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The 10 Rules of Social Media Engagement

This guest post is by Matthew Turner of Turndog Millionaire.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a set of universal social media rules?

The internet is full of social media wisdom, but what if we had 10 rules of engagement?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a writer of some kind. Whether you’re a blogger or author, social media has become a large part of our lives. The options are vast, but how do you stand out from the ever-growing crowd?

The 10 rules of social media engagement

The following tips are adapted from my ebook, How To Build An Author House.

Reading this post won’t turn you into a superhero, nor will you wake up tomorrow with 100,000 new Twitter followers. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not one of those guys.

What this post does offer is some tips to help you become a social media rock star.

1. Engage first, sell second

The clue is in the name … social media. Your first instinct might be to tweet about your book, but what good does this do?

When did you last buy a product because someone Tweeted about it?

These days, we buy from those we trust. This takes time to develop, so engage first and sell second.

2. Be consistent

If you’re a celebrity this doesn’t apply to you. You’ll be able to share a Facebook message about that muffin you just ate and receive 2,043 likes. The rest of us need to keep it relevant.

People like consistency. If they know you as that girl who shares great financial advice, keep giving them what they want. You can mix it up from time to time, but make sure you’re being consistent overall.

3. Be regular

We’re all guilty of it: we start with vigour before getting lazy.

This is social media suicide.

If you open a Youtube account, comment on 30 videos a day, and upload daily, people will begin to take notice. If, after a month you stop, guess what? People will forget who you are.

Once again, it comes down to consistency. Be regular and be consistent.

4. Look beyond your own nose

It’s not always about you. If someone follows you on Google+ they want to know what you’re doing. By all means share your stories and spread the love. Don’t, however, think you’re the centre of the universe.

Have you ever been to a networking event where someone only talks about himself? Do you want to be that guy?

5. Reply to everything

If you have 100,000 Linkedin connections, this is bad advice. Assuming you aren’t Darren Rowse, though, you should try to reply to everything you can.

If it’s spam, by all means press Delete. If it has value, make sure you reply and keep the conversation going. We’re forever sewing seeds.

6. Search, don’t wait to be found

Again, if you’re a celebrity, this doesn’t really apply. You can sit back as a million people follow you. Most of us, however, need to search, but don’t worry, it’s quite fun.

Search for conversations that interest you. These are the people you want to meet. Go find them and make some new friends!

7. Be patient

Instant social media success is hard to find. You might upload amazing images to Instagram, but don’t be surprised if it takes a few months before people take notice.

The truth is, most people are wary. They see people like you all the time disappear after a few months. Be patient and earn your stripes. It will be worth it.

8. Spend time on it

One thing I discuss often is finding the right platform for yourself. Social media is a demanding mistress. If you think you can get a way with a mere fling, think again.

Join every platform at your own peril. To get the most out of social media you need to put in the hours. Picking the right channels is key. You want time to blog, too, after all.

9. Be your brand

Chances are you’ve built a platform. This means you have a brand. This means you have responsibilities to upkeep. Represent your brand as often as you can.

Again, consistency is important. Provide a message that spreads across platforms and you’ll do just fine.

10. Remember to sell

We began this journey with the warning of selling too soon. However, don’t forget to ask the darn question. Whether it’s a book you’re selling or a blog you need people to visit, make sure you plug yourself from time to time.

It’s about finding a balance between sharing your own world, and sharing other people’s. Being social is the first step, but we all have bills to pay.

Like I say, these rules of engagement won’t guarantee you an instant hit, but they will point you down the right path. Social media can help, but only if you use it properly.

Do you follow these rules of social media engagement? Has social media propelled you in front of new readers? Share your own stories below.

Matthew Turner (aka Turndog Millionaire) is an Author of both Fiction & Non-Fiction. Part of his life includes helping fellow Writers Build an Author Platform & Brand Story. You can find out more about him by visiting his Website or downloading his Free Ebook How To Build An Author Houses.

Use Social Currency Systems to Grow Your Blog

This guest post is by Nathan Kash of Electric Blogging.

Whether you’re new to online business or you consider yourself a seasoned professional, you recognize the fact that a good promotion strategy can go a long way in generating income for your business. Companies across the world spend millions, sometimes billions (in the case of companies like Heineken) on marketing, which shows just how important it is.

Now, in the days of social media, more and more companies are adopting social promotion strategies to reach a wider audience. Some have even gone as far as to launch their businesses wholly through social means, as did Dollar Shave Club, whose YouTube video became a viral sensation and put them on the map.

More recently, social currency systems have been developed that can add to your overall social marketing strategy. These tools have the potential to drive millions of customers to your site in a relatively short period of time.

What are social currency systems?

Social currency systems are online systems that allow readers to pay for products and services (usually ebooks, reports, and digital courses) using the value of their social network.

In other words, these products cost users the price of a social share.

