Why Having Competition is Beneficial

Why Having Competition is Beneficial

From playing tag outside after school over a decade or two ago to browsing other business’s social media sites to check out their followers, we have all been raised on the idea that competition is necessary. In fact, it can even be beneficial and healthy in the long run.

In short, without competition, how could we ever improve our own ideas and marketing skills or attempt to earn more views? How would we have any incentive to learn more about our field or eagerness to build upon our knowledge? This being said, competition in the marketing field can make ourselves and our customers even better than we already are.

I will lay out five of the benefits in this post so that your competitive side can get some ideas from me (even though I may in fact be part of your competition!).

Ironic, but nonetheless, useful.

  1. It can and should improve your customer service: How do more and more grocery stores and health food restaurants continue popping up around town? Because competition leads entrepreneurs and businesses to want to join the market and make it even better for consumers. But, just as we have the decision to shop at the store of our choice, so do our customers have the ability to move from one business to the other. That being said, we must ensure that our customer service and communication is top notch and above our competitors.
  2. It narrows your focus tremendously: Because so many of us can easily join new social media sites or create our own marketing sites, having competition forces us to identify our strengths and weaknesses in order to improve our own marketing skills. Without competitors, there would never be any incentive to want to improve ourselves and master those skills that we already claim to have. Also, because there is so much competition nowadays, competition makes us focus on the key customers we already have to better serve their needs.
  3. It allows the ability to learn more: Remember when the new kid in school brought their favorite toy to class, and you had never even heard of it before? Well, social media marketing can be somewhat of a throwback to this very situation. Because there are so many other businesses targeting the same or similar audiences, it make it incredibly easy to gather new and improved ideas, even from our own competition. Almost daily, I am seeing new marketing strategies and ideas that I had never realized even existed. With this competitive market, learning from our peers makes both of us better and allows consumers to have the best of both worlds.
  4. Employees will end up learning more: Because of the added competition in the field, your employees will want to develop new skills and knowledge about the marketplace to ensure an advantage. Typically, employees in social marketing have an excellent grasp on the field already, so having a desire to learn more and an eagerness to be better than the competition should not be much of a problem
  5. There will always be room for improvement: No one can predict the future, and that includes your competition. Once new material enter the field, companies can efficiently gather the necessary strategies and ideas. This can ensure that your company makes the first move in the field and takes the lead over the competition in that category. Customers love to test out new ideas, products and anything they haven’t seen in the marketplace before, so your company can earn major brownie points by improving in all new aspects of social media marketing and those strategies surrounding the field.

Now tell us: how do you feel about competition in your marketplace? Do you feel that it ultimately improves your company?

 

Not All Content Has to be Epic

Not All Content Has to be Epic

I’m here to tell you something really important…

Not every piece you publish on social media has to be epic.

Now that that weight is off your shoulder, you can relax. Don’t get me wrong, publishing epic content is great but you can do it every.single.time. No one (or business) is ever 100%. There is no need to stress about publishing epic content every time you hit “post” or “publish”.

Good, quality content is always important. It’s what helps you earn respect and a following – even clients. However your audience doesn’t expect perfection with every post. Yes, you’ll publish some duds every now and then, but you know what? It’s okay.

Let me share with you why not every post has to be epic…

You want to stay relevant.

A lot of times what some deem as “epic posts” are not relevant to the topic or industry of that particular business. It’s very important that businesses stay on-topic – that’s why you were followed in the first place.

Every now and then it’s okay to go off-topic but don’t do it just to try to be epic. There is no sense in risking losing followers to be epic.

 

You need to show some personality and be relatable.

When you try to write an epic post, many times the language turns robotic and you lose the fun, personal approach. You’re on social media to engage with your community and to do that, you need to show them who you are. I understand some companies and organizations are very limited in this arena, but just do the best you can with what is allowed.

At the same time you need to be relatable. Show people what’s going on in the Monday morning meeting. Talk about something great (or bad if you choose) that happened. Allowing your audience to see you’re a real person just like them will help them to relate to you and then you can start building the relationship that will lead to a loyal customer.

 

If you aim for perfection every time you will wear yourself out.

It can stressful enough crafting the perfect social strategy for your business and planning your content. Trying to be epic each and every time will simply overwhelm you and you’ll totally miss the target. As a perfectionist, it’s hard for me to accept I can’t have perfect content all the time. If someone tells you that you have to be perfect 100% of the time, they’re lying. Or at least setting you up with unrealistic expectations. Don’t stress over it. Make it your goal to publish good, quality content that is going to show you are real and that you understand your audience. That will make you epic.

 

Now you can sit back and relax. And enjoy a nice cup of coffee.

