Social Media

5 Ways to Save Time Blogging with Squarespace 6

Squarespace blogging time saversBloggers know better than anyone that most of the challenge in making your blog posts successful is finding the time to blog. This time-intensive marketing tactic can produce new business at a lower cost than most other marketing channels, yet people struggle to embrace blogging because of the time involved. As luck would have it, Squarespace 6 will bring five time-saving new features that will help bloggers publish more efficiently and, as a result, reap the business benefits that go along with a great blog.

1. Social Media Sharing Buttons

The new version of Squarespace will allow you to add social media sharing buttons to your blog through a simple new interface. The setup follows each social network's standard third-party integration process. To enable it, simply click a button within your admin controls and the network turns from grayscale to color, turning on the integration with your blog. From that point forward, readers will be able to share your blog content via the social networks you choose without any cumbersome HTML snippets.

Squarespace social media sharing buttons

2. Custom Social Media Updates When You Publish

I've never been a fan of having your website auto-publish social media updates when you pubilsh new blog or website content, until now. Once integrated, you can set the update that will go out on each social network once your new blog post publishes. Squarespace has even included a convenient shorthand system that dynamically pulls in post elements such as the post title, author and URL. 

Social media publishing options in Squarespace

3. Improved Access and Control Over Post Details

I'll personally be saving some of the most time with the next set of new features, all bundled together under the Options section of the blog post editing interface. Squarespace has vastly improved post details access and control. These new features include quicklly adding blog post thumbnail images (for use with excerpts), custom URL control, and the ability to change the author of a blog post.

Squarespace post editing options

4. Content Review Workflow Built Right in

Squarespace content workflow review optionsUp until now, managing multiple editors in Squarespace hasn't always been easy. But now schedule your posts, mark them as private, or event request review. It will be interesting to see how robust the review interface will be, but often even the most basic of workflows are a vast improvement over the manual processes some editorials teams are forced to adhere to due to the lack of sophistication of their blogging platform.

5. Easier Embedding of Social Content

This last feature demonstrates Squarespace's commitment to being the most elegant and sophisiticated web publishing platform out there. It's still being perfected, but you can now enter the URL of a Twitter tweet or YouTube video, and Squarespace will automatically figure out how to best embed it into your blog post. Once embedded, you can also go in and tweak how it is presented on your site. Talk about a time saver!

Squarespace dynamic content embedding

What do you think of these new time-saving blogging features of Squarespace 6? What features save you the most time when you're blogging? Does the writing itself or a lack of efficiency features baked into your blogging platform contribute to more of your time-related challenges with blogging? 

5 Sweet New Social Features in Squarespace 6

New social media features on Squarespace 6Squarespace 6 news and features continue to become available as the company polishes its next generation web publishing platform in the beta phase of development of Squarespace 6. This week, we take a look at five sweet new social media features that will be a part of Squarespace 6, and will allow website publishers greater options and ease when integrating social media with Squarespace.

1. Add Social Content Blocks to Your Website

Let's start with the basics. Squarespace 6 will allow you to create social media content blocks that fit in the sidebar of your website on networks such as Foursquare, Instagram and Twitter. Squarespace will likely download all your social content in advance so your website will never slow down when loading and fetching your latest tweets at the same time.

Social content blocks on Squarespace 6

2. Publish to Social Networks from Your Squarespace Blog

Squarespace 6 will save you time and effort with their new social accounts publishing system. Simply connect your social media accounts to your Squarespace website, then adjust the settings for how people can interact with you on those social networks. This feature allows you to include social media follow icons on your website navigation as well as auto post new content to your social media accounts.

Social media account integration on Squarespace 6

3. Turn a Squarespace Page or Gallery into a Facebook Page Tab

Squarespace really shows how far they want to push Squarespace 6 with this next feature. You'll be able to connect any page or photo gallery on your Squarespace website to a tab or tabs on your Facebook page. Check it out. Here's a photo gallery on my Squarespace beta website. Now here's the tab for the photo gallery on my Big Picture Web Marketing Facebook page (which you should totally like, by the way). 

Squarespace 6 Facebook Galleries

4. Plug-and-Play Social Media Sharing Buttons

Let's say you want people to be able to like or tweet a blog post or web page on your website. With Squarespace 5, you have to install a little custom code if you want to display a like or tweet button on Squarespace. With Squarespace 6, simply select from a list of social media networks, then log in directly from Squarespace. Social sharing buttons are added to your site with ease, and your days of copy/pasting social code snippets are over.

