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Get tips and tricks on leveraging advocacy and influencer marketing techniques for your business, using the SocialToaster platform more effectively, and ways to use the SocialToaster platform more effectively.

Tips for Making Your Blog Posts More Searchable

You’ve finally created a blog for your business and or product, and you are updating it regularly with hot topics your readers want to know about.  Now what do you do?  Allow your blog posts to exist in cyberspace hoping that someone will stumble upon them, find value and forward them to a friend?

You should find ways of making your website/web page more searchable so that potential customers and others you want to visit your site are able to find you “out there” in cyberspace.  This tactic borrows from the very complex art of Search Engine Optimization (or SEO), and by no means are able to give a full explanation of the process of SEO here.  However, following are few tips for improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results.

Blog with regularity.

Blogging itself helps with SEO because the more titles that are searchable for your company “out there” the easier it will be for you to be found by search engines.  Creating a plethora of blogs under your company’s name on the Internet can only raise your web rankings.  We recommend you post at least two blogs per week in order to get the full benefit of this tip.

Use social news sites, social bookmarking sites, and Internet communities to get the word out.

There are a variety of Social Bookmarking websites on the Internet which allow visitors to join their websites, and vote on or recommend content they submit to other users.  This kind of activity makes the content submitted more searchable to other people who use the sites, and drives visitors back to your website and the content you are trying to promote.

The major sites that Internet users frequent are Digg, Reddit, Delicious, Technorati, Google Bookmarks and StumbleUpon.  Digg and Reddit are social news websites on which people discover and share content from anywhere on the Internet.  Both allow users to submit content for other users to recommend on the sites.  Delicious is a social bookmarking site that works similarly and features a “hot list” and “popular” search pages and works similarly to Google Bookmarks.  Technorati is an Internet search engine for searching blogs.

A September 16th article “How to Use Social Bookmarking for Business” on inc.com further illustrates the power of social bookmarking sites.  It tells the story of Seattle-based blogger Isaac Marion whose short story “I am a Zombie Filled with Love was distributed on his website, and purchased by about 100 readers.  The story was then reviewed by some of those users on the StumbleUpon network (StumbleUpon finds the best content on the web, recommends it, and allows users to discover and rate web pages, photos and videos), and was rated so highly that a Hollywood screenwriter, Cori Stern, and producer did just that – she stumbled upon the story and instantly thought it would make a great movie.  Stern’s “stumble” turned into longer novel “Warm Bodies” and then a movie deal with Summit Entertainment, producers of the Twilight films.  The article also refers readers to Twitter (which is more known as a social networking site, but is also the most used for social bookmarking), Yahoo! Buzz, Tweetmeme and Mixx.

Add a call to action to each blog post.

Our final recommendation is to place a comment bar on the top of your page so that your readers may share the post with their friends on Facebook, Tweet it, or Digg it.   In fact, you can add icons to your blog that would allow a user to click on it and be directed to any of the social bookmarking websites.  This status bar will remind your readers to go beyond the action of reading your blog and liking it themselves.  It will encourage your readers to recommend it to someone on their social networks and social bookmarking sites, who will recommend it to their friends, and their friends, and beyond.

We would love to know how these tips work for you.  Find us on Facebook.  Follow us (and send us a direct message on Twitter).  Or, if you’re a traditionalist, email us at [email protected].

SocialToaster Tip – How to Use SocialToaster to Secure Advertising Dollars

Media companies provide value to their advertisers by helping to get advertiser messaging in front of audiences.  When looking at digital media, advertisers have historically paid for placement on websites that generate a lot of traffic, as well as to be included on email blasts that target a large number of people.

The traditional value proposition for such advertising is that:

  1. The target demographic is typically well known, so advertisers are usually assured that their messages are reaching the intended audience, and
  2. The number of views and/or click throughs can generally be assured, based on historical numbers of website visitors or the size of the mailing list being used.

