Five Ways to Shift Your Social Media Marketing Up One Gear

Five Social Media Marketing Tips that Will Shift Your Social Media Marketing Up One Gear

Social media is a great place to market your business, especially if you’re a small business. It doesn’t limit your traffic or reach, and allows you to connect directly with buyers without having to invest large amounts of money. By optimizing your approach to social media marketing, you can indefinitely increase everything from brand recall to lead generation, and actual sales and revenue.

If you’re unable to scale your current efforts at social media marketing, this write-up will tell you exactly how you can do it to achieve your desired results.

Social Media Marketing Tips

1. More Frequent and Intentional Posting

Be it over the internet or on social media platforms, your activity is your pulse. Unless you’re consistently active, you’re as good as dead on social media. After all, nobody hangs out on your social page. They have to be seduced to take a look and the only arms that you can extend are your pieces of content.

Conduct this experiment. Increase your social media activity and you’ll see your followers grow. Decide on a schedule. For instance, three times a day on Twitter, two on Facebook and only once on LinkedIn. UseGoogle’s keyword planner to see what your audience is looking for and source that content using a news aggregator like FlipBoard, a content curation app like DrumUp or a recommendation app like Pocket  (set-up keywords).

Relevant shares are more likely to get engagement from exclusively your target audience. Edit your descriptions to something extra-specific so you attract the right audience.

Social Media Marketing Tips - More Frequent and Intentional Posting

From your content recommendations, schedule the decided amount of content every day or a week in advance. You could even store content on a content library in a content curation app to make scheduling everyday easier.

2. Creating Content Based on Predicted Performance

It takes hours to create high-quality content, as you may well know, and that effort is best applied to content that you know will get shares, increase you reach and make an impact. How do you know?

Google trends, audience interests/insights available on social media platforms and engagement stats pulled by social media analytics tools.

Social Media Marketing Tips - Creating Content Based on Predicted Performance

You don’t have to monitor these platforms on a daily basis. Once a week would do. Simply observe which of your blog posts got the most shares on social media (SumoMe has a free count plug-in that integrates with your blog). Study Google Analytics to see which blog landing pages are driving traffic to your website. Keep a tab of topics trending in search. Decide on your topic title based on these indicators and share your posts on social media.

3. Interacting with Social Users on Communities

Communities are where the most valuable conversations happen on social media (from the perspective of businesses). Social communities are created for people with similar interests to meet and discuss the latest happenings, issues and ideas on how to solve them. You may not recognize them as such, but it is easy to recognize those opportunities once you’re a part of the right communities.

On each social media platform that you’re on, join groups that discuss your niche. The idea is to become a part of that community. Do not promote your product as soon as you join the community. You’ll lose your credibility and any opportunity that you might have in the future. Spend five minutes a day participating and introduce your product only when it answers someone’s question.

There are two straight-out benefits of participating in communities: the relationships you build with your high-target audience and constantly being at the top of their minds. (They’ll think of you when they want to buy. Some great communities to be a part of are sub-reddits discussing your industry, Quora and communities on Google Plus.

4. Including Compelling Visuals on Every Post

Everyone’s aware of how visuals add value to written content. But what value do your visuals actually add? The same rule that applies to written content applies to other forms of content. What point is your visual making on the post?

Begin by conceptualizing your visual. What do you want it to convey? Think emotion, process or summary describing the title of your post. Once you’ve decided on the concept, browse for options. There are severalfree visual resources that stock wide ranges of photographs that you’ll be surprised to see fit your posts.

Social Media Marketing Tips - Including Compelling Visuals on Every Post

If you intend to create your visual, that isn’t very hard either. Google for inspiration, source your background from an image resource and use an image editor like PicMonkey to put together your visual. To create an infographic, you could use Piktochart.

5. Encouraging Employees, Partners and Friends to Share Content

There’s no better way to cut through the noise on social media than making advocates of your personal and professional network. You could use this employee advocacy guide to understand how such a program is developed and managed. Studies have shown that advocacy on social media increases the credibility of the message broadcast. Another obvious advantage is the instant, increased reach.

You simply begin by explaining why you need your advocate’s help. Show them exactly how they’ll impact your business and show your appreciation towards their efforts by rewarding them. Spend extra time devising the messages you intend to circulate via your network of advocates because it has potential to go viral. Other studies show that messages shared via advocates are shared many times as compared to those shared via company pages on social media.

