December 20, 2012
As we wind down 2012, I thought I'd share a compilation of the small business related blog posts I shared on this blog over the year. I hope other small business owners have found these posts to be helpful. I'm planning even more small business related content for 2013!
Making Things Official
Making Things Work
Jump Start Your Tradeshow Experience with Tradeshow Bootcamp
Making Things Look Good
Essential Components for a Website
Making Things Social
Using Social Media Tools to Grow Your Small Business
Using Facebook to Promote Your Business and Build Brand Awareness
Using Twitter to Promote Your Small Business and Connect with Colleagues
Using LinkedIn to Connect with Industry Colleagues
Using Pinterest to Find Inspiration and Promote Your Small Business
August 30, 2012
As I previously mentioned, LinkedIn, the professional social networking site, is a great place for connecting with industry colleagues and learning more about companies. Like other social networking sites, when you join LinkedIn, you create a profile with pertinent professional information. I make sure that my professional information is kept up to date and that I link to the Happy Cactus Designs website in my profile. A person viewing your profile on LinkedIn cares about where you've been, who you know, and how a potential connection between the two of you could add value to their own business pursuits.
LinkedIn also hosts industry discussion groups. I was surprised (and delighted) by the number of groups related to the stationery industry!
Greeting Card, Stationery & Gift Industry Gurus is the best of the stationery-related LinkedIn Groups that I have come across. It's well managed, and the discussions are usually informative. Members tend to post questions about manufacturing resources, printing, and packaging, as well as to request general feedback about their lines. Card & Gift Manufacturer & Sales Rep Exchange is good as well. I also belong to Greeting Card Network Group and Stationery Designers. In my opinion, the discussions in these two groups are hit or miss. There tends to be a lot of self-promotion and spammers posting random job announcements.
In the weeks leading up to the National Stationery Show, the show management has also hosts a private LinkedIn group for new exhibitors. I participated in the group last spring and discussions in the group tended to be sporadic. I heard from others in the industry that the group has been more active in years past.
Some groups are private and you must request to join; others are open. I've found that private groups with a good moderator, like the Greeting Card, Stationery & Gift Industry Gurus, tend to have better discussions and are not bogged down by spammers. I highly recommend electing to receive a daily digest of discussions for each group you join so you are not receiving emails all day long from group members.
August 16, 2012
The first post in my small business series was all about doing your research and the first steps I took to launch my stationery company. I have many different topics in mind for future posts, but wanted to focus first on how you can strategically use social media tools to grow your small business. Prior to launching Happy Cactus Designs, I spent a number of years studying social media platforms in graduate school and implementing strategic plans using social media tools with a number of non-profits and foundations, so I hope I can share some of my wisdom.
These days, it's next to impossible to run a business without some sort of social media presence. With Happy Cactus Designs, I have found that using social media tools is an excellent way to build awareness about my brand, interact with potential and existing customers, and network with colleagues. Here's some of the social media tools/sites I can't live without.
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- Facebook: With over 900 million active users, Facebook is obviously the dominant social media platform. The day I launched my company's website, I also launched a Facebook page and have watched the number of fans who "like" my page grow over the past eleven months.
- Twitter: Who knew 140-character messages could be so vital to effectively marketing a company? I've been using the @hapcactus Twitter handle since the day my company launched. I check in with my Twitter stream throughout the day and tweet about my work, communicate with others in the industry, catch up on news (...and the occasional celebrity gossip), and to track trends.
- Pinterest: While much younger than Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest has been growing by leaps and bounds since it launched a little over two years ago. Pinterest lets you create virtual pinboards for anything you come across on the web. It can be a great place to share your work and find inspiration.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn is considered by many to be Facebook's boring little brother. The professional social networking site helps you connect with former and current colleagues and learn more about companies. LinkedIn hosts professional "groups" you can join on different topics related to your industry. These are great forums for asking questions and learning from key influencers in relevant industries.
I end up using each of these platforms at least once a day (and usually multiple times in any given day) to connect with others, share news, and learn. In the coming weeks, I'm going to focus on each platform in separate posts and share my tips for effectively using each to build your business. What social media tools do you use? Which tools are you curious about learning more about?