It turns out that companies using SocialToaster are able to provide advertisers with the same value proposition.  SocialToaster allows you to build up a database of Ambassadors, similar to how you might build up a database of email addresses.  Our reporting and analytics shows you detailed information about this group of people, including:

  • Geographic areas that they influence
  • Age and gender breakdown
  • How many connections each Ambassador has, and on which networks
  • Average number of visitors generated every time content is promoted
  • Traffic breakdown by network

This information can be used by publishers to create a unique value proposition for advertisers.  There are a few ways in which this can be leveraged:

  • Using our new category feature, SocialToaster clients can provide Ambassadors with the opportunity at sign-up to indicate what type of content they are interested in sharing.  This can include an option for partner or advertiser content.
  • When combined with special offers or the new points system we are introducing, Ambassadors can be incented to help to promote advertiser content.  Advertiser content can include either sponsored content located on the publisher's website, or direct content from the advertiser's website.
  • Advertisers can also benefit indirectly by having traditional banner ads located on a page that will be promoted through SocialToaster.  This way, advertisers can be assured that a page promoted through SocialToaster will receive a minimum amount of traffic, based on the historic trends for the company for past SocialToaster promotions.
  • The SocialToaster reporting system allows a media company or publisher to provide advertisers with specific results in terms of traffic and views generated.

Using SocialToaster for these "co-branded" marketing scenarios can bring real value to advertisers and provide content publishers with an additional revenue stream.

For more tips on using SocialToaster, or to learn more about how SocialToaster could be effective for your organization, please contact us at 443.393.2600 or email us at [email protected].

SocialToaster Tip – Creating Effective Status Updates

One of the most challenging aspects of using SocialToaster is determining what the text should be for your Ambassador status updates that you create for each piece of content that you are promoting.  Creating a status update is often daunting enough for an individual to figure out for themselves.  In fact, we often hear from our customers' Ambassadors that it is too hard for them to figure out what to say, so they don't say anything at all.  When you are the creator of the content and are trying to figure out status updates for a large audience of people it is that much more difficult.

Before attempting to create the status update you want to keep a few things in mind:

  1. Remember that your Ambassadors are sharing your content as a courtesy to your organization, and that it reflects personally on them.  As a result, you should never promote a status update that you yourself would not personally promote.
  2. Don't forget that when an Ambassador approves something to be shared that it is going to be viewed entirely within Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or MySpace.  This means that you cannot assume that an Ambassador's friends will not have any frame of reference for knowing what they are talking about, other than what is in the context of the update itself.  As a result, it is important that the status update be entirely self-contained.
  3. People generally don't want to read ads, or anything that remotely sounds like SPAM.  They do like to read interesting content.  Try to tone down the self-promotion and focus on a key thought that you think might be interesting to your Ambassador and her associates.  Ultimately this means that the content you're trying to promote should also be inherently interesting.
  4. Most importantly, try to make your status updates sound as natural as possible, like something that somebody would actually want to share with friends and colleagues.

We've learned a lot about creating status updates through research, client feedback, and plain-old trial-and-error.  Using the above thoughts as general guidelines, the following are specific pieces of advice for creating your own updates, based on our experience:

  1. People generally like to promote events that are fun and/or interesting, and people like to go to events.  If your organization participates in events that you post on your website, then these are great things to share.  When promoting an event, include the title of the event, the location, the date, and who is holding it.  For example: "Excited for the networking event next week Wednesday that SocialToaster is sponsoring in Baltimore." (Note, this is an example, we're not sponsoring an event next week, but certainly email us if you think we should!)
  2. When promoting an interesting article, blog, or whitepaper that you've published, try one of two approaches when creating the corresponding status update:
    1. If the title of the posting is descriptive enough, you can simply use the title of the status update.  This works best with general content that has a catchy title.  If the title requires a contextual understanding of the subject matter in order to know what it references, then you can slightly alter the title when creating the update in order to provide that context.  For example, that is what we did with this posting: "Tip from SocialToaster - creating status updates that people will want to share and read."  The title of this posting alone doesn't convey much meaning to somebody who doesn't know what SocialToaster is, but by adding the "Tip from" and expanding the description a bit we are able to hint to the reader that SocialToaster must be some sort of company that has something to do with creating and sharing status updates.
    2. Alternatively, try to focus in on a key piece of information from your article that you think people will find interesting.  This can be a statistic or fact that is interesting, or it might be posed in the form of a question that your content addresses.  For example, we could have used this approach in promoting this article:
      • "Promoting events is a great way to drive traffic from a status update. This and other useful tips from SocialToaster."
      • "How can you create a status update that people will want to share and that will drive traffic to your site?  SocialToaster provides some thoughts."

