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If you want to be more effective with driving traffic to your website or blog with social media, here are five steps that are sure to improve your results.

1. Targeting the Right Sites

There are hundreds or maybe even thousands of social media sites that you could be using. Obviously no one has the time to use them all effectively, and some of them aren’t worth your time anyway.

One of the first things you will need to do is find a few sites that will work well for you. Of course the larger sites like

Digg, StumbleUpon, FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube

are popular choices because of the large traffic volumes that they send. But if you are looking for sites that can send high quality traffic, first look for niche-specific social media sites.

Also targeting a general news website like Digg or Reddit can be helpful because once you have developed a strong profile you can promote all types of content, not just stuff that fits into one specific niche.

2. Consistent Use

If you hope to ever become a true authority on social media, you’ll have to implement consistent use. As you use the sites that you have targeted every day you’ll become familiar with what works and what doesn’t, and you’ll get to know some of the other consistent users.

3. Development of Content that Appeals to the Audience

Driving traffic to your website through social media will require content development that meets the expectations of social media users. Creating blog content that targets social media users doesn’t mean that you have to alienate your subscribers, contrary to the opinion of some people. What it does mean is that you will have to dedicate the time and effort to find a topic that is of particular interest to your readers and present it in a way that also appeals to social media users. For example, social media users like lists, breaking news, photos, controversy, and informative topics.

4. Networking and Helping Others

Content creation and networking are the two most important aspects of social media marketing. Great content without a network will have a harder time becoming popular and a strong network is an asset, but its value will not be realized without great content.

Networking on social media sites involves voting for the submissions of others, leaving comments, adding friends, and generally getting to know other users. With a strong network your submissions and votes will get more attention and you’ll have some friends to call on when you need help getting those extra votes needed to get over the hump.

5. Conversion

In most cases just getting traffic to a website will not be your ultimate goal. Social media traffic is pretty much useless if you are not able to convert some of it into what you want. Maybe you want to convert the traffic into links, or maybe subscribers. The conversion rate of social media traffic will usually be lower than the rates of other types of traffic, but the huge volumes sent by social media can offset a lower conversion rate and make it very valuable traffic.

While these steps will all help you to reach your goals of promoting your site with social media, they all require one very important step – taking action. So go get started today and build some momentum with social media.

Categories : How To
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Aug
15

Why Create A Custom Twitter Background?

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Some of you might ask: is creating a custom Twitter background worth the effort? While this is a valid question, and the final answer is up to you, there are a range of benefits to making your backdrop your own. Both the creative and the brand-conscious can (and have) benefited from unique background designs.

Here are a couple reasons for why you might want to build your own:

1. Personalization and expression: It’s a chance to express yourself and who you are. Are you an artist, a musician, a blogger, or a cook? Do you love Macs or the beach? A new backdrop can really help people understand who you are.

2. Contact info: It’s an easy way to add additional information you can plug into your 160 character bio.

3. Personal branding: Having your contact information, your face, or additional bio information within your background is a common practice. It helps potential followers understand what you do and why you are someone people should follow.

4. Artistic creativity: Twitter is a great opportunity to push the limits of your talents.


Some great examples of custom Twitter background designs


If you’re looking for some inspiration for your Twitter background, look no further. These are some of the most unique, most inspiring, and best-branded Twitter backgrounds around. There’s not enough time or room to showcase the thousands of great backgrounds that exist on Twitter, so be sure to check out some comprehensive lists and discover some on your own.

And remember: you don’t have to spend an obscene amount of time to make a great background. It’s all about making a background that’s perfect for you, not for anyone else.

Doug Cone (@nullvariable): Doug, a web designer and consultant, brilliantly integrates his face with his brand and contact information in this spacey theme.
CoolTweets (@cooltweets): CoolTweets, which collects, well, the coolest tweets on the web, gets an A for its simple and clean layout. Perfect for many brands.
CoolTweets Twitter BackgroundJustine Ezeraik (@ijustine): The popular new media star has a balanced theme that perfectly reflects her brand.
iJustine Background ImageKristi Colvin (@kriscolvin): Kristi, a favorite tweeter of mine, opted to create a beautiful mosaic of color and life. I could stare at it all day.
Kris Colvin Twitter BackgroundLoic Le Meur (@loic): No, it’s not that Loic’s background is the most amazing, most complex, or most visually appealing image in the world. It’s that his background reflects who he is – a smiling, personal, fun-loving guy…who also happened to found Seesmic. You just have to love the picture of him kitesurfing, too.
Loic Twitter Background

There are literally hundreds of great Twitter backgrounds. Part of the fun is discovering on your own.