Social currency in action

There are a few social currency systems available. Here are two of the most commonly used.

Pay With a Tweet

Pay With a Tweet is one of the first services to implement social currency, and it was built by Innovative Thunder.

As the name suggests, this system lets you “pay” for a product with a tweet.

For a customer to get access to a product, they click a button that takes them to a Twitter page. There they tweet the required message to their followers. Next, they’re automatically taken to a download page where they can claim the product in question. Pay With a Tweet has added functionality for Facebook, too.

Here’s how the call to action appears:
Pay With a Tweet

Popshop

Popshop is a new service by SYZYGY that claims to be “Pay With a Tweet on steroids.” Rather than just using Twitter as a sharing medium, it has functionality for other social networks like LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, and Google+.

It’s a free, one-page, customizable WordPress popup shop theme that also features Facebook page integration. Here’s how it looks:

Popshop

If you don’t share the deal before you click the Get This Offer button, you see this message:

Popshop message

This ensures that the content gets shared before the users get access to the product.

Why social currency works

Social currency systems are being used more widely by bloggers and site owners, since they work so well. But why?

They appeal to our inner cheapskate

The majority of people have an inner cheapskate. Whenever you choose to buy something, you always have the urge to go for the cheaper option. That’s just how our brains work.

Social currency systems have the same effect. The desire for a product is further increased by mentioning the price that the product should cost and explaining that, instead, you’re offering it for a far lower price—just a share! It’s a common but effective marketing tactic.

They provide a sense of value

This works hand-in-hand with my first point. People are not as drawn to things that are completely free as they are drawn to things that are “practically” free.

When you give your offer a price, no matter how small, it creates a sense of value. Something completely free seems less attractive because most of the time, it’s perceived as being of low quality.

Excellent promotion benefits

Social currency systems can be used by businesses to successfully promote launches and events.

A good strategy for ebook authors, for example, would be to release a “free” report or mini-ebook as a teaser for their final product. In return, they get shares and are able to create a buzz amongst millions of potential customers.

This tactic can also be used by bloggers to make blog posts and videos go viral, and this also drives traffic to their respective sites.

Other ways to use social currency systems

  • Authors can use them to sell excerpts to promote books.
  • Freelancers and job hunters can use them to sell work samples and access to portfolios or resumes.
  • Internet marketers can use them to sell free reports to create a buzz for upcoming webinars.
  • Speakers can use them to sell mini-courses for the promotion of workshops.
  • Consumer brands can use them to sell commercials to make them go viral.
  • Service providers and use them to sell basic versions of services, as a way to promote premium packages.
  • Musicians can use them to sell music demos and singles for upcoming albums.

All in all, social currency systems are underused but have enormous potential not only for promotion, but also for traffic and income generation.

Is social currency for you?

Social currency is gaining momentum. Have you used it already, perhaps to buy something, if not to sell it? Have you tried other social currency systems? Do you think you could use social currency to build buzz around your blog?

Tell us in the comments. We all love to learn.

Nathan Kash (@electricblogger) is a professional blogger who runs Electric Blogging where you can discover methods of traffic generation, writing excellent content, social media utilization and how to blog effectively. He also gives blogging tips to newbie bloggers and seasoned professionals.

When Building a Significant Social Media Following May Not Work

This guest post is by J. Steve Miller of Sell More Books!.

I studied the right books and attended the right seminars. I gave my strategy time. Yet, few followed my blog and I could trace scant book sales (my main reason for blogging) to my social media efforts. Could it be—dare I suggest—that building a social media following simply wasn’t the best use of my time, given my unique passions, strengths, subject matter, and goals?

Failing at social media

Image used with permission

Gathering a following works marvelously for some. But is there proof that it can work for everyone in every industry?

I think I’ve identified twelve such scenarios. Consider these three.

1. When time is limited

Like most debut authors, Danny Kofke has a day job and a family. To market his book, he wakes up early to use these precious minutes emailing media to suggest interviews. He links them to his one-page, static (no regular posts) blog, which functions as a press page, highlighting his past interviews, including USA Today and CNN. Readers and viewers can spread the word through their own social networks.

It works for Danny, given his personality, his topic (personal finance for school teachers) and his limitations. For Danny, pursuing a following would consume too much time.

J.R.R. Tolkien taught full-time and wrote after putting his children to bed. Had social media existed in his time, and if he spent that time on Facebook and Twitter, could he have written Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit?

2. When another marketing approach may work better

I know a restaurant owner who outsells all his fellow franchises. His secret? He spends hours away from the restaurant each day, building relationships with local businesses to promote his catering services. 

Imagine that his marketing time is limited to two hours. Could we tell him with any degree of certainty that he’d be better off spending those hours trying to build a following on social media? If so, based upon what evidence?

3. When your social media following will not likely be your customers

An agent urges her debut mystery writer to build a social media following with a blog. Her topic? Something to do with writing. Her competition? Thousands of writers competing for the same audience. Her challenges?

