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How to claim your brand on the social web

Establish a social presence quickly and efficiently

Facebook, Twitter and other social sites now play an integral role in the marketplace, connecting businesses with customers, partners and industries at large. We show you how to quickly establish your social presence and get more out of any social media efforts you may already be making.

Blogs (yes, they're still relevant)

Various research polls have suggested that blogs are dead. But for longer-form content on a focused topic, they can offer your site's visitors a depth of value that a Facebook page or a Twitter account just can't. A blog with a healthy collection of posts on one topic - say, plumbing or car repair - can help your site rank in Google search results alongside the sites of your larger competitors, giving you visibility you otherwise might never have hoped for.

Launching a blog is fairly easy, and generally doesn't require the services of a professional web developer. So unless you're deeply terrified by the prospect of tweaking your site a little, it's well worth giving it a go on your own. Most of the major web hosting companies now feature simple control panel interfaces that can install a blogging system for you automatically. Many offer a choice of blogging systems, such as WordPress or Drupal. My personal favourite is WordPress, because it supports a massive ecosystem of cool plug-ins and design themes to help you customise your site.

If your company's site is simple and static, showing little more than a picture of your storefront and a paragraph or two about your services, I'd suggest scrapping it and making your blog your front page. With a simple two-column layout, you can make sure your company's vitals appear on every page of the site, so you're not sacrificing the vital information at all.

If your site is a little more complex, it's easy enough to make the blog an addition to what you've already got. Just install the blogging system in a separate folder (I recommend calling it '/blog') and add a prominent link to it on the other pages of your site.

Once your blog is up, you can easily integrate plug-ins and widgets that connect it to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr or whatever other social sites you want to use.

The main focus here should be content. Establish a posting schedule and stick to it. If it's once a week, fine. Just make sure that when people come to your site, they don't find an abandoned blog that you've been neglecting for the last two months.

You want people to come and find informative posts that they'll bookmark for later. If you're a landscaping contractor, think about sharing the little tricks of the trade that anyone can learn and use in their own yards. Inspire your visitors by posting photos of your coolest work. Show off a little. Use your blog as a showcase for what your company can do, and share a little knowledge about how you do it. You don't have to give away proprietary information to be interesting, but if you can reward your visitors with a little education and entertainment, you'll be building real affinity with your brand.

NEXT PAGE: Twitter

  1. Establish a social presence quickly and efficiently
  2. Blogs
  3. Twitter
  4. Facebook
  5. YouTube
  6. Tie it all together

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