As you approach new GROUPs that you would like to guest post upon, you will want to include those links as examples of your successful guest posts in other Markethive GROUPS. If you can convince the GROUP owner that your post will be a perfect fit for their audience and will drive significant traffic and response, the GROUP blog owner will have a hard time resisting.
My main tips for GROUP blogging for your brand include:
1. Find the best GROUPs to guest post on.
When it comes to blogs you want to get a guest post on, your goal is to find those whose audience would be interested in your brand. The blog should get a significant amount of traffic and social shares as well – there’s no reason to post on a blog that has no visitors just because it has high PageRank or any other criteria – you want to get some brand exposure out of this! Use the Markethive GROUPs directory to start your search for blogs in your niche or industry.
2. Find the GROUPs blogging policy.
If you see that a GROUP allows guest bloggers or outside contributors, the GROUP should have some page or post posted that describes their post policy. If they do have a policy page or post, then be sure to note any and all criteria.
3. Start building a relationship with the GROUP owner first. (Markethive Groups is excellent for this)
Now that you’ve found the blog you want to pitch an idea to, don’t just jump in and pitch them yet. Start by getting to know the GROUP owner first by following their Markethive blog posts, their Twitter and their Facebook fan page. Comment on some of their latest posts – make those comments valuable to enhance discussion and demonstrate your writing skills and expertise in the industry. CoPromote their posts using Broadcasting tools and widgets. Do this for at least a week or two before pitching content to them.
4. Research and pitch great topic ideas. (Join others in our live Markethive Work Shops)
Don’t create the content first and then try to find it a home. Once you’ve found the right blogs and started engaging with the blogs themselves, you’ll get a feel for the type of content they publish.
To get an even better idea of what content is successful for each blog, subscribe to them in your Markethive back office blog platform. Then you will be able to see the site’s latest traffic scores. The higher score, the more comments, tweets, Facebook likes, and other social shares the post received. Use these high-scoring posts as an indicator as to what content does well on each blog.
Now you can message via the Markethive message system or request to join their group saying that you have recently enjoyed reading their blog (as evidenced by your commenting & social sharing) and would like to contribute to their site as a GROUP member. After reading their guidelines, you would like to see if they would be interested in the following topics. Then add three to four great post ideas that you believe will fit their audience to choose from. And of course, if you’ve done guest posts elsewhere, include some of your best links. If not, just include some great links from your own brand’s blog.
5. Create Awesome Content.
Once you get approval from a GROUP, your next job is to create an awesome piece of content. Make sure it fits the theme of that blogging GROUP and that it has the overall feel / tone of the GROUP blog you are submitting to. Also be sure to add in relevant links throughout your blog post – not to your own properties, but internal links to the blog itself. This shows the blog owner you’re really giving it 100% for them and their audience and not just trying to promote yourself.
The self-promotion piece should come at the end with your guest bio. Check out other author bios on the blogs and create yours to match. This is where you can say you are John Smith, an industry enthusiast from ABC Company.
Again, be sure to consider the blog’s guidelines and previous guest author bios when deciding to add one or more links back to your brand. The blog owner ultimately reserves the right to edit it as they feel is necessary.
6. Support your GROUP post once it goes live.
It’s not over yet. After that guest post goes live, you should give it your unconditional love in the form of social sharing with your brand’s audience on Twitter, Facebook, etc. as well as coming by to respond to comments. That kind of response on your guest post will further boost your brand’s reputation as a great guest blogger as well as a confident authority in your niche.
Don’t Forget Blog Commenting
Blog commenting is a great branding and authority building exercise you can do on any blog in your niche. I would suggest subscribing to the top blogs in your industry in Google Reader, and each time there is a new post, be sure to read it thoroughly and add a valuable comment. Remember this isn’t about link building – this is about building your brand’s presence online as an authority in your industry.
Get a Disqus account as well as it is a sort of social network of people that comment.
You can use the blog’s previous comments as a guide as to how you should format yours. Some blogs require you to only use your real name, while others are a little more lenient in using your name – your company. I would suggest linking your comments to your blog as people are more willing to click through to a brand’s blog than their main website.
Your Online Branding & Authority Building Strategy Using Blogs
What is your brand’s strategy when it comes to building your brand’s authority using blogs? Be sure to share what you find brings your brand the best results in the comments!
Create a Consistent Brand Image for Each Profile
Have you ever visited a company’s social profile, and you were not sure that it belonged to the company? One of the most important parts of branding is keeping a consistent image across all of your online properties so that no matter what path a person takes from one property to the next, they will always know it is your brand. For example, someone might:
Find your fan page through a friend’s activity stream and then follow it to your blog, then website
See a tweet from someone they are following, visit your Twitter profile, and then continue onto your website.
Start at your website, then go to check out your social profiles to see if your company is engaging with fans. Engaging is fuel and grows awareness, authority and respect. Comment, recommend. Just drive by liking and endorsing does no one any good and makes you look like a tire kicking couch potato.
Just like you wouldn’t want pages on your website to be different themes, you will want your social profiles to do the same. Markethive also leads the way in doing it right as well:
Markethive probably does the best with branding between their website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube accounts as shown above. All five are branded with the honey comb logo, color theme and climbers ascending Mt. Everest in representation of the entrepreneurial social community of entrepreneurs helping each other achieve their agendas, so you can feel the consistency moving from one property to the next.
The above shows BMW’s branding between their website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube profiles. Each online property uses the same color scheme and is currently focused on automotive technology. The logos are all consistent, and the auto focused in the pages is different perspectives, the coloring and themes are consistent as well
Bolthouse’s (organic farm fresh juices) branding between their website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube profiles as shown above uses the same color scheme, logo, and focus on their primary product, carrots and selections of juices. Excellent example of branding and consistency!
