5 Summer Strategies for Your Blog

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The lazy days of summer are here. But bloggers, summer just might be the prime time for you to get ahead of the eight ball. Sure, relaxing on the beach all summer may sound tempting, but this time of year is a good time to get inspired, get creative, and get writing!

Here are a few tips for the small business owner or nonprofit leader on how to make the most of your summer blog schedule:

1. Think ahead.

The last thing you may want to think about in the middle of the summer is school starting, winter coming, or Christmas shopping, but thinking ahead to holidays, season changes, and big events coming down the pike can keep you on track, ensuring that you don’t miss any relevant topics for your blog. Kids will head back to school before you know it, and with it comes school shopping, football practice, and choir concerts. The leaves will change soon after, and with it comes a busy fall, packed with festivals and outdoor activities. The weather will start to get cooler, and we’ll dust off our jackets and scarves and start craving hot chocolate. All of these topics are jam-packed with ideas that could relate to your blog, or the people who read your blog. Think about how you can creatively tie in products that relate to whatever topic you pick. There’s always room for cross-marketing in the blog world.

2. Recruit a guest blogger.

This summer doesn’t have to be all work, however. If you feel like you need a break, think about recruiting a guest blogger. Guest bloggers can bring new audiences — audiences that can become a part of your loyal following. A new writer can bring a fresh perspective on a topic and even spawn new blog post ideas. Make sure you trust the person you pick and don’t go overboard on the guest blogs. A nice sprinkling between your posts is sufficient. But how do you find these guest bloggers? You can post a call for writers on your blog, making sure to list the requirements and responsibilities. If you have a specific topic, you’d like a guest blogger to write about, search out a respected person in that field and ask if they’d like to write for you. They’ll gain exposure and introduce themselves to a new audience. Or you could let the writers come to you by creating a ‘write for us’ page for people to submit a request to produce content. This allows you to screen for quality. Once you find the perfect fit, you can sit back and put your feet up for a bit!

3. Expand your creativity.

Summer is the time for vacation and play, and these things make us more relaxed — mind, body, and spirit. When we’re less stressed, our creativity can soar, opening up a new world of possibilities. This is great for keeping blogs fresh and interesting. Try to set aside time each week to jot down a few ideas that may pop into your head once your troubles start melting away. Then when things start to ramp up again, you have a list of new, fresh, and creative ideas to get you writing!

4. Tell your story.

Like we’ve mentioned, summer is full of exciting and new adventures, and you should write about them! Your audience reads your blog because you have something interesting to say, and they want to see what you’re up to and what new escapades you’re having.

5. Don’t forget the important things.

Just because things get a little off kilter in the summer, doesn’t mean you should drop the ball on the important things. Don’t forget to: Email your contacts a link to the blog.
Linking to a blog and including a teaser email featuring your blog posts is a great way to build buzz on your blog and increase readership. inBLOOM sends weekly emails to our contacts highlighting our latest posts.

We give a brief overview of the post (about one to two of the best lines), include the main image hyperlinked to the post, and provide a call to action, such as “read it here.” In Constant Contact, we keep track of our open and click-through rates and also take note of which blog topics attract the most interest. Continuing to write about a topic that falls flat is a waste of your valuable time.

Think about SEO and keywords.
The more you post, the more exposure you get. And the better your search engine optimization (SEO), the better your traffic will be. To ensure you’re getting the most bang for your post, make sure you know the right keywords to use to increase your SEO. But you’re not all on your own here. Tools like Yoast, Moz and HubSpot can help you with SEO and get you started on the path to SEO success.

Still want to sit in your beach chair and soak up the sun and let the waves wash your stress away? No worries, inBLOOM can take care of all your blogging needs. With our team of expert writers, you can rest assured your blog is in good hands with people who understand the importance of promoting your brand, keeping your audience engaged, and responding to rising trends. Contact us to find out more.

cover photo: pic jumbo

 

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Crisis Management and PR in a Viral World

Do’s and Don’ts of Crisis Management and PR in a Viral World

In a world gone viral, bad news can spread in the blink of an eye. Literally.

Companies and organizations both big and small are at risk for potential crises that may hamper profits, destroy reputation, and cause general harm to assets. When a public relations crisis strikes, there are things organizations can do to help minimize the negative effects of a negative situation.

But first things first…

Are you really in a crisis?

Just because another electronics store opens down the street from your electronics store, doesn’t mean you’re in a crisis. That’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes. W. Timothy Coombs, a leading guru in the public relations crisis management world, defines a crisis as “an unpredictable event that threatens important expectancies of stakeholders and can seriously impact an organization’s performance and generate negative outcomes.” That being said, a crisis is perceptual. If your organization’s stakeholders believe the company is in a crisis situation, you are, and you must act accordingly.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

No organization should be caught unprepared for any crisis. And these days there are more opportunities for crises to arise than ever before. Social media escalates the rate at which undesirable news spreads, and online review sites can spread negative comments like wild fire. A crisis management plan can ease the pain of dealing with a crisis, and possibly prevent the situation from crippling an organization. Identifying potential crises is a good place to start. Is your organization at risk for a widespread impact from a flood or another natural disaster? What would reports of employee misconduct do to your company? Murphy says anything that can go wrong, will. So prepare for it.

