Duluth Social Media Marketing and Management

Archive for September 2011

How to run a paperless business: What can be replaced?

How to run a paperless business: What can be replaced?

A lot of people have been asking me how I’ve been able to afford to start my own business. The truth is, other than a few digital expenses (web-hosting, email hosting, various professional social media tools, etc.) my expenses have been relatively low. My biggest expense thus far has been my time, i.e. the time it has taken me to train myself and design my business from the ground up.

One of my biggest advantages is that I can save money by running a completely paperless business. I’m fortunate enough to have a few advantages over many mature companies (see my last post ), but many of these new technologies can be easily adapted to any business. Over the next few days I will share with you some of the new business technologies I have been using to save money, time and mother earth.

Stay tuned to find out how to replace your:

  • Paper invoicing system
  • Paper bookkeeping system
  • Scanner
  • Fax machine
  • Credit card machine
  • Paper newsletters
  • Paper contracts

Want to replace a paper technology you don’t see on this list? Let me know in the comments and I’ll let you know if I find a digital solution!

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When will there be Timeline for Facebook brand pages?

When will there be Timeline for Facebook brand pages?

The new app-centric, content focused Timeline could dramatically change the way marketing is done on Facebook pages.

Imagine what brands will be able to do with their real estate space on Facebook Timeline. I've featured a shot I took of some wild flowers this summer as my new cover photo.

Facebook is rolling out it’s new timeline feature for personal profiles any day now. This causes me to wonder: When will Facebook integrate Timeline into their brand pages? One feature I’m excited about is the added real estate brands will get with the new Facebook ‘cover’.

Facebook said at last weeks f8 conference that there were “no immediate plans to roll out Timeline for branded pages” but a Facebook rep recently told Mashable that “Consistency in both functionality and appearance is really important to Facebook, so we hope to make Pages more consistent with the new Timeline in the future.” So this makes me think that it will be sooner rather than later.

How do you think the timeline will effect marketing for brands on Facebook?

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How to run a paperless business: Overcoming roadblocks

How to run a paperless business: Overcoming roadblocks

Whether your trying to ‘go green’, develop a better filing system, or just to save money on office supplies, chances are you’ve thought about going paperless. Many companies are now desiring to go completely digital and most run into road blocks, including:

  • Previous investments in expensive technologies such as printers and faxes
  • Scores of important paper documents that first need to be transferred to digital
  • Lack of support or acceptance from customers, clients or employees
  • Little understanding of new technologies

Running a paperless business is important to me for all of the reasons I listed in the first sentence of this post. I’m lucky enough to have an advantage over many companies, because:

In college, I had an ‘Office Space’ type moment where I through my printer out a second story window into a dumpster. Note: I did this not in an angry rage, but because I was moving and the thing NEVER worked properly in the first place.

  • I have no previous investment in large, expensive technologies. I do not own a fax machine, a scanner or a printer. In fact, I loath printers (and their expensive ink) and hope to never own another one.
  • My business is brand new, so I do not have  file cabinets full of paperwork that needs to be digitized.
  • The entire goal of my business is to help other businesses understand and adjust to the digital age, so there should not be any objections from clients or employees. I will address this more in my next post though.
  • I have a pretty good understanding of new technologies. It’s what I do:)

Just because I have a few advantages doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to make your business at least partially paperless with a few strategic changes. In my next series of  ”How to run a paperless business” posts, I will tell you how I am able to run a completely paperless business and share the cheap and easy technologies I use to replace their expensive and complex ancestors.

What are the challenges you have faced trying to go ‘paperless’? Let me know in your comments and I will try to address them in my next post.
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Three best tips for battling ‘bloggers block’ or ‘blogger procrastination’

If you read my last post, you know that I spoke at the Social Media Breakfast Twin Ports two weeks ago on the topic of content creation for blogs. One of the most important things I touched on at this event was the importance of making regular posts at least once a week. If you disappear, your audience will disappear too.

I am embarrassed to say that I disregarded my own advice and have not blogged in two weeks. After speaking on the topic of blogging in front a large group of people, I suddenly felt that all of my future blog posts needed to be top notch. It’s not that I haven’t been working on blog posts, but I let this silly intimidation keep me from actually making my posts.

If your having trouble making blog posts and you don’t know why, read my three best tips for battling ‘bloggers block’ or ‘blogger procrastination’.

1. Don’t forget your great blog topic ideas.
Ideas for blog topics can come to you at the most random times. Keep small notepad with you at all times or keep notes on your smartphone. That way you have a list of great topics to chose from when your ready to blog.

2. Don’t let silly fears discourage you from blogging.

Most people wonder what others will think of their blog posts, but don’t let wonderment turn into fear. Never be afraid of what others will think of your posts. If people don’t like your posts, they will probably tell you in your comments section. Instead of getting upset or feeling insulted, use your criticisms and compliments to improve future blog topics and posts.

