Enterprise Fredericton Business Buzz SeriesGetting Started in Social Media Presented by @CoryHartlen Community Manager @radian6
Getting a Foothold in Social MediaA Get-Started Guide For Small and MediumBusinesses
You’ve heard the buzz.But you don’t have any idea where to start. It starts with a strategy, rooted in a desire toforge better relationships with your customers.Your time is already crunched, and you’re probably wondering where you’re going to fitsocial media into the big picture. But instead of thinking of this as something new, look atsocial media as an enhanced way of doing the business you’re already doing.Here, we’ll outline a few of the strategies and tactics you can employ, and we’ll touch onhow each fits into the plan you’ve already got. 1. Get Educated. 2. Listen. 3. Find Your Personality. 4. Define Success. 5. Participate. 6. Measure, Measure, Measure. 7. Don’t be Afraid to Fail.
BLOGS http://www.chrisbrogan.com/ Amber Naslund,1. Get Educated. http://www.brasstackthinking.com/ http://chuckhemann.com/There are thousands of resources across the web about Marshall Spondersocial media about theory and practice. The best thing www.webmetricsguru.com/you can do to get started in earnest with social media is Don Bartholomewto educate yourself about what’s happening out there. http://metricsman.wordpress.com/ http://www.radian6.com/blog/Why this is important: http://mashable.com/The same reason that you need a license before you candrive. You have to learn the rules of the road. Immersingyourself in practical knowledge is important to having real BOOKS Groundswellworld perspective about what works and what doesn’t. The Now RevolutionIt’s not about theory. It’s about execution. http://nowrevolutionbook.com/ Age of Conversation 1 and 2How it fits into your plan: The New InfluencersYou’re probably already doing professional development Citizen Marketerswork or research. Dedicate two hours a week to learning Trust Agentsmore about social media within these boundaries. The Cluetrain Manifesto The New Community Rules
2. Listen. After getting a sense of the playing field, the critical and often overlooked first step is to Listen. Listen to what’s being said about you, about your industry, about your competitors across the web. Why this is important: Because the conversations are going to happen, with or without you. It is always better to be an informed participant in the dialogue, and to understand the lay of the land before you take your first steps. In the case of building your brand online, ignorance is definitely not bliss. You must be prepared to take a hard, realistic look at your brand through the rest of the world’s eyes so you can better understand how to talk with them and be a valued conversation partner. How it fits into your plan: This is very similar to market research, or even just keeping a pulse on your customer base. Consider this a piece of business development, and spend 15 minutes a day perusing your alerts. If people are talking about you, pick five posts a week that you find in your reporting, go out there, and respond.
How to get started: FreebiesGet yourself an account at NetVibes, and build a dashboard filled with RSS feeds from searchesyou build on sites like these:Google Alerts: Build keyword searches for your company name, your industry terms, and yourcompetitors.Twitter Search: Search for your brand name, your own name, terms from your industry, oreven competitors terms to see what’s being said about you on Twitter.Technorati: Although not as powerful as it once was, Technorati is still a useful tool to get a bitof info about the reach a blog has (known as “authority”), at least within the blogosphere itself.Social Mention: A search engine specific for social sites. Treat it like you would a Googlesearch.Backtype.com: Backtype aggregates and searches comments being left across the web onblogs. So even if the post isn’t about you, you’ll pick up mentions your community leaves in thecomments.BoardTracker and BoardReader: Forums and boards aren’t dead! Make sure you’re pickingthem up in your searches.Don’t forget to report on your results, and make note of trends over time vs. singular statistics.Share what you learn with others inside your company so you can talk about what it means toyou, and how you as a company feel you should respond.
