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  • Larry Alton 2:37 am on October 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    How to Manage the Unpredictable: 4 Tips for Social Media Professionals 

    Maintaining social media accounts has become an essential part of running a company. No matter how many tweets you schedule in advance or how smartly you plan your Facebook calendar, though, using social media means giving up some control over the public face of your business.

    Think of it this way. Managing your social media sites is like going on a whale-watching expedition: You can pick the time and place, rent a boat, and plan a route, but you can’t guarantee the whales will show up.

    Issues with customers on social media can be similar. Clients will comment — in positive and negative ways — at any time; and once they do, it’s up to your team to determine the best way to respond.

    The best way to handle unpredictable situations on social media is to expect the unexpected and create a crisis management protocol. Below are four strategies you should cover to keep your public face looking its best.

    1. Respond with Speed

    One of the strongest predictors of whether a firm can bounce back is the speed with which it responds when damaging comments hit the web. Even if it means posting a brief comment from your smartphone while you get back to your office, it’s vital to address the issue promptly.

    Don’t try to hide from a problem. It will only get bigger if you try.

    1. Study Potential Threats

    Social media empowers you to connect with clients in different ways, but it can also breed new kinds of problems. That makes it necessary to assess potential risks and take preventive measures.

    These might include requiring employees sign a non-disclosure agreement, directing them not to discuss where they work on social media, or offering IT training to instruct staff about potential social media risks.

    1. Craft Creative Messages

    What you say to your clients after a security breach or negative media storm is as important as how you say it. Since visual media is becoming more popular than traditional text and email, you might consider crafting a multimedia response to a given crisis, such as a video message to clients.

    This can provide the personal touch that will reassure anxious clients while feeding into the preferred media format at the same time. A strong video response also has the potential to go viral – something that is less likely with a text-based response.

    1. Maintain an Emergency Budget

    In order to respond adequately to negative social media traffic, you need to have money set aside for a solid push. For small issues, you may only need to boost your Facebook posts enough to overwhelm a harsh critique, but larger issues can demand weeks of increased expenditures to overcome.

    You want to be certain that having to respond to this type of unexpected exposure won’t smash your budget for the rest of the quarter.

    Handled correctly, your social media accounts have the potential to yield great benefits. But in order to get those, you also have to open your brand to the risk of very public and potentially negative feedback … and be prepared for that, because you are more than likely to encounter some during your professional career.

    If you stick to the high road and lean on the strengths of your business, however, you should come out unscathed.

  • Larry Alton 6:46 pm on October 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    Social Media Strategy: 3 Ways To Boost Quality Content 

    As anyone who has ever managed a professional social media account knows, producing quality content, especially on a short timeline, is a challenge. Some days, there just isn’t much news, and trying to regularly engage on your accounts becomes a stretch.

    Of course, the opposite side of this is the occasional appearance of high-quality content – maybe your company was featured in a major news article or profiled on an industry blog. When you have such great material on your hands, it can be hard to just post it and let it slip by. But is it permissible to share such content more than once?

    Under the right circumstances, and with a little bit of added strategy, it’s absolutely acceptable to repost top quality content. Here’s what you should know before you hit post a second time.

    Focus on the Best

    If you’re going to repost content on your professional social media accounts, make sure you’re focused on top performing material – sometimes that means giving up on a post that you thought would break through, but just didn’t make it. Instead, push already popular material to the fore.

    What does this look like? In late August, for example, Entrepreneur profiled consultant Sam Ovens’ for their site. Ovens posted the article to Twitter and then when it continued to trend on Entrepreneur for several days, he posted again about its success. This is an example of smart content recycling.

    Check the Clock

    Social media management is a 24/7 endeavor in today’s global marketplace, which is another good reason to repost site content. If you’re posting from Eastern Standard Time but have clients on the West Coast or even overseas, they may not see that post you made this morning, unless it gets caught in the new Twitter algorithm or another site’s popular post strategy. When you repost content, then, try to schedule it to go live at a time that those in other parts of the world are more likely to see.

