Archives For Social media

To increase website traffic is a challenge. Today I will share with you how I increased my blog website traffic from a brand spanking new website to over 1,000 visitors in just 3 weeks.

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Today is Friday and it’s been a long week.  I’ll keep this short and sweet and jam packed with how to get and keep Twitter followers.

First off, if you are new to Twitter I suggest you get and read my Twitter guide.  It is a great starting place for getting up to speed quickly and we all want success to come quickly right?

Of course we do, the problem is, if you do the wrong things you may just be sailing against the current or swiftly moving in the wrong direction.  Here are some basics to get started making friends on Twitter.

Twitter is a unique social media website that took quite a bit of time for people to “get”.  They give you 140 characters of text to make a statement.  I love that!  It forces you to be efficient to be effective.  Simple right?  Now let’s see how you can hone your Twitter skills from here on out.

The cut to the chase:  People are interested in like-minded people with like-minded ambitions.  In other words, the same thing that attracted you and your friends together is the the same thing that will keep you and your Twitter buddies together; something in common.

How to get Twitter Followers and Keep Them

1. Define your purpose - What topics are you interested in? Limit yourself to 3 or 4 major topics of interest.  If you are blogger this is a must if you plan on growing a following and keeping it.  Write 3-4 major areas of interest down and stick with them.

2. Follow people you are interested in - The majority of these people will fall under the 3-4 categories you wrote down in step 1.  Look at the top guns you follow.  The ones that have a ga-zillion followers will probably not follow you back. It’s too much for them to manage.  Look at their followers for new friends.  

TIP: Don’t follow someone expecting them to do the same!  Follow the people you are truly interested in.

3. Post regular updates - This is one of the hardest parts to keep up with.  It takes time to post quality content to twitter that is not just chatter.  While chatter is okay some of the time, it won’t keep people as friends for long (unless you are chatting with them).  Your regular updates should be links to your blog posts, links to other people’s blog posts, retweets or some other piece of useful information.  

4. Always lend a hand - Most successful people on twitter are not leeches but are givers.  They post regular quality updates of useful content and are there to support others.  Would you rather be around someone that is always taking or some that is always generous?

Conclusion

Growing a Twitter following isn’t easy.  Anything worth having takes work but by following these few simple rules you will be on your way to building a successful community of friends.  Friends that not only know they can count on you for help but also friends that will be first to lend you a hand when you need it.

Tell me this:  Would you ever pay for Twitter followers?

The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Twitter Marketing Pro is available for free on Amazon.com and also by subscribing to my mailing list.

Be Active to Succeed

As I mentioned in Planning for a Successful Application/Website, social media has changed the landscape of the Internet.  Static informational pages are still helpful but users have become spoiled with all of the bells and whistles that savvy developers continue to churn out.

While all of the bells and whistles are great, simply adding them to your website will not necessarily result in a better experience for you or your users.  Today I’m going to walk you through a new way to look at Internet applications and websites.  

What is a Passive website?

Websites up until recently were fairly straight forward.  Yes, you had static (plain non-changing content) and dynamic (pages created on the fly with data from a database) but both had one driver; the end-user.  The mode was “Passive”.

Passive websites require spending time in Google Analytics and trying to figure out how to update the website to get more people to 1. Stay on the site and 2. Navigate to where we want them to go. ie. the order form.

Tip: If you have never used Google Analytics before you need to get familiar with it right now.  It’s fantastic and free and just a dozen years ago would have cost you upwards of $10,000 from another company for a fraction of the data and functionality.

The goal of any application or website is to keep the user interacting and moving where you want them to go.  If you are Facebook you want the user to keep hitting “like” and posting their information otherwise your website is a dying one and will soon be forgotten.  If you are Amazon you want your users to consider other items when they are checking out.  This leads us to “active” websites.

What is an Active website?

Once again I’ll mention Google.  They were really first to introduce “Active” websites.  We can learn a lot from Google.

Google makes billions of dollars a year because of a few things.  One, they perfected the search engine.  It is fast and very accurate.  Two, they built a self serve advertising platform.  By placing these text ads beside the search results Google has built a huge business.  (Facebook is still looking to monetize their website.)

By laying the foundation for advertisements based around their search engine, Google took this one step further by allowing users to take a cut of their profits by placing ads on the user’s websites.  As a result, Ad Sense allowed Google to place advertisements on millions of websites with ZERO work or maintenance on their part.  Brilliant but this is not the “Active” website that I am getting at.

Google is a perfect example of an active website because they tailor the web ads to your preferences.  Once the user agrees (and pretty much 99% do) Google tracks your searches.  Knowing what you searched for in the past allows Google to continually place relevant ads on all of those millions of websites I mentioned earlier.  Google doesn’t just look at previous data; they use it in real-time.

Google is a perfect example of an Active website.  An Active website allows the user to drive but essentially it’s the website that is suggesting and pulling the user in the direction it wants.

Another great example of an active website is Facebook.  They have continually improved the site to generate interaction.  You can like, share, comment, invite and message just to name a few.  Notice these are all “action” verbs.

How to make your website Active; not Passive

So where do you go from here?  The first thing you need to ask yourself is “Where am I taking this user?”.  You need to know where you want the user to end up before you can chart the course to get there.

Here are some examples:

If you are an eCommerce site then your final destination is the order form but that should not be the end-all destination by any means.  Think about how you get the user to add similar or other products to their cart before checkout… think Amazon.

