Instagram Stories vs Snapchat – Which is better?

Just figured out how to effectively use Instagram Stories for your business? Oh wait no, you probably just figured out Snapchat. That’s right, Snapchat is slowly on the verge of becoming sooo 2016…

 

Instagram v. Snapchat

 

So what is the big difference? Both platforms offer essentially the same product.

 

While there are different filters, tools, and features, Instagram Stories is simply attached to what Instagram already presents its users. Since its launch in August, Instagram stories has reached 150 million daily users. This is greatly attributed to the fact that Instagram has quickly become the hub platform for many companies, brands, and campaign’s biggest influencers.

 

Snapchat does not allow growth for a business within its platform. Some argue that the app is making mistakes similar to those of Vine. Much of this is dues to the fact that Snapchat is simply private messaging. In contrast, Instagram promotes social media stars and helps to grow their accounts through the platform’s Explore page, which has naturally adopted stories along with photos and videos.

 

However, for many the direct messaging is not a complete deal breaker. As a millennial myself, I still use Snapchat daily specifically for the direct message aspect with my friends and family. I also view the daily subscriptions that are displayed by a variety of media sources. Some of these include: BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan, The Dodo, and select featured ones. I will say that I have naturally made the transition to Instagram for many of the other companies, celebrities, and campaigns that interest me.

 

How to Use Instagram Stories

 

  1. Keep it short and simple

For Instagram Stories specifically, keep it short sweet and to the point but also engaging. It is also important to make sure there is a point to the content you are putting out there. This can be done by adding a simple location or hashtag to your post. Additionally, Instagram took over Boomerang and it was genius. Users go crazy over the animated looping clips. It a fun way to present content but also keep things interesting.

 

  1. Try not to treat it as a live video

Unless you are a certified celebrity, a stream of you talking to your phone in selfie mode walking around whereever is probably not the greatest idea. Most of the time, many viewers will lose interest and exit your story. If that is what you are trying to do, use live stream. This is not to say that this is not always acceptable. There are appropriate times to do this. Generally, stick to this method when your company or brand is at an event. Give your audience something to work with.

 

  1. Use the filters and features in a unique way

Can Instagram make you look like a puppy dog, Bambi, or a flower crown princess? No. If that is what you are looking for, Snapchat is still your go-to. However, think of the available filters and features as your bread and butter when posting to your Instagram Story. You have only a few seconds to capture your audience’s attention to make it something that will resonate with your target audience. There are tons on content creation websites like Canva for social media that do the same thing for a traditional post. The Instagram tools allow you to express yourself in a creative way. Another great feature to help grow you profile as well as your influencers and followers is the fact that you can add linkable handles, locations, and hashtags.

 

  1. Link your story to whatever you want

A beneficial feature included in Instagram’s Stories is the ability to link your content to the image. This will be indicated to users by a “swipe up” arrow featured at the bottom of the screen. This can be used to link to products, blogs, or whatever other content that you wish to display. Your followers will also appreciate the easy access to quickly jump over to what you are talking about.

 

  1. Always remember your target audience

One of the most important things to remember is to always stick to the values that your profile demonstrates. If your followers see content that does not align with your overall message they can be confused and annoyed. Users follow you because they agree with the message you send and content your display.

 

Do you use either Instagram Stories or Snapchat for your business? Which do you prefer?

 

 

26 Social Media Statistics to Back Up Your Strategy

26 Social Media Statistics to Back Up Your Strategy

“Social media is not just a spoke on the wheel of marketing. It’s becoming the way entire bicycles are built.” – Ryan Lilly

 

I came across the above quote and thought it to be a great illustration of how social media has molded itself into a business’ marketing strategy. Yes, social media is taking over marketing. And the world.

 

Of course any good marketing strategy is built with statistics and data behind it – behaviors, interests, patterns, demographics, etc., and any good marketing strategist will make sure said strategy truly has the measurable data to back it up.

 

Being a fan of data and statistics, I love finding different bits of information among the common data we social marketing professionals regularly use. Some bits are eye-opening, some are really odd. Some make you sit and really evaluate what your actual usage behavior is, while some just make you laugh. Below are 27 social media statistics I have found while doing client research and putting together my weekly Marketing Fact Friday series (which you can follow on my Instagram account). If you want to dig deeper, I’ve linked the source for you.

 

Social Media Usage

  • Generation X (ages 35-49) spends the most time on social media: almost 7 hours per week versus Millennials, who come in second, spending just over 6 hours per week. (Nielsen)
  • Almost 80% of time spent on social media platforms happens on mobile. (MarketingLand)
  • 81% of millennials check Twitter at least once per day. (Pew Research Center)
  • Nearly half (43%) of weekly Facebook activity and a third (33%) of weekly Twitter activity occurred on Sundays. (Nielsen)
  • The number of active social media users worldwide is 2.78 billion, out of the world’s population of 7.47 billion. (we are social)
  • Smartphones accounted for 78% of adults, ages 18-34, total weekly social minutes. (Nielsen)
  • Adults ages 50+ spent 64% more time on social media in 2016 than in 2015. (Nielsen)
  • 85% of people rely on Twitter and Facebook for their morning news. (Byte of Data)

 