      Each of these examples provides some context for what we are promoting, makes mention of our company, and hopefully sounds like something that somebody might actually say.

    3. If you are going to promote a sale or a contest that you might be having, you need to work particularly hard to make sure it doesn't sound like SPAM or an ad.  Marketers are traditionally used to creating strong call-to-actions, but this does not translate well in a social sharing context.  Tone down the language as best you can, and present it from the perspective of your Ambassador: "SocialToaster is running a promotion to get people to try out their product, you can sign up for free and will get entered into a contest to win an Android tablet."

We'd love to hear your feedback in terms of what types of status updates you find to be effective for your organization.  If you find that you're struggling with creating your own updates, or with creating your content in general, keep in mind that we're here to help!  Please contact us if you need some assistance!

Social Media Strategy Tips for Nonprofit Organizations

Many non-profits have been struggling through this economy and are looking for new ways to increase donations, sign up new members and improve attendance to their fund raising events.  Most use social media in traditional ways to try to boost the participation in any way possible, which usually means setting up fan pages and asking their constituents to share that page with their friends.  Content is posted regularly to keep subscribers updated on the initiatives of the organization and quite often gets lost in the deluge of updates from similar Facebook pages.

But the problem with this method of engaging constituents on Facebook for nonprofits is that it’s like throwing ball against a wall and seeing what sticks.  You may or may not see an increase in donor participation using this method for engaging your audience.  Consider the following tips when creating a social media strategy that will help your increase the participation of your social community and yield results for your organization:

Engage your social community with calls to action.  In general, people who like your page on Facebook or follow you on Twitter do so because they want to support your organization.  Help them do this by giving them clear action items.  Would you like them to donate or join your organization?  Share your cause with their friends?  Support your campaign to plant trees or implement a piece of legislation?  Get people involved right away with direct call to action messages and try to get them to discuss their involvement by asking them questions or encouraging them to comment.  Also, communicate to them the barometer for success.  Whether you want them to commit monetarily, volunteer, or both the key is to get them excited about participation and reaching milestones like achieving the Annual Fund goal, or better yet exceeding it!

Create Ambassadors to represent your brand in the social world. We tell our SocialToaster clients to choose Ambassadors who have an interest in seeing your brand succeed and who agree to work their networks for the good of the organization.  For your organization, that could mean board members, staff, and/or constituents your organization represents.  The reason that social media can be such an effective means of spurring people to action is because it is based on word-of-mouth marketing.    Friends of your Ambassadors will be more likely to engage with your organization upon your “word of mouth” recommendation because the referral is coming from you, then they would if they received a cold solicitation from an organization where they have had no interaction.

Track Your Results.  Try a few means by which to engage your audience.  See which issues spur a discussion/interaction with your organization.  When constituents attend events, ask them if they found out about you on Facebook or Twitter.  Be sure to define your own barometer for success and track your success record, and make note of that record as you go from campaign to campaign.

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We find that nonprofits that are able to employ these rules for engaging their audience are likely to be happy with their social results.  We created SocialToaster as a social marketing tool to help significantly increase the traffic to your website by using electronic word of mouth referrals.  SocialToaster can be up to ten times more effective than search engine marketing or other traditional forms of digital advertising.  Our automated solution takes the time and guess work out of structuring your social media marketing campaign.  The above blog is based on some of our social media consulting fundamentals that we offer our clients in tandem with SocialToaster.  For more information, sign up for a webinar, or contact a salesperson to learn more today!

Questions to Consider When Building a Community Group in Social Media

In a recent post to our social pages we noted that the nation’s largest property and casualty insurer, State Farm launched a Facebook page for its Latino customers called State Farm Latino.  The company recognized that there are 13.5 million Latinos on Facebook, and cited this sizeable number as a key reason for launching the dedicated page.  In fact, many companies are segmenting and targeting their audiences based on demographic information like ethnicity, physical location, age, and “profile” i.e. working moms vs. stay at home moms.

The action prompted us to answer the following: What questions should be asked when trying to market to a certain community group in social media?  Here are some questions to think about while forming your strategy:

1) How do you get to know your community?