If you are a blogger and have no products then you want the user to stay on your website.  So, your final destination is another blog post.

If you are a social network your final destination is no place in particular.  You want users to keep going in circles basically.  As long as they feel like they are accomplishing something you will have a lot of user interaction.

Conclusion

Informational websites are great and needed but the majority of websites need to be “active” in today’s world.  Think about how you can add interactivity to your website so that the user stays stimulated and interested.  Now is the perfect time to add some “smarts” to your website.

What idea do you have for keeping the user interested and interacting?

There is no doubt in everyone’s mind that social media has changed the face of the Internet.  It has changed the face of applications.. period.  For an application to be successful the programmers need to write code that not only functions quickly and without bugs but also with a super-intuitive-like flow.  To do so you need a plan.  

I’m going to walk you through the basics of what a plan should include when you are creating a new website or application.  This foundation can be applied to almost anything you do in life however.

Step 1: Map out where you are and where you are heading

To begin, you need a road map. The president of my current company is nuts for flowcharts and quite honestly is the “flowchart king”.  Truth be told, flowcharts are effective.  By using a flowchart  you are basically creating the a skeleton for what you are trying to accomplish.  Map it out and update the map as you go.

Step 2: Create the business rules

Business rules are crucial in developing a new application.  If you nail down the road map (flowchart) and the business rules you will quite honestly be able to get almost any programmer to develop your website or application for you.  Programming is programming.  Yes, there are different means for accomplishing the same thing but it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that you have  directions and the rules of the road.

A business rule is basically what happens at each element in your flowchart.  For example, the Login screen, if the user gets his password wrong 5 times do you lock him out and automatically reset his password?  or do you allow him to continue to try and successfully login?  Do you ask for a security pass phrase after they have logged in successfully?

The business rules don’t have to be extreme and down to the nitty-gritty but you should have a good solid “main” high-level set of rules in place.

Step 3: Create mock-up screen shots based on your map and business rules

For each step in your road map that the end-user (the people that will ultimately use your application or website) will interact with create a mock-up screen shot.  Don’t worry about it looking perfect. Matter of fact, it doesn’t even have to be on the computer.  You can scratch your ideas on a piece of paper.  The idea is to get the elements on the page so that the developers know what object they have to work with.

Again, the road map and business rules will dictate most of this BUT what you scribble out for the developer will be extremely helpful in getting an idea for what you really want.

 Step 4: Develop your Beta version 

You don’t really need a beta version but you do need to put your plans into place and build it.  At this stage it is time to develop.  Work with your programmers and have them build your brain-child.  It will be exciting and possibly, no, probably very frustrating unless you are really skilled at communicating with programmers.  Keep in mind that programmers are very literal.  Make sure they understand exactly what you are looking for.. literally.

Step 5: Test, Test, Test

Test the application.  Have a variety of users with different computer skill levels test your app.  You can even have a usability group test it if you want.  If you do use usability and user experience testers make sure you get a full detailed report along with screen shots.

Step 6: Update the application with the changes

This step basically takes your testing results and applies them to your flowchart, business rules and application.  Make sure you do a full test on the application after the changes have been applied as well.

Conclusion

These are some basic steps you can take to simplifying a successful application development process.  Feel free to add steps and tweak it to fit your specific needs.

For the past year I’ve been heading up the world’s largest most robust social network application for the healthcare supply chain industry.  The healthcare supply chain is a BILLION dollar a year business.  This business includes diagnostic imaging, cancer centers, home health, hospice, surgery centers, long-term care and hospitals (just to name a few).  Recently, as many of you may know, healthcare reform has become a major item on may political agendas.  How does this relate to your business?  Read on…

Healthcare reform has brought an end to “hospital systems”.  Or so it seems.  Long story short, the phrase “hospital system” is starting to become a phrase that connotes limitation and constraints.  

What is a Hospital System?

A hospital system is basically a partnership between surgery centers, physician groups, home health agencies, rehab facilities, and multiple hospitals.  They save on costs by grouping together and essentially become a one-stop shop for all of your healthcare needs.

Put into perspective, Casey Nolan, managing director of Navigant Health in Washington, D.C., states, ”The challenge for most organizations is they still think they’re in the hospital business.”

The Universal Lesson to be Learned

 ”That’s the reason railroads got into trouble years ago. They thought they were in the railroad business, not in the transportation business. Railroads experienced a golden age for about 40 years until cars, airplanes and other forms of transportation began to take over. The railroad industry didn’t redefine itself fervently enough, which led to hard times. “Hospitals need to realize they’re not in the hospital business, they’re in the care coordination business,” says Mr. Nolan.

Lesson: Define what business you are in.

Define the Purpose of Your Business

Take a long hard look at your business.  What business are you in?  Yes, you may have railroad tracks and use trains on them but what is your purpose?  You transport people and goods.

This is not an easy task to nail down.  It is easy to forget why your business exists however.

Here are a few tips for staying on track:

1.  Write down the ONE main purpose of your business
2.  Write down 3 other reasons why you are in business
3.  Look at your website - Does it reflect why you are in business or does it confuse the user?
4.  Before adding new services or features to your website ask the question, “Does this affirm our business purpose?”  If not, put it on the back burner list to come back to later.

I love how Mr. Nolan describes the railroad industry and relates it to the healthcare industry.  Take a moment and apply these same principals to your current venture.