Why Social Media is a Requirement & How Small Businesses Can Effectively Use It

Why Social Media is a Requirement & How Small Businesses Can Effectively Use It

I know you have heard this time and again, much like a broken record,  – “social media is here to stay”. In some form or another, it is. Social Media 2006 is far different from the Social Media of 2014 and businesses of all sizes are taking notice.

Social media has allowed us to stay connected with friends and relatives who we previously had a hard time keeping up with. We can now connect with anyone anywhere. Businesses are taking advantage of this and are now going directly to their target market, interacting and building relationships with those individuals.

This year, if it’s not already, social media has to be a requirement for any business’ marketing plan. The various networks are growing and like we’ve learned through traditional marketing, you better keep up or you’ll be left behind in the dust. Don’t believe me? Go look at the newspaper industry.

Let’s take a look at the current status of social media:

  • 72% of all internet users are now active on social media
  • 71% of users access social media from a mobile device.
  • 93% of marketers use social media for business
  • There are now over 1.317 billion Facebook users
  • Google Plus has over 359 million monthly active users
  • 217 million monthly active users on Twitter

Are you part of the 93% using social media for business?  If not, you need to be. Businesses of all sizes, from mom and pop stores to regulated industries, can find success through social media.

Here are some simple suggestions to effectively use social media for your business –

  • Imitate the big boys.

Take notes from the larger businesses in your industry. What worked for them? Did they run a successful contest or campaign? Take the actions they used and scale it down to your business and your market.

  • To find the right platform to be on, survey your existing customers on their social media usage.

Are they mainly on Facebook? or Twitter? or Pinterest? You want to be where your target it. Same goes in the traditional marketing world – only advertise and promote in the places your audience is, whether it’s print or broadcast.

  • Think outside the box.

You want to distinguish yourself from your competition, so do something they won’t. Chipotle is a great example of this. They’ve done everything from free burritos for life to hacking their own Twitter account to their clever claymation videos. Thinking outside the box and taking risks has raised awareness of their brand and brought them more customers.

I am huge on intent. Every action you do on social media has to be directed back to you your “Why”. If you are using it just to use it, you won’t succeed. Having a plan and knowing why will set you on the course to social media success.

 

Of course, I could write a whole book on effectively ways to use social media, but I’ll leave it at these 4 simple tips.

Share with me – why do you think social media is a requirement and how to you think it can be used effectively?

 

Sources:

 

This is an updated version of my original guest post on the bowden2bowden blog. Read the original here.

Online Marketing Lessons We Learned In Kindergarten

Online Marketing Lessons We Learned In Kindergarten

This is the time of year where many children start heading back to school after a much-needed summer break. Did you hear that collective sigh of relief? That’s from all the adults who are happily falling back into their routines as well. Even if you don’t have children in school, you know what I’m talking about. As adults, we may no longer attend school, but we will always have the knowledge we gained from our early childhood lessons. Have you ever read Robert Fulghum’s poem, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten”? (If not, I highly recommend it!). Within his poem, Fulghum simply explains how we can apply those basic lessons we learned as young children and simplify our adult lives by doing so. As I read this poem now, I see how these lessons can help explain the basics of online marketing.

Online marketing is anything but basic though. For one thing, SEO “rules” can change at any given time. For example, since Google tweaks its algorithms on a regular basis, it’s possible the article you published which boosted your site ratings last week may end up tanking the following week. On social media, particularly Facebook, you now need to pay for your posts to be seen by the same number of people who used to see them organically.

Frustrating? You’d better believe it. Rather than throw tantrums like young kindergarteners though, it’s time to pull from those childhood lessons and handle our online marketing like adults. Fulghum shares many lessons he learned in kindergarten; these are 3 we can keep in mind for online marketing:

Online Marketing Lesson #1: ‘Don’t take things that aren’t yours.’

