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When LinkedIn recently released its fourth quarter numbers, the professional-leaning social network reported having added 18 million new members over the preceding three-month period. That puts the platform up from 259 members to 277 (Mashable).

With numbers like that, you have to ask yourself: am I using LinkedIn to the fullest to promote my small business?

One great way small business owners and marketers can take advantage of this platform is through Showcase Pages. For our purposes here today, we’ll assume you already have a LinkedIn Company Page (if you don’t, you should make one, and then check out their 10 Best of 2013 for inspiration). READ MORE

Today’s article comes from Alex Mitchell, our Lead Analyst, who somehow became the marketing team’s leading expert on Snapchat. 

Unless you’ve been ignoring mainstream media for the past 6 months or don’t have tweens living in your house, you probably have heard of Snapchat, the latest tech fad that has gained massive popularity in a very short time.

Snapchat allows users to send pictures to friends with the unique twist that they are only viewable for a short period of time (typically 1 — 10 seconds) before they disappear. READ MORE

Earlier this week we talked about 4 things you can do to get your website ready for the holidays. Today we’re going to turn our attention to setting up your social media strategy to succeed as well.

When you are putting together your editorial calendar over the next two months, you’ll probably have some great status updates about holiday excitement, photos of new products, special offers for your web store, videos of your team putting up decorations, and links to articles you’re writing on your blog…right? Once you figure out what you’re going to say, you need to decide when and how you’re going to say it. READ MORE

When it comes to creating community around your small business, there are lots of different routes to take. We’ve talked about creating community with offline efforts, in-kind donations, and rewards programs. Today we’re going to talk about creating a literal community using established social media tools.

There are three major providers of social media communities: Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. Because we are talking about communities with a business and marketing focus, we’re going to exclude Facebook for today, since you have to join or create a group from a personal profile instead of business page on this platform. READ MORE

Many times on this blog we have touted the benefits of creating great, relevant blog posts and other content as a means of driving traffic to your website and improving your search engine optimization. And because you’ve bookmarked and savored those articles (right??) I know that you’re already sold on this concept of content marketing. But knowing WHAT to do is not the same as knowing HOW to do it.

Starting a blog and creating content sounds like a great idea. But sometimes when you’re faced with that blank screen, the task can suddenly seem daunting. As someone who has written literally hundreds of blog posts, I can tell you that I’ve often faced the same challenge. But I can also tell you that not every topic you write about has to spring forth from your own brain – there are tools and resources at your disposal that can help you come up with things to write about when you sit down at that computer. Here are 5 of the resources I use to find inspiration for the blog posts I write every day: READ MORE

Today’s post in our Small Business Toolkit series will address how you, the small business owner, can create your own engaging infographics.

We talked here on the blog last month about how sharing great content through social media can be a powerful way to drive traffic to your website. It gives your followers something to share with their network — getting your brand and your links in front of many more sets of eyeballs without you having to spend a dime. Brilliant.

But social media sharing doesn’t happen all by itself (unfortunately). You have to give your followers something cool/useful/funny enough that they’ll feel compelled to share it in the first place. What options do you have? Here are some popular choices: READ MORE

Have you ever told a friend about a trendy new bar you heard of that you think they’d like, only to be regaled with a horror story about bad service and food poisoning after they visit it? So embarrassing. And if you think it’s scary going out on a limb to give advice to one friend, can you imagine how a search giant like Google or Bing feels?

Everybody hates giving bad recommendations, and Google is no exception. That’s why Google’s search ranking algorithm relies so heavily on a website’s ‘reputation’ around the Internet when delivering search results. Especially since its Penguin and Panda updates, Google has looked at how many people find a website useful and share-worthy as an indicator of how highly Google should rank or recommend it in search results. That’s great for big brands with huge audiences, but how can small business owners compete? READ MORE

Website trends are just like fashion. Each year, new styles come in and old looks become quickly outdated. On the web, this can have a big impact on your business’ ability to stay competitive and attract new customers.

With this in mind, we’ve pulled together some of the biggest emerging trends for 2013 – in both form and function – to help you stay ahead of the game and grow your business all year long.

A few key takeaways from the infographic below:

1. Mobile browsing on tablets and smartphones continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Responsive design — websites that self-adjust for different screens — will be big. READ MORE

Our branding series continues today as we look at how you can reinforce your branding with your digital presence — your website, mobile app, social media, etc.

When people think about “branding” they often think about something concrete and physical, like their identity package. That is to say their logo, letterhead, maybe a font they’ve selected, a tagline they use, things of that nature.

The next level, however, is to translate those elements into your business’s digital life. Now, of course you’re going to put your logo on all of your online spaces. But there are other, more subtle things that companies can do to reinforce their branding that might not be as top of mind. READ MORE

Surprise! You are now the proud owner of a newly-redesigned LinkedIn Company Page. (Assuming that your company already had a LinkedIn presence, since you’re a savvy social marketer.)

While this is exciting news – especially since the networking site previewed the new pages in August for a few top brands – some marketers were caught off guard by the change. Whether you were unplugged from your RSS feeds for a day or two, or neglected to log into your profile last week, your page may look somewhat odd at the moment. READ MORE

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