1. Related Posts — This plugin helps improve your search engine optimization by allowing search engines to index older blog content more easily. It automatically searches through your blog post database, identifies posts with similar subject matter and keywords, and inserts a link to them.
  2. Comment Relish — Once you have a WordPress blog set up, make sure that you are listening to what your bloggers have to say. Not only is replying to blog posts important for SEO but it can also be a useful tool for gathering feedback for user interface web design practices. The comment relish plugin automatically sends an email to bloggers who posted on your blog for the first time thanking them and filling them in about your current events. This is a great way to keep site visitors engaged without being time-consuming.
  3. WordTwit — Microblogging is the best way to reach a wide audience of people who share relevant interests. Since Twitter has blown up, it’s become a great marketing platform—people are constantly engaging with it. The WordTwit WordPress plugin uses the twitter API to send out a link to your published blog post in an automatic tweet. This can attract a lot of twitter-ers to your new post.
  4. SEO Friendly Images — By the time you have written detailed descriptions for your WordPress site’s title tags, metatags, and keyword tags, you may not have the time or the energy to enter image alt tags. SEO Friendly Images is a plugin that can automatically add alt and title tags to images alt and title tag. This will optimize your images without much effort.
  5. Robots Meta — This plugin will prevent search engines from indexing your search results pages, login, register, admin pages, etc by inserting a nofollow tag. Doing so will let your more relevant pages receive more “link juice” from search engine crawlers.
  6. SEO Slug —To further optimize your blog post titles for search engine optimization; install the SEO Slug plugin. This plugin automatically improves your keyword strings by removing words that are conjunctions in sentences like “as” and “if” to allow crawlers to more readily read the main contentkeywords as a fluid string.

I have come across several articles this week that were saying that it is amazing that more brick and mortar businesses are not using Foursquare.

The truth is, I just don’t think that most business owners even know about it!

Here is a brief description of what Foursquare is and some ways you can use it to promote your business or website and bring targeted web traffic to your site…

What is Foursquare?

Foursquare is a free website that lets people who have a cell phone with internet service (and the Foursquare app on it) “check in” to any location they want. The person who “checks in” the most with their little Foursquare app on their phone becomes the “mayor” of that location.  I know, it sounds silly at first…but please read on!

How are Businesses Using Foursquare to Promote Their Business?

Foursquare is an incredibly fun and easy way for businesses to promote their business through the popularity of  social media and mobile technology. Starbucks is a good example of a business that is using it right. After five visits (with a check-in), patrons can unlock a special badge called the Barista Badge from Starbucks and recently they started offering $1 off drinks to Foursquare mayors nationwide.This is the first national Foursquare marketing campaign, but McDonalds is in hot pursuit.

For a non-techie “brick and mortar” business owner with a pay-as-you-go cell phone plan, this may not seem like anything you would care about, but I beg to differ! With just a tiny bit of ingenuity (offering $1 off drinks for mayor isn’t rocket science!), you could make your shop or restaurant the next hottest thing in your community for avid Foursquare users!

5 Ways You Could Use Foursquare to Promote Your Business

  1. Create Tips & To-Do Items at www.foursquare.com for your business. You don’t even need a cell phone to do this. Use the Tips and To-Do’s on your business page on Foursquare to let visitors in on some little secrets about your business that make the people who check-in feel like they are part of the family.  This could include such things as:
    • Try the Macaroni Salad. It is our special recipe made by Joe’s grandmother
    • Try our X hair product. It’s new and uses our special ingredient which does this…
    • It’s Jennifer’s birthday today. She is one of the servers. Tell her happy birthday and get a free dessert with your check-in.
  2. Offer “specials”. If a Foursquare venue has a special, users will see a big button on the page when they check in. This makes them want to see what it is. You can offer specials to mayors or to frequent visitors. I would recommend both… why not? Anyone who bothers to check-in to your location is a big fan and is proud to be part of your business.
  3. Offer something free the first time they check in. By doing this, you are encouraging them to try out Foursquare with your business.
  4. Give them something free for multiple friends checking in together. Foursquare is a social event. Make use of that and encourage them to share it.
  5. Send them to your website for a secret clue or a question to answer. If they provide the answer and show their check-in, they get a discount price or special offer. This will bring targeted traffic to your website and help to increase website traffic.