Social Media + TV

  • There were 11.8 million TV-related interactions on Facebook from 5.9 million people on average each day this fall. (Nielsen)
  • On an average day, 42% of those interacting with TV on Facebook are Generation X, 40% are Millennials, and the remaining 18% are Baby Boomers. (Nielsen)
  • 81% of engagement with TV-related Tweets comes organically from the audience. (Nielsen)
  • 57% of people who used their tablet while watching television said they visited Facebook while doing so, compared with 24% who said they visited Twitter. On smartphones, those numbers were 58% and 20%, respectively. (Nielsen)

 

Social Media + Business

  • More than 2 million advertisers regularly use Facebook to market their business. (Hootsuite)
  • While 64 percent of marketers have a Snapchat account, only 67 percent of those accounts are active. (L2)
  • 59% of Americans with social media accounts think that customer service through social media has made it easier to get questions answered and issues resolved. (Hootsuite)
  • 13% of heavy social media users clicked on an advertisement within the last 30 days. (Nielsen)
  • 30% of heavy social media users think it’s very or somewhat important to engage with social media in order to show support of their favorite companies or brands. (Nielsen)
  • 93% of Pinterest users use the platform to plan or make purchases. (Pinterest)

 

Social Media Content

  • Tweets with images received 150% more retweets than tweets without images. (HubSpot)
  • When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later. (Brain Rules)
  • 62% of B2B marketers rated videos as an effective content marketing tactic in 2016. (Content Marketing Institute)
  • Cisco projects that global internet traffic from videos will make up 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. (Cisco)
  • 51% of all video plays are on mobile devices — this growth represents a 15% increase from 2015 and a 203% increase from 2014. (Facebook)
  • Cisco projects that global internet traffic from videos will make up 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. (Small Business Trends)
  • Videos under five minutes in length account for 55% of total video consumption time on smartphones. (Ooyala)
  • 85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound. (Digiday)

 

Some of these statistics you may be able to use for your own business, or for a client. Having data to back up anything you propose or want to do yourself, is always key – it gives you and what you are proposing more credibility (as long as the data is from a credible source).

 

What kind of data and statistics are used in your business’ marketing strategy? Share with us below!

 

I wrote this article as a guest post for My Social Game Plan and has been republished with permission.

 

 

earn the art & science of pinterest

Learn the Art & Science of Pinterest

Pinterest is for yourself, not your selfie.

 

When I attended this year’s Southern C Summit, I had the privilege of hearing Nikki Bazzani from Pinterest present. It was great to be in the room with someone who could give answers from the source. Her presentation was about the art and science of Pinterest, and yes everyone, there is a true art and science to it.

 

Here is what she shared, and every business owner using Pinterest needs to take note of this! FYI, Pinterest is second largest search behind Google 😉

 

It’s no surprise that every story is rooted in an idea. And every idea is a pin. Those pins are what helps us discover and ultimately do what we love.

 

Pinterest provides a wealth of content for anyone who is looking – the mom looking for new recipes, the marketer looking for an infographic, the bride looking for ideas for her wedding, the husband looking for birthday ideas for his wife. A good number of businesses have an audience on this platform, and they should with 150 million active monthly users pinning away.

 

But where do you start? How do you use Pinterest for your business, much less create that perfect pin that will capture the attention of the pinner scrolling through?

 

Before you put together a pin for Pinterest, keep these things in mind:

  • Text is allowed – call out unique things, get that pinner’s attention.
  • Vertical images are optimal – use – 600px x 900px (Don’t go higher than 1560px high. Pinterest is going to start not showing/decreasing visibility of the really long pins. Keep them at 900px high.)
  • Be authentic to both you and your brand.
  • Be helpful instead of clever with text overlay and descriptions.
  • Avoid looking like a banner ad.
  • Content and detail in description is encouraged (200-400 characters). Use keywords. You can have 500 characters max.

 

Knowing those few things, there is a psychology behind creating a pin, much like the psychology advertisers use in creating their ads and how you see them. Here are three principles to stick to.

 

3 Good Principles of a Pin

  1. They are visually arresting
    • The pin is a canvas, so use it. Play with text color (bright that pop), texture, pattern. Use black and white. Play with space. Add your products, logo, etc.
  2. They are inspiring
    • Motivate pinners with helpful tips, lists, and how-tos. Show the pinner what they are going to find when they go to your site.
    • Motivate with variety.
    • Motivate with novelty.
    • Motivate with trends and cultural reference (check out their Pinterest 100 trend report here).
  3. They are actionable
    • Make it easy – tell them what to do.

 

Once you have your pin planned out, that’s not the end of it. You have to nail it. Think of the pin as your piece de resistance. Ask yourself these eight questions…

    • Does this pin appeal to my desired audience?
    • Is this pin a stand-alone idea?
    • Is the idea novel, inspiring, entertaining, or helpful?
    • Would I save this pin?
    • Does this pin pique my interest enough to click and get more information?
    • Can I visually grasp what the idea or product is in less than 1 second?
    • Is the pin designed for mobile?
    • Does it stand out in the Pinterest feed?

 

Of course, there are more ways your can always make your pin more helpful…

 

Show lists and multi-products.

 

Instructions and How-tos –  let the pinner know what they are getting.

 

Detailed descriptions – use all the space you can.

 

Text overlays – just be careful not to use too much.

 

Tasteful branding – use your branding, your logo, list your website.