  • Who wants to follow a writer who’s not already successful?
  • Would her followers more likely be mystery readers (her target), or mystery writers?

So perhaps your dismal results don’t mean you’re a social media moron. Maybe people in your industry simply don’t want regular insights, or your target audience doesn’t tend to follow social media, or you don’t relish the research required to become a true thought leader.

Alternative social media approaches

If building a following isn’t working for you, consider a few of the principles that guide my personal book marketing strategy.

Consider quality over quantity

Sometimes I wonder if “the next big thing” just might be, well, “small.” Some gurus are cutting back, using Twitter and Facebook to connect with only their most valuable contacts—those they truly enjoy and learn from. In your case, could 150 significant Facebook friends trump 1,000 Facebook contacts who blabber incessantly about meaningless trivialities?

Let others praise you, rather than praise yourself

A Gallup study of over 17,000 social media users found that people don’t typically buy our products when we’re doing the selling. Instead, they trust independent experts and customer reviews. I find niche forums and offer free books for review, so that my Amazon pages are persuasive and the resulting fans can spread the word through their social networks.  

Go where people already gather, rather than gather a crowd around yourself

Shiv Singh, social media guru for PepsiCo, considers the holy grail of social influence marketing to be identifying and harnessing the influencers in your field. For my personal finance book, I found the top 200 personal finance blogs and offered a free book for review and another for a giveaway. My sales increased 300%, and the tactic was both cost- and time-effective.

Consider your strengths and passions, rather than assuming you can replicate any marketing scheme

A Gallup study of over two million people in the workplace suggested that we’re typically miscast in our roles. Instead, we should identify and concentrate on our strengths. If your strengths and passions incline you to blogging, Facebook and Twitter, you may do well building followings there. But if it’s a chore that you endure solely to sell your products, don’t be surprised if you make little impact. Choose methods that fit your unique passions and strengths.

Ideas? Objections? Experiences? Please interact with me below!

This is a guest post by J. Steve Miller, author of Sell More Books! and Social Media Frenzy:Consider These Alternative Social Media Strategies. He is president of Legacy Educational Resources, offering character and life skills resources to teachers and schools.

Set Up Social Media to Give You Great Post Ideas

This guest post is by Douglas Lim of The 10 Habits of Highly Effective Social Media Marketing People.

Finding articles and ideas for blog posts is an important skill for bloggers to master—and one that can now be leveraged through the power of social media.

High-quality content is tweeted, liked, bookmarked, and shared around. That’s why social media is fantastic for sourcing great content: we know even before we look at it that it’s probably of high quality, since people are sharing it with their friends and followers.

Spend just five minutes setting up your networks of choice to send you great content, and you’ll have no trouble translating and leveraging that inspiration to create your own blog post ideas.

Twitter

One of the nice features of Twitter is that it gives us the ability to create Lists of Twitter accounts.

For example, you can create a List, call it whatever you want, and then add to it all the Twitter accounts that tweet about a particular topic. It could be thought leaders in your field, or it may list brands that regularly write about your topic.

When you load that List in Twitter, you’ll only see tweets from thosepeople—it’s a perfectly curated suite of informationon your topic. Even better, Twitter allows you to subscribe to other people’s Lists. So you can get the benefits of someone else’s work—look especially to the Lists of thought leaders in your field, who know other people who provide great information.

Twitter lists

To create a List, simply go to your Twitter homepage and click on the head-shot icon as in the image below. To complete your List, follow the prompts as directed.


Facebook

Facebook is another fantastic social network for sourcing great content. Similar to Twitter, you can create an Interest list and include Fan pages in it. Then, you can view that list and only see page updates from Fan pages you’ve included.

Many brands are now on Facebook, so you can source some great information. To create an Interest list, go to your Facebook home page, and on the bottom-left side click on Add interests, as in the screenshot below.

Add interests on Facebook

Next, click on Create List and follow the steps to create your curated list.

Facebook list

Google+

Google+ also allows you to curate social content through its Circles. On Google+ you can create a Circle (of friends, colleagues, thought leaders, etc.), adding Google+ profiles and brand pages to that circle. Then, when you need inspiration for a post, go to the Google+ home screen, and choose only to view a certain Circle by selecting that Circle’s tab.

Google+ circles

LinkedIn

This is one of my favourite places to hang out and access great content. If you navigate to your LinkedIn home page, you can click on “See all Top Headlines for You” as in the screen shot below.

LinkedIn headlines

Here, you can customize your news according to what you want to read. You can follow industries such as Accounting or Entertainment, or sources such as CNN. LinkedIn will also send you email containing content from these various sources.

The great thing about these top news stories is that they are also tailored to you on the basis of what your connections, industry peers, and the wider professional audience are reading and sharing on LinkedIn. I have found that, with LinkedIn, you get a different spin on the content that’s shared, because most of your connections on LinkedIn will be professionals. This means you can find some real gems that you would not normally have found through Twitter and Facebook, which tend to have broader market appeal. I highly recommend LinkedIn.

