Meshwork Consulting

Making Your Own Podcast

Producing podcasts are fun, position you as a subject-matter expert, and are helpful in driving traffic to your site. Before recording one, consider a few things:

  • Listen First — Download podcasts and listen to what others in your field are talking about. Like blogging, is there important information you can share with others? Where to search? Start with iTunes.
  • Frequency — Will your podcast be a one-off or part of a series?
  • Length — Keep your podcasts short — 1 to 3 minutes in length is about right. Some podcasts are longer, such as radio programming and recorded webinars.
  • Quality — The quality of your podcast should match your brand. If you’re about quality, do it right. I’ve listened to some great informational podcasts, but have been turned off to some that are not focused in content and feature terrible sound quality.
  • Timing — Expect to spend about 20 minutes per published minute when producing your podcast. Apple has some great podcast tools onboard.
  • Talent — If you’re considering a series of podcasts, create, or pay a service, to develop custom bumpers (the front- and back-end of a podcast). They create a sense of consistency and a unique format that’s all yours. I like to use this talented Boise-based artist, Jim Poston.
  • Music —  Unless you created the music yourself, seek out royalty-free or podsafe music. You can find lots of resources online.

Here are two podcasts I produced for a local synagogue, which have sealed the deal for a lot of people looking to move to Boise, ID. If you need more information, comment on this post and I’ll get right back to you.

Your Web Site Isn’t Enough

Your web site is your calling card on the internet. It’s out there among millions of other sites. Today, a web site isn’t enough. How do you draw more customers, make it stand out among the rest and increase its rank in search engine results? Part of the answer lies in using social media. Before diving into social media, develop a strategy

Ask Yourself

  • What problem(s) am I trying to solve?
  • Do I want to increase my sales?
  • To how many audiences am I communicating (e.g. B2B, B2C, product segments, etc.)?
  • Do I possess specialized knowledge that I can share, without giving away the farm, that positions me as a knowledge expert in my field/region/business?
  • What do I want to achieve through social media? 
  • Can I afford 1-2 hours a week focused on my social media efforts?
  • What tools will I use to measure the success of my social media efforts?

Together, these questions should lead up to a strategy, regardless of whether social media is part of your efforts or not.

 Social Media Strategy

Your social media strategy should revolve around your web site. Your strategy could include the following tools to direct traffic back to your site:

  • LinkedIn (a tool for business contacts or B2B prospecting)
  • Facebook, MySpace, Ning, Tumblr (tools for building a community around your product or brand)
  • Twitter (a microblogging tool limited to 140 characters)
  • Blogs (used for knowledge sharing, announcements, podcasting and more)

Read more about some of the tools we recommend to Meshwork Marketing customers. Remember, social media is no silver bullet, but it will engage you in the conversation around your product/brand/specialty. And social media will position you as the subject-matter expert in your field; generate fresh content for your site; and play a strong role in boosting your site’s page rank in search engines.

Your Web Site Isn't Enough

Your web site is your calling card on the internet. It’s out there among millions of other sites. Today, a web site isn’t enough. How do you draw more customers, make it stand out among the rest and increase its rank in search engine results? Part of the answer lies in using social media. Before diving into social media, develop a strategy

Ask Yourself

  • What problem(s) am I trying to solve?
  • Do I want to increase my sales?
  • To how many audiences am I communicating (e.g. B2B, B2C, product segments, etc.)?
  • Do I possess specialized knowledge that I can share, without giving away the farm, that positions me as a knowledge expert in my field/region/business?
  • What do I want to achieve through social media? 
  • Can I afford 1-2 hours a week focused on my social media efforts?
  • What tools will I use to measure the success of my social media efforts?

Together, these questions should lead up to a strategy, regardless of whether social media is part of your efforts or not.

 Social Media Strategy

Your social media strategy should revolve around your web site. Your strategy could include the following tools to direct traffic back to your site:

  • LinkedIn (a tool for business contacts or B2B prospecting)
  • Facebook, MySpace, Ning, Tumblr (tools for building a community around your product or brand)
  • Twitter (a microblogging tool limited to 140 characters)
  • Blogs (used for knowledge sharing, announcements, podcasting and more)

Read more about some of the tools we recommend to Meshwork Marketing customers. Remember, social media is no silver bullet, but it will engage you in the conversation around your product/brand/specialty. And social media will position you as the subject-matter expert in your field; generate fresh content for your site; and play a strong role in boosting your site’s page rank in search engines.

