Taming Twitter:- Part Two

Registering a new Twitter account is not difficult, go to https://twitter.com/ and register. Once this is done, do not rush off and start tweeting. Create your profile carefully, people want to know who they are engaging with, so tell them who you are, what it is you do.

Your profile is important so take some time over it , Twitter have this handy guide for you to use here. I would recommend that you use a head and shoulder portrait of yourself in the smaller box and something that represents your company in the larger box.

Getting ffollowers

In order to start getting followers, you need to find people to follow. Ask yourself who you want to follow, a Thought Leader like Sir Richard Branson @richardbranson or a Celebrity like Leonardo DiCaprio @LeoDiCaprio or even President Obama @BarackObama.

OK there is a slim possibility these big cheeses may follow you back, but mostprobaly not. You need to find other followers, you could look at who follows these big names or you could look for similar interests using a hashtag # or even do a search by name. You will start finding interesting people in other places, you might find a Twitter Handle on a business card or on a clients Website.

try to follow the people whom you would like to follow you. Twitter will advise them that you have followed, most will take the time to look you up and if they like your profile and your tweets, they may follow you. Others will find you through your tweets.

The three most important thing to remember when looking for followers, keep your tweets meaningful and regular. Do not bombard the Twitterverse, people will be overwhelmed and stop following you. Make sure your profile is completed properly.

The Structure of a Tweet.

Twitter is one the most powerful Business Tools available, your tweets go out in real time and can be seen, not just by your followers, but the whole world.

You need to plan your tweets and you need to be creative because you are restricted to 140 characters. That is 140 characters including spaces. You can use abbreviations, but only use what people know and understand. I do not like the SMS Speak, they youth use when texting and messaging their mates. I find it unprofessional and it has no place in Business.

With some simple planning and rewording you can change

I cannot understand why South Africans find that they need to support teams like Manchester City. The more we support our local teams, the harder they will strive to do better (175 characters)

to:
Why do South Africans support teams like Manchester City? The more we support our local teams, the harder they will strive to do better. (5 characters to spare)

I removed some words but still manage to say what I wanted to say.

Adding a Photo

In the above example, a photo of of a Manchester City jersey would have got people’s attention. You will remember the saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Well, it is true for social media too.

Add a Video

If a picture is worth a thousand word, what are moving picture worth? You can add YouTube or Vimeo Videos just as easily as you can with pictures,

Media such as a picture or a videos attract attention and are a good way of getting a message across, not just for Twitter but for any Social Media or Blog.

Vine

Vine, owned by Twitter is a Video with a difference. Using the Vine App on your phone, you can record a video and upload it to Twitter, but nothing about Vine is that simple.

Vine is about creativity, because like Twitter with 140 character limit, a Vine is a six second looping Video.

Go and look at some of the videos produced on Vine and you will see just how creative they are.

if I have not convinced you about how powerful a Business Tool twitter is, sign up get a follower of two and try it out, you will see what I am talking about.

Taming Twitter:- Part One

What is Twitter?

Twitter IconTwitter is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read short 140-character messages called “tweets”. Registered users can read and post tweets, but unregistered users can only read them.Wikipedia

Twitter has been referred to as a form of Internet SMS, able to reach a large audience. It was called Micro – Blogging, when Twitter first came out.

The reality is that Twitter is many things. And it is these “many things” that make it an exciting tool for Business.

  • Twitter allows you have a conversation with one person or many persons.
  • Twitter allows you to get a message out quickly to your followers.
  • The use of Hashtags allows people to search for what you are Tweeting about.
  • People will follow you on Twitter if the feel your Tweets are interesting or relevant to them.

Who uses Twitter?

There is no average Twitter follower. It is used for Social Networking and private conversations, it is used to promote products and services, it is used by the Pornography industry to promote themselves. Tweets range from status updates to menu updates.

Most users are most likely to use mobile when checking their twitter streams. Tweets can be sent in any language and at any time.

How does one use Twitter?

First you need a Twitter account and a user name. Usually when you have set up your account, you look for people to follow. Twitter will make suggestions for you or you can search using names of the people you would like to follow or hashtags of your interests. Most of the time,  people that you follow will follow you back.