Pinterest

At the time of writing, Pinterest doesn’t offer filtering of boards. But what you can do is set up a separate account, search for your blog’s topic, and subscribe to their boards through that account. Then you can view all their pins in a focused way.

Paper.li

This is a really fun way of tying all of the networks we’ve just talked about together. Paper.li is great for pulling in content from Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, as well as YouTube and your RSS feeds. Paper.li displays all your selected content in a newspaper-style format; you can also find other people’s papers and subscribe to them.

Curating inspiration

There’s lots of great content that’s constantly being shared on each of the different social media channels. This information will hopefully assist you with sourcing and organising this information so you can curate and share the most relevant content with your followers—and get great inspiration for posts on your blog. Best of all, it’ll only take you a few minutes to set up!

If you have any suggestions or other great curating tips and ideas, do share them below in the comments section.

Douglas Lim is a social media marketing and search engine optimization evangelist. He is also passionate about business and owns his own web design company servicing thousands of clients. Douglas regularly writes about these topics on his blog at The 10 Habits of Highly Effective Social Media Marketing People. Alternatively you can find him living on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn or Facebook.

How I’m Using Google+ to Create Content and Collaborative Opportunities on my Blogs

Google Plus has been a medium I’ve had a fascination with since Day 1, but it’s taken me a while to work out how to actually use it effectively in my blogging.

I’ve tried a variety of things, including using it as a blog of sorts (making longer posts), for status updates (what I’m doing), as a pseudo-RSS feed (sharing links to posts I’ve written on my blog), looking for great content that others are sharing to reshare, and much more.

But to be honest, I’ve still not found it to “click” with me… All of this work has been good and benefited what I do, but I’ve not felt I’m really using it as effectively as I could be. That was until last week, when I began to realize that sitting right in front of me was an opportunity that I’d not seen before.

The opportunity was not to drive traffic to content on my blog: it was an opportunity to actually help create content for my blog.

Each day as I sit down to G+ I see the most amazing conversations happening. Each day I see ideas, images, and information being shared by remarkable people. G+ is being used by innovative people who are pushing the boundaries.

As an example of this, recently I was marvelling at the beautiful photography of +Elena Kalis on G+. I was completely sucked into her beautiful images and it struck me that I had an opportunity to connect with her and to even shoot her a message. I did, and cheekily asked if she’d be open to being interviewed by me for +Digital Photography School. She agreed and we published that interview a couple of weeks back.

Then, the other day, I was watching a hangout run by +Trey Ratcliff. It was one of his weekly variety hours, and he had his usual array of guests—people who were clever, funny, and creative. Some of them were reasonably well-known, while others were not (but should have been). All were active on G+.

As I sat there watching the conversation, it occurred to me that I was watching a group of five or six potential guest posters for my photography blog. They were people who knew what they were talking about, who could communicate, and who were obviously trying to get their names out there.

I immediately decided to use G+ to send a message to one of them (+Todd Sisson) asking if he’d consider writing a guest post for me. An hour or so later he’d agreed and we’d decided upon a topic. We published that post soon after.

I also shot another message to two other panelists in that hangout that day. One didn’t reply, but I’m now talking about topics for a guest post with the other.

Over the last two weeks I’ve reached out to around ten people on G+, and five are working with me to create content for dPS as guest posters or interviewees. Another just submitted his second post and is keen to contribute regularly. Yet another is talking to us about a potential ebook collaboration.

All of this activity has taken place in private messages on G+. While this could probably be achieved on Twitter or Facebook, the freedom to write more than 140 characters—or to not have to be “friends” to message someone—is certainly a big plus on G+.

While there are many benefits of using G+ to drive traffic, deepen reader interaction, build your profile, and so on, I’ve been pleasantly surprised in the last few weeks by how wonderful a place it has been to build collaborative opportunities and generate content.

How are you using G+, other than to drive traffic to your blog? I’d love to hear about your strategies in the comments.

8 Killer Tactics to Grow Your Blog with LinkedIn

This guest post is by Josh Turner of LinkedSelling.

Is your blog a business, or do you hope that it someday will be?

If you answered yes, then you should consider refocusing some of your social media activities toward the world’s largest social network for business.

That’s right, LinkedIn isn’t just for big companies or finding a job. There are a ton of practical tactics and strategies that you can engage in to build your blog on LinkedIn. Here are eight of my absolute favorites.

1. Join groups where other bloggers hang out

It’s surprising how few bloggers take advantage of the free communities available on LinkedIn. While paid membership sites flourish, completely free membership groups exist within LinkedIn that offer many of the same benefits.

LinkedIn groups

Consider getting involved with groups such as Professional Bloggers or Small Biz Forum.