Creating your own background: the basic requirements


Mashable Twitter Background

Now that you understand the reasons for creating a background and you’re feeling inspired, there are a couple of things you need to know about custom Twitter backgrounds.

First, you need to know how to actually change your background. This is a simple process: just go to settings, then design, and then click “change background image.” You can now browse your computer and add any image you’d like, so long as it’s under 800k in size.

Next, the actual dimensions. This is important because improperly-sized images can be covered up by your Twitter profile or can start to tile, which often leads to an undesired effect. In most circumstances, you want your background to be large enough not to tile. To achieve this, the total image size should be around 1600px wide by 1200px tall. This encompasses almost all screen resolutions.

If you build a left-hand column, popular on many Twitter backgrounds, make sure that it’s small enough not to be covered up by the central Twitter content – many designers suggest smaller than 200px or 235px. For more information on dimensions, check out Croncast and their numbers.

In the end, building your ideal background often requires trial-and-error.

Categories : Twitter News
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numbers1 With all the skepticism of whether it’s just a social media fad and questions about how the company expects to generate revenue, Twitter has left many critics silent by continuing to grow. Though the company has made some improvements, including its recent redesigned homepage, many wouldn’t credit these changes with the successful growth of Twitter.

It’s all about the people and how the service has been put to use by the millions. Whether using it during their everyday lives, marketing a business or reporting on tragic events, users have shown the value of Twitter and will continue to contribute to its growth. Below are just five reasons why Twitter will continue to grow. Please add your thoughts below in the comments, as well as other reasons you believe Twitter will continue to grow.


1. Consistent growth


The microblogging site reached 23 million unique users in June, according to Compete, which was a 16 percent growth compared to May. This doesn’t even include the millions that do not visit Twitter.com and instead use third-party services to update. The site has had a consistent growth, and we expect it will continue to do so for July numbers.

Twitter Compete Growth image


2. Gaining approval from big companies


According to PR firm Burson-Marsteller, as reported by Mashable’s own Adam Ostrow, Twitter is the social media platform of choice at Fortune 100 companies. The firm reported that 54 percent of the companies have a Twitter presence and for the companies that use only one social media platform, 76 percent of them use Twitter as their preferred choice. And if the big guys are using it, well, the smaller companies will do so as well. Oh wait, small businesses are already using Twitter. So basically they have the ground covered big and small. Either way, the complete results of the study are below:


3. Twitter is the number one most social brand


Twitter is the most active Web presence and generates most conversational volume on the Web, making it the number one social brand for July 2009, according to Social Radar. It was at number one in June too. Social Radar analyzes the Web to see what brands are mentioned most by unique sources. This includes blogs, other social networks, forums, etc. The analysis includes brands, not just social networks. Facebook is at number 4, with the iPhone and Google at number 3 and 4, respectively. Check out the full list for July here. The point is there is a lot of buzz out there about Twitter and people are continuing to talk about it, and it’s even becoming part of everyday language.

Social Radar image


4. Twitter receives millions in free media coverage


The media loves to cover Twitter and anything that relates to using the service. In fact, Twitter received $48 million worth in media coverage in 30 days, according to Ad Age, which also notes that the figure is about half of what Microsoft plans to spend on marketing Bing. So what amounts to $48 million worth in advertising? How about 3 billion impressions and 57 percent of that is from TV. These figures don’t even include the smaller newspapers that likely mentioned Twitter. The irony is that this very post is contributing.


5. Continued growth internationally


As news breaks, more users internationally are learning the value of using Twitter. Whether it is the protests following the Iran Election or the Jakarta bombings or the fact that the Chinese government felt they had to block Twitter during the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the site gets more users in those countries as the value of the service unravels during a time of need. Right now, about 55 percent of the audience is international, according to comScore. This number too will continue to grow.

Jakarta bombing twitter image


By: Vadim Lavrusik

Vadim Lavrusik is a new media student at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is @lavrusik on Twitter and blogs at Lavrusik.com.

Categories : Twitter News
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Twitter LogoI admit I’m a Twitter addict. I enjoy the flurry of tweets and the variety of information my followers share with me. But even though I like the variety, it’s still important for me to feel some sort of connection to the people and companies I follow. On the people side, the way I connect is by getting to know someone’s personality. It’s the same if I’m following a company. Where the person is offering personality, the company is successfully tweeting their corporate culture.