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking. I am including a few links below for other articles and resources of Foursquare promotional ideas:

The Bar Blogger – 8 Foursquare Promotion Ideas for Your Bar (or Restaurant or…)
Mashable – Foursquare and Starbucks Team Up to Offer Customer Rewards
I Was Around – FourSquare Badge List
Huffington Post – Foursquare Badges: The Ultimate Guide
Kyle Lacy – 5 Ways to Use Foursquare for Business
ReadWriteWeb – Why We Check In: The Reasons People Use Location-Based Social Networks
NY Times – Bits: Foursquare Introduces New Tools for Businesses
Spin Sucks –  The Time for Location-Based Marketing is Now & Geo-Location Marketing by Danny Brown
Max Gladwell – 10 Ways Geolocation is Changing the World

Here is a great example of combining Facebook and FourSquare by AJ Bombers restaurant.

Everyone knows how bad the BP oil spill is by now. But apparently it didn’t have to be this bad. After it happened, Holland (who has an intense oil clean-up system in place) offered the U.S. its full services to clean up almost all of the oil. Only the U.S. said “no” because “really clean” isn’t clean enough …

    1. Do you have Campaigns and strategies?
      This isn’t a number, some may say not even tangible, but you won’t get anywhere unless you’ve actually defined some processes that can be measured. A lot of people are just going on these sites, putting up a profile and waiting for something to happen. Having an outline and plan of action is a sign of success, it shows that you have at least a basic understanding of social media and some of its components. This is your first benchmark. It is also important to realize that these plans are not static and require constant appraisal for effectiveness.
    2. Getting heard?
      At this point, response means any response at all. Some traffic followers or comments should be coming in. The quality of the response doesn’t matter at this point, you are just checking to see that the ‘broadcast equipment’ is working.
    3. Getting response?
      Once the ‘broadcast equipment’ is up and people can hear you, it’s time to draw them in. This is where feedback matters, if people are just stopping by and not commenting. Your media isn’t being very social and you won’t be able to obtain as many viral references as you’d like.
    4. Getting useful response?
      Getting ‘thanks’ and ‘very informative’ feels good and will confirm that your efforts are on the right track, but it’s better to get comments that add to the conversation and help point out in which direction(s) you should be heading next. Ask for comments, ask questions and encourage further discussion.
    5. Is there is growth trend in followers/readers?
      You should be gaining more interest in your niche via effective targeting, i f not your are shooting in the wrong direction and need to adjust. Coupled with this is that the followers must be the ones you want, not random individuals
    6. Is the scope of your followership spreading?
      There is no reason what you are talking about isn’t compelling to other groups. You may have to present it differently in a different context, but there are thousands of other people in interest groups that parallel yours. They are reachable via the change of a few key words and can result in a wider audience.
    7. Are others referring to you?
      In any social network, there are people to talk to about a given subject. They are known as experts in that circle of friends or associates. You should be able to count the number of people that name you as a resource, that number should be going up every week.
    8. What kind of negative feedback are you getting?
      You will get negative feedback, that’s just how it goes. What is measurable is how you categorize this negative feedback and rate it according to the use it has toward your online efforts. If people are referring to you as a spammer, con or some other such negative association, it it obviously time to rethink a message. There may be other comments as to lack of clarity, completeness or that your are a ‘me too’. Negative feedback that is good to hear it the kind that disagrees politely and intelligently with what you have to say. That is a proper conversation and will bring out a productive discussion.
    9. Are click through rates going up?
      If you are running ads, it is essential that you monitor them for how they pull in visitors. When people click on ads it represents interest and can provide you with valuable information as to what you yourself should be providing. The ads may make little money, but they can provide great marketing info.
    10. What is the quality of the network around you?
      The individuals connecting to you and following you should be of an increasing caliber:
    • They should have a healthy network of their own.
    • They should be people who are actively participating
    • They should be in a niche related to yours
    1. They should be comminicative
      Having these kind of friends is growable and measurable.

    This is no doubt an incomplete list, since other measurable criteria will emerge as the science and technology evolve. Please feel free to comment with your own ideas. I’d love to hear your experiences.

    social-crowdIf you’ve ever wondered whether or not social media can help you as a freelancer, the simple answer is — absolutely. Being social on the web has many rewards; including connections, community, interaction, exposure, and trust. These five elements are critical for a business to survive, and with social media you can make sure you are building all of them.

    If you’re new to the idea of social media for freelancers, or aren’t sure how it can help out your business, I recommend you look into these social media basics to get a better idea of what this is all about.

