social media

Creating Your Brand’s Online Persona

Most businesses maintain a social media presence in order to engage existing customers and reach new customers. Though sharing high quality content is one of the primary ways to achieve these goals, brands also need to think about how their followers perceive their online persona.

Think of it this way: social media accounts are like extensions or additional dimension of a brand’s or business’s personality. If you haven’t taken the time to define this personality and consider how you want to portray it via social media, then your brand can come off as haphazard, dull, or even off-putting.

In other words, carefully defining your business’s online persona is kind of a big deal!

In order to address this kind-of-big-deal, what should you take into consideration when determining your business’s online persona?

What is the tone of your online voice?

  • Enthusiastic?
  • Friendly?
  • Down-to-earth?
  • Strictly professional?
  • Knowledgeable?
  • Approachable?
  • Welcoming?
  • Humorous?
  • Replete with hipster irony?

Any one of these tones can be a good fit for a brand or business. In addition to helping you target a particular demographic or audience, they can help you create content that this audience wants to share with others.

Think of it this way: let’s say you sell donuts. (I love you already.) You could post a picture of a donut with the caption, “This is a donut.” You could do this every day, with the exact same personality-less caption every single time. (This might be veering into hipster-irony territory, but let’s set that aside for the moment.) 

Or you could add some personality to those posts! Perhaps your very refined and mature and knowledgeable donut shop could add a caption about the exact amount of time it took to create this donut from scratch, from the second you pulled out the flour to the second you dipped the fried dough into the glaze. People love behind-the-scenes knowledge like that. Or perhaps your super-enthusiastic and super-casual store could add a caption about “ZOMG I WANT TO PUT ALL THE DONUTS IN MY FACEHOLE!” People love to laugh about things like that.

Better yet, people love to share behind-the-scenes knowledge and things that make them laugh.

Remember, sharing is golden. Sharing is what you want. Sharing and liking and commenting and all of that wonderful engagement is the whole point of maintaining (and, let’s be honest, marketing via) your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and other social media sites.

You just need to determine which online tone (or tones) work well for you. And if they’re working—if they’re keeping your audience interested, engaged, and sharing—keep using them.

What tones do you want to avoid?

  • Sales-pitchy
  • Condescending
  • Devoid of any personality

People don’t want to follow you to receive an endless stream of sales pitches. It’s spammy, and it makes people angry. (It doesn’t matter if it’s irrational anger: it’s still anger, which is the exact opposite of what you want your followers to feel when they see you pop up in their feed.) They also don’t want to follow anyone—or like or share or comment on any post—that is boring. (Obviously). And they certainly don’t want to follow anyone that is rude or haughty. (That’s a quick ticket to the UNFOLLOW button.)

A carefully considered online persona, however, can help to better position you and your brand and your brand’s posts when it comes to your social media presence. The better-positioned you are, the more engagement you’ll receive. Better yet, the more engagement you receive, the more people you reach online.

How does your online voice differ from the voice on your website and/or the one in your store, restaurant, or office?

  • Is your social media voice more casual?
  • Are you trying to reach a new or expanded demographic with your social media accounts?
  • Is your social media voice your own voice, the voice of a particular person in your business, or a generic business voice?

Your business’s social media persona does not have to be exactly like the persona of your brick and mortar business site, nor does it have to match precisely the tone on your website. In many cases, successful social media accounts have tones that are a bit more casual than their corresponding websites or locations.

Whether it’s more casual or more professional, or whether it’s representative of a particular person or the brand in general, the most important point is that a brand and business determine what the persona is in the first place.

It should only take a short while to outline exactly what you want this persona to be: maybe a quick meeting, maybe a few minutes hammering out a list of qualities that you want your business to express online. Don’t worry: it’s not rocket science. It’s not even seventh grade earth science.

The point is this: once you’ve determined that online persona, and once you start using that persona in your posts, your brand will thank you for it.

Your followers just might too.