Once potential crises have been identified, a crisis management plan, complete with a communication strategy, designated crisis team, and post crisis plan, should be created. When a crisis occurs, this complete plan will prevent many headaches, and serve as a guide for handling negative situations.

So you’re in a crisis. Now what?

The Do’s

  • Yes, social media can work against an organization in crisis, but it can also work wonders to connect audiences and stakeholders. When Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012, energy company Con Edison took to the Twittersphere to communicate power restoration efforts to its anxious customers. Over 1,650 tweets went out, and Con Edison was able to communicate directly with those who used Twitter to get in touch with the organization. Twitter, along with other social media platforms, allow organizations to communicate quickly and effectively with large audiences, which is vital in a crisis when time is of the essence.
  • Public relations professionals must keep their fingers on the pulse of public opinion at all times, and during a crisis this is especially true. People talk, good or bad, and responding to questions and comments is a good way to be transparent and honest in trying times. Know what’s happening before, during and after a crisis.
  • Any good communication plan has an entire section entirely focused on post-crisis, where all the lessons learned from dealing with a negative situation can be evaluated. Then a plan for the next potential crisis can be made based on those lessons.
  • Image restoration tactics should be implemented once a crisis dissipates. After the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP rolled out a multi-level image repair campaign, focusing on its connection to the people impacted most by the disaster. The hope was that the campaign would rebuild trust with publics and restore its image with stakeholders.

The Don’ts

  • Don’t wait; deal. If a crisis arises, the first reaction can be to ride it out until it goes away, but often it does not. Begin to communicate with the public early and work to reassure them that the issue is being resolved.
  • Don’t lose focus. Crises can snowball quickly. Don’t lose focus on the crisis at hand, and make sure your communication efforts are firmly grounded in your communication plan.
  • Don’t forget about employees. Employees can be the best resource for spreading the good word about an organization, and they are usually eager to do so. Image restoration efforts should include employees, who can be used as brand ambassadors.
  • Don’t take advantage of consumers. Many businesses, such as American Apparel and Urban Outfitters, showed a lack of sensitivity to the citizens affected by Superstorm Sandy, using marketing ploys offering discounts for those impacted by the storm. The backlash from these gimmicks was harsh, and hurt the companies’ images.
  • Don’t say ‘no comment.’ Saying ‘no comment’ to any question implies guilt and is often just a bad as saying nothing at all. Stick to a crafted message until more details about the situation emerge.

When disaster strikes, take a deep breath, keep a cool head, and delve in to the issue. Guided by a strategic crisis communication plan and an ace crisis management team, a public relations crisis will be much easier to handle.

cover photo: Kriston Lewis

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Why Social Media Strategy Determines a Company’s Success

Why Social Media Strategy Determines a Company's Success

If you haven’t already realized it, social media MUST be part of your marketing and PR mix, and it must be taken seriously. The fact that businesses can reach out and communicate on a personal level with current and prospective customers on a daily basis through social media is a game changer.

When your business is on social, you get the opportunity to engage in marketing, PR, sales, customer service, and internal communication, all from within each one of your pages. It’s an incredibly powerful tool with so many benefits and every business should be taking advantage of it. Honestly, how could you pass this up?

According to Hubspot a leader in B2B and B2C marketing, 92% of marketers in 2014 claimed that social media marketing was important for their business, with 80% indicating their efforts increased traffic to their websites.

So how are these successful businesses seeing results through social? Do they just hop on whenever they get a chance, post and communicate when they can? Maybe log on early a couple of mornings each week before they begin the work day? Is it that simple?

Not so much.

To be successful on social media, it takes more than that. It requires a planned, strategic approach. With the help of a social media manager, whose main job is to carry out a strategy involving page interaction on a daily basis, your business will see results.

Part of executing this social strategy should involve a daily to-do list. In the world of social media marketing, there’s a lot to be done and it’s not always easy to keep track. The handy to-do list will make a social media manager’s job so much easier.

If your social media manager is able to check off all (or at least a majority) of these tasks, then your business is sure to succeed.

A Social Media Marketing Manager’s Daily To-Do List

1. Engage with customers

When you engage with customers, you’re telling people that your company takes customer service seriously. Social media is THE PLACE to connect with existing and potential customers. Post interesting content several times daily without selling something. Read all the comments and messages on your social media pages. Address any questions, even if you don’t have actual answers (it shows you’re paying attention). Remember, people like talking to real, relatable people, so be casual (but stay professional). Use these virtual interactions to show them that you are not a robot! Where are said virtual interactions?