But if all you’re doing is sending out auto-tweets, I’m not sure either of us is getting the full benefit of your presence on Twitter . Some people don’t like communicating with a company logo. But when a company offers a pleasant look and feel, and tweets out information of value to customers, then it is possible to connect with them. Here are 7 suggestions (along with some Twitter examples) for establishing a rock-solid corporate culture on Twitter:


1. Share Your History


I’m not talking about chronicling the 42 year history of your firm 140 characters at a time. Although, I guess if you really wanted to, you could. What I mean by share your history is that you should tell the Twitterverse when you make history. For example, if your company is named one of the Top 50 Places to Work or wins an industry award; that’s making history and you should tell the world by tweeting about it.

history-dd

Another historic moment is when an organization grows and expands, especially in the current economic climate. Dunkin’ Donuts did a great job announcing their entry into the Birmingham market.


2. Talk Vision and Mission


Kris Dunn, vice president of people for DAXKO, explained to me why Twitter is a great fit for his company. “We’ve got a culture that calls for a lot of communication, so the transparency and immediacy of Twitter fits that. Also, we believe in our team members being active in their professional communities (their profession – marketing, software engineering, etc.), so Twitter fits that as well.”

His point is well taken. People want to be engaged with companies that look engaging. Think about the purpose of your organization. Twitter can be a place to talk about goals, plans and offer a glimpse of what life is like at your place of work.


3. Reveal Industry Insights


Many companies are using Twitter not only as a place to talk about their organization but their industry. For example, looking for the top 10 cruise vacation destinations? Rather than hoping customers find that information via some travel survey, then put two and two together, Princess Cruises smartly tweets that info out and at the same time lets people know they have cruises that take you there.

insights-princess

Another company setting the standard in this area is Pandora Radio. When a piece of legislation that could impact their business was introduced in the U.S. Senate, they turned to Twitter to educate listeners. They regularly updated their followers on the progress of the legislation. And, they thanked their tweeps for the support. (Very important!)


4. Recognize Employees


There are so many ways you can share with Twitterland the things you do from an employee standpoint. Everything from healthcare coverage, to free gyms, and employee orientation can all get the Twitter treatment. But when it comes to tweeting about employees, the leader is really Marriott International.

employees-marriott

First, they very smartly tweet about their company’s commitment to diversity. As a reader, this speaks volumes about what’s important to Marriott as a company. Second, I have been equally impressed with the sensitivity they expressed for their associates and others during the recent tragedy in Jakarta. That puts a very human face on the corporate Twitter account.


5. Profile Customer Successes


Twitter, like many other social networks, is made up of groups of really supportive individuals who want to see positive happenings and big wins with social media.

Jessica Lee, senior employment manager for APCO Worldwide, feels that as Twitter matures we’ll start seeing companies share more of their own and their clients’ successes. “I personally like sharing even the very smallest things – clients wanting to get more involved in social media, or how our own Facebook Fan Page is growing – because it’s exciting to see the growth along with new and different ways of being applied in the business world.”

DAXKO, meanwhile, is combining the popularity of Twittering by their customers with their company user’s conference by setting up a Twitter account for the conference. According to Dunn, they’ll use the site to “live tweet from the conference so our customers that couldn’t attend can follow what’s going on and hopefully get some value out of it.”


6. Be Responsive


Using Twitter for sharing business messages is one thing. But as your culture becomes more defined on Twitter, you might find yourself using it provide customer service. @ComcastCares has raised the bar for addressing customer service matters via Twitter.

responsive-comcast

Much of the success attributed to @ComcastCares is their responsiveness. Dunn agrees. “I think I’d rather have no Twitter account than an account that wasn’t responding to replies or DMs within 5 to 10 minutes. Customers that are savvy enough to use Twitter are going to expect a lot of responsiveness.”

And, it’s not only how fast you respond but how you respond. Lee reminds us that “whether your customer is a consumer of your product or service, or in my case, a potential employee who is interested in working for APCO – the tone should still be conversational and friendly. And ultimately, you want it to be an extension of yourself and a reflection of your organization’s culture.”


7. Ask Questions About the Future


If you’re looking to reach into the mind of consumers, Twitter can be a medium to get real-time information. Just ask a simple question, what are you concerned about?

question-starbucks

Or, what do you want to see in our tweets?

question-marriott

As a consumer, I love it when companies ask me for my opinion. It shows me they care about me and what I have to say. And, I love it even more when I see a company take suggestions and ideas seriously.


Conclusion


So whether it’s an individual talking about their organization or a company tweeting about what makes them special, Twitter can help to define and promote your corporate culture. Even with 140 characters you can say a lot about yourself, your workplace, and what you do.