3. Find Your Personality. Social media will not succeed unless the people behind it are excited about doing it. Find the people in your company who love connecting with your customers, wherever they may be and whatever their job title. Talk to them about your goals, and let them be part of your team. If you’re a solopreneur, make sure that you’re participating from the perspective of connecting with people, not selling them.Why this is important:People can see right through insincerity. Few trust what they see from companies in a commercial sense(some studies say as few as 15%), so it’s important that your representation to the online community be content shareshuman and identifiably so. By making sure that you find people in your company that are excited aboutforging relationships, you’ll ensure that they’re more successful at building ones that last.How it fits into your plan:If your company is large enough to have departments, this can be part of your interdepartmental meetings.If you’re too small to have departments, tap into the one on one time you have with your employees toidentify those with the spark and people skills to make connections.
How To Get Started:This is easy: talk to people. Get up from behind your desk and go talk to yourcustomer service people, your product managers, even your IT staff. If you’re acompany of just you or just a few, make sure you’re tapping into your employees’ realdesire to get personally connected with customers, not just find more mechanisms tosell them stuff. If you’re not dedicated to building the relationships behind thetransactions, your social media efforts will flounder. Oh, and don’t forget to trust your team a bit. They want your business to succeed, too. Controlling your message obsessively is so yesterday. Still have concerns? Check out some online communications policies from companies who are already doing this well.
4. Define Success.You gotta know what you want out of this game. Write it down, and tie each goal back to yourlarger business picture. Put it on your wall, and every time you feel misguided about why you’redoing this, go back and look at it. Think in terms of both qualitative and quantitative results thatwill build your brand over time (vs. having a short term, transactional effect).Why this is important:If you don’t understand what success means to you in terms ofsocial media, there’s no way to measure what you’ve achieved orwhere you need to improve. And it’s awfully hard to prove yoursuccess if you don’t know what you were aiming for in the firstplace.How it fits into your plan:If you’re in business, you’re planning already and outlining goalsfor every aspect of your business – sales and businessdevelopment, customer service, innovation and product/serviceimprovement, marketing and communications. For each area ofyour business, be sure that you can map some of those goalsback to your social media efforts to be sure that yourinvolvement in the space is in harmony with everything else
5. Participate.You have to be part of the conversation, and that means understanding and embracing theculture of social media. Some of the tenets of social media include being human andpersonable, having a unique voice, being transparent and open to dialogue, and participatingthrough contribution (vs. merely promotion).Why this is important:People forge relationships with other people, not with a brand or a business. Truly. It’s thehumans behind the brand that make the connections, albeit through myriad channels. Socialmedia has opened up a world where dialogue is easier than ever before and therefore,expected. Your customers want to talk to you, and they’ll expect you to do so in a humanfashion, not by pushing links and promotions and “buy me” stuff at them all the time. Trust is afragile thing, and it’s built on the back of relationships rooted in conversation.How it fits into your plan:Think of this as an extension of your other customer outreach channels. Akin to picking up thephone or sending an email, having a meeting, or joining a community organization, it’s atouchpoint and a mechanism for conversation. You’re hopefully spending time talking to yourcustomers and prospects already, so work this into your everyday efforts to converse with thepeople that drive your business.Try two hours a week to start with. And don’t forget the follow through.
How To Get Started: Visit a site like Alltop or Technorati to find blogs that are of interest to you (either within your industry or without). Spend 2 hours each week commenting on other blogs, without pitching or promoting your company in any way. Simply add your perspective to the conversation, just like you’d do at a face to face social event. If you’re enthusiastic about it, start a blog. Focus one level up from your business. Rather than blogging about specific products or services, write about the experiences that drive your consumers. For instance, if you’re a bakery, write about planning special occasions. If you’re an accountant, talk about financial challenges and best practices in business. Read blogs you like to get a sense of tone, post length, and content that feels comfortable for you. As a bonus, blogs help you rank more organically in Google and other search engines, too.
