The Dos & Don’ts of Social Media for Small Business

shutterstock_95135899_smYour company has finally blossomed into more than just a “good idea” in your head, and things are up and running. Maybe you’re still in your best friends’ garage, maybe you’ve got an office, maybe you’ve even got an entire office building. Doesn’t matter, because these days, your company’s appearance is all online.

Welcome to the world of social media, where everything is all about the presentation. While there are several resources around the web that describe the value of social networking for business, this overload of information can make it difficult to determine exactly what small businesses should and shouldn’t do when engaging in social media for their brand. Let’s take a look at some social media dos and don’ts for your small business: Continue reading

3 Big Mistakes To Avoid If You Want To Successfully Use Collaboration Tools

iStock_000017173323XSmallCollaboration is crucial for your business to thrive. But implementing collaboration tools within any organization is not an easy task to do. Here are three typical mistakes made when imposing collaboration tools in a company and ways to avoid them:

1. Implementation

When you supply your company with new technology, help your employees understand why this change is occurring. If you point out all the solution’s benefits, your coworkers will be keen on accepting and using it. A recent study of U.S. based employers by Gagen MacDonald revealed that employees in companies which use internal social media (ISM) perceive their company as more innovative and 58% would prefer to work at a company that uses ISM and 86% would refer others for employment. People like technology as long as they understand why they should use it and how it can make their job easier. If necessary, take some time to train your employees on the use of software. Time lost on training sessions will be compensated on faster work performance with the use of collaborative tools. Continue reading

3 Priorities You Shouldn’t Overlook When Launching A Small Business

Business_Owners_Holding_Money_SmYou have your business plan in one hand, and a cup of very strong coffee in the other. The paperwork is being processed, and the website is in the final round of edits. Your small business is almost ready to launch, but you’re worried you might be missing something.

Websites and business books are full of best practices, quick tips, and mistakes to avoid, but building a successful business isn’t strictly about the business itself. You need to build three pillars that will help launch your vision into the world. Continue reading

7 Ways Social Media Can Take Your Business from Good to Great

7 Ways Social Media Can Take Your Business from Good to GreatIn the early days of the internet, the extent of digital marketing for most businesses was deciding whether to bother setting up a company website or not. These days it’s rare to find a business of any size without its own website and the rise of the social media has brought with it a new way to engage with existing and potential new customers. Make social work for you by using these 7 tips to take your business from a good online presence to a great one!

1. Spread brand awareness

According to research from the Pew Research Center, 73% of online adults now use at least one social media site. Facebook remains the undisputed leader with almost one and a quarter billion monthly users – more than 1 in 6 of the global population. Other sites like Twitter and Instagram are also huge and 42% of adults online now use multiple social networking platforms. A social media marketing campaign or presence offers the potential customer to reach a vast new audience across a range of demographics and expand your customer base.

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Why User-Generated Content Matters for Businesses

Why User-Generated Content Matters for BusinessesUser-generated content (UGC) refers to any content that is produced by consumers or users. It can take the form of social media updates, reviews, blog posts, Q&A forums, photos or videos. Many businesses use different kinds of UGC as part of their overall marketing strategy and the benefits getting involved with UGC provides are nearly endless for your business.

  • Enriched user experience – UGC allows your customers and prospects to interact with like-minded people and share their opinions – this could be through posting comments on a blog, on discussion forums or status updates.
  • Enhanced understanding of your audience – User-generated content offers you an excellent opportunity to listen to your customers and be able to better understand their needs.
  • Established trust – Consumers usually base their buying decisions on what other people are saying. Having positive reviews on your site enhances the chances of prospects using your service or buying your product.
  • Search engine optimization – Search engines like Google rank sites based on how unique and relevant their content is. Having user-generated content on your site can play a major role in improving your search engine rankings and even make your site more visible.
  • Cost effectiveness – Hiring designers and writers to create content for your business site can be very expensive, but if you work with an in-house team instead, it’ll help you save on money and time.

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The 5 Best Social Media Campaigns of 2014 (So Far)

The 5 Best Social Media Campaigns of 2014Social media marketing has proven itself as much more than just a passing fad. A common misconception is that when things go viral, it’s just by accident or some kind of fluke. Granted, there is a little bit of luck at play sometimes but certain firms have got it down to a science where they can really put the odds in their favor. Sometimes it’s about creating a new trend from scratch and making it go viral but other times simply jumping on a bandwagon will do more than enough to raise a lot of exposure for your campaign. Let’s take a look at some of the very best social media campaigns of 2014 (so far) and why they were so successful.

#GiveGregaHoliday

Here’s an example of a company seizing the opportunity when something goes viral by accident. If this was planned from the very start, it would have been incredibly clever and a brilliant way to get attention. Part of me wants to believe that this happened organically, but the cynic in my head says it was staged. In either case, the result is still the same.

TrekAmerica is a company that specializes in putting together adventure holiday packages. When one of their employees named Greg sent in a vacation request, he accidently CC’d every member of the company’s 3500 staff rather than just sending it to his manager. This resulted in the hashtag #GiveGregaHoliday taking off, and the company responded by giving Greg a trip to Las Vegas and including the hashtag #GregGotTheHoliday. The result here was exposure, and this campaign worked because most people can relate to wanting a little time off, and everyone loves an underdog story of an employee being treated right by their bosses.