According to HubSpot, these are the best times to post on social media:

Facebook

  • Early afternoon – 1 p.m. to get the most shares; 3 p.m. to get the most clicks.
  • Engagement peaks on Thursdays and Fridays.

Twitter

  • Weekdays provide 14 percent more engagement than weekends with B2B.
  • Engagements and click thru rate (CTR) are highest on weekends and Wednesdays with B2C.
  • The best time of day to tweet Is 5 p.m. for retweets; 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. for highest CTR.

LinkedIn

  • Weekdays during business hours are the best time to post, from 7 – 8 a.m. and 5 – 6 p.m.
  • The most clicks and shares occur on Tuesdays, 10 – 11 a.m.

Instagram

  • Engagement stays consistent throughout the week with slight spikes on Mondays and a slight dip on Sundays.
  • The best time to post is off business hours.

2. Stay on top of customer service

Unfortunately, you may find customers criticizing and complaining from time to time through posts directly to your page or on their own page mentioning your brand. Take the opportunity to fix any issues and ensure satisfaction. Do a search for your company name and see what people are saying. If you have a unique hashtag, see what’s being said under it.

3. Touch base with employees for content

Your company employees are thought leaders and their blog posts are SUPER helpful. They also drive tons of traffic to your site. If you already know this, you’re probably pushing out content weekly. Share this content on your social media pages during those strategic times we mentioned.

If you don’t have a staff cranking out articles for you, ask your employees to share with you articles they find interesting and explain why. Have them share photos and video of what they’re up to throughout the day. If you work at a restaurant or bakery, ask them to send you photos of their culinary creations. If you work with pets, you’ll need photos and video of the pets doing whatever they do throughout the day (playing, grooming, napping, etc.).

If you want to grow your business consider investing in a professional writer who can provide you with researched blogs based on a keyword strategy that lines up with your growth goals. That content will be a long term online asset that customers and clients will return again and again to, making an investment with long term dividends.

4. Build relationships with media and social influencers

Face it – press releases alone aren’t cutting it when it comes to attracting media. You need a way to cut through to the people making the news online. By socially connecting with bloggers, journalists, editors, producers, etc. who cover your industry, you’re ahead of the rest. Platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are excellent places to reach out to these folks.

You can attract media by researching and finding the Twitter accounts for the people covering stories related to your business or area of expertise. Once you follow them, create lists on your Twitter account to make it easier for pitching when the opportunity presents itself. Connect with them on LinkedIn if you’ve already established a relationship. You can communicate there as well.

Work on creating lasting relationships with social influencers – those people in your industry with large follower accounts and high visibility. These people possess the power to influence others in their social media circles. The content they share should be relevant to your business, and their follower base should consist of people that would bring value to your business. Their blog or website should rank high on Google and they should have a large following on social media.

5.  Attend a tweet chat

Tweet chats happen when a group of people all tweet about the same topic at a scheduled time using a specific hashtag. They are prearranged and sometimes repeat weekly or bi-weekly.  Think of it as a virtual get-together.

When you’re part of the chat, you’re engaged in conversation. You may notice on Twitter many users are constantly just pushing out content, but not really interacting. Tweet chats give you the opportunity to easily interact, while showing your expertise on a topic. TweetChat.com is a great tool that will make a tweet chat easier to follow.

You can find tweet chats that meet your interests and/or industry through sites like Chat Salad, Tweet Reports, or Twubs.

6. View social insights/analytics

Want to know if your strategy is actually working? View your page’s social insights /analytics. On Facebook, go to the Insights tab, where you’ll be able to see what’s going on behind the scenes of your page. Among many things, Insights monitor your post engagement, reach, page likes, most popular posts, and how you’re comparing against competitors on a weekly basis.

On Twitter, go to the Analytics tab and you’ll find monthly summaries of data. See the amount of tweet impressions, new followers, link clicks, retweets and favorites you’ve received. You’ll also discover your most popular tweets.

Keep track of your social insights/analytics as often as possible. The more you review them, the better your strategy will be.

7.  Read about what’s trending in social media marketing

Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ often change their features and designs. As a social media manager, it’s important to keep up to date on what’s new in your world.

Sites like Facebook for Business, Social Media Today, Social Media Examiner, HubSpot, Mari Smith and Entrepreneur are all great sources for this information. We recommend subscribing to their email lists to help keep you on top of things.

Have questions about any of these to-do list tasks? Feel free to contact me for assistance. inBLOOM can also come up with a social media strategy tailored to your business. We offer a complimentary consultation for new clients and can connect you with professional writers who can leverage your industry knowledge in the online space.

photo: picjumbo

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