How To Get Started:Build profiles on key sites, using a real picture (not a logo) and using your real name. (It’s ok toprofile your business in your bio).• LinkedIn: A network for professionals to connect with each other. Check out the Q&A sectionand lend your expert.02!• Facebook: A popular social network for personal and professional connections.• Twitter: A microblogging platform where users share updates with each other in 140characters or less. Best way to learn how to use it? Jump in and start conversing with others.• Flickr: Photo and image sharing at its best. Join groups with similar interests, too. content sharesSpend 30 minutes each day checking in on these sites, and interacting with others. Go deeprather than broad; find a couple of sites that feel most comfortable for you and learn about howyour community uses that site. Don’t worryabout doing something else just because someone else is. It’s quality over quantity. You don’thave to be everywhere.And if you don’t find your customers on one site (listening first helps here), try another one untilyou find somethingthat fits.
6. Measure, Measure, Measure.There’s a great deal of discussion on the web right now aboutmeasurement of ROI in social media. Rather than tryingto find elusive metrics on how to measure your interactions on thesesites, focus on ways to measure the effects thatthe relationships you build have on your business.Why this is important:You can’t know if you’re succeeding unless you measure against thegoals you set. If you’re in the position of having to justify or qualifyyour social media endeavours to a boss or a board, measurementis the way that you can outline - in concrete terms - how that timeis being spent and why it’s valuable to your business.How it fits into your plan:It’s likely that you’re already doing some kind of measurement andanalysis of sales, website metrics, trends, or marketing efforts.You can track measurement for social media right alongside. Infact, there are probably measurements you’re already taking that
How To Get Started:Put a monthly or quarterly reminder in your calendar to do some reporting and analysisof your social media efforts along with your other endeavours.Over time, consider these elements to measure:• Quantity of brand mentions over time (via your listening posts)• Sentiment/tone/quality of those brand mentions• Share of Conversation• Website Statistics (try Google Analytics - it’s free and powerful)• Blog subscribers and comments• Inbound links to your site or blog• Recommendations and Referrals• Overall customer satisfaction• Increase in number of leads/quality of leads• Mentions in the media, whether online or off• Repeat customers• Bottles of wine you get during the holidays. (I kid. Seeing if you’re still with me.)There are plenty of other qualitative and quantitative measures you can take. You’retrying to gauge the quality of the relationships with your customers and how they driveyour goals in sales and awareness, so focus on metrics that will help you do that.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail.Failure is a teacher. It guides us about what we need to adjust in orderto succeed. Human communication and interaction is not an exactscience, nor is stewarding a brand to its fullest potential. It takes time,dedication, practice, and the willingness to take risks in order to explorepossibilities.If you screw up, say you’re sorry. Fix it if you can. Then dust yourself offand move on. What you learn will make you smarter, more efficient,and more savvy than ever before. If I find 10,000 ways something wont work, I haven‘t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward. - Thomas Edison
Several times a day, folks ask about how to get started with all this social media stuff.This is the nuts and bolts stuff, not so much the "why". This is individually focused, but many ofthe same things can apply in a business context if you use your business goals as a guide.Last caveat: These recommendations are clearly biased in favour of the way our team uses socialmedia, because thats what we know best. Your viewpoints are more than welcome andencouraged; this is meant to be helpful guidance and suggestions, and your mileage may vary. A Smartphone. Our crew is mostly made up of iPhone users. The mobile web alone makes it worth it, especially when we can browse the web from airports or the conference show floor. But if having mobile web isnt important to you or something youll make heavy use of, a Blackberry is an email and messaging powerhouse, too. Let’s not forget the Droid.
A Twitter desktop client.In order to really get the most out of Twitter, you’ll want a desktop client that can handlemultiple accounts, incorporate searches, and allow you to create groups from your followers.Some of the more popular and recommended ones include Seesmic Desktop, TweetDeck, andTwhirl.A Blog platform.WordPress is really the gold standard for blogging, and a super flexible platform. If youre goingto start a blog, you can host it easily on WordPress.com, but its cheap and easy to buy your owndomain name, get web hosting, and have your blog there. Many hosts offer one-click WordPressinstallation and you can get a blog up and running in less than 30 minutes. Other options for ablog platform include Blogger (free), TypePad, and MovableType.Cost: GoDaddy domains are $10 each, and they often do promotions where they’re as little as$7. Hosting packages vary, but usually between $7 and $10 per month. Themes for WordPressrange from free to around $87 for the super-flexible Thesis theme.