3 Reasons You Need A Business Blog

Three Reasons Why You (Yes, You) Need A Blog on your Business Site

macbook.jpg

“Do I really need a blog for my business website?”

“Isn’t that going to be a lot of work?”

“Is it even worth the investment of time and, potentially, money?”

These are three questions that we hear often enough. Our short answers are: We think so! Maybe a little, but we can always help you out! And very, very, very likely, YES!

In other words, a regularly-updated blog filled with useful and interesting content can be a great investment for any business. And if you need any convincing on the matter, here are three big reasons why you (yes, you) need a blog on your business site.

You can demonstrate your company’s range and expertise.

Let’s say that your business specializes in bacon. (And what a delicious business that would be.) Your website’s home page probably showcases your location, your services, and any other information that is pertinent to your customers. Maybe you even have a cool tagline: something like “MAKIN’ BACON SINCE 1957.” (Okay, well maybe it’s a cool-ish tagline.) You likely have an about page, a contact page, and perhaps a page for your online store. You might even have an image gallery highlighting some of the key moments in your bacon-makin’ history.

 Courtesy USDAgov

Courtesy USDAgov

That’s all porktastic. But now think: does your website really exhaust all of your vast bacon knowledge? Probably not. 

You need to take those words, take that knowledge, and create your very own bacon business blog.

Or in your case, you need to take the words and knowledge that apply to your own business and create your own business blog. Because if you’re good at what you do, you have all sorts of ideas and tips and bits of wisdom that go well beyond what you already share on your website. And no one—current customers and potential customers alike—is going to know that you have all that wisdom unless you share it with the public. 

A blog is a great forum for all of that wisdom-sharing. It shows that you’re an authority on a number of topics, and that’s never a bad thing when it comes to attracting new customers.

You can increase your website’s traffic.

How does that happen?

Well, it doesn’t just happen. It takes some work. But if you maintain a regular blog and promote your posts via social media, you will increase your website’s traffic. Let’s go ahead and call it the “Blog of Dreams”: if you build it, they will come.

First thing’s first: make sure that you share your latest posts on whatever social media networks you use. This gives your followers easy access to your blog, and thus to your entire website. You might not be the only one sharing these posts too. Every blog post you publish is something that someone else—or many someones—can share on their social networks. And the more your posts get shared, the more new visitors you’ll get on your site.

But the potential for all this new website traffic doesn’t just stop there. Think back to that wisdom-sharing I just mentioned. Let’s say our old bacon business has published a few blog posts on topics that span the following range:

  • Curing bacon
  • Bacon recipes for the Superbowl
  • Ohio bacon producers
  • The best bacon appetizers on local menus
  • Bacon-themed greeting cards

Do you know what you have right there? You have five search terms that can bring brand new visitors to your website. And it doesn’t matter if each blog post’s readership dies off after a few days or weeks. The very fact that it’s there on your website means that it can continue to bring you traffic for months and even years to come whenever people search for those topics.

Better yet, each post is a way for you to say, “Hey, Google! Hey all you other search engines! I’m creating dynamic content on my website, so you should check me out as much as you can to see what I’m doing!”

Each post gives you another opportunity to show up in search engines. Need we reiterate that this is never bad for business?

You can gain a broader audience.

Your current customers already know your name and likely know your website name. They might type in your url whenever they need to remember your address or check out your list of services, but they’re probably not going to visit it regularly.

And your potential customers? Those people who probably haven’t even heard of you yet? How are they going to find your website?

One of the easiest ways to drive them to your site is to (you guessed it) maintain a regular blog.

 Courtesy flickr user: (matt)

Courtesy flickr user: (matt)

Let’s go back to bacon, people!

All those times you share your posts via social media? Every time your bacon-loving customers share your posts with their bacon-loving friends, you’ve just expanded your reach to all those friends too!

All that vast knowledge and expertise that you’ve shared about bacon? Someone out there might be searching for it, and when your post pops up in their search engine, you’ve just reached them!

