Social Media PuzzleOnline marketing can be very confusing, if not overwhelming.

It’s a big contraption with lots of moving parts.

Even if you’re already involved in some fashion – posting to a Facebook Business page or tweeting out your company’s latest news or even just checking in to LinkedIn a couple of times a week – there’s a pretty good chance your thoughts sometimes drift off in the direction of …

I don’t really have the time to do this as well as I’d like. There’s got to be a better way – without spending half my week on it!

So, how do you make the online portion of your marketing program easier to implement and succeed at? The answer is to create a hub – the source of most of your posts – and sign up for a free utility that allows you to post to multiple platforms at the same time. And, yes, it’s all pretty simple to do. (Isn’t that refreshing?)

The hub of your online marketing should be [drum roll, please] … a blog.

Why? Because you can blog once, and cross-post to all the rest of your social media accounts! Talk about a time saver!

And the good news is, there are several really easy-to-use blogging platforms that will have you up and running quickly.

Blogger may be the simplest of the platforms.

You can literally have your first blog post out there within 30 minutes of signing up for Blogger (it’s part of the Google family, and it’s free). With recent improvements, it has more flexibility than ever, including the ability to customize the look and feel of your blog so it better coordinates with your overall branding. You don’t need to know any coding, and you can insert links, images and even videos into your posts with a couple of clicks. With its new scheduling feature, you can even compose several entries in one sitting and then schedule them individually to post on different dates/times. Now that’s convenience!

Similarly simple and free are Tumblr and Posterous, which you may want to test drive if you’re considering Blogger. One downside to all of these services is that your blog name will also include their name (for example, yourcompany.blogspot.com or tumblr.com/blog/yourname).

I like WordPress because of its versatility and the many customization options available, but there is a somewhat steeper learning curve.

There are two versions of WordPress – the WordPress-hosted version (free, but less customizable) that results in a name like yourcompany.wordpress.com and the self-hosted version where you purchase your own domain name (yourcompany.com) and then pay someone else to host it (such as GoDaddy, Hostgator or others). The benefit of creating a combination website/blog on either of the two WordPress platforms is that all your info is in one place – there’s no work involved in getting your blog readers to click over to your website – they’re already there! And isn’t that what it’s all about- getting more people to your website so they can learn even more about you, your products, and services?

The beauty of using your blog as the center of your online marketing universe is that you can blog 100 words at a time or 1,000 (or more) words at a time – depending on what’s on your mind and how much information you have to share.

So, how do you deliver your blog posts to these other platforms?

Using the Facebook app, Networked Blogs, you can set up your blog to automatically post to your Facebook Page. Or choose dlvr.it to post to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (free) and Google+ (for a fee) all at once.

[Update 2013-0228] It’s now possible in your WordPress Settings to simply choose “Sharing” and you’ll see the feature known as “Publicize,” which allows you to cross-post to Facebook, Twitter, your LinkedIn personal profile (unfortunately, NOT to your LinkedIn Company Page – yet), tumblr, and Yahoo. “Set it and forget it,” as they say – or you can change your “Publicize” settings for each individual post.

I utilize HootSuite – another free utility – that provides a dashboard that I can leave open on my laptop all day, from which I can post not only to my own social media accounts but also to those of my clients (I use the Pro version which, for a modest fee, allows me to add unlimited accounts).

These utilities can also provide useful analytics so you can track the effectiveness of your efforts, and there are even mobile versions of these apps so you can post right from your smartphone – very handy if you’re blogging from a convention, trade show, seminar, or other event!

So, if you’ve been struggling with 3, 4, or 5 social media sites open on your computer most of the day, feeling distracted, and being a little haphazard in your efforts to harness the power of online marketing and networking, start a blog – or start using the one you have more effectively.

If you need any additional help ramping up your online marketing efforts, please be sure to give me a call at (207) 659-1211.

Happy blogging!

 

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