HootSuite is a free-to-inexpensive social media dashboard/content management system. From one browser window, you can simultaneously post the same update to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress.com, MySpace and other social networks. And here's what I love, though it's not a unique feature: You can schedule updates to be posted at a future date and time.
HootSuite lets you view multiple "streams" in one window. For instance, in one glance you can see your sent tweets; your @ mentions on Twitter; and retweets of your tweets. You can create streams based on keywords that matter to your business. Because I write an iPhone blog, I've created a Twitter stream in HootSuite using the keyword "iPhone." The stream shows me see what the Twitterati is saying about Apple's smartphone at any given time.
The HootSuite Pro plan ($6 per month, plus optional upgrades) offers the capability to create a variety of analytics reports, which may be overload for some small businesses but are like catnip for marketing/Web analytics types. You can have several people posting social network updates from the same HootSuite account; link your Google Analytics; and more.
There are more powerful social media dashboard/monitoring tools available. But they can be quite expensive, and HootSuite is all most small businesses need.
Blogger, Google's free blogging platform, has been around awhile, so it lacks Tumblr's heat. And it doesn't have WordPress's universe of plug-ins and SEO controls. But if you've got a blog idea, want to get it going with minimum fuss, and don't care about having endless design and SEO options, Blogger may be your best choice.
I know several small business people with zero blogging experience who started posting to Blogger within minutes.
Zemanta is a free browser plug-in that helps enrich your blog postings.
(Click for larger image).
Blogger gives you a fair amount of choices for customizing your blog's design and widgets and some decent analytics (though you'll get more if you add Google Analytics to your blog).
There's an option for automatically optimizing your blog for smartphone screens, too. And because Blogger is owned by Google, your blog is by default search-engine friendly.
You can't easily edit your blog's meta description and other HTML, however, as you can with WordPress.org and WordPress SEO plug-ins such as All-in-One SEO. In fact, Google has apparently removed the option to edit your blog landing page's HTML from Blogger's new interface.
While most people won't need that feature, I used it to edit my blog landing page's HTML title tag, so that I could put my most important keyword phrase up front (where it counts most for SEO). In addition, I used the Edit HTML option to add a verification code from Bing's Webmaster tools, once I discovered Bing had only indexed two of my blog's posts.
The solution is to either switch back to Blogger's old interface, if you can, and use the Edit HTML function; or follow the workarounds outlined by bloggers such as DragonBlogger.
Wouldn't it be nice if, as you blog, you'd have a list of relevant images, articles, keyword tags and hyperlinked phrases that could be easily added to your post? That's the idea behind Zemanta, a free browser plug-in (for Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari) that's well worth installing.
It's a simple concept: After installing the Zemanta plug-in, you go to your blogging platform and create a new entry. Zemanta shows up on the side of your browser window. As you write your blog post, Zemanta figures out what your topic is and presents you with related images, articles, tags and hyperlinked phrases to add to your post. Zemanta will also recommend your posts to other bloggers as they write, which can help increase your blog's visibility.
My only complaint: When you add any of its suggested content, Zemanta automatically adds its name to the end of your blog post. You can remove it, however. You've got nothing to lose with Zemanta, so give it a try.
Other Small Business Marketing Resources
- Online Reputation Management: Top 10 Tips for Small Business
- 5 Things Small Businesses Should Know About Klout
- How to Build a Small Business Website with WordPress
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