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Factors to Consider to Choose a Wordpress Theme or Blogger Template

There are many websites that provide directories of free and premium Wordpress themes and Blogger templates. 

There are even more blog designers who offer free, premium and custom Wordpress themes and Blogger templates. With so many choices, how does a blogger decide which theme or template to use in his or her blog design? Easy. Just consider the 11 factors listed below to ensure you're making a good decision.

1. Budget

Wordpress themes and Blogger templates are either free, premium or custom. Free themes cost nothing and are available for anyone to use, anywhere and at anytime. That means many people could use the exact same theme. Premium themes typically have a price tag around $70. Anyone can buy them and use them on their blogs. Custom themes are created by a blog designer for a specific blog. They can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars and are completely unique to the blog they are created for. The first factor you need to consider is how much money you're willing to spend in order to get a unique look and increased functionality for your blog. It's not a certainty that free themes offer the least functionality, but it's usually true.

2. Functionality
Determine how much functionality you want your blog to have. This depends on your goals for your blog. If you want to grow your blog, you'll want a theme that offers flexibility and enhanced functionality. For example, if you want to include ads on your blog but choose a 1-column blog theme, you will have very little choice in terms of where your ads can appear on your blog.

3. Investment on Additional Customization

All blog themes can be further customized from the original version you purchase. You might find a theme or template you really like but later realize the colors or fonts aren't exactly to your liking. This is a change a blog designer (or possibly you, with a bit of CSS research) can make fairly easily. 

However, the bigger the change, the more it will cost you.

4. Layout
One of the first things you should look at when you're researching Wordpress themes or Blogger templates is the layout. Most blogs are 2- or 3-columns. Some offer standard blog formats with a chronological list of blog posts flanked by sidebar columns, but other blogs use magazine style themes, photo themes, and more. Take some time to review a variety of blog designs to determine which layout style will work best for your blog.

5. Reputable Designer
Anyone can create a blog theme or template, publish it online and offer it for free or for a fee. It can be a hassle to change your blog's theme if you have a lot of content and customization (e.g., Wordpress plug-ins, customized sidebars with widgets, etc.). Make sure the blog theme or template you choose is from a reputable designer with a track record of creating great designs. Doing so ensures your blog theme or template will work correctly and include the best features and functionality.

6. Find Blogs with Designs You Like
A great way to choose a Wordpress theme or Blogger template is to browse blogs and find designs and layouts that you like. Then contact the blog owner and ask what theme or template they use. Often this information is included in the blog's footer!

7. View Other Sites Already Using the Theme You're Considering

If you find a theme or template online that you like, try to find some other blogs that already use that theme and take a look at them. Spend some time clicking deep into the site and testing the functionality from a user's perspective. Don't be afraid to email the theme or template designer and ask for a list of sites using that design. Good designers will be happy to share this information.
8. Design Elements
Consider design elements like color, fonts, and so on before you settle on a blog design. While design elements can usually be changed without much hassle by a person who knows CSS, that can be an additional investment if you need to find someone to help you. Take the time to look at how different heading styles look, how linked text appears, and so on to ensure you're happy with them.

9. Functional Elements
Just as you took time to analyze the design elements in a blog theme or template, you should also take time to analyze the functional elements such as the "Read More" link at the end of posts, text in block quotes, the comments section, sidebar headers, post titles, the "Next" or "Previous" navigation, and so on. Each of these functional elements are very important to the user experience on your blog. Make sure they work (and look) the way you would want them to on your blog.

10. Read Reviews
One of the most important steps you can take when you're choosing a Wordpress theme or Blogger template is to take the time to read the reviews other bloggers write about them. If you're considering a theme or template listed in a directory site, check to see if reviews are included with the listing. Take some time to do a Google search on the theme name and designer's name to find out what other bloggers have to say about it.

11. Support
Be sure to find out what kind of support is offered with the theme. Is the designer available to answer questions? Is there a support forum where users help each other? Can you pay a fee to get support when you need it? The best themes offer some way for you to get help when you need it. weblogs.about.com

Social Media - 8 Essential Elements of a Social Media Marketing Strategy

Do you need help getting started with your social media marketing strategy? Do you know what to include?

Goals and objectives guide your social media strategy to help you successfully connect with your customers.

In this article I’ll share what you need to include in your social media marketing strategy so it works from day one.

1: Identify Business Goals: Every piece of your social media strategy serves the goals you set. You simply can’t move forward without knowing what you’re working toward.

Look closely at your company’s overall needs and decide how you want to use social media to contribute to reaching them.

You’ll undoubtedly come up with several personalized goals, but there are a few that all companies should include in their strategy—increasing brand awareness, retaining customers and reducing marketing costs are relevant to everyone.

I suggest you choose two primary goals and two secondary goals to focus on. Having too many goals distracts you and you’ll end up achieving none.

2: Set Marketing Objectives: Goals aren’t terribly useful if you don’t have specific parameters that define when each is achieved. For example, if one of your primary goals is generating leads and sales, how many leads and sales do you have to generate before you consider that goal a success?

Marketing objectives define how you get from Point A (an unfulfilled goal) to Point B (a successfully fulfilled goal). You can determine your objectives with the S-M-A-R-T approach: Make your objectives specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

Using our previous example, if your goal is to generate leads and sales, a specific marketing objective may be to increase leads by 50%. In order to measure your progress, choose which analytics and tracking tools you need to have in place.

Setting yourself up for failure is never a good idea. If you set an objective of increasing sales by 1,000%, it’s doubtful you’ll meet it. Choose objectives you can achieve, given the resources you have.