What’s RSS?

This is a quick technical RSS overview so you understand the technology behind social media. This blog is RSS-enabled. RSS is an acronym for Real Simple Syndication — a standardized XML file format that allows information to be published once and viewed by many different programs. You ask, “So what?” 

Hot Off The Press

Say you like to read the latest on gardening. An RSS feed is like a publisher sending you a customized magazine every day, with the latest blog posts, podcasts, videos, opinions and news about gardening.

How do you know if a site is RSS-enabled? Take a look at the address bar in your browser. Look to the right side of the bar. See the blue RSS or orange box 16px-feed-icon?

Subscribe To A Feed

Click on the blue RSS or orange box to see the RSS feed link. Copy that link and paste it into your RSS reader or aggregator. The RSS reader checks the user’s subscribed feeds regularly for new work, downloads any updates that it finds, and provides a user interface to monitor and read the feeds. 

If your web site is RSS-enabled, readers eager for the latest updates on your web site can program their RSS reader or aggregator (e.g., your browser, Yahoo, iGoogle, Google Reader, etc.) to pick up the latest posts or feeds from your web site, blog, podcast, Tweet, etc.

What's RSS?

This is a quick technical RSS overview so you understand the technology behind social media. This blog is RSS-enabled. RSS is an acronym for Real Simple Syndication — a standardized XML file format that allows information to be published once and viewed by many different programs. You ask, “So what?” 

Hot Off The Press

Say you like to read the latest on gardening. An RSS feed is like a publisher sending you a customized magazine every day, with the latest blog posts, podcasts, videos, opinions and news about gardening.

How do you know if a site is RSS-enabled? Take a look at the address bar in your browser. Look to the right side of the bar. See the blue RSS or orange box 16px-feed-icon?

Subscribe To A Feed

Click on the blue RSS or orange box to see the RSS feed link. Copy that link and paste it into your RSS reader or aggregator. The RSS reader checks the user’s subscribed feeds regularly for new work, downloads any updates that it finds, and provides a user interface to monitor and read the feeds. 

If your web site is RSS-enabled, readers eager for the latest updates on your web site can program their RSS reader or aggregator (e.g., your browser, Yahoo, iGoogle, Google Reader, etc.) to pick up the latest posts or feeds from your web site, blog, podcast, Tweet, etc.

Do You Blog?

As defined in Wikipedia, a blog is a type of web site, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

Be The Blog

If you’re selling a product or passionate about something, you should blog. It’s a way of promoting yourself as a subject-matter expert. As a colleague of mine once said, “Blogging makes people smarter.” Blogging forces you to be clear about what you’re saying. And it forces you to be honest since you may get called on an inaccuracy. But it ultimately stimulates dialogue, engages people and builds community. 

New To Blogging?

Try WordPress.com. You can start a blog, practice with the tools and set up a somewhat custom domain name (like the one up in your address bar — meshworkmarketing.wordpress.com). If you like what you see, buy a custom domain and hosting on which to host your blog.

Short On Ideas?

Sometimes the ideas or latest news don’t come to you through searches or links sent by colleagues. Or you get blogger’s block. No sweat. Like Google keyword searches, sign up for free Google Alerts and get daily news and information by e-mail.

Engage Now

Get out there. Read other blogs. Learn something. Argue. Discuss. Post links. Have fun.

Twitter – The Microblog

When I’m asked to talk about social media and get around to talking about Twitter, the first question I get is “Please tell me what Twitter’s all about. I don’t get it.”

Twitter defines itself as the following: “Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent messages.  People write short updates, often called “tweets”  of 140 characters or fewer.  These messages are posted to your profile or your blog, sent to your followers, and are searchable on Twitter search.”

Why Tweet?

Think of Twitter as a microblog — you can “tweet” on any subject that you think’s appropriate for your followers. What’s on your mind? Did you find a great article on an interesting subject? What are you doing? Start following friends, politicians, celebrities, musicians, news agencies and more. Get a feel for what you think’s relevant and start tweeting. And retweet posts you think your followers will enjoy. 