Translation: Plagiarism has no place in online marketing. This doesn’t mean online marketers cannot borrow concepts or ideas from each other. It’s also acceptable to borrow sentences, and even a paragraph or two, from other authors’ articles. The main thing you must remember is to cite your source(s) and properly attribute credit to the original author, especially when you borrow their exact phrases and verbiage.

Nick Stamoulis of Brick Marketing explains the negative ramifications of plagiarism in his article, “Content Marketing and Plagiarism.” As Stamoulis puts it,

Just like in college, getting caught plagiarizing comes with serious consequences. Your reputation, your website’s trust factor and eventually your business can be adversely affected if you get caught copy-pasting.

Just like you learned in kindergarten: when it comes to online marketing, never take something that doesn’t belong to you.

Online Marketing Lesson #2: ‘Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.’

Translation: It’s nearly impossible to avoid offending someone with your online marketing efforts. Always be ready to apologize. Perhaps you posted a social media update and thought it was innocuous. Maybe you crossed the line with a blog post and alienated your audience. Whether accidental or intentional, this does happen, and social media only helps people spread messages farther and faster.

What to do if you end up in a situation where someone feels wronged? One of the easiest things – and probably also the best thing – is to immediately handle the situation by offering a sincere apology. Whether you apologize in private or public is entirely up to you.

As you may have learned in kindergarten, it’s not always easy to say you’re sorry after you hurt somebody…but it really is the right thing to do.

Online Marketing Lesson #3: ‘Live a balanced life – learn some and think some…’

Translation: Learning some and thinking some can help you create a balanced online marketing strategy. For example, as I mentioned earlier, online marketing changes frequently. Many marketers agree that spending time learning and keeping up with the latest information is a good idea. These are some of the more common ways to catch up:

  • Read about current trends in social media and content marketing
  • Attend webinars and conferences
  • Network with others who are in the know

Next, it’s time to start thinking about how you can best implement your newly acquired knowledge and convert it into a workable online marketing strategy. This brings you closer to your desired result – a balanced strategy for your business which benefits your potential and current clients, as well as yourself.

Not all of us learned how to live balanced lives in kindergarten…but it’s never too late to start learning.

Bonus: ‘Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.’

No translation needed for this one, as this is just a simple truth…whether you’re involved in online marketing or not.

 

Over to you

Are you able to apply any of your favorite lessons from kindergarten to your business’ current online marketing strategy and/or efforts? I’d love to hear about it – please feel free to comment below.

 

4 Ways to Use Twitter Lists

Ask Mandy Q&A – 4 Ways to Use Twitter Lists

Ask Mandy is a weekly Q&A blog series. To ask your question about social media, please click here.
Don’t miss out on our weekly Q&A! You can subscribe to receive these via email here.

 

Whether you are using social media for business or for personal use, there is a need for organization. Google Plus has circles. Facebook has Interest Lists. Pinterest has boards. Twitter has Twitter Lists.

There are many ways you can use Twitter Lists – it’s really the only way I can use the platform. That leads me to this week’s question…

 

How Can I Use Twitter Lists?

 

It doesn’t matter if you are following 100 or 10,000 people, using Twitter Lists will help you use the fast-moving platform. Here’s how –

1. You can segment who you are following.

Lists make it easy to know who you are following for what purpose. You can set up a list of your influencers so you don’t miss their tweets or you can set up a list for potential clients you are following to build that relationship. These lists can be public or private, so if it’s competition you’re following, the world doesn’t have to know.

2. You can organize who you really want to follow.

When you add someone onto a list, you will see all of their tweets. I know there are some people you follow just to follow or you followed back out of obligation. For example, I have a private list of people who I want to keep up with and never miss out on. People on this list are industry leaders, celebrities and friends. Another example – I have a client who’s a professional athlete. We have lists set up to follow his college teammates and pro teammates along with one for media outlet. Lists are a great way to keep up with the follows you love most.