    Dig into the Archives

    Sometimes when reposting social media content, you aren’t just boosting one of your most recent posts. Rather, it could be that you stumbled on a great article in your Facebook memories or think that a blog post you wrote months ago is relevant again. In this case, post away! You might also consider adding a comment about why you’re bringing back this item, to make it clear that you aren’t recycling posts by mistake.

    Reposting old articles in this way is a great way to boost site traffic without a lot of added effort. For those experimenting with this strategy, it’s worth knowing that the number of shares associated with a repost is generally proportional to the number generated by the initial post. This just goes to show that quality content holds up to past performances.

    Reposting content is well within the rules of social media management, but don’t overdo it. You want your followers to feel they’re getting consistent quality content. There’s room for repeats, but within the greater cultivation of your brand.

  • Larry Alton 11:01 am on October 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    The 4 Types of Content Leading Brands Share on Social Media 

    One key aspect of being successful on social media is keeping your followers engaged. Obviously, you can and should be doing this by sharing relevant content that resonates with them. But how do you know if you’re sharing the right content?

    Try Sharing These 4 Types of Content

    You can’t just share whatever content you please and expect to see consistently positive results. Sure, you may have success every now and then, but the goal is to generate sustained enthusiasm for your brand – not short bursts of excitement. By sharing the following types of content, you can enjoy better results.

    1. How-To Posts

    According to a study conducted by The New York Times Customer Insight Group, there are five key reasons behind why people share content: to bring valuable and entertaining ideas to others, to define ourselves to others, to grow and nourish our relationships, and to get the word out about causes or brands.

    The first reason – to bring valuable and entertaining ideas to others – is why how-to posts are so high returning. When you share a how-to post, you’re giving your followers tangible information that can be used to overcome a pain point or solve a problem.

    How-to posts should be simple, yet full of valuable information. The easiest way to present a how-to post is to use numbers and bullet points. Here’s a great example from HubSpot.

    1. Local Content

    The internet can feel really big at times, but you’ll find that social media has a way of making everything feel smaller. People come together due to interests, hobbies, and geographical locations. This latter grouping is what makes local content so valuable.

    Local content is centered on a specific location – usually a neighborhood, city, or state – and targets the people within these areas. Because people feel such a connection to the places in which they live, local content tends to get shared more frequently than similar content without homegrown ties. Here’s a good example from The Grooves, a local wedding band in Austin, Texas.

    1. Funny and Clever Content

    Sharing content doesn’t always have to be a serious business. Keep your followers engaged by delivering some lightheaded content that’s funny and/or clever. Taco Bell’s Twitter account is the perfect example of what this looks like in action. While they’ll occasionally share serious content, the majority of their attention goes to keeping things light and breezy. For certain brands, this can be a good thing.

    1. Listicles

    Who doesn’t love a good listicle? If you were to scroll through your Facebook feed right now, you’d probably see a handful of them in a matter of seconds – that’s how popular they are.

    But why do listicles work? According to research published in the Journal of Consumer Research, humans have an affinity for organizing information. In terms of listicles, this phenomenon is called the “top-ten effect.”

    “The top-ten effect that we demonstrate in these studies is based on the mental tendencies to use categories and to exaggerate the differences between them,” the study reads. “These tendencies are part of the natural human readiness to perceive the world in terms of discrete things.”

    Want to tap into these natural human tendencies? It’s as simple as creating some relevant listicles and pushing them out via your social channels. What are you waiting for?

    Diversify Your Content Strategy

    How diverse is your content strategy? If you aren’t consistently sharing at least three or four of these content formats on a regular basis, then it’s not diverse enough. Make it a point to try new things. Your social media presence will grow in a positive direction as a result of your commitment.