To be assured of success on social media, you have to survey the latest studies and case studies and learn what works to apply the insights to your business. This write-up is insights derived from experience and brands that have succeeded on social media. All that’s left to see is how you apply it to your business.

Shift Photo via Shutterstock

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7 Ways Perfection is Killing Your Business – or Is It 6?

Problems with Perfection: 7 Ways Perfection is Killing Your Business

Can we ever truly be perfect, in anything?  Possibly, but that perfection is often short-lived.  As a society, we are always seeking ‘perfection’, and as such, we are often quick to label something as perfect, even when it is not.  A perfect stranger, a perfect storm, a perfect match or a perfect crime perhaps.

But if striving for perfection is part of your business personality, it could be damaging your ability to reach the point of product or solution launch; therefore your problems with perfection could be harming your ability to innovate.

Heck, when I launched most of my blogs or businesses, they were a mess, but they got out there and generated the buzz and citations needed to succeed. SEJ, which after three years became a six figure blog, had a disastrous template design upon launch, but I needed to get it out there at the right time, and then be flexible and nimble enough to make changes. Now, it’s a leading influencer in the world of digital marketing.

If you are running your business trying to adhere to this impossible standard, then you may be in trouble.

Here are seven problems with perfection that are killing your business.

Beware these Problems with Perfection

Makes You Slow to Market

In marketing strategy, there is an advantage known as FMA or first-mover advantage, where the first to market often gains a great initial advantage over competitors. Recent literature has suggested that that first-movers may be at a disadvantage, failing around 47 percent of the time, with ‘fast-followers’ (8 percent failure rate) being the real market winners because they can improve on newly launched products or services and reduce cost and inefficiencies.

No matter if you are first to market, or join slightly after, being one of the first is crucial to business success.  Unless you do something significantly different than any major competitor, and these are few and far between, then you must launch products or services effectively and efficiently.

Perfectionists often obsess over every minute detail, often delaying products and/or launches, which ultimately cause decreases in success metrics.

Founder of Linkedin, Reid Hoffman, said “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

Obviously, your products and strategies should be well vetted and tested, but lack of speed kills.  Accept that perfection is unobtainable and set realistic launch goals.  Pick a small group of trusted associates or customers to test new products, and provide feedback.  You can always make adjustments and improvements along the way.  Remember the first cars weren’t even sold with windshield wipers because no one ever thought people would take them out in the rain.  As your customers inform you what changes or improvements need to be made, you can address them. Proving your use and delivering on your promises are more important to customers than perfection.

Robs Your Project of its Dynamism

Sometimes, trying to make something perfect can remove the energy and desire.  Think about the best presentation you have ever seen, or maybe just one with 28 million views.

You can practice a presentation 100 times, and still not be prepared for a question, or something that happens in that room, up at that table or podium.  So why stress over it?  Giving a presentation is as much about presenting yourself as it is content or facts.

People want to see someone they can relate to, and as it is often said, no one is perfect.  You should always properly prepare for a presentation, but don’t sit in the back of the room tinkering for perfection, walk around and introduce yourself.  Start a few conversations to see if you can find some interesting details to include in your presentation.

Show your audience that you are aware of them, that you can relate to them, and that you are just like them, a normal non-perfect individual that has something extremely important to convey to them.  That will go much further than an extra bullet point on a screen full of text that no one will read.

Keeps You Waiting for that Perfect Opportunity

Are you the kind of person that is always looking for the perfect opportunity?  You’ve probably noticed a running theme by now, but no opportunity is perfect.  It is generally more a matter of pros and cons.  If you gain more pros by engaging in a new opportunity, you should generally go for it.  Always be on the lookout for new opportunities for your business.  Come up with a uniform system of evaluating each one.

Select the ones that make the most sense, and tackle any hurdles as they come along.  Not every opportunity is going to work out, but some of them will, and when you look back you’ll see how imperfect the situation was at the beginning and the steps you took to improve it.

This strategy will also help you evolve as a business person as you learn what works and what doesn’t.  As Wayne Gretzky said, “you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

Sabotages Confidence and Self-Belief

One of the most encompassing deficiencies of perfection is that it can sabotage confidence and self-belief.  If you are afraid to launch a product or service, or pitch a new strategy until you think it is perfect, and then when you do, it is criticized, it can be crushing.  I’m sure you’ve probably been on social media lately, and if so, you know that someone has a comment for everything.  If you own or run a business, commenting is what you hire people to do, and if you are an employee, it is what you get paid for.  However, if you think something is perfect, and are told it is not, it can ruin your confidence, and this can stifle productivity.

