4 Great Social Share Plugins

The only thing better than posting great content online is posting great content online that your audience shares for you. Do you know how to encourage social sharing? Here’s a key—Use a quality plugin.

When you’re looking for a way to encourage more social shares of your content, look no further than one of the plugins below. Each of these is a convenient tool for encouraging your audience to share your posts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and more.

1. Digg Digg

Acquired by BufferApp in 2011, Dig Digg is a social share bar with capabilities for Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and more. It comes with a variety of customization options: The bar may float on the side of your webpage or in a single row of buttons below or above content; it may appear vertically or horizontally; and you choose which buttons to include.

Where to download Digg Digg: http://bufferapp.com/diggdigg

Cost: FREE

 

2. Sharebar

Sharebar is a dynamic, customizable vertical box with links to popular social networking sites. For wide blogs, it offers a vertical bar with sharing icons to the left of content. For more narrow sites, the vertical bar disappears, and a horizontal sharebar appears under the post title.

Where to download Sharebar: http://wordpress.org/plugins/sharebar/

Cost: FREE

 

3. AddThis

With AddThis, you have an easy way to add share buttons to your WordPress, Blogspot, or other site. What’s more, you select the style of the buttons to add to your site.

Where to download AddThis: http://www.addthis.com/

Cost: FREE

 

4. Shareaholic

The Shareaholic plugin provides share buttons that are easy to install and come with the added benefit of free analytics. Customize the buttons to your tastes, and increase reader engagement by highlighting related content.

Where to download Shareaholic: https://shareaholic.com/

Cost: FREE

 

Your Thoughts

Do you already use these plugins on your site to encourage social sharing? If not, why not pick one to implement and see how it improves your traffic and shares?

 

Shanna Mallon is a writer for Online Media Signals, a PR firm specializing in relationship building, content creation, and content marketing. 

7 Reasons Your Company Needs To Be on Social Media

In today’s business world, social media is more than a trend—It’s a necessity. The companies that are active on social networks reap many rewards, and the companies that ignore social media are missing opportunities. In fact, there’s proof.

Take a look at seven of the biggest reasons your company needs to be active on social networks!

1. Your Competitors Are on Social Media (or Soon Will Be)

Think of social media as a tool for competitive research—the perfect, easy place to watch the competition. Want to know what your competitors are doing online and how people are responding? Did they update their website or launch some new products? Keep your eye on them online, and you find out. Need new ideas for using social media to your advantage? Look to your competitors for inspiration, and you will find a host of ideas.

2. Your Audience Is on Social Media

Whether your industry is technology or organic gardening, you have an audience online—A whopping 79% of U.S. adults use social media today, according to Hubspot. So since your customers—both existing and potential—are online, shouldn’t you meet them there? Here are a few of the benefits of connecting with your audience on social media:

  • Attract new business
  • Drive repeat business
  • Provide customer service
  • Enhance connections
  • Observe your audience and gain market intelligence

3. Social Media Is Free Marketing

Because using Facebook or Twitter doesn’t cost you any money, they are incredibly cost-effective ways to market your brand. What’s more, as you promote your content on one social network after another, you give your audience repeated exposure to your message—and repeated exposure often generates sales.

4. Social Media Boosts SEO

Social media activity boosts your online authority and helps increase your presence on search engines—and a strong presence on search engines means more traffic for your site. In fact, if your company is like many others, search engines bring the bulk of traffic to your site. This means that any way you can increase search traffic benefits your business.

5. Social Media Helps You Manage Your Reputation

Thanks to the public nature of the Internet, everyone has a voice, and he or she may be using that voice to talk about your brand. By engaging on social media, you have a way to respond to these mentions and help control your reputation. If someone has a complaint, you are free to respond to it. If someone gives positive feedback, you are able to thank him or her and share those thoughts with your other followers.