What do you do when you want to learn about a topic you don’t know anything about?  Research, research, research.  Online sources are generally good for finding out information if you consult reputable sources about the community group you want to grow for your organization.  For example, if you want to target young moms for a hip, new, baby carrier you would like to market, check out online websites for young moms like Café Mom (which calls itself the #1 Place for Moms Online) and Mother’s Click.

2) Where does your target audience live?

Do some research on where your target audience lives in relationship to social media. For example, if you are looking to market your product to the 50 and over crowd across the nation, reach out to longstanding organizations who deal with that population.  For example, a case study published on the AARP website cites the following for that group: Approximately one-quarter of all those 50+ use social media websites (27%) with Facebook being by far the most popular (23%).  So you would definitely want to launch a very aggressive campaign on Facebook over the other social media networks (although, you should include them, too) with incentives to encourage those who like your page on Facebook to invite others.  And perhaps you would want to create an integrated marketing campaign using other media to drive the 50’s plus crowd to social media – like advertising on Eons, the online community for boomers.

3) What niche can you fill for that audience that has previously been ignored?

Explore the topics being raised in the community you are researching and find new topics to write about that are just as important to the enrichment of that community.  For example, if you are marketing to the nonprofit community, it might be helpful to explore the ramifications of the “Latino Social Media for Social Good” program.  This program is the product of an alliance between Hispanicize and Univision, created in an effort to provide communications training for Latino communities.  What impact could the program have on the nonprofit community as a whole?  Perhaps you could create communications training for your own nonprofit community and those who have mirroring communities, like nonprofits that affect African Americans or women for example.

4) How do you figure out what kind of incentives your community would value for participation?

We often encourage our clients to offer an incentive to those who join their communities in the social space.  Find out what your targets would enjoy and offer them appropriate schwag.  For example, if you are a golfing organization, offer your community builders the opportunity to enter to win a trip to Pebble Beach, or the best set of golf clubs you offer.  Not only will you achieve your goal, but your community will also be very grateful.

5) How do you make sure that your community is cohesive and loyal? If you accomplish the goals above – know your community, know where to find them, find out what their interests are, learn how to cultivate interests often ignored, and offer them good schwag, chances are you will build a very loyal community.  And who knows where your community will go from there!

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We created SocialToaster as a social marketing tool to help significantly increase the traffic to your website by using electronic word of mouth referrals.  SocialToaster can be up to ten times more effective than search engine marketing or other traditional forms of digital advertising.  Our automated solution takes the time and guess work out of structuring your social media marketing campaign.  The above blog is based on some of our social media consulting fundamentals that we offer our clients in tandem with SocialToaster.  For more information, sign up for a webinar, or contact a salesperson to learn more today!

Professional Services Firm Expanding Their Audience through Social Marketing

The Maryland, DC, and Pennsylvania divisions of Clifton Gunderson, LLP, a nationwide firm of certified public accountants and consultants, is an example of a professional services company that routinely produces Thought Leadership pieces including white papers, webinars, and E-blasts to communicate with its customers.  Yet the company struggles with cutting edge, innovative methods of effectively distributing these ideas to its target audience.

According to the company’s leadership, traditional messages such as direct mail and E-blasts were becoming stale and could only reach the company’s existing network.  So CG strategized various methods for sharing innovative ideas to new targets outside of their network who could benefit from their business solutions.  They were led to SocialToaster as a software solution for social marketing that would help them distribute Thought Leadership material creatively across the social space, while creating an army of Ambassadors in the social space who would be willing to become evangelists for Clifton Gunderson in this new social frontier.

Although Clifton Gunderson is in the beginning stages of its campaign, it has already experienced phenomenal results.  The company has already recruited 72 new Ambassadors, and driven 867 visits to its blog site, with 444 new or unique visitors and 730 links shared.  Within a few weeks, Clifton Gunderson’s 72 Ambassadors have amassed 15,646 connections across three social networks.  As the campaign continues, Clifton Gunderson will continue to use SocialToaster to continue expanding its network by driving Thought Leadership materials through their partnerships, employees, clients, and strategic alliances and connecting ideas to each of these individuals’ connections.

Contact us at 855.62.TOAST, send us an email, or request a free demo to be in touch with our sales team so we can help you create a similar strategy for your organization.