3. Don’t waste time obsessing over minor details.
Always proof read your posts and make sure you check your facts, but don’t get caught up over little details such as “Should I describe the ocean as ‘teal’ or ‘turquoise’? It’s better to write ten blog posts than to spend time perfecting one post.
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Speaking at Social Media Breakfast Twin Ports

Click to join the Social Media Breakfast Twin Ports Facebook group.

Yesterday I had the chance to speak at the Social Media Breakfast Twin Ports event on the topic of blog content creation. It was my first time at the event and I had a great time. There where over fifty people in attendance and what a great group of people! I learned a lot from the other speakers as well.

The highlight of my morning? Brad Putney, who works on Duluth Pack’s social media efforts, recalling a time when he worked as an outfitter and a woman asked him if we “bring the islands in for the winter?” Gotta love it!

If your interested in attending the next Social Media Breakfast Twin Ports event, join the Facebook group for info on the next event.
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Five popular social networks: What’s the difference? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Ever wondered what the difference is between the five most popular social networks? Here’s a simple chart from mashable.com to help you sort out the differences and decided what social networking site is most appropriate to post your content.

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Ten cheap and easy ways your business can benefit from social media.

Social MediaThe number one reason most social media campaigns fail is because they didn’t have a specific goal in mind when they started. If your ready to jump into social media but still aren’t sure what exactly your using it for, here is a list I compiled of ten cheap and easy ways your business can benefit from social media.

You will find it most helpful to to choose one or two of these and be sure to measure and track them along the way. Make sure you stay focused on the one or two goals you have chosen and if needed, periodically alter your strategies throughout your campaign to keep them inline with those goals.

1.Responding to customer complaints.

All too often one of the first places customers with go to complain about a product or service is online. Use services like Google Alerts and Advanced Twitter Search to find out what people are saying about your brand online. Then quickly respond with either the answer to their problem or an easy way to reach someone at the company who can help them.

2.Build brand loyalty.

Give your customers a reason to visit your social sites. Create interesting content that gives them something to explore, something to talk about, something to share or just something to do. They will remember and appreciate you for it.

3.Recruit employees.

LinkedIn is arguably the best social networking site for recruitment purposes. Not only does LinkedIn allow you to easily network with other professionals, it also allows you to see their work history, recommendations, resume and any mutual connections you may have among other things. Recently they even added the ability to post job listings that LinkedIn members can apply to directly from the site.

4.Re-purpose your existing content.

Didn’t get enough readers on the last blog post? Not enough comments on the YouTube video you posted last week? Try reposting it somewhere else or incorporating into another medium such as your e-newsletter.

5.Manage your reputation.

One great place to do this is Wikipedia. Wikipedia, which has been cited to be more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica, is often one of the first places customers will go for objective information on a brand.

Fill out your Wikipedia page completely, before someone else gets the chance to. It may still get edited by someone else in the future, but getting there first and keeping a close eye on it will make a big difference on how your brand is portrayed on one of the worlds most popular websites. Just make sure your entry is actually being objective or it will get flagged for removal.

6.Conduct crisis communications.

This one can be handled similarly to #1, but the difference is that if your brand suddenly finds itself in crisis mode, you want to be monitoring what people are saying immediately. You want to begin issuing statements via your social networks, as well as respond to individuals who have inquiries or opinions about the situation – especially those with the largest followings.

7.Demonstrate thought leadership.

You know a lot about your industry. One great way to draw traffic to your site is to demonstrate that knowledge with thoughtful and insightful blog posts, videos or photos.

The most important component of a good social media strategy is good content creation. In order to build a following, you must first give them a reason to follow you, i.e. helpful, entertaining or otherwise useful content.

8.Crowdsource your audience.

If you have already been doing #7 for sometime and thus built yourself up an online audience, it can easily become daunting to constantly come up with new content. So why not ask your audience to do it for you? Countless companies are already taking this approach by asking their followers to submit written content, photos or videos defined by a certain set of parameters.

Such requests must of course be accompanied by some incentive for your audience to create content for your brand, such as cash, non-monetary awards, or simply the opportunity to display their work in front of your audience and receive creative feedback. Most often this is accomplished through online contests. If you’d like to learn more about using social media to hold contests, leave us a message in the comments section and we’ll do a post about it.

Crowdsourceing is also very valuable when you are looking for feedback on your site, products or services. There is no better way to find out how your audience feels about something than to ask them yourself.

9. Showcase your products.

Social media is great way to easily and inexpensively showcase your products to your audience. You can easily display the uses and features of your products through online product videos, hi-def photos, or how-to videos. This is becoming easier and easier with the addition of photo-sharing add-ons like Flicker and Picasa on Twitter, easily posting youtube videos to social networking sites, and the new ability to create your own website with nearly whatever features you want – even E-commerce – right within your Facebook page!

10.Issue tweets and blog posts instead of news releases.

The days of the quarterly newsletter are gone. Customers want to know whats going on with your brand right now, not three months ago. Give them regular updates via your company blog or twitter account. It’s fast, easy and whole lot cheaper than a thousand pounds of printed paper and ten-thousand stamps.

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