These types of groups are full of people just like you: they’re eager to build relationships with other bloggers, looking for guest posting opportunities, and engaged in daily conversations about being a small business owner.

2. Use the LinkedIn Share button to promote content

ou likely have Twitter, Facebook, and maybe a couple other social sharing buttons on your blog. If you don’t have a LinkedIn share button, you may be really missing out.

The Share buttonY

Using the LinkedIn share button, you can quickly post and promote your content in every group that you are a member of.

If your content is relevant to your target audience, and the LinkedIn groups that you belong to are relevant, you’ll see an immediate and sustainable spike in traffic by consistently utilizing the LinkedIn share button. The key to growing that audience, as with almost anything, is that you provide great value through the network, and deliver it consistently.

3. Use premium features to discover new influencers

Would you be interested to find out any time somebody added “Community Manager” or “Blogger” to their LinkedIn profile?

With a premium LinkedIn account (about $30 per month) you can save searches such as these, and receive a weekly digest including every person in the world that recently added these words to their profile.

The LinkedIn people search

As somebody who is looking to build a real business with your blog, connecting with these people could be HUGE for your business. Consider that people new to the game are eager to build relationships, for one.

But the real power play here is the ability to identify new managers of larger sites. By approaching them when they are new to the position, you’re going to be one of the first. Tons of value here.

4. Find Strategic Groups to Explore Partnerships

If you’re like most people, you might not have much of a plan for how you’re going to leverage LinkedIn to build your business/blog. This presents a great opportunity for you if you’re willing to utilize LinkedIn to its potential.

One thing you can do to advance your business is to build strategic relationships on LinkedIn. Here’s how you could do this:

  1. Identify 10-20 sites or blogs that could really help to position your blog in the spotlight.
  2. Research who the players are, find them on LinkedIn, and join the groups that they are active in.
  3. Stay on top of their activity within groups.
  4. Engage with them in their conversations.
  5. Build a relationship.
  6. Take it to the next level.

Darren Rowse is probably not reachable through this method, but the people that run his operation likely are. You have to do your homework, but spending some time on the front end could really open some doors for you.

Darren on LinkedIn

5. Demonstrate your expertise to land gigs

There are a number of ways you can demonstrate your expertise on LinkedIn to generate real, paying gigs.

For most of us, it is consulting income or our “real job” that feeds the family.

The wrong way

Consistently sharing your content and engaging people within groups are two of the best ways to do this. Don’t forget, I said consistently. Dabbling won’t get the results you’re after.

Be sure, if this is the type of work you’re after, that your profile clearly states that you are “for hire.”

From there, demonstrate your professionalism and skills, over and over. Be a good person. Build quality relationships. The rest will take care of itself.

6. Use LinkedIn Ads to promote your products or list

If you sell products on your blog, or you have a budget to work with for building your list, consider exploring LinkedIn ads.

LinkedIn advertising

LinkedIn’s advertising platform can be accessed with as little as a $10 per day budget. The beauty of the system is that you can target your ads to an exact type of person. Want to position your ad in front of managers, at Los Angeles businesses, with between 10-100 people, and over 35 years old? LinkedIn can take care of that for you.

Whether your offerings have a broad appeal or are more niche oriented, the LinkedIn ad platform could be a great way to get the word out.

7. Use LinkedIn Signal for competitive analysis

LinkedIn Signal is essentially LinkedIn’s search function for the entire network. Enter a phrase that you’re interested in, and you will see every related bit of activity from within every nook and cranny on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Signal

The power of Signal is that it exposes you to people outside of your first-degree connections. You can see status updates for every person on LinkedIn, and group posts for every group on LinkedIn. Powerful stuff.

Signal is a great way to stay up to date on competing blogs, to research new content ideas, and to find new people who are worth following and connecting to.

8. Follow companies that are in your space

If you’re operating within a specific industry, there are certainly hundreds, if not thousands of companies represented on LinkedIn. There are nearly 2.5 million businesses with registered company pages on LinkedIn. Clearly the actual number of business owners with a presence on LinkedIn is much higher.

Consider following the companies that matter to you. This gives you the ability to receive updates from them, stay current with their news, and it creates visibility for you within the company’s network.

Following a company

You should also consider researching their employees listed on LinkedIn. This can be a great way to get in with the people that matter, providing a channel for interview requests, and positioning your site as a leader in the space.

Are you building a business?

If the answer is yes, you need to be on LinkedIn.

Whether you are writing about dog bones, margaritas or minor league badminton, there are some serious tactics at your disposal within LinkedIn. If you’re interested in building relationships, building your list and building your income, LinkedIn should be a major part of your business strategy.

So how about you? Are you using LinkedIn to build your blog?

Josh Turner is the founder of LinkedSelling, a LinkedIn marketing firm that offers training and outsourced LinkedIn campaigns. Get his free 10-part video training series, How to Convert Your LinkedIn Profile Into a Lead Generation Tool.