What are your thoughts? Should every piece of content be epic or is that expecting too much?

5 Reasons to Keep Blogging

5 Reasons to Keep Blogging

Once upon a time (but not too long ago!), blogging was just another trendy “thing” for creative people to dabble in. Early blogging took on a variety of subjects, but most were personal in nature. These early bloggers hardly worried about things like SEO or PageRank – they only wanted a place where they could easily publish their thoughts and opinions online.

Now, fast forward to the past five years or so. We have seen blogging evolve and into something altogether different from its earliest beginnings. And we also know that blogging hasn’t really been “just another trendy thing” for quite some time.

In fact, blogging is serious business these days, and savvy business owners and marketers understand this. Blogging is still one of the best ways a business can drive traffic to their websites from the internet.

On the other hand, these same business owners and marketers are also finding that the activity of blogging has become more complicated than in the past. Some are becoming frustrated with the frequently changing Google algorithms and SEO guidelines. And then, to top it off, bloggers are being told they must create “quality” content which “provides value to their readers,” in order to stand out from the rest.

This leaves business owners and marketers with two simple choices. They can either (a) stop blogging or (b) keep blogging. You can tell which choice I recommend by this article’s title.

Why should a business keep blogging?

1) SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is still an important thing

Regardless of what you hear around the internet, SEO is not going away. The rules of SEO may change, but it’s still an important part of being found online. Fresh content, which is achieved through blogging on a regular basis, helps keep your website on Google’s (and your potential clients’) radars.

2) Your readers miss you

You may feel discouraged after publishing regularly for weeks, months…even years…but think no one is reading your carefully crafted posts. Don’t let a lack of comments or social shares bring you down though. If you’re blogging, people are noticing.

If you haven’t been paying attention to your Google Analytics, then you should start. This tool is free and provides insights that show you how people (and how many) are finding your website. Seeing this information for yourself will help you realize that you really have not been wasting your time blogging.

3) Consistent blogging helps build credibility and trust

Some business owners and marketers mistakenly believe blogging is necessary only for lead generation. When business is going well, they may not see the need for maintaining their blogs. The reality is that through keeping your company blog current and constantly providing value, you may be strengthening and preserving the relationships you have built with new and current clients. A long-term relationship with a happy client is always a win-win situation.

4) Networking opportunities

Depending on your business and/or personal goals, you may benefit from online networking. Blogging regularly opens up all sorts of networking opportunities, such as being invited to speak at events, attend events, be interviewed, and more. Networking is also useful for generating leads for your business, as well as closing sales.

5) Practice makes perfect…or close enough

Writing blog posts isn’t easy, and nearly every blogger goes through periods where they want to take breaks from it. However, if you aren’t careful, your procrastination can easily take over. Your well-intentioned short break could become permanent one. Nip all this in the bud and take a short break, but focus on writing your way through your “dry spells,” (or whatever you choose to call them).

Some people may write extra articles that they can pull out during those times they feel unmotivated. Others choose guest blogging as a way of staying in the loop. Either way, most people agree that “practice makes perfect” when it comes to blogging. Along with the other benefits, regular blogging also helps you keep your writing skills honed and your head in the game.

 

Are you blogging for your business? What suggestions do you have for keeping a business blog alive? I’d love to hear your thoughts – please feel free to leave your comments below.

Using Instagram for Business 101

Ask Mandy Q&A: Using Instagram for Business 101

Instagram is on the rise. This image-based platform topped 300 million users in 2014.  More and more businesses are taking advantage of this awesome platform. In fact, this is one I’m trying to use more of this year, both personally and professionally.

This past week I received the following question via my Ask Mandy page:

I’d like to know “how to” promote my portrait photography on Instagram. How do you post photos files other than those taken with your phone? So far, the only suggestion I’ve seen is to upload them from box. I just started using Instagram and so far the only posts I see are the ones I “follow” instead of everything posted. So how do I know if my posts will be seen by everyone?

Promoting on Instagram really is no different than other social media platforms. Here’s a simple 101 guide to promoting your business on Instagram:

Uploading Photos to Use

Instgram is different from Facebook and Twitter because you have to upload a photo to post. Photos are the backbone of this platform – without them, this wouldn’t exist. Unfortunately at this time, there is not a direct way to upload a photo via your computer. I’m sure one day we may have this option, but right now, there’s not. Here are the most common ways to post your photo to Instagram:

  • Take a photo on your smartphone or tablet and direct upload from the device.
  • Create a DropBox folder or a folder in Google Drive and upload the photos you’d like to use and sync it with your smartphone or tablet. You’d then download the image from the cloud onto your device and post from there.
  • Repost App. This is an app that allows you to share other people’s Instagram photos. When you open it, it brings up the feed of who you follow and you just tap the photo you want to share and it allows you to open it up in your Instagram account to post.