Twitter If you’re already on Twitter, you know it’s more than just talking about what people have for breakfast. It’s more like “conference call IM” . Link sharing, conversation, personal connections that break the ice before in-person meeting, professional networking. In many ways, its become the equivalent to having another phone on your desk in aGetting Set Up different form.Use your real name and a picture on your profile. It lets your followers know that there’s a real person behind them profile. Businessnames for handles (i.e. your Twitter name) can work if youhave a real picture, and highlight the people doing thetweeting (versus using it for a promotional channel). Ingeneral, use something related to your real name if notyour name itself, and stay away from things with tons ofnumbers (they can smell spammy to the casual observer).Let your bio be a little fun, but have it there regardless.We want to know who you are. Build your bio they wayyou’d introduce yourself in person, not as a 160 character“elevator pitch”. That turns off followers that might like to connectwith you, especially if they think they’ll get pitched if they follow you.
Following and Being FollowedWhen you’re just getting started, you can search Twitter for people you know by entering theirname. Twitter also has an option to search the contacts you have on Gmail, Hotmail, AOL andsome others. Also, there are tools like Twellow, Twitter Grader, and Mr. Tweet that can help youget connected with people with similar interests or that are local to you. Use Twitter Search toplug in topics that interest you and see who’s talking about them.As you get more followers, check out who *they* follow and connect to others you see themconversing with on Twitter. That’s the most organic way to build your network.Be aware that if you run out and follow a slew of people out of the gate, Twitter is very likely tomark you as an account with spam potential and suspend you. It’s not a race. Follow a handfulof people, start talking to them. Grow from there.More isn’t necessarily better. Large networks are built by connecting to people slowly over time,and it matters much more to me that you’re having a conversational, interactive experience.Don’t put too much stock in ranking/scoring/ grading tools that claim to say who’s a good followand who isn’t. And don’t fret if someone unfollows you; again, it’s about each person’s personalexperience, even if you’re not their cup of tea.Consider following people as reaching out and shaking hands, connecting individually ratherthan just an accumulation of numbers. It’s not a popularity contest. It’s a communicationexperience.
ParticipatingThe best advice is to treat Twitter like a conversation (because largely that’s what it is). Startwith 30 minutes, twice a day (say morning and after work). There’s no “right” way to use itand your own feel for it will emerge over time, but there are a few tips.90% of what we do on Twitter is conversing with other people. The other 10% is sharing links wefind across the web that I think are interesting or useful, and about one out of a dozen times,we’ll drop a link to an upcoming event or a recent blog post. The important thing is that yourlinks are much more likely to get attention - yours or otherwise – if you’ve spend the time tobuild the relationships behind the connections before you ask people to Click Your Junk. The best way to build relationships and a community on Twitter: participate. Spend some time sitting back and listening, then join the conversation. Jump on in, say hello. Don’t beg for followers - if you’re interesting and interested in others, they’ll show up. It’s really that simple. Talk, share, contribute. And above all, have a little fun.
