Simple Tricks to Make Your Site More Social Media Ready

Once thought to be a passing fad, and although still relatively new, social media is now taking a firm hold and warrants attention in many retailers’ online marketing efforts.You can’t avoid it. No matter where you turn it seems you hear terms like “fan page”, “followers”, “tweet”, “re-tweet”, “blog” and more being used. With all the social media hype, many are questioning what social media actually is and how they can use it to move their business forward.In this article I am going to explain what social media is, provide some strategies for making your site more social media friendly, touch upon differences between options presented by major social media outlets, and answer the question of whether you should do it yourself, or hire a consultant to do it for you.Social Media can be time consuming, but when implemented correctly can add a level to your business that helps build brand loyalty, and awareness which in turn can boost your bottom line.What is Social Media?Wikipedia defines social media as: media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses Internet and web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into social media dialogues (many to many). It supports the democratization of knowledge and information, transforming people from content consumers into content producers.In other words, it is a group of Internet-based applications that utilize new web concepts to promote user generated content.Examples of some of the major social applications currently online are Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.Twitter can be seen as a “micro blog” type service that enables you to post short messages of up to 140 characters that are fed in real time to your followers. Facebook is more of a “publishing” platform which enables you to create a page that integrates multiple media options into one (i.e. discussion boards, blogs, photos, shopping carts, etc…) YouTube is a service that enables you to produce video content to the masses (possibly to demonstrate the use of your product.)The power and uniqueness of each provides pros and cons. Because Facebook has a little more of a learning curve to it and because it has a number of options to choose from, I’ll briefly touch upon that below.Simple Tricks to Make Your Site More Social Media FriendlyWhether or not you’re on social media platforms or not, odds are you’re customers are. They’re sharing your URL with their friends on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or MySpace.If you want to engage in social media marketing, you’ll want to be sure to have that presence reflected on your e-commerce site.Social Sharing
There are dozens of sites you can visit that will provide embeddable code which can be used to create social networking icons on your site. These icons make it easy for visitors to share what they like about your site with their social media friends and followers.A couple of sites worth checking out are ShareThis. ShareThis is a tool you can install on your site that makes it easier for visitors to share with their network. You’ve probably seen some form of ShareThis on news sites. There are typically several icons spread out in a horizontal line or grouped together under a header of “Share.” Installing this tool lets your visitors easily spread the word via social networking sites about a page or website – yours – they like.Add This is very similar to ShareThis. Both require site registration and a little publisher information, but both are also easy to use and do basically the same thing.Show off your Social Media presence
If you’re on several social networking sites, it behooves you to display that affiliation somewhere on your site. For the consummate online shopper, these links show you’re not just an e-commerce beginner. The more social media sites you’re a part of, the more web-knowledgeable you look and the greater brand awareness you can build.You can display your social media links either in self-created sidebar module or by using sites like Lijit ( http://www.lijit.com ). Lijit is similar to ShareThis; however, rather than pushing people out social networking sites, Lijit pulls them into your other sites.Facebook Fan Page or Group?A question that often gets asked when it comes to Facebook and brands is should you build a Facebook Group Page or a Fan Page?It is a good question and the answer depends mostly on what your plans are for your site. I’ve broken down the pros and cons of both a fan page versus a group page below.Facebook Fan Page
Facebook Fan Pages are a great option for brands – including e-commerce sites – that plan on posting information at least once a week.Facebook Fan Page Pro’s:* Looks polished; closely resembles an individual profile page* Can include videos, photos, links, events, etc.* Can be fed into “fans'” update stream similar to an individual profile update* Can be given a customized url similar to an individual profile* Hides the name and address of the page creator* Offers options to add applications such as a Twitter feed* Includes a “wall” similar to individual profiles that people can post comments on* Can be paired with a Facebook Fan Page Widget on your siteFacebook Fan Page Con’s:* More difficult to manage conversations between fans* Conversations are on display for the public to see* Unable to convert Facebook Groups to Fan Pages if you’ve already got a Group page set up* Until you have an adequate number of fans, you’ll be posting a lot* A dismal Fan Page linked to your site can hurt your inbound links in SEOFacebook Group PageFacebook Group pages are easy to create and slightly more personal than a Fan Page. Because it is not a constantly fed profile-like page, posts do not need to be as often.Facebook Group Pro’s* Can be more intimate; people see who created the group* Still allows for pictures, photos, videos, events, etc. to be posted* Allows for emails to be sent to all group members* Pre-dates Fan Pages; more familiarity among early adopters of FacebookFacebook Group Con’s* Visitors must visit your group page for updates* Does not allow applications to be added to the group page* Offers visibility* Will automatically post related groups to your group page whether you want them or not* Cannot be linked to your site via widget(s)The Verdict? Consider a Facebook Fan Page if you want to keep your “fans” up to date on the goings on of your site. Consider a Group if you have a niche within your site that people might want to create conversations about.Should You Hire a Social Media Consultant for Your Site?With the hundreds of social sites and applications available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. When you’re already trying to keep your e-commerce business afloat, social media can seem unnecessary and time-consuming.Research has shown, however, that e-commerce retailers are reaping the benefits of this new media channel (i.e., offering better customer service and increased sales) so it pays to use it.Not everyone is social media savvy nor do they have the time which is why a lot of companies hire consultants to help them with their campaigns.Do you need a consultant or should you do your own work?When to hire a social media consultant: * If you really do not have the time to commit to a social marketing campaign.
* If you don’t have the time to learn the ins and outs of social applications.
* If you don’t consider yourself a strong writer and/or interactive with your audience.
* If you want to launch a large social media campaign and need experts to help get things off the ground.
* If you tend to defer project work to experts rather than attempt to try it yourself.When to do your own social media work: * If you’re familiar with social media sites (like YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook) and use them on a personal basis.
* If you’re a quick-learner and tech-savvy.
* If you’re planning a small campaign with only one or two social sites.
* If you have content ready to post on a blog (or Twitter, Facebook, etc.)Note: Social media consultants tend to pay per project or per hour depending on their rates and availability. What We’ve LearnedSocial media seems to be here to stay. It most certainly will evolve and change as time goes, but you can be sure that in one form or another social media will continue. It’s much like the TV or radio were when they began and the power it harnesses for those who use it will shine through.It can bring awareness to your product or brand and help you build a stronger relationship with your customers which can lead to greater sales and future growth for your business.Having said that, keep in mind that social media can be time consuming and integrating a social media marketing campaign into your business should not be taken lightly. Proper planning and implementation is critical to your success-you may even want to consider hiring an expert to handle it for you. This will largely depend on your needs, budget, and time you have to allocate your own resources to getting the job done in-house.When it comes to Facebook and the choice between creating a Fan Page or a Group, you’ll want to consider your objective before you determine which is best for you. Fan Pages are best for pushing brands and for ecommerce sites that can commit to posting at least once per week. Consider a Facebook Group if you want a more personal touch and if you can’t commit to posting at least once per week.Integrating social media into your site is easy. There are sites that provide the code and icons for you to simply paste into your web structure. Once you are utilizing social media make sure you display it on your site so customers know where to find you.Remember, social media is a tool that can push your business and brand forward. Plan carefully and choose wisely. Like those that harnessed the power of TV and radio, social media adopters will see the benefits with time.