 

Once you start using Pinterest for your business, there are a lot of opportunities for you to grow your brand there. For example, take advantage of group boards. Look at Tribes through TailWind (an AMAZING Pinterest management tool). Pin from brands you want to work with, pin to support small businesses.

 

Monica Lavin of Lavin Label, who had partnered with Pinterest, also shared her experience and some helpful tips on how to get the most out of this platform.

 

Monica’s Tips:

 

  • For every 1 pin you pin, re-pin 2 pins from other people.
  • Pin throughout the day (You can use Tailwind or Co-Schedule to schedule pins).
  • Look at pins that are doing the best – create new content similar to that. Re-pin pins that are not performing well.
  • Take advantage of Promoted Pins!
  • Use Rich Pins from your site.

 

Here are some best practices for all of us to take –

monica lavin pinterest

 

 

Are you using Pinterest? If so, what are your success stories? Remember every idea is a pin. Those pins are what helps us discover and ultimately do what we love.

 

Images courtesy of The Southern C Summit

 

 

Making Facebook Advertising Work for Your Business

Making Facebook Advertising Work for Your Business

At this year’s Southern C Summit, I had the honor of leading a pre-conference workshop on Facebook advertising. I was blessed to have 15 fabulous ladies sign up for this session and we had a fun time digging into Facebook ads.

 

Why should businesses invest in Facebook advertising? According to Buffer, “91% of marketers invested in Facebook advertising last year. And it’s easy to understand why when you look at the data: more than 1.18 billion people use Facebook every day, and on average, each person spends more than 50 minutes a day across Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram.”

 

If that statement doesn’t convince you, take a look at these statistics from Hootsuite

 

Social media advertising is the most cost-effective way to advertise in this day and time, with Facebook leading the way with the various, and amazing, options available to businesses.

Social advertising is the most cost-effective way to advertise, with Facebook leading the way. Click To Tweet

 

Now that you’re interested, let’s take a look…

 

When starting a Facebook ad, there’s a process you walk through in the Ads Manager to help you set up the right ad, and maximize it for the best results.

Step 1: Figure out what you are promoting and select an ad type.

When running a Facebook ad, you need to know what you are promoting and why you are promoting it.

Then there are three decisions to make –

  1. What are you promoting?
  2. Will your ad run via auction or reach & frequency?
  3. What type of ad will you choose? (Hint: Awareness ads are best for small budgets)

 facebook advertising objective

Step 2: Select an audience

Selecting your audience is the most important part – more important than the ad itself. When selecting your audience, you are narrowing in to target the ideal customer/client.

Your choices are to either –

  1. Create an audience from the options you are given (which can make unlimited combinations).
  2. Use a custom audience.
  3. Use a lookalike audience.

Step 3: Ad Placement

facebook advertising placement

Source: Facebook

Your choices for placement are:

  • Desktop
  • Desktop Right Side
  • Mobile
  • Instagram
  • Audience Network (this lets you extend your ad campaigns beyond Facebook to reach your audiences on mobile apps, mobile websites     and videos. We use the same Facebook targeting, measurement and delivery to make sure each ad on Audience Network helps you reach your campaign goals at the most cost-effective price.)
  • Instant Articles (See more here: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/825186870955247 )
  • In-stream Video

 

If you’re not sure, Facebook will recommend using the default placements for your objective:

  • Brand awareness (including Reach & Frequency buying): Facebook and Instagram
  • Engagement (including Reach & Frequency buying): Facebook and Instagram
  • Video views (including Reach & Frequency buying): Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network
  • App installs: Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network
  • Traffic (for website clicks and app engagement): Facebook and Audience Network
  • Product catalog sales: Facebook and Audience Network
  • Conversions: Facebook and Audience Network

 

For more information on ad placements, visit: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/175741192481247?helpref=related

Step 4: Set an ad budget and schedule

Ah, the budget. Here’s where you determine how much you are going spend for your ad. You have two choices: daily budget (how much you spend per day) or lifetime budget (how much you want to spend for the entire campaign).

 

Yes, you can run an ad for as little as $1/day but not every ad will let you do that. Here are the spend minimums:

  •      If the ad set gets charged for impressions, its daily budget must be at least $1 a day
  •      If the ad set gets charged for clicks, Likes, video views, or post engagement, its daily budget must be at least $5 a day
  •      If the ad set gets charged for low frequency events like offer claims or app installs, its budget must be at least $40 a day

 

For more information on ad spend minimums, visit: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/203183363050448

Step 5: The ad

 

Now the second-most important part of the whole process – creating your ad.

 

You can choose an existing post as your ad or you can create one from scratch.

 

If you are creating an ad from scratch, you have 5 formats to choose from –

 

facebook advertising ad format

 

Note: Formats will vary based on the ad objective you have chosen.

 

And after that is done and your ad is running…

Step 6: Track your ad

 

How do you know if you Facebook advertising is working (or did work)?

 

facebook advertising campaign dashboard

 

You can view the results of your ads in the Campaign Dashboard and view each ad (as shown above). You can customize your reports through Columns and Breakdown.

 

It’s really an easy process and once you’ve created and successfully run your first ad, you can start over with your next promotion.

 

The content above was taken from my workshop guide I created, “Making Facebook Ads Work for Your Business.” If you’d like your own copy of the 23-page guide, please click here to download your FREE copy!