Remember, innovations are built by teams, and no success has been free from criticism.  Use it to constantly improve.  Perfection can be something that is striven for, but rarely obtained.  Don’t dwell on criticism, use it to refine and enhance.

Prevets Your Getting From Start to Finish

In many phases of business, things are constantly evolving and never actually finished.  Think about a business plan, or target customers.  You should always be updating plans and trying to obtain new customers, but it is important to set milestones and plans that can actually be finished.  It will give you a sense of accomplishment and vigor and inspire your next cycle of innovation.

Perfectionists are often cited as not being able to finish anything because there is always something that can be changed to try and reach that unobtainable level of perfection.  Think about how this article started. Speed is an asset that perfection doesn’t allow.

Your milestones should be realistic times or events that allow you to move to the next step.  Be sure to evaluate and address areas for improvement in each subsequent step, as you try to achieve a more perfect outcome.

Destroys Vital Conditions for Creativity

Creativity and curiosity are born from chaos.  Always trying to be perfect eliminates your inclination to take risks and innovate.  You need to be creative to thrive in business.  There was a time when people said selling books online was crazy because users were scared to use credit cards on the web, the shipping costs would eat up any money that was saved and people would have to wait a week for a book that they could have today at any store or public library.

You probably already know where this is going, but today Amazon is rated as the tenth most profitable brand in the world.  They certainly had their growing pains, but used feedback from mistakes to grow into the behemoth they are today.

Don’t be afraid to embrace chaos.  Again, striving for perfection can certainly be a goal, but it is often created from bedlam.  Make sure you get uncomfortable from time to time; it can help you create something you can’t yet fathom, but could fundamentally improve your business.

Nothing’s Perfect

Especially this posting.  The title stated you were going to get 7 ways perfection is killing your business, but there were only 6.  I just wanted to leave some room for improvement, as you should too, because nothing is perfect, or more perfect.

Strive for consistency, not perfection and your business will thrive no matter the environment, product or competitor.

Have some more ways that perfection could be killing your business? Please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

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10 Small But Essential Ways to Boost Your Business

boost

Giving your business a boost doesn’t have to be difficult or incredibly time consuming. In fact, there are some essential elements of building successful businesses that can sometimes get overlooked. These suggestions from members of our small business community include some small but important things you can do to boost your business right away.

Include These Essential Features of a Small Business Website

Your small business website serves as the online face of your business. And it can also provide any number of important functions. While each small business website should be different, there are some essential elements that can make them great, like the ones outlined in this post on Techlofy by Prince Kumar.

Entice Customers to Binge Watch Your Product Videos

Videos can really enhance your product pages with additional information, views and storytelling elements. But for them to really work, you need to get customers to actually watch them. This post on the Kissmetrics blog by Shayla Price includes some tips for getting people to binge watch your product videos.

Find a Fundable Startup Market Opportunity

There’s a lot that goes into finding a great startup opportunity. But one of the essential elements of any idea is its ability to get funded. Martin Zwilling of Startup Professionals Musings explains more in this post about finding fundable startup opportunities. And BizSugar members discuss the post further here.

Use a Digital Marketing Strategy to Increase Marketing Impact

A digital marketing strategy can help you keep all of your online and mobile marketing goals organized so that you’ll be better equipped to actually reach them. For that reason, Erik Newton of the BrightEdge blogsuggests that using a digital marketing strategy can increase your marketing impact overall.

Achieve the Ideal State of Marketing

Marketing is an essential part of running any successful business. The actual activities that go into marketing can vary from business to business. But there are some elements you can include to find the ideal state of marketing for your business. Scott Rayden discusses the idea in this Marketing Land post.

Get Mind-Blowing Traffic From Pinterest

Pinterest has been steadily gaining popularity among consumers for a few years now. And that popularity means that it can be a great tool for businesses looking to attract online consumers. This Mostly Blogging post by Janice Wald includes some thoughts on the potential power of Pinterest. And the BizSugar community also weighs in here.

Learn How to Write Effective Web Content

Communicating with your customers online is becoming increasingly important. And content marketing can help you get those messages out effectively. But you need to understand how to write content that’s actually effective first. Jireh Gibson shares some tips in this Media Shower post.

Nurture Email Leads in Your Digital Marketing Funnel

Once you gather leads from your website or opt-in forms, you need to have a plan for actually converting those leads into customers. Nurturing leads is a huge part of that, as Mike Gingerich discusses in this post. He also offers tips for how to actually craft your emails.

