Part 4: Blogs for the Business Professional

30 05 2012

(Post by Jessica Killenberg Muzik, APR, VP – Account Services)

A business-oriented blog can help you connect with new prospects, position you and/or your company as an expert in your field, and drive traffic to your content on other social media or digital properties.

The word “blog” is a contraction for “web log” — a term used to describe a website that maintains an ongoing chronicle of information. Many blogs focus on a particular topic. For example, our Bianchi Biz Blog focuses on useful information and perspective on PR and social media, especially for the business-to-business community.

The Basics: To set up a blog, you can select one of the many blogging sites out there. We use WordPress for its functionality and ease of use. To set up a WordPress account, go to www.wordpress.com and click the “Sign Up” button. You will then be directed to a page where you will need to choose an address for your blog, username and password. After you provide your email address, an email will be sent to you to activate your blog … and you’re in business!

So you’ve created a blog, now what? Here are some key things to keep in mind:

  • Your blog is not a commercial about you or your company. You can draw upon your experience, but tie it to helpful, useful information to keep your readers coming back and perhaps even sharing your content with others;
  • People like bulleted lists, as they pack a lot of info into a small space. Some of our most popular posts are bulleted lists that offer tips, how-to info or facts.
  • Just as much as people like bulleted lists, they also like “reading” pictures. So offer up images, video, charts or infographics to supplement your words. For example, we used screen shots to explain how to use Facebook in part three of this blog series, Facebook for the Business Professional
  • Tie your topics to the latest trends and issues. For example, our Pinterest’ed In Today’s Hottest Social Media Site? was one of our most-read blogs to date;
  • Make your headlines catchy. We’ve found fun or sensational headlines like The Sneaky Seven: How to Avoid Media Interview Pitfalls, helped increase visits and solicit feedback from our readers;
  • Be sure to post regularly, perhaps every week or every other week. Consistency in frequency and quality is important to building and maintaining your blog audience;
  • Create and build a rolling list of potential blog topics, and write a few extra blog posts so you’ll have a few on the shelf and ready to go when you’re pressured for time or lacking inspiration;
  • Build community by checking out and subscribing to other blogs, linking to other blog posts that augment your post and inviting guests you respect to contribute a guest post;
  • Promote your blog via posts on your other social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, LinkedIn groups, etc.), as well as on your website, your email signature, advertising, enewsletter, etc. Invite your contacts to visit and follow; and
  • Have fun with it!

Now that we’ve covered the basics for LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and blogging for professional use in the first four parts of this series, the next two parts of this series will focus on creating content, the process, consistency targets, measurement and more.





Part 3: Facebook for the Business Professional

22 05 2012

(Post by Jessica Killenberg Muzik, APR, VP – Account Services)

Launched in 2004, Facebook users may create a personal profile, add other users as friends and exchange messages, including automatic notifications when they update their profile. Additionally, users may join common-interest user groups, organized by workplace, school or college or other characteristics.

The Basics: A Facebook page can be developed quite simply using your work email address. To establish your page, go to www.facebook.com and you’ll be directed to a page where you can set up an account. Find the box marked “Sign up for Facebook” and fill in the tabs. Choose a password and click the “Sign Up” button. Complete the form on the next page titled, “Sign Up and Start Using Facebook.” Click the “Sign Up” button once again.

You will receive a confirmation email at the address you provided during sign-up. Click the link in the email to activate and you’ll receive a message confirming that your account is ready. Sign in with your professional email and password.

Once your account is set up, I highly recommend establishing two “friend” lists – a personal list and a professional list. Why? I know the goal of social media is to be “transparent.” But let’s be honest, wouldn’t it be nice to keep our professional contacts separate from your personal contacts. (I’m quite certain that most of my professional contacts probably don’t care about the 101 images I have posted of the holidays, my baby, etc., but they probably do care about our firm’s latest PR insights, blogs, tipsheets, news, etc.)

So categorize each “friend” into one list or the other and then, each time you post, be sure to customize who you want to see the post – either your professional list or your friend list.

OK, you’ve created a Facebook account and established your two lists of friends – professional and personal – now how do you leverage it professionally? We suggest the following:

  • Fill out your profile with your professional information, as well as uploading a professional headshot.
  • Build your professional list inviting peers, customers, media and prospects to be “friends” – keeping in mind that not everyone will accept and that’s ok;
  • Post news stories, blog entries and questions to start conversations with your friends;
  • Post pictures and videos of events, products / services, news conferences, etc. tied to your professional work;
  • Create a viewable calendar of upcoming events that you and your company may be hosting and industry events that you’re attending;
  • Update your wall with current activities and projects so friends will have a sense of consistent action – although there is no need to post too many times in one day; and
  • “Like” your peers, customers, media and prospects’ corporate Facebook pages to keep track of their activities and comment when appropriate.

