Tagged: social media

Why Your Blog Posts Need Photos

Why Your Blog Posts Need Photos @ SarahWritesStoriesWe talked last month about how to get photos for your blog, but maybe you’re not yet convinced that’s even something you need.  So let’s back up a bit.

You know the feeling when you arrive at a web page and see a wall of text, right? Your reaction is probably the psychological equivalent of backing away slowly before turning & running, but with much less energy expenditure — you simply click away.

Three Reasons Your Blog Posts Need Photos

We live in a visual age, so including images in your blog posts is important.  Here are three reasons why.

Photos Catch Your Audience’s Attention

You can help avoid “tl;dr” syndrome by breaking up your post with an eye-catching image.  Our eyes are drawn to images, and when you’re fighting for attention on the internet (which you are), a striking image can be the difference between a click in or a click away.

Photos Give You Another SEO Tool

Another benefit of including images in your blog posts is that they give search engines another opportunity to find you — if you’re incorporating SEO.  And you can optimize your images in two easy steps:

  1. Use a meaningful file name.
  2. Include alt-text.

Photos Make Your Posts More Appealing to Share

If you’ve ever shared an article on facebook, you’ve probably noticed that you have the option to select an image from the page to appear with your link.  And thinking about your own habits on facebook, aren’t you more likely to a) actually see the link with a photo and b) click it?

Giving your readers an image to share gets your small business on Pinterest and facebook — and that sort of word of mouth is some of the best, most targeted advertising you can get — and it’s free.

Need More Proof?

The proof is in the pudding, so to speak, and MDG Advertising has done a wonderful, statistic-pudding-filled infographic.

It’s All About the Images [infographic by MDG Advertising]

Infographic by MDG Advertising

Talk about a picture being worth a thousand words, right?

Blog Writing and Pinterest-Ready Graphics at Sarah Writes Stories

If you’re ready to take your blog to the next level but need help doing so, let’s chat!  I’d love to work with you to create a blog that engages your readers and brings in the new customers you’re looking for.

Case Study: How Scrivener Turned a Potential Snafu Into a Customer Service Showcase

How Scrivener Turned a Potential Snafu Into a Customer Service Showcase @ Sarah Writes StoriesSoftware updates are a part of life in this day and age, but they don’t always have to be painful.  Case in point: during a recent update to my favorite writing software, Scrivener, a known issue popped up during installation.

How Scrivener Did It Right

Instead of having to google the error, hunt down the solution, and then follow a lengthy list of instructions to delete the appropriate file, Scrivener walked me right through the entire process.

First, it notified me of the issue — and that there was a simple solution.  Second, the program  walked me through deleting a framework file on my Mac through a short series of prompts that were so well-designed that they included buttons to “Open Folder” rather than telling me to hunt for it.  The entire process took about 10 seconds, and then the install completed successfully.

I already loved Scrivener, but making this process so easy made me love it even more.

Learning from Scrivener’s Customer Service Performance

Here’s what we can learn from Scrivener’s performance.

Do Your Research

It’s no accident that Scrivener programmed this solution right into the installation itself.  I stay on top of updates, so there was no lag time to my knowledge between users being affected and the solution being provided.

If you’re getting ready to introduce a new product or service, run through as many scenarios as you can to ensure all your bases are covered and that you know how to handle issues if and when they pop up.  Not even the big wig companies succeed at this all the time (ahem, Apple Maps, anyone?), but the better prepared you can be, the better.

Develop Solutions and Make Them Easy for Customers

If you do foresee problems — even minor ones — develop solutions and make them as easy as possible for your customers.  Ignoring the problem and leaving the hunt for the fix to your customers is a surefire way to engender their frustration at best and to lose them entirely at worst.

However, showing your customers that you care by responding with correct, quick and easy-to-use solutions can actually improve your position.

Admit When You’re Wrong

Now, because Scrivener did everything right in this case study, I’m going to point to the Apple Maps issue again.  When the product came out and users found it to be extremely subpar and sometimes even completely wrong, CEO Tim Cook responded quickly with an apology, a promise to do better, and recommendations for other apps to use in the meantime.

It was a bold move that Steve Jobs probably wouldn’t have made, to be honest, but it created goodwill within Apple’s already loyal user base.  No person is perfect, and neither is any business, but we can all make strides to turn less than ideal situations into opportunities.