Twitter restricts you to 140 characters, so you need to be creative with language and abbreviations, sort of like the annoying SMS speak the kids use. Tweets need a bit of thought, so that they do not end up as unintelligible.

From time to time, you will see a tweet that you like or agree with and you can Favourite or even share it with your followers by Retweeting.

What Advantages does Twitter hold for Small Business?

The Internet has changed the way that Small Business competes with Big Business by bringing down the cost of how a business markets itself.

Twitter is free to use, a big plus factor and unlike Facebook, you do not have to have a personal Twitter account in order to have one for your Business. Twitter has large membership that covers every aspect of business and society.

Some examples of how different business can use Twitter:-

  • Travel Agencies could tweet reservation details to their customers as a direct message.
  • They could also tweet their specials to their customer base.
  • A restaurant could tweet their daily specials to their customer base.
  • Airlines could tweet when flights are delays.

Of course Twitter works in both directions, customers are able to direct message suppliers with their compliments and complaints. They could also tweet their followers using a hashtag, when they are happy of angry with   supplier. This makes monitoring your twitter stream carefully to pick up problems and react quickly.

Another way Twitter can benefit a business is monitor complaints about your competitors, then connect with person complaining and offering help.

Twitter has many uses for Small Business and has a important place in their Marketing Arsenal.

 

Landing Pages

Landing Pages are one page Websites, separate from your Website, that that is very specific in its purpose. A Landing Page can be used to;

    • Generate Leads
    • Obtain eMail Addresses or Phone Numbers
    • Promote a Product or Service
    • Persuade visitors to purchase

A Landing Page will usually focus on and promote one thing. It may have the aim of teasing or it may be meant to persuade.

A good landing page has to be designed in a way that will not distract you from its goal. It must grab the visitors attention and focus the on its purpose.

What are the elements that make up a good Landing Page? Here you have to remember that your purpose is to solve a problem.

Control your creativity and make sure your audience understand what your are saying. Simple language is usually best.

Ask a question or make a statement around the problem they are trying to solve.

Use simple muted background, you do not want distract your visitors.

Do not add a menu to the page – a Landing page is meant to be a stand alone page.
Do not add Social Media buttons, you do not want them to leave the page before doing the action you want them doing.

Social Media buttons can be added to the Thank You page, so that when your visitors complete the action you want them to do, you can then ask them to tell their friends or to connect with you on social media.

A Description of what is being offered.

A picture or video.

A Value Statement

Give testimonials if you have them.

A mail Form to catch customer details, name and email address is all that you need.

But most of all keep it, short simple and to the point and remember to remember to tell them to take the action you require, example;

Wiki

Wikipedia, the on-line Encyclopaedia, is the best example of a Wiki. Most of us will use Wikipedia to look up information on just about every subject under the sun. The difference, between Wikipedia and something like Encyclopedia Britannica, is that the research and information is done by anyone who has information on that particular subject.

A Wiki is a collaborative database that can be moderated, even made private or can be completely free for anyone to post information on. The uses are many, from an Encyclopedia to a Hobby Website.

Obviously, when not controlled it can become a spam magnet and the information posted be completely off topic, or just plain incorrect.

Wikis are a form of Content management Software and live on your server, so that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, using any computer. These make Wikis ideal for any type of business team project.

Because a Wiki is a CMS and live in the cloud, you would control access through usernames and passwords, especially when using for business. If you were using it for public input or feedback, you might allow people to join without these credentials.

A Wiki is another tool in your marketing arsenal, that can be used in connection with or, separately from your Website or, even as as Website

Bootstrap

A Website is no longer a static plain page containing some text, a picture or two and not much colour. We expect more, we want more bells and whistles from our Websites. Bootstrap is a Mobile First Framework for designing Website using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.

HTML is used to create content on Websites, CSS is responsible for the layout and JavaScript for the dynamic content. HTML5 became the Web Standard in October 2014. It has enhanced support for multimedia.

