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What is Social QR Codes?

A great video that visually explains how to use QR codes in general and also socially on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Learn what QR codes can do for your business in under 4 minutes.

 

Blog Traffic Generating Strategy 4 – Write a Round-Up Post

 

Round-up posts are similar to suggestions from a friend; there's so much information out there that it's impossible for us to sort through and process it all on our own. So when you create a round-up list for your website readers and link them up with resources, blog posts, and other content on the web that they might not have discovered on their own, you're doing them a huge service. You're becoming an information broker or filter, helping to guide them where to direct their focus. And when you do a good job of putting them in touch with the information they need, they'll come to rely on you and trust you with their most valuable of all resources: Their attention.
 
Here's how to create successful round-up posts that will increase visits to your site:
 
1. Pick a unifying topic.
Round-up posts are most successful when all the links you provide relate to a single topic. Rather than just creating a round-up of your top five favorite blog posts from the week, choose a narrow subject to make your post more appealing and “retweet-worthy.”

For instance, if your audience is work-at-home moms, a post of seven home office organization tips, five networking techniques for home-based professionals, or six super-quick, make-ahead suppers would each be a great topic for round-up posts.
 

2. Find unusual resources.
If you stick with Yahoo headlines and the top stories retweeted by Guy Kawasaki, you're not going to provide your readers with anything they can't get a hundred other places. Seek out little-known or undiscovered sources, so you're providing something unique to your audience.
 
3. Keep it manageable.
Bigger is not always better. If you're hoping to save your readers time, you want to give them a boiled-down version of the best of the best, not a recreation of the top forty headlines of the day. Keep your round-up posts to about a half-dozen entries, give or take an entry or two.
 
4. Choose a variety of media.
To keep things interesting and to appeal to many different personalities, include links to videos, audios, and images, as well as text-based content.
 
5. Invite participation.
Always ask your readers if they have anything to add on the topic, and invite them to do so in the comments section of your post. Not only can comments give you some great leads, it will also make readers feel a part of your website, increasing the likelihood they'll return.
 
6. Notify your chosen ones.
As a final step, send an email or leave a comment on the blog or website you've linked to. Let them know you've included them in your round-up post, and invite them to stop by to check it out. They may link back to you, driving more traffic your way. At a minimum, it puts you on their radar and may open the door to partnership or guest blogging opportunities.
 
Try including a round-up post in your weekly website schedule; you may find you and your readers enjoy it so much that you make it a regular part of your blogging routine. 
 

Blog Traffic Generating Strategy 3 – Conduct an Interview Series

 

A blog series can be an excellent traffic-generating strategy, but there's one type of series in particular that deserves special mention: The interview series.
 
The interview series is can be ongoing or close-ended, but the premise is the same: You interview a set of people, preferably with a significant audience of their own, on a specific topic and run their answers on your blog as text, audio, or video. For instance, if your market is fitness professionals, you could interview the “trainers to the stars,” asking each one how they got their high-profile clients, how much they make, and the pros and cons of working in Hollywood.
 
This type of series is effective for several reasons:
 
1.    It provides great value to your readers, who will enjoy getting an insider's view of the topic at hand.
2.    You can generate content without having to write anything yourself.
3.    It gives consistency to your website or blog, building momentum over time and giving readers something regular to look forward to.
4.    It allows you to leverage other people's audiences. Example: If you interview Jillian Michaels for your celebrity trainer series, you will gain visibility from people who follow “The Biggest Loser.”
 
Creating an interview series is fairly straightforward: Create a battery of questions, generate a list of interviewees, send them out, and when you get answers, post them to your blog as a regular feature. There are some hints, though, that will make your interview series rock:
 
  •  Keep your list of questions short and to the point. Make it easy for your interviewees by focusing on only a few targeted queries, rather than asking them to write a novel for you.
     
  •  Have a backlog of interviews. Before you roll out a “regular” feature, make sure you have enough interviews in the can so you don't have to take an indefinite break before the next set of responses rolls in.
     
  •  Keep your interviewees in the loop. Let the subjects of your interviews know when you post their information. That way they can post a link on their blog and share it with their readers, thereby driving traffic your way.
     
  •  Encourage audio and video responses. Audio and video are great ways to increase your audience and appeal to other learning modalities. Some of your interviewees may find it easier to answer your questions via recording, so let them know they're welcome to do so.
     
  •  Create internal links. Just like with any blog series, drive traffic internally by linking from each post in the series to other posts. Not only does this practice let readers know about the other interviews they may be interested in reading, it also improves your search engine rankings.
 