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Business Basics – Cross-Blogging

Content marketing is amazing. Studies have found that inbound and content marketing cost 62% less than traditional marketing, and yet brings in three-times as many leads. If you don’t blog, you’re missing out on a huge marketing opportunity, and a great chance to network. Over the last year or so, we’ve really amped up our cross-blogging, and we’ve seen some amazing results. New markets have opened up, our web presence has never been bigger, and we’ve made some great new partners. cross-blogging

But, in finding new partners to blog with, we’ve noticed that some businesses don’t know the first thing about cross-blogging. So to help those of you experimenting with inbound marketing out, here are a few tips on how to make your cross-blogging experience positive and rewarding.

Make suggestions and share ideas

Some of the best articles we’ve ever written have come from ideas brainstormed with our cross-blogging partners. However, entrepreneurs can be a little skittish when it comes to sharing ideas. Now when a business is built on an idea, guarding it makes a lot of sense, but if that idea is nothing more than a possible topic for an 800-word article, you don’t have to treat it like a trade secret. So feel free to pitch ideas with your partners, and build off of each other’s suggestions. A major part of cross-blogging is networking. You want to forge a strong, working relationship with the people you partner with, and brainstorming is a great way to do just that.

Keep the relationship light

New bloggers sometimes get a bit overly zealous when contributing or accepting a post. Before anything is written, they want a thirty-page contract filled out in triplicate and faxed to their attorney’s office. Remember, you aren’t sharing revenue or starting a business together. You’re cross-blogging. A few simple requests like ‘don’t plagiarize’ and ‘don’t publish this somewhere else’ are really all that you need.

Don’t ask your partner to do all the work

We feel like this should go without saying, but we’ve had way, waytoo many potential partners ask us to just write the post for them. There’s no quicker way to ruin this networking and marketing opportunity than by shirking all of your responsibility and expecting someone else to pick up the slack. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Would you want a crummy, hastily written article, riddled with spelling and grammar errors on your blog? We doubt it. Any articles you send to your partner should be insightful, unique, and engaging, and you should expect the same of them. That way no one feels slighted, and your new partnership starts off right. 

Interested in contributing a guest post? We’d love to talk to you! Click here to read our author guidelines, pitch an idea, and get in contact with our social media team.

3 Online Reputation Management Tips That Really Work

3 Online Reputation Management Tips That Really WorkOnline reputation management is an uphill battle for every small business.  In a June 2008 study conducted by Opinion Research Corp., 83% of consumers say online customer reviews influence their purchase decisions. It seems that the Internet’s ability to connect consumers has proven its staying power.

In a market where word of mouth and online reviews weigh heavily on consumer minds, small businesses need to be proactive in making sure customers (old and new) have access to fair representations of your services. While there is no simple solution for curing online reputation woes, there are a few things you can do to help your business take matters into your own hands.

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8 Tips for How Brands Can Stay Connected with Customers via Social Media

8 Tips for How Brands Can Stay Connected with Customers via Social MediaEngaging effectively with customers is very important for the success of any business. Social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn have made it very easy for companies to interact with their customers. Instead of making phone calls or sending emails, customers can raise their questions or complaints by simply posting a tweet or status update on these social networks. This makes it easy for companies to keep track of conversations about their brand or business.

Here are some tips which can enhance interaction with customers via social media.

1. Stay updated

Social media is a very dynamic and constantly evolving field. Find out which apps or platforms can make your customer interaction the most effective and where the majority of your customer base can be found and stay updated on those sites with your accounts.

2. Hire the right staff

Running several social media accounts can be a very daunting task to do alone. Look into hiring a social media professional who can manage your accounts and use the appropriate tools to help make customer relations easier. Alternatively, if you don’t have the budget for a social media manager, you could look into getting some of your staff trained on how to use social media for customer service.

3. Be active

Having a Twitter, Google+ or Facebook account is not enough; you need to engage your customers actively. You can do this by creating a search alert for conversations about your industry, business or brand. If you find someone complaining about your product, service or business, be sure to respond swiftly. On the other hand, any compliments should be shared or retweeted.

4. Demonstrate product benefits

Social media can be a great channel for demonstrating the benefits of your product. For instance, if you are selling a detachable recliner, show your customers how it is assembled, where it can be used and how to maintain it. This can be done using video or images. Videos can be uploaded on video sharing sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, Vevo, Flickr, Dailymotion, Veoh, Metacafé, and Break, and then shared on your social media profiles.

5. Don’t just talk about your company or products

If you are always promoting your products or company, your followers and fans will eventually get bored and find somewhere else to go. What people want is helpful and inspirational information. Be sure you provide this information, with occasional references back to your brand.

6. Address complaints and questions promptly

Whenever customers share their complaints and questions through social media, make sure you respond as fast as possible. This will show customers that you are listening to their problems and want to help out, thus enhancing their trust.

7. Don’t edit or delete negative comments

Negative comments can help you identify flaws in your products or services, thus enabling you to make necessary improvements. When responding to such comments, be as gracious and objective as possible. Offer an apology where your business or company made a mistake, and gently correct any of the customer’s misinterpretations. How you handle a negative comment could make all the difference between winning and losing a customer.

8. Be proactive

When your company or business faces major issues such as product recalls or a crashing website, you need to be proactive. Let your followers and fans know what is going on before they get a chance to complain. Assure them that you have already identified the problem and are working on solving it.

Charles Mburugu is a professional blogger who likes sharing tips about internet marketing and ecommerce. Currently, he is writing for Platinum Freight.