6. Social Media Increases Credibility

Because of the prevalence of social networking today, brands that avoid social networks seem behind the times and less legitimate. Brands that actively engage on social networks—especially when they do so consistently—come across as more worthy of trust. So to increase your business credibility and make it easy for users to trust you, get active on social networks.

7. Social Media Encourages Community

Online community has more benefits than you may imagine. When you regularly engage with colleagues and clients, you’re building a network of people. That network offers advice, feedback, new ideas, encouragement, motivation, inspiration, and more. Therefore, even aside from straight marketing, social media has a lot to offer.

Is your company already engaging on social media? Why or why not? Whether you are beginning with one social network or are already active on several, using social networks is a smart, savvy step for your brand.

 

Shanna Mallon is a writer for Online Media Signals, a PR firm specializing in relationship building, content creation, and content marketing. 

10 Places to Promote Your Content Online

If the only place you post your blog content is on your blog itself, you are missing a world of opportunity. Thanks to the many sharing tools on the Internet, promoting your content to a wide network is easy, quick, and powerful. You simply need to know where to go. Here are 10 places to get you started!

1. Email Signature

Include a link to your blog in your email signature. Then, every time you correspond with someone, you point him or her straight to your latest content.

2. Twitter

Share new posts on Twitter, providing a quick description and a link. You may do this manually or automatically via a tool like TwitterFeed.

3. Facebook

Set up a page for your blog on Facebook, and use it to mention every new post when it publishes. As with Twitter, you may do this manually, or you may set your blog to auto-post on Facebook with a tool like If This Then That (IFTTT). If you choose to post manually, try sharing a photo from your post and then the link—Photos perform better on Facebook than straight URLs.

4. Pinterest

You probably already add photos to your blog posts to make them more interesting and valuable—so why not pin them as well? Don’t feel like you should pin only one picture per post, either. If your blog is photo-centric, feel free to pin multiple images, all of which link to the same original post.

5. StumbleUpon

Submit a blog post to StumbleUpon, and it will come up when other users are discovering new pages on the network. If someone likes it, he or she shares or “stumbles” it again. This tool has potential to increase your viral traffic and bring in many new visitors.

6. Google+

Google+ benefits search engine optimization, networking, and more. Backed by the clout of superpower search engine Google, Google+ is constantly growing in influence. Share each new blog post on this network to expand its reach.

7. Instagram

Sharing blog content on Instagram may not be as obvious as posting links on Twitter, but it’s yet another way to get fresh content to your audience’s eyes. Post a photo or screenshot from your article and alert your followers that a new post is up. For followers who don’t know your URL, be sure to say that your blog’s link is in your Instagram profile. (And be sure to put it there!)

8. LinkedIn

For industry-relevant blog posts, sharing a link on LinkedIn makes sense. Your LinkedIn profile has a built-in “update” box where you may add a short description and a link.

9. Digg

Similar to the idea behind StumbleUpon, Digg is a social-sharing site that helps users find new blog posts and Web pages in their interest areas. Share your blog content with a short description, and click the appropriate categories to make it easy to find.

10. Delicious

Like the other resources mentioned in this post, Delicious offers great potential for blog traffic-building. Share blog posts on this bookmarking site to help them spread.

Bonus Tip: To streamline the sharing process, pick an app that makes it easy to share content from within your blog dashboard screen. Check out Social Metrics  for example, which not only helps you share content, but also tracks how your blog is doing across the Web.

While you don’t need to share every blog post to every one of these places and networks, it’s helpful to have them in mind. Think of them as your social media toolbox. Test out sharing on each one and see what generates the best responses and which works best for you. Over time, the more you share, the more you’ll grow!

 

Shanna Mallon is a writer for Online Media Signals, a PR firm specializing in relationship building, content creation, and content marketing. 

 

7 Ways to Get Your Content on Social Media

Do you want more blog readers? Have you wished more people saw your content? Ever wondered how to increase page views, traffic, and hits? Welcome to the reason so many bloggers and businesses join social media—Social networks are easily some of the most powerful referral traffic sources around. If you want to get your content featured on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, here are some top tips to keep in mind.

