3 Free Tools for Small Business Social Media Marketing: Build Your Own Communication Hub

So you plan on using social media to market your small business. Have you developed a plan, a strategy? Your plan should start with an online hub,  a “communication hub.”

A “communication hub” is an interactive Web site with a blog, a blog with Web pages or a Facebook company page. Which one you choose to use depends on your marketing strategy.

Why do you need a “hub”?

To market your small business using social media you need a central internet site, a “hub” for digital content and social communication to flow into and out of.  Simply, your business needs an online home base. Depending on your type of small business and marketing strategy, here are three (3) free Do-It-Yourself tools that will offer a solution to develop a “hub” that is easy to create and maintain with little to no budget.  All three (3) DIY tools offer free domain names/URLs and hosting.

Tool #1:  Weebly  http://weebly.com

Weebly provides theme design templates that are easy to work with. The design program is a drag and drop format. It provides for photos, video,  links, product sales, blogging and customization. I have developed several clean and simple “communication hubs” for non-profit or small businesses and found it to be user-friendly. Weebly supports Google analytics for stats and google metatags for search.

Here are examples of a Web site communication hubs using Weebly:





Tool #2:  WordPress   http://www.wordpress.com

WordPress also has themed design templates like Weebly however the edit options are a little more complicated. Beginners might find this option and its learning curve a bit overwhelming at first. If you have the time, patience and want to save the money this is a great option especially if your blog will be the focus of your communication hub. WordPress provides lots of information to help you. If you find yourself still overwhelmed have someone like myself build it and you can spend your time instead maintaining  it. WordPress offers better stats and search options when Weebly at this time.

Here is an example of  a  blog style communication hub using WordPress:


Tool #3:  Facebook Company page   http://facebook.com/yourcompanyname

One negative here you are beholden to Facebook. As we all know Facebook changes all the time. When using this option you will give up some control. Although it is an option, I would not use Facebook as your main communication hub. Use it as a secondary hub to target key demographic audiences with unique offers/content.  Note:  Your Facebook company page will receive a free URL address to use for marketing purposes once 25 fans “like” your company page.

Here is an example of a communication hub using a Facebook company page:


LinkedIn: Who’s viewing your profile?

One of the tools your LinkedIn account offers is the ability to see who has viewed your profile by clicking  Your profile has been viewed by 7 people in the past day.”  (Note: Free profile accounts have access to a limited list of recent viewers, upgraded paid accounts have access to a complete list of recent viewers.)

This is an extremely valuable tool. Make sure to check it often. You will gain insight into the type of business professionals your profile is attracting and glean possible business connections and/or leads.

 Your profile viewers will reveal themselves to you in three ways:

#1  Full Contact information   This is a type of profile viewer is ideal. They are open to connecting. They are willing to share 100% of who they are with you. Take some time and review their profile. See what you have in common: groups, education, connections or business.  If you find commonalities offer an olive branch…send them an invitation to link in with you along with a personal note. Make the connection.

#2  Partial Contact Information   Someone in the (Professional Function: i.e. Business Administration function) in the (Industry: i.e. Marketing and Advertising industry) from (Location: Greater New York City Area)  This type of profile viewer is a bit guarded. You will not know actually who viewed your profile but you will get a good idea of who it might have been by reviewing the list that is provided. From personal experience, your profile viewer will most likely be one of the top 5 people on the list.  They might be open to connecting, however you will have to wait for them to make the first move or find something you have in common by reviewing each profile and then send an invitation with a personal note to link in with you. If this is your profile setting consider changing it – open yourself up for connections you are missing out on. You are missing an opportunity to market yourself.

 #3 “Anonymous LinkedIn User”   This type of profile viewer is unnerving. They are 100% secretive. They are not willing to share yet they wish to take advantage of the information you are sharing. This viewer of your profile is a taker, creeper or stalker. They are defeating the purpose of using social media, it is to be social and connect with others. Hopefully in the near future LinkedIn will give each profile account holder the ability to block these viewers. If the viewer of your profile is not willing to offer you at least a #2 profile viewer description you should have the option to block them, they are not being social. Take the poll.  How you feel about anonymous users   http://linkd.in/iCyTug

If you are not attracting the right type of viewers, its time to make changes to your profile. Your LinkedIn profile is a vital part of your personal branding and marketing plan. It should be updated regularly and continue to evolve just like you and your career do.