Get Started With Facebook Instant Articles

Facebook has become such a huge part of how many businesses interact with their customers. So new or changing features like Facebook Instant Articles can have a big impact. In this post, Rebekah Radiceexplains Facebook Instant Articles and how they can help small businesses. You can also see discussionabout the post over on BizSugar.

Take a Weekend Business Break

Hard work is an essential ingredient for any small business. But working hard constantly without ever taking any breaks can be draining and ultimately hurt your business in the long run. In this CorpNet post, Nellie Akalp challenges entrepreneurs to take a break over the long weekend, and explains why that is important.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: [email protected]

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12 Ways B2B Companies Can Use Social Media to Their Advantage

thumbs up

Sites like Twitter and LinkedIn’s communication features aren’t only beneficial for small businesses with a specific client base. B2B companies can use them to their advantage as well. That’s why we asked 12 members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:

“What B2B social media tips can companies use to communicate with potential customers?”

Here are some YEC community members’ B2B social media tips:

1. Create Valuable Content

“Most social networks allow you to tag other accounts. Create content that is valuable to a prospect and tag them. This is a great way to show them that you exist. This technique is most effective if you can show off your company’s skills and what you can do for your prospect with the content you share.” ~ Andrew Namminga, Andesign

2. Provide Them With the Value They Need

“As a B2B, there are a variety of ways to communicate and appeal to current and potential customers. Unlike B2C, your social media may not be full of viral posts, but it is still important to “humanize your brand” and offer a personal, creative appeal. Create content such as e-books, videos and articles that are full of valuable information specific to the needs of your target audience.” ~ David Tomas, Cyberclick

3. Focus on Brand Identity

“It’s easy to see why humorous, inspirational or amazing content drives engagement. Social media at its best focuses on what we care about most deeply. This is true for B2B companies and each of us personally. This doesn’t limit a company from focusing on sales or conversion but provides a lens to present the content in a way that’s meaningful to customers and prospects.” ~ Curtis Thornhill, Apt Marketing Solutions

4. Show Expertise

“When potential customers are seeking a partner, they want an expert. And often, they look long before they decide to purchase. Creating consistent, relevant content that illustrates your expertise, approach, culture and core values will help keep you top of mind whenever potential customers are ready to make a decision. When they research options, they will find your company.” ~ Angela Harless, AcrobatAnt

5. Use Different Mediums

“Using social media, you can utilize great graphics/visualizations, videos, and blog posts to show your customer your platform (or solution). Share content on how your product can create value for them, solve a need, or save money, time or other resources. Keep a pipeline of interesting content and examples of your solutions for potential customers intrigued about your service.” ~ Nemoy Rau, US Biometrix

6. Network and Broadcast Company News

“Word of mouth can be a powerful tool. Social media can help you create a strong network of influencers and top organizations to position yourself as an expert and influencer in your industry. You can also broadcast exciting company news, participate in industry/charity events, and write articles or blog posts that provide potential customers insight into why they should want to work with your company.” ~ Andrew Kucheriavy, Intechnic

7. Listen Across Social Networks

“With the myriad of social monitoring tools available, B2B companies can listen and monitor to conversations online. Using tools such as Mention or Brandwatch, youcan find potential customers talking about your competitor or even asking questions about a particular problem that your product or service solves. You canengage them directly. They’ve already started the conversation.” ~Jon Tsourakis, Revital Agency, LLC

8. Humanize and Relate Breaking News to your Brand

B2B companies should create and share content that humanizes their brand onsocial media. It is most effective if the content tells a story that supports your brand and shares something about the company values/mission. Figure out a way to make breaking news relate to your brand and then create media that supports the message. The news grows quickly on social media and can spotlight your brand.” ~ Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

9. Identify What Connects You

“Skill set and reputation matter. But people do business with folks they like and with whom they have some shared interests. That said, identify your targets and find similarities. Do they share photos of team building? Chime in and share a few of yours. If you were networking in person, you’d look to identify what you have in common. Social media is no different.” ~ Megan Smith, Brownstone PR

10. Create Trust

“Ever research a restaurant or business’s Facebook page to see how active they are as a way to determine the quality of their product/service? This is a very common research step these days that many businesses fail to comprehend. Having socialmedia pages isn’t enough. They must be used as a platform for building trust and backing up your UVP — or the potential customer will move on.” ~ Wesley Mathews, High Level Marketing