1. Be Shareable: Create Valuable Content

The best way to get your content shared on social media is to make your content shareable (i.e., actually worthy of being shared). So focus your energy on creating content people want to spread. Ask yourself how people will benefit from your content. Be original and memorable.

2. Make It Easy: Add Social Sharing Buttons

Add social sharing buttons to your website to make it easy for readers to share your content online. These could be buttons at the ends of your posts, a bar on the side of your pages, or clickable “pin this” links that appear when someone hovers over images in your posts. Here are a few examples:

3. Be Friendly: Engage on Social Media

Social media is called social media for a reason—It’s all about interaction. Don’t wait for people to find you; get out there and engage with them. Friend other users. Repin someone else’s content. Like, comment on, share, and respond to what people post. This builds community, and community builds exposure on social networks.

4. Use Incentives: Run a Giveaway or Host a Contest

Run a giveaway on your blog, and let users enter by sharing your content on social media. As long as you don’t overdo this option, offering incentives to users who share your content can be very powerful. What’s more, your content may keep spreading even after the contest ends, bringing more and more users to you.

5. Set the Example: Share It Yourself

There’s nothing wrong with sharing your own blog posts on Twitter or Pinterest, so long as these aren’t the only things you’re pinning. Every time a new post publishes, go ahead and share it on your social networks: Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. You may even want to set your blog to automatically share to these networks through a plugin like Jetpack.

6. Optimize: Use Keywords for Better SEO

Help users find your content on social networks by regularly incorporating major keywords into descriptions and captions. Users who come to you on a social network are more likely to repin or reshare, as they’re already logged in.

7. Be Attractive: Use Eye-Catching Photos and Videos

Because of the visual nature of the Internet, images do especially well on social media. So to expand your reach, pair your content with attractive, stimulating images users will want to share.

What are your thoughts on social sharing? Are you already implementing all of the above strategies? If not, why not try them and see how they help your content spread!

Shanna Mallon is a writer for Online Media Signals, a PR firm specializing in relationship building, content creation, and content marketing. 

How to Hear from Customers

Want to know the secret to reaching your audience? Listen to them. There’s no better way to know what your clients are thinking than by hearing from them directly. So how do you solicit their feedback? Are there good ways to encourage communication with your customers? The good news is yes—Here are a variety of ways to gain valuable feedback from your fans.

1. Become One of Them

There’s nothing like stepping into the shoes of a customer to learn what makes one tick. Visit your retail shop the way a stranger might. Purchase one of your products online. Simulate the user experience yourself, and you might be surprised at what you learn.

2. Set Up a Website Contact Form

Every website should include contact info, whether that means a phone number, an email address, a contact form, or all three. Make it easy for your audience to give you feedback, and you’re much more likely to receive it.

3. Ask Questions

Whether you do it in person or through a blog post, ask your customers questions. Do they like the new product? Would they recommend it?  Was the service helpful? What suggestions do they have? Make this type of dialogue a habit to foster easy two-way communication between brand and buyer.

4. Run a Survey (with an Incentive!)

With an online or telephone survey, you gain feedback that’s easy to measure and compare. Make sure you run a survey right, however—Offer respondents the chance to win free products, a discount, entry into a giveaway, or some other desirable incentive.

5. Use Feedback Boxes

Surveys and contact forms are good, but the problem is that they let many customer opinions fall through the cracks. For this reason, Kissmetrics recommends feedback boxes—forms located on every page of your website that ask readers how you can make the page better for them. Create a box that aligns with your theme, or select a plugin like Magic Contact.

6. Run a Focus Group
Holding a focus group isn’t a new idea, but it is a useful one. Figure out what you want to learn about your audience, invite participants, generate questions, find someone to facilitate the group, choose a location, and conduct the event.

What do you think? Have you already tested these feedback options in your company? Which ones could you use to gain more knowledge about your audience?