3. You can use lists as a lead generation tool.

As I mentioned above, your lists can be public. If they are, other people can subscribe to them, meaning they can follow that list as well. This is a GREAT opportunity to generate leads. Here is one way you could do this – create a list of industry-related people who put out quality content. Share it with the message “Love my content? Subscribe to my _________ list & see who influences me!” As people subscribe, add THEM to a private list of people who appreciate obviously appreciate your work and start communicating with them. Build that relationship. Answer their questions. You’re generating a lead as you go.

4. You can keep up with people that you don’t necessarily want to follow.

Yes, that is right. You can add people to a list without actually following them. Until you hit Twitter’s magic number (which is around 2,000 followers), you have to watch your follower/following ratio. If it gets too out of whack, then Twitter will not let you follow anymore people until a certain number of people follow you back. This is a great way to follow people who you know will not follow you back. For example, celebrities. I would LOVE for Jimmy Fallon or Aaron Murray to follow me, but I know they won’t. There are on a list for me to keep up with but not actually follow.

 

You can get super creative with Twitter Lists. How are you using them?

 

Do YOU have a question about social media for businesses? Simply click here to ask!

Don’t miss out on our weekly Q&A! You can subscribe to receive these via email here.

Social Advertising Terminology 101

Social Advertising Terminology 101

Getting word out about your business on social media can be a little daunting. If you are starting off, you may not know where to begin; or if you have been around for a while you may have noticed the growth has plateaued. Social advertising is a great shot in the arm for a business actively using social media as a part of their overall marketing plan. Three of the four major platforms offer some sort of advertising (Google+ currently does not) your business can take advantage of.

Before diving in deep with all the different opportunities to advertise, you need to know the basics, aka the terminology. Without knowing what the different terms and abbreviations amidst the many types of advertising, you might get lost.

Social Advertising 101 Definition List

*Don’t worry – there is no test at the end and for all intents and purposes, when I refer to “ad”, it can mean any type of paid advertising.

Types of Social Advertising:

Facebook Ad – These are the ads that show up on the right-hand side of your news feed. These ads are highly targeted to a specific group of people.

Facebook Promoted Post – This is a status update from a Facebook page that is being paid to post frequently. Could be for an event or an opt-in.

Promoted Twitter Account – This is when your account shows up at the top of the “Who to Follow” box.

Promoted Tweet– This is a tweet that you have paid Twitter to tweet out frequently.

LinkedIn Ad – These are the ads that show up on the right-hand side on your LinkedIn page.

LinkedIn Sponsored Status Update – Similar to a Facebook sponsored post, this is a status update a person or business has paid to have show up more frequently.

Terminology:

CPM (cost per thousand) – This is the cost you pay per 1,000 people that see your ad/tweet/status update.

CPC (cost per click) – This is the cost you pay every time someone clicks on an ad.

Viral – The number of people who saw your ad because a friend of theirs took some sort of action, i.e. Facebook like or comment, Twitter retweet.

Organic – The number of people who saw your ad.

Paid – The number of people who saw your sponsored post/status update as a result of you paying to promote it.

Impressions – This is the number of people who saw your ad. Example: If 100 people saw your ad, you had 100 impressions. If 400 people saw your ad two times each, you had 800 impressions.

Click Thru Rate (CTR) –  This is the percentage of people who clicked on your ad out of the number of people you targeted. Example: If your ad targeted 100 people and only 5 clicked on it, your CTR would be 5%.

Engagement– On Twitter, this is measured when a user retweets, replies, favorites, follows, or clicks anywhere on your promoted tweet. On Facebook or LinkedIn, it means the interaction, or the overall activity of your fans, including comments & likes on an ad or sponsored post/status.

When undertaking social advertising for yourself or your clients, knowing if it’s working (or has already worked) is very important. Hard-earned money is spent in hope of promoting an event or sale or growing a community. Each platform that offers advertising has a reporting mechanism that allows you to see how your ad is performing. Of course, with those reports come a lot of terminology with which you may not be familiar. Consider this your basic social advertising reporting terminology lesson 😉

General Social Advertising Reporting Terminology

(in addition to the basic terms above)

Facebook:

Social Reach: Number of people who saw your ad with social information. For example, if three people see an ad two times each that says a friend likes your page, your social reach is three.