  • Larry Alton 11:06 am on September 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    5 Ways Social Media Can Be Used for Valuable Market Research 

    Social media obviously has immense value as a marketing tool. And while it’s very interesting to explore the different ways in which social media marketing can be leveraged for small businesses, it’s equally as fascinating to look at the role social media plays in market research. It’s arguably the most underrated and cost-effective research tool businesses currently have available to them. Are you taking advantage of this opportunity?

    Five Ways to Use Social Media for Research

    The reason most businesses don’t use social media for market research is that they simply don’t know how. Well, today’s your lucky day. Here are five specific ways you can begin using social media to propel your research efforts starting today.

    1. Reader Persona Development

    When starting a blog, social media can and should be used to help you develop reader personas. You can use any social network, but Twitter is arguably one of the best platforms for this. Using the Advanced Search feature, you can type in a set of keywords or phrases and find people who are talking about these topics.

    Once you find people who are posting about your topic, click on their profiles and start studying them. This means looking at their pictures, bios, and other posts. You’ll be surprised by how much you can find out about these people. After reviewing a few different profiles, you should have a pretty good idea of who your target readers are. This information can then be used to develop robust personas that guide your content.

    1. Popular Trends

    Every social media platform has a way for you to search for popular trends and topics. Once again, Twitter makes this easy. They list trending topics – based on hashtags – and will actually tell you what’s popular at any given moment.

    As a marketer, you should frequently mine trending topics to gain some insights into what your customers are talking about and what’s important to them.

    1. Audience Insights

    Much in the same way that social media can be used to develop reader personas when first launching a blog or business, it can also be continuously used to understand who your audience is.

    Facebook has an audience insights tool that’s extremely helpful. You can create different audiences based on what you know and then discover other details that you maybe didn’t know. These include everything from basic demographic information to location, activity, interests, and even purchase behaviors.

    1. Brand Reputation

    Do you know what others are saying about your brand when you aren’t around? Well, thanks to social media, you can. “Whether you want to observe quietly, learn about your customers and what they’re looking for, respond to critics or simply engage in conversation, you need to know what people are saying,” marketer Tamar Weinberg says.

    Using any number of social media listening tools, you can automate this process and receive updates and notifications whenever someone mentions your brand. This keeps you informed and ensures you don’t lose touch with reality.

    1. Surveys and Direct Feedback

    Finally, social media can be used for surveys and direct feedback. This comes in handy when you’re not sure if you’re doing something right or wrong – or if you need to know something before launching a new product or marketing campaign.

    You can try posting direct questions to see if your customers will respond. Otherwise, using a feature like Twitter Polls is your best bet.

    Maximize the Total Value of Social Media

    Don’t get the wrong idea – social media is an incredibly valuable marketing tool that all businesses should be leveraging – but if you aren’t using it for research, you aren’t maximizing its value. Thankfully, you can change this by making a few important decisions. Will you?

  • Larry Alton 5:48 pm on September 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    8 Types of Social Media Contests That Can Boost Your Strategy 

    Social media marketing is appealing for a number of reasons. It’s relatively approachable, it’s cost-efficient, and it has the potential to attract thousands of new followers to your brand. But earning a large following and getting actual value from your customers isn’t a cakewalk. You have to give people a reason to follow you, and one of the best ways to do that is by using a contest to attract attention.

    The Advantages of Contests

    Executing a social media contest has a number of potential advantages for your brand’s reputation and following:

    • Cost-efficiency. Many contests will cost you something upfront, such as the cost of a giveaway item. However, when compared to the costs of traditional advertising, it’s a highly affordable marketing strategy.
    • Self-perpetuation. One of the most rewarding events in social media marketing is getting one of your posts to circulate virally, but it’s not easy to achieve. Because contests give people feelings of excitement, they’re likely to share that material, leading to increased attention and a greater likelihood that the contest will “go viral.”
    • User participation. Most contests require that users participate in some way—whether that’s by clicking “like” or submitting a photo. Participation increases visibility and loyalty for the participant.
    • Standout nature. Because of their attractive, colorful nature, contests tend to stand out in user’s newsfeeds, making them more visible and shareable.

