It may seem that Facebook and Twitter get all the attention in social media circles these days, while the simple blog has been pushed to the sidelines. But in truth, a blog can and should lie at the center of your social media strategy. After all, a blog enables you to set the narrative for your company in a way that no other Web 2.0 tool can.
In fact, more than half of Internet users read a blog at least monthly and find them very influential, according to research from Technorati and eMarketer. Want to tell a customer success story? Need to spread information about an upcoming company-sponsored event? A blog can serve those needs, and more. Ultimately, you should think of your blog as the hub for your social media activities.
Setting up a blog on your website requires a little programming expertise (here’s some tips on how to do that), but once you’re up and running, it’s good to follow a few guidelines for shaping the content that you’re presenting.
Choose Your Topics
Not certain of what to write about? One of the best places to start is by introducing your company blog as a place to share ideas. Readers will be encouraged to hear that your blog is a place they can respond to—literally, with comments on your content. Inviting feedback is a great way to establish customer conversations.
From there, you can host a company-wide brainstorm session to see what topics customers ask about and where their pain points are. If you can address a customer need on your blog, or show customers how to do something, or lend your expertise, customers will look to you as a trusted source. (And this can also have the added benefit of boosting sales.)
You can also blog about a news story by putting your own twist on it and why it’s important to your readers. Another thing you can do is link out to another blogger and credit them with sharing something interesting, and offer your thoughts on the topic. The possibilities for content are endless.
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Over the past few years, so many partners and even Cisco employees have asked me time and again “How do I get started in social media?” Having heard that question so often, it seemed to me that before we use our new Social Media Spotlight series to highlight best practices when blogging, or using Twitter or Facebook, we should explain how to get into the social media game.
I myself came to social media by way of journalism, so when someone asks me how to get started, I usually turn around and ask the person who’s talking to me, “What do you want to achieve in using social media?”
Perhaps you’re not certain what you want to achieve, beyond knowing that you want to use social media at your company. According to a recent survey conducted by IPED and commissioned by Cisco, about 50% of partners are interested in learning how to expand online engagement to drive business. Does that include you? Then read on for some advice on how to start process.
1) Identify Your Goal(s)
Defining what you want to achieve is the major starting point—if you haven’t used social media before, and you are looking to get started, you need to ask yourself what you want to use social media for—what is your goal?
For most businesses, social media can help amplify your company’s message, help you engage with your customers, start conversations, and deepen relationships. So keeping that in mind, you should start thinking about a social media plan by developing a list of clear goals. It should be more than just gaining followers and fans. While gaining followers is one metric, the conversation, interaction, and even leads you generate are important ways of measuring success.
Once you have that list of goals (my rule of thumb is that two or three is ideal) then your next step will be to identify which social media vehicles align with those goals. Read More »