How to Use Google+ to Update All Major Social Networks

This is a guest post by Alan Cairns of bozboz.co.uk.

We tend to use social networks as channels that feed into each other, with certain channels for posting content and others for re-publishing it. Widgets and apps can help pull a Twitter feed to a website, or a blog RSS feed to a LinkedIn profile or Facebook profile.

The hub and spoke distribution model represents this system, with a structure that resembles wheels on a bike. The hub is at the centre of the model, connected to each spoke. The hub is the source of the data, and the spokes are the individual channels where that data is published. The hub might represent a blog or Twitter feed, and all the spokes separate social media channels.

It’s important to think strategically about how these channels work together, which channel is going to function as the “hub,” and which as the “spokes.” Obviously, creating bespoke content for each social network is the ideal, but bloggers need to be efficient, and using the hub-and-spoke approach is an efficient way of reaching a large audience through multiple platforms.

Social networks are usually happy for users to integrate feeds and streams into their profiles, making import features available or apps for importing content from elsewhere.

Google+, however, does not allow Twitter feeds, Facebook activity streams or RSS feeds to be imported. This reflects Google’s effort to ensure that the content on Google+ is always unique.

This means that managing a Google+ profile or page can require a lot of work, as updates need to be done manually. This is likely to increase the quality of posts on Google’s social network, but for marketers it creates additional work. Why post bespoke messages on each social media platform if the content and its message is the same?

Considering that feeds are a no-no with Google, using G+ as the “hub” makes a lot of sense, with other social networks being updated from a G+ feed. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t even provide the functionality to export a Google+ activity stream as an RSS feed.

Thankfully, several people have found ways to create a feed from a Google+ profile.

Working with Google+

Several services emerged last year which offered to turn a Google+ profile into an RSS feed that can be imported to other social networks. But most of the hacks that were blogged about last year don’t work any more—Google seem to be discouraging users from importing feeds to Google+.

Fortunately, Rob McGee created an easy-to-use service which can feed your Google+ posts directly to Facebook and Twitter.

All you need to do is sign in with your Twitter and Facebook logins, post a validation code on Google+, and then any posts shared with Rob McGee on Google+ will automatically be posted to your Facebook or Twitter accounts.

Something tells me Rob is being added to quite a few circles as a result of developing this handy service!

How does it look? Here’s a Google+ post of mine.
My Google+ Update

Here’s how it looks on Twitter.
Google+ feeds to Twitter

And this is the post on Facebook.
Google+ feeds to Facebook

Remember that Twitter can only re-post updates of 140 characters or less.

Facebook and Twitter will create shortened links to Google+ posts that include videos, but posts with images will not be shared automatically. The only way to share images is to put the URL of the image into the status update, which automatically becomes a hyperlink on Twitter and Facebook.

It’s also important to remember that follow-up comments will only be visible on the social network on which they were posted.

Once Google+ is the “hub” rather than the “spoke,” your Twitter and Facebook statuses can be updated centrally from your Google+ account. You might still need to check both networks, respond to comments, and so on, but Google+ now sits at the centre of your social media presence.

While it could be considered duplication of content to feed updates between social networks, this is an efficient way to communicate with followers, friends, and fans—and to roll out your content strategy across several social media profiles simultaneously.

Alan Cairns is a Search and Social Marketing Analyst at BozBoz, a Brighton-based Digital Agency.

Find Fans’ and Followers’ Pain Points in 5 Simple Steps

This guest post is by AJ Kumar of Single Grain.

Social media sites are great for a number of different purposes, including connecting with your readership and establishing yourself as a thought leader within your industry. However, the interactions you have on these popular social sites can also serve another major purpose within your business—providing the market research necessary to uncover your audience’s hidden pain points.

But what are pain points, and what makes these issues so useful from a marketing standpoint?

Essentially, “pain points” are the problems that members of your audience have that they’re actively seeking solutions for. Let’s take a closer look at different parts of this statement to see what makes pain points so powerful:

  • The problems: When you can identify different issues that your audience is facing, you can also identify and provide the solutions they need. Doing so will increase both your reputation within your niche and your ability to market products that resolve these issues.
  • That members of your audience have: As a blogger, you’re only one member of your community, which makes it easy to assume that your audience members are experiencing the problems you expect them to have. Unfortunately, limiting your survey of potential pain points to your own assumptions means that you could miss some tremendous opportunities to connect with your readers over problems you never even imagined they’d be facing!
  • That they’re actively seeking solutions for: Problem-solving is a continuum, which means that people need to acknowledge that they have certain problems and actively seek out a solution before your interventions can be useful.  Approaching readers at the wrong point on this spectrum—for example, before they even know they have problems—can make your marketing efforts less successful.

With all of these different factors in mind, here’s a simple five-step process for uncovering your audience’s hidden pain points and using these problems to connect more effectively through better-targeted blog posts and paid products.