Instead of posting a single respondent's answers to a group of questions, try posting a single question or topic to a group of respondents. Inventive, interesting, and traffic-worthy!
 

Blog Traffic Generating Strategy 2 – Write a Series

 

“Lost.” “The Biggest Loser.” “Days of Our Lives.” Why do people tune in week after week after week for the latest installment of their favorite characters' lives? Because they want to find out what happens next. You can leverage this human tendency to want to stay up-to-date by writing an ongoing series for your website or blog.
 
Dripping a little bit of info, day after day, keeps readers coming back to see what you have to say next.
 
Think about it this way: What if at the very beginning of the first episode of “Dallas,” the main characters spilled the beans and told you who shot J.R.? Would millions of people have continued to watch the show through to the resolution? Probably not. And if you tell your readers everything you know in the first blog post you ever publish, there's nothing left for you to say.
 
Now, I'm sure you've started an online business based on a topic that your knowledge is more than one blog post deep – or at least I hope so. So here's how to make a blog series work for you:
 
1. Choose a specific topic. Pick a topic that's meaty enough to get into. Think “deep.” For instance, if you have a business selling health supplements, you could write a series on supplements for weight loss, for building muscle, for aging people. Any one of those topics would provide deep enough subject matter to allow you to write a half-dozen informational posts.
 
2. Divide it up. Once you've chosen your topic, brainstorm different post titles. Linear thinkers may be comfortable writing this brainstorm in a list format, while more creative thinkers might want to do a brain dump in a mind map format. However you choose, come up with five to seven titles for posts. In our supplements for weight loss example, the list might include:
  • Introduction: Can Supplements Help You Lose Weight?
  • Natural Supplements vs. Prescription Supplements
  • Vitamins and Minerals for Weight Loss
  • Supplements vs. Diet: Can You Get What You Need Naturally?
  • Danger. Supplements to Avoid
  • The Top Five Weight-Loss Supplements
Heck, you could do a series on just one of the topics above: “Danger: Supplements to Avoid” – that could be a juicy series all in itself.

Once you get started making your list, the hard part may become trying to find a stopping point. But just remind yourself that you're writing a series for your website, not a book (though more than one blog series has been turned into a book… “Julie and Julia,” anyone?).
 

3. Write. The ideal length for blog posts is between 300-700 words, but you know your market best. If you think they prefer longer or shorter posts, adjust accordingly. Some people like to write all their related posts at once and then space them out over a period of a few weeks, while others write just ahead of publication. The advantage of not pre-writing is that you can answer questions from readers in your upcoming posts, letting them know you're listening to their comments and giving them a greater feeling of interactivity.
 
4. Publish. You can publish your series every day for a week or more, or you can space them out, releasing the next installment each Monday, for instance. Either way works, but if your main goal is to generate traffic, you may want to allow at least a few days between posts to allow momentum to build.
 
5. Publicize. Let people know what you're up to and when a new “episode” will be posted – take a hint from the TV stations and give teasers, early and often, to build interest. At a minimum, you should tweet about your new blog post and add it to your Facebook page status update. And make sure to link previous posts in the series at the end of each new post, so newcomers can go back and catch anything they may have missed (this is also a great way to build links and get a higher ranking on Google, bringing you even more traffic!).
 
Writing series posts should become a regular part of your blogging and website strategy. Keep it simple, be consistent, and talk up your expertise. And each time you finish a series, start the next!
 

Blog Traffic Generating Strategy 1 – Host a Contest

 

No one can resist a contest, whether it's a drawing for a free lunch at your favorite fast food restaurant or a month's admission to the nearest 24-Hour Fitness. The same is true online. Contests have two main advantages: They draw new visitors to your site, and they are a great way to reward your existing readers and customers for their loyalty.
 
There are three main steps to running a contest:
 
Deciding on an appropriate prize.
Planning the format.
Announcing the contest.
Promoting the contest.
 
That's it. Of course, there's a bit more to it than that, so let's go into those three steps in some detail:
 
1. Choosing a prize.
There are two schools of thought on prize selection: You can pick something that's universally attractive, or you can choose something that's complementary for your market. Which you select depends on your goals.

A universally appealing prize is something that virtually anyone would be interested in, like a gift card to Amazon, a piece of electronics equipment, or cold, hard cash. The advantage of a universally appealing prize is that you will draw tons of eyeballs, and that can bump your traffic stats. The drawback is that many of those visitors may not be interested in your site beyond the ability to win free cash or a free iPad and will disappear as soon as the contest is over.