 

What has been your experience with Facebook ads? Share with us below!

 

 

Using Your Millennial Target Audience as the Face for Your Company

Using Your Millennial Target Audience as the Face for Your Company

Oh millennials. We hear about them all the time. We hear about their low work ethic, question their motives and laugh when we see them take 100 pictures of their “soy low-fat Carmel macchiato, please”. However, if that is the case, then why are so many of these businesses craving their approval through social media? As a millennial myself, part of my answer is because that macchiato is about to get 2,000+ likes on Instagram.

 

But what is the most effective way for your business to gain the likes, follows and shares that these young adults hold?

 

About 97% of online adults (age 16-64) have either visited or used a social media platform in the last month. Going even further, 8 out of 10 internet users use social media on their mobile devices. This is no surprise to most of us. However, it is important to understand that millennials see the most advertisements in a week simply because they are the generation using most screen time through a variety of devices. Because of this, it is easy for millennials to quickly sort this media into two categories:

  1. Business we trust
  2. Business we don’t trust

 

Knowing this should definitely put some sort of stress on the importance of the content you are putting out there. It needs to be relatable, available, tell your story as a business – but at the same time, brief enough that a viewer does not feel annoyed/overwhelmed. If that is the case, then why not simply look to your audience for the influence? You know… the audience getting the 2,000 likes on a picture of a three-dollar coffee.

 

Now more than ever, consumers are looking to read reviews rather than ignore them. They want reviews that they feel they can trust and are not paid for. Google recently published a study showing that social media is practically always the first channel consumers face before purchasing a product. Opening the door to the idea of brand ambassadors could seriously benefit your business in a big way. For example, millennials are spending about 11 hours of their week streaming video content. Of those users, 60% of 18-24 year olds trust popular YouTube endorsements. A lot of this is because this these popular accounts, whether it be on YouTube, Instagram or other social platforms, have successfully branded themselves into a figure that their followers trust.

 

This person does not necessarily need to be a major figure. Many times they are simply millennials themselves. Compensation can be something as transparent as a discount, resume builder, or simply a shout out displaying their blog or social media handles. This connection should be thought of as a relationship rather than a task. As a college student myself, I have had multiple opportunities to be a brand ambassador and gained some solid resume experience.

 

So what is the bottom line here?

 

If the audience is able to see a connection they have with the individual behind the scenes of a brand; whether that be a sense of humor, adventure or drive they are more likely to go through with a follow or purchase. And what is a better way of doing that then supporting those who have supported you from the beginning?

8 Common Social Media Marketing Mistakes & What to Do About Them

8 Common Social Media Marketing Mistakes & What to Do About Them

When being in business, mistakes will happen. When using social media to help market your business, there is a huge opportunity for mistakes to happen. Knowing how to avoid them is key.

 

The world of social media marketing is gigantic. With numerous platforms to choose from, conflicting advice and strategies floating around, it’s not surprising to see so many businesses floundering about not sure if they are doing their marketing right. That’s where the mistakes happen. Off-brand messages getting posted. Too many, or too few, posts getting published. No analytics being tracked.

 

If you see yourself there, or if you are trying to avoid being there, help is here. Here are 8 common social media marketing mistakes I see businesses making, and some suggestions to help:

 

Doing More Than You Should

 

Often when a business decides to use social media, they think they need to do every.single.platform. If a marketing professional tells you that – fire them. You need to find where your audience is and focus on that. If that turns out to be Facebook and Instagram, then focus on those two platforms only. If it’s just Instagram, do only that. There is no need spending time on a social media platform that you have no audience on.

 

According to the latest data from Pew Research Center in November 2016, here is the demographic breakdown of the major social media platforms:

 

 facebook

instagram

 

 twitter

 linkedin



 pinterest

 

 Not Tracking Your Results

 

If you are not looking at your analytics on a regular basis, you’ll have no way of knowing if you social media efforts are working. Every platform, save Snapchat, has their own analytics component. Most social media management programs have them as well. To know if you are being effective with your social media marketing, you need to be consistently measuring your social media marketing efforts – weekly, monthly, however frequently you deem necessary.

 

If you are unsure what key metrics to look for, Sprout Social has a fantastic guide here.

 

Inconsistent Posting

 

Not having a plan, or posting consistently, is a mistake. Posting too much will lead people to stop following you. Not posting enough will leave people out in the cold because they will not know what’s going on. So, how often should you post?  That’s up for you to decide for your own business, however, here is my general recommendation:

  • Facebook: 1-2 times/day
  • Twitter: 5-6 times/day
  • Pinterest: 5-6 pins/day
  • Instagram: 1-3 times/day (depending on your business)
  • LinkedIn Company Page: 3-5 times/week
  • Snapchat: TBD based on your business type

 

Having the Wrong Message

 

Your social media posts should not be all broadcasts or worse yet, off-brand. People do not want to see sales pitch after sales pitch. Build a relationship with your fans. You want to use social media to educate your fans, yet build that relationship to establish trust. That last thing you want to do is to go off-brand to the point you leave them scratching their heads wondering if a 10 year-old is running your social media.

 

No Call-to-Action

 

Even though you want to limit your sales-y pitch posts, you do not want to forget your calls to action. People need to be prompted to do something. The CTAs (call-to-actions) can be something as easy as asking fans to like, comment, retweet, or share. CTAs lead to more conversions, not to mention more awareness for your brand.