Effective Communication is Key

If you’ve got a public relations problem on your hands, it’s important to make sure you respond to your customers correctly.  There are plenty of corporate social media horror stories out there, so it’s worth hiring a professional to help you tell your customers the right story when there’s a snafu.

If you need help responding to your customers via your website, blog, email or social media, I can helpLet’s chat about how we can work together to help you and your business keep your customers happy and loyal.

Three Ways to Fail at Social Media

3 Ways to Fail at Social Media @ SarahWritesStoriesThere’s a lot of pressure these days for businesses to get up to speed with social media, and there are absolutely a lot of good reasons to do so.  But where there are ways to succeed at social media networks like twitter and facebook, there are also plenty of ways to fail.

How NOT to Succeed at Social Media

There are plenty of places out there that will tell you how to succeed at social media, but here are three ways to fail big. Steer clear of these tactics if you want your customers and business associates to appreciate your social media efforts.

#1: Make Accounts & Ignore Them

One of the worst sins of social media is to completely ignore your accounts.  Don’t go months without an update.  That’s a sure way to show people you’re not serious about using social media — or about interacting with potential customers.

#2: Only Post Duplicate Content

Confession: This is a social media sin to which I fall prey pretty often on my own accounts.  We’re all busy, and it’s easy enough to set up automatic posting from your blog or facebook or twitter so you only have to update one thing.  But what’s the point of someone following your twitter and blog and facebook page if it’s all the same content?  Luckily, this isn’t a particularly offensive sin, but we can do better.  Duplicate content is to be expected, but try to save some original content for each separate account so people have incentive to follow each one.

#3: Don’t Interact with Followers

What’s the worst social media sin of all? Not interacting with your followers.  If someone replies to a tweet or leaves a comment on your facebook page or your blog, you absolutely must respond.  Ignoring a comment is a surefire way to create not only one unsatisfied customer but to show a culture of failing to appreciate and interact with others.  Imagine visiting a store’s counter and asking a question only to have the employee manning it stare blankly back at you.  You wouldn’t stick around long, would you?  Nor would you likely return any time soon. Treat your customers with the same respect on social media as you would in person.

Hire a Social Media Manager

Just like there’s no shame in hiring a professional blogger to help channel your story and voice into a relevant, informative blog, hiring a social media manager can be a great way to ensure you’re getting the information you want posted to the channels you want in the way you want.  If you need help setting up and/or managing a facebook or twitter account, I’d love to chat with you to see how we can work together to create a social media success story for you and your business.

Welcome to SWS! (aka, Why I’m Here & What I Do)

SWS Business CardTelling stories has long been a part of who I want to be and how I want to give back to this world.  I was first bitten by the writing bug in elementary school, and it’s a condition I’ve never been able to leave behind.  I dabbled with some other ideas for careers in high school but eventually settled on getting my degree in journalism with a minor in public relations.

University-Honed Skills

At university, I learned how to get to the core of a story and make it relatable for a target audience.  I discovered the power going viral when one of my editorials became the talk of the campus one week.  And I learned how to work with people — both my fellow reporters and editors as well as my sources — to craft the best (i.e., the most effective, powerful, informative and engaging) version of a story possible.

I also honed my editing skills.  After having developed a reputation for being a bit of a — how do I put this nicely? — grammar nazi (yes, that was the nice way of putting it), I was asked one question during my interview to be copy editor of the newspaper: “Do you have strong eyes?”  After a few months of editing page after page after page of copy, I became a life-long glasses wearer.  And it was as an editor that I learned how to help people find their own stories and how best to tell them.

Transitioning Into the Real World

After graduation, I began using my writing and editing skills whenever I could, and I’m proud to say my oldest client and I go back seven years.  After several years of inconsistent, one-off projects here and there, in 2012, I had the opportunity to focus on taking my work from hobby to business.  This year, I want to do even more to help both individuals and business owners discover their stories and communicate them to the world.

From Here to Eternity — Or Somewhere Thereabouts

SWS is all about helping you find both your story and the best way to tell it.  If you own a business, that means having an effective blog, an active social media presence, and a rocking (and informative!) website.  If you’re an individual with a story to tell (and who doesn’t?), that means finally getting a grip on what that story is and how to form it into a narrative to share with others.

I’ll be telling you more about how I can help you do that in the coming weeks, but for now, hop over to my Services page to see exactly how I can help you, and if you’re still aching to know more about what drives SWS — and me — then check out my About page, where you can read a little more about me as well as my manifesto for SWS.  Thanks for stopping by, and I look forward to getting to know you all in 2013!