Here’s an example of my page:

After creating and leveraging you own professional Facebook page, if you’re interested in learning more about how to create a corporate page and how to best utilize it to build your business and its brand, check out our tipsheet, Build Your Business Using Facebook. Also “like” Bianchi PR on Facebook to see how we’re utilizing the site for our business.

Next up - Part 4: Blogs for the Business Professional





Part 2: Twitter for the Business Professional

15 05 2012

Created in March 2006, Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, informally known as “tweets.”

The Basics: To create a Twitter account go to www.twitter.com. Click on “Sign Up for Twitter.” Type in your name, email and password. Create a username (typically your name). Click “Create my Account.” Upload a photo. And finally, write a brief summary about yourself (up to 160 characters).

So you’ve created your professional Twitter account, now how do you leverage it? We suggest the following:

  • Begin following top influencers in your industry segment / field to learn about breaking or industry news and trends, in turn they may just start following you;
  • Keep your message to the 140 characters allotted (to enable a full re-tweet), use a URL shortener (like www.bitly.com) and consider using a hash tag for increased searchability. A hash tag is simply a way for people to search for tweets that have a common topic (i.e. #PR);
  • Steer followers to company or customer-posted news, blogs, sites, etc. by posting links or retweeting;
  • Generate media opportunities by following journalists and positioning you or your company as a possible expert source;
  • Get feedback on your products / services and review updates, view comments, questions and / or possible criticism;
  • Post video and image links tied to promotional campaigns and encourage users to follow along to receive exclusive information; and
  • Posting on-site, real-time updates and insights from conferences or trade shows you may be attending.

Here is an example of a profile and a series of Tweets:

After creating and leveraging your own Twitter account, if you’re interested in learning more about how to create a corporate account and how to best utilize it to build your business and its brand, check out our tipsheet, Think Before You Tweet – Writing Tweets Worth Sharing.  Also follow Bianchi PR on Twitter for an example of how we’re utilizing the site for our business.

Next week: Part 3 – Facebook for the Business Professional





Social Media for Newbies: How to Use These Sites for Business

8 05 2012

(Post by Jessica Killenberg Muzik, APR, VP – Account Services)

In recent weeks, I’ve been part of the following conversations concerning social media:

  • A fellow from my former networking group commented: “I see you’re really active on these social media sites. Can you explain to me how to post articles?”;
  • My father-in-law mentioned: “I noticed you post a LOT on LinkedIn. I’m on there too and want to start doing more”; and
  • Upon giving a social media “basic training” presentation to the defense industry, one of the attendees said: “My boss wants to do reverse mentoring. He specifically mentioned that he’d like me to teach him about social media. I’ll be honest, I may be young, but I haven’t a clue how all of it works.”

Based on these conversations, it’s occurred to me that not everyone is versed in using social media for professional purposes. Often times social media novices sign up on the various social media sites – such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. – because they know they should be there, but they don’t necessarily know how to use the sites to their fullest capabilities.

Or, worse yet, they don’t bother to sign up … because they just don’t get it.

Thus begins our six-part “Social Media for Newbies” series. While aimed at novices, perhaps even some seasoned social media types will pick up a tip or two … or better yet, offer up a tip or two of their own for the rest of us.

After all, social media is about starting the dialogue, engaging the audience, building relationships and providing helpful, informative and appealing content.

Here are the topics this series will cover:

  • Part 1: LinkedIn for the Business Professional
  • Part 2: Twitter for the Business Professional
  • Part 3: Facebook for the Business Professional
  • Part 4: Blogs for the Business Professional
  • Part 5: Creating Content and Process
  • Part 6: Consistency Targets and Measurement

Part 1: LinkedIn for the Business Professional

Did you know that all Fortune 500 companies are represented on LinkedIn? LinkedIn is a business-related social networking site launched in May 2003 and is mainly used for professional networking. We often say that connecting on LinkedIn is like exchanging business cards, but with much more useful information.

The Basics: To create a LinkedIn account, go to www.linkedin.com. Enter your name, email and password and click “Join Now.” Start creating your professional profile by adding a photo of yourself, developing a summary and entering in your experience, education, personal information and skills.

So you’ve created your LinkedIn account, now how do you leverage it? We suggest the following:

  • Start building your contact base by sending contact requests to peers, clients, media and prospects that you know;
  • Join professional groups, organizations and associations to show involvement in your industry / community, as well as participate in the discussions they are having;
  • Post news, project updates and links to blogs and articles that are relevant to your industry;
  • Network and make connections with new business prospects, as well as research to learn about the background, education, previous experiences and memberships;
  • Give recommendations and, in turn, people will often give you a recommendation back; and
  • Post job openings within your company / industry, find possible job candidates and maybe even find a new job for yourself.

Here are a couple of slides offering an example of a personal LinkedIn profile:

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After creating and leveraging your own LinkedIn page, if you’re interested in learning more about how to create a company page or group and how to best utilize it to build your business and its brand, check out our tipsheet. Also visit our Bianchi PR corporate page to see how we’re utilizing the site for our business.

Next up – Part 2: Twitter for the Business Professional








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