Shanna Mallon is a writer for Online Media Signals, a PR firm specializing in relationship building, content creation, and content marketing. 

Efficient Ways to Blog More Often

No matter why you’re blogging—for fun, for work, for marketing, for writing practice—there’s no denying the fact that blogging takes time. From finding topics to sitting down to write them, sharing regular posts is demanding, time-consuming work. So what can you do when you’re pressed for time? Are there ways to churn out new content more efficiently?

Solicit Guest Posts

Guest posts aren’t just good for you—They’re good for other bloggers too. When someone else posts on your site, it gives him or her new exposure even as it gives you fresh content. So how do you get new guest posts?

  • Extend Invitations: Reach out to bloggers you have relationships with already, and see if they are interested in posting on your site. Or run a new series and include a general invitation at the top of each series post, asking for new contributions.
  • Make It Easy for Them to Ask You: Include a page on your blog with guest blogger guidelines and submission info. Highlight this, and make it easy for other writers to submit content to you.
  • Offer a Swap: Ask a blogger if he or she would like to swap content with you.

Do a Series

Establishing a series of content is a little like creating a blueprint—You lay out a series of topics that you will write about, and then writing the posts is like filling in the blanks. You might do a series of “how-to” posts, a series focused on a certain topic relevant to your industry, or something else.

Conduct Interviews

Interviews are time savers because, like guest posts, someone else creates most of the content for you. Reach out to figures you admire and would like to feature, and ask them for the chance to pick their brains. Send a list of relevant questions, and post them, with answers, as a profile piece. Another idea is to video-chat for a more traditional type of interview.

Share a Roundup of Links

Gather relevant links to post in a roundup of interesting resources. Some bloggers do this weekly in “Friday favorites” or “weekly finds.” After each link, include a short synopsis of why it’s relevant and interesting, pointing your readers towards the content. Not only does this give you fresh content, but it also catches the eyes of those you link to.

Post Product Reviews

Whether you highlight a new company product or review a book you just read, posting product reviews is fairly simple, yet also valuable to your audience. Some bloggers post roundups of gift ideas around major holidays or specific seasons.

When it comes to blogging, the name of the game is to work smarter, not harder. Use the above strategies to boost your blogging efficiency and save yourself time!

Shanna Mallon is a writer for Online Media Signals, a PR firm specializing in relationship building, content creation, and content marketing. 

Five Steps to Optimize Your Pinterest Page

You know you ought to be on Pinterest—if not for your own inspiration needs, then for your business marketing—but do you know how? When you pin and build boards, do you know if you’re using Pinterest to its fullest potential? What are the secrets? How can you make your Pinterest page as powerful as possible?

To help answer those questions, here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step One: Fill Out Your Bio

The small bio section beneath your username on Pinterest is more important than you might think. Don’t leave it blank! Your bio is often the first introduction new visitors have to your Pinterest account. What’s more, it provides the main information that helps people decide whether or not to engage with you. Add a personal profile image, write a strong bio, add your location, and link to social media accounts.

Checklist for a strong “about” section:

  • Did I fill it out completely?
  • Does it communicate the value I offer?
  • Is it short and to the point?
  • Does it include top SEO keywords?
  • Have I included a professional profile image?
  • Have I identified my geographic location?

Step Two: Verify Your Account

Pinterest offers a verification feature for businesses to add credibility to accounts. With verification, your website URL receives a bold red checkmark next to it, forming a clickable link. This demonstrates to visitors that Pinterest has authenticated that you own your URL. To pursue verification, follow the instructions at http://business.pinterest.com/verify/.

Step Three: Be Active

Like every social network, Pinterest is about being social. You can’t build bridges by pinning only your own stuff. You must take the time to reach out to other users—follow, repin, like, comment, and so on. In fact, the more generous you are on social media, the better—This is the way to build relationships and community.