1. Find your audience

Clearly, in order to identify the pain points your audience is expressing on popular social networking sites, you first need to locate your readers!

Now, I’m not just talking about high-tailing it over to Facebook or Twitter, finding a few token users and setting up your pain points marketing plan based on the presence of a few audience members. Instead, what you want to find is the social website where people are actively pouring out their innermost feelings to fellow members of their communities.

Within your niche, this might be Facebook or Twitter—or it might be a forum, message board, or chat site.  Don’t limit the potential of your market research by observing only surface-level interactions or assuming that the top-tier social networking sites will be the best places to understand your members’ inner pain points.

The easiest way to identify your audience’s internet hangouts is to pretend to be an audience member yourself.  Enter questions into Google as if you were searching for the types of information your site visitors are looking for and pay attention to the sites that appear in the natural search results.  Explore these sites and follow any external links you encounter, paying close attention to signs of high engagement (for example, post comments, forum thread views, and social shares).

Once you find the hottest social sites in your niche, take the time to set up a profile for yourself and begin interacting with your audience.

2. Find the keywords they use

As you engage with your potential site visitors on your chosen social networking sites, pay special attention to the way they’re asking questions and the keywords they use to do so.

One of the biggest weaknesses facing bloggers who incorporate traditional keyword research into their website marketing plans is that the data found in these number-crunching programs often fails to tell the whole story about your audience’s actual interests and desires. The result is a blog that’s well-optimized for the search engine spiders, but not your actual readers!

For example, suppose you run a blog in the weight loss industry, and your keyword research turns up good search volume and low competition for the phrase, “easy tips for fat loss.”  However, if your audience rarely uses the phrase “fat loss”—instead, preferring the words “weight loss”—you could be missing a golden opportunity to target your audience’s pain points by failing to optimize your blog for the appropriate words and phrases.

3. Search social media sites for questions and issues

In addition to using social networking sites to uncover potential keyword optimization ideas, you can also search the content that’s been posted to your social-site-of-choice in order to uncover your audience’s most pressing issues.

Continuing with our weight loss blog example mentioned earlier, suppose you determine that one of the best social sites in your niche from a market research perspective is 3fatchicks.com—a popular health and fitness forum site primarily targeting women.  Entering the phrase “help me” (a good signifier of the issues people are actually facing) into the site’s search tool returns the following set of results:

Research results

Many of the threads listed here provide great insight into the pain points your audience is currently experiencing—any of which could be turned into future blog posts or paid products.  As an example, the forum post titled, “help me stop being so addicted to chocolate!!!” could easily be transformed into a “17 Ways to Beat Your Chocolate Addiction” report that you can practically guarantee will appeal to members of your target niche.

4. Ask your audience questions

If you’re having trouble identifying social networking site posts that reveal your audience’s pain points, you can also go directly to the source and gather data by asking your audience leading questions.

For example, consider the following sample questions:

  • What has been your greatest achievement to date?
  • What invention would help you most right now?
  • What one thing would you like to give up forever?
  • What would you do right now if you were handed $1,000?
  • If you could change any one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Just a word of caution, though: for best results, it’s best to use this technique only after you’ve already established yourself as a valuable member of your social networking community. Attempting to ask leading questions when you’ve just joined a new online community can result in either a serious lack of responses or the perception that you’re scamming your chosen social networking site.

5. Develop blog posts and info products based on stated issues

By following the steps above, you should have uncovered a wealth of information about your audience’s hidden pain points that can be directly transformed into effective blog posts and paid products.

However, keep in mind that market research on your audience’s issues should be an ongoing part of your blog’s promotional plan.  Changes occur in every industry, whether in terms of new websites launching, new technologies being released or any other type of innovation, which means that the problems your audience faces will change as well.

For best results, check in with this process frequently and pay attention to the reaction you get to the posts and products you release targeting the pain points you’ve uncovered.  Use this insights to tweak your future launches, and—over time—the insight you gain into your audience’s hidden motivations will make you a far better blogger and a much more respected member of your community.

AJ Kumar is co-founder of Single Grain, a digital marketing agency< based in San Francisco. Single Grain specializes in helping startups and larger companies with search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media, and various other marketing strategies.

8 Ways to Get More Out of Your Facebook Fan Page Today

This is a guest post by Raag Vamdatt of The WordPress How To Blog.

If you have been paying even the slightest attention to the blogosphere lately, you would have noticed that it’s abuzz with talk about the new Facebook fan pages. And there is a reason behind it—the Facebook fan page’s new timeline view is a drastic change from the old fan pages we are used to seeing. These changes came into effect from March 30th.

The changes are far-reaching, and are pushing people out of their comfort zones. Since most bloggers have active fan pages that they use for attracting new readers and for making sales, they have started panicking. However, like any change, you can view this as an opportunity instead of seeing it as a problem.