    Once you’re familiar with the idea of using social media for your business, then this post is for you. Here are 5 simple tips that can make a big difference to your success with social media.

    1. Pick a Name and Stick With It

    Before you even open an account on any social media platform, you’ll want to make sure you pick a name that will stay consistent. This is one of the key things that many people don’t seem to realize. If you have the same “profile name” on multiple platforms, it makes it much easier for others to find and remember you. It also helps you create a better personal brand if you become popular on these networks. For example, My user name is ritubpant on all social media/networking platforms. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Reddit, Flickr, LinkedIn among many others as ritubpant. This makes it much easier for others to find me if they need to connect with me on different platforms.

    Tip: You can follow this tip for your profile picture as well. If your picture is consistent throughout different platforms, it’s much easier for people to recognize you. Think of your profile image as a business logo.

    2. Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket

    Many freelancers dive into social media and end up putting all of their energy and effort into one social media platform. This is not a great approach. Although it is good to stick with platforms that are popular in your industry, it’s key to build a community and a brand in different platforms. Make sure you are seen throughout the web. Some services may have millions of users while others may have only a couple thousand. Don’t go for the number, rather go for the quality network and community that you can build on these platforms. Having a presence on different accounts gives you a chance to connect to more people and eventually will help you grow your freelancing business.

    3. Choose and Execute

    Although this point may sound contradictory to the one above, it’s really more of a complimentary approach. As I have mentioned above, you should have a presence on several different social media platforms — however, you should also be able to maintain that presence. There is no point in creating a profile on 50 different platforms if you can only use five platforms actively. It is important to have a presence on different platforms, but engagement and participation is the real key.

    Make sure you choose platforms that are relevant to you. Don’t spend a lot of time creating a profile on a social media platform that you will end up abandoning. If you never participate with that particular community, there is no reason to have an account there. Besides, if someone ends up looking for you in these platform and finds you inactive for months, it might give someone an idea that you are not worth following or keeping up with. Don’t give anyone a chance to think negatively about you or your brand. It’s better to not have a presence than to have one that is abandoned.

    4. Active Doesn’t Mean Obsessive

    In order to get the most out of social media you have to be active on the networks you’ve chosen. Being active, however, doesn’t mean you have to be obsessed. I use many different platforms each day and I am quite active on these sites — even still, there is no point in updating a Facebook profile or Twitter account just for the sake of it. As they say in blogging — if you have nothing to say, it’s better to say nothing. Follow that rule on social media platforms as well. A couple twitter updates each day is normal but on LinkedIn once a week is more than enough (or a few times if you are active on LinkedIn groups). It’s important to be active on different social media platforms, but make sure your participation brings value to other community members and is not a nuisance to yourself or others.

    5. It’s All About Interaction

    Social media is all about interaction. If you want to be seen and want others to take interest in what you have to say or do, you have to be an active participant. Whether it’s Facebook, twitter or any other platforms that you utilize, participation and engagement is the key to succeeding in social media. Social Media is often seen as a free tool to help you when it comes to exposure and creating a name for yourself or your business, but you need to keep in mind that it costs both time and effort.

    This is the reason that I mentioned earlier that you need to choose the specific sites that you want to use. If you don’t think you can actively utilize a platform, it’s better not to be there at all. It’s all about the community, participation, and engagement. The more you give, the more you get. The more you engage, the more exposure you will gain.

    Add Your Tips

    These are some of my favorite tips for succeeding on social media, but there is a lot more out there. If you’re very familiar with social media (and I know a lot of you are) then why don’t you offer a favorite tip or two for our readers who are just getting started?

    Many business people are suddenly starting to show some interest in the phenomenon that is social media, much to the thrill of their marketing personnel. But there is still a lot of confusion about this new medium, and objections abound. Below I take on a few of the most common ones.

    Recruiters will poach our people. I hear this a lot. And it’s pretty easy to overcome. First of all, if your employees are that easy to poach, you need to look at your policies and see why they are so willing to leave. Secondly, there are many other ways for recruiters to find your people, and don’t think they aren’t getting calls from them on a regular basis. If you create a culture where people want to stay, it won’t matter if recruiters have another way to reach out to your staff.