Actions: Actions are something that someone does as a result of seeing your ad. Actions include page likes, comments, conversions, event responses, etc. For example, if you get two page likes and two comments, they will be counted as four actions.

Frequency: Average number of times each person saw your ad.

For the full glossary of Facebook Advertising terms, click HERE.

Twitter:

Engagements: The total number of times someone has interacted with a promoted tweet. This includes all clicks anywhere on the tweet, including any hashtags, links, avatar, username, or tweet expansion; retweets; replies; follows; or favorites.

Engagement Rate: The number of clicks, retweets, replies, follows and favorites divided by the total number of impressions. This is very similar to the Facebook click-thru rate.

For the full list of Twitter Advertising Definitions, click HERE.

LinkedIn:

Leads: The number of people who requested that you contact them through the lead collection tool.

For more questions about LinkedIn Advertising, including terms, click HERE.

I hope this helped you to gain some understanding of the advertising terms used in many reports. Did I leave one out that you’re not sure about? Comment below & we will help sort out its meaning!

Wanna know a secret? This is a part of the new Social Advertising 101 white paper I’m working on!

How to Keep an Eye on your Competition Online

Ask Mandy Q&A – How to Keep an Eye on your Competition Online

Ask Mandy is a weekly Q&A blog series. To ask your question about social media, please click here.
Don’t miss out on our weekly Q&A! You can subscribe to receive these via email here.

Competition. It’s what makes the world go ‘round. Without competition, you wouldn’t have many of the large companies we see today. Or a space program. Or the internet.

Healthy competition makes a better business owner, even if they fail.

The question posed to me this week was –

How do I keep a watch on my competition’s online activities?

Aside from sending a spy to work for them, there are several ways you can keep up with what your competition is doing online and in the process, learn more about your business.

1. Follow them everywhere.

I’m not talking about stalking, but like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter or even circle them on Google Plus. If you follow their posts, you’ll likely see what they are planning and if you’re smart enough, figure out their strategy.

2. Add them to your Facebook “Pages to Watch.”

This is a neat little feature Facebook brought out a year or so ago. You can have your page list your competition’s page as a “Page to Watch.” The page will get a notification, but luckily, they will never know it’s you. Once you add them, you can see how their like are increasing (or decreasing), how their engagement levels are and even see their top posts.

3. Social Mentions

You can sign up for a really cool site, mention.com and have an alert anytime your competition is mentioned on the social web. They have free and paid plans. You can actually create an alert for more than just your competition – create you one yourself while you’re there.

4. Google Alerts

Love them or hate them, Google Alerts are a great way to keep up with how you and/or your competition is being mentioned online. You can receive daily notifications or weekly ones and it will tell you everywhere your (or your competition’s) name popped up online.

 

Once you are keeping an eye on your competition, start taking a look at your business.

Here’s what you can learn –

  • Are you effectively using CTAs (Calls-to-Action)? Is your competition using them and if so, what results do you see?
  • Are you posting content that resonates with your community or are you being too sales-y?
  • Is there something you are having more success with than your competition?
  • Do you see a continual increase in engagement and community?

I could go on and on, but you get the point. See what your competition is or isn’t doing will show you a lot about your business by how you are conducting your own.

So, share with me – what ways do you keep watch on your competition?

 

Do YOU have a question about social media for businesses? Simply click here to ask!

Don’t miss out on our weekly Q&A! You can subscribe to receive these via email here.

3 Reasons You Need Social Advertising for Your Business

3 Reasons You Need Social Advertising for Your Business

Social advertising is becoming the new go-to for businesses of all sizes.  As more and more people use and rely on their smartphones and web browsers for information and ideas, businesses are having to adjust their online advertising plans and budgets.