The LingoTwitter has it’s own lexicon of sorts. Here are a few terms you might see tossed about.@ replies: This symbol precedes people’s “handles” or screen names on Twitter when a tweetis directed at them. Want to reply to someone’s comment? Start your tweet with @<theirtwitter name> so they’ll know your reply is meant for them. You can track your own replies inthe “@ Replies” tab on your Twitter page, or many of the Twitterclients will do so automatically for you.RT: Stands for “retweet” and means that the tweet is being reposted from someone else. Whenyou see a tweet that starts with these letters, it means that the person is passing alongsomething that someone else wrote. Many of the third party applications have a one-clickbutton to retweet a post.Hashtags: You may often see tweets that end with a hashtag, or a pound sign followed by aterm, such as #conference. The purpose is to keep track of tweets that are all part of a singlesubject, event, or topic. Use Twitter Search or searches in your Twitter client to track all thetweets related to that term. You don’t need to do anything special to use a hashtag, just makeone up and tell folks to use it if you want them to tag their tweets for your event or discussion.Link shorteners: Twitter’s 140 character limitation makes posting big links impossible. So you’llsee shortened urls from services like TinyURL, Bit.ly, is.gd among others. They take a long URLand condense it down to a short version. Many clients like TweetDeck have this built in, but youcan use the web versions as well, many of which have a bookmark button you can use in yourbrowser.
DM: This stands for Direct Message and is Twitter’s version of a private message. If you DMsomeone, you send the message directly to them and no one else can see it. To send one, typethe letter D and a space followed by the person’s Twitter name (or use the Direct Messages tabon your profile page). The recipient of the DM needs to be following you for the message to gothrough.Favorites: If you “favorite” a tweet, it’s like your bookmarking it for yourself. You can see yourfavorites on a separate tab on your profile, and others can see them too.
LinkedInLinkedIn is the virtualized and interactive version of that pile of business cardson your desk. True, it’s home to your online “resume”, but it’s also a mechanismto both demonstrate your expertise and share in the expertise of others, makebusiness connections, and help connect others in your network with each other.So here’s our down-and-dirty guidebook for LinkedIn and a handful of tips.Use a real photo.Don’t be afraid to go candid. More casual shots because exude more of the “real you”, but hey.Do what makes you feel comfy. Just make sure it’s really you.Don’t recite your job description.When you pen your profile - especially the summary - think in terms of what you accomplishedand what your goals are, not the tasks you’re responsible for on a day to day basis. Those areinterchangeable for other people with your type of job. Instead, focus on what makes *you* and*your abilities* different than the next person with your same title. Write as though you’re theone looking to recruit you. What would you want to read? A job description, or a colourfulpicture of what you’ve done and aim to do?Think outside your office.Your current and past positions can and should include personal endeavours if they’ll giveinsight into your overall expertise. For instance, if you’re a blogger and speaker aside from yourjob, say so (and don’t forget to include a link to your blog and RSS feed on your profile).
Function as a hub.Check out what Chris Brogan has to say on this one. LinkedIn can be used to build a network notjust for you, but as a network *for* your network. If you make lots of connections and can helpsomeone use you as a hub to connect with someone else they need to reach, you’ve beenhelpful. (And yes, vet those requests). Networking isn’t just about you. It’s about being a pointon a matrix. Check in every couple of days to accept connection requests and find those youmight have missed.Quick tip: Take a moment to personalize the stock email that LinkedIn gives you when you’resending out network requests.Get and give love.Ask for recommendations from those who know your work, and display them on your profile. content sharesThere’s no greater testimonial for your capabilities than in the words of someone else who’sworked with you. And don’t forget to give back. Offer to write recommendations to those whosework you’re familiar with. A good recommendation focuses on what attributes of a person’swork you’re most familiar with, not just a glowing generic recommendation. If they’re a greatproject manager, say that. Great networker? List that too. But skip the generalities; it doesn’thelp them or you to just say “they’re fantastic”.
Lend a hand.Check the LinkedIn Answers section for opportunities to lend your expertise to questions in yourfield. Be selective and answer questions where you can contribute something of value. Anddon’t shill. If you offer up a solid, helpful answer, people will check out your profile further tolearn more about who you are and what you do. Try about 30-45 minutes, twice a week,checking out the categories I’m interested in and posting responses if I find somethinginteresting. Applications. LinkedIn now offers application plug-ins for a few popular web applications. Add the WordPress application to have your recent blog posts show up on your profile. Add the Slideshare application too, to point to presentations and e-books you’ve uploaded there.