Step Four: Create Themed Boards

Use your boards as a tool to put together an image of your brand. Look at the issues and interests that surround your industry, and build a few dozen boards focusing on particular aspects. Give each board an interesting, attention-grabbing title, and add keywords in the description to make it more searchable. Then, fill these boards with relevant pins to make your boards both informative and enticing.

Step Five: Lay Out Your Boards Strategically

It’s not just the content of your boards that matters—It’s also the order. As you might expect, the top two rows of pins are where visitors focus most of their energy. Knowing this, pin the content you most want them to notice at the top. Use your top two rows to pin a board of your own content, boards of highly relevant content, and boards of particularly useful, trending topics.

Shanna Mallon is a writer for Online Media Signals, a PR firm specializing in relationship building, content creation, and content marketing. 

How to Write Press Releases Even If You Don’t Have Big News

Think press releases are appropriate only when big launches occur? Think again. Powerful for promoting your business, press releases generate buzz, benefit search engine optimization (SEO), are inexpensive, and encourage media attention—but they aren’t useful only for announcing new products and big changes. The truth is, valuable news is probably happening in your company all the time but you may not think about it. What’s more, you can craft a press release about existing company features and even everyday happenings—all you need is a little creativity.

With that in mind, here are some ideas for how to drum up press release topics to increase your press!

Non-Newsy News

News doesn’t need to be extraordinary. Look around: Have you upgraded any products recently? Hired any new team members? Redesigned the website or launched a blog? Has your company been nominated for any awards? What projects are you starting? Anything you’re beginning, changing, or updating is a possible topic for a press release.

Positive Employee Accomplishments

Maybe it’s not your company that’s getting nominated for an award; it’s your staff. When an executive receives an honorary doctorate, when a manager speaks at an industry conference, or when a team member receives recognition for a personal accomplishment, you have a subject for your press release. Show off your team! It makes you look good, too.

Existing Company Highlights

What are your company’s best features? Why should clients come to you? Say you’re a landscaping company that offers a best-price guarantee—Why not write a press release about it? Maybe you’re a dental practice with a 20% Discount Back-to-School special—Turn that into a headline with a press release. Use your company’s best qualities as inspiration for press releases, and create news where you didn’t know you had any.

New Research

Poll your audience, study industry trends, or gather data and analyze the results. Then, take that information and turn it into a press release that will catch media attention. This idea works well because it takes existing information and looks at it in a new way. If you’re a marketing company, you might survey social media users about trends. If you’re a retailer, you might do a study on what products are most popular with a particular demographic.

 

Your Thoughts
Looking at this list, do you find yourself newly inspired with press release topics? What other non-obvious ways can you think of to come up with meaningful news? Whether you write about your staff members or your new website design, keep your eyes open to potential news, and you’re sure to find topics to cover.

 

Shanna Mallon is a writer for Online Media Signals, a PR firm specializing in relationship building, content creation, and content marketing. 

Tips for Writing Blog Posts Faster

Who doesn’t want to write blog posts faster? Whether you write for yourself or for various clients, you know that the faster you write your posts, the more time you have to do other things—even if that means writing more blog posts.  So how do you write faster? Are there secrets to creating blog posts more efficiently? Consider the following:

Keep a Running Topic List

Often, the toughest part of writing a new blog post is coming up with the subject—so save yourself a step by brainstorming a bunch of topics beforehand. Set aside an hour or two and list out as many topics as you can muster. Then, the next time you need to create a post, just pull from the list and start writing.

Write an Outline

Sometimes, figuring out what you want to say is harder than actually saying it. This is especially true when writing blog posts. So to save yourself time and trouble, write an outline. When you outline your main points before writing the bulk of your post, creating the rest of the content is much easier.

Curb Your Inner Critic

Nothing slows a writer down faster than the inner critic. You write a sentence and question it. You get halfway through a piece and want to throw it out. At some point, however, that inner critic has to be stopped—especially if you want to write faster. So silence your inner critic by not giving it room in your head. Keep writing instead. And when you finish the draft of your post, then take the time to fact-check and edit everything at once.