Using Hashtags

Hashtags are very important when using this platform for your business. Like Twitter, these allow you to be found when someone searches. Instagram’s guidelines on hashtags can be found here. Jenn Hermann of Jenn’s Trends is one of the top Instagram strategy people I know. She wrote an article about using hashtags on Instagram and here’s what she says (and I suggest as well) –

  • Use relevant keyword hashtags
  • Don’t use too many hashtags
  • Use industry related hashtags
  • Keep your audience in mind
  • Don’t hijack hashtags (basically using a popular hashtag to butt in on a trend or conversation)

One of her best suggestions on using hashtags was to create a list of hashtags and save them on your mobile device –

“On your mobile device, I recommend you create a notepad note (on whichever app you prefer) with your favorite/preferred hashtags. You can even create multiple lists if you have multiple types of content you share on Instagram. Set the list with your core hashtags and simply copy and paste it into your Instagram post caption to save you having to type them in each time. It’ll also make sure you don’t leave any out!”

Following People & Getting Followers

In the question above she mentioned only seeing the posts of people she’s followed, not everyone. On Instagram, in your feed you will only see the posts from those you follow. If you click on eyeglass at the bottom, it pulls up the search where you see photos from people based on the people you follow. You can also search people and hashtags as well. To be found and get followers, it’s important for you to use hashtags (see above). Most people you follow will follow you back, however here are some tips when you follow people and getting people to follow you back:

  • Have your bio completely filled out and include a link to your website. Also, make sure you have a legit and professional-looking profile photo (read: no bikini pictures or topless (if you are a guy), no vulgar expressions, etc.).
  • Post relevant content. Your stream should not be a collection of selfies.
  • When you do follow someone and they follow you back, do not immediately unfollow them. This is my biggest pet peeve. I’ll have people follow me and I’ll follow them back if I like their content and 2 days later, I’m scrolling through my followers and see they are not following me anymore. Talk about rude. Beware of those who follow you who are following A LOT less than follow them.
  • Check out who is following your competitor and follow those people. Keep in mind to only follow quality people.
  • Comment on other people’s posts. If someone comments on mine and I’m not following them, more often than not, I’ll follow them. Of course, look at their bio and what they’ve posted first.
  • Use relevant hashtags.

Promoting Across the Web

Of course you’ll want everyone to know you are on Instagram now. When you launch your account, make sure you have your Instagram link on your website. Also, post a status update with your link on your other social accounts. I have several I follow on different social media platforms and their Instagram posts are much different (for the better) than their Facebook updates. Here are some ideas to promote your Instagram account across the web:

  • Status update on your social platforms.
  • Link on your website.
  • Write a blog post about why you’re using it.
  • Share your Instagram photos to Twitter and Facebook.

Be Active Daily!

Like any other social media platform, you have to use it regularly to benefit from it. Posting once per week is not going to do it. Plan on posting 2-3 times per day. The more active you are, the more your account with grow.

Track Your Analytics

Last but not least, you need to be able to track and measure your Instgram effors. Fortunately there’s a great program called Iconosquare to help! This program lets you manage comments on your Instagram photos, manage your account by providing you widgets and badges to let people know you’re on Instagram and gives you data on who is following you and optimal times to post.

 

Using Instagram can be A LOT of fun. It’s a great way to get a behind-the-scenes peek into the daily lives of business and individuals. If you use it the right way, you’ll see your presence grow.

Do YOU have a social media question you’d like answered? Just write in your question on our Ask Mandy Q&A page!

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Tips to improve your workflow

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Why You Should Ignore "Expert" Lists

Why You Should Ignore “Expert” Lists

I’m having a love/hate relationship with the social media industry right now. I’ll be a big girl and admit it.

What am I talking about? “Expert” lists.

For all the value they can bring, I love them and for the negative they also bring, well, they suck.

Before I go any further, let me say this. If you are new to the social media industry, these “expert” or “top people” lists can provide value in helping you to find who to follow to learn more. So please don’t be discouraged from what I’m writing.

Truly, I am a list person through and through. I organize my day by them, projects by them, my Twitter account by them. I could not survive without my to-do lists. So naturally I gravitate to lists giving me the best social media programs to use, best WordPress plug-ins to use, etc. and the top/best/brightest/up-and-coming in the industry. That last type of list is what brings me here today.