Businesses have to be where their customers are and right now that’s online. Businesses cannot expect to put an ad out via traditional methods (TV, cable, print) and garner the results of old. While those types of ads do still work on occasion, the ways we advertise and share our messages have changed.

Times have changed and consumer’s shopping methods have evolved. They seek peer recommendations via social media. They search Google for whatever they happen to be seeking. They watch TV shows online (some homes do not have TVs anymore!). These consumers are continually seeking out answers. It is your responsibility to find these consumers and provide them the answers and opportunities.

Consider this –

  • According to Forbes, Internet advertising revenues have passed those of broadcast TV, $42.8 billion to $40.1 billion for the very first time.
  • The same Forbes article showed that Internet advertising dominated the overall advertising market share of all forms of a media.
  • The Newspaper Association of America (NAA) stated in Media Daily News, that total newspaper advertising revenues fell 6.5% to $23.57 billion, whereas digital advertising was up 1.5% to $3.42 billion.
  • TechCrunch reports that total Internet advertising spent will reach $121 billion in 2014.
  • Companies like Google have dominated the Internet ad space with search ads, but the rise of ad tech and social media (read: Facebook and Twitter) appears to be changing that tide. ZenithOptimedia predicts that by 2015 Internet display will overtake paid search at $74.4 billion versus $71.1 billion. (Source: TechCrunch)
  • According to a recent poll by Andoit Digital, 36 percent of millennials claimed digital ads are more effective at getting their attention while 28 percent claimed traditional and digital ads are equally effective.  (Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch)

The takeaway? Online/social/digital advertising (Internet ads) is growing – fast. It’s now larger than broadcast television advertising and it’s beating traditional print newspaper advertising. More money is being spent on this form of advertising and it’s more effective at getting and keeping the attention of a younger demographic.

Reason 1 You Need Social Advertising – You only reach a tiny percentage of your target audience organically.

Facebook organic reach is sitting at a whopping 2-3%. Some lucky ones (and they are rare) see anywhere from 10-30%.  That’s organically (meaning they see it naturally in their newsfeed without any promotion). If you have 2,000 fans, that means only 250-600 people are seeing it or 1,750-1,400 fans AREN’T seeing it.

Advertising via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn provides greater reach based on your budget. That means your promoted post will be seen by a larger percentage of your audience. Your contest will get more entries or you’ll see an increase in opt-ins.

Reason 2 – Without keeping yourself out there, people will forget about you.

My background is in advertising and one thing that is permanently branded in my brain is top of mind awareness. If you do not put yourself out there and stay out there, people will forget about you.

With social media, you can stay out there by being active, but that’s only within your community. Yes, compelling, interesting and quality content will keep them coming back, but every business owner hopes to grow, not stay stagnant. According to a stat from Social Media Today, 79% of marketers saw more quality leads from social media. That’s why you need to branch out and advertise, reach that new segment. You want to continually add new people to your community and advertising is the perfect avenue.

Reason 3 – More businesses are advertising online and will do so on a bigger scale – including your competitors.

Social advertising is almost required in social marketing now. If you want to keep up with your competitors, you have to devote some of your budget to advertising online. Take in these stats:

  • In 2013, Internet advertising expenditures surpassed newspaper ad spending for the first time. Internet ads now account for 21% of all advertising dollars, second only to television at 40%. (Ad Age)
  • There are over 1.5 million active Facebook advertisers. (DMR)
  • Over 1 million small-to-medium sized businesses are advertising on Facebook. (DMR)

These facts and figures make online advertising hard to ignore. It’s a sector that is only going to grow and if you are not already advertising online, you need to start – NOW. If you don’t, your competitor is going to beat you to the punch and you’ll spend your time playing catch up.

Are you already advertising online? If so, what platforms/areas are you using? Have you decreased your traditional advertising budget(s)?

Ask Mandy Q&A - Should I Advertise on Facebook?

Ask Mandy Q&A – Should I Advertise on Facebook?