More shares, more traffic, more appearances in search engines: it’s all possible when you add a blog to your business site.

And this broader audience isn’t just a simple audience either. It’s an audience filled with potential customers, all who found you because of your business’s blog.

Top SM Accounts for Columbus Business Owners

3.jpg

Though nothing beats the in-person connections you are making each and every day as a business owner, staying connected via social media can help you boost your business and stay on top of all the relevant news and events happening in Central Ohio.

Your own social media accounts aren’t the only important ones you should be paying attention to either. Here in Columbus, there are plenty of organizations, groups, and businesses with social media accounts that are relevant to nearly every local business owner in town.

These are the accounts that are pertinent to Columbus business: the ones that can connect you with other business owners, and the ones that will share the stories and news that are essential to your own business and brand. If you don’t know what’s going on with them, then you might be missing out on something that is important to you.

 

Who, what, and where you should be following as a Central Ohio business owner? 

Columbus Chamber of Commerce

The Columbus Chamber of Commerce already provides great connections, resources, and solutions for area businesses. Though most of their tangible benefits are reserved for CCC’s members, this doesn’t mean that non-members won’t benefit from following them on social media.

Whether you’re looking for news about local events, business webinars, or just some insight into what the organization is all about, following the Columbus Chamber of Commerce on Twitter and Facebook is something that we at Bold Hive recommend for all local businesses, big and small.

Is your business or residence located in one of the area’s fine suburbs? Make sure to follow their Chamber of Commerce too.

Experience Columbus

Though the goal of Experience Columbus is to promote the Columbus area to visitors, this doesn’t mean that the organization and its social media accounts are only for out-of-towners. Whether you’re looking for ways to entertain clients or colleagues or just searching for ways to keep your own business connected locally, Experience Columbus is a Central Ohio social media “must.”

You can follow them on Instagram to see some of the visual highlights from around the city. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter to stay on top of all the major attractions and events occurring around Central Ohio.

 

 Credit flickr user newmanchu

Credit flickr user newmanchu

The Dispatch

As a local business owner, you’re probably already reading The Dispatch. But are you following their social media accounts too?

Even if you don’t have time each day to read the paper from cover to cover (or webpage to webpage), you can still check in to see what people are discussing on Facebook or what articles the Dispatch is linking up on Twitter.

Your favorite indie local indie papers

Of course, The Dispatch is not the only place that offers excellent local news. Our local indie papers give area business owners that opportunity to learn more about the stories and people who matter to area business. To stay on top of local news—including great features and interviews with local business owners—make sure to follow your favorite local indie papers, including:

Other Columbus businesses

From restaurants to independent stores to your public library branch, there are plenty of local businesses ready to keep you connected on social media. Pick your favorite five, ten, twenty, or more, and start following them wherever they are.

As you might already know, participating a good, solid network can only help your own business become stronger.

More importantly, when you connect with other essential social media accounts in town, they might start taking an interest in your business too.

 

 

Delicious Columbus Instagram Feeds

As all of us at Bold Hive know, Columbus isn’t exactly lacking in the food department. From incredible hot dogs (that’s right—incredible hot dogs) to fine dining, from farmers’ markets to farms, from impressive restaurant empires to hole-in-the-wall treasures, we have almost everything that a foodie—or even just a regular old hungry person—could look for in a city.

In addition to amazing food, a few Central Ohio restaurants are also serving up some pretty amazing photos of their culinary creations on Instagram. Listed below are a few of our favorites.

(And caution: you are about to get very, very hungry.) 

@breakfastwithnick from Breakfast with Nick

As one of the most renowned Central Ohio food bloggers, it makes sense that Nick Dekker of “Breakfast with Nick” would have a pretty delicious Instagram feed. One of the best and worst things about his photos is just how wide a variety of food and restaurants they represent. I say “the best” because Nick showcases a veritable smorgasbord of Columbus-and-beyond breakfast dishes and delicacies in his feed. And I say “the worst” because we can’t quite figure out how to fit that entire smorgasbord into our bellies right now.

