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Innovative Ways to Use Instagram’s New Video to Help Your Business

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Ever since Facebook acquired Instagram last year in a deal that came right before the social networking behemoth’s initial public offering, people have been wondering what changes and upgrades Facebook would make to the photo-sharing service. This summer it made a biggie: The addition of video capabilities that are somewhat reminiscent of Twitter’s Vine.

Instagram now allows the embedding of its videos (and photos) on the web, another change courtesy of Facebook ownership. How can this help your small business in its social media marketing? Read on to find out.

Learn How to Use it Correctly

There’s nothing worse than a sloppy video. It’s painful to watch, and it speaks poorly of the brand that put it up. If you’re going to employ video in your social media marketing, the first thing you need to do is make sure that you have someone capable of properly editing and formatting that video, making it into a piece that the company can be proud of.

Provide whoever does your video editing the proper training and time to get the work done. Also, agree beforehand on what sort of video you’re looking for. Say your company offers publishing outsourcing services. If you’re looking for something funny that could go viral and your videographer films a serious meditation on the state of the industry today, you may not be pleased with the results because of your lack of communication.

Incorporate Your Videos Organically

No one likes being hit over the head with an advertisement, whether it’s on television or on social media. It interrupts the entire media experience and can feel like an unwelcome intrusion. So make sure that you incorporate your video into your Instagram feed organically. Concentrate on videos that aren’t preachy, and offer something of interest to your audience. That way they’ll want to watch your content and not feel pressured.

Spread the Word Quickly

Once you have your video ready to go, the next task at hand is getting as many people as possible to see it. Here again you need to be smart about your social media usage. Make sure that you include hashtags in your video posts, as they’ll tip people off as to the subject of your videos and make them more searchable.

But also be sure to get the video promoted on other sites as well. Link to your video on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Encourage your followers on those sites to share the video with their friends. You can even turn this sharing into a contest, offering to enter everyone who shares the video into a giveaway of one of your products.

 

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Pros and Cons of an Online Portfolio

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Getting hired is no simple job, which is why it’s vital to make sure you use every possible way to showcase your skills and qualifications. This includes resumes, applications and cover letters, but now, even online portfolios. If you haven’t yet created an online portfolio, this could be the piece of the puzzle that you’ve been missing to help you land a job. However, before you create your online portfolio, there are some positive and negative aspects to consider first. Let’s look at a few.

What Is an Online Portfolio?

As a new way of networking and attempting to get an interview, or even a job, online portfolios work to showcase your job qualifications to a large audience of employers, recruiters and even colleagues. An online portfolio is typically a web-page that you design (which can be based on a template, if you’re not a web developer) where you can include your education, work experiences, skills, examples of your work and anything else that helps showcase you. An online portfolio can be a supplement to resumes you submit. Think of it as going the extra step to market yourself.

Pros of an Online Portfolio

There are many reasons to create and use an online portfolio.

  • You Can Be Creative – Unlike a printed resume or cover letter, which has a pretty standard format, online portfolios aren’t nearly as regulated. This gives you the opportunity to get creative with your layout and showcase your personality, making you stand out to employers.
  • You Can Showcase Your Technology Skills – Just by having an online portfolio, regardless of its layout or content, shows employers that you’re comfortable with technology, an important skill to many employers.
  • It’s Easy to Share – If you have an online portfolio, sharing your work and accomplishments with prospective employers is as easy as sending a link, copying your URL onto your resume or even bringing a USB drive to an interview. Also, due to an online profile’s public nature, more people have access to your information, which can help you both network and even be seen by employers you didn’t seek out.
  • Make Updates Easily – If you want to add more skills, job experience or volunteer work to your portfolio, updating your web-based portfolio is both quick and simple. If you’ve just started a new job, received a professional certification or award, or have participated in peer-to-peer fundraising, you can easily add it to your portfolio.

Cons of an Online Portfolio

While there are many great ways that an online portfolio can help you get a job, there are also some negative aspects of this type of portfolio.

  • There Can Be Glitches – As always, when working with web-based programs, computer glitches are always par for the course. This may include some programming errors or even lost data, which is why it’s important to have a hard copy of your work.
  • Nothing Is Private – As is the nature of every online profile, publication or portfolio, nothing is completely private. While there are ways to protect your security and privacy online, it’s important to be cautious when posting your personal information on the internet. Make sure not to post your entire address or personal phone number as a means of protection. Also, because your information is public, you may begin to receive e-mails from recruiters you may not be interested in, so be prepared.
  • It’s Not Permanent – As the internet is always changing, expect your online portfolio to do the same. Be prepared for the format of your portfolio to change as the hosting service you use does too. Also, be aware that if there is a glitch or error, you may lose your portfolio unexpectedly.
  • No Hard Copies Available – One of the biggest inconveniences when it comes to online portfolios is the inability to produce a hard copy (unless completely re-formatted). This could cause problems at interviews if there isn’t a computer or internet connection available to show your employer.