Ask Mandy is a weekly Q&A blog series. To ask your question about social media, please click here.
Don’t miss out on our weekly Q&A! You can subscribe to receive these via email here.

Lately there has been a lot of chatter online about Facebook advertising:

  • Chatter about it not being worth it.
  • All you get are fake likes.
  • It’s just a scam by Facebook to make money.

So it only makes sense that the next question I received was –

Should I spend money to advertise on Facebook?

A video was posted earlier this year, called “Facebook Fraud.” The video creator talked about how his Facebook ads gained likes, but the likes were from foreign countries and it was essentially a waste of money because the engagement was zero. However, he failed to share his targeting options and the examples he used were over a year old. If you have kept up with anything pertaining to social advertising either here or elsewhere on the web, you will know that A LOT has changed in the past year. Facebook advertising specialist Jon Loomer published the best rebuttal to the video. You can read it here.

I’m here to tell you that yes, you should spend some money and advertise on Facebook.

Here are four simple reasons why:

With Facebook’s organic reach declining advertising keeps your message out there. 

Whether you promote a post or run an ad in the newsfeed, you are out there. However, use promoted posts carefully – if someones sees something too much in their feed, they will unlike or hide the page. I once saw a social media professional promote a post asking how everyone’s day went. Seriously?!?! You wasted money on THAT? That is an example of not using promoted posts carefully.

Facebook ads are more affordable than traditional advertising.

You can run a series of 10 ads roughly half the size of my quarter page ad in my local paper for $1,200.00. Yes, over one thousands dollars for a paper that has a circulation of 8,000. Doing the math I am paying $1,200.00 for 80,000 views, if everyone sees it. I can run a Facebook ad for 10% of the traditional ad cost and get roughly the same number of views. Of course, a lot depends on the targeting of the Facebook ad. Facebook ads are easier on your advertising budget, especially if you are a small business.

You can specifically target those with whom you want to do business.

No other advertising option out there, traditional or digital, can give you the targeting options Facebook can. This also controls the quality of any new fans.

You can track and see the results.

No other form of advertising will tell you exactly how many people saw your ad. Or clicked on the links. Or liked you because of it. Traditional advertising can guesstimate, but it’s rarely accurate (unless you have a coupon for them to bring in). It’s amazing to see the results of your ad and be able to measure the ROI of it.

Facebook advertising is definitely something to try if you have not already. You will see results.

If you do advertise, do you think it’s worth it?

 

Do YOU have a question about social media for businesses? Simply click here to ask!

Don’t miss out on our weekly Q&A! You can subscribe to receive these via email here.

Content Marketing Speaks, But Are People Still Listening?

Content Marketing Speaks, But Are People Still Listening?

I don’t know about you, but I love going on road trips. My family of four just returned from 10 days of driving and visiting family and friends who live in other parts of the country. There’s nothing quite like lengthy road trips for spending a lot of time together in close quarters. When you’re spending so many hours together, you have the chance to really talk and listen to your travelling companions – whether you like it or not. You can try your best and tune out the chatter, but it’s not so easy when you’re stuck in a small area together with nothing else to do…except maybe sing along to the radio. Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a small space and being forced to listen to the endless online content marketing chatter coming at you from all directions? If so, you’re not alone.

Content marketing proves to be one of the most effective ways for businesses to reach their potential and current clients. I see one major problem with content marketing, however – there is so much content currently available on the Internet, and more is being added all the time. As of July 10th, 2014, the Indexed Web contains at least 3.32 billion pages. I wrote an article for B Squared Online Media in April, 2014, and referenced the same source to find out how much content was available. Just a few short months ago, on April 12th, 2014, the number was at least 1.79 billion pages. Wow.

In other words, simply creating and sharing your content doesn’t mean that people are going to automatically listen to you. It’s just like sitting in the car together for hours on end…sometimes people are going to tune you out or simply lose interest. What to do? These are some ways your business can execute a content marketing strategy which encourages your audience to keep listening.