What has Nick been sharing with his followers lately? This Davy Crockett donut from Westerville’s Schneider’s BakeryThese surlitos (aka Surly Girl’s huevos rancheros).  This French toast from Tasi Café.

No matter what he’s sharing, Nick celebrates his love of food and his love of Columbus businesses, and that’s something that we at Bold Hive especially love.

@chef_wijohnst from Black Creek Bistro

Black Creek Bistro brings the farm to the table with their sustainable and as-local-as-possible lunch and dinner menus. With hearty and inspired sandwiches at lunch (Chimichurri tuna melt!  Pork burrito!  Yes please!) and a quaint but varied selection of entrees at dinner (Braised lamb shank!  Rathskeller salmon!  Sign me up!), the restaurant has quickly become a Columbus favorite.

On his Instagram feed, Chef Will, a Black Creek Bistro sous chef, captures the beautiful and the delicious from Black Creek Bistro.  Focusing primarily on the day’s lunch features, Chef Will delights his followers with near-daily photos of the kitchen’s creations.  There are vegan selections (like the recent eggplant caponata). There are sandwich selections (like pulled pork po’ boys).  And then, of course, there are those selections that just make your stomach growl, no matter what time of day it is (like
chipotle mac and cheese with corn, bacon, guacamole, cotija, and kale chips). 

@cherbourgbakery from Cherbourg Bakery

Though it’s relatively new to town, Bexley’s Cherbourg Bakery has risen to the top of many locals’ favorite bakeries. Serving up gluten-free and nut-free baked goods, Cherbourg proves that you don’t need wheat, gluten, or nuts to make delicious donuts, muffins, cookies, and more.

The Cherbourg Instagram feed is downright delicious too. Think cream puffs. Rosemary polenta cakeMaple streusel crunch muffins. Cinnamon donuts. This amazing sign. (Yes, that’s your sweet tooth telling you it’s time to visit Cherbourg.)

Beyond the sweet and delicious, this Instagram feed also serves up the plain old sweet with photos of the Cherbourg employees sharing meals, playing games, and just enjoying one another’s company. Looking at this sweetness is almost as nice as looking at Cherbourg’s famous lemon bars.

Almost.

@waywardseedfarm from Wayward Seed Farm

Wayward Seed’s Instagram account is brand spanking new (to date, they’ve only posted eight images), but don’t let that fool you: they truly have some of the most gorgeous and delicious-looking photos we’ve seen on Instagram.

As a certified organic farm that grows heritage and heirloom vegetables for Central Ohio residents and restaurants, Wayward Seed has posted striking images of fresh produce and fresh-produce-baked-into-mouthwatering-dishes. From Japanese eggplants to cherry and blueberry pie to bunches of rainbow chard, they are capturing some of the most beautiful things that we can grow right here in Central Ohio. This is an Instagram feed that won’t just make you hungry: if you’re right here in Columbus, it will make you proud to be an Ohioan.

@danthebaker from Dan the Baker

It would be an understatement to say that Dan the Baker simply bakes bread. His breads and pastries are little loaves of art that are hand-crafted from local and organic ingredients. Not surprisingly, these breads and pastries are delicious too.

On his Instagram feed, Dan shares little slices of baking life. There’s the dough (or in this case, the olive hazelnut bread dough). There’s the oven (or in this case, the oven full of golden raisin coriander chocolate sourdough). There’s the fruit filling (or in this case, the blueberry sauce for Dan’s scones).  And of course, there are the finished baked goods (like these Ohio peach puff pastries) that will make you want to run (and run fast) to the nearest location serving whatever it is that Dan has been baking. 

@commonwealthsandwichbar from Commonwealth Sandwich Bar

Commonwealth Sandwich Bar just happens to be one of the places that serves what Dan the Baker has been baking. And like any good sandwich joint, Commonwealth takes two great slices of bread and fills them with ingredients that take the great all the way to the spectacular.