You’ve taken the time to refine your goals so they’re relevant to your company, so extend that same consideration to your objectives. If you want to get support from your C-level executives, ensure your objectives are relevant to the company’s overall vision.

Attaching a timeframe to your efforts is imperative. When do you intend to achieve your goal(s)? Next month? By the end of this year?

Your objective of increasing leads by 50% may be specific, measurable, achievable and relevant, but if you don’t set a deadline for achieving the goal, your efforts, resources and attention may be pulled in other directions.

3: Identify Ideal Customers: If a business is suffering from low engagement on their social profiles, it’s usually because they don’t have an accurate ideal customer profile.

Buyer personas help you define and target the right people, in the right places, at the right times with the right messages.

When you know your target audience’s age, occupation, income, interests, pains, problems, obstacles, habits, likes, dislikes, motivations and objections, then it’s easier and cheaper to target them on social or any other media.

A buyer persona is a fictional character, not a real one!

The more specific you are, the more conversions you’re going to get out of every channel you use to promote your business.

4: Research Competition: When it comes to social media marketing, researching your competition not only keeps you apprised of their activity, it gives you an idea of what’s working so you can integrate those successful tactics into your own efforts.

Start by compiling a list of at least 3-5 main competitors. Search which social networks they’re using and analyze their content strategy. Look at their number of fans or followers, posting frequency and time of day.

Also pay attention to the type of content they’re posting and its context (humorous, promotional, etc.) and how they’re responding to their fans.

The most important activity to look at is engagement. Even though page admins are the only ones who can calculate engagement rate on a particular update, you can get a good idea of what they’re seeing.

For example, let’s say you’re looking at a competitor’s last 20-30 Facebook updates. Take the total number of engagement activities for those posts and divide it by the page’s total number of fans. (Engagement activity includes likes, comments, shares, etc.)

You can use that formula on all of your competitors’ social profiles (e.g., on Twitter you can calculate retweets and favorites).

Keep in mind that the calculation is meant to give you a general picture of how the competition is doing so you can compare how you stack up against each other.

#5: Choose Channels and Tactics: Many businesses create accounts on every popular social network without researching which platform will bring the most return. You can avoid wasting your time in the wrong place by using the information from your buyer personas to determine which platform is best for you.

If your prospects or customers tell you they spend 40% of their online time on Facebook and 20% on Twitter, you know which primary and secondary social networks you should focus on.

When your customers are using a specific network, that’s where you need to be—not everywhere else.

Your tactics for each social channel rely on your goals and objectives, as well as the best practices of each platform.

HubSpot’s effective use of Facebook for lead generation.

For example, if your goal is increasing leads and your primary social network is Facebook, some effective tactics are investing in Facebook advertising or promotion campaigns to draw more attention to your lead magnets.

6: Create a Content Strategy: 
Content and social media have a symbiotic relationship: Without great content social media is meaningless and without social media nobody will know about your content. Use them together to reach and convert your prospects.

There are three main components to any successful social media content strategy: type of content, time of posting and frequency of posting.

The type of content you should post on each social network relies on form and context. Form is how you present that information—text only, images, links, video, etc.

Buffer understands their audience will respond to content that keep them updated on changes in social media.

Context fits with your company voice and platform trends. Should your content be funny, serious, highly detailed and educational or something else?

There are many studies that give you a specific time when you should post on social media. However, I suggest using those studies as guidelines rather than hard rules. Remember, your audience is unique, so you need to test and figure out the best time for yourself.

Posting frequency is as important as the content you share. You don’t want to annoy your fans or followers, do you?

Finding the perfect frequency is crucial because it could mean more engagement for your content or more unlikes and unfollows. Use Facebook Insights to see when your fans are online and engaging with your content.

7: Allocate Budget and Resources: To budget for social media marketing, look at the tactics you’ve chosen to achieve your business goals and objectives.

Make a comprehensive list of the tools you need (e.g., social media monitoring, email marketing and CRM), services you’ll outsource (e.g., graphic design or video production) and any advertising you’ll purchase. Next to each, include the annual projected cost so you can have a high-level view of what you’re investing in and how it affects your marketing budget.

Many businesses establish their budget first, and then select which tactics fit that budget. I take the opposite approach. I establish a strategy first, and then determine the budget that fits that strategy.

If your strategy execution fees exceed your budget estimate, prioritize your tactics according to their ROI timeframe. The tactics with the fastest ROI (e.g., advertising and social referral) take priority because they generate instant profit you can later invest into long-term tactics (fan acquisition, quality content creation or long-term engagement).
Social Media - 8 Essential Elements of a Social Media Marketing StrategyAdd caption
8: Assign Roles: Knowing who’s responsible for what increases productivity and avoids confusion and overlapping efforts. Things may be a bit messy in the beginning, but with time team members will know their roles and what daily tasks they’re responsible for.

An example of assigning roles.

When everyone knows his or her role, it’s time to start planning the execution process. You can either plan daily or weekly. I don’t advise putting a monthly plan together because lots of things will come up and you may end up wasting time adapting to the new changes.

You can use tools like Basecamp or ActiveCollab to manage your team and assign tasks to each member. These tools save you tons of time and help you stay organized.

Your Turn

Your social media marketing strategy isn’t written in stone. As you move forward, you may discover that some tactics are not working as well as you thought they would. Always try to adapt quickly and introduce the new changes to your overall strategy.

What do you think? Do you have a clear social media strategy? What tools do you use to keep your team moving ahead? I would love to hear your thoughts, questions or comments on this process. Please leave them in the comment section below! Source: www.socialmediaexaminer.com
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