 

Your Followers are Fake

 

I’ve become more active on Instagram with my business account and one thing I’ve noticed is newer accounts with unusually high following totals. When I go and look at who is following them… it’s mostly spam accounts. Even a “competitor” of mine is doing this. First of all, this is a Terms of Service violation that runs you the risk of having your account deleted, and second of all, this is an ethically wrong business practice.

 

Not Staying Up with the Latest

 

Social media is ever-evolving. Platforms change. Rules change. You cannot rely on articles and advice from two years ago. What everyone was suggesting in 2015 honestly is not applicable in 2017. When you seek advice or look at articles on Google, make sure to check the date of the article or source.

 

To stay up with latest, subscribe to a few blogs. Here are a few recommendations:

 

Trying to Do it All Yourself

 

This is the biggest mistake business owners make. Social media for your business can take all of your time, if you do social media right. As a business owner, you can outsource this to a social media strategist, or have someone in-house handle your social media.

 

Mistakes will happen. We’ve made them before – no business is perfect. The key is to learn from them and grow.

 

What other mistakes do you see businesses make on social media? Did we leave anything out? If you have any suggestions you’d like to add, please share them below in the comments!

 

If you see yourself or your business struggling with any of these, drop us a line and let us know – we’d love to help you get on track!

 

Live Video Streaming and 360° Video, Are You Ready?

Live Video Streaming and 360° Video, Are You Ready?

Since the emergence of social media, marketers have fantasized about the next big thing to hit the industry. New platforms, features, devices and applications have entered the ring to compete for the attention of marketers. While all have been harnessed for their potential, nothing has peaked the interest of marketers like 360° video and live video streaming.

 

This new form of storytelling has led users and businesses alike to plunge headfirst in exploring the potential and features these innovations offer. Brands like Red Bull, Adidas, GoPro and the New York Times have already begun implementing 360° video by releasing videos on YouTube to showcase their products and news events. Buzzfeed has been one of the leading media platforms to utilize the live video streaming feature to release breaking news, explore cultural rituals, and even to live stream kittens sleeping in a box. See below.

 

 

The current conversation about the future of video marketing through 360° and live stream video is polarized. Many professionals argue that these new technologies and devices are critical for brands to boost their connection with audiences; others believe that it inspires and produces lazy, rushed, ineffective content.

 

While 360° and live stream video offer marketing potential for businesses, it also possesses great potential for backfire.

 

The benefits of both 360° and live stream video include an immersive environment, transparency of products and services through unedited, unscripted content, and engagement with an audience in real time. However, factors to consider when using 360° and live stream video include which platforms support this new technology, what is the reach potential, engagement of the targeted audience, and the efficacy of produced content.

 

When considering the integration of these advanced video marketing tactics serious research must be conducted to decide whether this medium will benefit your business.

  • Will it place your product or service in the best light?
  • Is this level of transparency necessary for your brand?
  • Do you have the appropriate physical and human capital to produce quality content for this media?

 

Although research is beneficial when predicting an outcome, it does not guarantee the success or failure of a project. The most sure-fire way to gauge if 360° video and live stream is the right move for a marketing plan is to take a chance.   

 

Will your business try live streaming video this year?

 

work life balance

If Work/Life Balance is a Myth, How Do We Manage?

I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as true work/life balance. Anyone who has it figured out or is telling you how to achieve it is feeding you nothing but BS.

 

Everyone is uber-busy and as much as we’d like to achieve balance between our work and professional lives, it doesn’t exist in the form we like to think. You cannot manage time, you can only manage tasks.

 

In all of our lives, balance is not the ultimate goal, it’s just an average of what you are doing. We all juggle multiple things at once in our lives – businesses, kids, spouses, friends, charities, etc. To say you are not trying to do it all is a lie.

 

61% of Americans say they do not have time to do what they need to do. Click To Tweet

 

I’ll be the first to admit I can be an absolute hot mess at times. I’m married, have 2 daughters, one of which started middle school this year, own my own business and am deeply involved in my community. Late nights are nothing new. There are days that I’d rather sit and read Outlander than be productive.

 

Life keeps going and so must we.

 

Kiz Adams, Work/Life Balance Coordinator at the University of Georgia has become one of my new favorite people. A former UGA Law School professor (true story – she taught my husband when he was in law school there), she now holds a new position at our alma mater, working to help UGA employees balance out their professional and personal lives (kudos to the Provost for creating this role). Kiz spoke at the Terry College of Business Professional Women’s Conference I help with each year and her session alone was worth the price of the entire conference.

 

How do we manage all these moving parts in our lives? Here are some of the key takeaways from Kiz, and the biggest time wasters you will encounter, and hopefully by knowing these, you will be able to restructure your time so you won’t go about your day as one hot mess.

 

Five Takeaways

One of the first things to know is that…

Efficiency is not Effectiveness

Urgent does not mean Important

Clock is not a Compass

 

Set Goals

Make Professional Goals, then prioritize them. Make Personal Goals, then prioritize them. When making your goals, ask yourself, “What’s important at this time in my life?” This will dictate A LOT. We all go through seasons in our lives. My goals 5 years ago are different from what they are now. Once you make your choices, own it!