Use the examples in this post as the starting point for a conversation or training session about Twitter best practices and your corporate culture. By sharing with your team the right way to leverage Twitter, we can all celebrate our successes together. If you know any other good examples of companies using Twitter to share their corporate culture in a positive way, please share them in the comments.

By Sharlyn Lauby

Sharlyn Lauby is the president of Internal Talent Management (ITM) which specializes in employee training and human resources consulting. She authors a blog at hrbartender.com.

Categories : How To
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Aug
05

How To Customize Your YouTube Channel

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YouTube LogoYouTube recently redesigned channel pages to make them more dynamic and easier to customize. The beta channels are now a hodgepodge of your uploads, favorites, playlists, and numerous in-channel editing options. Should you upgrade to the new design, you have a greater chance of creating an eye-catching channel that’s likely to keep your viewers engaged for longer.

YouTube originally made the redesigned channels available to a select group of elite members and new users. Now however, the video site is letting anyone upgrade their channel, and eventually they’ll be moving all remaining channels over to the new version.

As previously reported, the redesign allows for wider videos and better organized pages; the result is a viewer-friendly experience centered around your content. As such, we wanted to highlight some of the best ways to maximize the redesigned channels and show you how to customize them to your liking.


The Basics


First things first: upgrade your channel. There’s absolutely no reason not to. The new design is sleeker, more viewer-friendly, and is just more dynamic than the old design. Plus, it’s pretty painless to upgrade. Simply visit your Channel Design page and click “Upgrade my channel.”

You’ll notice immediately that most of your previous channel customizations are already carried over in the new design, which is good news if you put a lot of time and effort into designing your channel’s look and feel.

edit channel content

Now that you’ve upgraded, you’ll immediately want to edit the video content settings for your newly enhanced channel. Thankfully this can be done with just a few clicks. Find the edit button in upper right-hand corner to view the content selection menu. You can opt to display uploaded videos, favorites, playlists, or a combination of all three.

If you select the playlists option, you can then individually select the video playlists you want to include. You also have the option to adjust the featured content set and the featured video for your channel. Since the featured video is the one channel visitors will see first, we suggest you peruse your options to find the right setting.


In-Channel Editing


In-channel editing is the new black on YouTube, and though basic in concept — you can edit everything without leaving your channel — it’s a key time-saver and an incredibly useful upgrade.

You’ll notice that the new design is replete with editing options everywhere. You’ll want to take advantage of these to tweak the information displayed about you, your activity, and your videos.

Here’s what you can edit right from the channel page: recent activity, privacy settings, displayed settings for profile information, subscriptions, subscribers, friends, and channel comments, as well as channel settings, themes, and modules. You’ve got a lot of power right at your fingertips.

edit channel

When it comes to theme and module editing, users with no CSS or design experience will find themselves completely at ease with beautifying their channel design. The themes and colors are pretty self-explanatory, so you can pick a preset theme, start toying with colors, and get an as-it-happens preview while you tweak.  You can still upload a custom background image and adjust the coloring for every element of your channel. Once you’re done, just click save to publish the new design publicly.

Also make sure to take a quick look at the modules tab if you’re interested in removing or displaying content modules. You can do away with, or include, these modules: comments, recent activity, friends, subscribers, groups, and subscriptions.


Extra Channel Tips


adjust file size

Adjusting background image file size: One annoying thing about YouTube background images is that they’re constrained to 256 KB, which means if you have a high resolution image, you’re out of luck unless you’re able to compress the file size with a photo editor. If all of this sounds foreign, not to worry.

An easy way to downsize your image is to use an online photo editor like Picnik . Simply upload or access your online images from Flickr or Facebook, and click the “Save and Share” tab. You’ll notice that you can select from a few different photo formats (try JPG), and then use the sliding bar to compress the image file size below 256 KB. Click to save your photo, and now all you need to do is upload it to YouTube (Edit Channel -> Themes and Colors -> show advanced options).

Expand your color palette: YouTube also only lets you select from 64 different colors, but you can really use any browser-safe color by inputting the right hex code. Why not use a web color chart like this one to have even more choices? Just enter the code of your choosing into the box next to the color palate, hit enter on your keyboard, and your preview is instantly updated.

Keep up with what’s new: YouTube has an under the radar blog dedicated to the Channels Beta project. Since this is a beta offering, YouTube is pushing out changes and adding new features on a very regular basis. Subscribe to this blog to be the first to know about what’s new.

By Jennifer Van Grove

Categories : Uncategorized
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