The new fan pages don’t allow you to use many of the tactics that you might be used to. However, these changes do open up many new possibilities as well. Here are a few things you can do to effectively use the new timeline-based Facebook fan pages to your advantage.

1. Pin announcements or sales pitches

Previously, there was no way you could highlight a post on Facebook. Even if it was an important post, say about an upcoming launch, it would get buried under newer posts. How can a post have the desired impact if it is not even seen by your visitors?

This is a problem from the past, friends! Now, you can “pin” a post, and when you do this, it stays as the first post on you fan page. In blogging terms, you can say it’s a “sticky” post!

This is huge. Finally, you have the freedom to make people see your most important messages, without making them land on custom tabs (which is not possible any more, by the way).

2. Star important posts

There is one more way to highlight posts that need special attention: you can “star” any of the posts on your fan pages.

Doing this makes the post span both the columns of the timeline view, making it quite distinguishable from other posts. Whenever a visitor is scrolling through your fan page, he or she is bound to stop and pay attention to a starred post because of its double width.

This feature can be used to highlight content that doesn’t need immediate attention, but is important nonetheless. For example, if you have a post about contest winners, or about you being mentioned in mainstream media, you can “star” such posts to give them prominence.

3. Use the cover image effectively

Now, you get a huge amount of space—851px by 315px to be precise—to play with for the cover image. The new timeline view has introduced a cover image which appears as the first thing on your fan page. And due to its massive size, it will draw your visitors’ attention as soon as they land on your Facebook fan page.

Before you start getting ideas, let me tell you that this space cannot be used for any marketing messages—you can’t ask people to buy something or to like your fan page, you can’t use it to offer any pricing or discount details, you can’t have your contact details displayed there, etc.

In spite of these restrictions, you can use this space quite effectively. It can be used to brand yourself and your blog—the image you use here can convey a positive message about your blog to your visitors. In fact, you can even use a text-based image here as long as it is not promotional text. You can also include pictures of your products in this space.


4. Using custom tabs to channel visitors

Just below the cover image are small, square images called custom tabs. These are links to your applications. The first one is always a link to your photos, but the others can be customized.

This feature can be used quite effectively. For example, you can have a custom tab pointing to one of your products, and the image for the tab can contain a quick, attention-grabbing call to action.

You can have up to 12 of these custom tabs. Excluding the one for the photos, you have 11 opportunities to channel your visitors to important applications or sub-pages of your fan page.

5. Utilizing the profile photo

The profile photo, which used to be up to 180px by 540px in size, is now reduced to a mere 125px by 125px. However, this photo doesn’t come with any restrictions like that for the cover photo, so it can be utilized in creative ways.

Of course, you can have your picture or your logo as the profile photo of your fan page. In fact, most people would have this type of a setup. But now,you can play with the profile picture and the cover image to create some cool effects.

An aggressive tactic: If you want, you could create a profile image with the text “Like Us”, and an arrow pointing to the Like button. This is not something you can do with the cover photo, but it might help to boost your Likes.

6. Effectively using the new messaging system

The new fan pages now come with a messaging system—anyone who has liked your page can now send messages directly to you! (Please note that the message has to be initiated by the user—you cannot send a message to a fan unless he or she has messaged you first).

Again, this is a massive change, and one you can use to your advantage. You can use this feature for problem resolution—your fans can write to you privately (maybe with sensitive details like their order number), and you can provide personalized query resolution and support.

Of course, if you have a ton of fans, this won’t be feasible for you. But if you are just starting out and have only a few fans, this can be a big image booster and might earn you a lot of praise!

7. Using milestones to your advantage

Facebook now lets you create milestones on your fan pages. Milestones are the events or dates that are important for your page. The best part about milestones is that you can post milestones from the past, with dates from any time since the year 1000!

You can use this to let people know more about your blog or business—when it started, when it achieved some critical milestones, etc. Knowing these things may inspire more trust in your visitors, and could result in a few additional fans.

8. Checking out your competition

This is a neat trick that not many people know about. In fact, I myself discovered it by accident!

When you visit a fan page and you see a box with the number of Likes in it, click on it. What do you see? You see the analytics data (or “insights” in Facebook terms) about that fan page. Some of the things that you can see are:

  • how many people are taking about the fan page
  • the trends regarding new likes and number of people talking about the page
  • most popular week, city and age group for that fan page.

This is really cool! Till now, you could see the analytics for your own fan page. But now, you can also see the highlights of the analytics of other fan pages. This is a great opportunity—you can take a look at the data of your competitors, and use it to your advantage.

How are you using your new Facebook fan page?

How are you using the new features of the Facebook fan page to build your blog’s following both on Facebook and on your blog itself? Share your tips with us in the comments.

Raag Vamdatt runs multiple blogs, and writes from his experiences at The WordPress How To Blog. He also offers a free step-by-step course titled “Make Money Blogging” that guides about starting a blog and making money from it.