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What social media tools can you, as a small business owner, use to leverage your time and increase traffic to your website?
In this article I will show you exactly how to use a great social media tool called HootSuite. This will save you a whole heap of time and send traffic to your website sky-rocketing. You may have already read my article Social Media Marketing. How To Win Your Market On 15 Minutes Per Day where I profiled a tool called Twitterfeed. This article takes the same idea but ramps it up to a whole new level. Let me explain!
HootSuite has taken to the online community by storm. The scheduling feature within this tool is really the most powerful way I have come across to schedule posts to your community whether it be a week or even months ahead. You can connect to your community via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Ping.fm, Wordpress, MySpace, mixi and even Google Plus or all of them at the same time. It also allows you to run reports so you can see what posts preformed the best, set up your favorite RSS or Atom feeds and feed them directly to your community and so much more. Although I'm getting a little a head of myself, I will only be focusing on the scheduling feature in this article. As well as giving you handy pointers along the way.
Ok, ready! Lets dive right in.
1) Go to HootSuite.com.
You will first need to create a free account, enter your Email Address, Name and Password then click the Sign Up Now button.
2) You will then come to the Welcome tab.
From within this tab you begin by adding one or more social networking profiles. For the sake of this article we will add a Twitter profile.
3) Click on the Add a Twitter profile button - The following box appears.
For the sake of this article leave the option to Automatically create a new tab for this profile Checked!
4 ) Click on the Connect with Twitter button - The following window appears.
The following Twitter Pages Tab appears with 4 "Streams" of data that display by default.
You can add, remove or change the streams that display as you wish. What you see above is just my preference.
You will see slightly different set up options for each Social Media Network you wish to add but all can be added as easily and smoothly as we have above.
Now that you have set up your first Social Media Network in Twitter, I would like to show you how to really save yourself a whole heap of time when making posts. If you are anything like the majority of small businesses, your time is best spent doing what you do best and not necessarily in front of a computer.
Yes you will hear purists say the click through rate on non automated posts are higher. However as in my case I still enjoy a click through rate of between 1.5 and 2.5 even up to 5 percent on some posts which I am really happy with. I do know however that it is not unheard of get a Click Through Rate of up to 10 percent. If you want more information on getting the most from your click throughs check out this great post by Linda Bustos from GetElastic.com. I think if you can get a click through rate of more than 1 percent for any form of promotion you are doing well.
As already mentioned HootSuite enables you to schedule posts weeks even months in advance which I love because it give me time to focus on building more content among other things without being distracted.
To schedule a post in HootSuite:
1) Click on the Publisher menu bar located at the left hand side of the page indicated by a paper plane icon. - The follow screen appears
2) From the Select a profile drop down list at the top and middle of the screen that appears, you will be able to select a social media network that you have already added to your HootSuite account. For the sake of this article select your twitter account.
You have the option of being able to pin a given network to the drop down, this is handy when you are making multiple posts to a given social network, other wise you will have to select your network profile each time you schedule a post.
3) Click in the Compose message field and the following drop down displays.
You will now see the post cued ready for posting.
Best practice has it that you should be posting 2 to 3 times daily, staggered through the day. ( I post on a rotating schedule 1 hour apart )
It is probably better not to schedule too far in advance so that you can add fresh new posts when they come up. Offering fresh posts in this way helps build your community. ( I try to limit mine to 2 weeks into the future ).
When using links in your posts, it is best practice not to link directly to sales pages. Rather give your community posts of value, eg. Other than sending holiday messages, I use links in each and every post, but these links always link to free content pages on my site, where I try to give people information that is relevant and of value to them. If someone then chooses to, they can then make a purchase after they have clicked through. In this way you build trust with your followers.
To anyone that is new to RSS or ATOM I suggested you read my web page on RSS Explained first.
Supplying your community with free and valuable content is key to building a following on any social network. But it does not all have to be yours. Using RSS to syndicate or publish another persons content to your community is a win, win, win situation, because it is good for the originator of the content as it promotes them, it is good for you because it can build your following and it is good for your readers or community as well because your delivering free, valuable and in demand information to them.
As an example if you visit my twitter page you will see that I have made several thousand tweets since I started my twitter account in 2010. Most of these tweets have been feed to my community via other peoples RSS feeds. It provides my community with a good mix from experts on the topic of internet marketing.
RSS is good for another reason too. If you can supply the right mix of content to your readers it saves them searching all over the internet for it themselves, and therefore there is more of a chance that they stay on your social network or website.
To set up RSS on your social media network on HootSuite:
1) Click on the Settings menu bar located at the left hand side of the page indicated by a cog wheel icon, Then click on RSS/Atom - the following box appears.
HootSuite gives you all the tools you need within one application to help make your social media marketing successful and easy. As you can see I have already set up 2 feeds in my account. In the free version of HootSuite your limited to 2 free RSS feeds. For a nominal amount per month you can upgrade to HootSuite Pro like I have recently and get access to the full suite of tools including unlimited RSS feeds and reporting. Sign up for a Free 30 day trial of HootSuite Pro.
2) Find and copy the RSS feed url of your favorite website or blog as in the screen below:
3) Then click on the Add New Feed button of the previous box - you will then see the following box appear.
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