 

Brain-Dump Frequently

There’s a graphic floating around social media that talks about your brain functioning like an internet browser with multiple tabs open. It can get quite overwhelming. Doing a weekly brain-dump is a great habit to get into. If you’re not familiar with a brain-dump, it’s when you write everything that needs to get done on a list (this can be personal things or professional) and then prioritize it all. I do this every Sunday evening. Of course, things will get added throughout the week as I remember or as they come up. You can also do this via Google Docs or in your smartphone.

 

Figure Out Where Your Time Goes

You only have 168 hours every week. Do you know how you are spending your time? For one week, a normal week, log in your time – yes, every time you check your email, every time you look at Facebook, every time you blog, etc. – and at the end of the week, total it up and see what you spend your time on. Evaluate that.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • How much is applicable to my goal(s)?
  • Do I need to reevaluate my goal(s) (time-invested v. time-spent)?
  • Am I underestimating how long tasks are taking?
  • Am I interrupted often?
  • Do I procrastinate?
  • Have I taken on more than I was originally hired to do?

 

Restructure Your Time

It’s not enough to recognize when you have a problem managing your tasks, you have to change the behavior. Start with one area – don’t try to change it all at one time. Schedule your important, high priority stuff first. Also, tackle the stuff you don’t want to do first. That always makes things easier!

 

Stop Wasting Time – The Time Wasters that Haunt Us

It’s bad enough our attention spans are now shorter than a goldfish. We are easily distracted and good at wasting time. Some of these time wasters are ones you wouldn’t think of, so have an open mind.

 

No. 1 – Email

How many times a day are you clicking over to your inbox or checking in on your phone? Stop checking this constantly. Set aside 2 or 3 times each day to check your email (unless there is something urgent you are expecting). For example, check it at 8am, 12pm, and 4pm – and ONLY at those 3 times. Also, organize your emails with tags, reminders, folders, etc. to make your inbox easier to decipher.

 

No. 2 – Multitaskingimg_0416

 

You would think this would be a time-saver, right? Wrong! This is a myth. It takes more time to switch between tasks. Studies have shown that after a mere 30 second interruption, it can take 5 minutes to get on track and research has shown that most workers switch tasks every 3 minutes (Kiz Adams, Terry PWC Conference Presentation). So that’s about 160 switches each day. Doing Kiz’s math from the conference, you can also see in the picture, 160x5min=800 minutes of lost productivity (13 hours). Her suggestion? “Batch” your tasks in 90 minute- 2 hour time segments. That’s about all your brain can handle at one continuous time. I’ve started doing this and I get more done.

 

No. 3 – Meetings

Plan meetings carefully and always have an agenda and focus. Do not just meet to meet.

 

No. 4 – Reports & Memos

Avoid any unnecessary narrative if possible and use bulletpoints. Charts and spreadsheets can get your point across quite effectively.

 

No. 5 – The Internet

I could write a novel here, as I’m sure you could Google this and find more articles than needed. Just be specific on what you are doing and have a time limit.

 

No. 6 – The Chatty Coworker

Fortunately for me, I’m the only one in my office. My chatty coworker is a dog who likes to bark at anything that moves outside the window. However, for those who do work in an office, if you can, just close the door or invite that person on a walk. If all else fails, just gently talk with person about their talkativeness.

 

No. 7 – The Boss that Gives You More and More and More

It’s great to have the vote of confidence from your boss that you are doing a good job and that they value your work. However, sometimes that can be taken advantage of when they pile stuff on your already-full plate. If this is you, kindly ask your boss to prioritize the new task(s) and ask yourself if you have to do this and if you have the skills. And if need be, you may have to talk with your boss and come up with another plan.

 

No. 8 – The Travel/Commute

If you are one of the ones who spend a good bit of time in your vehicle (or on a train or bus) getting to and from work each day, you know you have time to waste. This is the perfect opportunity to catch up via audiobook on some business books, or compose notes on your tablet or smartphone for a project. Maybe you can just use the time for some coveted “you” time (the moms everywhere are jealous).

 

No. 9 – Procrastination

I am so guilty of this. The advice Kiz gave was spot-on and I couldn’t have said it better. Just jump in. Do something to force your hand. Narrow your focus. Break things into 10-20 minutes segments. Most people procrastinate because they get overwhelmed thinking about everything that has to be done, that’s why breaking it up is a good way to start.

 

No. 10 – Perfection

Perfectionists are the worst. We will tinker with something just to get it right, wasting who knows how much time just to make sure we have the right font, or something is spaced right, or we have the right wording. Here is where we need to let go or just outsource.

 

Wrapping it all up, what can we do to help make our lives more manageable?

Wake up Early

Get up early in the morning and get going. Getting an early start always sets you ahead for the day and makes you feel like you’ve gotten something accomplished before the day really starts.

 

Do the highest priority/most important task first

Doing the most important task first usually takes the biggest weight off your shoulder for the entire day or week. Same can be said for the most dreaded task!

 

Be 100% focused on whatever you are doing at the moment.

It doesn’t matter if you are pushing your child on a swing or writing a business proposal, be 100% focused on the task at hand. Your child or partner will remember the undivided attention you gave them. You will also find when you are 100% focused on what you are doing, you’ll be more effective and efficient because there won’t be anything to distract you.

 

Learn to unplug and put the electronics up.