A modern Website is created using HTML, CSS and Javascript. These can be hand written separately for each separate project, which is long and tedious. A smart developer will keep a library of the most commonly used code used to speed things up. This is where Bootstrap comes in. It is a comprehensive library that allows you to choose from code snippets to create a Website.

What does this mean for you, the client? Sites are created quicker using the latest standards. Unlike CMS Websites (WordPress) that live in the cloud, the original files remain on the developer’s PC (unless he hands them over to you,) however many WordPress themes are now built using Bootstrap.

Bootstrap is not really client friendly and I use it only for my own projects and those that I control on behalf of my client. But is a very powerful platform to use when creating professional work.

WordPress DOT COM

There are many free do it yourself Websites and Blogging platforms available to you. Some good, some mediocre. WordPress is different, it come in two very distinct flavours.

WordPress DOT COM is a free hosted Website or Blog and WordPress DOT ORG allows you to download the software free to use on our own serve.

So what is WordPress? It is a Content Management System that you can access from any computer, anywhere in the world, as long as you have a working Internet connection.

So why should you choose WordPress DOT COM instead of any of the other free Do It Yourself options. Because, when you outgrow free, and trust me – as a business you will outgrow free, you transition to the WordPress that lives on your own server, is quick and easy.

Like every free do it yourself Website, you get the free base package and the paid premium package. The free package is perfectly ok and if you find yourself considering the premium package, you know it is time to move to your own server, where you get more control.

The only disadvantage of the free package is that you get a subdomain – yourname@wordpress.com. Of course you can register a Domain through them at a fee or point your own existing domain to the Website, again at a fee. But that is really the only paid option you should consider.

So what happens when you feel it is time to move, WordPress can move your existing site or blog to a self hosted setup for a fee or you can simply redirect people to your new site.

You cannot make the move and expect that your existing audience will automatically follow you. You need to tell them that you are moving (how else will they know.) If you have a mailing list, send them a newsletter telling them about the move and the benefits it will have for them.

Your very last post need to be redirecting them to the new address and and what the benefit is for them. Tempt them with a freebie or a discount.

Just a little of planning and things will go smoothly.

Joomla

Joomla Default Template

Joomla Default Template

Web Design and Development has changed over time with Websites becoming more dynamic. One way of avoiding having to hire a developer to create you a dynamic site from scratch, which be expensive, is to use Content Management System or CMS.* This also has the advantage that should want to, you can manage the content yourself, saving the cost of having to hire someone to manage it for you

The two most popular CMS available are WordPress and Joomla. They are both Open Source and have large community supporting them. Whilst WordPress is by far the most popular, Joomla has its merits.

A plus is that Joomla is Mobile Friendly out of the box – very important in today’s mobile drive Internet.

Joomla is not as easy to work with out of the box, like WordPress**, it involves a bit of a learning curve but becomes quite easy once you have mastered the basics. There are many How to’s and Tutorials published by the Joomla Community to help you get started.

Whilst it is possible to add a Blog to Joomla, I would not use it as a Blogging Platform. I would use it for Websites where I would manage the content that needed changing regularly.

Joomla makes use of Extensions to increase the functionality of the Website, this is similar to the Plugins and Widgets you get in WordPress.

My preference will always be WordPress to use as a CMS for client projects, but i am impressed by Joomla and would certainly use it for certain projects.

*The Website Backend lives on the server (or in the cloud) and thus allows access from any computer anywhere in the world.

**Wordpress is covered in a later article

The One Page Website

One page Mobile Friendly Website

One page Mobile Friendly Website

Websites have come a long way from When I started out in the Industry/ From a plain white background with plain black text to all the bells and whistles one finds on Websites today. Possibly the most import aspect of the evolution Websites have undergone, is the amount of creativity that one sees in modern Websites.

We see Websites in much the same way as we do paper magazines and books, as pages which we turn over. But look at your Internet Browser – you can scroll sideways or down and back up. Next open a Website on your phone – mobile friendly sites scroll down.

So the questions to ask is – why not have everything on one page? One reason that we do not build Websites as many one page is because we hate scrolling, especially sideways to get to the end of the line.