Help People Find Your Profiles
I do a lot of competitive analysis in my line of work, and one of the most frustrating things I have to do is search for a brand’s social profiles. Don’t hide your social media presence – flaunt them! Be sure to:
Put Social Icons on Your Website – Let visitors to your website know that you are engaging with your audience on social media as well by adding social icons to your website design. The most common places to place them include the header / menu bar, sidebar, and footer. They don’t have to be large and in charge – BMW’s are none existent on their main page and Bolthouse are right up top left of center where they should be and get the job done..
Put Social Links in Your Communications – Do you send emails regularly? Add social links to your email signature. Do you send newsletters? Add social icons to them.
Make Your Profiles Search Friendly – If I Google your brand name + Twitter, I should get your Twitter handle in the search results. To make this happen, be sure that the name of your social profile (and the username if possible) matches your brand name. You might be tempted to keyword optimize your profiles instead of optimizing them for your brand name – this is something you need to resist. You can learn more about social media SEO on how to optimize for both effectively for search engines.
Another frustration is the direct sales industry.
Even though the size of this industry is huge by any comparison with a market measured in the trillions, even the top 100 fail miserable branding with social media. Do not be like them, rather show them a good example with your efforts. After several days of research I was able to find one such company that at least had the top 5 Social Medias registered with a similar array (not the same name) of usernames. The super majorities only have a token Facebook page, even less with Youtube and Twitter and nearly nonexistent with a Google+ and for that almost none of them are engaged.
Team Beach Body with a yearly market of 250 million, struggles with social media but has managed to set up the top 5 social medias, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Linkedin and Google+, albeit, the account usernames vary, and across the media branding is seriously lacking. It becomes painfully clear this industry needs Markethive or at least their distributors seriously do.
Get Engaged with Your Followers, Fans, and Subscribers
You probably know that it is important to maintain an active account by posting lots of updates, and that it is best to do something other than blasting advertisements non-stop about your brand. So the question is, what should you be doing to stay active in your social networks? Get engaged with your audience, of course. Here are the top networks to get socially engaged in for your brand.
If you’re goal is to build a strong presence on Twitter and demonstrate your brand’s authority in your industry, you need get involved with your following. Some ways to do so include:
Monitoring Brand Mentions – If you use Twitter itself, just do a search for your brand and save the search for future reference. If you use a Twitter management tool like HootSuite, create a keyword search column that will constantly update you with brand mentions. Anytime someone says something about your brand, whether it is good or bad, you should be responding to it if at all possible. This may mean adding some extra team members to your social media GROUP as a response staff. But over time, if people see that you are always on top of any discussion of your brand, you will gain trust and receive lots of great word of mouth marketing. People will tell their followers what a great response they’ve received from you and likely recommend you based on their satisfaction level.
Monitoring Industry Conversation – One of the best parts of Twitter is that you can jump into any conversation, anytime. So if you are a company providing Inbound Marketing services and technologies like Markethive, you can monitor anyone who talks about Inbound Marketing, SEO, linking, Entrepreneurial interests, and other related topics and just answer simple questions that anyone asks about those topics demonstrating your expertise.
Curate the Best Content – Even if you are the best content creator in your industry, people often like to see a second opinion. Find out who other authorities are in your industry and share their opinion on industry topics with your following. You will gain more relevant followers simply for sharing the best news.
Facebook Fan Page Engagement
There are several different ways you can engage with your fans using your fan page that will keep your current fans active and bring new fans to your brand. These include:
Updating Your Fan Page on Facebook – It’s tempting to use HootSuite and other automated programs to update your fan page. But it’s becoming more and more obvious that if you want your updates to show up in fan’s news feeds that the updates must be organic, or originating from your fan page itself. So take the extra time to disable all of your autofeeds and start updating your fan page manually on Facebook. And when people start engaging with your posts or posting directly on your wall, be sure to respond to them. If they know they’re getting response, they’re more likely to return. No one likes a one-way broadcast.
Try Out Different Types of Updates – Don’t just post links or ask questions. Spice it up – add some video updates and photos. Different types of people like different types of content – be sure to try to cater to everyone by mixing your content up!
Thanks to the last major update to Facebook fan pages, you are able to use Facebook as your fan page. This means you can like pages as your fan page instead of your personal profile and then comment on them as your fan page. If you can find pages that are not direct competitors but whose audience will be interested in your brand, you will want to get active on them. For example, social media consultants should be living on Social Media Examiner’s fan page to connect with other individuals and businesses looking for social media help.
If your brand isn’t on LinkedIn, you are missing out. LinkedIn allows you to add a company page where you can post your products, services, job openings, and even send status updates to your company followers including your latest blog posts. But some of the best branding and authority building activities for this network lie in the activity of the professional profiles including:
Participating in Groups – There are lots of great, active groups on LinkedIn in a wide variety of industries. Find the groups that have your potential client base within them and start getting active in discussions and posting useful content. Just be sure not to do anything that the group moderator would consider as spamming!
Answering Questions – The next best area to build a great professional reputation and strong authority in your industry is in LinkedIn Answers. There are questions asked every day in topics ranging from administration to technology. The people who answer the most questions are also featured on the answers’ home page as the week’s top experts!
Gaining Recommendations – Last, but not least, is recommendations. You can get recommendations on both the company pages and the professional profiles of your employees. Imagine if someone is browsing your company’s page and sees that the top employees have a ton of recommendations. It will show that you have a lot of experts in the industry which will make potential clients even more confident in your brand!