Being on a list is a great boost to a person and their business. It could be Forbes Social Media Influencers list, someone’s top 100 Twitter Accounts to follow or a list of soon-to-be known names. What frustrates some of my peers and I to no end is the fact that it’s almost always the same big-wig clique who always gets all the praise. On top of that, some of them are just blowing smoke and no actually doing the work themselves. There are MANY social media pros out there that should be making these lists and aren’t.

I realize there are a bajillion people working in social media these days (seriously, do a search on LinkedIn) and it’s hard to weed through everyone. If you are listed somewhere, somehow, you should be grateful (unless you are bribing people to get on a list, then you should be ashamed). I really am when I see my name pop up. However, for those who don’t make a list no matter how long they’ve been in the business, some form of self-doubt and second-guessing does creep up.

I know when people come up with lists, they devote a lot of time and energy into selecting the people they want. They cannot include everyone so something has to give. For the most part I think we need to start ignoring most of these lists or at least be very selective in what lists you give value to.

Why?

It’s just one person’s opinion.

Who I respect and follow is different from the next person. Those individuals I would put on my list probably wouldn’t be the same as Joe Schmo’s.

Some of the individuals don’t walk the talk.

Yes, it may be the same people over and over, but if you take a look at the real work they are doing, you’ll see some of them don’t deserve it. For example, if a social media “expert” is doing nothing but typing quotes into Canva and publishing it, are they really a social media “expert”? How about stealing content from other social media professionals? Trust me, there are some big names out there doing both of those.

Some of the best and brightest are not out there to be acknowledged all over the web.

I know of several pros who deserve to be acknowledged like that, but because they don’t fawn over the big names with “look at me!!” they are often missed.

If you put too much into being validated by a list, you’ll lose your way and start doubting what you do.

Let me explain. Self-doubt can be harmful for a business owner. It’s a sick, downward-spinning spiral that can totally derail what you are doing. In life everyone seeks validation and being on a list does that for a businessperson, no matter how superficial or vain. It can indicate they’ve made it or they are someone important. However, you shouldn’t judge yourself by that alone. If your business is growing year after year, you are doing something right.

Speaking of that self-doubt, we all struggle with it throughout our lives (hello, middle school?) however there are things we can do to combat it.

  1. Point out your successes. If you focus on the positive and not the negative, you’ll feel better.
  2. Use your self-doubt as a motivator. Prove to yourself you can do it, whatever it is. Show the world why you’re awesome.
  3. Use it as a self-improvement tool. Take a look at yourself and ask yourself why you have that self-doubt. Is it out of jealousy? Did someone say something?

Okay, confession time. A while back there were a few social media people lists that came out from people I talk with on a regular basis and I was not on any of them. Yes, my feelings got hurt but you know what?  I got up the next day and kept trucking. I (we) do not need to let these lists influence how we go about our daily lives and our daily business. These lists are simply opinions and we all have them.

So let me ask you – what’s your honest opinion about these lists?

50 Inspiring Business Quotes to Start Your Week With

50 Inspiring Business Quotes to Start Your Week With

 

in·spi·ra·tion
noun
the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

Okay, so I know this isn’t your normal social media business post and it could be considered fluff. But I don’t care.

Lately I’ve been doing work for a client and his non-profit. They incorporate inspiration and inspirational stories into their organization and their marketing. From working with them, I’ve found and bookmarked some awesome business quotes that will get any business owner off their rears and hustling.

So out of the bajillion quotes/verses/sayings in the world wide web, I’ve selected fifty of my favorites to share with you here. Feel free to tweet them if you like!

 

There’s nothing cheap about loyalty. — Ryan Bingham {TWEET}

 

Your reputation is more important than your paycheck, and your integrity is worth more than your career. –Ryan Freitas {TWEET}

 

The value of an idea lies in the using of it. –Thomas Edison {TWEET}

 

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. –Steve Jobs {TWEET}

 

The most dangerous poison is the feeling of achievement. The antidote is to every evening think what can be done better tomorrow. –Ingvar Kamprad {TWEET}

 

Don’t try to be original, just try to be good. –Paul Rand {TWEET}

 

If you’re interested in the living heart of what you do, focus on building things rather than talking about them. –Ryan Freitas {TWEET}

 

The only thing worse than starting something and failing… is not starting something. –Seth Godin {TWEET}

 

The fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already the way you want to be. –Reid Hoffman {TWEET}

 

Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve. –Mary Kay Ash {TWEET}

 

Theory is splendid but until put into practice, it is valueless. –James Cash Penney {TWEET}

 

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. –Bill Gates {TWEET}

 

Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. –Albert Einstein {TWEET}

 

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover. –Mark Twain {TWEET}

 

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me. –Erma Bombeck {TWEET}

 