Squarespace 6 social media buttons

5. Blog Contributors and Their Social Media Networks

Squarespace users with multiple authors or contributors are going to be thrilled with Squarespace 6. Social features are just the tip of the iceberg. But for starters, your authors will be able to add social media account information to their author bios. Look for more news on multiple blog contributors on Squarespace 6 in the near future.

Squarespace 6 social media authors

What do you think of these sweet new social features coming out on Squarespace 6? Are these features in line with what you're expecting from the next generation in Squarespace web publishing, have they raised the bar, or do these new social media features leave something to be desired? 

Squarespace Guide: 5 Steps to Marketing Your Website

A Squarespace Guide on Marketing a WebsiteYou picked Squarespace as a web publishing platform because you wanted a website that was easy to design, build, and edit. But just having a website doesn't guarantee that people will actually visit it. A few marketing tactics here and there can go a long way to bring in new business through the Internet. Here's a brief 5-step Squarespace guide on marketing your website.

Step 1: Invest in Your Website Design

Your website is now often the first thing about you people encounter, and first impressions count as much as ever. Potential customers judge the quality of your services based on the quality of your website. It sounds odd, but even for completely unrelated services such as landscaping, a more aesthetically pleasing website will usually yield more customers. Take the time to invest in the design of your Squarespace website, or get to know a great Squarespace designer.

Step 2: Take the Time to Start a Blog

According to HubSpot's 2012 State of Inbound Marketing Report, 81% of businesses now indicate their blog as "useful to critical for their business." If you're not blogging at least once a week, you're missing out on a potentially big source of new business. Download our free Squarespace blogging ebook if you're looking for a good strategic Squarespace guide on blogging.

Step 3: Connect Social Media to Your Brand

People are more likely to share and interact with your business through social media if you're actively blogging and updating your social media statuses. Make it easy for people to share your website content by installing sharing widgets on your Squarespace blogs. Simply copy and paste a little custom code in most cases to install sharing widgets for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Feedburner, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, and even Pinterest

Step 4: Earn Extra Traffic from Google with SEO

Squarespace is always very happy to share how SEO-friendly the website platform is, and how you shouldn't need to invest extra SEO efforts as a result of their fantastic infrastructure. Website platform aside, it also takes a solid content strategy, a link/social outreach plan, and plenty of other Squarespace SEO tactics to maximize your potential for search traffic to your website. Invest a little efforts in your SEO strategy for additional traffic from search engines.

Step 5: Measure Your Marketing Efforts for Free

The Internet is the most measurable marketing medium yet thanks to tools such as Squarespace's onboard analytics platform. But to unlock even greater insights, install Google Analytics on Squarespace. The free web analytics platform allows you to track form fills, blog comments, and just about anything else. Don't fly blind when you can produce detailed reports to tell you which of your efforts are most successful. 

Done right, you'll take a few major leaps forward in your online marketing success if you implement the five steps in this little marketing Squarespace guide. What questions do you have about marketing your website on Squarespace? What do you think a good strategy should contain?

Getting Paid to Hand-Pick Your Co-Workers: A LinkedIn Ads Experiment

Using LinkedIn Ads with Recruiting Referral programsWhat if you could hand-pick your co-workers, and make money in the process? The idea isn't original. Many great companies offer referral bonuses because they know that talent attracts more talent. And yet referrals only account for about a third of new hires at many companies. Recently I tried an experiment to see whether I could use LinkedIn Ads to turn myself into a de facto paid recruiter for my company.

How to Set Up a LinkedIn Ad for Recruiting Referrals

When I heard about some new openings in my department recently, I had an idea to use LinkedIn Ads to help me recruit for the new gigs. The goal was to scale my efforts in finding qualified candidates so that I could invite them to apply for these new jobs. If I could get someone hired through this process, I'd be eligible for a referral bonus. The setup consisted of three steps:

Step 1: Create a LinkedIn Ad Campaign

First I signed up for LinkedIn Ads and created ads targeting candidates based on the positions available. I created two cost-per-click ads with the goal of learning what I could from the differences in the ads.

Ad 1 "Broad" - This ad cast a wide net across all marketers in the Twin Cities with a few years of experience. I used geography, experience (via age as a proxy), and industry in my ad targeting.

LinkedIn broad targeted ad

Ad 2 "Narrow" - This ad honed in on just marketers with experience in higher education. It contained all the parameters of the first ad, as well as some specific company-level targeting to restrict the ads to showing only within the higher education market.

LinkedIn referral program ad with narrow focusAfter creating my ads, I created a budget, pointed them at a special landing page I created on my blog, and launched my campaign.