This is hard, but you just have to unplug at times. We can frequently go into information overload and working in social media, it happens more than I care to admit. When your business is 24/7/365, it’s hard to unplug but trust me, you just got to. Your eyes, mind and family will appreciate it. After a refreshing break, you’ll find yourself more focused and ready.

 

Just say “no”. And do not feel you have to explain why.

You do not have to agree to everything. There is not enough time in the day to be superwoman (or superman). Busy makes us feel important, when in reality it doesn’t. We choose to be busy. We think if we go on and on about what all we have to do, we will be perceived as being someone important. We have to prioritize what we do. It could be your children, your spouse or something else. When you do say no, unless specifically pressed, you do not have to explain your reason(s) why. It’s no one’s business but your own why you are declining something.

 

Realize that YOU are in charge.

Only you have the power to say yes and no. No one else speaks for you. Do not concede to putting it in someone else’s hands. You have more power than you think.

 

Draw the line and defend it.

Being a working mom, I have boundaries. You need to have boundaries too. You need to know what you will and won’t do and defend that. This could be time with your kids, ethical business situations, things that pertain to your religious beliefs. We all have lines we won’t cross and when tempted, we need to defend it. On the same lines, find your family time and defend it as well. If your family time is from 5-8pm, for example, do not take phone calls or work during that time. Sometimes that balance means turning clients down. Remember, if they want to work with you bad enough, they will work with you on this.

 

Last but not least…

 

Success is finite; aim for significance.

Success can be a new client or an award. Significance means you made a difference. We all want to have success, but that really only lasts so long. Aim for something that you will be remembered by. If you are too caught up in the everyday busyness of our lives, we’ll never achieve that long-term success (significance) we are looking for.

 

How are you working your life out? How are you managing it all?

 

 

The ME Marketing Top Posts - What You Loved in 2016

The ME Marketing Top Posts – What You Loved in 2016

Blogging took a backseat for me in 2016.

 

Now that you’ve picked your jaw up off the ground and recovered from shock that a successful social media professional admitted that she intentionally did not put a priority on blogging, let me explain.

 

Professionally, 2016 was an amazing year. We did a record amount of business, worked with some amazing clients, and did some beautiful work. However personally, 2016 sucked. Royally. The first six months was fine, but it all came to a screeching halt on June 16 when I experienced a deep personal loss that threw the next couple months into a tailspin.

 

Thus, writing on this blog took a backseat to the rest of my business as I prioritized what needed to be done. I love writing and I miss writing consistently. I know I need to get back into doing this (just like I need to get back into the gym – another thing I miss desperately). Life happens and sometimes you have to take a hard look at what truly makes your business tick and go from there.

 

As much as I love my blog and I appreciate each and every one of you that reads this, my blog does not make me money. My blog does not bring me business (that I know of). It’s my work product, work ethic, and word-of-mouth referrals that does. So when push came to shove and I had to make a choice, my beloved blog got pushed to the “when I get to it” list. Thank the good Lord I have my blessed assistant Jenn Hanford who contributes otherwise there wouldn’t be anything new sometimes!

 

Despite everything that has happened this year, we still had more pageviews this year than last and I have you to thank for that! I cannot thank you enough for supporting me and my business and this blog. Every Twitter share, Facebook like, Instagram like…I see them all and I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart.

 

That being said, let’s take a look at the 10 top posts published in 2016…

The Case for Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses

case for smm

This article came as a result of a statistic I had read that stated that the majority of small businesses base their social media success on the number of views a post gets. Intrigued, I went down the rabbit hole to find the source and this post was the result.

The 5 Best Resources for an Entrepreneur

The 5 Best Resources for a New Entrepreneur

This post, written by Jenn Hanford, gives any new or newish, entrepreneur five great resources to use when starting their own business.

Quit Being Desperate for Facebook Likes

Quit Being Desperate for Facebook Likes

This was a fun rant to write. It was inspired by a client email I had received where they were frustrated that a competitor was using some not-so-ethical means to gain Facebook likes.

Quality over Quantity a Trend for 2016? Are You Kidding Me?

Quality over Quantity a Trend for 2016- Are you kidding me-

Another rant post. I had read an article that stated a trend for 2016 was “quality over quantity.” Since this is something I have been preaching since day 1 of my business, I took a little offense.

3+ Easy Ways to Create Brand Awareness

3+ Easy Ways to Create Brand Awareness

In another popular post written by Jenn Hanford, she shares with us some easy ways new business owners can create brand awareness. And the best thing is that they’re free!

Social Media Tips from 3 Wise Southern Women Entrepreneurs

Social Media Tips from 3 Wise Southern women Entrepreneurs

One thing I have loved over the past couple years is being involved in The Southern C – a community of Southern women entrepreneurs. The community and camaraderie of these women is something I value and I have made many friendships through this group. We’ve all learned from each other and love watching each other grow. In this post, I interviewed three of these fabulous ladies.

A {Short} Beginners Guide to Instagram Strategy

A {Short} Beginner's Guide to Instagram Strategy

I love Instagram. In this post, I took the time to put together a short primer for those who want the Cliff Notes version.

21 Social Media Facts You Should Know Right Now

21 Social Media Facts You Should Know Right Now

I am a statistic nut. If you follow my business social accounts, you know barring the rare occasion I share one every Friday. In this post, I shared 21 social facts that I thought my fans and followers should know.