If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough. –Oprah Winfrey {TWEET}

 

Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results. — George S. Patton {TWEET}

 

The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it. –Theodore Roosevelt {TWEET}

 

Life is like a dogsled team. If you ain’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes. –Lewis Grizzard {TWEET}

 

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning. — Benjamin Franklin {TWEET}

 

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others. — Cicero {TWEET}

 

I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate. –George Burns {TWEET}

 

A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them. –John C. Maxwell {TWEET}

 

There are two rules for success. 1) Never tell everything you know. — Roger H. Lincoln {TWEET}

 

Most successful people have little interest in listening to those individuals who cannot add value to a situation or topic but force themselves into a conversation just to hear themselves speak. Good communicators address both the what and how aspects of messaging so they don’t fall prey to becoming the smooth talker who leaves people with the impression of form over substance. — Mike Myatt {TWEET}

 

Do the work. Out-work. Out-think. Out-sell your expectations. There are no shortcuts. — Mark Cuban {TWEET}

 

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently. — Warren Buffett {TWEET}

 

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. –Colin Powell {TWEET}

 

Failure doesn’t mean you are a failure. It just means you haven’t succeeded yet. –Robert H. Schuller {TWEET}

 

Hire character. Train skill. –Peter Schutz {TWEET}

 

What we actually learn, from any given set of circumstances, determines whether we become increasingly powerless or more powerful. –Blaine Lee {TWEET}

 

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. –Charles Darwin {TWEET}

 

Too little confidence, and you’re unable to act; too much confidence, and you’re unable to hear. — John Maeda {TWEET}

 

My goal is not to fail fast. My goal is to succeed over the long run. They are not the same thing. — Marc Andreessen {TWEET}

 

Never try to be a thought leader. There’s no value in that. Instead, try to add value. — Chris Brogan {TWEET}

 

You can’t out-spend the giants, but you can out-think, out-teach, and out-help them. — Brian Halligan {TWEET}

 

Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to. — Sir Richard Branson {TWEET}

 

Do what is necessary to be resilient. You will get knocked down. What matters is that you get back up. — Hillary Clinton {TWEET}

 

Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence, making sure that impact lasts in your absence. — Sheryl Sandberg {TWEET}

 

An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage. — Jack Welch {TWEET}

 

Success is not a straight line, it’s much more of a dance and being open to possibilities. — Arianna Huffington {TWEET}

 

You only and always have three choices in any situation: change, accept or leave. — Kare Anderson {TWEET}

 

Honesty is a very expensive gift, don’t expect it from cheap people. — Warren Buffett {TWEET}

 

I like thinking big. If you’re going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big. — Donald Trump {TWEET}

 

If you’re competitor focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer focused allows you to be more pioneering. — Jeff Bezos {TWEET}

 

Don’t be threatened by people smarter than you. — Howard Schultz {TWEET}

 

Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles. — Steve Jobs {TWEET}

 

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. — Ferris Bueller {TWEET}

 

There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder. — Ronald Reagan {TWEET}

 

Now that I’ve shared 50 quotes I like, share one of yours!

 

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Do you need help using social media for your business?

It’s now 2015 and if you are not using social media in some way for your business you are majorly missing out.

Yes, social media for businesses has taken a lot of heat lately with people complaining about low reach, spending money to be seen and so forth. However, if you are using it the right way and for the right purpose you can get around all of that.

Take a look at these stats:

  • 70% of marketers have successfully gained new customers via social media (Emarsys)
  • 74% of customers rely on social networks to guide purchase decisions. (Emarsys)
  • 86% of B2B businesses are using content marketing (Social Media B2B)
  • B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads than those without blogs. (Social Fresh)
  • 85% of B2B buyers believe companies should present information via social networks. (Iconsive)
  • Over 70% of US online adults use some form of social media networking. (Heidi Cohen)
  • 72% of all internet users are now active on social media. (Jeff Bullas)

Most people expect a business to be on social media somewhere – it could be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. If you’re not there, your competition is.

There are businesses using social media effectively on their own, but there are twice as many who try to use it and just end up giving up. I think it’s a shame when they give up because I know how much hard work goes into setting up a social media presence.

They don’t have to give up. You don’t have to give up.

That is why I have created two new programs – social starters. One program is for business owners who are getting started or who are just simply lost on what to do. The other program is for individuals who are taking on social media management – whether it’s for themselves as a business or for a company they are working for.

I have a heart to help others and that’s what I hope to accomplish with these programs. Each program is for three months and provides hands-on training.

To find out more about our social starter programs, click here.

social starter program mandy edwards me marketing services social media marketing digital marketing

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