Step 2: Sending LinkedIn Ads to a Landing Page

The ads began receiving impressions and even sending a few folks to the landing page I created to promote the openings via clicks. This landing page wasn't anything special. It contained some basic information about working for Rasmussen College, a list of links to all the open jobs, and a contact form where I instructed interested parties to direct their queries.

Landing page for LinkedIn Ads

Step 3: Screen and Submit Referral Candidates

Once candidates contacted me, we'd exchanged a few emails to see which positions appealed to them the most, and where their experience might fit in best with the company. I gathered a resume and cover letter from candidates who were a good fit and submitted them through our company's referral submission process. If there wasn't a good fit, I reached out to my LinkedIn network to see if anyone was looking for someone like my candidate.

The Results of the LinkedIn Ad Experiment

At this point, I have some very encouraging results, but I haven't hit a home run. The ad with a narrow focus has received 1700+ impressions, but hasn't yet earned any clicks despite several changes to the image, headline and ad copy. On the bright side, this ad hasn't cost my any money, so it's been a free learning exercise.

LinkedIn Ad results

On the other hand, the more broadly targeted ad has received over 19,000 impressions, 18 clicks, and 2 contacts. One candidate was qualified, while one wasn't suited for the positions we had available. What did we learn?

  • With 18 visits and $56.38 spent, I averaged $3.13 per click
  • Of the 18 visits, 2 contacted me, for a visit-to-lead conversion rate of 11%
  • With 2 contacts, I averaged $28.19 per candidate
  • With 1 qualified candidate, I'm averaging $56.38 per qualified candidate
  • Hypothetical: I may have to recruit five qualified candidates before someone lands a job. In that case, I'd average a cost-per-hire of $281.90

If the qualified candidate lands the job, I have found a rock star for my team and have earned $1,000 (referral bonus) on an investment of $53.16 (at a humble ROI of 1,781%). Even if I have to recruit a total of 5 candidates before someone gets hired, I'll still be looking at an ROI of 255%. In fact, at this point I would only need one candidate out of 19 to land a job in order to break even on the investment. 

Taking LinkedIn Ads to the Next Level

Given the preliminary results from my campaign, the outlook is promising. Yes, there are multiple areas for improvement as I look ahead. I'm going to continually tweak my ad campaigns for both targeting and ad creative. I also want to refine my landing page to increase my visit-to-lead conversion rates. But overall, I may have just stumbled upon a great way to hand-pick my new co-workers and get paid a like a professional recruiter in the process.

What do you think of the LinkedIn Ads approach to recruiting through referral bonus programs?

28 Marketing and Business Books to Read in 2012

A man reading business and marketing books.At the beginning of 2011, my friend and digital PR expert Arik Hanson posed a challenge on his blog: read a book every other week all year long. I took Arik up on his challenge, and discovered nearly thirty amazing marketing and business books this year in the process.

And now that I've gotten into the habit of regular reading, 2012 will be no different. Will you join me next year? Here's a few tips and 28 marketing and business books to encourage you to join me in the 2012 26 Book Challenge.

How to Read a Book Every Other Week

Getting through 26 books in a year doesn't just happen. It's the type of thing you have to plan for, both in terms of the time it will take and medium that will work best for you.

First, where do you find yourself having chunks of time where your brain isn't engaged? Nearly everyone has that half an hour or more per day where they're stuck in traffic, on the bus/train, walking on a treadmill, etc. 

Next, what's the best medium for you to consume books during this free time? Between good old-fashioned paper books, electronic books (e.g., Kindle) and audio books (e.g., Audible), there's a way for nearly everyone to find time in your existing schedule where you could be reading and learning new things. Personally, I listen to books via Audible to and from work during my half-hour commute. That alone is responsible for most of the books I read this year.

28 Marketing and Business Books to Read in 2012

Some folks read for pleasure or simply to escape. I use my reading time to get through books on marketing and business. If you're looking to take the 26 Book Challenge in 2012, consider some of the gems* I read this year (you can also read my ever-growing list of Internet marketing book reviews):

General Online Marketing and Marketing Books:

 Content Marketing, SEO, and Social Media Books:

Marketing and Business Psychology Books:

Personal Branding and Business Philosophy Books:

*Note: there are Amazon Affiliate links contained in this list. Please buy something to subsidize my own reading habit. :)

A Complete List of 2012 Marketing and Business Books

What do you think of the books on this list?  I need your help to figure out what's missing, what deserves to be there, and what people should avoid. What great marketing and business books can you recommend? Leave a suggestion (or a few) in the comments to help my readers and me as we set our sites on the 2012 26 Book Challenge. Be sure to also leave a comment if you plan on being a part of the challenge in 2012.

Image credit: Flickr