.Lend a hand.Check the LinkedIn Answers section for opportunities to lend your expertise toquestions in your field. Be selective and answer questions where you can contributesomething of value. And don’t shill. If you offer up a solid, helpful answer, people willcheck out your profile further to learn more about who you are and what you do. Tryabout 30-45 minutes, twice a week, checking out the categories I’m interested in andposting responses if I find something interesting.Applications.LinkedIn now offers application plugins for a few popular web applications.Add the WordPress application to have your recent blog posts show up onyour profile. Add the Slideshare application too, to point to presentations ande-books you’ve uploaded there.Groups.Like groups on other social networks, LinkedIn groups are meant to connectpeople of like interest, industry, or professional affiliation. Groups can postquestions among themselves and facilitate other information sharing. Groupstend to work best when they’re centered around a subject, industry, orbroader focus (rather than a product or brand).Check out your company or industry organizations to see if they’ve got aLinkedIn group that might be interesting to you.
FacebookOften more of a personal social network than a business one, there’s no denyingFacebook’s reach and popularity, and it can be a comfortable way to get acquaintedwith what it means to participate in social networks.Your Profile.If you ever have any intention of allowing a business contact of any stripe into your Facebookrealm, use a picture that you’d be proud to show off in public. Candid shots are great, butremember. Social networks are searchable, and you just never know who might come knockingat your virtual door. Better to be fully clothed when you answer. A good thing to note also is thatother profile details - like your birthdate and relationship status - are by default visible on yourpublic profile. That means if you don’t want people to know those details, don’t post them.Likewise with your contact information like email, phone numbers, and website. Consider howyou want people to be able to find you before you post them. (You can change who can seewhat on your privacy settings).Finding Friends.Some folks cross-pollinate between social networks, inviting friends and business acquaintancesalike. But it’s up to you how you want to use Facebook. You can search for people by name, andthen you need to send them a friend request that they have to approve before you can vieweach other’s pages and send messages. It’s a pretty simple process.
Communicating.Facebook offers myriad options for communicating with your friends, including live chat ifthey’re online (at the bottom of your profile), wall-writing (public), in-network messages(private), post items (public) and status updates. As to the latter, Facebook gives you the optionto cross post your Twitter updates to Facebook, but many choose not to do that. Why? If youtweet a lot, your FB friends get flooded chatter out of context, and doesn’t afford you theopportunity to be present in all the places where conversation might be happening. Instead,consider updating your Facebook status manually with fun little quips or other comments aboutwhat you’re up to that might actually be of interest to your Facebook friends, but at a muchmore digestible pace. Don’t forget you can share links, photos, and videos, too.Applications.Many Facebook application, in a business context, can be perceived as intrusive and annoying.But there are two that have broader use, the birthday calendar (see when people’s birthdays are content sharesso you can drop them a note) and the Networked Blogs application so you can demonstratesupport for your favorite blogs in another way that’s visible to those that might be outside thesocial media sphere. If you’re going to add a zillion applications to your profile, realize that whenothers see all the stuff you’ve got on there, it paints a picture of your personality and how youspend your time. That could be a good thing, or not so much. What do your applications sayabout you, and what are you demonstrating to your connections when you ask them toparticipate in them with you?
Groups.Like groups on all social networks, some are better than others. The ones that are mostengaging are the ones that provide information, interactivity, engagement on behalf of theorganizers, and help people connect to other people more easily.If you’re thinking of starting a Facebook group, this is where business can make good use of it.But you can’t park it there and walk away. Facebook groups need to be nurtured and tended bythe people who build them. Group members are looking for dialogue, interaction, anddiscussion, not just promotion and product placement. As a business, consider taking yourgroup discussion a level above your brand, and giving your fans and friends somemeaty topics to digest and discuss.The more you are the catalyst for interesting discussion and a resource for valuable informationand sharing, the more you’ll see your engagement and membership grow over time.