Set a Timer

Setting a timer adds a sense of urgency to your work. What’s more, a ticking clock inspires your competitive side, motivating you to work quickly to meet your goal. Set the timer for a realistic amount of time, but make it challenging—This helps you increase speed.

Minimize Distractions

To maximize efficiency, minimize everything that works against it. That means television, radio, phone calls, and so on. Anything that pulls you away from the task at hand must be eliminated.

Blog What You Know

Blogging about something you know is always easier than blogging about something you need to research. That’s why focusing your blog on topics you understand only makes sense—at least when you want to blog quickly. If you’re a business blogger, start with topics relating to what you do every day. If you’re a food blogger, start with your favorite recipes.  The idea is to write about topics that demonstrate your expertise.

The Longer You Blog, the Faster You Write
Take the tips in this post to heart, and watch your writing speed improve—perhaps immediately! Yet even as helpful as the above tips may be, there’s just no substitute for time. The longer you write blog posts, the faster you will become at writing them. So put these tips into practice and keep blogging! Over time, the process will become more and more routine.

Shanna Mallon is a writer for Online Media Signals, a PR firm specializing in relationship building, content creation, and content marketing. 

How to Build Your Email List

The biggest challenge for email marketers is also the biggest need: building an audience. The whole appeal of email marketing is that it’s a cheap, convenient way to keep in touch with customers and prospects—but before you can use email marketing to your advantage, you have to have customers and prospects. How do you find readers? What’s the secret to getting people to join your email list? What should you do? Here are some key tips.

Write Fantastic Email Content

Rule #1 to build your email list is to make your content valuable. What makes content valuable? There are many examples: coupons, updates, behind-the-scenes stories and photos, how-to guides, and more. What do your emails offer readers? Whatever your answer, make sure it’s something they find appealing. When you offer content of actual value, your readers not only appreciate it, but they also share the content with others. Referrals are one of the best ways to draw new readers.

Offer an Incentive

Give readers a powerful incentive for subscribing, and watch your list grow. Here are a few ideas for enticing people to join your list.

  • Host a Giveaway: Run a giveaway on your blog and make subscribing to your email list a way to enter.
  • Offer a Discount: If you sell a product or service, offer readers a 10% discount on their first order after subscribing to your newsletter.
  • A Free Download: Whether it’s an ebook, a PDF, or a graphic of some kind, a free download often helps get readers’ attention.

Add Sign-up Forms to Your Website

When you want people to sign up for your newsletter, you have to ask them.  So put the sign-up box somewhere prominent and in more than one space. Here are a few ideas:

  • Feature Box: A website feature box puts your email sign-up form front and center, somewhere that readers can’t miss it. This way, when someone likes your post, he or she has no trouble knowing where to enter an email address to sign up.
  • Top of Sidebar: The top of your sidebar draws a lot of eyes—Put your sign-up form there to attract interest.
  • At the Bottom of Each Post: Add a sign-up form to the bottom of your posts, either in an author bio or in a few lines of regular text.
  • At the Bottom of Your Site: Add a sign-up form on the bottom of your site by placing it in the footer. While this isn’t the most prominent spot on your blog, it is one that appears on every page.
  • On the About Page: Work a sign-up form into your About page, which is often one of the most popular pages on a site.
  • In a Bar at the Top of the Site: Some websites add a convenient feature bar to the very top of their pages and put a newsletter sign-up bar inside it. On the plus side, it gets attention; on the down side, readers tend to tune out the bars after a while.

Reach Customers at Point of Sale

Make sharing an email address part of the checkout process for customers. When someone is purchasing a product online, give him or her the option to share an email address in order to receive future updates. This option works well because customers making purchases are automatically more engaged visitors—and they’re more likely to have interest in your news.

Do you already use email marketing? If so, how have you been building your list? Why not put the above strategies into place to grow it further?

 

 

Shanna Mallon is a writer for Online Media Signals, a PR firm specializing in relationship building, content creation, and content marketing.