A prize that's applicable to your market is more preferable if you want to generate TARGETED traffic that's pre-qualified. For instance, if you run a diaper delivery service, you might offer a prize of a free month's service, a baby sling, a gift certificate to Babies 'R' Us… things new parents would find appealing. Obviously this will draw more valuable visitors to your blog, although they won't be in such large numbers.
 

2. Planning the Format.
How, what, when and where?
 
Now that you have the prize chosen, what will your visitors have to do in order to win it?
 
Obviously an important element of planning your contest is creating a way to capture the traffic that visits your site. The most common way to do so is to ask people to join your email list to be entered to win. Another option is to ask people to leave their email address, with the knowledge that they may receive future communications from you.
 
3. Announcing the contest details on your own blog.
When you announce your contest, make sure to include all the details, such as how people will enter, when the contest closes, and how the winner will be chosen and notified (Tip: If you have people visit the site to see if they've won, you'll make sure they visit at least one more time!). If you received the prize as a donation from a sponsor, you may need to disclose that fact in “the fine print” on your site.
 
4. Promoting the contest.
If a person gives away an iPad on the web and no one enters, does it make any noise? No. To get attention, to get traffic, to get customers, you have to make some noise. This means talking up your contest and encouraging others to do the same.
 
At the bare minimum…
  •  As mentioned above, post about the contest, but don't do it just once – write at least a few blog posts about the contest.
  •  Tweet about it several times.
  •  Add it to your Facebook page.
  •  Use any other of your social media tools to get the word out.
  •  Mention the contest on any forums or message boards that you participate in.
  •  Ask friends in your industry to include a note about the contest in their ezines.
 
Other ideas…
  •  You can also give extra entries to entrants who also Tweet and/or post about the contest on their blogs.
  •  Think about creating a small blog button for people to add to their sites (make sure it's clickable and hot-linked back to your site).
  •  If you're giving away something huge, write up a press release and submit it to appropriate media, online and off.
  •  There are also industry-specific sites that list contests of interest to that niche, so submit your contest for added bang.
 
One caveat: The bigger the prize, the bigger the promotion. You may burn people out or disappoint them if you make a big deal about a contest to win a new toothbrush!
 
Contests don't have to be complicated. A prize, a set of instructions, a little buzz, and you'll be raking in the rewards in the form of higher traffic in a matter of days. Good luck!
 
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iPad – the Best Free Apps

 

Isn't it nice to know that there are plenty of goodies you can get for free on you iPad? Sure, often these are “lite” versions of a larger, more expensive program, but it's an amazing way to test-drive the app for free before you invest a whopping $8.99 in something that may not work for you. After all, there are plenty of other things you can do with that $8.99 – like get two lattes from your favorite coffee shop.
 
All joking aside, here are some of the best small biz free apps I've found for the iPad. I haven't included ones I've mentioned in previous sections, just to avoid repeating myself:
  • HootSuite Lite for Twitter. A scaled-down version of the paid version, HootSuite will have you tweeting and RTing to your heart's delight. Send and schedule tweets and Facebook status updates, track clicks, and set up columns to manage custom searches. You can manage up to three accounts in the lite version.
  • Google Mobile. If you use any of Google's office suite (Calendar, Docs, Maps, etc.) get Google Mobile to easily view and access the desired info. You'll love the one-stop, one-click access.
  • Kindle for iPad. You know how every time you log into Amazon, it seems like the prices on their Kindles just keep dropping and dropping? Yeah, that's because of the iPad. The iPad does everything the Kindle does (pretty much) but you don't have to carry another device with you. All you have to do is download the free app and you're ready to read that stack of business books that had been piling up on your bedside table. (If you prefer Barnes and Noble – grab the Nook app instead. You can read free in store.)
  • Feeddler RSS Reader for iPad. If you're already used to reading RSS feeds in Google Reader, now you can access your account from your iPad. Fast and highly customizable, you'll never be far away from your favorite internet marketing blogs again!
  • PaperDesk Lite for iPad. If you're a multi-dimensional thinker, PaperDesk may be just what you've been looking for in order to keep track of your scribbles, typed words, and mumblings. You create notebooks with text, hand-drawn notes, and audio, and then you can email them to yourself as a PDF. This “lite” version restricts you to three pages per notebook.
  • Calculator for the iPad+. In the years that I've been out of school, I've forgotten all but the basics of math – thank goodness! No need to pull out the old algebra textbooks; I can handle nearly any mathematical need with my iPad+ calculator. In portrait orientation, it's a simple calculator, but let me just turn the screen on its side, and I'll be forcing even the most nasty differential equation into submission in no time!