    Types of Contests to Leverage

    There are a few main goals you could pursue with a contest:

    • Earning more followers. These contests revolve around getting more people to follow your brand.
    • Cultivating more content. These types encourage more user submission of content for added visibility and engagement.
    • Getting more people to your site. You could also use contests to attract traffic to your site.

    There are no right or wrong answers here, but you’ll need to figure out what your priorities are before you get started. From there, you can choose among a number of different contest types:

    1. Referral-based promotions. In this straightforward model, you could offer users a reward for referring other users to the brand. Typically used as a way to generate site traffic and brand engagement, you could reward referrals with a discount, a free gift, or some other benefit. For example, Jay Suites recently offered up an iPad Mini to successful referrers.
    2. Giveaways. Giveaways aren’t really contests because they don’t demand any competition. However, they offer the same advantages as contests, so they’re worth mentioning here. The idea is to give away a product or series of products to a select group of followers. This is especially effective if you’re promoting a prototype of a new product or a new line of items from your brand.
    3. Sweepstakes. Sweepstakes are like giveaways, but with a caveat. To participate, users must take some action; users who take the action are pooled together, and from them are randomly selected a number to win the prize. For example, shirt company Qwertee recently ran a sweepstakes contest encouraging users to “like” the brand in exchange for a chance to win a shirt.
    4. Photo contests. Photo contests encourage users to take certain types of photos—perhaps of a given subject or a given location. Usually, a brand declares a hashtag to be used for this purpose. Then, the “best” photo (or randomly selected participants) are chosen to win the prize. Get creative here! For example, Om Nom Nom Cookies encouraged users to take selfies of themselves eating the product.
    5. Caption contests. Caption contests take a piece of content that already exists—usually a photo—and encourages users to come up with clever or humorous captions to accompany that image. You can choose the winner yourself or ask your users to vote among themselves.
    6. Essay contests. Essay contests are more intensive, and are generally more serious in nature. If you sponsor an essay contest, know this will require significant effort from your users and offer a prize that rewards that effort. Have your users submit a written essay on the subject of your choice.
    7. Video contests. Video contests work much in the same way as photo contests. You’ll encourage users to submit a certain type of video—from a review of your products to a monologue on why they deserve to win—and select a winner from there.
    8. Discount and small-reward contests for participation. You could also shrink the scale of your efforts by offering smaller rewards for smaller levels of participation. For example, you could give a 10 percent discount to anyone who “likes” your brand within a certain period.

    Over the course of your social media strategy, we highly encourage you to try out multiple types of contests—especially if you don’t know your social media audience that well. Each of these possible contests has advantages and disadvantages, so you’ll need to experiment to see which one works best for your brand. From there, you can tinker with the specifics until you have a fully optimized contest to draw power from.

  • Larry Alton 7:27 pm on September 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    10 Health Tips for the Busy Entrepreneur 

    Though most of your focus has been on business-related topics like online marketing and making great first impressions on clients, busy entrepreneurs also need to focus on their health and wellness. According to research, the American population is slowly working itself to death.

    Because of issues such as eye strain, back and neck problems, and emotional health issues, the general health and wellness of the workplace is decreasing. As a result, one million U.S. employees take a day off work each day due to workplace stress, and productivity losses are costing businesses $225.8 billion every year. This is one problem that needs to be fixed, and quickly.

    Obviously, you’re busy taking care of work and trying to balance your home life, but it’s essential to consider your own personal health. Here are some suggestions for squeezing that into your busy schedule.

    1. Get an Online Checkup

    Virtual hospitals are growing in popularity, and it’s easy to ask questions and get a quick checkup without leaving your desk. Most doctors recommend getting a full physical at least once every year, and visiting an online virtual hospital will save you a lot of time.