When deciding whether or not to invest your time in creating an online portfolio, there are many considerations to take into account. While there are many great things that an online portfolio can do for you, there are also problems that can arise, too. While in the decision process, make sure to make your decision based on what will bring you the most success and help you get hired.

This post was contributed by Leah Rutherford, a professional development blogger. You can see more of her work on her blog JetFeeds or follow her on Twitter at @LeahARutherford.

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Klout Turns to Content Discovery: What This Means for Your Business

There’s a new Klout in town, folks. It’s bigger, better and much more serviceable. Instead of simply saying, “Your content stinks and nobody reads it,” Klout is now offering something more along the lines of: “Your content stinks and nobody reads it… let me help you.”

In the Beginning

The original Klout, launched back in 2008, allowed you to see what influence, or clout — hence the name — your social media accounts held. The amount of traffic and engagement with your social media content earned you your very own Klout Score: a number from 1-100, with higher numbers reflecting more impact. You were able to link multiple platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Wikipedia and Instagram, in order to beef up your personal Klout Score.

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For example, Russ Brown, of Brown, Koro & Romag, increased his Klout score by connecting his Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Tumblr accounts. It’s now sitting pretty at 54 points.

Sure, Klout had an okay thing going when it allowed you to string together your outlets. But now, it has even more up its sleeve.

The New

Now, while the basic concept remains the same — as does the scoring algorithm — Klout is offering a way for you to really hike that score. The new Klout helps you share interesting information. It’s discovering content, not just scoring it. The “Create” tab delivers fresh, trending stories that Klout thinks will appeal to your specific group of followers. Hit “Share” and watch your score soar.

The new Klout is equipped with Schedule and Measure capabilities, too. Scheduling allows you to dictate when to deliver your content to viewers, making it easier to optimize your audience. The Measure tool shows you the quantitative amount of impact you have with said content. That way, you can take it upon yourself to test out topics and see which ones interest your supporters the most.

Klout’s Reevaluation

Perhaps you were thinking there was no room for Klout in your business. You didn’t want to invest in Klout for Business, and you failed to see the purpose in basic Klout accounts. Klout for Business, by the way, is Klout’s version of the “help your business reach more influencers,” model. In addition to helping manage your fans and followers, and monitor engagement across multiple social networks, Klout for Business also makes you eligible for certain perks. But even the perks, which have included menu items from McDonald’s, have been scoffed at.

Klout, before its recent changes, could be shrugged off, called a waste of time. People questioned its purpose. This is exactly why the company has altered its model: it wasn’t offering enough. Klout wasn’t offering tips for improvement before, only telling you that you were an online elitist or a nobody. Plus, you could look at a Klout score and simply dismiss it; you could just look at retweets and followers on Twitter or likes on Facebook to gauge the interest in your content.

Now, instead of playing an unstable game of trial and error, your business can actually benefit from Klout’s services.

Boost Interest in Your Content

If you were actually using Klout before and were wondering how to improve your Klout score, the answer has finally arrived. Use Klout to bring interesting content to your friends, fans and followers. You’ll no longer have to tirelessly seek ways to boost that score. Klout will bring the solutions right to you.

This is no guarantee that your networks will suddenly be the most influential sites on the web, but boosting traffic on your site at all should be viewed as a positive change. Give the new Klout a chance and maybe you’ll find it brings new spunk — and more clout — to your social media outlets.

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Benefits of Pinterest for Businesses

Benefits of Pinterest for Businesses

Pinterest is a virtual storyboard-style social sharing website. Users can create and manage theme-based image collages called boards. Users “pin” images to these themed boards by either uploading the image, using the Pinterest browser bookmarklet tool, or Pinterest social sharing buttons on different websites’ pages.

Users can follow other users as well as follow individual boards. Additionally, users can embed, share, “like” and “re-pin” other users’ images. Re-pining an image places it onto the board of the user, and the re-pin is credited to the original source of the pin and attributed to the user who originally pinned the image.

Highly visual in nature, Pinterest says its mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the things they find interesting.” With over 70 million Pinterest users, it is clear that web users prefer to digest information in a visual format. Some of these users are of your target audience and can be reached through this unique social channel.

 

Leveraging Pinterest: Why Use it?

By leveraging and engaging on Pinterest, companies and brands can reach their targeted audience and be present in the stream of activity and reach a wider range of customers. Brands can create relevant themed boards around their product offerings as well as add Pinterest buttons to their product pages, blog posts, and other content properties.

Pinterest users have the ability to pin images directly from a website as well as repin images from other users. The act of pining an image from a website creates a backlink to the website. From an SEO perspective, Pinterest links are “nofollow,” meaning they do not pass value to the target page. However, these links are social signals that impact your “authority” in the online space.