Otis Rolley Launches Online Ambassador Campaign With SocialToaster

On June 6, Baltimore mayoral candidate Otis Rolley launched his Online Ambassador program with SocialToaster. Rolley, a regular Twitter and Facebook user, believes in social media as an effective way to connect directly with friends and supporters.

Social marketing application SocialToaster allows Rolley to share information not just with his supporters, but with his supporters’ social networks, too.  Using SocialToaster, Rolley’s supporters can easily raise awareness of his platform by promoting him to their connections, elevating his campaign’s reach.

"We're very pleased that Otis is using SocialToaster,” says SocialToaster creator Brian Razzaque. “We expect that it will help to benefit his campaign significantly, and we look forward to seeing the impact.”

SocialToaster on Facebook
SocialToaster on Twitter

Keeping Your Social Persona Interesting

People often ask us what their status updates should be about and what they can do to cultivate their social persona. It's all about finding the right balance between business and personal and staying interesting to those that follow you.

Increasing Your Connectivity in Social Media

You’re a Thought Leader in your chosen profession who has built a business that has been recognized locally, regionally, and nationally by your peers and other colleagues.  You are hitting your profit margins even in this recession, and you are primed for growth.
But where are you in the social space?
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How To: Leverage Your Employee Relationships to Drive More Business

In a previous blog post, Leverage Every Person in Your Organization with Social Media, our VP Partner Channel, Todd Burgess, argued that every person in your organization is a valuable player to your company’s social marketing program. But the question is, how do you get your employees on board with you in your commitment to leverage their relationships to help you drive more business? And considering the fact that most people respond to incentives, how do you create ones that would encourage your employees to utilize their own relationships in the marketplace and to generate more revenue for your company?

In most cases, employees are already at least partially invested in the success of your company. After all, it is their place of employment, from which they reap that benefit at the very minimum. However, the key to motivating your employees to up level their commitment by actually offering up their own relationships in the social space and to generate more revenue for your company is making them feel more valued than an average employee. You need to make them feel like stakeholders – individuals who are so invested in your company’s success that they need your company to succeed almost as much as they need to succeed themselves.

Begin this process by figuring out what they would greatly value incentive wise. Perhaps that would be a day off if they grow their LinkedIn account to more than 300 connections. Perhaps that day off would convince them to allow you to use SocialToaster to broadcast news about your company to their connections. Perhaps you could offer dinner and a movie to the employee who has amassed the most connections on Facebook, or who has promoted the most links about your company via SocialToaster. Perhaps you may even want to survey your employees ahead of time to find out what kinds of incentives they would respond to, so that they feel particularly valued as you establish your process.

No matter which incentive you choose, you want to solicit sincere feedback for how your social program is going, and its value to its participants. And you want to measure your success. How many business contacts are really being reached through your employees? Is there a reporting system of some sort that you can use to figure this out? And how accurate is your process for determining which employees are performing best in terms of getting you the business connections you seek.

Our software solution for social marketing, SocialToaster, can help you spread the word about your company to your employees’ business connections. And our social strategy team can help you come up with incentives your employees would respond to. As you continue to encourage your employees to participate in your program, and track your results, you will see your revenue soar.

Click here to be in touch with our sales team so we can help you create similar strategy for your organization.

How To Use Keyword Research to Optimize Blog Posts

Many companies are working to tie in keyword research within the content creation process to ensure their content is being found on search engines when users are searching for them. This helps to create strategically written content that is designed around top searched keywords. Keyword research can be as simple or as complicated as you make it.  When it comes to keyword research for content, you can make it simple by thinking about it as a way to generate great topic ideas while also ensuring that the right audience will be able to easily find your content on search engines.
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How Often Should I Publish Content

One of the top questions that comes up when a marketer is thinking about content, blogging, and social media is how often should they publish content?  How many videos, blog posts, and status updates are really enough?  The answer depends based on the industry.  Here are three steps tfor determining the right content publishing schedule for your online marketing campaign.
Step One: Research the Competition
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Even Out Your Social Media Marketing Scorecard With SocialToaster

In the July 19 edition of Augie Ray’s blog for Interactive Marketing Professionals which appeared on SmartBrief on Social Media.com, Ray proposed that while brands like Dell and P&G can track the return on investment of their social media marketing and financial results, many other brands cannot.

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