    We don’t have time. This is a valid concern, because if social media isn’t done correctly, it can be a huge time drain. However, if you manage your presence correctly, you can reap the benefits with a minimal time commitment. There are many tools available that can help you manage your various social media outlets. Hootsuite and SocialOomph are two great ones that allow you to schedule your tweets for a future time. So when you read something you think your audiences will find interesting, schedule an update. I find this allows me to maintain a connection with my followers without taking nearly as much time.

    We don’t want our employees wasting time on social media. Again, a valid concern, but one that can be easily overcome by establishing a clear social media policy. Social media is like any other marketing tactic – it should be strategic and align with all your other marketing activities. Create a policy that allows you to gain the benefits from it while still maintaining a modicum of control. Train your employees on your policy and have it available for them to reference as needed. If they are busy with work, they won’t have time to spend chatting on Facebook. I personally think that the occasional visit to these sites has become the cigarette break of days gone by. It’s a quick moment to rest your mind and take a breath between tasks.

    This is just a phase. Technology is always evolving. The current social media sites may not be here forever, but the concept is here to stay. (See the article entitled, “If the Pope is on Twitter…”) At one point email was considered to be a phase, but now you wouldn’t even think of not having an email address for each of your employees. The beauty of many of these social media sites is they allow you to establish a community of people – clients, prospects, colleagues, press – and create and maintain relationship with them. It simply makes it easier to reach people you’d never have access to through other methods.

    LinkedIn is only full of people looking for jobs. There certainly are people who use LinkedIn to find jobs, but there are a lot more who use it to connect with colleagues, prospects and others in their industry. It is a treasure trove of information for anyone in business, regardless of what you are seeking. Don’t fall into the trap that many do and just set up a profile and leave. Create your profile with accurate information, and indicate whether you want to get job requests or not. Use the many tools on the site too. The advanced search feature can help you find business prospects more easily than any other traditional method. Join groups of like-minded people, and watch the connections start to form. It can be incredibly powerful.

    In the end, the benefits far outweigh the concerns. You just need to do it in the correct way. Establish a plan and an owner for your company’s social media presence and make sure you are consistent. I’ve personally reaped the benefits of being on LinkedIn and Twitter, and know you will too.

    Let me know what you think. What objections have you heard? How have you overcome them?

    Google launched Wave back in October and Buzz earlier this week. What’s the difference? Do we need both?

    141 wave v buzz.jpg

    Where Wave was launched to a big build-up, an official live preview in front of a gasping crowd and a painfully slow trickle invite system; Google has slipped Buzz out very quickly and all gmail users will get Buzz appearing in their email account over the course of a few days.

    So seeing as Google wave was supposed to be a tool that made communicating and sharing easier, why have Google released another tool that makes communicating and sharing easier?

    Is Wave not taking off as well as they expected?

    Okay, Buzz is called a social network and Wave is largely a tool for collaborative document editing – a more work and business focussed service. Though from my experiences of it, people largely use it to organise who’s cooking dinner.

    This is what Google said about Wave:
    “Google Wave is an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. A wave can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.”

    And what they say about Buzz:
    “Google Buzz is a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting […] an easy-to-use sharing experience”

    While they do both have a very similar ethos, I think easy is the key word with Buzz, Google Wave may be beautiful but it’s almost more complicated than our minds can cope with. Even a conversation with one person starts to look like cubist word art after 10 minutes. It’s like using a Formula One racing car to drive to work. That’s why it would be good for serious professional use (though I haven’t heard of many examples where it has been used like this, yet.) I would love to get some statistics on Google Wave uptake and usage, but I suppose since it’s still in preview

    So Buzz is a bit simpler. It’s in gmail, so you don’t need to go to a separate site (which you then forget to check) it copies a very well-known formula: the Facebook/Twitter-style status update.

    Having a very simple core service that works well is the lesson from Twitter’s success. Let other people add on fancy bits, but keep it simple.

    Oh the other key word for Buzz – mobile. It has a mobile and location based component as well, which is a big deal given how important the mobile internet now is. Integration with Google Maps is, as you might imagine, seamless.

    I found this excellent Google Wave Community site. http://waveaccess.webs.com

    It is early days but the idea is brilliant. By becoming a member you can go to the forum and request an invite. Fellow members will then send you an invite. You can share your Waves with others within the community.

    There is also a Communal Google Wave embedded on the site where, if you have Google Wave, you can edit/add to the Wave – I have even been chatting to people via the Wave.

    Google Wave has massive potential.

    In my opinion, Google Buzz is just a small part of what is Google Wave. What do you think?