Users engage with Pinterest by searching for interesting images. In finding relevant content, they also click through to the original source. Brands can leverage this opportunity by creating targeted boards and directly pining from their websites. Additionally, companies can optimize their pins by adding URLs to the description field for easier access to the brand website.

Aside from this, there are many other ways brands can utilize Pinterest to its greatest capacity.  I think the greatest value in Pinterest, apart from the obvious benefit for ecommerce sites product exposure, is that Pinterest can help leverage more exposure for local sites.  By targeting localized keywords via the Pinterest search algorithm, brands can utilize Pinterest’s authoritative presence in search and their visual aesthetic to make sales and create awareness for your work.  Take for example a local Pennsylvania heating solutions company.  All the brand needs is a camera and the time to put together a helpful – what is what guide on the different heating products.  That way people may learn how to more accurately use their heaters during the winter.  And when the time comes for that heater to be worked on, or replaced. They’ll likely remember the PA company. And know it for it’s local presence.

 

Optimizing Your Profile

When setting up a profile, brands can optimize various elements including username (URL of your brand page), bio, profile picture, and links to other social media properties (and your website, of course). Connecting social channels is vital because it establishes your brand online and it improves the online real estate you inhabit when users search for your brand on search engines.

Much like a domain name, it’s also beneficial to include keywords or phrases that your target audience may be interested in while creating your brand profile name. There is a 15-character limit, so depending on your target keywords you may need to get creative.

When choosing a profile image, it’s important to use the same image you use on other social media channels as well. It is especially important to use the same image you use for Google+ because it can help improve your chances of attaining Google Authorship, which will make your brand a more recognizable authority in its online space.

 

It’s All About the Boards

Brands need to create various boards relevant to their product offering and target audience. Your profile and boards should define your products and services, or at least relate to them. You can also pin images to boards directly from your website to improve the connection between both properties.

In addition to boards related to your products, businesses should create boards that cover topics conveying their brand personality and fit in with messaging. Your boards should also cater to what your target audience is interested in.

 

Staying Active in the Community

As with all social media, brands need to interact with their followers and stay active within the community. It’s useful to follow key influencers that reflect your brand messaging and to interact with their profile. Re-pinning images from their boards helps to foster community and stay connected.

Brands should also re-pin from within the Pinterest website to engage with others’ profiles; re-pinning is one of the most social activities on Pinterest and it’s how any user really builds his/her network of followers

 

Brands Doing Pinterest Right

There are various brands utilizing the platform to build awareness, reach their audience, and gain traffic.

Whole Foods is a great example. It is clear it understands its target audience and provides various boards that satisfy customers’ interests. The page offers boards with dessert, vegetable and other themed recipes. However, you can also find DIY, gardening and other boards that would appeal to the organic lifestyle held by many of their customers.

Whole Foods’ Pinterest efforts have earned 180,249 followers and helped it become integral with new/potential customers’ daily activities.

Whole Foods Pinterest

While not as renowned or large scale as Whole Foods, Denver real estate agent Michelle Potter is also doing a worthy job at utilizing Pinterest to reach her audience. Her username/URL “denverrealty” uses relevant keywords “Denver” and “realty” to reach more potential customers. Her boards also highlight appealing topics for someone who might be looking to move to Denver, and it also establishes her as an authority in that community.

Potter also creates boards focused on interior design to help excite potential home buyers by showing how them how they can decorate their new home.

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Know your Audience!

Pinterest provides opportunity for brands to reach their audience and convert sales. There is also opportunity to build brand awareness and increase social signals, helping to establish a stronger online presence. Brands will benefit most from Pinterest by engaging with the community, creating relevant and interesting boards, and adding Pinterest buttons to their websites to foster sharing of their content.

Of course, knowing what your current and potential customers need and want is essential to successfully connecting to them.

I do some social work for a local Harrisburg furniture store.  In terms of strategy there is a lot to be gained from Pinterest.  Again – by targeting localized keywords, I simply just need to take some time to photograph our products, sofas and displays, or even use our product photos from our site, to upload to pinterest and tag as “harrisburg pa sofas.” Or variations of our target words.  In addition by knowing the audience of pinterest, I know their interest in interior design ideas, etc.  So by providing some DIY tricks and tips or craft ideas, I can potentially gain large increases in exposure by pairing them with my products.  Doing this will help me stand out compared to my local competition.

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4 Expert Tips on Building a Social Media Contest

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For nearly any kind of business, a well-designed social media contest can help drive interest in a brand or company by directing an audience toward an attractive online or social media activity. Putting together a contest related to an enterprise or business is one way to leverage a free-floating audience of social media users. Some of them may have a very basic or minimal connection to an existing brand that’s active on platforms like Facebook.

Here are some ways to benefit from a social media contest designed to boost visibility for business.