BloggingBlogging is such a ubiquitous form of media today, but people are still incredibly intimidatedabout getting started with one. Is blogging something you should do? That answer will vary foreveryone. Do you have something to say? Do you want to share thoughts, interests, ideas? Areyou interested in others weighing in on what you have to say? Our getting-started philosophy:learn on the job. There’s no better way to learn about blogging than to immerse yourself in it.Read and ParticipateThe very best way to learn about blogging is to read. Read lots of blogs, both inside and outsideyour interest area. Pay special attention to things like tone, writing style, and how writers breakup the content. Again, there’s no “right” way to blog, but you’ll get a feel for what resonateswith you.RSS ReaderTry Google Reader to aggregate your blogs. If you’re not familar with RSS, Common Craft has thiskick butt video that explains it. But in essence, it’s the easy way to get a blog’s content deliveredautomatically right to you. It’s easy and tidy.Start small; select 6 or 10 blogs that interest you, and visit them often. Check out the blogrolls ofthe blogs you’re reading to find other blogs that might be relevant. It’s like having a friendrecommend a book instead of picking one off the shelf.
All in all, spend 30 minutes a day browsing your feeds. You don’t have to read everything indepth. Scan the titles and posts, and stop by for the ones that interest you or compel you tocomment. And don’t fear the “mark all as read” button. There are only so many hours in the day.CommentDon’t be shy about commenting on blogs. Share your voice; the authors *want* to hear fromyou - it’s part of their validation that they’re writing something of interest. It’s okay to not haveall the answers. It’s about furthering the discussion, not necessarily coming to a profoundconclusion. A great tool to check out is Backtype. You sign up with the URL you plug in when youcomment on a blog, and it aggregates all of your comments for you. Add friends from your othernetworks to read their comments and see what blogs they’re visiting. You may find amazinghidden gems this way.WritingIf you’re a writer by nature, blogging will come more easily to you than if not. But a good startergoal is to aim for three posts a week. They don’t have to be mammoth, and at first, just worryabout getting comfortable with the medium. It’s just a blog. If you’re a business, recruit folkswith enthusiasm for blogging to help you. Talk about what you know. And don’t go into this withthe idea that you’re writing for traffic. Write to share something valuable with others in yourcommunity, and serve as a discussion hub and a resource. Passion and interest makesfor better writing, and like building a network anywhere else, it will happen on its own if you’rededicated to it.
TopicsKeep a little text document or even a notebook around to scribble down post ideas when youhave them. Write it all down, and edit later. And get in the habit of starting post drafts andsaving them unfinished. You can always come back to them later when inspiration strikes. If youget a burst of writing done, schedule your posts in advance using your blog software and have abackstore of great stuff at the ready.Share. Ask questions. Get people talking. You’re a conversation catalyst. The means. Notnecessarily the end.CommentsStaying plugged into the comments on your blog is important. Commenters like to know thatyou’re listening and paying attention to their contributions. How often and how deeply yourespond is up to you, but comments are an important part of the blog ecosystem, so find a wayto engage.Inevitably, someone’s going to leave a snarky comment someday. That’s okay - no one can be allthings to all people. (If you or your boss are particularly nervous, go ahead and moderatecomments to start with. You can turn that off later.) Learn to deal with detractors as best youcan. The more people read you, the more of them you’ll find.Credit and SharingLink out to the posts that may have inspired your writing. Point your readers to more resourcesrelevant to your topic. Disclose relationships you have that may have bearing on the opinionsyou write about (most especially if you’re being paid to do so; it’s the law now). If you’reincluding other people’s work, make sure to attribute it.
Just Do It.Nike said it best, but really. It’s a blog, not an earth shattering,irreversible endeavour. Wade in, get your feet wet. Test, try stuff, findyour niche and comfort zone. Ask your favourite bloggers for a tip ortwo. Read, read, read. Read some more. Then, go write.