    1. Set Attainable Health Goals

    It’s much easier to keep up with diet and exercise when you make a goal. For example, hitting the gym every day becomes simpler if you sign up for a 5k race six weeks in advance. You have something to look forward to, and if you’re a successful entrepreneur, being goal driven is in your DNA.

    1. Pack Healthy Snacks

    Forget junk food and the routine vending machine binge. Pack healthy snacks like carrot sticks and hummus, fruit, whole wheat crackers, homemade trail mix, and other snacks that are low in calories and fat.

    1. Fix Your Sleep Routine

    If you’re staying up late and getting up early, it’s time to make a change. You need to hit REM in order to get a solid night’s sleep, and if you’re working (or playing) late and need to get up early, your entire health will suffer.

    1. Eat Breakfast

    A lot of busy people skip breakfast because they’re in a rush, but this habit has been linked with problems like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes risks. You can avoid these serious health issues and lack of productivity by eating a quick, healthy breakfast every morning.

    1. Make Working Out Convenient

    You’ll never hit the gym if it seems too complicated. Make it easy by stopping by on the way home, running on the treadmill while you watch the news, or throwing in mini exercises on your breaks at work.

    1. Drink More Water

    Staying hydrated not only boosts your metabolic function, but it also helps you feel full. When you drink more water, you have fewer cravings and resist the need to overeat during meals.

    1. Try a Healthy Meal Delivery Program

    If you have the means, a healthy meal delivery program is perfect for helping you stay on track for weight loss and heart-healthy diets. These meal delivery programs bring healthy, calorie-controlled food to your door. If you find a good program, the food can taste better than a restaurant without the negative consequences of one.

    1. Choose Business Meals Carefully

    Try to control where and how much you eat for business lunches. It’s easy to convince yourself that binging on unhealthy foods is worth it for the sake of a good deal, but it’s better to choose a place with more low-calorie options. You’ll make a better impression on your clients if you eat less as well.

    1. Bribe Yourself

    Sometimes all you need to be a little healthier is the right motivation. Bribe yourself with things you love if you complete a workout routine or maintain your calorie goals. Instead of motivating with food, try to motivate with things like a vacation or a night out with friends.

  • Larry Alton 6:18 pm on July 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    10 Work-from-Home Jobs Almost Anyone Can Do 

    Need something to keep you busy and bring in money? It might be time to consider some work from home jobs that pay a decent amount. Whether you’re looking for a full-time gig or something to supplement your current income, here are some of the best work-from-home jobs currently out there: (More …)

  • Larry Alton 8:04 pm on July 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    Under A Spell: Using Romance In Your Social Media Strategy 

    When it comes to social media marketing, there are dozens of different strategies, but one that may be overlooked too often is the romantic angle. While as a business, you may not think that digital wining and dining is a good approach, you might be surprised what warming up relations can do for your company.

    Not sure how to proceed with the romantic angle? Here are a few ideas to add a little love to your social media presence. (More …)

  • Larry Alton 4:23 pm on July 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Blog Content 

    Blogging is one of the best ways to establish brand expertise, while also increasing traffic from other areas of the web. But if you’re relying solely on search engines to direct users to your blog, then you’re missing out. Social media is an excellent platform for sharing the content you’ve made for your website.

    Let’s talk about how to integrate your blog content into social media. (More …)

  • Larry Alton 1:55 pm on July 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    7 Key Performance Indicators You Should Measure on Social Media 

    Key performance indicators — or KPIs, as the industry refers to them — are extremely useful for measuring the performance and progress of your business, whatever it is. Every department can benefit from monitoring and recording the success of your marketing efforts, and this can lead to increased followers and engagement in every facet of your operation.

    Social media is a great place to gauge progress because it’s an excellent indicator of brand awareness and customer engagement. You can also tell a lot about your business by the way social followers interact with it online.

    (More …)

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