Getting started is all about establishing your network base. Registering accounts and defining your style (always a good idea before you start yammering in a tone unbefitting your brand). This might well be the busiest month of the course, but that’s how it should be. Take your excitement and enthusiasm and kick things off as fast as you can. The sooner your infrastructure is in place the sooner you can start marketing your business – and that’s why we’re all here.
To avoid having your brand name taken by someone else (brand squatters with an egg avatar that are only followed by their moms are everywhere), you should set up branded accounts on the important social networks as soon as possible. Visit the following sites to claim yours, and do it today:
- Flickr.com/yourbrandname (for storing your photos, graphics and infographics – for organic image search value)
- LinkedIn/yourbrandname (as a business hub that’s bigger than just you)
Design a branded Twitter background: The new Twitter is considerably wider than it used to be (you’ll notice a lot of branded backgrounds are covered up which looks a little silly), so the primary left side branding area of your background needs to be very slim. For screen resolutions of 1280px (fairly commonplace these days) – you are limited to roughly only 108px for the core part of your branded background design and messaging. More details on background designs for the new Twitter.
If you have a little more space (customers with larger screens), you could stretch to about 200px and do something like Shopify has done – notice how they’ve balanced their top green stripe to align tidily with the Twitter app layout.
They also do a great job establishing social proof by showing the logos of big name brands that use their platform.
Set up your profile: Describe your core value proposition in your profile description and add a link to your website in the available slot. You should use a few choice keywords in your bio as this will help people to find you via Twitter search.
Photo or logo for your avatar? If you representing your company on Twitter then how you use your logo for your Twitter avatar will depend on how many people in your company will be public representatives of the account. If it’s just you, you could go with your own photo or try combining a small version of your logo beneath your photo. If you’ll be sharing the role of chief tweeting officer, then it’s best to go with the logo by itself. The typical method for identifying who’s talking is to add your initials to the tweet – for me (Oli Gardner) I’d use ^og.
In the past I used just the logo, but for a more personal touch (as my name has become better known in the landing page industry) I’m trying out the photo/logo mix as shown below.
What do you think of this approach?
NOOB INSIGHT: Nobody trusts accounts that have the default Twitter egg avatars. Change it immediately. It doesn’t need to be perfect – just throw your logo or face up there on day 1.
Ideally you will be creating content via your blog, which gives you the starting point of a conversation, or at the very least, something to talk about and share. There are a three main categories of communication. Your choice of approach will come down to how much of an expert you want to be on a subject, and how busy you want your content stream to be.
- Creators: people who share content they’ve written. Let’s you become known as a thought leader.
- Curators: Curation in the social space has been defined as “curation is the act of synthesizing and interpreting in order to present a complete record of a concept” (Jamie Beckland). To help your curation strategy and become a valuable resource subscribe to lots of relevant content and use a service like feedly.com or Google Reader to consume it – then provide insightful commentary on the content as you share it to help people gauge the value of the links you are sharing.
- Chatterboxes: are people who simply engage in conversation for the majority of their stream. I personally find this a bit old-school Twitter – when it was about what you were eating for breakfast etc. Unless you are a celeb, it’s unlikely you can start out this way successfully – but you should still try to incorporate some personal aspects into your Tweets to remain human and interesting.
NOOB INSIGHT: Give your writing room to breathe – Leave about 20 characters at the end of your tweets to let people retweet it without having to edit your literary work of short art. (Retweeting often entails inserting RT @yourname into your text which takes up some space).
What’s your style?
What kind of style do you enjoy following? What worked for someone you’d like to emulate? You can’t fake awesome, but it helps to define your intentions a little before you start pushing your personal and company brand. At the end of the day, it’s best to do what comes naturally to you.
“Authenticity rules” as they say.
If you’re thinking “Really? I have to open yet another account with another 3rd party?” – then the answer is yes. Why? Because you only have two other options: build an in-house system or use Outlook/Gmail. The first makes you responsible for deliverability rates and CAN-SPAM compliance issues and the other has none of the power or flexibility to maintain lists and is not designed for serious marketing. Trust me, if you’re going do email marketing – go with the pros. It doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.
If you are just starting out, Mail Chimp is great for modern online businesses and is free until you reach a certain size. It also includes powerful segmentation tools which will help to separate your messaging in the future, once your lists and customer base grows.
If you are a designer (or have a design based audience), you might want to look at Campaign Monitor as they have crafted a service specifically targeted at designers.
I’m only mentioning a couple of providers off the bat because the choice is overwhelming. Consider this list of online ESP’s (email service providers) as evidence of the time you could waste comparison shopping. Side note: if you have some really specific feature requirements, you do want to make sure your chosen provider is equipped as switching providers down the road can be a pain (I’ve done it 3 times already).
Some of the templates that come with email providers are okay, but very plain and simple. If you upgrade to a paid plan you often get more sophisticated templates. These too will suffice for a while. But ultimately, you want to have a branded template.
Take a day and design a palette and brand-related layout for your emails – you don’t have to be perfect – but lay it side by side with your homepage and see how well it relates. Is it enough just to have your logo and the right typeface? Only you can determine that.
Check out the great template samples from Campaign Monitor – perhaps one is close enough to your core brand elements to make some simple tweaking suffice.