What’s looking pretty spectacular on Commonwealth’s Instagram feed? How about their Bahn Fire sandwich, with roasted pork shoulder, cilantro, jalapeno, spicy Korean barbecue, and arugula on a demi batard. Or their Thai Shtick sandwich, with chicken, shaved cabbage, swiss cheese, peanut sauce, and pickled jalapenos on rustic Italian bread. Or their cheesecake. Oh yes: their cheesecake. Because if there’s anything that rivals the simple genius of a well-made sandwich, it’s a creamy cheesecake with chocolate graham crust and chocolate drizzle.  

@cbusadventures from Columbus Food Adventures

Offering Columbus food tours ranging from a Taco Truck Food Tour to an All Dessert Food Tour, it’s no surprise that Columbus Food Adventures’ Bethia Woolf has posted an array of unique (and tasty) photos on the site’s Instagram feed. This is truly the place to be to find the food that makes you hungry and the culinary gems that are still waiting for you to discover.

The Columbus Food Adventures Instagram feed isn’t just about amazing local restaurant food either. Of course, you’ll find highlights from their tours (like this striking display of Korean food from the Meat Lovers Tour), and you’ll find lots of other local food scene deliciousness (like this slice of chocolately awesomeness from Kolache Republic or this Shagbark mill hoecake from Knead). But you’ll also find images that are more personal: the blueberry patch at Berry Field farm, twin mason jars filled with homemade cherry syrup, a basket of sweet cherries from the North Market farmers’ market. 

And every single one of these images and Instagram feeds are enough to keep us excited about the local food scene for a long, long time. Have a favorite Instagram feed in Columbus that we left out? Share your favorites below in the comments! 

Leveraging Hashtags in Social Media

A little over a week ago, Facebook joined the ranks of Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram and introduced hashtags to the site. 

For the uninitiated, hashtags allow social media users to add clickable links to their posts simply by typing a pound sign (or this: #) immediately followed by words or numbers (and no punctuation or spaces). A hashtag can look like this: #BoldHive. Or this: #OSU2013. Or even this: #BaconMakesMeHappy. It can look like anything so long as it is a pound sign followed by letters and/or numbers.

north-market-web.jpg

What makes hashtags useful? When someone clicks on a hashtag, they can pull up a stream that shows every single other post on that site that also includes that hashtag. Want to see everyone who is tweeting about Red White and Boom? Follow the #redwhiteandboom hashtag on Twitter. Want to see who’s posting about the North Market? Check out the #northmarket hashtag on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and more. (Warning: you might get really hungry if you follow this hashtag.)

You can almost think of hashtags as your entry into an index for any and all conversations occurring on Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and now, Facebook. (You can even use tagboard.com to follow hashtags occurring on all of these social media platforms.) And when you add a hashtag to your own post, you’re indicating that what you are saying is part of a global conversation too. In other words, people can find you when they follow or search for the hashtags that you add to your posts.

But how do hashtags fit into your own social media use for your business? With Facebook now jumping on board with hashtag use, how can you leverage hashtags to promote your brand? Perhaps even more importantly, how can you avoid making hashtag mistakes?

Know when to use a hashtag—and when not to

hashtags.png

“Hashtag etiquette” often depends on which social media site you are using. For instance, if you are on Twitter, you don’t want to overpopulate your tweet with hashtags. Why? #The #primary #purposes #of #Twitter #is #to #send #out #verbal #messages, #and #if #every #other #word #in #your #tweet #is #a #hashtag #your #message #will #get #lost #in #the #chaos.

Thus, if you are going to use a hashtag at all on Twitter (and perhaps on Facebook), just choose one or two that fit best with your message. Use any more than that, and you risk making your followers tune out your entire message.

With more image-driven posts, such as those on Instagram and Pinterest, you can elect to add a few more hashtags to your image captions. Just make sure that they are relevant to your image and/or your brand’s message. What’s more, make sure that they aren’t redundant. For instance, you don’t need #firework and #fireworks and #FIREWORKS in one of your posts from the 4th of July.