What kind of profile viewer are you? Are you ready to fully commitment to your LinkedIn professional network and the opportunities that can present themselves? Check your profile settings and make sure you’re getting the most out of your LinkedIn social marketing efforts.

Social Media, it’s about the content. 6 Steps to making original content a priority.

Content image

For real estate its location, location, location. For #SMM Social Media Marketing its content, content, content.

If you want to get the most out of your social media marketing efforts spend time deciding what social media outlets to broadcast from, but spend equal if not more time planning what you are going to say (share)  – develop your content.

Sharing other’s original content is a great way to start. It’s a natural part of the social media experience however creating your own content is a better option and takes some planning. Original content will go a long way in positioning and branding you or your product.

6 Steps to making original content a priority

1)      Decide on a list of content topics that will speak to your target audience(s)

2)      Layout a rough content plan a month in advance  

Decide how often you will be broadcasting new content. Will it be several times daily, weekly, monthly? Decide with topics from your list you will be addressing.

3)      Create new content one week in advance

Block a consistent block of time every day or week (depending on how much content you will be creating) to work on content creation.  Think outside the box, beyond the written word. Photos with captions, video, Power Points, charts, graphs, surveys, polls results you get the point.

4)      Decide where your content is going to live 

Upload content and get the link to where this content will live. (Your blog, your website, YouTube, Tweetpic, Box.net, Slide Share, etc,).

5)      Use link shorteners like bitly.com for your content within your post or tweet

They serve two purposes: shortening the link which gives you more space for your copy (with twitter that’s important) and for tracking how many people click to see your content.

6)      Pre-load your tweets & posts

Use a tool like Hoot Suite to pre-load your posts & tweets daily, weekly or monthly to leave you more time to create content.

Social Media: To Profile Photo, or not to Profile Photo?

No Photo


Social Media is all about connections, networking, communicating and sharing. Choosing not to use a profile picture is simply a missed opportunity. A missed opportunity to make a visual connection or to visually brand yourself or your business. 

In addition to the missed opportunity, a missing profile photo opens the door to questioning why its missing. Is the person hiding something? Is the person not comfortable or confident with themselves? Is the business claiming to be something it’s not? There is really no reason with technology today, cell phone cameras and inexpensive digital cameras, why an appropriate photo geared towards the correct audience for each social media channel can’t be achieved for anyone or any business. 

Bottom line, people want to connect with people. Photos create interest and help build relationships/connections.

Today’s 5 Learning Curve Tips for Beginner Bloggers

Venturing into the world of “Bloggers” was not a decision I jumped into lightly or quickly. It was also not for my love of writing.  I am a visual person not a person of grammar, spelling & text.  I am a teacher, a sharer and a mentor, so I spent the past year in the fog of the blogging learning curve, listening and following many types of blogs/bloggers in order to be able to effectively teach others how to set up and run their own blogs.

I learn best in a visual one-on-one environment, so I found the hours and hours I have spent reading lots of text type manuals/help files, necessary yet daunting.  I learned of widgets, hopefully enough to have chosen the best ones for this blog and of the backend set up that is important to a blog’s SEO. 

In the past, I have managed projects like blog design & set ups…this time I wanted to experience it first hand – by doing it, not just managing it. So along with tips and information on social media, traditional media & production I plan on sharing my blogging learning curve adventures with you. I hope to spare you some of the mistakes I have made and will make along the way on my blogging  journey… 

Today’s 5 learning curve tips for beginner bloggers:

1) “Enter title here” means actually that. This where you place your post “Title”!  Yes, I did indeed start writing this post in the “title” until I realize I was posting in the wrong location. Yes I’m embarrassed.

2) Click on “Save Draft” after at least each sentence otherwise you will be re-typing your blog posts a lot.  Yes, of course I lost my first version of today’s post by not doing that.

3) Add a “categories” widget to your blog, set up the categories you plan to write about the most and click each category that applies.  This will make your blog posts more searchable. This is a good thing.  “Blog” is the category for this post.

4) If your spelling skills are weak, like mine, please use spell checker before publishing your post.  If won’t solve all your spelling ills but it can’t hurt.

5) There comes a time when you have to “Just do it” (Thx Nike). You will make mistakes but … remember you can “edit”, change settings, add and subtract applications/widgets, etc as you learn more.  So… start, you will learn more by doing and sharing what you learn.

Categories: Blog