Obama’s Health Care Reform Bill VS The Workforce

Everyone can agree that health care should be made available to every American. Now that President Obama has signed the bill into law we have yet to view the entire package. Already burdened tax payers will pay dearly for this one as in the end we still pay the cost. Businesses will be required to provide health coverage for employees. This action will have anegative impact on the work force as small business will have to scramble for extra funds to pay for health insurance. A small business owner will have 4 choices.1) Raise the price of goods or services to compensate for the increase in costs. The end result consumers pay the price. Raising prices in a recession will slow sales which could lean toward layoffs adding more employees to the unemployment lines2) Force employees to pay a greater percentage of the cost and opt for a cheaper policy with less coverage. Employees will see less take home pay stretching already tight belts. With less to spend in their pockets we slide further into a depression.3) Lay off a few employees or freeze hiring as employees retire to compensate costs. This action will add workers to the unemployment lines sending us farther into a depression.4) Start using temp agencies.With a huge pool of overqualified work force in unemployment temps will be the wave of the future. An employer does not have to provide health coverage for temporary employees. Every few months the employer will tell the agency to send out different workers so they do not have to hire anyone. Productivity and customer service will decline as a result of temporary workers. Although they can be good workers, a temporary work force will have to be retrained every few months as they are bounced around from workplace to workplace. After a period of time this can have physiological effects on the best of workers.Introducing a costly health care reform bill during a deep recession is bad politics. In the long run it might just push us into a depression. More job cuts and a further strain on the economy. The government always reports new unemployment filings for the month but they do not report the numbers whose unemployment benefits ran out and still are out of work. The government will not admit it because they always paint a rosy picture. Introducing the health care bill during a deep recession took the focus off the economy to the new subject of health care reform.

Free Online Business Plans – Know Its Benefit to Your Online Business!

Business plans are very important in every business. This serves as your guide in managing your business, as it is composed of strategies and tactics that you must follow at a given specific time duration. If you are just new in starting up an online business, it is advisable to have a structured plan upon opening up your online business. This will guide you in handling your newly opened business is very susceptible to failures since it is not yet stable. In these terms, it is not necessary to structure your own plan as there are lots of free available in the internet. You just need to look for the appropriate one for your own online business as there are many types of business plans around.Over the internet, there are many plans offered for free. Some are just plain plans and others are even requiring specific software in order to use it maximally. Those that are requiring software installations are providing a wide range of uses for many businessmen as you can utilize and modify it in order to match with your online business. Free online plans are available in a lot of categories; it can be in the retail line, computer gadgets, clothes, accessories, electronics, educational materials and many more. The important thing to consider upon getting a business plan is to determine the category of your online business exactly so you can choose the kind for you correctly. In some cases, there are combination of two categories so you can consider having two different business plans for your online business. It is also worthwhile to have different business plans from different sources so you can combine these plans in making up your own unique plan. After all, online business plans are oftentimes offered for free so it is advisable to utilize it maximally.While searching for good online business tips, consider the source first since there are only several trustful sources around the internet. Make sure to read the plan briefly before getting it so you can judge if it will be beneficial for your business or not. On the other hand, it is also recommendable to compile the business plans that you found interesting and helpful to your business. This is useful whenever you want to compare different business plans from other sources or if you want to combine it with other business plans upon making your own unique one. After all, free online business plans exist in the internet extensively, so you will not a hard time in looking for one. Remember that these plans are just guides in your business so don’t completely rely on it. Make it just a model in your online business and obtain all the needed information, as it will guide you in your steps on the way to business success!