Another reason is that even the smallest Website has a fair amount of Information that they want to get across. To serve up the information in sizable chunks and cut down on scrolling you would use a static navigation either at the top or on the side and jump to that part of the page.

By using the navigation to move around means you can add all the extras you would add to any other Website – an example of this is the Website I made for Coeur de Leon Guesthouse that has a slider at the top and a interactive rooms a guide.

I have to confess, my One Page Websites have additional pages – I do add the boring but necessary legal stuff on a separate page but the core Website is on one page.

I did another simpler Website for Abafazi Logistics Management, again with the core information on one page and the boring add ons separately.

Whilst it is possible to create every Website in this manner, large Website could prove to be awkward and should there be developed in the traditional way.

The OnePager Website that I offer can be used for just about any type of Website but is ideal for Small Businesses just starting out and wanting to establish their presence on the Internet. Expanding the Website or even changing it to a multi page Website or at a later stage is easy enough.

Want to find out more and get your own OnePager – click here

The Business Card Website

In the same way the Business card that you carry around in your wallet and hand out when you meet a prospective client, a Business card site introduces you and your Business to the World.

The Business Card Website serves the multiple purpose of:

  • establishing your presence on the Internet;
  • providing you with custom eMail address;
  • telling the world who you are;
  • and where they can find you.

A Business Card Website, should not be confused with a free directory entry, whilst these serve the purpose of sending you business, you do not control them. Your Business Card Website is yours and you have the final say of what it contains and how it looks.

Who need one? The Internet is no longer the playground of the few. Smartphones have brought the Internet with reach of all. This means that even tradesmen like plumbers or electricians, who sell their services locally, could be searched for online. You phone is often close at hand and you do not have to go looking for your copy of the yellow pages (if you even have one.)

Normally the design and layout of such a Website would be simple, but of course customisation, depending your taste, is possible. The content is fairly standard:

  • Your name
  • Your service or product
  • Your hours of operation
  • Your address, and
  • Your phone number

The Internet has changed the way we do most things and keeps evolving. it is possible in the future that a Business Card Website will be expanded into a bigger site. Taking a real world example, you already own the plot, you are simply extending your property.

By registering your Domain now before it becomes unavailable and using a customised email address, you are already stealing a march on your opposition.

Stay out of Trouble

A lot of small businesses operate informally. They deal in cash, do not use banks and do not pay tax. This is acceptable up to a point.  Take the guy selling fruit at the traffic lights. Whatever he gets paid will go towards resupply and supporting himself. He does not need a bank account and the tax man will ignore

But go one level up to the guy who has a job but does side jobs o his own to time. Usually he will pocket the cash and not declare to the tax man. But somewhere along the line, he or she may take on a project for a company that needs a bank account so they can pay and before they pay they need formal paperwork.Operating under the radar now becomes more difficult, but is still possible.

Then one day the guy who has been moonlight decide to go into business. Now, there are two types of business – one that succeeds and grows and one that fails. So now operating under the radar becomes more difficult and in some cases impossible.

Business will always make the best customers because they have the money to pay for your service or product, but that have procedures in place and will require a proper invoice and because a great many countries have sales tax, they will need something more from you. Keep in mind, they will pay tax on their profits, so being able to prove their expenses to the tax man is important to your customers.

There is another very important reason for Small Business to comply legally – Governments provide assistance to Small Business, in the form of training and finance. In South Africa, i have to provide a tax certificate in order to get State assistance for my business and I am sure most countries would have such a rule in place.

But if you think that the tax man is the only one you need to keep happy, think again. Your customers have a variety of laws they can use to cause you much grief. There are Privacy Laws, there are Consumer Protection Laws, there are laws that govern IT.

Know what laws affect you and how they affect you is a major part of running your business. Law is a complex subject and one are where you need to get professional advice. There are books available, there are Websites available but these can only serve as a guide and rather that make an incorrect assumption, use a lawyer to find out what applies to your business.

Laws are there for the protection of all, including you. You will stay out of trouble only if you know what your rights are, what your client is entitled.