Digital Marketing Strategy 101 for Boring Brands

Digital Marketing Strategy

Jenn Hanford wrote this great piece that got a lot of traction in just two months because there are a lot of businesses who think themselves ‘boring’ – financial institutions, insurance, law firms, etc. In her post she gives us some fantastic ideas on how to lighten up your tone online so you can truly be effective.

… and #1

10 Marketing Facts You Need to Know Going into 2016

10 Marketing Facts for Your Business Going Into 2016

Another stat post and this one tops the list for the year. I started off 2016 with this post, sharing marketing facts that we could all use to start off our marketing plans on the right foot.

 

In 2017, I hope to get back to more consistent blogging, bringing valuable content to your inboxes each week. What was your favorite post on the ME Marketing blog this year? Share with us below! We’d love to know!

 

How to Start an Ecommerce Business: 6 Easy Tips

For most of my life, I have dreamed of being a business owner. I grew up in a small town where the single location, “mom and pop” stores were the norm.

As a young girl, I went back and forth between wanting to run my own clothing store versus my own book store. Although my town had a few of these niche-type shops and a couple of department stores already, I still held onto my dream for many years.

But then I graduated from high school, went off to college, and have lived in larger towns ever since.

However, even in my small hometown, the entire concept of shopping has changed dramatically over the past two decades. The town I grew up in now boasts a “super” Walmart and a Kohl’s store, for example. I’m glad that some of the original independent stores continue thriving though.

In today’s hustle and bustle world of franchises and mega-stores, the small, family-owned businesses seem to have become more of an exception than not.

There is also the ever-growing popularity of online shopping, which is yet another form of competition that many small business owners find they must now contend with. People no longer have to leave their homes at all to buy almost anything they want or need. And online shopping continuously becomes more sophisticated and convenient in order to keep up with consumer demand.

How about you – are you a startup or small business owner with products and/or solutions to sell?

If so, there has never been a better time to consider starting your own ecommerce business, especially if you want to reach consumers who are outside your local bubble.

Here are a few things to consider when starting an ecommerce business

In a recent article for Entrepreneur, The Top 5 Reasons You Should Start an Ecommerce Business, Thomas Smale explains why now is the “right” time:

  1. Worldwide, ecommerce is expected to grow by as much as 13 to 25 percent (forecasting $1.6 trillion in profits for online merchants this year, and $2.5 trillion in profits by 2018).
  2. The ability to earn as you sleep (Time zones are no longer a factor – your shop is open 24/7/365).
  3. It’s easy to get up and running (I talk about this more below).
  4. Eighty percent of the web population has made a purchase online.
  5. You can sell more to customers down the line.

If you’re new to the concept of ecommerce, you may feel initially overwhelmed by all the options out there.

However, once you choose an ecommerce platform, you’ll find that most online storefront builders provide all the resources and tools you need. Most of them will walk you through, step-by-step. This helps you to set up your shop and start selling online quickly and easily.

From the giant ecommerce sites such as Amazon and eBay, to smaller, niche online storefront builder/platforms such as Spaces, there is a site for all types of budding ecommerce business.

How to start an ecommerce business: 6 easy tips to help you plan out the basics

I found a helpful post on the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) website about starting a successful ecommerce business.

The author of the post, Caron Beesley, obtained advice from real business owners who have hands-on experience and first-hand knowledge.

Here is a list of the easy tips and helpful hints they provide for starting your own ecommerce business:

  1. Decide what you want to do and define your niche

Knowing what you are going to sell, how, and to whom is a critical part of your business plan.

  1. Have a plan

Just like any other aspect of sales and marketing, you must start with a strong foundation – i.e., a plan – from the get-go.

A plan provides you with the goals and focus you need, as well as a budget to work with. As well, having a plan allows you to anticipate and be prepared for all situations – positive and negative – that may arise.

  1. Fund your business at a low cost

Fortunately, most ecommerce builders and platforms let you get started at a low cost. Some even let you start for free.

That way, if you decide that an ecommerce business is more complicated or time-consuming for you to maintain, you won’t lose much money.

  1. Build a website

Just like having an attractive and findable website is important for your other inbound marketing activities, it is essential that you have one for your ecommerce activities as well.

Your website is where your potential customers can learn more about you and your products as they begin researching and making their purchasing decisions.

  1. Drive traffic to your site

Having a great website is not enough these days, especially when you’re building an ecommerce business. In order for people to find you online, you must also implement SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques such as regular blogging and making good keyword choices for your evergreen content.

Being active and engaged on social media is also essential. Social media platforms allow you to have online conversations and develop relationships with current and potential consumers.

When your ecommerce business is more established, social media can provide great opportunities for you to reward loyal customers (with coupons or special sale notifications), as well as provide customer service. These help with customer retention and a good reputation for your ecommerce business.

  1. Don’t forget to follow the “rules of the road”

In other words, make sure you read and fully understand all of the terms and conditions for the ecommerce platform you choose to go with. And, just like starting a brick and mortar business, you will also want to follow all the legal steps involved in starting an ecommerce business.

The SBA provides information for starting a business here.

They also provide a thorough guide and checklist for entrepreneurs who are specifically interested in starting an ecommerce business here.

 

Are you in the process of starting your own ecommerce business or have you considered it? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

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