Answer the Questions Your Readers Are Asking

Mandy Edwards publishes a regular series, right here on this blog, titled, “Ask Mandy Q&A.” As part of this series, she encourages visitors to her website to submit their questions about social media, content marketing, blogging, etc. Mandy then tackles each question head-on and provides useful and relevant information for her readers in response.

A series such as Mandy’s carries a two-fold benefit for businesses that want to use this technique as part of their content marketing approach. For one thing, the blogger now has plenty of content to create relevant articles. Secondly, this type of open invitation allows readers to contribute directly their voices to the content, and helps them feel directly involved in the conversation. The more involved they feel, the more likely they are to tune in and keep listening to what your business is saying.

Include enticing visuals as a way to spice up your content marketing

By nature, most people are visual creatures. Incorporating captivating images and/or videos within your blog posts can make a significant difference to your reader.

Heidi Cohen recently wrote an article about the benefits of visual content marketing. In this article, she shares 5 facts, based on data from MDG Advertising, which help explain visual content’s success:

  • 94% more total views on average are attracted by content containing compelling images than content without images.
  • 67% of consumers consider clear, detailed images to be very important and carry even more weight than the product information, full description, and customer ratings.
  • 60% of consumers are more likely to consider or contact a business whose images appear in local search results.
  • 37% increase in engagement is experienced when Facebook posts include photographs. This is consistent with research by Dan Zarrella of Hubspot.
  • 14% increase in pageviews are seen when press releases contain a photograph. (They climb to 48% when both photographs and videos are included.)

Sounds like good reasons for using visuals, don’t you think?

Run a contest or offer cool giveaways

Who doesn’t like winning contests or getting something for free? Including contests in your content marketing strategy helps your business win, too. Depending on what type of contest you choose to run, you may see benefits such as the following:

  1. Increased traffic to your website
  2. More followers (and eyeballs) for your blog
  3. More social media exposure and “free” advertising for your business

Successful contests require a lot of planning and patience. They should be fun for your participants without being overly complicated. If you’re interested in learning more about running contests, Yael Grauer provides an excellent resource in her recent article for Vertical Response titled, “12 Tips to Running a Winning Social Media Contest.”

Over to you

Are you using these or other techniques to help make your content marketing speak so people will keep listening? I’d love to hear your thoughts…please feel free to leave a comment!

 

3 Important Things to Know When Making a Business Decision

3 Important Things to Know When Making Business Decisions

Hit snooze or not hit snooze? Coffee at home or coffee at Starbucks? Work late or take it home? …you get the picture. Choices are placed upon from the moment we wake up until the moment we go to bed at night.

The choices we make affect every part of our life – home, work, business, social, etc. I recently heard a great sermon about choices and found it very applicable to business. One bad business choice and you could end up in jail. One good choice and you could be like Warren Buffett.

When we make a choice for our business, it will affect more than one person. We have to be wise and use great caution.

There are three important things to know when making those crucial business decisions – wavering on any of them and you could end up down a path you didn’t intend to go down.

Know who you are and to whom you answer to.3 Important Things to Know When Making Business Decisions

The most successful people in business will be those who know who they are and what they will/won’t do. You have to know how you’ll react to certain situations and be prepared for them – and know what you will and won’t compromise on. We also have to keep in mind we answer to someone – it could be based on our religion, it could be your boss or business partner – it could even be your kids or bank account. Every choice we make affects more than just ourselves.

Example – recently I wrote an extremely personal post about losing clients. I am someone deeply rooted in my faith and know that that faith is what leads me on in my business. I know there’s a higher power looking out for me in what I do so I know when something doesn’t go right, I have to answer to that.

Knowing who you are a businessperson sets the tone for the way you conduct yourself and your business. People can tell a lot about a person based on the way they act.

Know what you stand for ahead of time.

