small business

Keep Organized With These Small Business Marketing Extensions

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Marketing for a small business can get hectic, time-consuming, and unorganized. Between the hundreds of accounts, sites, and content resources used everyday, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Luckily there are plenty of browser extensions that can be added to your web browser to help keep your efforts clutter-free. Here are some great extensions that the Shout Out team uses to stay sane:

Awesome Screenshot:

Screen capturing is nothing new, but Awesome Screenshot is the most versatile and capable screenshot tool I have come across. It allows you to capture either a selected area, the directly visible area, or the entire web page. After you have selected your screenshot, you can annotate it in a variety of ways, and even censor sensitive information. The final benefit of Awesome Screenshot is it gives you the option to email, share the url, or save the image. Showing edits needed on site pages, individual posts or photos has never been easier.

 

Hootlet:

If you’re in charge of social media for your small business, there is a good chance you are no stranger to HootSuite. Hootlet is their browser extension which helps you save time and effort. You can post to multiple social media profiles at once, schedule your posts, and find targeted content all without leaving your browser window.

bitly:

bitly is a link shortening/ branding extension that does so much more. After you create custom bitlinks, you can then manage and review their performance from the analytics and reporting from bitly. It keeps your social sharing looking clean, and helps you track click-throughs.

 

riffle:

Riffle is the Twitter dashboard you’ve been looking for, assuming you were looking for a Twitter dashboard. Get a Twitter profile’s vitals, influence assessments, top shares, usage and it’s activity rate all in a single dashboard. It’s a great way to learn about your followers or potential influencers.

Pocket:

Save the content you find for later with Pocket. This nifty extension will save, categorize and sync content so you can access it later, from any device. Pocket is a great way to curate articles, videos, or photos to share from your brand’s social media accounts.

MozBar:

The MozBar browser extension provides free SEO metrics and data. You can search keywords, locations and individual search engines. MozBar also lets you analyze on-page elements with their Analyze Page overlay. It provides you with a break down of social shares and metrics. Save time on SEO research by adding MozBar to your extension arsenal.

Other useful extensions that will save you time and effort:

Check My Links:

As the name suggests, this extension is a link checker that scours through your page or post and will make sure all your links are working. Once it’s done it will highlight working links in green, and it highlights the broken links with red. This is a great time-saver, especially when you’ve been editing content for an entire day.

RiteTag:

It can be hard to know which hashtags to use on your social media posts. RiteTag takes the guessing out of it by grading your hashtags on a three point scale. Updates shared through RiteTag are also monitored for click-throughs, replies, retweets, favorites, and follows.

Check out the extensions above and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear of any extensions you use that have simplified your daily workload.

How To Be A Better Business Blogger

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In previous posts, we’ve broken down the anatomy of an effective blog post and established why blogging matters for business, but how can YOU be a better business blogger? Here are a few best practices you might try:

Collaborate With The Team

There’s no “I” in team right? Well, there’s no “I” in blog either. The most refreshing blogs online these days are the ones that have different viewpoints – why? Because it’s different! Working together as a team allows different to be created with little to no effort. How does that happen? In 3 ways:

  • When you collaborate with a team you feed off of each other’s ideas. If I’m stuck and my creative juices aren’t flowing I can look to my team to support me through that. They offer ideas or things they would want to hear about.
  • Your team isn’t afraid to say no. Or yes really. Often as individuals, we sit around and question our ideas, yet when we present them to the team we more often than not get a positive response or ways to make our posts even better.
  • Think in broader terms of a team. Everyone has a perspective and sometimes it’s those with the softest voice that end up having a ton to contribute, it just takes asking and they’re excited to be involved.

Understand Your Audience:

You know how everyone and their brother tells you that in order to be a successful company you have to understand your audience? Well, they’re right. It’s Business 101. You have to be able to understand your audience’s wants and needs – and more importantly, provide for those wants and needs. The same goes for your blog. We could sit around all day blogging about why cupcakes are so delicious, but that’s not what our audience wants to hear because that’s not the information or the business we provide to benefit them.

Sometimes it’s as simple as just going straight to the source and asking what they want to hear more (and less) about. Survey your readers directly on the blog or poll your audience via social media. You don’t know if you don’t ask.

Network With Your Peers:

Don’t blog with blinders. Get out of your office and go talk to the world. It’s easy to get into a rhythm of developing content, but an outsider who’s not on the front lines with you all day long can help provide a fresh perspective. Sometimes ideas are spurred by just having conversations with your peers. Ask them about issues they’re challenged with, and turn it into an opportunity to use your expertise to help educate others who might be dealing with a similar issue. Don’t just focus on challenges though, we all love to hear a good success story and share ways we can be more efficient and effective in business. Consider even doing a monthly roundtable with other business leaders to discuss hot topics for blog fodder.

Another way to utilize both your expertise and your peers is to swap your knowledge. Be a guest blogger and pay it forward. Provide insight on a subject matter that might be relevant to their audience, and in return give them a platform to share their knowledge with your audience. Sometimes it a nice little break on both ends.

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk

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Excellent New Marketing Tool for WordPress

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Everyone has heard about marketing automation; the holy grail of business software solutions; at least this week. The solutions abound, HubSpot, ActOn, Infusionsoft, Marketo, and so on. They promise the moon, and for those with the human and financial capital to use them effectively, they actually deliver outstanding results. But what about the little guy, what about the small business that wants some of the same capabilities but has a staff of five and no money to spend. What do they do?

Well, using our superpower of prognostication we think we may have found one; LeadIn. We’ve been trying it out for the last few weeks and really like what we’ve seen so far. Clearly, it’s a work in progress, but it already is adding value to our organization.

In short, the current software provides capabilities to track individuals who visit a website and fill out any associated form, be it a request for information, a download of some sort, or joining a newsletter. LeadIn adds a tracking cookie to the visitors’ browser and automatically ads them to the LeadIn contacts section it will create in your WordPress site. In that sense, it is as powerful as the other options that cost thousands of dollars per month.

The folks at LeadIn are very much on the right track and have designs for bringing significant capabilities to the WordPress world.

Now the reason for this blatant plug…something we don’t do often…they need testers. Right now they are seeking to get as many people as they can accommodate to install the beta PlugIn and try it out. If this holds any interest for you, we hope you will check them out and we can all watch together as they move forward.

Photo Credit: tashland

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