11. Use Surveys to Reach Out

“Since social media is designed around sharing opinions. It’s a good idea to leverage this intent through the use of surveys to reach out and communicate with new customers. Not only do you get the benefit of collecting intelligence on what potential customers really want, but you also have a list of names and contact information to share evidence that you can fuflill their desires.” ~ Murray Newlands, Due.com

12. Have Real Conversations

“Too often, we forget that social media is, at it’s core, just another tool for conversation. Rather than spending all of your time “broadcasting” your thought leadership and ideas, invest in starting one-on-one conversations with people you want to get to know. Setting up private Twitter lists based on account names or keywords and then sending personal messages is a great place to start.” ~ Alyssa Conrardy, Prosper Strategies.

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

5 Ways to Lift Your Game in Accessible Design

Over the past couple of years, the term ‘inclusion’ has been spoken about through out the design industry. Whether it’s company culture, the media, neighborhoods and politics, we like to be able to see reflections of ourselves.

Boy on bed of nails - Austin KirkIf you’re anything like me, you don’t fit neatly into one or two categories on society’s check boxes of life. We all want to feel welcomed, have our voices heard and most importantly, have our differences acknowledged.

When it comes to products, it is no different. Design is in a constant state of change and constantly striving to meet the needs of everyone.

However, one of the aspects of product design that seems to go unnoticed is the need for more accessibility features for those that require them. More accessibility features leads to less isolation and ignoring a subset of users with disabilities. Inclusion not only creates a better society for us all but also encourages us to design products that are a reflection of us.

So, here are five ways to do a better job in Accessible Design.

1. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

(Or, how to ask the questions that you’re scared to ask.)

Photo: Austin Kirk

It can sometimes be uncomfortable to ask us (the disabled community, I happen to have erbs palsy, giving me limited use and motion of my right arm) about what happened to us, what our needs may be and how we navigate the world around us. Yet, in order to make sure products can give the best experiences to users that may not be fully able-body, we as designers have to be willing to go outside of our comfort zone and be prepared to hear answers that proved that our initial design ignored a community that should have been considered as users initially.

2. Practicing empathy goes beyond designing for yourself

Photo by Juliana Coutinho: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ngmmemuda/4928131604

Photo by Juliana Coutinho

It’s always easier to design for people that are like yourself. More often than not, products are initially created with users in mind that are similar to the company’s owner and team. During the early stages before they gain enough users, empathetic assumptions based on tried and true design practices are used and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The downside is that we can end up making products that mimic the ones already in the market. Once a product begins to gain more exposure, we have to start intentionally designing in a way that gives us a more diverse user base. If we don’t have a user base which supports it then we have to start advocating for it.

3. Forget what you think you know

While empathetic assumptions can help begin the accessible design process, they can miss the nuances that set users’ needs apart. Forget the narratives that you often see and hear before talking to your users. Each disability, physical and mental, have different needs and sometimes they can have needs that are intersectional.

For example, a user with nerve damage may have sensory issues and a lack of dexterity in their hand. Therefore, designing an experience and an UI option that takes that into consideration is important.

4. Think about ways to blend accessibility and modern design

This may seem like the hard part about accessible design but it doesn’t have to be. Start with the basics and use “clean” design. Keep it simple by making sure you cover your bases and think about visible and invisible disabilities such as lack of dexterity, autism, visual impairments, sensory sensitivity, developmental delay, hearing impairment, and speech impairment.

If you feel like you need to know more about those disabilities, disability.gov and CDC.gov are great resources.

Remember trends are great but they have to translate over well into the product for everyone. When designing for accessibility the goal is is to be inclusive and not to isolate. No one wants to be seen as a representation of your “disabled users”. They just want to be a part of your user group.

5. Practice team inclusion

Diverse teams: Sheep, bull, goat, rooster,& llama

One would think that this would be a given but it’s not seen often. Designers that have disabilities are out here. As much as we love designing for others, it would be nice to be able to design for people such as ourselves. While we are not the users, we do have some life experience that may be closely related to the users. We’ll be able to see some issues that may not be noticed and be able to communicate with the users in a way that will make them more comfortable and honest about their needs as well.

Accessible design is truly about going the extra mile with empathy and taking the steps to acknowledge the differences in people and the difficulties that come with it.

Become more aware and knowledgeable about the users that are often not taken into consideration and watch the way a product flourishes.

Tags: accessibility, inclusive design
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