Your character has a lot to do with what your stand for. There’s a country song by Aaron Tippin that says “you’ve got to stand for something – or you’ll fall for anything.” In today’s fast-paced business world this is so true. You have individuals and businesses coming at you from every angle – “Buy 10,000 Twitter followers for just $10!” “Yes, you can copy that person’s post and pass it off as your own!” “Let’s hack that website!” What you do in those situations says a lot about your character and the type of businessperson you are. If you already know ahead of time what you stand for and what you will and won’t do, it will make those decisions MUCH easier.

My Pastor quoted a college student he was mentoring and it really marked the point of this – [Tweet ““Today’s compromise becomes tomorrow’s standard.” – GSU Student and @johnwaters11”]

US Senator Dan Coats was quoted as saying, “Character cannot be summoned at the moment of crisis if it has been squandered by years of compromise and rationalization…Habit is the daily battleground of character.”

[Tweet “Habit is the daily battleground of character. – US Sen. Dan Coats”]

When you face difficult or questionable decisions/choices, what you do will already have been determined by the choices that led you there. What are your daily habits? Are they a reflection of who you are?

So, what do you stand for?

Know that it’s never wrong to do right.

Those who continually do right are the ones who see the most success. Albert Einstein once said that what is right is not always popular. Yes, you may lose a client or job over making the right choice, but you know what? Something better is on the horizon. Would you rather make the right choice and be able to sleep at night or compromise your beliefs/standards and know a stress you’ve never known?

In the business world, doing what’s right is very hard to do. We have temptations all around us – plagiarizing posts, buying fake communities to inflate numbers, just lying in general about being an expert when you just started yesterday. Don’t give in and compromise – you are never wrong when you do what’s right.

How do your choices affect what you do? What do you do when faced with a difficult/questionable decision?

 

I know this isn’t your typical social marketing post, but there are times when we have to work on ourselves and grow as business owners. If we are going to be successful in a field where there are literally millions of social media professionals, we need to do what we can to develop ourselves as business leaders and make ourselves stand out from those who are not in this for the right reasons.

What We Can Learn from Losing Clients

The Power of Hashtags

In our modern society, there is no denying that social media has become part of our lives.

Every day numerous posts are shared to increase connectivity and activity on various social media platforms. However, the most influential tool in the social media world is the hashtag. First used by Twitter, the hashtag has taken the world by storm, revolutionizing the way people connect and interact with each other.

The popularity of the hashtag accelerated so quickly, that other social media platforms hopped on the bandwagon. Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, and even Facebook have begun to recognize the hashtag.

As the world caught wind of trending hashtags and their power to persuade and influence the populations, television networks formed profiles on various platforms to use these hashtags to increase the interconnectivity of producers and consumers.  In doing so, the hashtag has allowed networks and television shows to interact with their watchers, as well as receive fast feedback on new campaigns. This has proven so successful that even commercials have integrated them into their advertising campaigns.

Jenn Hanford previously wrote about the power of hashtags on the blog, stating, they [hashtags] help conversations flow and stay on track at the same time. In these cases, the hashtag’s value is revealed by the number of participants. Savvy marketers are starting to recognize the increasing value beyond the symbol as their potential customers use hashtags in their purchasing decisions.”

Similarly, the sports world has exploded with the use of hashtags. So much so, that ESPN has been responsible for a plethora of trending hashtags, especially during major sporting events such as the Super Bowl, the World Cup, and the Olympics. This tool has given sports fans a way to interact with each other, even if they are miles away.

Other organizations and philanthropies are catching on to the hashtag trend and are seeking to reek its benefits. Though the hashtag is trending in many facets of social media, it will be a long time before this tool becomes a relic.

One of our former interns, Alex Carruth, wrote about the hashtag milestone and how people are incorporating it into their everyday lives. In fact, I was just at a wedding where guests were asked to use a certain hashtag if they posted their pictures on Instagram.

Alex also gave a good list of resources for hashtags:

How are you harnessing the power of hashtags with your marketing?

 

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