One of our favorite local hashtags to follow on Instagram for all things Columbus is one that's hosted by (614) Magazine and has grown in popularity over the years. At any given time you can check in on #asseenincolumbus and see some of the best pictures from around town as well as all current events happening in Columbus. Check it out, you might even find a new (or old) friend with an equal passion for our great city.

Use hashtags to promote a contest

Requiring contest entrants to include a hashtag on their social media contest entries allows you to keep track of everyone who’s entered your contest. Remember—just by clicking on a hashtag, you can pull up a stream of everyone else who has used that hashtag. Better yet, if your hashtag is something catchy or cool, it might draw the attention of people who have yet to hear about you.

Just keep it simple. (We used #CBUSfave for this month’s “Favorite Columbus Business” Bold Hive contest.) Use anything too complicated and people might accidentally type in the wrong hashtag in their contest entry.

Connect your business to a broader social media conversation

Nearly every conference and major event these days creates a relevant hashtag that attendees can use in their social media posts. So next time your business or brand will be present at a conference or event, find out the hashtag and start using it in your posts. Doing so will allow everyone else to find you and your brand’s message more easily.

Create a hashtag that connects current and potential fans back to you

There’s a reason that people use the term “viral” when it comes to all that’s popular and trendy on the Internet. Social media trends spread like a virus (but without the germs!) from one user to the next.

So let’s say you create a hashtag that represents your business or brand. It could even be something as simple as your company’s name or tagline. If your followers see you using that hashtag in your social media posts, they might start using it too. And then when their followers see them using that hashtag, they might either start using that hashtag or click on the tag itself to see who else is talking about you.

Soon, that global, searchable conversation about your business might be spreading around Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., all because of one little hashtag.

@boldhive: Which social media channel makes the best use of hashtags?

Bold Hive is always happy to help you navigate the world of social media so that you can leverage anything from hashtags to Facebook pages to brand new platforms to promote your business and amplify your message. 

Favorite Columbus Business

UPDATE 2 (6/28/13):

Voting Closed

Harvest Pizzeria nominated by Rebecca Monday is our big winner - with over 50% of the votes from our four finalists. Harvest Pizzeria will get a free photo shoot and Rebecca gets a free portrait session at the same time. We'll be in touch soon to schedule your shoot! 

UPDATE 1: 

Columbus, with your help we've determined the finalists for your Favorite Columbus Business. Now you get to determine the winner. We'll tally the votes next week and announce your favorite. The business with the most votes will receive a free photo shoot and the patron that nominated them will get a free portrait session at their favorite Columbus business.

Live Vote Now Below! 

@boldhive: Our finalists for Favorite Columbus Business. Which business and patron should get a free photo shoot? You pick the winner! Details: bhv.bz/17EOlfD


If you’re anything like the team at Bold Hive, you love spreading the word about your favorite local business. You probably also love winning amazing prizes.

What if we told you that you had the chance to spread the word about your favorite local business and get an amazing reward and help your favorite local business to receive an amazing gift as well? Because that’s just what we’re about to tell you.

This fun project blends our passion for local business with everything that the Bold Hive team does best: using design and technology to help businesses get energized and continue to thrive. 

CBUSMEANSBUSINESS6.png

How does this relate to your love for local businesses and cool rewards? Starting today, when you "share" our Favorite Columbus Business post on Facebook and leave a comment describing your favorite Columbus business, you might just get a portrait session at your favorite spot, courtesy of Bold Hive’s photographer! Even better, if your nominated business is selected, your favorite Columbus business will also receive a professional photo shoot with our photographer.

Prefer to play along via Twitter? Click the tweet button below to join in on the fun and tag your favorite Columbus business at the end of the tweet. If scheduling permits we may just pick more than one response to get the reward!

It’s just our own way of spreading the word about our love for all of the local businesses and brands and people like you who make Columbus such a great place to work and live.