Download TweetDeck and you’ll quickly improve your Twitter experience with shortened URLs, columns to sort your friends, categories, replies, direct messages and searches.

Getting Sticky – Optimizing For Search Engines

Sticky is about attracting customers and boosting your rankings in search engine results. 

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a principal used to drive more traffic to your site based on keyword searches in search engines (Yahoo, Google, AltaVista). The assumption is that the higher your relevance to the search, the more likely you’ll show up in the first few search results pages. 

Search engine result rankings aren’t solely due to page clicks or the number of keyword searches associated with your product or brand. Optimizing your content for searches is more complex and best left to the experts if you want results. Rather, here are a few tips to increase your site’s stickiness. 

  • Keep your content fresh. Publish regularly and often. And repurpose content. Say you have a speaking engagement coming up. Record it (video and audio). Following your presentation, publish your PowerPoint; a PDF version of the PowerPoint; a recording of it (via vidcast or podcast); and a transcript of that vidcast/podcast. 
  • Keep your content relevant. Know what keywords are relevant to your audience. When you post new videos, podcasts, blog pages, presentations, white papers, etc., use those keywords regularly in the content and page tags.

You could say that stickiness is a little like honey. If it’s fresh and your customer’s a bear, then it’s relevant. Looking for qualified and in-depth SEO help? Let us know.

The Facebook Business Page

Facebook and other social networking sites are great tools for your business. Use them to connect with people who wouldn’t otherwise find your business, build a community and spread the word. 

Make A Personal Connection

Remember, Facebook is about making personal connections, so having a face to your business is a sincere and authentic way to promote your business. Facebook works this way — you set up a personal profile (it’s about you). From there, you set up a business page (it’s another Facebook profile about your business). Add some friends (search for friends one person at a time, or upload a .csv file of your e-mail list) and invite them to “friend” you. After that, invite them, or share, your business profile with your friends. Two examples of business pages include Safety For Toddlers and the WaterCooler

Business-only

Some companies have bypassed creating a personal Facebook page by registering a personal profile as a business. Nothing’s terribly wrong with the tactic, but Facebook could cancel your account. And until recently, there were great personal profile features that were unavailable to business users. 

Analyze and Advertise

The last benefit to setting up a business page is the ability to review analytics on who’s visiting your page, as well as advertise on a click or impression basis. The analytics are particularly useful for analyzing spikes in visitors and correlating those with your site’s activities.

Keeping It Fresh

Being active is important — it produces fresh content. Post product updates, business updates, news, discussion topics, events and videos to your Facebook business page. Get your customers engaged in the conversation by asking for their opinions.

Spread the Word

And remember, drive your customers to Facebook by letting them know you’re there. Add a Facebook profile badge to your outgoing e-mails, to your home page, and more.

Do You Have A Social Media Strategy?

I’m oftentimes asked how businesses can market their products on MyFace or SpaceBook (kidding). They want to use Twitter to announce a new product or tell the world how cool they are. They get obsessed with collecting hundreds, if not thousands, of Twitter followers (this is not necessarily good). Or their competitors are doing it so they must get into it.

Before jumping in, ask yourself “Why do I think social media is my solution?” After digging deeper, you’ll likely find that social media is part of the solution, not the solution.

On the other hand, if you think you have a solid reason for getting into social media, answer these questions:

  • Have you defined your target audience?
  • Do you have a social media strategy that’s consistent with your brand?
  • Do you fully understand how each of the social media tools work (e.g., Twitter, blogs, Facebook, MySpace, Ning, LinkedIn, Orkut, etc.)?
  • Do you know which tools will work for your needs?
  • Can you consistently dedicate two or more hours a week to your social media effort?
  • Do you have metrics in place to measure the success of your efforts?

If you answered no to more than one of these, get some professional social media help. Before getting wowed by a potential social media partnership,  their presentation, charm, shiny offices, etc., ask a few key questions:

  • Do they have a measurable approach to establishing your social media strategy?
  • Will you receive reporting against your defined metrics?

If you get solid information to those questions, you should be in good hands. Interview more than one agency or social media expert. If you’re not sure what you’re getting into, give Meshwork Marketing a call.

Finally, here’s a quick read from Seth Godin on The Pillars of Social Media Site Success.