Establish an Audience

Before putting together a social media contest, it’s smart to do some basic research and look at what kinds of users are already attached to the social media profiles for a business. Get out on Twitter and Facebook or other more specific social media platforms and get an idea of the size of an audience and any demographics that may be useful in putting the contest together.

Create a Relevant Contest Idea

Another way to optimize a social media contest for brand visibility is to make sure that a company’s products or services are included in a direct and relevant way. For an automotive campaign, the prize could be car parts or an entire vehicle. For a service business like landscaping, coupons could be part of the contest. No matter what kind of business is being represented, whether it’s a supermarket or a homebuilder who puts up luxury log homes, there should be a direct appeal to what marketers want social media contest participants to focus on.

Pick Highly Targeted Platforms

Different kinds of social media contests also work better over certain platforms. For today’s marketers, there are a lot of different social media venues to take advantage of. Platforms like Pinterest or comparison shopping sites like Mavatar can be useful in a social media contest. By matching up a community of users with an interesting and accessible set of online opportunities, marketers can put together a contest or event that really has meaning to the people who will be engaged in the process.

Reveal Clear Guidelines and Timelines

Readers will also want to know exactly when a contest starts. They’ll want to know the deadline and when results will be announced. They’ll want to note any guidelines or rules of the game that may apply. Make all of these things clear and transparent. That way, anyone who participates knows what he or she needs to comply with in order to be eligible for a prize.

The above steps can help when it comes to creating a good marketing campaign around a social media contest or some other kind of online interactive event that drives interest and web traffic.

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Guest Post: Creating a Social Media Marketing Plan

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Whether it’s a brand new venture or a well-established enterprise, having a business in today’s fast-paced world requires that you have a social media presence. Such a presence requires more than a market. There are popular websites with a lot of members that you can market your product or service with. But before you even sign up for one social networking account, you need to create a clear and effective plan of action.

By creating a social media marketing strategy, you will be better able to attract the members of a social networking site. With a good strategy, you can get them to engage and actively participate with your posts and promotions. With this you will be able to turn them into customers and get them to spread the word to their friends and family members.

Here are a few tips to help you create that social media marketing plan:

1. Have Clear Goals

Don’t think of having social media accounts as just another box to tick off or fill out on your to-do list. These accounts can be the first thing that potential customers encounter when they cross paths with you. That’s why you need to make sure that your social media accounts are consistent with the mission and vision of your enterprise.

At the same time, this strategy needs to connect with what your potential customers are looking for online. This article on Search Engine Land shows that 50% of online marketers that are not integrating social media in their strategy  are not succeeding. So, think about social media carefully and align your strategy with a good social media plan. Then, write down smart, achievable, and measurable goals that you want to achieve with your accounts.

These goals will make sure that your company’s social media can be used fruitfully. You’ll be able to measure achievements and direct the progress of your marketing in line with these goals. You can focus on what to prioritize and what to put in the back burner.

2. Know Your Social Media

You can use your social media accounts to expose your business to new customers. You can also use them to allow your current customers to interact with you as part of customer service or to put a human face to your company. Or, you can use them to promote new products and services and give discounts. Whatever you choose to have as your social media goals, keep in mind that social networking sites have their differences and their similarities.

For instance, Instagram is a social network that allows its users to post pictures and videos to their followers. You can use it to show your potential customers what your products look like. Meanwhile, Twitter is a microblogging platform that limits your message to 140 characters per tweet. While you could create a longer statement with third-party apps, consider using your company’s Twitter account to send out short (or funny) announcements, trivia, or links to valuable information.

Speaking of apps, there are also mobile-based programs that can help you send the same message across multiple social media accounts. So if you want to show off your new storefront, you can take pictures with your phone and post them simultaneously on your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr accounts.

Your social media accounts can also help you track your marketing plan’s success. Apart from the number of followers that you have, many sites and their apps will show you the number of likes that your posts get. You can also check out the free analytics that come with your Facebook, WordPress, and Tumblr pages. These sites track down your progress over a period of time for easier analysis.

3. Have Someone Manage Your Social Media

Whether it’s your tech-savvy intern, your personal assistant, or a group of young employees, having someone to manage your social media ensures that your online marketing won’t be an afterthought. He or she can do all the promotions and the analysis of how well your social media marketing is doing. You just have to make sure that your social media manager is fully aware of your plan.

With these tips on hand, you can start creating a social media account to market your business at the soonest possible time without second thoughts. In no time, your product will get introduced to countless social media users. Inquiries and orders will start flooding your site, and it can only mean one thing for you: you’re in business!

Yvonne Hart is a tech blogger from Australia. Her knowledge about consumer technology is backed up by 8 years working as a marketing professional in an I.T. distribution company. She now works as a consultant for http://www.comparebroadband.com.au.

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